November 5th, 2010

Akuma River

The end of class action lawsuits?

Consumers' right to file class actions is in danger

If AT&T has its way before the Supreme Court, any business that issues a contract to customers would be able to prevent them from joining class-action lawsuits, taking away arguably the most powerful legal tool available to the little guy.

By David Lazarus
November 5, 2010

It hasn't gotten a lot of press, but a case involving AT&T that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court next week has sweeping ramifications for potentially millions of consumers.

If a majority of the nine justices vote the telecom giant's way, any business that issues a contract to customers — such as for credit cards, cellphones or cable TV — would be able to prevent them from joining class-action lawsuits.

This would take away in such cases arguably the most powerful legal tool available to the little guy, particularly in cases involving relatively small amounts of money. Class-action suits allow plaintiffs to band together in seeking compensation or redress, thus giving substantially more heft to their claims.

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I didn't hear of the this case until I saw it on HuffPo. This is HIGHLY important to us and our rights as consumers and employees to be able to use Class Action Lawsuits in order to sue big businesses because of coporations being given citizenship status in lawsuits in the 1920's. If we see this fall, I am sure that Citizen's United will look friendly in comparison.
be a geek || the hush

What a ‘sweet surprise’! HFCS contains more fructose than believed

One of industry's main arguments against critics' targeting high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as Public Health Enemy No. 1 has been that HFCS and table sugar are chemically similar. Manufacturers have stated over and over that the most common form of HFCS in use in processed food is at most 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose -- not significantly different from white sugar's 50/50 fructose/glucose makeup.

Now it turns out that the actual amount of fructose in HFCS in particular food products has never been officially disclosed, just assumed. And that assumption, much to the surprise of even the biggest HFCS-is-bad skeptics, has just been proven way off.

Researchers from the University of Southern California decided to test actual brand-name sodas -- including Coke, Pepsi, and Sprite -- to confirm their exact sugar content and makeup. They found that the HFCS in the vast majority contained far more than the presumed 55 percent fructose: in the case of those three brands, it was actually 65 percent fructose.

Why is this important? It's because research has shown fructose to be particularly harmful to human health. Unlike excess glucose, which passes through our digestive tract and is excreted, 100 percent of fructose that's consumed is taken up by the liver. Once there, fructose causes increased fat deposition in the abdominal cavity and increased blood levels of triglycerides -- both of which are risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. So, over a lifetime, the HFCS in the 53 gallons of soda per year the average American drinks thus increases their fructose consumption compared to table sugar, and probably adds up to big health problems.

P.S. You hipsters who like to down a Mexican Coke with your burritos, thinking it's made with table sugar (sucrose), not HFCS, might want to go back to the agua fresca. The USC investigators found no sucrose in the Coke, just glucose and fructose. Either Mexican Coke is being made with HFCS, or its manufacturers have for some reason split sucrose into its constituent glucose and fructose, Nestle says.


Britain places advert in newsagent window offering Abu Hamza ‘free to a good-ish home’

After jailed radical Muslim preacher Abu Hamza won his appeal against a government bid to strip him of his British passport - as the move would make him stateless - the UK has placed several adverts offering him free to a good-ish home.

Egyptian-born Hamza, who has one eye and a hook for one hand, was jailed in Britain for seven years in 2007 for inciting followers to murder non-believers, and is fighting extradition to the United States - but will now retain his British citizenship until someone agrees to take him off our hands.

A government spokesperson explained, “We’ve been told that we can’t leave him ’stateless’ by taking away his passport, so we’re going to need to find him a new home. We’ve placed a few ads and we’re quietly hopeful.”

“I want to make something clear to interested parties, it’s not that we don’t want him, it’s just that we have more than enough radicalised Muslims already, and so we can’t give him the care and attention he obviously needs.”

“He’s house trained, and does this hilarious thing where he tried to scratch his nose with the wrong hand. It really is very funny, if you don’t mind all the blood and that.”

