Saturday, May 12, 2012

Brooklyn DA plays sex-abuse politics

Charles Hynes
Last Updated: 12:35 AM, April 30, 2012
If anyone had dared to suggest that Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office has an official policy giving preferential treatment to Orthodox Jewish sex criminals, the critic would probably be knee-deep in editorials charging him with anti-Semitism.

Alas, what’s an Orthodox Jewish lawyer like me to say when the DA’s lieutenants themselves announce just such a policy?

I’ll say this: Hynes’ refusal to disclose almost any information about the arrest or prosecution of alleged sex offenders from the politically powerful Orthodox community is not only discriminatory; it’s also a cynical insult to the victims his office is pledged to support.

Mind you, the discrimination is no mere allegation; it’s a matter of record. In letters this month to reporters Paul Berger, of Forward, and Hella Winston, of The Jewish Week, Assistant DA Morgan Dennehy explicitly affirmed that his boss’ policy for suppressing information about sex abuse is “unique” to the “Hasidic” community.

Yes, the letter gave a “reason” for singling out Orthodox Jews — but the reason made no sense. According to Dennehy, if the DA were to release any information about alleged perpetrators from the “tight-knit and insular” (his words) Orthodox community, there would be “a significant danger that the disclosure . . . would lead members of that community to discern the identities of the victims,” which could violate state law.

Hmm. When the DA’s office announced the sentencing of child abuser Gerald Hatcher last December, it gave enough information about his 11-year-old victim to lead those familiar with the assailant to guess her name. Surely many other Brooklyn communities are as “tight-knit” as the Orthodox Jews — yet Hynes is evidently willing to name perpetrators among them.

Orthodox sex abuse scandal

SNARED:Andrew Goodman (above), one of 85
sex-abuse suspects arrested over the last three
years by Project Kol Tzedek, has been accused
of preying on the boys of Brooklyn’s Orthodox
Jewish community and — even after his arrest on
sex-assault charges — was caught on video ushering
teens into his Flatbush home (below). He is being held
on Rikers Island in lieu of a $1 million cash bail.

117 kid victims and 85 arrests in Jewish enclave

Last Updated: 12:54 PM, December 11, 2011
Posted: 12:09 AM, December 11, 2011
He looks like a movie star, but many members of Brooklyn’s Jewish community believe he is a monster.

Andrew Goodman, 27, who worked for Jewish social-service agencies, is charged with sexually abusing two Orthodox boys for years in Flatbush — one from age 11 to 15, the other from age 13 to 16.

Goodman filmed sex acts with the youngsters on a Web cam, according to the 144-count indictment, which alleges numerous violations since 2006. He has pleaded not guilty.

The handsome Goodman, who held parties in his home with liquor and child porn, also threatened the life” of a boy who reported him to authorities, court papers and sources say.

He’s one of an astounding 85 accused Orthodox child molesters that Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office says it has busted in the past three years in an initiative called Kol Tzedek, Hebrew for “voice of justice.”

The cases involve 117 victims — a number that has the community reeling from the extent of the horrors of pedophilia.


Launched amid complaints that Hynes was soft on Orthodox child predators, Kol Tzedek aims to coax victims to come forward, despite strong pressure in the insular religious community to cover up such crimes.

All but two of the suspects are men, and more than half the victims are male, said Assistant DA Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the sex abuse and crimes against children division.
Of the 38 cases closed so far, 14 perps got jail time, ranging from a month to 10-to-20 years for crimes that included sex abuse, attempted kidnapping, and sodomy, Jaus said.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Everything You Need to Know About Mormonism

Mitt Romney
Pundits still haven't figured out how to talk about Romney's Mormon religion. Here's everything you need to know.
May 6, 2012

Liberal politicians and pundits, from Brian Schweitzer to Lawrence O'Donnell to Jon Stewart. have begun bringing up -- and stumbling over -- the subject of Mitt Romney's religion. The following is an excerpt from Alex Pareene's e-book,"The Rude Guide to Mitt."It can be purchased at Amazon,Barnes & Noble, iTunes and the Sony Reader Store.
“The precipitous mountain pass that led the [Mormon] pioneers down into the Salt Lake Valley and still is the route of access from the east on Interstate 80, was first explored by my great-grandfather, Parley P. Pratt,” Mitt Romney cheerfully writes in “Turnaround,” the airport bookstore leadership manual he wrote in 2004 while governor of Massachusetts.

