Wednesday, April 29, 2015

No Guns in Florida's Schools!

Apple Lays Waste to Conservative Ideology


Apple website screenshot:
[Attribution: Apple]

Tuesday morning, riding high after yet another gangbusters quarter, Apple reached a new high, worth more than $760 BILLION. This makes it worth more than, well, a ton of things, including all but 18 COUNTRIES in the world.

Think about that ... Apple is worth more than the GDP of Saudi Arabia, or Switzerland, or Sweden. And despite being this financial juggernaut, the company is still experiencing double-digit growth. In just the past three months, Apple booked profits of $13.6 billion on $58 billion in revenue. Four years ago, the last of Steve Jobs' reign, he bragged about hitting $50 billion in revenue ... for the YEAR.

Not only are those numbers eye-watering, but that profit margin is the envy of the entire business world. The company has just shy of $200 billion in its cash horde, even as it has stepped up efforts to return cash to its shareholders. A $1 trillion valuation isn't far away.
So by all objective measures, Apple is the most successful company in the modern era. (The Dutch East India Company wins overall top honors, with an inflation-adjusted valuation of $7.3 trillion.) Yet, keep in mind the following:

* Apple is based on California, and continues to expand its operations in the state. Conservatives bray incessantly about the Golden State's "high taxes and burdensome regulations," yet the world's most high-value and innovative companies continue to be based here. You don't see Apple or its peers fleeing to tax havens like Alabama. Why? Because those taxes and regulations actually create a favorable business climate for Apple, delivering it the talent it desperately needs.


This story is from Daily Kos.  There is so much more - very enlightening; read it all, click here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Michele Bachmann, Jesus' Favorite Moron


Republican candidate for president U.S. Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) (C) holds a news conference with Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) (L) and Representative Steve King (R-IA) (R) to discuss the debt ceiling and military benefits, at the U.S
 
Former Rep. Michele Bachmann is very excited that the world may be coming to an end. Iran may be getting the bomb, and gay people are getting married these days, and all of this is wonderful news because it means Israel is going to be destroyed and there will be wars and plagues and famines and that means Jesus is going to come back to fly all the bestest Bachmann-approving-of Christians into heaven while her enemies get left to rot in whatever post-nuclear wasteland comes next. You think we are making this up. We are not making this up.


The above is from Daily Kos.com.  Please read the entire article here.  It's a laugh until you realize this moron was actually elected to Congress.  Then you want to gag.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Greg Palast on the "Deepwater Horizon Killings"



Chelsea Manning
and the Deepwater Horizon Killings

By Greg Palast  |  for Truthdig
Sunday, 19. April 2015

The military whistleblower’s 2010 Wikileaks dump included information that could have saved the 11 BP workers who died that spring in the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster.

Five years ago Monday, 11 men died on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig — despite Chelsea Manning’s effort to save their lives.
 
Let me explain.
 
The BP drilling rig blew itself to Kingdom Come after the “mud” — the cement used to cap the well — blew out.

The oil company, the federal government and the industry were shocked — shocked!  at this supposedly unexpected explosion in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
 
But BP knew, and Exxon and Chevron knew, and the U.S. State Department knew, that just 17 months earlier another BP offshore rig had suffered an identical, disastrous blow-out halfway across the planet in the Caspian Sea.

In both the Gulf and Caspian blow-outs, the immediate culprit was the failure of the cement, in both cases caused by the use — misuse — of nitrogen in the cement mix, a money-saving but ultimately deadly measure intended to speed the cement’s drying.
 
The cover-up meant that U.S. regulators, the U.S. Congress and the public had no inkling that the cost-saving “quick-dry” cement process had failed on an offshore rig only a year before the Deepwater Horizon blew.

You can watch the Deep Water Horizon report in Palast's documentary compilation film, Vultures and Vote Rustlers, which will be available as a FREE download for the next two days courtesy of the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund.

But Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning tried to warn us. The details of the Caspian Sea blow-out off the coast of Baku, Azerbaijan, were revealed in the secret State Department cables Manning released in December 2010 through Wikileaks. Cables from the U.S. ambassador relayed a summary of confidential meetings in which BP’s top Azeri executive confided that their big Caspian offshore rig suffered a “blow-out” in September 2008 leading to the “largest such emergency evacuation in BP's history” — its likely cause "a bad cement job.”
 
The message was relayed to Washington after BP’s American partners in the Caspian, Exxon and Chevron, asked the State Department to find out why BP had ceased to drill in the Caspian, costing them all millions. State, then headed by former Chevron board member Condoleezza Rice, got the oil chiefs their answer then joined them in keeping it secret.