“We’re perfectly happy to give Abu away for free, so long as he goes to a good-ish home. Or maybe even an average one? We’ll listen to offers from the rubbish ones too, to be honest. Remember, he has a lot to offer in the right environment.”

Abu Hamza Passport appeal

Adverts looking for a new home for Abu Hamza have already appeared in corner shop windows around the world, along with a freephone number to the British Foreign Office.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said, “We had an interesting call from Yemen this morning, it seems they have a few radicalised Muslims already, and are keen to add him to their growing litter.”

“They wanted to know if he’d had all of his jabs, and how old he is in Radicalised Muslim years - we think he’s a hundred and thirty five, but we can’t be sure.”

“They’re going to give him the once over, and so long as he doesn’t bite I’m sure he’ll be theirs by Monday.”

  • luomo

How Obama got from hope to hopeless

The Democrats were handed a golden opportunity to transform U.S. politics for years to come--and they blew it. Alan Maass looks at how it happened--and why.

November 5, 2010

President Obama during a meeting with Cabinet members (Pete Souza)

BARACK OBAMA thinks you really ought to be more patient.

"It took time to free the slaves," he said in a speech at the end of September. "It took time for women to get the vote. It took time for workers to get the right to organize."

Well...he's certainly right about that. The struggles of the past that changed the world didn't happen overnight.

But Obama wasn't just making an observation about history. This was his excuse for how little the Democrats have done to meet the expectations of their supporters--they need more time.

The real question is: More time for what? The Democrats haven't moved at even a snail's pace on so many of the issues that motivated millions of people to support them in 2008--keeping people under threat of foreclosure in their homes, creating good-paying jobs, reducing the staggering inequality between rich and poor, reversing the shrill intolerance of the Christian Right, ending America's wars and occupations around the globe.

On the other hand, Obama and his administration acted plenty fast when they wanted to.

It took almost no time at all for the Obama White House to embrace the bailout of Wall Street engineered by the Bush administration and put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for trillions of dollars--and only slightly longer to make it clear the Democrats wouldn't require the least concessions from the banksters in return.

It took barely a month or two before the administration was defending the worst outrages of Bush's shredding of civil liberties in the name of the "war on terror." About four months, and Obama's Justice Department was in federal court to defend the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military. On health care reform, it took a full year, but Obama and the Democrats abandoned almost every proposal that might have threatened the profits of the insurance industry.

Barack Obama wants you to believe that the "change we need" takes time. But when it comes to the "change they need"--the policies that America's economic and political elite want, from rescuing Wall Street, to expanding the U.S. war in Afghanistan, to privatizing public education--Obama delivers like clockwork.

That's why the Democrats lost ground in the November 2 election--not because a majority of the population suddenly embraced the Republicans and their pro-corporate, bigoted, anti-worker policies, but because Obama and the Democrats disappointed millions of people who believed them when they talked about hope and change.

And it isn't stopping, either. The day after the election, Obama devoted an interminable news conference to promising he would compromise with the Republicans on any issue they wanted. As if he hadn't spent the last two years doing exactly that.


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Tory MP Chris Grayling named Stonewall ‘bigot of the year’

Former shadow home secretary Chris Grayling was named ‘Bigot of the Year’ at Thursday night’s Stonewall awards.

Tory MP Mr Grayling, who was secretly recorded in May saying that bed and breakfasts should have the right to bar gay couples, was not present to collect his award but Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said it would be delivered to him.

Four hundred and fifty people attended the £175-a-head ceremony at the V&A Museum, including Mary Portas, Clare Balding, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw and BBC newsreader Jane Hill.

The event was hosted by comedian Sue Perkins, who, referring to Stephen Fry’s latest woes, joked: “In my experience, women only have relationships to have sex.”

Gareth Thomas, who became the first out gay professional rugby player last December, was named ‘Hero of the Year’.

He attended the London ceremony with his parents. Some audience members were in tears as he spoke after accepting the award.

Mr Thomas said: “I don’t really know what denotes a hero. I’m just myself. But when you live in a world that tries to make different a wrong thing, to me, being a hero is just being honest.

