October 27th, 2009

Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett
  • doop

Shooting Feral Cats is Cruel and Inhumane--and Just Plain Wrong

Lately Alley Cat Allies has heard from our supporters and seen more than one news item about people who should know better—elected leaders no less—suggesting that the best way to handle feral cats is to shoot them.
In early October, a Rolla, Missouri councilman said it on video and another official in Coon Valley, Wisconsin alluded to “disposing” of feral cats. In Leakey, Texas, the local humane society put out an article asking local people to not "eliminate" outdoor cats with eartips (because the eartip indicates they are a part of the humane society’s TNR program). Their own words imply it’s still ok to "eliminate" cats who DON’T have eartips!
Alley Cat Allies knows that our supporters won’t stand for this, but officials and nonprofit groups need to hear it directly from you!
Sign our petition reminding these people—who should know better—that inhumane treatment of cats is unacceptable—and show them that America is a humane place.


"Joke" Gone Too Far Forces Napolitano To Resign. No Word From Lowry, Still Thinks is Funny...

Congresswoman’s initials on target at gun range prompts Republican activist’s resignation

Republican activist Ed Napolitano has apologized to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, and resigned from all his Republican Party positions, over the actions of a Wasserman Schultz political opponent at an event sponsored by the club Napolitano used to lead.

Napolitano’s resignation and apology were prompted by what happened at the Southeast Republican Club on Oct. 6. Instead of the usual community center meeting room, the Napolitano-led club met at a gun range.

Among the approximately 40 people at the event was Robert Lowry, a Republican seeking his party’s nomination to run against Wasserman Schultz next year.

Lowry shot at a target bearing the letters "DWS" next to the silhouette head.

Lowry said he didn't know who wrote Wasserman Schultz' initials on his target, but said he knew they were there before he started shooting. He initially described it as a "joke," but after answering several questions he said it "was a mistake" to use a target labeled "DWS."

After the event was reported on in the Oct. 9 Sun Sentinel, it was picked up, reported, and commented on by national news outlets, generated a fury in the blogosphere, and drew critical reactions from Democrats.

Napolitano said he wasn’t aware of the target with Wasserman Schultz’ initials on the night of the event.

But in a letter to the congresswoman dated Oct. 12, he apologized.

“I would like to sincerely apologize to you and your family for an incident that occurred at a function we sponsored recently…. Let me say that this action was wrong and should never have happened. It was stupid and irresponsible to do such a thing.”

Read the letter here.

“I meant every word of it. It was stupid. It was reckless. It was ridiculous. I wouldn’t want Democrats doing that to our candidates,” Napolitano said today. “I know how everybody takes it, a threat of violence, and that has no place in our political dialog. For somebody to do that it’s just plain stupid.”

The congresswoman’s office received a hard copy of the letter this week, and sent Napolitano a response today:
“Thank you for your apology for the disturbing action that occurred at your recent meeting. I feel strongly that the discourse in American politics has taken an extreme and potentially dangerous turn in the past few months. As party leaders we must work together to maintain a civil discourse over the direction of our country. While we may not always agree on the best course for our nation, I believe that we can stand united in agreement that politics of the extreme have no place in America."
Napolitano also told Broward Republican Chairman Chip LaMarca he was resigning from all his party roles: president of the Southeast Republican Club, Republican committeeman, and membership chairman of the county Republican Party.

LaMarca said Napolitano’s resignation, “with what was going on, I do think it was appropriate.”

While he’s stepping away from the party, Napolitano said today he’s not ending his political activism. “I’m not going to be going away. You’re still going to see me around.”

He expressed frustration with Republican Party leadership, which he said doesn’t stand by and defend volunteer Republican activists – like himself – when they’re attacked.

“The leadership in the Republican Party is lacking in courage, and they do not stand by their people,” Napolitano said.

“We’re volunteers. We volunteer our time and we volunteer our money. They’re there to facilitate us. We’re not there to facilitate them. They act like we’re their servants…. I resent Jim Greer and those guys acting like somehow they’re the be all and end all of Republicanism,” he said. Greer is state Republican chairman.

Napolitano said he was pushed to quit, but wouldn’t say who did the shoving.

LaMarca said neither he nor any of other county party leaders had a role and he doesn’t know of anyone at the state party forcing Napolitano out.

Katie Gordon Betta, spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Florida, said via e-mail:
"Chairman Greer did not force Mr. Napolitano to resign, in fact the Chairman hasn't even spoken to Mr. Napolitano about the incident. While the Chairman firmly supports the Second Amendment, he publicly stated that the events that took place at the shooting range were completely in appropriate, particularly for a member of the Republican Party's leadership. While the Chairman did not encourage this resignation, he certainly feels it is an appropriate course of action given the grave disservice to the Party and Florida Republicans Mr. Napolitano caused."
Lowry hasn’t apologized to Wasserman Schultz.

“If he does decide to do that, it’s a personal thing and we’ll probably put it to Debbie. If we were to do that, it’s a personal apology,” said his campaign manager, Chris Leggatt.

LaMarca termed shooting at the target with the congresswoman’s initials stupid, immature, and deplorable. He said Lowry didn’t handle the situation well.

“He didn’t answer it properly, I don’t think,” he said.

LaMarca said he doesn’t expect Lowry to apologize at this point.

“It’s something he should have done a while back. He really should have done something about it then. Realistically, I think they’re trying to put it behind them,” LaMarca said.

Iceland says goodbye to the Big Mac

McDonald's closes in Iceland as currency collapse takes a bite out of Big Mac profits

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) -- The Big Mac, long a symbol of globalization, has become the latest victim of this tiny island nation's overexposure to the world financial crisis.

