June 25th, 2010

calibrations [garrus; me]

Immigrant farm workers' challenge: Take our jobs

SAN FRANCISCO – In a tongue-in-cheek call for immigration reform, farm workers are teaming up with comedian Stephen Colbert to challenge unemployed Americans: Come on, take our jobs.

Farm workers are tired of being blamed by politicians and anti-immigrant activists for taking work that should go to Americans and dragging down the economy, said Arturo Rodriguez, the president of the United Farm Workers of America.

So the group is encouraging the unemployed — and any Washington pundits or anti-immigrant activists who want to join them — to apply for the some of thousands of agricultural jobs being posted with state agencies as harvest season begins.

All applicants need to do is fill out an online form under the banner "I want to be a farm worker" at http://www.takeourjobs.org, and experienced field hands will train them and connect them to farms.

According to the Labor Department, three out of four farm workers were born abroad, and more than half are illegal immigrants.

Proponents of tougher immigration laws have argued that farmers have become used to cheap labor and don't want to raise wages enough to draw in other workers.

Those who have done the job have some words of advice for applicants: First, dress appropriately.

FULL ARTICLE: Immigrant farm workers' challenge: Take our jobs

Bionic kitty

Bionic feet for amputee cat

A cat that had its back feet severed by a combine harvester has been given two prosthetic limbs in a pioneering operation by a UK vet.

The new feet are custom-made implants that "peg" the ankle to the foot. They are bioengineered to mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin.

The operation - a world first - was carried out by Noel Fitzpatrick, a veterinary surgeon based in Surrey.

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Source has a video of Oscar and Dr. Fitzpatrick which is totally adorable and worth a watch.
Uncle V wants you

Supreme Court says petition signers are public record

Reuters: U.S. court won't keep secret gay marriage opponents
James Vicini

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that gay marriage opponents do not have an automatic legal right to prevent public release of the names and addresses of the signers of a Washington state ballot measure favoring traditional marriage.

The high court's 8-1 ruling was a defeat for a group called Protect Marriage Washington. It had argued that public disclosure could lead to threats, harassment or reprisal.

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LOL. Justice Thomas as the proponent of free speech and privacy. That doesn't happen every day.

DRT Wants Alamo Trademark Rights

The group overseeing the Alamo is considering a provision to transfer operating rights of the historic mission to Texas if the organization no longer serves as the custodian.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas continues trying to trademark "The Alamo."

The San Antonio Express-News reported Wednesday that the DRT wants to sell its own Alamo brand of merchandise.

The state, in late April, obtained a 90-day extension on the application. Critics of the DRT have said any trademark on the state-owned Alamo should be held by Texas.

The Texas attorney general's office says the DRT has until July 9 to provide documents on Alarmo issues such as finances, engineering and maintenance.

DRT's president general, Patti Atkins, has said a "fair analysis" will eliminate any concerns.

Online: http://www.thealamo.org/

The Swing

(no subject)

Disgraced lobbyist Abramoff takes up job in pizzeria

Former US lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was jailed on corruption charges in 2006, has landed a job in a kosher pizza restaurant.

Mr Abramoff was released into a halfway house in Baltimore two weeks ago after serving more than three years for fraud, corruption and conspiracy.

The halfway house arranged Mr Abramoff's new job.

The owner of the restaurant said he had hired halfway house residents before.

Mr Abramoff's crimes include a fraudulent deal to buy casino boats and conspiring to bribe public officials.

As a millionaire and lobbyist, his network reached deep into Washington's political establishment, and his investigation sent shockwaves through the city. It also sparked off a wide-ranging public corruption probe.

As part of his plea deal, Mr Abramoff provided information to the Justice Department that helped convict a member of Congress for taking bribes.

A former Deputy Secretary of the Interior appointed by President George W Bush - J Steven Griles - was the highest level administration official convicted.

Mr Abramoff is expected to be released from the halfway house in December.

Pizza sauce (BBC)

Fishing Captain Allen Kruse, Who Was Helping Clean up the Gulf Oil Spill, Took His Own Life


For 25 years Charter fishing captain Allen Kruse made a living doing what he loved. But as he explained in an interview six weeks ago, the oil spill took it all away, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella.

"The day that oil entered the Gulf, my phone quit ringing," said Kruse on May 13. "We don't know what's going on, we can't plan, we don't' know what to tell our customers."

