August 21st, 2009

Akuma River

Agri-Business about to get the ass kicking it so righteously deserves

I live in South Texas in a rural area. Land around my house within twenty square miles is spattered with housing areas and massive acres of farming land. It's mainly been the cheap corn for ethanol or maze for the cows for the past couple of years, but cotton and soy beans are making a come back. Especially because of the corn industry hikes and how bad the season has been because of the extreme drought.

No one wants to talk about how big of a freaking monopoly the corn industry has on the agri-business and the food business. I think, for once, Jim Cramer is spot on to something. And you know what, I hope to god the federal government starts to look into how the agri-business is running things.

This is BIG.

Jim Cramer Thinks Food, Inc. Could Inflame The Justice Dept To Take On Monsanto (VIDEO) (August 20, 2009)

Last week, Jim Cramer did a fascinating segment on the seed giant and Roundup herbicide producer, Monsanto. He posits that Monsanto could be a prime target for a Justice Department antitrust action for their monopoly on seeds.

Tom Brennan writes on Cramer's segment:

A series of competition-crushing acquisitions made this biotech disguised as an agriculture outfit the market leader in genetically modified US corn, soybean and cotton seeds. And Monsanto maintains strict agreements with its farmer clients that leave them virtually no choice but to feed at the corporate trough. Plus, the company plans to push through a 42% price increase on its new seeds, and there's nothing these farmers can do about it.

Cramer states he thinks "the government is worried about about the family farmer being destroyed by Monsanto's practices" and Monsanto's action of raising seed prices is "begging the Justice Department to go after them [.....] They are tempting the wrath of Obama."

If it doesn't embedd, try here

Cramer also says, Monsanto "better hope the guys at [The] Justice [Department] don't go to the movies" and see the documentary Food, Inc. which takes on Monsanto's practices, along with many other aspects of our industrialized food system.

If you haven't seen Food, Inc. yet, watch a trailer here:


You wanna know why your milk costs about $3-4 a gallon when the dairy industry for the farmers has collapsed? This is why. It also has to do with the high feed prices and how dairy processors and retailers charge higher rates for changing unprocessed milk into milk, yogurt, ice cream, et al.

If this happens. Expect the stock market to take a plunge. Also expect for prices in your grocery stores to change. This is something that has been needed for many many years now. Corn is everywhere, high frustosecorn syrup is in everything and this company owns %30 of all corn seeds planted.

These fuckers and others like them are the reason why there was a massive food famine about a year ago with the grain scarce.

Danes turn on their former best friends

This was simply to funny a read not to post!

Shoot the puppy!

Aug 20th 2009 | COPENHAGEN
From The Economist print edition

DOGS, not recession or unemployment, are the biggest problem facing Denmark this summer, or so you would think from all the fuss about them. At his Liberal party’s summertime get-together on the Faroe Islands, the prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, solemnly promised a new law to ban aggressive breeds of dog. “We don’t want a society”, he said with furrowed brow, “where you cannot go walking with your child or your poodle without risking an attack.”

Things might seem to be going that way. According to the Danish Kennel Club, the kingdom’s population of fighting breeds such as pit-bull terriers, mastiffs and rottweilers has risen from 1,000 to 20,000 in the past five years. The incidence of attacks, mostly on other pets, has grown accordingly. Denmark’s national news agency, Ritzau, says there is a violent incident about once a fortnight. Several people have been mauled, though deaths so far have been confined to cats, rabbits and small dogs. Still, widespread worries that the next attack could kill a citizen have pushed man’s erstwhile best friend to the top of the political agenda.

However, the prime minister’s ringing proclamation was followed by a realisation that a ban on certain breeds—such as Britain introduced—might not work. Fanciers of muscular hounds with big jaws could circumnavigate the law by crossing, say, a mastiff with a pit bull, to create a perfectly legal canine nasty (as, indeed, has happened in Britain).

To meet the difficulty, Flemming Moller, a veterinarian who took over the parliamentary seat vacated when the former prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, went off to run NATO, proposed a logical, if drastic, solution: kill all mongrels. Mr Moller claims this is the only way to eliminate aggressive traits from the doggy gene pool. Only dogs registered in the national stud book have a record of their parentage and genetic traits. Other puppies, he says, could be the products of anything from joyful encounters in leafy suburbs to deliberate breeding by thugs. With some 40,000 mongrels born in Denmark every year, a mass cull of mutts would reach alarming proportions. Mr Moller is prepared for the backlash: “We will surely see lots of press photos of sweet little puppies being put down but we must be determined,” he says unflinchingly.

Happily for the puppies, Mr Moller’s idea has won little support. One outraged politician from the junior partner in the coalition, the conservatives, said he would “reach for his shotgun” if Mr Moller came calling. Indignant comments about Nazis and racial cleansing have swamped online forums. All of which leaves the government’s attempt to rein in dangerous dogs looking like, well, a dog’s dinner.


This is possibly the funniest thing to come out of Danish politics all summer!

ETA: Just to be clear, the suggestion doesn't stand a chance, what with pretty much everyone else against it. (In fact, this is just one guy really low in the hierarchy being an idiot). That + the phrasing of the article makes it pretty funny to me. No actual puppies are going to get killed.

