A long-time commenter and friend who managed to track me down on a social network decided a few days ago to be impertinent: he addressed me directly. I almost never friend people, but I thought he was one of those attractive, lonely girls I'd heard about who want nothing more than a cold, digital friend for quiet evenings sitting by a fire, listening to Enya's Greatest Hits, holding synchronized human interface devices ("human interface device" is the technical term for a mouse, you perverts), and having deep, fast-typing conversations about dialectical structuralism in the age of false ideological dichotomizations that parallel product differentiation strategies in monopolistically competitive industries like shampoo and soft drinks.
I should have known this petitioner who wanted to be my friend was no prize catch. I didn't see anything about Enya in his profile, even after I hacked it to find out if he was really a girl posing as a man to create temporary emotional distance while ascertaining the potential for cyberspace bonding.
What's done is done. I have too many friends on social networks. Fortunately, they usually ignore me to the same degree I ignore them.
Stunned as I was that someone would communicate with me from beyond the dead (that is, from the Internet), I read his message:
Here's how we strike it rich, baby! First, we develop personal, mobile refineries, then we mobilize an army of imbeciles stupid enough to go out and collect the oil and, using the PMRs, they become our roving gas stations, selling it to people and delivering it right to their cars!
Given my long experience in building businesses, and given my equally extensive experience in retrospectives on, "I was sure those would sell like hot cakes," I seized the opportunity to drag out my naysaying pessimism to shoot down his hare-brained scheme before it could clear the rabbit hole:
Dream on, Multi-Viscosity Breath. Kevin Costner spent a fortune paying for the design of centrifuges that are going to be deployed in the Gulf.
My plan? Fishing.
That's right, fishing. Catch fish and remind buyers that fish oil is good for them. With all that crude in those fish from the Gulf, we can sell those fish to old men trying to avoid that first big heart attack: "Eat our fish, and you'll have 1000 times yer daily requirement of fish oil... and not only that, yew won't be needin' that oil change and lube job fer th' next one million miles."
Entrepreneurial skill. It's what's going to save this country.
I think oil-infused fish will sell like hotcakes. I figure about $17.99 a pound for 10W-30 fish from the Gulf. Being a responsible businessman, I will obviously include a prominent warning label about cooking the fish on an open grill. The last thing my profit line needs is some imbecile tossing a West Texas Intermediate Crude sea bass on the ol' Sears Craftsman 4-Burner Deluxe and torching the whole family, including the beagle, in the ensuing fireball. Not that it wouldn't make for a viral YouTube, but I've got this thing about cooking dog without a Chinese take-out restaurant license.
Where the Hell was I in this narrative?
Oh, yes: profitable business ideas in the wake of man-made disasters.
I have some ideas about how to make serious money if the Large Hadron Collider coughs up a mini-black hole, some monopoles, or a tricky-to-manage goo of strangelets; and just to cover some other possible angles, wait until you hear about my idea for how to score big-time if that Goldman Sachs high-frequency trading program creates an uncontrollable, destructive oscillation feedback loop. From weaponizing the quantum world to peeking a few milliseconds into the future, this is definitely a get-it-while-you-can century for the can-do crowd.
Yes, as I wrote in my last article, "Contrary to what you might have heard, the sky really can fall"; but that doesn't mean we cannot live as civilized, money-making corporate citizens of the New American Century.
I'll be seeing you all real soon in the fresh fish aisle at Walmart.
I'm not sure when I started obsessing about life and how quickly it seems to pass as I get older. It has definitely been a bigger blip on my radar since I turned 40.
When you are 20, you feel immortal and the world awaits you. Yet, if you can manage to make it through four consecutive average cat life cycles from that point, you are indeed lucky.
The unfortunate event on March 1st when I broke a number of bones in my face, the resulting surgery a bit more than 2 weeks later, and then my 50th birthday a month later, have all had an impact on how I view life. It seems so much more fragile now than it ever has before. The reality is that any of our seemingly stable lives can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye. Moreover, it is inevitable. The older we get, the greater the odds that we are on the cusp of a shattering event.
The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead today,
Is not a rose wreath, white and red,
In memory of the blood they shed;
It is to stand beside each mound,
Each couch of consecrated ground,
And pledge ourselves as warriors true
Unto the work they died to do.
Into God's valleys where they lie
At rest, beneath the open sky,
Triumphant now o'er every foe,
As living tributes let us go.
No wreath of rose or immortelles
Or spoken word or tolling bells
Will do to-day, unless we give
Our pledge that liberty shall live.
Our hearts must be the roses red
We place above our hero dead;
Today beside their graves we must
Renew allegiance to their trust;
Must bare our heads and humbly say
We hold the Flag as dear as they,
And stand, as once they stood, to die
To keep the Stars and Stripes on high.
The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead today
Is not of speech or roses red,
But living, throbbing hearts instead,
That shall renew the pledge they sealed
With death upon the battlefield:
That freedom's flag shall bear no stain
And free men wear no tyrant's chain.
The shock will come hardest to those who think things are on their way to recovery. Buoyed by the media’s incessant, intentional ignorance of the situation, when nightfall happens, they’ll be the first to cry foul.
Whether a conspiracy theory or not, I have trouble believing conditions “just happened.”
Select laws overturned, others created at the last minute, a questionable election, a non-fight over that election, 911, disdain for the Constitution, a remarkably ready Patriot Act, hurry to an illegal, unnecessary war with grandstanding by the media, special energy agreements, swift-boating of an opposing candidate, special executive signing statements unchallenged by Congress, FISA complicit Congress, Habeas Corpus ignored, due process obviated, divisiveness among Americans brought on by class hatred, government hatred fomented by one media, Fox in particular, continuing ignorance by the main stream media, suppression of rights, convenient amnesia about financial matters, increased dissension over minorities, willful hate rhetoric from the Right Wing, the religious sector and militia groups, blatant financial irresponsibility allowing the recession, corruption in the government, the Fed, banking and financial sectors, reduced assistance for the common American, huge bailouts for overt corruption, a duplicitous new administration with corrupt advisors, criminal acts by wealthy and powerful excused and accepted, harsh new laws enacted pertaining to the public, corporate greed excused. I’m sure there’s more.
This didn’t happen by amazing chance. It was orchestrated. Call it whatever you like; NWO, New American Century, Illuminati, Bilderbergers, Religion, ad nauseam.
That this wasn’t restricted to America makes it even easier to accept. All of a sudden there are hate crimes all over the world, increased gay bashing that didn’t exist before, the Fox network inciting violence and hatred toward immigrants, America First, teaparty fools suckered into supporting the very organizations they once railed against, murders of investigative reporters in Russia, accentuated hatred by Iran, north Korea, The African Bloc, attempts to start revolutions in other countries, and more.
Some group is behind all of this. Some group laid the groundwork for a global insurrection while those in power reaped the rewards. This could not have happened by chance. Conditions were created for it. Probably starting in the 1970s by those who rose to power in the 80s and in 2001.
In 1998 the Bilderberg Group (the main group that makes the World’s Rules) reportedly decided that the next 50 years should be filled with troubles, dissension, revolution, mayhem, religious and ethnic persecution. The story was because the world as it was and is could not support the growing population. Better to let them kill each other off and then start anew with handpicked descendents of this era.
We have yet to see the worst. It’s coming. Make no mistake. Even if things were to somehow start to look better, contingencies will come into play to make sure prosperity dies.
DW has been right on portending the coming doom. Some of us realized this even before reading the Wraith’s prophecies. But we were laughed at and called conspiracy theorist, fools, idiots.
Am I wrong? Nothing legislative has had any serious, long-lasting meaning for the American public since…when? Nearly every law passed the last 10 years has in some way added to the power of corporations, to their financial strength while diminishing that of the public. Nearly every law passed by Congress involving the public has been a left-handed compliment. And any that appeared decent were filled with loopholes to obliterate their strength and fell by the wayside. The few in Congress who championed them capitulated to the corrupt majority.
Money we don’t have is funneled into corrupt corporations here and for the “wars.” Money, concern and laws for the American Public is questioned, debated then defeated. Money for corporation and the military is quickly acted on and approved.
Important issues are downplayed and rationalized away; health care, outsourced jobs, American jobs, Rights, all in favor of corporate America. And you don’t believe we’re on the Eve of Destruction!
