gop goes medieval on science, tropical highway wallpaper, constitution trumps nullification nonsense

Not exactly new news, An Anti-Science Mania Takes Over GOP

Today, Republicans are falling over themselves in a rush to ridicule the science that shows our use of fossil fuels is producing greenhouse gases that are warming the planet to disastrous levels. These findings were confirmed even by the Bush administration before it left office, as well as by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other significant scientific academy around the world, not to mention the unpaid global work of hundreds of volunteer scientists for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But anti-scientists are undaunted by facts. More than half of the incoming Republican caucus denies the validity of climate change science. Some 74 percent of Republicans in the U.S. Senate now take that stance, as do 53 percent of GOP in the House.

While I care about global warming I also think people tend to reap what they sow. If nothing else making changes in our economy based, working toward a greener future, might be the kind of kick-start the economy needs to recover in regards to full employment. A green tech revolution like the Web 1.0 revolution of the 90s. Failure to accept the rational and empirical will have consequences. As is always the case, those with money will be most able to shield themselves from the consequences, leaving those working class Americans that mindlessly genuflect for the anti-science crowd, looking like pitiful self flagellators waking up from what turned out to be blind to the future debauchery. Wondering how they ended up face down in a gutter. Fifty years from now there will probably be that generation’s Becks and Jonah Goldbergs to somehow blame the failure to act on global warming on liberals. Despite Subtle Differences, Global Temperature Records in Close Agreement

In 2010, global temperatures continued to rise. A new analysis from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies shows that 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record, and was part of the warmest decade on record.

Multiple institutions monitor global surface temperatures. Despite subtle differences in the ways the scientists perform their analyses, these four widely referenced records show remarkable agreement. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Robert Simmon)

Matthew Weiner, AMC ‘Mad Men’ Drama Continues, Season Five Pushed Back To 2012. AMC seems to have gotten a fat head. They think they can do Mad Men without Weiner. They canceled Rubicon without giving the audience a chance to even find it. From what I have read over the years channels try to find a success to define it’s brand. Now that AMC might be known to some as other than a place to watch golden era Hollywood movies, they seem to think they can do without the commitment to quality broadcasting that got them any attention in the first place.

A Mr. James Madison disagrees with the bubble-heads who think states have the Constitutional right to nullify federal laws, Augst. 28 1830.  Dr. Sir,

The Constitution, not relying on any of the preceding modifications for its safe & successful operation, has expressly declared on the one hand; 1. “That the Constitution, and the laws made in pursuance thereof, and all Treaties made under the authority of the U. S. shall be the supreme law of the land; 2. That the judges of every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constn or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding; 3. That the judicial power of the U. S. shall extend to all cases in law & equity arising under the Constitution, the laws of the U. S. and Treaties made under their authority &c.”

Idaho Lawmakers Cite Founder Of Neo-Confederate Hate Group To Justify Plan To Nullify Health Reform. This is the conservative movement which ABC- American Black Conservative Herman Cain belongs to. Cain believes, as all millionaires with too much idle time usually do, that he is being kept down on the plantation. Progress of sorts. Black conservatives apparently drink out of the same kool-aid bowl as white conservatives.

tropical highway wallpaper

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clinging to and learning from regrets, lightning and voter fraud, listening to faulkner

Romantic regrets

Key findings from the study include:

About 44 percent of women reported romance regrets versus 19 percent of men. Women also had more family regrets than men. About 34 percent of men reported having work-oriented regrets versus 27 percent of women reporting similar regrets. Men also had more education regrets than women.
Individuals who were not currently in a relationship were most likely to have romance regrets.
People were evenly divided on regrets of situations that they acted on versus those that they did not act on. People who regretted events that they did not act on tended to hold on longer to that regret over time.
Individuals with low levels of education were likely to regret their lack of education. Americans with high levels of education had the most career-related regrets.

“People who regretted events that they did not act on tended to hold on longer to that regret over time.” That is probably related to the adage there is nothing worse than a missed opportunity. Should they have said or did something different or should they have said something, and fearing rejection, hold back. And its difficult to get people to think it may have all been for the best because you cannot rewind and start over to see how things would have turned out. Having regrets, especially regarding what one said or did are learning moments. They might be why second marriages have a high success rate. For those blessed with some artistic or musical abilities those memories have been grist for lots of inspiration, so not a total loss. Where would we be as a culture without our tales of heartbreak.

