January 30th, 2010

Senator 2

Why do people often vote against their own interests?

The Republicans' shock victory in the election for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts meant the Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate. This makes it even harder for the Obama administration to get healthcare reform passed in the US.

Political scientist Dr David Runciman looks at why is there often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.

Last year, in a series of "town-hall meetings" across the country, Americans got the chance to debate President Obama's proposed healthcare reforms.

What happened was an explosion of rage and barely suppressed violence.

Polling evidence suggests that the numbers who think the reforms go too far are nearly matched by those who think they do not go far enough.

But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform - the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state - are often the ones it seems designed to help.

In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87%.

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Akuma River

Osama channels populism and says great satan caused global warming

Bin Laden blasts US for climate change

By LEE KEATH and SALAH NASRAWI, Associated Press Writers Lee Keath And Salah Nasrawi, Associated Press Writers – Fri Jan 29, 5:13 pm ET
CAIRO – Osama bin Laden sought to draw a wider public into his fight against the United States in a new message Friday, dropping his usual talk of religion and holy war and focusing instead on an unexpected topic: global warming.

The al-Qaida leader blamed the United States and other industrialized nations for climate change and said the only way to prevent disaster was to break the American economy, calling on the world to boycott U.S. goods and stop using the dollar.

"The effects of global warming have touched every continent. Drought and deserts are spreading, while from the other floods and hurricanes unseen before the previous decades have now become frequent," bin Laden said in the audiotape, aired on the Arab TV network Al-Jazeera.
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Akuma River

North Korea says detained American wants to join them and their b/c America is evil

Report: Detained American seeks asylum in NKorea

1 hr 36 mins ago
SEOUL, South Korea – An American man detained by North Korea after allegedly entering the communist country illegally has sought asylum and wants to join its military, a news report said Saturday.

South Korea's Dong-a Ilbo newspaper said the man crossed into North Korea from China on Monday.

It said an unidentified source in North Korea told the newspaper the 28-year-old man said he came to the country because he did not "want to become a cannon fodder in the capitalist military," and "wants to serve in the North Korean military" instead.
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Who calls the story bullshit?
Akuma River

China pissed at US for arms sale to its bitch Taiwan; US citizens should prepare for more hacks

China warns US on planned arms sales to Taiwan
By CARA ANNA, Associated Press Writer Cara Anna, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 33 mins ago

BEIJING – China angrily summoned the U.S. ambassador on Saturday and warned that a plan to sell $6.4 billion in arms to Taiwan would harm already strained ties. One Chinese expert said the sale would give Beijing a "fair and proper reason" to accelerate weapons testing.

The planned sale, posted Friday on a Pentagon Web site, is likely to complicate the cooperation the U.S. seeks from China on issues ranging from Iran's nuclear program to the loosening of Internet controls, including a Google-China standoff over censorship.

Cutoffs of military ties top the list of possible punishments that Chinese state media and academics have publicly discussed in recent weeks as Beijing repeatedly warned the U.S. against the arms sale.

The U.S. is "obstinately making the wrong decision," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday after Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei warned Ambassador Jon Huntsman that the sale would "cause consequences that both sides are unwilling to see." The vice minister urged that the sale be immediately canceled, it said.
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War, bullshit threats, or more hackings against our companies and people? Which should we expect as the response from China if we go ahead with the deal?

Doctors Arrested for Trying to Deliver Letter to Obama

Single Payer Docs Arrested Outside Baltimore Hotel While Obama Speaking to Republicans

by Russell Mokhiber


Two single payer doctors were arrested this morning outside the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel where President Obama was scheduled to speak to a retreat of House Republicans.

Dr. Margaret Flowers and Dr. Carol Paris were carrying a sign that said: Just Letting You Know: Medicare for All."

"We were on the hotel property holding our sign," Dr. Flowers said. "The Secret Service said we had to go across the street. We said we would go across the street if our letter was delivered to the President. The Secret Service said that wasn't possible. They said if we didn't go across the street we would be arrested. We refused to leave because we didn't want to continue to be excluded, marginalized and ignored. And they arrested us.'"

[Dr. Margaret Flowers and Dr. Carol Paris (Photo Credit: Bill Hughes)](Photo Credit: Bill Hughes)

Source: www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/01/29-4

I am proud there are some Doctors out there willing to stand up for Medicare for All in this fashion.

the stone
  • gmth

Westboro Baptist Church Protests, Gets Protested Outside Twitter

Yesterday, the Westboro Baptist Church and their subtly-named picket group, God Hates Fags, brought their dog-and-pony-show to San Francisco. That's right -- the freaky people came to freak out the freaky people.

