Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bush's medals

Where's the ANG22???
Ahh, the beauty of participatory journalism. The initial post has been vetted and proofed by thousands. The errors have now been stripped out. See the updates below to see the changes in the post.)
Interesting analysis in this DU thread, which notes that Bush may not have gotten medals given to Texas Air National Guard members for essentially just showing up -- the Texas Faithful Service Medal, awarded for completing "five years of honorable service during which the person has shown fidelity to duty, efficient service, and great loyalty to the state."

According to his ANG22 (The Air National Guard discharge papers), [Bush] received NO Texas National Guard Medals. This means he did not faithfully execute his duty for five years in the TANG. Furthermore, in the following photograph he wears two Air Force ribbons, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon :
Neither of which show up on this line of his ARG22:
Assuming Bush was wearing authorized awards, here is a comparison of Kerry and Bush's awards records: 

Rumors of War Medals: The First Amendment May Protect Lying About Military Awards

"There is much irony," wrote U.S. District Judge
Robert E. Blackburn, "that the core values of our
system of governance, which our military men and
women served to defend with their very lives, are
here invoked to protect false claims of entitlement."
Illustration by Viktor Koen
Posted Jul 1, 2011 2:00 AM CST
By David L. Hudson Jr.

At a 2007 meeting of a municipal California water board, member Xavier Alvarez of Pomona was asked to say a few words about himself. “I’m a retired Marine of 25 years,” he reportedly told the Three Valleys board. “I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy. I’m still around.”

The last sentence was correct. The rest was nothing but “a series of bizarre lies,” said Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco. Alvarez was never shot in battle and never won the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. In fact, he never even was a Marine.
After the FBI listened to a recording of the district board meeting, Alvarez was indicted on two counts of violating the federal Stolen Valor Act. Signed into law in 2006 by President George W. Bush, the statute prohibits false statements about receiving “any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States” or “service medals or badges.” Violators can receive up to a six-month jail sentence, which can be expanded to a year if the lying concerns special awards for bravery, such as the Medal of Honor, Silver Star or Purple Heart.

Alvarez pleaded guilty with the right to appeal, and in August 2010 a panel of the 9th Circuit ruled 2-1 that the law violated the First Amendment.

“The right to speak and write whatever one chooses —including, to some degree, worthless, offensive and demonstrable untruths—without cowering in fear of a powerful government is, in our view, an essential component of the protection afforded by the First Amendment,” wrote Judge Smith, adding: “The greatest damage done seems to be to the reputations of the liars themselves.”

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jon Stewart rips Republican fear-mongering over Obama: ‘You have lost your d*mn mind’

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, February 23, 2012 0:02 EST

On his show Wednesday night, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart lampooned Republican politicians who demonized President Barack Obama in 2008 as a radical socialist who was weak on terrorism.
He noted Obama had failed to live up to many of the campaign promises that his opponents made for him, like “completely socializing” the economy, letting radical Islamists dance in the streets, taking away Americans right to bear arms, and “eliminate freedom of speech” for radio show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

“That was all in 2008, there was a lot of fear-mongering and doom-saying, but by now we have pretty much seen Obama’s first term,” Stewart said. “It looks like conservatives got a little bit kicked in the crystal balls on this one.”    READ MORE

Part Two:

Low-wage Facebook contractor leaks secret censorship list

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 14:40 EST

A secret list curated by social network giant Facebook was published online recently after an employee for one of the company’s third-world contractors, upset at his poor working conditions and meager wage, decided to fight back.

The document reveals exactly what Facebook’s censorship brigade looks for on the social network, which boasts over 850 million users spanning the globe.

Referred to internally as the “bible,” the list prioritizes deletion of materials pertaining to Holocaust denial, graphic nudity, depictions of any sexual fetish, racial slurs and bullying — all of which are unsurprising — but a few of the other entries are raising eyebrows.

Namely, female nipples or even the impressions of nipples under clothing are unacceptable to Facebook censors, whereas male nipples are fine. Images of breast feeding, too, are forbidden if they show an exposed nipple. “Crushed heads” and mutilated limbs are also fine, so long as the person posting such images does not express delight and no internal organs are visible. The list specifically says that on this point, no exceptions would be made for news media.

Also verboten: images of bodily fluids, including ear wax and pus; dead animals; advocacy of violence; advocacy of eating disorders; racial jokes where “the humor is not evident”; and “any photoshopped images of people, whether negative, positive or neutral”; “pixelated or black-barred content showing nudity or sexual activity”; “digital/cartoon nudity”; and images of drunk or sleeping people with “things drawn on their faces.”

All that aside, images depicting marijuana use are fine, unless an individual appears to be growing, buying or selling the drug. “Art nudity” is okay, and so are videos of schoolyard fights — unless the video was posted with the intent to humiliate another user.

