••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

  • Even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences.
  • When the regulation, therefore, is in support of the workman, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.
  • No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged.
  • It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expence, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

RAS syndrome stands for redundant acronym syndrome syndrome and refers to the redundant use of one or more of the words that make up an acronym or initialism with the abbreviation itself, thus in effect repeating one or more words. Usage commentators consider such redundant acronyms poor style and an error to be avoided in writing, though they are common in speech.

The term "RAS syndrome" is itself a redundant acronym, and thus is an example of self-referential humor.
The term "RAS syndrome" was coined in 2001 by the New Scientist magazine.

The similar term "PNS syndrome" (which expands to "PIN number syndrome syndrome," and further to "personal identification number number syndrome syndrome") was coined by Usenet users, and in fact pre-dates the coining of "RAS Syndrome".

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In 2006, Jindal sponsored the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act (HR 4761), a bill to eliminate the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling over the U.S. outer continental shelf. A poll taken while the bill was being debated, showed that 73% of the US public supported the measure. Jindal argues that 30-40% of oil reserves of the United States are near the Louisiana coast and increased drilling would reduce American dependence on foreign oil. This prompted the watchdog groups, Republicans for Environmental Protection as well as the nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters to rate him among the lowest in Congress in 2006. HR 4761 was replaced by S 3711 (known as the Domenici-Landrieu Fair Share Plan) which was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President George W. Bush.
but so far, jindal has pointed fingers at everyone but himself:
On May 2, Gov. Jindal requested that federal authorities and BP provide three million feet of absorbent boom, five million feet of hard boom and 30 'jack up' barges. Of that, less than 800,000 feet of hard boom has arrived - less than a fifth of the request. About 140,000 feet of that hard boom is sitting waiting for BP to tell contractors where to take it.

“It is clear we don’t have the resources we need to protect our coast, we need more boom, more skimmers, more vacuums, more jack-up barges that are still in short supply,” Jindal said today. “Let’s be clear, every day that this oil sits is one more day that more of our marsh dies.”
if he knew so much about what supplies would be needed, why didn't he stock up in advance? instead he expects the feds to respond instantly to his demands, as if they know what to do. it was exactly the other way round when he was running for governor and capitalized on the idea that the incumbent kathleen blanco was to blame for what went wrong after katrina.

what we need now is more and better environmentalism.

what we don't need is a series of hysterical self-righteous demands from somebody who until now has consistently advocated deep-water drilling.
The New Jersey Supreme Court finished hearing arguments on the tea party-led effort to recall Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez Tuesday morning, several months after an appeals court ruled activists could proceed with an effort to oust the incumbent midway through his first term.

It's not immediately clear when the court might hand down a decision, though it heard arguments on an expedited time frame after the appellate ruling in March. Menendez opponents have argued that New Jersey's law permitting the recall of statewide officeholders should apply to the senator, while attorneys for Menendez have countered that federal law does not provide for the popular removal of sitting senators.

RecallNJ, the organization spearheading the anti-Menendez effort, will face steep logistical obstacles even if judges rule in their favor. To put the recall on the ballot, organizers must obtain 1.3 million signatures within 320 days of launching a petition drive, and an earlier court ruling blocked recall proponents from gathering signatures until Mendendez's legal team could file fresh appeals.

New Jersey Democrats are taking the recall push seriously enough to launch a website Monday criticizing the effort and calling RecallNJ a group "from outside New Jersey's mainstream."
so, the tea party's not racist? it's just a "coincidence" that they target a black prez and a latino senator?

and they want the constitution followed? note these excerpts from article I, sections 5 & 6:
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two-thirds, expel a Member.

They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
the "states' rights" amendment doesn't nullify that or permit an exception to it.
random thoughts

this morning i heard a woman who lives in louisiana say BP's dispersants are making it harder to keep the oil from reaching shore because when it gets broken up it comes in below the surface.

a few days after the blowout i heard somebody say it would be easier to plug a hole on the moon than a mile underwater.

till now the biggest accidental oil spill in history was the ixtoc I in 1979 in the bay of campeche of the gulf of mexico. the water depth was only 160 feet, but it took nearly 10 months to cap the well!
the oil slick surrounded rancho nuevo, in the mexican state of tamaulipas, which is one of the few nesting sites for kemp's ridley sea turtles. thousands of baby sea turtles were airlifted to a clean portion of the gulf of mexico to help save the rare species.
those who complain loudest that the response is too slow ought to consider how long this disaster was in the making, and how many warning signs we had, yet everybody who had any influence insisted nothing could go wrong.

if you only think about the best-case scenario, you won't prepare for any other possibility.
The oil leak that has spewed millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico will undoubtedly become the worst in U.S. history, the White House said today.

