February 2011 Archives

Crime and NO Punishment

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MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan is one of the very few voices laying out the truth about who is responsible for the collapse of the economy that is the real source of the budgetary crises facing the states and the attempts at misdirection by focusing the debates on such matters as the attacks on public employees of late.

Not one bankster has been jailed for the $11 trillion theft from the US economy and the same games are being played. Below is the general state of the situation.

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And here is a sample of the post collapse and on-going fraud being perpetrated on individual homeowners:

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Family Gun Fun

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Mom coming to accidentally shot husband accidentally shot

BAY MINETTE, Ala. -- A small child accidentally shot his mother Saturday night after finding the gun by the side of his injured father -- who had just accidentally shot himself, the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office said.

Around 9 p.m. the BCSO was alerted to the shooting at 4621 Old Carney Road in Bay Minette. When they arrived at the home they found Allen and Aleisha Jones injured by gunshots.

The couple's two small children were at the residence when the incident happened. Their daughter was upstairs asleep at the time.

When questioned by authorities, Allen Jones stated he had taken his Glock .40 handgun from the glove compartment of his truck. He was walking to the house when he tripped and fell. The gun discharged, and he was hit in the leg just above the knee, he told police.

Jones yelled to his wife for help. Aleisha Jones was upstairs bathing their young son when she heard her husband's call for help. When she arrived on the screened porch, she tried to secure the gun but her son beat her to it.

As she attempted to take the gun from the child, a round fired. Aleisha Jones was hit in the left side of her neck.

A neighbor heard the gunshots and cries for help and came to Aleisha Jones's aid. The neighbor's husband called 911.

Coming to a future near you

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A false upper middle class utopian vision; to be a cog, seamlessly wired, is to be alive.

Not Your Grandparent's Jesus

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It's amazing how often people prefer historical dogma over historical truth to their own (and pretty much everyone else's) detriment. I like this guy's attitude and courage.

Explaining why America's reliance on military might was similar to Rome's, he told Time magazine:
"There's good news and bad news from the historical Jesus.
The good news: God says Caesar sucks.
The bad news: God says Caesar is us."

John Dominic Crossan's 'blasphemous' portrait of Jesus

By John Blake

One of his first fan letters came from someone who declared:

"If Hell were not already created, it should be invented just for you."

Other critics have called him "demonic," "blasphemous" and a "schmuck."

Black_Jesus.jpgWhen John Dominic Crossan was a teenager in Ireland, he dreamed of becoming a missionary priest. But the message he's spreading about Jesus today isn't the kind that would endear him to many church leaders.

Crossan says Jesus was an exploited "peasant with an attitude" who didn't perform many miracles, physically rise from the dead or die as punishment for humanity's sins.

Jesus was extraordinary because of how he lived, not died, says Crossan, one of the world's top scholars on the "historical Jesus," a field in which academics use historical evidence to reconstruct Jesus in his first-century setting.

"I cannot imagine a more miraculous life than nonviolent resistance to violence," Crossan says. "I cannot imagine a bigger miracle than a man standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square."

In another time, Crossan's views would have been confined to scholarly journals. But he and his best-selling books, including the recent "Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography," have changed how biblical scholars operate.

Crossan believes the public should be exposed to even the most divisive debates that scholars have had about Jesus and the Bible. He co-founded the Jesus Seminar, a controversial group of scholars who hold public forums that cast doubt on the authenticity of many sayings and deeds attributed to Jesus.

The 77-year-old Crossan has built on the seminar's mission by writing a series of best-selling books on Jesus and the Apostle Paul. With his silver Prince Valiant haircut and his pronounced Irish accent, he's also appeared on documentaries such as PBS's "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians" and A&E's "Mysteries of the Bible."

Crossan's overarching message is that you don't have to accept the Jesus of dogma. There's another Jesus hidden in Scripture and history who has been ignored.

"He's changed the way we look and think about Jesus," says Byron McCane, an archaeologist and professor of religion at Wofford College in South Carolina. "He's important in a way that few scholars are."


The Arabic Change in a Nutshell

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Lacking the gene for compromise

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Why Wouldn't the Tea Party Shut It Down?

By Frank Rich

No one remembers anything in America, especially in Washington, so the history of the Great Government Shutdown of 1995 is being rewritten with impunity by Republicans flirting with a Great Government Shutdown of 2011. The bottom line of the revisionist spin is this: that 2011 is no 1995. Should the unthinkable occur on some coming budget D-Day -- or perhaps when the deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling arrives this spring -- the G.O.P. is cocksure that it can pin the debacle on the Democrats.

In the right's echo chamber, voters are seen as so fed up with deficits that they'll put principle over temporary inconveniences -- like, say, a halt in processing new Social Security applicants or veterans' benefit checks. Who needs coddled government workers to deal with those minutiae anyway? As Mike Huckabee has cheerfully pointed out, many more federal services are automated now than in the olden days of the late 20th century. Phone trees don't demand pensions.

Remarkably (or not) much of the Beltway press has bought the line that comparisons between then and now are superficial. Sure, Bill Clinton, like Barack Obama, was bruised by his first midterms, with his party losing the House to right-wing revolutionaries hawking the Contract With America, a Tea Party ur-text demanding balanced budgets. But after that, we're instructed, the narratives diverge. John Boehner is no bomb-throwing diva like Newt Gingrich, whose petulant behavior inspired the famous headline "Cry Baby" in The Daily News. A crier -- well, yes -- but Boehner's too conventional a conservative to foment a reckless shutdown. Obama, prone to hanging back from Congressional donnybrooks, bears scant resemblance to the hands-on Clinton, who clamored to get into the ring with Newt.

Those propagating the 2011-is-not-1995 line also assume that somehow Boehner will prevent the new G.O.P. insurgents from bringing down the government they want to bring down. But if Gingrich couldn't control his hard-line freshman class of 73 members in 1995 -- he jokingly referred to them then as "a third party" -- it's hard to imagine how the kinder, gentler Boehner will control his 87 freshmen, many of them lacking government or legislative experience, let alone the gene for compromise. In the new Congress's short history, the new speaker has already had trouble controlling his caucus. On Friday Gingrich made Boehner's task harder by writing a Washington Post op-ed plea that the G.O.P. stick to its guns.

The 2011 rebels are to the right of their 1995 antecedents in any case. That's why this battle, ostensibly over the deficit, is so much larger than the sum of its line-item parts. The highest priority of America's current political radicals is not to balance government budgets but to wage ideological warfare in Washington and state capitals alike. The relatively few dollars that would be saved by the proposed slashing of federal spending on Planned Parenthood and Head Start don't dent the deficit; the cuts merely savage programs the right abhors. In Wisconsin, where state workers capitulated to Gov. Scott Walker's demands for financial concessions, the radical Republicans' only remaining task is to destroy labor's right to collective bargaining.

That's not to say there is no fiscal mission in the right's agenda, both nationally and locally -- only that the mission has nothing to do with deficit reduction. The real goal is to reward the G.O.P.'s wealthiest patrons by crippling what remains of organized labor, by wrecking the government agencies charged with regulating and policing corporations, and, as always, by rewarding the wealthiest with more tax breaks. The bankrupt moral equation codified in the Bush era -- that tax cuts tilted to the highest bracket were a higher priority even than paying for two wars -- is now a given. The once-bedrock American values of shared sacrifice and equal economic opportunity have been overrun.

In this bigger picture, the Wisconsin governor's fawning 20-minute phone conversation with a prankster impersonating the oil billionaire David Koch last week, while entertaining, is merely a footnote. The Koch Industries political action committee did contribute to Walker's campaign (some $43,000) and did help underwrite Tea Party ads and demonstrations in Madison. But this governor is merely a petty-cash item on the Koch ledger -- as befits the limited favors he can offer Koch's mammoth, sprawling, Kansas-based industrial interests.

Look to Washington for the bigger story. As The Los Angeles Times recently reported, Koch Industries and its employees form the largest bloc of oil and gas industry donors to members of the new House Energy and Commerce Committee, topping even Exxon Mobil. And what do they get for that largess? As a down payment, the House budget bill not only reduces financing for the Environmental Protection Agency but also prohibits its regulation of greenhouse gases.

Here again, the dollars that will be saved are minute in terms of the federal deficit, but the payoff to Koch interests from a weakened E.P.A. is priceless.


Think about this as you gas up this weekend

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Can you spell s-p-e-c-u-l-a-t-o-r-s, class...because that's who's getting all that extra money you are going to put since there is no disruption of supply anywhere. Its called crisis capitalism. And of course the oil industry is so poor they can't possibly consider losing their tax incentives (welfare payments) from the tax payer and so have to use the middle east crises to jack the price to cover their fat asses.

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Dirty Money, Ideology and the Internet

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The Internet Service Providers (ISP) monopolies of telephone and cable companies should be regulated under the same common carrier rules that phone companies had to abide by. None of those companies invented or own the internet. It was public money that did that through the military and universities. They own the pipelines but should have no say in what goes through them.

There are of course the vested money interests who view the internet as just another market commodity and would like to see it deregulated for their exclusive benefit.

The FCC, Net Neutrality and the Future Enrons of the Internet

By Derek Lazzaro

America's largest Internet service providers, which own most of the network backbone, have decided that Internet content providers such as YouTube are using too much bandwidth, and becoming too rich, and now the ISPs are demanding a bigger piece of the pie. Amid surprisingly little public debate, the ISPs have engaged in a focused campaign to lobby Congress and win court cases with the goal of stripping the government of any meaningful authority to regulate their price structures or data-routing policies.

The question that remains is whether the government will have the authority, or even the will, to regulate the ISPs and the future of the Internet. If Republicans in the House of Representatives have their way, the battle will be over before it ever really begins, with the ISPs emerging as undisputed victors.

The House voted early Saturday morning to pass H.R. 1, the federal budget bill for 2011. The bill included an amendment, H.AMDT.80, sponsored by Oregon Republican Greg Walden, which defunds any attempt by the Federal Communications Commission to regulate ISPs. The amendment was approved by a vote of 244 to 181, along party lines.

The vote on Rep. Walden's amendment is the latest in a string of skirmishes over the regulation of the Internet. In December 2010, the FCC passed a set of rules giving itself limited authority to regulate Internet service providers. The FCC rules were an attempt at compromise, and they specifically deregulated wireless Internet providers, which are increasingly important. Some consumer groups said they were toothless, and several ISPs even cautiously supported the rules.

But Rep. Walden's amendment will block the implementation of those rules if the budget passes the Senate and is signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Sucking Kochs

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Shock Doctrine, U.S.A.

By Paul Krugman

Here's a thought: maybe Madison, Wis., isn't Cairo after all. Maybe it's Baghdad -- specifically, Baghdad in 2003, when the Bush administration put Iraq under the rule of officials chosen for loyalty and political reliability rather than experience and competence.

As many readers may recall, the results were spectacular -- in a bad way. Instead of focusing on the urgent problems of a shattered economy and society, which would soon descend into a murderous civil war, those Bush appointees were obsessed with imposing a conservative ideological vision. Indeed, with looters still prowling the streets of Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, the American viceroy, told a Washington Post reporter that one of his top priorities was to "corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises" -- Mr. Bremer's words, not the reporter's -- and to "wean people from the idea the state supports everything."

The story of the privatization-obsessed Coalition Provisional Authority was the centerpiece of Naomi Klein's best-selling book "The Shock Doctrine," which argued that it was part of a broader pattern. From Chile in the 1970s onward, she suggested, right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.

Which brings us to Wisconsin 2011, where the shock doctrine is on full display.

In recent weeks, Madison has been the scene of large demonstrations against the governor's budget bill, which would deny collective-bargaining rights to public-sector workers. Gov. Scott Walker claims that he needs to pass his bill to deal with the state's fiscal problems. But his attack on unions has nothing to do with the budget. In fact, those unions have already indicated their willingness to make substantial financial concessions -- an offer the governor has rejected.

What's happening in Wisconsin is, instead, a power grab -- an attempt to exploit the fiscal crisis to destroy the last major counterweight to the political power of corporations and the wealthy. And the power grab goes beyond union-busting. The bill in question is 144 pages long, and there are some extraordinary things hidden deep inside.

For example, the bill includes language that would allow officials appointed by the governor to make sweeping cuts in health coverage for low-income families without having to go through the normal legislative process.

And then there's this: "Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b)."

What's that about?

Laying It on the Line

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Hopefully the phone call that punked Wisconsin governor Walker will be played incessantly for the next few weeks to drive home to the American people the depth of the absolute corruption that is the Republican/conservative ideologues who are destroying the country. This really is war.

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The Last Space Shuttle Flight

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Discovery is scheduled to lift off for the last time at 4:25 PM est ending an incredible era of space technology.

Space Shuttle Discovery Fueled for Final Flight

By Marcia Dunn AP Cape Canaveral

lastshuttle.jpgSpace shuttle Discovery is poised to make its last flight.

NASA began fueling its most traveled shuttle shortly after sunrise Thursday. The weather outlook has improved to 90 percent "go" for the 4:50 p.m. liftoff.

This time, NASA is confident no hydrogen gas will leak and no cracks will develop in the fuel tank. Both problems cropped up during the initial countdown in November. The repairs took almost four months.

This will be the 39th flight for Discovery. It first blasted off in 1984, and has since logged 143 million miles.

A huge crowd is expected in Florida for Discovery's farewell launch.


robonaut.gif"Discovery will head to the International Space Station with a crew of six, as well as a load of supplies and a humanoid robot; a 330-pound humanoid robot called Robonaut 2, or R2 for short. It's the first humanoid robot to be sent into space, and it may eventually be bound for the moon. R2 is designed to help astronauts perform tedious and dangerous missions. It's designed so that it will eventually be able to vacuum air filters, do space walks, flip switches, and go into dangerous toxic environments. The robot has no legs, and is hence only 3 feet four inches tall. It is designed for a one-way mission, never to come back. That's the advantage of robots" they are cheap, need no life support, and don't need a return ticket.  The only drawback is that R2 is incapable of real human thought. It has no consciousness, and can barely recognize simple objects in its environment.It is a far cry from the humanoid robots of science fiction." - Michio Kaku

The bastards spill their beans

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A New View of Kansas

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Boner Bites

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Please...a banana spider bite causes erections?

Spider venom better than Viagra?

By Diane Mapes

Most of us get a little excited when we see a big spider, but for the unfortunate few who fall victim to the bite of the daunting Brazilian wandering spider, that "excitement" takes on a whole new meaning: The venom of the wandering spider -- also known as the banana spider (or more formally Phoneutria nigriventer) causes erections in men.

spidercock.jpg"The venom of the P. nigriventer spider is a very rich mixture of several molecules," says Dr. Kenia Nunes, a physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia who is currently studying the odd side effect. "These molecules are called toxins, and then we have various toxins in this venom with different activity. Because of this, when a human is bitten by this spider, we can observe many different symptoms including priapism, a condition in which the penis is continually erect."

