Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Go . . . .

Check out pale.

A picture really is worth a thousand words . . . .

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Out of Context" My A_s . . . .

So, according to the AP, Janet Napolitano is claiming her words on Sunday's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" regarding the airport security screening system were "taken out of context." Huh.

Here's the Secretary of Homeland (In)Security on the "Today Show" this morning:

And here on "Morning Joe":

Well, Gang. Here's the transcript:

(Georgie was off this week, so there was actually a decent reporter handling the show - Jake Tapper.)


TAPPER: I want to get your reaction to a comment from the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who said in a statement: "I am troubled by several aspects of this case, including how the suspect escaped the attention of the State Department and law enforcers when his father apparently reported concerns about his son's extremist behavior to the U.S. embassy in Lagos, how the suspect managed to retain a U.S. visa after such complaints, and why he was not recognized as someone who reportedly was named in the terrorist database."

Madam Secretary, how do you answer Senator Lieberman's questions?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think, first of all, we are investigating, as always, going backwards to see what happened and when, who knew what and when. But here -- I think it's important for the public to know, there are different types of databases.

And there were simply, throughout the law enforcement community, never information that would put this individual on a no-fly list or a selectee list. So that's number one.

Number two, I think the important thing to recognize here is that once this incident occurred, everything happened that should have. The passengers reacted correctly, the crew reacted correctly, within an hour to 90 minutes, all 128 flights in the air had been notified. And those flights already had taken mitigation measures on the off-chance that there was somebody else also flying with some sort of destructive intent.

So the system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you a question about intelligence-sharing. When the suspect's father went to the U.S. embassy in Nigeria and said, I'm worried because my son is displaying extremist religious views, how was that information shared with other parts of the U.S. government, or did it just stay at that U.S. embassy?

NAPOLITANO: Well, again, we are going to go back and really do a minute-by-minute, day-by-day scrub of that sort of thing. But when he presented himself to fly, he was on a tide (ph) list. What a tide list simply says is, his name had come up somewhere somehow.

But the no-fly and selectee list require that there be specific, what we call, derogatory information. And that was not available throughout the law enforcement community. He went through
screening in Amsterdam as he prepared to board a flight to the United States.

The authorities in Amsterdam are working with us to make sure that screening was properly done. We have no suggestion that it wasn't, but we're actually going through -- going backwards, tracing his route.

But I think important for the traveling public recognize that A, everybody reacted as they should. We trained for this. We planned for this. We exercised for this sort of event should it occur.

And B, we have instituted additional screening in what we call mitigation measures that will be continuing for a while. And so we ask people perhaps to show up a little bit earlier at the airport during this heavy holiday season, and to recognize we're going to be doing different things at different airports.

So don't think somebody at TSA is not on the job if they're not doing exactly at one airport what you saw at another. There will be different things done in different places.

TAPPER: But, Secretary Napolitano, you keep saying everybody acted the way they were supposed to. Clearly the passengers and the crew of that Northwest Airlines flight did.

But I think there are questions about whether everybody in the U.S. government did.
And here's a question for you, how many of -- so many of us are subject to random security searches all the time, how come somebody who is not on a terrorist database isn't subject to more stringent security when they check in to a flight to the U.S.? Why does that automatically just happen?

NAPOLITANO: Well, if he had had specific information that would have put him on the selectee list or indeed on the no-fly list, he would not have actually gotten on a plane.

But those numbers pyramid down. And they need to, because again, there is lots of information that flies about this world on a lot of different people. And what we have to do in law enforcement is not only collect and share, but do it in the proper way.

Now once this incident occurred, everything went according to clockwork. Not only sharing throughout the air industry, but also sharing with state and local law enforcement, products were going out on Christmas Day, they went out yesterday, and also to the industry to make sure that the traveling public remains safe.

And I would leave you with that message, the traveling public is safe. We have instituted some additional screening and security measures in light of this incident. But again, everybody reacted as they should, the system -- once the incident occurred, the system worked.
As FoxNoise would say: "We report. You decide." Out of context or not?

(As a sidenote, does anyone else abhor the idea of joe LIE-berman having yet another excuse to have his Droopy Dawg mug in front of a camera? Gag, choke, gasping for fresh air . . . . )

Watch those "revisions," Janet. Might make it a bit difficult opening doors, using a tissue, applying makeup, etc.