"I don't think there is any doubt, unfortunately," Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change, told George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" this morning.

BP is expected to try another solution Wednesday, called the "top kill," to stop the leaking well head. BP said there is a 60 to 70 percent chance of success, but Browner declined to put "odds" on the planned attempt.

"We are doing everything in our power to try and make it work," Browner said.

"GMA's" Sam Champion went diving with oceanographer Philippe Cousteau Jr. in the Gulf of Mexico and got a firsthand look at the toxic soup of oil and chemical dispersant that formed large underwater plumes as deep as 25 feet.

Champion reported that the mixture appeared to be breaking into small droplets that are capable of passing through the flesh of fish and birds and being picked up ocean currents.

"[It is] just this cloud of granular oil," Cousteau said. "And you can see it dispersing deeper and deeper into the water column. And, you know, what we're hearing is that there are plumes of oil like this beneath this surface like this at various different depths than can go for 10 or more miles."

Cousteau called it a "nightmare."

There has been a public dispute about the chemical dispersant and its toxicity.

The Environmental Protection Agency last week ordered BP to use a less toxic chemical dispersant but the company failed to comply. There are fewer dispersants being manufactured in the quantities needed, Browner said, and scientists are continuing to examine how the particular dispersant interacts with the environment.

"What the EPA did yesterday was direct BP to use less of this dispersant while they continue to study what other alternatives may be available," Browner said.

In response to questions being raised about whether BP will follow orders given by the administration, Browner said that BP will "absolutely comply" and is already complying with Monday's order.

"We have the mechanisms to ensure they comply and we will use those mechanisms," Browner said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal: Stop Spill or Get Out of the Way

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told the White House and BP Monday to either stop the oil spill or get out of his way.

Jindal has publicly expressed his frustration and wants the federal government to provide millions of feet of boom, in addition to approving an emergency permit for a state plan to dredge and build new barrier islands to keep the oil from reaching the marshes and wetlands.

Today Browner said officials are examining that proposal "very carefully."

"But I think it is important for people to note even by the governor's own estimation some of those things would not be in place for six to nine months," Browner said. "We need to make sure that what we are doing is going to work today. That is what we are committed to for those communities and we will continue to work with the governors to ensure that will happen."

The Republican governor is so desperate for the islands that he has said he'll build them even if it lands him in jail.

"We've been frustrated with the disjointed effort to date that has too often meant too little, too late for the oil hitting our coast," Jindal said Monday.

Oil Along Shoreline

The oil has already hit more than 65 miles of shoreline, and the slick is now as big as Maryland and Delaware combined.

In Port Fourchon, people are already knee-deep in oil. Teams of cleanup crews have descended on the beach, sopping up and bagging countless gallons of crude. There is so much oil in the water that layers of boom designed to soak it up have to be replaced continuously.

"It's absorbed a good amount of oil," said Lt. Michelle Curry, who oversees the beach battle for the U.S. Coast Guard.

It's easy to see what's at stake. While beaches can be cleaned up, the marshes cannot, and marshes make up the majority of Louisiana's coastline.

BP Spill: Oil Reaches Deep into Marshes

Many marshes have already been lost. Jindal said that oil has seeped as far as 10 miles into some of the state's fragile marshlands, areas teeming with wildlife.

In Port Fourchon, crews will try to keep up with what can seem to be a futile fight. They're fighting an enemy that grows every day, gushing far more oil than anyone can mop up.

"It is heartbreaking," said Curry, who lives in the same region that she's now trying to save. "I do hear [the community's] stories and I feel for them. And I'm just as frustrated as they are, and we're all doing our best to try to get this thing manageable and cleaned up."
Billy Nungesser, the president of Plaquemines Parish on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, has a blunt message for Barack Obama: Cut out the middleman, Mr. President.

"There's been a failure of leadership on all levels. Who in the hell is in charge?" said Nungesser, who is prodding the administration to back a controversial plan to build sand barriers to block the oil.

“I’m a big Republican, but the president spent two hours with me and really impressed me. ... He really seems to care, but I don’t think he’s getting good advice,” he told POLITICO. “I don’t think they’re telling him the truth about what’s going on around here. He needs to get more personally involved.”

Until this week, the Obama administration had largely managed to deflect responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon disaster onto others — vowing to keep a “boot on the throat” of BP, while slamming lax oversight on the part of federal regulators during the Bush administration.

But now, with crude lapping into the bayou, even Obama’s defenders have turned critical. A White House that prides itself on operational competence and message discipline has been frustrated by an environmental catastrophe it can’t predict, can’t control and can’t out-message — and the strain is showing.