In addition to the hours-long painful erection, the wandering spider's bite can cause loss of muscle control, severe pain, difficulty breathing and, if not treated, death, due to oxygen deprivation (with anti-venom, the victim usually recovers within a week.)

Luckily, deaths from this impressive creature - it boasts a leg span of four to five inches - aren't all that common. According to a website maintained by Rod Crawford, curator of arachnids at the University of Washington's Burke Museum, "authoritative sources state that over 7,000 authentic cases of human bites from these spiders have been recorded, with only around 10 known deaths."

Usually found on banana plantations in the tropics, wandering spiders do tend to, uh, wander, though, with recent sightings reported at a Whole Foods in Tulsa, Oklahoma and an IGA store in Russell, Manitoba and a biting reported in Somerset, England in 2005.

But while the spider's bite may be painful - or even deadly -- its oddball venom may actually prove to be a valuable asset when it comes to treating erectile dysfunction in men.

"In Brazil, we have several reports of human accidents involving this spider and priapism as a symptom," says Nunes, who recently published a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine on the spider venom and its potential use in treating ED. "So we started to investigate which part of the venom - which toxin - would be responsible for this symptom. We found the toxin responsible and performed experiments using hypertensive rats which have severe erectile dysfunction. The toxin was able to normalize the erectile function in these animals."

Phoneutria_nigriventer.jpgAfter isolating the toxin (known as PnTx2-6), Nunes and her colleagues then studied the mechanism of action and found that the toxin acts in a different pathway as compared with other erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra.

"This is good because we know that some patients don't respond to the conventional therapy," she says. "This could be an optional treatment for them."

Please Do What You Can

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If you don't have the cash, at least spread the word.

LIBYA_relief.jpg


Libyan Relief Effort - Paypal


We would like to thank Paypal for their support during this crucial time!

the donation account is open.

All proceeds will provide medical assistance,medical supplies and all other logistical efforts (ex: transportation )

For more information please contact:

Naeem Gheriany

naeem @ easy.com

Thank you for you support

Ed Goes A' Preachin'

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A Little Background on the Wisconsin Gov?

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Basically an ideological jerk and mis-manager.

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New Zealand Quake

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The Tea Party and the National Dialogue

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The Tea Party is winning the framing battle perhaps, but they are shooting themselves in the foot in the long term.


The Tea Party is winning

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

Take five steps back and consider the nature of the political conversation in our nation's capital. You would never know that it's taking place at a moment when unemployment is still at 9 percent, when wages for so many people are stagnating at best and when the United States faces unprecedented challenges to its economic dominance.

No, Washington is acting as if the only real problem the United States confronts is the budget deficit; the only test of leadership is whether the president is willing to make big cuts in programs that protect the elderly; and the largest threat to our prosperity comes from public employees.

Take five more steps back and you realize how successful the Tea Party has been. No matter how much liberals may poke fun at them, Tea Party partisans can claim victory in fundamentally altering the country's dialogue.

Consider all of the problems taking a back seat to the deficit in Washington and the media. You haven't heard much lately on how Wall Street shenanigans tanked the economy in the first place - and in the process made a small number of people very rich. Yet any discussion of the problems caused by concentrated wealth (a vital mainstream issue in the America of Andrew Jackson and both Roosevelts) is confined to the academic or left-wing sidelines.

You haven't seen a lot of news stories describing the impact of long-term unemployment on people's lives or the difficulty working-class kids are encountering if they want to go to college.

You hear a lot about how much the government spends on the elderly but not much about facts such as this one, courtesy of a report last fall from the Employee Benefit Research Institute: People over 75 "were more likely than other age groups - including children under 18 - to live on incomes equal to or less than 200 percent of poverty."

Any analysis of the economic struggles many elderly people endure would get in the way of the "greedy geezer" storyline being spun to justify big cuts in Medicare benefits and Social Security.

Thanks to the Tea Party, we are now told that all our problems will be solved by cutting government programs. Thus the House Republicans' budget bill passed Saturday. They foresee nirvana if we simply reduce our spending on Head Start, Pell grants for college access, teen pregnancy prevention, clean-water programs, K-12 education and a host of other areas.

Does anyone really think that cutting such programs will create jobs or help Americans get ahead?



Libya protests spread and intensify

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latest from Al Jazeera.en:

Report: Jets attack protesters in Libya

Let's Import Some Egyptian Balls

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and start our own regime change. A good start would be to call out the biggest tax dodgers among us, which is of course corporations. Find the ones in your area, research what they paid in taxes compared to profits and make a scene about it. Follow the links in the article below and go to the website for instructions on how to organize and shame these companies with the truth about how they are not paying their fair share.

US Uncut is a new movement inspired by UK Uncut, the anti-austerity movement that has swept the UK.

US Uncut is about taking action against unnecessary and unfair cuts to public services across the US. Washington's proposed budget for the coming year sends a clear message: The wrath of budget cuts will fall upon the shoulders of hard-working Americans.

Obama seeks to trim $1.1 trillion from the budget in the next ten years by cutting or eliminating over 200 federal programs, many dedicated to social services and education. For instance, it cuts in half funding to subsidize heating for low-income Americans; limits an expansion of the Pell grant program for students; and decreases Environmental Protection Agency funding by over 12%.

Meanwhile, Republicans are using their new House majority to slash spending even more brutally. The GOP has made it clear that they are bent on raiding funds for Social Security, Medicare, education; determined to kill health care reform; and gut needed investments in infrastructure, climate change and job creation, at a time when America needs it most.

These cuts will come on top of very painful austerity measures made at the state-level across our nation--worth hundreds of billions--since the recession began.

In short, budget cuts demonstrate that Washington has abandoned ordinary Americans.

But there is an alternative: Make corporate tax avoiders pay.

Enjoying record profits and taxpayer-funded bailouts as the economy slowly recovers from a financial crisis, nearly two-thirds of US corporations don't pay any income taxes, instead opting to abuse tax loopholes and offshore tax havens. According to this study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, 83 of the top 100 publicly traded corporations that operate in the US exploit corporate tax havens. Since 2009, America's most profitable companies such as ExxonMobil, General Electric, Bank of America and Citigroup all paid a grand total of $0 in federal income taxes to Uncle Sam. Tax havens alone account for up to $1 trillion in tax revenue lost every decade, money that could be invested in K-12 education, colleges, public health, job creation and hundreds of other worthy public programs.

US Uncut

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WHAT TO DO

We're glad you're here and ready to help make corporate tax dodgers pay their fair share. We pay our taxes. Why don't they?

US Uncut is all about action. Don't worry if you've never done anything like this before- you're not the only one. And taking action is easy!

US Uncut is a decentralized organization. It is entirely up to you to plan your action and go forward with it.

I: HOW TO GET STARTED

1. Plan your action for the US Uncut/UK Uncut suggested days of action. Do this by coming to the website, clicking the actions tab, and telling everyone when and where your action will be.

2. Search for or create your local chapter. Search through our twitter feed for mentions of existing US Uncut groups.

3. Spread the word. Mention @usuncut and use the hashtag #usuncut in related posts. Create a facebook event and invite your friends. Call/email your local newspapers, radio stations and TV stations.

II: PLANNING AND TAKING ACTION IN 5 EASY STEPS

1. Choose your target. Go to the "Targets" tab on the website to find a list of and information on America's most egregious tax dodgers.

2. Plan your specific action. Find one of those companies' local branches in your community. On Saturday, February 26th, US Uncut's suggested target is Bank of America. Local organizers are free to act autonomously and choose a different target if necessary.

3. Bring friends, meet new people. Tell friends, family members, coworkers, business associates, classmates, roommates, neighbors, teammates, fellow churchgoers, significant others and everyone else you know about your action.

4. Be creative, think outside the box. US Uncut follows UK Uncut's example of creative protests. Watch their video here for how to stage a bail-in at your target corporation on the day of action you've planned. Make it fun and interesting!

5. Do it already! On your planned day of action, go to your target and stage your action. Emphasis is on creativity and nonviolent, direct action. Make sure you print out some flyers with useful information on your target's tax dodging activities, tie that to low tax revenues for your state, and how that relates to unnecessary budget cuts. hand it out to everyone you see!

6. Bring a video camera. If it isn't captured in video or photographs, it didn't happen. Be sure to share your video with the US Uncut twitter feed and send it to your local media.

Staging your own US Uncut action is easy. This website will serve as your organization's hub to plan local actions at specific targets. Remember- it is entirely up to you to plan and take action.

Let's get to work. See you on the streets.

Uterus Police

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Who raises these freaks and why are their ravings even entertained as having any merit at all? Given the other ideas he has put forth of late (see below) it's obvious the man is off his meds.

NEW RULE: Anyone who eats meat is not allowed to discuss abortion rights in any way. If you are willing to kill and consume other animals your empathy and compassion claims are a complete lie and you are a total hypocrite. If you want to cite scripture as a rationale, you can add 'deluded jerk' to the mix.

Wingnut GOP Rep Wants Police To Investigate All Miscarriages

via Joe.My.God.

BobbyFranklin1.jpgNot only does whackadoodle Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin want abortion classified as murder, according to his latest bill, the police will have to investigate all miscarriages to ensure that they were "spontaneous." Here's the complete bill. Via Daily Kos:

Franklin wants to create a Uterus Police to investigate miscarriages, and requires that any time a miscarriage occurs, whether in a hospital or without medical assistance, it must be reported and a fetal death certificate issued. If the cause of death is unknown, it must be investigated. If the woman can't tell how it happened, than those Uterus Police can ask family members and friends how it happened. Hospitals are required to keep records of anyone who has a spontaneous abortion and report it. Yup, we've been waiting for someone to suggest this--and Franklin has. Needless to say, there are no exceptions allowed. Not for rape victims. Not for incest victims. Not to save the life and health of the mother (the fetus must get equal care)

We last heard from Franklin two weeks ago when he said that repealing DADT was the same as allowing drug dealers to join the military. Franklin has also sponsored a bill requiring Georgia to transact all its business in gold and silver coins, as is stipulated by the Constitution.

It's the Power, Stupid

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The government assault upon the unions of Wisconsin is nothing more than a cynical collaboration with the corporations and the members of the oligarchy that run the US. If Walker succeeds in this blatant attempt at union busting, the game of democracy is essentially over, and taking to the streets will be the only sensible avenue for American regime change.

Wisconsin Power Play

by Paul Krugman

Last week, in the face of protest demonstrations against Wisconsin's new union-busting governor, Scott Walker -- demonstrations that continued through the weekend, with huge crowds on Saturday -- Representative Paul Ryan made an unintentionally apt comparison: "It's like Cairo has moved to Madison."

It wasn't the smartest thing for Mr. Ryan to say, since he probably didn't mean to compare Mr. Walker, a fellow Republican, to Hosni Mubarak. Or maybe he did -- after all, quite a few prominent conservatives, including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum, denounced the uprising in Egypt and insist that President Obama should have helped the Mubarak regime suppress it.

In any case, however, Mr. Ryan was more right than he knew. For what's happening in Wisconsin isn't about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker's pretense that he's just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin -- and eventually, America -- less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that's why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators' side.

Some background: Wisconsin is indeed facing a budget crunch, although its difficulties are less severe than those facing many other states. Revenue has fallen in the face of a weak economy, while stimulus funds, which helped close the gap in 2009 and 2010, have faded away.

In this situation, it makes sense to call for shared sacrifice, including monetary concessions from state workers. And union leaders have signaled that they are, in fact, willing to make such concessions.

But Mr. Walker isn't interested in making a deal. Partly that's because he doesn't want to share the sacrifice: even as he proclaims that Wisconsin faces a terrible fiscal crisis, he has been pushing through tax cuts that make the deficit worse. Mainly, however, he has made it clear that rather than bargaining with workers, he wants to end workers' ability to bargain.

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The linguistic genius of babies

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The Toxicity of Conservativism

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Back in March, 2003 I posted the following gripe about the conservative/neocon ideology/religious world view that was the hallmark of the Bush administration and why it was a dangerous path for America to head down. Nothing much has changed...republicans and conservatives in general haven't changed their stripes since then...if anything they have simply gotten more blatant about it all.

After my blurb there is a clarifying article by George Lakoff.

The Gripe: These Fathers Do NOT Know Best

What bothers me most about the people comprising BushCo is not per se their conservative agenda (which has the stink of "mission" about it), but rather the sheer incompetencies they demonstrate with each new foray into policy formation.

I have had the feeling since the administrations first days that they are doing almost everything on the fly, cobbling together patchworks of rationales to cover for a lack of a comprehensive framework in terms of both foreign and domestic policy. The Time article indicated in the last post lends credence to that feeling. It paints a picture of members of the administration being persuaded one by one to acquiesce to the insistent neocon ministry of Paul Wolfowitz.

The neocon religion simply outlined goes like this:

"In their belief system, neoconservatives--or neo-Reaganites, as some prefer to be called--are at once pessimists and optimists. The world, they believe, is a dangerous, threatening place. Civilization and democracy hang by a thread; great beasts prowl the forest, ready to prey on those not tough enough to meet them in equal combat. At the same time--this is the optimistic bit--the U.S. is endowed by Providence with the power to make the world better if it will only take the risks of leadership to do so; if, in the current jargon, it is sufficiently "forward leaning.""
- and -

"The U.S. is unique in its power and its principles. It cannot allow its mission to be tied down by international agreements that diminish its freedom of action. At the same time, neoconservatives insist that theirs is a generous and internationalist vision; other nations, other peoples, will willingly support U.S. policies--which, by definition, are good for them as well as Americans--if only those policies are clearly articulated and implemented with determination."

(both quotes from the Time article)

Its a pleasant enough religion if you are a white American male and especially attractive if you include the parameters of paranoid, wealthy, and intimately connected by bureaucracy post and ivory-towered Reagan-esque think tanks.

But one by one these people who should be leading the country according to well considered and comprehensive plans have somewhat franticly adopted instead what amounts to a horror story to most of the rest of the planet. The rest of us see it as no less misguided than any other fascist attempt by missionaries to "save the savages" by savaging them; by destroying their indigenous cultures and inculcating them with the "Gospel of Gipper" from the Book of Wolfowitz.

Whether the missionaries are Christian or Muslim or Reaganite the outcome is always the same; some people are slaughtered in great numbers and history eventually describes it as an unnecessary tragedy perpetrated by paranoid men with parochial mindsets and desires for inordinate wealth and power.

The BushCo administration is rife with these type of essentially sociopathic people. But what makes them especially dangerous is their unfettered access to the levers of the machinery of the most powerful state that has ever existed.

