Saturday, February 18, 2012

TV’s eerie new race-less world

Joy Bryant and Dax Shephard in "Parenthood"

In an Obama age, shows like "Parenthood" flatter us into believing race no longer matters -- and avoid hard truth

NBC’s “Parenthood” is a trick show that people tuckered out by life are eager to believe in. I am one of these tired people. Its bustling mornings, carefully disheveled interiors, and impromptu kitchen dance-parties create the illusion of safe chaos. “Parenthood” knows that for the modern television viewer,  controlled disorder is better than none, for safe chaos tricks you into believing that what you’re watching isn’t totally sanitized. Strategically placed ad-libbing, background chatter and overlapping dialogue combine to slyly convince you of its authenticity — that not only does “Parenthood” belong to an age of realism and daring and diversity, but it’s helping create it.

It reminds me very much of my eighth-grade teacher who so desperately hoped to be the mythic sage who made a difference, but failed to realize his well-meaning musings about why “black families can’t stay together these days” did little to raise our awareness of anything other than his own desire to seem good. And this is what “Parenthood” does in its broad-stroke coverage of everything that could happen in the life of a modern American family. Since we’re all terrified of being different, there is some point in airing things we might still regard with shame: infidelity, moving back with your parents, not going to college, raising an autistic child, and, finally, interracial dating. As the end product of an interracial date, I find this last theme most interesting. On the show, it’s explored in two story lines.   READ MORE

Privatizing the War on Terror

America has become increasingly dependent on
military contractors to carry out military operations
abroad. (photo:
By John W. Whitehead,
18 January 12

f all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
– James Madison

America’s troops may be returning home from Iraq, but contrary to President Obama’s assertion that "the tide of war is receding," we’re far from done paying the costs of war. In fact, at the same time that Obama is reducing the number of troops in Iraq, he’s replacing them with military contractors at far greater expense to the taxpayer and redeploying American troops to other parts of the globe, including Africa, Australia, and Israel. In this way, the war on terror is privatized, the American economy is bled dry, and the military-security-industrial complex makes a killing - literally and figuratively speaking.

The war effort in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan has already cost taxpayers more than $2 trillion and could go as high as $4.4 trillion before it’s all over. At least $31 billion (and as much as $60 billion or more) of that $2 trillion was lost to waste and fraud by military contractors, who do everything from janitorial and food service work to construction, security, and intelligence - jobs that used to be handled by the military. That translates to a loss of $12 million a day since the U.S. first invaded Afghanistan. To put it another way, the government is spending more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.  READ MORE

Trusting the Candidates With Indefinite Detention

January 18, 2012
Posted by

Can a person trust Mitt Romney, and with what? All sorts of people, from all ideological directions, have asked this, usually with regard to a specific position on an issue like abortion or gun ownership. It was in an attempt to establish his credibility on the latter issue that Romney, in the candidates’ debate in South Carolina on Monday night, tried to remember the animal that he’d recently taken a shot at—not a moose, he decided, but an elk. The question is maddening enough when the parameters are clear—when, for example, he and the other candidates say what the rate in the highest federal income tax bracket should be. (Romney: twenty-five per cent; Ron Paul: “zero per cent. What’s so bad about that?”) Trust, and its opposite, are also behind the calls for Romney to release his tax returns.

More broadly, do we trust Romney or any candidate with power?

For God So Loved the One Percent ...

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
speaks at a campaign rally, 01/18/12. (photo:
Getty Images)
By Kevin M. Kruse, The New York Times
18 January 12

n recent weeks Mitt Romney has become the poster child for unchecked capitalism, a role he seems to embrace with relish. Concerns about economic equality, he told Matt Lauer of NBC, were really about class warfare.

"When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus 1 percent," he said, "you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God."

Mr. Romney was on to something, though perhaps not what he intended.

The concept of "one nation under God" has a noble lineage, originating in Abraham Lincoln’s hope at Gettysburg that "this nation, under God, shall not perish from the earth." After Lincoln, however, the phrase disappeared from political discourse for decades. But it re-emerged in the mid-20th century, under a much different guise: corporate leaders and conservative clergymen deployed it to discredit Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

During the Great Depression, the prestige of big business sank along with stock prices. Corporate leaders worked frantically to restore their public image and simultaneously roll back the "creeping socialism" of the welfare state. Notably, the American Liberty League, financed by corporations like DuPont and General Motors, made an aggressive case for capitalism. Most, however, dismissed its efforts as self-interested propaganda. (A Democratic Party official joked that the organization should have been called "the American Cellophane League" because "first, it’s a DuPont product and, second, you can see right through it.")  READ MORE

The Apocalyptics

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. (
Photo: John W. Adkisson /
The New York Times)
by: John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus | News Analysis 
They’re like a heavy metal band. Dress them up in black, put some Goth makeup on them, give them a name like The Apocalyptics, and they’d fit right in with the head-banger crowd. After all, it’s mostly doom and gloom with the Republican candidates, particularly when they start in on foreign policy. The lead singer for a while, Michele Bachmannloved to croon about the world entering its final days. Bass player Rick Perry has rapped about the threat of Islamic terrorists surging up from Mexico.