[Not knowing about the Manning cables, I had to find out about the Caspian blow-out the hard way. Just days after the Deepwater Horizon blow-out, I received a tip from an eyewitness to the Caspian disaster. To check out the facts , I flew to Baku, where my British TV crew and I found ourselves placed under arrest by a team of goons from the Azerbaijan secret police, the military and some of BP’s oil-well-insignia-sporting private security clowns. As a reporter for British Television, I was quickly released — with the film of the bust captured on my little pen camera. But, terribly, two of my rig-worker witnesses disappeared.]

Had BP or the State Department 'fessed up to the prior blow-out — a disclosure required by U.S. and British regulations — it is exceptionally unlikely that BP would have been allowed to use the quick-dry cement method in the deep Gulf of Mexico.
 
Indeed, there may have been a complete prohibition on the drilling, because Department of Interior experts had opposed deep drilling in that part of the Gulf. To lobby the government to allow drilling there, just six months before the Deepwater Horizon blew, BP executive David Rainey and the presidents of Exxon USA and Chevron testified before Congress that offshore drilling had been conducted for 50 years “in a manner both safe and protective of the environment.”

It is hard to imagine the oil companies defeating the Interior experts had the executives admitted to the recent blow-out in the Caspian Sea.
 
Ultimately, Rainey was indicted for the crime of making false statements to Congress on a lesser matter. However, indicting the executives for concealing the earlier blow-out was not possible because our own State Department participated in the cover-up.
 
And that’s what Manning exposed — though not quickly enough to save those 11 lives.
 
Pvt. Manning may not have known about the specific memo of the secret meeting of State and BP. It was one in an ocean of cables she released.
 
But Manning knew this: The truth can save lives. Or, as Manning was brought up to believe: The truth shall set us free.
 
And if truth sets us free, then official secrets enslave us.
 
Barack Obama and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell know this. So do Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and the other candidates for Secret-Keeper-in-Chief.
 
Years ago, Daniel Ellsberg told me that he was surprised when Judge Stanley Sporkin dismissed all charges against him although Ellsberg had revealed top-secret military intelligence, the Pentagon Papers. The judge noted that the U.S. was unique among nations in having no “official secrets act,” no law against telling the truth to the public.

No more. The brutal 35-year prison sentence for Manning on espionage charges and the continuing manhunt for Edward Snowden makes it clear that the Obama administration considers truth-telling a crime.
 
As I see it, the State Department officials who withheld BP’s blow-out secret are as culpable as the oil company in the deaths of those 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon. You can say that the men who died on the rig were victims of the corporate-government enslavement of information, martyrs to official secrecy.

Read Greg Palast's Deepwater Horizon investigation in full in his book Vultures’ Picnic . The investigation was also broadcast on Britain’s Channel 4 Dispatches.

Greg Palast is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers,  Billionaires & Ballot Bandits The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse.

HELP US FOLLOW THE MONEY. Visit the Palast Investigative Fund's store  or simply make a tax-deductible  contribution to keep our work alive!

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jeb Bush looted Florida pension funds to fund his brother's presidential campaign


When word got out that creepy Jeb might be running for prez, the crap started hitting the fan.  The crap being that he was more moderate and more intelligent than his brother.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  He is a true member of the Bush clan.  They've never found a rich man they didn't like or think deserved special handling by the government.  Never turn your back on a member of the Bush clan!

There were many things he did wrong while governor of Florida, but this may be one of the most egregious and we're just learning about it now.  What does that say about our MSM?


While Jeb Bush was governor of Florida, state pension officials committed at least $1.7 billion to financial firms whose executives were “Pioneer” fundraisers for his brother’s presidential campaigns. To achieve Pioneer status, the fundraisers had to amass at least $100,000 worth of bundled contributions to one of George W. Bush’s campaigns.

An International Business Times analysis of Florida government documents and a list of George W. Bush’s bundlers compiled by Public Citizen found that 11 firms that received new Florida pension investments under Jeb Bush were Pioneers. IBTimes also analyzed data from the Florida Division of Elections and Political Moneyline to determine how much money executives from those firms donated directly to Jeb Bush’s campaigns, George W. Bush’s campaigns, the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Florida between 1998 and 2006.


The crooks really have been in charge!

This story from Daily Kos.  Read the entire piece HERE.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Religion's a Killer!