Marc by Elizabeth Peyton – Colored pencil on paper, 2003. Currently in the MoMA collection. Peyton is known for paintings and drawings of quite a few pop stars. She has also done subjects that range from friends to European monarchy. Unfortunately she has been compared to Andy Warhol. Warhol lacked her technical skills and his work never could escape his cold cynicism, whereas Peyton can see both the light and dark in people. A good video tour of here work here – Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton / New Museum, New York

Scientists have found a substance nearly as hard as diamonds and in much more plentiful supply. The bubble of non-reality in which most conservatives dwell, From Poll Taxes To Voter ID Laws: A Short History of Conservative Voter Suppression

Thursday, ThinkProgress reported that the Ohio House had approved the most restrictive voter id law in the nation — a bill that would exclude 890,000 Ohioans from voting. Earlier this week Texas lawmakers passed a similar bill, and voter id legislation — which would make it significantly more difficult for seniors, students and minorities to vote — is now under consideration in more than 22 states across the country

Conservatives have said voter id laws are necessary to combat mass voter fraud. Yet according to the Brennan Center for Justice, Americans are more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than commit voter fraud. And the Bush administration’s five-year national “war on voter fraud” resulted in only 86 convictions of illegal voting out of more than 196 million votes cast.

Faulkner Explains It All – In new audio files from the University of Virginia, the titan of Southern literature speaks to online fans.

Faulkner speaks! Fifty years after he spent two years as writer in residence at the University of Virginia, the school has posted online recordings of the two addresses, the dozen readings, and the 1,400 questions that students, faculty, and interested townspeople of Charlottesville, Va., posed to the author. For Faulkner fans, these 28 hours of talking and reading are Christmas in July.

This is a link I saved thinking I would get around to having something to add. I haven’t. So rather than save it, I’ll just post part of Mr. Jones, a genuine Faulkner enthusiast , review.

Everyone was polite. The students were respectful but not servile—the greatest evidence of their respect was how well prepared they were. For his part, Faulkner was unvaryingly courtly and treated every question, no matter how naive, with serious consideration. Even as a teenager, though, I recognized that there was more than a little ham in the man. I’d spent most of my life in classrooms at that age, and if I had any expertise under my belt, it lay in knowing how various teachers worked a room. I’d never seen anyone who could match Faulkner. He answered the questions he wanted to answer, no matter what had been asked. He maintained a thrilling balancing act, tacitly acknowledging that his achievement was real and significant (he’d won the Nobel by this time) but managing at the same time to suggest a deference in his answers. He spoke as a no-nonsense craftsman who took pride in his tools and an honest job of work, and if you wanted to call him a great artist or a genius, well, that was your business. It was quite a show.

From Absalom, Absalom! By William Faulkner,

“Quentin and Shreve stared at one another ­glared rather ­their quiet regular breathing vaporizing faintly and steadily in the now tomblike air.  There was something curious in the way they looked at one another, curious and quiet and profoundly intent, not at all as two young men might look at each other but almost as a youth and a very young girl might out of virginity itself­a sort of hushed and naked searching, each look burdened with youth’s immemorial obsession not with time’s dragging weight which the old live with but with its fluidity: the bright heels of all the lost moments of fifteen and sixteen….”

When you write run-on sentences in high school Faulkner is the writer you reach for as justification. Only the rest of us rarely make an art of it.

justice perverted and unequal, candlelight and bamboo wallpaper

H/T to Scott for this report, Prison Rape and the Government

Back in 1998, Jan Lastocy was serving time for attempted embezzlement in a Michigan prison. Her job was working at a warehouse for a nearby men’s prison. She got along well with two of the corrections officers who supervised her, but she thought the third was creepy. “He was always talking about how much power he had,” she said, “how he liked being able to write someone a ticket just for looking at him funny.” Then, one day, he raped her.

