The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Democrat Al Franken the winner of a tight U.S. Senate race over Republican Norm Coleman, which should give Democrats the 60-seat majority they need to overcome procedural obstacles and push through their agenda.
Coleman has said in published reports he is unlikely to appeal the state court's decision to the federal courts. Under state law, the court's decision gives Franken the right to occupy the seat, which has been up for grabs since last November's election.
Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has said he will certify the election winner based on what the state court decides.
It affirmed the three-judge panel's ruling that declared Franken the winner.
It made these additional points:
•Coleman did not establish that, by requiring proof that absentee voting standards were satisfied before counting a rejected absentee ballot, the trial court changed standards that violates Coleman's due process rights.
•Coleman didn't prove that either the trial court or local election officials violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.
•The three-judge panel did not abuse its discretion when it excluded additional evidence.
•The panel court ruled correctly when it included in the final election tally the election day returns of a precinct in which some ballots were lost before the manual recount.
"For all of the foregoing reasons, we affirm the decision of the trial court that Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. 32 Stat. § 204C.40 ( 2008 ) [CERTIFICATES OF ELECTION] to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota."
Sen.-elect Al Franken (D-MN) held a press conference outside his Minneapolis home, celebrating his win in the long drama that has been the Minnesota Senate race.
"Franni [his wife] and I are so thrilled that we can finally celebrate this victory, and I'm so excited to finally be able to get to work for the people of Minnesota," he said. "I received a very gracious call from Sen. Coleman a little while ago. He wished me well, I wished him well, and we agreed that it is time to finally bring this state together."
It's been a few days since Farrah and Michael have left us and as the media frenzy continues, I have a question. Having had the unfortunate opportunity to experience both sides of the equation, I do have an opinion, which I will share after the question.
Is it easier to lose a loved one out of the blue, without warning? Or is it better to watch them slowly fade away, being able to say their goodbyes?
One involves shock and disbelief, the other the opportunity to prepare. While at that wacky acupuncture school, one of my clinic shifts was at the San Diego Hospice and I had the opportunity to speak with health care professionals, families and patients. Some were angry, some were sad and some were oblivious. Opinions varied quite a bit on depending upon medical training, religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds.
Some of the doctors felt that the patients should be made comfortable to the end, but usually not the end of the patient's choosing. As if being drugged out of one's mind for the last 72 hours, emaciated and in control of very few bodily functions was a graceful way to the depart the planet.
Some families were so unwilling to say goodbye that they considered and implemented treatments that added nothing to the quality of the patient's last days, but added much to the hospital bill, the pain of their loved one and created desperately unhappy memories.
Some patients held on for dear life, one woman was still smoking twelve hours before she died of breast cancer. Others couldn't leave until all family members were taken care of and they could die in peace. There was one woman who had her hair done, a mani-pedi and called her family into her room. She told them that she loved them but that they needed to go home so she could get some rest and before they were out of the parking lot she had passed on to the other side.
I've watched someone pass away from cancer at home and seen the toll on the family. As the daughter (also a nurse) said after he passed, she was glad that someone had dug up old video of him when he was healthy because she didn't want her memories to be the last few week on his deathbed.
My father died July 4, 1991 at 5:35 in the morning from a massive heart attack. He was 60. While I was watching what passed for fireworks (really nothing more than multi-colored fog with big booms that shook the glass in the skyscrapers) in Santa Monica, he was expiring in an emergency room in Santa Barbara County. I didn't find out for another thirteen hours and I can honestly say that those were some of the happiest hours of my life. Not because I was having fun, but because I didn't know. I got thirteen more hours where he was gone but he was still here.
On the other hand, I've spent the last four years of my life watching my mother disappear before my very eyes. After the stroke her reasoning skills in regards to her safety have deteriorated at a rate that is unbelievable. She has become incontinent, sometimes forgets how to swallow but was able to figure out that the "Miniature Killer" had used carbon monoxide by way of the fireplace and occasionally catches the sarcasm behind Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. She thinks Bush is an idiot and that Cheney should shut up but will leave the burners on while she washes my ten inch chef's knife with her hand grasping the sharpest part of the blade. It's frightening to walk in the door and see that.
Given my druthers, I would rather go out like my dad than wither away like my mom. Yes, it was a shock and I miss him terribly, but at least I miss him and really do remember mainly good times. With mom there's nothing to miss since her body is still here and every once in a while, her mind joins her but the day in, day out care is grueling and in the end, unrewarding.
Grief shouldn't rob years from the living before you're gone and it shouldn't root others to one sad and inescapable moment in time. As Jim Morrison so aptly pointed out, no one here gets out alive.
And from the really quirky side of my brain, have you ever been watching recorded television while surfing the internet and when a commercial comes on picked up the mouse to skip the commercials? I keep doing it and it makes me snicker every time. I know what runs my life.
I ASK only because I'm unsure if Yahoo.com can be considered an MSM news source.
Lotta folks in the alternative news blogosphere been sayin', "You think housing's in bad shape!? Just wait 'til the commercial real estate collapse begins!"
Anyhow, here's the headline: America's Most Endangered Malls.
Century III Mall, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Occupancy rate: 70 percent; sales per square foot: $200*)
Chambersburg Mall, Chambersburg, Pa. (62 percent; $234)
Crossroads Mall, Omaha, Neb. (68 percent; $200*)
Hickory Hollow Mall, Nashville, Tenn. (82 percent; $187)
Highland Mall, Austin, Tex. (61 percent; $150*)
Palm Beach Mall, West Palm Beach, Fla. (82 percent; $250*)
SouthPark Mall, Moline, Ill. (84 percent; $225)
Southridge Mall, Des Moines, Iowa. (84 percent; $168 )
Towne Mall, Franklin, Ohio. (49 percent; $207)
Washington Crown Center, Washington, Pa. (70 percent; $265) * Where noted with an asterisk, figures are Green Street estimates.
Iran's top legislative body confirmed on Monday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won re-election in a disputed June 12 vote, saying it had dismissed complaints of irregularities by his pro-reform opponents.
The announcement by the Guardian Council came after it carried out a partial recount of votes cast in the election.
Ahmadinejad's main moderate challenger, former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi, says the vote was rigged in favor of the hardline incumbent and he has repeatedly called for the whole election to be annulled. [snip]
The Guardian Council had earlier made clear it would not annul the election, describing it last week as the healthiest in Iran since the Islamic revolution three decades ago.
"The secretary of the Guardian Council, in a letter to the interior minister, announced the final decision of the Council ... and declares the approval of the accuracy of the results of ... the presidential election," state broadcaster IRIB said.
Iran's English-language Press TV television station said the recount of a random 10 percent of the votes, carried out on Monday, had shown no irregularities.
"The Guardian Council approval of the vote negates the possibility of an election re-run," Press TV said on its website.
Guardian Council Declares Vote Valid After Partial Recount
"From today on, the file on the presidential election has been closed," Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said on state-run Press TV.
Mousavi supporters have taken to the streets in protest after the election, outraged by official results that gave Ahmadinejad the victory by a roughly 2-1 margin. Police and the feared Basij militia have taken increasingly harsh measures against the demonstrators, prompting widespread international criticism.
The recount conducted Monday had appeared to be an attempt to cultivate the image that Iran was seriously addressing fraud claims, while giving no ground in the clampdown on opposition. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Council already had pronounced the results free of major fraud and insisted that Ahmadinejad won by a landslide. And even if errors were found in nearly every one of the votes in the recount Ahmadinejad, according to the government's count, still would have tallied more votes than Mousavi. [snip]
News of the partial recount comes as Ahmadinejad on Monday ordered an investigation of the killing of a young woman on the fringes of a protest. Widely circulated video footage of Neda Agha Soltan bleeding to death on a Tehran street sparked outrage worldwide over authorities' harsh response to demonstrations.
Ahmadinejad's Web site said Soltan was slain by "unknown agents and in a suspicious" way, convincing him that "enemies of the nation" were responsible.
The developments appear to show that Iran's leaders are concerned about international anger over the election and opposition at home that could be sustained and widespread _ but is trying to portray the country as victimized by foreign powers. [snip]
The regime has implicated protesters and even foreign intelligence agents in Soltan's death. But an Iranian doctor who said he tried to save her told the BBC last week she apparently was shot by a member of the volunteer Basij militia. Protesters spotted an armed member of the militia on a motorcycle, and stopped and disarmed him, Dr. Arash Hejazi said.
Basij commander Hossein Taeb on Monday alleged that armed impostors were posing as militia members, Iran's state-run English-language satellite channel Press TV reported.
Bernard Madoff told a federal judge he had no excuses before a judge sentenced him to 150 years for masterminding the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
Madoff appeared in court today before U.S. District Judge Denny Chin for the first time since his March 12 guilty plea for an epic swindle that may have reached $65 billion.
“I don’t ask for any forgiveness,” Madoff, 71, told Chin. He said he deceived his brothers, his two sons and his wife.
Madoff pleaded guilty to securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, investment adviser fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings with the SEC and theft from an employee benefit plan. [snip]
Madoff pleaded guilty to securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, investment adviser fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings with the SEC and theft from an employee benefit plan.
The case is U.S. v. Madoff, 09-cr-00213, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
But more than that, Mr. Jackson elicits a pathetic response when one thinks of the odd reclusive man he became, befriending chimps and children, ensconcing himself in his Neverland Ranch -- replete with amusement park rides and a petting zoo -- as he embarked on a quest of self-abnegation: to become a white woman, or at least, Diana Ross. But aside from the issue of wanting to eradicate his negroid features is the issue of his arrested psyche.
To me, Michael Jackson embodies the puer aeternus archetype, the perpetual child. Examples of this type of boy-man abound, yet there is little discussion of the phenomenon. While Jackson is an extreme and cartoonish example, let's discuss it in the general.
Following the 1983 publication of Dr. Dan Kiley's, The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up, the idea of perpetual boy-men as pathology has been largely relegated to the dustbin of pop psychology. (There is no mention of the phenomenon in the DSM Manual of Mental disorders [DSM-IV].) Kiley took his title from J. M. Barrie's classic 1904 play about Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up. Perhaps it is fitting that the King of Pop bring us back to the topic.
Carl Jung explained the archetype as experiencing a sort of dissatisfaction and yearning after an ever-receding dream life. A kind of Walter Mitty in limbo, for at least Mitty participated in life, albeit escaping into his reclusive flights of fancy. For the Peter Pan life is lived narcissistically, and "[t]he one thing dreaded throughout by such a type of man is to be bound to anything whatever" (Marie-Louise von Franz, The Problem of the Puer Aeternus.)
"Common symptoms of puer psychology are dreams of imprisonment and similar imagery: chains, bars, cages, entrapment, bondage. Life itself...is experienced as a prison" (Daryl Sharp, Jung Lexicon: A Primer of Terms & Concepts.)" The non-accountable, utterly self-involved male is accepted as a staple of modernity.
"Puer Aeternus is Latin for 'eternal boy', used in mythology to designate a child-god who is forever young; psychologically it refers to an older man whose emotional life has remained at an adolescent level . . . The puer typically leads a provisional life, due to the fear of being caught in a situation from which it might not be possible to escape. He covets independence and freedom, chafes at boundaries and limits, and tends to find any restriction intolerable" (Sharp).
I have known Peter Pans ranging in age from 20 to 65 and am fascinated by the apparent equanimity with which they live their isolated lifestyle. Modernity has allowed them to bring everything they need into their perimeter without undue engagement -- food, entertainment, communication, sometimes pornography. Some work, some live with family members, some are entities unto themselves.
I marvel at their seeming lack of compulsion to abide by any societal norms of fraternity and relationship. If not exactly celebrated, certainly they are well-tolerated by society, feted by the media in such programs as "Two and a Half Men."
Part of what has enabled the phenomena is womens' shifting mores. Murphy Brown ushered in the age of women raising children alone, or as part of a community which does not necessarily include the father of the child. Men are then allowed to play the field ad infinitum (or not) when they are not called upon to fulfill society's (restricting) expectations. Susan Faludi declared for the raw deal men have received post-feminism in her book, "Stiffed". This is certainly a problem for men via-a-vis women in a culture where the norms have been toppled and are being rearranged daily.
The advent of computers-as-companions via Game Boy, Play Station and Second Life have also facilitated their bowing out of society, as the Peter Pan may now escape into an ersatz world of his own making. Why men in particular fall prey to the phenomenon is a curiosity.
A sad coda to Michael Jackson's story is the question, "Why, for all of his celebrity and high-placed friends, did no one bring him to a place of some basic sanity." There will be revelations following his death, and some picture of the truth will coalesce. Too little, too late, in any event.
Back to the universal question: Do you know any Peter Pans? Are you yourself perhaps one? Whenceforth the phenomenon? Has it ever been thus? Your comments are welcome.
We’ll return to our movie “The Diner at the End of the Universe” starring Dark Wraith as Dark Wraith, after this word from our sponsor:
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Yep! You betcha! If Fox want to air on its 6 P.M. "News" that Sarah is the true savior of the world and is the salvation of the world and has never lied, and that Obama eats babies, it's all okey-dokey with a Florida court (which somehow makes all the sense in the world!).
If this stands up, the ramifications might be monumental. It's been argued that bloggers provide news just as the MSM does. There currently isn't any legal definition of what is news and what isn't, so according to this ruling, it would seem that oral broadcasts over the internet considered news could be total lies or distortions.
By inference, written news should fall under the same ruling! This could be some real fun, folk! We on the left no longer have to cite sources! We can all "Be like Rupert!"
This will be soooo much fun for our court system that real criminals may never get their 180 day trial (unless someone makes a "signing statement.")
The attorneys for Fox, owned by media baron Rupert Murdock, successfully argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.
Appellate Court Rules Media Can Legally Lie.
By Mike Gaddy. Published Feb. 28, 2003
On February 14, a Florida Appeals court ruled there is absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information by a major press organization. The court reversed the $425,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information. The ruling basically declares it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.
On August 18, 2000, a six-person jury was unanimous in its conclusion that Akre was indeed fired for threatening to report the station's pressure to broadcast what jurors decided was "a false, distorted, or slanted" story about the widespread use of growth hormone in dairy cows.
The court did not dispute the heart of Akre's claim, that Fox pressured her to broadcast a false story to protect the broadcaster from having to defend the truth in court, as well as suffer the ire of irate advertisers. Fox argued from the first, and failed on three separate occasions, in front of three different judges, to have the case tossed out on the grounds there is no hard, fast, and written rule against deliberate distortion of the news.
The attorneys for Fox, owned by media baron Rupert Murdock, argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.
In its six-page written decision, the Court of Appeals held that the Federal Communications Commission position against news distortion is only a "policy," not a promulgated law, rule, or regulation. Fox aired a report after the ruling saying it was "totally vindicated" by the verdict.
