Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why Is Jerry Falwell's Evangelical University Getting Filthy Rich off Your Tax Money?

How about eliminating tax payer give-aways to all religious or faith base institutions as part of the new austerity shared sacrifice that is being touted by the "serious men". Get tough on government hand-outs to churches and religion.

After all shouldn't god provide for their needs? That is if there really is a magic invisible sky daddy...

At the same time what ever happened to the Free Marketand making it on your own? Shouldn't they be able to market their University if it is worth going to?

Further does this school have to conform to all civil rights, non-discrimination and equal rights provisions? If not then why not?

How taxpayers are funding the world's biggest Christian evangelical university.

June 29, 2011

One might think that a private, decidedly conservative, and totally evangelical Christian University, that was founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, who was openly critical of government programs, would spurn federal dollars.

Au contraire mon ami.

"I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!" - The Rev. Jerry Falwell, America Can Be Saved

This year, the 40th anniversary of Liberty University, Rev. Falwell's dream -- now being looked after by his son Jerry Jr. -- has become a reality thanks in large part to America's taxpayers.

Founded by Falwell in 1971, Liberty University, which according to its website is "the largest and fastest growing Christian Evangelical university in the world" and "the largest private university in Virginia," is "celebrating 40 Years of Training Champions for Christ."

Liberty U. receives massive government aid

During the last fiscal year alone, Liberty received about $445 million in federal financial aid money, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Over the past few years, Liberty University has raked in so much taxpayer money from the federal government that is now ranked among the top ten universities in the United States receiving federal dollars. It is also Virginia's top recipient of federal money.

Ani Difranco- Equal Rights Amendment- Live @ The Fillmore SF

Can Money Talk for Women as it Did for Gay Americans?

Thursday, 06/30/2011

The legislative victory for same-sex marriage was inspiration. But where’s the support for women’s fundamental rights?

Alva Vanderbilt Belmont once quipped, “Pray to God. She will help you.” Belmont was a suffragette who used her social standing to push for women’s rights in the early 1900s. She also had something else to use: money. And she wasn’t afraid to throw it around to influence politics, donating big bucks to the suffrage movement and founding the Political Equality League to drum up votes for suffrage-supporting New York State politicos.

If she were around today, Belmont would have found it pretty exciting to watch Governor Cuomo’s fancy footwork on same sex marriage unfold as he mastered the dance of the quid pro quo. The giant photo in the New York Times showing gazillionaires huddled around Cuomo’s desk said it all: The passage of the trailblazing law legalizing same sex marriage in New York was the result of Big Money talking to legislators and saying, “do this and ye shall be rewarded.”

So how do we make it pay today to be on the right side of women’s issues? Part of it is finding common ground. Some of the NY Republican donors had relatives who were gay, which, they said, put a human face on the struggle for equality. Wealthy Republican men also undoubtedly have sisters who have needed abortions, daughters who have faced discrimination, and wives who have required flex time at work when they have children. And, of course, some wealthy Republicans and influential pols are women themselves. In the current world of politics, however, money seems to speak louder than any other language. If we see such inspiring strides for gay Americans while women are under legislative siege, it’s because money in support of women’s rights is not being heard.

Bachmann’s husband on homosexuality: ‘Barbarians need to be educated’ out of their ‘sinful nature’

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Marcus Bachmann, the husband of GOP presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), said in a radio interview unearthed by ThinkProgress that "barbarians need to be educated" when asked how parents should deal with their homosexual children.

"They need to be disciplined," he said last year on Point of View Radio Talk Show. "Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to go down that road. That’s what is called the sinful nature."

"And let’s face it: what is our culture, what is our public education system doing today?" he continued. "They are giving full, wide-open doors to children, not only giving encouragement to think it but to encourage action steps.

That’s why when we understand what truly is the percentage of homosexuals in this country, it is small. But by these open doors, I can see and we are experiencing, that it is starting to increase."

Marcus runs a Christian-based counseling center in Minnesota.

Michele Bachmann Defends Medicaid Funds To Husband Marcus Bachmann's Clinic

AP/The Huffington Post Posted:

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann is deflecting questions about federally subsidized health dollars that have flowed to her husband's mental health clinic.

As the tea party hero tours the nation attacking the size of federal government, the Minnesota congresswoman has come under heightened scrutiny over public dollars flowing to family business interests. That includes $137,000 that Bachmann and Associates has received for treating patients in Medicaid-backed programs.

NBC's Michael Isikoff reports:

Three Strikes against Apple

There's too much blood on its phones, laptops, and tablets.

June 27, 2011

In college, I considered my Apple laptop a faithful, effective, and occasionally even fun machine. A year past graduation, this constant companion to late nights spent studying, working, or wasting time has aged into a decrepit device. Like the old Windows hourglass, its colorful pinwheel cursor consistently heralds interminable delays.