“He had worked a road up along ‘Big Canyon Creek’ as an act of speculation when his crop failed in the summer of 1849. He charged tolls to prospectors making their way to California at the height of the Gold Rush and even had a Pony Express station commissioned along his pass.”

Romney doesn’t add — and why should he? — that Pratt was murdered in 1857, by the husband of a woman he took as one of his “plural wives.” (His ninth.) Pratt was in San Francisco proselytizing and promoting polygamy. The woman converted and eloped with Pratt, then pretended to renounce Mormonism in order to get her children from her parents, where her estranged husband had sent them. The husband tracked Pratt from California to Arkansas, and shot him dead when it became clear that he could not have Pratt jailed. This incident contributed to the general sense of apocalyptic paranoia among the Mormon community that led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which Mormon settlers — acting, according to some, on orders from Brigham Young — killed an entire wagon train of families on their way to California. There were rumors, before the Mormon militia attacked the wagon train, that Pratt’s killer was among the mostly wealthy Arkansans in the train. 

The Mormons attempted to blame the murder of children and women on Indians, though Mark Twain and others believed that the “Indians” were likely Mormons in war paint. (Archaeological evidence — dug up, embarrassingly, during preparations for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics — supports that theory.)   READ MORE

Noam Chomsky on America's Economic Suicide

We’re a nation whose leaders are pursuing policies that amount to economic “suicide” Chomsky says. But there are glimmers of possibility.
May 4, 2012

Noam Chomsky has not just been watching the Occupy movement. A veteran of the civil rights, anti-war, and anti-intervention movements of the 1960s through the 1980s, he’s given lectures at Occupy Boston and talked with occupiers across the US.  His new book, Occupy, published in the Occupied Media Pamphlet Series by Zuccotti Park Press brings together several of those lectures, a speech on “occupying foreign policy” and a brief tribute to his friend and co-agitator Howard Zinn.

From his speeches, and in this conversation, it’s clear that the emeritus MIT professor and author is as impressed by the spontaneous, cooperative communities some Occupy encampments created, as he is by the movement’s political impact.   READ MORE

Resurrecting Glass-Steagall

Former President Clinton signs the bill that 
repeals key parts of the Glass-Steagall Act
as Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan and
lawmakers look on. (Getty Images)
By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
11 May 12

.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the nation’s largest bank, whose chief executive, Jamie Dimon, has lead Wall Street’s war against regulation, announced Thursday it had lost $2 billion in trades over the past six weeks and could face an additional $1 billion of losses, due to excessively risky bets.

The bets were “poorly executed” and “poorly monitored,” said Dimon, a result of “many errors, “sloppiness,” and “bad judgment.” But not to worry. “We will admit it, we will fix it and move on.”
Move on? Word on the Street is that J.P. Morgan’s exposure is so large that it can’t dump these bad bets without affecting the market and losing even more money. And given its mammoth size and interlinked connections with every other financial institution, anything that shakes J.P. Morgan is likely to rock the rest of the Street.

Ever since the start of the banking crisis in 2008, Dimon has been arguing that more government regulation of Wall Street is unnecessary. Last year he vehemently and loudly opposed the so-called Volcker rule, itself a watered-down version of the old Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate commercial from investment banking before it was repealed in 1999, saying it would unnecessarily impinge on derivative trading (the lucrative practice of making bets on bets) and hedging (using some bets to offset the risks of other bets).

Dimon argued that the financial system could be trusted; that the near-meltdown of 2008 was a perfect storm that would never happen again.   READ MORE

Here Comes OpenLeaks: How It Won't Be WikiLeaks

Daniel Domscheit-Berg
By Maria Bustillos | May 8, 2012

Almost exactly a year ago I spoke via email with ex-WikiLeaks spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg. He and the four or five others who'd defected from WikiLeaks in September of 2010 were already at work on OpenLeaks, a successor organization with the same basic goal: to maintain a secure platform where sensitive documents of interest to the public can be uploaded by whistleblowers and anonymously distributed to the press.

Now OpenLeaks is just about ready to launch. Domscheit-Berg gave a presentation on the project some days ago at the Share 2 conference in Belgrade, and I just had to get over there to hear it.