Lead guitarists Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have done a duet about going to war with Iran. And in the rhythm section, Rick Santorum, who definitely prefers sticks to carrots, has kept up a steady drumbeat for war with all comers, including China.

It used to be a bigger group. But those with sunnier dispositions like Herman Cain have dropped out.

Occupy the Neighborhood: How Counties Can Use Land Banks and Eminent Domain

A foreclosed home in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Photo: Monica Almeida / The New York Times)
by: Ellen Brown, Truthout | News Analysis 
An electronic database called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) has created defects in the chain of title to over half the homes in America. Counties have been cheated out of millions of dollars in recording fees, and their title records are in hopeless disarray. Meanwhile, foreclosed and abandoned homes are blighting neighborhoods. Straightening out the records and restoring the homes to occupancy is clearly in the public interest, and the burden is on local government to do it. But how? New legal developments are presenting some innovative alternatives.

John O'Brien is register of deeds for Southern Essex County, Massachusetts. He is mad as hell and he isn't going to take it anymore. He calls his land registry a "crime scene." A formal forensic audit of the properties for which he is responsible found that:

  • Only 16 percent of the mortgage assignments were valid.
  • Twenty-seven percent of the invalid assignments were fraudulent, 35 percent were "robo-signed" and 10 percent violated the Massachusetts Mortgage Fraud Statute.
  • The identity of financial institutions that are current owners of the mortgages could be determined for only 287 out of 473 (60 percent).
  • There were 683 missing assignments for the 287 traced mortgages, representing approximately $180,000 in lost recording fees per 1,000 mortgages whose current ownership could be traced.
At the root of the problem is that title has been recorded in the name of a private entity called MERS as a mere placeholder for the true owners. The owners are a faceless, changing pool of investors owning indeterminate portions of sliced and diced securitized properties. Their identities have been so well hidden that their claims to title are now in doubt. According to the auditor:
What this means is that ... the institutions - including many pension funds - that purchased these mortgages don't actually own them....  READ MORE


Friday, February 17, 2012

False Flag: Mossad Agents Posed As CIA to Recruit Terrorists

The Mossad may have flown a 'false flag' in Israel's
covert war with Iran, 08/18/10.
(photo: David Silverman/Getty Images)
By Mark Perry, Foreign Policy
14 January 12

This report came on the eve of assertions by the Iranian government that they now have evidence proving the CIA was responsible for the assassination of an Iranian scientist earlier this week. -JPS/RSN

uried deep in the archives of America's intelligence services are a series of memos, written during the last years of President George W. Bush's administration, that describe how Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two U.S. intelligence officials, the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives - what is commonly referred to as a "false flag" operation.

The memos, as described by the sources, one of whom has read them and another who is intimately familiar with the case, investigated and debunked reports from 2007 and 2008 accusing the CIA, at the direction of the White House, of covertly supporting Jundallah - a Pakistan-based Sunni extremist organization. Jundallah, according to the U.S. government and published reports, is responsible for assassinating Iranian government officials and killing Iranian women and children.  READ MORE

Romney: Entrepreneurs Should Just Ask Parents for Money

By David

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggested to a group of business people in Michigan on Thursday that entrepreneurs should ask their parents for money instead of using loans from the federal government.

In a speech to the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, the former Massachusetts governor blasted the Obama administration for trying to jump start renewable energy with government loans to companies like Solyndra.

"When the president says I'm going to take your money and give it to Tesla and Fisker, two new car companies, which by the way, Fisker now builds their cars in Finland, that's not good," he explained. "When he takes $500 million and puts it into Solyndra, that's not good. That's not good for American enterprise and innovation."  READ MORE


Teen Pregnancy Due To Aspirin Myth

Credit: The Dispatch
Pregnant Teen is victim of sexual ignorance
By John Amato

Rick Santorum's mega-million dollar donor Foster Friess made news yesterday when he shared his insane birth control beliefs with Andrea Mitchell :
Mitchell: Do you have any concerns with some of his comments on social issues, on contraception on women in combat and whether or not it would hurt his viability in a general election campaign were he to be the nominee?
Friess: Well I get such a chuckle when these things come out. Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed, we have Jihadist camps set up in Latin America which Rick has been worried about and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex, I think it says something about our culture and maybe we need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on the real issues are.

This contraceptive thing, my gosh, it's such inexpensive... back in my days we used Bayer aspirin for contraception, the gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly.

Mitchell: Um, excuse me I'm trying to catch my breath from that Mr. Friess, frankly....
It was pretty horrifying to hear. Diane Sweet, who runs our Occupy America Blog found this Dear Abby article from July18, 2007 which puts a chilling story to this anti-choice neanderthal's words and chuckles.READ MORE

Moochers Against Welfare

Published: February 16, 2012

First, Atlas shrugged. Then he scratched his head in puzzlement.

