October 2010 Archives

Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny


Is it possible for this country to get any sicker?

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

by Laura Sullivan

Listen to the Story:

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

"The gentleman that's the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger," Nichols said. "He's a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman."

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

"They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community," Nichols said, "the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate."

But Nichols wasn't buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years -- decades even -- with illegal immigrants?

"They talked like they didn't have any doubt they could fill it," Nichols said.

That's because prison companies like this one had a plan -- a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona's immigration law.

Behind-The-Scenes Effort To Draft, Pass The Law

When it was passed in April, it ignited a fire storm. Protesters chanted about racial profiling. Businesses threatened to boycott the state.

Supporters were equally passionate, calling it a bold positive step to curb illegal immigration.

But while the debate raged, few people were aware of how the law came about.

The law is being challenged in the courts. But if it's upheld, it requires police to lock up anyone they stop who cannot show proof they entered the country legally.

NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.

The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce says the bill was his idea. He says it's not about prisons. It's about what's best for the country.

"Enough is enough," Pearce said in his office, sitting under a banner reading "Let Freedom Reign." "People need to focus on the cost of not enforcing our laws and securing our border. It is the Trojan horse destroying our country and a republic cannot survive as a lawless nation."

But instead of taking his idea to the Arizona statehouse floor, Pearce first took it to a hotel conference room.

Leigh Van Valen Passes


Evolution Revolutionary, Dies at 76

By Douglas Martin

His beard, it was said, was longer than God's but not as long as Charles Darwin's. Thousands of books teetered perilously in his office, and a motion-sensitive door startled visitors with cricket chirps. He took notes on his own thoughts while conversing with others.

vanvaeln.jpgThe evolutionary biologist Leigh Van Valen's eccentricities were legend far beyond the University of Chicago, where brilliant and idiosyncratic professors rule. He named 20 fossil mammals he had discovered after characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's fiction, and his most famous hypothesis -- among the most cited in the literature of evolution -- was named for the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass."

That hypothesis helped explain why organisms, competing for survival, developed two sexes. It did not explain why Professor Van Valen gave better grades to students who disagreed with him -- provoking an instant evolutionary adaptation in the tone of student essays -- much less why he wrote songs about the sex lives of dinosaurs and paramecia.

Dr. Van Valen, who died in Chicago on Oct. 16 at the age of 76, changed the conversation about how life works in 1973 when he put forward "a new evolutionary law." Others call it Van Valen's law.

Based on the study of fossils, it states that the length of a species' existence says nothing about its chances of dying off. For Dr. Van Valen, evolution was an "arms race." The best a species can do to survive, he said, is to respond to an adversary's adaptations, quickly and ceaselessly. A modern lion, for example, might easily outwit an ancient antelope, but it might be no better at outwitting modern antelopes than ancient lions were at outwitting ancient antelopes, and vice versa. (The antelopes might run faster.)

Dr. Van Valen's metaphor to describe this idea came from the Red Queen in Carroll's "Looking Glass." In the book, Alice complains that she is exhausted from running, only to find she is still under the tree where she started.

The Red Queen answers: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that."

Another renowned, white-bearded evolutionary biologist, Michael L. Rosenzweig, came up with pretty much the same idea the same year. He called the evolutionary running-in-place the "Rat Race." In 1985, the journal Science said Dr. Van Valen's more charming metaphor had prevailed among biologists.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear


It was OK and a good break from the stupidity.



Stewart near end of the rally:

I can't control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith. Or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.

Unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country's 24-hour politico pundit panic conflict-onator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems and illuminate problems heretofore unseen, or it can use its magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous-flaming-ant epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rich Sanchez is an insult -- not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put forth the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish between terrorists and Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything we eventually get sicker. And perhaps eczema. Yet, with that being said, I feel good. Strangely, calmly good, because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a funhouse mirror, and not the good kind that makes you slim and taller -- but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass like a pumpkin and one eyeball.

So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one's humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is -- on the brink of catastrophe -- torn by polarizing hate and how it's a shame that we can't work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day. The only place we don't is here or on cable TV. Americans don't live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.

Most Americans don't live their lives solely as Democrats or Republicans or conservatives or liberals. Most Americans live their lives that our just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often it's something they do not want to do, but they do it. Impossible things get done every day that are only made possible by the little, reasonable compromises.

With footage of lanes of slow-moving traffic playing on screens behind him, Stewart went on to build a metaphor based on the traffic merger at the Lincoln Tunnel between New York and New Jersey.

These cars -- that's a school teacher who thinks taxes are too high...there's a mom with two kids who can't think about anything else...another car, the lady's in the NRA. She loves Oprah...An investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah...a Latino carpenter...a fundamentalist vacuum salesman...a Mormon Jay Z fan...But this is us. Everyone of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear -- often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.

And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile-long, 30-foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river...And they do it. Concession by concession. You go. Then I'll go. You go, then I'll go. You go, then I'll go -- oh my god, is that an NRA sticker on your car, an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that's OK. You go and then I'll go..."Sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute. But that individual is rare and he is scorned, and he is not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together and the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn't the promised land. Sometimes it's just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.

If you want to know why I'm here and what I want from you I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. You're presence was what I wanted. Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you.

Still Relevant After All These Years


Subterranean Homesick Blues

Bob Dylan

Johnny's in the basement

Mixing up the medicine

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government

The man in the trench coat

Badge out, laid off

Says he's got a bad cough

Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid

It's somethin' you did
God knows when

But you're doin' it again

You better duck down the alley way

Lookin' for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap

In the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills

You only got ten

Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D. A.
Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes
Don't try "No Doz"
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows

Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army, if you fail
Look out kid
You're gonna get hit
By losers, cheaters
Six-time users *)
Hangin' 'round the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin' for a new fool
Don't follow leaders
Watch the parkin' meters

Ah get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin'
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don't wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals
Don't wanna be a bum
You better chew gum
The pump don't work
'Cause the vandals took the handles

Down with Patented Genes!


Finally a long standing piece of corporate BS has been given notice that it is not standing on solid ground. Companies have held that they can patent genes they isolate irrespective of the fact that the material in question is naturally produced. It's equivalent to trying to claim a patent on dog breed.

U.S. Says Genes Should Not Be Eligible for Patents

By Andrew Pollack

Reversing a longstanding policy, the federal government said on Friday that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. The new position could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry.

The new position was declared in a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Department of Justice late Friday in a case involving two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

"We acknowledge that this conclusion is contrary to the longstanding practice of the Patent and Trademark Office, as well as the practice of the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies that have in the past sought and obtained patents for isolated genomic DNA," the brief said.

It is not clear if the position in the legal brief, which appears to have been the result of discussions among various government agencies, will be put into effect by the Patent Office.

If it were, it is likely to draw protests from some biotechnology companies that say such patents are vital to the development of diagnostic tests, drugs and the emerging field of personalized medicine, in which drugs are tailored for individual patients based on their genes.

"It's major when the United States, in a filing, reverses decades of policies on an issue that everyone has been focused on for so long," said Edward Reines, a patent attorney who represents biotechnology companies.

The issue of gene patents has long been a controversial and emotional one. Opponents say that genes are products of nature, not inventions, and should be the common heritage of mankind. They say that locking up basic genetic information in patents actually impedes medical progress. Proponents say genes isolated from the body are chemicals that are different from those found in the body and therefore are eligible for patents.

The Patent and Trademark Office has sided with the proponents and has issued thousands of patents on genes of various organisms, including on an estimated 20 percent of human genes.

But in its brief, the government said it now believed that the mere isolation of a gene, without further alteration or manipulation, does not change its nature.

Simple Quantum Weirdness


One of the best descriptions for the layman I've seen yet:

And it gets weirder.

Home Over-compensation


Makes you wonder about the owner's penis size, doesn't it?

Soaring Above India's Poverty, a 27-Story Home

By Jim Yardley

"He's sort of saying, 'I'm rich and I don't care what you think." Hamish McDonald, on a 27-story home built for Mukesh Ambani in Mumbai, India.

27storymumbai.jpgMUMBAI -- The newest and most exclusive residential tower for this city's superrich is a cantilevered sheath of steel and glass soaring 27 floors into the sky. The parking garage fills six levels. Three helipads are on the roof. There are terraces upon terraces, airborne swimming pools and hanging gardens in a Blade Runner-meets-Babylon edifice overlooking India's most dynamic city.

There are nine elevators, a spa, a 50-seat theater and a grand ballroom. Hundreds of servants and staff are expected to work inside. And now, finally, after several years of planning and construction, the residents are about to move in.

All five of them.

The tower, known as Antilia, is the new home of India's richest person, Mukesh Ambani, whose $27 billion fortune also ranks him among the richest people in the world. And even here in the country's financial capital, where residents bear daily witness to the stark extremes of Indian wealth and poverty, Mr. Ambani's building is so spectacularly over the top that the city's already elastic boundaries of excess and disparity are being stretched to new dimensions.

"One family is going to live in that?" said Prahlad Kakkar, an advertising filmmaker and prominent city resident. "Either it is a landmark, or a symbol, or it is Mammon." He added: "There is shock and awe -- both at the same time."

Mr. Ambani, his wife, Nita, and their three children are expected to move into the building after a housewarming party with 200 guests scheduled for Nov. 28. For his part, Mr. Ambani has refused to comment about the project and required his designers, decorators and other contractors to sign confidentiality agreements, as if a cone of silence could be erected around a skyscraper rising near the edge of the Arabian Sea.

Predictably, and perhaps by design, the opposite has happened. Details have spilled out -- many of them confirmed or disputed anonymously. Some reports have estimated the total residential space at 400,000 square feet, though people close to the project say the real number is a humbler 60,000 square feet. Press accounts also have estimated the value of the building at $1 billion, a figure disputed by people familiar with the project.

Regardless, a gawking city has greeted the new tower with a mixture of moralizing and astonishment, envy and condemnation, all sprinkled with Freudian analysis of the most basic question: Why did he do it?

"We are all sort of perplexed," said Alyque Padamsee, a long-time advertising executive and actor in the city. "I think people see it as a bit show-offy."

A bit.

Esoteric Physics


Back From the Future

A series of quantum experiments shows that measurements performed in the future can influence the present. Does that mean the universe has a destiny--and the laws of physics pull us inexorably toward our prewritten fate?

by Zeeya Merali

Jeff Tollaksen may well believe he was destined to be here at this point in time. We're on a boat in the Atlantic, and it's not a pleasant trip. The torrential rain obscures the otherwise majestic backdrop of the volcanic Azorean islands, and the choppy waters are causing the boat to lurch. The rough sea has little effect on Tollaksen, barely bringing color to his Nordic complexion. This is second nature to him; he grew up around boats. Everyone would agree that events in his past have prepared him for today's excursion. But Tollaksen and his colleagues are investigating a far stranger possibility: It may be not only his past that has led him here today, but his future as well.

Tollaksen's group is looking into the notion that time might flow backward, allowing the future to influence the past. By extension, the universe might have a destiny that reaches back and conspires with the past to bring the present into view. On a cosmic scale, this idea could help explain how life arose in the universe against tremendous odds. On a personal scale, it may make us question whether fate is pulling us forward and whether we have free will.

The boat trip has been organized as part of a conference sponsored by the Foundational Questions Institute to highlight some of the most controversial areas in physics. Tollaksen's idea certainly meets that criterion. And yet, as crazy as it sounds, this notion of reverse causality is gaining ground. A succession of quantum experiments confirm its predictions--showing, bafflingly, that measurements performed in the future can influence results that happened before those measurements were ever made.

As the waves pound, it's tough to decide what is more unsettling: the boat's incessant rocking or the mounting evidence that the arrow of time--the flow that defines the essential narrative of our lives--may be not just an illusion but a lie.

Tollaksen, currently at Chapman University in Orange County, California, developed an early taste for quantum mechanics, the theory that governs the motion of particles in the subatomic world. He skipped his final year of high school, instead attending physics lectures by the charismatic Nobel laureate Richard Feynman at Caltech in Pasadena and learning of the paradoxes that still fascinate and frustrate physicists today.

Primary among those oddities was the famous uncertainty principle, which states that you can never know all the properties of a particle at the same time. For instance, it is impossible to measure both where the particle is and how fast it is moving; the more accurately you determine one aspect, the less precisely you can measure the other. At the quantum scale, particles also have curiously split personalities that allow them to exist in more than one place at the same time--until you take a look and check up on them. This fragile state, in which the particle can possess multiple contradictory attributes, is called a superposition. According to the standard view of quantum mechanics, measuring a particle's properties is a violent process that instantly snaps the particle out of superposition and collapses it into a single identity. Why and how this happens is one of the central mysteries of quantum mechanics.

"The textbook view of measurements in quantum mechanics is inspired by biology," Tollaksen tells me on the boat. "It's similar to the idea that you can't observe a system of animals without affecting them." The rain is clearing, and the captain receives radio notification that some dolphins have been spotted a few minutes away; soon we're heading toward them. Our attempts to spy on these animals serve as the zoological equivalent of what Tollaksen terms "strong measurements"--the standard type in quantum mechanics --because they are anything but unobtrusive. The boat is loud; it churns up water as it speeds to the location. When the dolphins finally show themselves, they swim close to the boat, arcing through the air and playing to their audience. According to conventional quantum mechanics, it is similarly impossible to observe a quantum system without interacting with the particles and destroying the fragile quantum behavior that existed before you looked.

Matthews Matters

| | Comments (2)

Mr Matthews has some great moments:

Talk like that made me go vote early today.