Sure glad those student loans are paying off in the job market! Of course these grads aren't getting any breaks on THEIR debts - unlike Wall Street's wealthy grifters. The student loan people don't give a shit how little money a borrower is earning. Even with temporary deferments, the interest just keeps piling up. Which makes it far more likely that college grads will be in debt for years, if not decades; indentured servants to a balance that never seems to go down when workers can't make big enough payments to get the loans paid off in full. To top it off, I have clients who are on disability benefits and can't work at all right now - and the government is going after their meager disability checks and garnishing them for payment. Naturally, Gov-Corp needs to make sure it has enough to hand over to the financial elite! (These lie-abeds on disability are spending far too much time on fluff like chemo, physical therapy, and prosthetic fittings, anyway...)
From McClatchy: Recession's toll: Most recent college grads working low-skill jobs By Tony Pugh
WASHINGTON — The tough economy and tight labor market have tarnished the luster of a bachelor's degree for young college graduates seeking employment.
New monthly survey data from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston finds that during the first four months of 2009, less than half of the nation's 4 million college graduates age 25 and under were working in jobs that required a college degree. That's down from 54 percent for same period last year.
''I've never seen it this low and we've been analyzing this stuff for over 20 years," said center director Andrew Sum.
The problem is most acute in the 25-and-under age group among Asian female graduates and black and Hispanic male graduates.
The survey, of 60,000 households, found less than 30 percent of Asian female grads, 32 percent of Hispanic male grads and just over 35 percent of young black male grads working in jobs that require a bachelor's degree.
Research has shown that college graduates who take jobs below their education level not only earn less, but also can take years to match the earnings of graduates who land career-track employment upon graduation.
These so called "mal-employed" workers also compound the unemployment problem by taking jobs that non-college graduates and even high school students are often qualified to hold.
The problem of "mal-employment" — working outside one's field of education, training and choice — has increased sharply for young college grads since the recession began and all signs suggest the trend will continue for the foreseeable future.
Employers expect to hire 22 percent fewer graduating seniors for entry-level positions this year than in 2008, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. And 17 percent of surveyed firms said they'd trim college hiring even more this fall. Read the rest.
Google’s recent troubles began with a CCTV news broadcast that chastised the company for allowing users to find pornography and other vulgar content via the Chinese version of its search engine, Google.cn.
The program included an interview with a young man named Gao Ye, who was described as a university student.
Gao complained that the pornographic content on Google.cn was particularly harmful. He said in the interview, 'I have this fellow student and he’s been curious about these kinds of things. He visited porn Web sites and ended up becoming absent-minded for a while.'
Which sounds pretty authentic. Viewing porn sites causes memory loss. Not a known syndrome but possible, possible.
I knew it! Maybe not the same symptoms as my daddy used to warn me of, but I bet it’s real and true! I mean, watching pornography on the net has decreased my ability to…type as effectively as when I was young. Maybe it’s because I can’t see the screen as well as I used to. Hmmm? Truth in going blind if you…well, you know?
And, and I’ve noticed that I can’t play football with the 20 year-olds as long as I used to. I’m sure that’s another hidden symptom of watching too much porn.
What the guy didn’t say was that if you’re married, don’t watch porn, but have a really great sex life with your wife or significant other, does that do the same things as just watching? I mean, c’mon, there’s lots of times when I was just too tired so I just laid in bed and watched my wife! That isn’t the same, is it?
Come to think of it, she never spent a whole lot of time watching me. I guess that explains why she, and other women, don’t lose their memories as much as us guys. It certainly explains why they don’t lose their eyesight like us!
I think this needs looked into further; maybe a government loan or better yet, a grant. Now I just need to get in touch with some Congress Person who can help.
Does anyone have Ensign or Sanford’s phone number?
Ken Pagano, the pastor of the New Bethel Church in Louisville, is staging a "celebration of our rights as Americans" by encouraging his congregation to bring along the kidsbring a hot dish for the potluck supper carry their firearms into the sanctuary. I kid you not.
“God and guns were part of the foundation of this country,” Mr. Pagano, 49, said Wednesday in the small brick Assembly of God church, where a large wooden cross hung over the altar and two American flags jutted from side walls. “I don’t see any contradiction in this. Not every Christian denomination is pacifist.”
And I'm a hardcore vegetarian except when I chow down on some veal.
Things are getting crazy out there and we need a reality check. Unfortunately, reality is not to be embraced by this group who see conspiracy in everything. Obama made me do it:
One worry was that a Democratic president and Congress would reinstitute the assault-weapons ban, which expired in 2004.
But there is little support for the ban. Mr. Obama and his party have largely ignored gun-control issues, and the president even signed a measure that will allow firearms in national parks.
Still, the fear remains that Mr. Obama, and his attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., will crack down on guns sooner or later. That — along with the faltering economy, which gun sellers say has spurred purchases for self-defense — has fueled a record surge in gun sales.
The NRA is busy...
The National Rifle Association says its membership is up 30 percent since November. And several states have recently passed laws allowing gun owners to carry firearms in more places — bars, restaurants, cars and parks.
“We have a very active agenda in all 50 states,” said Chris W. Cox, legislative director of the N.R.A., widely considered the country’s most powerful lobby. “We have right-to-carry laws in over 40 states; 20 years ago, it was in just six.”
Of the 40 states with right-to-carry laws, 20 allow guns in churches.
This is not a healthy trend.
The New York Times addresses a related issue in an editorial today.
...Tennessee, where the Legislature just overrode the governor’s veto and rescinded a law barring patrons from carrying handguns in bars and restaurants.
Just what America needs during times of economic strife, layoffs, and the related stress: drunks running around with guns! Another case has been made for drinking at home.
Not all is lost though; at least the Texas legislature, surprisingly, enacted a ban on the mentally ill buying weapons. But this leaves me wondering something rather important: define mentally ill.
Long live the king! Unfortunately I don't know who that would be since packaging has replaced talent in the last fifteen years.
My father adored that song and believed that more people should look in the mirror. I haven't hurt like this since Princess Diana died. And I'm crying almost as much. And for the same reasons. Neither money, talent, or popularity will spare you from the Grim Reaper.
I remember The Jackson Five performing on American Bandstand and watching Michael Jackson and realizing that nothing I ever did would make me as famous, talented or as popular as he was. The fact that he was younger than me didn't help. I remember watching old videos of him as a child and seeing the fan reaction (people literally ripping the clothes from his body) and realizing that he was never going to be normal. And he wasn't, but then those of great talent rarely are.
My favorite celebrity quote came from someone I wasn't expecting but it nails how I felt about his talent.
From Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese, who helmed Jackson's "Bad" video:
"Michael Jackson was extraordinary. When we worked together on "Bad," I was in awe of his absolute mastery of movement on the one hand, and of the music on the other. Every step he took was absolutely precise and fluid at the same time. It was like watching quicksilver in motion. He was wonderful to work with, an absolute professional at all times, and — it really goes without saying — a true artist. It will be a while before I can get used to the idea that he's no longer with us."
When I wrote about Farrah Fawcett's passing I was going to put in a line about who would be next since famous deaths usually occur in threes, but decided to pass since I thought I could include David Carradine along with Ed McMahon. Obviously I was mistaken. The entertainment world has taken some severe hits in the last two weeks but this one has really rocked me.
Does sort of put life in perspective, doesn't it? Michael, rest in peace and thank you for everything. No matter what they say in the next few days, I will always remember you fondly. Not fondling.
We've had a lively potpourri of sex scandals recently, but none can match the transformative power of the Mark Sanford affair. Finally, we have a new euphemism for extramarital relations and an artful one at that: "hiking the Appalachian trail."
The Governor was in Argen-frikin'-tina, baby! Can you say "Big Tentpole?!"
Okay, now we're ready for the Big Reveal! Here it comes! Get ready! Hold onto your ass...
HE WAS HAVING AN AFFAIR!
(sound of crickets)
You're passing? Are you crazy? What's not original? Did I mention Argentina?! Do you know how many Evita jokes we're going to tell!
Okay, wait. I have another idea. A reality show starring Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Mark Foley, John Ensign, and Ted Haggard. They're all stuck in the jungle together, eating bugs and wiping their asses with palm leaves. The host is Rush Limbaugh. It's called....
The Supremes surprised me this morning. I thought the decision on the strip search was going to be 8 to 1, in favor of the school not the girl. Instead of Ruth Bader Ginsburg being the lone voice of reason, it turns out it was the sexual harasser who was the holdout in favor of humiliating a girl. Somehow that isn't a surprise.
I agree, Johnny Depp is one cool dude but now the whole world (aka the IRS) knows the waiter made an extra $4000 in tips this year. It would have been really cool if the poor guy didn't have to pay taxes on it, sort of like the politicians and bankers who manage not to pay their fair share of taxes.
Filling out the paperwork for student loans isn't hard, it's tedious. Just like college. And unlike college it can be done online, at your leisure. If the FAFSA has to be simplified for students to understand it, how do they think they are going to understand their classes? Just wondering.
Goodbye Farrah, you made many a teenage boy and quite a few older men happy by reviving the pinup poster in the seventies. Your work after Charlie's Angels revealed a depth of character that had been overlooked and highlighted the issue of abused women. Thank you for being you and rest in peace, you deserve it.
"Riga-based firm, named Kontora, does not require credit history record or proof of employment. It grants loans of 50 to 500 Latvian lats ($100 to $1,000) to any adult after he or she signs the a very short agreement.
"According to the agreement, the only security required of the borrower is their immortal soul, which they are asked to confirm as their previously unmortgaged property.
"The loan is subject to one percent per day in interest until full repayment.
"The period of full repayment is 90 days, and in case the borrower fails to return the money, the creditor gets full possession of his soul."
Protesters and riot police clashed in the streets around Iran's parliament Wednesday as hundreds of people converged on a Tehran square in defiance of government orders to halt demonstrations demanding a new presidential election, witnesses said.
Police beat the protesters gathered on Baharestan Square with batons and fired tear gas canisters and rounds of ammunition into the air, the witnesses told The Associated Press. They said some demonstrators fought back while others fled to another Tehran plaza, Sepah Square, about a mile (2 kilometers) to the north. [snip]
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's refusal earlier Wednesday to bow to demands from protesters effectively closed the door to any compromise with the opposition.
The wife of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was defiant, saying protesters refused to buckle under a situation she compared to martial law. Mousavi's official Web site said a protest was planned outside Iran's parliament Wednesday afternoon. [snip]
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered protests to end, leaving Mousavi with the choice of restraining followers or continuing to directly challenge the country's ultimate authority despite threats of escalating force.
"On the current situation, I was insisting and will insist on implementation of the law. That means, we will not go one step beyond the law," Khamenei said on state television. "For sure, neither the system nor the people will yield to pressure at any price." He used language that indicated he was referring to domestic pressures. [snip]
Meanwhile Wednesday, a conservative candidate in the disputed presidential election said he was withdrawing his complaints about voting fraud for the sake of the country, state television reported.
The announcement by Mohsen Rezaie, a former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, moved the cleric-led government one step closer to a final declaration of victory for Ahmadinejad. State TV reported that Ahmadinejad would be sworn in sometime between July 26 and Aug. 19.
Whatever happens from this point on, nothing will ever be the same in Tehran.
Whatever happens, if the protest gains momentum or loses steam, if it ends up prevailing or if the regime succeeds in terrorizing it, he who should now only be called president-non-elect Ahmadinejad will only be an ersatz, illegitimate, weakened president. [snip]
Whatever happens, and beyond these internal conflicts, the people will be dissociated from an anemic and fatally wounded regime.
Whatever happens, young people, who were believed to be enthralled by the principles of political Islam and who a month ago, upon Ahmadinejad's return from Geneva, had supposedly planned a triumphal reception for the president-non-elect, will have said, loud and proud, with an audacity matched only by their political intelligence, that this president shamed them.
Whatever happens, there will be in Tehran, Tabriz, Ispahan, Zahedan, and Ardebil, millions of young people who in a matter of a few days will have become, like the timid Mousavi, in a sense larger than themselves--and will have understood that they could, with their bare hands, without provocation or violence, keep a power at bay.
Whatever happens, this extraordinary event--which is a miracle, as a popular uprising always is, and which was endowed under this circumstance with the blind mimetism and un-self-consciousness that is peculiar to the Angel of History when it thinks it is going forward, but is actually looking backward--will seem to have reproduced topsy-turvy the very scene in the same streets, surrounding the same barracks and the same shops, that was described thirty years ago by Michel Foucault, who never imagined that the real revolution was still to come, and that it would be the exact opposite of what he described.
Whatever happens, the people know, from this point on, that they are the people and that there is not a regime on earth that can remain in power against the people.
Whatever happens, a body politic has been formed in the heat of peaceful protests--and even if it gets winded and loses steam, even if the murderers think they can declare victory, there is a new actor onstage, without whom the rest of this country's story will not be written.
Whatever happens, the beautiful face of Neda Soltan, killed at point-blank range last Saturday by a Bassidj henchman, the images of kids beaten to death by the attack squadron and motorcycle infantry of the guardians of the revolution, the videos of the enormous protests, impressively calm and dignified, will have, via Twitter, circled both the cyberplanet and the planet.
As I'm sure many of you have noticed, I don't post as often as I used to. There are several reasons for this, all negative. I'm tired. Tired of wasting my time pointing out the hypocrisy and stupidity of what passes for politics. Tired of posting about the same issues as very little has changed since I started blogging four years ago and what change there has been has not been for the better. No matter how many times we've been promised "hope and change".
Civil rights are disappearing daily courtesy of a a group of grumpy old men hell bent on returning us to a past where those who aren't like them knew their place. The people's wishes are consistently and constantly ignored by their "representatives" in Congress. Newspapers are disappearing at an alarming rate while so-called reporters piss and moan about a blogger getting to ask the president a question, totally ignoring the fact that reporters haven't done their job in so many years that they have made themselves irrelevant.
Then there is the ex-Vice President who made secrecy his policy while in office, and has used every legal procedure to prevent public knowledge of his activities for the last eight years, is now writing a memoir that will only reflect his point of view and make up facts and ignore the truth to portray the beginning of the 21st century dismemberment of the United States in a glorious light. If he was shorter and his epicanthic folds were different he could be our very own Kim Jong Il but the press likes to ignore those aspects of his character.
I'm tired of taking care of my mother. I have had little to no help and no time off for the last nine years. Unfortunately, she still recognizes me so I'm still holding up my side of the bargain but it becomes more difficult by the minute. Eight years ago I had a thriving practice, could afford to buy a car, go on vacation and pay my rent. Today I wonder how to afford toilet paper because food stamps will cover potato chips but not personal toiletries. I was so broke I sold the car but the person can only make payments so now I'm still destitute but have no transportation. And I still have to pay car insurance until the car is fully paid off but I can't take the dogs to the dog park. The first of the month is going to be a disaster of titanic proportions and I have no resources to ameliorate the situation.
I've tried leaving her for a few hours at a time but the stress isn't worth it. Shopping has become a hit and run affair. The dogs get out, burners are left on high on the stove, she totters around the neighborhood making everybody nervous because they think she is going to fall and if I take her out she deliberately wanders off if I go to the bathroom. Even if I take her to the same place all the time her sense of direction is so impaired that she can't find her way to the front door by herself. I can't put her in a home until I find a job and I can't find a job until I put her in a home.