A majority of Americans, by 51 percent to 46 percent, now disapprove of Obama’s handling of the crisis, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll. An Associated Press-GfK survey taken less than two weeks ago showed that only one-third of those polled gave Obama low marks for his response.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs surprised reporters at the daily briefing Monday by announcing the president would answer questions about the spill in person Thursday — the first presidential news conference Obama has given in months.

Earlier, Louisiana officials, as they watch helplessly while oil fouls fragile marshland, destroying plants and killing birds and fish, also stepped up their calls on the Obama administration to push aside BP and take charge of the cleanup.
As the job market begins to loosen up, human-resource managers might increasingly be surprised by an announcement from employees they haven't heard in a while: "I quit."

In February, the number of employees voluntarily quitting surpassed the number being fired or discharged for the first time since October 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Before February, the BLS had recorded more layoffs than resignations for 15 straight months, the first such streak since the bureau started tracking the data a decade ago. Since the BLS began tracking the data, the average number of people voluntarily leaving their jobs per month has been about 2.7 million. But since October 2008, the average number dropped to as low as 1.72 million. In March, it was about 1.87 million.

Monday, May 24, 2010

larry wilkerson, colin powell's chief of staff in the bush state dept, lays blame for the deep water horizon blowout squarely in dick cheney's lap.

[listen to an mp3 of the radio times interview]

As part of its continued efforts to show that when it comes to the BP oil spill, officials are on the case, the White House posted this photograph of President Obama on the phone this morning with the Gulf Coast governors.

This comes as Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen prepares to join press secretary Robert Gibbs at today’s White House briefing, and not long after Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar held a press conference in Galiano, Louisiana.

"We are going to stay on this and stay on BP until this gets done and this gets done the right way," Napolitano said today.

She outlined how the Obama administration had devoted to efforts in the Gulf more than 22,000 personnel, hundreds of thousands of feet of boom, and more than a thousand vessels "that are on the water to skim, to lay boom, to pick up oil."

The White House has in recent days been criticized by normally supportive political voices, such as DNC member Donna Brazile, who said on THIS WEEK yesterday, “one of the problems I have with the administration is that they're not tough enough. They are waiting for BP to say, ‘Oh, we've got a new plan to stop the oil leak.’ They need to stop it, contain it, clean it up, and try to help us conserve our coastal wetlands.”

James Carville told CNN last week that the Obama administration is “risking everything by this go-along with BP strategy they have. And it seems like lackadaisical on this. I think that the government thinks they're partnering with BP. I think they actually believe that BP has some kind of a good motivation here. And that's one of the sort whole flaws, is they're naive.”

What more could the administration do?

The federal government could commander control of the entire operation, though they would likely need to rely upon BP’s equipment and personnel, and assuming control of the effort could open the government up to cost and liability issues.

Environmentalists say the administration could indubitably force BP to be more transparent in its sharing of information.

There are clear questions of authority. Last week the EPA told BP to use a new dispersant; BP later told the EPA that it would do no such thing.

Moreover, there have been contradictions from members of the administration. While Secretary Salazar has continually talked about keeping “the boot on the neck of British Petroleum to carry out the responsibilities that they have” to stop the spill, Admiral Allen seemed to indicate he didn’t have much of an issue with BP.

“I give them direction or the federal on-scene coordinator gives them direction, we get a response,” Allen said. “I've got (BP CEO) Tony Hayward's personal cell phone number. If I have a problem, I call him. Some of the problems we have had that we've worked through are more logistics and coordination issues…. I trust Tony Hayward. When I talk to him, I get an answer.”

Asked about criticism that the U.S. Coast Guard has been too cozy with BP, Lt. John Kousch told ABC News’ Ryan Owens, “we all have a vested interest in making sure it's land on the shores of LA or anywhere else. If it does, it's cleaned up as efficiently as possible…BP is our friend.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has continually expressed his frustration with both BP and the federal government.

On May 2, Gov. Jindal requested that federal authorities and BP provide three million feet of absorbent boom, five million feet of hard boom and 30 'jack up' barges. Of that, less than 800,000 feet of hard boom has arrived - less than a fifth of the request. About 140,000 feet of that hard boom is sitting waiting for BP to tell contractors where to take it.

“It is clear we don’t have the resources we need to protect our coast, we need more boom, more skimmers, more vacuums, more jack-up barges that are still in short supply,” Jindal said today. “Let’s be clear, every day that this oil sits is one more day that more of our marsh dies.”