There has never been more of a reason for the American populace to question the motives and maneuvers of their leadership. Considering the ample evidence of contempt for individual rights shown by the repressive and invasive legislation such as the Patriot Act, et al, purported as necessary to combat the bogeyman of terrorism, and the overarching neoconservative idea that "fierce unilateralism" is essential to the future survival of the US, it is easy to see a pattern of paranoia by an elite group of men leading us all astray. They are like Jack's tribe in the William Golding novel, Lord of the Flies. Jack was incompetent and paranoid and eventually rebelled against the "rule of conch" by trying to survive unilaterally with his own tribe. We all know where that went.

I can't help but see Saddam as the dead parachutist the boys in the novel took to be "the monster" that inspired Jack's fearful and murderous assaults on the other boys and setting fire to the whole island.

Bushco is no more positioned to be a "father who knows best" than Jack was.

After all, their suppositions and resulting policies have been wrong at almost every turn since they started running the show.

cul - May 23, 2003


And 8 years later we see the massive damage of those toxic paranoid policies and world view all too clearly in wasted lives and outrageous economic destruction. The beat goes on today in Wisconsin.

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What Conservatives Really Want

by George Lakoff, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

The central issue in our political life is not being discussed. At stake is the moral basis of American democracy.

The individual issues are all too real: assaults on unions, public employees, women's rights, immigrants, the environment, health care, voting rights, food safety, pensions, prenatal care, science, public broadcasting and on and on.

Budget deficits are a ruse, as we've seen in Wisconsin, where the Governor turned a surplus into a deficit by providing corporate tax breaks, and then used the deficit as a ploy to break the unions, not just in Wisconsin, but seeking to be the first domino in a nationwide conservative movement.

Deficits can be addressed by raising revenue, plugging tax loopholes, putting people to work and developing the economy long-term in all the ways the president has discussed. But deficits are not what really matter to conservatives.

Conservatives really want to change the basis of American life, to make America run according to the conservative moral worldview in all areas of life.

In the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama accurately described the basis of American democracy: empathy -- citizens caring for each other, both social and personal responsibility -- acting on that care, and an ethic of excellence. From these, our freedoms and our way of life follow, as does the role of government: to protect and empower everyone equally. Protection includes safety, health, the environment, pensions. Empowerment starts with education and infrastructure. No one can be free without these, and without a commitment to care and act on that care by one's fellow citizens.

The conservative worldview rejects all of that.

Conservatives believe in individual responsibility alone, not social responsibility. They don't think government should help its citizens. That is, they don't think citizens should help each other. The part of government they want to cut is not the military (we have 174 bases around the world), not government subsidies to corporations, not the aspect of government that fits their worldview. They want to cut the part that helps people. Why? Because that violates individual responsibility.

But where does that view of individual responsibility alone come from?

Great Religious Points

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It's so good to hear people using their religious tenets in a rational way.

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Barbour's Bore Bar

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And I don't mean boring, I mean like a bore.

Haley Barbour's silence speaks volumes

Eugene Robison

Does Haley Barbour really have a warped and offensive view of America's racial history? Or is he just playing a dangerous game?

Perhaps both.

The Mississippi governor, considered a potential Republican candidate for president in 2012, keeps displaying what appears to be an astonishing level of ignorance about our nearly 400-year struggle with issues of race. At this point, it's more than a pattern. It's either a pathology or a plan.

The latest outrage - and I don't use that word lightly - came Tuesday, when Barbour was asked to comment on a proposal for a state license plate honoring one of the most notorious figures of the Civil War era, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. I question whether any Confederate officer is worthy of such recognition, given that they were all committing treason. But even for the Sons of Confederate Veterans - the group proposing the license plate - Forrest should be an embarrassment.

For those who do not see the Civil War through a revisionist gauze of gallantry and Spanish moss, Forrest is an abomination. In 1864, his troops mowed down scores of black Union soldiers who were trying to surrender, in what became known as the Fort Pillow Massacre. After the war, Forrest became one of the founding fathers of the terrorist Ku Klux Klan - and was the group's first national leader, or "grand wizard."

Barbour was asked whether he would denounce the idea of honoring such a figure. "I don't go around denouncing people," he told reporters. "That's not going to happen."

But of course, Barbour denounces people all the time. Just last weekend, at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, he denounced President Obama and the Democratic Party. Denouncing is part of any politician's job, and Barbour does it with brio and elan. Why would he refuse to say what he thinks about honoring a founder of the KKK?

Social Security is NOT an Entitlement

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There's some good points made in this article, but the title question still goes unanswered. I don't see it as a mystery really. Conservatives who tout the "magic" of the elusive "free market" are religious zealots. They view altruism suspiciously as a defect in the Darwinian dog eat dog myth and socialism as outright heresy, worthy of burning at the stake. Their hatred for social security is as irrational as their faith in a free market which does not and cannot exist. Behind their arguments for austerity (for others, of course), such people are feudal lord wannabees jealous that any of the crop gets consumed by the peasants and are at heart really, just greedy, self-centered, asshole sociopaths. It's not much of a mystery really...and social security is NOT an entitlement - its an insurance plan the recipients paid for throughout their working lives. Nor is SS insolvent or a contributor to the deficit at all...but hey, facts never impinge on the fantasy world of the religious zealot.

Why Do They Hate Social Security?

By Joe Conason

Among the mysteries of modern politics in America is why so many of our leading pundits and politicians persistently seek to undermine Social Security, that enduring and successful emblem of active government. In the current atmosphere of budgetary panic, self-proclaimed "centrists" are joining with ideologues of the right in yet another campaign against the program--and yet again they are misinforming the public about its purposes, costs and prospects.

Among the puzzling aspects of the crusade against Social Security is the zeal that animates its enemies, as if the present and future recipients of those monthly checks were somehow fattening themselves at the expense of future generations. Whatever drives these well-fed but poorly informed commentators, it isn't the facts.

First, let's remember that Social Security actually provides support at a very modest level. Last year, the average retirement benefit was $1,170 a month, or about $14,000 a year, with the average disabled worker or widow receiving slightly less. (It would be wonderfully educational for the cable talkers and newspaper editorialists to live on that amount for a few months--they would not only lose weight but gain empathy.)

Remember, too, that despite our status as the largest and most productive economy in the world, Social Security is among the least generous retirement programs among all the developed nations. As a percentage of the average worker's pre-retirement wages, the benefit has been declining for years and will continue to fall without any further cutbacks.

The check that used to replace 39 percent of worklife income will replace only 31 percent by 2031. Compare that with the average wage replacement in the nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)--which was roughly 61 percent last year.

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More important than those comparative statistics is the fact that the great majority of Social Security beneficiaries have no other cushion for their retirement--not because they were lazy or improvident, but because their wages were simply too low to permit much savings, let alone investment.

The foes of Social Security insist that they have no desire to force the elderly to eat cat food or go homeless--as they did in the years before the program existed. But we must cut drastically, they cry, because we can simply no longer afford the "entitlements" that we have bestowed so lavishly upon the old and the poor.

Whenever someone starts to talk about "entitlements," keep in mind that they are either trying to bamboozle or they've been bamboozled themselves. Under that category, most commentators mix up Medicaid and Medicare--two programs that are indeed endangered by rising health care costs--with Social Security, which will be solvent until at least 2037 and can easily be made solvent for decades to come with minor changes. This is a rhetorical deception perpetrated countless times every day in nearly every media outlet.

The actuarial experts whose job is to monitor Social Security's fortunes have long assured us that small and gradual rises in the tax revenues that support Social Security, accompanied by small and gradual shifts in benefits over the coming years, will solve whatever fiscal challenges the program may eventually confront. There is no reason to panic, and there is certainly no reason to consider wholesale changes in benefits.

Well, there is a reason, but only if your real aim is to destroy the system and replace it with something less useful but more profitable. Wall Street and its servants on Capitol Hill have lusted after Social Security's revenues for many years. And they regard the current uproar over the budget as a fresh opportunity to get their hands on a trillion-dollar bonanza. Given their record in recent years, it is all too easy to imagine how badly that would work out for everybody--except them, of course.

Robert Reich: After Shock

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Emulin Study Continues

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I first mentioned Emulin in May of 2009 and since I recently started being a guinea pig for a medical study of a new Lilly diabetic compound I remembered the Emulin story. What happened to that, I thought. here's the latest update I found:


Natural "Emulin" Compound Proving Impressive In Reducing The Harmful Effects Of Diabetes

(Winter Haven, Florida)--Recent research shows that diabetes is an epidemic affecting an estimated 150 million people worldwide--and those numbers are expected to double in the next 15 years. Now a new research proven product called Emulin˙ from ATM Metabolics is being launched that is showing great promise reducing the damage of diabetes in recent trials. Emulin is an impressive therapy for the treatment of type 2 diabetes that can reduce the amount and rate of sugar that can be absorbed into the bloodstream and lessen the glycemic impact of foods. Furthermore, it appears to have the ability to reduce the background (fasting) level of glucose in the blood of type 2 diabetics, showing the potential to lessen the damage to tissue.

Emulin is a naturally derived compound that has the unique ability to buffer and stifle the effects of glucose on the human metabolic pathway, which will be instrumental in treating hyperglycaemia. It is an entirely new way of attacking the problems of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, the precursor of diabetes. Emulin works by a combinational approach to mitigate the damage cause by hyperglycaemia from the diet by its insulinomimetic affects.

Emulin is a combination of specific natural phytochemicals whose mechanisms have been explicitly identified and selected to have a very specific effect. All plant extracts, and even all pharmaceuticals, work on only one symptom or metabolic pathway. Recently, Dr. Ralph DeFronzo, the most noted and respected medical researcher on diabetes, stated that to attack diabetes and obesity, we must address the 7-8 major symptoms at one time, or we will get nowhere. Emulin works on 7 fronts. Additionally, most plant extracts have side effects and some are even dangerous. Emulin has no negative side effects and cannot be overused.

Another update:

a hat tip to Dan who left this comment:

Hey, I've been watching it for a while too - It's just been released as a supplement under the brand name GC7X - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emulin

Dan.

wiki excerpt:

Formulations and Availability

When taken with Emulin, Metformin's efficacy increased ten-fold, causing a drop of up to 28 percent in the fasting, two hour postprandial, and AUC blood glucose parameters.

Emulin is available in 250 mg capsules sold under the trade name GC7X and with added caffeine as GC7X Surge. It became available to the public in January 2011.

Emulin re-crystallized with regular table sugar (sucrose) is planned for release as a "diabetic sugar" in summer 2011.

It seems to me that a better use would have been adding Emulin to sucralose (Splenda, SucraPlus, Candys, Cukren, Nevella and Walmart's Great Value brand No calorie Sweetener), rather than to sucrose.

Bloody Bahrain

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A Doctor Beaten by Police

The Op-Ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof talked with the family of a physician who was beaten by police after he tried to help injured protesters.

Wisconsin Budget Baloney

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The tumult and protests going on in Wisconsin at the moment have zero to do with budgetary concerns and everything to do with union busting and democrats vs republicans pure and simple. Unions are how democrats gets elected and really the last bastion of pooled electoral money and organization able to compete against the republican billionaire and corporate push unleashed by the Citizens United decision.

Who knew Wisconsin would become Little Egypt?

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Federal Budget Baloney

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Why Social Security Isn't a Problem for 26 Years
and the Best Way to Fix It Permanently

Robert Reich

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, says in order to "save" Social Security the retirement age should be raised. The media are congratulating him for his putative "courage." Deficit hawks are proclaiming Social Security one of the big entitlements that has to be cut in order to reduce the budget deficit.

This is all baloney.

In a former life I was a trustee of the Social Security trust fund. So let me set the record straight.

Social Security isn't responsible for the federal deficit. Just the opposite. Until last year Social Security took in more payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits. It lent the surpluses to the rest of the government.

Now that Social Security has started to pay out more than it takes in, Social Security can simply collect what the rest of the government owes it. This will keep it fully solvent for the next 26 years.

But why should there even be a problem 26 years from now? Back in 1983, Alan Greenspan's Social Security commission was supposed to have fixed the system for good - by gradually increasing payroll taxes and raising the retirement age. (Early boomers like me can start collecting full benefits at age 66; late boomers born after 1960 will have to wait until they're 67.)

Greenspan's commission must have failed to predict something. But what? It fairly accurately predicted how quickly the boomers would age. It had a pretty good idea of how fast the US economy would grow. While it underestimated how many immigrants would be coming into the United States, that's no problem. To the contrary, most new immigrants are young and their payroll-tax contributions will far exceed what they draw from Social Security for decades.

So what did Greenspan's commission fail to see coming?

Inequality.

Remember, the Social Security payroll tax applies only to earnings up to a certain ceiling. (That ceiling is now $106,800.) The ceiling rises every year according to a formula roughly matching inflation.

Back in 1983, the ceiling was set so the Social Security payroll tax would hit 90 percent of all wages covered by Social Security. That 90 percent figure was built into the Greenspan Commission's fixes. The Commission assumed that, as the ceiling rose with inflation, the Social Security payroll tax would continue to hit 90 percent of total income.

Today, though, the Social Security payroll tax hits only about 84 percent of total income.

It went from 90 percent to 84 percent because a larger and larger portion of total income has gone to the top. In 1983, the richest 1 percent of Americans got 11.6 percent of total income. Today the top 1 percent takes in more than 20 percent.

If we want to go back to 90 percent, the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax would need to be raised to $180,000.

Presto. Social Security's long-term (beyond 26 years from now) problem would be solved

.

So there's no reason even to consider reducing Social Security benefits or raising the age of eligibility. The logical response to the increasing concentration of income at the top is simply to raise the ceiling.

Not incidentally, several months ago the White House considered proposing that the ceiling be lifted to $180,000. Somehow, though, that proposal didn't make it into the President's budget.

Youtube Prank Could Get Guy 20 year Sentence

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Talk about overreacting. This is so ignorant on the part of the parents and prosecution as to be unbelievable. I fail to see the harm here. This just an another example of "zero tolerance" policies run amok. Why are people are so freaking stupid these days?

Evan Emory Charged With Posting A YouTube Video Involving Ravenna 1st Graders

21-year-old Evan Emory faces a 20-year felony after altering a performance inside a Beechnau Elementary classroom to include graphic material.

Emory was being held in the Muskegon County Jail, but was allowed to be let out with his parents signature Wednesday afternoon. He was formally charged with Manufacturing Child Sexual Abusive Material, according to Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague.

"In my mind, this decision by this young man stepped way over the line and it was not a prank it was a crime," said Tague.

"We will be seeking jail time,"he added.

The district courtroom was packed Wednesday with angry parents from Ravenna who have children who were featured in the video.

"It is disgusting, anyone with a brain knows that this is wrong and not funny," said parent Chuck Willick.

His six-year-old daughter was shown on youtube and he felt it was important to be in court when Emory's charges were read.

Emory's parents and friends were also in the courtroom and visibly upset.

"He is a good kid and was trying to do something creative, but he didn't think it through," said defense attorney Terry Nolan.