Mrs. Palin? Your lunch is ready.

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

And she'd be right. If that were even remotely resembling what the 'defacto death panel' is.

And if she's so against the practice, then why did she support, actively support, exactly the same provision in her own state?

"WHEREAS, Healthcare Decisions Day is designed to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions, related to end of life care and medical decision-making whenever patients are unable to speak for themselves and to encourage the specific use of advance directives to communicate these important healthcare decisions. [...]

WHEREAS, one of the principal goals of Healthcare Decisions Day is to encourage hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and hospices to participate in a statewide effort to provide clear and consistent information to the public about advance directives, as well as to encourage medical professionals and lawyers to volunteer their time and efforts to improve public knowledge and increase the number of Alaska’s citizens with advance directives.

WHEREAS, the Foundation for End of Life Care in Juneau, Alaska, and other organizations throughout the United States have endorsed this event and are committed to educating the public about the importance of discussing healthcare choices and executing advance directives."

Lying. Hypocrite.

But at least she's not alone!

This was a very popular item among Republicans at the time. Every one from Grassley to Gingrich have supported exactly the same provision. John Boehner, Thaddeus McCotter, Johnny Isakson, and Chuck Grassley all voted in 2003 for a measure very similar to the one in the current House health care bill they now suggest in various ways could lead to government-encouraged euthanasia.

The bill:

The roll call:

Here's Gingrich's piece:

Your lunch is ready, ma'am.

Unless one supports unlimited universal healthcare, one is a hypocrite to bring this up at all.

Only an unlimited funding system would go to such heroic lengths, and no for profit system would hemorrhage profits in such a fashion.

Obama’s Trust Problem

Obama’s Trust Problem
Published: August 20, 2009

According to news reports, the Obama administration — which seemed, over the weekend, to be backing away from the “public option” for health insurance — is shocked and surprised at the furious reaction from progressives.

Well, I’m shocked and surprised at their shock and surprise.

A backlash in the progressive base — which pushed President Obama over the top in the Democratic primary and played a major role in his general election victory — has been building for months. The fight over the public option involves real policy substance, but it’s also a proxy for broader questions about the president’s priorities and overall approach.

The idea of letting individuals buy insurance from a government-run plan was introduced in 2007 by Jacob Hacker of Yale, was picked up by John Edwards during the Democratic primary, and became part of the original Obama health care plan.

One purpose of the public option is to save money. Experience with Medicare suggests that a government-run plan would have lower costs than private insurers; in addition, it would introduce more competition and keep premiums down.

And let’s be clear: the supposed alternative, nonprofit co-ops, is a sham. That’s not just my opinion; it’s what the market says: stocks of health insurance companies soared on news that the Gang of Six senators trying to negotiate a bipartisan approach to health reform were dropping the public plan. Clearly, investors believe that co-ops would offer little real competition to private insurers.

Also, and importantly, the public option offered a way to reconcile differing views among Democrats. Until the idea of the public option came along, a significant faction within the party rejected anything short of true single-payer, Medicare-for-all reform, viewing anything less as perpetuating the flaws of our current system. The public option, which would force insurance companies to prove their usefulness or fade away, settled some of those qualms.
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Healthcare Industry Insider tells all.

"With almost 20 years inside the health insurance industry, Wendell Potter saw for-profit insurers hijack our health care system and put profits before patients. Now, he speaks with Bill Moyers about how those companies are standing in the way of health care reform.

In his first extended television interview since leaving the health insurance industry, Wendell Potter tells Bill Moyers why he left his successful career as the head of Public Relations for CIGNA, one of the nation's largest insurers, and decided to speak out against the industry. "I didn't intend to [speak out], until it became really clear to me that the industry is resorting to the same tactics they've used over the years, and particularly back in the early '90s, when they were leading the effort to kill the Clinton plan."

Potter began his trip from health care spokesperson to reform advocate while back home in Tennessee. Potter attended a "health care expedition," a makeshift health clinic set up at a fairgrounds, and he tells Bill Moyers, "It was absolutely stunning. When I walked through the fairground gates, I saw hundreds of people lined up, in the rain. It was raining that day. Lined up, waiting to get care, in animal stalls. Animal stalls."

Looking back over his long career, Potter sees an industry corrupted by Wall Street expectations and greed. According to Potter, insurers have every incentive to deny coverage — every dollar they don't pay out to a claim is a dollar they can add to their profits, and Wall Street investors demand they pay out less every year. Under these conditions, Potter says, "You don't think about individual people. You think about the numbers, and whether or not you're going to meet Wall Street's expectations."

*Looked back to see if this had been posted, didn't see it, sorry if it's oldsauce. *
MM . J Don't Play

Because He's The Only President To Ever Take a Vacation in August

Conservative group targets Obama's vacation

(CNN) – If President Obama wants to catch the White Sox-Red Sox games next week while he vacations in Martha's Vineyard, he'll probably see the latest ad to attack his health care reform proposals.

Conservatives for Patient's Rights, a group founded earlier this year by former health insurance executive Rick Scott, says it will spend close to $150,000 next week to air a 30-second television spot in the Boston media market coinciding with Obama's vacation in the area.

Among the stations the group plans to air the ad on is NESN, the network that will broadcast the four-game series next week between Obama's Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox.

