Saturday, April 28, 2012

That Bin Laden Quote Makes Romney Look Even Worse Than You Think

In a new ad, the Obama campaign is asserting that   Mitt Romney wouldn't have gone after Osama bin Laden:

President Obama's campaign is ... argu[ing that] Mitt Romney would not have launched the raid to capture Osama bin Laden last year....

The campaign suggests Romney would not have ordered the raid by pointing to a 2007 interview with The Associated Press in which Romney said: "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."

President Obama's campaign is ... argu[ing that] Mitt Romney would not have launched the raid to capture Osama bin Laden last year....

The campaign suggests Romney would not have ordered the raid by pointing to a 2007 interview with The Associated Press in which Romney said: "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."

That quote tells us that Romney was endorsing the George W. Bush approach to bin Laden ("I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you"). And that's the problem: Not only does Romney's statement suggest that bin Laden would be alive if Romney were president, it suggests that Romney will meekly go along with GOP orthodoxy at all times.  READ MORE

Bill Maher: Stop Punishing Sex Scandals Over Everything Else

Last night, Bill Maher made a great point: why is it, that among all the dirty and dastardly things that politicians and their minions do, it's not until they've got a sex scandal on their hands that their careers are ruined? Specifically: "Why do we punish sex so much more than everything else?" Not referring to the Secret Service scandal per se, he pointed out a long history of people who have become embroiled in them... and gets in an awesome dig at Newt Gingrich. Watch, via Huffington Post:

Romney Advises Broke, About-to-be-Unemployed College Students: “Just Borrow Money From Your Parents!”

Back in 2008, I used to argue that Sarah Palin didn’t really exist — that she was actually an incredibly elaborate Tina Fey performance art project, an Andy-Kaufman style hoax. Because, seriously — Palin was so staggeringly vapid that it stretched credibility that she could be for real. It almost seemed more likely that she might be an over-the-top parody of a certain kind of blissfully idiotic, all-American wingnut, than that she was an actual person.

I often have similar thoughts about Mitt Romney. A surpassingly perfect villain for our times, he appears to come straight from central casting as the slick, shifty-eyed C.E.O. who’s fixing to downsize your ass — and implement his evil scheme for world domination while he’s at it. The G.O.P could not have run a more astonishing incarnation of the self-parodying cluelessness of the 1 percenters if they tried. For all practical purposes, it’s as if the the top-hat-and-tails-wearing Monopoly guy was their candidate.  READ MORE

The Problem With Citizens United Is Not Corporate Personhood

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 03:25 By James Marc Leas and Rob Hager, Truthout | News Analysis 

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Florida Rep. Ted Deutch introduced a constitutional amendment in December to overturn Citizens United, one of five decisions since 2006 by which a closely divided Supreme Court vastly increased the amount of corrupting corporate money in elections.
In an opinion piece critical of the decision in Citizens United, Senator Sanders wrote:
When the Supreme Court says that for purposes of the First Amendment, corporations are people, that writing checks from the company's bank account is constitutionally-protected speech and that attempts by the federal government and states to impose reasonable restrictions on campaign ads are unconstitutional, when that occurs, our democracy is in grave danger.
The joint Sanders-Deutch Resolution proposes an amendment to the constitution "to expressly exclude for-profit corporations from the rights given to natural persons." The first section of the amendment states:

America Wakes Up to the Reality: Inequality Matters

Occupy Chicago March to Grant Park,
November 5, 2011. (Photo: Michael Kappel)
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 03:44 By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Truthout | Op-Ed 

If you're part of the 1 percent, even getting fired comes with a cushion made of eiderdown. GMI, a research company that gets paid to keep an eye on such things, just issued a study headlined, "Twenty-One U.S. CEOs with Golden Parachutes of More than $100 Million." That's each.

The report's authors, Paul Hodgson and Greg Ruel, write, "These 21 CEOs walked away with almost $4 billion in combined compensation. In total, $1.7 billion in equity profits was realized by these CEOs, primarily on the exercise of time-vesting stock options and restricted stock."

This news came the same day as another report, this one from Indiana University, titled, "At Risk: America's Poor during and after the Great Recession." Its researchers conclude, "The number of people living in poverty is increasing and is expected to increase further, despite the recovery. The proportion of people living in poverty has increased by 27% between the year before the onset of the Great Recession (2006) and 2010 ... Poverty is expected to increase again in 2011 due to the slow pace of the economic recovery, the persistently high rate of unemployment, and the long duration of spells of unemployment."  READ MORE

Prostate Cancer Surgery Bomb: Surgery Does Nothing

Prostate cancer surgery may do nothing to prolong
life, according to a new study.   (AP Photo/M.
Spencer Green)

Specialists await full results of 12-year study

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 28, 2012 1:54 PM CDT 
(Newser) – Cancer experts are nervously awaiting the publication of a new study that may revolutionize the treatment of prostate cancer, the Independent reports. First revealed at a urology conference in February, the 12-year study of 731 men showed that standard prostate cancer surgery did nothing to prolong life. "The only rational response to these results is, when presented with a patient with prostate cancer, to do nothing," says a British specialist. 