Kruse went to work for BP two weeks ago. Wednesday morning he reported in, boarded his boat, then shot and killed himself in the captain's bridge.

This is a man who was known to be very independent, self sufficient and proud.

Frank Kruse is Allen's twin brother. He says Allen was stressed and depressed, tangled in BP bureaucracy over claims and the cleanup.

"Tracy, his wife, estimated he'd lost 30 pounds since this started, he'd not been sleeping, he was constantly worried about his livelihood and what was happening to his Gulf," Frank Kruse said.

In the past two weeks calls to crisis hotlines in Louisiana have jumped from 400 on June 7 to more than 2,400 today - they are anxious, depressed, afraid.

People here pride themselves on being tough. In six years they've survived a recession and two hurricanes. The spill is worse than any storm.

"It comes, it passes, we start to rebuild, there's hope for the future, but this continually drags on," said Ben Fairey, a friend of Allen Kruse. "There's a shot of oil on the beach, it gets cleaned up and then there's another one."

And the fear keeps spreading. Tarballs washed up in Destin, Fla., as well as Pensacola, where cleanup crews replaced the tourists the local economy relies on.

Fellow fishermen want the death of Allen Kruse to have meaning. to show the rest of the world how much they're losing and hurting. Kruse left behind a wife, two grown daughters, two young sons and a town full of broken hearts.

BP has promised to pay for the funeral of Allen Kruse, and also for the continued use of his boat. But like so many people here, the family is skeptical of BP promises.
Sufjan Smile

Why was General McChrystal fired?

Reactions within the US establishment to the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal indicate that disparaging remarks by McChrystal and his aides concerning President Obama and other civilian officials published in a Rolling Stone article were not the principal cause of his dismissal.

Rather, the article brought to a head the deepening crisis arising from the failure of the US military to suppress the popular resistance in Afghanistan to Washington’s colonial-style war. Dissatisfaction with McChrystal’s leadership had been mounting within the Obama administration since the failure of the offensive in Marjah launched last February. The decision announced earlier this month to delay for at least three months the assault on Kandahar was widely seen as an embarrassing setback.

Despite McChrystal’s reputation as a ruthless practitioner of counterinsurgency warfare, responsible for the killing of thousands of Iraqis, the general has more recently been the target of growing criticism that the effectiveness of the operation in Afghanistan was being undermined by his excessive concern over civilian casualties.

That concern has nothing to do with humanitarian considerations. Rather, it is based on the cold calculation—the Rolling Stone article refers to McChrystal's "insurgent math"—that for every innocent person killed, ten new enemies are created.

The article, written by Michael Hastings, deals relatively briefly with the remarks of McChrystal and his aides about US civilian officials in Afghanistan. They are predictably crude, and could hardly have come as a surprise to Obama, let alone to the Pentagon. They are familiar with the fascistic and debased character of McChrystal’s entourage. Hastings concisely describes the general’s staff as “a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs.”

The comments made by McChrystal about Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and special envoy Richard Holbrooke have generated the most media attention. But Hastings devotes far more space relating the complaints of American soldiers that McChrystal is tying their hands by enforcing rules of engagement which limit the use of air strikes and mortar fire against potential civilian targets and restrict the ability of US troops to enter the homes of Afghan civilians.
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Source: WSWS

Civilians, or rather innocent people, actual people, are tossed aside with such casualty, pushed through the meat grinder with such an afterthought that they just 'happened' to be in the way, their blood to be washed down the drain and forgotten. And curious is how we don't understand why the world would see us as anything but our jingoistic self-image of gallantry, when we have all of the dressings of a butcher.
franklin sherman

Federal government halting down gulf-coast protection efforts


Federal Gov't Halts Sand Berm Dredging
Nungesser Pleads With President To Allow Work To Continue