The week of May 10, since it was apparent that neither BP nor the federal government had a plan to deal with this spill, Louisiana authorities also asked for the Army Corps of Engineers for an emergency permit for a specific plan to dredge and building new barrier islands to keep the oil from shore and wetlands. That also has yet to be approved.

“The decision-makers there from the Coast Guard on the ground, we’ve been frustrated with the plan to-date which has often been too late for the oil hitting our coast,” Jindal said today.

- Jake Tapper
ON BARATARIA BAY, La. — The pelican was shaking, covered in oil, waiting to die and not alone. It was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of its species, brown pelicans roosting on a small island in the shallows of the Gulf of Mexico amid an ecological disaster.

Many of these brown pelicans — Louisiana's state birds — are likely doomed, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal fears that his state's wetlands will soon suffer equally. Locked in a dispute with the federal government over how to protect Louisiana's labyrinth of wetlands, Jindal and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries ferried a herd of national reporters to Barataria Bay on Sunday to document firsthand the devastating effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It was a depressing scene. According to Jindal, approximately 65 miles of Louisiana's coast had been "oiled" by Sunday.

"We're under attack here," Jindal said. "We've got to protect our coast."

On Sunday, two natural rookeries, nesting grounds for brown pelicans, showed signs that heavy crude oil had broken through booms and soiled these fragile landmasses. The rookeries were located in Barataria Bay, about 14 miles west of Venice, La., between Cat Island and Four Bayou Pass.

Some pelicans frantically brushed oily feathers with their bills while others, full coated in black ooze, simply stood and quivered, as if in shock from the oil's toxicity. When a biologist in a haz-mat suit approached one pelican, it fled in fear into the inner sanctum of the small island where reeds and vegetation hid it from capture. Some tried to fly but could not.

"They're trying to fly away but they can't because they're covered in oil," said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, the southern-most parish in Louisiana. "We're begging for help."

At question is an emergency permit applied for by Louisiana to protect its coastline, a request that includes dredging sediment to create barrier islands between oil and wetlands. Louisiana's emergency proposal was denied on Saturday by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps is unsure of the environmental impact of emergency barriers.

"I think here's the fundamental issue," Jindal said. "We've answered every question they've ever asked as quickly as possible, but you have to understand that there is an environmental cost of not acting. I mean, the environmental damage is happening right here."

While Jindal attempted to remain diplomatic on Sunday, his political boat-mate, Nungesser, was not. Nungesser told reporters that his parish has had a plan in place for several weeks to protect its ecology but homegrown methods of protection have been denied.

"They are bureaucrats made to stand in the way and question things to death," Nungesser said. "That's how they justify their jobs. Fire all those guys and let's just do the right thing."

But Louisiana's ecosystem is not the only thing at stake, according to Jindal. A vital buffer zone protecting the state from storm surges caused hurricanes could also be affected by oil. Jindal said the state of Louisiana has spent $800 million in the last three years in an effort to restore some of the state's delicate coastline. Over the past 80 years, approximately 2,000 miles of Louisiana tidal lands and coastline have eroded away, Jindal said. The state has about 7,000 miles of coast, much of which is wetlands and not continuous.

"We committed that money for flood protection," Jindal said. "This was supposed to be our best year in 80 years in terms of coastal land loss. This oil is threatening all of that progress. After 80 years we were finally beginning to reverse these trends. We were finally making concrete progress."

Oil reached at least 12 miles into Louisiana's wetlands on Sunday, according to officials, and that seems to be just the beginning of a long fight for this state. The heavy crude that was in Barataria Bay on Saturday had moved with the tides by Sunday but would return, Jindal said, when tidal waters shifted, essentially coating the pelicans' rookeries from the opposite side.

"Scientists at Louisiana State University said that we could be dealing with oil washing up along our coastline, even if they cap the leak, it could be months; it could even longer; it could be years," Jindal said. "This is a marathon for us. We need the federal government to tell BP that this isn't done until the fisheries, the wetlands, the marine life, the ecosystem is restored back into its status the way it was before the spill."

A representative of the Coast Guard accompanied Jindal's six-boat floating news conference on Sunday and monitored Louisiana's public relations efforts. At one point the Coast Guard representative asked one reporter to repeat a comment made by Nungesser about lack of leadership.

"We can't afford to fail," Nungesser said. "We need a leader and so far we don't have one."
thanks a bunch, zuck!

according to wired staff writer ryan singel, facebook founder mark zuckerberg wants to change the way the internet works.

the only change i've noticed is i get a lot more spam now.

i guess the change he wanted was to take it backwards about 10 years.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The seemingly inescapable fact that matter and antimatter particles destroy each other on contact has long puzzled physicists wondering how life, the universe or anything else can exist at all. But new results from a particle accelerator experiment suggest that matter does seem to win in the end.