In fact, prostate cancer is so slow-growing that in 50% of British cases, men end up dying of something else.   READ MORE


Component of Pizza Seasoning Herb Oregano Kills Prostate Cancer Cells

ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2012)

Oregano, the common pizza and pasta seasoning herb, has long been known to possess a variety of beneficial health effects, but a new study by researchers at Long Island University (LIU) indicates that an ingredient of this spice could potentially be used to treat prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in American men.  READ MORE

Prostate Cancer

Ignorance is the worst enemy!

What’s new in prostate cancer research and treatment?

  • Staging

  • Treatment

  • Surgery

  • Radiation therapy

  • Newer treatments for early stage cancers 

  • Nutrition and lifestyle changes

  • Hormone therapy

  • Chemotherapy

  • Prostate cancer vaccines

  • Angiogenesis inhibitors

  • Preventing or treating spread of cancer to the bones


Homophobic? Maybe You’re Gay

In recent years, Ted Haggard, an evangelical leader who preached that homosexuality was a sin, resigned after a scandal involving a former male prostitute; Larry Craig, a United States senator who opposed including sexual orientation in hate-crime legislation, was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct in a men’s bathroom; and Glenn Murphy Jr., a leader of the Young Republican National Convention and an opponent of same-sex marriage, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after being accused of sexually assaulting another man. 

One theory is that homosexual urges, when repressed out of shame or fear, can be expressed as homophobia. Freud famously called this process a “reaction formation” — the angry battle against the outward symbol of feelings that are inwardly being stifled. Even Mr. Haggard seemed to endorse this idea when, apologizing after his scandal for his anti-gay rhetoric, he said, “I think I was partially so vehement because of my own war.” 

It’s a compelling theory — and now there is scientific reason to believe it. In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.   READ MORE

Death of Spy, Zipped Into Bag, Spawns Theories and Inquest

Gareth Williams
Metropolitan Police, via Associated Press
An inquest held just across the Thames from MI6’s headquarters here has brought forth details of the bizarre and lonely death in August 2010 of Gareth Williams, a 31-year-old rising star in supersecret counterterrorism work. He was found in a fetal position, arms crossed on his chest, locked inside a duffel bag resting in an unfilled bathtub at the government flat assigned to him in the upscale Pimlico district of London.
His naked body had been in the bag for a week before it was discovered, so badly decomposed that the police and pathologists have been unable to determine whether he was murdered in what his family’s lawyer has suggested to the court was a plot by others skilled in the “dark arts” of spy work.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Broadcasters, Citizens United and the Perfect Storm (Part I)

Friday, 27 April 2012 15:50 By Yana Kunichoff, Truthout | Report 

As broadcasters take in record amount of political advertising money and give little indication of where it came from while lobbying against rules that would require increased transparency of this intake, transparency advocates like Free Press argue that companies including News Corporation, NBC Universal and the Walt Disney Company have created a perfect storm of political misinformation. The decision to be voted on today, April 27, by the Federal Communications Commission will consider whether broadcasters will be forced to put their political ad information online, a move they have fought tooth and nail since it was initially introduced. The infographic below looks at the key issues in the argument around the double role of broadcasters - as purveyors of the public message, and recipients of private political cash.

Washington Post’s Kaplan and Other For-Profit Colleges Joined ALEC

(Photo: Kaplan International Colleges / Flickr)
Friday, 27 April 2012 14:28 By David Halperin , Republic Report | Report 

Republic Report has learned that the Washington Post Company’s Kaplan for-profit college division, was, last year, a member of the controversial business advocacy group the American Legislative Exchange Council. Other major for-profit education companies also joined ALEC. Republic Report has obtained a July 2011 document showing Kaplan Higher Education and other for-profits as members of ALEC’s Education Task Force. This morning, in an email message to Republic Report, Mark Harrad, Vice President of Communications at Kaplan, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Washington Post Company that includes Kaplan Higher Education, wrote, “A unit of Kaplan was a member of ALEC for a one year period, which ended in August 2011.”

 For-profit colleges are the ultimate special interest. Many receive around 90 percent of their revenue from federal financial aid, more than $30 billion a year, and many charge students sky-high prices. In recent years, it has been fully documented that a large number of these schools have high dropouts rates and dismal job placement, and many have been caught engaging in highly coercive and deceptive recruiting practices. Yet when the bad actions of these predatory schools got publicly exposed, the schools simply used the enormous resources they’ve amassed to hire expensive lobbyists and consultants, and to make campaign contributions to politicians, in order to avoid accountability and keep taxpayer dollars pouring into their coffers.  READ MORE

House Passes CISPA in Surprise Vote; Opponents Will Continue to Fight in Senate

The House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in a surprise vote late Thursday despite a veto threat from the White House and opposition from civil liberties groups that say the bill undermines existing privacy law and would allow private companies to spy on American citizens.

The House passed CISPA by a vote of 248 to 168, with votes for and against coming in from both parties. A vote was expected on Friday, but the House came to a vote soon after debating the bill. The Senate will now consider the bill.

CISPA is designed to break down barriers between the government and private business and allow for open sharing of intelligence on cyber threats, such as foreign hackers. Big tech and web firms, including Facebook, AT&T and IBM, support CISPA and hope the government will provide them more information on cyber threats.