Similarly, my prehistoric mobile phone frequently freezes, drops calls, or prematurely runs out of battery power. Even in those treasured moments when it operates at capacity, it lacks the touch screen, email, and Internet capabilities today's savvy consumers supposedly demand. By all indications, I'm ripe for an upgrade to a new MacBook, iPhone, or iPad.

Here's why I'm taking a pass.

Apple, like most other electronics companies, makes liberal use of an ore called columbite-tantalite — widely known as coltan — whose electrical retention properties improve the battery lives of electronic devices. While Australia is the world's largest coltan producer, suppliers for Apple and its competitors often prefer to buy their coltan at lower cost from mining operations in war-ravaged eastern Congo.

The money from these transactions rarely reaches the miners themselves. Rather, it's funneled to Rwandan- and Ugandan-backed rebel groups inside the Congo who control the mines and use the revenues to fund their operations in the world's deadliest conflict since World War II. Promises by the Congolese government to shutter such mines and by Apple to scrutinize its supply chains have rung ineffectual and hollow.

FBI: Anti-gay group (Westboro Baptists sic.) participated in training

By PETE YOST - Associated Press | AP –
Wed, Jun 29, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI said Wednesday that members of an anti-gay fundamentalist group participated in the bureau's training of police officers and FBI agents — a move the bureau says it will take steps to remedy in the future.

The bureau extended the invitations to Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., for training this spring at two bureau facilities in Virginia: Quantico and Manassas.

Westboro has stirred widespread outrage with raucous demonstrations at the funerals of U.S. military service members. The group contends God is punishing the military for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

National Public Radio first reported the FBI's involvement with Westboro.

At FBI headquarters in Washington, bureau spokesman Paul Bresson acknowledged that Westboro was invited to the training sessions.

An FBI official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that in retrospect, the bureau underestimated how the involvement of the outside organization would be perceived.

California is One Big Step Closer to Protecting Sharks & Our Oceans

Posted June 28, 2011

This afternoon, California came one important step closer to banning the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins. Assembly Bill 376 passed out of the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee with the support of Senators Pavley, LaMalfa, Evans, Kehoe, Padilla, Wolk, and Simitian. This bill will help protect the estimated 26 – 73 million sharks killed each year for their fins, which are used to meet the exploding demand for shark fin soup. The bill's next stop is the Senate Appropriations Committee.

California is one of the largest markets for shark fins outside of Asia; the ban will deter finning in international waters by ending the fin trade here. More than 1/3 of shark species are threatened with extinction as a result of the international shark fin trade, with some populations declined by 99%. This morning, the Sacramento Bee carried an excellent article about the importance of this bill, discussing how the opposition critiques are misguided and inaccurate.

Obesity/Diabetes Epidemic: Rise of the Obesogens

Published on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 by

The global obesity/diabetes epidemic is receiving wide spread attention like the June 26, article in the Washington Post by David Brown. One fourth of our national health care bill of $2.3 trillion is linked to the treatment of diabetes and its complications. Average American life expectancy is now dropping because of this disease complex. Even children are being recommended for gastric bypass.

Fingers everywhere are pointing at the usual suspects: too much junk food and lack of exercise. But there is much more to the story than a recent, contagious lack of discipline among the masses. Standing next to us in the room, some very large corporate elephants are being ignored.

A growing body of evidence in animals and humans suggests that many man-made chemicals contaminating our environment mimic some of the body’s own hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Researchers have called these chemicals endocrine disruptors because they wreak havoc with endocrine organs like the thyroid, pancreas, testes and ovaries that depend on hormones to develop and function properly. But a new, more relevant term for these chemicals has emerged. They are now also called obesogens.

Exposure to tiny amounts of obesogens during embryonic development has startling effects on animals, resulting in obesity, infertility, feminization of male species, ambiguous sexual characteristics and high death rates.

Wishful thinking by the EPA and FDA and outright propaganda from chemical manufacturers have upheld the notion that the doses of human exposure to such chemicals have been too small to matter. Medical science now clearly repudiates such a position and environmental contamination is emerging as a significant contributor to the obesity/diabetes epidemic.

In a remarkable study of 2,000 Americans those people with the highest blood levels of PCBs, dioxins and pesticides had a rate of diabetes 38 times higher than those with the lowest levels. Just as startling, in the group with the lowest levels of chemical pollutants there was no correlation between diabetes and obesity.

‘Food Terrorism’ Next Door to the Magic Kingdom

Posted on Jun 28, 2011

Think of “food terrorism” and what do you see? Diabolical plots to taint items on grocery-store shelves? If you are Buddy Dyer, the mayor of Orlando, Fla., you might be thinking of a group feeding the homeless and hungry in one of your city parks. That is what Dyer is widely quoted as calling the activists with the Orlando chapter of Food Not Bombs—“food terrorists.” In the past few weeks, no less than 21 people have been arrested in Orlando, the home of Disney World, for handing out free food in a park.