Federal government has shut down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico.
The berms are meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has concerns about where the dredging is being done. The department says one area where sand is being dredged is a sensitive section of the Chandeleur Islands, and the state failed to meet an extended deadline to install pipe that would draw sand from a less-endangered area.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who was one of the most vocal advocates of the dredging plan, has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading for the work to continue.
Nungesser said the government has asked crews to move the dredging site two more miles farther off the coastline.
"Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil," Nungesser wrote to Obama. "Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil.
Nungesser has asked for the dredging to continue for the next seven days, the amount of time it would take to move the dredging operations two miles and out resume work. Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday also joined Nungesser in asking for an extension.
Work halted at midnight Wednesday.
The California dredge located off the Chandelier Islands has pumped more than 50,000 cubic yards of material daily to create a sand berm, according to Plaquemines Parish officials.
Nungesser's letter includes an emotional plea to the president.
"Please don't let them shut this dredge down," he wrote. "This requires your immediate attention!"
  • mzflux


House, Senate Lawmakers Reach Deal On Bank Bill

June 25, 2010 : by NPR STAFF AND WIRES

President Obama, speaking to members of the media Friday on the South Lawn of the White House, said he was "gratified" for Congress' work and said the deal included 90 percent of what he had proposed.

Almost two years after one of the worst economic crashes in American history, the House and Senate on Friday reached a dawn agreement on the bill to put tighter controls on Wall Street.

Lawmakers shook hands on the compromise legislation at 5:39 a.m. after Obama administration officials helped broker a deal that cracked the last impediment to the bill -- a proposal to force banks to spin off their lucrative derivatives trading business. The legislation touches on an exhaustive range of financial transactions, from a debit card swipe at a supermarket to the most complex securities deals cut in downtown Manhattan.

President Obama had pushed hard for the measure, and just before leaving for an international economic summit in Canada on Friday, he congratulated lawmakers on their work.

"Over the last 17 months, we passed an economic Recovery Act, health insurance reform, education reform -- and we are now on the brink of passing Wall Street reform," he said.

The effort gives Obama a sign of progress to bring to the Group of 20 meeting of world leaders in Toronto this weekend. The president said he was "gratified" for Congress' work, calling it the biggest financial overhaul since the Great Depression and saying it contained 90 percent of what he had proposed.

Now the House and Senate need to vote on the package, and Obama hopes to sign the bill into law by the Fourth of July. As he walked away from the microphone Friday, a reporter shouted, "Can you get it through the Senate?" Obama responded, "You bet."

The measure was forged in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, and supporters said it would help avoid a future one. Looking back on the beginning of his presidency, Obama said he headed to his first world economic summit with the nation in the worst financial crisis of its time; now he heads to the G-20 meeting poised to enact safeguards that he said will protect consumers from the kinds of financial tricks that led to the economic downturn in the first place -- though Republicans complained that the bill overreached and tackled issues that were not responsible for the crisis.

Obama said he will discuss the regulations with other leaders at the Toronto meeting because the recent economic crisis proves that the world's economies are linked.

Warning System, Protection Agency, New Rules

The bill would set up a warning system for financial risks, created a powerful consumer financial protection bureau to police lending, forced large failing firms to liquidate and set new rules for financial instruments that have been largely unregulated.

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HBO works to get film on dissident seen in Iran

NEW YORK — HBO has aggressively sought to get its documentary on Iranian dissident Neda Agha Soltan seen by as many people as possible within Iran as the anniversary of her death during anti-government demonstrations approaches.

The film, "For Neda," was shown online and through Voice of America in Iran even before its debut on U.S. television this week, an unusual step for a cable network that traditionally guards exclusivity of its material for its paying customers.

The 27-year-old Iranian music student was shot in the heart last June 20 during a Tehran protest. Fellow demonstrators recorded images of her dying on their cell phones, and she quickly became a symbol for the crushed movement to protest Iran's questionable election results.

"I didn't want these brave people who came out on the streets and risked their lives so courageously to feel that the world had moved on and it's been forgotten," said Antony Thomas, who wrote and produced the documentary.
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Full movie available on YouTube to view in English, Farsi or Arabic or download it at thisisforneda.com (Obligatory Heartbreak Warning ensues)

Why shouldn’t we call out LibDems for their ‘betrayal’?

Is the Left’s job that of opposing measures that we deem unfair, or do we simply find ways of not disagreeing too much with the Coalition lest “we push the LibDems further towards the Tories”?

Stuck between the obvious ideological clashes between those who think such “brave” and tough measures are the “inevitable” legacy of the Labour years, and those who instead call the Budget “reckless” and “dangerous for the recovery“, there appears to be a third category of people.

Yes, you guessed it: LibDem MPs. We don’t really know where the Lib Dems stand, do we?