I'm tired and losing hope faster than Afghani civilians during a surgical air strike. It shames me that the average American citizen won't stand up for their rights as they disappear into the ether yet can cheer on the Tiananmen tank protester or cry for Neda while turning their back on their fellow Americans in trouble as they occupy their time worrying about the latest celebrity divorce or who is going to win the current reality show du jour.
June 22: Iran’s Guardian Council finally acknowledged that more people voted in the country’s presidential election than were eligible to vote but insisted the results were not compromised. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.
6:55 PM ET -- A bit more on Neda. A blogger apparently in touch with Neda's family members offers some new details (translated by reader Nima): she was born in 1982, apparently her full name was Neda Agha-Soltan, and she was at the protest with one her professors and several other students. She was, they said, shot by a basiji riding by on a motorcycle. Also, she was apparently buried today at a large cemetery in the south of Tehran. ABC News' Lara Setrakian writes, "Hearing reports Neda was buried in Behesht Zahra cemetery earlier today, memorial service cancelled on orders from authorities."
2:23 PM ET -- Neda before she was shot. A reader forwards this video showing Neda (in the black shirt and blue jeans) and a companion (blue striped shirt) during the rally. Another reader sends an unconfirmed report of a memorial service for Neda planned for tomorrow at 5PM at Niloufar mosque at Abas Abad, Tehran.
_ _ _ _ _
1:03 PM ET -- An interview with Neda's fiance. As I noted earlier, BBC Persia today aired an interview with Neda's fiance. Several readers graciously volunteered English translations. I'm posting the full transcript below -- it's long but very interesting.
"She was a person full of joy," said her music teacher and close friend Hamid Panahi, who was among the mourners at her family home on Sunday, awaiting word of her burial. "She was a beam of light. I'm so sorry. I was so hopeful for this woman."
Security forces urged her friends and family not to hold memorial services for her at a mosque and asked them not to speak publicly about her, associates of the family said. Authorities even asked the family to take down the black mourning banners in front of their house, aware of the potent symbol she had become. [snip]
Her friends say Panahi, Neda and two others were stuck in traffic on Karegar Street, east of Tehran's Azadi Square, on their way to the demonstration sometime after 6:30 p.m. After stepping out of the car to get some fresh air and crane their necks over the jumble of cars, Panahi heard a crack from the distance. Within a blink of the eye, he realized Neda had collapsed to the ground.
"We were stuck in traffic and we got out and stood to watch, and without her throwing a rock or anything they shot her," he said. "It was just one bullet." [snip]
As to the person or persons responsible for her death, they will not be forgiven, he said.
"When they kill an innocent child, this is not justice. This is not religion. In no way is this acceptable," he said. "And I'm certain that the one who shot her will not get a pass from God."
Last weekend, formerly disgraced Right-wing radio talk show personality Bill Bennett became the latest in a litany of Republicans pressing into self-service the political crisis in Iran to criticize President Barack Obama.
The refrain from Republicans like House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) and some others is that Obama is not doing enough to assist the popular forces protesting the re-election of conservative Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was victorious in an apparent landslide over Mir Hossein Mousavi, the candidate Western media have characterized as a reformer.
Grandstanding by the Republicans aside they would be howling for impeachment right now were Obama to be moving destroyers into position Mr. Obama has, in fact, been doing nothing much other than continuing precisely the same policies put into place by his predecessor, George W. Bush. As reported by Steve Weissman for truthout.org, an entire program of funding Iranian "democracy groups" to the tune of $400 million was requested by the Bush Administration and authorized by the Democrat-controlled Congress, whose members were quite interested in being kept in the dark about exactly how that money would be used. According to Seymour Hersh, that money, and possibly other funds, was destined for, among other activities, a systematic program of "black ops" carried out by our Special Forces and by insurgent groups inside Iran. On the agenda was the kidnapping of members of Al Quds (a wing of Iran's Revolutionary Guard), assassinations, and bombings.
That's right: the United States, with funding blessed by the Democratic leadership that controlled Congress in 2007, is sponsoring terrorism in Iran. Note the present tense: Weissman points out that there is no evidence that President Obama has rescinded this program, despite its unspeakable beneficiaries and its dubious record of achievements.
First, a major recipient of money from so-called "democracy" funds (including money from the National Endowment for Democracy) has gone to Abdel Malik Regi, seen at left, a major trafficker in the West Asian heroin trade that is pumping narcotics into Europe so aggressively that street prices on horse have dropped by as much as 90 percent in some places. Mr. Regi is a former member of the Taliban, but is now attached to a radical Sunni group perhaps eerily similar to what would become the group called "al Qa'ida" led by Osama bin Laden almost a generation ago.
Second, as if funding terrorist heroin traffickers leading radical religious separatist movements were not bad enough, the results are once again, as they have in the past, proving contrary to the fantasy-driven expectations of the geniuses at Langley and the Pentagon who dream up these wars by disreputable proxies. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is opposed by the predominantly more urban voters, the young, the intellectuals, the upper-middle class, and a swirl of political opportunists. For support, he appeals to a huge reserve of people less attuned to the call of Western culture and all of its trappings. To some extent, without trying to oversimplify the electorate of Iran, his is the presidency of the rednecks, the simple, the devout, and the disaffected. He is, in some ways, George W. Bush in policies with Sarah Palin's draw. He speaks of standing up to the world, and he looks rough-hewn, more like the men of the countryside and those who frequently (and more willingly) go to the mosque.
When our paid terrorists bomb a mosque far from Tehran, when a shot takes out a local tribal leader, when a local man in Al Quds vanishes, the people out where it happens know what's going on: their leaders make it simple in telling them. It's the Americans, it's the British, it's the insurgents. The hip, with-it crowd doesn't buy it, especially when their chosen people, men like Mir-Hossein Mousavi, directly or indirectly benefit from those very same "democracy" funds.
Make no mistake. The whining Republicans demanding that Obama do something to help the "pro-democracy" forces in Iran have already gotten their wish: Obama most definitely has been doing something, and it is exactly what his predecessor in office, George W. Bush, was doing. To the extent that what Obama and Bush have done has worked, it has very likely worked at least in part to ensure a massive turnout for elections in Iran, with a huge vote in favor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Whether or not the outcome was rigged is anyone's guess. Although we may have intelligence assets able to surmise what really happened, opinions fielded by anyone else, especially outside of Iran, are colored by hope for a more engaged, Western-leaning Iran, despite the fact that Mousavi is no reformer in the sense that most Westerners would like; the Guardian Council in Iran ensures that real reformers rarely, if ever, make it onto a ballot.
Does that mean Obama should pull back and do nothing other than deliver more soaring oratorical flourishes about respecting human rights and all that? Unfortunately, that option would be disastrous, now, but a deft hand is absolutely necessary. Events in Iran are out-pacing blunt, simplistic strategies.
The Revolutionary Guard is too often portrayed in the Western mainstream media as monolithic and thuggish. It is not. It is a professional, modern military force. Its leaders for the most part are not the spinning-eyed crazies that took hostages at the American embassy a generation ago; they are, instead, the hardened survivors of the ungodly Iran-Iraq war. More importantly, although an elite group that is highly disciplined, factions exist within the ranks, both at the top and in the barracks. Already, reports are surfacing that the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, General Ali Fazli, has been arrested for refusing to prosecute Ayatollah Khamenei's vow to crack down on protesters. Contrast the possibility of the head of the Revolutionary Guard being hauled away with a report published June 21 that this same military unit is declaring that it is going to 'crack down' on the protesters.
Most of the footage slipping out of Iran shows police and paramilitary Basij personnel, not Revolutionary Guard soldiers, dealing with protesters. Although Basiji may be under nominal control of the Guard, they ultimately take their orders, as all Iranian military personnel do, from Khamenei, who is the supreme authority. Although probably more complicated than an article like this can describe, the story goes that the Basij is seen by the Revolutionary Guard in much the same way as lower, paramilitary, and part-time, "weekend warriors" are seen by any professional armed forces service people. Basiji are portrayed in the Western media as head-knocking, brutish brawlers hot-rodding on motorcycles and running in packs. The perspective on them by elite Iranian troops is not much more charitable.
Those thuggish sorts of the Basij type are quite useful to entrenched autocrats and dictators, though. The story goes that, during the 1989 student protests in Beijing that led to the massacre at Tiananmen Square, the ruling communist leadership came to realize that the regular army soldiers did not have the stomach to resolutely stop the protests, and so a much more brutish, more violent class of soldiers was brought in, compliments of the modern Chinese equivalent of the old-fashioned warlords who still control the field divisions far from the cities and their more urbane ways of living and thinking. The Basij are carrying on in old tradition, much praised by those for whom they do their dirty work; but the consequences can occasionally be pretty bad for the knuckle-draggers. In the case of Iran, if push comes to shove and Ayatollah Khameini is kicked out by the only Iranian council that might be able pull it off, the Assembly of Experts, although the Revolutionary Guard takes its work as seriously as any professional army, from its guns might come the necessary task of clearing the streets not just of the protesters, but also of Basiji.
And that brings us to the next complication. The Assembly of Experts is influenced by those who have most decidedly not benefited from Ayatollah Khameini's ambitions and mastery of the power politics of the clergy. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose daughter and other family members were detained for having vocally supported Mousavi, and who lost to Ahmadinejad in the presidential election of 2005, may now take the matter of ending Khameini's continued supreme leadership quite personally. The same goes for Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who has been taken down more than once by none other than Khameini. And just to point out how precarious the Supreme Leader's position really is, right now, the Majlis (Parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani is calling into question the accuracy of the vote tally that gave Ahmadinejad such a sweeping victory that a much-anticipated second round of voting was not required.
With all of this intrigue, both that from the United States with its black ops program that has now spanned two presidencies and that from inside the complex and nuanced halls of power in Iran, itself, calls from American Right-wingers for some new, high-handed action are the very epitome of simplistic, opportunistic thinking. Playing the proverbial bull in the china shop would do nothing to save the dinnerware for America's feast of Middle Eastern interests.
Unfortunately, sitting back and doing nothing at all is an equally bad idea, too. Pretending that what happens in Iran stays in Iran ignores the regional problems that could become decidedly worse if events continue to head the way they are.
If Ahmadinejad stays as President, Ayatollah Khameini will get his "Islamic bomb." Only the utterly clueless believe that Iran's nuclear enrichment program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. The country is surrounded by a matrix of difficult, if not downright problematic, neighbors of all kinds: the Americans; the Israelis; the Kurds; several fundamentalist Sunni groups with ambitions to keep their drugs-and-arms trade going without interference from holier-than-thou mullahs; imbecile clerics like Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq with his Mehdi Army of idiots with rusty AK-47s; gutless wonders like Syria's President Bashar al-Assad for friends and Lebanon's Hezbollah welfare case Hassan Nasrallah for permanent child support payments; and neighboring backwater hicks with unbelievably sharp knives like the Taliban, who qualify as proxies you'd really rather not have sitting on your porch where Google Earth might photograph them for your better relatives to see.
Of immediate concern is Israel, which has recently conducted two massive military exercises in preparation for a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The idea that President Obama can talk Israel down from an attack is sheer folly: Israel does not do what U.S. Presidents want unless those American leaders happen to want what Israel wants. Notwithstanding a few accommodations Tel Aviv made in accordance with protocols from the Oslo Accord, Israel has lots of problems and several good opportunities. Among its looming difficulties are a burgeoning population, Palestinian trouble-makers in its occupied territories who have human rights issues, and fresh water availability; and among its opportunities are the chance to get into the game of oil distribution and go further into the wildly lucrative international arms trade. The last thing Israel needs is an Islamic state with discernible ambitions of a pan-Arabic caliphate backed by fissile cooking utensils.
Whether or not Iran now or ever will try to expand militarily is irrelevant: Israel does not want it to have nuclear weapons, and Israel will ensure that it never does. That is the reality of the situation. The United States does not want Iran to have nukes, either, but ours is a strategic interest: with even a modest nuclear arsenal, the Persian state would be in a position to project regional influence more effectively; and, more importantly, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization comprising China, Russia, and a handful of smaller nations would be hard-pressed to keep Iran's application for full membership on the back burner. Iran's location would then put the oil transport route out of the Persian Gulf squarely in the hands of the SCO, a situation decidedly to the disadvantage of the United States, Western Europe, and our nominally allied nations in Asia.
Israel's military and political leaders could easily see the instability in Iran as a wide-open opportunity to take their shot, especially if it looks like Khameini and Ahmadinejad are going to come out on top. The pair would deal with their political enemies roughly, and any hope of improved relations with the West would be off the table for a long time to come. The stage would be set for using claims of Western meddling as a pretext to block further International Atomic Energy Agency inspections; angry street demonstrations in Tehran and elsewhere would be choreographed to show "support" for Ahmadinejad and whatever he would say and do; gruesome public hangings of former student demonstrators would be must-see TV; and the U.S. would have few policy options other than to continue pouring money into the hands of bad people just because they are the kind of bad people who cause trouble for Iran and its leadership. Following that, an attack by Israel to destroy the nuclear materials refinement facilities in Iran would turn the Persian nation into a basket case, with shards of violent military units going in every direction to control the internal population and foment ramped-up war in Iraq; environmental catastrophe billowing out on a regional scale; and a shattered infrastructure howling for the rest of the world to repair, given the way Israel simply departed Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and left the mess it had created by its bombings in those places for everyone else to pay for.
The current political strife in Iran needs to be resolved quickly, and it is in the interest of the United States to help ensure that the resolution is to the favor of Mousavi, whether or not he actually won the election, which we might never know. For us to claim that we cannot interfere in the democratic processes of another country, flawed as an election might have been, is simply ridiculous. Both George W. Bush and his successor, the supposedly liberal, more worldly Barack H. Obama, have been using the tools of war by proxy, disinformation, and terrorism to destabilize the regime in power in Tehran. This is definitely not the moment to feign belief in the right of Iran to resolve its internal political battles on its own, considering we have been responsible, at least to some extent, for setting in motion the events now playing out in the streets and at the Assembly of Experts, and especially since our sloth right now could easily lead to an Israeli resolution.
Mr. Obama is a bright man. Around him are men and women of considerable experience, if rather less noteworthy intelligence. Options are available, but they must be of the kind that encourages the Assembly of Experts to move toward a government by committee as an interim step to a more modern, transparently democratic process of electing political leaders without as much control from the ayatollahs, whose counsel must remain respected, but whose presence in political life must be subordinated to the trusted officials who will promote Iran's interests in accordance with the tenets of Islam.
We have ways to provide assistance without appearing to meddle any more than we have already. If we can be so willing to deliver brute destruction and willful mayhem to a nation we want to change, we can certainly find the thoughtful, unobtrusive means to offer worthwhile encouragement and quiet help to that same nation on the verge of change so many of its own people want.
President Obama must ignore the all-too-public calls of his political opponents who want him to do more about the Iranian political crisis; he must, instead, first resolve the crisis of thinking we have about how to remain a world leader in an age of competition from other nations that want to take our place and citizens of nations who want to have their voices heard.
