Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Friday, April 30, 2010

Tom Waits

I'm currently reading Jesse Ventura's book, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me!"  I like it, and I agree with most of Jesse's ideas.  The book chronicles his and his wife's driving trip from Minnesota down to Baja California, where they currently are living, with flashbacks to his days as Minnesota Governor.  I wanted to check out his latest book, "American Conspiracies," but it's not yet available at the Houston Public Library, so I settled for Revolution.  

Each chapter begins with a quote, as many books do, and one chapter with a quote from Tom Waits just sticks in my mind:

"The trouble with history is that the people who really know what happened aren't talking, and the people who don't, you can't shut 'em up."

10,000 march on Wall St

There was a giant pro-Labor rally on Wall Street yesterday.  Did you hear about it?  You probably didn't, if you watch the mainstream press. 

Why do you think they give tons of coverage to the Tea Partiers and nothing to Labor marches?  For that matter, all the anti-war marches we participated in during the Bush Reign of Error got scant or nonexistant coverage too. 

Thousands Rally in New York for Showdown with Wall St.




Over 10,000 protesters gathered in New York's financial district to demand financial reform.


April 30, 2010 - After a year of what seemed like nonstop Tea Party coverage, it's easy to forget that Americans ever protested in anything but solid ethnic blocs, or that Americans ever gathered to express coherent grievances grounded in reality.

Yesterday's AFL-CIO-led protest on Wall Street was an overdue reminder.

More than 5,000 union members and others delivered a crisp message with their march from City Hall to the Bowling Green Bull. In contrast to recent protests on the right, the event was noticeably lacking in loaded and ahistorical symbols like Gadsen flags, and refrained from vilifying individuals in favor of calling out institutions. Of hundreds of signs hoisted, only one was branded with the Obama logo. The signs were non-partisan and dealt with real problems -- namely, this country's rogue, unregulated finance sector. There was only one puppet, a fanged vampire squid meant to symbolize Goldman Sachs. The banners declared "Wall Street: Never Again" and "Less Audis, More Audits." Almost to a one, they echoed the clear policy demands of the day: regulatory reform, new taxes on banks and speculators, and a jobs bill.


The afternoon began with direct action protests in the lobbies of Wells Fargo and J.P. Morgan Chase. Next came a series of speakers -- teachers, students, workers -- that put New York City faces on the nationwide hard times. Representing hundreds of labor, religious and community groups, they demanded Wall Street do its part to fix the mess it created. They railed against budget cuts in city housing, health and education, overseen by the city's billionaire mayor who opposes a financial transaction tax.


"The result of these cuts will be more homelessness, more joblessness and more hunger," said Sean Banks, a high school teacher in Brooklyn. The planned cuts will also result in bigger class sizes. Currently the New York state House and Senate are considering bills that would see New York lay off between 4,000 and 8,500 teachers.


Before leading the march to the Bowling Green Bull, the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka issued a direct three-part challenge to the banks: stop fighting reform and call off the lobbyists; stop speculating and start lending; and "take responsibility for the mess you made."


The demands resonated with a crowd thick with the unemployed and city workers facing layoffs in their departments and agencies. "These bankers have no shame," said Marie Mitchell, a city clerical worker. "I saw the Goldman Sachs guys on TV the other day, still refusing to apologize for anything. They should be sent to jail, like Madoff."


"Wall Street created this mess," said Brussard Alston, a train conductor with Transit Workers Local 100. "So let's tax them and their million dollar bonuses. Make them share. Why make everyone in the city suffer from cut services?" The MTA recently announced its plans to fire hundreds of bus drivers, station agents and train conductors, as well as reduce transit vouchers for students. "In effect, that's a tax of $1,000 dollars on the poor," said Alston. "Some kids just won't go to school. But Bloomberg is against a financial trade tax?"


Bruce Vari, an unemployed electrical worker with Local 3, agreed that some sort of Wall Street tax should go toward shoring up local budgets. But he worried that there wasn't enough pressure from below. "There should be more people here," he said. "This is a start, but we're hurting more than we're showing."


Ed Lonergan, another out-of-work electrician, argued that another jobs bill would pump-prime the economy quicker than any other measure. "There's no work and all this money was poured into Wall Street," he said. "When I work, I buy gas, I buy lunch. The money is real; it goes to real places. We should bring the soldiers home and put them to work building houses, bridges. Take it out of the fat cats' wallets and put it in the workingman's wallet. Ninety-seven percent of the population made three percent rich. Enough is enough."


Lonergan concluded by noting that he's never seen the economy this bad. "It used to be you could go on the road for work, now there's no work anywhere. I'm about to lose benefits. My Plan C is a bucket of change. My wife is terrified."


As the protest shuffled past Wall Street, the bankers who stopped to watch seemed more bemused than terrified. One man in a pin-striped suit walked up to the marchers and began chanting, "Astroturf!" Next to him, two young bankers snickered as they observed the scene. "These guys just want money," said one who only gave the first name of Mike, a copy of the Economist tucked under his arm. "They want to tax Wall Street, which would be a disaster for the economy, to fund their bullshit public sector union jobs. God, I hate the labor agenda."