The experiment has shown a small — but significant — 1 percent difference between the amount of matter and antimatter produced, which could hint at how our matter-dominated existence came about.

The current theory, known as the Standard Model of particle physics, has predicted some violation of matter-antimatter symmetry, but not enough to explain how our universe arose consisting mostly of matter with barely a trace of antimatter.

But this latest experiment came up with an unbalanced ratio of matter to antimatter that goes beyond the imbalance predicted by the Standard Model. Specifically, physicists discovered a 1 percent difference between pairs of muons and antimuons that arise from the decay of particles known as B mesons.

The results, announced Tuesday, came from analyzing eight years worth of data from the Tevatron collider at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill.

"Many of us felt goose bumps when we saw the result," said Stefan Soldner-Rembold, a particle physicist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. "We knew we were seeing something beyond what we have seen before and beyond what current theories can explain."
NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks took their deepest plunge in more than a year Thursday as fears grew that Europe's debt crisis could spread around the world and undermine the U.S. economic recovery. The possibility has been brewing for weeks, but analysts said some investors are just waking up to it.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 376 points, its biggest point drop since February 2009. All the major indexes were down well over 3 percent and are now showing losses for 2010. Interest rates fell sharply in the Treasury market as investors once again sought the safety of U.S. government debt.

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits last week rose unexpectedly and the Greek government's response to its debt crisis sparked new protests in Athens, but analysts said neither event appeared to set off Thursday's selling.

They said more investors seemed to be grasping the possibility that the U.S. recovery could be in jeopardy, and that many were realizing that the stock market's big rebound since March 2009 may not have been justified.

"The economic recovery story has started to look like a mirage," said Tom Samuels, manager of the Palantir Fund in Houston. "If that's correct, stock prices are well ahead of economic reality."

Investors are concerned that the debt problems in countries like Greece and Portugal will spill over to other countries in Europe, cause a cascade of losses for big banks and in turn halt economic recovery in the U.S. and elsewhere.

"It's starting to look like one of these tragic stories were one person falls through the ice, then everyone else rushes in to help and ends up drowning," independent market analyst Edward Yardeni said.

They're also worried that China might take steps that will limit its economic growth, which would also affect the U.S. recovery. Analysts said the market is vulnerable to rumors about any of the major economies right now.

The Standard & Poor's 500 was down almost 12 percent from its closing high for the year, which was reached April 23. Most analysts consider a drop of more than 10 percent from a recent high to be a "correction." This is the market's first correction since stock indexes hit a 12-year low in March last year. The fact it has occurred in just 19 trading days shows how anxious traders are right now.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange's Volatility Index -- known as the market's fear gauge -- leaped almost 30 percent to its highest level since March 2009. The increase in the VIX signals that traders are bracing for more drops in the market.
WASHINGTON – Prodded by national anger at Wall Street, the Senate cleared the way Thursday for the most far-reaching restraints on big banks since the Great Depression. President Barack Obama cheered from the White House.

Breaking a Senate blockade by a single vote, lawmakers voted 60-40 to end debate and advance the massive financial regulation bill, which became a priority for Obama after the passage of his health care overhaul in March. Democrats had one more 60-vote hurdle to clear before they could pass the bill with a simple majority.

Obama said the financial industry had tried to stop the new regulations "with hordes of lobbyists and millions of dollars in ads."

Noting the near-meltdown of big Wall Street investment banks and the resulting costly bailouts, he said, "Our goal is not to punish the banks but to protect the larger economy and the American people from the kind of upheavals that we've seen in the past few years."
WASHINGTON — Mexican President Felipe Calderón urged U.S. lawmakers Thursday to restore a controversial assault weapons ban, saying easy U.S. availability of the high-powered firearms are contributing to the escalating violence in his country.

Calderón said an increase in drug cartel killings began after Congress lifted the ban in 2004. Today, he said, gangsters point the guns at not only rivals but Mexican authorities and civilians.

“There is one issue where Mexico needs your cooperation, and that is stopping the flow of assault weapons and other deadly arms across the border,” Calderón told a joint session of Congress.

In a 40-minute speech, he also took pointed exception to Arizona's crackdown on immigrants and urged the United States to work with Mexico to fix a broken immigration system.

The comments brought a swift rebuke from House and Senate Republicans who accused the Mexican president of meddling in U.S. affairs.

“It is inappropriate for President Calderón to lecture Americans on our state and federal laws,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “Moreover, the Second Amendment is not a subject open for diplomatic negotiation, with Mexico or any other nation.”