Set your alarm clocks for the second half of the 21st Century. If your children or grandchildren survive, they’ll experience what the fascists, the corrupt capitalists, the Neo ConservaLibs, the incorrigible Religists will call a New World, run by a consortium of Corporations and Theists.
In a few short years, capitalism has done what dictators and kings and other tyrants couldn’t; they defeated America – but only with the help of Americans.
If you labor under the thought that meaningful reform to prevent another financial crisis like the one in 2008 is coming from Washington, think again. Wall Street bankers' orgy of greed did not stop with the near-global meltdown of 2008, and the "reform" legislation in Congress is being hand-written by thousands of high-paid lobbyists as well as the industry's handmaiden, the Federal Reserve. Read Matt Taibbi's latest Rolling Stone article, " Wall Street Wars" for the wretched story of what became of solid, on-target reform of the failed regulatory squalor in which the powerful financial interests of this country wallow and thrive.
As a financial economist, I despair at what is coming, and come it will. I was right the last time, and I'll be right again this time. Solid economic theory tasked to the objective analysis of data veritably howled of a bad, bad crisis, and I wrote about it in my four-part series, "The Economics of Wreckage," my two-part series, "The Federal Reserve under Fire," and finally in my Spring 2008 article, "The Gospel of Impending Doom." My detailed explanations of theory, interpretations of historical and timely data, and predictions based thereupon did no good, of course.
I am wiser, now. Going through the same process of meticulous exposition would have no impact, but I will tell you this: the analysis that motivated my previous warnings now informs me of much greater risk of a confluence of potentially disastrous economic problemsboth inflation and recessionbefore the next presidential election.
When the whispering breeze of a real collapse of the global financial system brushed across our distracted faces in mid-September of 2008, no one could possibly have imagined (except those of us who did, but we were doomsayers, conspiracy theorists, anti-Bush malcontents, fanatics, marginalized academics, or some other manner of noise beyond the fringe of respectable inclusion).
The tribulation will be worse this time. Much worse. Contrary to what you might have heard, the sky really can fall.
As disturbing as that light wind of foreboding catastrophe might (or might not) have been to you, it was the muted, ill breath of genuine, life-changing storms to come in the cascading shards of our broken shelter of sunshine proclaimed by failed stewards and their failed successors. Those are the men and womenour leaders, their bureaucrats, technocrats, handlers, promoters, and thinkerswho have perverted the rule of law to protect the sovereign and its hordes of enforcers, inquisitors, prosecutors, and financiers. In toiling at that work so debilitating to a nation of free people, the sovereign has, in its reign of impunity uplifted on the stage of real and imagined threats touted in endless acts and scenes, become the coalition of inhuman entities ensouled not by any nature or its god, but by the fiat of corrupted law that poses to quicken the unensoulable, be it an unaccountable government or the enterprise of commerce in corporate form.
The disaster this time will not be owned by the Bush Administration, and you can do nothing about what's coming. You might think you can, but you cannot.
As I wrote in January, "Look hard into that darkening twilight: the sun is setting behind you."
Details about shortcuts ahead of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig – and subsequent obfuscation by oil giant BP – have awakened Americans and their government to the tight relationship between oil explorers and regulators. The disaster has also made more clear the risks of drilling deeper and deeper in the quest for oil.
It's funny how right-wing talkers and their Beltway Village cohort really hate it when you point out how the lax regulatory oversight that resulted in the horrific Gulf oil spill originated in the Bush/Cheney administration. [snip]
Yeah, we can't blame BP because they didn't want it to happen -- they just decided to take the cheaper and far riskier route when drilling this well, thanks to the handy green light they got from the Bush/Cheney MMS. [snip]
Of course, I'm still wondering how these right-wingers think we're supposed to prevent these kinds of things from happening again without making an open and frank assessment of how we got there in the first place.
Because it's clear they're more interested in saving the name of conservative dogma -- gasping and dying now from self-inflicted wounds like "Drill Baby Drill!" -- than they are in actually dealing with the mess they've handed us. But that's been clear for some time now.
All 125 commercial vessels working to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have been ordered back to shore temporarily after four workers on three separate vessels became ill, according to a Deepwater Horizon Response press release. [snip]
The current symptoms mirror those of other fishermen who were hired by BP to help clean up the spill, as we pointed out earlier this week. The dispersants BP is using to break up the oil have many health risks of their own. Earlier this month, the EPA told BP to stop using the chemicals and to switch to something else, but BP says there is no better alternative.
While BP's engineers, and all the other industry experts arrayed to assist them, are praying that the "Top Kill" procedure to end all the oil leaking into the Gulf works (it's still too soon to know), BP's legal team is deeply involved solving a different crisis: how to limit BP's liability for the mess it created.
So it should come as no surprise that BP wants only one judge to handle all litigation involving the Deep Horizon disaster, a judge with troubling ties to the oil industry ...
In testimony about the Gulf Oil rig disaster on Thursday some victims got to air their anger on the Congressional record. Some have lost loved ones that can never be replaced, and others were encouraged to sign away their rights as victims. This did not even include the millions who will lose their livelihoods. Their rage should be felt by us all.
...Because we are all connected.
“How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of the earth is sacred to my people.”
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
The government weather site, NOAA.gov, declared on Monday that my area of the country would be sunny and hot throughout the week. By late Monday afternoon, as thunderstorms were beginning to pop up all around the state, the local forecast had changed to reflect a 30 percent chance of showers, which was obviously a relief to me since I did not want to live in an alternate reality where the government tells me one thing while I am seeing something different. I have no desire to hallucinate that violent storms are hammering me on a day when the government tells me I'm really seeing nothing but sunshine.
By about 7:00 p.m., the weather radar was showing deep thunderstorm cells billowing up from out of nowhere like a clan of malevolent Djin issuing forth from invisible lanterns of high-speed vertical convection currents fed by heat near the ground. Once mature, these evil genies were marching up from the south-southwest, with a particularly mean cluster bearing straight down on my town. I decided that I would seize the opportunity to set up my camera equipment to try some lightning photography as the storms approached. The first photograph below was taken as angry thunderheads marched close to the horizon and the higher storm clouds raced in like enormous, glowing-edged horses galloping across the sky to cover the setting sun.
Within an hour, the world was darker than it should have been at that time of day, and vast drums rolled the herald of coming troubles. The first herd of storm cells skidded by just to the west of where I had set up my camera and tripod in a cul-de-sac off a quiet street right around the corner from where I live. The nearly black sky had brought the street lights up, but flashes of lightning had then made them turn off, so I had good shooting conditions in front of me to try to catch lightning in the thunderstorms that had missed me.
The awesome shot below was the best I got, almost dead-on, no more than 50 yards away behind some very nice houses in which resided families no doubt jarred quite a bit by the stupendous bolt that had just slammed into the ground right behind their yards.
That lightning photograph above is better than any I had gotten before. I knew that right away. After staring in near disbelief at the shot in the review window of my Nikon D5000, I did a few adjustments to the settings and then looked up to see where the pockets of lightning had headed. Most were just a little to the north of where they had been a couple minutes earlier, but new storms were beating their thunder drums back farther south along the western horizon, so I repositioned the tripod back that way a little so I could catch them as they skidded by.
The word "back-building" was not in my inventory at the moment, but then it was. Behind me, a notoriously vicious thunderstorm cell had become all grown up very fast, and it announced its presence in grand form.
No more than maybe 50 feet behind me, without even the slightest decency to warn me, a magnificent lightning bolt hit paydirt.
My world, my immediate plans, in fact, the very essence of my being, took a sharp turn to the survival-dedicated animal within.
As best I can recall, self-directing motivational speech went primitive:
"BOOM make loud..."
"Pant legs flapped..."
"Take camera... Nikon expensive... lens, too."
"Loud whistle play in both ears. Hate that."
"Chest feel hurt. Man-part feel funny. Shockwave go out there."
"Find home. Open door. Stay in. Loud whistle. Hate that."
Although the rain was coming down pretty hard, I managed to get inside right before the real deluge arrived. Once in the relative safety of my hovel, I paced back and forth between the kitchen and the bathroom for what must have been at least 10 minutes before my mind was right and that totally pukey feeling had dissipated from random parts of my body. Through the ordeal of shaking off the post-traumatic stress symptoms, I was apparently entertaining my two cats, who just sat on table chairs staring at me. I suppose they were concerned about my fine motor skills recovering sufficiently to open cat food cans.
