Sunday, March 13, 2011

Headlines - Sunday March 13

"Governor Branstad, why is it taking so long for the Republicans to pass the 'Crazy, Give-a-Handgun-to-a-Schizophrenic Bill'?"
This is amazing: The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.
An emotional Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday told international troops to "stop their operations in our land", his strongest remarks yet over mistaken killings of civilians.
4,439 soldiers killed in Iraq; 1,499 in Afghanistan.
Sorry, PETA (and animals): Undercover farm videos may become outlawed
"The Moral Progress of a Nation Can Be Judged by the Way its Animals are Treated."
If you want to help create jobs and correct the problems in this country, don't forget to join the hillbilly protest by pulling over at 4pm tomorrow and honking your horn!
"I have actually asked the Pentagon," said President Obama, "whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms  of Bradley Manning's confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assured me that they are."
Wisconsin firefighters kick ass

Everybody knows the GOP's biggest weakness is money, so why not hit 'em in the sweet spot? That's what many amazing Wisconsin firefighters did yesterday when they collectively began withdrawing their funds from Madison's M&I Bank -- whose executives and board members were among the highest donors to Governor Scott Walker's campaign.

Heeding a call by Firefighters Local 311 President Joe Conway to 'Move your money,' union members withdrew over $100,000 from the bank, with some reports stating that number is as high as $192,000. Either way, it was a hefty enough chunk of change that M&I shut its doors and closed for the day at 3PM.

The amount increased to $600K by the end of the day, btw. Think about what unions can do with their pension funds...

More like this, please.



Our Plutocracy:


Within a year's time, we've had a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a possible nuclear meltdown in Japan. Here's a crazy idea; can we please start taking green energy seriously? Just a thought. Seems like the sort of thinking sane people would start engaging in at about this point.


If you ever wondered whether the right wing is totally heartless digby

... or just mostly heartless,
this clears it up:

For years, Missouri earned the dubious distinction as the nation's "puppy mill capital" because its lax humane regulations and enforcement allowed dog breeders to raise puppies at low costs in terrible, overcrowded conditions. Last fall, Missouri voters approved a referendum to finally solve this problem — the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act — which mandates regular veterinarian inspections of breeding facilities and ensures a basic level of treatment for dogs, such keeping temperatures between 45 and 85 degrees. Tea party groups stridently opposed the referendum, arguing it was "just another example of big government meddling in people's lives." Now, capitalizing on the big gains they made in November, Republicans in the state legislature are poised to repeal the regulations Missouri's voters enacted.

At this point, any pet store or person who buys dogs from Missouri should be boycotted and shunned. They have been notoriously cruel and inhumane for years and now they refuse to be regulated even slightly? Then they should be put out of business entirely.

People who are kind to animals are not necessarily decent people. But people who are cruel to animals definitely are not.


Clean, safe nuclear power.

President Obama Sez:  "Nuclear energy remains our largest source of fuel that produces no carbon emissions. To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we'll need to increase our supply of nuclear power. It's that simple."


Worst Persons

CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow.

After the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan failed to induce a market nosedive, CNBC's Larry Kudlow expressed his relief in terms that seemed to appall even his fellow cheerleaders for capitalism: "The human toll here," he declared, "looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that."

Yeah, good thing no billionaires lost any money today. Boy, that would have been a real tragedy.


April Fools Comes Early Posted by JM Ashby

Good news everyone, the Fed has determined that no wrongful foreclosures have been carried out by U.S. Banks.

Wait, what?

In a recent meeting of the Fed's Consumer Advisory Council, the nation's central bank came under intense criticism by consumer advocates for an upcoming report that's expected to claim that after an investigation, they've determined that no wrongful foreclosures have been carried out by US banks.

Huffington Post reporter Shahien Nasiripour was at the meeting and caught a number of key remarks, namely council members attacking how the Fed's investigators had defined what a wrongful foreclosure is.

According to Nasiripour, they defined it as a foreclosure which happens when a home owner is not significantly behind on payments -- leaving out a litany of other situations and acts that consumer advocates call criminal behavior.

No wrongful foreclosures? The notion is so ridiculous I have trouble even saying it without simultaneously letting out a huge guffaw.

What about foreclosure robo-signers? Accidentally foreclosing on the wrong homes? Breaking into homes and changing the door locks? I could go on forever.


Remember These Faces


Marc Perkel: Letter to the Editor

The government of Michigan today declared and act of treason in passing laws that would allow the governor of Michigan to impose Marshal Law for economic reasons, dismiss city governments, and put corporations in power in place of government. To even pass such a law is to invite civil war. These members of government should be taken into custody by the people and tried for crimes against the Constitution. This act is a call to civil war and it's time for the people of Michigan to rise up and take control of their state.

Marc Perkel: Letter to the Editor

Although I generally side with unions and the right to organize, I have to say that tenure for teachers is an abuse of the system. When I was in the 8th and 9th grade I had an incompetent English teacher who enjoyed abusing students. But the principal said that there was nothing he could do because of tenure. Teachers with tenure can't be fired.

The very idea that some people get a job for life without any kind of accountability is just fundamentally wrong. The teacher stayed in her job till she was 65 and then went on to draw from the system for another 25 years till she finally died at the age of 90. I support the rights of teachers to have unions but I also support the right of students to be protected from teachers who aren't qualified to teach. So I'll support the teachers when the teachers support the students. Tenure must go.


The gaffe heard 'round the world

Michele Bachmann: "What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord."

