Saturday, July 31, 2010 Social Security myths debunked

Top 5 Social Security Myths

Rumors of Social Security's demise are greatly exaggerated. But some powerful people keep spreading lies about the program to scare people into accepting benefit cuts. Can you check out this list of Social Security myths and share it with your friends, family and coworkers?

Myth: Social Security is going broke.

Reality: There is no Social Security crisis. By 2023, Social Security will have a $4.3 trillion surplus (yes, trillion with a 'T'). It can pay out all scheduled benefits for the next quarter-century with no changes whatsoever.1 After 2037, it'll still be able to pay out 75% of scheduled benefits--and again, that's without any changes. The program started preparing for the Baby Boomers retirement decades ago.2 Anyone who insists Social Security is broke probably wants to break it themselves.

Myth: We have to raise the retirement age because people are living longer.

Reality: This is a red-herring to trick you into agreeing to benefit cuts. Retirees are living about the same amount of time as they were in the 1930s. The reason average life expectancy is higher is mostly because many fewer people die as children than did 70 years ago.3 What's more, what gains there have been are distributed very unevenly--since 1972, life expectancy increased by 6.5 years for workers in the top half of the income brackets, but by less than 2 years for those in the bottom half.4 But those intent on cutting Social Security love this argument because raising the retirement age is the same as an across-the-board benefit cut.

Myth: Benefit cuts are the only way to fix Social Security.

Reality: Social Security doesn't need to be fixed. But if we want to strengthen it, here's a better way: Make the rich pay their fair share. If the very rich paid taxes on all of their income, Social Security would be sustainable for decades to come.5 Right now, high earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,000 of their income.6 But conservatives insist benefit cuts are the only way because they want to protect the super-rich from paying their fair share.

Myth: The Social Security Trust Fund has been raided and is full of IOUs

Reality: Not even close to true. The Social Security Trust Fund isn't full of IOUs, it's full of U.S. Treasury Bonds. And those bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.7 The reason Social Security holds only treasury bonds is the same reason many Americans do: The federal government has never missed a single interest payment on its debts. President Bush wanted to put Social Security funds in the stock market--which would have been disastrous--but luckily, he failed. So the trillions of dollars in the Social Security Trust Fund, which are separate from the regular budget, are as safe as can be.

Myth: Social Security adds to the deficit

Reality: It's not just wrong -- it's impossible! By law, Social Security funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can't add one penny to the deficit.1

Corporate greed

Is why we are in an economic recession.

Bob Herbert has the figures:
The recession officially started in December 2007. From the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2009, real aggregate output in the U.S., as measured by the gross domestic product, fell by about 2.5 percent. But employers cut their payrolls by 6 percent.

In many cases, bosses told panicked workers who were still on the job that they had to take pay cuts or cuts in hours, or both. And raises were out of the question. The staggering job losses and stagnant wages are central reasons why any real recovery has been so difficult.

“They threw out far more workers and hours than they lost output,” said Professor Sum. “Here’s what happened: At the end of the fourth quarter in 2008, you see corporate profits begin to really take off, and they grow by the time you get to the first quarter of 2010 by $572 billion. And over that same time period, wage and salary payments go down by $122 billion.”

That kind of disconnect, said Mr. Sum, had never been seen before in all the decades since World War II.

In short, the corporations are making out like bandits. Now they’re sitting on mountains of cash and they still are not interested in hiring to any significant degree, or strengthening workers’ paychecks.

Productivity tells the story. Increases in the productivity of American workers are supposed to go hand in hand with improvements in their standard of living. That’s how capitalism is supposed to work. That’s how the economic pie expands, and we’re all supposed to have a fair share of that expansion.

Corporations have now said the hell with that. Economists believe the nation may have emerged, technically, from the recession early in the summer of 2009. As Professor Sum writes in a new study for the labor market center, this period of economic recovery “has seen the most lopsided gains in corporate profits relative to real wages and salaries in our history.”

Worker productivity has increased dramatically, but the workers themselves have seen no gains from their increased production. It has all gone to corporate profits. This is unprecedented in the postwar years, and it is wrong.