The anger and purpose on display Thursday suggested that the labor agenda will increasingly make its voice heard. This, at least, was the hope of Marie Mitchell, the clerical worker. "My knees hurt like hell and I have to lean on this cane," she fumed in Caribbean-accented English. "But there's no way I was gonna miss this. I'll be there next time, too. This can't stop. We need to make them understand that we won't tolerate this anymore. We should be out here every week."

The original is here.  Mitchell is right.  There needs to be ongoing marches and rallies, or it won't get much coverage.  This is one reason why the Teabaggers get so much coverage, because they just keep on going and going.

Professional jokers

And so we come to the end of another month.  Spring has sprung, and so have all the allergies.  We're six months away from the 2010 elections, but people are already acting like asses and idiots.  What else is new?  I really don't even need to post these jokes, because the Republicans are providing all the humor needed.  Who writes this crap?!


"The top executive of Goldman Sachs testified before Congress today, which proves crooks always return to the scene of the crime." —Jay Leno


"During a Goldman Sachs hearing yesterday, Sen. Carl Levin used the S-word 11 times on live television when quoting an e-mail. Which begs the question — if a guy swears on C-SPAN and there's no one watching to hear it, does he really make a sound?" —Jimmy Fallon


"George W. Bush's memoir is coming out in November. It's called 'Decision Points.' They asked him if he used a ghostwriter and he said, 'No, the guy's still alive.'" —David Letterman


"Is it really a good thing for President Bush to remind us of the decisions he made? I would have just let people forget." —Jimmy Kimmel


"By the way, Sarah Palin, if you're watching, how is that offshore drilling working out for ya?" —David Letterman


"Bad news, it's going to be a huge environmental disaster, the oil rig down there in the Gulf of Mexico. The good news is they think now that the oil spill will be diluted by the melting ice caps." —David Letterman

"Arizona is the meth lab of democracy." —Jon Stewart on Arizona's new immigration law


"This week Arizona signed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country, which would allow the police to demand identification papers from anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. I know there are some people in Arizona worried that Obama is acting like Hitler, but can we all agree that there's nothing more Nazi than saying, `Show me your papers?' There's never been a WWII movie that didn't include the line, 'Show me your papers.' It's their catchphrase. Every time someone says 'Show me your papers,' Hitler's family gets a residual check. So heads up Arizona, that's fascism. I know, I know, it's a dry fascism, but it's still fascism." —Seth Meyers, on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"


"As you know, Arizona recently passed the toughest anti-immigration bill in American history. The idea behind this bill is to drive illegal immigrants out of Arizona and back to their homeland of Los Angeles." —Jay Leno


"Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the nation's toughest anti-immigration bill into law. It's unbelievable. It makes it a crime as a state law to be in the country illegally. It lets police question anyone about their status. You know what this means? Rich people in Arizona may have to start raising their own children now." —Jay Leno


"Obama is getting his mojo back. Apparently, he's going to get this financial package. That's right, the financial package is going through. He got healthcare. He got that nuclear weapons treaty... He's on a roll and he's taunting his critics. His new slogan is, 'Change You Can Suck On.'" —Bill Maher


"Well, it was announced today that President Bush's book will be released Nov. 9. The book will be called 'Decision Points.' It will be centered on 14 decisions President Bush made during his presidency. See, this should silence the critics who claim Dick Cheney made all of the decisions. This book will prove Bush made at least 14 of them." —Jay Leno


"The book will be ready in November. Bush is making last-minute revisions right now. As a matter of fact, his computer screen is covered with White-Out." —David Letterman


"And his wife, Laura Bush, also has written a book. They're going to be published at the same time. Both have memoirs. Her story and his story. I was thinking, well, whose book would you rather read? The one by the librarian or the one by the guy who choked on a pretzel?" —David Letterman


"President Obama's National Security Adviser James L. Jones apologized for telling an ethnic joke at a speech. Political insiders were shocked -- someone said something stupid and inappropriate and it wasn't Joe Biden?" —Jay Leno


"And the cover story of this week's Newsweek magazine is about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and how President Obama sends her out to crack down on misbehaving world leaders. Gee, I wonder where she learned to do that?" —Jay Leno


"The International Olympic Committee stripped China of its bronze medal in the women's team gymnastics event from the 2000 Olympics because they fielded an underage athlete. Ten years later, when she still hadn't finished high school, they figured it out." —Jimmy Kimmel


David Letterman's Top Ten Thoughts That Went Through George W. Bush's Mind As He Wrote His Memoirs

10. "What's a memoir?"
9. "Is 36 pages enough?"
8. "You know who was a great band? Foghat!"
7. "Taco break!"
6. "How cool is it that I was president? Come on, up high!"
5. "Jerky break!"
4. "Chapter Eight: The day I went 5-for-5 in White House T-ball. And no gimmies. All ropes!"
3. "What? Ricky Martin's gay?"
2. "Do you spell nucular with 2 'o's or an 'ew'?"
1. "Shouldn't Cheney be the one writing this?"