Despite the rude ending to my most successful lightning photography session ever, the evening was a big win. I got a great shot of a stormy sunset and a fabulous lightning strike photograph. As a bonus, I became reacquainted with a very important lesson I sometimes forget, and it has nothing to do with taking shelter when bad storms are about to hit.
No, the lesson I shall evermore diligently remember is much more important: as dangerous as the world where you're looking might be, you can brace yourself for those difficulties; it's the dangers where you're not looking that can turn you into an imbecile running around in the rain grunting like a caveman.
May the cautionary tale be told far and wide, my good (and safety-minded) readers.
Phoebe is a non-migratory Channel Islands Allen's Hummingbird. She builds her nests in a rose bush, and the nest is about the size of a golf ball, with eggs being about the size of a tic-tac candy. The season for nesting is October through May/early June, and Phoebe will lay four to five clutches per season. One or two eggs are laid per clutch, they hatch after 17 days, and the chicks typically fly three to four weeks later. Phoebe will sometimes build a new nest, but frequently repairs old nests.
Here's the live camera view. (The location is California time, so you'll have to check during the day-light hours there.)
I’m tired. I’m tired of working for men and women whose only concern is for those who can line their pockets with more cash; for men and women who only care about themselves and the corporations who support them. I’m tired of politicians who say one thing however couched, then tell me to hang in there, that it takes time to do what they promised. I’m tired of people in this country bitching about nothing being done while they can’t get involved because they don’t have time or it won’t make a difference or no one else does it. I’m tired of a president who alludes to one thing but does another…if he does anything at all...for us. I’m tired of a president who puts the welfare of corporations ahead of the people while trying to rationalize that what he’s doing will be for the betterment of the people…in the long run. And I’m especially tired of a president who allows others to lead in his place. I didn’t vote for Rahm, or Reid or AIG or Goldman Sachs or McChrystal or McConnell or Baucus or Nelson or dozens of others.
Things changed in 1994 with the Republicans gaining both houses. Even though the House and Senate were previously controlled by Democrats, it was bad enough living through Reagan/Bush with their lies and deceit.
It was worse with Bush the First and his public mediocrity while kissing corporate America to staunch up what Reagan started. And the Democrats in Congress were starting to show their pastel colors.
It was a little better with Clinton even though he was more centrist than progressive. But Clinton smiled while preparing behind the scenes for the coming deception of the 21st Century.
Bush the Second was just what corporate America wanted and got. He set the table for his successor to finally remake America the way Big Business wanted. I supported that successor because I thought Hillary would have installed the same tired regime her husband appointed. I believed that Obama would be different. Yeah, I knew he wasn’t a true progressive but he came across as more than a centrist in his rhetoric. That is until he was elected.
I couldn’t have supported McCain because of the brain dead and unimaginably incompetent Sarah Palin. Was Sarah chosen by business to make sure Obama was elected? Did they know something we all didn’t? It seems so, now.
The foreseeable future has been set for corporate America. The future’s been dashed for the public, especially the poor.
Obama’s championing the middle class was a nighttime fairy tale for America’s bedtime. Something to make us think tomorrow would be, if not sunny and bright, at least not rainy and snowy. But it really was a bedtime story and most of us went to sleep convinced the days ahead would be better.
Sadly, we had to awaken to a different reality. “These things take time,” “You must be patient,” we were told. You’ll be taken care of. But first, we have to make sure those who have will always have over those who have not. It’s more difficult than he thought so just be patient. No, I can’t any longer, and won’t.
Obama had no problem immediately taking care of and rewarding those who caused the problem. He absolved those from the Bush Administration who started the problem and shredded the Constitution. He ignores those who would correct the problem. And he keeps those who were part of the problem.
It’s only a year and a half into his presidency but he’s shown nothing to convince me he’s any different from Bush or Clinton or Reagan.
The Obama apologists I know, are, for the most part, reasonably well off, in little danger of losing their jobs, homes or retirement. They can bleat about “giving him time.” Most of America can’t.
In 2012, the Democrats or what used to be the Democratic Party will choose a candidate to run for the presidency. Of course they will fall in line behind another in the 30 year line of incompetency simply because faux Democrat Obama is already the president.
I’m tired. But I’m not ready to quit. Fool me once…not like Bush said. But I WAS fooled once. Never again.
No matter what happens during the next two years, if inflation doesn’t come about, if troops are pulled from the war zone, if Cheney and his cronies are prosecuted, if a dozen other things happen that should have, even then Barack Obama will not have my support. I will cast my choice for any other Democratic Candidate.
And no, I couldn’t support any current Republican or Libertarian for the office.
Those who apologize for Obama say that if we don’t vote for him, it’ll be nothing short of installing a Republican in the White House. Maybe they could explain the differences between the current leadership of each party. If Obama and business want a plutocracy, fine, let them have it and be done. I have 20 or maybe 30 years left provided social security isn’t destroyed by this faux Democratic President. And if it is, then why should I worry? I won’t be here. But I feel badly for most of you because you will suffer worse than I ever did; maybe worse than my parents who lived through the Great Depression did.
Will it be your fault because you sat back and allowed this to happen? Will it be your fault because you were told fairy tales and lulled to sleep with bedtime stories we’ve all heard but this time for some reason you wanted to believe? Will it be your fault because you don’t want to sacrifice that SUV or LCD TV or weekends off or any of a thousand other of life’s conveniences you’ve come to think are your Country given right? Yeah. It’s like that!
You have one last choice. No, not this election. Some Democratic seats should change. Blue Dog Democrats should be ousted. Even if the Democrats maintain control, the majority of the fools making these partisan decisions will stay.
The one that counts is 2012. Unless true progressives in Congress and a true progressive president is elected and chooses to lead, there is little to no hope for the America we thought we knew growing up.
AIG, Goldman Sachs, GM, etc. may be too big to fail. But America is not.
Another area Congress is looking at is whether the industry has had too much influence in shaping offshore safety regulations; at least some of the government's rules come from standards developed by the industry's main lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute. There's also intense talk about boosting the penalties oil companies face for violating safety and environmental regulations under federal law. As New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, put it this morning, the system "is in dire need of repair."
The Justice Department said on Tuesday that Congress could retroactively impose a higher liability cap on BP to pay for the damage from its growing oil spill, and the company would likely lose if it challenged the higher cap in court. [snip]
"Our view is that there is a strong chance to defeat any (legal challenge) if Congress were to lift the caps," U.S. Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli told a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the oil spill.
Sure, they can, but the question remains whether or not they will lift the cap.
BP’s ads come as a new poll finds that 76 percent of the American public disapproves of how the company is handling the spill. And BP is not taking “full responsibility” for the spill. In fact, officials have repeatedly tried to downplay the disaster and argued that attempts to accurately measure the rate of flow at the seabed are impossible and unnecessary:
– Tony Haywood, BP CEO: “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest. It is impossible to say and we will mount, as part of the aftermath, a very detailed environmental assessment as we go forward.” [5/18/10]
– Haywood: “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” [5/14/10]
– Lamar McKay, President of BP America: “The volume estimates are based effectively on surface expression, because you can’t measure what’s coming out at the seabed.” [Senate testimony, 5/12/10]
– Tom Mueller, BP: “We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.” [5/14/10]
– Doug Suttles, BP COO, Global Exploration: “Since the beginning, we’ve said it’s almost impossible to get a precise number. But ourselves and people from NOAA and others believe that something around 5,000 — it’s actually barrels a day — is the best estimate.” [ABC News, 5/14/10]
No. You have not taken full responsibility. Lying and BS are not responsible or ethical behaviors.
Walking along a Louisiana beach yesterday, the chief operating officer of British Petroleum was caught on tape ordering subordinates multiple times to "get 'em out of here," apparently referencing media personnel who were swarming the scene prior to a press conference.
The clip has since raised the public's level of ire against the company, at a time when all BP's recent press coverage seems to paint a picture darker than oil. [snip]
"The last time I checked, we don't live in the United States of BP," Americablog commented. "Again, would someone in the White House like to step up and take control of this situation? This pompous ass thinks he owns the place and quite frankly, he does at the moment."
In the first weeks of the disaster, BP was heavily criticized for delaying release of video showing the deep water Gulf oil gusher. When video was finally released, the company lied about what took so long, then perpetuated it's estimate that 5,000 barrels of oil were venting per day. The CEO would later claim there is no way of knowing how much oil is gushing into the Gulf, contradicting his company's earlier claim.