Jan wanted to tell someone, but the warden had made it clear that she would always believe an officer’s word over an inmate’s, and didn’t like “troublemakers.” If Jan had gone to the officers she trusted, they would have had to repeat her story to the same warden. Jan was only a few months away from release to a halfway house. She was desperate to get out of prison, to return to her husband and children. So she kept quiet—and the officer raped her again, and again. There were plenty of secluded places in the huge warehouse, behind piles of crates or in the freezer. Three or four times a week he would assault her, from June all the way through December, and the whole time she was too terrified to report the attacks. Later, she would be tormented by guilt for not speaking out, because the same officer went on to rape other women at the prison

For all these reasons, a large majority of inmates who have been sexually abused by staff or by other inmates never report it. And corrections officials, with some brave exceptions, have historically taken advantage of this reluctance to downplay or even deny the problem. According to a recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), a branch of the Department of Justice, there were only 7,444 official allegations of sexual abuse in detention in 2008, and of those, only 931 were substantiated. These are absurdly low figures. But perhaps more shocking is that even when authorities confirmed that corrections staff had sexually abused inmates in their care, only 42 percent of those officers had their cases referred to prosecution; only 23 percent were arrested, and only 3 percent charged, indicted, or convicted. Fifteen percent were actually allowed to keep their jobs.

Prisons are supposed to be part of the justice system. The courts mead out justice. That sometimes means going to prison. That is the punishment the court has seen fit, acting on behalf of the people, to levy on the convicted. Embezzlement and other non-violent crimes are not nice. The victims sometimes going through their own particular hell. That does not mean, or should not mean, that heaped on top of the court’s sentence, the convicted should also become a victim of some of sexual torture.

There is an old truism that only the poor go to jail. In David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow’s example of M’s Lastocy, for attempting to embezzle she went to prison where she also became a victim. Yet, after having pillaged the United States of trillions in wealth, no one from Wall St has gone to jail. The financiers, analysts and traders on Wall St are wealthy and mostly white males.  Jeffrey Epstein is rich. he has engaged in sex trafficking and sexual slavery. He got a 13-month sentence for one count of soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2010. Behind Pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s Sweetheart Deal

Some of the most shocking allegations against Epstein surfaced only after the conclusion of an FBI probe, in civil suits brought by his victims: for example, the claim that three 12-year-old French girls were delivered to him as a birthday present. But the feds did identify roughly 40 young women, most of them underage at the time, who described being lured to Epstein’s Palm Beach home on the pretense of giving a “massage” for money, then pressured into various sex acts, as well as the “Balkan sex slave” Epstein allegedly boasted of purchasing from her family when she was just 14. More recently, a big cash payment from Mail on Sunday coaxed one of Epstein’s main accusers out of anonymity to describe what she claims were her years as a teenage sex toy. This victim, Virginia Roberts, produced a photo of herself with Prince Andrew in 2001 and reported that Epstein paid her $15,000 to meet the prince. Then 17 years old, she claims that she was abused by Epstein and “loaned” to his friends from the age of 15.

Scott Horton notes that in regards to the torture of prison inmates Attorney General Eric Holder was supposed to act on recommendations of a congressional commission, with a rare bipartisan and statutory mandate, in 2009. He has thus far failed to do so. The president and Congress should be holding the DOJ accountable. If recommendations are not acted upon, Holder should be replaced. If the nations; highest law enforcement officers are not held accountable it makes the concept of justice and law enforcement a farce. While they are at it, Congress should be investigating the tremendous disparity between the sentences for those with wealth and power, and those who are poor. Justice is supposed to be blind to such petty distinctions. Financial, sexual and violent crimes are being committed by people who act as though they are above the law because they are aware of cases like Epstein and the complete lack of Wall St accountability. No one hears about the thousands of Jan Lastocys.

candlelight and bamboo wallpaper

Paul Baran, Internet Pioneer, Dies at 84. Baran was very fair-minded about his contributions to the invention of the internet and how credit should be divided among all the people who were part of the internet’s creation,

In recent years, the origins of the Internet have been subject to claims and counterclaims of precedence, and Mr. Baran was an outspoken proponent of distributing credit widely.

“The Internet is really the work of a thousand people,” he said in an interview in 2001.

“The process of technological developments is like building a cathedral,” he said in an interview in 1990. “Over the course of several hundred years, new people come along and each lays down a block on top of the old foundations, each saying, ‘I built a cathedral.’

