Citizens United, Take Two
The Supreme Court case that could help corporations keep their massive election spending secret.
— By Stephanie Mencimer
This week, congressional Democrats are crafting legislation to undo the Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United, which allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections. At the same time, the legal genius behind that case will be asking the court to take a whack at another long-standing pillar of campaign finance transparency: state disclosure laws. Call it Citizens United, take two.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Doe v. Reed, a case from Washington state that looks at whether the public disclosure of referendum petitions violates signers' First Amendment rights to privacy, free association, and free speech. While important on its own, Reed is also a warmup for cases coming down the pipeline in California and Maine over whether disclosing the names of campaign donors violates free speech rights by exposing contributors to harassment and other unpleasantness. Together, these cases form a backdoor assault on one of the most accepted tenets of clean elections: that the public should be able to see where the money is coming from.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Update: and they really aren't sorry for anything. I can see why... they played the game of Capitalism to the finish. They followed all the rules. And they won. They are sitting on everybody's money.
So why should they feel bad?
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Strangely, though, Dr. Marcotte did not discover the new genes in the human genome, nor in lab mice or even fruit flies. He and his colleagues found the genes in yeast.“On the face of it, it’s just crazy,” Dr. Marcotte said. After all, these single-cell fungi don’t make blood vessels. They don’t even make blood. In yeast, it turns out, these five genes work together on a completely unrelated task: fixing cell walls.Crazier still, Dr. Marcotte and his colleagues have discovered hundreds of other genes involved in human disorders by looking at distantly related species. They have found genes associated with deafness in plants, for example, and genes associated with breast cancer in nematode worms. The researchers reported their results recently in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The scientists took advantage of a peculiar feature of our evolutionary history. In our distant, amoeba-like ancestors, clusters of genes were already forming to work together on building cell walls and on other very basic tasks essential to life. Many of those genes still work together in those same clusters, over a billion years later, but on different tasks in different organisms.
Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.I doubt we would see any Republican within 500 miles of the meeting and that the entire group would be surrounded by police taking photos for future reference... People of color are obviously terrorists. White people are sincere, religious and true patriots who regretfully drag their armaments out of the closet to do the Lord's work.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
As President Obama makes the case for strong financial reform, Bill Moyers sits down with veteran regulator William K. Black, who says Wall Street is already been breaking current rules.
Update: Murder is totally predictable:
Friday, April 23, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate approved several bills Monday that opponents say would make it more difficult or uncomfortable for women to get abortions, including one that would require women seeking the procedures early in their pregnancies to undergo an invasive form of ultrasound.
The five bills, some of which will go to Gov. Brad Henry for consideration and others which will return to the House, were overwhelmingly approved by the Republican-controlled Senate. If given final approval, the bills would give Oklahoma some of the most restrictive laws of any state, an abortion rights group says.
One of the laws headed to the governor would require doctors to use a vaginal probe in cases where it would provide a clearer picture of the fetus than a regular ultrasound. Doctors have said this is usually the case early in pregnancies, when most abortions are done.
"You're going to force someone to undergo an invasive medical procedure," objected state Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, who voted against the bill. "You have to invasively put an instrument inside the woman. This could be your 15-year-old daughter who was raped."
At least three states require ultrasounds before all abortions, but no other states require vaginal ultrasounds or that doctors to describe the image to women.Gerri Santoro.
State Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, who sponsored the ultrasound bill, said the goal was to provide women seeking an abortion with as much information possible before they had the procedure.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry vetoed two abortion bills Friday that he said are an unconstitutional attempt by the Legislature to insert government into the private lives and decisions of citizens.Update 4/28/10 And the Oklahoma legislature overrode the governor's veto:
One measure would have required women to undergo an intrusive ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting abortions. Henry said that legislation is flawed because it does not allow rape and incest victims to be exempted.
Lawmakers who supported the vetoed measures promised an override vote in the House and Senate as early as next week. A national abortion rights group has said the ultrasound bill would have been among the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country if it had been signed into law.
Henry said "it would be unconscionable to subject rape and incest victims to such treatment" because it would victimize a victim a second time.
OKLA. MANDATES INVASIVE MEDICAL PROCEDURES.... It's fairly common for policymakers who want to ban all abortions, but can't get away with that legally, to make it as difficult as possible for women to exercise their reproductive rights. But Oklahoma is taking this approach to truly outrageous levels.The Oklahoma Legislature voted Tuesday to override the governor's vetoes of two abortion measures, one of which requires women to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting an abortion.This really is remarkable. For all the overheated talk from the right of late about government interfering with medicine, patients' decisions, and doctors' treatments, conservatives in Oklahoma have now made this the law in their state.
Though other states have passed similar measures requiring women to have ultrasounds, Oklahoma's law goes further, mandating that a doctor or technician set up the monitor so the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims.
Gee... do you think we'll try and stop dumping all our garbage and toxic waste into the oceans and eating all of the fish and stuff? Maybe? Because if we aren't acidifying the water, we're heating it. Which is making a lot of things die.WASHINGTON – The chemistry of the oceans is changing faster than it has in hundreds of thousands of years because of the carbon dioxide being absorbed from the atmosphere, the National Research Council reported Thursday.Carbon dioxide and other industrial gases have been a concern for several years because of their impact on the air, raising global temperatures in a process called the greenhouse effect.One factor easing that warmth has been the amount of CO2 taken up by the oceans, but that has also caused scientific concerns because the chemicals make the water more acidic, which can affect sea life.Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, the pH of ocean water has declined from 8.2 to 8.1 and a further decline of 0.2 to 0.3 units is expected by the end of this century, according to the Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Science.The current rate of change "exceeds any known change in ocean chemistry for at least 800,000 years," the report said.