Independent scientific analysis of the gusher indicated that figure was really 70,000 barrels or more, per day, spewing into the fragile ecosystem. At that rate, BP's disaster topped the infamous Exxon-Valdez spill in just four days.
At time of this writing, the gusher had been spewing oil for 35 days, uninterrupted.
Some 54,096 square miles (140,000 square kilometers) of Gulf of Mexico waters are now closed to fishing, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. That area is close to the size of Greece, according to an AFP calculation.
Some legal experts say that criminal charges stemming from the disaster will arrive in a matter of time.
They may own a lot of politicians, but they do not own this country. They owe this country.
May 25: The Huffington Post’s Lawrence O’Donnell talks about the mismanagement that lead to the BP oil disaster.
[ 8:49 ]
And because of the lack of responsibility, eleven men were killed. They are: Jason Anderson, Dale Burkeen, Donald Clark, Stephen Curtis, Gordon Jones, Wyatt Kemp, Karl Kleppinger, Blair Manuel, Dewey Revette, Shane Roshto, and Adam Weise.
"We've tried containment domes, rubber tires, and even golf balls," said William Cathermeyer of the National Oil Leakage Institute, a leading consultancy in the field of oil leaks. "Now it's time to shove some BP executives down there and hope for the best."
Submerging the oil company executives thousands of feet below the ocean's surface could be a "win-win" situation, Mr. Cathermeyer said.
"Best-case scenario, they plug the leak," he said. "And at the very least, they'll shut the fuck up."
But even as the oil leak experts proposed their unorthodox solution, environmental expert Marilyn Sufranski warned of the possible negative consequences of plugging the oil leak with BP executives.
"The Gulf of Mexico is slimy enough already," she said.
J. D. Hayworth is an idiot.
Vaughn Ward is an idiot.
Tom Tancredo is an idiot.
Hayworth presents false facts about WWII
May 24: Tea party candidate J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., claimed the U.S. never formally declared war on Hitler’s Germany. Countdown’s Keith Olbermann points out Hayworth’s mistake. [ 2:00 ]
Russell Pearce is an idiot.
Glenn Beck is an idiot.
Bill O'Reilly is an idiot.
O’Reilly tells viewers how to stop oil leak
May 24: While appearing on Fox and Friends, discussing how to fix the gap from which oil is gushing into the Gulf, Bill O’Reilly said, “I thought that they basically in the very beginning should stuff every member of NBC News in that hole.” [ 2:05 ]
Prior to canceling an appearance on "Meet the Press" Friday, Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul did sit down for an interview with a local television station in which he complained about being "tortured" by Rachel Maddow but ultimately called her interview "fair."
Did I mention that the half-term former governor is an idiot?
Invoking her own perceived victimhood at the hands of the national media, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin defended GOP Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul yesterday by claiming that MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow attacked him with “prejudiced” “gotcha” questions about his position on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “One thing that we can learn in this lesson that I have learned and Rand Paul is learning now is don’t assume that you can engage in a hypothetical discussion about constitutional impacts with a reporter or a media personality who has an agenda,” said Palin.
But many conservatives don’t appear to be buying Palin’s narrative.
The video lecture presented below was delivered on May 6, 2010. The context surrounding the production of this video is described in the original post at The Dark Wraith Forums. This lecture, which has a run time of 51 minutes, begins traditionally. By about a third of the way through, it becomes loud, controversial, and, to some students, offensive, at least in some aspects and moments. Academic speech works that way once in a while. Enjoy the video if you have the time and the inclination to see college teaching the way I practice my art, craft, and passion.
Lost is coming to an end Sunday evening and people seem to be pretty worked up about it. As much as I love science fiction and fantasy, I started missing episodes in the second season and haven't watched an episode since the beginning of the third season. Unlike 24 I wasn't drawn back into the drama and basically read the spoilers if I have nothing else to do.
That being said, here is my favorite theory (from a mind other than my own) about the show.
It will turn out that they've been living one island over from Gilligan the whole time and all of this was just the Professor playing mind games using his coconut powered reality distorter.
May the force be with the fans and may they find the answers they are seeking.
So, who you gonna believe: Sue, or your lying ears?
Bruck, bruck, bruck!
From The Rachel Maddow Show:
Lowden plays chicken with the truth
May 19: Kent Jones reports on a bizarre denial by Republican Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden that she supported bartering for health care - bizarre because of the plain video evidence of her doing just that. [ 1:35 ]
Sometimes, politicians ought to just shut up... especially after they've put their foot in their mouth. Other politicians, well... no matter how many times they try to walk it back, they still can't unsay what they've said and keeping on only makes things worse.
Paul has spent the last day and more trying to walk back his stated discomfort with the Civil Rights Act while maintaining his intellectual honesty and fidelity to principles. Simply put, Rand Paul seems to have a Barry Goldwater problem: He doesn't know when to be quiet. And the Civil Rights Act question has put a spotlight on that vulnerability for his political opponents and the press. (And despite what Paul might say about the so called liberal media, the only bias in play here is journalists' love of live train wrecks.)
Rand Paul agrees with most of the Civil Rights Act, but not the part that deals with private businesses. And he won't say whether or not that one part of the bill would have been a deal-breaker if he had been in Congress when the bill was up for a vote.
That's it, essentially. Paul said many, many times in the interview with Maddow that he is not a racist, and that his motivation for saying what he's saying about the civil rights act is not race, but rather allowing business owners their right to "free speech," which in this case is the freedom to discriminate.
May 19: Rachel Maddow interviews Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul about how he reconciles his views on small government with civil rights, racism and segregation. [ 19:35 ]
* * * * *
Civil rights beyond race
May 20: Rachel Maddow explains the political context of the civil rights movement and points out that on the fringe of American politics there is still debate about the role of government in assuring equal rights for all Americans. [ 11:24 ]
Sure enough, no sooner had Rand Paul's revealing interview with Rachel Maddow hit the air than Paul began rapidly backtracking, trying to claim he didn't really believe the things he had gone on national television and said.
After walking back his criticism of the Civil Rights Act yesterday, Rand Paul has been making the rounds defending himself against Democrats who have "trashed" him "up and down" with their "talking points."
On Good Morning America today, Paul also steered the conversation toward something more recent, President Obama's criticism of BP following the oil spill. Paul said: "This sort of, you know 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,' I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business."
Continuing his defense of his comments about the Civil Rights Act, Paul blamed it on Democrats who are "way behind in Kentucky" and "make up a lot of stuff" to gain ground.
The Tea Party hero, Rand Paul, had a very unstable couple of days. On Wednesday 'Baby' Paul flamed out quicker than a defective Roman candle with Rachel Maddow. His performance was so utterly enlightening about his beliefs -- and thus truly terrifying. His advisers burned the midnight oil to figure out how far he would run back what he really believes so that he could appear as somewhat normal.
His weak ass flip flop on Civil Rights before the sun came up on Thursday shows you how America views Paul's ideology. His defense is that we're all just conflators.
Evil liberals only wanted to bring up a case that he was too young to remember.
Today, the Senate passed its version of H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009:
A bill to promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end "too big to fail", to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes.
The Republican "Class" of '94 is still flunking family values. Making a political career of pushing your version of "Christian" traditional "family values" by "preaching" abstinence and saying that "Sex is to be avoided at all costs outside of marriage" is really hypocritical when you're saying one thing and doing someone who isn't your spouse.
The revelation made Mr. Souder, who was known for his push for stronger drug penalties and abstinence-only sex education for teenagers, the latest in a long line of members of Congress tarnished in sex scandals. He had made available a video with the employee discussing his work on the abstinence issue.
When riding that high "family values" horse, hypocrites really ought to watch out for the low hanging branches.
May 19: Rachel Maddow looks back on the 1994 Republican Revolution with its self-righteous "family values" message and reviews how many of those very legislators have suffered sexual, ethical or criminal falls from grace even as they continued to impose on Americans values to which they did not adhere. [ 9:08 ]
O‘DONNELL: Lost in the massive media coverage of the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is the worst part of this industrial crime, the killing of 11 men who entrusted their lives to the corporations that put them on the Deep Water Horizon oil rig and guaranteed their safety. You can be horrified by the pictures we bring you of the oil floating on the Gulf. You can feel for the birds. You can feel for the shrimpers. You can feel for the kids who just want to have fun on a clean beach.
