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By Tonya Sams, The Plain Dealer
February 25, 2010, 8:46PM
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Barack Obama presented the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with the 2009 National Medal of Arts at the White House on Thursday.
David H. Stull, Dean of the Conservatory at Oberlin, accepted the award in the East Room.
"The Conservatory of Oberlin's recognition by President Obama with the highest award in the nation is very important," Stull said in a telephone interview. "It was a privilege to accept the award, but I accepted it on behalf of all of our staff, faculty and alumni, past and present."
Created in 1984, the National Medal of Arts is the highest award given by the U.S. government to individuals and organizations that encourage the arts.
Many of the conservatory's graduates and staff have won several awards ranging from the Grammys to international competitions.
The Oberlin Conservatory of Music is the only professional music school to be honored this year. Others honored Thursday include actor/director Clint Eastwood; soprano Jessye Norman; singer/songwriter Bob Dylan; graphic designer Milton Glaser; architect/sculptor Maya Lin, singer/dancer/actress Rita Moreno; and the School of American Ballet.
Oberlin College will also be celebrating April 30 and May 1 the opening of the Litoff Building. Attending will be Stevie Wonder and Bill Cosby.
Yoko Ono, who's grandfather attended Oberlin, will lecture on May 6 at the Finney Chapel.
FULL LIST OF RECIPIENTS
OBERLIN'S PRESS RELEASE
WOOOO THAT'S ME GUISE! I GO THERE! MY BI-CURIOUS TWINK-Y CONSERVATORY/COLLEGE! YEAHHHH OBIE PRIDE!!!
"bi-curious twink" reference from TDS on monday
California lawmakers say hold the *@&%$# – at least for a week
By Jim Sanders
Published: Friday, Feb. 26, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 1A
Dang, darn and doggone, if you must, but zip your four-letter lip – please.
California is asking its 38 million residents to watch their mouths after the Assembly voted Thursday to approve a voluntary "Cuss Free Week" to begin Monday.
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The only good thing about this is that all the comments are in agreement on the FAIL capacity of our legislature. It took this shit to fucking bring the left and right together.
THE Senate has comprehensively defeated a bid to legalise gay marriage, although a third of the senators did not turn up for the vote.
Before the gay pride Mardi Gras in Sydney this weekend, the bill was rejected by 45 votes to five, with only the Greens voting to liberalise the marriage laws.
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Could a newspaper article about two teens using a 12-gauge shotgun for murder and a car-jacking getaway in 1986 have put the seed of murder into a 20-year-old Amy Bishop's head?
Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating yesterday pointed to new evidence in the 1986 shooting death of Bishop's 18-year-old brother Seth -- a photograph of the scene in Bishop's Braintree bedroom the night of the shooting that shows a newspaper clipping next to shotgun shells -- signaling a prior intent and motive for murder.
The Boston Herald reported sources identifying the article as a November 1986 newspaper clipping about two teens who murdered the parents of a "Dallas" TV star at their Montana home. The two teens then stole a car from a dealership but were eventually caught.
What happened the day of the shooting and why Bishop was released is the source of much confusion, as the former Braintree police chief, John V. Polio, now in his eighties, denies that he ordered Bishop to be released into the custody of her parents.
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Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has called for a jihad, or armed struggle, against Switzerland, branding it an "infidel state".
He said Muslims everywhere had a duty to act against the country, which he claimed had been destroying mosques.
"Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate, is against (the Prophet) Mohammad, and God and the Koran," he told a meeting in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
In his rambling address he added: "The masses of Muslims must go to all airports in the Islamic world and prevent any Swiss plane landing, to all harbours and prevent any Swiss ships docking, inspect all shops and markets to stop any Swiss goods being sold."
Libya's relations with Switzerland broke down in 2008 when one of Colonel Gaddafi's sons, Hannibal, was arrested in a Geneva hotel and charged with assaulting a member of his staff.
He was detained for two days before being released, but in protest Libya cut oil supplies to Switzerland, withdrew billions of dollars from Swiss bank accounts and arrested two Swiss businessmen working in the North African country.