If the U.S. government has its way, a powerful intergovernmental group you've probably never heard of may soon prevent anyone anywhere from labeling genetically modified (GMO) food.Sign the petition.
Operated by the United Nations, the Codex Alimentarius is a collection of guidelines, codes and recommendations regarding food safety and labeling standards used by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to settle international disputes regarding food and agricultural export agreements.
According to draft language circulated by the FDA, the U.S. will oppose a proposal at an upcoming meeting of an important Codex committee that would allow the labeling of genetically engineered food. Consumers Union and more than 80 family farm, public health, environmental and organic food organizations have raised concerns that the U.S. position will create major problems for American producers who want to label their products as "GMO-free."
Unfortunately, rather than taking a proactive stance on GMO labeling and standing up for the rights of American citizens, the Obama administration has incorporated pre-existing Bush administration positions, stating that Codex should not "suggest or imply that GM/GE foods are in any way different from other foods."
Leading national food policy experts believe this position directly contradicts USDA Organic standards, which prohibit the use of genetically engineered products. If adopted, the Obama administration's proposal might not only weaken organic standards, but could also lead to further genetic contamination of U.S. organic crops, the fastest and most profitable segement of agriculture today.
Even worse, the current U.S. draft position paper declares that mandatory labeling laws such as they have in Europe are "false, misleading or deceptive." If the U.S. succeeds in writing the proposed Codex regulations, any attempts here in the U.S. to label foods as genetically engineered, whether voluntary or by law, would become far more difficult.
This extreme position on genetically engineered food is unacceptable.
Join CREDO Action in calling on the US delegation to the Codex Committee meeting, led by representatives of the FDA and USDA, to drop these positions and support proposals to allow countries to make their own decisions on the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning public justice systems.
10 good reasons to drink more water and how your diet can help prevent Alzheimer's.
HIGH-RISK BILL: SB-1070 would require police to attempt to determine the immigration status of anyone they encounter as part of a "lawful contact" and allow them to arrest undocumented immigrants and charge them with trespass. If residents believe police officers are not enforcing immigration laws, they can sue them. It would also outlaw the hiring of day laborers off the street and prohibit anyone from knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant for any reason. The ACLU points out that SB-1070 unconstitutionally allows the state to regulate immigration -- a power which the Constitution assigns to the federal government. The ACLU also highlights a provision of the bill that grants police officers authority to conduct warrantless arrests of anyone who cannot immediately produce documents and notes that such action has already been deemed invalid by the Ninth Circuit Court. The ACLU concludes that the bill will "exacerbate racial profiling" and tries to "rewrite the Constitution by turning the presumption of innocence on its head." Several research institutions have also cited the high fiscal costs associated with local immigration crackdowns. The National Employment Law Project pointed out that smaller-scale anti-immigrant ordinances have cost individual localities millions of dollars. The Perryman Group estimates that if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $26.4 billion in economic activity, $11.7 billion in gross state product, and approximately 140,324 jobs. The Immigration Policy Center noted that, "with Arizona facing a budget deficit of more than $3 billion, Gov. Brewer might want to think twice about measure that would further imperil the state's economic future." Brewer has until Saturday to sign or veto SB-1070 before it automatically becomes state law.
The new $100 bill looks European!!11! Obviously this reflects Obama's socialistic.... what? designed during Bush's term? Never mind.....
Chickens for Checkups.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
(Reuters) - Pulverized lime, an inedible ingredient, has been added to bleaching agents widely used in flour production in China, Chinese media said.I'll update this list:
China has been in the spotlight in recent years over food-safety scandals, including melamine-tainted milk that sickened thousands of babies in 2008, which have damaged the reputation of the country's food exports.
Bleaching agents, usually made from cornstarch, are added to flour to shorten the time needed for whitening. Substituting cheaper and heavier lime for cornstarch cuts the cost of producing the bleaching agent, which is sold by weight.
Consumption of Pulverized lime can lead to gradual damage to the lungs and eventually the entire respiratory system.
We have become so desensitized to defective products originating in China that this week's announcement from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission about finding dangerous levels of cadmium in children's toys seemed oddly expected and has thus far ruffled few feathers.I mentioned this back in December but it's worth keeping track of their efforts. I believe this is a classic example of putting lipstick on a pig: don't make vigorous efforts to change the mindset of the Chinese producers, just take out ads to hide the problems.
Yet, while this particular issue may not be significant enough to upend the trade relationship between the US and China, or of such severity that it is likely to be the cause of a whole new set of import restrictions, it does add more weight to an increasing wariness and frustration with Chinese-made products on the part of American consumers.
The cumulative effect of these quality problems has the potential not only to impact the export-sensitive economy of China, but to create a systemic problem for what it means to have products of any variety sourced in China, an issue that could cause problems for an untold number of American and European consumer-product companies, as well as the retailers they serve.
In a series of television ads that started late last year with limited runs on CNN Asia, and now spreading to various media outlets around the world, Beijing seems to have acknowledged these fears, with a new ad program defending what it means to be "Made in China". The new ads go by the tag line "Made in China, Made with the World".
How about fixing your product safety first? How about actually removing toxins and pollution from your food? How about realizing if you are going to return capitalism to the pre-FDA days of The Jungle, customers will justifiably shun your products.More from the article on cadmium in children's jewelry:
Educate the Chinese people that meeting quota does not mean going cheap, being indifferent to consequences. It does mean respecting consumers, human life.
Buying a bunch of ads won't do anything to change this list I've been keeping:The Chinese are insulted we do not want to buy their chickens for our markets? Ignoring the whole thing about Avian (bird) flu, can we just look back for a moment and ponder just why we have cold feet about their food....Add to this list as of 12/26/2009 flammable Christmas lights and extension cords.