Brave Iraqi Women Journalists re: WikiLeaks


Reaction to Wikileaks in Iraq

"To be a journalist in violence-ridden Iraq today, ladies and gentlemen, is not a matter lightly undertaken. Every path is strewn with danger, every checkpoint, every question a direct threat. Every interview we conduct may be our last. So much is happening in Iraq, so much that is questionable, so much that we as journalists try to fathom and portray to the people who care to know." - Sahar Issa, Baghdad Correspondent

More at The Real News




Olbermann Orates


impeaching teaching preaching beseeching reaching

How Sue Sees It


The MJ Wealth Legacy


Michael Jackson tops list of richest dead celebs

Mark Marino


He may be gone, but he's not forgotten. In fact, Michael Jackson has brought in so much bank since his June 2009 passing that he's landed the No. 1 spot on Forbes's Top-Earning Dead Celebrities List.

According to Forbes, Jackson's estate has brought in a whopping $275 million over the past 12 months - more than the combined earnings of superstars Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Madonna, and more than any living artist or group, for that matter.

"[Jackson's] kids are going to have grandkids before that money's gone," estate lawyer Donald David, who handled Tupac Shakur's finances, tells the magazine.

The beloved singer's good fortune is due in large part to licensing deals cut by executors of his estate, a surge in sales of his music catalog and the $250 million box office of his film, "This Is It."

"There is a strong demand for Michael Jackson's music and merchandise, and that will only increase as more material surfaces in the years following his death," says Adam Kluger of product-placement outfit the Kluger Agency.

Adds Susan Blond, Jackson's publicist during his "Thriller" days, "His earning potential will only increase year after year, as his legacy continues to be cemented. When our great-grandchildren are talking about music, it will be Michael Jackson over Elvis Presley."

Rounding out the lucky 13 deceased top earners, in order of rank: Elvis Presley, $60 million; author J.R.R. Tolkien, $50 million; Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, $33 million; John Lennon, $17 million; author Stieg Larsson, $15 million; Dr. Seuss, $11 million; Albert Einstein, $10 million; New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, $8 million; songwriter Richard Rodgers, $7 million; Jimi Hendrix, $6 million; Steve McQueen, $6 million; Aaron Spelling, $5 million.

Death of the Liberal Class


ala truthdig:

Author and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges recently made an appearance on Canadian television's "The Agenda With Steve Paikin" to make his case about how the American liberal class and its institutions have spectacularly failed those whom they supposedly aimed to serve, taking no prisoners (et tu, Bill Clinton) and hitting on the major themes of his new book, the aptly titled "The Death of the Liberal Class," while he was at it. Then, the host brought in a few other guests to join in a debate. Both the interview and the discussion are posted below. -a.k.

Counter Point:

What a penetrating discussion - and how unfortunate that such dialogues are all but absent in the American mainstream media.

What struck me was the degree of naivete on the part of the apologists regarding the culpability and intentions of the prosecutors of the Iraq war. In particular, both Reihan Salam and Tony Keller seemed to be afraid to admit that we are as deeply involved in the inverted totalitarianism of the corporate state as described up by Hedges. Keller seemed especially naive about the goals of the vested interests that underpinned the rationales for the Iraq war. I loved how Hedges spanked him for it when he brought up his own credentials as an Arab speaker who was on the scene during the Shiite massacres by Saddam and was witness to the US duplicity at the time and after.

The single most important idea I garnered from the discussion was the idea that solutions to our present quagmires are to be found from national movements which never desire nor achieve formal political power; an excellent palliative for this horrible cynicism in me stoked by the daily news I watch and read.

Accommodating Sharia in the US?


To me the philosophical argument is simple:

It is completely self-defeating for secular law to accommodate subsets of religiously based laws of any sort. The entire basis of secular law is non-exclusivity; precisely the opposite of religious law. The secular US constitutional law has no obligation to (and would find no advantage in) accommodating a set of parallel religiously based customs and legal artifacts of any cultural group whether native or immigrant.

I am no more intolerant by not tolerating someone's intolerance than I would be guilty of murder if I killed someone in self-defense.

Serving Two Masters: Shariah Law and the Secular State

By Stanley Fish

A few weeks ago, the Cardozo School of Law mounted a conference marking the 20th anniversary of Employment Division v. Smith (1990), a case in which the Supreme Court asked what happens when a form of behavior demanded by one's religion runs up against a generally applicable law -- a law not targeted at any particular agenda or point of view -- that makes the behavior illegal. (The behavior at issue was the ingestion of peyote at a Native American religious ceremony.) The answer the court gave, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority, was that the religious believer must yield to the law of the state so long as that law was not passed with the intention of curtailing or regulating his or anyone else's religious practice. (This is exactly John Locke's view in his "Letter Concerning Toleration.")

"To make the individual's obligation to obey . . . a law contingent upon the law's coincidence with his religious beliefs" would have the effect, Scalia explains, of "permitting him, by virtue of his beliefs, 'to become a law unto himself.'" And if that were allowed, there would no longer be a single law -- universally conceived and applied -- but multiple laws each of which was tailored to the doctrines and commands of a particular faith. In order to have law in the strong sense, Scalia is saying, you can have only one. ("No man can serve two masters.")

The conflict between religious imperatives and the legal obligations one has as a citizen of a secular state -- a state that does not take into account the religious affiliations of its citizens when crafting laws -- is an old one (Scalia is quoting Reynolds v. United States, 1878); but in recent years it has been felt with increased force as Muslim immigrants to Western secular states evidence a desire to order their affairs, especially domestic affairs, by Shariah law rather than by the supposedly neutral law of a godless liberalism. I say "supposedly" because of the obvious contradiction: how can a law that refuses, on principle, to recognize religious claims be said to be neutral with respect to those claims? Must a devout Muslim (or orthodox Jew or fundamentalist Christian) choose between his or her faith and the letter of the law of the land?

You Didn't Vote? You Bastard!


The Assassination of Dr George Tiller


"It's not man's job to take life." - Scott Roeder testimony at his trial for killing Dr. George Tiller.

An excellent documentary from MSNBC narrated and presented by Rachel Maddow exposing the arrogant self-righteousness and hypocrisy of the anti-abortionist groups. What's most telling in the six part piece is the degree to which religious zealotry can make people stupidly dangerous and prone to the hysterical rhetoric and media propaganda of people like Bill O'Reilly.

Part 1

The entire presentation

Old Tunes


...come back to haunt.



let's start a talkshow
with an international cookshow front
every show the food could get burned
while the audience sits numb
we could pump out slogans
to be worn upon their sleeves
while we tell 'em all bedtime stories about
judges understanding thieves

if its glass then break it
its not mine
you can take it
if its love
then make it
just don't fade away...

when the lights go out in the city
don't the future come to mind?
if those bureau-cats are so thoughtless
we should not be so surprised
they'll tell us,
"keep the bridges open,now,
the best is yet to come..."
while survivors wait
for the great quake thinking,
"wouldn't that be fun?..."

if its glass then break it
its not mine
you can take it
if its love
well, make it
just don't fade away....

cul heath circa 1980

Yashmak/Hijab Debate


25 best youtube vids at Guggenheim


On October 21, the top videos selected by the YouTube Play jury were revealed and celebrated at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The videos, which can be viewed below and on youtube.com/play, will be presented at the Guggenheim Museums in New York, Bilbao, Berlin, and Venice on October 22-24, 2010. They comprise the ultimate YouTube playlist: a selection of the most unique, innovative, groundbreaking video work being created and distributed online during the past two years.

One of my favs:

The author: Comprising my mother's voice and the sounds of her garden, this video is my first Pogo mix of the real world. I hope I've done my mother justice in capturing her passion. Enjoy!

List of 25

The Fourth Branch of Government


No, it's not the press...try the U.S. Chamber of Congress.

Top Corporations Aid U.S. Chamber of Commerce Campaign

By Eric Lipton, Mike Mcintire and Don VAN Natta Jr.

Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a national advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the nation's financial regulations.

Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year as the group took a leading role in aggressively fighting proposed rules that would impose tighter security requirements on chemical facilities.

And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than $8 million in recent years to a chamber foundation that has been critical of growing federal regulation and spending. These large donations -- none of which were publicly disclosed by the chamber, a tax-exempt group that keeps its donors secret, as it is allowed by law -- offer a glimpse of the chamber's money-raising efforts, which it has ramped up recently in an orchestrated campaign to become one of the most well-financed critics of the Obama administration and an influential player in this fall's Congressional elections.

They suggest that the recent allegations from President Obama and others that foreign money has ended up in the chamber's coffers miss a larger point: The chamber has had little trouble finding American companies eager to enlist it, anonymously, to fight their political battles and pay handsomely for its help.

And these contributions, some of which can be pieced together through tax filings of corporate foundations and other public records, also show how the chamber has increasingly relied on a relatively small collection of big corporate donors to finance much of its legislative and political agenda. The chamber makes no apologies for its policy of not identifying its donors. It has vigorously opposed legislation in Congress that would require groups like it to identify their biggest contributors when they spend money on campaign ads.

Proponents of that measure pointed to reports that health insurance providers funneled at least $10 million to the chamber last year, all of it anonymously, to oppose President Obama's health care legislation.

"The major supporters of us in health care last year were confronted with protests at their corporate headquarters, protests and harassment at the C.E.O.'s homes," said R. Bruce Josten, the chief lobbyist at the chamber, whose office looks out on the White House. "You are wondering why companies want some protection. It is pretty clear."

The chamber's increasingly aggressive role -- including record spending in the midterm elections that supports Republicans more than 90 percent of the time -- has made it a target of critics, including a few local chamber affiliates who fear it has become too partisan and hard-nosed in its fund-raising.

The chamber is spending big in political races from California to New Hampshire, including nearly $1.5 million on television advertisements in New Hampshire attacking Representative Paul W. Hodes, a Democrat running for the United States Senate, accusing him of riding Nancy Pelosi's "liberal express" down the road to financial ruin.

"When you become a mouthpiece for a specific agenda item for one business or group of businesses, you better be damn careful you are not being manipulated," said James C. Tyree, a former chairman of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, who has backed Republicans and Democrats, including Mr. Obama. "And they are getting close to that, if not over that edge."

Don't Blame the Lawyers


Now there's something said that sticks in the craw...and yet, in this case anyway, Mr Robinson is likely right.

Lawyers got it right on the foreclosure mess

By Eugene Robinson

Don't blame the lawyers. The crisis over faulty or fraudulent paperwork in mortgage foreclosures -- which is either a big deal or a humongous deal, depending on which experts you believe -- is the fault of arrogant, greedy lenders who played fast and loose with the basic property rights of homeowners.

Banks and other lenders, it seems, made statements in courts of law that turned out not to be true. Because judges have such an underdeveloped sense of humor when it comes to prevarication, this mess may be with us for a while.

The mortgage industry would love to blame the whole thing on predatory, opportunistic lawyers who are seizing on mere technicalities to forestall untold numbers of foreclosures that should legitimately proceed. The bankers are right when they complain that the delays are gumming up the housing market, as potential buyers for soon-to-be-foreclosed properties are forced to bide their time until all the questions about documentation and proper title are answered.

But it's the bankers' fault that there are so many instances of foreclosure documentation with legal loopholes big enough to drive a moving van through. During the years of the real estate boom, lenders cut corners with paperwork to make as many loans -- and sell them to other lenders, which often sliced and diced them into securities that were then sold to investors -- as quickly as possible. This haste and inattention to detail, now coming to light, are partly responsible for the current crisis.

Laws vary from state to state, but all accept the principle that borrowers who fail to meet the contractual obligation to pay their mortgages can be subject to foreclosure and eviction. The process is devastating for families and for neighborhoods. In many cases, I believe, all parties would be better off if some way could be found to avoid foreclosure -- modifying the terms of the loan, say, by lowering the interest rate or even reducing the principal to reflect the fall in housing prices. I recognize, however, that there are many other cases in which foreclosure is the preferable option or perhaps the only option.

But it's also necessary that the mortgage holder have the legal right to foreclose. Anyone who has ever bought a house is familiar with the inches-thick stack of documents that have to be signed, sealed, initialed and notarized. It turns out that financial institutions often didn't dot every "i" or cross every "t" -- meaning that in some cases, it may not be clear that the nominal mortgage holder has the clear and undisputed right to take possession of the property.

Heroes and History of the Black Press


An excellent and highly instructional documentary on the evolution of Black journalism.

the Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords

The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords is the first film to chronicle the history of the Black press, including its central role in the construction of modern African American identity. It recounts the largely forgotten stories of generations of Bl

86 minutes, 1998
Producer: Stanley Nelson 
Narrator: Joe Morton, Original Music: Ron Carter
An online FACILITATOR GUIDE is available for this title.

The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords  is the first film to chronicle the history of the Black press, including its central role in the construction of modern African American identity. It recounts the largely forgotten stories of generations of Black journalists who risked life and livelihood so African Americans could represent themselves in their own words and images.  

Good News for Women


Bad news for Max Factor...a group of high schools girls has started a movement to shun make-up and reclaim their sense of worth without appealing to the made-up cultural ideal. I say, Kudos, women, go for it!

Perfectly Palin

So Sarah Palin's advisers became worried that she was running out of metaphors and making even less sense than usual. One of them suggested she try using a thesaurus.

"Are you kidding me?" Palin laughed in response. "If God wanted me to have a thesaurus he would've told Noah to put a couple of them on his ark so they didn't go extinct."