"It was an error in judgement, yes, but 20 years?, come on, "said friend Cassie Robinson.

Robinson stood outside the courtroom with four other protestors who had held up signs in support of Evan saying comedy is not a crime.

The debate stems from a video recently posted and yanked from youtube.

On January 12, Emory secured permission from a teacher and former acquaintance to perform at the school for what he described as part of his portfolio to gain admittance into a "Big 10 School of Education".

During the videotaped performance, Emory sang Adam Sandler's "Lunch Lady Land" to the class and left after the brief visit.

Monday, a video surfaced on YouTube showing Emory singing a different song to the class which included sexually suggestive material. Ravenna Public Schools Superintendent John VanLoon said the song was altered through editing and said at no time were the students actually subject to hearing the graphic content.

In a letter to parents, VanLoon said he was "outraged" and said the district planned to seek a "no-trespass" order against Emory, who was a recent graduate.

"It's very disturbing," Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler told FOX 17. "During [a police interview] he made some statements that he was very apologetic, didn't believe it was harmful in any way." Emory has no prior record, but prosecutors are taking the case very seriously and could be looking at additional charges.

He is expected back in court on February 24th and has a preliminary exam on March 2nd. A judge ordered Emory to not have any contact with minors unless he's at his restaurant job and no open mic performances.

Emory recently played the video at Club Envy in Muskegon.

Welcome to Our New Computer Overlords!

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The really interesting stuff was to be found in what answers it missed and why.


Computer Wins on 'Jeopardy!': Trivial, It's Not

jeopardy_watson.jpgIn the end, the humans on "Jeopardy!" surrendered meekly. The final tally was $77,147 to Mr. Jennings' $24,000 and Mr. Rutter's $21,600.

Facing certain defeat at the hands of a room-size I.B.M. computer on Wednesday evening, Ken Jennings, famous for winning 74 games in a row on the TV quiz show, acknowledged the obvious. "I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords," he wrote on his video screen, borrowing a line from a "Simpsons" episode.

From now on, if the answer is "the computer champion on "Jeopardy!," the question will be, "What is Watson?"

For I.B.M., the showdown was not merely a well-publicized stunt and a $1 million prize, but proof that the company has taken a big step toward a world in which intelligent machines will understand and respond to humans, and perhaps inevitably, replace some of them.

Watson, specifically, is a "question answering machine" of a type that artificial intelligence researchers have struggled with for decades -- a computer akin to the one on "Star Trek" that can understand questions posed in natural language and answer them.

Watson showed itself to be imperfect, but researchers at I.B.M. and other companies are already developing uses for Watson's technologies that could have significant impact on the way doctors practice and consumers buy products.

Both players took the contest and its outcome philosophically.

"I had a great time and I would do it again in a heartbeat," said Mr. Jennings. "It's not about the results; this is about being part of the future."

watsonreal.jpgFor I.B.M., the future will happen very quickly, company executives said. On Thursday it plans to announce that it will collaborate with Columbia University and the University of Maryland to create a physician's assistant service that will allow doctors to query a cybernetic assistant. The company also plans to work with Nuance Communications Inc. to add voice recognition to the physician's assistant, possibly making the service available in as little as 18 months.

"I have been in medical education for 40 years and we're still a very memory-based curriculum," said Dr. Herbert Chase, a professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University who is working with I.B.M. on the physician's assistant. "The power of Watson- like tools will cause us to reconsider what it is we want students to do."

I.B.M. executives also said they are in discussions with a major consumer electronics retailer to develop a version of Watson, named after I.B.M.'s founder, Thomas J. Watson, that would be able to interact with consumers on a variety of subjects like buying decisions and technical support.

Anti-Abortion Watersheds

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and Idiocy in Kansas

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In Debt We Trust

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Hulu is presenting this pre-2008 documentary predicting the collapse of the economy and gives a great description of how the nation got there.

More Republican Serious Stupidity

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SD to OK murder of abortion doctors?

Yeah yeah, there's talk of jobs and budget cuts. But, Republicans across the country are making limiting abortion a huge priority.

A South Dakota lawmaker proposed expanding the state's definition of "justifiable homicide" to a family member who kills another person in the "lawful defense" of an unborn child. In other words, they could legalize killing abortion providers.

The National Abortion Federation calls the bill an "invitation to murder abortion providers."

Moveon.org released an ad today (included in the clip below) in response to the recent attacks. It features Lisa Edelstein from House M.D., walking down a dark corridor and presumably going back to the dark days of women's rights. It asks, "why is the GOP trying to send women back to the back-alley?" Moveon went all out with the 1950s coat-hanger imagery (yikes!).

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Greenwald Under Attack by BofA

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This retarded myth that Obama is not a legitimate US citizen has been debunked how many dozens of times now?

birther.poll.jpg

Is there an asshole gene...?

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...that makes republicans act so sociopathic? Or is it just poor parenting?

Wisconsin Gov. Walker Threatens To Deploy National Guard As 'Intimidation Force' Against Workers' Unions

by Paul Breer

Last month, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said that if employees strike, "they should be fired," and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) wrote in an op-ed that the moral case for unions "does not apply to public employment." Now, facing a $137 million budget deficit, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a "budget repair bill" that would severely limit collective bargaining, eliminate the right of unions to negotiate pensions, retirement and benefits.

Walker is facing fierce criticism for this all-out assault against state workers, especially after he insisted that the "National Guard" will be used against a walkout:

When asked by a reporter what will happen if workers resist, Walker replied that he would call out the National Guard. He said that the National Guard is "prepared...for whatever the governor, their commander-in-chief, might call for. ... I am fully prepared for whatever may happen."

Traditionally, the National Guard is called to assist Americans in times of crisis; so Walker's attempt to use the National Guard as a tool to suppress dissent is particularly deplorable. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, more than 50,000 Guard members were called to help, and following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, more than 50,000 Guards were deployed. Veterans have strongly objected to Walker's recent intent to use the National Guard as a vessel to intimidate state workers. VoteVet released a statement today that says Walker shouldn't use the National Guard as an "intimidation force":

"Maybe the new governor doesn't understand yet - but the National Guard is not his own personal intimidation force to be mobilized to quash political dissent," said Robin Eckstein, a former Wisconsin National Guard member, Iraq War Veteran from Appleton, WI, and member of VoteVets.org. "The Guard is to be used in case of true emergencies and disasters, to help the people of Wisconsin, not to bully political opponents. Considering many veterans and Guard members are union members, it's even more inappropriate to use the Guard in this way. This is a very dangerous line the Governor is about to cross."

Wisconsin state employee unions already made $100 million in concessions last December. Now, under Walker's new proposal, state workers would have to make further sacrifices by doubling their contributions to health insurance premiums and increasing allocations to their pensions. Walker's bill would effectively take away the right of state employees to collectively bargain for everything from vacation, sick hours, and even the hours they work. But, smacking of political favoritism for the unions that supported Walker's campaign, the State Patrol, local police, and fire departments would stay absolutely unchanged.

In response to Walker's assault, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO launched a major advertising campaign, in which they say Walker and other politicians plan to "take away rights of thousands of nurses, teachers and other trusted public employees" with almost no public debate.

A pattern is emerging, where Republican dominated governments across the country are shaping up to strip workers' rights. In addition to Walker's new proposal, last week, Ohio Gov. Kasich said that if lawmakers don't pass a collective bargaining bill that he approves, Kasich will impose his own changes in the Ohio budget next month. Following in lockstep, Indiana, Idaho, and Tennessee all have legislation in the works to strip teachers' ability to collectively bargain.

Will There Be Gay Cyborgs?

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I'm a Singularitarian (without the religious implications) who believes that part of evolution will eventually see technology transcend biology. In fact, there's really no clear cut difference between them.

In that mindset, I watched IBM's Watson play Jeopardy tonight against two top former human contestants. It was amazing how well the machine did. That led to a discussion about the eventual merger of human and machine. Some people are horrified by the idea. I find it cool as hell. We're already cyborgs anyway, what with artificial limbs and organs. But there is the question of what will be lost in the transition from minerals and goo to plastics and silicon and will it be worth the gain?

I've been thinking about the the merger of human and machines since Robbie the Robot was on screen in "Forbidden Planet"...at the ripe age of 7 yrs old. And almost all of the baby boomers remember Robbie's later "Lost In Space" iconic warning "Danger, Will Robinson, danger!" Robbie was like a super cool pet or a playmate you didn't have to feed or clean up after. That would change.

Robbie's helpfulness would eventually take a sinister turn. By 1968 there was "Space Odyssey" with the cyclopian but warmly engaging artificial intelligence of HAL, who by all accounts was not just super fast and smart, but sentient. With that miracle of self-awareness came danger to humans. The 70's saw battle Star Galactica and the wars with rebellious robots. Then came "The Terminator" and the concept of Skynet, the evil intelligence that wanted to eliminate humans because they were an impediment and disease and even later followed by "The Matrix" amplifying the same premise.

It's notable that ll through the various incarnations of Star Trek the computers were never given full reign of the ship or decision making except in the most dire of situations. Even though the series was set in centuries in the future computers were portrayed more or less as highly sophisticated tools tethered to the service of human needs, the exception being Mr Data, who at times proved dangerous to the humans around him as well.

issac Assimov's famous three laws of robotics from the late 1940's (later changed to 4) and which attempted to mitigate for these sorts of fantasied dangers, are:

  1. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
  2. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  3. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  4. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

People have been thinking about this robots vs humans thing for a long time and many of the ethical questions remain.

For example, say there was a sentient machine owned by a business that wanted to upgrade and part of that process would mean turning the sentient machine off. The machine realizing their intent fires off emails to top lawyers to take the company to court to prevent its demise. Does the company own the "life" that the machine senses it has or is the machine simply a slave with no rights?

In my opinion, the machine has every right to live. But others might argue otherwise.

The time to really put our shoulders to the wheel on these matters is right now. Because as science fiction like it sounds the reality of a conscious artificial intelligence is closer than you think.

Check out the Time article below.


2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal

By Lev Grossman

jacked.jpgOn Feb. 15, 1965, a diffident but self-possessed high school student named Raymond Kurzweil appeared as a guest on a game show called I've Got a Secret. He was introduced by the host, Steve Allen, then he played a short musical composition on a piano. The idea was that Kurzweil was hiding an unusual fact and the panelists -- they included a comedian and a former Miss America -- had to guess what it was.

On the show, the beauty queen did a good job of grilling Kurzweil, but the comedian got the win: the music was composed by a computer. Kurzweil got $200.

Kurzweil then demonstrated the computer, which he built himself -- a desk-size affair with loudly clacking relays, hooked up to a typewriter. The panelists were pretty blasé about it; they were more impressed by Kurzweil's age than by anything he'd actually done. They were ready to move on to Mrs. Chester Loney of Rough and Ready, Calif., whose secret was that she'd been President Lyndon Johnson's first-grade teacher.

But Kurzweil would spend much of the rest of his career working out what his demonstration meant. Creating a work of art is one of those activities we reserve for humans and humans only. It's an act of self-expression; you're not supposed to be able to do it if you don't have a self. To see creativity, the exclusive domain of humans, usurped by a computer built by a 17-year-old is to watch a line blur that cannot be unblurred, the line between organic intelligence and artificial intelligence.

That was Kurzweil's real secret, and back in 1965 nobody guessed it. Maybe not even him, not yet. But now, 46 years later, Kurzweil believes that we're approaching a moment when computers will become intelligent, and not just intelligent but more intelligent than humans. When that happens, humanity -- our bodies, our minds, our civilization -- will be completely and irreversibly transformed. He believes that this moment is not only inevitable but imminent. According to his calculations, the end of human civilization as we know it is about 35 years away.

Computers are getting faster. Everybody knows that. Also, computers are getting faster faster -- that is, the rate at which they're getting faster is increasing.

True? True.

So if computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable of something comparable to human intelligence. Artificial intelligence. All that horsepower could be put in the service of emulating whatever it is our brains are doing when they create consciousness -- not just doing arithmetic very quickly or composing piano music but also driving cars, writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties.

If you can swallow that idea, and Kurzweil and a lot of other very smart people can, then all bets are off. From that point on, there's no reason to think computers would stop getting more powerful. They would keep on developing until they were far more intelligent than we are. Their rate of development would also continue to increase, because they would take over their own development from their slower-thinking human creators. Imagine a computer scientist that was itself a super-intelligent computer. It would work incredibly quickly. It could draw on huge amounts of data effortlessly. It wouldn't even take breaks to play Farmville.

Probably. It's impossible to predict the behavior of these smarter-than-human intelligences with which (with whom?) we might one day share the planet, because if you could, you'd be as smart as they would be. But there are a lot of theories about it. Maybe we'll merge with them to become super-intelligent cyborgs, using computers to extend our intellectual abilities the same way that cars and planes extend our physical abilities. Maybe the artificial intelligences will help us treat the effects of old age and prolong our life spans indefinitely. Maybe we'll scan our consciousnesses into computers and live inside them as software, forever, virtually. Maybe the computers will turn on humanity and annihilate us. The one thing all these theories have in common is the transformation of our species into something that is no longer recognizable as such to humanity circa 2011. This transformation has a name: the Singularity.



Recusal Refusal

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SCOTUS Justices Scalia and Thomas both attended conservative gatherings promoted by the super wealthy and political active Koch brothers who have pushed for the very things (unlimited secret campaign donations by corporations) that the Citizen United decision of late provided. Both jurists voted in favor of the decision after attending the gatherings. Should not Scalia and Thomas have recused themselves because of the possibility of bias in the case? A major problem with this sort of thing is that the only oversight about such issues is left to the SCOTUS jurists themselves.

Common Cause Asks Court About Thomas Speech

By Eric Lichtblau

Discrepancies in reports about an appearance by Justice Clarence Thomas at a political retreat for wealthy conservatives three years ago have prompted new questions to the Supreme Court from a group that advocates changing campaign finance laws.

When questions were first raised about the retreat last month, a court spokeswoman said Justice Thomas had made a "brief drop-by" at the event in Palm Springs, Calif., in January 2008 and had given a talk.

In his financial disclosure report for that year, however, Justice Thomas reported that the Federalist Society, a prominent conservative legal group, had reimbursed him an undisclosed amount for four days of "transportation, meals and accommodations" over the weekend of the retreat. The event is organized by Charles and David Koch, brothers who have used millions of dollars from the energy conglomerate they run in Wichita, Kan., to finance conservative causes.

Arn Pearson, a vice president at the advocacy group Common Cause, said the two statements appeared at odds. His group sent a letter to the Supreme Court on Monday asking for "further clarification" as to whether the justice spent four days at the retreat for the entire event or was there only briefly.

"I don't think the explanation they've given is credible," Mr. Pearson said in an interview. He said that if Justice Thomas's visit was a "four-day, all-expenses paid trip in sunny Palm Springs," it should have been reported as a gift under federal law.