Called "Surf's Up," the ad's narrator appears to mock Obama's beach vacation "while concerns mount about his health care plan."

"The beach is nice this time of year," says the female narrator. "But while president Obama vacations, concerns mount about his health care plan. Mr. President, when you go back to D.C., drop your government-run public option plan."

The group has spent upwards of $4 million on combating the Democrats health care proposals this year.


I don't even...I'll just leave this here.

I feel their pain. Really, I do.

August 21, 2009
Rise of the Super-Rich Hits a Sobering Wall

The rich have been getting richer for so long that the trend has come to seem almost permanent.

They began to pull away from everyone else in the 1970s. By 2006, income was more concentrated at the top than it had been since the late 1920s. The recent news about resurgent Wall Street pay has seemed to suggest that not even the Great Recession could reverse the rise in income inequality.

But economists say — and data is beginning to show — that a significant change may in fact be under way. The rich, as a group, are no longer getting richer. Over the last two years, they have become poorer. And many may not return to their old levels of wealth and income anytime soon.

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Protests planned for Hawaii's 50th anniversary

HONOLULU – Protesters will march the streets and Hawaiian chants will echo from the sprawling lawn of Iolani Palace on Hawaii's 50th anniversary of statehood, as high-minded panelists ponder the islands' future at a daylong conference.

While lacking much in the way of public parties or parades, Hawaii's official statehood day festivities will feature entertainment by local musicians and panel discussions emphasizing tourism's future, alternative energy and Native Hawaiian rights.

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A Vehicle for Expression

As He Drives Across the Country, an Unemployed Oregonian Chronicles The Recession by Asking People to Write Their Tales on His Orange Van

The recession can be chronicled through Aaron Heideman's van.

The Oregon native has spent the past six weeks driving across the country and asking people to write on his orange van stories of how the financial crisis has affected their lives. He provides the Sharpies; they spill their guts.

"Lost my job. Became homeless. Been robbed, abused, discriminated, arrested, and neglected. There is no compassion in America," reads one tale scrawled on the side of his van, parked in downtown Washington on Wednesday.

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arrow: felicity smoak

Judge: SD doctors must say abortion ends life

Previously on "South Dakota Hates Women's Rights," the state of South Daktoa threatened to suspend Planned Parenthood's license because it failed to make certain disclosures to patients, including such "facts" as that a woman has a "existing relationship" with a fetus and that an abortion increases chances of suicide. Planned Parenthood sued, and this was the result:

Judge: SD doctors must say abortion ends life

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A federal judge upheld part of a South Dakota law that requires women to be told abortion ends a human life, but struck down disclosures that the procedure increases the likelihood of suicide and that they have an existing relationship with the fetus.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier's decision Thursday ends a lawsuit that Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota filed in response to a 2005 informed consent law that required several disclosures to women seeking an abortion.

She sided with the state in ruling that doctors must make the biological disclosure "that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

But Schreier said doctors can provide more information than the language in the statute, including that the term can be used in a biological sense and not ideological.

Schreier ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood by concluding that pregnant women do not need to be told abortion increases the likelihood of suicide or that they have an existing relationship with the fetus.

Both sides claimed victory.

"We're relieved our doctors have the ability to use their best medical judgment to explain and make sure what women understand is biological and factual information and not an ideological mandate from the state," said Mimi Liu, an attorney for Planned Parenthood.

The organization operates South Dakota's only abortion clinic, which is in Sioux Falls.

Leslee Unruh, founder of the Alpha Center pregnancy counseling center in Sioux Falls, one of the intervening parties in the lawsuit, said she will appeal the suicide and relationship disclosure decisions.

The human being ruling was significant, she said.

"This is the unraveling of Roe (v. Wade). This is a huge, fatal blow to them," Unruh said of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

"We take the human being part and go to the Supreme Court and put the human relationship in. That knocks out Roe v. Wade."

Planned Parenthood sued the state after the 2005 law passed and Schreier temporarily prevented it from taking effect. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled that order last year.

Sarah Stoesz, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Assistant Attorney General John Guhin, who argued the case for the state, said Schreier largely followed the appeal court's decision.

Both said they will weigh whether to appeal the issues they lost.

Planned Parenthood had sought a restraining order to keep the state from revoking its license because of a disagreement over what wording should go in the disclosure form.

Schreier's ruling makes that moot, though the state Health Department will review the decision and "implement it in a relatively quick manner," Guhin said.

"We've taken the view, at least with regard to the human being disclosure, that since the 8th Circuit ruled they've been obligated to comply, which is over a year ago," he said.

Stoesz said Planned Parenthood will also review the decision.

"We will, of course, ensure that we are in full compliance with the judge's order," she said.



Let's just wave at each other, okay?

They may want votes, but some Japanese election candidates have been cutting back on handshakes on the campaign trail as the new flu virus reaches epidemic proportions in Japan.

The country has confirmed three deaths from the H1N1 influenza virus, and the health minister said Wednesday a rise in cases meant the new flu had spread more than expected this summer.

With little more than a week to go until the August 30 election that his opposition Democratic Party looks likely to win, candidate Denny Tamaki is playing it safe.