The assault weapons ban was first approved by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. But some of its supporters paid a political price, and Republicans gained control of the House that year with the help of the gun lobby. Calderón acknowledged the political sensitivity of the issue, and said he respects the U.S. Constitution and its guarantee that citizens can defend themselves and their nation.

“But believe me, many of these guns are not going to honest American hands,” Calderón said. “Instead, thousands are ending up in the hands of criminals.”

Mexico has seized 75,000 firearms over the past three years, he said, and 80 percent of them were traced to the United States. Some 7,000 gun shops and dealers dot the border from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, Calif.
, Calderón said.

Texas was the state that supplied the most guns and military-grade weapons to Mexican cartels, a San Antonio Express-News investigation on gunrunning has shown. Texas accounted for 41 percent of the guns seized and traced back to the United States, followed by California, at 18 percent, and Arizona, with 10 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms statistics.

damn furriners got no right t'come here'n'xpress facts—let alone thur opinions!
GRAND ISLE, La. – The spectacle many had feared for a month finally began unfolding as gooey, rust-colored oil washed into the marshes at the mouth of the Mississippi for the first time, stoking public anger and frustration with both BP and the government.

The sense of gloom deepened as BP conceded what some scientists have been saying for weeks: that the oil leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico is bigger than the company previously estimated.

Up to now, only tar balls and a sheen of oil had come ashore. But on Wednesday, chocolate brown and vivid orange globs, sheets and ribbons of foul-smelling oil the consistency of latex paint began coating the reeds and grasses of Louisiana's wetlands, home to rare birds, mammals and a rich variety of marine life.

live video feed of the BP Oil Spill from the ocean floor, 5000 feet below the surface
It sounds like something out of a 1950s Saturday matinee: The Killer Fog. But in the decades before Congress passed the landmark Clean Air Act, this phantom menace was no Hollywood bugaboo; it threatened the lives and health of millions of Americans. Take the town of Donora, Pennsylvania, 20 miles south of Pittsburgh. In October 1948, an air inversion trapped a blanket of toxic yellow smog from the town's steel mills that was so thick, locals needed flashlights in the middle of the afternoon. Five days later, 20 people had died and almost half of Donora's 14,000 residents had become sick.

If most Americans can no longer remember a time when the simple act of breathing could kill you, that's thanks in large part to the Clean Air Act. Although it took Congress more than 20 years after Donora's "killer fog" to pass the historic law, in the four decades since, it has proven to be one of the most important and successful pieces of environmental legislation ever enacted. Since 1990 alone, emissions of six of the most common air pollutants are down 41 percent, while such major sources of pollution as cars, trucks and heavy-duty diesel engines are 95 percent cleaner than in the past.

In 1970, Congress charged the newly created Environmental Protection Agency with regulating five harmful pollutants. But lawmakers understood that as science proved the hazards of other emissions, more would have to be added to the list. Today, the agency protects the public from more than 300 pollutants. Among those most recently added are carbon dioxide and other gases that cause global warming.

Yet if the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, it seems that the same can be said for clean air. Earlier this year, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a resolution that would effectively overturn a 2007 Supreme Court ruling and block the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions that are contributing to drastic climate change. A separate bill proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) would prevent the EPA from working to address greenhouse gases for a minimum of two years. NRDC is campaigning against both measures, continuing our decades-long tradition of opposing those who would put politics over sound science and weaken one of our most vital environmental laws.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Macro economic data suggest the great recession is over. But the gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing, thanks, in large part, to a jobless recovery. Wall Street Cheat Sheet’s Damien Hoffman says the growing underclass now accounts for about 10% of the U.S. population.

In this clip, he and his brother Derek, who jointly run the Wall Street Cheat Sheet website, point to several signs America is turning into a two-class society:

- The foreclosure problem. 2.8 million homes were foreclosed in 2009. RealyTrac expects that number to increase to 3-3.5 million in 2010. Damien Hoffman thinks it could be even higher if "strategic foreclosures" become a more accepted practice.
- Unemployment. The official rate is 9.9% but the wider measure of under employed and those who have given up on their job search is more like 17%. That's more than 24 million Americans out of work.
- Record numbers using food stamps. The Agriculture Department said a record 40 million Americans, or 1 in 8 Americans, may not be able to eat without government assistance. “This is the ultimate sign of an under class,” the Hoffman Brothers say.
- Take a look at Dollar Tree Stores. The discounter's stock is near an all-time high while revenues are up 12.5% this year. In other words, more Americans are chasing cheaper goods.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now multi-billion dollar money pits with an unlimited credit line from the U.S. government for at least the next two years. The government-sponsored entities asked for $20 billion after reporting massive first quarter losses, bringing their combined tab to shocking $145 billion.