"What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord. Minnesota's the state that supplied the Tonka Trucks, loaded with Bisquick and Spam, that helped George Washington defeat Benedict Arnold at the Battle of Little Big Horn."


NASA Study Says Ice Caps Melting at a Much Faster Rate [VIDEO]







A physicist says it could be a Chernobyl in the making.


In the end, it's hard to sustain the shock and outrage of the newly fiscally conscious GOP. Not the Tea Party types, especially, but, well Steve Benen gets it just right:

I'd be remiss if I neglected to mention how amusing it is to hear Mitch McConnell express concern about the debt. The Kentucky Republican voted for the Bush tax cuts, and added the costs to the national debt. McConnell then voted to finance the war in Afghanistan by adding the costs to the national debt. He then voted to put the costs of the war in Iraq onto the national debt. McConnell supported a massive expansion of the government's role in health care, Medicare Part D, and voted to pile all of its costs right onto the national debt, and then backed the financial industry bailout, and added the bill to the national debt. All the while, McConnell had no qualms about voting to raise the debt limit.

But now McConnell is willing to risk default unless Democrats agree to a plan to help clean up the mess McConnell helped create. Fascinating.

Fascinating perhaps. Disgusting is how I'd put it.


"[Arianna Huffington] has discovered that if you take celebrity gossip, adorable kitten videos, posts from unpaid bloggers and news reports from other publications, array them on your website and add a left-wing soundtrack, millions of people will come. [Aggregation too often] amounts to taking words written by other people, packaging them on your own website and harvesting revenue that might otherwise be directed to the originators of the material. In Somalia this would be called piracy. In the mediasphere, it is a respected business model," - NYT executive editor Bill Keller.


An estimated 100,000 union supporters turned out yesterday in Madison, Wisconsin to welcome back the Democratic state senators who decamped to Illinois to prevent a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's union busting bill. The day's festivities included a parade of tractors around the state Capitol.


Give the stock boy a raise!


Tomorrow, the Kentucky General Assembly convenes in special session to try to close the gap in the state's budget for Medicaid.

A big part of the discussion will - or should - concentrate on the multi-million-dollar fraud committed by the state's Medicaid contractor.

Actually, the headline in this post is misleading. Privatizing is not at all risky. It is 100 percent guaranteed to waste money. Huge amounts of taxpayers' money.

Massive fraud and waste by private contractors using tax dollars to provide public services that government should be providing is the rule, not the exception.

Not only does privatizing government services NOT save money, it always costs more than having public employees provide the service.

Down with Tyranny:

According to privatization in America is a very risky business... for most of us, if not for the well-placed very rich looking, through political cronyism, to become mega, super-rich.

Since the 1980s, governments from the local to national level have experimented with privatizing public services and assets. The trend has been spurred by the belief that the private sector can achieve efficiencies and cost savings for government budgets. Unfortunately, numerous examples demonstrate that these supposed benefits of privatization are merely myths. Privatization has often moved forward without adequate public deliberation or oversight. Poorly conceived and constructed contracts have resulted in cost increases, as well as diminished service quality, and have failed to protect against corruption, profiteering, and loss of the accountability and openness required of government processes.

Privatization involves turning over previously governmental functions to private entities. It takes two basic forms:

• The government receives money for the purchase or long-term lease of revenue-producing infrastructure, facilities or other assets.

• The government pays a contractor to provide public services.

Many complex variations have evolved, including various forms of public-private partnerships, known as P3s.

Concerned with the loss of democratic accountability and control, many groups and communities are reconsidering privatization. They are working with lawmakers to provide protections against contracts that are against the public interest by promoting fair and responsible contracting standards, and requiring full public deliberation of decisions to sell or lease public assets.

Without proper protections, putting public services and assets in private hands can result in lost accountability and transparency, increased costs for  government and taxpayers and degraded quality.

Other common risks of privatization include: corruption, reduced access, reduced labor standards, lost public capacity for core functions, environmental harm, and human and civil rights violations.

Wisconsin is now in the process of privatizing everything Scott Walker can sell off before he can be recalled by outraged Wisconsinites next January-- including the state's power plants, public parks and Wisconsin's beloved state university system. And Wall Street predators are jumping for joy, unable to contain themselves, over Michigan's quieter, but even more deadly, lurch down the same path Walker is dragging Wisconsin. They're already passed heinous legislation that will enable the state to turn over local government entities to private corporations, and will also enable union contracts to be broken, pension boards to be overturned... a right-wing wet dream. Turning elected government entities over to corporations is the height of anti-democratic privatization. It's a whole new concept in both sharing and redistributing the wealth... it's the Republican way.


"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." --Upton Sinclair "What they [Tea Partiers] believe about economics, if you ask them, is similar to what they say they believe about many other issues: America should return to this country's founding principles, get the overweening government out of the way, etc. It's the familiar classical liberal vision of society. ... But if you ask them what they want in economics, i.e. what outcomes they want to see happen, you get a very different story: they want good jobs with good wages, an industrial base strong enough for us not to be beholden to foreign nations, no more endless accumulation of foreign debt, etc. ... It's 1776 vs. 1956."


Shorter Michele Bachman: "Of course I'm pro-life! But after that cord is cut, you're on your own! I oppose funds for WIC, Medicaid, AIDS prevention and treatment...but leave my farm subsidies a-looooone! Jesus wants me to have that money!"


U.S. issues second post-spill drilling permit in Gulf


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