(I don't know! All of a sudden I was in Belgrade narcoleptically passing out in my soup, and also attending this surprisingly inspiring tech conference.) I was able to meet and speak at length with Daniel, and learned a ton about OpenLeaks and the future of whistleblowing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

YOU ARE NOT SO SMART (A Celebration of Self Delusion)


You Are Not So Smart is a blog I, David McRaney, started to publicly explore our self delusions through narrative journalism.

When it started, I had a love for psychology, some skills as a writer, and a lot of curiosity, but I had no idea how much material was out there to explore. So far, this has been fun, enlightening, and humbling.

The central theme of You Are Not So Smart is that you are unaware of how unaware you are. There is branch of psychology and an old-but-growing body of research with findings that suggest you have little idea why you act or think the way you do. Despite this, you continue to create narratives to explain your own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and these narratives – no matter how inaccurate – become the story of your life.

You seem to be able to see other people deluding themselves all the time – your friends, your family, celebrities, politicians. The mental pratfalls of others seem so obvious, but you have a hard time seeing those shortcomings in yourself. You Are Not So Smart is a fun exploration of the ways you and everyone else tends to develop undeserved confidence in human perception, motivation, and behavior.

I hope after reading You Are Not So Smart and recovering from each head-spinning epiphany, you’ll rediscover a humility and reconnect with the stumbling, fumbling community of man trying to make sense of things the best we can.    READ MORE 

YANSS Podcast – Episode Two

 Remember when the United States stock market crashed a few
years back? You know, the implosion famously featuring
credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations?
Does it seem strange to you that all those experts who
couldn’t predict the economic collapse are still on
television giving advice and offering predictions?

The people who were wrong continue to work because they
provide you with an illusion of knowledge, a belief that the
market can be understood by one person, and that person's
understanding can become your understanding. They continue
to claim insight into chaotic, impossibly complex nebulae of
shifting data, and they continue to profess powers of
divination even though research shows they are slightly less
reliable than a coin toss. They can still get paid to squawk
because they continue to make their claims with confidence.
No one wants a sage who deals in maybes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

GOP Rep Describes Pushing 300k Children Off Lunch Program To Protect Military Spending As "Trimming The Fat"

Yesterday, House Republicans moved legislation forward aimed at preventing any reductions in military spending, even if that means cutting much needed programs for the nation’s poorest. The House Armed Services Committee’s bill provides $554 billion for the Pentagon — $29 billion more than DOD had requested — while the GOP-led Budget Committee packaged six bills that would “slice $261 billion from food stamps, Medicaid, social services and other programs for struggling Americans.”

Last night on Fox News, House Majoriy Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) claimed that the Republicans were just trimming the fat from the budget and getting rid of wasteful spending:
VAN SUSTEREN: But these cuts — I mean, these cuts — I mean, some of the cuts, I mean, just — you know, there are — there’s money sitting in our government. There’s some fat that we can.. some of these cuts. I mean — the fat is incredible!
MCCARTHY: Then you would support what we’re doing. That’s we’re doing committee by committee!
Watch the clip:

Kansas Pushing "Most Dangerous Anti-Abortion Bill" in the Country, Would Let Doctors Lie to Patients

From, some good consolidated information on a sweeping anti-choice bill which has just cleared the Kansas house and is headed to the state Senate, just another front in the war on women--which is really a war on families and all individuals affected by reproductive health.

• A personhood measure that would define life as beginning at conception, which would almost certainly make abortion equivalent to murder and outlaw all abortion in the state of Kansas. Many forms of contraception could also be banned. 

• A measure that significantly limits abortions in the third trimester.

• A provision that bans women from claiming abortion insurance coverage and services on their taxes.

• Doctors are hereby ordered to tell women that abortion causes breast cancer, which is a damned lie.

Video: So What Happens AFTER You Refuse a Police Search?