"Shaking hands during an election campaign is key, so this is pretty troubling," Tamaki told the Yomiuri Shimbun.
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kirk/spock choking

Get your torches and pitchforks ready, it's about to go down

Common Sense 2009
By Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine and free speech advocate

The American government -- which we once called our government -- has been taken over by Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich. They are the ones who decide our fate. It is this group of powerful elites, the people President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "economic royalists," who choose our elected officials -- indeed, our very form of government. Both Democrats and Republicans dance to the tune of their corporate masters. In America, corporations do not control the government. In America, corporations are the government.
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I'm just generally suspicious of the "Take 'Murka back" contingent, no matter if they're left- or right-leaning. Plus, not a huge fan of destabilizing our gov't, gotta say.

HuffPo Sauce
Mr. F!

OK, this just disgusts me.

The Death Book for Veterans
Ex-soldiers don't need to be told they're a burden to society.

By Jim Towey

If President Obama wants to better understand why America's discomfort with end-of-life discussions threatens to derail his health-care reform, he might begin with his own Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). He will quickly discover how government bureaucrats are greasing the slippery slope that can start with cost containment but quickly become a systematic denial of care.

Last year, bureaucrats at the VA's National Center for Ethics in Health Care advocated a 52-page end-of-life planning document, "Your Life, Your Choices." It was first published in 1997 and later promoted as the VA's preferred living will throughout its vast network of hospitals and nursing homes. After the Bush White House took a look at how this document was treating complex health and moral issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now resuscitated "Your Life, Your Choices."

Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.

"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to "shake the blues." There is a section which provocatively asks, "Have you ever heard anyone say, 'If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug'?" There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as "I can no longer contribute to my family's well being," "I am a severe financial burden on my family" and that the vet's situation "causes severe emotional burden for my family."

When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?

One can only imagine a soldier surviving the war in Iraq and returning without all of his limbs only to encounter a veteran's health-care system that seems intent on his surrender.

I was not surprised to learn that the VA panel of experts that sought to update "Your Life, Your Choices" between 2007-2008 did not include any representatives of faith groups or disability rights advocates. And as you might guess, only one organization was listed in the new version as a resource on advance directives: the Hemlock Society (now euphemistically known as "Compassion and Choices").

This hurry-up-and-die message is clear and unconscionable. Worse, a July 2009 VA directive instructs its primary care physicians to raise advance care planning with all VA patients and to refer them to "Your Life, Your Choices." Not just those of advanced age and debilitated condition—all patients. America's 24 million veterans deserve better.

Many years ago I created an advance care planning document called "Five Wishes" that is today the most widely used living will in America, with 13 million copies in national circulation. Unlike the VA's document, this one does not contain the standard bias to withdraw or withhold medical care. It meets the legal requirements of at least 43 states, and it runs exactly 12 pages.

After a decade of observing end-of-life discussions, I can attest to the great fear that many patients have, particularly those with few family members and financial resources. I lived and worked in an AIDS home in the mid-1980s and saw first-hand how the dying wanted more than health care—they wanted someone to care.

If President Obama is sincere in stating that he is not trying to cut costs by pressuring the disabled to forgo critical care, one good way to show that commitment is to walk two blocks from the Oval Office and pull the plug on "Your Life, Your Choices." He should make sure in the future that VA decisions are guided by values that treat the lives of our veterans as gifts, not burdens.

Mr. Towey, president of Saint Vincent College, was director of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives (2002-2006) and founder of the nonprofit Aging with Dignity.

  • Current Mood

Mayor Tom Barrett Speaks For First Time Since Attack

MILWAUKEE — A bloodied scab on his face and his shattered hand bound by a bulky cast, Milwaukee's mayor said Wednesday his decision to intervene in a domestic dispute got "very ugly" quickly but he did what any good citizen should have done.

Tom Barrett spoke for the first time Wednesday about being attacked by a man as he attempted to help a woman and her 1-year-old granddaughter near the Wisconsin State Fair on Saturday night. The popular 55-year-old mayor suffered a shattered hand, got two of his teeth knocked out and had gashes on his face and the back of his head.

"I'm still standing," he said.

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Four for you Tom Coco, You go Tom Coco

Family claim cover-up over death in police custody

The head of a Metropolitan police station where a man died has been recorded on tape promising that CCTV cameras were working and tape from them had been seized – weeks before investigators told the man's family that the footage was missing.

Sean Rigg, a 40-year-old musician, was arrested in the street by four police officers, placed in a police van and driven a short distance to Brixton police station, where he was placed in a metal cage in the yard. About 20 minutes later he stopped breathing and after being taken to hospital was officially pronounced dead.

Rigg had schizophrenia, an illness his family say he overcame in recent years to live a normal life. He was otherwise physically fit and healthy around the time he died. Two postmortem examinations were unable to find a cause of death.

Rigg's family believe officers who restrained him during the arrest, or those present when he was placed in the station cage, may have contributed to his death. They have held a weekly vigil outside the station and were to mark the anniversary of his death today with a memorial event.

There were no cameras in the police van that took Rigg to the police station and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is expected to complete its investigation next month, initially told Rigg's family that only CCTV footage seized from inside the station showed the cage where he died – and the cameras involved had limited views.