My post from November 2008:Chinese melamine and other toxins have been in our food for yearsA few months later I posted this, December 2008:The rampant use of chemical additives in animal feed can be traced to 1999. According to Gao Yinxiang, the research and development of high-protein feed additives was a hot field among scientists about 10 years ago due to shortage of animal fodder in the country at the time.It's not just animal feed. Earlier quote in the article: (my bold)
From that time, it's hard to define the exact role that scientists played in the evolution of the melamine scandal. Yet scientists certainly contributed to it by developing unsafe protein alternatives. Many Chinese are now calling on scientists to examine their conscience before making profits at the expense of public safety.
The CAS may not have invented melamine additives. However, it still owes the public an explanation as to why it developed - and continues to develop - feed supplements that food experts say are dangerous for human health.
The melamine saga and the reactions from relevant parties, including scientists, the government and the related companies, shows a system that continues to shirk responsibility rather than taking efforts to avoid similar incidents happening again.
Without effective supervision and sound accountability, China's food scares are far from over.But scientists say warnings signs were apparent as early as last year when melamine in Chinese-made pet food killed house pets across the United States.So what does long exposure to melamine do to humans? Kidney stones? Autism? Alzheimer's? What exactly have the Chinese been putting in its products, making our farm animals eat, making us eat?
"You can't separate the food supplies of animals, pets and people," Marion Nestle, a public health professor at New York University and author of the recent book Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine, told the Washington Post. "That's an enormous warning sign that if something wasn't done immediately to clean up the food safety problem, this would leak into the human food supply."
China has used the Kjeldahl Nitrogen Determination Method to measure protein level in food, meaning the content of protein is determined by the level of nitrogen. It is an open secret in China that melamine is added to milk and animal feed to artificially boost nitrogen levels. It was not until recently, after the exposure of the tainted-milk scandal, that China make it compulsory to test the content of melamine in foodstuffs.
And why should we trust anything the Chinese government promises us? They get caught repeatedly after vowing not to contaminate their products.
Just a reminder:
China saying no to inspections and destroying evidence.
Wheat, corn, and rice gluten.
Pesticide-laden pea pods, drug-laced catfish, filthy plums and crawfish contaminated with salmonella. Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical. Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria. Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.
Excessive antibiotic and pesticide use.
What melamine is.
Poisoned farm fish.
The toothpaste with diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in engine coolants.
Highly toxic puffer fish sold as monk fish.
Fake blood protein.
Lead in toys: Thomas the Tank Engine, baby bibs, cub scout badges, wooden blocks.
Waste water forced into pigs going to market.
Poisoned medicinal syrup.
750,000 people in China are dying prematurely every year due to high levels of air pollution and poor water quality.
Formaldehyde in candy, in baby clothing
Wild mice used for meat.
Use of illegal drift nets.
Coma-inducing date rape drug in toys.
Asbestos in toys.
Fake kosher food.
More than 40 percent of drinking water in rural China is unfit for drinking.
Babies being poisoned by milk and milk powder.
Tom Legg of Daai Tou Laam:But don't expect the Chinese government to really get serious about product safety. How many product safety scares have there been in the last few years? From fake baby formula to tainted fish to fake soy sauce to tainted bean curd sheet to a bridge that collapsed because there was no steel reinforcing-bar used.Trader Joe's is taking some of the Chinese food products off its shelves.
If the CCP wants to product their people from eating hormone-laden pork, then that is their prerogative. If they instead want to ban products from the US as a tit-for-tat over negative press coverage of Chinese product safety issues, it shows the Chinese government is childish and easily manipulated by foreign powers. Like a recalled Chinese toy, press the right buttons and watch the CCP leaders dance. Watch the CCP spokesperson trotted out to blame it all on the US media. (This of course is the same lap dog US media that willingly served up the story on Mattel as model Chinese operator days before the first toy recall.)
Did you really expect the CCP to clean up their own house? The folks who trashed Premier Wen's Green GDP? The folks whose tactics to combat corruption hearken back to the Ming Dynasty with the substitution of video games for the study of Confucian classics? We aren't talking about leaders with a great ability to look in the mirror and see the problems staring back at themselves.
But to really clean house would come at too steep a price for many cadres and their cronies. So the CCP's option is to keep letting Chinese die at home and face negative press abroad and hope that enough exports keep getting out to keep the currency flow positive and enough skim from IPOs and LCs to keep investment bankers like former Goldman Sachs man US Treasury Secretary Paulson happy, so that their grip on power in Beijing is kept firm.
And finally... after how many years of complaints, and poisonings and deaths, the FDA acts:
Federal health officials on Thursday ordered dozens of imported foods from China held at the border as possible health risks. Most are ethnic treats, including snacks, drinks and chocolates.
It's unusual for the Food and Drug Administration to put such a broad hold on goods from an entire country, not just a few rogue manufacturers. The order, which covers products made with milk, is a precaution to keep out foods contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, which can cause serious kidney problems.
crossposted at American StreetNope. Chinese businesses haven't learned yet.You'd think the government would take massive steps to fix this problem immediately, right? Right?
Will they stop when we stop buying their products?Hong Kong food safety authorities said late Tuesday that for the fourth time in less than two months they had found a batch of Chinese eggs contaminated with illegal levels of melamine, the industrial chemical that has sickened hundreds of thousands of children. The agency said the tainted eggs were imported from a company based in Jilin Province in northern China and were being sold to bakeries in Hong Kong.