Modern Republicans are very, very conservative; you might even (if you were Mitt Romney) say, severely conservative. Political scientists who use Congressional votes to measure such things find that the current G.O.P. majority is the most conservative since 1879, which is as far back as their estimates go. And what these severe conservatives hate, above all, is reliance on government programs. Rick Santorum declares that President Obama is getting America hooked on “the narcotic of dependency.” Mr. Romney warns that government programs “foster passivity and sloth.” Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, requires that staffers read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” in which heroic capitalists struggle against the “moochers” trying to steal their totally deserved wealth, a struggle the heroes win by withdrawing their productive effort and giving interminable speeches.  READ MORE

Finally, Cornell University’s Suzanne Mettler points out that many beneficiaries of government programs seem confused about their own place in the system. She tells us that 44 percent of Social Security recipients, 43 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits, and 40 percent of those on Medicare say that they “have not used a government program.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shocker: Is Our World Becoming Less Violent?

Many believe the 20th century represents the pinnacle of human violence, but psychologist Steven Pinker argues that the opposite is true.
January 13, 2012

Humanity's lust for violence has undergone a long, precipitous decline at every level of social interaction, from domestic abuse to violent crime to interstate wars. That's the sweeping and somewhat counterintuitive thesis of psychologist Steven Pinker's new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. The pacification of humanity, says Pinker, is “a fractal phenomenon, visible at the scale of millennia, centuries, decades, and years.”

Pinker writes that the “very idea invites skepticism, incredulity and sometimes anger.” He sets out to overcome that barrier by surveying a broad swath of data, from examinations of ancient bones unearthed in peat bogs and on long-forgotten battlefields, to homicide statistics based on European coroners' inquests and local records dating back 800 years, to databases of modern interstate conflicts and civil wars.

Televangelist Pat Robertson joins ‘Obama dictatorship’ conspiracy

Pat Robertson
By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 15:43 EST

Even though the claim is wildly inaccurate, President Barack Obama’s critics have for years been calling him a “dictator,” and on Wednesday morning televangelist Pat Robertson joined the conspiracy parade by insisting that Obama secretly “wants to take control of every aspect of this nation by the federal government.”

“If you want a dictatorship, then that’s the way to get it because he’s giving it to you,” the 81-year-old said.
It wasn’t clear what exactly Robertson was talking about, other than making rambling allegations, but the claim that Obama wants to become a “dictator” springs from conservative backlash against President George W. Bush’s bailout of Chrysler and General Motors — a policy the Obama administration adopted and furthered to a considerable extent.

Conservatives began hurling allegations of a creeping dictatorship when the government effectively fired GM CEO Rick Wagoner after it had taken a large equity stake in the company to help them avoid complete collapse. In reality, the administration’s move saved tens of thousands of jobs — some say more — and GM has since returned to profit-making, allowing them to begin repaying the massive $49.9 billion given by taxpayers.

But most disappointing to many Republicans: While President Obama definitely owns the auto bailouts, Bush won’t stop taking credit for them.

“I didn’t want there to be 21 percent unemployment,” the former president told an audience in Las Vegas on Monday. “Sometimes circumstances get in the way of philosophy. I said, ‘No depression.’”

Noam Chomsky: America's Decline Is Real -- and Increasingly Self-Inflicted

Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky on how America "lost" the world.
February 14, 2012

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Significant anniversaries are solemnly commemorated -- Japan’s attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, for example.  Others are ignored, and we can often learn valuable lessons from them about what is likely to lie ahead.  Right now, in fact.
At the moment, we are failing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s decision to launch the most destructive and murderous act of aggression of the post-World War II period: the invasion of South Vietnam, later all of Indochina, leaving millions dead and four countries devastated, with casualties still mounting from the long-term effects of drenching South Vietnam with some of the most lethal carcinogens known, undertaken to destroy ground cover and food crops. 

The prime target was South Vietnam.  The aggression later spread to the North, then to the remote peasant society of northern Laos, and finally to rural Cambodia, which was bombed at the stunning level of all allied air operations in the Pacific region during World War II, including the two atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  In this, Henry Kissinger’s orders were being carried out -- “anything that flies on anything that moves” -- a call for genocide that is rare in the historical record.  Little of this is remembered.  Most was scarcely known beyond narrow circles of activists.

Mr. Davidson's Planet: NPR/NYT Guru Adam Davidson's Discredited Economic Principles

Adam Davidson's economic principles are alien to a just and prosperous society.
January 12, 2012

You’d be hard-pressed to find a discipline that shapes our world more than economics, and yet none has weaker foundations or more misguided evangelists. The rise of economic guru du jour Adam Davidson, the co-founder of NPR’s “Planet Money” and columnist for the New York Times Magazine, is perhaps one of the most disturbing illustrations of this unfortunate fact.