"Well, the government said today Somali pirates being held in U.S. custody will be brought to the United States for prosecution, and they will be tried by a jury of their peers. So I'm guessing that's what, Goldman Sachs?" —Jay Leno



"As you probably know, the volcano on the tiny island of Iceland has shut down air traffic. President Obama had to cancel his trip to Poland. President Obama said he hopes the volcano will stop smoking soon and the volcano said the same thing about him." —Jimmy Kimmel


"In a statement released this week, Pope Benedict said that he has forgiven the Beatles for John Lennon's claim that they were bigger than Jesus and for their Rock & Roll excesses — in the clearest sign yet that the Vatican is working from the bottom of the complaint box." —Seth Meyers

"Here's something great. General Motors today paid back all the government loans five years ahead of schedule. Amazing what hard work, careful planning and Toyotas rolling over and crashing into trees can do for you." —Jay Leno

"The volcano cloud is gritty ash and it's making its way toward Russia. In fact, Sarah Palin can see it from her house." —David Letterman


"Look I'm sorry I told you to go f**k yourself last week (and that other time, like, six months ago.) I know that I criticize you and Fox News a lot, but only because you're truly a terrible, cynical, disingenuous news organization." —Jon Stewart


"Fox News: You are the lupus of news." —Jon Stewart, slamming FOX News with a gospel version of "Go F**K Yourselves"


"What a day for the Tea Party people. Did you see that? America's parks and fairgrounds were lost in a sea of man-boobs. They were venting their anger and rage against taxes, which, of course, in most cases for them went down. Protesting their taxes went down — but you know, why let the truth spoil a perfectly good Klan rally." —Bill Maher


"Federal taxes last year when down for 98 percent of people, but when asked about this, only 12 percent of the Teabaggers thought this was the case. 88 percent of them had it wrong. And a spokesman for the Teabaggers said, 'We don't want to just be taxed less. We want to be taxed less by a white guy." —Bill Maher


"Sarah Palin got an iPad and she was complaining that it's not really that absorbent." —Bill Maher


"You see this on the news? Gay and lesbian activists chained themselves to the White House fence to protest the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. And when Republican Party officials saw the lesbians chaining themselves to the fence, out of force of habit, they paid $2,000 to watch." —Jay Leno


"Today the U.S. Treasury released its new $100 bill. It's the most high-tech piece of currency the world has ever seen — until Apple comes out with the '$100 bill Nano.'" —Craig Ferguson

Thursday, April 29, 2010

GOP won WW2?

What in the world has happened to the Republicans?  Has Barack Obama driven them totally insane?


On Republicans, War and Dung

It would appear that the only true prerequisites for anyone wishing to run as a Republican candidate these days is that they be totally delusional and out of touch with reality – past and present. A sort of leave your brain at the door policy. 


Kristia Cavere, from Tuxedo in Orange County, is the Tea Party and a Republican candidate for New York’s 19th Congressional District seat held by Hall. Cavere thinks that the Democrats have co-opted Republican values and claims, among other things, that:  The Republicans are the ones who liberated Europe in World War II.”
Amazing. Every new Republican we hear from these days is one notch dumber than the previous one. This is the party that has Sue Lowden running in Nevada chattering on about her big breakthrough in health care reform – pay your doctor’s bill with chickens. Don’t have a chicken to barter with? No problem. Dr. Quackenbush also accepts sheep, pigs and, as a last resort, a turtle dove and a partridge in a pear tree. Just don’t forget to pack them in your overnight bag when you go in for that lobotomy. 

Then there’s J.D Hayworth, the birther whack job in Arizona running against John McCain. If this guy wins, he’ll give Michele Bachmann a good run for her money for top spot in the Really Really Stupid Republican category. 

And of course there is lovely Sarah Palin, a permanent fixture on the political scene, who makes a jackass of herself every time she opens her mouth or reads the palms of her hands. 

Is there any doubt that the GOP is the party of choice for imbeciles, racists, homophobes, bigots, gun nuts, birthers, militia kooks and teabaggers? It’s like flies gravitating towards a pile of fresh dung, put in place compliments of their favorite Republican politician. The aroma is way too attractive for this demented lot to resist. 

So Republicans liberated Europe you say? Fine. I’m sure you’re right. Now please put on that pretty white jacket and get back to your padded cell before you hurt yourself.

You can find the original here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Man who sued Pope

This is a fascinating article that recently appeared in the Houston Press.  It's quite obvious to me that the Catholic Church should be brought up on RICO charges, but it looks like the US won't have the guts to pursue it.  Thanks for the heads-up, D.

The Man Who Sued the Pope



Houston's Daniel Shea thinks Joseph Ratzinger has a lot to answer for if he'd talk.