Gaddafi told supporters the Swiss referendum last year, in which 57.5 per cent of voters called for a ban on the construction of minarets, proved it was an "infidel state".
The federal government had however urged voters to reject the vote, warning it would contravene religious freedom.
But Gaddafi said: "Let us fight against Switzerland, Zionism and foreign aggression."
The Libyan dictator, who has been in power since 1969, said what he was proposing was not terrorism and he condemned the work of al-Qaeda branding it a "kind of crime and a psychological disease".
He told the crowd: "There is a big difference between terrorism and jihad which is a right to armed struggle."
The Swiss Foreign Ministry refused to comment on his remarks.
ontd_p does not have a Gaddafi tag? I am disappoint.
Khyra Ishaq would “in all probability” not have died, said the judge, had welfare officers intervened and taken her from her mother and her mother’s convict boyfriend.
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Confining such an enormous animal in an aquarium tank leads the animal to display neurotic behavior, experts say.
"They get very stressed out," marine biologist Nancy Black of Monterey Bay Whale Watch said on CNN's "Larry King Live."
SeaWorld whale trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, died Wednesday from "multiple traumatic injuries and drowning" after a whale called Tilikum grabbed her ponytail and pulled her underwater at Shamu Stadium, the Orange County Sheriff's office said Thursday.
An orca can travel easily 100 nautical miles every day, and to put them in a pool where they swim around in circles continually, and kept away from their families, "takes a toll on their brains," said Jim Borrowman, who has worked with whales for 30 years and runs Stubbs Island Whale Watching on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
"'Neurotic' is the word that we've used, and I sense that that's probably what's happening," he said. "Perhaps that's what drives some of these issues."
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With the Tories' poll ratings still on the slide, one would expect David Cameron to have bigger things on his mind than amending the Conservative Party's constitution.
But in a sign that he has one eye on the future, Cameron has ordered the party's powerful backbench 1922 Committee to change their rules to make it harder to remove a sitting leader.
The reason for Cameron's intervention can be summed up in two words: Boris Johnson. The London mayor is known to want to return to Westminster and, in the words of his former deputy mayor Ian Clement, he believes he has a "divine right" to run the country.
Cameron fears that Johnson, who has delighted Conservative activists by speaking out on issues such as the 50p tax rate, could make a successful stab at the leadership if he becomes unpopular with the voters.
Under the current rules, a leadership contest is triggered when 15 per cent of the party's MPs submit a request for one. Once lodged, a request cannot be rescinded, so the number can gradually rise over a period of years. Cameron is expected to change this rule by putting an "expiry date" on letters. Rebel MPs would have to write again after a certain period.
History suggests that the Tory leader is right to act now. Labour is sentimental towards failing leaders, but the Tories habitually act with Darwinian ruthlessness to remove those who have fallen out of favour. It would be naive of Cameron to expect to be an exception.
Ooh, this could be fun. I know it's purely speculation at the moment, but with all the accusations leveled at Labour's divisions, it's interesting to see how many the Tories have too.
Breaking News: OCCC On Lock Down; Possible Gunman on Campus
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City Community College is lock down after reports of a possible gunman on campus.
The school is being evacuated and was placed on lock down, Police Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow. Police are on the campus searching for the possible gunman, Wardlow said.
A message on the school's Web site reads "There has been an incident on the OCCC campus. OKC police are investigating. The campus is on lockdown. Employees and students should not come to campus at this time."
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ETA: it was just a miscommunication!
Please exploit these resources:
Is Women's Hockey, Another Female Olympic Sport, In Jeopardy?
By Sean Gregory/Vancouver
The Canadian celebration was a flood of raw emotion, the kind of giddy victory party the Olympics are all about. But will women's hockey see many more of these joyous moments down the road? The problem facing the sport is simple. Right now, it's essentially only a North American game.
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The Department of Defense released its official policy on new/social media today. The policy (Directive-Type Memorandum 09-026), which is effective immediately, states that the default for the DoD non-classified network (the NIPRNET) is for open access so that all of DoD can use new media. This is DoD’s first official policy on new media. Prior to today, the Services and other DoD components developed and implemented their own ad hoc policies — some banning it altogether. Under this new policy, there will be open and consistent access across the board, but prohibited content sites (gambling, pornography, hate-crime activities) will still be blocked. Also, Commanders at all levels and heads of DoD components will continue to keep networks safe from malicious activity and take actions, as required, to safeguard missions.