The Curious Field of Economics

Not too long ago, I asked Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz how many economists he met still adhered to the Chicago School free market approach, otherwise known as Neoliberal economics, that was proven to be severely flawed by the recent economic crash.

“About 60 percent,” said Stiglitz.
“Why is that?” I asked.

“For the most simple human reason of all,” Stiglitz told me. “People don’t like to admit that they’re wrong.”

Has Obama Exposed the Powerlessness of the US Bishops?

 With Catholic leaders and churchgoers turning their backs on the bishops, the men who rule the church are watching their political power wane.
February 15, 2012

In politics, it's said, the perception of power amounts to power itself. If that's the case, then the political power of the U.S. Catholic Bishops has long been based on little more than perception, that of an all-powerful church, an idea too often advanced by a corporate media romanced by the clerics' silken vestments and those great stone piles in which they preach. But among the people of the church, the bishops' pronouncements on matters of sex and politics don't amount to a hill of beans.

Politicians and media have long known this, but the perception remained that there was a "Catholic vote," one the bishops could deliver, even if those voters ignored the bishops' backward sexual edicts. But the events of the past week reveal that the bishops command no one, not even the leaders of Catholic institutions.  READ MORE

Will Obama Issue an Order Exposing Big Corporate Political Spenders in Citizens United Era?

 Like it or not, many of America's biggest corporations may be forced to disclose their political spending.
January 10, 2012

A executive order requiring that federal contractors disclose their electoral spending—by top officers and as corporations—is being reconsidered by the White House despite stiff opposition from the business lobby after it was first proposed last spring, according to civil rights attorneys working on the issue.
“There’s a lot of movement at the White House,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “I just had a meeting at the White House counsel’s office, trying to encourage them to move forward with the executive order. They have the perfect window of opportunity to get the executive order done.”

“It’s simple—any company that is paid with taxpayer dollars should be required to disclose political contributions,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who has pushed for the White House to issue the order. “With public dollars come public responsibilities, and I hope President Obama will issue his executive order right away.”  READ MORE

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fbi: 9/11 Truthers Should Be Treated As Possible Terrorists

In the last few weeks the FBI, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, have sent out 25 flyers that label normal everyday activities as possible terrorist indicators.

These flyers also specifically target political speech and the belief that the CIA and others had a part in 9/11 in order to justify, among other things, multiple foreign wars.

That’s right, our government is teaching state and local law enforcement nationwide that 9/11 truthers should be immediately looked at as possible terrorists.

In an FBI, Bureau of Justice document on spotting potential sleeper cells within the United States it specifically states that someone may be a terrorist sleeper agent if they believe that the CIA had a hand in 9/11. (A fact that has been heavily documented by thousands of experts. Rogue elements does not mean the entire CIA)  READ MORE

How two shell companies duped the Pentagon

CHEYENNE/ATLANDA | Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:12am EDT
(Reuters) - Two companies incorporated at a little house in Cheyenne, Wyoming, won Pentagon contracts after their owner took advantage of the state's liberal incorporation laws to create the firms using an alias, and then represented them as minority-owned to win favorable treatment as a military supplier. The firms and their owner were later banned from doing business with the Pentagon for providing knock-off parts.
A Reuters investigation has found that more than 2,000 companies are registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue in Cheyenne, the headquarters for Wyoming Corporate Services, a business incorporation company that specializes in corporate anonymity.

Among the firms incorporated there is a small subset that make their money from government contracts.
A Reuters review of federal contracting databases found nine firms registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue have been awarded 93 contracts worth more than $1.6 million by a half dozen government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Treasury's Internal Revenue Service, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

More than 90 percent of the contracts were awarded by the Department of Defense.

Latin American leaders assail U.S. drug ‘market’

MEXICO CITY — Latin American leaders have joined together to condemn the U.S. government for soaring drug violence in their countries, blaming the United States for the transnational cartels that have grown rich and powerful smuggling dope north and guns south.

Alongside official declarations, Latin American governments have expressed growing disgust for U.S. drug consumers — both the addict and the weekend recreational user heedless of the misery and destruction stemming from their pleasures.

“Our region is seriously threatened by organized crime, but there is very little responsibility taken by the drug-consuming countries,” Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said at a December meeting of Latin leaders in Caracas. Colom said the hemisphere was paying the price for drug consumption in the United States with “our blood, our fear and our human sacrifice.”

With transit countries facing some of the highest homicide rates in the world, so great is the frustration that the leaders are demanding that the United States and Europe consider steps toward legalization if they do not curb their appetite for drugs.

At a regional summit this month in Mexico, attended by the leaders of 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries, officials declared that “the authorities in consumer countries should explore all possible alternatives to eliminate exorbitant profits of criminals, including regulatory or market options.”
“Market options” is diplomatic code for decriminalization.  READ MORE

J&J Said to Agree to Pay $1 Billion in Risperdal Marketing Probe

January 18, 2012, 9:09 AM EST

By Margaret Cronin Fisk, Jef Feeley and David Voreacos
Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Johnson & Johnson will pay more than $1 billion to the U.S. and most states to resolve a civil investigation into marketing of the antipsychotic Risperdal, according to people familiar with the matter.