By John Nova Lomax


Five years ago, Houston attorney/theologian Daniel Shea watched the results of the papal conclave at home. Intellectually, he knew what the dirty-gray smoke puffing out of the Sistine Chapel's chimney signaled: that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would soon be announced as the new Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
 
Now, as the white-haired Pope battles a seemingly endless series of priestly sex scandals, Shea says he is still trying to get his head around his belief that he and his co-counsel Tahira Khan Merritt set the coronation in motion when they filed a Houston-based sex abuse lawsuit against Ratzinger.

According to Shea, the cardinals elected Ratzinger Pope to give him the immunity that would enable him to avoid answering any questions concerning his knowledge about and handling of sex abuse cases in Houston's St. Francis De Sales church in the mid-1990s.

In fact, Shea believes that what he started with the lawsuit may eventually result in the destruction of the entire Roman Catholic Church.

Ah, something to be devoutly wished for!

It's a long read, but worth it.  Click here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

GOM Oil slick

I hope they weren't screwing off.  If Bush were still President, no doubt there'd be rumors flying that the terrorists bombed the rig.   Gotta keep the people scared and in line.




An estimated 42,000 gallons of oil per day were leaking from an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico in late April, following an explosion at an offshore drilling rig on April 20, 2010. The rig eventually capsized and sank.

These images of the affected area were captured on April 25 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite (top, wider view) and the Advanced Land Imager on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite (bottom, close up). 

In the top image, the Mississippi Delta is at image center, and the oil slick is a silvery swirl to the right. The oil slick may be particularly obvious because it is occurring in the sunglint area, where the mirror-like reflection of the Sun off the water gives the Gulf of Mexico a washed-out look. The close-up view shows waves on the water surface as well as ships, presumably involved in the clean up and control activities.

The initial explosion killed eleven people and injured several others, and a fire burned at the location for more than a day until the damaged oil rig sank. An emergency response effort is underway to stop the flow of oil and contain the existing slick before it reaches wildlife refuges and beaches in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The slick may contain dispersant or other chemicals that emergency responders are using to control the spread of the oil, and it is unknown how much of the 700,000 gallons of fuel that were on the oil rig burned in the fire and how much may have spilled into the water when the platform sank.

On April 25, 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Emergency Response Division issued the following update on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident in the Gulf of Mexico: “An attempt to control the leaking well using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) was not successful, and the well continues to leak.”

Twice-daily images of the Gulf Coast are available from the MODIS Rapid Response Team in additional resolutions and formats, including a georeferenced file that can be used with Google Earth.
More images of this event in Natural Hazards
NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.
Instrument: 
Aqua - MODIS

Paul Flores



Sunday, April 25, 2010

Earth Day remix

colonoscopy

Ooof!  This has become a week from hell.  A few days ago I came down with some kind of stomach bug and haven't really felt very well since.  I don't know what I got ahold of, but it has sure hung in there.  Tenacious bastids!  Microscopic muthafuckas!

It's hard to concentrate on much, work or anything, when your stomach is moaning, groaning, growling and howling, burning, churning and incessantly yearning.  For something.  

To compound the misery, the wife had a routine colonoscopy Friday morning.  If you've ever had one - you know that the preparation can be worse than the actual procedure.  Thursday, she had to quit eating solid food and begin drinking the Nulytely ("new-lightly") laxative, and it made her feel like hell.

That stuff works, though.  They could honestly rename this product, "Colon Blow."

We were told to arrive at the hospital at 7:30am for an 8:00am procedure.  So we arrive at 7:20am, check-in and notice that the waiting room is almost full of about 30 people.  Great.  

So we sit and we sit in the waiting room;  the poor wife has a horrible headache and is starving, and me with the remnants and ruminations (and ruinations) of this stomach bug.  Lovely.  

By 8:30am, they still had not called us up to even start the paperwork!   And there was no doubt that they were calling up people that had arrived AFTER we did.  Don't you hate when that happens?  

The wife goes up to the desk and naturally the woman says in her annoying, nasally, squeaky voice, "You'll be up in just a few minutes."  At least she apologized for being behind schedule.  Said it was all her fault.  Uh, yeah.  Ok. 

8:45am.  Still sitting.  Since we arrived, we are subjected to FOX News on the lone TV in the room.  There's no escaping it.  The room isn't big enough.  I looked closely at the TV and noticed that they had removed the power button, so I saw no way of turning it off that crap.  No one that I can see is even watching it.  This must be an educated crowd.  These patients have a lot of patience.

I asked the woman at the desk if she could change the channel and she said, no, they set the channel in another place.  

I asked, "Well, could you please request them to change the channel?  FOX is horrible!  And no one is watching it."  

"I'll ask them," she says, and I went to sit back down, but it never got changed.  I have to wonder if she was annoyed and pushed the wife down the list, just for spite.  Was she way behind schedule because SHE was watching the TV?!

At about 8:50am, they finally call the wife's name and so she has to go up to the desk again and fill out several forms, sign, and pay the $300 co-pay.  This is the highest co-pay we've ever paid for one of these.  They just keep going higher and higher.  At least we'll get the cash back via our FSA.