The list’s disclosure by gossip blog Gawker marks the first time that the public has been given a glimpse at the inner-workings of the planet’s largest social network.   READ MORE

Santorum: Liberals ‘are the anti-science ones’

By David Edwards
Monday, February 20, 2012 12:59 EST

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum charged on Monday that President Barack Obama and Democrats were “anti-science” because they refused to exploit the Earth’s natural resources to the limits of technology.

Over the weekend the candidate had been criticized for saying that President Barack Obama followed a theology that was not “based on the Bible.” He later insisted that he was talking about the president siding with “radical environmentalists.”

“I accept the fact that the president’s a Christian,” Santorum told CBS host Bob Schieffer on Sunday. “I just said when you have world view that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth — like things that are not scientifically proven like the politicization of the whole global warming debate.”

The candidate returned to the subject again on Monday at a rally in Steubenville, Ohio.
“But if we don’t provide those opportunities for those jobs that can sustain a family, for power in this country that is affordable, not just coal but all energy,” Santorum told a crowd of supporters at Froehlich’s Classic Corner restaurant. “It drove the economy of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio for a long time. And through a variety of things — yes, problems with management, problems with negotiations — but actually there were bigger problems. The bigger problems of environmental regulation. In many cases environmental regulation that has gone extreme, particularly in this administration.”    READ MORE

The Republican Brain: Why Even Educated Conservatives Deny Science -- and Reality

Case in point Santorum
New research shows that conservatives who consider themselves well-informed and educated are also deeper in denial about issues like global warming.
February 22, 2012

This essay is adapted from Chris Mooney’s forthcoming book, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality, due out in April from Wiley.

I can still remember when I first realized how na├»ve I was in thinking—hoping—that laying out the “facts” would suffice to change politicized minds, and especially Republican ones. It was a typically wonkish, liberal revelation: One based on statistics and data. Only this time, the data were showing, rather awkwardly, that people ignore data and evidence—and often, knowledge and education only make the problem worse.

Someone had sent me a 2008 Pew report documenting the intense partisan divide in the U.S. over the reality of global warming.. It’s a divide that, maddeningly for scientists, has shown a paradoxical tendency to widen even as the basic facts about global warming have become more firmly established.
Those facts are these: Humans, since the industrial revolution, have been burning more and more fossil fuels to power their societies, and this has led to a steady accumulation of greenhouse gases, and especially carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. At this point, very simple physics takes over, and you are pretty much doomed, by what scientists refer to as the “radiative” properties of carbon dioxide molecules (which trap infrared heat radiation that would otherwise escape to space), to have a warming planet. Since about 1995, scientists have not only confirmed that this warming is taking place, but have also grown confident that it has, like the gun in a murder mystery, our fingerprint on it. Natural fluctuations, although they exist, can’t explain what we’re seeing. The only reasonable verdict is that humans did it, in the atmosphere, with their cars and their smokestacks.

Victory: New Mexico Governor Fails Latest Attempt to Keep Driver's Licenses From Undocumented Immigrants

Susana Martinez Gov., NM
It is the third unsuccessful attempt by Republican Governor Susana Martinez to repeal the state’s law allowing driver's licenses regardless of immigration status.
February 22, 2012

Thursday, the New Mexico Legislature ended its 2012 session, leaving intact the 2003 state law that allows driver’s licenses to be issued to individuals regardless of immigration status. This marks the third unsuccessful attempt by Republican Governor Susana Martinez to repeal the state’s driver’s license law, HB103, the bill backed by Martinez, passed the House earlier this month but failed to make it through the Senate. An alternative Senate bill, SB235, which would have tightened residency requirements but not repealed the 2003 law, passed the Senate. Governor Martinez, however, vowed to veto that Senate bill. New Mexico and Washington are the only states that issue driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status (Utah issues a driving certificate that can’t be used for identification).

Republican Governor Susana Martinez has repeatedly tried (and failed) to repeal the state’s nearly decade old driver’s license law. Last year, a state district judge halted on constitutional grounds Gov. Martinez’s costly campaign to “certify” the driver’s licenses of foreign nationals. A spokesman for Gov. Martinez claims the current law “leads to fraud, human trafficking, organized crime and significant security concerns.” Supporters of the law, however, say the current policy aids cooperation between immigrant communities and local police as well as reduces the number of unlicensed drivers. 

5 Reasons You Should Never Agree to a Police Search (Even if You Have Nothing to Hide)

From the streets of the Bronx to the suburbs of the Nation's Capital, you never have to look hard to find victims of the bias and corruption delivered by the drug war.
February 22, 2012

Do you know what your rights are when a police officer asks to search you? If you're like most people I've met in my eight years working to educate the public on this topic, then you probably don't.