J&J, the world’s largest health products company, reached an agreement last week with the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, according to the people, who weren’t authorized to speak about the matter. Negotiations over a possible criminal plea are still under way, they said.

The U.S. government has been investigating Risperdal sales practices since 2004, including allegations the company marketed the drug for unapproved uses, J&J has said in Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The company said it has been in negotiations with the U.S. to settle the investigation.

Monsanto petition tells Obama: ‘Cease FDA ties to Monsanto’

(Nigel Treblin - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
A two-year-old Food and Drug Administration appointment is stirring up online protests once more.

In 2009, President Obama appointed Michael Taylor as a senior adviser for the FDA. Consumer groups protested the appointment because Taylor had formerly served as a vice president for Monsanto, the controversial agricultural multinational at the forefront of genetically modified food.

In recent days, a petition calling for the former Monsanto VP’s ouster is gaining steam.

“President Obama, I oppose your appointment of Michael Taylor,” the petition on reads. “Taylor is the same person who was Food Safety Czar at the FDA when genetically modified organisms were allowed into the U.S. food supply without undergoing a single test to determine their safety or risks. This is a travesty.”

Over the weekend, the petition was signed by thousands of people. At this writing, it has around 60,000 signatures of its 75,000 goal.

Requests for comment from Monsanto and the FDA were not immediately returned.

FINANCIAL TYRANNY: Defeating the Greatest Cover-Up of All Time

2012 has begun as a year of rampant paranoia and hopelessness on the Internet and throughout mainstream media.
The economy appears to be in a dire predicament -- ready to go over a cliff into an abyss few can even allow themselves to consider.
The Euro has been teetering on the brink of total collapse. A frantic bailout of the entire European Union, proposed by the Federal Reserve, has done very little to relieve the fears of the public.
On December 19th, 2011, Britain announced they will refuse to participate in this bailout -- showing how tense and uncertain the situation really is.
Simultaneously, very aggressive and blatant moves are being made to start World War III in the Middle East -- with imminent, ever-increasing threats from Israel and the United States to attack Iran.
Since 9/11, Americans and much of the Western world have been led to believe that the biggest enemy they face is terrorism from Islamic extremists. Nonetheless, there is now overwhelming, undeniable evidence that the true enemy... is within.
You are about to read a comprehensive investigation summarizing all the best information I have gathered about the true nature of this crisis since I became directly aware of it, twenty years ago -- in 1992.
Very few people are aware that a massive 122-nation coalition has formed to solve the problem -- just in the nick of time – and they are backing a legal, public solution to end Financial Tyranny.

UK police arrest Murdoch tabloid staff

Policeman also implicated in investigation into suspected payments by journalists to officers 

updated 1/28/2012 4:14:39 PM ET

British police arrested four current and former staff of Rupert Murdoch's best-selling Sun tabloid plus a policeman on Saturday as part of an investigation into suspected payments by journalists to officers, police and the newspaper's publisher said. 

Police also searched the paper's London offices at publisher News International, News Corp.'s British arm, in a corruption probe linked to a continuing investigation into phone hacking at its now closed News of the World weekly tabloid.

News Corp.'s Management and Standards Committee, set up in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, said Saturday's operation was the result of information it had passed to police.

"News Corporation made a commitment last summer that unacceptable news gathering practices by individuals in the past would not be repeated," the committee said in a statement confirming the arrests of four "current and former employees" of the Sun. READ MORE

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Priest allegedly told rape victim: ‘This is what God’s love feels like’

By Andrew Jones
Sunday, February 12, 2012 11:41 EST

A Los Angeles attorney is accusing 200 Catholic priests of sexual abuse across California.
According to NBC affiliate in Los Angeles, attorney Ray Boucher has mapped out at least sixty locations of where suspected priests reside in California.

“Many if not all these priests have admitted to sexual abuse,” Boucher told NBC Los Angeles. “They live within a mile of 1,500 playgrounds, schools and daycare centers.”

One of the alleged victims, Dan Smith, graphically detailed his incident with a local priest when he was a child.

“He would rape me and then say this is what God’s love feels like,” Smith told Los Angeles NBC.