Iceland's three McDonald's restaurants -- all in the capital Reykjavik -- will close next weekend, as the franchise owner gives in to falling profits caused by the collapse in the Icelandic krona.

"The economic situation has just made it too expensive for us," Magnus Ogmundsson, the managing director of Lyst Hr., McDonald's franchise holder in Iceland, told The Associated Press by telephone on Monday.

Lyst was bound by McDonald's requirement that it import all the goods required for its restaurants -- from packaging to meat and cheeses -- from Germany.


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One last hurdle to pass.

Czech court hears EU treaty case

The Czech Constitutional Court is hearing what could be the last legal challenge to the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

It has begun considering a case brought by 17 Eurosceptic senators who say the treaty would create a superstate, and as such infringes Czech sovereignty.

The treaty, which aims to streamline the way the EU is run, must be approved by all 27 member countries before it can become law.

The Czech Republic is the only country which has yet to sign.

The 15-member Czech Constitutional Court panel has convened in the city of Brno.

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    Black mayonaise "cute like a stomach pump"

Yay, Drupal + .gov = I love this nerdy White House.

A White House, on the leading edge  of the technology curve? What is this???? 

First of all, the AP article and this HuffPo headline are misleading. The White House is not going to be allowing any joe shmoe ot jump on their site and monkey around with their code, but they are going to using an open source software- which means the php and html code information used to create the  basic structure of the site is free and community supported...  used, created and shared by the public all over the world  ... and .... wait a minute- hay that actually does sound .... almost - SOCIALIST! 
Source #1 huffp0
Another more geeky and informative 
POV from the guy who writes my textbooks, at Source #2

White House opens Web site programming to public

PHILIP ELLIOTT | October 24, 2009 03:37 PM EST | AP

WASHINGTON — A programming overhaul of the White House's Web site has set the tech world abuzz. For low-techies, it's a snooze – you won't notice a thing.

The online-savvy administration on Saturday switched to open-source code for – meaning the programming language is written in public view, available for public use and able for people to edit. http://www.whitehouse.gov

"We now have a technology platform to get more and more voices on the site," White House new media director Macon Phillips told The Associated Press hours before the new site went live on Saturday. "This is state-of-the-art technology and the government is a participant in it."

White House officials described the change as similar to rebuilding the foundation of a building without changing the street-level appearance of the facade. It was expected to make the White House site more secure – and the same could be true for other administration sites in the future.

"Security is fundamentally built into the development process because the community is made up of people from all across the world, and they look at the source code from the very start of the process until it's deployed and after," said Terri Molini of Open Source for America, an interest group that has pushed for more such programs.

Having the public write code may seem like a security risk, but it's just the opposite, experts inside and outside the government argued. Because programmers collaborate to find errors or opportunities to exploit Web code, the final product is therefore more secure.

For instance, instead of a dozen administration programmers trying to find errors, thousands of programmers online constantly are refining the programs and finding potential pitfalls.

It will be a much faster way to change the programming behind the Web site
. When the model was owned solely by the government, federal contractors would have to work through the reams of code to troubleshoot it or upgrade it. Now, it can be done in the matter of days and free to taxpayers.

Obama's team, which harnessed the Web to win an electoral landslide in 2008 and raise millions, has been working toward the shift since it took office Jan. 20 with a White House site based on technology purchased at the end of President George W. Bush's administration.

It didn't let the tech-savvy Obama team build the new online platform it wanted. For instance, 60,000 watched Obama speech to a joint session of Congress on health care.Collapse )

This is turning out to be a really crappy week for Scientology.

Scientologists convicted of fraud

A French court has convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud, but stopped short of banning the group from operating in France.

Two branches of the group's French operations and its leader in France have been fined, reports say.

The case centred on a complaint by a woman who says she was pressured into paying large sums of money after being offered a free personality test.

The Church denied that any mental manipulation took place.

France regards Scientology as a sect, not a religion and prosecutors had asked for the group's French operations to be dissolved.

Instead, a judge ordered the Church's Celebrity Centre and a bookshop to pay a 600,000 euro (£544,000) fine, AFP news agency reported.

Alain Rosenberg, the group's head in France, was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence and fined 30,000 euros, the report said.

In ruling that the group did not need to shut down, the court argued that it would be likely to continue its activities anyway, "outside any legal framework".

(La source)

Transgender homecoming queen a first for College

Jessee Vasold ’11 made history at the College of William and Mary Wednesday when ze was announced as the school’s first transgender homecoming queen, representing the Class of 2011.

Vasold identifies as gender-queer and prefers to be referred to with gender neutral pronouns: “ze” in place of he or she and “zir” rather than him or her. Vasold has also created a Facebook account for a female identity, Kathy Middlesex.

Friends suggested that Vasold run for homecoming queen. Even though Vasold thought that there was a good chance at being elected, Vasold said the win was still surprising to hear.

“We figured it would be something different for the school to go through, something that hasn’t happened too often,” Vasold said. “I was kind of surprised that I won because I knew the other girls running. I know that they’re really friendly; they’re wonderful people, so I was unsure.”

This year marks the return of direct voting by students. Last year, there was no platform to host voting, so the homecoming kings and queens were chosen by class officers out of student-submitted nominations.

The alumni website was used this year to choose the homecoming court. The alumni office had no oversight over the nominations for the court, which was a purely student initiative.

“I thought it was much better done this year because students actually could vote for who they wanted instead of having five or six class officers select who they think should be the winner,” Junior Class President Mike Tsidulko said.

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OH SHIT. Italy is here.

