August 30th, 2011

The Gang
  • acmeeoy

The Election March of the Trolls - Chris Hedges

 We have begun the election march of the trolls. They have crawled out of the sewers of public relations firms, polling organizations, the commercial media, the two corporate political parties and elected office to fill the airwaves with inanities and absurdities until the final inanity—the 2012 presidential election. Journalists, whose role has been reduced to purveyors of court gossip, whether on Fox or MSNBC, descend in swarms to report pseudo-events such as the Ames straw poll, where it costs $30 to cast a ballot. And then, almost immediately, they blithely inform us that the Iowa poll is meaningless now that Rick Perry has entered the race. The liberal trolls, as they do in every election cycle, are beating their little chests about the perfidiousness of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama. It is a gesture performed not to effect change but to burnish their credentials as moralists. They know, as do we, that they will trot obediently into the voting booth in 2012 to do as they are told. And everywhere the pulse of the nation is being assiduously monitored through polls and focus groups, not because our opinions matter, but because our troll candidates understand that by parroting back to us our own viewpoints they can continue to spend their days lapping up corporate money with other trolls in the two houses of Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court and television studios where they chat with troll celebrity journalists.
The only commodity the troll state offers is fear. The corporate trolls, such as the Koch brothers, terrify the birthers, creationists, militia lovers, tea party militants, right-to-life advocates, Christian fascists and God-fearing red-white-and-blue patriots by proclaiming that unless they vote for Perry or Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann or some other product of the lunatic fringe of our political establishment, the American family will be destroyed, our children will be corrupted and the country will turn socialist. Barack Obama, who they whisper is a closet Muslim, will take away their guns, raise their taxes and bring homosexual couples into kindergartens.
For those, usually liberals, still rooted in a reality-based world, one that believes in evolutionary science, the corporate trolls offer a more refined, fear-based message of impending doom: If you abandon the Democrats we will be governed by Bible-thumping idiots who will make us chant the Pledge of Allegiance in mass rallies and teach the account of Genesis as historical and biological fact in our nation’s schools.
And underneath it all runs the mantra chanted in unison by all the trolls—terror, terror, terror. The troll establishment spins us like windup dolls and laughs all the way to the bank. What idiots, they think. And every election cycle we prove them right.
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US businesses now obligated to inform you of your right to a union.

New Rule: Bosses Must Inform Workers of Right to Organize
Aug 29, 2011
10:24 am
By Kari Lydersen

Predictably, employers see NLRB action as 'gift to organized labor'

Tomorrow, August 30, a rule will be published in the federal register that mandates that almost all private employers must post a notice informing employees of their rights to organize under the National Labor Relations Act.

The decision, announced last week by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), applies to companies whether or not they have federal contracts. Currently, under an executive order signed by President Obama in January 2009, federal contractors are required to post an 11x17 inch notice outlining workers' rights to:

Self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations; to bargain collectively; to engage in other concerted activities; and to refrain from such activities.

Business groups stridently objected to the rule, which was originally proposed in December 2010 and received about 7,000 comments during a public comment period. Many business interests argued the NLRB doesn't have the statutory authority to make such a rule. In text of the rule including background and supplementary material, the NLRB cites case law showing it does have the needed authority.

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This is FOR REAL. I'm actually kind of stunned. It's a minor thing— maybe— but it's the kind of thing that can be used for a major thing. Now go look up your local union for your current job! You can even look them up if you're unemployed, as long as the industry is relevant to your career interests. If your local unions happen to be corrupt, if you can't afford their dues, or if you're not really in a field that HAS unions, there are also still awesome organizations like my personal choice, the IWW.
Chanel #3

Why would a salon use domestic violence to sell hair care?

title or description

The woman, waif-thin, sits forlornly on a chesterfield, her eye black and bruised. Behind her, a menacing man approaches, a fancy pendant necklace in his hands. With his rather Dracula-like appearance, it’s not entirely clear if he’s looking to give her a gift, or perhaps garotte her. The caption?: Look Good in All You Do. Collapse )

Gross. The owner has since posted a faux-pology on the salon's Facebook page.

Heath smoking

Locked Up And Left Behind: Hurricane Irene and the Inmates of Riker's Island

“We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference this afternoon. Bloomberg annouced a host  of extreme measures being taken  by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, including a shutdown of the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from low-lying areas. But in response to a reporter’s question, the mayor stated in no uncertain terms (and with more than a hint of annoyance) that one group of New Yorkers on vulnerable ground will be staying put.

New York City is surrounded by small islands and barrier beaches, and a glance at the city’s evacuation map reveals all of them to be in Zone A (already under a mandatory evacuation order) or Zone B–all, that is, save one. Rikers Island, which lies in the waters between Queens and the Bronx, is not highlighted at all, meaning it is not to be evacuated under any circumstances.