Even honey is being contaminated


By feeding commercial bees with bee food that has high fructose corn syrup, the honey they produce has those chemicals in it.
Interpretive Summary: The composition of high fructose corn syrups (HFCS) from commercial manufacturers as well as from beekeepers was characterized by GC-MS. Sucrose syrups (SS) were also included in this work for comparison. We found complex carbohydrates, including Fructosyl-fructoses and fructosyl-glucoses were detected. The toxic degredation by product, Hyudroxymethylfurfural (HMF) content of the samples supplied by beekeepers was 64.61 ppm (plus or minus 16.92 ppm) above the 40 ppm that is toxic. The honey made from HFCS and SS was also analyzed and Fructosyl-fructose were detected mostly in honeys from HFCS, which was notably different from those honeys coming from free-flying bees or bees fed with SS.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Cat blogging...


More of this please.

The House was debating a bill last night that would provide up to $7.4 billion in health care aid to rescue and recovery workers who have faced health problems since their work in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The bill ultimately failed to get the needed two-thirds majority, 255-159, and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was not happy about it. Not one bit.

In a rant that lasted for almost two minutes, a hopping mad Weiner railed against "cowardly" Republicans who claimed they were voting against the bill because of "procedure." Weiner spat: "It's Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans, rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes!"
And Weiner continues:

This man wants to be president

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich twice called on the United States to attack North Korea and Iran Thursday because the United States has only attacked "one out of three" of so-called "Axis of Evil" members by invading Iraq. He also claimed that Muslims are trying to install Sharia law on America and said that the "War on Terror" should have been a war on "radical Islamists" instead.
Update: David Corn has more:
Gingrich likes to pose as a serious thinker and idea man, but his embrace of such melodramatic hyperbole is more befitting a cartoon character. But Gingrich has always undermined his attempts to be seen as a statesman by immature bomb-throwing. After the 2008 campaign -- during which he originated the GOP's "Drill, Baby, Drill" initiative -- he positioned himself as a post-partisan player, declaring that he wanted to promote a "tri-partisan" approach to politics that would bring together Democrats, Republicans, and independents. He denounced the Republican Party for releasing an ad attempting to tie Obama to disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, decrying "the sort of negative attack politics that the voters rejected in 2006 and 2008." Yet now -- after the Tea Party explosion has made attack politics rather popular on the right -- Gingrich is willing (and eager) to engage in the most foul of attacks: accusing the president of purposefully endangering the country because he and his crew prefer America's enemies. This is the worst form of calumny.

Gingrich's use of such poison -- and his abandonment of "tri-partisan," let's-work-together rhetoric -- is no shocker. He's not a man of high-minded consistency. When he was House speaker in the 1990s, he led the family-values GOP during its impeachment crusade against President Bill Clinton (for lying about a sexual affair with intern Monica Lewinsky) -- wasting much time and energy that could have been used to address challenges facing the nation, such as the troubled health care system, flat wages for middle-income Americans, and the nation's dangerous dependency on fossil fuels. At the same time, Gingrich was carrying on an extramarital affair of his own.

For those idiots who are now saying the oil is gone in the Gulf

Do you think we're stupid?
Incoming BP CEO: Time for 'scaleback' in cleanup
Just because we can't see it on the shores doesn't mean it isn't there.

You can't pour MILLIONS and MILLIONS of gallons of poisonous crude and MILLIONS and MILLIONS of horribly toxic dispersant into a sea and have it just 'disappear'. BP thinks if it can get the media to start talking about the amazing fact that the oil seems to be gone, we will forget about the disaster? Demand less money from them? Decide nature will clean it all up? Decide it wasn't that big of a mess?

Are you fucking kidding me?


Not in anyone's lifetime today will the Gulf return to what it was before this 'spill'. Gulf sea creatures will have been made extinct. The water has been poisoned. The surviving fish and crustaceans are inedible. People are out of work. Health problems are obvious. Beach real estate prices are plummeting.
A seemingly feel-good story showed up this week on the nation's front pages and newscasts: The oil that befouled the Gulf of Mexico for 86 days is vanishing from the surface, leaving workers with little to clean.