It's a subject that a lot of people think they understand, but too often our perception of police power is distorted by fictional TV dramas, sensational media stories, silly urban myths, and the unfortunate fact that police themselves are legally allowed to lie to us.

It wouldn't even be such a big deal, I suppose, if our laws all made sense and our public servants always treated us as citizens first and suspects second. But thanks to the War on Drugs, nothing is ever that easy. When something as stupid as stopping people from possessing marijuana came to be considered a critical law enforcement function, innocence ceased to protect people against police harassment. From the streets of the Bronx to the suburbs of the Nation's Capital, you never have to look hard to find victims of the biasincompetence, andcorruption that the drug war delivers on a daily basis.

Whether or not you ever break the law, you should be prepared to protect yourself and your property just in case police become suspicious of you. Let's take a look at one of the most commonly misunderstood legal situations a citizen can encounter: a police officer asking to search your belongings. Most people automatically give consent when police ask to perform a search. However, I recommend saying "no" to police searches, and here are some reasons why:

1. It's your constitutional right.    READ MORE

At GOP Debate, CNN Sucks Up to Candidates, Letting Racism and Misogyny Slide

In Arizona, the answers given by the presidential contenders mattered less the questions never asked.

In the seemingly endless series of debates between the Republican presidential candidates that has so far marked the 2012 campaign, debate #20, at the Mesa County Arts Center in Arizona, where the state G.O.P. will hold its presidential primary next week, was something of a dud. There were no moon colonies or $2.4 trillion "blank" checks or "oops" moments. No applause for executions or booing of gay soldiers. Well, okay, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did accuse President Barack Obama of voting, while in the Illinois state legislature, to "legalize infanticide" (because of Obama's vote against a bill designed to chip away at abortion rights), but that's about as crazy as it got.

It should have been a whole lot crazier, revealing once again the derangement of the 21st-century Republican Party, but moderator CNN moderator John King apparently thought it his job not to challenge the candidates too terribly hard, lest he be derided as a member of the media elite. So "elite" was one thing King proved he certainly was not -- at least not in the realm of debate moderators.
Now pulling ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the national polls, former U.S. senator Rick Santorum saw his position in the debate line-up change, occupying the center stage with Romney. 

Santorum has not failed to make news in the last several weeks, as his opposition to the use of birth control has come to light, not to mention the resurfacing, thanks to Right Wing Watch, of a 2008 speech he delivered at Ave Maria University in which he claimed that Satan, "the father of lies," had set his sights on the United States, and that explained why universities were teaching bad things and why mainline Protestant churches were no longer really Christian.    READ MORE

Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem

We are increasingly marketing drugs that essentially "cure" anti-authoritarians.
February 20, 2012

In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by 1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians; and 2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.  

Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not. 

Agenda for the Dark Ages: GOP Frontrunner Rick Santorum's 5 Most Extremist Themes

Photo Credit: A.M. Stan
If Santorum gets to bear the standard for the GOP, the party moves even further to the right. Here's a taste of what's on that plate.
February 22, 2012

It says quite a lot about the state of the Republican Party that the right-wing extremist Rick Santorum -- a politician so despised by his own Pennsylvania constituents that he lost his U.S. Senate seat by an 18-point margin -- is now the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination. And not by a little, I might add -- by 10 points, according to that latest national tracking poll by Gallup.

As increasing numbers of people identify themselves as independent voters -- independent of the major political parties, that is -- the essence of the Republican Party has distilled into a toxic brew of resentment, prejudice, anti-intellectualism and misogyny. In truth, the party has been headed this way for a long time, but the election of Barack Obama -- a moderately liberal African American man with an African-Islamic name -- offered the perfect catalyst for the alchemists of the right to convert their everyday potion of pique into something far more fortified.

Enter Rick Santorum, a presidential candidate regarded as little more than a joke a mere month ago. Santorum presents himself as everything Obama is not, and represents the opposite of everything those anti-Obama right-wing tropes, the lies both whispered and shouted, purport the president to be. There are liberals who relish the possibility of a Santorum nomination; at the Daily Kos, founder Markos Moulitsas is urging liberals to vote for Santorum in open primaries, on the reasonably sound theory that Santorum is too crazy to win the presidency. Perhaps.    READ MORE

Nature Conservancy faces potential backlash from ties with BP

Struggling with Ties To BP

By Joe Stephens
Monday, May 24, 2010

In the days after the immensity of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico became clear, some Nature Conservancy supporters took to the organization's Web site to vent their anger.

"The first thing I did was sell my shares in BP, not wanting anything to do with a company that is so careless," wrote one. Another added: "I would like to force all the BP executives, the secretaries and the shareholders out to the shore to mop up oil and wash the birds." Reagan De Leon of Hawaii called for a boycott of "everything BP has their hands in."