The religious group, based in Topeka, Kansas, usually pickets soldiers' funerals, reasoning that they died defending a gay-loving country. Thursday, they set their sights on a larger target: the headquarters of the social-media giant Twitter.

Apparently, God hates Twitter. Would it help matters if Jesus turned 140 characters into 280 characters?

At 4:30 p.m., surrounded by a police escort, the motley WBC crew -- comprised of 4 women and 1 large, clunky dude -- marched in front of the Twitter offices at 795 Folsom and kicked off the circus. But San Francisco's finest and funniest, who launched a counter-protest, were ready for them.

And so was Asylum. Keep reading to see more images from what we're calling "the Titter outside Twitter."

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WBC protests aren't really news anymore, I know, but I thought this one was worth posting for the counter protestors' signs. "God hates #tags" is my favorite. :-D

ETA: A few more counter protest signs here.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

GOP adopts platform test for Republican candidates

GOP adopts platform test for Republican candidates

HONOLULU – The Republican National Committee, pressed to find a way to more clearly distinguish itself from Democrats, on Friday adopted a rule that will prod GOP leaders to provide financial support to only those candidates who support the party's platform.

The resolution, enacted by voice vote with no opposition at the party's winter meeting here, is an alternative to a more stringent proposal that would have required GOP candidates to support 10 policy positions if they wanted party help.

That proposal, sponsored by Indiana RNC member James Bopp and backed by the RNC's more conservative members, was strongly opposed by party Chairman Michael Steele and a group of state party chairs.

The alternative, offered by RNC member Bill Crocker of Texas, does not contain a specific litmus test and thus grants party officials more flexibility in how to vet GOP candidates seeking party support.

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:(, boyd, teen wolf

Chemical Exposure Linked to Attention Deficit Disorder in Children

Chemical Exposure Linked to Attention Deficit Disorder in Children

Children exposed in the womb to chemicals in cosmetics and fragrances are more likely to develop behavioral problems commonly found in children with attention deficit disorders, according to a study of New York City school-age children published Thursday.

Scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine reported that mothers who had high levels of phthalates during their pregnancies were more likely to have children with poorer scores in the areas of attention, aggression and conduct.

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Our Unusually Powerful Secretary of Education

Newt Gingrich has approvingly called Arne Duncan Obama’s “one real bipartisan appointment.” But liberals like Amy Wilkins, who runs a nonprofit for disadvantaged students, has said of Duncan’s reform platform, “The hard heads and soft hearts and replacing the softheaded and hardhearted.”

It may be difficult to situate Duncan firmly on the political spectrum, but according to a profile in The New Yorker, two facts about Arne Duncan are crystal clear: he’s got $70 billion to hand out to states–far more than any Secretary of Education has ever had–and he’s not afraid to piss people off.

Duncan’s approach to education reform is an interesting mix free-market manifesto and informed compassion for underprivileged students. Growing up in Chicago (he and Obama have been close friends for decades), Duncan witnessed some of his peers get killed on the streets. “Nobody who went to college died young,” he said. His mother ran an after-school program for mostly poor, undereducated kids, which deepened Duncan’s belief that schools are “lying” to underachieving kids–letting them sneak by or slip through the cracks–and must be held responsible.


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Granny Tyrell

Female soldiers break their silence

Female soldiers break their silence

Six years after first collection of Breaking the Silence testimonies, organization releases booklet of testimonies from female soldiers who served in territories. Stories include systematic humiliation of Palestinians, reckless and cruel violence, theft, killing of innocent people and cover-up. Here are only some of testimonies

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Breast-Milk for Haiti: Why Donations Are Being Discouraged

Breast-Milk for Haiti: Why Donations Are Being Discouraged

The call had gone out across the U.S. to breastfeeding moms: Power up your pumps, ladies. Haitian babies need your milk.

And on Jan. 28, those babies got it.

Through a complicated chain of communication involving various members of Congress, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and breastfeeding organizations galore, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) dispatched two coolers' worth of donated breast milk to Haitian preemies being cared for on the U.S.S. Comfort, the floating hospital anchored near Port-au-Prince. "The fact that there is a doctor on board this ship who understands the importance of breast milk is just amazing," says Amanda Nickerson, executive director of the International Breast Milk Project, which arranged for 140 3-oz. bottles of milk for shipment. Quick International Courier, a New York-based firm that specializes in out-of-the-ordinary cargo, handled the delivery pro bono, which involved dry ice and rapid-fire transfers between Southwest Airlines, a charter flight and, finally, a military helicopter.

The HMBANA cargo is supplementing what is likely the world's only nautical milk bank. When one of the pediatricians on board the Comfort, Dr. Erika Beard Irvine, realized that she had only three cases of formula upon arrival, she connected with breastfeeding Navy moms who had deployed and didn't know what to do with their breast milk. Beard Irvine is storing their pumped milk in the ship's freezers and feeding it to the babies under her care, including one preemie born onboard.