Monday, February 13, 2012

USDA Certified Organic’s Dirty Little Secret: Neotame

By Barbara H. Peterson
Farm Wars
Just when we thought that buying “Organic” was safe, we run headlong into the deliberate poisoning of our organic food supply by the FDA in collusion with none other than the folks who brought us Aspartame. NutraSweet, a former Monsanto asset, has developed a new and improved version of this neurotoxin called Neotame. 
Neotame has similar structure to aspartame — except that, from it’s structure, appears to be even more toxic than aspartame. This potential increase in toxicity will make up for the fact that less will be used in diet drinks. Like aspartame, some of the concerns include gradual neurotoxic and immunotoxic damage from the combination of the formaldehyde metabolite (which is toxic at extremely low doses) and the excitotoxic amino acid. (
But surely, this product would be labeled! NOT SO!!! For this little gem, no labeling required. And it is even included in USDA Certified Organic food.
The food labeling requirements required for aspartame have now been dropped for Neotame, and no one is clear why this was allowed to happen. Neotame has been ruled acceptable, and without being included on the list of ingredients, for:
  • USDA Certified Organic food items.
  • Certified Kosher products with the official letter k inside the circle on labels. (Janet Hull)
Let me make this perfectly clear. Neotame does not have to be included in ANY list of ingredients! So, if you buy processed food, whether USDA Certified Organic or not, that food most likely will contain Neotame because it is cost-effective, and since no one knows it is there, there is no public backlash similar to what is happening with Aspartame. A win/win situation!
But that’s not all. Just love chowing down on that delicious steak? Well, that cow most likely will have been fed with feed containing… guessed it…..Neotame! A product called “Sweetos,” which is actually composed of Neotame, is being substituted for molasses in animal feed.
“Sweetos is an economical substitute for molasses. Sweetos guarantees the masking of unpleasant tastes and odor and improves the palatability of feed. This product will be economical for farmers and manufacturers of cattle feed. It can also be used in mineral mixture,” said Craig Petray, CEO, The NutraSweet Company, a division of Searle, which is a part of Monsanto. (Bungalow BillREAD MORE
 Lots of links here to look over on Neotame

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In Kansas, Is Catholic Church Trying to Destroy A Victim's Advocates Organization?

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
As we’ve been reporting on the Ms. Blog, Kansas City was rocked last fall by the indictment of Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report that a priest in his parish had pornographic pictures of children on his computer. Finn managed to avoid any serious punishment; he simply has to regularly report to a prosecutor any suspicious goings-on in his diocese that might relate to sexual abuse.

Meanwhile a lawsuit filed against another accused Kansas City pedophile priest, Fr. Michael Tierney–the fifth such suit against Tierney since 2010–has tried to ensnare just the organization devoted to stopping such abuse,SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

Last month, David Clohessy, SNAP’s executive director, was subjected to a six-hour deposition in the case ofJohn Doe BP v. Fr. Michael Tierney and the Kansas City Diocese. Lawyers for Finn and Tierney stated that lawyers for “Doe” (a 53-year-old man who accuses Tierney of assaulting him when he was a young altar boy)violated a gag order by discussing the case with SNAP–charges that SNAP, Clohessy and “Doe” deny. During his deposition Clohessy refused to compromise the privacy of victims of priest abuse by giving up names and information, even though he was subpoenaed to do so.  READ MORE

Obama vs. the Concern Trolls on Nonsense "Religious Liberty" Issue

Lindsay Beyerstein speaks the sad truth:
Already Catholic special interests are objecting to funding contraception out of overall premiums because that means they're funding contraception indirectly. This kind of intransigence illustrates how foolish it was to try to compromise with this constituency in the first place. They are professionally unreasonable.

Compromise is illusory because these guys are practicing spiritual accounting, not generally accepted accounting principles. They will make up the rules to get the result they want, namely, "We're being oppressed by your birth control!"

The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops hates the fact that any woman might get free birth control under health reform. No matter how this program is administered, the sophists at the USCCB will come up with a sob story about how they are being oppressed by our contraception cooties. We live in a highly interdependent society with complex organizations and multiple streams of money. If you're creative enough, you can always figure out why a dollar somebody else spends on birth control is tainting you.  READ MORE

Occupy vs. Monsanto: Activists, Farmers Fight the Corporation They Fear Will Take Over All America's Crops

Occupy comes out to support a lawsuit that hopes to turn the tables on corporate farming behemoth Monsanto.
February 6, 2012

Monsanto, if you will, is the 1 percent of Big Agriculture--the scourge of small farmers everywhere. But now those farmers are fighting back, backed by activists from Occupy Wall Street.

First, some history. In 1982, Monsanto scientists were the first to genetically modify a plant cell. Three years later, the US Patent Office ruled that plants were a patentable subject matter. 

By 1985, Monsanto had already become a corporate giant by creating RoundUp, the most popular herbicide in the world. Now that it had the legal protection of seed patents in addition to the biotechnology to genetically manipulate its seeds, Monsanto scientists engineered a specific brand of Monsanto seeds that were RoundUp-resistant—unlike organic, natural seeds, these seeds are sterile and have to be re-planted each year, ensuring that customers return year after year to replenish their supply.  
In order to achieve a monopoly over the market, and keep farmers from saving their own seed as they have done for centuries, Monsanto begin to purchase as many seeds as possible—spending $8 billion and acquiring over 20 seed companies over the past decade alone. Today, Monsanto controls 93 percent of soybean crops, 86 percent of corn crops, 93 percent of cotton crops, and 93 percent of canola seed crops in the United States alone. 