Silvio Berlusconi's cutting remark about a female rival's lack of beauty has stirred a rare public backlash from thousands of Italian women who had largely kept silent about the prime minister's womanizing and sex scandals.

About 97,000 Italian women have signed the "Women offended by the premier" appeal after Berlusconi told the matronly, bespectacled leftist Rosy Bindi that she was "more beautiful than intelligent" in a swipe at both her looks and brains.

Since then, Facebook sites offering solidarity have sprung up, protests have been held in towns like Reggio Emilia, while Bindi's response -- "I'm not a woman at your disposal" -- has become a rallying cry printed on T-shirts and placards.

"Someone tell Berlusconi he's no George Clooney," centrist Senator Patrizia Bugnano said, calling him a "chauvinist." "It's offensive that he always refers to women in aesthetic terms."

The campaign is publicized by left-leaning newspaper La Repubblica and draws support heavily from the left. It is a rare example of a feminist initiative against Berlusconi that has managed to gain momentum.

Bindi says it signals a "new feminism" taking root in Italy, where Berlusconi's quips about women being "God's most beautiful gift to men" and Italy being "homeland of great lovers, Casanovas and playboys" are usually met with indifference.

Still, pollsters say that without a credible political rival to challenge him, the feminist backlash will do little to lower Berlusconi's support among conservative women voters -- even if they may be less enthusiastic about him than before.

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franklin sherman

Grayson calls a lobbyist whore a whore, establishment whores flip out.

And you'd better not forget it. Some things transcend partisan ID, political party, ideology and the rest, not the least of which is the class solidarity of the stinking Inside the Beltway elite. Alan Grayson didn't say they should all be lined up against a wall and shot; he probably wouldn't even agree with that as an excellent way to help get the country back on a good footing-- especially because there actually are some good one in the lot. But one of those good ones is decidedly not Linda Robertson.

Inside the Beltway hacks-- even some relatively good ones, policy-wise, are all over Grayson for referring to Robertson, a lobbyist recently hired as a public relations operative (or lobbyist) for the Federal Reserve, as "a K Street whore." None of the outraged and offended congressmembers-- who realize a charge like this is an affront to all of their self-proclaimed senses of dignity-- cares to discuss the substance of the claim. But she was, after all, the head of Enron's lobbying office-- a position that defines the word "whore."

The characterization is a little too close for comfort for almost any member of Congress, since so many of them are whores as well, taking immense sums of money from the very corporations on whose interests they are legislating. Hence the outrage over Grayson's plainspoken declaration. Robertson's current job is to paint a rosy picture of an institution, the Fed, at the heart of the near collapse of the American financial structure. A former close associate of Wall Street shill Lawrence Summers and of bankster Robert Rubin, Robertson was already blackballed for a job at Treasury because the Obama Administration was still trying to persuade people (and itself) that they didn't hire lobbyists.

Now, you might ask, are all lobbyists whores? Well, maybe not a lobbyist for the Society for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or a lobbyist for a firm urging the beating of swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks-- but that's not the kind of lobbyist Robertson has ever been. Pure and simple, Grayson hit that nail on the head: she's always been a whore. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) took Grayson's remark quite personally-- and for good reason. Shrieking that Grayson "is out of control"-- one of the reasons why so many Americans love him-- she didn't mention that she sits on the Committee on Natural Resources (and it's subcommittee on water and power) and has solicited immense sums of money (thinly veiled bribes) from forest products companies, oil and gas companies, and electric utilities and, coincidentally, I'm sure, always votes in their interests and against the public interest. And if people start calling lobbyists like Linda Robertson whores, how long before they start realizing that the Honorable Congresswoman from Spokane is also a whore-- as are almost all of her colleagues.

More text here (both Ds and Rs are offended!)

edit: (and the pc-committee misses the point, again.)
Balthier - Not impressed

New Colorado Personhood initiative would make it illegal to menstruate, I think

A version of the anti-abortion initiative soundly defeated by Colorado voters in 2008 is making its way to the 2010 ballot, this time reworked as an “egg-as-a-person” initiative.

This new version would move the legal definition of a person further back into the reproductive cycle, granting cells the full spectrum of citizen rights.

The new amendment is even farther reaching, moving the initial marker for the beginning of life from “fertilization” to “the beginning of the biological development of a human being.”

Personhood Colorado Director and the initiative proponent Gualberto Garcia Jones told The Colorado Independent that the change was made “to be more comprehensive in our definition of a person” and was not done to make it more appealing to voters.

It’s intended to account for human beings who may be created through asexual reproduction in laboratories and used as raw material for research, organs, or stem cells. Fertilization would not have properly applied to asexually reproduced humans, but even asexually reproduced human beings have a definite biological beginning,” Jones explained.

I wish I was kidding...

SOURCE guesses that not every sperm is sacred
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Mr. F!

FACT CHECK: Health insurer profits not so fat

WASHINGTON – Quick quiz: What do these enterprises have in common? Farm and construction machinery, Tupperware, the railroads, Hershey sweets, Yum food brands and Yahoo? Answer: They're all more profitable than the health insurance industry.

In the health care debate, Democrats and their allies have gone after insurance companies as rapacious profiteers making "immoral" and "obscene" returns while "the bodies pile up."

Ledgers tell a different reality. Health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent, give or take a point or two. That's anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries, even some beleaguered ones.

Profits barely exceeded 2 percent of revenues in the latest annual measure. This partly explains why the credit ratings of some of the largest insurers were downgraded to negative from stable heading into this year, as investors were warned of a stagnant if not shrinking market for private plans.