Less than two months ago they were kicking and screaming that the planned Tory VAT rise was a “bombshell“. They even started a poster campaign about it and incur the wrath of many a Tory hack, including The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson who slammed it as a “dishonest” and “misleading” campaign (see here).

Labour, for instance, can hardly lecture anyone when they signed up to Tony Blair’s ‘Encyclopaedia of Amazing Betrayals’ for a whole decade. But even Tony Blair waited two or three years before making a mockery of the now infamous Labour manifesto promise over tuition fees to mention but one of his “pretty straight” deeds. And that’s saying something.

My problem isn’t with the Tories. I respect the fact that they’re doing what they have to do as a Tory party. They may have kept a couple of things quiet during the election, but they are a Conservative party, we all knew their history and their beliefs and what to expect from them.

The Conservatives are simply practising what they’ve preached all along: the importance of a slimmer state. They believe in it. You can’t say fairer than that. But the LibDems. What do they actually believe in? If they can change their mind so quickly, easily and radically over the timing, scale and quality of cuts, VAT, tax, state benefits, or the best way to achieve recovery, what tells you that they won’t change their mind over anything else if a dogbone is dangled before their eyes?

Sunny says “screaming betrayal at the LibDems won’t work” and that’s this is not only a sign of “tribalism” but also “downright silliness”. They add that “all [this] does is push Libdems further towards the Tories”.

But by focusing on the red herring, he glosses over the devastating consequences of what the LibDems did: following the fine Blairite tradition of turning yet more election manifestos into disposable arse paper that can be dismissed within weeks on the basis of where the most rewarding political wind blows.

Sites like Liberal Conspiracy often go out of their way to find any inch of Tory wording or semantic that would justify lashing out at anything vaguely Thatcherite (that’s not tribalism, is it?), so why shouldn’t Lib Dem politicians be harshly criticised or exposed when their political errors are so obviously blatant and their votes crucial for Tory policies to be implemented?

When the LibDems and the Labour left where (rightly) slating New Labour over Iraq, PFI or tuition fees, did Sunny write “easy with calling Tony Blair ‘traitor’ or ‘Bliar’ or else we risk turing these policies into a Tory monopoly”?

At which point does the game of triangulations end and principles can be asserted to the point that we can call a crap policy or an obvious betrayal by their name – that is, a crap policy and an obvious betrayal?

Source: Liberal Conspiracy
The X-Files // Scully Glasses

G20 law gives police sweeping powers to arrest people

The province has secretly passed an unprecedented regulation that empowers police to arrest anyone near the G20 security zone who refuses to identify themselves or agree to a police search.

A 31-year-old man has already been arrested under the new regulation, which was quietly passed by the provincial cabinet on June 2.

The regulation was made under Ontario’s Public Works Protection Act and was not debated in the Legislature. According to a provincial spokesperson, the cabinet action came in response to an “extraordinary request” by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who wanted additional policing powers shortly after learning the G20 was coming to Toronto.

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First post, sorry if I screwed anything up. I'm sure there will be absolutely no abuse of this at all. Besides which, I doubt that this regulation is constitutional. Just another reason to dislike the G20.
  • Current Music
    Michael Jackson - Man in the Mirror
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That'll give your White House......er, bees.

This is pretty historic, apparently.  Prior to this administration, they've never actually kept bee hives at the White House.  How cool is this??

The Secret Life of White House Bees

Posted by Jason Djang on June 23, 2010 at 01:04 PM EDT

When White House carpenter Charlie Brandts told some of First Lady Michelle Obama’s staff about his latest hobby in beekeeping, Chef Sam Kass was quick to ask him if he knew how to make honey that could be used in the White House kitchen. Fortunately, not only did Brandts know how to make the honey, but he also had a spare beehive at home that he was happy to donate to the White House. Now Brandts is the White House’s official beekeeper tending a hive of approximately 70,000 bees near the new Kitchen Garden.


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NGL, I would so love to get some of this honey to try doing a White House mead.  :)

ASCAP raising money to fight against EFF and Creative Commons

ASCAP raising money to fight Free Culture
Memehacker, and composer Mike Rugnetta just received a note from the collecting society ASCAP soliciting funds to fight Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, and the EFF. According to ASCAP, these organizations are mobilizing to undermine ASCAP members' copyrights because they want all music to be free. Which, if you know anything about the kind of nuanced reform work these organizations do, is a pretty gross exaggeration. The letter reads like a McCarthy-era scaremongering pitch to solicit funds from composers and musicians bewildered by the current pace of music industry evolution. Read part 1 of the letter here, and part 2 here.