Convinced there were more outdoor cameras nearby, Rigg's family demanded an audit of security cameras at the station. IPCC investigators then conceded there were more cameras overlooking the cage. But two weeks later, they said they had tried to obtain the tapes and found the recorders had not been working for three months.

Rigg's family suspect a cover-up. The IPCC's claim about CCTV contradicts repeated assurances given to the family by a senior police officer two days after Rigg died. Suzanne Wallace, a chief inspector who was in charge of the station, was caught on tape saying CCTV was working and recordings had been seized.

"I know that's been seized because on the night the officers from the DPS [Department of Professional Standards] were asking about the CCTV," she said. "And that was one of my questions: is the CCTV working, is it running, is there a tape in there? You know – very basic, but it's really, really important. And that was all to the affirmative.

"So the CCTV was running and they were certainly, they certainly seized it on the night cos they were looking to do that safely so they wouldn't mess the system up or delete anything that was on the tape. So that has been done, so it was running, so there is CCTV and the IPCC will have that if they haven't got that now."

Specifically, she said "the back of the cage and the whole yard is covered with CCTV" and later in the conversation added: "My worst nightmare is the CCTV wasn't working, because I can imagine then you'd think: Oh my God [inaudible] cover-up, you've wiped the tape, the officers [inaudible]. Of course you'd think that, I would think that."

The Met declined to comment as the case is part of an ongoing IPCC investigation.
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The Guardian (accompanying video at link - no embed code that I could find)

Nude picture of Jackie O. found among Andy Warhol's stuff

Naked Jacqueline Onassis Photo Found With Warhol's Junk
RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI | 08/19/09 11:41 AM | AP

PITTSBURGH — A cardboard lid is lifted and four archivists peer inside. A postal box from Paris. Who sent it? A piece of crusty wedding cake. Whose? Another box: $17,000 in cash. Yet another: An autographed picture of a naked Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

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Chibis - Default ChibiJess

Now, for a change of pace, Canadian Stupidity.

Suaad Hagi Mohamud, the woman stranded in Kenya and called an impostor by the Canadian government, is suing Ottawa for the ordeal.

A Toronto woman who had been stranded in Kenya over false claims she was an impostor is suing the Canadian government for $2.5 million, accusing officials of "callous and reckless treatment."

"I don't care about money," Suaad Hagi Mohamud said on Friday during a news conference in Toronto. "I only go to court so this never happen[s] to another Canadian citizen."

Mohamud, 31, who was visiting her mother in Kenya, had been unable to leave the country since May, when local authorities said her lips did not look the way they did in her four-year-old passport photo.

"I told them I'm a Canadian so call my government. I thought my government would back me up," she said. "I was alone when my government let me down."
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I hope she wins, after all the horror she's been through. being stranded for several months from her family?
Super Mario

How about some good news, ONTD_P? :]

Existing homes selling fast - record fast

The volume of home re-sales has been on the upswing for four consecutive months.

NEW YORK ( -- Sales of existing homes rose in July for the fourth consecutive month, lending support to economists who argue a recovery is near.

Sales of previously owned single-family homes were up 7.2% compared with June and 5% from July 2008, The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Friday. The monthly gain was the largest on record for existing-home sales, which NAR has tracked since 1999.

"The housing market has decisively turned for the better," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "A combination of first-time buyers taking advantage of the housing stimulus tax credit and greatly improved affordability conditions are contributing to higher sales."

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  • Current Music
    System of a Down - Spiders
God Bless
  • lanrek

Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story"

Mike is premiering the film at the oldest film festival in the world, the Venice International Film Festival.

Next he heads to the Toronto International Film Festival where 'Roger & Me' won the festival's People's Choice award 20 years ago.

'Capitalism: A Love Story' opens nationwide October 2nd.


Oh, Michael.
  • Current Mood

Roger Ebert: Death panels, angry tea baggers, and health care for all

The man can write.

"Death Panels." A most excellent term.

By Roger Ebert
on August 17, 2009 12:37 PM

"Death panels" is such an excellent term. You know exactly what it means, and therefore you know you're against them. Debate over. This term more than anything else seems to have unified the opposition to the Obama health care proposals. It fuels the anger that has essentially shut down "town hall" meetings intended for the discussion of the issues.

Of course the term is inspired by a lie. There are no conceivable plans to form "death panels" or anything like them. The Obama plan, which has some bipartisan support, doesn't seek or desire to get involved in any decisions about who should live and who should die. But now we hear "death panel" repeated so often that the term has taken on a sort of eerie reality, as if it really referred to anything.

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' jules
  • schmiss

TOM RODGE cont got ony love from Fox Nows.

Tom Ridge? Fox News never heard of the guy

Big surprise, right? Former Department of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge admits in his upcoming book that he was pressured by very senior Bush White House officials to raise the nation's terror level warning and to do it for purely for political reasons.

The story's a big deal and it's been widely reported and commented upon in the last 24 hours. Except at GOP-friendly Fox News, of course, which continues to play dumb about the news story.

According to, since the terror level story broke yesterday, CNN has mentioned "Tom Ridge" on the air at least 41 times, MSNBC has done it 62 times, and CNN's Headline News, which covers fewer stories each day, mentioned "Tom Ridge" 18 times so far.

