Sunday, September 25, 2011

Headlines - Sunday September 25

Good news: Radioactive Rice "Far Exceeding" Safe Levels Found in Japan

Inmates facing execution in Texas - which leads the country in state-sanctioned killings - will no longer get their choice of last meal after a state senator complained it was "a privilege the perpetrator did not provide to their victim." The move came after white supremacist Lawrence Brewer ordered a huge meal - two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover's pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts - though he didn't eat any of it. Troy Davis, the same night, declined the offer altogether. Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee,  called the decades-old tradition "ridiculous. This old boy last night, enough is enough. We're fixing to execute the guy and maybe it makes the system feel good about what they're fixing to do. Kind of hypocritical, you reckon?"

"There are a lot more serious abuses that have gone on in terms of lack of due process in Texas. Inmates would much prefer a last lawyer to a last meal," said Richard Dieter of the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.


"On Sept. 20, 2011, a date that will live in infamy, the U.S. armed forces were deliberately and successfully attacked by advocates of the scourge of homosexuality. The elimination of the last vestige of moral restraint on sexual perversion in the U.S. military, commonly known as the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, ushers in a new Orwellian era in which the military leadership of our nation will proclaim the unnatural as natural, the unhealthy as healthy and the immoral as moral. As an Orthodox priest who still loves all of the troops I served as a chaplain for a quarter of a century, I pray that God the Holy Trinity will preserve and protect the U.S. armed forces — especially in this new Dark Age." - Father Alexander Webster, writing for Stars & Stripes.


60 people (and counting) arrested today during the Wall St. protest march up to Union Square. The cops used mace and pepper spray on unarmed protesters. Oh, and helicopters have been buzzing overhead.

Isn't it lovely when the thin veneer of democracy in this country slip off, exposing what's really underneath?



Seven U.S. states have sided with the Department of Justice against the mega-merger of AT&T and T-Mobile.

While I'm not in favor of any huge monopolies, why aren't they going after banks, credit card companies, media empires, etc.?


Is this even legal?

MOBILE, Ala (Reuters) – Starting on Monday, nonviolent offenders in Bay Minette, Alabama, will get to choose whether to serve their sentence in a jail cell or a church pew.

Municipal Judge Bayless E. Biles is launching "Operation Restore Our Community," intended to function not only as a diversion program but also to address jail overcrowding issues in the southwest Alabama community.

Misdemeanor offenders will have the option of attending church every Sunday for a year rather than serve their sentences in jail. Participants must check in with both the police and a clergy member each week, and if they follow the rules can have their case dismissed.

Do we really need to incorporate churches into the prison industrial complex?

If your jails are overcrowded, quit sentencing people to jail time for smoking a joint and save space for the real criminals. Ya' know, the ones who wear suits and carry a Blackberry.

And another thing: in 1997, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons statistics on inmate religious preference showed that prisons are already full of christians: 

Judeo-Christian Total 83.761% (of the 74731 total responses)

Not unexpected as a result. Note that atheists, being a moderate proportion of the USA population (about 8-16%) are disproportionately less in the prison populations (0.21%).

I'd say the far more effective alternative would be to send offenders to Atheist meetings, where they could learn techniques for resisting the criminal behavior that they apparently learned in church. 


"Don't Ask Don't Tell is now over. Gay people can enlist, fight overseas, and then not be able to get married when they get back home." –Jay Leno



h/t Dick - Taibbi: GOP Debaters Get Shit Wrong, Don't Care

538 has an interesting piece on Polifact's ratings of the truth of statements by Republican candidates for President. The net of it is that almost every time Michele Bachmann opens her mouth, she's lying. I'll go out on a limb and argue that Santorum would be just as bad if he ever got a chance to speak, but his sample size is pretty small, as is Huntsman's.

According to Polifact, at least 71% of what Obama says is at least half right, versus 51% for Perry and 64% for Romney.

Another message of this chart is that a big part of Ron Paul's appeal is that he doesn't tell a lot of lies. He comes by his crazy ideas honestly.


Taiwanese animators: GOP primary debate audiences embarrass Republican Party


It sounded unrealistic (and like BP propaganda) when the initial theory was promoted and now it sounds like there's more information on this ongoing problem.

Tar balls washed onto Gulf of Mexico beaches by Tropical Storm Lee earlier this month show that oil left over from last year's BP spill isn't breaking down as quickly as some scientists thought it would, university researchers said Tuesday.

Auburn University experts who studied tar samples at the request of coastal leaders said the latest wave of gooey orbs and chunks appeared relatively fresh, smelled strongly and were hardly changed chemically from the weathered oil that collected on Gulf beaches during the spill.

The study concluded that mats of oil — not weathered tar, which is harder and contains fewer hydrocarbons — are still submerged on the seabed and could pose a long-term risk to coastal ecosystems.


Jurassicpork: We Need a Guilt Project


Republicans lie, cherry pick and distort? You don't say. "House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee have been subpoenaing records from the White House' Office of Management and Budget, and have, it seems, been selectively leaking them to the media. ... For example on September 14th, the non-profit and non-partisan group the Center for Public Integrity published a story with the headline: "Obama administration agreed to Solyndra loan days after insiders foresaw firm's failure," based on "excerpts" of OMB and DOE e-mails that it had obtained from the House Energy & Commerce's Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee. ... The story quoted a DOE official predicting in an e-mail that Solyndra would run out of cash by September 2011, and noted that it was one red flag out of many that the White House should have paid attention to before making the loan guarantee. ... But on Friday, DOE spokesman Damien LaVera sent out a note to reporters saying that the e-mail quote had been: ... selectively pulled from an Aug. 20, 2009 email to make it look like Solyndra would run out of cash by Sept. 2011."


Republicans bash No Child Left Behind, then bash Obama for trying to unravel it.


Bristol Palin gets into bar fight with angry homosexual.


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