Man, this "hope" and "change" stuff is workin' out just great, isn't it ? ? ? ?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Need a Job? Here 'Ya Go . . . .

Times are tough all over, and folks are in need of gainful employment.

How 'bout a job with lots of pluses?:

Travel opportunities;

Paid benefits;

Stress reduction techniques;

Multiple skill categories.

What more could you ask for?

Well, maybe not having to support the military-industrial-congressional complex for one thing . . . .

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quite an Indictment . . . .

A friend vacationing in Paris - France, that is - sent me this link he found while surfing the "InterTubes."

The Huffington Post contributor, Drew Westen, is a professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at a university just down the road from where I lived for many years. It appears he has hit the proverbial nail on the head describing my - and a lot of others, no doubt - feelings toward President Obama and his administration. It's long, probably 4,000 words, but the content is worth the read and analysis. One caveat, though: The author made the same
mistake Howard Dean and Joe Scarborough made in referencing the insurance industry's "52-year high" on Friday. Obviously, the reference should have been to a "52-week high." That said, here are a few excerpts:

Leadership, Obama Style, and the Looming Losses in 2010: Pretty Speeches, Compromised Values, and the Quest for the Lowest Common Denominator

Drew Westen | Psychologist and neuroscientist; Emory University Professor
Posted: December 20, 2009 09:34 PM


Somehow the president has managed to turn a base of new and progressive voters he himself energized like no one else could in 2008 into the likely stay-at-home voters of 2010, souring an entire generation of young people to the political process. It isn't hard for them to see that the winners seem to be the same no matter who the voters select (Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma, the insurance industry).


What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting.


Consider the president's leadership style, which has now become clear: deliver a moving speech, move on, and when push comes to shove, leave it to others to decide what to do if there's a conflict, because if there's a conflict, he doesn't want to be anywhere near it.


Like most Americans I talk to, when I see the president on television, I now change the channel the same way I did with Bush. With Bush, I couldn't stand his speeches because I knew he meant what he said. I knew he was going to follow through with one ignorant, dangerous, or misguided policy after another. With Obama, I can't
stand them because I realize he doesn't mean what he says -- or if he does, he just doesn't have the fire in his belly to follow through. He can't seem to muster the passion to fight for any of what he believes in, whatever that is. He'd make a great queen -- his ceremonial addresses are magnificent -- but he prefers to fly Air Force One at 60,000 feet and "stay above the fray."


Gays? Virtually all Americans are for repealing don't ask/don't tell (except for conservatives who haven't yet come to terms with their own homosexuality -- but don't tell them that, or at least don't ask). This one's a no-brainer. Tell Congress you want a bill on your desk by January 1, and announce that you have serious questions about the constitutionality of the current policy and won't enforce it until your Justice Department has had time to study it. Don't keep firing gay Arabic interpreters. But that would require not just giving the pretty speech on how we're all equal in the eyes of God and we should all be equal in the eyes of the law (a phrase he might want to try sometime). It would require actually doing something that might anger a small percentage of the population on the right, and that's just too hard for this president to do. It's one thing to acknowledge and respect the positions of people who hold different points of view. It's another to capitulate to them.


Am I being too hard on the president? He's certainly done many good things. But it would be hard to name a single thing President Obama has done domestically that any other Democrat wouldn't have done if he or she were president following George W. Bush (e.g., signing the children's health insurance bill that Congress is about to gut to pay for worse care for kids under the health insurance exchange, if it ever happens), and there's a lot he hasn't done that every other Democrat who ran for president would have done.

Obama, like so many Democrats in Congress, has fallen prey to the conventional Democratic strategic wisdom: that the way to win the center is to tack to the center.

There's lots more here, and Professor Westen makes a good case.

My biggest disappointment is it appears the huge numbers of youthful voters Obama was successful in bringing into the political process will probably be turned off for years, if not decades.

That does not bode well for any "hope" or "change" . . . .


UPDATE: Naomi Klein weighs in . . . .

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hollow "Victory," Mr. President . . . .

Check out Matt Taibbi and Robert Kuttner on Bill Moyers Journal Friday night.

They explain the clusterf_ck in Washington for what it is: a sell-out to Corporate America. What a surprise, eh?