Any guesses for Fox News? Did I mention FNC was playing dumb on an epic level?

If you guessed t-w-o, you are correct. According to TVeyes, Fox News has been able to almost completely ignore the Ridge story. It basically does not exist. Four sentences. To date, that's been the sum total of Fox News' reporting on the Ridge controversy. The four sentences were aired on Thursday's Special Report, which was then re-broadcast during the overnight.

BTW, the other cable channels continue to cover the Ridge story today and by midnight I'm guessing MSNBC's total mentions of Ridge will approach 80-90, while CNN's will likely top out around 60. But if I had to place my money, I'd bet that Fox News' two reference will stand firm throughout the day.

Tom Ridge? Never heard of the guy?


Yes I know "what should we expect" etc etc but they're the most popular news network out there and we shouldn't give them a pass.

Lutherans to Allow Sexually Active Gays as Clergy

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Leaders of the nation's largest Lutheran church voted Friday to allow sexually active gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy.

Gays and lesbians are currently allowed to serve as ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America only if they remain celibate. The proposal to change that passed with 68 percent approval. At 4.7 million members and about 10,000 congregations in the United States, the ELCA is one of the largest U.S. Christian denominations yet to take a more gay-friendly stance on clergy. The final decision on whether to hire gay clergy in committed relationships will lie with individual congregations.

Some critics of the proposal have predicted its passage could cause individual congregations to split off from the ELCA, as has been the case with other Christian denominations, including the Episcopal Church.

The debate over the so-called ''ministry recommendations'' got under way first thing Friday, and delegate Al Quie, a former Republican governor of Minnesota, proposed an alternative: ''Practicing homosexual persons are excluded from rostered leadership in this church.''

The proposal, which would have left the church's policy more or less unchanged, failed. Conservatives had lost an important vote Wednesday night when the convention's 1,045 delegates approved by a two-thirds supermajority a ''social statement on human sexuality'' that said the ELCA could accommodate diverging views on homosexuality. The Rev. Katrina Foster, a pastor in the Metropolitan New York Synod, pointed out that the church has ordained woman and divorced people in violation of a literal interpretation of scripture.

''We can learn not to define ourselves by negation,'' Foster said. ''By not only saying what we are against, which always seems to be the same -- against gay people. We should be against poverty. I wish we were as zealous about that.''


The History of Indoctrination

Texas to revise history textbooks: liberals out, Limbaugh and Gingrich in.

The Texas State Board of Education review committee is preparing to vote on a draft of proposed standards for history textbooks. Noting that the draft has “nothing about liberals,” the Houston Chronicle reported:

The first draft for proposed standards in United States History Studies Since Reconstruction says students should be expected “to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority.” [...] Others have proposed adding talk show host Rush Limbaugh and the National Rifle Association.

The 15-member committee is expected to vote along party lines. Earlier this year, a panel of right-wing “experts” produced a report urging the committee to remove biographies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen F. Austin, and César Chávez, and instead add history about the “motivational role the Bible and the Christian faith played in the settling of the original colonies.”

I want to know why Washington got left out.  I kinda see the warped and twisted reasoning behind the others getting thrown out, but Washington?

Intelligent Design Groups Joins The War on Science... Science = Abortions

Obama's Science Adviser Targeted By Defamation Campaign

Conservative media outlets are waging an online defamation campaign against Presidential Science Advisor Jon Holdren, using out-of-context quotes and misinformation to portray him as hell-bent on pursuing population control through the use of forced abortions and mass sterilization.

Fox News reported that Holdren was bent on adopting a "planetary regime" of population control, while blogger Michelle Malkin called him a "wackjob" who entertains policies that would mandate "forced abortions, mass sterilizations, and poisoning the water supply to control the population." On February 27, FrontPage Magazine published an article decrying Holdren's "globalist, redistributionist, Malthusian views."

The attacks are widely off the mark. The evidence generally cited by critics is a 1977 textbook entitled "Ecoscience: Population, Resources, and Environment." The authors -- Holdren is one of three -- in a chapter detailing various coercive and non-coercive policies for "population control" ultimately come out strongly against such policies. They argue that the harm caused by their adoption "would, in our opinion, militate against the use of any such agent" of involuntary population control.

Holdren's work was also a product of its time. As the American Prospect noted in its July 21 issue, "population control" was a not particularly controversial concept at the time, and one that many scientists did support in various forms.

Shocked at the mischaracterization of their work, Holdren's coauthors, Anne and Paul Ehrlich, released this statement earlier in the summer: "We were not then, never have been, and are not now 'advocates' of the Draconian measures for population limitation described -- but not recommended -- in the book's 60-plus small-type pages cataloging the full spectrum of population policies[.]" They had merely described measures "that, at the time, had either been tried in some country or analyzed by some commentator."
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Commie Foreigners Praise the Wonder of Socialized Medicine. Real Americans Baffled...

Thousands From Canada And Europe Praise Their National Health Care On Global Message Board

Yesterday, global online advocacy network attempted to inject a dose of reality into the heated debate over health care reform by launching an interactive database of user-submitted health care stories from Canada, the UK, and other countries with national health care systems. In a marked departure from the outrage, truth-distortion and detraction at recent town hall debates, contributors to the Avaaz message board have sounded surprisingly levelheaded.