But scientists warn the oil's ecological impacts are shifting, not ebbing, thanks to massive volumes of dispersants that have kept the crude beneath the waves.

"This is a management decision, to use dispersants," College of William and Mary marine science professor Robert Diaz said yesterday. "It doesn't make the oil go away, it just puts it from one part of the ecosystem to another."

That dispersed oil now hovers, diluted in the water column, posing a challenge for scientists to track and measure the subsea plumes. Mapping the long-term effects of the nearly 2 million gallons of dispersant used by BP PLC may well be equally difficult, given the array of unanswered questions that surround the products' rapid breakdown of oil droplets and their chronic toxicity.

In other words, while dispersants may have helped spare the Gulf's birds, the chemicals are likely shifting dangers to other species lower in the food chain. The National Research Council described dispersant use in 2005 as "a conscious decision" to direct hydrocarbons to one part of the marine ecosystem, "decreasing the risk to water surface and shoreline habitats while increasing the potential risk to organisms in the water column and on the seafloor."

Update: 7/31: McClatchy gets it right: When will oil spill be cleaned up? Maybe never

Update: Firedoglake.

Update: Nasa photo of Gulf on July 24th.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Postcards from Hell

Images from the world's most failed states. 61 countries teetering on the brink or already lost to the abyss.

Monday, July 26, 2010

McCain declares victory in Iraq

Apparently we won that war.

What exactly we won is undefined.


Just remember, while we complain bitterly about what President Obama has or hasn't done, President McCain would have been hundreds of times worse....


Sunday, July 25, 2010

More scary brown people, armed and dangerous!


From an email making the rounds:
Subject: Invasion Character of Illegal Alien Flood Becomes Clearer

The real nature of the illegal immigrant flood across our southern border becomes clearer as armed insurgents take over Texas ranches. When is America going to wake up that this isn't an immigration issue. It is an invasion issue and we are at war with the insurgents. Take action and cast these rats back off the ship.

Published 07/24/2010 - 2:30 p.m. CST
The bloodbath continues along our southern border and now word is coming in that Los Zetas, the highly trained killers formerly with the Gulf Cartel, have crossed into the United States and taken over at least two ranches in the Laredo, Texas area. I am receiving word that the owners of the ranches have evacuated without being harmed.
Founder of the San Diego Minutemen Jeff Schwilk tipped me off to this story and passes along the following information on the location. The ranches are said to be "near Mines Rd. and Minerales Annex Rd about 10 miles NW of I-35".
OMG .. a really really major international incident.... except .. oddly... it's being denied by everybody.
Right-wing blogs have been promoting a rumor that "highly trained killers" from a Mexican drug gang have "invade[d]" the United States, taking over two ranches near the Mexico-U.S. border in Laredo, Texas, but law enforcement agencies in the area have flatly denied the rumor.

The Laredo Morning Times reported that law enforcement officials had been "bombarded" with calls about the rumor but that "officials with the Laredo Police Department, Webb County Sheriff's Department and Border Patrol said they knew nothing about such an incident, while Erik Vasys, an FBI spokesman in San Antonio, said the agency does not comment on rumors."

Some conservative blogs have acknowledged that the story appears to be bogus, but others are standing by it.
Personally, I don't think invading Laredo Texas would be high on the list of things to do by the drug cartels, especially since the US military would be brought in very quickly. The drug cartels have enough Americans who want their products and will help them move it into the US. The ONLY reason the cartels are doing so well is that Americans are keeping them in business.

You want to put the Mexican drug cartels out of business?

Legalize drugs.


Purging anyone brown from the state:
Maybe lawyers can restore the integrity of the Constitution, a document that forbids states like Arizona and towns like Freemont from fueling diasporas with their own immigration policies.

But what can lawyers do about jackals always tracking the immigrant's dusty footprint?