It's about 30 minutes, but well worth it. The dems and the "o-team" need to pay attention. S'pecially the comments regarding rahm.

I knew that guy was gonna be trouble, and guess what ? ? ? ?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Payback's . . . .

a bitch, ain't it, joe ? ? ? ?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bullsh_t . . . .

For lack of a better term, the post title says it all.

The Toronto Star reports from Copenhagen:

U.S. cuts deal with dairy farmers to lower methane gas emission

December 16, 2009 COPENHAGEN – The United States is counting on cows to help save the planet.

U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an agreement with the American dairy industry Tuesday to reduce the industry's greenhouse gas emissions 25 per cent by 2020, mostly by convincing farmers to capture the methane from cow manure that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere. The plan requires more farmers to buy an anaerobic digester, which essentially converts cow manure into electricity.

"This historic agreement, the first of its kind, will help us achieve the ambitious goal of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions while benefiting farmers," Vilsack said at the U.N. climate talks. "(The) use of manure technology is a win for everyone."

Leave it to a government official to spread the sh_t around and make it smell like roses . . . .

I'm With Howard . . . .

"This bill, I think, is more likely to make the crisis worse"


"Joe loves the attention and to make Joe the issue I think is a mistake"

Truer words were never spoken . . . .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Big Surprise. Not . . . .

Huffpo reports:

Rahm Emanuel Personally Pressed Reid To Cut Deal With Lieberman: Sources

Updated: 12-14-09 07:24 PM

Rahm Emanuel visited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his Capitol office on Sunday evening and personally urged him to cut a deal with recalcitrant Sen. Joe Lieberman, two Democratic sources familiar with the situation told the Huffington Post.

Emanuel, President Obama's chief of staff, has long been identified as leading a faction of White House advisers who have been pushing the Senate simply to pass any health care bill, no matter how weak.

His direct message to Reid (D-Nev.), according to a source close to the negotiations: "Get it done. Just get it done."

Politico reported Monday morning that the White House had pressed Reid to cut the deal after Lieberman (I-Conn) insisted the Senate drop a provision, which Lieberman himself has long favored, to allow those 55-64 to buy in to Medicare. Lieberman is threatening to join a Republican filibuster of the bill if the provision isn't dropped.

The White House denied the report. "The report is inaccurate. The White House is not pushing Senator Reid in any direction. We are working hand in hand with the Senate Leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible," White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer wrote in an e-mail to the Plum Line.

The report, however, according to the two sources, was entirely accurate. "We're long past time for these kinds of games," one source said.

It would be easy to put all the blame for this on the sleaze-bag emanuel, but remember who hired his a_s.

No bill would be a better than the watered-down version they're heading toward. All they have now is a forced payment to insurance companies with nothing in return.

$$$ win over people once again . . . .

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

You Go, Rachel . . . .

Check out the definition of "journalist" in Webster's.

Surely there's a picture of Rachel Maddow in the listing.

Watch her destroy this "cure the gay right out of you" charlatan:

Looks like we won that round . . . .

Believing in Change Yet ? ? ? ?

Matt Taibbi on business as usual in DC and on Wall Street:

Wall Street = 1, Main Street = 0 . . . .

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Protecting "Traditional" Marriage . . . .

Let's put this whole gay marriage thing to bed (so to speak).

"You're not dead yet."

That oughta do it . . . .

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Smoke 'Em if You've Got 'Em . . . .

Quite the interesting contraption, would you not agree?

Used extensively in Ottawa, Victoria and Washington, DC.

(Click to enlarge)
Gives a whole new meaning to "Let's go outside and light up a butt," eh ? ? ? ?

H/T "drf"

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tales from our Former 'Hood . . . .

More vindication of our decision to vacate our former Florida locale for a somewhat more civilized Vancouver, BC, Canada:

Police: Burglar showers, tells residents ‘Obama let him in'

November 28, 2009

_________ - A man accused of breaking into a ________ home and taking a shower reportedly told residents who showed up “President Obama let him in” the house.

According to a ________ Police Department report, St. Petersbug resident Donald Leon May, 48, entered a home in the 400 block of East Railroad Avenue Nov. 18 through an unlocked back door and took a shower.