Service members and DoD employees are welcome and encouraged to use new media to communicate with family and friends — at home stations or deployed — but it’s important to do it safely. Keep in mind that everyone has a responsibility to protect themselves and their information online, and existing regulations on ethics, operational security, and privacy still apply. Be sure never to post any information that could be considered classified, sensitive, or that might put military members or families in danger.
You can view the DTM here:
DoD’s Social Media Hub is going to be a home to educational materials on this policy as they are developed – ensuring these new capabilities are used effectively and safely. Let us know if you have recommendations for how we can best use new media to help train the department on best practices and uses.
How will this change the way you communicate?
By Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 26, 2010
Furious at the tempest over the Tea Party -- the scattershot citizen uprising against big government and wild spending -- Annabel Park did what any American does when she feels her voice has been drowned out: She squeezed her anger into a Facebook status update.
let's start a coffee party . . . smoothie party. red bull party. anything but tea. geez. ooh how about cappuccino party? that would really piss 'em off bec it sounds elitist . . . let's get together and drink cappuccino and have real political dialogue with substance and compassion.
Friends replied, and more friends replied. So last month, in her Silver Spring apartment, Park started a fan page called "Join the Coffee Party Movement." Within weeks, her inbox and page wall were swamped by thousands of comments from strangers in diverse locales, such as the oil fields of west Texas and the suburbs of Chicago.
I have been searching for a place of refuge like this for a long while. . . . It is not Us against the Govt. It is democracy vs corporatocracy . . . I just can't believe that the Tea Party speaks for all patriotic Americans. . . . Just sent suggestions to 50 friends . . . I think it's time we start a chapter right here in Tucson . . .
The snowballing response made her the de facto coordinator of Coffee Party USA, with goals far loftier than its oopsy-daisy origin: promote civility and inclusiveness in political discourse, engage the government not as an enemy but as the collective will of the people, push leaders to enact the progressive change for which 52.9 percent of the country voted in 2008.
The Travel Promotion Act calls for a nonprofit Corporation for Travel Promotion that will promote the United States as a travel destination and explain travel and security policies to international visitors.
"This is a historic victory for the U.S. economy and one in eight American workers whose jobs depend on travel," Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon, according to the travel association.
A $10 fee charged to visitors from countries included in the Visa Waiver Program who don't have to apply and pay for visas will partially fund the public-private organization. These visitors will pay the fee every two years when they register online using the Department of Homeland Security's Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
The rest of the funding will come through a matching program of up to $100 million dollars in private sector contributions.
Oxford Economics, an economic consulting and forecasting company, estimates a well-executed promotional program would draw 1.6 million new international visitors annually and generate $4 billion in new visitor spending.
National tourism organizations in countries including Greece, Australia and Mexico each spent more than $100 million on tourism marketing in 2005, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. The United States spent about $6 million the same year.
Some opponents of the legislation say that charging overseas visitors a fee to promote the United States will deter them from visiting.
"We don't want foreigners to have to jump through so many hoops that they just give up and don't bother coming to the U.S.," Steven Lott, a spokesman for the International Air Transport Association, told CNN before final passage of the bill. The IATA represents airlines around the world.
Rose has made it her mission to discredit abortion clinics by making undercover videos, in some cases with her posing as someone seeking an abortion. The footage above was originally shot in June 2008 but released this week, possibly to coincide with Obama's meeting with lawmakers about healthcare reform. In it, Rose says she's 14 and her boyfriend, who is 31, will be "really upset" if she doesn't get an abortion. As Planned Parenthood president and CEO Terry Huyck has said, the video is difficult to understand and heavily edited — a 20-40 minute interview has been condensed into just under 4 minutes. The only thing that seems clear is that the counselor doesn't immediately take steps to report a statutory rape, violating Wisconsin law.