Civil liberties and Internet freedom groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU claim the bill goes too far and would allow private companies and the government to circumvent existing privacy laws that prevent domestic spying and allow big web firms to hand over private data and information, such as emails, to the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies. The ACLU and the EFF say they will continue to oppose the bill in the Senate.  READ MORE

The Ghost of Joe McCarthy Slithers Again

Allen West. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Friday, 27 April 2012 14:26 By Michael Winship and Bill Moyers, Moyers & Co. | Op-Ed 

We’ve talked at times about George Orwell’s classic novel 1984, and the amnesia that sets in when we flush events down the memory hole, leaving us at the mercy of only what we know today. Sometimes, though, the past comes back to haunt, like a ghost. It happened recently when we saw Congressman Allen West of Florida on the news.

A Republican and Tea Party favorite, he was asked at a local gathering how many of his fellow members of Congress are “card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists.”

He replied, “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

By now, little of what Allen West says ever surprises. He has called President Obama “a low level socialist agitator,” said anyone with an Obama bumper sticker on their car is “a threat to the gene pool” and told liberals like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to “get the hell out of the United States of America.” Apparently, he gets his talking points from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, or the discredited right wing rocker Ted Nugent.

A Phoenix Rising: Common-Good Conservatism

A tea bag burning. (Photo: coconinoco / Flickr)
Friday, 27 April 2012 14:25 By Michael Stafford and D R Tucker, Truthout | Op-Ed 

Editors' Note: After Mike Lofgren's seminal "Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult" comes a cry for a reinvented conservatism from two Republicans disillusioned with what their party has become and convinced that the conservative political tradition is salvageable.

Truthout is posting this piece to stimulate a healthy dialogue about whether there is a conservative political tradition that can actually work with progressives. Or is that just naïve? We hope that you read and comment with your reaction.
In mythology, the phoenix is a beautiful bird that bursts into flames at the end of its life as it dies. From the ashes of the old, a new phoenix emerges. This cycle of birth, fiery death and rebirth, makes the phoenix a symbol of hope and renewal.

Today, American conservatism has degenerated into an intellectually and morally bankrupt ideology. It offers nothing more than bumper-sticker slogans that pander to the prejudices and ignorance of the lowest common denominator in order to enrich and empower an oligarchic elite. Angry, cruel and sneering, it is exemplified by the carnival barkers on talk radio and Fox News. High in volume, but devoid of substance, it has no long-term future because it lacks credible solutions to the range of very real problems American society is facing.  READ MORE

The GOP's Death Wish

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
27 April 12

hat are the three demographic groups whose electoral impact is growing fastest? Hispanics, women, and young people. Who are Republicans pissing off the most? Latinos, women, and young people.

It’s almost as if the GOP can’t help itself.

Start with Hispanic voters, whose electoral heft keeps growing as they comprise an ever-larger portion of the electorate. Hispanics now favor President Obama over Romney by more than two to one, according to a recent Pew poll.

The movement of Hispanics into the Democratic camp has been going on for decades. What are Republicans doing to woo them back? Replicating California Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s disastrous support almost twenty years ago for Proposition 187 – which would have screened out undocumented immigrants from public schools, health care, and other social services, and required law-enforcement officials to report any “suspected” illegals. (Wilson, you may remember, lost that year’s election, and California’s Republican Party has never recovered.)

The Arizona law now before the Supreme Court – sponsored by Republicans in the state and copied by Republican legislators and governors in several others – would authorize police to stop anyone looking Hispanic and demand proof of citizenship. It’s nativism disguised as law enforcement.   READ MORE

The Self-Made Myth: Debunking Conservatives' Favorite -- And Most Dangerous -- Fiction

Donald Trump "self made man"?
A new book makes a strong case that nobody ever makes it on their own in America.
April 25, 2012

The self-made myth is one of the most cherished foundation stones of the conservative theology. Nurtured by Horatio Alger and generations of beloved boys' stories, It sits at the deep black heart of the entire right-wing worldview, where it provides the essential justification for a great many other common right-wing beliefs. It feeds the accusation that government is evil because it only exists to redistribute wealth from society's producers (self-made, of course) and its parasites (who refuse to work). It justifies conservative rage against progressives, who are seen as wanting to use government to forcibly take away what belongs to the righteous wealthy. It's piously invoked by hedge fund managers and oil billionaires, who think that being required to reinvest any of their wealth back into the public society that made it possible is "punishing success." It's the foundational belief on which all of Ayn Rand's novels stand.   READ MORE

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Social Security and Medicare: Behind the Numbers and the Spin

By Richard RJ Eskow

Here are some headlines you won't see after the government releases new figures on Social Security and Medicare later today

"Social Security Trust Fund Even Larger Than It Was Last Year"

 "Growing Wealth Inequity Will Lead to Social Security Imbalance Later This Century"

"For-Profit Healthcare Poses Threat to Medicare, Federal Deficit, and Overall Economy in Coming Decades"

"Public Consensus Grows For Taxing Wealthy to Restore Long-Term Entitlement Imbalance"

Instead here's what we've already seen:
 "Aging workforce strains Social Security, Medicare"

That headline's completely wrong, and yet it's been repeated in dozens of different news outlets (sometimes with minor variations) as they run an improved, but still misleading, news story on Social Security and Medicare from Stephen Ohlemacher at the Associated Press.