At the end of the day, if America cannot find the means by which to lead while protecting those who want freedom, the future will belong to nations that are even less likely than we to craft policy that considers democracy other than a mere rhetorical flourish.
June 22: During one of the Iran opposition demonstrations on Saturday, protesters faced down and ultimately chased away the volunteer government police force, called Basiji. Rachel Maddow is joined by Washington Note editor Steve Clemons. [Full segment, 8:34]
Chris in Paris over at Americablog asks that. John Aravosis asks why the Democrats are imploding. Here's a thinkable!
The Democrats supposedly enjoy a 72% margin in the favorability ratings of people polled about almost everything political concerning this administration. Not so surprising is the fact that 100% - 72% equals, wait, here it comes, that enigmatic 28% who supported the Republicans and Bush for the last 8 million years! Curiouser and curiouser!
So why are the Democrats such craven cowards when facing a measly 28%? I think it’s because 98% of the media is included in that 28% and the pretty boys are so afraid of their own shadows being shown in a non-favorable light on TV or in the press (the press – that’s a laugh)!
When the opposition controls the media and the press (as was done in Middle Europe in the 1930s), and those in power realize the inherent apathy and ignorance of the poorly informed public who rely on that media to “print or tell all the news that THEY feel is fit to print or tell” it’s no wonder the poor misunderstood, timid Democrats put their tails between their legs and run home to mama to avoid partisan publicity.
Oh and if you do the math and understand that the media isn’t ALL of that 28%, you need to include pretty much all American Big Businesses whose campaign and lobbying bribes make fantastic lifestyles possible for those Democrats, their families and some friends. Taking that into account, about the only ordinary folk that truly support the façade commonly known as Republicanism are the actual members of the "Party of No" in Congress, a number of right-wing extremists consisting of white supremacists, religious and other fanatics, xenophobes, Fox (read that, right wing...) Talk Show and Radio Punditry and Neo-Conservative political novitiates living largely in the Bible Belt (plus Utah), Arizona and the back alleys of America’s Heartland.
The approval of these anachronistic miscreants is more important for the image our Democratic Politicians try to portray than the common sense dictates and wishes of the rest of Agnew's "Silent Majority." And the hedonistic Democrats in all their patently pretentious hubris know just who WILL stay silent. It makes you wonder why the Democrats don't have a larger share of Foleys or Craigs or Haggards...
The British Newspaper Licensing Association plans to start charging for hyperlinks to British news sources belonging to the organization. According to an article entitled, "Newspaper Licensing Agency to regulate web hyperlinks," with a date of Sunday, June 18, 2009, posted by Matt Wardman on the Website of the Press Gazette (and, no, a hyperlink to the article will most decidedly not be provided), the plan is to start monetizing commercial and other operations that link to online content from newspapers in the UK. A hyperlink to the Press Gazette story can be found in the article, "Friday links take leave of their senses," on Reuters Blogs.
From the Press Gazette article: "From January 2010, the licence charges will also apply to PR practitioners and 'other organisations forwarding links to newspaper websites as part of their commercial activity'." Even more disturbing, the new NLA policy seems to include back charging, as well, although comprehensively tracking down old hyperlinks and collecting fees on them, especially from non-UK sources, would undoubtedly prove daunting.
On the home page of the NLA Website comes its mission statement: "Operating on behalf of the UK's national and regional newspapers the NLA licenses organisations to take legal copies of newspaper articles"
[Publisher's note: If the NLA charges me for that quote, its billing department will get a brief response of disproportionately hurtful magnitude, and the copy editor for the Website will get a brief lecture on proper comma usage.]
Hyperlinks to content from newspapers in the United Kingdom will now be prohibited at online properties of Dark Wraith Publishing. When making reference to articles from British newspapers, writers here should henceforth cite the name of the Website from which news content is derived, provide the exact title of the article from which the content is drawn or a quoted passage is reproduced, and the name of the author and the date of publication for the content used if available.
The new NLA business model for member publishers has not been embraced elsewhere, particularly in the United States, but even a small degree of success in extracting a revenue stream from hyperlinks could trigger a similar effort here in an attempt to stop the spiral of information content toward the status of a public good commodity for which no positive price can be charged (because the cost of one more user is virtually zero), but for which substantial fixed costs must be incurred.
Should American newspapers start charging for hyperlinking to their articles, and they are trying to figure out a way around antitrust laws to do just that, Dark Wraith Publishing will issue a call for the cash-starved newspapers trying to pull the stunt to burn in unrelenting agony forever and ever in the fires of Hell's hottest roaster oven.
After the last few days I really feel the need to lighten things up. They say it's always darkest before the dawn and we haven't reached midnight yet. Unfortunately.
Tae Kwon Leap, otherwise known as Boot To The Head. This isn't done by The Frantics but it is a pretty good interpretation of the original. Every time the original comes on the iPod, I crack up. For many years I used to say "God, grant me patience. And hurry up about it," so when I first heard their version of "patience" it rang true.
I never would of thought of pairing the skit with The Righteous Brothers but it works, and quite nicely I might add.
8:53 PM ET -- "Sister, have a short sleep, your last dream be sweet." Yesterday we printed a touching letter from an Iranian woman that began with these ominous lines: "I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed..."
Tonight, she posted a second letter, passed along and translated by two readers. She writes about her "sister" in this cause who was killed today, referring to Neda.
Yesterday I wrote a note, with the subject line "tomorrow is a great day perhaps tomorrow I'll be killed." I'm here to let you know I'm alive but my sister was killed...
I'm here to tell you my sister died while in her father's hands
I'm here to tell you my sister had big dreams...
I'm here to tell you my sister who died was a decent person... and like me yearned for a day when her hair would be swept by the wind... and like me read "Forough" [Forough Farrokhzad]... and longed to live free and equal... and she longed to hold her head up and announce, "I'm Iranian"... and she longed to one day fall in love to a man with a shaggy hair... and she longed for a daughter to braid her hair and sing lullaby by her crib...
my sister died from not having life... my sister died as injustice has no end... my sister died since she loved life too much... and my sister died since she lovingly cared for people...
my loving sister, I wish you had closed your eyes when your time had come... the very end of your last glance burns my soul....
sister have a short sleep. your last dream be sweet.
7:57 PM ET -- Neda. That appears to be the name of the woman whose death in the streets today was captured on film, and has been broadcast around the world. I posted it earlier at 2:57 PM.
From Twitter, via Chas: "Her name was Neda, which means voice or call in Farsi. She is the voice of the people, a call to freedom - RIP, Neda"
2:37 PM ET -- Graphic video of a woman shot. In the past hour, I've received this video via email and IM dozens and dozens of times. I had various YouTube versions linked below but they kept being removed, so I've uploaded the videos to our own servers. Warning: they are intensely graphic scenes depicting a woman who has just been shot and dies on camera. They are extremely difficult to watch (though, rather stunningly, they were aired on CNN earlier today).
Still images are here if they would be easier to see for you.
Glenn Beck was on Greta Van Susteren's show last night, plumping his new book, Common Sense -- which, like most right-wing titles, is actually a piece of Newspeak that represents roughly the opposite of what it appears to mean -- and repeating his charge that "the progressive movement is the "disease" that is killing this country".
You see, he's been reading Jonah Goldberg, so he's reached this conclusion (with some help from libertarians). And there's no doubt that the basic argument is right: Beginning in the early 1900s, the progressive movement definitely shifted the direction of this nation and shaped it largely into what we see today.
Glenn Beck thinks that's a bad thing. I don't.
These are child laborers from the early part of the last century.
They were common fixtures on the American landscape.
Possibly some of Beck's ancestors were among them.
(Here's a gallery of pictures of them.)
The United States has always been an essentially capitalist economic system. However, we have experienced periods in our history where this system has seriously malfunctioned, and we've made adjustments accordingly that have largely worked well making things better.
One of those dysfunctional periods came at about the turn of the last century, when McKinley was president, corrupt robber barons ran Congress, and the latter-day version of "strict constructionists" ruled the courts. "Laissez faire" capitalism ruled, and America was functionally an oligarchy.
Squeezed out were the working people: the average workweek was 80 hours, there were no weekends, no vacation, only a few holidays, and the barest minimum of pay. Benefits and health care were unheard of. Child labor was the rule.
What happened between then and now? "Progressives" began agitating for better working conditions, and began organizing as labor unions. After a long period of violent repression, these reforms gradually became government policy -- especially in the 1930s under FDR. Americans began getting 40-hour work weeks with weekends off, paid vacations and benefits.
Probably the most significant and lasting legacy of this period of "progressive" innovation was the progressive tax code. It has been a feature of the income tax since its institution in 1916. [snip]
The result of those "progressive" reforms from 1900-1940 was the birth of the great American middle class and the quality of life we have enjoyed so long we've forgotten what it was like not to have it. People like Glenn Beck seem never even to have learned.
Indeed, when right-wingers like Beck and Goldberg attack "evil progressivism," it sounds a lot like they want us to return to the bad old days under McKinley, when American workers were indentured servants to the wealthy.
Of course, maybe now that they're both wealthy men, there's a simple explanation for that.
Last night on Fox News, Sean Hannity interviewed Karl Rove about ABC’s upcoming special “Questions for the President: Prescription for America,” which will feature President Obama answering “questions offered by audience members ‘selected by ABC News who have divergent opinions in this historic debate’” on health care.
HANNITY: Karl, it seems rather unprecedented. You were there in the White House for the better part of eight years. Did this ever happened while George W. Bush was president?
ROVE: You know, look, it’s normal for the networks to want to come in and do an interview inside the White House or to get a glimpse behind the curtain as to what goes on there. This is an unprecedented access to the White House and more importantly an unprecedented use of the White House. I can’t remember a time when the network came in and was going to devote a significant block of time to covering an issue that was on the president’s agenda.
As Media Matters first noted, when Fox News’ Bret Baier was granted “unprecedented access” to the White House in Feb. 2008, the network billed it as a “documentary,” not an “infomercial.” Further, Fox was not only welcomed into the White House, but aboard Air Force One, to Bush’s ranch in Texas, and into the Oval Office.
Appearing on the Washington Times’ America’s Morning News radio show today, former Bush press secretary Dana Perino jumped on the conservative bandwagon and criticized ABC News’ upcoming special “Questions for the President: Prescription for America.” Asked by right-wing host Melanie Morgan what the reaction would be if Fox News had similar access at the Bush White House, Perino laughed and said that “there are a lot of double standards” ...
As ThinkProgress noted earlier today, the Bush administration regularly gave Fox News “unprecedented access” to the White House, allowing the network to produce hagiographic documentaries for both President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Who was press secretary when those documentaries aired? Dana Perino.
On Wednesday, Fox News’ Sean Hannity brought on former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove to gripe about ABC’s upcoming “Questions for the President: Prescription for America,” which will feature President Obama answering “questions offered by audience members ’selected by ABC News who have divergent opinions‘” on health care. Rove called it “unprecedented access to the White House and more importantly an unprecedented use of the White House.”
Last night, Rove was back on Fox News — this time with Greta Van Susteren — and argued that it was improper for ABC to get the access, considering that former ABC reporter Linda Douglass is now working in the White House:
ROVE: If it’s not crossing a line, it’s getting comfortably too close to a line of where a news network becomes a cooperating partner of and an adjacency to the White House communications shop.
The video below comes from Nottingham, England, with the associated story recounted at the Daily Mail. One officer twice uses a Taser on the victim, bawling, "Taser, Taser, Taser!" as the man writhes on the ground, behavior the police feign to interpret as resistance. After the second application of the Taser, while fellow policemen are holding the suspect down and stretching him from his fetal position, one of the officers savagely slugs the man three times in the face.
Only after the incident and the appearance of the video did police field a story about an officer being hospitalized because of actions by the victim before the video was shot, and only after the video hit YouTube, CNN, and other media outlets did the police refer the incident to official inquiry.
This kind of violence will end only when bleeding-heart conservatives and criminal-coddling judges start dealing effectively with violent thugs acting individually and in gangs under color of law. Only when supposedly civilized nations fully apply the rule of law to their law enforcement personnel will fear of extreme violence at the hands of police be replaced with volitional respect for the law and those who enforce it.
A generation ago, Right-wing and conservative forces screamed for minimum sentencing guidelines, harsh sentences, and restrictions on the rights of accused. They got their way, and now, one in every 31 citizens in the United States is either imprisoned or otherwise at some level of oversight or confinement in the federal or a state penal system. The welfare queens of state and municipal governments beg endlessly for more money to be thrown at their "law enforcement" needs, and towns across America vie like starved wolves for one prison after another to be built in their area to create jobs their elected leaders and business people cannot create on their own using entrepreneurial skill and local encouragement.
It is time for society to take the same rightful, harsh, retributive means of dealing with crime and apply it to the thugs who hide behind badges, and no amount of bleeding-heart excuses from the conservatives should be tolerated.
Lock them up and throw away the key. That's what we did a generation ago over the cries of liberals and Leftists, and that's what we should do now over the bleating of conservative and Right-wing apologists simpering about "circumstances" and "up-bringing" and "how hard it is" to be a law enforcement officer despite being armed to the teeth. Use a search engine and type in "Taser"; you'll find incident after incident of over-the-top violence by police using these weapons to degrade and injure people.
Just like a generation ago when society finally understood that weakness in punishment encouraged more crime by the dregs of society, we must now turn our attention to the weakness with which we deal with men and women who use their official status to pursue their brutish, violent ways.
No more. The three pillars of an effective system of punitive justice are certainty, severity, and celerity (swiftness). In other words, the criminal is definitely going to get punished, the punishment is going to hurt terribly, and it's going to happen right away. More bluntly, you're going to get it, it's going to hurt like Hell, and it's coming now.
And the punishment must extend to the bleeding heart coddlers, too. A State Supreme Court judge in New York let three killers go Scot free: they were police officers who butchered an innocent man and badly wounded his two companions in a hail of hysterical gunfire. After the judge rendered his verdict, police surrounded his house and even had a helicopter overhead to ensure that he remained safe.
In the Bay Area, a transit policeman acting in concert with other transit officers shot a man straight through the back as he lay face down on the ground. The bullet went through him, ricocheted off the pavement, and went back up through his chest. He died slowly from drowning in his own blood that soaked his lungs. Without video taken by by-standers who uploaded their captures to the Web, nothing would have been done. As it is, the former officer firing the shot is the subject of a weak-kneed prosecution (with the alleged killer claiming he intended to use his Taser), but only one other transit police person there at the time has been subject to anything remotely approaching serious backlash, despite separate video showing that other officer minutes before punching or slapping (depending upon who is interpreting the scene) the same victim and thereby escalating the spiraling ugliness of the police before the shooting, and despite the statement of the young woman who shot the video of the killing on her cell phone that yet another officer at the scene tried to confiscate her phone with the incriminating evidence.
In England, where the incident in the video presented at the outset of this article took place, special law enforcement officers slaughtered an innocent Brazilian man on the pretext that he might have been a "terrorist" (the guy had brown skin, so that makes him an Arab, which makes him a terrorist suspect); then came the lies about how the homicide took place. In the end, it turned out the victim was shot repeatedly in the back. That's right: in the back.