While in the shower, two juvenile children who lived at the house entered with a friend. Thinking their dad was home, one of the children entered the bathroom and “saw a male in the shower who was not his father,” the report states.

“The male in the shower stated ‘Obama let him in’” and told the boy to “get out,” the report continues.

The children ran to a neighbor’s house and called police. When they arrived May was still in the house with nothing on but a “towel wrapped around his lower body,” the report states.

May declined to comment when interrogated by police other than to say, “The Yellow Brick Road brought him to __________,” according to the report.

Three days before the incident, May was arrested for trespassing and failure to leave the premises at another property.

He was released from the ___________ County Jail on the trespassing charge two hours before his Nov. 18 arrrest.

May is is charged with felony burglary to an occupied dwelling and petty theft.

Looks like he may have been the Scarecrow without a brain on that Yellow Brick Road.

Counting the ways we are fortunate to have escaped.

Counting the ways . . . .

H/T "drf"

Dying to Look Sexy . . . .

It's amazing to me how vanity can take over one's life - and death, apparently.

Today's Toronto Star reports:

Beauty queen dies for 'firmer behind'

December 01, 2009

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina–
A 38-year-old former Miss Argentina has died from complications after undergoing cosmetic surgery on her buttocks.

Solange Magnano, a mother of twins who won the crown in 1994, died of a pulmonary embolism Sunday after three days in critical condition following a gluteoplasty in Buenos Aires.


Fashion designer and friend Roberto Piazza said the procedure also involved injections, and the liquid "went to her lungs and brain."

"A woman who had everything lost her life to have a slightly firmer behind," he said.


Juan Carlos Seiler, former president of the Buenos Aires Association of plastic surgeons, told the Times of London that the doctor who performed the procedure might not have been "a real professional."

Firm butt and dead.

How's that for a trade-off ? ? ? ?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Blue Black Friday . . . .

I don't want to be Scrooge here (well, maybe I do) but personally, I think this is a positive development. People just don't need all the crap they buy!

Per Reuters this afternoon:

Shoppers spent less over Black Friday weekend
Sun Nov 29, 2009 4:53pm EST | By Nicole Maestri

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Consumers spent significantly less at the start of the holiday season this weekend, dimming hopes for a retail comeback that would help propel the economy early in 2010.

While shoppers turned out in force as early as Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, many said they had zeroed in on highly discounted items, would buy only what they needed and would walk out of a store if they did not find a good deal.


Consumers said they will have spent nearly 8 percent less on average, or about $343 per person, over the weekend that includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday and runs through Sunday, according to the NRF.


Shoppers interviewed across the country by Reuters over the weekend said they were lured by bargains, but would stick to pared-down budgets.

"If they don't have rebates and sales before Christmas, I don't think people are going to go back shopping after Black Friday," said Joel Wincowski, a higher education consultant shopping at a Best Buy store in Plattsburgh, New York. He bought an Xbox 360 game console for $299.

"We're going to cut back on everybody, even the kids."

As "drf" has advocated for years:

"Simplify your life" . . . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Chris and Stephen Show . . . .

Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry fire shots across the bow at the catholic church.

These are two clips from the BBC's Intelligence Squared presentation of "The catholic church is a Force for Good." Hitchens is up first followed by Ann Widdecombe - a recent convert to catholocism - and Fry finishes up.

bennie and the jerks: 0

Our side: 1 . . . .


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cougar, Hell . . . .

Tuesday humour . . . .

H/T "The Olde Goat"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Be Careful What You Ask For . . . .

It appears members of the GLBT community in Texas will be enjoying a bit of schadenfreude in the near future.

You're gonna love this one, gang, via McClatchy today:

Texas' gay marriage ban may have banned all marriages
Dave Montgomery | Fort Worth Star-Telegram
| November 18, 2009

AUSTIN — Texans: Are you really married?

Maybe not.

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state.

The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. But Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively "eliminates marriage in Texas," including common-law marriages.

She calls it a "massive mistake" and blames the current attorney general, Republican Greg Abbott, for allowing the language to become part of the Texas Constitution. Radnofsky called on Abbott to acknowledge the wording as an error and consider an apology. She also said that another constitutional amendment may be necessary to reverse the problem.