According to the letter:
Many forces including Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation and technology companies with deep pockets are mobilizing to promote "Copyleft" in order to undermine our "Copyright." They say they are advocates of consumer rights, but the truth is these groups simply do not want to pay for the use of our music. Their mission is to spread the word that our music should be free.


Mods: could we get a "copyright" tag, please? We've had a couple of relevant stories recently.

Face facts, Labour fingerprints were all over the Budget

Osborne may have smacked us in the face but Harman, Darling and co stabbed us in the back.

Panto season came early this year. Watching Gideon George Osborne take the floor on Tuesday to announce the execution of the welfare state was a bit like being in the audience at a raucous Christmas show, with booing and howling on cue from the Labour benches as the Chancellor tore successive chunks out of sickness benefit, housing benefit, lone parent support and the dole before setting out plans for a wildly regressive VAT hike, a freeze on public sector pay and a hefty tax break for businesses.

The sheer brazenness of it all felt farcical, almost unreal. You half expected Osborne to burst into a musical number about how fun it is to be the baddie, announce the closure of all orphanages and vanish from the Commons in a puff of green smoke.

The response from Labour and the liberal press has been equally pantomimic. After all, when a new cabinet of whose members 80 per cent are personally millionaires pulverises welfare and housing with a fistful of broken sums before declaring that "we're all in this together", what can you really say except "oh no, we're not"?

By far the most astute summary came from activist and comedian Mark Thomas, who tweeted: "that wasn't so much a budget as class war committed with a calculator." The controlled ferocity of the emergency budget was almost kinky, presuming you have a fetish for being kicked repeatedly in the soul by a man with a stack of papers and a glass of mineral water.

Labour and the liberal press have condemned the proposals – but the fiery indignation of Harriet Harman and Alistair Darling rings hollow when one considers that the groundwork for many of the proposed welfare cuts was already in place before Labour lost the election. Uncomfortable as it may be for the left to recall, some of the most regressive changes in this budget - from forcing lone parents with school-age children into work, to sanctions for the mentally ill and long-term jobless, to elimination tests for sickness benefits - were Labour policies just a few short months ago.

As the liberal press laments the proposed rationing of disability living allowance, it seems to have forgotten that Labour has already cleaned up on every other benefit offered to the infirm.

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Source: Laurie Penny @ New Statesman
weeping angel front

Toddler's cookie demands met at successful G8 protest *Possible trigger*

HUNTSVILLE, Ont. - A lone protester in the middle of a huge field otherwise known as the G8 protest zone has staged what will likely go down as the most successful demonstration of the summits.

"More Cookies For Kids" was 22-month-old Tyler Spencer's placard demand, and police gamely obliged Friday.

The Hunstville, Ont., boy's parents, Jennifer and Steve Spencer, are excited to have the international summit in their town and wanted to go by the designated speech area and see the action.

"We found an empty field and a few cameras and some cops," Jennifer Spencer said.

The picturesque, quaint cottage country town has remained so even as it hosts such a prominent summit.

The G8 meetings are often marked by large protests and Toronto has seen several demonstrations in the days leading up to the G20, but not Huntsville.

Two dozen townspeople, eight giant papier mache heads of world leaders and one Hollywood actor kicked off the first day of the G8 summit with some modest forms of dissent.

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Trigger warning because of last paragraph. The article literally goes from XD to D: very quickly.


One of Africa's most democratic countries isn't even a country

BURAO, Somalia — The rallies usually start early in the morning, before the sunshine hurts.

By 8 a.m. on a recent day, thousands of people were packed into Burao’s sandy town square, with little boys climbing high into the trees to get a peek at the politicians.

“We’re going to end corruption!” one of the politicians boomed, holding several microphones at once. “We’re going to bring dignity back to the people!”

The boys cheered wildly. Wispy militiamen punched bony fists in the air. The politicians’ messages were hardly original. But in this corner of Africa, a free and open political rally — led, no less, by opposition leaders who could actually win — is an anomaly apparently worthy of celebration.