When the Supreme Court Hobnobs


It doesn't get any more conspiratorial than this:

Amazing Parents

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That every child should be raised by such loving and understanding parents.
In a world filled with daily with news that seems guaranteed to make us all cynics, comes this report of human goodness and intelligence.

What would you do if your son wanted to be a princess?

By Christopher Nelson

What would you do if your son wanted to be a princess?

What would you do if your 5-year-old son decided he wanted to dress up like a girl or your 5-year-old daughter wanted to be a tomboy? It's an issue that some parents may be grappling with as Halloween approaches. The Internet is still abuzz about how Dean and Cheryl Kilodavis responded when their youngest son began displaying an affinity for girls clothing. Initial reaction to the Kilodavis family's story ranged from agreement with their unwavering support of their son to strong condemnation. And while experts who have weighed in on the case praised them as parents, for a response that they deem appropriate given their circumstances, many others remain unconvinced that what the Kilodavis' are doing is right.


In an interview with KING 5 TV, the Seattle NBC affiliate, Cheryl Kilodavis explained when Dyson first began showing his preferences for girls clothing.

"Dyson was almost two years old when he started having kind of a unique eye for everything beautiful. So, anything pink or sparkly, he just had a really, really great eye for anything that was just, beautiful," she said.

Kilodavis said it was difficult for her and that she initially thought that maybe Dyson just didn't have enough options with regards to "dress up clothes for boys" at his daycare, so she went out and purchased male outfits.

Yet, Dyson preferred to dress up in girl clothes.

That's when she said, "I knew then it wasn't about gender specification for him, it was just about what he thought was really pretty."

Rather than chastise or malign him Cheryl Kilodavis and her husband worked to show Dyson that he wasn't loved any less because others might see him as different.

"I just want him to be happy and healthy, and if this is the form he chooses to express himself, that's fine," said Dean Kilodavis during the family's T.V. interview.


The secretive Washington group called The Family has been pushing anti-gay propaganda in Uganda for some years now and this is the sad and predictable fallout. An enlargement of the picture below should be tacked up in every evangelical and fundamentalist church across the US to show people where their biblical based anti-gay rhetoric leads.

'Hang them': Uganda paper publishes photos of gays

By Godfrey Olukya and Jason Straziuso

ugandaantigay.jpgUganda -- The front-page newspaper story featured a list of Uganda's 100 "top" homosexuals, with a bright yellow banner across it that read: "Hang Them." Alongside their photos were the men's names and addresses.

In the days since it was published, at least four gay Ugandans on the list have been attacked and many others are in hiding, according to rights activist Julian Onziema. One person named in the story had stones thrown at his house by neighbors.

A lawmaker in this conservative African country introduced a bill a year ago that would have imposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts and life in prison for others. An international uproar ensued, and the bill was quietly shelved.

But gays in Uganda say they have faced a year of harassment and attacks since the bill's introduction.

The legislation was drawn up following a visit by leaders of U.S. conservative Christian ministries that promote therapy they say allows gays to become heterosexual.

"Before the introduction of the bill in parliament most people did not mind about our activities. But since then, we are harassed by many people who hate homosexuality," said Patrick Ndede, 27. "The publicity the bill got made many people come to know about us and they started mistreating us."

More than 20 homosexuals have been attacked over the last year in Uganda, and an additional 17 have been arrested and are in prison, said Frank Mugisha, the chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda. Those numbers are up from the same period two years ago, when about 10 homosexuals were attacked, he said.

TeaParty People: Re the 2nd Amendment

We don't need u


If You're Hispanic Don't Vote Ad


Yeah, that's how you'll change things...pull the covers over your head and pretend the Republicans give a damn about la raza.

The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell interviews the conservative behind the outrageous campaign ad urging Hispanic voters not to cast a ballot this election.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Dan Choi: Purity of Service


from the Maddow Show:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

When we called military recruiting centers on Thursday, they told us that so far as they knew, openly gay people still couldn't enlist in the armed services. U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips had ordered an immediate and permanent injunction on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

The Pentagon said it would stop enforcing the ban while the Obama administration prepared its appeal. In theory, that should mean an openly gay person could sign up.
Today, the Pentagon finally announced just that, and West Point alum Dan Choi took them up on the invitation. A repeat guest on our show, Choi has thrown himself into the middle of the fight over DADT.

The Marines today told him he was too old to join, so he filled out the Army application and now waits to see if they'll find a place for him.

It's called Tax Farming and its been around since the heyday of Rome and its been vilified for nearly as long, With 18% interest rates and zero government oversight, you can without pause call it legalized theft.

While having received billions in bailouts from the taxpayers, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have purchased from local governments the right to collect delinquent taxes and ridiculous added legal fees (many times the original amounts owed) on several hundred thousand properties, many in distressed housing markets.

This privatization of government scam comes with questionable legal maneuvers and bid-rigging built in. Most of the companies actually collecting the debts and foreclosing on properties (some of which even have no mortgage) are font shell fronts created by the big banks, often with anonymous PO Box and off shore addresses and no means of discovering who owns them.

Basically what this all amounts to is billions are being made by making poor people homeless.

How an Unpaid Water Bill Cost a Baltimore Woman Her Home

By Lagan Sebert, Ben Protess and Fred Schulte

One raw day in early February, Vicki Valentine stood by helplessly as real estate investors snatched her West Baltimore home over what began with an unpaid city water bill of $362. Valentine lost the property after the city sold her debt to investors through a contentious and byzantine legal process called a tax sale. This little-known type of foreclosure can enrich investors as growing numbers of property owners struggle to pay their bills.

An example of how bills escalate from added legal fees:


Wall Street Is the New Tax Collector?

Governments Relinquish Taxation Powers to Big Banks

Wall Street titans have found a new way to screw over the poor and middle class -- as surrogate tax collectors.

Nearly a dozen major banks and hedge funds, anticipating quick profits from homeowners who fall behind on property taxes, are quietly plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into businesses that collect the debts, tack on escalating fees and threaten to foreclose on the homes of those who fail to pay.

In many cases, the banks and hedge funds created new companies to do their bidding. They gave the companies obscure, even whimsical names and used post office boxes as their addresses, masking Wall Street's dominant new role as a surrogate tax collector.

In exchange for paying overdue real estate taxes, the investors gain legal powers from local governments to collect the debt and levy fees. At first, property owners may owe little more than a few hundred dollars, only to find their bills soaring into the thousands. In some jurisdictions, the new Wall Street tax collectors also chase debtors over other small bills, such as for water, sewer and sidewalk repair.

Some states allow the investors to tack on as much as 18 percent interest and a passel of legal fees and other charges. When property owners fail to make full payment, the investors can sue to foreclose - in some states within as little as six months.

In June, Bank of America snatched up liens on properties in Florida owned by low-income residents and nonprofit public interest groups, including a Salvation Army shelter, a preschool and a wildlife rescue group involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup, the Investigative Fund found in its examination. Bank of America also bought liens on properties of the wealthy, including a professional basketball star with the Los Angeles Lakers, Lamar Odom.

Some observers of the financial services industry said they were surprised to learn that banks, some of which received billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts in recent years, were rushing to profit from homeowners having trouble paying their tax bills.

Idiocracy Re-Visited

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Who would have thought that Idiocracy was a prophetic movie.

Idiocracy_movie_poster.jpgThe film tells the story of two ordinary people who are taken into a top-secret military hibernation experiment that goes awry, and awaken 500 years in the future. They discover that the world has degenerated into a dystopia where advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid human society devoid of individual responsibility or consequences.

The Rage Won't End on Election Day

By Frank Rich

Carl Paladino began his New York gubernatorial campaign by bragging he'd "clean out Albany with a baseball bat." When an ally likened his main Albany target, the (Jewish) leader of the State Assembly, to "an antichrist or Hitler," he enthusiastically endorsed the slur. We also learned of Paladino's repertory of gag e-mails -- among them a pornographic picture of a woman having sex with a horse and a photo of an African tribal ritual captioned "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal." How blind we were not to recognize that his victory in a Republican primary under the proud Tea Party banner was inevitable.

A week ago New Yorkers were presented with a vivid reminder of how a bat can be used as a weapon. A pack of young thugs was charged with torturing three men in the Bronx for being gay, one of whom, The Times reported, was sodomized with "a small baseball bat."

It's probably safe to assume that no one in this lynching party has heard of Paladino. Presumably he has heard of them, but a man of Tea Party principles will not compromise, no matter what may be happening in the real world. Don't tread on Carl! And so last Sunday, as the city was reeling from both the Bronx bloodbath and the earlier leap of a bullied gay Rutgers freshman off the George Washington Bridge, Paladino visited a fringe Orthodox synagogue in Brooklyn to stand his ground. He attacked gays for supposedly plotting to brainwash children into accepting the validity of homosexuality.

We don't know what will happen on Election Day, but one fairly safe bet is this: Paladino will not be the next governor of New York. However tardily, he's been disowned not only by the state's extant, if endangered, cadre of mainstream Republicans but even by some of the hard right. No one apparently told him that while bigotry isn't always a disqualifier for public office, appearing on YouTube vowing to "take out" a reporter from Rupert Murdoch's New York Post can be. As a rule, it's career suicide to threaten to murder your own political base.

But if New Yorkers may take comfort from the pratfall of this particular barbarian at their gate, the national forecast is not so sunny. Paladino is no anomaly in American politics in 2010. He's just the most clownish illustration of where things have been heading for two years and are still heading. Like the farcical Christine O'Donnell in another blue Northeastern state, he's a political loss-leader, if you will, whose near-certain defeat on Nov. 2 allows us to indulge in a bit of denial about the level of rage still coursing, sometimes violently, through our national bloodstream.

Breaking Point


Aside from the 13 year old sister, the parents got what they deserved. It was a smart judge who refused the prosecutor's attempt to try the 14 year old as an adult for the murder of his abusive family.

Teen who killed family on Donaldson ranch goes free

By Beth Karas

A young man who was 14 when he shot and killed his family on a New Mexico ranch owned by newsman Sam Donaldson has been freed, a spokeswoman for the state's youth and families agency said Saturday.

Cody Posey had just finished the eighth grade when he was arrested on July 7, 2004, in connection with the slayings of his father, stepmother and stepsister. He confessed to the slayings, but said he snapped after years of physical and psychological abuse. He said he fatally shot his father, Paul Posey, 34, stepmother, Tryone Posey, 44, and stepsister, Mairlea Schmid, 13, and then used a backhoe to bury their bodies inside a manure pile.

Posey was convicted in February 2006 of voluntary manslaughter for his father's death, second degree murder for his stepmother's death and first degree murder for his stepsister's death. The state asked the court to impose the maximum adult sentence, life without parole. But Judge James Waylon Counts ruled that it was possible Posey could be rehabilitated and sentenced him as a juvenile offender. Once he reached 21, he could no longer be held as a juvenile and was free to go.

Posey turned 21 on Saturday, according to his uncle, Carl Clees. "He has a bright future. I see no problems with him progressing and getting on with his life like the rest of us," Clees said.

Romaine Serna, spokeswoman for New Mexico's Children Youth and Families Department, confirmed Saturday that Posey is a free man. While in custody, Posey obtained his high school degree and completed nearly two years worth of college credits, Clees said, adding that he had no disciplinary issues and served as a mentor to other youths.

The Posey family lived and worked on the Chavez Canyon Ranch in Hondo, New Mexico, owned by Donaldson, a former anchor at ABC News. It was Donaldson who discovered the bloody scene inside the Poseys' home on July 6. Donaldson was the first witness to testify at Posey's trial in Children's Court in 2006.

Posey's defense called 40 witnesses, including ranch hands who claimed they witnessed years of physical and psychological abuse by Posey's father.

Testifying in his defense, Posey described the night before the shootings. His father and stepmother summoned him to the master bedroom and tried to force him to have sex with his stepmother, he testified. When Posey refused, his father burned him with a heated metal rod, he testified. Posey said he ran from the room. He was still reeling from the encounter the next morning when his father slapped him while he was doing chores.He said he decided to grab a gun from Marilea's saddle bag, and then shot each member of his family in the head.

"I was thinking my world would be better and the whole world would be better without him," he told police shortly after his arrest.

In his confession, Posey admitted that after burying the bodies in the manure pile, he tried to stage the scene to look like a burglary. He said he took the family's pickup and visited friends, where he spent the night, lying about where his family was.

Donaldson told jurors he called the police soon after finding a large amount of congealed blood in the house and a "disturbing, red, dry swath" across the floor where the bodies had been dragged. The bloody trail and backhoe tracks led police to the manure pile where the badly decomposed bodies were discovered. Although the shootings occurred within seconds of each other, the jury returned different verdicts for each victim, siding in part with Posey's claims of abuse.

But now, Posey just wants a fresh start, his uncle said. "I'm excited for him. I look forward to helping him as much as possible," Clees said.

Fractal Man Gone


Benoît B. Mandelbrot, the Polish-French/American maverick mathematician who developed an innovative theory of roughness and applied it to physics, biology, finance and many other fields, died on Thursday in Cambridge, Mass. He was 85.


Other Fractal Art


Tech Talk with Vint Cerf


A wonderful interview with famed Internet guru and co-creator Vint Cerf on the history and future of the internet.

cerf.jpgCerf is an American computer scientist who is recognized as one of the fathers of the Internet", sharing this title with American computer scientist Bob Kahn. His contributions have been acknowledged and lauded, repeatedly, with honorary degrees, and awards that include the National Medal of Technology, the Turing Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and membership in the National Academy of Engineering.