"The health care system in Canada isn't perfect - but it is pretty darn good," a contributor named Gwen wrote on the board. "I have never had to wait more than a week to see my doctor, when I see a specialist I don't have to worry about paying out of pocket, and as a woman I have access to free yearly pap tests and mammograms."

Gwen's matter of fact tone highlights the extent to which the discussion around health care reform in America has degenerated into sensationalism. Opponents of a public option are quick to raise the specter of long waits to see a doctor and a general degraded quality of care. Much like the recent discussion of 'death panels,' detractors are accustomed to distorting the truth. The lack of an honest conversation about national health care was not lost on contributors to, including Dr. Frank Tester:

The debate over health care in the United States is particularly disturbing because it has become a media war where facts are distorted and opponents of what is being proposed appear willing to stop at nothing in order to accomplish their objective of stopping President Obama's initiative.

Of the nearly five thousand comments made on the site in the last 24 hours, the vast majority express one of two things: gratitude towards their government for relieving the fear that comes with not having medical coverage, and dismay at the dishonest debate in the US. Criticism of national health care is all but missing.

Mock Executions Kept America Safe!

Report Reveals CIA Conducted Mock Executions
A long-awaited report on post-9/11 interrogation tactics will reveal harrowing new details about treatment of suspected terrorists.

A long-suppressed report by the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general to be released next week reveals that CIA interrogators staged mock executions as part of the agency's post-9/11 program to detain and question terror suspects, NEWSWEEK has learned.

According to two sources—one who has read a draft of the paper and one who was briefed on it—the report describes how one detainee, suspected USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was threatened with a gun and a power drill during the course of CIA interrogation. According to the sources, who like others quoted in this article asked not to be named while discussing sensitive information, Nashiri's interrogators brandished the gun in an effort to convince him that he was going to be shot. Interrogators also turned on a power drill and held it near him. "The purpose was to scare him into giving [information] up," said one of the sources. A federal law banning the use of torture expressly forbids threatening a detainee with "imminent death."

The report also says, according to the sources, that a mock execution was staged in a room next to a detainee, during which a gunshot was fired in an effort to make the suspect believe that another prisoner had been killed. The inspector general's report alludes to more than one mock execution.
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Rage News: "Gang of Six" to Cut Health Care Cost to Appease GOP. GOP Doesnt Give a F#ck

"Gang Of Six" Talks About Cutting Health Care More To Appease GOP

Senate health-care negotiators agreed late Thursday to ignore the increasingly strident rhetoric from Republican and Democratic leaders and to keep working toward a bill that can win broad support from the rank-and-file in both parties, according to sources familiar with the talks.

In a conference call, the three Democratic and three Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee agreed to redouble their efforts to craft a less costly alternative to the trillion-dollar initiatives so far put forward in Congress. They discussed the possibility of also reining in the scope of their package, the sources said.

The senators rejected the idea of imposing a deadline on their negotiations, and they agreed to talk again Sept. 4 -- four days before lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington from their August break. The consensus, one participant said, was "to take your time to get it right."

In a written statement released after the approximately 90-minute teleconference, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the finance panel, said the group had "a productive conversation" and that they "remain committed to continuing our path toward a bipartisan health-care reform bill."

"Our discussion included an increased emphasis on affordability and reducing costs, and our efforts moving forward will reflect that focus," he said.

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Kyl: "I Don't Think A Single Republican" Will Support Health Care Reform

In an interview with Fox News' Neil Cavuto, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) affirmed that neither health care reform bill currently in circulation will get any Republican support. "For either the bill that passed the House Committee or the bill that passed the HELP committee in the Senate, I don't think a single Republican in the Senate would support either of those bills," he said confidently. Kyl went on to say that negotiations between Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have become "very difficult because" of "liberals in both the House and the Senate." Later he suggested, "Let's start over."

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Death Panel Myth Creator Resigns From Medical Board

Death Panel Myth Creator Resigns From Medical Board

Betsy McCaughey, the Clinton-era health care reform foe who has risen again to fight President Obama's push, has resigned from her post on the board of directors of Cantel Medical Corporation to "avoid any appearance of a conflict on interest."

McCaughey has been a Wall Street banker, a Republican lieutenant governor, and a staffer at conservative think tanks, but as James Fallows noted at The Atlantic recently, she has falsely presented herself as a neutral researcher in the health care debate. She helped give birth to the pernicious "death panel" charge against health reform legislation with a column in Bloomberg News. Asked to defend her positions on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart Thursday night, McCaughey floundered.

The press release:
LITTLE FALLS, N.J., Aug. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CANTEL MEDICAL CORP. (NYSE: CMN - News) announced that on August 20, 2009 it received a letter of resignation from Ms. Elizabeth McCaughey as a director of the Company. Ms. McCaughey, who had served as a director since 2005, stated that she was resigning to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest during the national debate over healthcare reform.