Yet again in December of 2008:How many babies need to die or become ill before China finally stops Putting melamine into our food?And in January of 2009:And it's not just China who seems to be indifferent to causing death:
Brussels, Belgium (AHN) - Soy-based imports from China intended for babies and young children will no longer be allowed throughout the 27-member European Union. The European Commission banned on Wednesday the entry of all foods that are soy-based after the discovery of melamine in a soybean meal in China.
Aside from the prohibition, the EC also required laboratory testing for all soy-related foods and shipments or baking powder. The tested food must contain less than 2.5 milligrams of melamine per kilogram to be allowed entry into the EU. The ban is expected to be in force by the end of this week.At least 34 babies have died in Nigeria after being administered with a locally made teething mixture.
Six more child deaths were recorded on Wednesday, on top of 28 reported last month in three locations after being given "My Pikin", a teething syrup contaminated with diethylene glycol, which is blamed for causing kidney failure.That certain piquant flavor...Is in everything:Are they thinking we will ignore this and eat chickens raised or processed in China? Are they kidding? There is utterly NO LEARNING CURVE illustrated here AT ALL.Now that we have an administration that hears us, sign the petition.
Melamine-contaminated pet food killed thousands of dogs and cats in the United States two years ago. Melamine-contaminated infant formula recently killed six babies in China, and made hundreds of thousands of children there ill.
Now melamine has been found in some chocolate, cookies and infant formula in the U.S.!
Yet our own Food and Drug Administration says it’s OK to have a certain amount of the chemical in infant formula, even though the agency previously said it couldn’t determine a safe level for melamine. What are we supposed to believe?
Tell Congress you’re fed up with the FDA’s lax regulation of our food and drug supply. Strong leadership, more safety testing, better inspection of imports, and tough enforcement are needed to make sure no American families suffer the tragic consequences of eating contaminated food.
Besides, I'm sure I've had my quota of melamine for life, thanks.
Update: Don't forget about the toxic drywall.
Update January 12th, 2010: cadmium in children's jewelry.
U.S. goes after cadmium in children's jewelryUpdating: 2/6/10 Check out the bolded print and realize how widespread this is:
-- Federal and state watchdogs opened a new front Monday in the campaign to keep poisons out of Chinese imports, warning Asian manufacturers not to substitute other toxins for lead in children's jewelry and beginning an inquiry into cadmium found in products around the United States.
Congress clamped down on lead in those products in 2008, but cadmium is even more harmful.
Cadmium, which is known to cause cancer, is a soft metal that occurs naturally in soil. It's used as half of rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, but also in pigments, electroplating and plastic.
Cadmium is attractive to Chinese manufacturers because it is cheap and easy to work with. But, like lead, it can hinder brain development in the very young, recent research shows.
A Chinese man was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in a U.S. prison this week for trafficking in counterfeit Cisco Systems gear.It's not that this man is doing anything different than lots of other Chinese companies ... it's that he got caught. 400 HUNDRED seizures? The Chinese government has to really work hard to be that blind ....
Li was arrested by FBI agents on Jan. 9, 2009, in Las Vegas -- while the annual Consumer Electronics Show was taking place there. He was sentenced on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, after pleading guilty to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods last September.
The FBI has been cracking down on fake Cisco routers since 2005. Two years ago, it claimed to have seized more than US$78 million worth of counterfeit equipment in more than 400 seizures. Counterfeit gear often contains lower-performing components that do not work as advertised. In recent years, some security experts have begun to see counterfeiting as a growing threat to the nation's network infrastructure.
Chinese doctors routinely hand out multiple doses of antibiotics for simple maladies like the sore throats and the country's farmers excessive dependence on the drugs has tainted the food chain. Studies in China show a "frightening" increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus bacteria, also know as MRSA . There are warnings that new strains of antibiotic-resistant bugs will spread quickly through international air travel and internation food sourcing.
How nice. And how totally ... predictable.
More excellent graphics and links here.
And the articles I've been collecting since I learned about our plastic continents and dead zones.
Update: Sadly, plastic kills.
SEATTLE -- Researchers said a dead gray whale discovered on West Seattle’s Arroyo Beach last Wednesday was filled with a variety of debris, reported KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.
Cascadia Research Collective, which has performed hundreds of whale necropsies, said it has never seen so much debris in the stomach of a gray whale.
Monday, April 19, 2010
"She loved her tiny little dog although it squeaked instead of barked. Taking it for a walk was easy. She just chased it about the house until it was exhausted."
...10 translations later we get:
"She loved her dog, but the sound of a miracle. The picnic is easy. She said she only saw the house until it was sold."
Saturday, April 17, 2010
But wait, some will say. Given that you have long since left single parenthood for marriage and a nuclear family; given that you are now so far from a life dependent on benefits that Private Eye habitually refers to you as Rowlinginnit, why do you care? Surely, nowadays, you are a natural Tory voter?
No, I’m afraid not. The 2010 election campaign, more than any other, has underscored the continuing gulf between Tory values and my own. It is not only that the renewed marginalisation of the single, the divorced and the widowed brings back very bad memories. There has also been the revelation, after ten years of prevarication on the subject, that Lord Ashcroft, deputy chairman of the Conservatives, is non-domiciled for tax purposes.
Now, I never, ever, expected to find myself in a position where I could understand, from personal experience, the choices and temptations open to a man as rich as Lord Ashcroft. The fact remains that the first time I ever met my recently retired accountant, he put it to me point-blank: would I organise my money around my life, or my life around my money? If the latter, it was time to relocate to Ireland, Monaco, or possibly Belize.
I chose to remain a domiciled taxpayer for a couple of reasons. The main one was that I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating ex-pats, living in the limbo of some tax haven and associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles.