Finally at 9:30am, a full 90 minutes AFTER the procedure was supposed to begin, they call her back to get prepped for the colonoscopy.  

I don't get to go back there with her, naturally.  I learn later that they strap her down and give her an IV, which prompts her to start throwing up.  Yes, lovely.  Finally they calm her down, get her sedated and perform the procedure.  

She never has handled anesthesia very well.  It usually makes her sick afterwards, and this time is no exception.  What pisses me off is that she has been seeing this same gastro-enterologist for over 10 years now, and he should KNOW her needs and limitations.

What further bugs me is, after they put her in the recovery room and I am sitting with her for a few minutes (while she's puking a bit), the doc comes in and I tell him that there must be a better way to prepare for a colonoscopy, because her disposition is so ... fragile.  He says calmly, oh yeah, we could do the pills and water.  That's been available for a few years now.

You frikkin' bastard!  There's a less distateful method of prep, and you know how sensitive she is to that crap, and now you tell me it's been available for a few years?!  I felt like punching him.  But I didn't.  

I drove her home and she was semi-conscious the whole way.  She climbed up the stairs and crawled into bed for the next several hours.  

By 6pm, she was finally feeling good enough to come down the stairs and eat a bite.  

What a horrible day.  But, the good news is, only one innocent looking polyp, which he snipped and will biopsy, and just a touch of diverticulosis.  Oh, and a couple of tiny hemarrhoids.  But, "she's doing great," he says.

How many chickens do I owe you, assdoc?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chicken Converter

Democratic Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid of Nevada is up for re-election this year.  His opponent is a Tea Partier named Sue Lowdon.  She has perhaps unwittingly revealed the Republicans health-care plan!  Finally!!  Click here.

Doctors may be reasonable people.  But what about hospitals?

Motorola Droid


We bit!

This week the wife and I renewed our wireless phone contract with Verizon and picked up two of the Motorola Droid smartphones.  

Awesome machines.  And what a deal.

It's going to take days .... WEEKS ... to figure out all the cool tools on this toy.  

Monday, April 19, 2010

Promiscuous Women

Oh, so THAT's why we have earthquakes!!

This is a sterling example of the insanity of religion.  Fascinating how it's ALWAYS women's fault.  No matter what.  It's WOMEN'S fault!! 

When will the Iranian people have had enough?


Iranian cleric: Promiscuous women cause quakes

BEIRUT – A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear immodest clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.


Iran is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric's unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran's acting Friday prayer leader.

Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair.

"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?" Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon Friday. "There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes."

Seismologists have warned for at least two decades that it is likely the sprawling capital will be struck by a catastrophic quake in the near future.

Some experts have even suggested Iran should move its capital to a less seismically active location. Tehran straddles scores of fault lines, including one more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) long, though it has not suffered a major quake since 1830.

In 2003, a powerful earthquake hit the southern city of Bam, killing 31,000 people — about a quarter of that city's population — and destroying its ancient mud-built citadel.

"A divine authority told me to tell the people to make a general repentance. Why? Because calamities threaten us," Sedighi said.

Referring to the violence that followed last June's disputed presidential election, he said, "The political earthquake that occurred was a reaction to some of the actions (that took place). And now, if a natural earthquake hits Tehran, no one will be able to confront such a calamity but God's power, only God's power. ... So let's not disappoint God."

The Iranian government and its security forces have been locked in a bloody battle with a large opposition movement that accuses Ahmadinejad of winning last year's vote by fraud.

Ahmadinejad made his quake prediction two weeks ago but said he could not give an exact date. He acknowledged that he could not order all of Tehran's 12 million people to evacuate. "But provisions have to be made. ... At least 5 million should leave Tehran so it is less crowded," the president said.

Minister of Welfare and Social Security Sadeq Mahsooli said prayers and pleas for forgiveness were the best "formulas to repel earthquakes."

"We cannot invent a system that prevents earthquakes, but God has created this system and that is to avoid sins, to pray, to seek forgiveness, pay alms and self-sacrifice," Mahsooli said.

The original piece of religious stupidity can be found here.

Wake up, Tea Party!

A lot of Democrats share much of the frustration expressed by the Tea Partiers, minus the racism.  It's rather obvious that the Tea Party's anger is misdirected.  They should be pissed at the banks for damn near destroying this country.  Obama is trying to put things back together again, but FOX News and others keep up a perpetual drum-beat hate machine against liberals and Obama, and eventually, it sinks in.

Bill Moyers shares a similar sentiment.  Damn shame that his series, "Bill Moyer's Journal" is ending April 30.

The Tea Party Crowd Needs to Wake Up to Who the Real Villains Are

With all due respect, we can only wish those Tea Party activists who gathered in Washington and other cities this week weren't so single-minded about just who's responsible for all their troubles, real and imagined. They're up in arms, so to speak, against Big Government, especially the Obama administration.