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James Dobson Says Goodbye ... For Now
James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and one of the most influential evangelicals in the country, delivered his last radio show today. His show, aptly titled "Focus on the Family Radio," was an extension in many respects of the conservative ministry that Dobson founded 33 years ago. He's taken that ministry from a small shop in Colorado and turned it into one of the biggest, albeit most anti-gay, religious networks in the country.
During his final broadcast, Dobson got emotional.
"I have a lump in my throat," Dobson told listeners.
We've got a lump in our throats, too. Or maybe that's just a bit of throw up trying to work its way up at the thought of how many homophobic slurs have made their way over the radio waves courtesy of Dr. Dobson over these years. In honor of Dobson's departure, here's our top five list of most ridiculous statements ever mentioned by ole' J.D. Sure, Dobson will be making his way over to a new radio show in the coming months; but for at least a brief period in time, know that you can turn your radio on in safety.
Just watch out for Rush and Glenn.
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Rep. Trent Franks: African-Americans were better off under slavery.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) — one of the most conservative member of Congress, according to a new National Journal ranking — decried the strained state of political discourse in an interview today with blogger-activist Mike Stark. While defending hate radio host Rush Limbaugh, Franks said bipartisanship and “true tolerance” is about “being halfway decent to each other in spite of the differences.” But when the conversation turned to abortion, Franks made a clearly indecent comment, claiming that African-Americans were probably better off under slavery than they are today:
FRANK: In this country, we had slavery for God knows how long. And now we look back on it and we say “How brave were they? What was the matter with them? You know, I can’t believe, you know, four million slaves. This is incredible.” And we’re right, we’re right. We should look back on that with criticism. It is a crushing mark on America’s soul. And yet today, half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery. And I think, What does it take to get us to wake up?
Watch it (beginning 6:20):
Franks continued by saying, “[S]ometimes we get angry and say things that we shouldn’t say, and I apologize…[for saying things] that are intemperate. But I don’t want to hide from the truth.” Franks’ comments are reminiscent of a new anti-choice campaign which seeks to put up 80 billboards in “urban areas where blacks reside” with the message, “Black children are an endangered species.”
Palin: Hand Notes Just 'A Poor Man's Teleprompter' (VIDEO)
Those notes Sarah Palin wrote on her hand to help her remember her core beliefs were "a poor man's version of a teleprompter," Palin told Sean Hannity Thursday night.
Thursday's health care summit was the subject, but Palin launched -- unprompted -- into a defense of her conspicuous use of notes at a tea party convention, which resulted in a wave of parodies -- and charges of hypocrisy, given her derision for President Obama's use of a teleprompter.
"Hey, remember those talking points that I had written on my hand a couple of weeks ago at the tea party movement because I'd done seven speeches in four days and I'm running up to the podium and -- you know, writing on my hand, well, that's a poor man's version of a teleprompter -- I write on my hand 'energy,' 'tax cuts,' 'lifting American spirits.' Those are the things that candidates need to embrace in order to get elected and get this country back on the right track," Palin said.
"It's quite simple," she added, although not simple enough for her to memorize, apparently.
SAN DIEGO — Student protesters have taken over the offices of University of California San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox as a third racially charged episode has brought a new wave of outrage.
Students are protesting atop desks and countertops throughout Fox's suite, except for her own sanctum. They are chanting, "Real pain, real change." Some are playing drums.
Fox has twice addressed students today, once outside the library where a noose was found last night and once in a eucalyptus grove outside her office. Students remain upset with the pace of the administration's response to their demand for action over ongoing racial strife.
"You can't imagine how pained we are, we are heartsick," Vice Chancellor Penny Rue told the students on a bullhorn.
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Tl;dr Point: Stop being assholes.
It has gotten to the point where something needs to be said, we can all be decent people here. This may be on the internet and the anonymity makes you feel the need to go crazy and insult people, but have some goddamn respect for people.
Not cool: Calling someone a cunt.
Not cool: Calling someone a retard.
Not fucking cool: Calling someone sub-human for not agreeing with you.
Check your attitudes at the door people. We allow members to call out others when they say something and ask them to back up their beliefs, but have some goddamn respect for other people no matter how much you disagree with them.
Pro Tip: The first person to resort to school-yard name calling is usually the one in the weaker position. Don't be that guy.