What De Leon didn't know was that the Nature Conservancy lists BP as one of its business partners. The Conservancy also has given BP a seat on its International Leadership Council and has accepted nearly $10 million in cash and land contributions from BP and affiliated corporations over the years.

"Oh, wow," De Leon said when told of the depth of the relationship between the nonprofit group she loves and the company she hates. "That's kind of disturbing."

The Conservancy, already scrambling to shield oyster beds from the spill, now faces a different problem: a potential backlash as its supporters learn that the giant oil company and the world's largest environmental organization long ago forged a relationship that has lent BP an Earth-friendly image and helped the Conservancy pursue causes it holds dear.

The crude emanating from BP's well threatens to befoul a number of alliances between energy conglomerates and environmental nonprofits. At least one group, Conservation International, acknowledges that it is reassessing its ties to the oil company, with an eye toward protecting its reputation.    READ MORE

Ayn Rand Mike Wallace Interview 1959 part 2

In this engaging 1959 interview, her first on television, Ayn Rand capsulizes her philosophy for CBS's Mike Wallace. The discussion ranges from the nature of morality to the economic and historical distortions disseminated about the "robber barons." She also comments on her relationship with Frank O'Connor, provides some autobiographical information and gives her perspective on the future of America.

Poll: Skepticism of Genetically Modified Foods

With safety concerns widespread, Americans almost unanimously favor mandatory labels on genetically modified foods. And most say they'd use those labels to avoid the food.

Barely more than a third of the public believes that genetically modified foods are safe to eat. Instead 52 percent believe such foods are unsafe, and an additional 13 percent are unsure about them. That's broad doubt on the very basic issue of food safety.

Nearly everyone, moreover — 93 percent — says the federal government should require labels on food saying whether it's been genetically modified, or "bio-engineered" (this poll used both phrases). Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare.

Fifty-seven percent also say they'd be less likely to buy foods labeled as genetically modified. That puts the food industry in a quandary: By meeting consumer demand for labeling, it would be steering business away from its genetically modified products.

The image problem of genetically modified food is underscored by contrast to organic foods. While only five percent of Americans say they'd be more likely to buy a food labeled as genetically modified, 52 percent say they'd be more likely to buy food that's labeled as having been raised organically.
Genetically modified foods are particularly unpopular among women, another problem for food producers since so many women do the family shopping.

Sixty-two percent of women think genetically modified foods are unsafe to eat, a view that's shared by far fewer men, 40 percent. Indeed a plurality of men think these foods are safe, while women disagree by better than 2-1.   READ MORE

Calif. HS student devises possible cancer cure

By Steve Hartman  
(CBS News) 
If you ever worry about the future of America, there is no need: it is in good hands. A high school student named Angela is proof of that. We think you'll agree she is nothing short of amazing. CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman met her on the road.

Born to Chinese immigrants, 17-year-old Angela Zhang of Cupertino, California is a typical American teenager. She's really into shoes and is just learning how to drive.

But there is one thing that separates her from every other student at Monta Vista High School, something she first shared with her chemistry teacher, Kavita Gupta.

It's a research paper Angela wrote in her spare time -- and it is advanced, to say the least. Gupta says all she knows is its recipe -- for curing cancer.

"Cure for cancer -- a high school student," said Gupta. "It's just so mind-boggling. I just cannot even begin to comprehend how she even thought about it or did this."

"I just thought, 'Why not?' 'What is there to lose?'" said Angela.    READ MORE

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Eight arrests as Murdoch 'throws staff to the wolves'

Rupert Murdock

Five senior 'Sun' journalists, two MoD staff and a police officer taken in dawn swoop as new front opens in bribery scandal

Rupert Murdoch was last night preparing to fly to Britain to join frantic efforts to secure the future of The Sun after the arrests of five senior journalists by police investigating allegations of bribery and phone hacking.

Police swooped on eight individuals between 6am and 8am yesterday, arresting the five Sun journalists, two Ministry of Defence staff and a police officer. The arrests came hard on the heels of five related arrests two weeks ago when four senior Sun journalists and a police officer were questioned in connection with bribery allegations. All eight were released on bail last night.

The latest astonishing development, which came two days after the Leveson inquiry into press standards finished its first session, prompted fury among the newspaper's staff, amid allegations that those arrested had been "thrown to the wolves" in an effort to bolster the embattled News Corp empire, and, particularly, to rekindle its hopes of taking over BSkyB. The police were acting on information provided by News International, owner of The Sun and Times newspapers, through its Management and Standards Committee (MSC).