“Next month another block is placed atop the previous one. Then comes along an historian who asks, ‘Well, who built the cathedral?’ Peter added some stones here, and Paul added a few more. If you are not careful you can con yourself into believing that you did the most important part. But the reality is that each contribution has to follow onto previous work. Everything is tied to everything else.”

the anxiety of free will predetermination?, cracked and blue wallpaper, green tree frog wallpaper

Our Imperfect Search for Perfection

“Limitless,” in all its pulpy glory, represents the logical terminus of a certain pattern of modern thought, endlessly fueled by the culture: if you can theoretically become perfect, then it follows that you should at least try. This idea (that man is perfectible and so should strive for perfection) has been around for 2,000 years, but it has lately been streamlined and turbo-charged: in its contemporary incarnation, it regards any unfulfilled human potentialities as a particularly sad and sclerotic form of entropy. I happened to first catch the trailer for “Limitless” online on the same day that Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” was excerpted in The Wall Street Journal, which was two days after Timothy Ferriss’s “4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman” was reviewed in The Times. This was about four days after Russell Simmons’s new self-help book, “Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All” (a follow-up to his book “Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success”) was published, which was just three days after the debut of the new Oprah Winfrey Network, ominously christened OWN. This wave of anxiety inducement nearly knocked me over.

And, sure enough, sitting in the theater watching Bradley Cooper evolve from a frizzy-haired dreamer into a slick and sophisticated doer, I started to count the number of waking hours I’ve spent involved in kind of a frenzied metaphysical calculus, trying to figure out what steps I need to take (or would have needed to have taken) to become a fully actualized version of myself.

The introduction to this essay is a very good two paragraph Cliff Notes version of the free will versus determinism debate. Whether we have free will or not might even be unimportant in the context of how we live our lives. We do live it and are held responsible ( in most ways) for the lives we lead as though we had completely free will. I’m not trying to have it both ways. It seems as though there are elements of both determinism and free will. Since we’re in the era of the video game that will do nicely as an analogy. Given several choices we can have several variations on the same outcome and our level of satisfaction at the outcome varies accordingly. Some ways to make your way to victory or finding the treasure or whatever the general goal is, are more enjoyable, i.e. less painful than others. And yes you can die several times before figuring out how to beat the game or your opponent. Life might be similar, except for having several lives to spend. The basic game plan is in place, but you are free to make some choices. In the game and in life it is frequently making those choices which cause the core anxiety. Another recent take on anxiety from an interview with Taylor Clark who wrote “Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool”, “Nerve”: Why is America so anxious?

That explains the disparity in anxiety levels between the United States and the developing world, but why are we more anxious than, say, your average European nation?

It’s hard to pinpoint an answer, but I think Americans have become extremely vulnerable to the pressures of the 21st century. For the past 50 years, we’ve been getting progressively more anxious in good economic times and bad, so we can’t even blame it on the recession. As I was conducting research for the book, psychologists pointed to three basic reasons why our psychic state is deteriorating. The first is a simple matter of social disconnection. As we spend more time with our electronic devices than we do with our neighbors, we lose our physical sense of community. Social isolation flies in the face of our evolutionary history. The second major cause is the information overload that we’re experiencing with the Internet and the 24-hour media cycle. We’re all aware of it, but I’m not sure we realize how big an impact it’s having on our brains. The third explanation can be attributed to what one psychologist refers to as a culture of “feel goodism” — the idea that we shouldn’t ever have to be upset and that all our negative emotions can be neutralized with a pill. This to me feels like a distinctly American phenomenon.

Taking the first part first – social media and isolation. I tend to think it works as described for most people. Most is not all. Some people are just comfortable with themselves and having large blocks of time alone. We call them loners or introverts or hopeless romantics, but they are people who just do not feel compelled to be constantly plugged in on the personal level or the media deluge level. For them social media, which has an off switch, is a great way to control the level of communication they need. “People who need people” may be the luckiest people in the world or be a little needy if they always have to have some connection going on whether in person or electronically. Otherwise they would be alone with themselves and their thoughts – oh, the horrors. The culture of feel goodism is not all bad. Who wants to feel angst ridden 24/7. And doesn’t everyone appreciate a nice warm smile once in a while. To experience or share a simple warm moment with friend or family. It is the pressure to have those feelings, to float around on a cloud, at all times soldier, that sucks the joy out of the very concept.

beautiful grunge landscape

cracked and blue wallpaper

I thought this was a victory for sanity and endangered species. An added bonus was a wise interpretation of the commerce clause, Ninth Circuit Rejects Commerce Clause Challenge to Endangered Species Act Regulation

A federal appeals court has rejected a conservative legal group’s argument that federal protections of an endangered species violate the Commerce Clause.

A unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the federal protections of delta smelt, a small fish endemic to California, against challenges from the Pacific Legal Foundation, which argued that the protections diminished water exports from the Delta, The Sacramento Bee reported. The federal protections of the fish were created pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. The Pacific Legal Foundation argued that the fish are “purely intrastate species,” with no “commercial value,” and therefore the federal government regulations to protect the fish were “invalid exercises of constitutional authority [under the Commerce Clause].”

The Ninth Circuit panel disagreed, writing in part, that “Congress has the power to regulate purely intrastate activity as long as the activity is being regulated under a general regulatory scheme that bears a substantial relationship to interstate commerce.” Citing the Eleventh Circuit, the panel ruled that “the Endangered Species Act is a general regulatory statute bearing substantial relation to commerce.”

Conservatives tends to flip-flop on the commerce clause – recently the tea stains and certain libertarians like to pretend that almost two hundred years of legal precedent does not exist and ironically it is the axe they reach for to try to subvert the Endangered Species Act.

green tree frog wallpaper

This wallpaper has a pretty slightly teal green tint when you download it – the way I created it. Why it shows up on the web as a muted green is a mystery.

 

privatizing prisons is undermining justice, meadow storm clouds wallpaper, the triangle fire

spring

meadow storm clouds wallpaper

Follow the Prison Money Trail – Private prison companies invest millions in elections.

While New Mexico’s landscape may make the state the Land of Enchantment, its rapidly growing rates of incarceration have been utterly disenchanting. What’s worse, New Mexico is at the top of the nation’s list for privatizing prisons; nearly one-half of the state’s prisons and jails are run by corporations.

Supposedly, states turn to private companies to cope better with chronic overcrowding and for low-cost management. However, a closer look suggests a different rationale. A recent report from the Montana-based Institute on Money in State Politics reveals that during the 2002 and 2004 election cycles, private prison companies, directors, executives and lobbyists gave $3.3 million to candidates and state political parties across 44 states.

According to Edwin Bender, executive director of the Institute on Money in State Politics, private prison companies strongly favor giving to states with the toughest sentencing laws—in essence, the ones that are more likely to come up with the bodies to fill prison beds. Those states, adds Bender, are also the ones most likely to have passed “three-strikes” laws. Those laws, first passed by Washington state voters in 1993 and then California voters in 1994, quickly swept the nation. They were largely based on “cookie-cutter legislation” pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), some of whose members come from the ranks of private prison companies.

The series The Cape didn’t quite live up to the hype of it’s publicity campaign and was canceled( maybe David Kelly will call Keith David to come over and work on Harry’s law. It could use a little of his energy to liven things up and he’d be a good foil for Tommy Jefferson). Though it did bring up a timely issue. The consequences of privatizing all or parts of our justice system. When the police or prisons are privatized the goals of those institutions change. They are primarily concerned with profits rather than justice. Money can be like methamphetamine, get a taste and you’re addicted. Even what would be an otherwise well meaning organization can become corrupt. As in the case of the California prison guards union,

In California, the prison industry is the fastest growing industry around. In fact, if you want to talk about pure political muscle, there is no lobby quite as strong as the prison lobby. Consider what the prison guard’s union has helped to accomplish in the last 20 years. They have increased tenfold the number of inmates in prison, they have increased exponentially the number of prisons, they have backed numerous draconian laws to ensure that more and more people go to prison for longer and longer for doing less and less.

The prison union has done more than that, though. They have also leaned on politicians to ensure that only district attorneys are appointed as judges. In the administrations of Governors Duekmeijian and Wilson (16 years total from 1982-1998), and even Gray Davis, judges were overwhelming chosen from the District Attorney’s office. Thus, the judiciary is filled with law enforcement, with an agenda of putting away as many people as possible, no matter how much we have to subvert the laws to do it.