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China to Become Our New Clean Energy Overlords

China Leading Race to Make Clean Energy

China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world’s largest maker of wind turbines, and is poised to expand even further this year.

China has also leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. And the country is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants.

These efforts to dominate the global manufacture of renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.

“Most of the energy equipment will carry a brass plate, ‘Made in China,’ ” said K. K. Chan, the chief executive of Nature Elements Capital, a private equity fund in Beijing that focuses on renewable energy.

President Obama, in his State of the Union speech last week, sounded an alarm that the United States was falling behind other countries, especially China, on energy. “I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders — and I know you don’t either,” he told Congress.

The United States and other countries are offering incentives to develop their own renewable energy industries, and Mr. Obama called for redoubling American efforts. Yet many Western and Chinese executives expect China to prevail in the energy-technology race.

Multinational corporations are responding to the rapid growth of China’s market by building big, state-of-the-art factories in China. Vestas of Denmark has just erected the world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturing complex here in northeastern China, and transferred the technology to build the latest electronic controls and generators.

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Homeless Liburals Fails To Understand The Meaning of Bootstraps!

City homeless donate $14.64 for quake victims
Relief workers moved by sacrifice at downtown shelter

Donations for Haiti have poured in to the American Red Cross of Central Maryland from a range of sources. Nothing, though, has stood out like the coins and crumpled dollar bills that spilled from one envelope.

That gift - $14.64 - came from the pockets of homeless people at a downtown Baltimore shelter.

"We were all weepy-eyed," recalled Red Cross volunteer coordinator Bobbie Jones, who was at the front desk when the donation arrived.

Public relations director Linnea Anderson got teary, too. "Just the thought of those people huddled together in a shelter and seeing a need beyond themselves is enough to give anybody chills," she said. "What a remarkable example of the human spirit."

The Red Cross chapter has raised over $400,000 for earthquake-ravaged Haiti, counting pledges, Anderson said. Many donations have been hand-delivered to its Northwest Baltimore office. Jones said one man took the subway from downtown to give a few dollars and said, "I felt like I had to help." Another man, moved by images of suffering Haitian children, handed $20 to Executive Director Frank Miller.
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(no subject)

Rush Limbaugh 'Shows Us What He's Got'

It's hard to tell if Rush Limbaugh is having a seizure or letting out his inner Gaga Monster at this preliminary Miss America event. Either way, uh, enjoy?


Mods, it's a slow news day and I thought it might make a few people laugh/cry.
  • iweep4u

The World's Fastest Animal Invades New York Oh Noes

The World’s Fastest Animal Takes New York
The peregrine falcon, whose salvation began 40 years ago, commands the skies above the Empire State Building

I’m standing a thousand feet above the streets of New York City, on the 86th floor observatory deck of the Empire State Building, looking for birds. It’s a few hours after sunset, and New York City naturalist Robert “Birding Bob” DeCandido is leading our small group. We can see the cityscape in every direction as the cool wind tousles our hair, but our gaze is focused up. Migrating songbirds, many of which travel by night to keep cool and avoid predators, are passing high overhead on their autumn journey. DeCandido has taught us how to differentiate the movement of small birds—“See how they flap-flap-glide?” he tells us—from the erratic motions of moths, But there is another denizen of the city’s skies that we’re all hoping to see.

A blur of a bird zips past the western flank of the building, level with the observatory. It’s too fast for a gull, too big for a songbird. Maybe a pigeon. Maybe something else. There is an excited buzz as we fumble with binoculars, unable to track the receding figure.

Ten minutes after that first flash, an unmistakable form draws our eyes directly overhead. Collectively, we cry, “Peregrine!” The falcon is smaller than the red-tailed hawks that live in Central Park, and sleeker, with a long, narrow tail that flares as the bird turns and sharp, pointed wings that propel its body fiercely. It loops around the building, in complete control as it navigates the blustery night air, its undersides transformed into a ghostly white by the upward shine of the building's glaring spotlights. It closes in on a potential perch midway up the spire and then suddenly veers south and disappears into the night.

“Come back,” someone whispers plaintively.

“Show me the top of the food chain,” says another.


There is a reason fighter jets and football teams are named after falcons. At their standard cruising speed of 40 miles per hour, peregrines are apace with pigeons and many other birds that are the basis for their diet, but falcons can go into overdrive in an aerial feat known as a stoop. They rise dozens of feet above their prey, tuck their wings in tightly against their bodies, and dive – a furious, feathered mission. The fastest animal on earth, they have been clocked at over 200 miles per hour as they descend upon their target, balling up their talons to stun their prey and then – supremely agile, able to turn upside down with a quick flip of the wing – scooping up their meal.