He added: “To be a hero, you have to follow in a hero’s footsteps. And there’s people here tonight who’ve been my heroes all my life and will be forever – that’s my mother and father.”

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Source: Pink News

I really don't think much of Stonewall, but meh... thought people would want to read this. Also Sue Perkins is love ♥


On Thrusday's "AC360," Anderson Cooper debunked the false story about the supposedly enormous price tag for President Obama's ten-day tour of Asia, and slammed conservative politicians and pundits for spreading the myth.

Cooper opened his show by promising to refute "a made-up story about the president of the United States." He stressed that it was "not [my] job to defend the president," but that there were plenty of real things to criticize President Obama about without resorting to falsehoods.

The notion that Obama's trip to India and other Asian countries will cost $200 million a day and will involve the deployment of 34 Navy ships sprang from a story published by the Press Trust of India on Tuesday. In that article, "a top official of the Maharashtra government privy to the arrangements for the high-profile visit" used the $200 million figure.

Cooper said that this was pretty thin material with which to attack Obama.

 "We have no idea who this person is, no name was given," he said. "It was an anonymous quote -- the conduct Sarah Palin has recently been railing against. Some reporter in India wrote this article with this figure in it, no proof was given, no follow-up reporting done."

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movies | Impish Fräulein2

Shenanigans Friday, November 5, 2010.

"Vote: the instrument and symboLOL of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country." —LOLbrose Bierce

Please exploit these resources:
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MOAR Picture Sources:

  • homasse

America to Democrats: Stop what you're doing

America to Democrats: Stop what you're doing
Sen. John Thune

Editor's note: Sen. John Thune, a Republican, represents South Dakota and serves as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.

Two years ago, shortly after Barack Obama won his historic election and Democrats were in control of both chambers of Congress, I was asked what I thought the next two years would hold for the country.

My response then is the same one I give today -- elections have consequences.

This past Tuesday, the American people sent President Obama and congressional Democrats an unmistakable message -- stop what you are doing. In fact, Americans have been delivering this message for nearly two years, but Democrats in Washington chose to turn a deaf ear to the American people while voter anxiety and frustration grew.

When Democrats took charge of the federal government two years ago in the midst of a severe recession, their priority should have been to fix the economy so people can find jobs. But President Obama, following Rahm Emanuel's advice to never let a good crisis go to waste, proceeded to jam through one expensive policy after another. He succeeded only in strangling job-creation and piling up dangerous levels of national debt.

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Have at, y'all.

Reading the fine print

Did Keith Olbermann even violate NBC policy?

By Greg Sargent

Check out the fine print of what NBC policy said, as of 2007, about political activities on the part of NBC employees:

"Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest. Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial positions. You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the President of NBC News or his designee."

Emphasis mine. This is a bit difficult to parse. But this does seem to say that those who are worried that their "standing as an impartial journalist" would be jeopardized by political activity should report it. Last time I checked, Keith Olbermann doesn't pretend to be an "impartial journalist."

Likewise, neither do Joe Scarborough or Pat Buchanan, both of whom have also given political contributions. It seems possible that none of these three would think they may have violated company policy.

Odder still, an anonymous NBC insider told Gawker that it's common knowledge within the organization that MSNBC's left-leaning personalities aren't necessarily required to follow NBC News rules. That makes sense, since MSNBC is pushing the envelope politically in a way NBC, obviously, isn't.

Again: We don't know yet what happened here. MSNBC's P.R. department is not responding to inquiries about whether Scarborough or Buchanan notified MSNBC brass before making their contributions. But it's certainly fair to ask, if they're axing Olbermann.

The fact that it's not even crystal clear that Olbermann violated NBC policy suggests that this could be a pretext for getting rid of him because he has difficult relations with management, or worse, because MSNBC is terrified of critics who claim it's becoming the lefty version of Fox News.

Until we learn more, the network's case against Olbermann is looking increasingly tenuous.