Monsanto is far from finished.  READ MORE

Spitzer: All the Right Reasons for Raising Capital Gains Taxes

Mitt Romney's large investment income has spurred arguments about whether to raise the tax on capital gains.
February 7, 2012

The U.S. tax code: Never has so much been done by so many for so few who need so little. The recent public debate about the inequities built into the tax code—triggered by the disclosure of Mitt Romney’s tax returns—is all for the good. So is the call for a “Romney rule” mandating that capital gains be treated as ordinary income, and so be subject to the same top marginal rate of 35 percent that applies to ordinary income, rather than the current top rate of 15 percent.

But we shouldn’t raise the capital gains tax just because it’s a popular idea. The rate should rise for philosophical, economic, and political reasons, as several colleagues and I argued in a recent debate at the Maxwell School of Public Policy at Syracuse University.

The philosophical argument for higher capital gains taxes is not tough. Modern American political philosophy is essentially a battle between John Rawls and Robert Nozick. Rawls, whose famous dictum is that we should maximize the well being of the least well-off member of our society, is generally understood consequently to support progressive tax structures that shift income from the wealthy to the less fortunate—with the proviso that marginal rates that were disincentives to work could over time diminish the well being of the least well off. So progressivity is bounded by that practical limit.
Anybody who is a Rawlsian—which means most Democrats—should favor a Romney rule that would raise his effective 14 percent tax rate to something approaching the 35 percent rate applicable to ordinary earned income. READ MORE

Why Was No One Punished for America's "My Lai" in Iraq?

 The U.S. military presence in Iraq was marked by the callous American attitude toward civilians, and the thorough lack of accountability in the military justice system.
February 12, 2012

The plea bargain in the last Haditha massacre case handed down in January is a fitting end to the Iraq war. In the most notorious case of U.S. culpability in Iraqi civilian deaths, no one will pay a price. And that is emblematic of the entire war and its hundreds of thousands of dead and millions displaced.

Sergeant Frank Wuterich, the squad leader who encouraged and led his marines to kill 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha in November 2005, was the last of eight originally charged in the massacre. The others were let off on technicalities, or to help the prosecution. One officer, not involved in the killing but the coverup, was acquitted in a military trial.

The responsibility for these killings came down to Wuterich’s role, but he never actually went through a full trial. The military prosecutor opted for the slap-on-the-wrist of demotion to private for the 24 civilian deaths. Wuterich, who admitted to much more in a “60 Minutes” interview in 2007—including rolling grenades into a house filled with civilians without attempting to make an identification—copped only to “dereliction of duty.”

The episode was often compared with the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, in which some 400 civilians were executed by Lieutenant William Calley and some of his army unit in 1967. While the scale and circumstances are quite different, they do bear one striking similarity, and that is the reaction of officials and the American public alike.

The My Lai massacre was uncovered by an enterprising journalist, Seymour Hersh, who had to overcome official disavowals to get the story. When Hersh managed to publish via a small wire service, the story exploded, with many Americans expressing horror and outrage that something like that could be done by American troops.  READ MORE

Runaway Greed Is Destroying America: Should There Be a Lid on How Much Someone Can Make?

 Today we take the idea of a minimum wage for granted. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
February 9, 2012

Social decency, most Americans today would agree, demands a minimum wage, a floor that keeps working people out of dire privation. Does social decency also demand a “maximum wage,” an income ceiling that discourages wealth from dangerously concentrating?

Philosopher Felix Adler certainly thought so. We remember Adler today as the tireless reformer who led the national effort to end child labor in the early 1900s. Adler also founded the Ethical Culture movement and introduced the kindergarten concept into American education. Much less well known: Adler advanced America’s first serious maximum wage proposal.

The exploitation of workers young and old, Adler believed, generated grand private fortunes that exerted a “corrupting influence” on American politics. To curb that corruption, he proposed a steeply graduated income tax — with a 100 percent top rate at the point “when a certain high and abundant sum has been reached, amply sufficient for all the comforts and true refinements of life.”

This 100 percent top rate, Adler told a packed 1880 lecture hall in New York City, would leave with the wealthy individual “all that he can truly use for the humane purposes of life” and  tax away “only that which is to him merely a means of pomp and pride and power.”  READ MORE

Conservatism Thrives on Low Intelligence and Poor Information

There is plenty of research showing that low general intelligence in childhood predicts greater prejudice towards people of different ethnicity or sexuality in adulthood.
February 12, 2012

Self-deprecating, too liberal for their own good, today's progressives stand back and watch, hands over their mouths, as the social vivisectionists of the right slice up a living society to see if its component parts can survive in isolation. Tied up in knots of reticence and self-doubt, they will not shout stop. Doing so requires an act of interruption, of presumption, for which they no longer possess a vocabulary.