Losing our religion? Two thirds of people still claim to be religious

  • 63% of people polled say they are religious
  • China is the least religious country with twice the amount of convinced atheists than any other nation (61%) followed by Hong Kong (34%), Japan (31%), Czech Republic (30%), and Spain (20%).
  • Thailand is the most religious country globally (94%), followed by Armenia (93%), Bangladesh (93%), Georgia (93%), and Morocco (93%).

New research this Easter shows that worldwide six out of ten (63%) citizens say they are religious, while one in five (22%) say they are not and one in ten (11%) consider themselves convinced atheists. In Africa and the Middle East more than 8 out of 10 people (86% and 82% respectively) portray themselves as religious while 7 out of 10 say so in Eastern Europe and America  (71% and 66% respectively) and 6 out of 10 (62%) in Asia, say they are.


The above is a poll from WIN/Gallup, International.

I'm not going to claim there is a causal relationship between war/violence and religion because we know that war can have multiple causes, but there is enough anecdotal evidence in hand garnered over a period of several thousand years to at conclude, at the very least, religion does not for peace make!

That's history speaking.

Now to the moment.  At this moment, 63% of the world's people claim to be "religious," whatever that means.  The most religious people can be found in Africa and the Middle East where a whopping 80% consider themselves religious.  The U.S. of A 66%) comes in line with Eastern Europe (71%).

Tom Cotton will love that.  We're not only very religious here in the US of A, but we're war-mongers.  So maybe he's right when he argued today that Americans don't dislike war, they just don't like losing wars.  What a guy!  Jesus loves him.  But for any sane person, he's an ignorant and very dangerous son-of-a-bitch!

Sorry about that Cotton bit, I got carried away.  Actually, I'm not sorry, but back to the moment.

Obviously, religion per se, today, still does not make for peace.  In some areas, it is painfully obvious that religion is indeed the cause of violence.  Rather than cast stones, however, we need to look at this country:  We still have troops in Afghanistan and some in Iraq.  We are now providing military resources (and probably troops - consultants, ya know) to help fight ISIS.  We are supporting Saudi Arabia's fight in Yemen.  We have military bases and troops and ships and missiles everywhere!  War is one of our largest American-made products and exports!

Now, while not all Americans are Christians, a large part of the population does claim to worship the "Prince of Peace."  It's fascinating to me to see that so many of these so-called Christians really like war.  They'd hang their Prince of Peace in a heartbeat!  They hate with a passion - just about anybody who is not "one of them," who is different, who believes in other mythologies, or who believes in none.

Evangelical Christianity, after successfully taking over much of Congress, the U.S. Supremes, the state legislatures, city councils, county commissions and school boards across the land, is licking its collective chops at the prospect of taking over the White House for Jesus so they can take this country "back" (whatever that means!) and start more wars!  Maybe even bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.


A final note:  If I hear one more time some moron tell me you can't be good, have ethics or morals, without religion or believing in some deity, I'm gonna do some bomb, bomb, bombing of my own.  Nah.  Just kidding.  I really don't believe in that violent stuff.


You can read the full article and all about religious belief around the world HERE.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Fukushima and You - What Else Aren't They Telling Us?

[Note:  Photo is of the deserted town of Namie in the Fukushima nuclear zone.  From the Telegraph.co.uk]

According to government experts, “‘Astounding’” levels of radiation [have been] measured in [the] U.S. from Fukushima — Around 500,000 times our normal levels….’We have never seen anything even close to that …’"

“Scientists detect Fukushima radiation on North American shores…”

National Geographic reports: “Newly discovered mass mortality in sea creatures along California coast - Body parts falling off, animals ‘wasting away’ - Researchers fear sea star epidemic has spread.”

“‘Such a bizarre thing’ off California coast - ‘We’re seeing multiple aborted fetuses every day’ - 100,000s of seabirds that nest in area now missing…’ ‘Huge, unprecedented die-off like we’ve never seen’ - many baby seals dying after mothers led them to a cliff edge.


Read all about it here.


I have some questions:  Why are we not hearing about this in the MSM?  What exactly is the danger to human life along the Pacific Coast?  Is the United States Congress working on the problem to determine what can be done to protect our people or is it too busy worrying about allowing kids to bring weapons to school, taking away the right to an abortion, taking away the right to vote, putting the Christian Bible in public schools, giving the rich even more tax breaks, cutting the safety nets for our older citizens, bringing down Obama, going to war somewhere, anywhere, in the Middle East, banning gay marriage, etc., etc.

h/t to Firedoglake

The Next Generation of Transportation !