Did the killers go to prison to rot and get sexually brutalized the way our ugly citizens and entertainment shows like to sneer about? Of course not.
Anecdotes of state-sponsored violence aside, to my Leftist and liberal friends in the reading audience I offer this: the age of mercy is over. It never really got started, but any nascent shards of an understanding society that sought accommodation, help, and tolerance have long passed, and it is now time to get with the program. Chanting, "Hey ho! Fascists must go!" and holding hands to sing Kumbaya will not stop the freight train of authoritarianism and the shadow of the iron fist now darkening the landscape of nations.
The Age of the Authoritarians is here to stay.
The fist will come down on you, so make the fist work for you. Demand equal justice not merely for everyone, but also against everyone, including those who work under the color of law enforcement authority. They are no better than you.
They just happen to be better armed.
The Dark Wraith trusts that readers take this post seriously (and note the category under which it is posted).
I, uh...uh ummm...uh..huh? OMFG WTF Can they BE any crazier? It isn't demeaning enough that the Democrats worry about hurting the feelings of Republicans, war criminals and news reader a-holes...but now this!
"Sarabeth at 1115.org has a piece up today explaining that the Obama administration's efforts to keep the goings-on of the Bush-Cheney White House away from scrutinizing eyes now extends to denying a federal judge notes from the FBI's interview with ex-Vice President Dick Cheney during the CIA leak investigation. But this pull from the original AP story, which captures the reasoning of Justice Department for attempting to deny the request, is simply mind-blowing:
Justice Department lawyers told the judge that future presidents and vice presidents may not cooperate with criminal investigations if they know what they say could become available to their political opponents and late-night comics who would ridicule them.
"If we become a fact-finder for political enemies, they aren't going to cooperate," Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Smith said during a 90-minute hearing. "I don't want a future vice president to say, 'I'm not going to cooperate with you because I don't want to be fodder for 'The Daily Show.'"
There's a little more but...O.M.G.!!! I can't wait to watch Stewart Monday Night!
Can I not cooperate with the DOJ (Department of Jagoffs) in the future for my crime of ripping the tag off my mattress because the guys at the mattress store might make fun or talk about me?
That's it, folk! There's nothing that anyone will ever say to top that. I dare anyone to try!
Who let the Dums out?
You need two additional category items: Sarcasm and Just Plain Stupid
My letter to the Ombudsman regarding the firing of Dan Froomkin. They have been removed from Google Reader and I will no longer refer nor link to them in any way. My hope is that more people follow suit and that the "paper" goes out of business. Soon.
For quite a while your paper has been going downhill and now you have hit rock bottom. You might as well start referring to the WaahPoo as a written extension of Faux News since it is now impossible to tell the difference. While I may miss Eugene Robinson, I can no longer read, link or in anyway treat you as a trusted news or opinion source. What is sad for you is that quite a few other people will be treating you the same way. You will be eliminated from my news sources, I will not read anything that is linked to you and I will be deactivating my account. If I didn't live all the way across the country I would have had a subscription which I could have canceled at the same time. Your paper is no longer fit to line the bottom of a birdcage and you will soon be printing in a vacuum.
Enjoy your paper's remaining time, it won't be long before you go the way of the Rocky Mountain news, but unlike the them I will not be sad to see you go. You have had some good stories and reporters in the past but recent decisions have made you irrelevant.
I remember when papers printed news, not propaganda. Along with quite a few of the other founding principles of this country the Fourth Estate has gone the way of the Dodo bird.
Let's start right now saying and writing wonderful things about the miserable tub of guts, and maybe when it's time to start throwing American citizens into detention centers they'll overlook us, or at the very least not beat us to fucking death, torture us so badly we shit ourselves, or make us watch while they fuck our children in the ass. Obama Endorses Indefinite Detention Without Trial for Some "We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country," Obama said. "But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States."
And who's going to make that distinction about who poses a threat? You, colostomybagbreath? Tellyawhat, if you have any trouble with that part of the job, just call up your fellow bungtongueboy George.
The Democrats won the elections in 2006 and 2008. So when did the winners start requesting and accepting the advice of the losers? Health care, financial advice, social programs, and business breaks have all been proposed by the Republicans and the Democrats are actually ignoring the people who elected them.
Imagine if we consulted with Japan and Germany after WWII about how they wanted to run things.
Dateline: Washington, D.C. September 30, 1945
President Harry Truman today met with Japanese Emperor Hirohito and Rudolf Hess (acting liaison for Germany) to discuss how best the United States can make amends for winning World War II.
President Truman proposed a $50 reparation for the island nation but Hirohito said that would leave a lot of the Japanese without income or healthcare. Hess concurred that the amount wasn’t sufficient for the sacrifices his people made losing the war.
President Truman countered with plans to rebuild most of the destroyed German cities and send American Construction Battalion Personnel to Tokyo to help with the reconstruction of much of Tokyo, Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Hirohito wanted assurances that provisions be made down the line for future Japanese industry and President Truman agreed to allow the Japanese all the electronic technology they could handle. In exchange the Japanese would buy as much American property as they could in the 1980s, primarily in Hawaii.
Hess suggested that money that would be spent on the states be diverted to Germany.
To soothe relations with Germany, President Truman declared that we would import German beer, cars and Neo-Nazi protestors over the next 5 decades. He proposed that growth in America would continue for a few decades then we would slacken the pace to allow other countries to catch up.
Still, there seemed to be a little financial impasse. Enter American Big Business who agreed to become partners with American Car Manufacturer Chrysler and others so the Mercedes and audio equipment could be sold to the wealthy here, along with techno-punk and other really needed items. Hirohito demanded that the new field of Video be given to the Japanese. Harry agreed.
One sticking part of the agreement was the treatment of war criminals. President Truman said that there was no reason to worry about things that happened in the past. “It’s time to look forward”, he said. “There are no plans on the table for vengeance. Secrets coming out would only cause unrest in America.
A huge ticker-tape parade is being planned in New York City by Prescott Bush and Henry Ford to celebrate the agreement. “We’ll make sure Wall Street has something to look forward to in the future”, said Prescott.
“We look forward to a time when the businesses of our countries can work together for the betterment of those involved,” said President Truman. “Who knows? Someday the Japanese and Germans, with our help and forgiveness can compete with American Labor! Maybe even other countries can benefit from American Business ingenuity !”
This reporter certainly looks for much more cooperation over the next half century between the U.S. and its former opponents.
Said a young George W. Bush (Grandson of Prescott) later, “I can’t wait until I grow up to get involved in helping all my friends carry this out.”
I think there might be more than 73 when the time comes...and it seems to be coming for real now. The zealots of the 70s didn't have the power of funding to pull it off then, but thanks to Deadeye and the Neos, the America of our founders is quickly disappearing!
Thousands of supporters of Iran's defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi marched in Tehran on Tuesday following a disputed poll prompting the biggest street protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
(Editors' note: Reuters coverage is now subject to an Iranian ban on foreign media leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.) [snip]
Illustrating Iran's sensitivity to world opinion, authorities on Tuesday banned foreign journalists from leaving their offices to cover street protests.
Supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his main rival in the disputed presidential election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, massed in competing rallies Tuesday as the country's most senior Islamic cleric threw his weight behind opposition charges that Ahmadinejad's re-election was rigged.
"No one in their right mind can believe" the official results from Friday's contest, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri said of the landslide victory claimed by Ahmadinejad. Montazeri accused the regime of handling Mousavi's charges of fraud and the massive protests of his backers "in the worst way possible."
"A government not respecting people's vote has no religious or political legitimacy," he declared in comments on his official Web site. "I ask the police and army personals (personnel) not to 'sell their religion,' and beware that receiving orders will not excuse them before God."
As many as three more protesters were reported killed in clashes during Tuesday's opposition demonstration in Vanak Square — adding to eight who were confirmed killed in Monday's protests.
Foreign news organizations were barred from covering Wednesday's demonstrations, and the source of the report of the latest deaths was a witness known to McClatchy, who asked that his name not be used for his own security.
Tehran residents, who spoke to a McClatchy reporter on condition that their names not be published, said there was widespread intimidation by thousands of members of the Basij, a hard-line Islamic volunteer militia loyal to the Islamic regime.
Iranian bloggers reported scattered violence after dark by Basij members.
Nor were reports of violence limited to the capital. [snip]
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance issued the ban on foreign news coverage of rallies in Tehran, revoked the credentials of those with temporary visas and ordered them to leave the country as soon as possible. Cell phone service was cut in the city.
The ministry also prohibited news agencies and foreign broadcasters from distributing video and pictures — a move that could precede a more violent government crackdown. However, details of the Ahmadinejad and Mousavi rallies reached the outside world via Twitter, YouTube and other Web networks.
(1) twerp: someone who is regarded as contemptible
(2) tease: harass with persistent criticism or carping; aggravation by deriding or mocking or criticizing
I'm guessing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is currently mostly concerned with the second definition. Since the preliminary results for the Iranian election were announced, a steady stream of updates has been accumulating on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and other social networking sites. (For Andrew Sullivan's report on feeds to follow, click here).
The tweets are becoming so important to ongoing coverage of Iran, that Twitter has delayed previously scheduled maintenance so that the outage will occur in the early morning of Iran's time zone and will therefore be minimally disruptive.
In addition to providing first hand reports on the violence (especially important now that most foreign journalists have been asked to leave), Iranian bloggers are using Twitter and Facebook to organize giant rallies in the streets of Tehran. One protester has even used Google Maps to track the location of government tanks.
Social media hasn't only given Iranians a way to evade censorship and speak out; it has given them a way to mobilize attacks on Ahmadinejad's coalition, attacks that go beyond rallies. Some Iranian twitterers have called for foreign supporters to attack Ahmadinejad's websites using a distributed denial of service attack. [snip]
It's too early to know how this protest will end, but it is clear that the Internet enables Iranian bloggers and twitterers to put pressure on their government and keep a record of human rights abuses, opening the possibility that justice may one day be served. This uprising is a potent reminder of the power of speech and of the press.
Nearly one hundred years ago, H. L. Mencken said, "Freedom of the press belongs to those that own one." Today's fluid, resilient Internet has given the power of the press, of written, public records, to anyone with a connection. Perhaps, today, our rallying cry should be that of John Gilmore, computer scientist, "The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." We must commit to preserving this free flow of information, which is the greatest defense against tyranny for the Iranians' (and all of us).
Thanks to John McCain’s campaign finance reform legislation it was a bit difficult for me, legally speaking, to state this point clearly back during the campaign but now that we’re not within the BCRA window of any election he’s participating in we can say clearly that the guy is a dangerous madman whose ideas would risk incredibly suffering and destruction around the world. Just saying. His twitterview today with Jake Tapper is full of examples as he talks about Iran not so much as an actual country full of actual people doing actual things in a difficult situation, but instead as a kind of phantasmagoric canvass onto which we should paint a tableau of American hubris and militarism.
Despite federal courts having rejected the same efforts by the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration is refusing to let reporters see records of who is visiting the White House. Lacking any particular creativity in crafting an argument for such secrecy, Obama's people are using the old Bush argument that the visitor logs are not Secret Service property that would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act, along with the fatiguing claim that the President must be free to meet with people to discuss hush-hush, important president-type business without worrying about who's going to find out that hush-hush, important president-type business was being discussed.
This little episode might force me to change my mind about the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama, which I have been characterizing as "Authoritarianism without the Incompetence": it seems that incompetence is rather more of an embedded principle of authoritarianism than I had thought.
Oh, and by the way, as I've pointed out in the past and herewith repeat just for the record: "Hope 'n change," my ass.
This absolutely takes the cake for judicial stupidity. My blood pressure is so high I think I'm going to have a stroke. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, what the hell is wrong with the state of Oklahoma? Are the people in this state out of what little minds they have? It's okay to shoot a perpetrator in the head, get another gun a few moments later and pump five more bullets into a motionless body but repeatedly raping a four year old girl and forcing her five year old brother to watch it is only worth one year in jail and he gets credit for nine months already served? Are you effing kidding me?
She was raped, she was sodomized and she most certainly didn't ask for it, dress provocatively or use suggestive language to lure this pervert on. As if that would ever be an excuse for rape under any circumstances. The child advocate and her supervisor should lose their jobs due to gross incompetence since they obviously have not a clue as to what advocating for the defenseless means. The prosecutor should be fired for stupidity and an inability to punish real criminals which just so happens to be his job and for not investigating the past history, and this guy definitely had a criminal history, of this cretin because perverts don't start at 64, they've been at it most of their lives. And the judge, well he should be recalled. If there ever was a time for an "activist" judge, this was it. He could have used common sense and said no, this creep belongs in jail for twenty years no matter what kind of plea bargain was arranged and let the inmates take care of him, ala Jeffrey Dahmer. Or maybe the trial should have taken place in Ohio, their prosecutors seem to have a handle on ensuring that creeps get appropriate sentences for raping a child.
So what if the perp gets labeled a sexual predator and has to pay a $1000 fine, is that going to make the rest of this girl's life any easier? How about when she is an adult and realizes that what he did to her was determined to be worth a tiny slap on the wrist? Now is the time for the Michelle Malkins, Laura Ingrahams, Nancy Graces and Ann Coulters of this world to get up and scream their tiny little heads off about the injustice that was committed here instead of the made up stuff that babbles brainlessly from their talking heads.
Oh yeah, and the state of Oklahoma should be boycotted, not a dime of tourist money should they get until this situation is rectified. Heck, the Interstate shouldn't even travel through it.
In a post published today here at Big Brass Blog, contributing writer Peter of Lone Tree quotes from author Chris Hedges' recent article, "The American Empire Is Bankrupt," which paints a brutally grim picture of the death spiral of the United States economy and the coming deprivations its non-elites will suffer.
Good evening, Peter of Lone Tree.
Although I greatly enjoy the writings Chris Hedges has published on American religious extremism, his apocalyptic vision of the future of the American economy is generous to a fault and parochial to a rather unexemplary era and its uninspired citizens.
We have received what essayist Jonathan Schell describes as "An Invitation to a Degraded World," and we have accepted it. The acceptance has come in each election from 2000 to the present, and that includes the presidential election last year.
We cannot help ourselves: we embrace the folly of reactionism, and Brand X of the Left is seen as a viable substitute for Brand X of the Right. In the end, the candidates of one company are pretty much the same as those of the other. Duopolies offer choice only to those who have forgotten that choice includes the option, "No."
On we trod, though, into a future not as good as that of our parents.
But not really. I lived through bad times when I was growing up. The death of my father at the end of the '60s was a metaphor for a world and a nation on the precipice of upheavals I did not understand; but, then again, hardly anyone else did either, and the particulars of my circumstances of a degraded world were not the cause of the plight in which my mother and I found ourselves. The truth of the matter is that life was becoming a changed thing for many people way back then.
And before my time, life was becoming a changed thing for the people who had lived to see the turn of the last century, too.