Warning: We see you being a douche for no goddamn reason and you are banned. No warning because THIS is your warning. It is alright to disagree, and it is alright to do so strongly, it is NOT OKAY to start calling people names because somehow that makes your position that much stronger. Hint: It doesn't, and it just makes you look like an ass.
Take the fucking moral high-ground for once.
USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele said bobsledder Bill Schuffenhauer,36, was brought in for questioning by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police late Wednesday and released early Thursday. Steele said Schuffenhauer was not arrested.
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Now, he hasn't been convicted or anything, but I think the fact that he is suspected of abuse is enough to get him kicked off the team. I just find this interesting, because the Canadian women's hockey team and Scotty Lago have both been investigated by the IOC, yet this hasn't.
Another quote by Steele: "Looking at the whole thing, I don't foresee any way that he would not race, regardless of how things progress. It seems like the kind of thing that blows over fairly quickly. ... I suspect there won't be much of a story."
eta: a picture!
White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is stepping down next month.
"It's been a tremendous experience and honor to serve this president and first lady in what is really a historic presidency for all Americans but particularly for African-Americans," Rogers tells NYT's The Caucus. "That is part of the reason I came out to do the job."
Rogers is the first African-American to hold the position of White House Social Secretary.
She also told The Caucus that she had made the decision to resign in January after asking herself "What is going to make me the happiest?", and had not intended to make the announcement for some time. The news, however, leaked on Friday.
Office of the Press Secretary________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2010
Statement from the President and the First Lady on Desiree Rogers
"We are enormously grateful to Desiree Rogers for the terrific job she's done as the White House Social Secretary. When she took this position, we asked Desiree to help make sure that the White House truly is the People's House, and she did that by welcoming scores of everyday Americans through its doors, from wounded warriors to local schoolchildren to NASCAR drivers. She organized hundreds of fun and creative events during her time here, and we will miss her. We thank her again for her service and wish her all the best in her future endeavors."
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PARIS — A new French antismoking advertisement aimed at the young that plays off a pornographic stereotype has gotten more attention than even its creators intended, and critics suggest that it offends common decency and creates a false analogy between oral sex and smoking.
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"Hurt Locker" director masquerades as a hyper-macho bad boy to win the respect of a male-dominated industry
What's the point of this metaphor? It's that I'm still coming to grips with how a woman could possibly have dreamed up this spartan American soldier in Iraq, who, while obsessively romancing death as a bomb-squad ace, outdoes the most extreme images of machismo ever produced by mainstream America. While Wayne set the testosterone standard in playing characters who lived to fight, his guys also found time to love women -- Ethan's Martha (Dorothy Jordan) in "The Searchers" and the Ringo Kid's Dallas (Claire Trevor) in "Stagecoach," to name two.
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How Stay-at-Home Dads Can Keep Women In Their Place
In this week’s YouTube video chat, Dr. Laura Schlessinger addresses an unnatural new development of modern life: stay-at-home dads. What are the possible psychological effects of this strange permutation of the traditional child-rearing arrangement? A listener writes in Thinking of the Children:
If a mom works, and the dad stays home with the children, does this have any psychological effect on the kids, with respect to their relationships later in life? You talk a lot about stay-at-home-moms, but I don’t recall hearing much about what happens when the roles are reversed. Is it better for boys if the dad stays home or does it matter?
Dr. Laura, for her part, is far more concerned with Thinking Of the Wives:
This is one which gets very sensitive, because in general—that means there are exceptions everywhere, OK—when the moms are working, and the dads are at home, the moms, the women, the wives, tend to change their feelings somewhat about their husbands. They tend not to see them as the heroes. The warrior. The man. The caretaker. The provider. The protector. And those feelings are really very significant. And I have found over the years that there often is more marital strife when the roles are reserved. Whether you’re a feminist or not, whether you like it or not, them’s just the facts.