A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism. On the available evidence, I suspect that it is Lord Ashcroft’s idea of being a mug.
Child poverty remains a shameful problem in this country, but it will never be solved by throwing millions of pounds of tax breaks at couples who have no children at all. David Cameron tells us that the Conservatives have changed, that they are no longer the “nasty party”, that he wants the UK to be “one of the most family-friendly nations in Europe”, but I, for one, am not buying it. He has repackaged a policy that made desperate lives worse when his party was last in power, and is trying to sell it as something new. I’ve never voted Tory before ... and they keep on reminding me why.
CHICAGO – No one knows how a tabby cat named Charles traveled the 1,300 miles from his New Mexico home to Chicago, but he's set for a complimentary flight home on American Airlines in a carrier donated by an Albuquerque business.
Charles disappeared about eight months ago while his owner was out of town and a friend was caring for him.
Report from Texas, Muffin.
Today, the Texas State Board of Education released amendments to the state's social studies curriculum that essentially rewrite history to comport with the personal ideological and religious beliefs of some members of the board. As explained below, the proposed amendments depart drastically from accepted historical accounts. Indeed, as the New York Times Magazine has reported, they are so disturbing that at least one member on the board vehemently exclaimed, "burst[ing] out in seemingly embarrassed exasperation": "Guys, you're rewriting history now!"Over to you, Whiskers.
If the changes are implemented as proposed, it could affect the education of students from kindergarten to 12th grade across the country for the next 10 years: because Texas is one of the largest purchasers of textbooks nationwide, the changes the board makes to its standards often end up in textbooks purchased by other schools districts around the country.
Democrats don't want to deviate far from the Dodd draft, and they love the politics of putting Republicans and Wall Street on the same side of a battle line. They hope the optics there will be so bad, that Republicans will ultimately be shamed into caving. But ultimately Dems need 60 votes simply to debate the bill, and if the Republicans stick together in the face of a likely political backlash, there won't be a bill. And nobody knows dedication like the Senate GOP.A lot of feathers will be flying, to be sure. To Spot for the weather:
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Global temperatures fueled by El Nino seasonal warming last month chalked up the hottest March on record, US weather monitors reported.Stop being so theatrical, Spot. Our science report from Midnight:
"Warmer-than-normal conditions dominated the globe, especially in northern Africa, South Asia and Canada," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement on Thursday.
Combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for March 2010 was the warmest on record at 13.5 degrees Celsius (56.3 degrees Fahrenheit), which is 0.77 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average of 12.7 C, it said.
And more from the Onion:LONDON – A lingering volcanic ash plume forced extended no-fly restrictions over much of Europe on Saturday, as Icelandic scientists warned that volcanic activity had increased and showed no sign of abating — a portent of more travel chaos to come.Scientists say that because the volcano is situated below a glacial ice cap, the magma is being cooled quickly, causing explosions and plumes of grit that can be catastrophic to plane engines if prevailing winds are right.
PASADENA, CA–A team of cold-hearted, killjoy scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory callously announced Monday that the likelihood of complex life on Mars is "extraordinarily low," dashing the hopes of the public just like that.Cats are secretly unmoved by this announcement....
Friday, April 16, 2010
Is the NRA Encouraging Anti-Government Extremism?
Apparently the actions of National Rifle Association member Timothy McVeigh didn't teach the organization that its violent anti-government rhetoric can have dangerous consequences. On a day when thousands of Tea Party activists are taking to the streets to protest Tax Day, the Violence Policy Center has released a report today chronicling the increasing ties between the gun lobby and the Tea Party movement, and the NRA's adoption of much of the "Patriot movement's" anti-government language. The center sees direct parallels between the NRA's current activities and those in the years leading up to McVeigh's fateful decision to blow up the Oklahoma federal building:
"The gun lobby is once again embracing—and, equally important, validating—the anti-government rhetoric being offered by activists that range from Tea Party members, through pro-gun advocates, to members of the militia movement. And as was the case with Timothy McVeigh, the risk lies not so much with the organized members of these groups, but with the "lone wolves" who not only embrace their rhetoric, but are willing to act on it with violence."
Eugene Robinson for Truthdig:
It amounts to much more than “diddly” that so many Americans try hard to avoid coming to terms with the reality of slavery. It wasn’t just “a bad thing.” Littering is a bad thing. Slavery was this nation’s Original Sin, and yet many people will not look at it except through a gauze of Spanish moss.[snip]
The Atlantic slave trade was one of the last millennium’s greatest horrors. An estimated 17 million Africans, most of them teenagers, were snatched from their families, stuffed into the holds of ships and brought to the New World. As many as 7 million of them died en route, either on the high seas or at “seasoning” camps in the Caribbean where they were “broken” to the will of their masters.
What “doesn’t amount to diddly” is the revisionist notion—which Confederate History Month celebrations perpetuate—that the Civil War was about something other than slavery. The “lost cause” die-hards insist that the treasonous rebellion was a fight over freedom or the Constitution or states’ rights. But the “right” that was being fought over was the ability to own human beings, compel their labor, buy and sell them as if they were livestock, exploit them sexually and torture or kill them if they tried to escape.Damn right. I'll quote Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic again:
McDonnell’s apology, at least, recognized that slavery was nothing to be proud of. It should be noted, however, that Virginia’s previous two governors—both Democrats—did not feel the need to proclaim Confederate History Month. McDonnell’s original proclamation, before he amended it, seemed designed to appeal to a fringe group for whom the Civil War is still an open question.