There are two things you have to do to be elected to high office in any state. One is not to be seen as soft on crime. Three-strike laws are mindless and draconian. They appeal to politicians and police because they do away with having to think, explain or engage in subtle debate on what actually deters crime and how much time someone should serve for a crime. The second thing required of local politicians, especially running for state office, is the requisite photo-op with law enforcement. If you do not have an endorsement from a local sheriff or the highway patrol or some similar entity, you’re probably going nowhere in your political ambitions. So whether law enforcement takes its cues from corporate mouth pieces like American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) or the California prison guards union the result is a push to fill cells. It does get a little complicated. There is some justice in the mix. Lots of bad people belong in prison and we’re all better off when they become guests of the iron door hotel. Though lots of people are sent to prison who do not belong there and some that have sentences which are way out of proportion to any harm done to society. In general I tend to agree with Mark Kleiman, that it would be better if we could streamline the justice system to see swift sure justice and shorter sentences. Not the crime pays system for corporate interests, the politicians who easily succumb to corporate cash and prison guards who corrupt the whole concept of having unions. The latter a truly dark irony in that unions themselves were born out of the quest for social justice.

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 – The original caption reads, “Fire fighters try to put out the 1911 catastrophic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Building which killed 146 workers as a result of looked doors and missing fire escapes.” Copyright Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS

Except for the photo I don’t have much new to add to the many good news essays and blog posts already written. Nancy Goldstein at Prospect, Preserving the Triangle Factory Fire’s Lessons, 100 Years Later

It’s a time to honor and mourn the Triangle’s victims, commemorate the tragedy’s importance as a turning point in the history of the American labor movement, and reaffirm the crucial role of unions and regulatory bodies in advancing worker rights. Both are taking a beating in America’s 21st-century iteration of the Gilded Age, as industrialists (hello, Koch brothers) paired with the craven politicians who do their bidding (greetings, Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Scott Brown, et al.) take another pass at ridding our country of all those nasty laws that protect consumers and workers, and cut into their bottom line.

The Koch brothers are heroes to some people. The strange logic goes that they create jobs. Not really, the workers who drive the trucks, work in the factories, who run the oil platforms, who package the products and the workers who buy their products make the company run and create jobs. If the Koch brothers dies tomorrow the work would go on. Our corporate aristocracy is the most disposable part of our economic system. That is one of the reasons we have a right-wing and libertarian noise machine. To convince everyone that that without these plutocrats we’d all be pure lost souls. Outsourcing Tragedy: On the 100th Anniversary of Triangle Shirtwaist, Workers Are Still Dying in Garment Factory Fires

Unfortunately, we do not need to look back a hundred years to contemplate the horror of garment workers falling from the high floors of a burning factory. The last such nightmare befell workers barely 100 days ago, on December 14, when thirty workers were killed and more than a hundred injured at a factory producing for Kohl’s, JC Penney, Target, Wrangler, Phillips-Van Heusen, Oshkosh, Gap and others.

The sad irony on this centennial of the Triangle tragedy is that the abusive conditions, poverty wages and shoddy garment industry safety practices that unions and social reformers decried in 1911 have not been eliminated. They have been outsourced.

You can watch the PBS documentary Triangle Fire free on-line.

party time for corporate tax evaders, cherry blossoms wallpaper, a case for tenure

March Madness for Corporate Tax Dodgers – Top seeds in the Tax Haven Tourney: banks and power companies

– General Electric made $10.3 billion in 2009, but received a $1.1 billion tax rebate.

– Forbes said about Bank of America in 2010: “How did they not pay any taxes on $4.4 billion in income?”

– Oil giant Exxon made a $45 billion profit in 2009, but paid no taxes in the United States.

– Citigroup had 4 quarters of billion-dollar profits in 2010, but paid no taxes.

– Wells Fargo made $12 billion but purchased Wachovia Bank to claim a $19 billion tax credit.

– Hewlett Packard’s U.S. income tax rate was 4.3% in 2008 and 2.3% in 2009.

– Verizon’s 10.5% tax rate, according to Forbes, is due to its partnership with Vodafone, the primary target in UK Uncut’s protests against tax evaders.

– Chevron’s tax rate was 1% in 2008.

– Boeing, which just won a $30 billion contract to build 179 airborne tankers, got $124 million back from the taxpayers in 2010.

– Over the past 5 years Amazon made $3.5 billion and paid taxes at the rate of 4.3%.

– Carnival Cruise Lines paid 1% in taxes on its $11.5 billion profit over the past 5 years.

– Koch Industries is not publicly traded, so their antics are kept private. But they benefit from taxpayer subsidies in ranching and logging.

– In 2008 CorporateWatch said Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp paid “astoundingly low taxes” because of tax havens.

– Google “cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years by shifting its money around foreign countries.

– Merck, the second-largest drugmaker in the U.S., last year brought more than $9 billion from abroad without paying any U.S. tax.