In the early days, Cerf was a program manager for the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funding various groups to develop TCP/IP technology. When the Internet began to transition to a commercial opportunity during the late 1980s, Cerf moved to MCI where he was instrumental in the development of the first commercial email system (MCI Mail) connected to the Internet.

Vinton Cerf was instrumental in the funding and formation of ICANN from the start. Cerf waited in the wings for a year before he stepped forward to join the ICANN Board. Eventually he became the Chairman of ICANN.

Cerf has worked for Google as its Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist since September 2005. In this function he has become well known for his predictions on how technology will affect future society, encompassing such areas as artificial intelligence, environmentalism, the advent of IPv6 and the transformation of the television industry and its delivery model.

Canada as Fascist as the US


Organizer Alex Hundert coerced into 'unprecedented' gag clause.

More at The Real News

The Fake Objectivity of the Media


Mainstream media has been issuing memos to it's workers that they should avoid the upcoming Stewart/Colbert rallies in order that the organizations they represent not be seen to support political causes. What a joke.

How Will The Media Cover The Rally To Restore Sanity,
Which Apparently Terrifies Them?

Jason Linkins

Looking over the various guidelines that news organizations are laying out so that their reporters will know what to do about the upcoming Rally To Restore Sanity/March To Keep Fear Alive, I have to confess that I am astonished.

Don't get me wrong! I am not surprised by the stupidity of it all. I'm just surprised by the way they boldly, proudly, fetishize the stupidity. This is not a stupidity that comes in the form of an inter-office memo that quietly enforces some officious round of B.S. This is a stupidity that is trumpeted, proclaimed, shouted from the hillside, with the expectation that we should be impressed with it.

It would appear that your New York Timeses and your APs and your Politicos are of the opinion that what is going to transpire on October 30th will amount to some sort of super-corrupting thought-crime that might cloud the minds of their employees and leave them with an array of baffling new opinions. In nearly every case, reporters are to treat the Rally/March as a "political event," though it's not clear what explicitly political outcome they expect to arise as a result. There is a deep worry, I gather, that it might instill bias in their reporters that could lead to -- well, I'm not sure! I guess that's why no one can take the chance!

Because I am not some sort of whinging paranoid moron, I prefer to take Jon Stewart at his word that the event will be something that promotes reason and sanity, and which might be marginally enjoyable, because comedians are involved. Obviously, I reserve the right to dutifully report whether the whole thing devolves into something else -- like a massive call to sell Amway products or an urging that I jump into a woodchipper to save the Harry Reid campaign, or something.

In general, the guidelines look like this: reporters may ATTEND the rally, but only if they are COVERING the rally. They cannot go to the rally and, you know, have a good time. And I gather that it would be very dangerous if anyone actually agreed with the theme of the rally -- which I remind you, seems to be "Be reasonable." I have to say, I basically want to abduct a bunch of reporters now, truss them up, toss them in the back of a van, and turn them loose at the rally, just so I can see their eyes widen in terror as they flee the area, fearful that they might become infected by "ideas."

Ratigan's Righteous Rant


...as opposed to O'Reilly's Odious Offal.

Comment of the Day


by a reader of the Paul Krugman article ("The Mortgage Morass") posted just prior to this one:

Darrell Hampton, Dayton Ohio

They were so busy stealing so much they forgot they were supposed to keep the records. Or did they steal so much they became afraid they would be caught so they lost the records (evidence) on purpose. We will never really know the truth.

We, as a nation, lost our way when we began to equate brains and accolade to whoever made the most money. It didn't matter how they gathered this money, only that they possessed it. We have digressed into worshipping thieves, crooks and in some cases we have even excused child molesters, racist and the worst misogynist and welcomed them back into the fold.......All because they had wealth. We proudly stand next to these individuals and wait to shake their hands with full knowledge that they have contributed to the destruction of others. We have become so stupid that we call the stores and ask them to schedule us to awake early so we can run to Wal-mart on the day after Thanksgiving smiling as we greet senior citizens who we know are working for minimum wage, sometimes eating cat food to survive, and we demand they give us directions to the latest loss leader that we woke up to get for our little Johnny. This year I read it will be 32 inch flat-screens for $199.00 to lure us into their stores. We have become a nation unconcerned for the welfare of our neighbors obsessed with that stupid clichés "He who dies with the most toys wins and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps". It never dawns on us that the person we're speaking to is completely barefooted.

We have been had, we've been hoodwinked and we've been bamboozled into thinking just like the selfish rich people who have always only cared about themselves. They programmed us with advance knowledge that if they could get us to act and think like them we would become so self-centered we wouldn't care if they stole "the rest" of the money while we wined and dined ourselves into oblivion. It worked! We now have poor, trailer park, ghetto neighborhood residents eagerly standing in line to vote for the Koch brothers theories and calling for bus rides on the Tea Party express to stand up for the "Constitution" and support them as they complete the destruction of our planet, for profit. They tricked us into believing it was everyman for himself and now we don't even have any money to go to Wal-mart on the day after Thanksgiving. We will be happy to watch the others enjoying the fruits of our protests on TV and we won't even be able to afford the $199.00 for the flat-screen TV this year so we will get our joy by vicariously watching others get the deal and grinning like fools. What in the world did we allow to happen to us?

Pop Goes the Weasels


This could get very very bad...but it won't because the Obama administration and financial sector cannot bear to face the truth of it.

The Mortgage Morass

By Paul Krugman

American officials used to lecture other countries about their economic failings and tell them that they needed to emulate the U.S. model. The Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, in particular, led to a lot of self-satisfied moralizing. Thus, in 2000, Lawrence Summers, then the Treasury secretary, declared that the keys to avoiding financial crisis were "well-capitalized and supervised banks, effective corporate governance and bankruptcy codes, and credible means of contract enforcement." By implication, these were things the Asians lacked but we had.

We didn't.

The accounting scandals at Enron and WorldCom dispelled the myth of effective corporate governance. These days, the idea that our banks were well capitalized and supervised sounds like a sick joke. And now the mortgage mess is making nonsense of claims that we have effective contract enforcement -- in fact, the question is whether our economy is governed by any kind of rule of law.

The story so far: An epic housing bust and sustained high unemployment have led to an epidemic of default, with millions of homeowners falling behind on mortgage payments. So servicers -- the companies that collect payments on behalf of mortgage owners -- have been foreclosing on many mortgages, seizing many homes.

But do they actually have the right to seize these homes? Horror stories have been proliferating, like the case of the Florida man whose home was taken even though he had no mortgage. More significantly, certain players have been ignoring the law. Courts have been approving foreclosures without requiring that mortgage servicers produce appropriate documentation; instead, they have relied on affidavits asserting that the papers are in order. And these affidavits were often produced by "robo-signers," or low-level employees who had no idea whether their assertions were true.

Now an awful truth is becoming apparent: In many cases, the documentation doesn't exist. In the frenzy of the bubble, much home lending was undertaken by fly-by-night companies trying to generate as much volume as possible. These loans were sold off to mortgage "trusts," which, in turn, sliced and diced them into mortgage-backed securities. The trusts were legally required to obtain and hold the mortgage notes that specified the borrowers' obligations. But it's now apparent that such niceties were frequently neglected. And this means that many of the foreclosures now taking place are, in fact, illegal.

This is very, very bad. For one thing, it's a near certainty that significant numbers of borrowers are being defrauded -- charged fees they don't actually owe, declared in default when, by the terms of their loan agreements, they aren't.

Beyond that, if trusts can't produce proof that they actually own the mortgages against which they have been selling claims, the sponsors of these trusts will face lawsuits from investors who bought these claims -- claims that are now, in many cases, worth only a small fraction of their face value.

And who are these sponsors? Major financial institutions -- the same institutions supposedly rescued by government programs last year. So the mortgage mess threatens to produce another financial crisis.

What can be done?

Behind The Latest Food Crisis


As usual, speculation is behind most of it. When you consider the small number of humans who benefit from the rise in food prices vs the mass numbers of people at borderline starvation as it is who will be harmed by the profit taking of the speculators, the only sensible path is to outlaw speculation on essential commodities.

The woman in this report is far closer to the truth than the men.

I'd really like to know when the economy was ever better for the average guy or gal under the Republicans.

Estimates Say Fewer Jobs, Larger Deficits if Republicans Were in Charge

by Andrew Romano

Nothing is more important to Republican politicians these days than jobs and the deficit--at least according to Republican politicians. As House Minority Leader John Boehner put it in a "major economic address" on Tuesday, President Obama is "doing everything possible to prevent jobs from being created" while refusing to do anything at all "about bringing down the deficits that threaten our economy." Elect Republicans in November, Boehner assured his audience, and we will put an end to this insanity.

There's only one problem with Boehner's message: so far, the things that Republicans have said they want to do won't actually boost employment or reduce deficits. In fact, much the opposite. By combing through a variety of studies and projections from nonpartisan economic sources, we here at Gaggle headquarters have found that if Republicans were in charge from January 2009 onward--and if they were now given carte blanche to enact the proposals they want to--the projected 2010-2020 deficits would be larger than they are under Obama, and fewer people would probably be employed.

The math is pretty straightforward. Let's start with the deficit. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obama's stimulus plan is projected to increase budget deficits over the next decade by $814 billion. That's a big number. But Republicans opposed the legislation refused to provide an alternative, and now insist that it's been a total failure. So let's be generous and subtract it from their side of the equation. The Obama deficit: $814 billion. The GOP deficit: $0.

Next up is health-care reform. Obama passed it; Republicans want to repeal it "lock, stock, and barrel." The reason, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explained in July, is that "we all know that it's going to increase the deficit." Unfortunately for the GOP, though, nonpartisan experts tend to disagree. Just this Tuesday, for example, the CBO released a letter saying that Obama's health-care-reform legislation would "reduce the projected budget deficit by $30 billion over the next 10 years," while repealing the law would generate "an increase in deficits ... of $455 billion ... over that [same] period." Factor those figures into the equation and the Obama deficit falls to $784 billion. The GOP deficit, meanwhile, rises to $455 billion. Getting warmer.

The final piece of the puzzle is the Bush tax cuts. Obama wants to extend them for the 95 percent of taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year; Republicans want to extend them for everybody. How will these extensions affect the deficit? Glad you asked. According to data compiled by The Washington Post, "the Democratic proposal would add about $3 trillion to the deficit during the next decade, while the GOP plan would cost $3.7 trillion." That brings the total Obama deficit to $3.784 trillion over 10 years, and its GOP counterpart to--drumroll, please--$4.155 trillion.

That's right. Even if we assume that the Republicans would've spent $0 to stimulate the economy in the wake of the largest economic collapse since the Great Depression--an unlikely scenario, given the very real risks of inaction--their proposed policies would still produce a deficit $371 billion larger than President Obama's.

(Or $335 billion; Boehner also says he'd like to freeze nondefense discretionary spending at 2008 levels, which would save a grand total of $36 billion.)

Profit For Profits Sake


CHART OF THE DAY: The Link Between Corporate Profits And Investment Is Dead

What are companies doing with all their cash? Not investing.

This chart clearly demonstrates what a lot of people have been complaining about: that companies are spending money on buybacks and mergers and not anything that will create new business or jobs.

Specifically, as this chart form the New America Foundation equipment and software spending seem pretty delinked from profit.




It's amazing how these crystals are reminiscent of Asian aesthetics.


Beijing screenwriter Yanping Wang focused her microscope on crystals within traditional Chinese soy sauce to produce this unusual 16x image. (click to enlarge)

DADT Shot Down Again


It's beyond me why Obama doesn't just sign an executive order.

Judge orders global ban on 'don't ask'

By Josh Gerstein

A federal judge has ordered a worldwide halt to enforcement of the Defense Department's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips issued the injunction Tuesday after finding last month that the policy -- made law by Congress in 1993 -- violates the constitutional rights of service members. She acted on a lawsuit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay political coalition.

The Justice Department had urged Phillips, who sits in Riverside, Calif., to limit any relief to members of the Log Cabin group or to the named plaintiffs. Her order, however, applies to all U.S. military operations around the globe.

The White House and Pentagon had no immediate reaction to the order, which took effect at the time it was issued.

If the Justice Department continues its present policy of defending the "don't ask" statute despite President Barack Obama's call for its repeal, an appeal is likely -- a move that would likely anger gay rights activists who have pressed for an end to the policy. A confrontation with a strongly Democratic constituency a few weeks before crucial midterm elections cannot be welcome news for the White House.

At the daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs would not comment specifically on the injunction but said Obama is committed to dismantling the ban on gays in the military. "The president will continue to work as hard as he can to change the law that he believes is fundamentally unfair," Gibbs said.

At the same time, advocates cheered the judge's action -- and her decision to reject the government's call for a more limited order.

"A world-wide injunction was the only reasonable solution," said Christian Berle, acting executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "This decision is ... a victory for all who support a strong national defense. No longer will our military be compelled to discharge service members with valuable skills and experience because of an archaic policy mandating irrational discrimination."

At least one gay rights group suggested a higher court will likely put Phillips's ruling on ice.

Jury Nullification : A Power of the People


Do you know what Jury Nullification is?

I didn't until I read 'So Utterly Inhumane' by Bob Herbert about the outrageous travesty of justice involving the Scott sisters of Mississippi each handed two life sentences for an $11 robbery 17 years ago...and a comment to that article shown below:

3. dennis speer -santa cruz, ca

Why do you and other columnists still cling to calling the court system we have "The Justice System"?

We have a legal system that admittedly is more interested in following rules written by bought and paid for politicians than it is in justice.