Perhaps Trudy Lieberman's Columbia Journalism Review analysis of misleading Social Security reporting had some impact.

Whatever the reason, it's good to see that Ohlemacher's article acknowledges the role that our ongoing economic difficulties have had in slowing revenues for these programs, and that he quotes critics of the Social Security-cutting consensus (although with far less prominence than he does a little-known figure repeating right-wing talking points.)

Even the Washington Post, which is the nation's worst journalistic offender on these subjects, shifted the emphasis with their headline this time. Today they're running the AP article with the header "Social Security, Medicare strained by slow economic recovery, aging workforce."
That headline is 50 percent right—which is a 50 percent improvement.   READ MORE

Top five regrets of the dying

Last Wishes
February 1, 2012,  

The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)

A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'. Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again." Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware: 1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard. "All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence." 3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. 4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Note: For inspiring articles from major media sources on at-death and near-death experiences, click here.

Marissa Alexander: Shoot to Kill Or You Must Not Be Scared Enough

April 23, 2012
Marissa Alexander is another victim of Florida’s infamous Stand Your Ground law, proving that Florida statute 776.013 is not for battered women or people who won’t shoot to kill. When attacked by her husband in her home, with an order of protection in place, Marissa Alexander shot into the ceiling, instead of into his body, to scare him away. She is now sitting in a jail cell, awaiting sentencing for assault with a deadly weapon.
 Ms. Alexander is black and a mother of three. She had given birth nine days earlier to a premature infant, allegedly as a result of battering during her pregnancy. She is a licensed gun owner, with concealed carry permit. She was in her own home. Her husband had a documented history of domestic violence. She reasonably believed that her life was in danger and her husband was violating an order of protection.

Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander's Sentencing Delayed

George Zimmerman Neighbors Complained About Aggressive Tactics Before Trayvon Martin Killing

First Posted: 03/12/2012 9:13 pm Updated: 03/13/2012 8:02 am 

A volunteer community watch captain who shot an unarmed Florida teenager to death last month had been the subject of complaints by neighbors in his gated community for aggressive tactics, a homeowner said.
George Zimmerman has not been charged in the Feb. 26 shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17, who was walking home from a convenience store in Sanford, Fla., near Orlando. Zimmerman, who patrolled the Retreat at Twin Lakes development in his own car, had been called aggressive in earlier complaints to the local police and the homeowner's association, according to a homeowner who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

At an emergency homeowner’s association meeting on March 1, “one man was escorted out because he openly expressed his frustration because he had previously contacted the Sanford Police Department about Zimmerman approaching him and even coming to his home,” the resident wrote in an email to HuffPost. “It was also made known that there had been several complaints about George Zimmerman and his tactics" in his neighborhood watch captain role.

The meeting was attended by Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, the detective assigned to the investigation and an unnamed member of the city council, according to the homeowner’s association newsletter. The chief couldn't immediately be reached for comment about the complaints. A member of the homeowner’s association board, who asked not to be quoted by name, said she “hadn’t heard about any complaints” about Zimmerman. Zimmerman's phone number is disconnected and efforts to reach him have been unsuccessful.   READ MORE

Monday, April 23, 2012

What Zimmerman Really Told Police About Trayvon... (DETAILS)

Posted April 19, 2012 by The Decider for Global Grind Staff

Now new details have been uncovered by the Daily Beast's Aram Roston, who spoke with an unidentified source about the night Zimmerman was questioned by Sanford police.
According to the source, Zimmerman told Sanford police investigators that Trayvon’s final words were ‘Okay, you got it.'
As reported by the Daily Beast:
A law-enforcement source familiar with Zimmerman’s account, but not directly involved in the case, said that in his statement to police, he said Martin’s final words after being shot were, “Okay, you got it.”
According to The Daily Beast’s source, Zimmerman told police that when he was on the ground, Martin straddled him, striking him, and then tried to smother him.
Zimmerman claimed that he yelled for help, and that various neighbors who peered out to see the fight from their backyards didn’t get involved.
Zimmerman, the source said, told officers he was so paralyzed by fear that he initially forgot he had a gun, but he said that after Martin noticed his 9mm pistol, Zimmerman pulled it out of his belt holder and fired one round, a hollow-point—the round that killed Martin.

[emphasis mine]

Zimmerman told police that Martin’s last words after the shooting were, “Okay, you got it," which he repeated twice, before turning and falling face down on the ground.  

The source continued:
Zimmerman told police he didn’t realize that Martin was seriously injured, and that he lunged to get on top of him after the teenager fell to the ground. Moments later, a police officer from Sanford arrived, placed him in handcuffs and took his gun.
The law-enforcement source said Sanford police investigators interviewed Zimmerman three times about the shooting. The last time followed a walk-through of the shooting site. Afterward, three detectives grilled Zimmerman at police headquarters in their most thorough and hostile questioning, according to the source. They told Zimmerman they didn’t believe him, the source said, and tried to poke holes in his story.
The source familiar with the case said that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators had Zimmerman lie on his back in another location in an effort to recreate the position he said he had been in during the shooting. Then, the source said, investigators recorded Zimmerman as he shouted what had been heard on the 911 calls: cries such as, “Help me!” Read more: 

Frank Taaffe Mugshot

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sex Escape: Why Do Men Go to Dominatrixes?