But you should feel something more for the loved ones of the Deep Water 11. [snip]
Yes, everything changed, but the executives at BP and Halliburton and Transocean don‘t know that yet. They think they can get away with ducking blame in Congressional hearings and wait for all of us to move on and forget these 11 men. And they think they can admit missteps and keep calling a crime an accident.
Not this time. Not as long as I can get to a microphone. These corporations and these executives are going to be charged with wrongful death in civil cases and they are going to settle those cases out of court because they know there is not a jury anywhere in this country who would not find for these 11 men. The only legal questions remaining are: has everything changed enough so that this time they will face criminal charges of manslaughter? And is that what it takes to get the corporations running our oil rigs, our coal mines, to at long last find their consciences?
As corporations pursue extreme energy sources, a new oil rush endangers the planet
Clearly, BP’s top executives believed that a rapid ramp-up in production in the Gulf was essential to the company’s long-term financial health (and indeed, only days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the company announced that it had made $6.1 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2010 alone). To what degree BP’s corporate culture contributed to the Deepwater Horizon accident has yet to be determined. There is, however, some indication that the company was in an unseemly rush to complete the cementing of the Mississippi Canyon 252 well -- a procedure that would cap it until the company was ready to undertake commercial extraction of the oil stored below. It could then have moved the rig, rented from Transocean Ltd. at $500,000 per day, to another prospective drill site in search of yet more oil.
While BP may prove to be the principal villain in this case, other large energy firms -- egged on by the government and state officials -- are engaged in similar reckless drives to extract oil and natural gas from extreme environmental locations. These companies and their government backers insist that, with proper precautions, it is safe to operate in these conditions, but the Deepwater Horizon incident shows that the more extreme the environment, the more unlikely such statements will prove accurate.
The Deepwater Horizon explosion, we assuredly will be told, was an unfortunate fluke: a confluence of improper management and faulty equipment. With tightened oversight, it will be said, such accidents can be averted -- and so it will be safe to go back into the deep waters again and drill for oil a mile or more beneath the ocean’s surface.
Don’t believe it. While poor oversight and faulty equipment may have played a critical role in BP’s catastrophe in the Gulf, the ultimate source of the disaster is big oil’s compulsive drive to compensate for the decline in its conventional oil reserves by seeking supplies in inherently hazardous areas -- risks be damned.
So long as this compulsion prevails, more such disasters will follow. Bet on it.
We are in the same boat, and we're seasick
But I dillied and dallied, dallied and I dillied
Lost me way and don't know where to roam
--My Old Man, Marie Lloyd
Right now, there are 600 Titleists that I got
at the driving range in the trunk of my car.
Why don't we drive out to Rockaway and
hit 'em...into the ocean?
--Kramer, Seinfeld (The Marine Biologist)
What do you do when you have a lot of toxic fluid spewing forth from a pipe sticking out of the ocean's floor? Well, BP really hasn't any idea, so it's borrowing from semi-analogous situations in terrestrial life.
First it was the LEGO-like roof or diaphragm non-solution, if you will. No go -- the flow was too incessant. Could be 5,000 barrels a day, other models say up to 80,000 barrels (Giant Plumes of Oil Forming Under the Gulf.) No way to know because when oceanographers from Wood's Hole offered this week to give a definitive measure, BP turned them back saying it would not affect their efforts anyway.
Yesterday it was the sippy-cup solution (a tube surrounded by a stopper), which Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said had run into indeterminate problems (Latest Effort to Stop Leak Hits Snag). Clearly, BP is grasping at straws.
Reports today say the pipe part of the sippy cup was successfully inserted into the pipe on the ocean's floor, but BP says there is no way to know how much oil is being sucked up. "At optimum this pipe will suck up 75% from the most significant tube, leaking 85% of the oil." This means if everything is perfect, this "fix" will only suck up ~64% of the oil being released.
Using the 25,000 barrel per day figure as a charitable mid point between what BP says is being released and computer modeling, that means 9,125 barrels per day will continue to flood the Gulf. As the final fix (another well) cannot be completed for at least two months, that means this spill will still exceed that of the Exxon Valdez sometime next month. (Even at BP's lower estimate of 5,000 barrels/day, their fix leaves 1,813 barrels escaping daily, still exceeding their cheery initial estimates of 1,000 barrels per day.)
The spill has also most likely entered the loop current, the largest in the Gulf, which will take the oil around to the Eastern US coast.
The "Junk Shot" is next: "The method involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, even golf balls — Titleists or whatever, BP isn’t saying — into the blowout preventer, the safety device atop the well" (Junk Shot is Next Step). This one is straight out of a Seinfeld episode, when the hapless Kramer lodged a Tilteist in a whale's blow hole providing a glory moment for opportunist George, who feigns being a marine biologist.
It is all a bunch of schmegegge. It is closing the barn door after the horse is out. It's going to couple's counseling after you've been loathing each other for years. It's just not gonna work. And nothing will set the Gulf back to where it was a month ago. This "accident" will foul our ecosystem for decades or more.
The booms or dams which are set up in hopes of holding the oil offshore are notoriously flimsy, and a friend tells me some are already collapsing in the wind. It is like using a condom after an ejaculation (Officials' forecast grim about massive oil spill), and calling the resultant pregnancy a "miracle baby" after that one unfortuitous shot.
It is just as wrong as Texas Governor Rick Perry's announcement that the spill was an "act of god" -- it is nothing of the sort. It is humans screwing up as they are wont to do, and looking for a justification. There is none; in both cases the buck stops with Piss Poor Prior Planning.
BP has also been using tons of chemical dispersants both on the ocean floor and on the surface. This deep use has never been done before, and the chemical manufacturers will not release their composition citing proprietary interests (In Gulf of Mexico, Chemicals Under Scrutiny.)
The main dispersants applied so far, from a product line called Corexit, had their approval rescinded in Britain a decade ago due to limpet die off, and the bacteria that feed off the dispersants (as well as the oil) deplete the oxygen in the Gulf. One report says "a few countries forbid their use because their long-term effects are somewhat uncertain" (Methane Bubble May Have Triggered Oil Rig Blast), but that is a squidgy statement -- something is either certain, or not.
It was reported today that giants plumes of oil lie throughout the Gulf -- too numerous to count. Some are up to 10 miles long and three miles wide. The oxygen content around the plumes is reduced by 30%.
Recent hearings in Washington and Louisiana "uncovered a checklist of unseen breakdowns on largely unregulated aspects of well safety that apparently contributed to the April 20 blowout aboard the Deepwater Horizon: a leaky cement job, a loose hydraulic fitting, a dead battery. Company officials insist what caused the accident is not yet clear" (BP's Next Try to Stem Oil Gusher: Smaller Tube.)
Unseen, but not UNFORESEEN. I understand the need to offset journalistic liability, but it seems we would be on safe footing to declare that these failures DID contribute, though the degree of culpability assigned to each failure is a guessing game.
A tragedy has occurred due to greed and lax oversight. Where have we heard that before? An accident at the deepest oils well yet drilled should have been an anticipated eventuality, and every protection should have been in place.
Instead, we are fed the lie that this was "inconceivable". Just as with the Miracle Baby, it is all quite conceivable, and preventable. Humans are so good at self-deception.
"BP PLC chief operating officer Doug Suttles said Monday on NBC's "Today" that a mile-long tube was funneling a little more than 42,000 gallons of crude a day from a blown-out well into a tanker ship.
"That would be about a fifth of the 210,000 gallons the company and the U.S. Coast Guard have estimated are gushing out each day, though scientists who have studied video of the leak say it could be much bigger and even BP acknowledges there's no way to know for sure how much oil there is.
Speaking of the uncounted oil plumes discovered this weekend, Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia says:
"The discovery of these plumes argues that a lot more oil and gas is coming out of that well every day, and I think everybody has gotten that fact except BP," she said (Worry that Gulf Oil Spreading Into Major Current.)
"One is about 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick"
From the NYTimes via MSNBC: "NEW YORK - Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given."
I've finally been scheduled for surgery. May 27th at 9 am. The long delay had nothing to do with the VA and everything to do with the doctor's office and his monster of an office manager.