I heartily agree we need prisons and jails and that we have members of society best kept away from others. I also am thankful we have police willing to put their lives on the line daily to protect us.

However, the legal system we have, when combined with the idea of elected District Attorneys and elected judges, promotes vociferous prosecutions planned to build up the win column of the DA more than to seek justice.

Lawyers work to defend and attack through timing filings and avoiding disclosures to further their side of the case not to find justice or fairness.

Juries consistently are not made aware of their power and rights thereby ending up fully reliant on a judge's charge to them. That judge may be up for election and pandering to what their political consultants think the public wants.

That most people do not know of Jury Nullification is sad. The whole purpose of creating juries 500 years ago was to provide the accused a panel of folks similar to themselves that would review the particulars of the incident and determine what served justice. The jury could agree that the accused did what they were accused of, and that what they did was against the written law, and due to circumstances, nullify the law in this instance.

Each and every jury trial is not just a trial of the accused, it is a trial of the law as well.

The problem is that our judges do not like the idea of conceding that power to the juries as they wish to retain that power. Some courts have ruled it illegal for members of the bar to inform the jury they have that power. If the jury realizes they have that power on their own, they can exercise it, but they are not taught that in school, nor are the lawyers allowed to tell them, and judges refrain from doing so.

The instructions to the jury in this case are the most egregious example of bad judging I have ever heard of, and hopefully some outcry will lead to more members of the public aware of the discrepancy between justice and the legal system we currently have.

Organizations With More Information

Articles and other works

With Democats like this...


who needs Republicans or the Tea Party?

Brilliant Tranformation


When you are the canvass...

Beck's Brood of Killers


Beck is a facile provocateur and enough of a coward that he would deny any responsibility for the actions of people inspired by his conspiratorial rhetoric. Yet here from Media Matters is lengthy proof positive that Beck's words have serious consequences in the real world beyond his self-aggrandizing radio and TV shows.

"Progressive Hunter"

Jailhouse Confession: How the right-wing media and Glenn Beck's chalkboard drove Byron Williams to plot assassination

by John Hamilton

"I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn't for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind." - Byron Williams

Byron Williams, a 45-year-old ex-felon, exploded onto the national stage in the early morning hours of July 18.

byronwilliams.jpgAccording to a police investigation, Williams opened fire on California Highway Patrol officers who had stopped him on an Oakland freeway for driving erratically. For 12 frantic minutes, Williams traded shots with the police, employing three firearms and a small arsenal of ammunition, including armor-piercing rounds fired from a .308-caliber rifle.

When the smoke cleared, Williams surrendered; the ballistic body armor he was wearing had saved his life. Miraculously, only two of the 10 CHP officers involved in the shootout were injured.

In an affidavit, an Oakland police investigator reported that during an interview at the hospital, Williams "stated that his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU."

Fifteen years after militia-movement-inspired bombers killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City federal building, right-wing domestic terror plots are a fact of life in America. Since 2008, violent extremists -- many of whom subscribe to the hate speech and conspiratorial fantasies of the conservative media -- have murdered churchgoers in Knoxville, police officers in Pittsburgh, and an abortion provider in Wichita.

Conspiracy theory-fueled extremism has long been a reaction to progressive government in the United States. Half a century ago, historian Richard Hofstadter wrote that right-wing thought had come to be dominated by the belief that Communist agents had infiltrated all levels of American government and society. The right, he explained, had identified a "sustained conspiracy, running over more than a generation, and reaching its climax in Roosevelt's New Deal, to undermine free capitalism, to bring the economy under the direction of the federal government, and to pave the way for socialism or communism."

In a 2009 report, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the anti-government militia movement -- which had risen to prominence during the Clinton administration and faded away during the Bush years -- has returned. According to the SPLC, the anti-government resurgence has been buttressed by paranoid rhetoric from public officials like Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and media figures like Fox News' Glenn Beck.

Just last month, Gregory Giusti pleaded guilty to repeatedly threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- including threatening to destroy her California home -- because he was "upset with her passing the health care law." His mother told a local news station that he "frequently gets in with a group of people that have really radical ideas," adding, "I'd say Fox News or all of those that are really radical, and he -- that's where he comes from."

Savage-Rumbaugh and the Bonobos


Savage-Rumbaugh's work with bonobo apes, which can understand spoken language and learn tasks by watching, forces the audience to rethink how much of what a species can do is determined by biology -- and how much by cultural exposure.

Facebook is not the result of genius


Facebook is the inevitable result of common technological advances being commandeered by and for not very interesting people who are desperately seeking their Madonna.

Facebook: Where genius was 1% inspiration, 99% timeliness

"We need to think harder about whether we want to spend our limited dollars on the vision of innovation in the Facebook movie or the reality of innovation behind Facebook."

by Ezra Klein

Much like a Facebook profile, "The Social Network" is made more appealing through some artful lies, well-chosen omissions and careful shading.

Co-founder Eduardo Saverin's ejection from the company, for instance, is turned from a story of inattentive financial management into a senseless betrayal of a friend. And though the movie portrays Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as a pining loner, he has actually dated the same girl since 2003.

But it's not the details of Zuckerberg's life that mislead so much as the decision to focus on Zuckerberg at all. The movie recasts a story of inevitable technological change as the saga of a socially inept genius, two or three of his most important relationships and the social pressures of Harvard University. That makes for a better film, of course. But it misses the richer drama behind transformative innovations like Facebook, and it's part and parcel of the way we misunderstand, and thus impede, innovation.

"The idea of the lone genius who has the eureka moment where they suddenly get a great idea that changes the world is not just the exception," says Steven Johnson, author of " Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation ," "but almost nonexistent."

And that's because innovation isn't really about individuals.

I was not born physically or mentally superior to my grandparents. But I would have been much likelier to invent Facebook than they were. The natural capabilities of human beings don't change much from year to year, but their environments do, and so do the technology and store of knowledge they can access. Better sanitation lets people live in cities, where they can learn from one another. Transportation and communication advances allow ideas to mingle across distances that, a thousand years ago, they would never have traversed. The development of the Internet makes the coding of social networks possible.

When these advances happen, they happen to many people simultaneously, so many people tend to see the next step forward at the same time. In 2003, we were all social network geniuses, at least compared with everyone in 1993.

The Government Spending Surge Myth


Prof Krugman supports an argument I've been making in conversations about the conservative and Teabag Party obsessions with increased government spending that there really hasn't been any great increase in spending or giant bureaucracies since Obama took office. Where's the beef?

Hey, Small Spender

By Paul Krugman

Here's the narrative you hear everywhere: President Obama has presided over a huge expansion of government, but unemployment has remained high. And this proves that government spending can't create jobs.

Here's what you need to know: The whole story is a myth. There never was a big expansion of government spending. In fact, that has been the key problem with economic policy in the Obama years: we never had the kind of fiscal expansion that might have created the millions of jobs we need.

Ask yourself: What major new federal programs have started up since Mr. Obama took office? Health care reform, for the most part, hasn't kicked in yet, so that can't be it. So are there giant infrastructure projects under way? No. Are there huge new benefits for low-income workers or the poor? No. Where's all that spending we keep hearing about? It never happened.

To be fair, spending on safety-net programs, mainly unemployment insurance and Medicaid, has risen -- because, in case you haven't noticed, there has been a surge in the number of Americans without jobs and badly in need of help. And there were also substantial outlays to rescue troubled financial institutions, although it appears that the government will get most of its money back. But when people denounce big government, they usually have in mind the creation of big bureaucracies and major new programs. And that just hasn't taken place.

Consider, in particular, one fact that might surprise you: The total number of government workers in America has been falling, not rising, under Mr. Obama. A small increase in federal employment was swamped by sharp declines at the state and local level -- most notably, by layoffs of schoolteachers. Total government payrolls have fallen by more than 350,000 since January 2009.

Now, direct employment isn't a perfect measure of the government's size, since the government also employs workers indirectly when it buys goods and services from the private sector. And government purchases of goods and services have gone up. But adjusted for inflation, they rose only 3 percent over the last two years -- a pace slower than that of the previous two years, and slower than the economy's normal rate of growth.

So as I said, the big government expansion everyone talks about never happened. This fact, however, raises two questions. First, we know that Congress enacted a stimulus bill in early 2009; why didn't that translate into a big rise in government spending? Second, if the expansion never happened, why does everyone think it did?

Virgin Gliding


I love beautiful engineering.

spaceship2.jpgVirgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo plane, also known as VSS Enterprise, glides earthward after its release from the White Knight Two mothership. The unpowered flight was piloted by Pete Siebold, an engineer and test pilot at Scaled Composites.

Alan Boyle writes:Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane was set loose for its first gliding flight today, about 45,000 feet above California's Mojave Desert and landed to a chorus of cheers minutes later. That's one small step for gliders, but one giant leap for SpaceShipTwo and the future of suborbital space tourism.

The free-flying test was chronicled as it happened by Popular Mechanics' Joe Bargmann from the Mojave Air and Space Port, where the spaceship's builder, Scaled Composites, has its headquarters. Scaled has been working on the craft for years as a commercial follow-up to the history-making, prize-winning spaceflights of SpaceShipOne in 2004. The $100 million-plus development effort is being bankrolled by Virgin's billionaire founder, Richard Branson, who was among the crowd watching today's flight.

More than 300 would-be passengers have already put down more than $45 million in deposits for $200,000-a-seat rides on the plane. The experience will include a roller-coaster rocket ride to a spaceworthy altitude of more than 65 miles, several minutes of weightlessness, a picture-window view of the curving Earth beneath the black sky of space ... and spaceflight bragging rights for years afterward.

Eventually, the price is expected to work its way down to mere tens of thousands of dollars, particularly as competitors such as Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin and XCOR Aerospace join the market.

Down the Dark Ladder


Paul laments the decision by NJ Governor Chris Christie to cancel the huge public works program of a second NY/NJ tunnel and describes how it is part and parcel of the country's downward spiral.

The End of the Tunnel

By Paul Krugman

The Erie Canal. Hoover Dam. The Interstate Highway System. Visionary public projects are part of the American tradition, and have been a major driver of our economic development.

And right now, by any rational calculation, would be an especially good time to improve the nation's infrastructure. We have the need: our roads, our rail lines, our water and sewer systems are antiquated and increasingly inadequate. We have the resources: a million-and-a-half construction workers are sitting idle, and putting them to work would help the economy as a whole recover from its slump. And the price is right: with interest rates on federal debt at near-record lows, there has never been a better time to borrow for long-term investment.

But American politics these days is anything but rational. Republicans bitterly opposed even the modest infrastructure spending contained in the Obama stimulus plan. And, on Thursday, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, canceled America's most important current public works project, the long-planned and much-needed second rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

It was a destructive and incredibly foolish decision on multiple levels. But it shouldn't have been all that surprising. We are no longer the nation that used to amaze the world with its visionary projects. We have become, instead, a nation whose politicians seem to compete over who can show the least vision, the least concern about the future and the greatest willingness to pander to short-term, narrow-minded selfishness.

So, about that tunnel: with almost 1,200 people per square mile, New Jersey is the most densely populated state in America, more densely populated than any major European nation. Add in the fact that many residents work in New York, and you have a state that can't function without adequate public transportation. There just isn't enough space for everyone to drive to work.

But right now there's just one century-old rail tunnel linking New Jersey and New York -- and it's running close to capacity. The need for another tunnel couldn't be more obvious.

So last year the project began. Of the $8.7 billion in planned funding, less than a third was to come from the State of New Jersey; the rest would come, in roughly equal amounts, from the independent Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and from the federal government. Even if costs were to rise substantially, as they often do on big projects, it was a very good deal for the state.

But Mr. Christie killed it anyway.

The Solution to Wall St Excess Risk Taking


A perfect solution - that will never happen.

"We can't turn back the clock: Wall Street's big firms will never again be private partnerships. Instead, I propose that each large Wall Street firm create a new security that represents -- and is secured by -- the entire net worth of its 100 top executives. This security would be subordinated to all other creditors as well as to all preferred and common shareholders; in other words, if a firm goes bankrupt, this security is the first to be wiped out."

Make Wall Street Risk It All

By William D Cohen

Two years after the near collapse of capitalism, we certainly have our fill of financial reforms. The 2,200-page Dodd-Frank Act, which President Obama signed this summer, creates an Orwellian alphabet soup of new agencies, oversight boards and offices intended to protect us from ourselves.

The problem is that since the incentives on Wall Street have not been changed one iota by the new laws -- nor are they likely to be changed by any of the soon-to-be-written regulations of federal agencies -- we're no better protected from bankers' potentially reckless behavior than we were before the latest round of reforms.

It's not that Dodd-Frank ignored Wall Street's past excesses. The law will ensure that some, but not all, derivatives will have to be traded on exchanges and that some, but not all, of the banks' proprietary trading will be curbed and that some, but not all, of their private-equity and hedge funds will be shuttered or spun off. Dodd-Frank is also supposed to curtail Wall Street's penchant for creating conflicts of interest, although how the law is going to do that is far from clear.

"In the end, our financial system only works -- our market is only free -- when there are clear rules and basic safeguards that prevent abuse, that check excess, that ensure that it is more profitable to play by the rules than to game the system," President Obama said when he signed the bill into law. That rhetoric is fine, but unfortunately Dodd-Frank will do nothing to change the rules on Wall Street.

Nor, frankly, will the expected coming into force, in a couple of years, of the new Basel III capital rules, which will likely require banks to have common equity equal to 7 percent of the value of their assets.