If they thought this through, they'd be joining forces with other grassroots Americans who in the coming weeks will be demonstrating in Washington and other cities against High Finance, taking on Wall Street and the country's biggest banks.

snip

...the week's award for sheer gall goes to a Chicago area hedge fund called Magnetar, named after a kind of neutron star that spews deadly radiation across the galaxies. Thanks to the teamwork of the investigative reporting website ProPublica, as well as public radio's Planet Money project and "This American Life," we learned that Magnetar worked with Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and other investment banks to create toxic CDO's -- collateralized debt obligations -- securities backed by subprime mortgages that management knew were bad. Then Magnetar took that knowledge and bet against the very same investments they had recommended to buyers, selling short and making a fortune.


To simply call all of this "creative accounting" is to do it an injustice. This is corruption, cynicism and greed on a scale that would make the Roman Emperor Caligula cringe. Or rather, the Emperor Nero. He didn't just poison the citizens of Rome; legend has it that he burned the place down, fiddling around in the ashes, just like our Wall Street tycoons.

But since we know all this, why is it so hard to hold Wall Street accountable? Which brings us to what the Tea Party people should have been complaining about this week. The banking industry and corporate America are fighting against proposed financial reform with all the money and influence at their disposal, attempting to preserve a system that would enable them to ransack the country once again.

Look at Eric Lichtblau's report this week, also in The New York Times, under the headline. "Lawmakers Regulate Banks, Then Flock to Them." The financial services industry has hired more than 125 former members of Congress and congressional staffers from both parties to help them fight off accountability.

No wonder, too, that this headline appeared in the Times this week: "GOP Takes Aim at Plans to Curb Finance Industry." That's not surprising. Earlier this year Republican politicians told Wall Street: Give us the scratch and we'll scrap reform.

The GOP's SWAT team -- also known as the United States Chamber of Commerce -- has already spent three million dollars to try to kill or cripple a key part of reform -- the proposed new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. With the Chamber as their front, corporations have bankrolled ads that make it seem like the Red Army is at our doorsteps.

(end snip)

Hopefully, Bill Moyers will continue to observe and write about current events after the PBS show is over.  You can find the original article here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

SEC vs. Goldman Sachs

This story is a little shocking.  It seems like everyone had concluded that no one was going to be held accountable for the big crash we're only recently pulling out of.  One has to wonder about the timing here: these charges are surfacing just as the bill to regulate the financial industry is coming to a head.  Could be a master stroke. 

The hapless Republicans are already opposing financial reform with fear, lies and deception, just about the only tools they have left to them.  They abandoned reason and truth long ago.

I expect this one to get a lot of play. 

SEC accuses Goldman Sachs of civil fraud


WASHINGTON – The government has accused Goldman Sachs & Co. of defrauding investors by failing to disclose conflicts of interest in mortgage investments it sold as the housing market was faltering.


The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Friday civil fraud charges against the Wall Street powerhouse and one of its vice presidents. The agency alleges Goldman failed to disclose that one of its clients helped create — and then bet against — subprime mortgage securities that Goldman sold to investors.

Investors in the mortgage securities are alleged to have lost more than $1 billion, the SEC noted.

The Goldman client implicated in the fraud is one of the world's largest hedge funds, Paulson & Co., which paid Goldman roughly $15 million for structuring the deals in 2007.

Goldman Sachs shares fell more than 10 percent after the SEC announcement.

The civil lawsuit filed by the SEC in federal court in Manhattan was the government's most significant legal action related to the mortgage meltdown that ignited the financial crisis and helped plunge the country into recession.

A Goldman Sachs spokesman didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

The agency also charged a Goldman vice president, Fabrice Tourre, 31, who it said was principally responsible for devising the deal and marketing the securities.

The SEC is seeking unspecified fines and restitution from Goldman Sachs and Tourre.

"The product was new and complex, but the deception and conflicts are old and simple," SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami said in a statement.

"Goldman wrongly permitted a client that was betting against the mortgage market to heavily influence which mortgage securities to include in an investment portfolio, while telling other investors that the securities were selected by an independent, objective third party."

You can find the original here.

The Friday Wrap

It's Friday!  I'm sure glad I'm not flying to or from Europe today.  I hate sleeping in airports!

Gee, I wonder what Iceland did to incur the wrath of God?!  Come in, Pat Robertson!

It's time for the Friday Wrap of news stories covered by Care2 writers. Some of the topics this week are stranger than fiction. You can read a story how China plans to use giant perfume guns to cut down on odor or how violent video games are being introduced to kids to desensitize them. So grab a tall cup of coffee and enjoy all of the absurd and serious news that happened this week.


The Women's Rights channel published a lot of vital stories this week. Ximena Ramirez wrote about Kotex launching a new line of feminine hygiene products coinciding with their Declaration of Real Talk Campaign. In her story titled, It’s Called My Vagina Not My Va-Jay-Jay: U by Kotex Launches Campaign to Get Real About Women’s Vaginal Health, Ximena discusses how women need to change the way society talks about the female body.

Also in Women’s Rights Jessica Pieklo wrote a revealing story of our times called, Nebraska Politicians Know More Than Doctors When It Comes To Women’s Health. The story covers how Nebraska lawmakers have decided that they know more about reproductive medicine than Nebraska doctors!