Talking to pro-dommes about why some men find escape in submission.
April 20, 2012

What about men? That was the first thought that came to mind after reading Katie Roiphe’s Newsweek cover storyon the BDSM-themed “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon, in which she controversially speculated that women’s current fascination with the book’s story line of female submission was the result of the “pressure of economic participation” and the “hard work” of striving for equality. The desire for submission is hardly something unique to women.

Who understands this better than professional dominatrixes? With so many speculating this week on Roiphe’s article, I decided to hand the microphone over to women with a unique perspective on the dynamics in power and play.

Several said that Roiphe is actually on to something when she talks about submission as an escape from life’s stresses — only, this reasonable point is overwritten by her wrongheaded focus on women and the impact of feminism. Roiphe wonders whether there is “something exhausting about the relentless responsibility of a contemporary woman’s life … all that strength and independence and desire and going out into the world,” and suggests “that, for some, the more theatrical fantasies of sexual surrender offer a release, a vacation, an escape from the dreariness and hard work of equality.” What about the exhausting, relentless responsibility of contemporary people’s lives?  READ MORE

10 Amazing Discoveries You Missed This Week

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Angela Waye
Here's what researchers revealed this week: blood tests for depression, how to escape a ticket, the science behind Tupac's reappearance, crazy new species and more.
April 19, 2012

Here are 10 amazing discoveries you may have missed this week.
1. Blood Test for Depression
“Where are you going?”
“Who are you with?”
“When will you be back?”
Ah, the teen years. Our culture regards adolescents as sullen, moody and disillusioned, but it’s no joke at any age when what appears to be moodiness is actually depression or anxiety, serious problems that can be hard to diagnose.
That’s why a new study -- preliminary but promising -- showing that a simple blood test can diagnose depression is pretty huge news. 
"Once you have a measurable index of an illness, it's very difficult to say, 'Just pull yourself together,' or 'Get over it,'" Eva Redei, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and leader of the study told Melissa Healy of the LA Times
The Times story describes how the study was done by testing rats, one group of healthy test subjects, another with a vulnerability for depression. The rats with depression had 11 molecules in their blood and brains that were “largely absent” in the healthy rats, and 15 molecules in rats that had depression and anxiety that were absent in those with depression only. Researchers then tested for these “biomarkers” and found teens with depression “had significantly higher concentrations of the 11 targeted molecules in their blood,” and 18 biomarkers distinguishing teens with depression from those with depression and anxiety.   READ MORE

The Wild Hypocrisy of America's Conservative Christians

In Britain, the devout tend to be economic progressives. Why have American Christians embraced social Darwinism?
April 20, 2012

Here's a newspaper headline that might induce a disbelieving double take: "Christians 'More Likely to Be Leftwing' And Have Liberal Views on Immigration and Equality." Sounds too hard to believe, right? Well, it's true -- only not here in America, but in the United Kingdom.

That headline, from London's Daily Mail, summed up the two-tiered conclusion of a new report from the British think tank Demos, which found that in England 1) "religious people are more active citizens (who) volunteer more, donate more to charity and are more likely to campaign on political issues" and 2) "religious people are more likely to be politically progressive (people who) put a greater value on equality than the non-religious, are more likely to be welcoming of immigrants as neighbours (and) more likely to put themselves on the left of the political spectrum."

These findings are important to America for two reasons.

First, they tell us that, contrary to evidence in the United States, the intersection of religion and politics doesn't have to be fraught with hypocrisy. Britain is a Christian-dominated country, and the Christian Bible is filled with liberal economic sentiment. It makes perfect sense, then, that the more devoutly loyal to that Bible one is, the more progressive one would be on economics.  READ MORE

Whistleblower: The NSA is Lying -- The U.S. Government Has Copies of Most of Your Emails

NSA whistleblower William Binney believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush.
April 20, 2012

Editor's note: The following is a transcript of a Democracy Now! 4-part series on America's growing surveillance state. 
National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion "transactions" — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and challenges  NSA Director Keith Alexander’s assertion that the NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens.This interview is part of a 4-part special. Click here to see segment 12, and 4.    READ MORE

Earth Day: 9 Films That Will Change the Way You Think About the World

This Earth Day consider adding a few of these these mainstream and indie documentaries to your must-see list.
April 19, 2012

In an apocalyptic 2012, is there a better time than Earth Day to remind ourselves just how lucky we are to be spinning through the void of space on this life-giving rock? From rapidly acidifying oceans and shortsighted deforestation to perpetually pollutive wars and the propping up of obsolete markets, Earth is taking killer blows that we're going to seriously regret delivering.