As we’ve discussed with several guests in the recent weeks, in effect this unlimited credit line for Fannie and Freddie is essentially another bailout meant to help banks recapitalize their balance sheets.

As distasteful as this is, the alternative may be worse, considering the government backed 96.5% of all U.S. home loans in the first quarter. "There's not a real functional private market in mortgages right now," says Stan Humphries chief economist at Zillow.com. "It's kind of concerning in a capitalist country like the United States."

Fannie and Freddie reform needs to happen “sooner rather than later” Humphries says.

However, making those changes now -- just as the housing market tries to deal with the hangover from the expired home-buyer tax credit -- could create another leg down in home price, Humphries says. "Letting [reform] wait until later this year or early part of next year is a good thing for the housing market" -- and your property value.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

There's a family-values divide between red states and blue states, two researchers say, but the differences might surprise people on both sides of the political spectrum. The states that voted Democratic in the last two presidential elections have the lowest rates of divorce and teen pregnancies. And the red states had the highest. One of those researchers, June Carbone of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, tells host Guy Raz what she thinks is the deciding factor: Women in blue states wait later to get married and have kids.
At their first Cabinet meeting Thursday, onetime rivals Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy, Nick Clegg, portrayed their coalition as the new face of British politics. But to tackle Britain's problems, they'll have to overcome deep ideological differences between and within their own parties.
frankly, i don't know how anybody can stand cameron. maybe brits don't watch the weekly PMQs. thank god for c-span!

another thing: i heard a conservative backbencher say his party won 70 seats without a majority. that means the lib-dems took so many votes from labour that the tories won those elections, so the majority in those districts must have been split by labour and lib-dem, which i would've thought to be the left. but apparently the lib-dems are centrists. how odd!
The Swiss company has been named in more than 100 class-action, personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits related to the April 20 rig explosion that killed 11 people on its Deepwater Horizon drill rig. Transocean planned to ask a federal court in Houston to cap its overall liability from the incident at less than $27 million.
The disastrous police bombing of a militant group's row house 25 years ago still haunts Philadelphia. The attack resulted in a fire that destroyed nearby homes and killed 11 people. Neighbors of the old MOVE building say they're often reminded of what they lost.
MEXICO CITY – After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.

Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn't worked.

"In the grand scheme, it has not been successful," Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. "Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified."

This week President Obama promised to "reduce drug use and the great damage it causes" with a new national policy that he said treats drug use more as a public health issue and focuses on prevention and treatment.

Nevertheless, his administration has increased spending on interdiction and law enforcement to record levels both in dollars and in percentage terms; this year, they account for $10 billion of his $15.5 billion drug-control budget.

Kerlikowske, who coordinates all federal anti-drug policies, says it will take time for the spending to match the rhetoric.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Among the crowded ranks of economists and market watchers, Dean Baker stands out. Baker presciently called the housing bubble when he published “The Run-up in Home Prices: Is It Real or Is It Another Bubble?” in 2002.

So does our guest Baker see the so-called housing recovery now? "No. I mean I think people that are saying that just aren't paying attention to what's in front of their eyes," says Baker, an American economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

"I think we’re going to see a big fall-off in purchases for the rest of 2010 and even into 2011,” Baker says. “So the idea that somehow the market is stable, that housing prices will rise anytime soon – it’s really hard to make a case for that."

Baker lays out several reasons for his bearish case:

Programs that lifted the market, including the tax credit for first-time buyers, have expired.

The Federal Reserve is exiting the mortgage market, which will likely push rates to 5.5% to 6% by the end of the year.

There's still an inventory glut and rental rates are falling in many markets, notes Baker, author of "False Profits: Recovering from the Bubble Economy." He says the rental market doesn't lie.
Naturally the housing bulls disagree. Hedge-fund manager John Paulson, for example, said housing prices in hard-hit California will begin to rise this year, setting the stage for a wider recovery, as the FT reports.

So what are the chances of, say, another tax credit or purchase of mortgage-backed securities? "I think they'd be reluctant to do that because of the signal it would send," Baker says in the accompanying clip. "I mean it would send this unambiguous signal things really are bad, worse than had been advertised."
J.D. Hayworth
"Up until two weeks ago, John McCain was a leading proponent of amnesty. Now with me challenging him, suddenly he has changed."
No evidence that Hayworth spooked the Maverick

Bill O'Reilly
"We researched to find out if anybody on Fox News had ever said you're going to jail if you don't buy health insurance. Nobody's ever said it."
Apparently, the research wasn't thorough enough

Chain e-mail
Obama said troops "whine about bearing the costs" of going to war.
Satire takes on twisted viral life

John McCain
"I never considered myself a maverick."
Except for all those times he called himself a maverick

J.D. Hayworth
"The Massachusetts Supreme Court...defined marriage as simply, quote, the establishment of intimacy ... I guess that would mean if you really had affection for your horse, I guess you could marry your horse."
Mr. and Mrs. Ed?