Food Not Bombs is an international, grass-roots organization that fights hunger. As the name implies, it is against war. Its website home page reads: “Food Not Bombs shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world to protest war, poverty and the destruction of the environment. With over a billion people going hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war?” The Orlando chapter sets up a meal distribution table every Monday morning and Wednesday evening in the city’s Lake Eola Park.

Lately, the Orlando police have been arresting those who serve food there, like Benjamin Markeson. He was perplexed, telling me: “We think that it’s terrorism to arrest people for trying to share food with poor and hungry people in the community to meet a community need. And all we do is we come to the park and we share food with poor and hungry people. I don’t know how that qualifies as terrorism.”

Attorney Shayan Elahi doesn’t know, either. He is representing Orlando Food Not Bombs in court. He has filed for an injunction against the city in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, which is presided over by Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr., who is in the news as the no-nonsense judge in the Casey Anthony murder trial, happening now in Orlando. While the judge’s courtroom receives blanket coverage on cable networks, Elahi hopes Perry will have time to personally rule on his filing.

At issue is a city law, the “Large Group Feeding” ordinance, that requires groups to obtain a permit to serve food, even for free, to groups of 25 or more. Such permits are granted to any group only twice per year. Orlando Food Not Bombs has already used both of its allowed permits this year.

Texas Budget Targets Planned Parenthood, Contraception and Women's Health

by: James Russell, Truthout | Report
Wednesday 29 June 2011

In the race to crush Planned Parenthood, Texas is catching up with the pack.

Thus far, multiple states have slashed funding to the organization, including Wisconsin, North Carolina and Indiana (portions of which were recently overruled). Now, Texas has joined the pack as part of a nationwide assault on the organization. And it's the largest state to attack the organization thus far.

Earlier this month, Texas Governor and perennial presidential candidate Rick Perry signed a budget bill that cuts family planning programs by $74 million, bringing its budget down from $111 million to $37 million, or a 66 percent cut.

The nonpartisan Texas Legislative Budget Board issued a harrowing report on the cuts. In it, analysts concluded that the decimation of the family planning budget would result in 300,000 Texas women losing basic health care coverage, including tests for non-reproductive conditions. Likewise, the cuts are estimated to result in 20,000 more unplanned pregnancies.

While Texas's latest budget left nothing untouched, the real goal of the cuts to family planning, say observers, is to target Planned Parenthood and its affiliates throughout the state.

"Anti-choice lobbyists have spent the entire year confusing the facts," said Peter J. Durkin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in a press release. "These groups pressured lawmakers to de-fund Planned Parenthood by muddling conversations about family planning programs with false accusations that they subsidize abortion care. There is absolutely no legitimacy to their claims - and they know it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Get in Line

Today I got an e-mail from Change.Org asking me to support the following:

End LGBT Discrimination!!! Demand that a LGBT Rights Amendment be ratified to the U.S. Constitution.


Urge the Urge the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and President Obama to pass a LGBT Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

What would be an LGBT Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

An LGBT Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, would be a constitutional amendment to the United States Constitution that would to affirm that people who are LGBT have equal rights under the law.

The text of the LGBT Rights Constitutional Amendment

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Supreme Court Justice Scalia has said women are not protected by the 14th or any other amendment to the Constitution, although corporations which are not mentioned in the Constitution are. (so much for original intent).

As for working to pass a Constitutional Amendment protecting LGBT/T folks?

I'll hop right on that one. Right after they pass the Equal Rights Amendment making women equal instead of second class citizens.

I've experienced far more discrimination in my life simply for being a woman than I have for being lesbian or for that matter for having been transsexual.

But I am not only a woman, I am a feminist, some might even say I am a radical feminist in that I put women's interests ahead of men's. I put women's interests ahead of transgender people's interests.

I believe one of the most important steps in becoming a woman is reaching a point when you're being a woman is more important than your history.

So... I'm all for passing a Constitutional Amendment protecting LGBT/T people, right after they pass the ERA.

ERA Now!

Experts warn epic weather ravaging US could worsen

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

CHICAGO — Epic floods, massive wildfires, drought and the deadliest tornado season in 60 years are ravaging the United States, with scientists warning that climate change will bring even more extreme weather.

The human and economic toll over just the past few months has been staggering: hundreds of people have died, and thousands of homes and millions of acres have been lost at a cost estimated at more than $20 billion.

And the United States has not even entered peak hurricane season.

"This spring was one of the most extreme springs that we've seen in the last century since we've had good records," said Deke Arndt, chief of climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

While it's not possible to tie a specific weather event or pattern to climate change, Arndt said this spring's extreme weather is in line with what is forecast for the future.

"In general, but not everywhere, it is expected that the wetter places will get wetter and the drier places will tend to see more prolonged dry periods," he told AFP.

"We are seeing an increase in the amount (of rain and snow) that comes at once, and the ramifications are that it's a lot more water to deal with at a time, so you see things like flooding."

Did ExxonMobil Break Its Promise To Stop Funding Climate Change Deniers?