According to the New York City Department of Corrections’ own website, more than three-quarters of Rikers Island’s 400 acres are built on
landfill–which is generally thought to be more vulnerable to natural  disasters. Its ten jails have a capacity of close to 17,000 inmates, and normally house at least 12,000, including juveniles and large numbers of prisoners with mental illness–not to mention pre-trial
detainees who have yet to be convicted of any crime. There are also hundreds of corrections officers at work on the island.

We were not able to reach anyone at the NYC DOC for comment–but the New York Times‘s City Room blog reported: “According to the city’s Department of Correction, no hypothetical evacuation plan for the roughly 12,000 inmates that the facility may house on a given day even exists. Contingencies do exist for smaller-scale relocations from one facility to another.”


UPDATE (Saturday midnight): In his final news conference of the day, Mayor Bloomberg defended his decision not to
evacuate Rikers Island, stating: “It is higher than the Zone A areas and it’s perfectly safe.” Representatives of the mayor have made further statements to New York Magazine (see update at end) and the Wall Street Journal, also specifying that no part of Rikers Island is in Zone A. Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson went on Twitter to say the same thing. To our knowledge, the mayor’s office still has not
clarified what zone, if any, Rikers Island is in, and has not responded to questions regarding the lack of any evacuation plan for the jail.

UPDATE (Sunday 4 p.m.): The evacuation order for Zone A has ended, with the storm having considerably less impact on New
York City than anticipated. The mayor’s office has issued further statements about Rikers, confirming that it is not in evacuation Zone A and comparing itto Roosevelt Island and City Island, which also were not evacuated. Critics have noted, however, that these other islands are in Zones B andC, while Rikers Island, according to the evacuation map, is not in any evacuation zone at all. Advocates also remain concerned about the admitted lack of any evacuation plan for the city’s island jail. The Center for Constitutional Rights issued a statement on the matter, and CCR spokesperson Jen Nessel said:“The maps I’ve seen all leave Rikers off the Zone scale, but even if it
isn’t in Zone A where the mandatory evacuations are taking place, the fact that the Department of Corrections admitted there wasn’t even a hypothetical plan for 12,000 people who can’t exactly evacuate themselves if the situation worsens is disturbing.”


I know the hurricane has pasted and no inmate was killed by the storm, but this is still so disturbing to me...

Deadly shooting outside Danish mosque (UPDATE)

One person has been killed in a shooting outside a mosque in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, police have said.

Police spokesman Lau Thygesen said another person was injured in Tuesday's attack.

The incident happened outside the Muslim Culture Institute mosque in western Copenhagen after a prayer service marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"The incident is related to the people who were present in the mosque, but does not necessarily have anything to do with the mosque or prayers. It is probably an internal dispute between people of Pakistani origin," Thygesen told the newspaper Politiken.

Thygesen told Al Jazeera that the shooter escaped but police hoped to identify the attacker soon as there had been at least a hundred witnesses on the scene.

He said it could have been a gang showdown but that police was investigation all possible motives.

"There was an argument between two groups and afterwards there were a lot of shots fired," he said.

Danish broadcaster TV2 quoted witnesses saying they had seen shots fired from a car driving by as people were leaving the mosque.

Unconfirmed reports from witnesses said there was a violent scene before the shooting, with one man refusing to get into a vehicle, after which a pistol was drawn and shots fired.

"There was a disagreement between a group of young people and suddenly there were shots. I would say about 20 shots," Kuran Qureshi told TV2News.

"Everyone ran for cover and hid behind vehicles and whatever they could find. There were women
and children there too".


The shooter was caught. He's injured and at a hospital in southern Sweden. Two others have been arrested, but I can't find an English source, and I don't have the time to translate RN
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Chances of big quake below Tokyo rising

Chances of big quake below Tokyo rising

The possibility of a huge plate-boundary earthquake amplified by simultaneous moves in two or more focal areas beneath Tokyo has been increasing since the Great East Japan Earthquake, according to the University of Tokyo's Earthquake Research Institute.

The institute said that since the March 11 disaster, pressure on the tectonic plates beneath the city has changed and two or more focal areas may move simultaneously, resulting in a massive quake.

The institute intends to continue monitoring and assess the possibility of a huge earthquake.

The tectonic makeup of Tokyo and surrounding areas is complicated, with two ocean plates subducting below a land plate on which the Japanese archipelago is located.

There have been many earthquakes in this area, as both plate-boundary quakes, which are caused by friction between the plates, and inland quakes, which are caused by faults in the plates, can occur.