CNN expert says having a child who might be gay is every parent's "worst nightmare"

arlier this week, we were all moved by the mom who supported her preschool son when he wanted to dress as Daphne from Scooby-Doo. She wasn't afraid your kid would grow up to be a real ninja, so she didn't think you should worry about how her son dressed. But even if her son's costume did mean something beyond a love of solving mysteries, such as saying something about his eventual sexual orientation, she still didn't care what others thought:

Or he’s not. I don’t care. He is still my son. And he is 5. And I am his mother. And if you have a problem with anything mentioned above, I don’t want to know you.

Cue the experts. Good Morning America had two women on this morning who scolded the mother. Meanwhile, CNN brought Dr. Jeff Gardere, a clinical psychologist, on air with the mother to inform her she was wrong to do have done what she did. The money quote is when he tells the audience that "It is the worst nightmare of heterosexual and the gay couples to have to fathom that their child might be gay."

Source, including video of the interview.
mus | like a bird in a cage

RCMP watchdog to probe G8-G20 summits

The RCMP watchdog has launched a public-interest investigation into policing of the G8 and G20 meetings, the latest in a string of probes of violent summit clashes and mass arrests.

The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP said Friday it was acting on a complaint from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association about the conduct of Mounties involved with the joint international summits in Ontario last June.

Leaders of the G8 countries gathered in cottage country near Huntsville, Ont., before joining other politicians for the G20 summit in Toronto.

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I can't brain. I have the dumb.


Sarah Palin Twitter Favorites Racist Church 'By Accident'

Tech savvy Sarah Palin is backtracking today after she used her Twitter account to "favorite" an Ann Coulter tweet that linked to a photo of a racist church sign. The sign reads: "The blood of Jesus against Obama History made 4 Nov 2008 a Taliban Muslim illegally elected President USA: Hussein."

(The key takeaway from the sign is that it labelled President Obama a Taliban Muslim. So nice! So classy! So grounded in truth!)

Palin is claiming that the whole thing was a big mistake (the tweet has since been removed) and guess who she's blaming for the hullabaloo?

Before we play the blame game, first, let's hear her defense. She's basically claiming she doesn't know how to use social media correctly:

I’ve never purposefully 'favorited’ any Tweet ... I had to go back to my BlackBerry to even see if such a function was possible. I was travelling to Alaska that day ... it was an obvious accidental 'favoriting.’

I can't decide which is worse: Being racist. Or not knowing how to use Twitter. (Duh, I totally can. Who doesn't know how to use Twitter? Sheesh.)

Although to be fair, this is the same woman who wanted to "repudiate" plans for a mosque near ground zero in New York. Suddenly, her defense becomes all the more believable ...

Then Palin goes on to blames others for her lapse in either judgement or social media prowess depending on whether or not you believe her:

Shall I correct this with whichever wonderful media outlet ran with this (an obviously bored reporter ... since there must be nothing going on in the world today, like, um, ramifications of a shake up of power in the U.S. House of Representatives?)

Note the lack of apology in either of those statements. And yes I'm totally internalizing the bored reporter comment.

My fellow Americans, can we please remember this story when 2012 rolls around?


  • merig00

LivingFuelTV Suspects Censorship from YouTube in Recent Removed Posts

According to the CDC, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. LivingFuelTV produces a weekly program revealing the truth about such major health issues. A recent segment, posted to YouTube October 14, was about how breast cancer can be prevented, while the Pink campaign was promoting early screening and treatment. Within hours of posting the show on YouTube, the entire LivingFuelTV health education channel was disabled, with a general message posted stating the company had violated YouTube's "Community Guidelines."

YouTube's Community Guidelines, published on its website, specify the type of content not allowed on the site: sexually explicit, "bad stuff" such as animal abuse or bomb making, graphic violence, shocking footage of accidents, hate speech, predatory behavior or spam. The first strike involves a warning, the second involves two weeks of account suspension and the third strike involves account disablement. LivingFuelTV content did not violate the Community Guidelines nor was the company ever warned before account termination. The breast cancer prevention content was focused on diet and lifestyle as a form of prevention and touched on the fact that too much medical radiation such as mammography can increase the risk.