Tue Jun. 28, 2011

Back in 2008, ExxonMobil pledged to quit funding climate change deniers. But according to new documents released through a Greenpeace Freedom of Information Act request, the oil giant was still forking over cash to climate skeptics as recently as last year, to the tune of $76,000 for one scientist skeptical of humankind's role in global warming. This—and much more—came to light in a new report about the funding of Wei Hock "Wille" Soon, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Soon has been a favorite among climate skeptics for years, since coauthoring a paper back in 2003 that claimed that the 20th century was probably not the warmest, nor was it unique. That paper, published in the journal Climate Research, was widely criticized by climate scientists for its content, not to mention the funding it received from the American Petroleum Institute. An astrophysicist by training, Soon has also claimed that solar variability—i.e., changes in the amount of radiation coming from the sun—are to likely to blame for warming temperatures.

In 2007, Soon coauthored a paper challenging the claim that climate change harms polar bears. The paper drew plenty of criticism, as it was funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute, The Charles G. Koch Foundation, and ExxonMobil—groups with a clear interest in the debate over whether the bears merited endangered species protections.

Given that Soon had previously disclosed some of his corporate funding, in December 2009 Greenpeace submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Smithsonian Institution asking for information about Soon's funders and any conflict of interest forms he may have submitted. In response, Smithsonian produced a list of his major bankrollers, which included more than $800,000 from major energy interests. According to the document, Exxon provided $55,000 for a study on Arctic climate change in 2007 and 2008, and another $76,106 for research into solar variability between 2008 and 2010.

I'm Tired of Obama... I want a Progressive in the White House, one with a Backbone

It isn't just his caving in to the Republi-Nazis on every major issue but the fact that he is no more progressive than Ronnie Reagan. I place him to the right of even Bill Clinton who was another corporate pig sell-out.

Obama’s Position on Gay Marriage Faces New Test

Published: June 28, 2011

WASHINGTON — When President Obama’s guests arrive at the White House on Wednesday for a Gay Pride reception — just days after New York became the largest state in the country to make same-sex marriage legal — they will no doubt be in a mood to celebrate.

But for their host, who does not endorse same-sex marriage, it could be somewhat awkward.

“I think they are trying to share the joy, which is genuine on their part, without changing his position,” Hilary Rosen, a prominent Democratic strategist, said of the White House. “I don’t think he can have it both ways here.”

For months, Mr. Obama, who has in the past opposed same-sex marriage, has said his views are “evolving.” But last week’s vote in Albany has intensified pressure on the president to say where he stands, particularly after remarks he made at a Manhattan fund-raiser disappointed and confused many gay rights advocates, including some of his most ardent supporters.

Some are now comparing Mr. Obama unfavorably with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat who championed the New York bill and helped get it passed in a Republican-controlled Senate.

Others took issue with Mr. Obama’s word choice at the Manhattan fund-raiser, where he noted that “traditionally marriage has been decided by the states.” His critics say that by invoking states’ rights, the president — a former constitutional law professor and son of a black father and a white mother — brought up arguments once used to justify laws that would have prevented his own parents from marrying.

“That was the argument they made about segregation,” Ms. Rosen, who has long been supportive of Mr. Obama, said Tuesday. “I don’t think people really believe that he believes that. It flies in the face of everything he has stood for.”

Dear Mr. President

Wing Nut Daily Writer Wants Marriage Equality Supporters Tried And Punished

When I read shit like this I am glad I live in a state where it is legal for me to own a firearm, because these people are full blown Nazis and they frighten me.

by Brian Tashman
June 27, 2011

Ted Beahr of the Christian Film and Television Commission and the publisher of Movieguide, “movie reviews through a Christian perspective,” wants New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators who backed marriage equality should be “subject to indictment, trial and just punishment.” Writing for WorldNetDaily, Beahr believes that New York’s marriage equality law not only stands in the face of God’s law but is also unconstitutional, because Beahr says that the Constitution must comply with God’s law. Beahr asserts that “the homosexualization” of America is part of a Communist conspiracy and ends the column by misattributing a famous quote of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall to Karl Marx in order to bolster his case:
Pages could be, have been and should be written about the progressive Marxist destruction of the American constitutional republic. And pages could be, have been and should be written about the destructive nature of the homosexualization of the culture. With regard to the illegal action of the New York state government, it is more important to understand clearly that the civil government has no authority in area of the free exercise of religion such as marriage. If it has no authority and tries to exercise power not vested to it, then the state is acting illegally.

We need to stand for God's law in the face of the power grab by those in civil authority who know no restraints.

New York and the other increasingly socialized states have not only violated God's law, they have also violated their own Constitution and the will of the governed. When they do that, they are just like King George. They have abdicated their moral and legal authority and are subject to indictment, trial and just punishment.

Now, all those who freely exercise their inalienable right to religious faith must stop acting like useful idiots and fellow travelers by going along to get along. Instead, they must stand for their God-given rights by proclaiming loud and clear that these New York government servants have crossed the line into illegal activity that has no authority and makes them criminals.