And finally Jaime-Alexis Fowler covered this remarkable topic for Women's Rights: Is Maternal Death Declining Worldwide? She said, "The web is abuzz about a new study just released by The Lancet, indicating maternal mortality has taken a dramatic nosedive worldwide." Jamie wonders what this news will mean for maternal health advocates.

In our Human Rights channel, Steve Williams brought readers up-to-date about the Ugandan parliamentary panel's indication that Uganda's now infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 is no longer a priority. In his story entitled, Uganda's 'Kill the Gays' Bill on the Backburner, Steve wonders if this signals the end of the bill or if there is still enough support for it to remain a threat?

In the Environment and Wildlife channel, Beth Buczysnki submitted a curious story called, China Takes Aim At Landfill Stench…With Giant Perfume Guns? More than 200 legal and illegal landfills have sprung up around Beijing to deal with the waste produced by its 17 million residents. The stench has become a big problem, so officials will install 100 high-pressure fragrance guns that will spray chemical fragrance into the air every minute.

The Political channel ran an intriguing story by Marc Seltzer entitled, Hate That Obama's Near The Middle? He says, "Frustrated with Obama? Deeper analysis of the President's policies suggests that he is balancing free market principles with social safety net goals. He is neither a Socialist nor following in the footsteps of the Bush administration."

Over in Health Care Policy Ann Pietrangelo wrote, One Year Later: Assessing the H1N1 Pandemic Response. Ann examines the world's reaction to the 2009 swine flu pandemic that had no shortage of controversy. She asks, "What went right? What went wrong?" And she questions how the world will handle future global health concerns.

Also in Health Care Policy Kristina Chew shared with readers, A New Theory About the 'Autism Epidemic.' The story shares the enlightening results of a recently published study in the American Journal of Sociology that suggests that social influences -- specifically, parents suspecting their child is on the autism spectrum based on their "proximity" to a child who has been diagnosed with an ASD-- have played a large role in what some call the "autism epidemic."

The Education channel ran a truly bizarre story called: Sex and Violence for Nine Year Olds. Judy Molland reported how some schools in the north of England are using images from violent video games including Grand Theft Auto and Itchy and Scratch in order to shock 9 to 11 year-old children out of being "desensitized" to on-screen violence.

Also from Education was a revealing story from Peaco Todd entitled, Is It (Ever) Okay to Bully the Bullies? In the aftermath of the death of Phoebe Prince, the high school student who hung herself after being relentlessly bullied, a number of cyber-vigilantes emerged, urging revenge against the bullies.

And finally on the Education channel is a contest called, Help Your Favorite School Win 20,000 in the America’s Favorite School Contest. Care2 has teamed up with GreatSchools.org to find out which is "America’s Favorite School." The winning school wins $20,000.

Over in Global Warming Nancy Roberts wrote a heated story: Rancor & Suspicion Cloud Climate Talks, but Work Continues. The latest round of "Climate Talks" among political leaders ended last week with an agreement to talk some more. There is mounting differences on how to handle issues for the good of the planet between rich and poor countries.

And as usual there was ample news to cover on the Animal Welfare channel. Heather Moore reported on a wonderful new development for homeless pets in Utah. The story titled, Utah Ends Mandatory Cat and Dog Pound Seizures, reported how the Governor of Utah has rescinded a mandate that cats and dogs taken into custody at municipal animal shelters be turned over to universities and other institutions for use in laboratory experiments.

Also on the Animal Welfare channel is a frustrating story by Sharon Seltzer titled, Don't Let U.S. Horse Slaughterhouses Return. Three years after the last horse slaughterhouse voluntarily closed in the U.S., several states have now passed legislation to have them return. These states look at it as a source of jobs and revenue. And a federal bill to protect horses from this fate has been held up on Washington.

And from all of the Care2 bloggers, thank you to Peaco Todd for designing the wonderful and very creative new Friday Wrap logo.

Read more: politics

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Take the quiz

I'm not bragging, but I got 12 of the 12 questions correct.  They're not that hard, but according to the poll, only 2% of people taking the quiz got all 12 correct. 

Only 2%?!?! 

I certainly hope some people were sandbagging it (or should I say teabagging it)? 

A plurality - 13% - got only TWO questions correct!  And 6% got ZERO correct?  Obviously, a bunch of Republicans were taking this poll.

Too bad they didn't gauge people on where they get their news.  No doubt FOX viewers will score the lowest of all.

Try it yourself by clicking here.

EPA halts mountaintop removal

Here's a story that didn't get too much play in the media, as many many items do.  Or don't.  You don't often hear "good news" in the media.  They thrive on conflict and controversy. 

This is a big fucking deal, to quote Joe Biden.  Mountaintop removal is a horrible way to obtain coal.  The waste produced is prodigious, and naturally, the Bush administration made it easier for the earth rapists to get away with it.  I would rather have had Obama come out forcefully against the practice, but I'll settle for the EPA taking a stand against it.  Let's hope it is stopped entirely.