The average number of quakes measured at magnitude 3 or more in the five years preceding the March 11 disaster was about eight a month.

The institute discovered that the number of small-scale plate-boundary quakes that are not felt by people has drastically increased following the March 11 earthquake.

Also, the preliminary observed number of magnitude-3 or larger plate-boundary quakes between March 11 and Aug. 20 rose about fourfold in an area 60 to 70 kilometers below northern Tokyo Bay.

Similarly sized plate-boundary quakes occurring 40 to 55 kilometers below southern Ibaraki Prefecture have increased about 20-fold.

The number of inland quakes has not drastically increased, but the institute said the types of the quakes have clearly changed.

There have been huge quakes with shallow focal points below Tokyo and surrounding areas in the past. The 1923 magnitude-8 Great Kanto Earthquake occurred in southern Tokyo Bay.

The government's Central Disaster Management Council has maintained that magnitude-8 quakes will not occur in the near future. But the Great East Japan Earthquake has largely changed conventional thinking about the region's seismology.

Naoshi Hirata, a researcher at the institute and a member of the government's Earthquake Research Committee, said, "If there is drastic plate movement, there is no guarantee that the scale of the quake will be in line with the government's prediction of up to magnitude 7.3.

"In addition to looking at the intervals of recurrence of Great Kanto Earthquake level quakes, it's necessary to review the predictions," he said.


Not so much political, but yikes. The Great Hanshin Earthquake, which hit Kobe in '95, was only a 6.8, and it cost over ten trillion yen to recover from. So anything even close to the size of the Great Kanto earthquake would be completely devastating. I think Japan is definitely in for a lot more quakes, thanks to earthquake storms.

GOP to Punish Mother Nature by Cutting Funds to Hurricane Monitoring.

Hurricane Monitoring, Another Tax Payer Wasteful Money Pit that Encourages Mother Nature to Misbehave Against America.

House Republican Bill Cuts Hurricane Monitoring Funds That Help Save Millions Of Dollars

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, which caused billions of dollars in damages up and down the U.S.’s eastern seaboard, House Republicans are callously claiming that any aid to victims of the disaster needs to be offset by budget cuts elsewhere. The savings favored by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) would come from cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and first responders.

However, if House Republicans get their way, not only will recovering from the effects of Hurricane Irene be more difficult, but so will monitoring incoming hurricanes in general. As the Associated Press noted, the House Appropriations Committee has approved cuts to funding for “hurricane hunters” — military planes that fly into hurricanes in order to measure and track them:

Hurricane hunters – which are flying into Irene’s eye to feed forecasters vital information about the storm – could face big funding cuts under a budget proposal moving through the U.S. House.

Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Florida, wrote House Speaker John Boehner on Friday asking for a reversal of proposed cuts to the program under a bill that passed the Appropriations Committee. She said if the cuts go through, it would amount to a 40 percent drop in funding for hurricane hunter flights out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. [...]

Hurricane hunter planes fly directly into the storm to measure wind speed, barometric pressure and other data that the National Hurricane Center then uses to formulate its forecasts.

The cuts passed by the Appropriations Committee would take funding for these flights down from $29 million to $17 million, despite the fact that the flights help save a substantial amount of money.

Due to data from the hurricane monitoring flights, forecasts are 30 percent more accurate. Since it costs $1 million per coastal mile for evacuation and preparation when a storm approaches, every mile that is not evacuated yields substantial savings for taxpayers. Estimates put the savings due to monitoring flights at $100-$150 million per storm, far outstripping the $29 million budget dedicated to the hurricane hunters.

“[The] hurricane hunter program is worth its weight in gold,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). “They have gotten such accuracy in prediction, not only the strength of a hurricane but exactly its track. You cut back on those kinds of expenses, and that is really cutting off your nose to spite your face.” “These are very significant cuts. It would be a harmful step backward, just when hurricane predictions are improving,” added Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), who has pledged to propose an amendment restoring the cut funds when the GOP’s appropriations bill comes to the House floor.

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

NASA Scientist, Religious Leaders Arrested in Tar Sands Protest

NASA Scientist, Religious Leaders Arrested in Tar Sands Protest

NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen was arrested today in front of the White House where he was demonstrating in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that would bring thick crude oil from Alberta to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. Dr. Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and is a climate research scientist at the Earth Institute, Columbia University.

Arrests are continuing at the White House, where about 140 people gathered on the sidewalk as part of a two-week long sit-in to protest TransCanada's proposed 1,700 mile pipeline.

The protest has led to the arrest of 521 people since August 20, when protestors began the Tar Sands Action sit-in at the White House. The protest will continue until September 3.