Insurers are an expedient target for leaders who want a government-run plan in the marketplace. Such a public option would force private insurers to trim profits and restrain premiums to compete, the argument goes. This would "keep insurance companies honest," says President Barack Obama.

The debate is loaded with intimations that insurers are less than straight, when they are not flatly accused of malfeasance.

They may not have helped their case by commissioning a report that looked primarily at the elements of health care legislation that might drive consumer costs up while ignoring elements aimed at bringing costs down. Few in the debate seem interested in a true balance sheet.

But in pillorying insurers over profits, the critics are on shaky ground. A look at some claims, and the numbers:


_"I'm very pleased that (Democratic leaders) will be talking, too, about the immoral profits being made by the insurance industry and how those profits have increased in the Bush years." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who also welcomed the attention being drawn to insurers' "obscene profits."

_"Keeping the status quo may be what the insurance industry wants their premiums have more than doubled in the last decade and their profits have skyrocketed." Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, member of the Democratic leadership.

_"Health insurance companies are willing to let the bodies pile up as long as their profits are safe." A MoveOn.org ad.


Health insurers posted a 2.2 percent profit margin last year, placing them 35th on the Fortune 500 list of top industries. As is typical, other health sectors did much better — drugs and medical products and services were both in the top 10.

The railroads brought in a 12.6 percent profit margin. Leading the list: network and other communications equipment, at 20.4 percent.

HealthSpring, the best performer in the health insurance industry, posted 5.4 percent. That's a less profitable margin than was achieved by the makers of Tupperware, Clorox bleach and Molson and Coors beers.

The star among the health insurance companies did, however, nose out Jack in the Box restaurants, which only achieved a 4 percent margin.

UnitedHealth Group, reporting third quarter results last week, saw fortunes improve. It managed a 5 percent profit margin on an 8 percent growth in revenue.

Van Hollen is right that premiums have more than doubled in a decade, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study that found a 131 percent increase.

But were the Bush years golden ones for health insurers?

Not judging by profit margins, profit growth or returns to shareholders. The industry's overall profits grew only 8.8 percent from 2003 to 2008, and its margins year to year, from 2005 forward, never cracked 8 percent.

The latest annual profit margins of a selection of products, services and industries: Tupperware Brands, 7.5 percent; Yahoo, 5.9 percent; Hershey, 6.1 percent; Clorox, 8.7 percent; Molson Coors Brewing, 8.1 percent; construction and farm machinery, 5 percent; Yum Brands (think KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), 8.5 percent.

  • acmeeoy

“Why Aren’t You Smiling, Honey?”

By Suzanne Braun Levine

The media and the blog world have been discussing women’s “happiness” quotient since a headlined Huffington Post item offered cumulated poll data indicating they weren’t. The author, who writes about and speaks to women now in their fifties and sixties, reports that she hears quite a different story.


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  • acmeeoy

From Media Blitz to Women’s Conference: Has Maria Shriver Discerned a Watershed Moment?

By Marianne Schnall

A Time magazine cover story and a week of programming on NBC immediately followed the release of The Shriver Report. This week, California’s First Lady will use the findings to engage participants in her annual conference on women. If the continuing activity fails to “ignite a national conversation,” it won’t be for lack of planning and effort.


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I can't wait til I grow up and feel ways

Why is there no tag for bad assery?

Colossal 'sea monster' unearthed

The fossilised skull of a colossal "sea monster" has been unearthed along the UK's Jurassic Coast.

The ferocious predator, which is called a pliosaur, terrorised the oceans 150 million years ago.

The skull is 2.4m long, and experts say it could belong to one of the largest pliosaurs ever found: measuring up 16m in length.

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Bree Gun

what a mess



One of Bishop Harry Jackson's disciples apparently got the final slot in yesterday's testimony before the D.C. Council on marriage equality, and took the opportunity to sermonize the chamber on God, reproduction, Sodom and Gomorrah, the devil, same-sex unions and slavery, and morality.

According to blogger Michael Crawford, the breakdown of testimony heard yesterday was 81 for equality, 15 against, and 8 no-shows.

Hearings are scheduled to continue on November 2 for the remaining 169 people.

(no subject)

Michigan College Bars Dustin Lance Black from Forum on Sexuality

Hope College in Holland, Michigan has barred Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black from speaking at a forum on sexuality, according to the school paper, The Anchor:

Black "Hope College’s Sexuality Roundtable’s request to host Hollywood screenwriter Dustin Lance Black as a speaker on campus has been denied by the college administration. According to the Sexuality Roundtable, Hope cited two reasons for its decision: 'Black’s advocacy would be too strong for campus,' and 'Black would ‘polarize’ the campus.'"

And while Black has been barred from the Sexuality Roundtable, he has been invited to speak at a screenwriting class. Said Dean of Students Richard Frost: "'They have a class that deals with screenwriting, and so there’s a natural tie in what he would talk about in terms of the process. That would be an appropriate thing to talk about. For example, if there’s a political science class about elections, or politics, or how you do grassroots movement, how you do political organizing, how you do political campaigns, (that) would be a great thing for him to talk about because (‘Milk’) has parts of those things in it.”

Read a PDF of the college paper here.

Added Frost to the Holland Sentinel: "We are willing to do these things, but for the college to do this, we have to be sure it’s educational. It’s back-and-forth and educational. It’s not advocacy.”

Calvin In related news, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan has decided not to withdraw a controversial memo instructing professors not to "advocate for homosexual issues and same-sex marriage."