Bankers and traders still have the same irresponsible, accountability-free incentives they have had for the past 40 years to generate as much revenue as they possibly can each year, regardless of the consequences. The change occurred when Wall Street firms stopped being partnerships, in which every partner put his full wealth on the line every day, and became corporations, which put the risks on their shareholders and creditors.

Dodd-Frank and Basel III both missed plum opportunities to change Wall Street's incentive structure. Which is a shame, since it would not have been difficult. Human behavior is pretty simple actually. We do what we are rewarded to do. On Wall Street, people are hugely overcompensated for generating revenue, which they do by selling products (stocks, bonds, advice on mergers or investing) and by using their vast balance sheets to facilitate trades for clients and to take the risks others don't want to take.

What's made all this possible is the vast amounts of capital that Wall Street firms have amassed. Fifty years ago, Goldman Sachs had around $10 million of capital, which came from its partners; today Goldman has upward of $74 billion of capital, derived mostly from the generosity of its shareholders and the creditors who have bought Goldman's public and private securities.

Over the past generation, this business model has worked well for one group in particular: the bankers, traders and honchos who work on Wall Street. These days on Wall Street, around 50 percent of every dollar of revenue generated is paid out to its employees in the form of compensation. What other business on earth does this? None.

And how would Dodd-Frank change this dynamic?

Maddow Pulls Curtain On King Jerk


How to discredit yourself as a rational person, let alone a politician, in fell swoop. If this man's behavior and intellectual stances in the interview are any indication of his general approach to information, he's not even a decent scientist. He came across as an argumentative paranoid more than anything else.

The Currency Trading Bubble


What happens when money itself is the commodity bubble?

The Global Currency Markets Now Trade The Entire US Economy Every 3.7 Days

Vincent Fernando, CFA and Kamelia Angelova


Currency trading is all the rage right now, and many have worried about a currency trading bubble, for good reason. Just look at the volume data below from the Bank for International Settlements.

Total global currency trading volume has increased by 221% since 2001. Nearly four trillion dollars are now traded every day, on average, which is like trading the value of the entire U.S. economy... every 3.7 days.

In addition, some currencies have seen an even sharper volume explosion. The Canadian dollar (CAD) has seen its trading volume with the U.S dollar (USD/CAD) increase by 237% since 2001. The Australian dollar is even hotter. It's trading volume with the US dollar (USD/AUD) has jumped 388% since 2001 and it's one of the most rapidly growing currencies in the world for traders.

What's crazy about the trend below is that if it were to repeat itself over the next decade, then we'd be talking about $12 trillion or more in volume traded each day by 2020. Is this sustainable?

Chamber of Commerce Crooks


Obama Vetoes Foreclosure Bill


The bill passed by the House as far back as April would have made it far easier for banks to foreclose on houses with fake paper work. These guys are such rats. They lose or intentionally secret the original paperwork for tax avoidance reasons, lose the paperwork and then get foreclosure paper mills to produce fake or facsimiles which get signed as authoritative willy nilly with no evidence whatsoever of rightful ownership to present to courts. Unbelievable!

Calls for investigations to this sort of fraud have produced further calls for a moratorium on all foreclosure cases.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Foreclosure Crisis
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Foreclosuregate and Obama's "Pocket Veto"

by Ellen Brown

Amid a snowballing foreclosure fraud crisis, President Obama today blocked legislation that critics say could have made it more difficult for homeowners to challenge foreclosure proceedings against them.

The bill passed the Senate with unanimous consent and with no scrutiny by the DC media. In a maneuver known as a "pocket veto," President Obama indirectly vetoed the legislation by declining to sign the bill passed by Congress while legislators are on recess.

The White House issued a statement regarding the veto, citing the need for "further deliberations on the intended and unintended impact of [the] bill on consumer protections, including mortgages, before this bill can be finalized."

The swift passage and the president's subsequent veto of this bill come on the heels of an announcement that Wall Street banks are voluntarily suspending foreclosure proceedings in 23 states.

By most reports, it would appear that the voluntary suspension of foreclosures is underway to review simple, careless, procedural errors - errors which the conscientious banks are hastening to correct. Even Gretchen Morgenson in The New York Times characterizes the problem as "flawed paperwork."

However, those errors go far deeper than mere sloppiness; they are concealing a massive fraud. They cannot be corrected with legitimate paperwork, and that was the reason the servicers had to hire "foreclosure mills" to fabricate the documents. These errors involve perjury and forgery - fabricating documents that never existed and swearing to the accuracy of facts not known.

Karl Denninger at MarketTicker is calling it "Foreclosuregate." Diana Ollick of CNBC calls it "the RoboSigning Scandal." On Monday, Ollick reported rumors that the government is planning a 90-day foreclosure moratorium to deal with the problem.

Three large mortgage issuers - JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and GMAC - have voluntarily suspended thousands of foreclosures, and a number of calls have been made for investigations.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray announced on Wednesday that he is filing suit against Ally Financial and GMAC for civil penalties up to $25,000 per violation for fraud in hundreds of foreclosure suits.

These problems cannot be swept under the rug as mere technicalities. They go to the heart of the securitization process itself. The snowball has just started to roll.

You Can't Recover What Doesn't Exist

How Canadian Health Care Came to Be


And why the US needs it even more :

Creation (requires powerpoint)

Randall Munroe's Online Community Map


You can enlarge this cute (and statistically accurate) map of the Blogosphere by clicking the pic below and you can also order it as a wall poster from Randall Munroe, master mind of xkcd.com .

Perspective: Note in the lower, left hand inset that the entire internet map is still but a tiny portion of the larger continent of Spoken Language. Irrespective of our feeling that the world is now universally wired, most human inhabitants of earth are not computer literate and do not have access to the internet - nor would they experience any withdrawal nor miss it if it went dark.


Sharon Angle is a Dumpy Wrinkled Liar


Check this Countdown expose on her latest and sickening bigoted ad:

TARP and the GDP


The facts of it:


Click pic for details

Quote de Jour


"Socializing on the internet is to socializing
what Reality TV is to reality. "

- Arron Sorkin ("The Social Network')

Now before you get your panties all in a wad or start gasping and clutching at your pearls in fear of a coming tide of bearded jihadists, it would be to your advantage to read this essay fully to discover a much truer nature of Islamic thought regarding a proper response to the recent ignorant defamations against the Qur'ān than allowing the media driven stereotype that generally rattles around in the western brain to take control.

As an atheist, I don't experience the reverence that Muslims or Christians do for their respective scriptures but I do experience a reverence of sorts for the idea of elevating one's conscious sense of empathy and rationality. That's what I found in this essay; an elevated meaning for the idea of Jihād

"If I asked for people to die for the sake of God, I would have them lining up at my house; but when I ask people to live for the sake of God, I can't find anyone."

- Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah

via an email from: MuslimMatters.org

1st Ethical, written by Abu Eesa Niamatullah 8/28/10

If there's anything that the last few weeks on the international news scene have shown us, it would be how difficult it is to not fall into the trap of giving what should have been the non-story of a single individual's attempts at insulting the Noble Qur'ān yet further attention and coverage.

This is especially the case considering the fact that the Qur'ān is sadly desecrated by enemies of humanity on a regular basis - many news reports have shown this to be true and a brief foray into the online freak-world of the extreme right-wing will show the true reality of a deep-set destructive hatred which can't always have heroes like Jacob Isom around to save the day. Or at least save the "Koran", because of course as has now been written into the annals of modern history, "Dude, you have no Koran!"

The fact that there is a concerted effort in much of the populist media and even some areas of academia willfully misrepresenting and re-writing Islam as something unrecognizable to Muslims is far worse than the childish rhetoric of the fascinatingly style-conscious yet utterly naive Pastor Jones, who although claiming to speak on behalf of America and Christianity, has actually proved that carpentry may be the only thing he has in common with the Prophet Jesus.

But seriously, how does the orthodox Muslim respond to such outrageous and unacceptable attacks against God's own spoken Word - the Last Testament - to mankind? Disrespect to the Qur'ān is more than just a slap in the face to Muslims; rather it is a knife in the heart of every believer who realizes the true status of the most sanctified representation of God's message on the face of the Earth.

Moreover, considering that the Islamic belief in God is not just an abstract thought in the mind, but rather a living, breathing, active theology which engages every aspect of society - designed to respond to every single challenge in modern life itself - then no Muslim needs to be restricting themselves to pacifism or a defensive apologetic approach. It is clear that such actions like those of Pastor Jones are intended only to outrage, provoke violence, and force the Muslims to respond in the strongest way possible.

Thus for such insults and disgrace, Islam has indeed specifically legislated a clear and unequivocal response to those who would treat it in this way: Jihād.

Yes. Jihād.

Let's look at what God Himself says in the Qur'ān:


The wording in the Arabic here is very clear: Jāhid-hum i.e. "make Jihād against them" yet it won't escape you that the weapon to be used during this act of Jihād is referred to as simply "it". Thus the mind could quite rightly start to think about machine-guns, knives, bombs or whatever way possible to cause as much death and destruction through revenge as possible, right?


You see, when your religious narrative is taken out of the hands of Islamic scholars and instead hijacked by Muslim extremists on one side, and non-Muslim extremists on the other, it is easy to see why the very mention of the word Jihād causes the hearts of millions of people to skip a beat and then bring forth the standard hate-filled rhetoric we've become so accustomed to through those bastions of public news services such as the al-Qaedah newsgroup or the slightly less clandestine Fox News network.

But if we were to ask the experts and scholars of Islam what the weapon in this verse actually is, you will find a near-consensus that the weapon is the Qur'ān itself.

Read and check virtually every single book of tafsīr (Qur'ānic exegesis) and you will find the same statement each time, leading us to now translate the above verse as:


What this noble verse tells us is very important. We are firstly shown directly what the true meaning of Jihād actually means i.e. "to strive". We also learn more importantly that as a Muslim community that often comes under attack for a number of reasons - some self-inflicted, others not so - our response is not to be based upon our own emotions and opinions.

Every true Muslim's heart will be full of rage against anyone who would disrespect Holy Scripture. Many thoughts might go through our mind on how to respond, but God himself commands the believers to be patient, be steadfast and to convey the true message of the Qur'ān. If someone attacks the religion, then you respond with that which is better. If someone wishes to engage in ignorance, you respond by education. Strive hard against all antagonists with the arguments and proofs of the Qur'ān itself, and don't turn to anger and hatred lest irrationality and emotion causes you to do something which is far removed from Islam.

The actions of extreme right-wing racists, xenophobes or just simple Islamophobic people are all aimed at provoking an equally mindless and emotive response, so that it can justify their own ignorance and transgression in the first place.

Reacting in such a fashion is not what Muslims should do. It really isn't. We neither descend to such depths of human depravity in our responses and neither do we act in a fashion that causes even more problems and damage.

Islam, the Qur'ān and the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) have always been attacked by the ignorant. Sadly, this is not the first time and it won't be the last. Yet our course of action and the mode of our behaviour should mirror that of the one who was sent to perfect all actions and modes of behaviour.

When the Prophet was jeered at by the aggressors of the Quraysh tribe and was insulted by being called Mudhammam i.e. "the rebuked one", he turned to his companions and said, "that's what they say, but I am Muhammad" i.e. "the praised one."

"And truly (O Muhammad), you are on an exalted standard of character." (68:4)

Despite the treachery and enmity shown by some of the Jewish tribes when the Prophet went to Madīnah, he was still recognized as the authority in the city. He was requested to judge in an adultery case between two Jews and once the Prophet (upon whom be peace) arrived at the house known as Bayt'l-Midrās, he was seated inside and given a cushion for his comfort. The Prophet wanted to use Jewish law to give the ruling and asked for the Old Testament to be brought forward (the Torah) and when it was brought to him, he gently took the cushion out from underneath himself and then placed the Torah upon it, and said, "I believe in you, and in He who sent you."

"And truly (O Muhammad), you are on an exalted standard of character." (68:4)

The attitude of the Muslim with sacred scripture couldn't be more removed from that of the extremist bigots who have captured the headlines. This example of the Prophet Muhammad with the Old Testament speaks volumes, despite the Islamic belief that insertions have been made and the text changed from the original message of the Torah. Yet for the reason that it is a book, and more than that a book of knowledge, and more than that a book of Scripture, and more than that a book held to be sanctified and loved by a people, that we likewise show it respect and honour. All of these four features are individual and separate blessed reasons why Muslims must act the way that their Prophet shows them.

We cannot take responsibility for the actions of others, but we certainly will be held accountable for our own decisions and actions. And at this time when ignorance has become the order of the day, our response really has to be the education of the other through Jihād with the Qur'ān. We must take this opportunity to explain to people the real message behind the "Last Testament", to encourage people to look inside and read instead of burn, to become proactive and reach out to the masses by showing them the great injustice they are doing to themselves by disrespecting one of the world's greatest books of Holy Scripture.

The ignorant might wish to burn us inside by setting ablaze God's Word, but if it does make you smoulder, then at least burn like incense - bring beauty, fragrance, benefit and guidance to humanity by living and promoting the Word as it should be.


Here at 1st Ethical, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage you all to support our Jihād campaign to get as many non-Muslims to hear the message of the Qur'ān, because we sincerely believe that the more the good ordinary citizens of the world hear the true message of the Last Testament, the innocent audience that the extremists prey upon will dwindle, so that we can pray for the rest.

from the Global Warming is a myth dept


Q: Where do the global warming skeptics stand now?

A: On thin ice.