You see, when a woman wanders outside her natural role as child-rearer and housekeeper and enters into the dangerous world of the male warrior heroes, she’s liable to start getting some Ideas. Ideas like, “Despite what I’ve been told, my feeble female brain can perform tasks outside of raising babies.” Ideas like, “This is the ‘work’ my husband has been self-importantly occupying himself with for all these years? All these people do is dick around and watch YouTube videos.” Ideas like, “Now that I’m getting paid for all the work I do, perhaps I shouldn’t have settled for that loveless marriage after all.”
But never fear: As long as women agree to leave the home without applying their critical thinking skills, the kids will be all right:
Now: it often works very well. And when it works very well—OK, when it works very well it’s good for the kids, when it doesn’t work very well, it’s not good for the kids. The point is not, are the rolls reversed and is that good for the children? The point is, are the parents RHHHHGGG about it? Is dad being treated with less respect? Is mom coming home sort of bitter that she’s not with the kids, and feeling like since she earns the money, she’s the boss? If there is this kind of negativity and dissention, that hurts the kids.
In other words, are you still treating mom like a woman (with less respect), and dad like a man (the boss)? You’re good to go. But once mom starts to get empowered by her new position—or dad starts feeling emasculated—it’s back to the kitchen with her.
[Washington City Paper]
The countdown to the Texas Republican gubernatorial primary is well underway, and with only two days remaining, attention is being paid to an unusual source: ABBA.
On Friday, Gov. Rick Perry's campaign released a new Web video with an unusual twist. The spot is set to a modified version of the Sweedish pop group ABBA's 1976 hit "Dancing Queen."
The video targets challenger Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and casts her as the "Earmark Queen." The original lyrics are gone – replaced with a new set performed by former American Idol contestant Stephanie Daulong.
"You are the Earmark Queen, Spend and spend wasting our money, Earmark Queen spend and spend, From the Treasury oh no!" Daulong croons.
The song is set to a series of visual reminders of what the Perry campaign refers to as "Hutchison's fiscally irresponsible 17 years in Washington."
Hutchison's campaign has launched their own set of Web videos leading up to the primary.
On Monday the Hutchinson campaign accused Gov. Perry of "rampant cronyism" and issued their own musically influenced Web video. Entitled "We're Pointing It Out," the Hutchison spot flashes newspaper articles about Perry to the tune of Tina Turner's "Simply The Best."
In person, surprisingly, Jenny McCarthy comes across as corn-fed cute rather than overwhelmingly beautiful. She has a common touch, and a woman even slightly more beautiful would struggle to connect as she does. When McCarthy meets a mom, when she spits forth a stream of profanity and common sense — the foulmouthed comedian from Chicago never far from the surface — she is there as a mother, not as a celebrity or starlet. That's what got her there, but that's not who she is once she's there. She speaks to so many frustrated, despairing mothers of autistic children because she is plausible, authentic. If you needed a woman to bring hope to these mothers, you couldn't ask for better casting than Jenny McCarthy.
We are sitting around a sushi-laden coffee table in the Sherman Oaks, Calif., headquarters of Generation Rescue, the autism advocacy group she heads. It's a gray, one-story house with white trim and a picket-fence-enclosed yard, across the street from the home she lived in for four years with her son Evan, 7, and John Asher, who is her ex-husband and Evan's father. She has converted the house into a state-of-the-art school for very young autistic kids, an intensive early-intervention program called the Teach2Talk Academy. The school is a model in many ways, not least because of its 1-to-1 teacher-student ratio and sparkling facilities. It's the kind of place she was desperate to get Evan into when he was first diagnosed with autism in 2005.
The lacerating pilgrimage that parents of autistic children know all too well, lugging their child from specialist to specialist, from program to program, seeking help, answers, a cure — catalyzed her mission. First McCarthy was a mother "finding a window" into her son. Then she became a mother who felt she needed to tell other mothers how she found that window. Those mothers have become her flock. She greets them all, here in Sherman Oaks, on her way through airport terminals, in restaurants, on talk-show sets; she will stop, nod, listen, proffer advice, give a phone number and tell these mothers, these families, to never give up hope. "Hope is the greatest thing for moms of autism," McCarthy says. "Hope is what gets us out of bed in the morning. I'm on a mission to tell parents that there is a way."
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If you are sad or depressed or jobless...you might not want to read this, but you might have to in order to understand our situation better and what the future looks like.