Flex Your Rights has been working for many years now to educate everyone we can about the importance of refusing police searches and otherwise knowing and asserting your constitutional rights when confronted by police. Unfortunately, even if you handle a police encounter perfectly, things can still get pretty ugly. This video discusses how to handle some of the challenges you can run into after asserting your rights:

By Scott Morgan | Sourced from Drug War Chronicle

"I Want the Government in my Vagina!" Watch Kate Beckinsale, Judy Greer, and Andrea Savage Brilliantly Mock the Anti-Choice GOP

Kate Beckinsale, Judy Greer and Andrea Savage use mockery and comic genius to show just how ridiculous -- and offensive--  anti-choice legislation like forced ultrasound really is. I recommend watching the  clip in full -- some of the funniest moments come at the very end.  
From Funny or Die:

Sen. Richard Lugar's Parting Words: Beware of Tea Party Extremists

Senator Richard G. Lugar
Indiana's Sen. Richard Lugar, who lost in the Republican Primary to Tea Party darling Richard Mourdock, issued a lengthy written statement on Tuesday night that chastised extremists in his party--such as his opponent--who Lugar said could not possibly govern for the good of the nation if they held fast to their draconian, uncompromising beliefs.

Instead, Lugar, who was among one of the last moderate Republican Senators who prided themselves on working with Democrats and Republicans alike, issued a statement that said that the Republican Party would not survive if its U.S. senators could not compromise on issues such as climate change, tax increases, immigration reform or vote for a Democratic president's Supreme Court nominees.
Here's the Lugar statement in it entirety:   READ MORE

How Conservative Religion Makes the Right Politically Stronger

We may not share their theology, but right-wing religion teaches powerful lessons on courage, confidence and foresight that we could stand to learn.
May 8, 2012

Progressives often marvel at how focused, coordinated and aggressive our conservative opposition is. They seem to fall into lockstep and march, building large organizations and executing complex strategies with an astonishing rate of success. We may be smarter, better educated and more reality-based -- but they seem to have a cohesion and a discipline that eludes us. What's going on here?

There are a lot of answers to that question. But I'd suggest that some intriguing answers might come from a close study of conservative religious paradigms, which play an essential role in giving conservatives a unique kind of emotional and social durability. 

Conservative faiths -- particularly evangelical Protestantism, but orthodox Catholicism and Judaism also include similar teachings -- inculcate a worldview that equips people with extra tools to work with in face of large-scale change. The same qualities that lead non-believers to deride faith as a crutch also give believers very real psychological support in turbulent times -- the kind of sure footing that makes organizing for political and social change easier, more effective, and more gratifying for those who are operating off this sturdy base.

Jail for Sending Their Kid to School? How America Treats Black Women and Children Like Criminals

Kelly Williams-Bolar Convict - sending kid to wrong school
There's a war in America against black women and their young children.
May 8, 2012

We are told that the Republicans are waging a war on women. It is true that they are on an endless quest to restrict access to abortion, if not outlaw it altogether, and want to prevent insurance companies from paying for contraception. In Wisconsin, the Republican governor recently signed legislation which repealed that state’s equal pay enforcement act.

The Republicans deserve the label, but if there is a war on women in America today, it is being directed primarily at black women as a group and at their young children as well. Black women have been criminalized for the most minor of offensesfor enrolling their children in schools outside of their home districts, and even when their children are victimized by other people.

In Ohio in 2011, Kelly Williams-Bolar, was convicted of felony theft and spentten days in jail for enrolling her children in a school district that was not her own. The merits of the case were debatable, as her children lived with their grandfather in the district in question, but no matter, Ms. Williams-Bolar had to be taught a lesson and she and her father were indicted. The governor did reduce her sentence, calling it unduly harsh, but she was still convicted of a crime.  READ MORE

Wisconsin Recall Showdown Decided: Scott Walker to Face Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett
Scott Walker's 2010 opponent gets a rematch, as protester's candidate will face the GOP Lt. Governor.
May 8, 2012

Wisconsin’s June 5 recall election will be a rematch of the 2010 gubernatorial race that installed Governor Scott Walker in office, with voters Tuesday selecting Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as the Democratic challenger. 

Barrett prevailed over the union’s favored candidate, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, but most coalitions are rallying behind the nominee – or at least remaining united against Walker. “Tom Barrett is a strong leader who will end the political turmoil Scott Walker has brought to this state and reunite Wisconsin to get us moving forward again,” said Kristen Crowell, executive director of the labor coalition We Are Wisconsin.

Barrett Late To The Game, But Considered Most Likely To Win   READ MORE

Why Paul Krugman Needs to Run a Teach-in for Ignorant New York Times Business Reporters

Paul Krugman Economist
International business reporters are helping the economic quacks who prescribe austerity snake oil.
May 7, 2012

To know the Washington Consensus as a regular citizen is to hate the Consensus.