And before their time, life was becoming a changed thing for the people who had lived to see the time after that war between the states.
And before their time, life was becoming a changed thing for the people who had lived to see the dawn of the 19th Century.
And before their time...
You get the picture.
The future is an invitation to a degraded world, a lesser thing, always packaged in the new, the better, the not-old-and-worn-out. Our walk to that place has become a breath-taking sprint, even as we curse the landscape as it becomes more ominous, more barren, more foreboding.
We look back and cannot help but imagine in the time before now a sun higher in the sky, a world less confusing because we know how the story went. The future is a story not told and, therefore, not known. We are never ready for it; and now, as we run at full speed into its maw, we have no means by which to prepare ourselves, much less to prepare that place in which we shall spend the remainder of our days.
If it is of any comfort, though, we do know the part about how bad it's going to be there in that future. It is the place where the ones we love die, the ways we once lived are gone, and the joys we had are faded to the stuff of sadly fleeting dreams about which we can tell no one because no one cares.
The past is about ghosts we knew: they speak through our individual and collective memories.
The future is about ghosts we can only imagine: mostly, they speak through our individual and collective fears.
Times really are going to get rough. I have written many articles about what is coming, and I have now lived long enough to note with a degree of satisfaction that my predictions, economic and otherwise, are being proved accurate. A quite general article of mine about the future is one entitled, "The 21st Century, Epilogue." I took a more metaphorical approach in my story, "The End of Time."
So many people do not listen, though. They have to hear ghosts for themselves. That means they'll have to wait, just like they have for generation after generation; and when they see the future in all its ugliness, they'll wonder why it had to be that way.
Perhaps a few people in that time will notice something particularly awful about those ghosts to come, as terrible as they'll be as they stand before us in the plain sight of that degraded world out there just after tomorrow's sunset: those ghosts of the future will look an awful lot like us.
Right now, as we stand here on the edge of tomorrow accepting that invitation to which we just cannot say, "No," we ensure that ours will be the grave from which will usher that sullen place that awful, degraded world of apocalypse and misery otherwise called the future.
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) now appears to have taken a bold step in the debate over the budget deficit: Openly telling a foreign government not to trust the administration in Washington.
The Straits Times reports that Kirk spoke to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, and discussed a meeting he had with Chinese leaders. Here's the video: [ 0:33 ]
"In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Mark Kirk is essentially telling China, which holds more U.S. debt than any nation on earth, not to trust the American government, and by extension, the American people," Giannoulias said in a statement. "This puts the full faith and credit of the United States at risk and threatens to permanently wreak havoc on the credit markets that are essential to our recovery and our economic future."
To make matters worse, Kirk isn't just a congressman. He's currently a member of our nation's military:
Kirk, who holds the rank of Commander, is a Naval Reserve intelligence officer and has served during conflicts with Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, and Bosnia. He recently became the first member of Congress to serve in an imminent danger zone since 1942 when he deployed as a reservist to Afghanistan in December. The U.S. Navy named Kirk “Intelligence Officer of the Year” in 1999 for his combat service in Kosovo.
Do we have to worry about what Kirk is saying to other foreign governments, too?
This is way beyond the pale, even for a Republican.
"The cost of daily living, from buying food to getting medical care, will become difficult for all but a few as the dollar plunges. States and cities will see their pension funds drained and finally shut down. The government will be forced to sell off infrastructure, including roads and transport, to private corporations. We will be increasingly charged by privatized utilities—think Enron—for what was once regulated and subsidized. Commercial and private real estate will be worth less than half its current value. The negative equity that already plagues 25 percent of American homes will expand to include nearly all property owners. It will be difficult to borrow and impossible to sell real estate unless we accept massive losses. There will be block after block of empty stores and boarded-up houses. Foreclosures will be epidemic. There will be long lines at soup kitchens and many, many homeless. Our corporate-controlled media, already banal and trivial, will work overtime to anesthetize us with useless gossip, spectacles, sex, gratuitous violence, fear and tawdry junk politics. America will be composed of a large dispossessed underclass and a tiny empowered oligarchy that will run a ruthless and brutal system of neo-feudalism from secure compounds. Those who resist will be silenced, many by force. We will pay a terrible price, and we will pay this price soon, for the gross malfeasance of our power elite."
That's the closing paragraph of Chris Hedges' The American Empire Is Bankrupt. Hit the link to discover what leads him to these conclusions. Hint: It's not the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's fault--all they're doing today and tomorrow is protecting themselves.
Just days after Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Barney Frank, along with 13 cosponsors, reintroduced HR 2835, the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act of 2009 in Congress, Republican Rep. Mark Kirk (Illinois) has called for federal legislation to sentence certain first-time marijuana offenders to up to 25 years in prison.
Apparently, this asshole didn't read Nicholas Kristof's op-ed piece in the New York Times only two days ago:
Here in the United States, four decades of drug war have had three consequences:
First, we have vastly increased the proportion of our population in prisons. The United States now incarcerates people at a rate nearly five times the world average. In part, that’s because the number of people in prison for drug offenses rose roughly from 41,000 in 1980 to 500,000 today. Until the war on drugs, our incarceration rate was roughly the same as that of other countries.
Second, we have empowered criminals at home and terrorists abroad. One reason many prominent economists have favored easing drug laws is that interdiction raises prices, which increases profit margins for everyone, from the Latin drug cartels to the Taliban. Former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia this year jointly implored the United States to adopt a new approach to narcotics, based on the public health campaign against tobacco.
Third, we have squandered resources. Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist, found that federal, state and local governments spend $44.1 billion annually enforcing drug prohibitions. We spend seven times as much on drug interdiction, policing and imprisonment as on treatment. (Of people with drug problems in state prisons, only 14 percent get treatment.)
Or maybe Rep. Kirk did read it and doesn't care. Maybe he just doesn't like Rep. Barney Frank and decided to have a childish "I'll show YOU" moment.
Whatever. Way to go in showing the country and the world what a stupendous, self-righteous and out-of-touch idiot you are, Rep. Kirk.
I love when they do studies that reveal information that anyone with a modicum of common sense could have predicted the outcome. Politicians have traits that are common in serial killers. I wish I could say I was surprised, but that would be lying. Lack of remorse is evident every time they vote against what their constituents want and vote for whatever entity has donated the most money to their campaigns. When they finally wander back to their districts, usually for reelection purposes, they claim they had to vote the way they did for security reasons or any other excuse they think will fly.
Kouri, who's a vice president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, has assembled traits such as superficial charm, an exaggerated sense of self-worth, glibness, lying, lack of remorse and manipulation of others.
These traits, Kouri points out in his analysis, are common to psychopathic serial killers.
But -- and here's the part that may spark some controversy and defensive discussion -- these traits are also common to American politicians. (Maybe you already suspected.)
Yup. Violent homicide aside, our elected officials often show many of the exact same character traits as criminal nutjobs, who run from police but not for office.
I've noticed. Ten dollars worth of gas doesn't go very far, which is another reason to sell the car. People make appointments to see the car and then never show up and they don't call to cancel. I dragged the kids back from the dog park on Saturday and the person never showed. The dogs could have continued to have a great time, as it was all they got to do was sit around the apartment all day. I've dropped the price a $1000 and still no takers. I can't drop it much more because it won't solve my financial problems and then I would be without a car to boot. Very frustrating.
In typical Washington fashion they once again rammed through a bill that was supposed to help people but had a somewhat opposite effect in real life. Those who make a certain amount of money might be able to keep some type of roof over their head, as long as they don't want to eat real food. Ketchup is a vegetable. Again.
White guy kills three cops who he thinks are going to take away his guns, just a lone nutjob. Minutemen dressed as cops kill a Hispanic father and 9 year old daughter in their own home, not a hate crime. White man shoots a doctor in a church, not a crime of terror. White guys shoots up a church while spouting crap he heard on Limbaugh and Hannity, not a hate crime. Old white guy shoots a security guard at the Holocaust Museum, it's an isolated incident. Black guy with strange name kills a recruit and it's a bloody rampage and a "giant step forward for the jihadist movement". According to World Net Daily here is a partial list of recent church shootings, none of which are considered terrorist acts. I know it's not new, but can we say "double standard?"
August 12, 2007: A lone gunman, Eiken Elam Saimon, opened fire in a Missouri Micronesian church, killing a pastor and two other churchgoers.
May 20, 2007: A standoff between police and a suspect in the shootings of three people in a Moscow, Idaho, Presbyterian Church ended with three dead, including one police officer.
Although not at a church building, the Oct. 2, 2006, attack in Lancaster County, Pa., by a gunman who killed five girls and then himself at an Amish school targeted a religious site.
May 21, 2006: Louisiana. Four were killed by a man at Jesus Christ Church.
Feb. 26, 2006: Michigan. Two people were killed at Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church by a man who reportedly went to the church looking for his girlfriend. He later killed himself.
April 9, 2005: A 27-year-old airman died after being shot at a church in College Park, Ga., where he had once worked as a security guard.
March 12, 2005: A man walked into the services of the Living Church of God in Milwaukee and open fired immediately, killing seven people.
Oct. 5, 2003: A woman opened fire in Turner Monumental AME church in Kirkwood, east of Atlanta, killing the pastor and two others.
Sept. 16, 1999: Seven young people were killed when a man opened fire during a prayer service for teen-agers at the Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas
Someone too dumb to know that if an escaped gorilla was Michelle Obama's ancestor then it was his ancestor also. At this rate Americans are going to start regarding their Indian and Chinese doctors as more competent than their blond, blue-eyed doctors. Unless they have a British accent to go with their "normal" looks.
Without even the slightest hint of appreciation for the irony, both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs have told reporters that the United States is closely watching the situation in Iran, where street riots continue in the aftermath of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stunning victory over his popular opponent, Mir Hossein Moussavi, who was favored by progressive voters that included the young, the educated, and the more urban.
In eerie parallel to the highly disputed 2000 presidential election in the United States, when the highest court in the land suspended the vote recount in the pivotal state of Florida and handed the victory to the Right-wing candidate, George W. Bush, Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has endorsed the official vote count in Iran, effectively shutting down any avenue by which Moussavi and his forces could seek meaningful legal remedy within the Persian nation's constitutional framework, other than through a perfunctory investigation by the so-called Guardian Council, which will rule on the matter next week, no doubt in favor of Ahmadinejad.
Just as former President Bush found his hard-core support through two controversial elections by appealing to rural, ignorant, backward, conservative voters, so too does Mr. Ahmadinejad rely on this same complex demographic/psychographic pool for his backing, with both men buttressing the supposed moral legitimacy of their position and means of acquiring it by way of backward-looking religious leaders Iran's being officially recognized as pre-eminent, America's being less so.
Despite the imprimatur of legitimacy Ahmadinejad has now obtained from the supreme leader of Iran, street riots continue across Iran, with the government retaliating with arrests of opposition leaders and shows of force against public demonstrations.
While many of the demonstrators are young, the outrage in Iran seems to be widespread. Unlike in the United States, where protests against the suspect elections of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 were minimal, at best, Iranians are taking to the streets in noticeable numbers despite the violent crackdown being chronicled by foreign journalists stationed there. Amid the thunder of stun grenades fired by riot police, one elderly woman shouted to a reporter for the The Times (UK), "We hate this government. It's my generation’s fault to have let them come in 1979 [when the shah was ousted]. These children are doing what we were not brave enough to do."
Those glib words could as easily have been spoken by an older person in the United States in both 2000 and 2004, except that here in this country, the preference is to allow suspect elections to go largely unchallenged in the streets. Far preferable for Americans is waiting for enough young people to come of age to make election fraud infeasible and, more importantly, inadvisable: the Republicans previously so desperate for the reins of power in Washington have found, after eight long years of progressive economic, military, and social degradation at their hands, that governance at the behest of the ignorant and reactionary is most inopportune, even when in league of convenience with the consent of supreme councils firmly ensconced in the technicalities of legal pronouncements that need and have no moral legitimacy.
The losers in Iran's elections this week will not be answered with justice, and the nation will plunge into a period of violent retribution against them and their leaders.
The Ayatollah Khamenei and his fellow reactionary mullahs will continue to have their chosen people in political power to press forward with the development of nuclear weapons and a concomitantly robust, forward-leaning posture in dealing with other nations, including the United States; but the disastrous end of this hubris in making a mockery of democratic elections will come soon enough, nonetheless.
The Right-wing forces in Iran may then wish they had dealt more generously with the reformist opposition now taking to the streets, which in retrospect will seem altogether peaceful, reasonable, and patient compared to the fiery winds of change from the skies as a much more violent, less patient, considerably better armed foe delivers its own version of reform for the intransigent.
(Begins): "Heavily endebted theme park owner Six Flags has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
"Its petition, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, listed assets of $3 billion and debt of $2.4 billion as of Dec. 31. Thirty-six affiliates also sought protection.
"Six Flag's shares fell by more than four-fifths in the past year, closing at 26 cents June 12, giving the company a market value of $26 million."
(EDIT/ADD): Of course not having any money with which to purchase food will not be a problem if there is no food to begin with. A ‘Time Bomb’ for World Wheat Crop begins "Crop scientists fear the Ug99 fungus could wipe out more than 80% of worldwide wheat crops as it spreads from eastern Africa. It has already jumped the Red Sea and traveled as far as Iran. Experts say it is poised to enter the breadbasket of northern India and Pakistan, and the wind will inevitably carry it to Russia, China and even North America — if it doesn’t hitch a ride with people first.
“It’s a time bomb,” said Jim Peterson, a professor of wheat breeding and genetics at Oregon State University in Corvallis. “It moves in the air, it can move in clothing on an airplane. We know it’s going to be here. It’s a matter of how long it’s going to take.”
Betelgeuse, one of the brightest stars visible to the naked eye, has shrunk in diameter by more than 15 percent since 1993.
The star, a red supergiant, has a radius exceeding the distance between the sun and Jupiter. The shrinkage corresponds to the star contracting by a distance equal to that between Venus and the sun, researchers reported June 9 at an American Astronomical Society meeting and in the June 1 Astrophysical Journal Letters. [snip]
It’s unclear why Betelgeuse has shrunk and whether the star will later rebound, said Charles Townes, a retired professor from the University of California, Berkeley who won the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics.
Townes and collaborator Edward Wishnow, also of UC Berkeley, used an infrared interferometer, consisting of three telescopes acting as a single unit, atop Mt. Wilson in southern California to monitor the star. The team examined the star at an infrared wavelength of 11.1 micrometers, which can penetrate the tenuous gas and dust in the star’s outer regions and accurately determine the star’s visible edge.
In 1921, Betelgeuse became the first star for which astronomers measured a size. Over the years, different interferometers, observing Betelgeuse over a wide range of wavelengths, have recorded diameters for the star that disagree with each other by as much as 30 percent. That’s not surprising because stars often look considerably bigger or smaller at different wavelengths. But the star hasn’t previously been found to vary significantly in size at any one wavelength, Townes says.
As hefty as 15 suns, Betelgeuse is nearing the end of its life and could soon go supernova. Continued close monitoring of Betelgeuse could lead to a better understanding of the evolution of massive stars near the end of their lifetime.