The VA wanted to do the surgery in house but after hearing my situation, the head of the VA in Reno agreed to let me see the oncologist in town. Neither of my brothers has contacted me, they're probably too afraid I might ask them to help me with mom while I recover. Which is why Dr. Brilliant (yes that really is his name) agreed that a week in San Francisco and a six week recovery time probably wasn't the best way to treat my cancer and take care of mother. It was agreed that I was under enough stress as it was.
Throughout this whole ordeal the VA has been extremely supportive and has operated in the manner of what's best for me. That all came to a screeching stop once I moved out of the system and into the world of private insurance. Then it became all about the bottom line and not what was best for me.
The referral from the VA specified that it would reimburse at Medicare rates. This wasn't good enough for the bubble headed bleach blond with way too much makeup on and clothes that were at least one size too small. From the moment I started dealing with her she treated me as if I was a developmentally delayed two year old with hearing problems.
She refused to schedule my seeing the doctor until she had personally spoken with the entity responsible for paying the clinic. She finally scheduled my appointment...for three weeks later. I finally see the doctor and he wants to use the da Vinci robot as the recovery time is one day in hospital and three to four weeks at home. I was so jazzed. Until I left the conference room and had to deal with the pit bull masquerading as the office manager.
She told me flat out that she wouldn't schedule the surgery until the exact codes had been approved and that I was to have the VA call her, but not for the next few days because one of the office staff wasn't coming in and she didn't have time to deal with my case until Friday or the next week. I was stunned speechless. Never, never would I have ever told one of my patients that I couldn't deal with their problem because it was more important that I answer the phone. Nor would I have made an ill patient responsible for finding the correct fee billing person and setting up a conference call. And I had a one woman office.
I went back to the VA and talked with the doctor whose timely intervention had caught my cancer. It turns out she has had dealings with the *itch and had been yelled at also. The woman definitely has a reputation for being obnoxious and is known throughout Reno as being difficult to deal with.
Everything has been taken care of and I'm hoping that the two month delay has not allowed the cancer to progress from Stage 1 to Stage 2. The differences between the VA and private practice are striking. One is interested in taking care of the patient, the other is interested in taking care of its wallet. After the surgery I plan on filing a complaint with the doctor and suggesting that the office manager should take classes in empathy and how to deal with patients under stress. Or maybe she should take her skills and attitude to a job more suited to her disposition...such as a debt collection agency.
The moon is new. The wars go on, and a new offensive is being launched.
Call to whatever deity you prefer to be with those in battle. As a strongly Hellenic-influenced pagan, I shall be hailing Hekate and Athena! For the list will grow and tears will fall on flag draped coffins brought home in the summer sunlight.
US Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Rangel, 22, of San Antonio, Texas, died May 6 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
US Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Davis, 19, of Perry, Iowa, died May 7 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan
US Army Capt. Kyle A. Comfort, 27, of Jacksonville, Ala., died May 8 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.
US Army Spc. Jeremy L. Brown, 20, of McMinnville, Tenn., died May 9 in Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.
US Marine Cpl. Kurt S. Shea, 21, of Frederick, Md., died May 10 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Cpl. Christopher Lewis Harrison, 26, of Watford, England was killed on May 9 by an IED explosion in Afghanistan.
The following U.S. Marines died May 11 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan:
Cpl. Jeffery W. Johnson, 21, of Tomball, Texas,
Sgt. Kenneth B. May, Jr., 26, of Kilgore, Texas.
US Marine Sgt. Donald J. Lamar II, 23, of Fredericksburg, Va., died May 12 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
US Marine Sgt. Joshua D. Desforges, 23, of Ludlow, Mass., died May 12 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
"I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" Claude Rains' Captain Renault declared in Casablanca just before collecting his winnings. Critics say controversial talk show host Glenn Beck is acting in a similar fashion.
Recently, Glenn Beck has claimed to be outraged that a new Arizona immigration law that requires people to carry proof of citizenship is being compared to Nazi Germany. Comedy Central's Lewis Black is even more outraged, since he believes Beck is a hypocrite.
"Glenn Beck is offended!" announced Black Tuesday night. "Glenn Beck thinks playing the Nazi card is going too far. Glenn Beck. This is a guy who uses more Swastika props and video of the Nuremberg rallies than the History Channel." [snip]
"Glenn Beck has Nazi Tourette's," Black concluded.
I'm not sure by how many degrees Beck is separated from reality, but probably by a lot.
A year ago, members of the Neanderthal Genome Project discovered evidence that shocked them: modern day humans, some of us anyway, carry around Neanderthal genes. The scientists had long thought, as had most paleontologists, that there had been no successful interbreeding between Neanderthals and early modern humans.
After all, mitochondrial DNA studies published by the same group a couple of years ago said had been no Neanderthal mtDNA input into Early Modern Humans. So, the scientists ran more tests, and eventually studied DNA from four Neanderthal sites and came to the inescapable conclusion that they were right. Modern Europeans, Asians and Melanesians all carry a tiny percentage (between 1-4%) of Neanderthal genes: Africans do not (or at least, so far as know at the moment). The Neanderthal Genome Project believes that's because contact between Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans took place after EMH left Africa and met Neanderthals in Europe, and, they, um, got to know one another. The dispersal to Asia and Melanesia came after that. This hypothesis puts the interbreeding as occurring between about 100,000 and 60,000 years ago, and probably someplace in the Middle East.
Some people don’t just have a caveman mentality; they may actually carry a little relic of the Stone Age in their DNA.
A new study of the Neandertal genome shows that humans and Neandertals interbred. The discovery comes as a big surprise to researchers who have been searching for genetic evidence of human-Neandertal interbreeding for years and finding none.
About 1 percent to 4 percent of DNA in modern people from Europe and Asia was inherited from Neandertals, researchers report in the May 7 Science. “It’s a small, but very real proportion of our ancestry,” says study coauthor David Reich of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. Comparisons of the human and Neandertal genomes are also revealing how humans evolved to become the sole living hominid species on the planet.
Neandertals lived in Europe, the Middle East and western Asia until they disappeared about 30,000 years ago. The new data indicate that humans may not have replaced Neandertals, but assimilated them into the human gene pool.
There's little question that modern humans and Neanderthals bumped into each other once upon a time.
"The archaeological record shows they overlapped between about 30,000 and 80,000 years ago," says David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School. [snip]
Reich says it's hard to pin down exactly how much DNA Neanderthals contributed to modern humans. "We estimate about 1 to 4 percent of the genetic ancestry of non-Africans is from Neanderthals," he says. [snip]
And just to be clear: Reich says there's no stigma to have a bit of Neanderthal heritage.
"Absolutely not," he says. "In fact, people who have Neanderthal DNA have done just fine in our society."
"In fact, people who have Neanderthal DNA have done just fine in our society."
In a major victory for transparency at the Federal Reserve, the Senate today passed an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to audit the Fed and make the central bank reveal which banks received more than $2 trillion in emergency aid during the financial crisis.
“The Fed can no longer operate in virtual secrecy,” said Sanders (I-Vt.).
Under his amendment, the Government Accountability Office would conduct a top-to-bottom audit of all emergency actions by the Fed since the start of the financial crisis in 2007. The non-partisan research arm of Congress specifically would be directed to investigate apparent conflicts of interest involving the Fed and CEOs of the largest financial institutions in the country.
In addition to the audit, the Fed for the first time would have to reveal by Dec. 1, 2010, the identities of banks and other financial institutions that took more than $2 trillion in nearly zero-interest loans.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke repeatedly refused to tell Sanders and others the names of the banks which took the loans.
“Let's be clear,” Sanders said. “When trillions of dollars of taxpayer money are being lent out to the largest financial institutions in this country, the American people have a right to know who received that money and what they did with it. We also need to know what possible conflicts of interest exist involving the heads of large financial institutions who sat in the room helping to make those decisions.”
The amendment, approved by a vote of 96 to 0, was a combined effort by conservative and progressive senators and a wide spectrum of grass roots organizations.
The Senate voted 96 to 0 Tuesday to open the secretive Federal Reserve Board's emergency lending practices to a congressional audit, as well as require a detailed disclosure of who's getting the funds.
"We are on the verge of lifting the veil of secrecy on perhaps the most important government agency in the United States of America,” said amendment sponsor Sen. Bernard Sanders, Ind.-Vt., "an agency which has control and spends trillions of dollars. They do it behind closed doors."[snip]
The audit is the Senate's latest change to legislation that would overhaul the nation's financial regulatory system, making it easier for the government to break up ailing banks and provide a strong, independent consumer agency to help people with credit questions and problems.