– Pfizer, the largest drugmaker in the U.S., erased $10 billion in taxes with an “accounting treatment.

Tax madness is happening as state governments are slashing services for children the elderly, the poor, children and the disabled. Many of these states are claiming they have to make drastic cuts to meet their budget requirements, but they are also cutting corporate taxes. The Human Cost of Slashonomics.

cherry blossoms wallpaper

CIA Psychologist’s Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush’s Torture Program

Bush administration officials have long asserted that the torture techniques used on “war on terror” detainees were utilized as a last resort in an effort to gain actionable intelligence to thwart pending terrorist attacks against the United States and its interests abroad.

But the handwritten notes obtained exclusively by Truthout drafted two decades ago by Dr. John Bruce Jessen, the psychologist who was under contract to the CIA and credited as being one of the architects of the government’s top-secret torture program, tell a dramatically different story about the reasons detainees were brutalized and it was not just about obtaining intelligence. Rather, as Jessen’s notes explain, torture was used to “exploit” detainees, that is, to break them down physically and mentally, in order to get them to “collaborate” with government authorities. Jessen’s notes emphasize how a “detainer” uses the stresses of detention to produce the appearance of compliance in a prisoner.

Some of the general information about how a military program to help soldiers build up a resistance to tortire was reverse engineered to perform toture was already known. These revelation go into more detail. As one would expect the program was a failure. In the case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, he just started making up intelligence to supply his torturers with enough information to stop torturing him. Some captives who had been cooperating were thought not to be cooperative enough, so a torture regime was started, and than they produced no actionable information. Thus losing opportunities to gather information that might have been helpful in fighting al-Qaeda.

black and white city towers wallpaper

While most of the arguments against tenure for college professors comes from the far Right and Randians, there have been some arguments against it some the liberal side of the aisle as well. Like anyone who has attended a university or community college I had a few not so great professors. They were people who were intellectually well versed in their field, but lacked the knack for teaching. It seemed as though teaching was something they had to put up with so they could do what they really wanted to do, research. Having had this experience there are probably a few of us who are not imune to at least reforming the tenure system. Only tenure is not the big problem some say it is. Fewer and fewer teachers get tenure or even become eligible for it. Like many of the crises the Right gets in its cross hairs, it is largely a made up crisis, In Defense of Tenure – It might be under attack, but academic tenure is essential to preserving academic freedom.

I inhabit two worlds. The first is where I work most of the time—the American academy or, more specifically, a state-funded university. What do I see here? A full-time faculty dwindling in numbers and whose salaries are flatlining; rising ranks of “contingent” and contract-based teachers who have little job security; and stressed students who face rising tuitions and ballooning class sizes.

[  ]…Schrecker is spot-on arguing that the right—especially that element hopped up on populist resentment against elites—poses the biggest threat to academic freedom today. She’s even better when she conjoins this argument with the theme of “corporatization” that appears in her subtitle. Which brings us back to the tenure issue. For some time now, universities have imported corporate labor practices and have part-timed the American professoriate in order to get around tenure. The numbers here are crystalline: As of 2007, about 50 percent of the teachers in America’s universities were part-time faculty, while just more than 18 percent were full-time non-tenure track.

It’s not just the numbers that matter. Schrecker reminds readers of the human dimension of teaching part-time: “the lack of offices, telephones, mailboxes, coat hooks, supplies, or access to photocopying or computers.” Everything about “their working conditions shrieks second class.” For students, this means professors who can’t even find a place to meet with them to confer about how to perform better in class. But more troublesome are the stories of contingent faculty who have lost their positions precisely because they lack academic freedom. There’s Maureen Watson, who had taught part-time at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, for 12 years. “The administration, which had been pressing the faculty to stop flunking so many students,” terminated her appointment with no due process because she insisted on grading honestly.

Mattson is brutality honest is attacking excesses across political lines. The ivory tower itself is guilty of eating it’s own at times. Outside influences – the corporazation of higher learning – is a compelling reason to save the concept of tenure. For those that have not seen Inside Job, a major part of the documentary goes into how outside academic experts lent their names, reputations and expertise to legitimatizing the irresponsible business practices and deregulation that caused the Great Recession.