Radnofsky, the Democratic nominee in the Senate race against Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2006, said she voted against the amendment but didn’t realize the legal implications until she began poring over the Texas Constitution to prepare for the attorney general’s race. She said she holds Abbott and his office responsible for not catching an "error of massive proportions."

"Whoever vetted the language in B must have been asleep at the wheel," she said.

Was I right?

Do you love it?

Thought you would . . . .

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Help! It's Here Now ! ! ! !

If you think the influence of the US christian right "wrong" is creeping north across the 49th, there's now proof.

On a trip to the US southland last summer I was not surprised to see this ad on television down there. Unfortunately, it is now here.

Two, count 'em two ads for the item within the past hour on "ahem," "choke," "gasp" CTV.

It appears harper is winning, ya'll . . . .

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Joya to the World . . . .

Since my friend was singing in the pre-show choir for Malalai Joya's Vancouver book tour kick-off, I walked up the hill to her performance this evening.

I had previously heard Ms. Joya on a PBS program in the US, but to hear her story live in person was very moving. It is something I would recommend to anyone that has the opportunity to attend one of her appearances on this tour.

Be advised that neither bush, harper nor obama are positively portrayed. The woman knows where the real element of change for her country lies: Within it's people.

In response to a question from and Afghani-Canadian woman in the audience:

"What will happen to Afghanistan if all the foreign troops leave?"
"The Afghani people will work it out. Slowly, they will begin to see that democracy and equal rights for all people, genders, religions is the thing to do. It won't be easy. It won't be fast. But it will happen. Having foreign troops there only more firmly entrenches the Taliban and the war lords in power. Make them leave, and the situation will slowly begin to change."

I'm thinking the military/industrial/congressional complex would not like her answer . . . .

The Lady Alison has the details of the tour . . . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gay Eternity . . . .

The Guardian UK today reveals:

Censored gay sex scenes in From Here to Eternity revealed

Daughter of author James Jones discloses details of cuts insisted upon by the novel's original publisher

* Alison Flood | *, Friday 13 November 2009

It is one of the most
celebrated images in cinema, an icon of heterosexual romance: Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kissing as the waves crash over them in the 1953 film From Here to Eternity. But behind the Hollywood gloss is a tale of censorship and repression, with the author of the award-winning novel on which the film was based forced to remove scenes of gay sex from the manuscript before publication.

Kaylie Jones, a novelist in her own right, says her father, James Jones, was told by his publisher Scribner to eliminate both expletives and homosexual scenes in From Here to Eternity, which was based on his own experiences in Hawaii in the army on the eve of the Pearl Harbour bombing.

The original manuscript of From Here to Eternity went into "great detail" about the kinds of sexual favours soldiers like Private Angelo Maggio, played in the film by Frank Sinatra, would provide to rich gay men for money, Kaylie Jones revealed in an article written for US news website the Daily Beast.

"'I don't like to be blowed [by a man]'," the novel's hero Private Robert E Lee Prewitt tells Maggio in a section cut from the novel. "Angelo shrugged," writes James Jones. "'Oh, all right. I admit it's nothing like a woman. But it's something. Besides, old Hal treats me swell. He's always good for a touch when I'm broke. Five bucks. Ten bucks. Comes in handy the middle of the month ... Only reason I let Hal blow me is because I got a good thing there. If I turned him down I'd blow it sky high. And I want to hang onto that income, buddy.'"


James Jones, she wrote, "believed that homosexuality was as old as mankind itself, and that Achilles, the bravest and most venerated fighter ever described, was gay, and to take a younger lover under your wing was a common practice among the soldiers of the time". "He also believed also that homosexuality was a natural condition of men in close quarters, and that it in no way affected a soldier's capabilities on the battlefield. What would have amazed him is that the discussion still continues to this day, cloaked in the same hypocrisy and silence as it was 60 years ago," she wrote. The US military's current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy allows gay men and lesbians to serve only if they keep quiet about their sexuality. President Obama has previously announced his intention to revoke the rule, but for the moment it remains in force.

It's time for Eternity to be Here, Mr. President.

Let the women and men in the US military "ask" and "tell" . . . .

H/T Penelope ;-)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Grannies Flee to Canada . . . .

As published today at The Borowitz Report:

Fox News Reports: Millions of Grannies Flee U.S. as Death Panels Loom

Glenn Beck: "Run For Your Lives"

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)
- With the establishment of government-mandated death panels just days away, grandmothers began fleeing the United States in record numbers today, reports Fox News.