And, uh, where are the alternative sources of power?? 

Speaking of mines, when are we going to get some criminal charges against Massey and/or its CEO for neglecting mine safety and refusing to pay fines?  29 miners are dead, because the company skirted the regs in its drive for more more more more profit.  This is not (yet) China.  Do I have to remind everyone that this is a non-union mine, and so the regs are not as stringent as they should be?

EPA Halts Mountaintop Mining

Yes, elections do matter.


Putting a quick halt to an Orwellian Bush administration rule allowing mining companies to kill mountain streams, the Environmental Protection Agency this afternoon announced that it will delay hundreds of mining permits while it takes a closer look at how the operations will affect local waterways.


“EPA will use the best science and follow the letter of the law in ensuring we are protecting our environment,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.


Of all the methods used to extract coal, none is so destructive to ecosystems as mountaintop mining — a process in which the tops of mountains are literally blasted away to access the coal seams beneath.


A 25-year-old Interior Department regulation prohibits mining companies from dumping debris into valley streams, but in December the Bush administration eased the rule to allow such dumping if the companies can make a case that it’s unavoidable. Complicating the picture, a Virginia-based federal appeals court last month ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to grant mining permits. With the EPA’s announcement today, the agency has indicated that the Army Corps won’t have the final say.

In a statement issued moments ago, Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope cheered the EPA’s decision:

With the bulldozers and dynamite standing by, the Obama administration has taken decisive action to protect the streams, mountains and communities of Appalachia.


Already close to 2,000 miles of streams have been contaminated or destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining, and communities throughout the Appalachian region suffer daily from contaminated drinking water, increased flooding, and a decimated landscape … Reviewing the permits will stop the bleeding, and now EPA should begin to fix the Bush-era regulatory loopholes that made mountaintop removal possible.
The coal industry’s many friends in Washington won’t like this decision. Stay tuned for a larger battle to come.


TWI: friend to mountains, streams, and all the little woodland creatures everywhere.

The original, from The Washington Independent, is here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Atheist for SCOTUS!

It's long, long overdue ....

An Atheist for the Supreme Court



by Tommi Avicolli-Mecca‚ Apr. 12‚ 2010

I have a suggestion for President Barack Obama about a replacement for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who’s announced his retirement in June. A justice since 1976, Stevens has a long record of leading the liberal vote on the court, especially in matters concerning separation of church and state. It’s time for an atheist justice.

Much has been written lately about the court’s balance of persons of different religions. According to Professor Leo Epstein of Northwestern, “Historically, religion was huge. It was up there with geography as a key factor” in the selection of new justices. These days, race, ethnicity and gender are far more important factors, and well they should be. Sexual orientation and gender identity haven’t become issues yet, though I anticipate that someday they may.

The court, which was once dominated by Protestants, currently has six Catholics and two Jews. Then there’s Stevens, who is Protestant. The only Protestant in a country where the majority of people profess belief in that particular brand of Christianity. Some are suggesting that Obama needs to consider a Protestant for that very reason -- to make sure the dominant religion in this country is represented.

Why does it have to be represented?

“The practical reality of life in America,” Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago, told the New York Times, “is that religion plays much less of a role in everyday life than it did 50 or 100 years ago.” Many of us are grateful for that.

We don’t need another Protestant on the Court. Or a Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu or follower of any of the hundreds of religions that exist on this planet. There’s no scarcity of belief systems that could potentially be represented on our highest court.

What the court really needs is an atheist. Someone who truly does not bring any excess baggage with him or her from some theology that may have had a place in society thousands of years ago, but today is as relevant to our current social issues as a belief that the earth is flat or the sun revolves around the earth.

In a country where religion has imposed itself into many social justice issues, including gay marriage, abortion and even, it seems, universal healthcare, separation of church and state is as important an issue as it was when the founding fathers put it in the constitution. Otherwise, many gains might never have been made. Religious folks used their scriptures and their pulpits to justify slavery, antigay discrimination, the inequality of women, and the ban on interracial marriage.

And while a Protestant such as Stevens managed to keep his religion from interfering with his decisions on legal matters, it’s time for our nation’s highest body to represent a growing number of Americans who no longer believe in a higher power.

As Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said: “It is vitally important that President Obama choose a high-court nominee who understands that government may not meddle in matters of religion.”

Who better to do that than an atheist?

Tommi Avicolli Mecca is co-editor of Avanti Popolo: Italians Sailing Beyond Columbus, and editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation, which has been nominated for both an American Library Association and a Lambda Literary award. His website is www.avicollimecca.com.
 
Unfortunately, the chances of getting an atheist nominated, much less CONFIRMED, are close to zero.  But why is that?  Why is this country so hung up on braindead religion?  Can't people see the inconsistencies and multiple mistakes in the Bible?  Ever heard of science?  Haven't we been through all of this already?  When are we going to shed this absurd mental straightjacket and come into the light of reason?
 
You can find the original here.

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