One of the largest known stars in the universe is shrinking rapidly, and astronomers don't know why.
Betelgeuse (pronounced almost like "beetle juice") is a red supergiant star 600 light-years away in the constellation Orion. From Earth the star is clearly visible with the naked eye as the reddish dot that marks Orion's left shoulder.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, first measured the star in 1993 with an infrared instrument on top of Southern California's Mount Wilson. They estimated the star to be as big around as Jupiter's orbit around the sun.
But measurements made since then using the same instrument show that Betelgeuse is now only about as wide as the orbit of Venus—a size reduction of about 15 percent in 15 years.
The cause of the star's rapid contraction is a mystery. But the team noted that they had observed an unusual big red spot on the star three years ago.
"Maybe there's some kind of instability going on there," said study team member Charles Townes, a Nobel Prize-winning astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley.
"This red spot may be connected with the fact that [Betelgeuse is] gradually shrinking in size."
Collapse or Bounce Back?
A class of stars known as Mira variables are known to swell and contract by as much as 25 percent every two years—at their lowest points Mira stars can completely disappear from view.
Astronomers know how and why Mira stars pulsate, and they know that the pulses are linked to changes in the stars' brightness.
Betelgeuse is a type of variable star, with slight dips in its brightness every few years. [snip]
"Is it going to keep on shrinking and maybe collapse, or will it oscillate back and forth?" Townes mused. "We don't know."
It begins with the Bush GOP in government or any one of their supporters (Gingrich or Fox News comes to mind) misrepresenting, for instance, a position of a person, most likely a Democrat, (lying about what that person believes or has said) making it appear more implausible, and then using an argument as though it were really the position of their opponent. This is done over and over by members of the Bush GOP who are constantly seen in the news . . . using Civil Rights for Civil Wrongs.
Wasn't there a decent time in this country when such a person could not get away with using the straw man approach, and the media had to have the opponent on too? This is one reason why, today, we have so many Americans who can't rely on the news for the truth, instead they are carriers of propaganda, a symptom of the disease that can kill the democratic life of this country. [snip]
And, it's been said many times that the Republicans have nothing to say. Not quite accurate. They have nothing to say that makes sense. They have no idea or plan about how to bring this country back from the jaws of a nation-eating depression.
They helped to bring about the highest debt that this country has ever known and they profited from it. Profited from the deaths of innocent Americans and innocent citizens around the world. Profit they have been allowed to, so far, keep. No one who believes in a living, breathing democracy should be allowed to profit from the murders and torture of innocent people, and worse yet, be allowed to keep that money.
"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents."
-- Robert Kennedy The Pursuit of Justice: Extremism, Left and Right, 1964.
Another serious problem today is that we Americans are allowing our fundamental rights to be used to stimulate the minds of those whose emotions are easily aroused into violent behavior. And, we Americans are expected to give up our own rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and turn a blind eye, in order that those who stimulate such violence, who have no real concern about this country or the victims of such violence . . . are free to collect the almighty, high dollar they get paid to use whatever measures they can to split the citizenry of this country and pit American against American, without any fear of being found guilty for having instigated such violence. [snip]
What kind of freedom will we have in this country if this violence through the rhetoric and propaganda that is constantly found in the Right-Wing media and the Bush GOP is allowed to continue without any accountability? What about the freedom of those who do believe in this country and live by the rules of morality and common decency? What about all of the lives of every innocent person that was taken due to the lies by Bush and his cohorts in crime, his administration and supporters? These Right-Wing hate mongers are just following up what the Bush GOP has been doing for the last eight years. Promoting violence and taking the lives of innocent people using a dictatorial form of government that most of us Americans were aware of, and had to wonder why those in DC did not put up more of a fight.
We are talking about the rape and pillage of our Bill of Rights and of our Constitution that began, without accountability, years before the Supreme Court put Bush into the White House, when law and order ceased to exist for anyone who disagreed with the Bush GOP. Debt, death, and destruction is not just Iraq, Afghanistan, and New Orleans, it is the destruction of US government, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.
If this country is to save itself, we need investigations and accountability regardless of where it will lead. Everyone who has lost their life due to the lies of the Bush GOP should not have died in vain, and they will not have died in vain if justice and accountability -- US law -- is brought into US government.
As a group, they are the pop culture equivalent of necrotic carrion beetles, crawling with insectile determination from one infected open wound in the American psyche to another. The wounds include fear of race, fear of foreigners, fear of sexuality, fear of difference, hysterical religious fundamentalism, violent nationalism, and paranoia. They lay their eggs in the infected abrasion, then scuttle away. When the eggs hatch, disgorging rage and discontent, they start counting money.
When challenged on the inherently destructive nature of their enterprise, they invariably claim that their First Amendment right to free speech is being abrogated. [snip]
There was a time when decency, even honor, was an essential part of the American dialogue in its most ideal form, and part of its very identity. There was a time when our culture would have recoiled in horror at the vituperation flowing unchecked from radios, televisions, and the Internet, instead of applauding it as "common sense," "free speech," or "mavericky," or "a spin-free zone."
There was a time when intellectual honesty was not considered unpatriotic; when compassion for, and understanding of, your fellow man was a sign of strength, not weakness. There was a time when the phrase Have you no shame? meant something, and the First Amendment was not used as toilet paper to wipe up the excremental verbal degradation of vulnerable segments of the American population. A time when it was expected that citizens would understand the difference between free speech and irresponsible speech. Somewhere along the line, a cancerous segment of American popular culture and media cunningly exploited the long-standing, honorable American "cowboy" motif and mentality. They grafted cruelty, divisiveness, and ignorance to it, making the two appear indistinguishable, and natural allies. And they are neither, or at least ought not to be.
There is no Environmental Protection Agency to measure hate pollution in national dialogue, and no mechanism in place to warn us when the poisonous rage spewed into the national consciousness by shock-jocks, poisonous television pundits, megachurch leaders, and oh-so-subtle politicians, has reached dangerously toxic levels.
No, there is only the result: widows, orphans, collective grief, and an absolute refusal on the part of our loudest, coarsest voices to take any responsibility for their part in the carnage.
On DW's BlogtalkRadio Show we talked about the pictures that Barry wants censored (there's no other word, politically correct or not) to substitute. War is, by it's very nature, hell. Those who haven't experienced it have a difficult to impossible time imagining what it is or was like.
To say that soldiers are saints and follow some mythical "gentleman's agreement" while trying to kill each other is beyond naive, bordering on denial. Yet for some reason, we Americans believe that only those "other guys" treat us badly; that only we play by the rules.
I wonder whether the stated reason for censoring the photos (because Baghdad would burn or it would inflame our enemies further) is the real one.
Could it be that those in power here would suffer the outrage rather than the soldiers? Are they valuing their coveted positions more than providing facts to the people of this country?
It seems to me that many of those in power in this country believe they can tell the American people whatever they like and the people will believe them.
These politicians are living a surreal world of the 1950s where they think they are our parents and all they have to do is tell us something and we will accept their word. They still don't realize that a tremendously growing number of us get our news from sources other than them or their sycophantic media groupies.
They are so far removed from the new "news reality" that they can't accept when they are wrong or are hiding something. These sad examples of Political Representation even now can't program a VCR, which most think is state of the art electronics!
But they have no concept of war...or 95% don't. I apologize to the very, very few who served and understand. Sooner or later though, these will be gone. The question is, will the next political generation be more aware?
I posted this video on another blog a time ago. It exemplifies what war is really like...all wars. None is worse than another. Some just last longer and more die.
If you don't need a tissue after watching this...
I don’t know about the rest of you, but this graphic exemplifies the way I feel about the decisions that this administration is making. And don’t kid yourself, whether Geithner or Summers or Rattner or Gibbs or whomever spews the bullshit, the approval and responsibility rest solely with Obama…unless he’s really not running the country!
I had a brief but memorable encounter with an initially lovely man once. All was so wonderful that I actually marveled aloud and commented that I was "waiting for the other shoe." And he said what I still consider to be one of the most romantic things ever said to me (even thought it was a complete and total lie, as I was to find out within days). He took my hands and looked into my eyes and said, "I only have one shoe." And it just took my breath away. Okay, so he didn't have another shoe---what he had was more of a hip-wader filled with concrete----but is was still a nice thing to say, don't ya think?
But, anyway, when I'm moon-pied over a new guy, it's the threat of the Other Shoe that stomps out my appetite.
One of the Rodeo girls----it's that Joesy again, I swear....is just the opposite. She never thinks anything will work out. She suffers from pre-rejection at the moment of introduction, and while she, too, automatically projects an imaginary future life onto the screen of her mind, it's always a disaster that cannot wait to happen. She has gone through dozens of mental marriages---most of them ending badly----all in the time that occupies a mere weekend for most of us and, I might add, without the participation or in most cases even the knowledge of the other person. It's gotten to where, when she relating the latest drama with the guy du jour, I have to ask her if this is something that reeeally happened-----like where other people could see and hear it----or if it's another instance of her talking to the little man on her hand (you know, where you close your hand and paint a face on the side of it and wiggle your thumb up and down to make the mouth?).
Well, whenever she's off on a tangent and I am highly suspicious that she's making it up, all I have to do to flush her out is make my own little hand-man and talk in this high-pitched voice like Mr. Bill: "O-o-o-o-h, no-o-o! Joesy! Please don't cast me into outer darkness---we only just met. I haven't had time to need killin' yet. Don't throw me in the wood chipper, please-----o-o-oh, no-o-o!" Then she gets this sheepish look on her face and I know she's doing what she like to call "reading between the lines" and I like to call "making shit up outta thin air." Joesy doesn't have imaginary friends----she has imaginary ex-husbands.
"Hank Paulson is a national hero. I said it last October and I'm sticking by it. And now, there's actual evidence to back me up. The TARP bailout worked. The Wall Street crisis is over." -- by Evan Newmark from "Mean Street: It's Time to Enshrine Hank Paulson as National Hero" -- Wall Street Journal.
So here's the letter I wrote to the Wall Street Journal after reading Evan Newmark's paean to Hank Paulson last week:
Just out of curiosity -- did Evan Newmark ever work for Goldman, Sachs? And if the answer to the question is yes, don't you think that might have been a good fact to disclose before he fellated Hank Paulson in his "Mean Street" column?
Check out Alternet Matt Taibbi's to-the-point rant against a WSJ writer. Then, if you still can, for a look at what Joe Cannon shows to be the vast differences between the Bush Administration and Barry’s 100 plus days.
Caution! During mental decompression, barf bags will drop from the ceiling. If they fill too quickly, please feel free to fill your empty pockets!
Matt Taibbi got right to the point over at Alternet. It’s interesting that these “players” who have so royally screwed the country all seem to be graduates of the Ronnie Raygun School of Give-Me-More!
While we were foolishly worrying about Iran-Contra, and another dick with ties to the Nixonites of the 70s becoming president, these “Greed is Good” asses were already planning their retirements in the Caymans, Tahiti, Paraguay and other parts of South America (that is a little ironic, especially if you consider Argentina).
Matt finishes with this gem:
Even if it weren't about five years too early to make any kind of judgment at all about whether or not TARP helped, the notion that Henry Paulson is a hero is complete and utter madness because TARP would never have been necessary if someone, anyone who wasn't a greed-addled incompetent like Paulson had actually been regulating the economy in the last years of the Bush adminstration. If anyone besides Paulson had been running Goldman Sachs earlier in this decade -- if a person with a serious brain injury had been in his place, for instance, or a horse, or a head of lettuce -- we'd all be better off today, because there wouldn't be so many toxic Goldman-underwritten mortgage-backed CDOs on the market. We, all of us, are paying the freight for assholes like Paulson, and like you, for that matter. And while we're getting over it, slowly, you're really not helping when you open your mouth and pat yourself on the back for all the good deeds you've done. Spare, us, okay? Just give it up.
Thanx to PoLT for the heads up on the Joe Cannon article.
Moyers: Some people have suggested that the increasing reliance on military contractors in Afghanistan underscores the fact that the military is actually stretched very thin. General McChrystal said, this week, he admitted that he doesn't even know if we have enough troops there to deal with the situation as it is now. Does that surprise you?
Scahill: No. It doesn't surprise me. Because this is increasingly turning into a war of occupation. That's why General McChrystal is making that statement. If this was about fighting terrorism, it would be viewed as a law enforcement operation where you are going to hunt down criminals responsible for these actions and bring them in front of a court of law. This is turning into a war of occupation. If I might add about General McChrystal, what message does it send to the Afghan people when President Obama chooses a man who is alleged to have been one of the key figures running secret detention facilities in Iraq, and working on these extra judicial killing squads. Hunting down, quote unquote, insurgents, and killing them on behalf of the U.S. military. This is a man who's also alleged to have been at the center of the cover-up of Pat Tillman's death, who was killed by U.S. Army Rangers.
Moyers: But he apologized for that this week be before Congress.
Scahill: Well, it's easy to apologize when your new job is on the line. It's a different thing to take responsibility for it when you realize that the mistake was made, or that you were involved with what the family of Pat Tillman says was a cover-up.
Moyers: You know, you talk about military contractors. Do you think the American people have any idea how their tax dollars are being used in Afghanistan?
Scahill: Absolutely no idea whatsoever. We've spent 190 million dollars. Excuse me, $190 billion on the war in Afghanistan. And some estimates say that, within a few short years, it could it could end up at a half a trillion dollars. The fact is that I think most Americans are not aware that their dollars being spent in Afghanistan are, in fact, going to for-profit corporations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. These are companies that are simultaneously working for profit and for the U.S. government. That is the intricate linking of corporate profits to an escalation of war that President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address. We live in amidst the most radical privatization agenda in the history of our country. And it cuts across every aspect of our society.
Moyers: You recently wrote about how the Department of Defense paid the former Halliburton subsidiary KBR more than $80 million in bonuses for contracts to install what proved to be very defective electrical wiring in Iraq. Senator Byron Dorgan himself, called that wiring in hearings, shoddy and unprofessional. So my question is why did the Pentagon pay for it when it was so inferior?
Scahill: This is perhaps one of the greatest corporate scandals of the past decade. The fact that this Halliburton corporation, which was once headed by former Vice President Dick Cheney, was essentially given keys to the city of U.S. foreign policy. And allowed to do things that were dangerous for U.S. troops. Provide then with unclean drinking water. They were the premier company responsible for servicing the US military occupation of Iraq. In fact, they were deployed alongside the U.S. military in the build up to the war. This was a politically connected company that won its contracts because of its political connections. And the fact is that it was a behemoth that was there. It was it was the girl at the dance, and they danced with her.
Moyers: Yeah. The Army hired a master electrician, I read, in some congressional testimony, to review electrical work in Iraq. He's now told congress that KBR's work in Iraq was, quote, "The most hazardous, worst quality work he'd ever seen." And that his own investigation, this is not a journalist, this is an employee of the Army, had found improper wiring in every building that KBR had wired in Iraq.