This is a free country—for black people, too, thanks to the defeat of the Confederacy—and so if some white Southerners want to celebrate the “heritage” of slavery, they are welcome to do so. But while they’re entitled to their own set of opinions, they’re not entitled to their own set of facts. I’d say that Haley Barbour’s studied ignorance was “a bad thing,” but that would be a gross understatement.
What undergirds all of this alleged honoring of the Confederacy, is a kind of ancestor-worship that isn't. The Lost Cause is necromancy--it summons the dead and enslaves them to the need of their vainglorious, self-styled descendants. Its greatest crime is how it denies, even in death, the humanity of the very people it claims to venerate. This isn't about "honoring" the past--it's about an inability to cope with the present.
(CBS) The investments of large insurers of health, disability and long term care in fast food chains like McDonald's and Pizza Hut have raised the interest of a study in the American Journal of Public Health, reports CBS Radio News' John Hartge.
The Harvard Medical School's Dr. Wesley Boyd, an author of the study, finds it ironic that these firms would invest nearly $2 billion in companies that sell food often linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease.
"The insurance industry, so far as it seeks to make a profit, it does so in an amoral way," Boyd said.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Update: Huffington Post on The Other 95%:
"Obama passed 25 separate tax cuts," Sheryl Stein, founding member of "The Other 95%" said in a statement announcing the group's plans, "including $300 billion in middle class tax cuts -- one of the largest in history - as part of the stimulus package. Unlike President Bush's 2001 tax cuts, which went to the wealthiest 2.2%, President Obama's tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit working and middle class families -- in fact, 95% of all Americans."
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
We could have told you that in the beginning.
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.[snip]
The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.
Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.
General Powell, who left the Bush Administration in 2005, angry about the misinformation that he unwittingly gave the world when he made the case for the invasion of Iraq at the UN, is understood to have backed Colonel Wilkerson’s declaration.
He also claimed that one reason Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld did not want the innocent detainees released was because “the detention efforts would be revealed as the incredibly confused operation that they were”. This was “not acceptable to the Administration and would have been severely detrimental to the leadership at DoD [Mr Rumsfeld at the Defence Department]”.Shows how empathic Bush and his cronies were, doesn't it? How deeply concerned they were that they were torturing innocent people...
Referring to Mr Cheney, Colonel Wilkerson, who served 31 years in the US Army, asserted: “He had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent ... If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.”
He alleged that for Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld “innocent people languishing in Guantánamo for years was justified by the broader War on Terror and the small number of terrorists who were responsible for the September 11 attacks”.
He added: “I discussed the issue of the Guantánamo detainees with Secretary Powell. I learnt that it was his view that it was not just Vice-President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld, but also President Bush who was involved in all of the Guantánamo decision making.”
How soon they forget that they are NOT lords of the earth and sky, but elected officials who were asked to actually do something good for the people.
Pictures to remind you:
Or this one?
Lacking in empathy and feelings of concern for their fellow man doesn't even begin to describe the Bush administration.
But remember this revelation is only one of hundreds of actions the Bush administration did that harmed not only Iraq and Afghanistan, but the world.
Never forget the fact we did not need to attack Iraq.
Those innocent people did not need to end up in Gitmo.
Fueling Cars with Feces. The “Q microbe,” as it came to be known, is no ordinary bug. It can ingest—and produce ethanol from—virtually anything that contains cellulose, including human and animal sewage waste. So Qteros, the company Leschine founded to exploit the microbe’s abilities commercially, struck up a partnership with Applied CleanTech (ACT), an Israeli firm that generates alternative energy from wastewater solids. ACT’s sewage-recycling system transforms solids into “recyllose.” It turns out the Q microbe has a sweet tooth for recyllose, converting the cotton-like substance into ethanol for use in automobiles.How about home ethanol tanks to run our appliances?.... you'd just have to serve a lot of beans with dinner!
Jeff Hausthor, Qteros’ lead researcher, imagines a uniquely local market for this new biofuel. Obviously, waste materials are a burden to farms and municipalities, both financially and ecologically. But by putting the Q microbe to work, small-scale ethanol plants situated around sewage processing plants could become a reality.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
However, they soon fall in line after the fraternity's leader, the far more respectable, presentable, all-round-cad, Otter (Tim Matheson), backs Bluto's call to arms against the university authorities. "Bluto's right," he says. "Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards … I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part."Budget deficit shrink. Quote:
The Republican party, in particular, and American conservatism in general, have taken to operating in a similar manner to the Delta fraternity – increasingly reckless, anarchic and strident. Faced with defeat they respond with desperation. Only where the Deltas were motivated by ribaldry, conservatives are driven by rage.
You know that staggeringly huge budget deficit bequeathed to the Obama administration by George W. Bush's and the rotten Bush recession? Don't look now, but that deficit is getting smaller.The Ghost of Bobby Lee. Quote:
What undergirds all of this alleged honoring of the Confederacy, is a kind of ancestor-worship that isn't. The Lost Cause is necromancy--it summons the dead and enslaves them to the need of their vainglorious, self-styled descendants. Its greatest crime is how it denies, even in death, the humanity of the very people it claims to venerate. This isn't about "honoring" the past--it's about an inability to cope with the present.Report: Palin Has Earned An Estimated $12M Since July. Quote:
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's speaking engagements may have earned her $12 million since she resigned in July, ABC News estimates.ZAZI PLOT DETAILS EMERGE. Quote:
Palin has been making the media rounds for the past few months, and is raking it in from her estimated six- to seven-figure appearance fees, according to a "conservative estimate" by ABC News.
Aside from becoming a Fox News contributor, Palin also toured the country to promote her book, "Going Rogue: An American Life."
The cash flow won't stop there, either: She will reportedly make $1 million for each episode of her Alaska travel show.