Rush Limbaugh
People "can't go fishing anymore because of Obama."
Obama isn't confiscating rods and reels

Americans for Prosperity
"A government panel that didn't include cancer specialists says women shouldn't receive mammograms until age 50...If government takes over health care, recommendations like these could become the law for all kinds of diseases."
Amendments assure mammogram coverage for women over 40

Virginia Foxx
"The economy began its nose dive when Democrats took control of Congress in January 2007."
Is it a nose dive if it's delayed by a full year?

Charles Rangel
"I'm glad for the wording of it (an ethics report on corporate-sponsored Congressional trips) because clearly the wording exonerates me."
Not according to our dictionary

Scott Brown
The stimulus bill "didn’t create one new job."
Despite grim employment numbers, the stimulus has created jobs

Nancy Pfotenhauer
The president's health care proposals will cause "most Americans to have their premiums increased, not decreased, and hundreds of millions of people lose their current insurance coverage."
Pretending clarity while distorting

Rush Limbaugh
There are "high administrative costs" when you donate to Haiti relief through the White House Web site.
No, there's no Pay Pal on White House site

Newt Gingrich
A recent Obama executive order could "lead to a number of investigations by Interpol in the United States, potentially aimed at American officials."
Interpol just doesn't work that way

Rudy Giuliani
"We had no domestic attacks under Bush."
Did Rudy get amnesia?

Dick Cheney
President Obama "doesn't ... want to admit we're at war."
Except for all those times he's said we're at war

Chain e-mail
A data-storing microchip "would be implanted in the majority of people who opt to become covered by the public health care option."
No, and the health insurance exchanges won't turn you into a zombie, either

Chain e-mail
Under the cap-and-trade bill, homes would have to be retrofitted to meet energy and water efficiency standards before they could be sold.
There's no such provision in the bill

Chain e-mail
Maj. Nidal Hasan, the man accused of the Fort Hood shootings, "was an ADVISOR to the Obama Administration."
Once upon a time, he attended a conference. End of story.

Glenn Beck
"In the health care bill, we're now offering insurance for dogs."
No public option for Bo

Michele Bachmann
Page 92 of the House health care bill "says specifically that people can't purchase private health insurance after a date certain."
She should read the other 1,989 pages

Page 1 of 6 next
One of the recurring themes of last year’s presidential race was that if Barack Obama was elected, Americans would face a barrage of new taxes that would specifically slam the middle class and working families.

Well, guess what? According to a new USA Today analysis, even as federal spending skyrocketed thanks to stimulus packages and bank bailoutsbank bailouts, Americans paid the lowest level of taxes last year since 1950. Federal, state and local taxes, which includes income, property, sales and other taxes, ate up just 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century.

Tea Partiers are still warning that today’s spending will come back as tomorrow’s taxes, but according to the new statistics, in the meantime the average annual tax savings of $3,400 has translated into a 3.2% boost in consumer spending in the first quarter of this year. Then again, the $862 billion stimulus has helped the federal debt grow to a monstrous $8.4 trillion thanks to perks such as an $800 reduction in income taxes on couples earning up to $150,000.

With virtually all stimulus tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, rates are likely to creep back up unless Congress votes to extend them into 2011.
yet all the commenters claim they pay more taxes than ever...?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

read this yesterday at serenity:


Stop you
miserable creature!
Can't you see
you're killing me?!
When will you hear
my screams?
When will you stop
torturing me?
When you
(with your
I warned you
by sending
Did you listen?
you blamed the
& poisoned it
to kill
the germs.Then
you went to work
on my ground
& my air:

You stripped the
cover off my land
my trees
pulled up
their roots
let my topsoil
wash away
into my streams
tried to replace it
with chemicals
filled my air
with hydrocarbons
& my skies
with fluorocarbons.
I burned
your lungs
& your skin
to show you
what you do
to my lungs
my skin.
Did you listen?
you went back
to your lab
to try to find
a cure.Then
you went to work
on my seas
& my rain:

You poisoned my fish
with mercury
& more exotic
built your
chimneys taller
to shoot your
& filled
with your nitrates
& nitrites &
sulfates & sulfites.
Are you blind
you ungrateful whelp
that you can't see
what you do
to me?
Are you deaf
to your
poor old mother's
that you go right on
tormenting me?
I wish
you were