Like the worsening news about the future of our planet, the following films have recently arrived in short bursts. They deal out often visually spectacular but emotionally devastating losses of sea ice, as well as the unheard voices of nations beneath the rising waves. Some consider the double-edged sword of technological innovation, whose parasitic profit motive has compromised its earthly host. Others analyze those natural resources that so-called progress continues to exhaust in search of the new shiny.
But these Earth Day offerings are timely snapshots, because the slow-dawning realization that we've unplugged from a lethal, consensual hallucination can be screened far and wide in our pop-cultural productions. You've seen it in the post-apocalyptic allegory of The Hunger Games, last seen slaying the box office, whose forthcoming king will no doubt be The Hobbit, which takes place in a bucolic Middle-Earth bouncing its way toward an epochal world war. You can throw in Game of Thrones' murderous power grabs, Don Draper's advertising fetishism and plenty more.   READ MORE

MF Global: The Untold Story of the Biggest Wall Street Collapse Since Lehman

There are plenty of lessons to be learned from MF Global, all of which we can count on Congress to ignore at the behest of Wall Street money until the next financial crisis.
April 20, 2012

Only on Wall Street can you bankrupt a company; misplace $1.6 billion of customers’ money; lose 75 percent of shareholders’ money in two weeks; speed dial a high priced criminal attorney and get a court to authorize the payment of your multi-million dollar legal tab from the failed company’s insurance policies; have regulators waive your requirements to take licensing exams required to work in the securities and commodities industry; have your Board of Directors waive your loyalty to the firm; run a bucket shop out of the UK; and still have the word “Honorable” affixed to your name in a Congressional investigations hearing.

This is not a flashback to the rotting financial carcasses of 2008. This putrid saga has been playing out in five Congressional hearings since December with the next episode scheduled for Tuesday, April 24, before the Senate Banking Committee under the auspicious title: “The Collapse of MF Global: Lessons Learned and Policy Implications.” (The title might more appropriately be, “MF Global: Lessons  Never Learned and Policy Implications of a Wild West Financial System Just One TradeAway from the Next Taxpayer Bailout.”)   READ MORE

New Organizing Campaign Aims to Change the Way We Think About Work--And Each Other

Photo Credit: Institute for Policy Studies via Flickr
America's aging population is going to need care in the coming years--Caring Across Generations aims to create millions of good jobs and redefine our relationships to one another.
April 16, 2012

The following article first appeared on the Web site of The Nation. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its e-mail newsletters here.  
A new campaign calling itself Caring Across Generations has in mind nothing less than a 180-degree turn in the way that Americans think about themselves, one another, the economy and workers. This group aims to create 2 million quality jobs in the process and put us all on track for a happy, healthy old age too. But first we need to talk, out loud, about care.
A meeting in New York in February kicked off with stories. “Share a personal care story,” coaxed Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations (CAG) and director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

From around the table, the stories came. The story of the grandpa whose homecare worker came to his hospital to brush his hair after he suffered a stroke. The nanny who took the kids to school so Mom could practice law. The lover with disabilities who needs full-time care: “It takes a village, but right now I’m the village,” says the partner, Alexandra, who also uses a wheelchair. Domestic worker Barbara, born overseas, was nervous: “I’ve been a caregiver all my life, and now I’m turning 65. Who’s going to be there to take care of me?”  READ MORE

Argentina's Oil Grab is Timely Retort to Rampaging Capitalism

Cristina Fernández's actions, however clumsy, are part of a worldwide reaction to exploitation by business and the rich.
April 22, 2012

Suppose the British government knew that a key shareholder in Centrica, our last great British energy company and owner of British Gas, was to sell its stake to Gazprom, so making Russian state ownership inevitable. I hope that, in this scenario, the government would expand the provision of the Enterprise Act that allows Britain to block takeovers that are against the national interest to include gas and nuclear power. (The act is currently confined to defence, financial services and the media.) I'm pretty certain that Centrica chairman Sir Roger Carr, also president of the CBI, shares the same view. No country can be indifferent to the ownership of strategic assets and thus the use to which they might be put. Its first obligation is to the well-being of its citizens.

The Argentinian government was faced with just this dilemma last week. YPF is its national oil and gas company, which it sold to the Spanish oil company Repsol for $15bn in 1999 as part of its privatisation drive. It has not been a great deal for either party. Argentinian oil and gas production has slumped, exploration for new reserves has been run down and this oil-rich country is now an oil importer, with Repsol accused of looting the company and betraying its obligations.   READ MORE

Romney Celebrates with Trump as Working New Yorkers Rally Against Rich Tax Dodgers

Mitt Romney's wife held a tax day fundraiser in New York--and found a day of protest from working people angry at the Romneys and their 1% friends' low tax rates.
April 17, 2012

On the street outside the shimmering gold logo of Trump Towers, a baseball team has gathered. This isn't the Yankees or the Mets, though. It's the long-lost Dodgers. The Tax Dodgers, that is.

Photo Credit: Sarah Jaffe
Inside Trump Towers, Ann Romney is celebrating her birthday with a fundraiser expected to bring in close to $600,000. Outside on the street, New Yorkers from the Working Families Party, New York Communities for Change, VOCAL-NY, United NY, and many other community groups have joined forces to remind the Romneys—and anyone passing by—that they pay a higher tax rate than the richest Americans.

The Tax Dodgers pose in their uniforms, hula-hooping cheerleaders hold up their “Tax Loopholes,” and the “team manager” thanks “hardworking, taxpaying Americans” for “paying taxes so we don't have to.”