Water cycle seems out of whack, experts find

18 percent more water fed into oceans in 2006 than in 1994, satellite data show

Researchers who set out to create a baseline for future research on water cycle trends on Monday reported an alarming discovery: 18 percent more water was fed into the oceans from rivers and melting polar ice sheets in 2006 than in 1994.

"That might not sound like much -- 1.5 percent a year -- but after a few decades, it's huge," researcher Jay Famiglietti said in a statement released with the report in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"In general, more water is good," said Famiglietti, an earth system professor at the University of California-Irvine. "But here's the problem: Not everybody is getting more rainfall, and those who are may not need it.

"What we're seeing is exactly what the (U.N.) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted, that precipitation is increasing in the tropics and the Arctic Circle with heavier, more punishing storms," he added. "Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of people live in semi-arid regions, and those are drying up."

The experts suspect that the evaporation and precipitation cycle of water is accelerating dangerously because of greenhouse gas-fueled higher temperatures. That, in turn, would trigger more severe monsoons and hurricanes.

"Hotter weather above the oceans causes freshwater to evaporate faster, which leads to thicker clouds unleashing more powerful storms over land," the statement said. "The rainfall then travels via rivers to the sea in ever-larger amounts, and the cycle begins again."

The researchers said they used satellite data on sea level rise, precipitation and evaporation to create what they called the "longest and first of its kind" record on global water discharge.

Over the 13 years studied, they added, "the trends were all the same: increased evaporation from the ocean that led to increased precipitation on land and more flow back into the ocean."

The experts cautioned, however, that 13 years is a relatively short time frame and that longer-term studies are under way.

No Fee, No Fire Fighting


How god damned stupid is this:

Firefighters Watch As Family Home Burns Down

I got yer Conservative Pledge to America right here:

The conservative vision was on full display last week in Obion County, Tennessee. In this rural section of Tennessee, Gene Cranick's home caught on fire. As the Cranicks fled their home, their neighbors alerted the county's firefighters, who soon arrived at the scene. Yet when the firefighters arrived, they refused to put out the fire, saying that the family failed to pay the annual subscription fee to the fire department.

That's the conservative vision for America for you: calling the fire department should be like subscribing to HBO.

Yep - booze, testosterone, fear and ammo - just the thing a lot of Americans need to compensate for ...well, you know what I mean. Just when you think the country can't get any more lunatic you find:

More States Allowing Guns in Bars and Restaurants

gunmap.jpgNashville - Happy-hour beers were going for $5 at Past Perfect, a cavernous bar just off this city's strip of honky-tonks and tourist shops when Adam Ringenberg walked in with a loaded 9-millimeter pistol in the front pocket of his gray slacks.

Mr. Ringenberg, a technology consultant, is one of the state's nearly 300,000 handgun permit holders who have recently seen their rights greatly expanded by a new law -- one of the nation's first -- that allows them to carry loaded firearms into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

"If someone's sticking a gun in my face, I'm not relying on their charity to keep me alive," said Mr. Ringenberg, 30, who said he carries the gun for personal protection when he is not at work.

Gun rights advocates like Mr. Ringenberg may applaud the new law, but many customers, waiters and restaurateurs here are dismayed by the decision....

comment from:

walter rhett, Charleston, SC

My father was a hunter. We often ate deer his hunt club killed (my speciality is vension ribs and roasts) and my brother was bloodied after his first kill, a ritual drawn from native American practices. His African-American hunt club was celebrated for hunting with white hunt club, one of the first integrated hunts in the area, which made the newspaper, complete with photo showing everyone smiling with their shotguns. We had guns in the house growing up; gun books, and now that my father is deceased, the guns remain in the same drawers, closets, and attics where they have been for years.

But never, never would he or any of the men he hunted with, black or white, carry a weapon in public, either open or concealed. Not to a bar. Or a grocery store. Not out of fear or defense or anticipation of trouble.

His generation which fought in World War II and which put food on the table with guns knew the best way to defend against crime and violence was to avoid it from the very first steps at the beginning, making good decisions about where and when you are going, following common sense rules for personal safety, and accepting that possessng a gun was overkill in random encounters. Ask Plexico Buress. Ask my 10th grade classmate who accidently shot himself in the foot. Ask my police firearms trainer brother who never discharged his weapon in 25 years of dangerous urban conditions of public service.

Ask me. I have been robbed at gun point. I know having a gun would not have allowed me to respond and only increased the likelihood of my being injured or killed. Ask my daughter. Attending a dance in her youth where young men began shoting, additional weapons would have only added more risk, solved nothing, and endangered her escape.

This transfer of an Old West mentality to modern times is pointless, provocative, dangerous, and weakens the social fabric. Individual rights activists for gun rights have gone beyond social bonds. They defy and deny statistics and anecdotes, for the rush of delusion and power their brains are flooded with from the fetish of carrying guns.

In 2008, right after Barack was elected, the run to buy guns and ammunition was so extreme, demand so high, that ammunition makers ran out of bullets. For some calibers there was a six month wait. Sadly, all of these weapons and bullets are still present in the society. And like any material good, they are waiting to be consumed and used - a gun and bullet is not a T-bill to be saved and conserved.

When the same people who have argued for the change of laws began the next round of arguments ratcheting up offical support for the use of guns in new defensive situations or as one politician suggested as a "second amendment remedy," then we will realize the self fulfiling prophecy that allows those with guns to justify, train, and come for us.
--Walter Rhett

Birth of a Nation vs Citizen Kane


Krugman is finally getting real about who's running the show.

Fear and Favor

So the Ministry of Propaganda has, in effect, seized control of the Politburo. What are the implications?

By Paul Krugman

A note to Tea Party activists: This is not the movie you think it is. You probably imagine that you're starring in "The Birth of a Nation," but you're actually just extras in a remake of "Citizen Kane."

True, there have been some changes in the plot. In the original, Kane tried to buy high political office for himself. In the new version, he just puts politicians on his payroll.

I mean that literally. As Politico recently pointed out, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn't currently holding office and isn't named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News. Now, media moguls have often promoted the careers and campaigns of politicians they believe will serve their interests. But directly cutting checks to political favorites takes it to a whole new level of blatancy.

Arguably, this shouldn't be surprising. Modern American conservatism is, in large part, a movement shaped by billionaires and their bank accounts, and assured paychecks for the ideologically loyal are an important part of the system. Scientists willing to deny the existence of man-made climate change, economists willing to declare that tax cuts for the rich are essential to growth, strategic thinkers willing to provide rationales for wars of choice, lawyers willing to provide defenses of torture, all can count on support from a network of organizations that may seem independent on the surface but are largely financed by a handful of ultrawealthy families.

And these organizations have long provided havens for conservative political figures not currently in office. Thus when Senator Rick Santorum was defeated in 2006, he got a new job as head of the America's Enemies program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a think tank that has received funding from the usual sources: the Koch brothers, the Coors family, and so on.

Now Mr. Santorum is one of those paid Fox contributors contemplating a presidential run. What's the difference?

Well, for one thing, Fox News seems to have decided that it no longer needs to maintain even the pretense of being nonpartisan.

The obsessed jerk may have the right to free speech but he also has culpability for the slander and cyberstalking he's been pulling off against a private citizen for half a year. Not only should he fired, he should be sued and possibly jailed.

Michigan employee with blog on gay student takes leave of absence

Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell -- who for nearly six months has blogged about an openly gay college student -- has taken a voluntary leave of absence, the state's attorney general's office confirmed to CNN Friday.

The office does not know the length of Shirvell's leave, but says that it will hold a disciplinary hearing upon his return.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Mike Cox defended his assistant's constitutional right to wage the internet campaign against Chris Armstrong, even though he said he considers Shirvell a "bully."

"Here in America, we have this thing called the First Amendment, which allows people to express what they think and engage in political and social speech," Cox told Anderson Cooper on CNN's "AC 360" on Wednesday night. "He's clearly a bully ... but is that protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution? Yes."

"Mr. [Andrew] Shirvell is sort of a frontline grunt assistant prosecutor in my office," Cox said. "He does satisfactory work and off-hours, he's free to engage under both our civil service rules, Michigan Supreme Court rulings and the United States Supreme Court rule."

But Gov. Jennifer Granholm disagreed. Late Thursday she tweeted, "If I was still attorney general and Andrew Shirvell worked for me, he would have already been fired."

A smart move by the Afghan leadership. Now where oh where will these mercenaries pop up next?

8 private security firms banned in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has banned eight private security firms, including the company formerly known as Blackwater, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai told reporters Sunday.

Among the companies whose operations are being dissolved are Xe (formerly known as Blackwater), NCL, FHI, White Eagles and other small companies, spokesman Waheed Omer said. Both international and domestic companies were affected.

Weapons and ammunition belonging to these companies has been seized, he said.

Xe has several operations in Afghanistan, some of which will not be immediately affected by the decision. While Xe's transportation and highway security operations have stopped, it will continue to offer security for embassies.

"Until we have Afghan security forces up and running, private security companies will continue to operate and serve in training and protection of foreign embassies," Omer said.

Of the eight companies named during the press conference, some have already disbanded, while others are in the process of doing so, Omer said.

Before Sunday's announcement, there were 52 registered private security companies in Afghanistan, half of them international, according to the interior ministry. Now there are 44 private security companies operating in the country.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree last month disbanding all private security firms within four months.

"In order to protect Afghan life and property, avoid corruption, security irregularities and the misuse of military weapons, ammunition and uniforms by the private security companies which have caused tragic incidents, and after the required assessment, I approve shutting down all private security companies within four months, including both domestic and foreign," the decree said.

Homo Empathicus


Dig it!

Without empathy we will not survive.

Thinking Frankly



Liberals Rally in DC


A good sign.

Tens Of Thousands Of Progressives Rally At The Lincoln Memorial For Jobs, Justice And Education

ONE-NATION-RALLY.jpgTens of thousands of civil rights, labor, and other progressive activists gathered on the National Mall today for the One Nation Working Together rally, meant to bring attention to the fight for jobs, justice and education and energize the left one month before the midterm elections.

More than 400 organizations representing tens of thousands of individuals sponsored the rally, bringing together groups like the Sierra Club, United Mine Workers of America, and the NAACP. Backers were touting it as the most diverse march in history.

Nightmare on Main St.



The Untold Story of TARP

Unfortunately, the untold story of TARP's success has been lost in the heated rhetoric of today's politics.

by Herbert Allison

TARP has become a dirty word in our nation's political discourse. Few terms elicit such anger from voters and politicians.

In many ways, that's understandable. No one wanted to bail out Wall Street. No one wanted to use taxpayer dollars to rescue an industry that helped cause the worst economic crisis in a generation.

It was unfair. It was appalling. But it was necessary. We had no other choice.

Two years ago, we stood at the brink of an economic catastrophe. Ordinary American families were questioning whether their money was safe in banks. A growing financial panic threatened to sink our nation into an economic downturn that rivaled the Great Depression.

A bi-partisan majority in Congress responded by enacting the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The debate over this issue was heated. On October 3, 2008, when TARP became law, one member of Congress even went so far as to say, "I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say this may be the day America died."

Two years later, with TARP officially set to expire today, it's an appropriate time to look back and evaluate that program's effectiveness. And now that the fog of an intense financial panic has lifted, it's clear that the critics and cynics were wrong. TARP has proven remarkably successful at stabilizing the economy and laying the foundation for future growth.

Today, our economy is healing. Because of the enormity of the challenges we faced, unemployment is still unacceptably high and growth has not yet reached an acceptable pace. But we're on the path to recovery. Businesses have added jobs for eight straight months. Private investment and confidence in banks have returned. The cost of borrowing for businesses, municipalities and individuals has declined dramatically.

The TARP investments that the Bush and Obama administrations made in GM and Chrysler, as well as the hard decisions that those companies made to adapt and compete, turned those automakers around and saved at least one million jobs. Since GM and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy, the auto industry has added 76,300 jobs - the strongest growth in 10 years - and for the first time since 2004, all of the big three American auto companies are operating profitably.

In fact, independent experts have estimated that overall, without the federal government's response to the financial crisis, including TARP, there would be nearly 8.5 million fewer jobs today and the unemployment rate would exceed 15 percent.

The question, then, is why does TARP remain unpopular, despite its success? I believe, in great part, it's because a number of myths about the program stubbornly persist.

Cool Design Planned for Park51 Center


Though the pictures here are from the rough plans, it appears that the center would provide an excellent architectural addition to the NY cityscape. Hopefully the anti-islamic bigotry* surrounding the project will abate once the construction begins and the interfaith aspects of the center become recognized by the general public.

First Look Inside the Proposed Islamic Center

by Anne Barnard


Visitors to the upper floors of the Muslim community center planned for near ground zero would walk through lofty spaces -- for art exhibitions, for contemplation and prayer, for programs on interreligious dialogue, for a 9/11 memorial -- as sunlight streams through irregularly shaped windows between white crisscrossing beams.

islamiccenter.jpgThat is the image presented in the tentative architectural renderings that the planners of the center, called Park51, have been showing at community meetings in recent weeks, and which were revealed to the wider public for the first time last week.

A sketch of the façade shows a latticework of white starlike designs, echoing patterns that can be seen in Islamic architecture and decorative tiles across the Middle East.

The design was meant to show "hints of tradition," while the use of modern materials and glass panels would give an impression of translucence and "moving toward the future," Sharif el-Gamal, the project's developer, said in an interview last week.

Planners have not begun to raise the $140 million needed for construction or hired an architect.

* Geller uncovers imaginary "Tumbling Star of Davids" in Park51 design

Is O'Donnell A Perfect Decoy?