The crowd that day helped tell a strange truth: that one of the most democratic countries in the Horn of Africa is not really a country at all. It is Somaliland, the northwestern corner of Somalia, which, since the disintegration of the Somali state in 1991, has been on a quixotic mission for recognition as its own separate nation.

While so much of Somalia is plagued by relentless violence, this little-known slice of the Somali puzzle is peaceful and organized enough to hold national elections this week, with more than one million registered voters. The campaigns are passionate but fair, say the few Western observers here. The roads are full of battered old Toyotas blasting out slogans from staticky megaphones lashed to the roofs.

Somalilanders have pulled off peaceful national elections three times now — the last presidential election in 2003 was decided by a wafer-thin margin, around 80 votes at the time of counting, yet there was no violence. Each successful election feeds the hope here that one day the world will reward Somaliland with international recognition for carving a functioning, democratic space out of one of the most chaotic countries in the world.


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Murasaki Shikibu

Divided Koreas remember start of Korean War

Divided Koreas remember start of Korean War

The two Koreas commemorated the 60th anniversary Friday of the outbreak of the Korean War, promoting vastly different views of the origins of the conflict that still divides their peninsula.

The war started in the early hours of June 25, 1950, with an attack by North Korean troops. The Korean peninsula had been divided in 1945 after colonial ruler Japan's defeat in World War II.

The United States and 15 other countries sent troops to aid South Korea under the fledgling United Nations, while Chinese soldiers came in to fight with the North and the Soviet Union provided air support and advisers.
Three years of combat devastated both sides. The fighting ended with an armistice, not a permanent peace treaty, leaving the peninsula in a technical state of war.

In Seoul, South Korea held an official ceremony to remember the war, widely known as "6/25" for the date it began. President Lee Myung-bak presented plaques of appreciation to representatives of countries that sent soldiers or supplies to aid the war effort.

"Sixty years ago today, North Korea's communists opened fire on all fronts of the 38th parallel on a weekend's dawn when all people were sleeping peacefully," Lee said in a speech. The gathering was attended by South Korean and foreign veterans of the conflict, foreign ambassadors and serving South Korean and U.S. soldiers. The U.S. stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against North Korea.

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$65 trillion?! Oh, c'mon now, North Korea. I know you blame the US for everything, but c'mon, now.
Mr. T the Patriot

How Congress Ignores the Jobless Without Political Worry


Millions of workers who are facing periods of unemployment longer than 26 weeks will lose insurance benefits in the coming weeks because Congress did not pass an extension of the unemployment program this week. The average unemployed person has been out of a job for stunning 34 weeks, but Congress has been stuck in a back and forth over extending the unemployment insurance program for months, with Republicans and some Democrats arguing that the extension would add too much to the federal deficit. The Times reports:

Senate Republicans and a lone Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined forces to filibuster the legislation in a procedural vote on Thursday. Visibly frustrated, the majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said he would move on to other business next week because he saw little chance of winning over any Republican votes.

How can this be? If so many people are out of work, how can do-nothing politics be sustainable? Francis Fox Piven (yes, the architect of Glenn Beck's fantasy leftist conspiracy to cripple the world) has an idea of how. Just after the news of Reid's relent broke, I sat down for lunch with Piven, one of the country's most prominent and influential scholars on poverty and organizing. I ran into her here in Detroit, where I've spent the week reporting from the U.S. Social Forum.

Piven explained that the way public benefits like unemployment insurance and cash assistance are structured now makes it increasingly difficult for those who rely on these programs to organize politically and demand respect. That's because the welfare office and the unemployment office are no longer places where poor people gather. Whereas once everybody receiving assistance would go to the office to apply, the programs have become wholly restrictive and are now largely digitalized. The effect is that organizers can no longer organize these constituencies by showing up at the offices where people apply. Poor and unemployed people no longer have a center.

This may be one reason that unemployment insurance was not extended today. It's conceivable that had massive numbers of unemployed people been organized, taken to the streets and flooded congressional in-boxes with emails and calls, the pressure might have been great enough to beat the Beltway's anxieties about the deficit. Ironically, by making unemployment insurance easier to apply for--by moving applications online--administrators created a disconnected mass of people whom Congress is now openly ignoring.