I realize conservatives don't want to talk about this story, which is probably why major media outlets aren't paying much attention to it.DNA On Envelopes Identifies World War II Sailor. Quote:
But that's a shame because when it comes to counter-terrorism, this is a big f'in deal. Here we had a serious terrorist threat -- arguably the most important since 9/11 -- and an al Qaeda recruit who was poised to kill a lot of people. Obama administration officials thwarted Zazi's plan, took him into custody, read him his rights, and gave him a lawyer.
And the results couldn't have been better for the United States. Zazi will spend the rest of his life behind bars, but only after cooperating with federal officials and becoming a valuable source of intelligence.
If Republicans really want to debate the efficacy of Obama's counter-terrorism policies, we can start right here.
Gerald Lehman is going home to Michigan, 68 years after he was killed at Pearl Harbor. The young sailor's remains were thought to be among the hundreds trapped under the water when the USS Oklahoma was torpedoed. But his remains were recovered and buried with the remains of four other "unknowns." Lehman's remains were finally identified by using DNA collected from the letters he sent home — Lehman had licked the envelopes to seal them.Michelle Obama Visits Haiti: First Lady Makes Unannounced Trip. Quote:
Obama and Biden's visit is intended to underscore U.S. commitment to the Haitian reconstruction effort and to thank American officials who have worked in the country for the past three months, the administration said in a statement.Is the U.S. Army Losing Its War on Suicide? Quote:
It is Obama's first solo trip as first lady, and she will visit Mexico next, spokeswoman Katherine McCormick-Lelyveld said. Haiti was included when the trip was planned a month ago but not announced for security reasons.
From the invasion of Afghanistan until last summer, the U.S. military had lost 761 soldiers in combat there. But a higher number in the service — 817 — had taken their own lives over the same period. The surge in suicides, which have risen five years in a row, has become a vexing problem for which the Army's highest levels of command have yet to find a solution despite deploying hundreds of mental-health experts and investing millions of dollars. And the elephant in the room in much of the formal discussion of the problem is the burden of repeated tours of combat duty on a soldier's battered psyche.RRS James Cook Voyage 44. Quote:
Join our team of scientists and engineers exploring the Cayman Trough, a three-mile deep rift in the seafloor of the Caribbean, in search of the world's deepest volcanic vents and new species of deep-sea creatures.The White House Blog "An Opportunity -- Not Simply to Talk, But to Act". Quote:
Today the President and delegations from 46 other nations are working to address the most dire threat of our time: nuclear terrorism. It is the second day of the Nuclear Security Summit, following a first day during which several nations made significant commitments which will strengthen the global effort to maintain nuclear security and nonproliferation. For instance:
* Chile has shipped its highly enriched uranium to the United States; Ukraine has agreed to ship its highly enriched uranium out of the country within two years; and Canada has agreed to ship its used highly enriched uranium to the United States.
* The United States and Russia have reached an agreement on plutonium disposal, a deal that has been stalled since 2000, and which commits both countries to eliminate enough total plutonium for approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons.
* Recognizing the importance of this summit, and that its goals require a long-term commitment, South Korea has agreed to host the next Nuclear Security Summit in 2012.
I've been watching the USGS map for southern California for some time and have watched swarms of little earthquakes come and go. Fascinating, but I understand how trying to 'predict' an earthquake is nigh impossible. Just look at the 7.2 in Mexico and all the fore and aftershocks. We still don't know much except that the continent is being shoved west over the subduction zone being shoved east, the area is fractured and refractured with faults running across each other. The only thing geologists can predict is that we will get earthquakes constantly. Big and small.
Seismologists in California were busy this week fighting rumors apparently floating on Twitter that a major earthquake was likely in the next few days.
Officials at Caltech say that rumor is not true -- and that no such prediction can be made.
But researchers say there has been an uptick in earthquakes this year.
The number of earthquakes greater than magnitude 4.0 in Southern California and Baja California has increased significantly in 2010. There have been 70 such quakes so far this year, the most of any year in the last decade. And it's only April. There were 30 in 2009 and 29 in 2008.Seismologists said they are studying the uptick but cannot fully explain it. Major earthquakes tend to occur in cycles, and experts have said the region in recent years has been in a quiet cycle when it comes to sizable temblors.
So be prepared.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Proof... Governor Haley Barbour riding in to save Governor Bob McDonnell from his omission about slavery in his 'feel good remember when' Confederacy proclamation. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly:
And a teabagger who is ignoring the kinder and less racist message tweaking. Josh Marshall of TPM:
Barbour is currently the head of the Republican Governors Association, and a possible 2012 presidential candidate. He also described himself last week as a "fat redneck."
Josh Marshall noted this morning, "The Dems must be pretty bummed the Republicans have finally managed to put the Civil War, slavery and segregation behind them. Oh, right. Never mind."
And for the record, as Newsweek editor Jon Meacham explained over the weekend, the issue means a lot more than diddly: "Efforts to rehabilitate the Southern rebellion frequently come at moments of racial and social stress, and it is revealing that Virginia's neo-Confederates are refighting the Civil War in 2010. Whitewashing the war is one way for the right -- alienated, anxious and angry about the president, health care reform and all manner of threats, mostly imaginary -- to express its unease with the Age of Obama, disguising hate as heritage."
A bunch of his emails have just surfaced with racist appeals, porn and even some good old bestiality thrown in for good measure. One email features video of an African tribal dance, entitled "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal."And JJ of Unrepentant Old Hippie has an interesting discussion going on who actually Palin appeals to and why.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Obama went on to describe, in some detail, all of the tax-cut measures he's approved, including the Making Work Pay tax credit that started last year, the American Opportunity Credit to help defray the costs of college tuition, new tax breaks for first-time home buyers, new tax breaks for those who invest in making their homes more energy efficient, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, allowing more families to qualify for the Child Tax Credit, and new tax credits for the unemployed.