The Grand Rapids Press reports: "In a letter issued to the college's faculty Monday, board of trustees chairman Bastian Knoppers said they did not change a policy banning the advocacy of homosexual practices and same-sex marriage. But trustees said they understand many faculty members thought they did and deeply regret 'confusion and distress that has resulted,' he said...The Faculty Senate voted earlier this month to ask the board to withdraw the memo, saying it stifles academic freedoms that encourage open discussion of social issues between students and professors. Professors still are digesting Knoppers letter but are pleased the issue will continue to be discussed, Faculty Senate Vice Chair Karin Maag said this morning."


Scholastic Censors Myracle’s ‘Luv Ya Bunches’ from Book FairsS

Don't expect to see Lauren Myracle’s new book Luv Ya Bunches (Abrams/Amulet, 2009) at Scholastic school book fairs this year. It’s been censored—at least for now—due to its language and homosexual content.

Luv Ya Bunches, about four elementary school girls who have little in common, but bond over the fact that they’re all named after flowers, is the first installment of a four-book series. ButScholastic says the book, released on October 1, failed to meet its vetting process because it contains offensive language and same-sex parents of one of the main characters, Milla.

The company sent a letter to Myracle's editor asking the author to omit certain words such as "geez," "crap," "sucks," and "God" (as in, "oh my God") and to alter its plotline to include a heterosexual couple. Myracle agreed to get rid of the offensive language "with the goal—as always—of making the book as available to as many readers as possible," but the deal breaker was changing Milla's two moms. 
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Fuck you, Randall Terry.

Randall Terry Urges "Burn In Hell Protests"; Abortion Foe Calls For Burning Pelosi And Reid Effigies

WASHINGTON — Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry is calling on people to burn effigies of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this Halloween, as part of a "Burn in Hell" video contest to protest the health care legislation in Congress.
Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, said Tuesday that the contest serves as a political and spiritual statement that "gives people a chance to peacefully vent their rage." 

"If Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid force us to pay for child killing and they die unrepentant, they will burn in hell for this," Terry said in a telephone interview.

But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called the contest "unfortunate."

"I don't think appealing to people's anger and in effect inciting them to acts which either display or in any way project violent acts is consistent with rational discussion of very critical issues," Hoyer told reporters.

A YouTube video of the contest instructions shows how to print a poster of Reid and Pelosi and construct a stand for it. The clip shows a person dousing the Democratic leaders' images with flammable liquid. The next scene shows their picture going up in flames. People are then encouraged to take pictures, record and submit online the footage of their Oct. 31 protests.

"No, this is not a threat to their body," an unidentified man says in the instructional video, "but it is a threat to their soul."

Terry insisted the contest was not a threat to Reid or Pelosi. He contended that the Democrats' plan to overhaul health care would allow federal funding of abortion.

Currently a law called the Hyde amendment bars federal funds for abortion – except in cases of rape and incest or if the mother's life would be endangered. The law applies those restrictions to Medicaid, forcing states that cover abortion for low-income women to do so with their own money. Separate laws apply the restrictions to the federal employee health plan and military and other programs.

The Democrats' health overhaul bill would create a new stream of federal funds not covered by the restrictions.

House Democrats are trying to address anti-abortion lawmakers' concerns by specifying that people receiving government subsidies to buy health insurance couldn't use that money for abortions.

The top prize in the video contest includes a weekend in Washington during the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

garf tired

(no subject)

9 Signs of America in Decline

By Rick Newman

Posted: October 26, 2009

The sky isn't falling, exactly. America isn't on a fast track to irrelevance. Even in a state of total neglect, we could probably shamble along as a disheveled superpower for a few more decades.

But all empires end, and the warning signs of American decline seem to be blinking more consistently. In the latest annual "prosperity index" published by the Legatum Institute, a London-based research firm, the United States ranks as the ninth most prosperous country in the world. That's five notches lower than last year, when America ranked No. 4. The drop might seem inconsequential, especially in the midst of a grueling recession—except that most of the world has endured the same recession, and other countries are bouncing back faster.

China and India have recovered smartly from the recession, for example. Brazil seems to be barreling ahead. Australia is growing faster than expected, prompting worry among government officials who fear they may have overstimulated the economy. The United States, meanwhile, is muddling through a weak, jobless recovery, and we have a lot of problems that could make prosperity feel elusive for a long time.

Real household income in America has flat-lined, for instance, which means many middle-class families are barely keeping up with inflation. The exploding federal deficit hamstrings the government's ability to help. Healthcare is too expensive, America's manufacturing base is eroding, and two open-ended foreign wars are draining the national treasury. This is not a recipe for building national wealth.

There are still millions of diligent, innovative Americans who could help the nation dig out of its hole. But overall, the American population is falling behind, by a variety of measures. Collapse )

garf tired

For the Clintonites

Hillary 2016?

By David Paul Kuhn

Hillary Clinton did not need another man stealing her thunder. Last week, John Kerry earned headlines for convincing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to agree to a run-off election. The Senate's top man on foreign affairs looked more like the secretary of state. And naturally, political observers wondered where was the secretary of state?

Kerry took pains to convey that he did not upstage Clinton on the world stage. Rather, he said, she facilitated the shuttle diplomacy. But White House press secretary Robert Gibbs did not help matters. "Secretary Kerry," Gibbs gaffed to reporters.

Clinton's quiet role has not gone unnoticed. Many Clinton watchers raised their eyebrows when GQ's 50 Most Powerful political list ranked her only No. 18. Above Clinton, Dick Cheney (though he is unemployed) and even two top healthcare executives.

It's tempting for some Beltway players to presume Clinton's greatest prospects are behind her. Tempting, but hardly assured.