Because the proposed pipeline would cross the United States-Canada border, a Presidential Permit issued by the U.S. State Department is required for the project to proceed. The protestors are demanding that President Barack Obama decline to issue a permit for the pipeline because of the environmental damage it would cause.

"If the pipeline is to be built, you as president have to declare that it is 'in the national interest," wrote Dr. Hansen in an August 3 letter to President Obama along with 19 other scientists. "As scientists, speaking for ourselves and not for any of our institutions, we can say categorically that it's not only not in the national interest, it's also not in the planet's best interest."

Today, 60 religious leaders of many faiths were among the crowd, which also included CREDO Mobile president Michael Kieschnick, Greenpeace Director Phil Radford and Executive Director May Boeve.

"Climate change hurts the poor first," said Rose Berger, a Roman Catholic and lead Sojourners organizer for Tar Sands Action. "The tar sands development and the permitting the Keystone XL pipeline will worsen climate change and should be stopped."

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation said, "We must turn up the heat in a sustained effort against the scourge of climate change, which harms not just our land and water but people here and now, our human future and all earthly Creation."

"The stand against tar sand oil is basically about protecting God's creation and God's people," said United Church of Christ minister Rev. Mari Castellanos. "The process of extraction destroys the boreal forest and wetlands, leaves behind enormous lakes of toxic waste and causes high levels of greenhouse gas pollution. To engage in peaceful protest against it is sacramental."

In addition, the No Tar Sands Caravan arrived in Washington, DC today after seven days and over 3,300 miles traveled on the journey from California to Washington, DC to protest the Keystone XL pipeline.

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hula girl

Surgeon General: Black Women Jeopardize Health For Sake Of Hair

The United States surgeon general has a new message for American women: It is O.K. to have a bad hair day.

As the country’s leading spokespeople on public health, surgeons general often weigh in on issues of national importance like tobacco and disease prevention. But when the current surgeon general, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, visited a trade show in Atlanta this month, it was to talk about what has become something of a pet cause: Too many women forgoing exercise because they’re worried it will ruin their hair.
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Shirley Animated

Judge strikes down key portions of Texas abortion bill

AUSTIN, Texas -- A federal judge on Tuesday struck down key provision of Texas' new law requiring a doctor to perform a sonogram before an abortion, ruling that the measure violates the free speech rights of both doctors and patients.

The law – one of dozens of anti-abortion measures that advanced through state capitals across the United States this year – was set to take effect Thursday.

A New York-based reproductive rights group had sued to block the law.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said in his ruling that requiring a doctor to show women images from the sonogram and the sounds of the fetal heartbeat violates the First Amendment rights of doctors.

The ruling also struck down a requirement that allows women to avoid seeing the sonogram images only if they sign a statement that they are pregnant because of sexual assault or incest. The state cannot compel a woman to disclose such private information that she may not even wish to tell police, Sparks ruled.

Sparks ruled such disclosure is an attempt by the state to "permanently brand women who choose to get an abortion."


Holy shit, I didn't even know about that last bit. Horrifying. Glad it got struck down.
shock-me-gray, bored, apathy

This Day in History: Aug 30, 1967 Thurgood Marshall confirmed as Supreme Court justice

On this day in 1967, Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. He would remain on the Supreme Court for 24 years before retiring for health reasons, leaving a legacy of upholding the rights of the individual as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

From a young age, Marshall seemed destined for a place in the American justice system. His parents instilled in him an appreciation for the Constitution, a feeling that was reinforced by his schoolteachers, who forced him to read the document as punishment for his misbehavior. After graduating from Lincoln University in 1930, Marshall sought admission to the University of Maryland School of Law, but was turned away because of the school's segregation policy, which effectively forbade blacks from studying with whites. Instead, Marshall attended Howard University Law School, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1933. (Marshall later successfully sued Maryland School of Law for their unfair admissions policy.)

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-caffeine hit

Melbourne ranked the world's most liveable city as other cities lose points in survey

MELBOURNE is officially the world's most liveable city, thanks to various world crises making other cities less attractive.

Bumping Vancouver off the top spot for the first time in nearly ten years, Melbourne took out the honour in the Economist Intelligence Unit's latest survey, with Sydney (sixth), Perth and Adelaide (tied eighth) also making it into the top 10.

The Canadian city slipped to third spot behind Vienna, losing points in its infrastructure score.

In a tumultuous year for the planet, several places lost liveability points, leaving it wide open for the relatively unscathed Australian cities, Economist Intelligence Unit survey editor Jon Copestake said.

"Australia, with a low population density and relatively low crime rates, continues to supply some of the world's most liveable cities," Mr Copestake said.

"Despite the rising cost of living driven by the strong Australian dollar, these cities offer a range of factors to make them highly attractive."

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It's fairly short, so no bolding.