The Washington Consensus, as the name implies, was an “inside the beltway” series of neo-liberal policies embraced by the IMF, the World Bank, and the U.S. government. It called for a minimal state and an all-powerful private sector. The private sector and de facto private central banks would discipline the State by insisting on balanced budgets – perpetual austerity. Democracy was unreliable, indeed dangerous, so the central banks had to be “independent” of the democratic process (and wholly dependent on the largest banks). Only the private sector had the proper incentives that could be relied upon to create vibrant growth and a self-correcting economy. The Consensus was developed in the context of the policies that should be imposed on Latin America -- and Latin Americans were the guinea pigs of Consensus. (This metaphor was particularly troubling for Latin Americans who knew that their ancestors raised guinea pigs as a reliable source of meat.)  READ MORE

12 of the Weirdest Campaign Ads of the YouTube Era

Is free media worth the mockery that comes with these bizarre pitches? Many candidates think so.
May 8, 2012

The bizarre campaign ad, posted online, usually represents a hail-Mary pass from an underfunded underdog. The idea is to make an ad so strange that the media covers it, advancing a candidate's message (and increasing his or her name recognition) for free.
Does it work? On one level it does -- the political press loves to cover weird campaign spots. One example, Herman Cain's infamous "Smoking" ad (it was actually called "Now Is The Time For Action!") got millions of hits on YouTube. But, of course, that coverage is usually focused on what a total freak the candidate is, so campaigns resorting to the bizarre ad strategy are, with very few exceptions, losers in the end. As such, they're probably a net benefit to the campaign consultants who make them -- they can say their candidate was hopeless, but they got him or her a ton of free media.
And they benefit us by providing hours of wholesome entertainment for the whole family. Here are 12 of our favorites. (Share yours in the comments.)

1. Disgraced Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Running For Texas Railroad Commissioner?

2. Getting Shit Done

3. Speaking of Which...

4. Dale Peterson Really Doesn't Like Folks Stealing His Yard Signs

5. Won't Somebody Please Think of the Children?

6. The Award for Best Fake Liver in a Political Ad Goes To...

7. Fellini Ain't Got Nothing on Gravel

8. Nobody's Stealing Pamela Gorman's Lawn Signs

9. Herman Cain's Crush Videos

10. If You're a Politician, Never Photograph Yourself Shirtless

11. Attention Kansans: Pat Roberts Will Piss on Your Head

12. This Makes Us Want to Commit a Crime in Nevada


The Unbelievable Brutality Unleashed on Kids in For-Profit Prisons

Privatization of the youth prison industry handed soaring profits to GEO, but a history of brutal injustice to its incarcerated youth and their families.
May 8, 2012

Michael McIntosh couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had come to visit his son at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility near Jackson, Miss., only to be turned away. His son wasn’t there.
“I said, ‘Well, where is he?’ They said, ‘We don’t know.’”

Thus began a search for his son Mike that lasted more than six weeks. Desperate for answers, he repeatedly called the prison and the Mississippi Department of Corrections. “I was running out of options. Nobody would give me an answer, from the warden all the way to the commissioner.”
Finally, a nurse at the prison gave him a clue: Check the area hospitals.

After more frantic phone calls, he found Mike in a hospital in Greenwood, hours away. He was shocked at what he saw. His son could barely move, let alone sit up. He couldn’t see or talk or use his right arm. “He’s got this baseball-size knot on the back of his head,” McIntosh said. “He’s got cuts all over him, bruises. He has stab wounds. The teeth in the front are broken. He’s scared out of his mind. He doesn’t have a clue where he’s at – or why.”

Though he had found his son, McIntosh still had no answers. He said prison officials wouldn’t allow him to see his son again for months. No one would tell him what happened – that is, until he received a phone call from a Southern Poverty Law Center advocate who was investigating Walnut Grove.

Are Self-Defense Laws "Whites Only"?

Photo Credit:
"African Americans are caught," says Rev. William Barber. "On one hand, we fight against stand-your-ground laws, but once the laws are on the books they aren't applied to us."
May 8, 2012

Trayvon Martin's killing at the hands of George Zimmerman, who walked free for six weeks before being arrested amid a public outcry, has both traumatized and galvanized Americans. The case reminds us that justice can be hard to come by in the U.S., and that race continues to play a disconcertingly large role in whether- - and how quickly -- wrongdoers are held responsible for their crimes.