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Treason and traitors and just plain stupids




Scott Walker, unfortunately for Wisconsin, is the governor of that state.  He's running for prez.  He has vowed to “revoke a nuclear deal with Iran if elected president.”  Mr. Obama suggested that Walker doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground, which is, of course, absolutely true.


Tom Cotton, one of the most rotten people ever to sit in Congress, sent a letter to Iranian government signed by 47 other traitors in our Congress saying they would nullify any agreement between Iran and Obama.  He wants to bomb Iran.  War with Iran would be a picnic, thinks Cottonmouth.  Go enlist, you SOB! 


Rand Paul, the doctor who won’t take the doctor tests because government, ya know…has announced he plans to run for president. 

He’s going to “take our country back.”  I wonder what he means?  His party is owned by the oligarchy that runs the country and controls both houses of Congress as well as the Supreme Court.  Is he going to take it back from his Republican friends and run it all by himself?  Is he going to take us back to the good ol’ days when the Repugnican Bush Jr. was in the White House - the days of war and death and bank failures and Wall Street corruption and financial collapse and loss of jobs and huge tax cuts which produced only huge deficits?

No thank you, Mr. Paul.


From Crooks & Liars:  The Republican governor of Illinois cut autism funding in his state on World Autism Day.


The hateful Christian pizza parlor people in Indiana have received over $800k in donations from hateful Christians and other nogoodniks.  Amazing!  WWJD?


Kansas - just the name brings bad thoughts these days.  The gov, Sam Brownback, was happy to sign an atrocious antiabortion bill as well as a bill allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit.  He was also happy to note that because of his budget which cut taxes on the wealthy and services to the poor, schools in some areas of Kansas will close early this year.  But there’s more “good news” from Kansas…

The following is from Think Progress:

The Kansas legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) desk that limits welfare recipients to withdrawing just $25 a day from their benefits and enacts a range of other restrictions.  Think Progress tells the tale:

"If Brownback signs the law, recipients of the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program would only be able to withdraw $25 a day with their benefits cards from ATMs, which act like debt cards. No other states or the federal government currently limit withdrawals.

While one of the backers of the bill asserted that recipients could take out more at a bank counter, the cards can’t be used at counters and many poor people lack access to bank accounts given the need to maintain balances and pay fees. Seventeen million Americans are unbanked, going without formal financial products. Meanwhile, during debate over the bill state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D) pointed out that many recipients need to withdraw hundreds of dollars some days in order to be able to pay rent.

The bill bans welfare recipients from using their benefits or withdrawing them at movie theaters, nail salons, pools and spas, liquor stores, jewelry stores, casinos or racing facilities, tattoo and piercing parlors, cruise ships, and other locations.

It also imposes hard caps on how long recipients can get benefits. After 36 months, poor people would hit the lifetime limit and not be able to get any further benefits unless they could prove they had an extraordinary hardship such as sexual assault, in which case they could get 12 additional months. The federal lifetime limit, on the other hand, is five years. It also bans anyone with two felony drug convictions from ever getting welfare and suspends anyone who tests positive for drugs after enacting a drug testing program in 2014 that has cost $40,000 and only turned up 11 positive tests out of 2,783 applications. State Sen. Michael O’Donnell (R) said he wanted the bill to go “back to the ‘T’ and making sure this is ‘temporary.’”



Dick Cheney thinks that Mr. Obama is the worst president ever.  This from a 4 or 5 time draft dodger, who made secret deals with the energy companies behind closed doors, who lied us into a Middle Eastern quagmire, who made torture an instrument of U.S. foreign policy, who failed totally to control the goons on Wall Street who brought the economy to a screeching halt and millions of Americans to abject misery!



From Daily Kos.  This just in.  The NRA is holding its convention in Nashville April 10, through April 12.  There will be a ton of exhibits and booths and speakers and goofballs, but no operational guns.  All of the tons of guns available to ogle and giggle over will have their firing pins removed.  Any guns purchased at this ammosexual event will have to be picked up at a licensed gun dealer and the picker upper will need to have proper identification - you know, just like if he was gonna vote.  Ain’t that cute?

So, the NRA, who wants kids and teachers and just about everybody else on the planet to be able to run around carrying loaded weapons on their person doesn’t want any loaded guns at their convention.  Is it possible the NRA thinks they will attract a bunch of crazies (Ted Nugent, Bobby Jindal, Teddie Cruz, Benny Carson, et. al., will be speaking!) who might just start shootin’ up the place when push comes to shove?  Could it be the NRA, in the middle of the shovin,’ is afraid they might get shot?