The Truth Revealed About Debt and Deficits

Spending and debt are necessary in any economy. The key question is which sector should carry the burden: families and businesses, or the government?
April 18, 2012

It’s hard to open a newspaper or turn on the TV without being bombarded with narratives suggesting that fiscal policy didn’t work and that we therefore need discipline in the form of balanced budget amendments and debt limits. Even those who see themselves as moderates on the issue are embracing a commitment to “eventually” slash deficit spending once recovery gets underway.

But most of this talk arises from a fundamental misunderstanding about the way debt and deficits actually operate.

Private v. Public Debt

When people talk about reducing the deficit, the message is that the U.S. government is running out of money. Virtually everyone in Washington accepts this idea—from the progressive think tanks to the nuttiest free marketeers; from the politicians to NPR’s reporters; from Pete Peterson’s hedge fund cronies to organized labor. All present a unified front against budget deficits—particularly those that supposedly result from “entitlements.”

They all warn we have to cut excessive debt. But what kind of debt? Public or private? And excessive in relation to what? Time? Some threshold?  READ MORE

News From George Soros' Berlin Conference - Economists Discover Human Beings

Photo Credit: shutterstock
Could economists be leaving behind their mechanistic paradise for the messy, unpredictable human world?
April 18, 2012

Economists are peculiar creatures. Last week a large posse of them descended on Berlin for the third annual conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), a think-tank co-founded by investor and philanthropist George Soros in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis.

As I roamed through the various sessions and gatherings, pointy-headed folk squinted at me and rattled off facts and figures that gave them the sort of thrill I get from seeing spring flowers in bloom. The field of economics is known for attracting Asperger’s-spectrum wonks better at formulating financial models than the flow of human interaction. But if the Berlin forum is any indication, the field is now fitfully reorienting itself: it wants to understand those fascinating and often irrational beings known as “people.”  READ MORE

Revolution 2.0: How The Internet Changed Wael Ghonim's Life and Helped Spark Egypt's Uprising

Egyptian demonstrators demanding the ouster of
President Hosni Mubarak and calling for reforms
clash with riot police in Cairo. Police and protesters
clashed in the capital and other parts of Egypt on
Wednesday in a second day of rallies to demand
the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, in the biggest protests
of the president's 30-year rule.
Photo Credit: AFP
In a new memoir, Ghonim describes how the Egyptian people finally rejected 30 years of oppression and found their voice. Here, he discusses with Terrence McNally.
April 16, 2012

Wael Ghonim was a little-known 30-year-old Google manager, unwilling to publicly criticize the Egyptian regime, until he anonymously launched a Facebook campaign to protest the death of one particular Egyptian at the hands of security forces. In his memoir, Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power, he tells us, from his experience, why and how the Egyptian people finally rejected 30 years of oppression and found their voice. "People have called me a hero, but that is ridiculous – this has not been a revolution of heroic individuals, but about people coming together to overcome dictatorship…Social media allow ideas to be shared. They are places where people can unite, revolutions can begin. A new type of revolution – Revolution 2.0," he says   READ MORE

Arizona Will Ignore Federal Court’s Ruling on Restrictive Voter Law

State election officials say the Court’s order only affects federal voter registration forms—not the state version.
April 19, 2012 

The Arizona voting wars continue. This week, a federal appeals court ruled that Arizona’s photo ID requirement was not a “poll tax” or racially discriminatory, which was a defeat for voting rights activists who offered evidence that certain voting blocks—particularly people of color—disproportionately lack photo ID.  
But the other half of the ruling over Proposition 200 addressing whether Arizona could require documented proof of citizenship when registering to vote—if that proof did not already exist in state databases—left voting rights activists only slightly cheered. 
Arizona’s Proposition 200 was the nation’s first state law to require documented proof of citizenship before registering to vote—whether a would-be voter used the national voter registration application, found in all post offices; or a state voter registration form that the state gave out at state offices and is used for its online registration.
The Ninth Circuit ruling only affected the federal voter registration form, saying Arizona overreached by imposing additional proof-of-citizenship conditions. It ordered Arizona election officials to tell local registrars to accept that application, where people attest to citizenship by signing their name under penalty of perjury.  READ MORE

Where No City Has Gone Before: San Francisco Will Be World's First Zero-Waste Town by 2020

A sculpture made of garbage salvaged from
San Francisco's dump
Photo Credit: Sven Eberlein
A future without landfills? SF is already 78% of the way there -- but the hardest part is still ahead.
April 18, 2012

Last month, the millionth ton of food scraps, coffee grounds and soiled paper from San Francisco’s mandatory composting program returned to residents’ dinner tables in the form of fresh, organic foods grown by local farmers using the city’s nutrient-rich compost as fertilizer. Coming on the heels of the city’s 2009 municipal ordinance requiring city-wide source separation of all organic materials, the first large-scale urban food waste and composting program in the country has not only helped reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions to nearly 12 percent below 1990 levels; it's also catapulted San Francisco to a staggering, nation-leading 78 percent waste diversion rate.