What do we do about the pregnant 31-year-old woman who was the target of another U-turn stop because of a faulty license-plate light on the back of her car? She was slammed into the hood of her vehicle when she did not readily consent to a search for non-existent narcotics. A U.S. citizen of Latin descent, she clearly remembers being told: "I can be an asshole if you're going to be a bitch."

What would you tell the 17-year-old child, an American, who was followed into a gated community on her way home from school? When asked for identification, she produced a valid Arizona driver's license. The officer insisted upon further proof, claiming he was required by law to get more documentation.

Though she speaks perfect English and knew the law wasn't scheduled to go into effect until this week, she was frightened half to death. She allowed the officer to tail her another couple of blocks to her home, where she retrieved her passport for inspection.

Each of these crude assaults upon dignity happened without benefit of SB 1070. Each happened to an American.

While Jan Brewer, state Senator Russell Pearce (1070's author), Barry Wong, and Joe Arpaio sport conservative mufti, this is neither a right nor left issue. The feckless few, Goddard, Giffords, and Mitchell, are not without incriminating shadow.

Historically, America attacks immigrants, only embracing the foreigners long after the Yankee has pummeled them to within an inch of their ethnicity. Progressives and those who should know better have their place in this roll call of sulfurous shame.
And the result?:
Area businesses also say they're seeing the effects of people leaving the state.

Steve Salvato, manager at the family-owned World Class Car Wash, just around the corner from Belleview Street, said business is down 30 percent. Salvato said the car wash relies mostly on Hispanic customers and points to the new law for the recent decline in business.

"A lot of people have just packed up and moved," he said, adding that a strip mall across the street used to be bustling on weekends. "Now it's like a ghost town."

A nearby Food City grocery store reports a 20 percent to 30 percent drop in business.
While the Obama administration is deporting more illegals than Bush ever did:
In a bid to remake the enforcement of federal immigration laws, the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers.

The Immigation and Customs Enforcement agency anticipates deporting about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since former President Bush's final year in office.

The effort is part of President Obama's larger project "to make our national laws actually work," as he put it in a speech this month at American University. Partly designed to entice Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform, the mission is proving difficult and politically perilous.

Obama is drawing flak from hawks who contend the administration is weak on border security and from doves who are disappointed that he has not done more to fulfill his campaign promise to help the country's estimated 11 million illegal residents. Trying to thread a needle, the president contends enforcement -- including the deployment of fresh troops to the Mexico border -- is a necessary but insufficient solution.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bush's legacy

To the Iraqis because of his decision to use bunker buster bombs made of depleted uranium:
Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study.

Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between US troops and insurgents.

Their claims have been supported by a survey showing a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14s. Infant mortality in the city is more than four times higher than in neighbouring Jordan and eight times higher than in Kuwait.
And for those who think this is just a passing or minor thing... the results of the Chernobyl disaster 24 years ago are still being paid for today. (Distressing pictures) And Hiroshima victims from the end of WWII.

Depleted uranium is in the very dust of Iraq and Afghanistan where it is being breathed in by the innocent inhabitants and our soldiers. Guess who is next for birth defects and cancers?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shirley Miller Sherrod

Is a fantastic woman.

Update 7/26: The wingnuts struggle to find something... ANYTHING .. that they can stick on Sherrod to call her a liar.

Rove still hides behind the curtain....

News that two former top Bush strategists have formed a spinoff organization to dig up dirt on Congressional Democrats before the 2010 elections has reignited a debate about how the Obama administration has structured the Democratic Party's own political operations.

On Wednesday morning, Politico reported that American Crossroads GPS, the organization formed by operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, hauled in an impressive $5.1 million in June. A separate legal entity from its parent shop, American Crossroads (a distinction that allows it to hide the names of its donors), GPS was poised to use that money for the ostensible purpose of wreaking havoc on behalf of Republican candidates.

It's the type of secretive electioneering that has Democrats publicly crying foul -- the Democratic National Committee sent out the story on Wednesday morning. In private, however, party operatives expressed anxiety with the development.

Clearly it's exactly what the Right wants.