The president may need to repeat the message a few more times as the midterm elections draw closer -- a recent NYT/CBS poll asked Americans if they think the Obama Administration increased taxes, decreased taxes, or have they kept taxes the same. Only 12% accurately noted that taxes have done down; twice as many (24%) mistakenly said the opposite.
It's hard for a president and his party to get credit for cutting taxes when so many have forgotten what's already happened.
Friday, April 09, 2010
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|The Big Bang Treaty|
Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly:
Jon Stewart referred to the network's "willful misunderstanding of the policy," and characterized a back-and-forth between Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity as "purposeful idiocy."
Stewart added, "We're at the point now that the by far number one ranked news network in this country, no longer feels the need to report what a policy document says in black and white."
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Thursday deadline: Protect net neutrality
One of Glenn Beck's latest conspiracies involves a "gang of communists" who want to turn the Internet into a "Marxist utopia." That dangerous gang of communists he's warning Fox News viewers against? They're net neutrality supporters.
Glenn Beck has it all wrong: Net neutrality protects -- not threatens -- free speech online. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet users, not Internet service providers, should be in control. It ensures that Internet service providers can't speed up, slow down, or block Web content based on its source, ownership, or destination.
The FCC is accepting public comments until Thursday on a proposed regulation that would protect net neutrality. Will you say that you won't be fooled by scare tactics and that you support an open Internet?
We've made it easy to submit a public comment in support of net neutrality. Just use the sample comment at right to craft your own personal comment.
When the FCC initially took comments in January, pro-net neutrality submissions vastly outweighed comments from opponents of Internet freedom. As a result, big telecom companies are running scared. They're worried that the FCC might agree with us and prohibit them from inspecting and filtering the Internet content you access, blocking Web sites and applications they don't like, and overcharging you for using the Web. Out of the 120,000 comments submitted, 98,000 of them - a whopping 74 percent - were from CREDO Action members like you.
The FCC has opened a second round in the comment period. So we need to repeat that performance and beat back the media monopolists once again.
You can help us dominate the second round, too. Submit your comment today!
The big telecom companies have deployed hundreds of lobbyists and pushed outrageous lies. Their goal? Overcome our voices by duping the public into believing their net neutrality myths.
We have only two days to debunk these lies and protect the free-flowing Web, as the FCC is only accepting the second round of comments until April 8. We've made it easy for you to submit your comment on our site -- but we'll need it by 10 a.m. Pacific time on April 8 in order to get it into the docket by the deadline.
Without strong net neutrality rules, we might have to rely upon the good will of large telecoms to protect our access to the diversity of political perspectives. We might have to trust companies like Comcast, which actively and secretly interfered with users' ability to access popular video, photo and music sharing applications; AT&T, which censored anti-Bush comments made by Pearl Jam's lead singer during a concert; and Verizon Wireless, which interfered with NARAL Pro-Choice America's ability to send text messages to its members.
Without net neutrality, the Internet would cease to be a public platform for free speech, political organizing, and equal opportunity.
Speak out against the corporate lies. Submit your public comment today.
Monday, April 05, 2010
Krugman himself.As Krugman noted, conservatives tend not to understand that the left has no parallel ideological desires (wanting bigger government just for the sake of having bigger government). It's why they fell for the bogus Frank quote in the first place.The left starts with a policy goal (more people with access to medical care, more students with access to college, less pollution, more Wall Street safeguards) and crafts proposals to try to complete the task. The right starts with an ideological goal (smaller government, more privatization, lower taxes) and works backwards.
Things your grocer won't tell you.WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Genetic material pulled from a pinky finger bone found in a Siberian cave shows a new and unknown type of pre-human lived alongside modern humans and Neanderthals, scientists reported on Wednesday.The creature, nicknamed "Woman X" for the time being, could have lived as recently as 30,000 years ago and appears only distantly related to modern humans or Neanderthals, the researchers reported."It really just looked like something we had never seen before," Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, told a telephone briefing.
Look at how much the Obama daughters have grown up since last year!
Sign the pledge.
In 2006, California passed The Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), making our state number one in the world in legislating real reductions in the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Now Valero Energy -- a Texas-based oil company -- has already spent half a million dollars to fund a deceptive initiative that would destroy AB 32, California's landmark clean energy and air pollution law.
Together Valero and another Texas-based oil company, Tesoro, are projected to spend millions of dollars to gather signatures for a November ballot initiative that would kill AB 32 and new clean energy development.
Don't let Texas oil barons mess with California's climate change law!Every dollar spent at a Valero or Tesoro gas stations is another dollar Texas oil barons can use to buy this election.
Ol' Bart attached itself to a submarine that was exploring the ocean floor. When the sub surfaced, people got an unexpected look at the slithery stowaway. The creature is a pinkish in color, two and a half feet long, and wouldn't be out of place in an Ed Wood movie (no offense, Bart).Looks like an overgrown sowbug if you ask me...
The story was originally posted on Reddit by a guy who works for the submarine company. It quickly went viral from there. Once news of the creature's existence hit, Web searches immediately soared. Online lookups for "sea creature found," "giant isopod," and (our personal favorite) "terrifying sea creature" all roared.
It's worth noting that the existence of the Bathynomus giganteus isn't, in and of itself, a surprise. Scientists have long been aware of them. The shock came from seeing one up close in all its cockroach-like glory.
OMG! Sowbugs are the alien minions of Ol'Bart!!11! We've already been overtaken! Aaaaahhh....