"I am never one to yell ‘Fire' in a crowded theater," said Fox News host Glenn Beck. "But run for your lives!"

Across the country, slow-moving caravans of 1980s-era Cadillacs with turn signals blinking were making the torturous journey to the Canadian border, their back seats laden with cats, knitting projects, and bottles of Ensure.

Fox News may have set off the mass exodus by warning grannies that if they did not flee quickly enough they would face government-mandated organ harvesting.

Elsewhere, anti-healthcare protesters objected to the language of the House bill, saying there were too many polysyllabic words.

Be afraid.

Be very afraid . . . .

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Quarrelling Queens . . . .

Today's Toronto Star has the in-depth account of beauty queens in Great Britain duking it out:

Beauty queen busted for bar brawl with rival
November 07, 2009
| Toronto Star

You might expect pageant queens to demonstrate their talent, beauty and poise, but Miss England has added fisticuffs to her resumé. Rachel Christie, 21, has relinquished her crown after being arrested on suspicion of punching Miss Manchester, 24-year-old Sara Beverly Jones, at a nightclub.


The dispute arose when the two beauty queens encountered each other at a bar on Monday.

The BBC reported Jones was allegedly punched in the face after an argument said to be about a TV personality from the Gladiators program, which airs in the U.K.

It is believed that Jones is an ex-girlfriend of TV gladiator Tornado, whose real name is David McIntosh.

Christie, McIntosh's current girlfriend, has been released on bail until January 2010.

Someone might want to throw that gladiator into the lion's den . . . .

Thursday, November 05, 2009

2 Years . . . .

Two years ago today Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Services issued our Permanent Resident visas.

Wow, sure doesn't seem like it's been that long. After the two-year wait to get the visas, we were pretty damn excited when they finally came in.

"Yay" for us and for Canada!

We're glad to be here . . . .

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Cross Out in Italy . . . .

Today's BBC notes the Italians are a bit miffed at the European Court of Human Rights:

Italy school crucifixes 'barred'
BBC News |
Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against the use of crucifixes in classrooms in Italy.

It said the practice violated the right of parents to educate their children as they saw fit, and ran counter to the child's right to freedom of religion.

The case was brought by an Italian mother, Soile Lautsi, who wants to give her children a secular education.

The Vatican said it was shocked by the ruling, calling it "wrong and myopic" to exclude the crucifix from education.

The ruling has sparked anger in the largely Catholic country, with one politician calling the move "shameful".

The Strasbourg court found that: "The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities... restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions."

It also restricted the "right of children to believe or not to believe", the seven judges ruling on the case said in a statement quoted by AFP news agency


Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi said the European court had no right intervening in such a profoundly Italian matter, the Associated Press reported.

"It seems as if the court wanted to ignore the role of Christianity in forming Europe's identity, which was and remains essential."

He told Italian TV: "The crucifix has always been a sign of God's love, unity and hospitality to all humanity.

"It is unpleasant that it is considered a sign of division, exclusion or a restriction of freedom."


The government says it will appeal against the decision.

Well, at least little Jewish and Muslim kiddies won't have to stare at "the sign of God's love, unity and hospitality" represented by a guy dying nailed to a couple of boards all day.

Good grief . . . .

H/T Penny

Good Move, Guys . . . .

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Banking Bast_rds . . . .

McClatchy has released the first report on their five-month investigation into Goldman Sachs' activities during the lead up to the financial fiasco.

You will be amazed to find out that the politically well-connected investment firm has not been exactly squeaky-clean in their activities.

Or maybe not.

How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash
Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers

November 01, 2009 01:37:11 AM

WASHINGTON — In 2006 and 2007, Goldman Sachs Group peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages, but never told the buyers it was secretly betting that a sharp drop in U.S. housing prices would send the value of those securities plummeting.

Goldman's sales and its clandestine wagers, completed at the brink of the housing market meltdown, enabled the nation's premier investment bank to pass most of its potential losses to others before a flood of mortgage defaults staggered the U.S. and global economies. Only later did investors discover that what Goldman had promoted as triple-A rated investments were closer to junk.