The Senate debate is in its second week, with Democratic leaders hoping for a final vote later this week. Still to come are disputes over how to deal with derivatives, the exotic financial instruments that helped spur the 2008 economic collapse, as well as questions about how to deal with government-sponsored mortgage finance titans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
If the Senate passes the legislation, next it will have to be reconciled with a similar bill that the House of Representatives passed last year, with final compromise terms then having to pass both houses of Congress before President Barack Obama could sign it into law.
“Civilization... wrecks the planet from seafloor to stratosphere.”
“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life.”
“As we watch the sun go down, evening after evening, through the smog across the poisoned waters of our native earth, we must ask ourselves seriously whether we really wish some future universal historian on another planet to say about us: "With all their genius and with all their skill, they ran out of foresight and air and food and water and ideas," or, "They went on playing politics until their world collapsed around them."”
~U Thant, speech, 1970
“We must not be forced to explore the universe in search of a new home because we have made the Earth inhospitable, even uninhabitable. For if we do not solve the environmental and related social problems that beset us on Earth - pollution, toxic contamination, resource depletion, prejudice, poverty, hunger - those problems will surely accompany us to other worlds.”
~Donald G. Kaufman and Cecilia M. Franz, Biosphere 2000: Protecting Our Global Environment
“Nature's laws affirm instead of prohibit. If you violate her laws you are your own prosecuting attorney, judge, jury, and hangman.”
“We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.”
~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
George A. Rekers cofounded the Family Research Council with religious right icon James Dobson. And he's been a key leader of the "ex-gay" movement for years, even testifying on behalf of the states of Arkansas and Florida in defense of their laws banning adoptions by gays and lesbians. Alas he was caught a few days ago coming home from a ten day European vacation with a male prostitute he'd found on Rentboy.com.
On Thursday afternoon, Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel reported that the Miami New Times was being threatened by Rekers with a lawsuit. "I have been advised to retain the services of a defamation attorney in this matter," Rekers wrote in an email to Weigel, "because the fact is that I am not gay and never have been."
In his response to the New Times story, Rekers asserted, "My travel assistant called me this afternoon earnestly asking me to clarify on my website that he worked for me as a travel companion and not as a prostitute." This was followed by a series of statements from Rekers, allegedly based on that phone call, saying "Together we agreed that I in fact hired him to lift luggage ... that my travel assistant did in fact lift my luggage ... that I did not hire him as a prostitute for any sexual purpose ... that I explained the Christian faith to my travel assistant in conversations on several days."
Just a few hours later, however, the New Times casually demolished Rekers' claim that his "travel assistant" supported his version of events with an article headed, "Things Rekers Said To Lucien When He Didn't Think We Were Listening."
"Lucien" is the name being used by the New Times to refer to the young man, whose family does not know he is gay.
"What the minister ... likely didn't realize is that Miami New Times reporters were sitting beside Lucien during a candid conversation over speakerphone," Penn Bullock and Brandon K. Thorp explain. "During that talk -- which took place at about 1 a.m. Thursday in a Fort Lauderdale home -- Rekers told Lucien several times not to talk to the press." [snip]
Rekers also suggested that the uproar over his trip was being created by "activists with an axe to grind" and would die down if Lucien just kept quiet. He told Lucien not to make a statement to the press because "it just causes more harm," adding, "We have to deal with the situation that we have, and make sure it doesn't get worse."
Anti-gay hypocrite is news because of his activism
May 7, 2010
Rachel Maddow explains what's really scandalous about revelations that anti-gay activist George Alan Reker is gay. It's not his personal life but his efforts to impose his self-loathing on the rest of society. ( 5:42 )
For those who don't know, Rekers just happens to be one of the most prominent anti-gay activists in the nation. He has advised Congress, the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services on homophobia as well as testifying as a state's witness in favor of Florida's gay adoption ban. Not only is he a founding member of the sanctimonious Family Research Council, but he does his best to rid the world of the scourge of "the gay." [snip]
If you want to read all the lurid details, check out the New Times story, titled "George Rekers is a homosexual, says escort" here. Let's just say Lucien wasn't literally carrying luggage for the anti-gay activist.
You can be sure that this creep will continue carrying water for the conservative anti-gay crowd. The saddest thing is that the psycho will probably continue "shaping you child's sexuality" (which is to say telling young gay people to renounce their identities, unless of course, he's hired them to "carry his luggage"). Meanwhile, untold numbers of normal, loving gay couples can't adopt children thanks to Rekers' efforts.
Remember our motto: So many Republican hypocrites, so little time.
"Good Morning America" anchor George Stephanopoulos interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a day after Ahmadinejad spoke before the U.N.'s conference on the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty Monday, claiming his country's nuclear program was not a threat to global security, but the United States' is.
The Bush years took us backwards in too many ways, especially with its deregulation regulationing. Yep, we sure misunderestimated him. On the Net Neutrality issue, we may be moving forward into more modern times:
The head of the Federal Communications Commission is pledging to apply only narrow regulations to high-speed Internet access to ensure the agency has adequate authority to govern broadband providers without adopting heavy-handed rules.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Thursday that the commission will seek to regulate broadband connections as a telecommunications service subject to "common carrier" obligations to treat all traffic equally. But it will refrain from imposing other burdensome obligations.
The "third way" plan, designed to appease Net Neutrality advocates - while not completely enraging the phone and cable companies - is good in some areas, and bad in others.
It will enable the FCC to enact many important provisions of their celebrated National Broadband Plan, including Net Neutrality and modifying government subsidy of Internet services. However, the new plan explicitly states that the FCC will not try to advance policies that promote more competition and affordability. Genachowski will use a technical process called "forbearance" to strip some of the agency's authority.
This approach mirrors the major shortfall in the original broadband plan: it is conspicuously missing tough provisions that would foster competition in a nation where 97% of markets have two or less broadband providers. Lack of competition is the primary reason the US has fallen from 4th to 22nd globally in broadband speed and adoption in the past ten years.
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday detailed plans for its so-called "third way" to reclassify broadband service as a telecommunications service, which would help the agency reassert its authority for regulating the Internet, after it lost an important legal battle last month.
The head of the Federal Communications Commission thinks he has come up with a way to salvage his ambitious national broadband plans without running into legal obstacles that have threatened to derail him.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Thursday that his agency has crafted a compromise in how it regulates high-speed Internet access: It will apply only narrow rules to broadband companies. [snip]
So now Genachowski is seeking to redefine broadband as a telecommunications service subject to "common carrier" obligations to treat all traffic equally. Similar rules apply to other networks that serve the public, including roads, electrical grids and telephone lines. But Genachowski said he will refrain from imposing more burdensome mandates that also apply to traditional telecom companies. For instance he would avoid requiring the broadband companies to share their networks with competitors.
The proposal is intended to strike a balance that can satisfy both Internet service providers that oppose new regulations and public interest groups that are demanding greater consumer protections. FCC officials stressed that they intend to regulate only Internet connections, not the online services flowing through them.
The FCC will soon seek public comment on Genachowski's proposal. It would have to be approved by at least three of the FCC's five commissioners, and Genachowski is expected to have the support of his two fellow Democrats.
Several public interest groups and big Internet companies, including Google, Skype, eBay Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., praised the proposal. So did Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC. "With this decision, the FCC will ensure that the agency remains the `cop on the beat,' protecting consumers and competition on the World Wide Web," Markey said.
In regulator-speak, Genachowski's plan says that broadband transmission will be reclassified as a "Title II" service - a telecommunications service of the type subject to close oversight since the FCC was established in the 1930s. Under the Bush administration, the FCC declared broadband offerings to be "Title I" data service, subject to much looser regulation. Although the plan also promises to carefully limit the regulators' role - the buzzwords are "narrowly tailored" and "third way" - it has predictably been denounced as a "power grab." [snip]
He says that the new rules would apply only to "the transmission component of broadband access service," and that the FCC will formally promise stay away from rules "that are unnecessary and inappropriate for broadband access service."