Just a few years ago, a zero-waste city was considered a futuristic scenario. Now, the city by the bay is on track to be the first and only North American city to achieve this impressive goal -- and it plans to get there by 2020.  READ MORE

Right-Wing ALEC in Damage Control, While Activists Launch Campaign to Expose 'ALEC Democrats'

ALEC has made some concessions, but activists are keeping the pressure on, expanding their focus beyond corporations to target elected officials who align themselves with ALEC.
April 20, 2012

 The grassroots progressive campaigns calling on corporations to drop their support of right-wing front group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), have had impressive results so far. Taking advantage of the public's current interest in (and rage over) so-called "stand your ground" laws in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, groups including and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee have successfully urged about a dozen major groups to ditch ALEC. In response, ALEC has made some concessions and gone into full-on damage-control mode. But activists are keeping the pressure on, now expanding their focus beyond ALEC's corporate supporters to target the members of government who align themselves with ALEC as well.

Several months after the launch of the complementary anti-ALEC campaigns -- which target not only "stand your ground" laws but also voter ID, anti-union, anti-public education, and anti-immigration legislation -- Coca-Cola announced that it would drop its support for ALEC. Being such a high-profile company, Coke started something of a domino effect. Soon PepsiCo followed suit, then Kraft, McDonald's, Wendy's, Intuit, Mars, Arizona Public Service, Reed Elsevier, American Traffic Solutions, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut) did the same.   READ MORE

Women, Sex and S&M: Mainstream Media Totally Wrong About Female Desire -- Again

The real place women are getting spanked is in state legislatures across the country.
April 16, 2012

Spanking is en vogue. Or at least it’s popular to write about women who like to bend over. Jumping on the S&M bandwagon, writer Katie Roiphe’s cloying Newsweek cover story links wage-earning women with masochistic desire.
Roiphe reports that women comprise “almost 60 percent of college students…they are close to surpassing men as breadwinners, with four in 10 working women now outearning their husbands [and] women are less dependent or subjugated than before.” Yet, according to Roiphe, the recent spate of SM-tinged releases such as Fifty Shades of Grey, HBO’s Girls, and David Cronenberg’s psychoanalytic bio-fiction A Dangerous Method are evidence of a connection between women’s increasing clout and a concomitant drive to get spanked. At a time when women are gaining cultural and economic power, why are they seeking to be sexually dominated? Roiphe wonders.   READ MORE

6 Scary Extreme Energy Sources Being Tapped to Fuel the Post Peak Oil Economy

Think of this as taking fracking to the next level so that we can continue to speed along on our highway to hell -- peak oil, and the earth, be damned.
April 15, 2012

In a few short years the term “fracking” went from obscurity, mostly mistaken for an obscenity, to a household word, now often associated with flammable tap water. The technology is not new, but the market conditions that make such reckless forays deep into the earth’s crust profitable, are new. Welcome to the post peak oil energy economy. What’s online to follow fracking is even scarier.
The problem is we’re addicted to oil, and like most addicts, we can’t take that first step and admit our addiction. For over a century, we mostly glided, enjoying the high that cheap oil gave our economy and consumptive lifestyles, while not facing many consequences—at least none that we could yet recognize. But, like the meth-head whose body was rotting from the inside out, our addiction was poisoning our atmosphere, our oceans and in places, our land and fresh water. Now we’re seeing the results of that five generation-long binge. We’re also coming into a period that energy economists call “peak oil.”

What If the Greedy Rich Paid Their Share? 8 Things to Know About Wealth and Poverty in the US

We're far from poor -- we just have a wildly lopsided distribution of wealth that makes us seem poor.
April 17, 2012

America is loaded. We are not a struggling nation ready to go under. We are not facing an enormous debt crisis despite what the politicians and pundits proclaim. We are not the next Greece.

Rather, we have an enormous concentration-of-wealth problem -- one that must be solved for the good of our commonwealth. We are a very rich nation but it doesn’t seem that way because our wealth is so concentrated in the hands of a few. This is America’s disaster.

But wait. Doesn’t the wealth belong to the super-rich? Didn’t they earn it fair and square? Isn’t that the way it’s always been?

Not by a long shot. The amount of wealth that flows to the super-rich is determined by our public policies. It’s all about how we choose to share our nation’s productivity.
Productivity and the Wealth of Nations  READ MORE

American Nuns Busted for Being a Crazy Bunch of Radical Feminists

The Vatican has decided to crack down on
American nuns. (photo: Jezebel)
By Cassie Murdoch, Jezebel
20 April 12

ffering further proof that the world is becoming an increasingly weird place, the Catholic Church has decided to crack down on American nuns who, as anyone who has been around a nun recently knows, are a bunch of freewheeling party sisters. Wait, what? Yes, the Vatican has just taken disciplinary action against a group of American nuns who they say are proponents of "certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith." Oh no?

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group representing most of America's 55,000 nuns, is in trouble with the Vatican because they've apparently have not been vocal enough in their opposition to gay marriage, abortion, and women's ordination. So now it's not enough to just be opposed to things the church is against? You also have to stand up and yell about it? That's some bullshit right there. As far as those radical feminist ideas they've been spreading, that evil has supposedly been taking place at conferences sponsored by the LCWR.

This directive came as the result of a two-year-long investigation - excellent use of resources, boys - and appears to be part of what is seen as the church veering into more conservative territory. You might not think nuns would be the obvious target of any investigations, considering it's the priests who've been causing most of the actual problems the church has faced recently, but of course organized religion never lets a little thing like logic get in the way.   READ MORE