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FP Matters

Obama's foreign policy report card

You'd never know it from the MSM, but he deserves high grades for his work so far in Iran, Iraq and Pakistan

By Juan Cole

Why can't the administration of President Barack Obama get the word out about its policy successes? President Obama campaigned on an ambitious platform of withdrawing from Iraq, engaging Iran on its nuclear program and persuading the Pakistani government to take on the Taliban and al-Qaida. Despite the charge by critics from both the right and the left in the wake of his winning the Nobel Peace Prize that he has accomplished little so far, in fact he has already set in motion significant change on several of these fronts -- despite the enormous domestic tasks that have inevitably preoccupied his administration. Yet you'd never hear about these successes from the mainstream media.

When Obama came into office in January, 142,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq, conducting regular patrols of the major cities. His Republican rivals were dead set against U.S. withdrawal on a strict timetable. He faced something close to an insurrection from some of his commanders in the field, such as Gen. Ray Odierno, who opposed a quick departure from Iraq. Moreover, Obama assumed the presidency at a time when Iran and the U.S. were virtually on a war footing and there had been no direct talks between the two countries on most of the major issues dividing them. In February, the government of Pakistan virtually ceded the Swat Valley and the Malakand Division to the Pakistani Taliban of Maulvi Fazlullah, allowing the imposition of the latter's fundamentalist version of Islamic law on residents, and Islamabad had no stomach for taking on the increasingly bold extremists.

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garf tired

The Case for More Stimulus

The Case for More Stimulus

Published: October 26, 2009

The consensus among economists is that the recession is over, and, technically, the herd is probably right. Corporate profitability has been boosted by job cuts, pay cuts and a drive to restock depleted inventories. Immense federal stimulus has jolted the economy.

But what happens when those measures run their course? The economy is going to need more government support, or it is bound to be very weak for a very long time — and vulnerable to a relapse into recession. Unemployment is expected to worsen well into next year, exceeding 10 percent. Foreclosures are expected to rise, which will push home values down further. Hundreds of small and midsize banks are likely to fail in coming years. State and local governments face budget shortfalls in 2010 that are as bad or worse than this year’s.

Yet Washington is not providing a coherent plan for effective stimulus. The Senate has been hamstrung for nearly a month over the most basic relief-and-recovery boost: an extension of unemployment benefits. The Obama administration has called for an expensive crowd-pleaser of dubious effectiveness: sending every Social Security recipient an extra $250.

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garf tired

After Reform Passes

After Reform Passes

Paul Krugman

So, how well will health reform work after it passes?

There’s a part of me that can’t believe I’m asking that question. After all, serious health reform has long seemed like an impossible dream. And it could yet go all wrong.

But the teabaggers have come and gone, as have the cries of “death panels” and the demonstrations by Medicare recipients demanding that the government stay out of health care. And reform is still on track. Right now it looks highly likely that Congress will, indeed, send a health care bill to the president’s desk. Then what?

Conservatives insist (and hope) that reform will fail, and that there will be a huge popular backlash. Some progressives worry that they might be right, that the imperfections of reform — what we’re about to get will be far from ideal — will be so severe as to undermine public support. And many critics complain, with some justice, that the planned reform won’t do much to contain rising costs.

But the experience in Massachusetts, which passed major health reform back in 2006, should dampen conservative hopes and soothe progressive fears.

Like the bill that will probably emerge from Congress, the Massachusetts reform mainly relies on a combination of regulation and subsidies to chivy a mostly private system into providing near-universal coverage. It is, to be frank, a bit of a Rube Goldberg device — a complicated way of achieving something that could have been done much more simply with a Medicare-type program. Yet it has gone a long way toward achieving the goal of health insurance for all, although it’s not quite there: according to state estimates, only 2.6 percent of residents remain uninsured.

This expansion of coverage has tremendous significance in human terms. The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured recently did a focus-group study of Massachusetts residents and reported that “Health reform enabled many of these individuals to take care of their medical needs, to start seeing a doctor, and in some cases to regain their health and control over their lives.” Even those who probably would have been insured without reform felt “peace of mind knowing they could obtain health coverage if they lost access to their employer-sponsored coverage.”
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Grayson apologizes for 'whore' remark

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has apologized for calling a top adviser to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke a “whore.”

“I offer my sincere apology to Linda Robertson, an adviser to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke,” Grayson said in an emailed statement. “I did not intend to use a term that is often, and correctly, seen as disrespectful of women.”

In the emailed statement, Grayson gave further context to the comment, saying it was made “last month in the context of the debate over whether the Federal Reserve should be independently audited, was inappropriate, and I apologize.”

Grayson's apology is the latest in a string of incendiary statements by the Florida congressman, who in the past month has accused Republicans of wanting people to "die" rather than get better health care and has compared the health care crisis to a "holocaust."

 Republicans circulated the audio Monday afternoon of Grayson calling Robertson a “K Street whore.” Todd Jurkowski, Grayson’s spokesperson, initially defended the remark by saying it was in reference to her time as the top lobbyist for Enron. He also pointed to an alternate definition in a dictionary.

“The attack was on her professional career, not her personal life,” Jurkowski wrote in an e-mail to POLITICO. “The second definition of ‘whore’ in the American Heritage Dictionary is 'A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain.’”

Robertson lobbied for Enron, the Clinton Treasury Department and Johns Hopkins University before going to work for Bernanke. Jurkowski said his boss was simply making a point about Robertson’s prior work.

"She had the audacity to attack a congressman who used to be an economist. She's a career lobbyist who used to work for Enron and advocates for whatever she gets paid to promote," Jurkowski said.