Scahill: Right. And we're talking about thousands of buildings. And so we've had, U.S. troops that have died from electrocution in Iraq as a result of the faulty work of KBR. This should be an utter scandal that should outrage every single person in this country. And, yet, you find almost no mention of this in the corporate media.
In an unprecedented move today, the Barry Administration released photos of the alleged masterminds behind Torture-Gate!
Responding to a FOIA request, a spokesperson for the Barry Administration said that the photos were redacted to prevent possible full scale rioting.
One senior advisor claimed, “If the identities of these perpetrators became known, Wall Street would burn!”
Sensing the potential danger, Barry said that these photos were released to show how transparent his administration is. But at the same time, he explained the need for the redaction to, in his words, ”Prevent an all out fail of Wall Street and our socialist Republic should any of these people be identified.”
“We have complied with the order of Night Court Judge, the honorable Harry Stone in releasing the photos,” said Barry. “While the FOIA asked for the release of pictures of the people involved, they never mentioned that the faces could be redacted. And we’re complying with the letter, if not intent, of the law.”
“Let me further state that no one is above the law. It’s just that the law works in mysterious ways and it’s time to move forward and let the past go. Whatever these people did is bad, but nothing will be gained by identifying them to a rabid population.”
A reporter asked, “Mr. Barry, now that you’ve released the photos that were requested, what are your next plans?”
“I’m glad you asked that, Mr. Dooshey”, said Barry.
“I’m going to DisneyWorld!”
The Supreme Court without comment has rejected the appeal by James Pietrangelo of a federal court ruling dismissing his lawsuit against the United States Army for discharging him under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, in effect since 1993.
Although the First Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed Pietrangelo's lawsuit, a separate ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a parallel case gave Pietrangelo a foundation for appeal to the nation's high court, based upon the Ninth Circuit's reasoning that a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law opened the door for review of other cases where laws effectively target homosexuals.
In Pietrangelo v. Gates, however, the nation's highest court chose not to review the First Circuit Court decision against Pietrangelo, deferring to the will of the Pentagon, which is resistant to any erosion of its anti-gay policy. Perhaps more surprising to those who still believe that Barack Obama is a progressive, the White House, itself, prevailed upon the Supreme Court in the case, despite its public claim that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is under review.
From CNN.com comes this note from the Associated Press on the Supreme Court's decision in Pietrangelo v. Gates:
"The Obama administration had asked the high court not to take the case, and White House officials had said they would not object to homosexuals being kicked out of the armed services."
The President who has described the standing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as "abhorrent" and "counter-productive" is at the same time prevailing upon the United States Supreme Court to protect that policy from judicial review, citing the well-worn argument that the armed forces need "group cohesion" and "discipline," neither of which, according to the White House, now, can be accomplished by the best military in the world if gays and lesbians are soldiers.
The gap between Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's high-minded, progressive rhetoric and President Obama's operational policies is becoming a veritable chasm that only the most ardent of his supporters can deny. In matters ranging from his fight to prevent release of detainee abuse photos to his penchant for appointing indisputably incompetent insiders like former New York Fed Bank President Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary, Mr. Obama has displayed a willingness to play by the rules of the Beltway establishment many who voted for him specifically and earnestly expected him to vanquish.
It remains to be seen whether or not the new friends and supporters Mr. Obama is courting with his non-progressive, authoritarian, and conservative appointments, decisions, and policies will be sufficient to replace those among his previous supporters who finally, before the next general election, come to figure out the difference between soaring rhetoric and concrete actions.
For his own part, the President may very well find that currying favor with entrenched, conservative, establishment forces within the military, economic, and political communities yields only a meager cache of new friends among those who have run Washington for too long. His far greater chance of a second term will be from the prospect that the liberals and progressives he is now ignoring and thereby alienating will have become too accustomed to the abuse of their trust to think they have any option other than to continue supporting the man in whom they placed so much hope and got in return only so much facile lip service. On the other hand, perhaps by 2012 the progressive community will be able to appreciate that a deep shadow cast by bad governance is not remedied by bad governance of a shadow made lighter by the false sunshine of unfulfilled assurances.
The Dark Wraith will surely mince no words in persistent reporting on the difference between a good President and an establishment authoritarian cloaked in the fineries of empty rhetoric.
This photograph was taken with a Nikon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX Nikkor lens on a Nikon D60. At The Dark Wraith Forums, I will publish a gallery of photographs of the wind farm, which stretches for miles, but I wanted to share this beautiful late afternoon scene with you.
Be sure to click on the photograph above to see a larger version.
UPDATE: You can also go to my post, now, at The Dark Wraith Forums to access the slideshow of a dozen photographs of this wind farm.
The following piece from Physorg.com supports what we've already observed: The majority of personal bankruptcies involve medical issues and expenses. What galls me to no end is how the U.S. Congress allowed the financial and banking interests to dictate the terms for the bankruptcy process for individual consumers. The financial elite have been allowed to utterly fuck over American citizens with unethical, deceptive, usurious practices, and congress has facilitated that process; spending its time instead on the big issues, like steroids in baseball and a split-second flash of Janet Jackson's nipple on teevee.
Furthermore, the U.S. Congress has not seen fit to regulate its own behavior, and members of congress commonly profit from investments in industries that they regulate or oversee. It's an obvious, blatant conflict of interest, and it's steadfastly ignored by the press and the dull-witted sloths that comprise our political punditocracy.
"According to FedSpending.org, 151 members of Congress had between $78.7 million and $195.5 million invested in companies that received defence contracts of at least $5 million in 2006. "As the war raged on, so did the billions of profits - and personal investments by Congress members in war contractors, which increased 5 per cent from 2004 to 2006." The Intelligence Daily, April 29, 2008. See Profiting from the Iraq War.
And that's just one example.
So yes, I get a little peeved when I see the ill and disabled struggling just to make it week to week, buried under medical bills that they'll never get out from under, and they don't get even the smallest break from these life-wrecking expenses. In fact, congress actively helped insure that consumers had less ability to discharge debt than ever before. Do you remember seeing clips of congressional hearings, in which representatives and senators solemnly waxed about individual responsibility, and the importance of personal accountability? I do. Who could forget such a spectacle - the living, breathing definitions of financial idiocy and irresponsibility, lecturing the rest of us about "financial responsibility". Gawd. I half expected them to burst into flames and be swept back to the 9th circle of hell in a whirlwind of fire (clearly there was no such luck).
Since that time, these people who claim to represent us have worked tirelessly to preserve their own seats in congress, and to transfer untold billions of the public's money to the financial industries - few questions asked, virtually no strings attached. Of course, congress is all about "labor concessions", and detailed recovery plans for manufacturers. But strangely, they somehow were unable to articulate and insist on any such plans and concessions from the hucksters in the highest financial brackets just a few months previous.
Here's the article about medical bills and bankruptcy:
Physorg.com Illness, medical bills linked to nearly two-thirds of bankruptcies
Medical problems contributed to nearly two-thirds (62.1 percent) of all bankruptcies in 2007, according to a study in the August issue of the American Journal of Medicine that will be published online Thursday. The data were collected prior to the current economic downturn and hence likely understate the current burden of financial suffering. Between 2001 and 2007, the proportion of all bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 49.6 percent. The authors' previous 2001 findings have been widely cited by policy leaders, including President Obama.
Surprisingly, most of those bankrupted by medical problems had health insurance. More than three-quarters (77.9 percent) were insured at the start of the bankrupting illness, including 60.3 percent who had private coverage. Most of the medically bankrupt were solidly middle class before financial disaster hit. Two-thirds were homeowners and three-fifths had gone to college. In many cases, high medical bills coincided with a loss of income as illness forced breadwinners to lose time from work. Often illness led to job loss, and with it the loss of health insurance.
Even apparently well-insured families often faced high out-of-pocket medical costs for co-payments, deductibles and uncovered services. Medically bankrupt families with private insurance reported medical bills that averaged $17,749 vs. $26,971 for the uninsured. High costs - averaging $22,568 - were incurred by those who initially had private coverage but lost it in the course of their illness.
Individuals with diabetes and those with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis had the highest costs, an average of $26,971 and $34,167 respectively. Hospital bills were the largest single expense for about half of all medically bankrupt families; prescription drugs were the largest expense for 18.6 percent.
The research, carried out jointly by researchers at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University, is the first nationwide study on medical causes of bankruptcy. The researchers surveyed a random sample of 2,314 bankruptcy filers during early 2007 and examined their bankruptcy court records. In addition, they conducted extensive telephone interviews with 1,032 of these bankruptcy filers. Read the rest.
Robert Francis Kennedy
November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968
This is a Day of Affirmation -- a celebration of liberty. We stand here in the name of freedom.
At the heart of that western freedom and democracy is the belief that the individual man, the child of God, is the touchstone of value, and all society, all groups, and states, exist for that person's benefit. Therefore the enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be the supreme goal and the abiding practice of any western society.
The first element of this individual liberty is the freedom of speech; the right to express and communicate ideas, to set oneself apart from the dumb beasts of field and forest; the right to recall governments to their duties and obligations; above all, the right to affirm one's membership and allegiance to the body politic -- to society -- to the men with whom we share our land, our heritage, and our children's future.
Hand-in-hand with freedom of speech goes the power to be heard -- to share in the decisions of government which shape men's lives. Everything that makes men's lives worthwhile -- family, work, education, a place to rear one's children and a place to rest one's head -- all this depends on the decisions of government; all can be swept away by a government which does not heed the demands of its people, and I mean all of its people. Therefore, the essential humanity of man can be protected and preserved only where the government must answer -- not just to the wealthy; not just to those of a particular religion, not just to those of a particular race; but to all of the people.
And even government by the consent of the governed, as in our own Constitution, must be limited in its power to act against its people: so that there may be no interference with the right to worship, but also no interference with the security of the home; no arbitrary imposition of pains or penalties on an ordinary citizen by officials high or low; no restriction on the freedom of men to seek education or to seek work or opportunity of any kind, so that each man may become all that he is capable of becoming.
~Speech at University of Capetown, South Africa
June 6, 1966
June 3: According to the Washington Post, former Vice President Dick Cheney was personally involved in CIA briefings with senior Congressional leaders aimed at defending torture. The Nation’s Chris Hayes discusses.
June 2: Psycho talk: In Sunday's Washington Post, former Counter-Terrorism Chief Richard Clark took aim at former Vice President Dick Cheney, writing "top officials ignored warnings from the CIA and the NSC staff that urgent action was needed to preempt a major al-Qaida attack." Cheney then turned around and place that blame on Clark.
On issue after substantive issue, significant majorities of Americans favor progressive solutions to the nation's problems and reject the right's worldview. That's true whether the issue at hand is taxes, war and peace, the role of government in the economy, health care, and on and on.
Yet the idea that America is a "center-right" nation persists; Republican and conservative activists repeat the assertion ad nauseum -- as it's in their interest to do -- and most of the political press corps swallows it whole.
The idea is like a zombie -- you can bludgeon it, burn it or get Dick Cheney to shoot it in the face, but it keeps coming -- it will not die.
The persistence of the center-right narrative, even in the face of piles of evidence suggesting it's little more than a myth, has very real consequences on our political discourse.
Aside from coloring the way the media covers -- and the public views -- the vital issues of the day, it impacts progressive activists, who even when they have the wind at their backs often feel the need to move slowly, cautiously and in ways that will minimize direct confrontation with the conservative movement. [snip]
This week, a new report released by the Campaign for America's Future and the media watchdog group MediaMatters attempts to finally bury the idea that the U.S. leans rightward. It takes a comprehensive look at the political landscape in which we live and a look forward at America's shifting demographic profile -- all of which reveal a citizenry that is anything but center-right and will only continue to trend in a more progressive direction, leaving modern conservatism increasingly isolated in its ideas. [snip]
What's more, the country's changing demographics suggest that America will continue to be a center-left country in the coming decades.
Empathy is at the heart of progressive thought. It is the capacity to put oneself in the shoes of others — not just individuals, but whole categories of people: one’s countrymen, those in other countries, other living beings, especially those who are in some way oppressed, threatened, or harmed. Empathy is the capacity to care, to feel what others feel, to understand what others are facing and what their lives are like. Empathy extends well beyond feeling to understanding, and it extends beyond individuals to groups, communities, peoples, even species. Empathy is at the heart of real rationality, because it goes to the heart of our values, which are the basis of our sense of justice.
Progressives care about others as well as themselves. They have a moral obligation to act on their empathy — a social responsibility in addition to personal responsibility, a responsibility to make the world better by making themselves better. This leads to a view of a government that cares about its citizens and has a moral obligation to protect and empower them. Protection includes worker, consumer, and environmental protection as well as safety nets and health care. Empowerment includes what is in the President’s stimulus plan: infrastructure, education, communication, energy, the availability of credit from banks, a stock market that works. No one can earn anything at all in this country without protection and empowerment by the government. All progressive legislation is made on this basis. [snip]
Why do we promote freedom and fairness for everyone, not just ourselves or the rich and powerful? The answer is empathy. We care about our countrymen and have an obligation to act on that care and to set up a government for the protection and empowerment of all. [snip]
In describing his ideal Supreme Court justice, President Obama cited empathy as a major desideratum. Why? Because that is what our democracy is about. A justice has to take empathy into account because his or her decisions will affect the lives of others. Before making a decision you have to put yourself in the shoes of those who your decision will affect. Similarly, in judging causation, fairness requires that social causes as well as individual causes be taken into account. Empathy forces you to notice what is crucial in so many Supreme Court cases: systemic and social causes and who a decision can harm. As such, empathy correctly understood is crucial to judgment. A judge without empathy is a judge unfit for a democracy.
President Obama has described Justice Sotomayor in empathetic terms — a life story that would lead her to understand people who live through oppression and deprivation and what it does to them. In other words, a life story that would allow her to appreciate the consequences of judicial decisions and the causal effects of living in an unequal society.
Empathy in this sense is a threat to conservatism, which features individual, not social, responsibility and a strict, punitive form of “justice.” It is no surprise that empathy would be a major conservative target in the Sotomayor evaluation.
But the target is not empathy as it really exists. Instead, the conservatives are reframing empathy to make it attackable. Their “empathy” is idiosyncratic, personal feeling for an individual, presumably the defendant in a legal case. [snip]
We cannot let conservatives get away with redefining empathy as irrational and idiosyncratic personal feeling. Empathy is the basis of our democracy and its true meaning must be defended. [snip]
Taken together, the attacks on Sotomayor work as attacks on Obama and progressive thought. They are also attacks on “moderate” conservatives, who think with progressives on many issues. [snip]
Democrats should go on offense. They need to rally behind empathy — real empathy, not empathy reframed as emotion and personal feeling. They need to speak regularly about empathy as being the basis of our democracy. They need to point out that empathy leads one to notice real social and systemic causes of our troubles and to notice when and how judicial decisions and legislation can harm the most vulnerable of our countrymen. And finally that empathy is the reason that we have the principles of freedom and fairness — which are necessary components of justice.
Above all, Democrats should be aware that the attack on Sotomayor is not just about Sotomayor. It is an attack on the basis of our democracy and must be answered.