How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America
The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar men. It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a despair not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years to come.
By Don Peck
HOW SHOULD WE characterize the economic period we have now entered? After nearly two brutal years, the Great Recession appears to be over, at least technically. Yet a return to normalcy seems far off. By some measures, each recession since the 1980s has retreated more slowly than the one before it. In one sense, we never fully recovered from the last one, in 2001: the share of the civilian population with a job never returned to its previous peak before this downturn began, and incomes were stagnant throughout the decade. Still, the weakness that lingered through much of the 2000s shouldn’t be confused with the trauma of the past two years, a trauma that will remain heavy for quite some time.
The unemployment rate hit 10 percent in October, and there are good reasons to believe that by 2011, 2012, even 2014, it will have declined only a little. Late last year, the average duration of unemployment surpassed six months, the first time that has happened since 1948, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking that number. As of this writing, for every open job in the U.S., six people are actively looking for work.
All of these figures understate the magnitude of the jobs crisis. The broadest measure of unemployment and underemployment (which includes people who want to work but have stopped actively searching for a job, along with those who want full-time jobs but can find only part-time work) reached 17.4 percent in October, which appears to be the highest figure since the 1930s. And for large swaths of society—young adults, men, minorities—that figure was much higher (among teenagers, for instance, even the narrowest measure of unemployment stood at roughly 27 percent). One recent survey showed that 44 percent of families had experienced a job loss, a reduction in hours, or a pay cut in the past year.
There is unemployment, a brief and relatively routine transitional state that results from the rise and fall of companies in any economy, and there is unemployment—chronic, all-consuming. The former is a necessary lubricant in any engine of economic growth. The latter is a pestilence that slowly eats away at people, families, and, if it spreads widely enough, the fabric of society. Indeed, history suggests that it is perhaps society’s most noxious ill.
The worst effects of pervasive joblessness—on family, politics, society—take time to incubate, and they show themselves only slowly. But ultimately, they leave deep marks that endure long after boom times have returned. Some of these marks are just now becoming visible, and even if the economy magically and fully recovers tomorrow, new ones will continue to appear. The longer our economic slump lasts, the deeper they’ll be.
If it persists much longer, this era of high joblessness will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults—and quite possibly those of the children behind them as well. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar white men—and on white culture. It could change the nature of modern marriage, and also cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a kind of despair and dysfunction not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years.
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The Corporate Takeover of U.S. Democracy
January 21, 2010 will go down as a dark day in the history of American democracy, and its decline. The editors of the New York Times did not exaggerate when they wrote that the Supreme Court decision that day "strikes at the heart of democracy" by having "paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding" -- more explicitly, for permitting corporate managers to do so, since current laws permit them to spend shareholder money without consent.
Nor does Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice at N.Y.U. School of Law, exaggerate when he writes that this exercise of the radical judicial activism that the rightwing claims to deplore "matches or exceeds Bush v. Gore in ideological or partisan overreaching by the court. In that case, the court reached into the political process to hand the election to one candidate. Today it reached into the political process to hand unprecedented power to corporations."
The Court was split, with the four reactionary judges (misleadingly called "conservative") joined by Justice Kennedy in a 5-4 decision. Chief Justice Roberts selected a case that could easily have been settled on narrow grounds, and maneuvered the Court into using it for a far-reaching decision that overturned precedents going back a century that restrict corporate contributions to federal campaigns.
In effect, the decision permits corporate managers to buy elections directly, instead of using more complex indirect means, though it is likely that to avoid negative publicity they will choose to do so through trade organizations. It is well-known that corporate campaign contributions, sometimes packaged in complex ways, are a major factor determining the outcome of elections. This alone is a significant factor in policy decisions, reinforced by the enormous power of corporate lobbies, greatly enhanced by the Court's decision, and other conditions imposed by the very small sector of the population that dominates the economy.
A very successful predictor of government policy over a long period is political economist Thomas Ferguson's "investment theory of politics," which interprets elections as occasions on which segments of private sector power coalesce to invest to control the state. The means for undermining democracy are sure to be enhanced by the Court's dagger blow at the heart of functioning democracy.
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