The Supreme Court had no comment on the issue Monday. Nor did officials at the Federalist Society or at Koch Industries.

Common Cause maintains that Justice Thomas should have disqualified himself from last year's landmark campaign finance ruling in the Citizens United case, partly because of his ties to the Koch brothers.

In a petition filed with the Justice Department last month, the advocacy group said past appearances at the Koch brothers' retreat by Justice Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia, along with the conservative political work of Justice Thomas's wife, had created a possible perception of bias in hearing the case.

The Citizens United decision, with Justice Thomas's support, freed corporations to engage in direct political spending with little public disclosure. The Koch brothers have been among the main beneficiaries, political analysts say.


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One or the Other

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

Palin Does Standup

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On Egypt:

sarah-palin-0908-03.jpg"And nobody yet has, nobody yet has explained to the American public what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak and no, not, not real enthused about what it is that that's being done on a national level and from DC in regards to understanding all the situation there in Egypt. And, in these areas that are so volatile right now, because obviously it's not just Egypt but the other countries too where we are seeing uprisings, we know that now more than ever, we need strength and sound mind there in the White House. We need to know what it is that America stands for so we know who it is that America will stand with. And, we do not have all that information yet."


To this D. Slider said:

"She must be a graduate graduated from the G.W. Bush school program degree of structuring thought sentences for absolute clarification of clarity on ideas and people what know them to be true or where they came from. And, volatile is a big word which can be obfuscated to refudiate parts unsure when you need to communicate with the people who know what they are not being told.'





H/T Mr Baker

GOP: A Remarkable Amount of Harm

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When they're not assaulting women's reproductive rights, da boys are huddled trying to figure out how to wreck the economy for everyone but their own.

Eat The Future

By Paul Krugman

On Friday, House Republicans unveiled their proposal for immediate cuts in federal spending. Uncharacteristically, they failed to accompany the release with a catchy slogan. So I'd like to propose one: Eat the Future.

I'll explain in a minute. First, let's talk about the dilemma the G.O.P. faces.

Republican leaders like to claim that the midterms gave them a mandate for sharp cuts in government spending. Some of us believe that the elections were less about spending than they were about persistent high unemployment, but whatever. The key point to understand is that while many voters say that they want lower spending, press the issue a bit further and it turns out that they only want to cut spending on other people.

That's the lesson from a new survey by the Pew Research Center, in which Americans were asked whether they favored higher or lower spending in a variety of areas. It turns out that they want more, not less, spending on most things, including education and Medicare. They're evenly divided about spending on aid to the unemployed and -- surprise -- defense.

The only thing they clearly want to cut is foreign aid, which most Americans believe, wrongly, accounts for a large share of the federal budget.

Pew also asked people how they would like to see states close their budget deficits. Do they favor cuts in either education or health care, the main expenses states face? No. Do they favor tax increases? No. The only deficit-reduction measure with significant support was cuts in public-employee pensions -- and even there the public was evenly divided.

The moral is clear. Republicans don't have a mandate to cut spending; they have a mandate to repeal the laws of arithmetic.

How can voters be so ill informed?

Valentine's Day Quote

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heart.jpg

Remember Enron?

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It's much the same today, isn't it?


God's Away On Business

Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan

I'd sell your heart to the junkman baby
For a buck, for a buck
If you're looking for someone to pull you out of that ditch
You're out of luck, you're out of luck

Ship is sinking
The ship is sinking
The ship is sinking

There's a leak, there's a leak in the boiler room
The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves and lawyers

God's away, God's away
God's away on business, business
God's away, God's away
God's away on business, business

Digging up the dead with a shovel and a pick
It's a job, it's a job
Bloody moon rising with a plague and a flood
Join the mob, join the mob
It's all over, it's all over
It's all over

There's a leak, there's a leak in the boiler room
The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves and lawyers

God's away, God's away
God's away on business, business
God's away, God's away on business, business

Godddamn there's always such a big temptation
To be good, to be good
There's always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby
It's a deal, it's a deal

God's away, God's away
God's away on business, business
God's away, God's away
God's away on business, business

I narrow my eyes like a coin slot baby
Let her ring, let her ring

God's away, God's away
God's away on business, business
God's away, God's away
God's away on business, business

Tom Waits - "God's Away on Business" video from Anti Records on Vimeo.



Note on Tom Waits:

In early 2011, Tom Waits completed a set of 23 poems entitled Seeds on Hard Ground, which Waits says was inspired by portraits of the homeless taken by Michael O'Brien for his upcoming book, Hard Ground, which will include Waits' poetry alongside the portraits. In anticipation of the book release, Waits and Anti- printed limited edition chapbooks of the poems to raise money for Redwood Empire Food Bank a homeless referral and family support service in Sonoma County, California. As of January 26, 2011, four editions, each limited to a thousand copies costing $24.99US each, sold out, raising $90,000 for the food bank.

It was announced on February 9, 2011, that Tom Waits is to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Neil Young. The ceremony is to be held at the Waldorf-Astoria on Monday, March 14, 2011, at 8:30pm EST. It is scheduled to be aired on FUSE TV the following Sunday at 9PM EST


The Great Jeopardy Challenge

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Top Jeopardy human winners against Watson, IBM's Smartest Machine On Earth.

Watch the full episode

The Psychosis and Errancy of the NRA

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kids_with_guns.jpgThe best way to reduce homicides in the US is to stop raising our sons and daughters to be cowboys.

The ridiculously massive number of guns in our culture both predicates and is the result of celebration of violence as a plausible solution to conflict.

I wonder how the Egyptian revolution would have gone down if the NRA had had a hand in it. Change every rock thrown into a bullet.

And didn't the Egyptians recently put lie to the claim that the primary rationale for 2nd Amendment that personal gun ownership is necessary to protect the citizenry from the government?

The NRA Claims Government to Blame For Tucson Shootings

Commenter Blouise on the article:

The United States leads the world's richest nations in gun deaths -- murders, suicides, and accidental deaths due to guns - according to a study published April 17, 1998 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The U.S. was first at 14.24 gun deaths per 100,000 people. Two other countries in the Americas came next. Brazil was second with 12.95, followed by Mexico with 12.69.

Japan had the lowest rate, at 0.05 gun deaths per 100,000 (1 per 2 million people). The police in Japan actively raid homes of those suspected of having weapons.

The 36 countries in the study were the richest in the World Bank's 1994 World Development Report, having the highest GNP per capita income.

The gun-related deaths per 100,000 people in 1994 by country were as follows:

U.S.A. 14.24
Brazil 12.95
Mexico 12.69
Estonia 12.26
Argentina 8.93
Northern Ireland 6.63
Finland 6.46
Switzerland 5.31
France 5.15
Canada 4.31
Norway 3.82
Austria 3.70
Portugal 3.20
Israel 2.91
Belgium 2.90
Australia 2.65
Slovenia 2.60
Italy 2.44
New Zealand 2.38
Denmark 2.09
Sweden 1.92
Kuwait 1.84
Greece 1.29
Germany 1.24
Hungary 1.11
Ireland 0.97
Spain 0.78
Netherlands 0.70
Scotland 0.54
England and Wales 0.41


The United States accounted for 45 percent of the 88,649 gun deaths reported in the study, the first comprehensive international scrutiny of gun-related deaths.


http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6166


The unintentional firearm-related death rate for children 0-14 years old is NINE times higher in the U.S. than in the 25 other countries COMBINED (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, p. 101).

The mortality rate from accidental shootings is 8 times higher in the four states with the most guns compared to the four states with the fewest guns (Miller, 2001, p. 481).

For kids ages 5 to 14, the mortality rate is 14 times higher in high gun states than low gun states (Miller, 2001, p. 481).

For kids ages 0 to 4, the mortality rate is 17 times higher in high gun states than low gun states (Miller, 2001, p. 481).

For every age group, where there are more guns there are more accidental deaths (Miller, 2001, p. 483).

For adults, keeping a gun in the home quadruples the risk of dying of an accidental gunshot wound (Wiebe, 2003).

A gun in the home is 4 times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense (Kellermann, p. 263).

Most unintentional shooting deaths occur in the home (65 percent), based on data from 16 states. The most common context of the death (30 percent) was playing with the gun (Karch, 2010).

In almost half of unintentional shooting deaths (49 percent), the victim is shot by another person. In virtually all of these cases, the shooter and victim knew each other (Hemenway, p. 1184).

http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/gunviolence/gvunintentional

hat tip Blouise

Quantum Entanglement, meet Free Will

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Current TV: Bar Karma


A user generated series - what a concept!





Using nature's genius in architecture

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How can architects build a new world of sustainable beauty? By learning from nature. At TEDSalon in London, Michael Pawlyn describes three habits of nature that could transform architecture and society: radical resource efficiency, closed loops, and drawing energy from the sun.

Not yet.

change.jpgWould a peaceful overthrow of the US elites even be possible given the innate violent streak in the American psyche? The Tea Party people have the emotional impetus to do an overthrow, but their too quick in invoking the 2nd Amendment solution and on the whole they are just for overthrow for all the wrong reasons; they don't want freedom for everyone, they want a social/religious dictatorship based on the propaganda they've been spoon fed by the very people they need to overthrow.

It can't be a right/left or culture war thing, as Egypt just proved. It's got to include everyone and be based on liberty and equality; on the human rights fundamentals the founders envisioned. It really is time we told the new royalty to fuck off and die. But do we have the balls to pull it off peacefully?

When Democracy Weakens

By Bob Herbert

As the throngs celebrated in Cairo, I couldn't help wondering about what is happening to democracy here in the United States. I think it's on the ropes. We're in serious danger of becoming a democracy in name only.

plutocrats.jpgWhile millions of ordinary Americans are struggling with unemployment and declining standards of living, the levers of real power have been all but completely commandeered by the financial and corporate elite. It doesn't really matter what ordinary people want. The wealthy call the tune, and the politicians dance.

So what we get in this democracy of ours are astounding and increasingly obscene tax breaks and other windfall benefits for the wealthiest, while the bought-and-paid-for politicians hack away at essential public services and the social safety net, saying we can't afford them. One state after another is reporting that it cannot pay its bills. Public employees across the country are walking the plank by the tens of thousands. Camden, N.J., a stricken city with a serious crime problem, laid off nearly half of its police force. Medicaid, the program that provides health benefits to the poor, is under savage assault from nearly all quarters.

The poor, who are suffering from an all-out depression, are never heard from. In terms of their clout, they might as well not exist. The Obama forces reportedly want to raise a billion dollars or more for the president's re-election bid. Politicians in search of that kind of cash won't be talking much about the wants and needs of the poor. They'll be genuflecting before the very rich.

Mubarak's Travels

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mubarakstravels.jpg

When Revolution is a Beautiful Thing

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revolutionportrait.jpg

Fox News Checklist

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billO.png



During any two hour period watching Fox News (opinion) you will be able to find at least one instance of all of the following, usually multiple instances:

Assertion:

An assertion is an enthusiastic or energetic statement presented as a fact, although it is not necessarily true. They often imply that the statement requires no explanation or back up, but that it should merely be accepted without question.

The fix: Searching for additional information or reasoning.

Bandwagon:

Bandwagon is an appeal to the subject to follow the crowd, to join in because others are doing so as well.

The fix: We should weigh the pros and cons of joining in independently from the amount of people who have already joined. Searching for additional information or reasoning.

Card stacking:

Card stacking, or selective omission involves only presenting information that is positive to an idea or proposal and omitting information contrary to it.

The fix - Searching for additional information or reasoning.

Glittering Generalities:

Glittering generalities are words that have different positive meaning for individual subjects, but are linked to highly valued concepts. When these words are used, they demand approval without thinking, simply because such an important concept is involved.

The fix:We should weigh the pros and cons of joining in independently from the amount of people who have already joined, and searching for additional information or reasoning.

Lesser of Two Evils:

The "lesser of two evils" technique tries to convince us of an idea or proposal by presenting it as the least offensive option. This technique is often accompanied by adding blame on an enemy.

The fix : Should consider the value of any proposal independently of those it is being compared with.

Name Calling:

It is the use of derogatory language or words that carry a negative connotation when describing an enemy. The propaganda attempts to arouse prejudice among the public by labeling the target something that the public dislikes.

The fix: we should attempt to separate our feelings about the name and our feelings about the actual idea or proposal.

Pinpointing the Enemy:

This is an attempt to simplify a complex situation by presenting one specific group or person as the enemy.

The fix: An informed person is much less susceptible to this sort of propaganda.

Common man:

The Common man device is an attempt by the propagandist to convince the public that his views reflect those of the common person and that they are also working for the benefit of the common person.

The fix - We should consider the proposals and ideas separately from the personality of the presenter.

Simplification (Stereotyping):

Often reduces a complex situation to a clear-cut choice involving good and evil. This technique is often useful in swaying uneducated audiences.

The fix - When faced with simplification, it is often useful to examine other factors and pieces of the proposal or idea, and, as with all other forms of propaganda, it is essential to get more information.

Step 1

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Crowd roars approval as Mubarak steps down

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

Now they need to eventually remove Suleiman and the rest of the security forces elites or nothing much will really change.

Nevertheless, the Egyptian people have proved themselves incredibly brave heroes on the world stage. Hopefully their thus far non-violent revolution will spread throughout the Arab world and, hope of hopes, even have its effect here in the US.

postmubarak.jpg




....he opens up his suitcase
in the Continental suite
and people thirty stories down
look like colored currents in the street....

Will Egypt Achieve Polity

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

Mubarak Proves Himself Arrogant Idiot

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Here is an asshole who is willing to risk the lives of his people for no other reason than his own ego. the The only real solution to this sort of situation is to kill him. Even allowing him to leave at this juncture only makes for the possibility that he might try to regain power at some point. I think the Egyptians should physically purge the top elite cabinet, VP and especially the military. It's essential that the Egyptian people put the fear into and destroy the old strongman authoritarian regime which has had its basis in the army since 1952.

The US should state that we are cutting off all military and other aid until Mubarak is forced from office and a civilian government is in place.

Mubarak: I'll delegate 'some' powers to VP

mubarak.idiot.jpg

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak said he had handed some powers to his vice president Thursday, but refused to step down or leave the country, prompting a key opposition figure to warn: "Egypt will explode."

Stunned protesters in central Cairo who demanded Mubarak's ouster waved their shoes in contempt and shouted, "Leave, leave, leave." Others wept, while some watched in shocked silence.

Opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei turned to Twitter and denounced Mubarak's speech. "Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now," ElBaradei tweeted.

In Mubarak's televised speech, translated by NBC News, the embattled leader said he was addressing Egypt's youth, acknowledging the honesty of the demands of the protesters and their intentions.

"By confirming the needs of the people, and by putting Egypt first, I will dissolve the upper levels of government effective immediately and hand my power over to my vice president," Mubarak said, according to the NBC translation. "This is a major moment of change."