Personally, I don't consider this to be the exclusive reason Congress could walk away though it is important. For one thing politicians and the right wing noise machine at Fox News have already done a semi-decent job of positioning people who received unemployment as lazy welfare queens who are choosing not to work cause they are rolling in money made by hard working tax payers. Second, any kind of social welfare in this country have been thoroughly demonized in this country as communism. Any person or group that stands up to demand that people take care of less fortunate Americans are declared socialist or communists and thrown under the bus. I'd like to have seen Congress pass another extension but fighting for it in this political climate is not a winner. Plus, broke people don't usually vote. And most of the people in Congress are so worried about the November elections they're don't have time to think about what's right.
Balthier - Not impressed

Jim DeMint wants to save us from taxes

It hasn’t been talked about much in the press, but President Obama and Democrats are quietly planning to allow the largest tax hike in U.S. history to hit American families and businesses in 2011.

In fact, economist Art Laffer predicts these tax hikes could lead to an economic collapse: "When we pass the tax boundary of Jan. 1, 2011, my best guess is that the train goes off the tracks and we get our worst nightmare of a severe 'double dip' recession… If you thought deficits and unemployment have been bad lately, you ain't seen nothing yet."

SOURCE is fighting to keep your money or something like that


Is U.S. Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny?
And, without constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a "crisis"--which, as the president's chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to "go to waste" as an opportunity to expand the government's power.

That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country's wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard's restrictions on the printing of money.

At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law "for the relief of the German people."

That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people--indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP's money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed "czars" controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.

Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power--vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom--are the "useful idiots" of our time. But useful to whom?

Source is approaching Godwin's hypothetical unity.

So I know we're all wondering, what does Sarah Palin think? Does she agree with this comparison of the Obama administration to the Reichstag? You betcha!

I know, I know, lol thomas sowell. If Gum-Snappin' Sarah hadn't tweeted this, I'd've never known!

Police tase and arrest grandma in her bed b/c she looked "aggressive"

(CN) - Police Tasered an 86-year-old disabled grandma in her bed and stepped on her oxygen hose until she couldn't breathe, after her grandson called 911 seeking medical assistance, the woman and her grandson claim in Oklahoma City Federal Court. Though the grandson said, "Don't Taze my granny!" an El Reno police officer told another cop to "Taser her!" and wrote in his police report that he did so because the old woman "took a more aggressive posture in her bed," according to the complaint.

Lonnie Tinsley claims that he called 911 after he went to check on his grandmother, whom he found in her bed, "connected to a portable oxygen concentrator with a long hose." She is "in marginal health, [and] takes several prescribed medications daily," and "was unable to tell him exactly when she had taken her meds," so, Tinsley says, he called 911 "to ask for an emergency medical technician to come to her apartment to evaluate her."

In response, "as many as ten El Reno police" officers "pushed their way through the door," according to the complaint.

The grandma, Lona Varner, "told them to get out of her apartment."

The remarkable complaint continues: "Instead, the apparent leader of the police [defendant Thomas Duran] instructed another policeman to 'Taser her!' He stated in his report that the 86 year-old plaintiff 'took a more aggressive posture in her bed,' and that he was fearful for his safety and the safety of others.

"Lonnie Tinsley told them, 'Don't taze my Granny!' to which they responded that they would Taser him; instead, they pulled him out of her apartment, took him down to the floor, handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a police car.

"The police then proceeded to approach Ms. Varner in her bed and stepped on her oxygen hose until she began to suffer oxygen deprivation.

"The police then fired a Taser at her and only one wire struck her, in the left arm; the police then fired a second Taser, striking her to the right and left of the midline of her upper chest and applied high voltage, causing burns to her chest, extreme pain and to pass out.

"The police then grabbed Ms. Varner by her forearms and jerked hands together, causing her soft flesh to tear and bleed on her bed; they then handcuffed her.

"The police freed Lonnie Tinsley from his incarceration in the back of the police car and permitted him to accompany the ambulance with his grandmother."

Tinsley says the cops capped it all off by having his grandmother "placed in the psychiatric ward at the direction of the El Reno police; she was held there for six days and released."

"As a result of the wrongful arrest and detention, the plaintiff Lona M. Varner suffered the unlawful restraint of her freedom, bodily injury, assault, battery, the trashing of her apartment, humiliation, loss of personal dignity, infliction of emotional distress and medical bills."