Otherwise the GOP WOULD tone down the rhetoric. Especially if the unleashed teabaggery crowd turns on them, as revolutions often do.

Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly on the latest moronic shoot-out guy Byron Williams: (my bold)
Remarkably, no one was killed, though Williams was firing a rifle with ammunition that "could penetrate ballistic body armor and vehicles, police said." He was in court yesterday, and will face all kinds of criminal charges, including the attempted murder of four police officers.

But stepping back, every time there's violence like this, I'm reminded of the concerns raised by the Department of Homeland Security last year, about potentially violent anti-government extremists -- concerns that appear increasingly prescient.

These examples of politically-motivated attacks seem to keep piling up. Just this year, John Patrick Bedell opened fire at the Pentagon; Joe Stack flew an airplane into a building; Jerry Kane Jr. and his son killed two police officers in Arkansas; and the Hutaree Militia terrorist plot was uncovered. Last year, James von Brunn opened fire at the Holocaust memorial museum; Richard Poplawski gunned down three police officers in Pittsburgh, in part because he feared the non-existent "Obama gun ban"; and Dr. George Tiller was assassinated. In 2008, Jim David Adkisson opened fire in a Unitarian church in Tennessee, in part because of his "hatred of the liberal movement."

Let there be no doubt: deranged madmen are responsible for their own violent actions. But in the wake of these attacks, I don't think it's unreasonable to wish that some of the leading far-right voices would lower the rhetorical temperature a bit, helping to cool the tempers of those who might be inclined to hurt others.
Not to be cynical, but I'm sure the manipulators of the teabaggers and those who rant against the liberals really do want a shoot-out. Then they could yell about law and order and how the shooter was obviously a islamofascist socialist or dirty fucking hippie and only Republicans will bring peace and contentment back to America.....

We've been here before.

It’s not slander if it’s the truth

Racism in the Teabaggery party.

He punches back

And we need to learn to do the same. Enough of this understanding and compassion and respect. Pearls before swine.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Are there no workhouses?

Curry and fossils and birds, oh my!

Britain's cuckoo bird in trouble:
The iconic cuckoo is in danger of vanishing from Britain after the population dropped by a fifth in one year, experts have warned.
Numbers of the migrant bird fell by a shocking 21 per cent between 2008 and 2009, according to the Breeding Birds Survey (BBS).
Cuckoos have been designated a 'red-list' species by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) - meaning that more than half of the population has disappeared in the past 25 years.
Damage to the bird's winter habitat in West Africa and a decline in the large insect species it eats while on British soil are being blamed for the downturn, although experts still maintain there could be other reasons.
Curry will save the world!
Curry spices could hold the key to reducing the enormous greenhouse gas emissions given off by grazing animals such as sheep, cows and goats, scientists have claimed.

Research carried out at Newcastle University has found that coriander and turmeric – spices traditionally used to flavour curries – can reduce by up to 40 per cent the amount of methane that is produced by bacteria in a sheep's stomach and then emitted into the atmosphere when the animal burps.

Working rather like an anti-biotic, the spices were found to kill the methane-producing "bad" bacteria in the animal's gut while allowing the "good" bacteria to flourish. The findings are part of an ongoing study led by Dr Abdul Shakoor Chaudhry at Newcastle University.
Would it also pre-flavor the meat?

Fossil hunters in Australia have discovered a cave filled with the 15-million-year-old remains of prehistoric marsupials.

The rare haul of fossils includes 26 skulls from an extinct, sheep-sized marsupial with giant claws.

The finds come from the Riversleigh World Heritage fossil field in north-west Queensland.

If you are reading this blog post....

Thank a teacher!!

Least educated cities in the US, the most educated cities, states with the fewest college degree holders, states with the most college degree holders.

More of why we need to trust BP.....

BP is trying to buy off scientists
“We’re all employees of the state of Mississippi, and none of us really felt comfortable about testifying on the other side -- even if what we said was scientifically accurate,” Griffit says.

News of BP’s efforts to secure the consulting services of university faculty spread rapidly over the weekend, following a report in the Press-Register of Mobile, Ala., that provided details from contracts being offered to scientists. The newspaper said it obtained a copy of such a contract, noting that the agreement restricted consultants from discussing or publishing their research for at least the next three years.