Perhaps it is in the same spirit of liberal constipation that, with the exception of Charlie Brooker, we have been too polite to mention the Canadian study published last month in the journal Psychological Science, which revealed that people with conservative beliefs are likely to be of low intelligence. Paradoxically it was the Daily Mail that brought it to the attention of British readers last week. It feels crude, illiberal to point out that the other side is, on average, more stupid than our own. But this, the study suggests, is not unfounded generalisation but empirical fact.

It is by no means the first such paper. There is plenty of research showing that low general intelligence in childhood predicts greater prejudice towards people of different ethnicity or sexuality in adulthood. Open-mindedness, flexibility, trust in other people: all these require certain cognitive abilities. Understanding and accepting others – particularly "different" others – requires an enhanced capacity for abstract thinking.  READ MORE

David Dayen: Mortgage Settlement Agreement Is Only An Agreement In Principle

 By Susie Madrak

David Dayen, who's done more than anyone to keep this mortgage settlement deal in the public eye and under the microscope, is horrified to discover that the deal announced this week doesn't actually exist in any tangible form. He calls it "a real failing on the part of the activists, who jumped at the opportunity to pontificate on the deal, without actually seeing the term sheet, which we know now in fact does not exist:"

Well, so much for my first “making chicken salad” option. We are more than 24 hours removed from the foreclosure fraud settlement and the terms have, shockingly, not been released. In fact, American Bankerreports that the terms will not be released before the filing of the settlement in federal court, because a document with actual terms does not yet exist.
More than a day after the announcement of a mammoth national mortgage servicing settlement, the actual terms of the deal still aren’t public. The website created for the national settlement lists the document as “coming soon.”

That’s because a fully authorized, legally binding deal has not been inked yet.
The implication of this is hard to say. Spokespersons for both the Iowa attorney general’s office and the Department of Justice both told American Banker that the actual settlement will not be made public until it is submitted to a court. A representative for the North Carolina attorney general downplayed the significance of the document’s non-final status, saying that the terms were already fixed.

“Once the documents are finalized, they’ll be posted to,” the representative said in an email to American Banker.
Incidentally, why is a dot-com, not a dot-gov? What’s going on here?This is incredible. The Administration, the AGs, everyone involved in this made a big show of an agreement reached on foreclosure fraud. But there is no piece of paper with the agreement on it. There’s no term sheet. There are just agreements in principle.There’s a HUGE difference between an agreement in principle and the actual terms.  READ MORE

Mortgage settlement agreement search

Bankruptcy Petition Reveals More Than 8000 Sexual Abuse Victims In Milwaukee Archdiocese

By Susie Madrak

I guess I don't have to point out the obvious: That the same Catholic Church leaders who want to set themselves up as the moral referees of everyone else's private lives have quite a few planks sticking out of their own eyes and maybe it's time we pointed that out every time we have one of these "moral" arguments break out in the media:

The bankruptcy hearings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have revealed more than 8,000 previously unreported instances of alleged sexual abuse of children, according to one attorney representing the victims. The charges cover a span of 60 years and implicate a group of 100 alleged offenders, including nuns, church workers and some 75 priests.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Annysa Johnson writes that 570 “victim-survivors” have filed claims in the case, which is currently before U.S. bankruptcy judge Susan V. Kelley.

At a press conference on the federal courthouse steps in Milwaukee, Peter Isley, director of the Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests said, “This is a public safety crisis, a child safety crisis that needs to be investigated. We need to know who they are and where they are. How can there be 8,000 crimes committed by over 100 offenders and there be no accountability?” READ MORE

Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy search results

Fred Karger vs. CPAC

By Andrew Metcalf

Fred Karger, the openly gay Republican presidential candidate, held his own party at CPAC last night. Despite being barred from exhibiting or speaking at the conference, he kept his suite door open, set up an open bar and attracted a crowd of young Republicans and reporters.

He’s been on a roll recently, after his home state of California put his name on the ballot on Monday. He’s now on ballots in six states. But, at CPAC, he has been ignored.

“I’ll represent about 30 percent of the population on the ballot and this group won’t even rent me a booth,” said Karger, when I spoke to him at his party, “It’s the second year in a row. Last year, I didn’t take any action, but this year… I said, OK, I’m going to apply in November and get the early bird discount.”
Despite his best efforts, organizers from CPAC ignored him. He said the group told a Buzzfeed reporter they were sold out.

“I knew you couldn’t be sold out if you still had an early bird discount,” said Karger.

UK Company Turns Electricity Bills into Windmills

This is an adorable short video from ecotricity, the world's first green electricity company, located in the UK, which I suppose explains how it begins - over morning tea.

Whitney Houston, Superstar of Records, Films, Dies

Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.
Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.

News of Houston's death came on the eve of music's biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It's a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to case a heavy pall on Sunday's ceremony. Houston's longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday; it was unclear if it was going to go forward.

"I am absolutely heartbroken at the news of Whitney's passing," music producer Quincy Jones said in a written statement. "I always regretted not having had the opportunity to work with her. She was a true original and a talent beyond compare. I will miss her terribly."

At her peak, Houston the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world's best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.