McClatchy's inquiry found that Goldman Sachs:

* Bought and converted into high-yield bonds tens of thousands of mortgages from subprime lenders that became the subjects of FBI investigations into whether they'd misled borrowers or exaggerated applicants' incomes to justify making hefty loans.

* Used offshore tax havens to shuffle its mortgage-backed securities to institutions worldwide, including European and Asian banks, often in secret deals run through the Cayman Islands, a British territory in the Caribbean that companies use to bypass U.S. disclosure requirements.

* Has dispatched lawyers across the country to repossess homes from bankrupt or financially struggling individuals, many of whom lacked sufficient credit or income but got subprime mortgages anyway because Wall Street made it easy for them to qualify.

* Was buoyed last fall by key federal bailout decisions, at least two of which involved then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a former Goldman chief executive whose staff at Treasury included several other Goldman alumni.

The firm benefited when Paulson elected not to save rival Lehman Brothers from collapse, and when he organized a massive rescue of tottering global insurer American International Group while in constant telephone contact with Goldman chief Blankfein. With the Federal Reserve Board's blessing, AIG later used $12.9 billion in taxpayers' dollars to pay off every penny it owed Goldman.

Read the whole article and watch your blood pressure rise while you think about how many Goldman alumni have been and still are in very powerful positions in Washington.

Sleep well . . . .

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Citizen Hero Recognized . . . .

: CBC's The Current audio here. (Paul Pritchard, 1st segment)

The citizen hero who filmed Robert Dzianski's violent death was properly recognized for his responsible and commendable actions.

Per the CBC today:

Man who shot Dziekanski video gets journalism award
By CBC News |
October 28, 2009

The man who used a digital camera to record the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport says he feels guilty he didn't try to help the Polish immigrant even though others honoured his actions Tuesday with a citizen-journalism award.

The man who used a digital camera to record the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport says he feels guilty he didn't try to help the Polish immigrant even though others honoured his actions Tuesday with a citizen-journalism award.

Dziekanski, 40, died Oct. 14, 2007, following several shocks from a Taser four RCMP officers used to subdue him after he caused a disturbance.

The incident might never have received much attention if Paul Pritchard had not decided to grab his digital camera and start recording the actions of the distraught Dziekanski before police arrived.


After the incident, Pritchard, who was on his way
to his family's home in Victoria and had been waiting in the international arrivals lounge at the time, handed his video over to the RCMP to use in their investigation. The police promised it would be returned in 48 hours.

But when the RCMP's public statements about the incident conflicted with what Pritchard and other witnesses said they saw, Pritchard demanded the RCMP return the video so that he could release it to the public.

When the police refused, saying releasing the video would compromise their investigation, Pritchard hired a lawyer, held a news conference and threatened to use legal action to get it back.

e release of the 10-minute video, which contradicted the police version of the incident, led to widespread public outrage around the world and diplomatic tensions between Canada and Poland. It also resulted in the deepest scrutiny of the RCMP in decades in the form of a special inquiry into the incident, led by retired British Columbia Appeal Court Justice Thomas R. Braidwood.

Citizen journalism award

On Tuesday evening in Toronto, Pritchard's work in documenting what happened and waging a legal battle against the RCMP for the release of his video was honoured by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

The organization gave Pritchard its first-ever award for citizen journalism, which recognizes the contributions of ordinary people in the field of journalism.


"I don't consider myself a hero, and to be honest, I'm not completely happy with the fact that I did that," said Pritchard. "Maybe instead of grabbing a camera, I could have gone and talked to him.

"If I feel I did something wrong, or feel I didn't do enough, I think the effort I put in afterwards is enough for me to live with that ? I did everything I possibly could do."

Personally, I consider Paul a hero for what he did.

Without his responsible actions, the whole affair would have been swept under the proverbial rug . . . .

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bedpans or Bombs? Decisions, Decisions . . . .


With savings like this nearly 20 more wars could be funded.

Maybe a debate between Big Pharma/Big Insurance and the Military/Industrial Complex is in order.

Let the campaign donations begin . . . .

Inching Forward ? ? ? ?

At least Harry Reid hasn't erected a road block to a public option.