Grand Beach Lake Winnipeg, c.1914, photo L.B. Foote PA

1914 was the year of the Ludlow Massacre in which the National Guard caused the deaths of 19 striking coal miners. The Panama Canal was inaugurated the same year, 33,000 Canadian troops were sent off to fight WW I and  Benito Mussolini was expelled from the Italian Socialist Party.

loving zygotes and hating children, floating cactus wallpaper, a missile with gaddafi’s number on it

Woman Arrested for Thinking About Abortion

If you find yourself wanting to dismiss the possibility that these laws will be used to jail women who miscarry or suffer pregnancy complications, consider a recent event in Iowa where a pregnant woman was arrested for falling down a flight of stairs. You read that correctly. Christine Taylor fell down a flight of stairs after having a fight with her husband on the phone. When she went to the hospital–to makes sure the fetus was okay–she was arrested under one of the many state laws that grant fetuses rights separate from the mother. In this case, Iowa has a “feticide” law that pertains to the second trimester and beyond, and since Taylor confessed that she had contemplated abortion but had chosen to have the baby, the nurse and doctor at the hospital decided to phone the police and accuse her of trying to terminate her pregnancy illegally. She was eventually not charged, but in light of these events, any notion that a law such as this will be used for any other purpose but to harass and punish women should be disregarded.

[  ]…Iowa is far from the only state where even pregnant women who want their babies are being punished and controlled with laws that establish a separate personhood and rights for a fetus. Nebraska banned abortions after 20 weeks on the unscientific grounds that fetuses feel pain at that gestational age. Shortly thereafter, Danielle Deaver discovered at 22 weeks she had a pregnancy that could not result in a living baby. Banned from having an abortion, she was forced to give birth to a baby that lived for 15 terrible minutes before dying. The notion that either mother or child is well served by this law should be dashed, and the brutal sadism of such laws immediately apparent.

The example of conservative support for egregiously intrusive big govmint into people’s lives would easily make a subject theme for a blog all it’s own. Hand in hand with this new round of Republican attacks on women and reproductive rights is their attacks on actual children. As long as you’re a zygote or a mass of cells you’re holy. Asssoon as you’re born, you’re put on the social-Darwinism roller coaster from hell. So much for the sisterhood, South Carolina’s new conservative governor Nikki Haley is going to get those miserable little rug rats, the elderly, the working poor and the disabled by cutting their Medicaid to balance the state budget. Morality and common sense probably prevents her from raising corporate taxes a few cents instead.  Arizona’s conservatives making similar cuts to balance their budgets. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is also on the punish the weakest and reward the greedy bandwagon.There is no financial crisis in America. There is a crisis in prioritizes. Corporate profits are soaring. The wealthiest 10% of the population still owns 75% of America’s assets. Yet the working poor and middle-class are being asked to pay and sacrifice. Someone is redistributing wealth and it is not to America’s workers.

floating cactus wallpaper

How Dumb Are We? NEWSWEEK gave 1,000 Americans the U.S. Citizenship Test–38 percent failed. The country’s future is imperiled by our ignorance. Not a particularly difficult test.

The British tabloid The Daily Mail is not too far away from being the Brit version of the National Enquirer. If they’re making this up or exaggerating what they claim to know, at least they’re showing some imagination, MI6 puts gun to generals’ heads: Our spies phone Gaddafi’s men direct to warn: Defect or die

British intelligence is warning Colonel Gaddafi’s generals that it could be fatal to remain loyal to the Libyan leader.

MI6 spies and military officials are contacting commanders in Tripoli trying to persuade them to defect, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Their message is blunt: ‘General, we’ve got the GPS co-ordinates of your command post. They are programmed into a Storm Shadow missile. What do you want to do?’

As Gaddafi vowed to wage a long war with the ‘crusader alliance’, British officials said the intelligence services had the telephone numbers of many key military officials in his regime.

French war jets have already slightly exceeded their mission. So to a degree worth shedding tears over, but you get the feeling that Gaddafi’s headquarters will be designated a vital air mission communication hub destined for the aforementioned missile. This morning some news reports said Gaddafi’s soldiers were changing into civilian clothing to avoid attack and to report the dead as proof of humanitarian violations.

city wallpaper

black and white chicago wallpaper

Good post on the Triangle factory fire, whose anniversary is this week, Triangle: Remembering the Fire

The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who either died from the fire or jumped to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent immigrant Jewish women, age 16-23. Many of the workers could not escape the burning building because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits. People jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.