Often, people of faith and values do not stand up because they have been slowly boiled in the brine of socialism and so give the states powers they have no authority to use. Often the state or federal government creates the problem by violating our individual rights to property, estates, income, etc., through the Marxist device of illicit taxation. Then the government argues that the state needs to govern marriage to alleviate the tax burdens the state created so that it can encourage marriage. Such circular and dishonest reasoning has almost deceived the very electorate.

Gloria Steinem on Birth Control and Climate [6-21-2011]

Global Warming May Push Joshua Trees Out of Namesake National Park

June 28, 2011
Three hours east of Malibu, the Pacific Coast Highway, and everything that is L.A., a small multitude of Joshua trees stand sentinel over a desolate corner of Mojave high desert. They look as if they’ve been on this incredibly arid, lonely hillslope forever. But, trouble is, will they still be here tomorrow?

Research ecologists are still trying to answer just how climate change will affect the Joshua tree’s numbers, range and habitat.

They do know that over the millenia, the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) has evolved to thrive in the dry and hot Southwestern desert conditions and barren soils that a less specialized plant species could not tolerate.

Now, two recent papers detailing future climate scenarios for Joshua Tree National Park and the Joshua tree’s natural range are projecting tough times for this venerable Southwest icon.

The first study, published in the January issue of the journal "Ecological Applications," detailed climate models that project that the Joshua tree may see its current range of southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, western Arizona, and southeastern California reduced by as much as 90 percent within a 60-to-90-year timeframe.

"We’re not saying that 90 percent of them will die," said Ken Cole, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Flagstaff and the paper’s lead author. "The established ones may persist for 150 years. We’re saying that within 90 percent of its current range, they will be unable to reproduce or unable to survive [long-term]."

Fire and Rain

Not the James Taylor Song.

The current conditions facing two nuclear power plant in parts of the US.

Fortunately they are in conservative states so maybe the Christians can pray that no more shit hits the fan than already has.

I don't know about you but I'd kind of rate being within a couple of hundred miles of a flooded out nuclear reactor as kind of a 9.7 on the ass pucker scale.

Maybe not quite an off the scale the way being in the vicinity of Fukushima but enough so that I might consider defaulting on the property and relocating to someplace where they have wind mills and solar panels instead. I realize its wimpy to prefer green over the nifty macho, what could possibly go wrong je ne sais quoi that embracing nuclear power plants brings, but I'm an old hippie and other than tritium night sights I'd rather avoid things that emit more than the background level of radiation.

I'm actually not completely opposed to nuclear power plants. Only smaller ones like they use on aircraft carriers and in really stable remote places. Not near earthquake fault lines, or rivers that flood. I guess we should also cross off places susceptible to tidal waves, hurricanes, tornadoes and wild fires.

Oh and it would be nice if they could recycle the waste into a closed loop system.

Otherwise use of radioactive material should be limited.

And considering the following stories perhaps we better think more about green alternative energy sources and conservation.

Nebraska nuclear plant threatened by flooding is safe, scientists group finds

By STEVE EVERLY The Kansas City Star
Tue, Jun. 28, 2011

The Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the nuclear-power industry’s toughest critics, sprang into action when the Missouri River flood threatened the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska.

But after looking into the matter, the scientists group was reassured. Precautions had been taken to deal with the floodwaters, and federal inspectors had checked over the plant on Monday.

In addition, the plant had been offline since April for refueling — not up and generating power. As a result there would be far more time to deal with an emergency if one arose, such as a loss of electric power to the plant.

The group concluded it was a far different situation from what happened in Japan in March when a tsunami hit a complex of nuclear plants, cutting off their power, critically damaging them and releasing radiation into the sea and atmosphere.

No nuclear plant is without risks, and the flooding will complicate getting the Nebraska reactor back up and running. But “basically what we found was … good news,” said David Lochbaum, director of the nuclear safety project for the scientists group, which is based in Washington.

Los Alamos scurries to protect nuclear lab from fire

Nuclear weapons lab closes due to fire danger

Fire has potential to double or triple in size

By Zelie Pollon
Tue Jun 28, 2011

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., June 28 (Reuters) - New Mexico fire managers scrambled on Tuesday to reinforce crews battling a third day against an out-of-control blaze at the edge of one of the top U.S. nuclear weapons production centers.

The fire's leading edge burned to within a few miles of a dump site where some 20,000 barrels of plutonium-contaminated waste, including clothing and equipment, is stored at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, fire officials said.

Officials for the government-run lab said the stored waste is considered low-level radioactive material and remains a safe distance from the fire in an area cleared of trees and other vegetation.

Carl Beard, director of operations for the lab, said there has been no release of radioactive or hazardous materials into the environment and there was no immediate threat to public safety, "even in these extreme conditions."