Per Newsweek this afternoon:

Reid's Public Option: Not Exactly A Shoo-in

Monday, October 26, 2009 4:15 PM

By Katie Connolly

It wasn't long ago when pundits were calling time of death on the public option. But today, in a move that seemed almost inconceivable back in August, Harry Reid has announced that the bill he plans to take to the Senate floor will contain a public option. His version will be an "opt-out" public plan, which allows states to prevent their residents from participating it. It's not a version that entirely satsifies progressives, who'd be happier with a robust, openly accessible plan. But it's a far cry from Max Baucus's plan, which relied on co-ops rather than a public plan to induce the competition President Obama so desires.

It's unclear why Reid decided on this model, over an opt-in model or a trigger, for example. It probably has something to do with pressure from the likes of Chuck Schumer, and assurances from folks like Jay Rockerfeller that liberals would support him. Reid also said at his press conference this afternoon that he has the backing of the White House, quashing rumors (for now....) that the Administration prefers a trigger option. But there are a few key people who don't appear to support the idea. First and foremost, Olympia Snowe, who's had almost unparalleled influence of the Senate bill so far. Without her, Reid needs every single one of his 60 votes and it's far from certain that Blanche Lincoln or Ben Nelson would support it.

You can watch Reid's presser here.

Now let's see if the White House and the rest of the dems step up to the plate and push for it.

Jury's still out on both at this point . . . .

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Hope and Change." Right . . . .

Stuff like this is really pissing me off.

From The Huffington Post yesterday:

Leaderless: Senate Pushes For Public Option Without Obama's Support
HuffPost | 10-24-09

President Barack Obama is actively discouraging Senate Democrats in their effort to include a public insurance option with a state opt-out clause as part of health care reform. In its place, say multiple Democratic sources, Obama has indicated a preference for an alternative policy, favored by the insurance industry, which would see a public plan "triggered" into effect in the future by a failure of the industry to meet certain benchmarks.

The administration retreat runs counter to the letter and the spirit of Obama's presidential campaign. The man who ran on the "Audacity of Hope" has now taken a more conservative stand than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), leaving progressives with a mix of confusion and outrage. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have battled conservatives in their own party in an effort to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Now tantalizingly close, they are calling for Obama to step up.


On Thursday evening, after taking the temperature of his caucus, Reid told Obama at a White House meeting that he was pushing a national public option with an opt-out provision. Obama, several sources briefed on the exchange, reacted coolly.

"He certainly didn't embrace it and he seemed to indicate a preference for continuing to work on a strategy that involved Senator Snowe and a trigger," said one aide briefed on the meeting. Several other sources, along with independent media reports, confirmed the exchange.


It is not philosophical, one White House aide explained, but is a matter of political practicality. If the votes were there to pass a robust public option through the Senate, the president would be leading the charge, the aide said. But after six months of concern that it would be filibustered, the bet among Obama's aides is that Reid is now simply being too optimistic in his whip count. The trigger proposal, said Democratic aides, has long been associated with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.


Advocates of a public option largely consider a "trigger" the equivalent of no public option at all . . . . "The current state of our health system should be trigger enough for anyone who's paying attention," said a congressional aide in the middle of the health care battle. "The American people pulled the 'trigger' in November."

If Obama is going to renege on promises he made in his campaign, what exactly is the "change" he advocated? Change of party, yes, but no substantial change of policies as of yet.

He's the president, fer krissakes! Should he not be the one making the decisions and not his chief of staff?!? Listening to rahm emanuel and "Queen Olympia" is not what the USian voters wanted when they elected the man president. A strong public option in health care legislation should be the minimum he demands his party's Congress do. It's the least he can do since he took the only real reform of Single Payer off the table as soon as he got the office.

If you still vote in the US you might want to contact the White House with your thoughts. Apparently, people in the administration are becoming as much or more a barrier to reform than is Congress. You can email them here:

It may be time to change the slogan from "Hope and Change" to "Despair and M.O.T.S.*" . . . .

* More of the Same

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Climate Action on Cambie Bridge . . . .

Vancouver turned out in force for climate action today.

Yours truly was there with thousands of others.

We looked for you, Lady Alison and RossK - Hope you made it.

Some pics in case you didn't make it:

How embarrassing!
For a moment there I thought I was
in Mississippi or Arkansas . . . .

Let's hope stevie harper is paying attention.

Bets, anyone ? ? ? ?