In particular, the case has shined light on dubious "stand your ground" laws. Fed to state lawmakers -- first in Florida, and then in dozens of states around the country -- by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on behalf of the NRA, stand-your-ground laws allow citizens to use deadly force if they feel threatened, even if they have the opportunity to retreat.  READ MORE

Chomsky: Do We Have the Makings of a Real Revolution?

Protesters at "Occupy Wall Street"
camp, Liberty Square
Photo Credit: Sarah Jaffe
Unless the spirit of the last year continues to grow and becomes a major force in the social and political world, the chances for a decent future are not very high.
May 8, 2012

The Occupy movement has been an extremely exciting development. Unprecedented, in fact. There’s never been anything like it that I can think of.  If the bonds and associations it has established can be sustained through a long, dark period ahead -- because victory won’t come quickly -- it could prove a significant moment in American history.

The fact that the Occupy movement is unprecedented is quite appropriate. After all, it’s an unprecedented era and has been so since the 1970s, which marked a major turning point in American history. For centuries, since the country began, it had been a developing society, and not always in very pretty ways. That’s another story, but the general progress was toward wealth, industrialization, development, and hope. There was a pretty constant expectation that it was going to go on like this. That was true even in very dark times.  READ MORE

Ask Your Doctor if This Big Pharma Scam Is Right for You: The Dangers of a Drugged Up America

In medicated America, the fix for every problem is just a prescription away. Except that it's not.
May 8, 2012

Butterflies waft across a beautiful field of spring flowers. A delightful young family bicycles joyously down a country lane. A couple on a park bench leans sensually into each other. A 40-something woman's face radiates with both perfect beauty and internal happiness. "All's right with the world," is the message... as long as you've taken your dosages of Lunesta, Celebrex, Cialis, and Botox.

Welcome to medicated America, where the fix for every problem--from incontinence to erectile dysfunction, stiff joints to mood swings, weight gain to wrinkles-- is just a prescription away. Thus the beautiful images, stirring music, attractive actors, and soothing words in the omnipresent, multibillion-dollar kaleidoscope of drug advertising by Pfizer, Merck, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, and other giants of Big Pharma--all pitching their particular brand-name nostrum directly at us hoi polloi (the industry spends a fourth of its income on ads and other promotions, nearly double its expenditures on research and development). The corporate come-ons typically conclude with a phrase that has achieved cliche status in America's vernacular: "Ask your doctor if 'Suprema Wundercure' is right for you."  READ MORE

Perry says urinating Marines were like fun-loving kids

Former GOP Presidential Candidate
Republican presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry, has defended US Marines who were caught on video urinating on dead Taliban fighters.

Mr Perry told CNN on the weekend that the urination incident was a case of "kids being kids."

He told the interviewer: "Obviously 18, 19-year-old kids make stupid mistakes all too often and that's what's occurred here. These kids made a mistake, there's not any doubt about it. They shouldn't have done it, it's bad, but to call it a criminal act, I think is over the top."

The Texas Governor also accused the US President Barack Obama's administration for their condemnation of the incident, which has infuriated some Muslims and has stirred anti-US sentiment in Afghanistan  READ MORE

Killer flu doctors: US censorship is a danger to science

Dutch lab that created deadly bird flu virus attacks America for redacting its research.

America should not be allowed to dominate the debate over who controls sensitive scientific information that could be misused in biowarfare terrorism, say the scientists who created a highly dangerous form of bird-flu virus in a study that has been partially censored by the US government.

Ron Fouchier and Ab Osterhaus of Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam accept recommendations by the US government's National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which said key details of their US-funded research should not be published because bioterrorists may use the information to cause a bird-flu pandemic.