Amid fury among the paper's editorial staff, Mr Murdoch was forced to issue a pledge last night that he was not preparing to sell the newspaper, via his chief executive, Tom Mockridge. Senior staff were told that Mr Murdoch planned to fly to London to calm the situation. Journalists including the paper's deputy editor were bailed after being questioned in connection with allegations of making illegal payments to police officers and other officials.   READ MORE


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Foreclosure Fraud: First Criminal Charges Filed In Nevada Over Robo-Signing

The Nevada attorney general has indicted two midlevel staffers at a mortgage document company, Lender Processing Services, on a whopping 606 counts of felony and gross misdemeanor for directing employees to forge signatures and falsely notarize documents used to illegally foreclose on Nevada homeowners.
Nevada's is the first criminal indictment since last year's discovery of the nationwide "robo-signing" scandal, in which mortgage servicing companies and banks were processing foreclosures en masse at lightning speed by signing documents they neglected to review and falsifying information.

"The grand jury found probable cause that there was a robo-signing scheme which resulted in the filing of tens of thousands of fraudulent documents with the Clark County Recorder's Office between 2005 and 2008," said Nevada's chief deputy attorney general, John Kelleher, in a statement.

The indictment against the two employees, Gary Trafford and Gerri Sheppard, describes them as LPS title officers and California residents. Neither has been arrested, but the court has set bail at $500,000 each.

Google results: "robo signing scandal"

In DocX Case, Robo-Signing Forgery Charge Hits Top Executive

For the first time since the start of the robo-signing crisis, a senior executive has been indicted on criminal charges of forgery and faces jail. The forgery charges against a mortgage processing executive come as the nation's largest banks attempt to close the books on a civil investigation into widespread document fraud and could spark further federal criminal cases.

A grand jury in Missouri handed up the 136-count indictment late last week charging Georgia-based DocX -- a subsidiary of the massive mortgage processor Lender Processing Services -- and its founder and former president Lorraine O. Brown, with forgery. The indictment alleges that DocX employees fabricated signatures on hundreds of real estate documents, some used in foreclosures.

"This is the first time any grand jury in the country has indicted a corporation or a high-level executive at a corporation for 'robo-signing,'" Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster told The Huffington Post. "The grand jury is alleging that the documents have false signatures on them, that the notarizations are fraudulent and that it was all done with an intent to deceive. If that’s true, it makes the [foreclosure] documents forgeries."

A lawyer for DocX did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A lawyer for Brown told The New York Times she intended to plead not guilty and had no criminal intent.

The indictment stands in sharp contrast to the settlement shaking out over so-called "robo-signing" allegations between the state attorneys general and five of the nation's largest banks. So far, more than 40 states have agreed to what could amount to a $25 billion settlement with Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial over allegations they forged documents and incorrectly foreclosed on homeowners.  READ MORE

New Hampshire Legislature Turns Policy Reins Over To ALEC

Posted: 28 Jan 2012 02:00 PM PST

Republicans in the New Hampshire legislature seemingly have ceded all control of the state to the American Legislative Exchange Council by introducing an unprecedented seven of ALEC's pieces of model legislation in the past week.

ALEC legislation is basically written by corporations to protect their own interests and the organization is behind a rash of legislation across the U.S. that has assaulted working families, attacked unions and sought to unravel the American social safety net. Granite State Progress is watching the progress of the New Hampshire bills:
"This is an incredible illustration of how the current leadership of the New Hampshire House and Senate are selling our state out to the highest bidder," said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Director of Granite State Progress. "Corporations already funnel unlimited money into our political system but to hand them the pen and paper to craft legislation is just plain wrong."
ALEC model legislation heard in committees this week range from repealing new consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act to creating specialized tax credits for businesses and privatizing education to limiting voter access at the ballot box.

"Each of these pieces of legislation benefit special interests at the expense of everyday, hardworking Granite Staters," Rice Hawkins said. "We need to reject corporate-written legislation and focus on ways to ensure New Hampshire state laws benefit New Hampshire state residents."
The ALEC-inspired legislation includes:
  • HB 1607 "Education Tax Credit": Would divert public education money to private schools in a way to effect vouchers
  • HB 1560 Health Care Compact: Would allow member states to opt out of any and all national health care rules, including Medicaid and Medicare
  • CACR 6 Super Majority Act: A thinly-veiled Taxpayer Bill of Rights clone that would handcuff state spending and devastate all services and programs
  • SB 289 and SB 318 Photo ID to Vote: A photo identification would be required for all voters, despite there being little to no voter fraud in the state, designed specifically to suppress poor and minority voters
  • HB 1658 Eliminating Support Services for Newborn Children: The title of this one is pretty straightforward and horrific in and of itself. It would specifically target newborn children whose parents are on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, so it goes after the poorest families
  • SB 372 "Education Tax Credits": Senate version of HB 1607 The New Hampshire General Court, the state's legislature, is controlled by Republicans 19-5 in the Senate and 298-104 in the House, but the governor is Democrat John Lynch, so it seems unlikely that most of these bills will make it into law. 
  •    READ MORE

    Martin Bashir Exposes The Great Republican Hoax

    By karoli

    Martin Bashir may be the most underrated show host on cable television. His show is consistently smart, loaded with facts and good discussion without the incessant screaming and fireworks of other cable news shows. His interview of Rep. Joe Walsh was masterful and yet, polite. Which is why when Bashir closes his Thursday show with a three-minute comment where he's clearly a bit angry, it gets my attention.