It's the second time in recent weeks that a Grayson aide has cited a less-incendiary meaning for a word to try to put out a political fire Grayson lit by using strong language.

In a House floor speech earlier this month, Grayson blamed Republicans for the current state of the health care system, which he referred to as a "holocaust in America."

He was rebuked by the Anti-Defamation League and offered an apology for his remarks, but staff for Grayson, who is Jewish, insisted he was using the small-h "holocaust" rather than the capital-h "Holocaust" that refers to the Nazis’ murder of 6 million Jews.

Several of Grayson's colleagues, including House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) have said his comments about Robertson were uncalled for.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) called them "a bit extreme and rather sexist."

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said Monday night that Grayson is "one fry short of a Happy Meal," but changed his tune a bit after speaking to his Florida colleague about the matter.

 "Alan Grayson is a friend and an extraordinary member of Congress. No obviously playful comment from me should distract from the important role Rep. Grayson has played in focusing on the true and tragic costs of our broken health care system," Weiner said in a statement e-mailed to POLITICO. "He is a leader and a patriot."



Uruguay Elections 2009

Uruguay will undergo runoff elections on November 29

The Frente Amplio presidential candidate, José Alberto Mujica, said that he felt "positive" about the election results and asked for "a little more effort, because that is what the people of Uruguay asked for." There will be a runoff vote on November 29.

"Everything indicates that our political forces will once again have a large importance. Let's not rule out parliamentary majority, although we can not under any circumstances confirm this at this moment," he said during a press conference.

"We will fight and ask our colleagues for a little more effort," he said.

"We are happy with the results as of now. The votes show that we are on our way to victory," added Mujica.

The Frente Amplio party is "close to 50 percent of the vote," according to a surveying organization that made certain results public.

The Frente Amplio Party gathered between 47 and 49 percent of the vote, while giving the Partido Nacional between 29 and 31 percent.

In addition, the votes in favour of anulling the Expiration Law total 47.7 percent, which is not enough to terminate it.

The voting process in Uruguay closed without any irregular incidents.

Citizens were able to cast their ballots until 7:30 p.m. in Uruguay, 6:30 p.m. in Argentina.

The Electoral Court Minister, Edgardo Martínez Zimarioff, said to the press that older voters had also come out in higher numbers.

Martínez Zimarioff said that the fact that many people cast their ballots early is "a good thing."

Uruguay's voters faced a stark choice in the presidential election: an ex-rebel who yearns to continue current socialist president Tabaré Vázquez's project or a former centre-right president who privatized government services and wants to pull away from alliances with Latin American leftists.
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And another little editorial from the same source (BA Herald) to go along with the article.

I think its kind of interesting that Uruguay might (and probably will) have an ex-guerrilla as their new president. Tbh, I'd take the ex-guerrilla over his neo-con opponent anyday. IDK, I love elections in Latin America.

Palin Fireworks
  • afa_mom

Spinning Out Of Control: Honor Killings and Media Bias

We are entering an all-spin zone, a wild, weird and spooky season — and I am not talking about Halloween.

With a few exceptions, the mainstream media continue to kill stories about honor killings and attempted honor killings in North America. How often did you read stories about the honor killings that took place in Toronto (07), Dallas (08), Atlanta (08), Oak Forest, Illinois (08), Alexandria (08), Buffalo (09), and Kingston, Canada (09)—on and on, until the most recent attempted honor killing in Phoenix?

There are two killers still on the loose: Yaser Said, the Dallas monster out of Egypt who abused, stalked, and murdered his two daughters with the help of his wife, their mother, and his son, their brother.
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the drive-by media would rather attack Christians and Fox News than even mention honor killings
MLP Rainbow Dash nahnah

Puppies... dressed as cats

Puppies Dressed As Cats: The Best Thing Ever?

Conan gave the world a present last night, a "mini dose of joy" as he call it, in the form of puppies dressed as cats. While the theme song made us want to kill ourselves, the puppies themselves were amazing!

I admit, this is in no way, shape, or form political.

But it's Conan O'Brien, and we did have a few animal articles recently, so it's sort of relevant?

I just felt everyone could do with a smile.

Chamber of Commerce to Lead Fight Against Socialized Medicine. Epic Fail to Follow.

Chamber Of Commerce To Begin Ads Against Health Care Reform

Looking to build pressure on moderate Democrats, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it will begin airing new TV ads in seven states and on national cable television attacking the emerging legislation, including a government-run insurance option.

The chamber, the country's largest business organization, says such a public plan would force tax increases, raise peoples' health care costs and threaten employer-provided coverage that most Americans already have. The ad is slated to start Wednesday.

Chamber spokeswoman Blair Latoff said the ads would run in states including Maine, Louisiana and Arkansas – home to some pivotal moderate senators of both parties.

Too Big To Fail CEO Believes Failure is Good for Society As Long It Doesnt Apply To Him.

Jamie Dimon, Head of JPMorgan Chase: "Everyone Should Be Allowed To Fail"

The head of the country's second-biggest bank, considered by many to be "too big to fail," said Tuesday that no firm should be immune from failure.

"Everyone should be allowed to fail," said Jamie Dimon, chief of JPMorgan Chase. "Failure is a good thing."

Dimon's comments were made during the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association's annual meeting in New York.

Leading a bank many consider to be the strongest in the country -- of the four biggest banks it's the only one to not experience a quarterly loss during the financial crisis -- JPMorgan Chase has emerged from the crisis even stronger, thanks to its acquisition of Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns.

During a conversation touching on a variety of topics, a few nuggets emerged. Among them:

*He's a Democrat.