They seek punitive damages for constitutional violations, from the City of El Reno, Duran, Officers Frank Tinga and Joseph Sandberg, and 10 Officers Does.

They are represented by Brian Dell of Oklahoma City.


Debated posting this here or sf_drama...

By PAUL DAVENPORT, Associated Press Writer

PHOENIX – Gov. Jan Brewer said Friday that most illegal immigrants entering Arizona are being used to transport drugs across the border, an assertion that critics slammed as exaggerated and racist.

Brewer said the motivation of "a lot" of the illegal immigrants is to enter the United States to look for work, but that drug rings press them into duty as drug "mules."

"I believe today, under the circumstances that we're facing, that the majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming into the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels and they are bringing drugs in," Brewer said.

"There's strong information to us that they come as illegal people wanting to come to work. Then they are accosted and they become subjects of the drug cartel," she said.

Brewer's office later issued a statement in response to media reports of her comments. It said most human smuggling into Arizona is under the direction of drug cartels, which "are by definition smuggling drugs."

"Unless Gov. Brewer can provide hard data to substantiate her claim that most undocumented people crossing into Arizona are 'drug mules,' she must retract such an outrageous statement," said Oscar Martinez, a University of Arizona history professor whose teaching and research focuses on border issues. "If she has no data and is just mouthing off for political reasons, as I believe she is doing, then she must apologize to the people of Arizona for lying to them so blatantly."

Sen. Jesus Ramon Valdes, a member of the Mexican Senate's northern border affairs commission, called Brewer's comments racist and irresponsible.

"Traditionally, migrants have always been needy, humble people who in good faith go looking for a way to better the lives of their families," Ramon Valdes said.

A Border Patrol spokesman said illegal immigrants do sometimes carry drugs across the border, but he said he couldn't provide numbers because smugglers are turned over to prosecutors.

"I wouldn't say that every person that is apprehended is being used as a mule," spokesman Mario Escalante said from Tucson. "The smuggling organizations, in their attempts to be lucrative and to make more money, they'll try pretty much whatever they need."

T.J. Bonner, president of the union that represents border agents, said some illegal border-crossers carry drugs but most don't. People with drugs face much stiffer penalties for entering the U.S. illegally, and very few immigrants looking for work want to risk the consequences, Bonner said.

"The majority of people continue to come across in search of work, not to smuggle drugs," he said. "Most of the drug smuggling is done by people who intend to do that. That's their livelihood."

A spokesman for a human rights group said Brewer's comments were "an oversimplification of reality."

"We have some stories of people being forced to carry drugs," said Jaime Farrant, policy director for Tucson-based Border Action Network. "We disagree with the assessment that people are crossing (to carry drugs). We have no evidence that's the truth. We think most people come in search of jobs or to reunite with their families."
Brewer spoke Friday when asked about comments she made in a recent election debate among Republican candidates for governor.

She said during the June 15 debate that she believed most illegal immigrants were not entering the United States for work. She then associated illegal immigrants with drug smuggling, drop houses, extortion and other criminal activity.

Brewer on April 23 signed a controversial new state immigration enforcement law that is scheduled toe effect July 29, although five legal challenges already are pending in federal court, and the U.S. Justice Department may file its own challenge.

The Arizona law requires police officers enforcing another law to question a person's immigration status if there's a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally.

Francisco Loureiro, who has run a migrant shelter for more than 20 years in Nogales, Sonora, across the border from the Arizona town of the same name, said Brewer's comments are aimed at turning the people of Arizona against migrants and strengthen support for the state's new law.

"That governor is racist and she has to look for a way to harm the image of migrants before American society and mainly before the people of Arizona," Loureiro said.

Roberto Suro, a University of Southern California journalism professor who founded a research center on Hispanics, said he was skeptical of Brewer's assertion, partly because federal authorities would be trumpeting many more drug seizures than they do. "The Border Patrol is not secretive about saying when they apprehend 10 people and found knapsacks (containing drugs) nearby," he said.

Attorney General Terry Goddard, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, said Brewer "does not understand the difference between illegal immigration and the organized criminals who are members of the violent drug cartels who pose a very a real danger."
Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix and Olga R. Rodriguez in Mexico City contributed to this report.