How corporations award themselves legal immunity

Whether it's in your employment contract or the paperwork for a cell phone, it's odds on that the small print says you can't sue,

Worried about the influence of money in American politics, the huge cash payouts that the US supreme court waved through by its Citizens United decision – the decision that lifted most limits on election campaign spending? Corporations are having their way with American elections just as they've already had their way with our media.

But at least we have the courts, right?

Wrong. The third branch of government's in trouble, too. In fact, access to justice – like access to elected office, let alone a pundit's perch – is becoming a perk just for the rich and powerful.

Take the young woman now testifying in court in Texas. Jamie Leigh Jones claims she was drugged and gang-raped while working for military contractor KBR in Iraq (at the time, a division of Halliburton). Jones, now 26, was on her fourth day in post in Baghdad in 2005 when she says she was assaulted by seven contractors and held captive, under armed guard by two KBR police, in a shipping container.

When the criminal courts failed to act, her lawyers filed a civil suit, only to be met with Halliburton's response that all her claims were to be decided in arbitration – because she'd signed away her rights to bring the company to court when she signed her employment contract. As Leigh testified before Congress, in October 2009, "I had signed away my right to a jury trial at the age of 20 and without the advice of counsel." It was a matter of sign or resign. "I had no idea that the clause was part of the contract, what the clause actually meant," testified Jones.

You've probably done the very same thing without even knowing it. When it comes to consumer claims, mandatory arbitration is the new normal. According to research by Public Citizen and others, corporations are inserting "forced arbitration" clauses into the fine print of contracts for work, for cell phone service, for credit cards, even nursing home contracts, requiring clients to give up their right to sue if they are harmed. Arbitration is a no-judge, no-jury, no-appeal world, where arbitrators are (often by contract) selected by the company and all decisions are private – and final.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Law in Kansas Set to Close All Abortion Providers in State

by: A. G. Sulzberger and Monica Davey, The New York Times News Service | Report
Sunday 26 June 2011

Overland Park, Kan. - One in a series of abortion limits approved in Kansas since Republicans took full control of the state government this year — a new license law — is raising uncertainty about the future of all abortion providers in the state.

Opponents of abortion say that the licenses — which newly dictate requirements for the size of rooms at abortion clinics, the stocking of emergency equipment, medications and blood supplies, and ties to nearby hospitals — will ensure at least a modicum of safety standards in a state that Troy Newman, the leader of the anti-abortion groupOperation Rescue, said “had been the Wild West for abortionists for as long as anyone can remember.”

But abortion rights supporters, here and nationally, say the rules, which take effect next week, are onerous, have been rushed into place too rapidly and are actually aimed at ending abortion services at the only three places in the state now providing them, perhaps as early as Friday.

“These requirements range from the impossible to the absurd,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “They’re not designed to protect patient safety; they’re designed to shut down abortion providers.”

For decades, Kansas has been a focal point for the national debate over abortion. Opponents saw openings for new restrictions this year, after eight years under Democrats who had vetoed such measures, when Sam Brownback, a Republican who has long opposed abortion rights, became governor.

Ford, GM, Chrysler Asked to Study Fuel Economy Rules of 56.2 MPG

Sure sign that we have passed Peak Oil.

By Angela Greiling Keane
Jun 25, 2011

Automakers including Ford Motor Co. (F) and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) that sell vehicles in the U.S. may have to boost car and light truck fuel economy to an average 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025 under a White House proposal presented last week.

In separate meetings with Ford, General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler Group LLC on June 22, the Obama administration asked the three largest U.S. automakers to analyze the effects of a 56.2 mpg fuel-economy target, two people familiar with the talks said.

That represents an improvement of about a 5 percent per year in each company’s fleetwide average fuel economy from 2016 when they are required to have a 35.5 mpg average for vehicles sold in the U.S. The Detroit News reported the administration’s plan yesterday.

Hartmann: Corporate CEOs have a secret they don't want you to know about...

“We Celebrated Love”: Same Sex Marriage Law Ignites Passion for Equality Nationwide

June 27, 2011

ears, hugs, and joy overflowed as New York City celebrated a new era of equality for gay Americans. And the feeling is contagious.

It was about thirteen months ago that I began religiously to examine all things Proposition 8, the voter-activated referendum that revoked the right of same-sex couples to marry in California (I covered the topic on this blog while working as an intern for the Roosevelt Institute last summer). As the trial progressed, friends and I would follow the ebb and flow of anxiety and potential victory. In August of 2010, Prop 8 was deemed unconstitutional by a federal court, representing a small victory in a battle for equality that has been raging since 1969, when the New York bar Stonewall was raided by police in an act of blatant homophobia.

Fast forward to Albany, New York on Friday, June 24th, 2011. After years of disavowing what equality truly means, the New York legislature voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The passage of the law ignited flames of passion and celebration. Those outside Stonewall shed tears and shared hugs; Americans across the nation celebrated one of the greatest victories seen yet by the gay rights movement.