"We were stunned our health education videos were taken down and without warning. October is breast cancer awareness month and our breast cancer prevention video was declared inappropriate by YouTube?" questioned KC Craichy, Founder & CEO of Living Fuel. "Why would YouTube do such a thing? Could it be that YouTube was pressured to remove our videos?"

LivingFuelTV weekly programs have become very popular with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube during the last two years. KC Craichy, Founder & CEO of Living Fuel, Inc. and best-selling author of Super Health - 7 Golden Keys to Unlock Lifelong Vitality, and his wife, Monica, are the hosts of LivingFuelTV. Every week, they bring leading-edge natural health and fitness topics to the forefront through special health alerts and in-depth interviews. Their guests have included well-known surgeon and nutrition expert Dr. Leonard Smith, Oriental Medicine and Naturopathic Medicine expert Dr. Patrick Purdue, Boston Red Sox All-Star J.D. Drew, natural fitness expert John Peterson, Olympic elite trainer Andy O'Brien, and professional golf and tennis trainer Dave Herman. Topics have ranged from cancer prevention to medical radiation dangers, optimal nutrition to healthy fasting, functional fitness for the entire family to strength training and nutrition for athletes. No content is believed to have come close to violating YouTube Community Guidelines.

Repeated calls and emails from Living Fuel and its attorneys to YouTube and YouTube parent Google for three weeks have not been returned. YouTube's millions of viewers are no longer able to view LivingFuelTV natural health videos on YouTube, but all video programs are available at

YouTube made national headlines last week as Congressmen Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., urged its top executive to remove postings from U.S.-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. According to Fox News, Weiner warned al-Awlaki's message "has caused violence and is a threat to American security." Al-Awlaki is the Yemen-based imam tied to accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, Christmas Day bomber Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab and attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. According to, Weiner estimates that more than 700 of al-Awlaki's videos are on YouTube. He insisted YouTube should "remove this man and his hateful rhetoric from the website, as he poses a clear and present danger to American citizens." YouTube has yet to remove the content from al-Awlaki.

"I am concerned about who is monitoring and controlling YouTube content... legitimate breast cancer prevention information is taken down and a suspected terrorist can use the site as his personal speaking platform?" explained Craichy. "Something is wrong with this situation and we invite YouTube to correct it for the good of everyone involved."



[Other] Bill Hader

The Cocaine Trade

The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine, Part II: How It's Made, How It Moves, and Who Might Be Cutting It with a Deadly Cattle-Deworming Drug

by Brendan Kiley (journalist for The Stranger)

Taken from Part I article.

How It's Made
Diego was 23 years old, a poor Colombian living in a poor section of Cali, when his girlfriend had the baby. He was broke—everybody was broke—but his grandmother knew where he could earn some money: He could go work the coca plantations in the hinterlands like she had. She could get him a job working for FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, Colombia's Marxist-Leninist guerrilla army), which was better than working for the right-wing paramilitaries.

Diego is not his real name, and he's currently living in a different Latin American country—otherwise, he said, he wouldn't be talking to me.

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Diego left the trade and eventually the country. As of our last conversation—we had multiple hours-long conversations over two months—he does not intend to return. At one point, he called his family to clarify a few details he couldn't remember. A few days later, he said his family was very upset that he'd been talking to me and upset that he'd asked them about the trade, and that he couldn't talk to me anymore. That was the last I heard from him.

Read the rest of the article here. It's long, but worth it.

'How Its Made' is only the first part of a long article, and there is one other a that came before it, published last August. I implore you all to read the full extent of it - it discusses the use of a cattle dewormer additive, and how Mexico became such a large part of the drug trade. When I read this article, I knew about the violence caused by the drug cartels, but I didn't know this extent of it. It's something I think a lot more people need to know about, because even the most harmless of illegal drugs, unless grown and produced in your own home or obtained in some legal manner, often feed these systems of death.

Part 1, the article from last summer, can be found