But Mubarak said he was not leaving Egypt, and said he "cannot and will not accept to be dictated orders from outside" and would remain until elections in September. He had already announced that he would not seek re-election.

"I will not separate from Egyptian soil until I am buried underneath," Mubarak said.



OK, there's the invitation, bury him by Saturday if he does not stand down Friday..

The Reaction:

egyptian.tears.jpg

shoe.reaction.jpg

thesquare.jpg

Sex: The Intern and the Bomber

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Lewinsky and Kaczynski


The Washington Post runs a weekly contest in its Style section called

the 'Style Invitational'. The requirements this week were to use the two

words 'Lewinsky' (the Intern) and 'Kaczynski' (the Unabomber) in the

same limerick. Now, remember, the following winning entries were

actually printed verbatim in the newspaper, no bleeps or xxxs:



Third place:

There once was a girl named Lewinsky

Who played on a flute like Stravinsky

'Twas 'Hail to the Chief'

On this flute made of beef

That stole the front page from Kaczynski.


Second place:

Said Clinton to young Ms. Lewinsky,

We don't want to leave clues like Kaczynski,

Since you made such a mess,

Use the hem of your dress

And please wipe that stuff off your chinsky.




And the winning entry
:

Lewinsky and Clinton have shown

What Kaczynski must surely have known,

That an intern is better

Than a bomb in a letter,

When deciding how best to be blown




morning mirth provided by Mr Baker

Sex With Angels

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I consider all religious thought about sexual matters garbage, but this one was sort of an interesting take.

The Bible's surprisingly mixed messages on sexuality

By Jennifer Wright Knust

angelsex.jpgWe often hears that Christians have no choice but to regard homosexuality as a sin - that Scripture simply demands it.

As a Bible scholar and pastor myself, I say that Scripture does no such thing.

"I love gay people, but the Bible forces me to condemn them" is a poor excuse that attempts to avoid accountability by wrapping a very particular and narrow interpretation of a few biblical passages in a cloak of divinely inspired respectability.

Truth is, Scripture can be interpreted in any number of ways. And biblical writers held a much more complicated view of human sexuality than contemporary debates have acknowledged.

In Genesis, for example, it would seem that God's original intention for humanity was androgyny, not sexual differentiation and heterosexuality.Genesis includes two versions of the story of God's creation of the human person. First, God creates humanity male and female and then God forms the human person again, this time in the Garden of Eden. The second human person is given the name Adam and the female is formed from his rib.

Ancient Christians and Jews explained this two-step creation by imagining that the first human person possessed the genitalia of both sexes. Then, when the androgynous, dually-sexed person was placed in the garden, s/he was divided in two.

According to this account, the man "clings to the woman" in an attempt to regain half his flesh, which God took from him once he was placed in Eden. As third century Rabbi Samuel bar Nahman explained, when God created the first man, God created him with two faces. "Then he split the androgyne and made two bodies, one on each side, and turned them about."

When the apostle Paul envisioned the bodies that would be given to humanity at the end of time, he imagined that they would be androgynous, "not male and female." The third-century non-canonical Gospel of Philip, meanwhile, lamented that sexual difference had been created at all: "If the female had not separated from the male, she and the male would not die. That being's separation became the source of death."

From these perspectives, God's original plan was sexual unity in one body, not two. The Genesis creation stories can support the notion that sexual intercourse is designed to reunite male and female into one body, but they can also suggest that God's blessing was first placed on an undifferentiated body that didn't have sex at all.

Heterosexual sex was therefore an afterthought designed to give back the man what he had lost.

The Jar of Change

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In the depths of the recession, we were supposed to be in a new era of thrift. So why are Americans spending again? Labor unions used to act as the nation's financial planners. Now we have economic self-help books...which we buy with what we would have saved.
67% of Americans survive payday to payday and that's it. Even a 7 day delay in getting paid can cause serious problems

Why Americans Can't Save Money

No Pension, No Chance

Thomas Geoghegan

AmericanPiggyBank.jpgSure: scoff at us for not saving. But let's get real: even in countries with high savings rates, the poor of the country don't save. Even in Germany that's true: the poor are poor!

In the U.S., the over 43 million people living in poverty aren't going to save. We have an inequality index that can go head to head with Egypt's. Of course food's cheaper here, so no one's in the streets. As for the middle class, the collapse of unions explains the rest.

In 1980, two out of three American workers were in defined benefit pension plans with guaranteed lifetime benefits. Now it's one in five and falling.
I know, personally. When plants closed in Chicago, I used to file suits to get pieces of pensions for the older workers. But now in the current collapse, there are no bits and pieces to get.

Labor unions in the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s - before they were smashed - used to act as the nation's financial planners. Bargainers told the rank and file: "Yes, we could give this to you as a wage increase, but we're going to sock it away in a pension."

The Teamsters, the Auto Workers had "30 and out." That's right: truck drivers, out at 55, on pensions with more bells and whistles than we imagine public employees get today. And many non-union people, middle managers, who spurned unions, got what the rank and file got. Now they just have dimes dropped in their 401(k)'s.

Indeed, the world of the 1960s and 1970s has turned upside down: once only private sector workers had big "unfunded" pensions, while public sector workers had no right to join unions at all.

Now even our Op-Ed writers, especially those in the "radical middle," try to whip up anger at the public pensions that only reflect what the private sectors once had. Why should the public sector get a pass from our increasing inequality?

change_jar.jpgIn the old days, Americans loved being "forced to save." They didn't want to touch the money. I thought I could make a living as an ERISA lawyer, suing pension funds and helping participants. Well, I had to take on another career.

Maybe the career I should have picked was writing books accusing people of moral turpitude. Of course, in theory we can all save -- even the poor. I am reading the great classic, "The Black Jacobins," by C.L.R. James, and it seems that in a few miraculous cases, certain slaves of San Domingo could save enough to purchase their freedom. I'm sure our pundits now would say: "See, you can do it." There's no need to abolish slavery.

And now that U.S. style banking has destroyed social democracy in Ireland, Spain, Portugal - though not, thank God, in Germany - many on the right now hope that the idea of going back to the good old days will perish from our collective memory. Just save your money. That's the only hope.

But for most people at the median or below, savings is a matter of luck. Yes, I can pick up the self-help books and figure out a budget. But that requires me to lead a charmed life and not to have any kids. I have represented lots of workers who - with no defined benefits, no union to help - did save money. And it can work - if nothing goes wrong.

But something always does go wrong: a wife has a stroke, the boarder you took in to help suddenly lost a job, or ... you lose your job. Then it's on the Visa card, and 20 percent of your income is going to interest of the bank, because of one little accident over which you had no control. Poof: there goes the house, if it was not under water already. Or there go 30 years of savings on an I.R.A., for which your bank out of the goodness of its heart had been paying interest under 1 percent.

The self-help books live in a dream world, where there is no such thing as "nemesis." But it's really a nightmare world, in which no one can have a heart, or part with money for one's child. It's a country where at the median income or lower even Silas Marner would find it hard to save.

Mystery of the Green Weenies

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

Hallelulya!

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Extension of Patriot Act provisions fails in House

"Give Me Liberty Or Give Me A Wiretap!" Dennis Kucinich

The House of Representatives failed Tuesday to extend the life of three surveillance tools that are crucial to the United States' post-Sept. 11 anti-terror law, a slipup for the new Republican leaders who miscalculated the level of opposition.

The House voted 277-148 to keep the three provisions of the USA Patriot Act on the books until Dec. 8. Republicans brought up the bill under a special expedited procedure that required a two-thirds majority, and the vote was seven short of reaching that level.

The Republicans, who took over the House last month, lost 26 of their own members, adding to the 122 Democrats who voted against it. Supporters say the three measures are vital to preventing another terrorist attack like those on Sept. 11, 2001, but critics say they infringe on civil liberties. They appealed to the antipathy that newer and more conservative Republicans hold for big government invasions of individual privacy.

The Patriot Act bill would have renewed the authority for court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones. Also addressed was Section 215, the so-called library records provision, which gives the FBI court-approved access to "any tangible thing" relevant to a terrorism investigation.

The third deals with the "lone-wolf" provision of a 2004 anti-terror law that permits secret intelligence surveillance of non-U.S. people not known to be affiliated with a specific terror organization.

Among the 26 Republicans against the extension were seven freshman lawmakers backed by the Tea Party movement, whose members have said the Patriot Act intrudes on every-day life, NBC News reported. They are David Schweikert of Arizona, Tom Graves of Georgia, Raul Labrador of Idaho, Randy Hultgren and Bobby Schilling of Illinois, Justin Amash of Michigan and Christopher Gibson of New York. An eighth first-term Republican, Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, joined them.

The Republican-controlled House was expected to favor the nine-month extension.

Republican Sen. James Sensenbrenner, the former Judiciary Committee chairman who authored the 2001 Patriot Act, urged his colleagues to support the extensions, saying they were needed as a stopgap until permanent statutes could be agreed upon.

"The terrorist threat has not subsided and will not expire, and neither should our national security laws," he said.

But Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich said Republican supporters of the ultraconservative tea party movement should show their opposition to big government by joining Democrats in opposing the measure.

"How about the Patriot Act, which has the broadest reach and the deepest reach of government to our daily lives?" he asked.

The House could vote again on an extension under regular procedures that would require just a simple majority to pass.

The Obama administration earlier Tuesday urged Congress to extend the tools for nearly three years while Senate Republicans urged them to become permanent.

No Gay Sex If You're Mentally Challenged?

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WTF...Where is the harm? The man's local council should be slapped upside the head. And what do they mean by health risks? Sounds homophobic to me.

UK man with low IQ banned from having sex

LONDON -- A man with a low IQ has been banned from sex by a judge who said the case raised questions about civil liberties, The Telegraph newspaper reported.

The 41-year-old man, known as Alan, has an IQ of 48 and a moderate learning disability, the newspaper reported. Alan was living with a man and having sex with him.

His local council decided that his "vigorous sex drive" was not appropriate and he didn't understand what he was doing, the Telegraph reported.

High Court Justice Nicholas Mostyn agreed that Alan did not have the mental capacity to understand the health risks and should not have sex with anyone. The judge's order put Alan under the local authority that provides his housing.

Still, the judge called the case "legally, intellectually and morally" complex and said the court must "tread especially carefully" when the state tries to curtail such a basic human function as sex.

The case began in June 2009, when the local council started court proceedings to restrict Alan's contact with the man, identified as Kieron. Alan has been prevented since then from sexual activity, except when he's alone, the Telegraph's report said.

In Britain, the Court of Protection can make decisions for people deemed to lack the intelligence to make them themselves. These people can be ordered to undergo surgery, have abortion, be forced to use contracteption -- even have life support switched off.

Alan was described as "sociable" but "seriously challenged in all aspects of his mental functionality." He had been accused of making lewd gestures at children, but no police action was taken, the Telegraph said.

Best Music Video in a Long While

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Any teacher in public schools that teaches creationism should not just be fired, but should, along with their families be publicly drawn and quartered. The scourge has to be stopped somewhere and wiping out the whole genetic group is essential. Not only are these teachers the prime vector for "the general stupid" that is ruining the country, but they are ruining students science educations. it is pure child abuse. if you think slaughtering them outright is perhaps too much, how about forced castration and tube tying? OK, I'd settle for being pressed to death by giant stones...the kids could just be drowned during river baptism I suppose.

drawnquartered.jpg

On Evolution, Biology Teachers Stray From Lesson Plan

Teaching creationism in public schools has consistently been ruled unconstitutional in federal courts, but according to a national survey of more than 900 public high school biology teachers, it continues to flourish in the nation's classrooms.

Researchers found that only 28 percent of biology teachers consistently follow the recommendations of the National Research Council to describe straightforwardly the evidence for evolution and explain the ways in which it is a unifying theme in all of biology. At the other extreme, 13 percent explicitly advocate creationism, and spend at least an hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.

That leaves what the authors call "the cautious 60 percent," who avoid controversy by endorsing neither evolution nor its unscientific alternatives. In various ways, they compromise.

The survey, published in the Jan. 28 issue of Science, found that some avoid intellectual commitment by explaining that they teach evolution only because state examinations require it, and that students do not need to "believe" in it. Others treat evolution as if it applied only on a molecular level, avoiding any discussion of the evolution of species. And a large number claim that students are free to choose evolution or creationism based on their own beliefs.

Eric Plutzer, a co-author of the paper, said that the most enthusiastic proponents of creationism were geographically widely spread across the country.

More high school students take biology than any other science course, the researchers write, and for about a quarter of them it will be the only science course they take. So the influence of these teachers looms large.

Randy Moore, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, was unsurprised by the study's conclusions. "These kinds of data have been reported regionally, and in some cases nationally, for decades. Creationists are in the classroom, and it's not just the South," he said. "At least 25 percent of high school teachers in Minnesota explicitly teach creationism."

"Students are being cheated out of a rich science education," said Dr. Plutzer, a professor of political science at Penn State University. "We think the 'cautious 60 percent' represent a group of educators who, if they were better trained in science in general and in evolution in particular, would be more confident in their ability to explain controversial topics to their students, to parents, and to school board members."

But Dr. Moore is doubtful that more education is the answer. "These courses aren't reaching the creationists," he said. "They already know what evolution is. They were biology majors, or former biology students. They just reject what we told them.

"With 15 to 20 percent of biology teachers teaching creationism," he continued, "this is the biggest failure in science education. There's no other field where teachers reject the foundations of their science like they do in biology."

Acid Trip without the drug

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Neave strobe

neavestrobe.jpg

If you want to see a pretty good replication of how people high on acid see things, go to the link above and stare at the center of the screen for 30 seconds or more and then look down at your hand holding the mouse. Its completely harmless unless you are epileptic ...or already high on acid.


hat tip to mr baker

Uncle Tom's Blabbin'

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I tell ya'...some people's kids...

What a complete waste of psycho energy. i mean, the whole conspiracy theory he is operating on isn't even interesting...its just recycled John Birch/Gnome of Zuric/Illuminati swiss cheese consistency crapola. There are meds for this sort of schizophrenia..Nurse!

Court Orders Obama To Resign In 90 Days

Comment on this vid by pogopark


OK OK OK.

Dear birther buddies -- and to varying extent, tea party folks -- please: let us in on the magic words we're supposed to use to snap you out of your prolonged state of denial. We can't wait for you to get over the fact that we legitimately have a black President of the United States, whose father was Muslim, and one of whose names is Hussein.

Because I have -- well, let's just call it a strong hunch -- that once you get there, you stand a.. really quite measurable chance of realizing that those things are irrelevant, except for ways in which they are enormous boons. And then you may notice that the whole socialism thing really doesn't make sense, either. Like, huh? Yeah. Exactly.