Cantel Medical Corp. (NYSE: CMN - News) is a leading provider of infection prevention and control products in the healthcare market. Our products include specialized medical device reprocessing systems for renal dialysis and endoscopy, dialysate concentrates and other dialysis supplies, disposable infection prevention and control products primarily for the dental industry, water purification equipment, sterilants, disinfectants and cleaners, hollow fiber membrane filtration and separation products for medical and non-medical applications, and specialty packaging for infectious and biological specimens. We also provide technical maintenance for our products and offer compliance training services for the transport of infectious and biological specimens. For more information please visit


Top Dem Senator Seeks Data On Health Insurer Profits. Insurers: "No Comment"

Senator seeks data on health insurer profits

A U.S. Senate Democrat asked the top 15 health insurers to explain what portion of premiums go to profits versus patient care, putting further pressure on the companies to explain their business practices as Congress considers sweeping health reform legislation.

In letters to the companies on Friday, Sen. John Rockefeller also asked for information about how insurers disclose financial practices to customers.

Earlier this week, senior Democrats on the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee asked dozens of health insurers for details about executive compensation and other practices.

"Too often consumers are not getting a fair deal for what they pay, they are not getting the protections they deserve, and the insurance companies are awash in profit," Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a statement.

The letters were sent to companies including UnitedHealth Group, Wellpoint and Aetna, the committee said.

Health insurers have come under attack amid a contentious debate about how to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system to cover the currently uninsured and cut costs. A key issue is whether the government should offer its own health insurance option to provide competition for the private companies.

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), an industry group, said insurers provide detailed financial information to federal and state regulators. Health plans rank 35th among Fortune magazine's profitability rankings with an average profit margin of 2.2 percent, AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said.

"Some in Washington are trying to shift the focus to the insurance industry rather than talk about solutions to the health care concerns raised by the American people," Zirkelbach said.

Representatives of Aetna and Wellpoint said they were reviewing the letter. UnitedHealth spokesman John Parker confirmed the company had received the letter but had no further comment.
End the occupation
  • omer

Arab-European League comes up with dubious way to protest decision not to indict maker of anti-Islam

Disgraceful Arab protest: The Arab-European League in Holland has republished a cartoon mocking the Holocaust three years after it has been removed from its website.

The move was aimed to protest the decision not to indict Dutch Lawmaker Geert Wilders over an anti-Islamic movie he produced.

The Arab organization noted that the holocaust cartoon was removed from its website three years ago, yet despite this the Dutch prosecutor's office did not reconsider its intention to file an indictment in connection with the case.

The group said authorities in Holland were adopting a "double standard," as Wilders was not charged despite including Prophet Muhammad caricatures in his film, which angered many Muslims.

The Holocaust cartoon in question, which depicts two Jews "searching for victims" at Auschwitz, hints that the Jews invented the Shoah (holocaust in Hebrew).

Group officials said they believe no indictments should be served against the publishers of caricatures of any kind, and claimed that members of Holland's Arab community were feeling a "sense of injustice" as result of the decision taking by Dutch authorities in connection with the cartoon.

The cartoon in question can be seen at the Arab-European League site.
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Raging Anti-Feminist

Women! Know Your Place! (It's in politics, but only if you're pretty!)

A local Conservative chairman has triggered a sexism row after saying he'd only pick a woman to stand in one of the party's most high-profile seats if she was attractive. Cathy Newman reports.

Alan Scard is in charge of selecting a Tory candidate for Gosport, where the sitting MP Sir Peter Viggers quit after trying to claim for a floating duck house on expenses.

Asked in an interview with Channel 4 News if he was happy to support David Cameron's call to put more women in Parliament, he said: "If they are attractive yeah I would go for it."

He added: "I suppose a woman...if they are attractive...I know it's a sexist thing to say but you could get the blokes saying 'Oh you know I would vote for her because she's really attractive' but then the other women say 'Oh I don't like her she's too attractive.'"

The comments prompted a barrage of criticism from Labour.

Cabinet Office minister Tessa Jowell said: "These comments which are deeply offensive and hugely patronising to women are exactly the type of Tory attitude David Cameron claims to have got rid of."

She added: "In the last two weeks we have seen Tories denying homophobia exists, condemning the NHS and now this blatant sexism."

More at source, including the clash between local Conservatives and CCHQ on candidate choices, as well as problems affecting Labour and their all-women shortlists.

I can see that he's not being totally serious, and this is actually the sort of thing people consider when selecting a parliamentary candidate (it shouldn't be of course, but alas that's the world we live in) - but what kind of idiot actually articulates this on national television? Dingbat.

(no subject)


Rapist pretended to be gay to lure victims

Well-dressed, soft-spoken, Michael-Jackson like.

That's how 26-year-old Robert Williams' rape victims described him.

Prosecutors agree, but say Williams is more like a spider with a web. They describe him as calculating, methodical in luring his prey.

Williams befriended his first two victims, pretending to be their "gay best friend."

Months would pass, he gained their trust and then one day he turned on them and raped them. His approach with a third victim, a 17-year-old, was an old scam: I can make you a model.


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Obama Ramandan Message

Video Message from the President.
More from White House Blog (source)

Personally as an American Musiim, it really means a lot that he would extend such a warn and well informed message. It demonstrates that Obama really seems to want to  unite the Muslim world and show them that Americans aren't misinformed cold-hearted war mongers. It's every Islamic extremist's nightmare! So far the message, has been a hit with Muslims from what I've heard.


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