    Seven Truths Inconvenient to US Foreign Policy

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Libya
    to meet the new leaders who were helped into power
    by Washington, 10/18/11. (photo: Reuters)
    By Dan Kovalik, CounterPunch
    22 January 12

    s George Orwell so eloquently stated, "Truth is the first casualty of war." Indeed, lying is absolutely necessary to the ability of countries such as the U.S. aiming to wage unprovoked war upon other countries - the worst form of human rights crime as recognized by the Nuremberg Tribunal which noted that it is "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." Given that the U.S. is currently attempting to wage actual war, as well as to carry out acts of war (such as embargos or other forms of economic strangulation), against numerous countries, one is subject to a constant barrage of lies from the U.S. government to justify such acts.
    In light of the foregoing, I thought it was important to set forth some truths (though, of course, not an exhaustive list) which undermine the U.S.’s cause for war throughout the world.

    1. Gaddafi troops did not engage in mass rapes.

    2. The NATO-backed Libyan rebels have committed egregious human rights abuses.

    3. The US has been involved in violent attacks in Iran for years.

    4. The US was an enemy of democracy & human rights in Iran for over a quarter of a century.

    5. The US began the conflict in Afghanistan that helped spawn al Qaeda.

    6. The worst human rights abusers in the western hemisphere are US allies.

    7. Cuba has played one of the greatest humanitarian roles in the world, especially given its small size and scant resources.

      READ MORE       

    Bernanke's Obfuscation Continues: The Fed's $29 Trillion Bail-Out Of Wall Street

    Posted: 12/14/11 09:07 AM ET

    Since the global financial crisis began in 2007, Chairman Bernanke has striven to save Wall Street's biggest banks while concealing his actions from Congress by a thick veil of secrecy. It literally took an act of Congress plus a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Bloomberg to get him to finally release much of the information surrounding the Fed's actions. Since that release, there have been several reports that tallied up the Fed's largess. Most recently, Bloomberg provided an in-depth analysis of Fed lending to the biggest banks, reporting a sum of $7.77 trillion. On December 8, Bernanke struck back with a highly misleading and factually incorrect memo countering Bloomberg's report. Bloomberg has largely vindicated its analysis.

    Any fair-minded reader would conclude that Bernanke's memo to Senators Johnson and Shelby and Representatives Bachus and Frank is misleading. One could even conclude that it is not just a veil of secrecy, but rather a fog of deceit that the Fed is trying to throw over Congress.
    He argues that the sum total of the Fed's lending was a mere $1.2 trillion, and that it was spread across financial and nonfinancial institutions of all sizes. Further, he asserts that the Fed never tried to hide the bail-outs from Congress. Both of these assertions fly in the face of the facts available (as the Bloomberg response makes clear).

    As Bernanke notes, analyses of the bail-out variously put the total at $7.77 trillion (Bloomberg) to $16 trillion (GAO) or even $24 trillion. He argues that these reports make "egregious errors," in particular because they sum lending over-time. He also claims that these high figures likely include Fed facilities that were never utilized. Finally, he asserts that the Fed's bail-out bears no relation to government spending, such as that undertaken by Treasury.

    All of these assertions are at best misleading. If he really believes the last claim, then he apparently does not understand the true risks to which he exposed the Treasury as the Fed made the commitments.

    The Size of the Bank Bailout: $29 Trillion

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Working All Day For the I.R.S.

    Alex Wong/Getty Images

    The budget that President Obama unveiled this
    week included some hot-button tax measures,
    including capping deductions and raising taxes
    on people earning more than $1 million.

    After I disclosed a few weeks ago that I pay 37 percent of my adjusted gross income and 74 percent of my taxable income in combined federal, state and local income and payroll  taxes, I asked the Internal Revenue Service how that compares with other taxpayers. I never got a simple answer (and an I.R.S. spokesman said the agency could not discuss individual returns). 

    But this week, the I.R.S. sent me reams of data, including analyses of returns from taxpayers reporting adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 and returns from the top 400 taxpayers. Some data were from 2009, but most went back to 2008. (The agency offered no explanation as to why it takes so many years to compile.) But the data helps explain why many people are so angry about the tax code. 