At a time when many have already accused BP of low-balling or playing down the extent of the oil spill’s impact, many denounced the notion of professors gathering potentially damaging data for the company and letting BP sit on it for years.

“The idea that some scientists are willing to be bought off has caused quite a stir, and I guess the other thing is people don’t think too highly of BP trying to do that,” says Bob Shipp, head of marine sciences at the University of South Alabama.

The debate surrounding professors working for BP is not dissimilar from concerns often raised about professors conducting paid drug research for pharmaceutical companies. The fact that BP is pursuing faculty members who work sometimes within eyeshot of the spill's impact, however, appears to have given the conversations additional intensity.
BP pumped in unusual chemicals before rig explosion:
A contractor working on the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded testified yesterday that the day before the explosion, BP had pumped an unusual chemical mixture into the well -- a mixture that later rained down on the rig like "snot."

Leo Lindner, a drilling fluid specialist for M-I Swaco, told the panel investigating the causes of the explosion that BP decided to mix two chemicals the company had a surplus of -- two chemicals that aren't usually mixed -- and pump them into the well to flush out the drilling mud.

"It's not something we've ever done before," he said.

Lindner said BP wanted to use 400 barrels of the mixture, more than twice the amount of fluid usually used, because the company had hundreds of barrels of the chemicals and wanted to get rid of them.
And BP badly photoshopping the 'control center'.

Maybe we should all buy farmland in Britain

Not to grow stuff... to dig up!
For 1,800 years the story of the 'lost British emperor' who defied ancient Rome has been merely a footnote in history books.

Carausius's audacious seizure of power and seven-year reign over Britain and much of Gaul have largely been forgotten.

But thanks to the astonishing discovery of 52,000 Roman coins, new light is being shed on one of the most turbulent periods of our island story.

Hundreds of the coins - buried in a gigantic clay jar and weighing as much as two men - bear the image of Carausius.

The discovery was made by hospital chef Dave Crisp using a metal detector.

The 63-year-old unearthed 21 of the coins on a farm near Frome in Somerset before realising the find was so significant expert help was needed. He called in archaeologists who set about the delicate task of excavating the site.

And the next step is....

To stop using antibiotics. Right?
At a hearing of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday, July 14, 2010, a representative of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) finally caught up with the rest of the world -- and his peers at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- and admitted that the use of antibiotics in farm animal feed is contributing to the growing problem of deadly antibiotic resistance in America.

Dr. John Clifford, Deputy Administrator for Veterinary Services for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) read from his previously submitted testimony that the USDA believes it is likely that U.S. use of antibiotics in animal agriculture does lead to some cases of resistance in humans and the animals.

The Gulf of Mexico

Now solidifying thanks to BP!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Home again

Yurp is full of them there ferriners. Somebody shoulda tol' me!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Have at it.
In a move that will put Britain's relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies under intense and possibly damaging scrutiny, British Prime Minister David Cameron has launched an unprecedented inquiry into whether security services were involved in the torture of terrorism suspects.
Americans don't 'torture', remember? (Nudge nudge wink wink) We just do necessary enhanced interrogations!


Renaming a war crime doesn't change the fact it's a crime, Georgie. Semantics won't save your prezidenting legacy.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Thanks, BP!

Whistle blower to testify on oil spill worst fear:BP deliberately sinks oil with Corexit as cover up

Happy Fourth of July!


Poll: 26% Of U.S. Clueless On Who We Declared Independence From

Reporting from here


Vienna, Austria.

Yes, Europe is still standing. Thank god. Beautiful, real, and busy.

Good to get out of the insulated self-reflection that is the United States. Good to get away from our stupid politicians and the horror of the BP oil disaster. Good to remember that there is a whole other world out there viewing our political antics with bemusement and confusion.

Good to know that we are not king of the world, top of the line, the one and only. We are just one nation in many on this earth, no better, no worse.

May we start to behave like it.