In other words, Genachowski is trying to thread a needle. He wants to make plain to the public that regulators can and will enforce reasonable net-neutrality principals against network owners who want to manage the broadband Internet like a private toll road, potentially favoring some people's or companies' traffic over others' in ways that distort the market. At the same time, he wants to signal businesses and entrepreneurs that the FCC will stay away from needless interference in a technology that has been a tremendous engine for growth.
To that end, the Genachowski-led commission also plans to push forward with its visionary National Broadband Plan, which sees wired and wireless broadband networks as the railroad, highway, and telephone networks of the 21st century: essential public services - whoever owns and operates them - that don't just connect the country but that will provide a framework for robust economic growth in the decades ahead. (It's not clear yet whether today's framework will directly affect wireless carriers.)
We'll soon see how the network owners and open-Internet advocates respond.
"Details of every garden in England have been put on a database by government officials."
"The aim is to use the information to justify increased council tax bills after the election.
The 'garden tax' database, called the Geographical Information System, records even minor features of the land a home occupies. For example it shows if a driveway is shared and the size of side passages at end-of-terrace houses."
I sent the above to several folks this a.m. Here's 3 of the responses:
"Oh fer crying out loud!!! They wanna come tax my garden I'll be blowing shit up!"
"Unfreakingbelievable. I am convinced that the UK is more of a nanny state than the US.
Where I live though, they come around and survey work done on our houses."
"And they're going to elect a conservative ------- please, no.
I've decided it. It's just not happening. And what I should be doing is planting these poor onion sets. All they've gone through, sitting on my porch.
Most of all, I we you all of us need to stop beating ourselves up. Love the sun. That's all. Wonder that we have this star. This day. The magic of being in the body.
I birthed 4 kids. John delivered Eric. I learned to trust my body. I have to expand that trust.
Just thinking out loud."
What a difference a day makes. Earlier this week the net neutrality troops were wringing their hands at reports that the Federal Communications Commission planned to throw in the towel on the Open Internet—abandoning any effort to reclassify ISPs as common carriers, following a Federal court's overthrow of the agency's Order against Comcast.
But now it's all smiles in response to Wall Street Journal and Washington Post stories indicating that, quite the contrary, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski plans to take something like that route.
First, I wrote about how net neutrality was hanging by a thread when a federal judge ruled that the FCC didn’t have the authority to demand that Comcast not throttle, or slow down, certain types of content. But I was hopeful that the FCC would reclassify internet services such that they can regulate the industry much the same way they do telephone service. Then earlier this week I wrote about how it seemed the FCC was going to shy away from that option and cave to the telecommunications lobby and leave the industry unregulated.
Chin up, digital rights activists! It appears the FCC is doing – gasp! – the right thing.
I know, I know, in this era of under-regulation (see: financial industry, oil industry, food industry, etc.) it appears the Obama administration has decided to regulate the ISPs who bring each and every one of us access to the Internet, which is quickly becoming society’s most important mode of communication.
The FCC needed only a simple majority to reclassify internet services and it appears the chairman, Julius Genachowski, has cast the decisive vote.
While details of Thursday's announcement are scant, Genachowski's "third way approach" would seem [to] skirt some of the debate over reclassification -- the rule-making process that could allow the FCC to institute tough net neutrality rules and implement challenged sections of its National Broadband Plan, but would also prompt quick legal challenges from broadband providers and telecommunications companies.
Net neutrality regulations are likely to be imposed on broadband providers after all.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski plans to announce details of the plan on Thursday, a senior agency official said. The purpose is to circumvent a recent federal appeals court ruling saying the FCC had no legal authority to punish Comcast for throttling some BitTorrent transfers.
Stung by the recent unanimous ruling, Genachowski will outline a "third way" to implement Net neutrality regulations, the official said in a statement.
"The chairman will seek to restore the status quo as it existed prior to the court decision in order to fulfill the previously stated agenda of extending broadband to all Americans, protecting consumers, ensuring fair competition, and preserving a free and open Internet," the official said.
Ernie Harwell Says Goodbye to the Fans at Comerica Park
Text of Ernie Harwell's Speech to Fans, September 16, 2009:
Thank you, folks. Thank you very much. We don't want to be penalized now for delay of the game. But I do want to express my feelings here.
It's a wonderful night for me. I really feel lucky to be here, and I want to thank you for that warm welcome. I want to express my deep appreciation to Mike Ilitch, Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers for that video salute and also for the many great things they've done for me and my family throughout my career here with the Tigers. In my almost 92 years on this Earth, the good Lord has blessed me with a great journey, and the blessed part of that journey is that it's going to end here in the great state of Michigan.
I deeply appreciate the people of Michigan. I love their grit. I love the way they face life. I love the family values they have. And you Tiger fans are the greatest fans of all, no question about that. And I certainly want to thank you from the depth of my heart for your devotion, your support, your loyalty and your love. Thank you very much, and God bless you.
Thank you, Ernie. And God bless you. Your voice may be stilled here on Earth, but you will be Loooonnngggg Gone before you will ever be forgotten.
NOAA graphic of oil slick, 5.1.10
"The Size of Puerto Rico"
A wild weird clime that lieth, sublime
out of space . . . out of time!
--"Dream-Land", Edgar Allen Poe
There is one thing I really hate, and that is an outright lie. I hate lies from people, companies and the press. We are getting all three regarding the environmental impact of the blowout April 20th of the Deepwater Horizon Oil rig.
Why does this get to be on an anti-war site? Because Halliburton had just cemented the pipe on the ocean floor 20 hours before the explosion. Because Thad Allen is our new Condi Rice. Because the turnover rate on catastrophes and lies being fed the public are speeding up.
Today's WaPo quotes Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, appointed Saturday by Obama to lead the government's oil spill response:
"We're breaking new ground here. It's hard to write a plan for a catastrophic event that has no precedent, which is what this was," Allen said, defending the company against not writing a response for "what could never be in a plan, what you couldn't anticipate" (Pressure Grows for Action by BP.)
Thad Allen has been tapped to be our new Condoleeza Rice -- "Who could have known?", chirps he.
But how can a drilling company NOT anticipate a blowout when drilling a mile into the seabed? Why are there blowout protectors if such an eventuality could not be anticipated?
NO. The facts are always seamier. This had to do with money, and the Wall Street Journal is the one who reported this fact (Leaking Oil Well Lacked Safeguard Device):
"The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn't have a remote-control shut-off switch [an acoustic switch] used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.
"[R]egulators in two major oil-producing countries, Norway and Brazil ... require them. Norway has had acoustic triggers on almost every offshore rig since 1993.
"The U.S. considered requiring a remote-controlled shut-off mechanism several years ago, but drilling companies questioned its cost and effectiveness," according to the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, which overseeing offshore drilling.
Here are some more facts, from the AP today (Gulf Oil Spill Quickly Balloons, Could Move East):
--"The Coast Guard conceded Saturday that it's nearly impossible to know how much oil has gushed since the April 20 rig explosion, after saying earlier it was at least 1.6 million gallons ..."
"Even at that rate, the spill should eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident as the worst U.S. oil disaster in history in a matter of weeks. But a growing number of experts warned that the situation may already be much worse."
--"The oil slick over the water's surface appeared to triple in size over the past two days, which could indicate an increase in the rate that oil is spewing from the well, according to one analysis of images collected from satellites and reviewed by the University of Miami."
--Due to the rig's position "at the end of one branch of the Gulf Stream [the oil] ... would flow around the southern tip of Florida and up the eastern seaboard."
"It will be on the East Coast of Florida in almost no time," said Hans Graber, executive director of Miami University's Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing."I don't think we can prevent that. It's more of a question of when rather than if."
--"As bad as the oil spill looks on the surface, it may be only half the problem, said University of California Berkeley engineering professor Robert Bea, who serves on a National Academy of Engineering panel on oil pipeline safety.
"'There's an equal amount that could be subsurface too,' said Bea. And that oil below the surface 'is damn near impossible to track.'" The surface slick is currently the size of Puerto Rice.
--"Louisiana State University professor Ed Overton, who heads a federal chemical hazard assessment team for oil spills, worries about a total collapse of the pipe inserted into the well. If that happens, there would be no warning and the resulting gusher could be even more devastating because regulating flow would then be impossible"
--"It is of grave concern," David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press about the spill. "I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling."
--Dr. Moby Solangi, director of the nonprofit the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss., said this is birthing season for the roughly 5,000 dolphins along the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts.
"It's very bad timing," he said. "We're looking at a colossal tragedy."