Them damn guns might be dangerous after all!






Sunday, April 5, 2015

Florida House tries to kill public education



TALLAHASSEE — Without a word of debate Friday, the Florida House approved a controversial proposal that could require school districts to share tens of millions of dollars in construction funds with rival charter schools. The bill was one of four high-profile education proposals that won the support of the Republican-dominated House to end the week.

The others would:

• Ease the penalties for schools that fail to comply with the constitutionally mandated limits on class size. 

• Create a pilot program to give principals more control over hiring and budget decisions.

• Encourage school districts to adopt mandatory school uniform policies for children in grades K-8 by offering incentive money.

RELATED NEWS/ARCHIVE

Controversial campus guns bill advances in Florida Senate 3 Weeks Ago

The Buzz: House approves adoption bill on bipartisan vote 3 Weeks Ago

House panel approves bill allowing armed teachers 3 Weeks Ago


The above is from Tampabay.com.  My response:  First of all, the state has cut funding for Florida's public schools on a regular basis. Our governor, the King of Corruption, wants to privatize everything as that's how he made his money...in a private company cheating Medicare. 

The man responsible for the charter school bill is tied directly to charter school companies. Republicans have for years tried to kill our public schools in Florida, first with vouchers and then with charter schools. It doesn't matter to them that vouchers are unconstitutional and/or that charter schools have failed miserably in the state. The Florida legislature is filled with the most corrupt of the corrupt! 

The campus guns bill would allow people to carry loaded weapons on the campuses of our colleges and universities. Just what we need with immature kids into drink and drugs! 

The adoption bill would allow adoption agencies to discriminate against gays - disallowing them to adopt children. 

If you've ever taught in Florida schools, you know that one of the last things we need is armed teachers. A lot of them can't even carry a book much less a gun!

 Read the entire article from Tampabay.com here.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

God is fine with marriage equality

[The following article is by Max Mills and appears at americablog.com]


The Presbyterian Church USA has made an important decision. With a landslide vote in favor, they have changed the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples. This decision has created a flurry of extreme responses.  Churches have received threatening letters, some have left the denomination, and they have lost hundreds of thousands of members. Some are even asking whether the Presbyterian Church USA is still Christian.

In the midst of this controversy, and with this recent addition to the pro-LGBT Christian movement, it is important to examine the arguments that progressive Christians (like myself) use to defend homosexuality from all of the arguments other Christians use against it:


It Is An Abomination

The first verses that inevitably come to mind when discussing homosexuality are Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. They both say roughly the same thing:
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” – Lev 18:22
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” – Lev 20:13
I want to kick off our analysis of these verses by taking a look at the Hebrew word translated here as “abomination”.

The general understanding is that this word is condemning these acts as intrinsically, objectively immoral. This understanding is false. The Hebrew word, to’ebah, is most accurately understood to mean “that which goes against the accepted order”. Dr. Friedman offers several examples in his book, The Bible Now:
“…in the Bible the term is in fact relative. For example, in the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis, Joseph tells his brothers that if the Pharaoh asks them what their occupation is, they should say that they are cowherds. They must not say that they are shepherds. Why? Because, Joseph explains, all shepherds are an offensive thing (tō‘ēbāh) to the Egyptians. But shepherds are not an offensive thing to the Israelites or Moabites or many other cultures. In another passage in that story, we read that Egyptians do not eat with Israelites because that would be an offensive thing (tō‘ēbāh) to them. But Arameans and Canaanites eat with Israelites and do not find it offensive. See also the story of the exodus from Egypt, where Moses tells Pharaoh that the things that Israelites sacrifice would be an offensive thing (tō‘ēbāh) to the Egyptians. But these things are certainly not an offensive thing to the Israelites. 
A former student of ours pointed out that right here in the list of laws that we are considering in Leviticus 18, naming acts that are tō‘ēbāh, are some that prohibit actions that the great patriarchs of the Bible had done. For example, Abraham marries his half sister Sarah.. (Gen 20:12) But the law in Leviticus explicitly forbids such relations with a half sister… (Lev 18:9) So what is not a tō‘ēbāh in the generation of the patriarchs has changed and become one in the generation of Moses. In a somewhat different way, the land itself can change from not being a tō‘ēbāh and can become a tō‘ēbāh as a result of the behavior of its residents on it. The prophet Jeremiah says: You defiled my land, and made my possession into an offensive thing (tō‘ēbāh). (Jer 2:7) An act or an object that is not a tō‘ēbāh can become one, depending on time and circumstances.”

Please continue reading by clicking here.