    Relatively few taxpayers pay an enormous percentage of the total federal income tax, and most of them are people who work for a living and have adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 to $500,000, which is the sweet spot for tax revenue. They account for 20.2 percent of total returns but pay a whopping 44.9 percent of total tax. The average tax rate for this group ranges from 11.9 percent for those with less than $200,000 in adjusted gross income to 19.6 percent for those with $200,000 to $500,000. Above those income levels, the rate rises to close to 25 percent and then declines to 22.6 percent for taxpayers earning more than $10 million.    READ MORE

    Italy confiscates $6 trillion in fake U.S. bonds

    February 17, 2012 10:14 AM

    MILAN - Swiss authorities have confiscated $6 trillion in counterfeit U.S. bonds at the request of Italian prosecutors, authorities in Italy said Friday.

    Eight people were arrested in Italy and placed under investigation for fraud and other crimes.
    The bonds, carrying the false date of issue of 1934, had been transported in 2007 from Hong Kong to Zurich, where they were transferred to a Swiss trust, according to prosecutors in the southern Italian city of Potenza.

    Authorities said that U.S. officials had confirmed the bonds were counterfeit.

    12 DAYS to Stop DOW’s 2-4-D Corn

    12 days to stop Dow's 2-4-D corn! PHOTO: Panna
    Dow and USDA hope to quietly approve a new genetically engineered seed line that basically swaps RoundUp (glyphosate) out for an even worse weedkiller (2,4-D).
    As you may have heard, the pesticide treadmill is catching up with Monsanto, as glyphosate-resistent “superweeds” run rampant and their blockbuster RoundUp Ready product line nears the end of its life-cycle. Dow wants to drop in an even more toxic herbicide (2,4-D) to keep the treadmill running at high speed. We have 12 days to stop this.
    Tell USDA we want off this ride» Urge the agency to reject Dow’s petition for approval of its 2,4-D resistant seed lines. Now, before the public comment period ends, is the time to speak up and say no.
    Dow aims to get 2,4-D-resistant CORN to market this year, SOY next year and COTTON in 2015. These three crops dominate U.S. agriculture, covering over 100 million acres of mono-cropped countryside, driving the pesticide market. If they get their foot in the door with corn, there is little chance that soy and cotton will be a problem for approval.     READ MORE

    Sunday, February 19, 2012

    DNA Robot Kills Cancer Cells

    Scientists using nanotechnology may have come
    up with a new way to attack cancer cells like this
    (photo: Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library)
    By Alla Katsnelson, Scientific American/Nature
    18 February 12

    NA origami, a technique for making structures from DNA, may be more than just a cool design concept. It can also be used to build devices that can seek out and destroy living cells. [View a "DNA Origami" Slide Show.]

    The nanorobots, as the researchers call them, use a similar system to cells in the immune system to engage with receptors on the outside of cells.

    "We call it a nanorobot because it is capable of some robotic tasks," says Ido Bachelet, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and one of the authors of the study, which is published in the February 17 issue of Science. Once the device recognizes a cell, he explains, it automatically changes its shape and delivers its cargo.

    The researchers designed the structure of the nanorobots using open-source software, called Cadnano, developed by one of the authors--Shawn Douglas, a biophysicist at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. They then built the bots using DNA origami. The barrel-shaped devices, each about 35 nanometers in diameter, contain 12 sites on the inside for attaching payload molecules and two positions on the outside for attaching aptamers, short nucleotide strands with special sequences for recognizing molecules on the target cell. The aptamers act as clasps: once both have found their target, they spring open the device to release the payload.

    "You can think about it as a sort of combination lock," says Bachelet. "Only when both markers are in place, can the entire robot open."

    The researchers tested six combinations of aptamer locks, each of which were designed to target different types of cancer cells in culture. Those designed to hit a leukemia cell could pick that cell out of a mixture of cell types then release their payload--in this case, an antibody--to stop the cells from growing. They also tested payloads that could activate the immune system.
    The work "takes us one more step along the path from the smartest drugs of today to the kind of medical nanobots we might imagine," says Paul Rothemund, a computational bioengineer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and inventor of DNA origami.   READ MORE

    A People's History of Robin Hood

    From the United Kingdom to the United States,
    activists fighting for myriad causes carry on the
    tradition of Robin Hood.
    (photo: Oxfam International)
    By Paul Buhle, YES! Magazine
    18 February 12

    For hundreds of years, he's fought tax injustice, tyranny, and the seizure of the commons. Why we still need him today.