And I know it might be totally batty for me to suggest this, but without that stuff scaring you for absolutely no reason, I have to think you could see -- as clearly as pretty much all the rest of us -- that plain as day, we have a decent, principled, responsive President, who appears to be part of a really healthy, loving family and, as regards the other two co-equal branches of our government, has made a consistent priority of principle over powermongering.

And given all this evidence of him being frankly pretty good at life, all in all -- and minus all of the reactive, angry denial -- how could you not see that we have a competent administration battling through one of the most challenging periods in recent American history without complaint or even a hint of resignation? Even though there's a bunch of you people who frankly are letting us down by being so crappy about all of this.

I mean, am I wrong, team birther? Tea partiers? Is there not a largely emotional component to your reaction? Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of emotion over here, too. But I'm pretty sure I know where that's taking me. Have you thought about your trajectory?

Search your feeeelings. Ah, as they say. Ahem.

But for real: We're really, really ready. I mean it. I mean, I think I speak for everyone basically. Stop making us read about this. Please. Get on board. No one loves a squeaky wheel. We do respect a good driver, though. What do you say?


Olbermann Landing?

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Current TV?

As long as they have vids of Keith's show...I don't care who they are.


Olbermann Said to Be Going to Current TV

By Bill Carter and Brian Stelter

keith_olbermann.jpgKeith Olbermann, the former top-rated host of "Countdown" on the news channel MSNBC, will announce his next television home on Tuesday, and people familiar with his plans pointed Monday to a possible deal with the public affairs channel Current TV.

Neither Mr. Olbermann, his representatives, or executives from Current TV would comment on the move, but they did not deny that the channel, which counts former Vice President Al Gore as one of its founders, will become at least one partner in Mr. Olbermann's future media plans.

One of the people with knowledge of the plans said Mr. Olbermann would have an equity stake in Current TV. The people insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized by their employers to comment in advance of the official announcement.

On Monday a public relations agency hired by Mr. Olbermann scheduled a Tuesday morning conference call for an announcement about his next job. "He and his new partners will make an exciting announcement regarding the next chapter in his remarkable career," the agency wrote in an e-mail.

Current TV has set up a presentation with advertisers for Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan to announce its future plans. The channel may be betting on Mr. Olbermann to put it on the cable map. The low-rated five-year-old channel needs the help. Targeting young people, it originally subsisted on YouTube-style submissions and video journalists. More recently it started producing and acquiring traditional television series, like repeats of "This American Life."

Mr. Olbermann departed MSNBC in January after some stormy interactions with management, including a suspension for contributing to political candidates. The settlement of his contract precluded his joining another television outlet for an undetermined period of time, but an announcement of a future assignment on Current TV would presumably not violate the terms of that deal as long as he did not start until after the agreed-upon waiting period.

A move to Current TV would challenge Mr. Olbermann's fans of his MSNBC show -- where he drew about a million viewers a night -- to follow him to a channel that is considerably less accessible. Current TV is available in only about 60 million homes, and is usually available only on the digital tier of cable television systems, which requires a separate receiver. MSNBC, which is owned by NBC Universal, is available in 85 million homes and is almost always available as a basic cable entry.

Juiced -Up Millionaires After Your Money

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

Disemboweled in a Cozy Sort of Way

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therockatpolice.jpg I watched the Egyptian revolt for a week on Al Jazeera, at first enthralled by the courageous rage of the protesters, then growing more and more disappointed that like many other revolts before it, things would pretty much go back to compromise and concessions with the powers-that-be would be made. I wanted such revolt to happen here...for the hypnotized American culture to finally wake up to the level of screwing they are getting. The simple fact is that Americans are just to afraid to lose what they have. They will keep pretending everything will somehow go back to what it was and things will get better. They won't. Americans are just too sucked into the myths of themselves and their nation they have been brought up on and propagandized into believing.


"Empire abroad entails tyranny at home" - Hannah Arendt


Recognizing the Language of Tyranny

By Chris Hedges

Empires communicate in two languages. One language is expressed in imperatives. It is the language of command and force. This militarized language disdains human life and celebrates hypermasculinity. It demands. It makes no attempt to justify the flagrant theft of natural resources and wealth or the use of indiscriminate violence. When families are gunned down at a checkpoint in Iraq they are referred to as having been "lit up." So it goes. The other language of empire is softer. It employs the vocabulary of ideals and lofty goals and insists that the power of empire is noble and benevolent. The language of beneficence is used to speak to those outside the centers of death and pillage, those who have not yet been totally broken, those who still must be seduced to hand over power to predators. The road traveled to total disempowerment, however, ends at the same place. It is the language used to get there that is different.

This language of blind obedience and retribution is used by authority in our inner cities, from Detroit to Oakland, as well as our prison systems. It is a language Iraqis and Afghans know intimately. But to the members of our dwindling middle class--as well as those in the working class who have yet to confront our new political and economic configuration--the powerful use phrases like the consent of the governed and democracy that help lull us into complacency. The longer we believe in the fiction that we are included in the corporate power structure, the more easily corporations pillage the country without the threat of rebellion. Those who know the truth are crushed. Those who do not are lied to. Those who consume and perpetuate the lies--including the liberal institutions of the press, the church, education, culture, labor and the Democratic Party--abet our disempowerment. No system of total control, including corporate control, exhibits its extreme forms at the beginning. These forms expand as they fail to encounter resistance.

The tactic of speaking in two languages is as old as empire itself. The ancient Greeks and the Romans did it. So did the Spanish conquistadors, the Ottomans, the French and later the British. Those who inhabit exploited zones on the peripheries of empire see and hear the truth. But the cries of those who are exploited are ignored or demonized. The rage they express does not resonate with those trapped in self-delusion, those who continue to trust in the ultimate goodness of empire. This is the truth articulated in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and E.M. Forster's "A Passage to India." These writers understood that empire is about violence and theft. And the longer the theft continues, the more brutal empire becomes. The tyranny empire imposes on others it finally imposes on itself. The predatory forces unleashed by empire consume the host. Look around you.

The narratives we hear are those fabricated for us by the state, Hollywood and the press. These narratives are taught in our schools, preached in our pulpits and celebrated in war documentaries such as "Restrepo." These narratives humanize and ennoble the enforcers of empire. The government, the military, the police and our intelligence agents are lionized. These control groups, we are assured, are the guardians of our virtues and our protectors. They produce our heroes. And those who challenge this narrative--who denounce the lies--become the enemy.

Internet censoring

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It's going to get much much worse. I just saw that Huffington Post was bought by AOL so that's the end of the Huff's independence.

Almost everybody's doing it

By Rosa Golijan

internet.censor.jpg

We often scoff when we hear about countries who censor or limit their citizens' access to the Internet, but we somehow fail to realize something incredibly important: Nearly every industrialized country censors the Internet to some degree. Don't believe it? Check this map.

The map was based on data provided by Reporters Without Borders and designed by the folks at yuxiyou.net as a public call to action demonstrating the sad reality of Internet censorship. If you want, visit that site for many illuminating infographics, or read up on the topic over at the Open Net Initiative's website -- they make it a point to gather up data like this. Or you can just plain join me in shedding a few tears over the realization that freedom barely exists on the Internet anymore -- and maybe never did.

Related story: Is Internet access a human right?

Internet Domain Name Bigotry

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When I first saw this article I was all like "Huh?...Seriously?"

Where the hell does anyone get the authority to be able to prevent a domain name like say .gay or .thug ? Who are these idiots? And why do we enterain them?

We really are at a crossroads where it has become necessary to smash these old world control freaks hard enough that they let go so the rest of us can move forward. Yeah, that'll happen.


Is U.S. leading charge to quash .gay Internet domain?

By Helen A.S. Popkin

If nations get the power to veto Internet domain names, as the U.S. Department of Commerce suggests, forget about .gay or .humanrights joining the ranks of Internet suffixes such as .com, .org or .info.

The International Committee on Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), the nonprofit group in charge of Internet domain names, is meeting in San Francisco next month to discuss this and other proposals for handling newly proposed generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs).

Observers find this nation veto proposal worrisome, Ars Technica reports:

Here's the issue: The US wants yet another criterion added to ICANN's guidebook draft for the five-month-long "Initial Evaluation" period for gTLD applications. Members of the nonprofit's Government Advisory Committee -- that is to say, the representatives to ICANN from any country -- could object to a gTLD "for any reason."

In other words, proposed domain endings such as .gay and .humanrights wouldn't have a chance if nations wishing to censor those topics from their citizens are allowed veto domain names.

That the U.S. would author such a proposal is especially troublesome, points out Syracuse University Information Studies professor Milton Mueller:

"If governments believe that gays (or other controversial ideas and communities) have a right to express their identity, they would not make their ability to get a domain name reflecting their identity contingent upon a review by a world government committee in which some members are sure to be hostile to their culture and lifestyle. Any government that really wants to uphold individual rights would not do what the U.S. is doing."

The ICANN San Francisco gathering includes advisory committee working group sessions on March 13 and a full ICANN board meeting on March 18.

Corporate hired guns, literary mercenaries who push corporate or right wing culture war ideologies for bucks from billionaires and how it deforms and ruins the public discourse on important subjects.

Back in the early '70's a good friend of mind, Rolly Eade, and I were hitching down a rural Manitoba road discussing political power and propaganda, as we were wont to do. To make a point about the nature of propaganda. Rolly jumped a farm fence and calmly walked into a mass of turkeys. Once at the center of the flock (properly, a "rafter"), he began a strident fake Hitler impression in gibberish German, replete with pauses and stiff armed salutes.

At each pause the turkeys would excitedly gobble and yelp their response as though in approval of the nonsense Rolly was laying on them. It was a hilarious, yet quite apt demonstration of his point that propaganda irrespective of the content could be made to create emotional responses even across species. Anyone who owns a dog knows that it is quite easy to excite the dog by simply speaking to it in an excited manner.

The effect is even more dramatic of course when the listener is a human capable of responding to key words or phrases he or she has already been conditioned to respond to in an emotional manner; "motherhood and apple pie", "save the children", "god and country", "democracy and capitalism", "communism", "socialism", etc.

Trained propagandists can play a crowd with these loaded terms like master musicians to good effect or otherwise. The rise of the American Tea Party is a prime example of this effect. And billionaires and other corporate wealth is hiring these propagandists to do their bidding.

For example:


These astroturf libertarians are the real threat to internet democracy

As I see in threads on my articles, the online sabotaging of intelligent debate seems organized. We must fight to save this precious gift

George Monbiot

They are the online equivalent of enclosure riots: the rick-burning, fence-toppling protests by English peasants losing their rights to the land. When MasterCard, Visa, PayPal and Amazon tried to shut WikiLeaks out of the cyber-commons, an army of hackers responded by trying to smash their way into these great estates and pull down their fences. In the WikiLeaks punch-up the commoners appear to have the upper hand. But it's just one battle. There's a wider cyberwar being fought, of which you hear much less. And in most cases the landlords, with the help of a mercenary army, are winning.

I'm not talking here about threats to net neutrality and the danger of a two-tier internet developing, though these are real. I'm talking about the daily attempts to control and influence content in the interests of the state and corporations: attempts in which money talks.

The weapon used by both state and corporate players is a technique known as astroturfing. An astroturf campaign is one that mimics spontaneous grassroots mobilizations but which has in reality been organized. Anyone writing a comment piece in Mandarin critical of the Chinese government, for instance, is likely to be bombarded with abuse by people purporting to be ordinary citizens, upset by the slurs against their country.

But many of them aren't upset: they are members of the 50 Cent Party, so-called because one Chinese government agency pays five mao (half a yuan) for every post its tame commenters write. Teams of these sock-puppets are hired by party leaders to drown out critical voices and derail intelligent debates.

I first came across online astroturfing in 2002, when the investigators Andy Rowell and Jonathan Matthews looked into a series of comments made by two people calling themselves Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek. They had launched ferocious attacks, across several internet forums, against a scientist whose research suggested that Mexican corn had been widely contaminated by GM pollen.

Rowell and Matthews found that one of the messages Mary Murphy had sent came from a domain owned by the Bivings Group, a PR company specializing in internet lobbying. An article on the Bivings website explained that "there are some campaigns where it would be undesirable or even disastrous to let the audience know that your organization is directly involved ... Message boards, chat rooms, and listservs are a great way to anonymously monitor what is being said. Once you are plugged into this world, it is possible to make postings to these outlets that present your position as an uninvolved third party."

The Bivings site also quoted a senior executive from the biotech corporation Monsanto, thanking the PR firm for its "outstanding work". When a Bivings executive was challenged by Newsnight, he admitted that the "Mary Murphy" email was sent by someone "working for Bivings" or "clients using our services". Rowell and Matthews then discovered that the IP address on Andura Smetacek's messages was assigned to Monsanto's headquarters in St Louis, Missouri. There's a nice twist to this story. AstroTurf TM - real fake grass - was developed and patented by Monsanto.

Kucinich: Man of Principles

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Kucinich is a true rara avis...a principled politician who actually serves his constituency and the country before himself.

Kucinich Requests Visit with Pfc. Bradley Manning

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today requested a visit with Private First Class Bradley Manning, the solider accused of leaking classified documents to the WikiLeaks website. He requested the meeting as a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Kucinich has previously written to Defense Secretary Robert Gates requesting confirmation and explanation of reports that the Army ignored evidence of mental health problems of Pfc. Manning and that he is being held in conditions that could contribute a violation of the his Eighth Amendment right of protection from "cruel and unusual" punishment.

The full text follows.



February 4, 2011

The Honorable Robert C. Gates
Secretary of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-0001

Dear Secretary Gates:

I write to request that I be able to visit Private First Class Bradley Manning at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia.

As you know, I am concerned about reports of his treatment while in custody that describe alarming abuses of his constitutional rights and his physical health. A March 2009 article by surgeon Atul Gawande discusses the effects of solitary confinement on prison inmates and prisoners of war: "Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury." Studies highlighted that such prisoners, months after being released, revealed severe brain abnormalities mirroring those who had endured significant physical head trauma[1] .

Private Manning's guilt or innocence is a question for adjudication and his treatment at Quantico severely undermines the presumption of innocence as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and raises questions as to whether he is truly able to stand trial. His care while in the custody of the Department of Defense is the responsibility of the U.S. Government and as a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform it is my duty to conduct effective oversight.

Thank you for your attention to this request. I look forward to your prompt reply.

Sincerely,

Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress



Just in Time for the Superbowl

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The Bacon Cheese Dip Mug


baconmug.jpg



Elsewise known as the Heart Attack Snack




from the John Turley Blog

Some Police Do Care

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Just when you think that the police are uncaring, a story
like this comes along and helps to restore our faith .....

Body Found in River:

The Salem , Oregon , Police Department reports finding a
man's body in the Willamette River , just west of the Marion Bridge .

The dead man's name will not be released until his family has
been notified.

The victim apparently drowned due to excessive intoxication.