"But we do question whether it is appropriate to have one country dominate a discussion that has an impact on scientists and public-health officials worldwide," Fouchier and Osterhaus write in the journal Nature.   READ MORE


Kobe University lab creates 'novel' H5N1 in 'secret' lab

Kobe University virologists Kawaoka and his
PhD student Terida Ernala

January 16, 2012 by legitgov

Kobe University lab creates 'novel' H5N1 in 'secret' lab --Emails from Kobe virologist and H5N1-H1N1 virus creator, Teridah Ernala Ginting --Story in e-mails: Kobe University PhD student Teridah Ernala confesses to creating H1N1-H5N1 "novel" viruses; Yoshihiro Kawaoka's virus thief Akiko Makino lies to Indonesian authorities to avoid arrest for attempted smuggling of H5N1 out of Indonesia, gives authorities another university as research facility she works for By Robert S. Finnegan 05 Jan 2012
This young Indonesian "scientist" through the years of our contact revealed to me the inner-workings of her "secret" lab at Kobe University and a new BSL-4 in Tokyo that was working on H5N1 and H1N1 viruses, among others. Kobe University does NOT officially have a BSL-4 lab, and yet this microbiologist was assigned by her professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka to work on recombinant H5N1 and H1N1 in a "secret" (her words) lab at their facility. How and why was this allowed to transpire? I have kept our association secret for years, however now that this individual has gone over to the "dark side," and I have decided to reveal everything we discussed in the hope it may stop this ghastly, man-made weaponized virus that is capable of killing millions of innocent people across the world


10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

Immunity from judicial review
Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has successfully pushed for immunity for companies that assist in warrantless surveillance of citizens, blocking the ability of citizens to challenge the violation of privacy. (Similarly, China has maintained sweeping immunity claims both inside and outside the country and routinely blocks lawsuits against private companies.)

Continual monitoring of citizens
The Obama administration has successfully defended its claim that it can use GPS devices to monitor every move of targeted citizens without securing any court order or review. (Saudi Arabia has installed massive public surveillance systems, while Cuba is notorious for active monitoring of selected citizens.)
Extraordinary renditions    READ MORE

The Only Abiding Faith of the Right Wing is in a Mythical Free Market

FINDING A VOICE by Ann Davidow

The race to the bottom in which Republican potential nominees are  engaged continues apace. Nobody expects politics to be a non-combative  clean exercise in terms of truth and fresh ideas. But the diabolically  perverse inventions that clog media outlets and confuse debate on a  daily basis are exasperating claims on our time without rewarding us with better options - - empty-headed pretentious chatter posing as  intelligent thought.

In the guise of respecting democratic processes Rick Santorum tells an  audience that they should elect people who share the same values and hope to enact those values into law. His views are so far to the right  they would impose rigorous religious structures on our political system. Never mind that Santorum and others like him claim to abide by the Constitution, forgetful it would seem of that document's specific exclusionary language that stipulates no religious test should ever be required as a voting prerequisite.  READ MORE

Virginia lawmaker: Children with disabilities are God’s punishment to women who previously had abortions.

By Amanda Terkel on Feb 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm

On Thursday, Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall (R) spoke at a press conference against state funding for Planned Parenthood. He blasted the organization for supporting a women’s right to choose, saying that God punishes women who have had abortions by giving them disabled children:
The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” said Marshall, a Republican.
“In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”   READ MORE

New Batch Of Ron Paul Newsletters Just As Racist As The First

A brand new batch of Ron Paul newsletters raises questions for the libertarian Republican — as well as a host of embarrassing fresh passages to go along with such classics as “the coming race war” and “the federal-homosexual cover up on AIDS” from earlier reports.

Ron Paul claims “probably ten sentences out of 10,000 pages” were objectionable in his long-published newsletter series, even as he denies having ever written the content in question (or even having seen most of it). But, as TPM has reported and a new collection of Ron Paul newsletters posted by The New Republic confirms, racism, homophobia, and fringe conspiracy theories seem more like the newsletters’ raison d’etre than a rare aberration. In fact, even short promotional letters for the publication name-checked many of the most toxic passages.

Once again, contempt for African Americans and warnings of a “race war” are central themes in the most recently released materials. One issue warned “every honest American should be armed” to prepare for the coming violence.

“Today, gangs of young blacks bust into a bank lobby firing rounds at the ceiling,” one issue read,

The GOP's Race Problem

Texas Governor Rick Perry, left, speaks as former
Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and former
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney listen at the
South Carolina Republican presidential candidate
debate in Myrtle Beach, Monday, January 16, 2012.
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Austerity Faces Sharper Debate After European Elections

France's newly-elected president, Fran├žois Hollande,
waved to supporters as he arrived at his campaign
headquarters in Paris on Monday.