There are dozens of political lessons to be learned by considering the route this legislation took to eventually reach the floor and its monumental passage. It might, however, be beneficial to us all to take a step back and really consider what has happened here. The legalization of gay marriage in New York has unleashed a bolt of lightning across our country and has reinvigorated the battle for equality. It has demonstrated that success can happen, that government can act in the interest of its supporters, and that as a nation our notions of true equality continue to evolve.

Tell the People about the People's Budget

There's a good chance you've never heard about the People's Budget, though there's been a mountain of media coverage of the budget mess.

June 27, 2011

Permission Creative Commons

If you listen to the pundits and TV commentators, the federal budget problem has a simple solution: cuts, cuts, and more cuts. They cheer politicians for making "tough choices," which usually entails taking money away from schools, stiffing public workers, and telling the poor and the elderly they need to make do with even less. Tough choices, indeed — but for whom?

The funny thing is, regular people aren't buying the idea that this is the only way to balance the country's books. Maybe there's something about a millionaire TV host talking about "shared sacrifice" that rubs Bob and Betty Sixpack the wrong way. Or maybe the American people just feel like there's got to be another way — one that doesn't require scrapping Medicare or slashing Social Security.

If you look at the polls, the public's message is clear: protect Medicare and Social Security, spend less on the military, and raise taxes on the wealthy. And while we're at it, let's tax the Wall Street speculators who wrecked our economy.

But if you look at the newspapers or your TV screen, those ideas are rarely, if ever, part of the budget debate. Is there no one in Washington who is sticking up for what the majority of the public wants?

But wait. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which includes 74 House Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), released an alternative budget blueprint back in April. This "People's Budget" would achieve a better balance by taxing the wealthy, reining in runaway military spending, and protecting the New Deal social safety net — just what people tell pollsters that they want.

There's a good chance you've never heard about this part of the budget debate, though there's been a mountain of media coverage of the budget mess — thousands of articles and television programs. If you've paid attention to any of it, you're probably well acquainted with Rep. Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin Republican has "jet black hair and a touch of Eagle Scout to him," according to one magazine profile. The New York Times told readers about his "piercing blue eyes." It's not just his looks that impress the media. His budget plan, which pairs yet more big tax breaks for the rich with spending cuts for everyone else, is constantly touted as being "bold" and "serious."

And the People's Budget? Well, it's not even mentioned. There were no hard news stories about it in the big papers. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote about the press conference unveiling the People's Budget only to mock it — right down to poking fun at one lawmaker's tie.

Milbank spelled out some of the details of the People's Budget, but only because he thought the ideas were absurd on their face: "No cuts in Social Security benefits, government-negotiated Medicare drug prices, and increased income and Social Security taxes for the wealthy. Corporations and investors would be hit with a variety of new fees and taxes...The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would end."

Ending wars and making the wealthy pay their fair share? That probably doesn't sound so crazy to most people. But that the Post considers Milbank to be one of its "left-leaning" columnists is completely nuts.

The budget debate is locked up in a partisan stalemate. That makes it as good a time as any to tell the people about the People's Budget. Most newspapers and TV networks aren't doing that. And when you look at who stands to gain — and who stands to lose — it's no mystery why corporate-owned media are keeping us in the dark.

Shock Doctrine: 'Emergency Finance Managers' and the Right-Wing's Power Grab

Emergency financial managers are being put in place by democratically elected governors throughout the country.

By Sarah Jaffe
June 26, 2011

he onslaught of radical policies from the wave of Tea Party-supported right-wing state politicians swept in in the 2010 elections has been nearly overwhelming. Nearly every state that saw a Republican takeover of the statehouse or legislature has faced attacks on collective bargaining, immigration, reproductive freedoms, or health care. New power grabs have popped up constantly, and copycat bills have sprung up in their wake as if an official playbook has been passed around the country.

But one of the nastiest moves has been the institution, by Michigan governor Rick Snyder, of an “emergency manager” over several cities in his state, as well as the Detroit public school system. This manager has the unilateral authority to fire officials, close schools, void union contracts, and assume total control over areas declared to be in a financial state of emergency by the state.

And it looks like the idea is spreading.


In March, the Michigan legislature passed an update to state law that gave emergency financial managers expanded powers over cities and school districts facing financial distress. The provision drew protests immediately, with thousands converging on the capitol on March 16, the day the law was signed. Unions and community organizations recognized the law as a threat, not just in the cities where emergency financial managers were imposed, but around the state, where unions would be pressured to make concessions in order to keep a financial manager from being imposed on them. Since financial managers have the power to wipe away a union contract with a pen stroke, the unions are left with an impossible choice—concede great chunks of hard-won benefits and wages, or risk losing it all.