    "Man has an insatiable longing for justice. In his soul he rebels against a social order which denies it to him and whatever the world he lives in, he accuses either that social order or the entire material universe of injustice ... And in addition he carries within himself the wish to have what he cannot have - if only in the form of a fairy tale."-- Eric Hobsbawm, Bandits (1981)

    n the late 1950s, a handful of peaceniks protested mandatory ROTC on a major U.S. university campus by carrying signs and wearing green buttons. Back when The Adventures of Robin Hood was a giant hit on television, most everybody knew that green was Robin Hood's color and that Robin could not side with the king's soldiers or future soldiers of any empire. Five decades later, the lead protagonist of a cult favorite American cable show, Leverage, announces at the beginning of each episode: "The rich and the powerful take what they want; we steal it back for you."

    It's a fitting motto for heroes of the 21st century. Admittedly, resistance to injustice has not as yet returned to the level of the apprentices and craftsmen in Edinburgh, Scotland, who in 1561 chose to come together "efter the auld wikid maner of Robene Hude": they elected a leader as "Lord of Inobedience" and stormed past the magistrates, through the city gates, up to Castle Hill where they displayed their unwillingness to accept current work-and-wage conditions. But as a global society, we are clearly still thinking about the need for Robin Hood.    READ MORE

    Monsanto Accuses US Farmers of 'Evading EPA Rules'

    Monsanto blames farmers for the emergence of
    'superbugs' like the Bt-resistant corn rootworm.
    (photo: Ian Marsman/flickr)
    By Bloomberg News
    18 Febrary 12

    Makers of genetically modified seeds say more farmers evading EPA rules

    onsanto Co. and other seedmakers reported a threefold increase last year in U.S. farmers caught violating rules intended to stop insects from developing resistance to genetically modified corn.

    The rules affect farmers planting seeds modified to produce a toxin derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a natural insecticide. The Environmental Protection Agency requires those growers to also plant an adjacent area - a so-called refuge - of non-Bt corn so that bugs feed on both types of corn and don't become immune to the toxin.

    About 41 percent of 3,053 farmers inspected in 2011 failed to fully comply with the refuge requirement, according to data that Monsanto provided last week in an e-mail.   READ MORE

    US gay marriage: law passes Maryland but vetoed in New Jersey

    Chris Christie said that gay marriage was an issue
    for a referendum, not the legislature Photo: GETTY

    The movement for same sex-marriage in the US lurched one step forward and took another step step back last night as Maryland's House of Delegates approved a bill but New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed a similar law in his own state. 

     7:00AM GMT 18 Feb 2012

    Legislators in Maryland voted 71-67 to allow gay marriage.
    A similar vote failed last year when a number of black Democrats refused to back the legislation.
    Led by Governor Martin O'Malley, the party's leadership held together a coalition to reach the critical threshold.

    The bill is expected to pass easily through the Senate, which approved a gay marriage act last year, and is expected to reach Mr O'Malley's desk for final approval soon.

    The legislation was hailed as a major victory by gay rights advocates and will make Maryland the eighth US state to support gay marriage joining New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa and Washington State.    READ MORE

    Study: Errors in 84 percent of SF foreclosures

    February 16, 2012 5:30 PM

    (AP)  SAN FRANCISCO — More than 80 percent of residential mortgage loans that have gone into foreclosure in San Francisco have missing documents or signatures or otherwise violate the law, according to a review ordered by the city assessor.

    The results hint at potentially broader problems with how foreclosures have been handled since the collapse of the housing market.

    While many of the errors were technical and related to paperwork, the problem shows the state needs to change its antiquated real estate regulations, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting said on Wednesday.

    "The whole process ... is absolutely, 100 percent broken and not working for any of us at this time," Ting said. "These rules were made for people who walked or rode their horse to the bank."

    The review found that signatures of some original owners of loans were missing and that affidavits were not filed showing lenders had contacted borrowers to discuss their options 30 days before a mortgage default notice.

    The review was conducted by Newport Beach-based Aequitas Compliance Solutions. The company looked at 382 of the city's 2,405 foreclosure sales between January 2009 and October 2011.

    Foreclosure abuse rampant across U.S., experts say

    A foreclosed home is shown in Stockton, California
    May 13, 2008. Home foreclosure filings in the U.S.
    jumped 23 percent in the first quarter from the prior
    quarter, and more than doubled from a year earlier.
    LOS ANGELES | Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:34pm EST

    (Reuters) - A report this week showing rampant foreclosure abuse in San Francisco reflects similar levels of lender fraud and faulty documentation across the United States, say experts and officials who have done studies in other parts of the country.

    The audit of almost 400 foreclosures in San Francisco found that 84 percent of them appeared to be illegal, according to the study released by the California city on Wednesday.
    "The audit in San Francisco is the most detailed and comprehensive that has been done - but it's likely those numbers are comparable nationally," Diane Thompson, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, told Reuters.

    Across the country from California, Jeff Thingpen, register of deeds in Guildford County, North Carolina, examined 6,100 mortgage documents last year, from loan notes to foreclosure paperwork.