PARIS — Hours after voters in France and Greece delivered sharp rebuttals to advocates of austerity as the antidote to Europe’s financial crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Monday pointedly insisted that neither she nor her government favored a renegotiation of a fiscal pact underpinning the Continent’s belt-tightening.

Ms. Merkel’s remarks at a news conference in Berlin came as the victorious, socialist Fran├žois Hollande prepared to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France. Her remarks underscored both the abiding significance of the axis between Paris and Berlin that drives European decision-making and the competing visions of austerity and stimulus as ways to combat crushing debt. 

The balance between reducing borrowing and addressing popular anger at austerity measures is proving complicated for Europeans, and Mr. Hollande has said that he intends to give “a new direction to Europe,” demanding that a European Union treaty limiting debt be expanded to include measures to stimulate economic growth.

Ms. Merkel said she telephoned Mr. Hollande on Sunday night to congratulate him on his victory. On Monday, she stepped up her efforts to avoid any appearance of a strained relationship with the new French leader after working so closely with Mr. Sarkozy that their collaboration became known as “Merkozy.”    READ MORE

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

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

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

George Zimmerman’s lawyers hope to win trial by social media in Trayvon Martin case

Published May 7, 2012 10:43 am Updated May 7, 2012 10:48 am
In the Trayvon Martin case, the court of public opinion has moved online.

Late last month, attorneys for George Zimmerman – the Sanford, Florida man facing second-degree murder charges in Martin’s killing – launched a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account devoted to the case. So far, they’ve used the social media platforms to comment on developments in the case, solicit money for Zimmerman’s defense, and interact with the public.

“[S]ocial media in this day and age cannot be ignored,” wrote Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara in an introductory blog post. “It is now a critical part of presidential politics, it has been part of revolutions in the Middle East, and it is going to be an unavoidable part of high-profile legal cases, just as traditional media has been and continues to be.”

O’Mara called his social media presence “new and relatively unprecedented,” and legal experts I spoke with could recall no previous case where a defense team has employed such tactics in a high-profile prosecution.

But some say the strategy makes sense as Zimmerman seeks to protect and bolster his image in preparation for a jury trial.  READ MORE

Las Vegas real estate scam goes bust

As Las Vegas’s housing supply exploded, so did
competition among lawyers and contractors to
represent new homeowner associations in
construction-defect lawsuits. It was in this
environment that a shadowy
outfit cooked up a brazen scheme.
Before the market crashed and home prices tumbled, before federal investigators showed up and hauled away the community records, before her property managers pled guilty for conspiring to rig neighborhood elections, and before her real estate lawyer allegedly tried to commit suicide by overdosing on drugs and setting fire to her home, Wanda Murray thought that buying a condominium in Las Vegas was a pretty good idea. 

At first glance, Murray doesn’t look much like the type of person who would arrive in Las Vegas only to get tangled up in and eventually help unravel a complex criminal conspiracy. At 65, she stares out at the world through thick glasses. She is legally blind. Her eyes never quite seem to focus on any one thing. On a recent Friday morning, she sits at her dining room table wearing a zip-up leopard-print sweatshirt and recounts how she helped to foil a group of lawyers and contractors running amok in Sin City. “They didn’t think there would be four old ladies who wouldn’t put up with their stuff,” says Murray. “They really pissed me off.”   READ MORE

Bloomberg Businessweek: California, Nevada join forces in mortgage fraud probes

Bloomberg Businessweek: Real estate agent gets 20 months for mortgage scam 

Bloomberg Businessweek: Las Vegas sees Japan casinos as Diet seeks quake relief

George Zimmerman case: Judge orders to unseal some of state's evidence


The Seminole County judge overseeing George Zimmerman’s murder trial has ordered some of the state's evidence against the accused killer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to be made public.
That means the public could soon learn more about what kind of case prosecutors have against Zimmerman.

Judge Kenneth Lester ordered the court file unsealed and that order was made public on Monday.
WFTV's legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said the file could include information like the probable cause affidavit and investigative reports.

However, the names and addresses of all of the state's witnesses won’t be released because Lester has ordered that to be taken out.      
Sheaffer said that could be because it's such a high profile and sensitive case.  READ MORE