He was wearing black fishnet stockings, a red garter belt, a
strap-on sexual device, and a "Palin in 2012" T-shirt.


The police removed the Palin T-shirt to spare his family any
unnecessary embarrassment.




hat tip to Mr Baker

Mesh Net Dreams

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Internet is easy prey for governments

By Douglas Rushkoff

Editor's note: Douglas Rushkoff is a media theorist and the author of "Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age" and "Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World and How We Can Take it Back."

For all that the revolution in Egypt tells us about the power of networked media to promote bottom-up change, it even more starkly reveals the limits of our internet tools and the ease with which those holding power can take them away.

Yes, services such as Twitter and Facebook give activists the means to organize as never before. But the more dependent on them we become, the more subservient we are to the corporations and governments that control them.

Some of us might like to believe that the genie is out of the bottle and that we all have access to an unstoppable decentralized network. In reality, the internet is entirely controlled by central authorities.

Old media, such as terrestrial radio and television, were as distributed as the thousands of stations and antennae from which broadcast signals emanated, but all internet traffic must pass through government and corporate-owned choke points.

That's why President Hosni Mubarak's regime had so little trouble shutting down his citizens' networks when he wanted to. One phone call to each of the four internet service providers in his country was all it took. And while we might like to believe that couldn't happen in the United States, we should remember that all it took was a call from Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, to Amazon for the corporation to shut down WikiLeaks' website recently.

Meanwhile, UK's Vodafone complied with Mubarak's orders first to turn off cell phone use in Egypt, and later to flood cell phone users with incendiary pro-government messages.

A Love Story

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The there are the people who care more about life than the politics of abortion.

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

Live Action = Death March

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God I despise the single minded stupidity and amorality of anti-abortionists.

The Siege of Planned Parenthood

By Gail Collins

As if we didn't have enough wars, the House of Representatives has declared one against Planned Parenthood.

Maybe it's all part of a grand theme. Last month, they voted to repeal the health care law. This month, they're going after an organization that provides millions of women with both family-planning services and basic health medical care, like pap smears and screening for diabetes, breast cancer, cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

Our legislative slogan for 2011: Let Them Use Leeches.

"What is more fiscally responsible than denying any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America?" demanded Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the chief sponsor of a bill to bar the government from directing any money to any organization that provides abortion services.

Planned Parenthood doesn't use government money to provide abortions; Congress already prohibits that, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. (Another anti-abortion bill that's coming up for hearing originally proposed changing the wording to "forcible rape," presumably under the theory that there was a problem with volunteer rape victims. On that matter at least, cooler heads prevailed.)

Planned Parenthood does pay for its own abortion services, though, and that's what makes them a target. Pence has 154 co-sponsors for his bill. He was helped this week by an anti-abortion group called Live Action, which conducted a sting operation at 12 Planned Parenthood clinics in six states, in an effort to connect the clinic staff to child prostitution.

"Planned Parenthood aids and abets the sexual abuse and prostitution of minors," announced Lila Rose, the beautiful anti-abortion activist who led the project. The right wing is currently chock-full of stunning women who want to end their gender's right to control their own bodies. Homely middle-aged men are just going to have to find another sex to push around.

Live Action hired an actor who posed as a pimp and told Planned Parenthood counselors that he might have contracted a sexually transmitted disease from "one of the girls I manage." He followed up with questions about how to obtain contraceptives and abortions, while indicating that some of his "girls" were under age and illegally in the country.

The Import of Not Forgetting David Kato

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The Weakness of Strong Man Regimes

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They simply don't know when to let go and fear doing it so much they are willing to kill people to avoid it. That's really pretty weak when you think about it.

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

Loonie Tunes Delight

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I think Glen and Frank have found the good stash and have been pigging out on it. Conspiracy theories are one thing, but they should at least be internally consistent and coherent...these guys are patchwork paranoids at best.

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

Pothead

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The Pro-Democracy protesters are doing a great job of organizing themselves in defense against the Pro-Mubarak security forces.

I love this guy's improvisation of a helmet...he said in Arabic that he borrowed the cooking pot from a neighbor in order to weather today's expected clashes.

pothelmet.jpg

Hackers Support Pro-Democracy Protesters

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I'm starting to like this Anonymous group of hackers of late.

Hackers Shut Down Mubarak Government Sites

Ravi Somaiya

The online group Anonymous said Wednesday that it had paralyzed the Egyptian government's Web sites in support of the anti-government protests.

anonymous.jpgAnonymous, a loosely defined group of hackers from all over the world, gathered about 500 supporters in online forums and used software tools to bring down the sites of the Ministry of Information and President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party, said Gregg Housh, a member of the group who disavows any illegal activity himself. The sites were unavailable Wednesday afternoon.

The attacks, Mr. Housh said, are part of a wider campaign that Anonymous has mounted in support of the antigovernment protests that have roiled the Arab world. Last month, the group shut down the Web sites of the Tunisian government and stock exchange in support of the uprising that forced the country's dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, to flee.

Mr. Housh said that the group had used its technical knowledge to help protesters in Egypt defy a government shutdown of the Internet that began last week. "We want freedom," he said of the group's motivation. "It's as simple as that. We're sick of oppressive governments encroaching on people."

Anonymous also mounted strikes late last year, characterized by some of its supporters as a "cyberwar," against companies like MasterCard, Visa and PayPal that had refused to process donations to the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks.

The F.B.I. said last week that it had executed 40 search warrants "throughout the United States" in connection with that campaign. The strikes by Anonymous, known as "distributed denial of service" attacks, could lead to criminal charges that carry 10-year prison sentences, the F.B.I. said. Arrests have been made and equipment seized in Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and France, according to British and American officials. They declined to provide further details.

Barrett Brown, who is helping to organize a legal defense for those who might be prosecuted, said further raids were expected.

Mr. Housh said "these arrests aren't going to have any effect."

Just hours after the raids, he said, about 600 people, including many who had been arrested and then released, were back online and coordinating efforts in Egypt.

Two Sisters vs Mubarak's Hoodlems

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Watching Thugs With Razors and Clubs at Tahrir Sq.

Nicholas Kristof

Pro-government thugs at Tahrir Square used clubs, machetes, swords and straight razors on Wednesday to try to crush Egypt's democracy movement, but, for me, the most memorable moment of a sickening day was one of inspiration: watching two women stand up to a mob.

sisters.jpgI was on Tahrir Square, watching armed young men pour in to scream in support of President Hosni Mubarak and to battle the pro-democracy protesters. Everybody, me included, tried to give them a wide berth, and the bodies of the injured being carried away added to the tension. Then along came two middle-age sisters, Amal and Minna, walking toward the square to join the pro-democracy movement. They had their heads covered in the conservative Muslim style, and they looked timid and frail as thugs surrounded them, jostled them, shouted at them.

Yet side by side with the ugliest of humanity, you find the best. The two sisters stood their ground. They explained calmly to the mob why they favored democratic reform and listened patiently to the screams of the pro-Mubarak mob. When the women refused to be cowed, the men lost interest and began to move on -- and the two women continued to walk to the center of Tahrir Square.

I approached the women and told them I was awed by their courage. I jotted down their names and asked why they had risked the mob's wrath to come to Tahrir Square. "We need democracy in Egypt," Amal told me, looking quite composed. "We just want what you have."

But when I tried to interview them on video, thugs swarmed us again. I appeased the members of the mob by interviewing them (as one polished his razor), and the two sisters managed again to slip away and continue toward the center of Tahrir Square, also known as Liberation Square, to do their part for Egyptian democracy.

Thuggery and courage coexisted all day in Tahrir Square, just like that. The events were sometimes presented by the news media as "clashes" between rival factions, but that's a bit misleading. This was an organized government crackdown, but it relied on armed hoodlums, not on police or army troops.

A Colbert Break

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

The Collective Cry for Freedom: Kefaya!

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If there are 100,000 pro-democracy protesters and 15,000 pro-Mubarak security forces, that's a ratio of 15 to 1. The whole crowd should act in concert to eliminate the security thugs once and for all.

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

The Cairo Clash

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Men riding horses and camels attack protesters with boards and whips in Tahrir Square.

4 dead/1500 injured

cairo-clash.camel.jpg

So think about it - Many days of peaceful protest by the Anti-Mubarak crowds and then the enter the Pro-Mubarak crowd acting like thugs and brutally attacking their opposites including families with children. Now consider that thousands of criminals escaped last week who might easily be persuaded to take amnesty if they work for the government to attack the demonstrators. If the attackers are just regular folk who support Mubarak there are two questions; why are they violent and where did they get the camels and horses and why are they so organized since there has been no cell phone or internet service.

It seems obvious to me that these attackers are being sent in by the government to disrupt the protest.

Canadian Company Slaughters 100 Huskies

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from the just-shake-your-head-in-disgust dept:


Prosecute for the senseless slaughter of 100 Sled Dogs!

Target: BC SPCA

  • by: Danyne Hoeppner


  • huskie.jpgA dog-sled company in Whistler, British Columbia, ordered the killing of 100 dogs in April, 2010, when bookings for adventure tourism slumped after the Olympic Games.

    Vancouver radio station CKNW obtained documents revealing that 100 healthy sled dogs were killed in a mass slaughter at Outdoor Adventures Whistler last April 21 and 23.

    If that wasn't bad enough, the story actually gets worse. From CKNW: (Warning - this is pretty gruesome reading.)

    Worksafe BC documents obtained by CKNW say an employee has been granted compensation after developing post traumatic stress disorder for having to kill the dogs himself over a two day period.

    Lawyer Cory Steinberg says the employee "..... ended up having to do it...I guess the only way to describe it was "near misses". It wasn't always a clean, one-shot kill. Inevitably he ended up seeing and having to put the end to some horrific scenes."

    Steinberg speaks on behalf of the worker who doesn't want to be named.

    In most cases dogs were shot more than once, or had their throats slashed before they were pitched into what is described in the documents as a mass grave.  Some were still alive.%u2028

    The company didn't contest the Worksafe injury claim.  In fact,  they even made a correction, where the worker stated he had killed 70 dogs, the company corrected and wrote he had actually killed 100.


    According to CKNW,  Mary Moriarty, the head of cruelty investigations at the BC SPCA says they are launching an investigation, after reviewing the Worksafe BC file. She adds that it's a dirty secret of the industry that so many dogs are bred purely out of greed.

    Moriarty says there appear to have been breaches of the animal cruelty act in the cull and criminal charges are a possibility.

    Well, yes. A brief reading of Canada's Animal Cruelty Act states that there is zero tolerance for animal cruelty.

    Sign the petition

    US/Egypt Parallels

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    ...And why we need our own multi-million person demonstrations.

    We're Better off Than Egypt -- Right? Let's Take a Look.

    By Richard (RJ) Eskow

    A tourist who was interviewed last night from Cairo spoke for millions of his fellow Americans when he said he couldn't imagine living a country like Egypt. It is hard, isn't it?

    Imagine: A government run by and for the rich and powerful. Leaders who lecture others about "sacrifice" and deficits while cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy. A system so corrupt that rich executives can break the law without fear of being punished. Increasing poverty and hardship even as the stock market rises. And now, a nation caught between a broken political system and a populist movement that could be hijacked by religious extremists at any moment.

    The US? Egypt?

    Here's the reality:

    Income inequality is actually greater in the United States than it is in Egypt. Politicians here have close financial ties to big corporations, both personally and through their campaigns. Corporate lawbreakers often do go unpunished. Poverty and unemployment statistics for US minorities are surprisingly similar to Egypt's.

    And remember the ratings agencies that told us everything was fine with our country's banking system, right up to the moment it collapsed? Just two months ago, Moody's reassured investors that the Egyptian government had a "stable outlook" for the foreseeable future. Sure, the analogy only goes so far.

    But why is it so much easier to see what's wrong on the other side of the world than it is here at home?

    How do you say "deficit commission" in Arabic?

    Up to a Million Demonstrating in Cairo

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    ...and thousands more people continue to pour in, bringing food and medicine.

    Al Jazeera English: Live Stream capture


    millionmarchbridge.jpg

    There are reports that the army is keeping protesters on the October 6 bridge...that's a lot of weight...hope it holds.

    The mood is apparently peaceful and celebratory, although the army is reportedly arresting secret government sponsored saboteurs and thugs trying to disrupt the event.

    What an incredible and moving piece of history to witness!


    Will they march on the place as previously called for? Given that the presidential palace is a few kilometers across the city and that such a move could incite the army to react violently and there is no single leadership, it may not be such a good idea Not to mention that security forces have surrounded the presidential residence with barbed wire.

    cairo.map.jpg

    Q: Where are the port-a-potties? :)

    *****************************************************************************************

    RELATED:

    Jordan's king dismisses government, appoints new PM

    The king of Jordan dismissed his government Tuesday and appointed a new prime minister with orders to implement political reform.

    The dismissal follows several protests calling for change in Jordan -- protests that echo demonstrations that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East in the last few weeks.

    King Abdullah II asked Marouf Al Bakhit to form a government in Jordan that will implement "genuine political reform," the Royal Court said in a statement.

    The government will "take practical steps, quick and concrete, to launch a process of genuine political reform" and "comprehensive development," according to a letter from the king to Al Bakhit. It also will act to strengthen democracy, the letter said.

    Jordan has been deprived of "achievement opportunities" due to some leaders' resistance to change, the king wrote, and because they had sometimes put their own interests ahead of those of the public.

    The king asked Al Bakhit and the new government "to conduct a thorough evaluation process" and review laws regarding political affairs and civil freedoms to "address the mistakes of the past" and develop "a clear action plan that takes the march of reform forward."

    King Abdullah II also called on the new government to strengthen the institutional infrastructure and combat corruption, and prosecute those found to be involved in corruption.

    The development in Jordan follows protests that forced the president of Tunisia from power and unrest that has convulsed Egypt for days. Demonstrators also have called for change in Algeria, Sudan and Yemen. Protest organizers have called for a demonstration this week in Syria.

    Mother of Necessity

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    Techies make way for stranded Egyptians to be heard

    By Wilson Rothman

    tweet.jpgFor those stuck in Egypt without the Internet, Google, Twitter and SayNow have teamed up to create an innovative voicemail system: Call a number and leave a message, and the system blasts it out into the universe in the form of a tweet with the hashtag #egypt.

    You can see the whole river of messages, all hauntingly uniform and anonymous, on Twitter at @speak2tweet. When you click on one of the short links, you're taken to a page on SayNow that plays back a unique message. Go ahead and take a listen for yourself.

    Since loved ones will basically have to listen to each and every message with the hope of hearing their own friends and family members inside Egypt, the system does seem a little inefficient. And besides, it seems that the Mubarak government is shutting off cell phone service in anticipation of tomorrow's demonstration, so it may be harder for many Egyptians to get to a phone. Still, as a helpless bystander, it's both a relief and a sorrow to hear these voices escaping from the all-consuming crisis.

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