Forty years ago, we couldn’t have seen a peregrine falcon from atop the Empire State Building, or anywhere else on the entire East Coast. They were nearly obliterated in the middle of the 20th century by the effects of the pesticide DDT. Seed-eating songbirds fed on treated crops and were in turn eaten by the avian predators hovering at the top of the ecological pyramid. The pesticide didn’t kill adult falcons, but it concentrated in their tissues and interfered with females’ ability to produce strong eggshells. Brooding peregrines, settling down upon their clutches to keep them warm, were crushing their progeny with the weight of their bodies. In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published, warning of the unintended consequences of our new chemical age. By 1964, not a single peregrine falcon was found east of the Mississippi River.

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From the Smithsonian's website
Source also has more photos of peregrines, if you're interested.

I thought a conservation success story might be in order after the ecology fail of that wolf guy in Utah. Also, peregrines are awesome :D

Pres. Obama takes in Hoyas game, settles on 2nd career option

Obama's New Job: The Pres tells CBS Sportscaster to Watch Out 

Snow, schmow. President Barack Obama couldn't pass up the chance to see a college basketball game between two top 10 teams.

So he joined a sellout crowd to watch seventh-ranked Georgetown take on No. 8 Duke at the Verizon Center Saturday. And he wasn't just sitting in the stands watching the game either.

The president, attending the game as a fan, provided some hoops commentary early in the second half of Saturday's matchup of two top 10 teams at the Verizon Center near the White House.

Analyst Clark Kellogg asked if Obama -- when he wasn't busy running the country, of course -- would be interested in a different career someday. The President, not missing a beat, said Kellogg might have to watch out in three or seven years.

The president shook hands with several fans as he entered the arena. Vice President Joe Biden, White House senior adviser David Axelrod and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also joined him at the game.

Through the early part of the game, the president -- a Columbia University graduate -- revealed no preference for either team. Obama's personal assistant, Reggie Love, played basketball at Duke and was also attending the game.

Security for the game was intensified, with fans having to pass through metal detectors, cars being searched as they entered the building's garage, and a large number of security agents in the arena.

Collapse ) Source     ETA- if the video isn't working, watch it here.

ETA 2: Okay, I have to post this anecdote from the press pool report:
"In response to a call that was apparently unfavorable to the Georgetown University team, one of the shirtless fans tried starting a cheer unfit for a family newspaper. But just as it started to get off the ground, a second shirtless student -- no doubt a nerd -- scolded, "Dude, the President of the United States is right there!"

Which effectively killed that cheer." lawl

ETA 3: Pres. Obama's full 6-min. interview / play-by-play can be watched here

O'Keefe: "The Gay Commie Leftist Devil Make Me do It!"

High Jinks to Handcuffs for Landrieu Provocateur

James O’Keefe III, the guerrilla videographer, advised conservative students this month that they needed to start taking more risks.

“The more you put yourself out there and you take those calculated risks,” he told the Web site CampusReform.org, which works to foster conservative activism on college campuses, “you’re actually going to get opportunities.”

Just days later, Mr. O’Keefe, 25, took his own advice, but did not get quite the opportunity he expected.

He and three other men — including a 24-year-old associate, Joseph Basel, who was interviewed alongside Mr. O’Keefe by the Web site — were arrested and charged with a federal felony, accused of seeking to tamper with the office telephone system of Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana. Two of them were impersonating repairmen in the senator’s New Orleans office and were caught after being asked for identification.

Mr. O’Keefe said Friday that the four men had been trying to determine whether Ms. Landrieu was avoiding constituent complaints about the Senate health care bill after her phone system was jammed in December. (Her office said no calls had been intentionally avoided.) On reflection, he said in a statement, “I could have used a different approach to this investigation.”

But that approach was precisely the kind that he and others have been perfecting for years, a kind of gonzo journalism or a conservative version of “Candid Camera.”

Those methods took root on college campuses in the latter half of George W. Bush’s presidency, fostered by a group of men and women in their late teens and early 20s with a taste for showmanship and a shared sense of political alienation — a sort of political reverse image of the left-wing Yippies of the 1960s. They studied leftist activism of years past as their prototype, looking to the tactics of Saul Alinsky, the Chicago community organizer who laid the framework for grass-roots activism in the ’60s, as well as those of gay rights and even Communist groups.

They held “affirmative action” bake sales with prices set based on the age and race of the buyer, posed as donors to Planned Parenthood seeking to contribute to the abortion of African-American fetuses only, and held a mock “Love Thy Prisoner” campaign to find American homes for Guantánamo inmates.
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