Gone With the Papers

June 27, 2011

I visited the Hartford Courant as a high school student. It was the first time I was in a newsroom. The Connecticut paper’s newsroom, the size of a city block, was packed with rows of metal desks, most piled high with newspapers and notebooks. Reporters banged furiously on heavy typewriters set amid tangled phone cords, overflowing ashtrays, dirty coffee mugs and stacks of paper, many of which were in sloping piles on the floor. The din and clamor, the incessantly ringing phones, the haze of cigarette and cigar smoke that lay over the feverish hive, the hoarse shouts, the bustle and movement of reporters, most in disheveled coats and ties, made it seem an exotic, living organism. I was infatuated. I dreamed of entering this fraternity, which I eventually did, for more than two decades writing for The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and, finally, The New York Times, where I spent most of my career as a foreign correspondent.

Newsrooms today are anemic and forlorn wastelands. I was recently in the newsroom at The Philadelphia Inquirer, and patches of the floor, also the size of a city block, were open space or given over to rows of empty desks. These institutions are going the way of the massive rotary presses that lurked like undersea monsters in the bowels of newspaper buildings, roaring to life at night. The heavily oiled behemoths, the ones that spat out sheets of newsprint at lightning speed, once empowered and enriched newspaper publishers who for a few lucrative decades held a monopoly on connecting sellers with buyers. Now that that monopoly is gone, now that the sellers no long need newsprint to reach buyers, the fortunes of newspapers are declining as fast as the page counts of daily news sheets.

The great newspapers sustained legendary reporters such as I.F. Stone, Murray Kempton and Homer Bigart who wrote stories that brought down embezzlers, cheats, crooks and liars, who covered wars and conflicts, who told us about famines in Africa and the peculiarities of the French or what it was like to be poor and forgotten in our urban slums or Appalachia. These presses churned out raw lists of data, from sports scores to stock prices. Newspapers took us into parts of the city or the world we would never otherwise have seen or visited. Reporters and critics reviewed movies, books, dance, theater and music and covered sporting events. Newspapers printed the text of presidential addresses, sent reporters to chronicle the inner workings of City Hall and followed the courts and the police. Photographers and reporters raced to cover the lurid and the macabre, from Mafia hits to crimes of passion.

We are losing a peculiar culture and an ethic. This loss is impoverishing our civil discourse and leaving us less and less connected to the city, the nation and the world around us. The death of newsprint represents the end of an era. And news gathering will not be replaced by the Internet. Journalism, at least on the large scale of old newsrooms, is no longer commercially viable. Reporting is time-consuming and labor-intensive. It requires going out and talking to people. It means doing this every day. It means looking constantly for sources, tips, leads, documents, informants, whistle-blowers, new facts and information, untold stories and news. Reporters often spend days finding little or nothing of significance. The work can be tedious and is expensive. And as the budgets of large metropolitan dailies shrink, the very trade of reporting declines. Most city papers at their zenith employed several hundred reporters and editors and had operating budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The steady decline of the news business means we are plunging larger and larger parts of our society into dark holes and opening up greater opportunities for unchecked corruption, disinformation and the abuse of power.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I'm Confused... Why would I hate god, when god does not exist?

I not only do not believe in god but I consider all religions to be pretty much a pile of misogynistic filth that serves zero purpose other than as a tool of the oligarchs in oppressing the poor and all women.

That goes for Buddhism and the Dalai Lama too. The vaunted wisdom of non-western cultures fuck women over just as much as the desert three. Jill over at I Blame the Patriarchy demolishes the Buddhism wonderful and Dalai Lama reincarnation of Buddha bullshit in a recent post. Buddhism sounds familiar

Now we have a Christo-Fascist/Republi-Nazi Rep-Mo Todd Akins refuses to apologize for being a Christo-Fascist

Akin Refuses To Apologize For Accusing Liberals Of Hating God

By Travis Waldron
Jun 27, 2011

A spokesperson for Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), who last week accused liberals of having a “hatred for God,” refused to apologize for those remarks, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Akin’s communications director, Steve Taylor, told the Post-Dispatch that Akin was commenting on a difference between the two ideas: while conservatives believe rights come from God, liberals think they come from the government. Taylor said Akin was not referring to any individual’s beliefs, only the “defining principles of two political ideologies.”
Continue reading at: where you will find the liberal "men of god" issuing self-serving pronouncements because they hope to continue fleecing people with magic invisible sky daddy bullshit just like their Christo-Fascist brothers.

Then we have the America hating Christo-Nazi, Pat Robertson calling upon magic Jesus and magic invisible sky daddy to destroy America because America is living up to its ideals of equality and justice for all.

Robertson: God Will Destroy America For Marriage Equality

Submitted by Brian Tashman
June 27, 2011
Following a story on New York passing marriage equality, Pat Robertson on The 700 Club warned that God will destroy America just like God destroyed Sodom, saying that “there’s never been a civilization ever in history that has embraced homosexuality and turned away from traditional fidelity, traditional marriage, traditional child-rearing, and has survived.” Robertson previously feared that America was turning into Sodom, and today he claims that “we’re heading that way as a nation” because the marriage equality law in New York will further instigate God’s fatal judgment.