She is when you consider the outright stupidity and willful ignorance of the sort of people who would vote for her. Have you ever watched the movie Idiocracy? If so, tell me there isn't a pretty good match with what we are confronting when we deal with the likes of the Tea Party dupes. What we need is a giant attic where we can store these people while the serious business of electing people to national government is going on.
That way we could avoid having 20% of the population they represent voting against its own best interests and for the interests of the corporatists and billionaires who are anonymously funding and deluding them.

Kevin Rothstein
Oceanside, New York
October 2nd, 2010 7:08 pm

Let's face it, folks, ours is a nation of imbeciles. Call me elitist, call me smug, but it doesn't change the truth. We are a nation addicted to trivia, to reality shows, to the worship of spectacle and pomp, bread and circuses. We are a nation with a small percentage of individuals who own passports; a majority of its citizens have never left the country. We don't read books, but stay glued to the computer and television. A significant minority don't know the name of the vice-president, nor know which party controls Congress. Nuance, irony, well, they are beyond the comprehension of most of us. We allow the airwaves to be polluted by the likes of Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh, who regurgitate the pablum that their listeners lap up as if it were spoken from the Founding Fathers themselves. It's in times of economic and social upheaval that the shrill mouthings of shills for cynical plutocrats drown out the voices of sanity. A time when a media "personality" can opine that slavery had an innocent beginning until the government spoiled things. We live in dangerous times; it can happen here.

The Very Useful Idiocy of Christine O'Donnell

by Frank Rich

All it took was some 30,000 Republican primary voters in a tiny state to turn Christine O'Donnell into the brightest all-American media meteor since Balloon Boy. For embattled liberals, not to mention the axis of Comedy Central, "Saturday Night Live" and Bill Maher, she's been pure comic gold for weeks: a bottomless trove of baldfaced lies, radical views and sheer wackiness. True, other American politicians have dismissed evolution as a myth. Some may even have denied joining a coven. But history will always remember her for taking a fearless stand against masturbation, the one national pastime with more fans than baseball.

Yet those laughing now may not have the last laugh in November. O'Donnell's timely ascent in the election season's final lap may well prove a godsend for the G.O.P.

At first some Republicans had trouble figuring this out. On primary eve, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee badmouthed O'Donnell's "disturbing pattern of dishonest behavior." On election night, Karl Rove belittled her "nutty" pronouncements and "checkered background" on Fox News. But by the morning after, bygones were bygones. The senatorial committee's chairman, John Cornyn, rewarded O'Donnell's "dishonest behavior" with an enthusiastic endorsement and a big check. A sweaty Rove reversed himself so fast you'd think he'd been forced to stay up all night listening to Glenn Beck's greatest hits at top volume in a Roger Ailes re-education camp.

Rove's flip-flop was no doubt hastened by his own cohort's assaults on both his ideological purity and masculinity. The blogger Michelle Malkin labeled him an "effete sore loser," and Sarah Palin publicly instructed him to "buck up." But surely the larger motive for his retreat was the dawning recognition of just how valuable O'Donnell is to the G.O.P.'s national aspirations in November -- even should she ultimately lose her own race in blue Delaware. Whatever her other talents, she's more than willing to play the role of useful idiot for her party. She gives populist cover to the billionaires and corporate interests that have been steadily annexing the Tea Party movement and busily plotting to cash in their chips if the G.O.P. prevails.

Jon Stewart is a Bigot


Yeah, and I'm a blind deaf and dumb 6 foot wide purple pumpkin...Stewart may be a lot of things, but Stewart is, not even in the most intense stretch of imagination, a bigot. I liked Sanchez, but he really did step in it.

CNN's Sanchez out after controversial comments

sanchez.cnn.jpgCNN anchor Rick Sanchez abruptly left the network Friday afternoon, just one day after making controversial comments on a satellite radio program.

"Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company," according to a statement from CNN. "We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well."

On Thursday, Sanchez appeared on the XM Sirius radio program "Stand-Up with Pete Dominick." During the interview with Dominick, Sanchez called "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart "a bigot" and then said that he was bigoted against "everybody else who's not like him. Look at his show, I mean, what does he surround himself with?"

Dominick pressed for specifics, and Sanchez, who is Cuban-American, responded, "That's what happens when you watch yourself on his show every day, and all they ever do is call you stupid."

Dominick, who was once the warm-up comic at Stewart's Comedy Central show and now has a spot on CNN's "John King, USA," noted that Stewart is Jewish and so a minority himself.

"I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah," Sanchez responded.

Mississippi Just Ice


If these two Black women deserve double life sentences each for an armed theft of $11, what do the the men on Wall St who managed to steal trillions from us deserve? This story is so outrageous it's sickening.

Sisters Serving Life Sentences for Robbery of $11

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous is asking Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to pardon two sisters serving life sentences for their role in a 1993 armed robbery that netted $11.

Jamie and Gladys Scott, then 21 and 19 respectively, each were found guilty of two counts of armed robbery when they were accused of luring two men down a rural road where three men in a following car robbed them at gunpoint.

The three accomplices pleaded guilty and testified against the sisters during the trial. They served prison sentences.

Although prosecutors did not recommend life sentences, the jury had the option of calling for life prison terms.

Jealous said that while the sisters did commit a crime, the punishment they received doesn't fit the crime.

"It is a travesty that in the state of Mississippi, the lives of two Black women are valued at little more than 11 dollars," Jealous said in a statement. "From the outset, the measures in which the Scott sisters were convicted were questionable and pattern themselves after dubious criminal justice trends in Mississippi and nationwide. We intend to pursue justice to the fullest extent for the Scott sisters, and will continue our push for criminal justice reform throughout America."

Jealous isn't alone in his call for leniency. The original prosecutor in the case has stepped forward and said that the sentence is too harsh.

"It was not a particularly egregious case," former Scott County District Attorney Ken Turner told The Jackson Clarion Ledger. "If there is a legal remedy of them to be relieved of some of that sentence, I would think that it would be appropriate under the circumstances."

Shades of Dr Mengele


Isn't amazing how the passage of 3 decades can make people realize how barbaric humans can be to one another? Can you imagine how pathetic today's bigots and Teapartiers are going to look in 30 years?

US apologizes for infecting Guatemalans with STDs in the 1940s

The United States apologized Friday for a 1946-1948 research study in which people in Guatemala were intentionally infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

A statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called the action "reprehensible."

"We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices," the joint statement said. "The conduct exhibited during the study does not represent the values of the United States, or our commitment to human dignity and great respect for the people of Guatemala."

President Barack Obama called his Guatemalan counterpart Friday "offering profound apologies and asking pardon for the deeds of the 1940s," President Alvaro Colom told CNN en Espanol in a telephone interview from Guatemala City.

"Though it happened 64 years ago, it really is a profound violation of human rights," said Colom, who said the report took him by surprise.

Clinton called him on Thursday, he said. "She too offered her apologies," he said, adding that she told him she was ashamed the United States had been involved in the matter.

Asked whether Guatemala was planning to take legal action, Colom said, "That's part of the work of the commission."

"We reject these types of actions, obviously," said Guatemala presidential spokesman Ronaldo Robles. "We know that this took place some time ago, but this is unacceptable and we recognize the apology from Secretary Clinton."

Cannell Gone


Stephen J. Cannell, Prolific TV Writer, Dies at 69

By Bill Carter

cannell.jpgStephen J. Cannell, one of television's most prolific writers and series creators, whose work encompassed the "The Rockford Files" and "Wiseguy" to "The A-Team" and "The Greatest American Hero," died Thursday at his home in Pasadena, Calif. He was 69.

Stephen J. Cannell created almost 20 series, including "The A-Team," with Dwight Schultz (in cap) and George Peppard. He also had a hand in "Wiseguy" and "21 Jump Street."

The cause was complications from melanoma, his family said.

For 30 years, beginning in the early 1970s and extending through the 1990s, television viewers could hardly go a week without running into a show written by Mr. Cannell. His writing credits include more than 1,000 episodes of various series, primarily crime dramas, and he is listed as the creator of almost 20 series -- some long-running hits like "The Rockford Files," and "The Commish," others quick flame-outs like "Booker. " At one point in 1989, Mr. Cannell's company was producing five series on three networks. One of them, "21 Jump Street," introduced a future Oscar nominee to public acclaim: Johnny Depp.

But that was not unusual. Mr. Cannell's shows often opened doors for emerging actors. Jeff Goldblum gained his first wide notice in a short-lived but well-remembered Cannell series, "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe." And "Wiseguy" gave another future Oscar winner, Kevin Spacey, a chance to stand out in a memorable extended turn as a villain.

Mr. Cannell, who regarded his writing less as an art than a craft to which he was both committed and devoted, never writing less than two hours a day, shifted late in his career to crime novels and again proved he had a popular touch. Several of his 16 books, many featuring the detective Shane Scully, were best sellers.

"Most of my things strike to the same theme," Mr. Cannell said in an interview this year in Success magazine, "which is not to take yourself so seriously that you can't grow."

Some Good News



Hi cul,

The September round of the Pepsi Refresh contest ended last night at midnight and the official results are in.

Thanks to your incredible support, we raised $550,000 for 14 progressive non-profit organizations!

Because of your daily votes, here are all the organization that won and the projects that are going to get funded:

League of Young Voters Education Fund ($50,000)

United States Student Association ($25,000)

Wellstone Action Education Fund ($50,000) - Working with Native American leaders for social change

Inner City Law Center ($50,000) - Saving kids from vermin-infested housing

Keystone Progress($50,000) - Teach non-profits how to tell the story of their invaluable work

Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio ($50,000) - Teach communities in Ohio how to prevent housing crises

Polaris Project ($50,000) - End modern-day slavery in the United States

State Voices ($50,000) - Support nonpartisan civic engagement in 16 states

Rockwood Leadership Institute ($50,000) - Provide leadership training for staff of nonprofit organizations

Midwest Academy ($25,000) - Train community organizers

Fuse Washington ($25,000) - Create communications plan that engages activists in Washington

PLAN Nevada ($25,000) - Lift up community voices in Las Vegas and Reno, NV

The SHARE Food Program ($25,000) - Promote health by providing affordable wholesome food to families

Policy Matters Ohio ($25,000) - Do research to create green jobs, clean cities & opportunity for all

You should take a minute and read through the projects. It's inspiring.

From preventing homelessness and fighting human trafficking to training new civic leaders and mobilizing young voters, these projects wouldn't be happening without the money you won. It's half a million dollars going to social change and you're responsible for every penny.

In fact, this project was so successful that we're going to do it again in November.

We're going to take off the month of October and come back on November 1st even stronger.

CPL and USAction Education Fund were the only two groups that didn't win grants this last month. They were competing in the toughest category and just finished just outside of the winning positions. But we think it's winnable and we know the other categories are as well. That's why when we come back in November, CPL and USAction Education Fund will still be on the Slate competing for $250,000 grants and there will be a whole new group of organizations involved.

In the meantime, I can't begin to express how much impact this money is going to have on all the organizations involved.

Thank you for support, your hardwork and your votes.

Thank you for everything.

All the groups participating in the Progressive Slate in September

The Progressive Slate is a project of the Center for Progressive Leadership. CPL is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization. CPL does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, marital status or party affiliation.

This story has been blacked out by US mainstream media and completely suppressed by US officials. The only reason it has come to light is because of a UN Human Rights investigation. I found video below at the Real News Network

UN Fact-Finding Mission Says Israelis "Executed" US Citizen Furkan Dogan

by: Gareth Porter, t r u t h o u t

furkan-dogan.jpgFurkan Dogan, a 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, shown at right, was aboard the Mavi Marmara when he was killed by Israeli commandos.

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.

The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.

The report says Dogan had apparently been "lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time" before being shot in his face.

The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is "tattooing around the wound in his face," indicating that the shot was "delivered at point blank range." The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that "the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back."

Based on both "forensic and firearm evidence," the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan's killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 "can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions." (See Report [.pdf] Page 38, Section 170)

The report confirmed what the Obama administration already knew from the autopsy report on Dogan, but the administration has remained silent about the killing of Dogan, which could be an extremely difficult political problem for the administration in its relations with Israel.

The Turkish government gave the autopsy report on Dogan to the US Embassy in July and it was then passed on to the Department of Justice, according to a US government source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the administration's policy of silence on the matter. The source said the purpose of obtaining the report was to determine whether an investigation of the killing by the Justice Department (DOJ) was appropriate.

Asked by this writer whether the DOJ had received the autopsy report on Dogan, DOJ spokesperson Laura Sweeney refused to comment.

The administration has not volunteered any comment on the fact-finding mission report and was not asked to do so by any news organization. In response to a query from Truthout, a State Department official, who could not speak on the record, read a statement that did not explicitly acknowledge the report's conclusion about the Israeli executions.

The statement said the fact-finding mission's report's "tone and conclusions are unbalanced." It went on to state, "We urge that this report not be used for actions that could disrupt direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine that are now underway or actions that would make it not possible for Israel and Turkey to move beyond the recent strains in their traditional strong relationship."

Pakistan Is Becoming the New Cambodia


Think the Vietnam war and how it spilled over into Laos and Cambodia under Nixon. That's what it seems is happening in Pakistan at an ever increasing rate of US helicopter incursions and drone missile attacks. Pakistan has retaliated to this by closing down the essential suppy line of the US through the Kyber Pass and Pakistani officials are beginning to publicly ask whether the US is an ally or an enemy.

Fallout from the United Citizens Decision


The door to fully bought elections is now wide open and the source of the funding can be held completely secret.

More on this at Huffington Post

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