*Dimon said that consumer credit will decrease. Total outstanding household debt -- which includes mortgage debt -- stands at $13.7 trillion. Dimon said it's going to come down to $12 trillion.

*Lending standards have tightened. "We're going back to old fashioned lending," he said.

*Consumers bear some responsibility for the crisis because of the amount of debt they assumed during the boom years. Referencing consumers who got loans under false pretenses, like borrowers who got mortgages saying they'd live in the home but instead bought them as investment properties: "Shame on them," Dimon said, "And shame on us for not doing our due diligence."

*In discussing the causes of the crisis, he pinned a lot of the blame on the federal government, namely the government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They were the biggest of the regulatory failures, he said.

*"Derivatives aided" the collapse, he said, "but they didn't cause [it]."

*On these last two points, Dimon brought up the Office of Thrift Supervision and its handling of troubled insurer and massive bailout recipient AIG.

Some background: The OTS regulates savings banks and thrifts -- banks that are required to invest heavily in mortgages by virtue of their charter. AIG owned a thrift, and the company division behind its risky derivatives bets, the unit that was responsible for the company requiring about $182 billion in taxpayer-funded commitments -- AIG Financial Products -- was structured in a way so that it would fall under the OTS's supervision. The regulator has since admitted its oversight "fell short."

Talking about regulatory failures, Dimon said: "The OTS regulated the derivatives arm of AIG -- you gotta be kidding me."

"The problems didn't happen in the OCC-regulated part [of the financial system]," Dimon said, referring to the federal regulator of national banks, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Rather, the problems "happened in the OTS-regulated part."

The bank knew AIG's derivatives unit fell under the OTS -- "we knew that," Dimon said.

The agency "should have never been allowed to exist," he added.

Shep Smith Apologizes That Fox News Is Run By Racist Pig Idiots (Apologies to Pigs)

Shep Smith Apologizes For "Lack Of Balance" In Fox News Report (VIDEO)

Shepard Smith apologized for a "lack of balance" on a story aired during his Fox News show today. Reporter Shannon Bream was covering the campaign for governor in New Jersey when she snagged an interview with the Republican candidate Chris Christie, but when Smith asked her when she would interview the the Democratic candidate, and current Governor, Jon Corzine, Bream replied, "We have in multiple requests, and when it comes in, we'll let you know."

Smith was not happy to hear that: "Wow. I didn't know that was about to happen. My apologies for the lack of balance there. If I'd had control it wouldn't have happened."



Going Rogue Pays Off: Sarah Should Quit More Often

Palin Paid $1.25M For "Going Rogue" By Time She Left Office

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin reported Tuesday that she has received at least $1.25 million for her hugely anticipated upcoming memoir "Going Rogue."

A disclosure statement released Tuesday discusses Palin's finances from Jan. 1 to July 27, when she resigned as Alaska governor. Palin says she received the money from publisher HarperCollins for the book.

The document only provides a partial picture of the book deal because it doesn't cover the three months she has been out of office. Palin doesn't elaborate on her book compensation, describing the $1.25 million figure only as a "retainer" that appears to be a reference to her lucrative advance.

Her personal spokeswoman, Meghan Stapleton, declined to provide more details of the book deal.

"The Governor has complied with Alaska disclosure law by her filing," she said in an e-mail Tuesday. "Now, as a private citizen, her business dealings, including her publishing agreement, are confidential."

It's likely Palin will make more money when it's all said and done. "Going Rogue" catapulted to No. 1 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com after HarperCollins announced in late September it had moved up the release date of 1.5 million copies from spring to Nov. 17.

Palin will appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" the day before the release of her book, which is currently listed at No. 6 on Amazon.com and No. 11 on Barnes & Noble.com.

Palin has mostly been out of the public eye while working with the ghostwriter of her memoir.
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Socialized Medicine Could Cover... I Mean, Kill 35 Million Uninsured... I Mean Dogs...

CBO Analysis: Both House Plans Would Cover At Least 35 Million Uninsured

Two competing House health care reform proposals would extend coverage to at least 35 million Americans within ten years, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis that has yet to be made public.

One plan includes a government-run insurance option tied to Medicare rates; the second would require the government plan to negotiate with providers. An outline of the analysis was provided to HuffPost by a senior House leadership aide, who emphasized that the plan requiring the public option to negotiate would cover 36 million people. However, that number includes coverage that is extended by also increasing Medicaid eligibility from 133 percent of the federal poverty line to 150 percent.

Under the plan that includes the "robust public option" favored by progressives, which would tie reimbursement to Medicare rates plus five percent, 35 million additional people would be covered within ten years.

The focus on the roughly equal coverage rates telegraphs a coming leadership strategy. With Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) uncertain that he can muster the votes for the progressives' favored option, the case will be made that the negotiated-rate version really isn't all that bad after all.

Clyburn met with Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders Tuesday and, aides say, the meeting became tense as he told them he had yet to whip enough support for the Medicare-plus-five plan.

Clyburn spokeswoman Kristie Greco told HuffPost that the count is ongoing but leadership is currently short the votes needed.

Liberals favor tying reimbursement rates to Medicare because it would keep costs down and would help get the public option up and running. Yale Professor Jacob Hacker, the intellectual father of the public option, insists that the public plan would have a very hard time succeeding if it was required to negotiate rates with providers.

The public option tied to Medicare rates saves $110 billion over ten years. Requiring it to negotiate rates only saves $25 billion.

If leadership goes with the negotiated-rate plan, that $85 billion difference will have to come from somewhere to meet President Obama's ten-year, $900 billion price ceiling. The fattest target is the subsidies to help people afford insurance.