Archive for January, 2011

My Heart is With the People of Egypt Tonight

Egypt goes entirely offline:

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Egyptian protests are set to continue without the help of the internet [Gallo/Getty

.

January 31, 2011 at 10:25 PM 1 comment

Hate the Public Mandate? Freeloader Alert!

Anthony Weiner was on “The Last Word” tonight talking about the ruling that came down today overturning “Obamacare,” including the part of the bill known as the “public mandate,” which states that people who don’t purchase health insurance will be fined.

Wingers, cheer all you want but think about this for a sec:  You’re driving your car on an icy road tonight and a slacker slides into you.  You both get out of your car and the slackerass guy says he doesn’t have insurance.

Fast forward three months and your insurance company says oops, sorry bud.  You pay.  The other guy doesn’t have any money.

You’d call that a**hole a freeloader, right?  You’d be pissed.  He got off scot-free and he didn’t pay a dime but the cost of what he did is spread amongst everyone in your insurance pool.  You pay for what happened as does the next guy and the next guy and the next guy who got hit by someone who didn’t have insurance.

Well, that would be you if you don’t buy health insurance.

We all pay and if you don’t, you’re a  freeloader, mooching off those of us who — as you love to say — take responsibility, pay their bills and “do the right thing.”

 


January 31, 2011 at 9:19 PM Leave a comment

The Boss at Goldman Saks Just Got a 300% Raise

We peasants can only look in from the outside and try to imagine what this must be like:

Goldman Sachs Group tripled Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein’s base salary and awarded him $12.6 million (7.9 million pounds) of stock, even after the bank’s net income plunged last year.

Blankfein is receiving base pay of $2 million effective Jan 1, up from $600,000, he company said in a filing.

The shares awarded to Blankfein amount to a 42 percent increase from the all-stock bonus he received for 2009, and are the latest sign that U.S. banks are moving away from some of the austerities imposed by the financial crisis.

Legislators, regulators, and others pressed banks to reduce bonuses for 2009, soon after the financial system was rescued by more than a trillion dollars of support from the U.S. government. Many critics complained that banks privatise their profits and socialize their losses. Big bonuses paid for 2009 would have intensified public outrage.

Blankfein’s 2009 bonus was worth $8.9 million when awarded in February 2010, far below the $67.9 million that he received for 2007.

Public outrage over Wall Street pay seems to be receding, and bonuses for the top executives for 2010 are likely to head higher, analysts have said.

Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Vikram Pandit, who had pledged to take a $1 salary until the bank returned to sustained profitability, last week got a $1,749,999 raise just days after the bank reported its first full-year profit since 2007.

Unimaginable amounts of money.

January 31, 2011 at 6:51 PM 2 comments

Time to be Embarrassed to be a Democrat

Ray Rockefeller (D-WV) has visions of campaign contributions from the coal industry dancing in his head:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) introduced his bill to delay by two years the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions Monday.

“We must give Congress enough time to consider a comprehensive energy bill to develop the clean coal technologies we need and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, protect West Virginia and improve our environment,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “We can address emissions and secure a future for the U.S. coal industry, but we need the time to get it right and to move clean coal technology forward.”

If an extension is granted “we” will diddle and come the end of the two years, the coal industry will say oh, wait, we need another two years.

(This used to be a forest-covered mountaintop where birds and animals lived and people walked and enjoyed fresh air and fall colors.  Jay Rockefeller sold that mountain to the coal industry for campaign cash and he’s doing the same thing with this EPA extension.)

A mountain-top mine in West Virginia. NRDC photo

 

People go to hell for this kind of thing.

January 31, 2011 at 6:28 PM Leave a comment

Google Pulls Through For Egypt

This, from Google, is wonderful:

Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground. Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service—the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection.

We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired  last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.

We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there.

Problem is, Egypt is shutting down its cell phone networks (the Internet is already down).

January 31, 2011 at 6:19 PM Leave a comment

Report: All Internet Service Now Down in Egypt

Per the BBC:

  1. 2220: Noor Group “started disappearing from the internet” at about 2046 GMT, according to US-based firm Renesys. Egypt’s four main internet service providers cut off access to their customers on Thursday.
  1. 2214: Egypt’s last working internet service provider, Noor Group, is now down, according to a US web monitoring organisation.

I’m feeling some trepidation about tomorrow’s “million man march.

January 31, 2011 at 5:36 PM Leave a comment

Miniature Pencil Art

Break time!

This.  Is.  Incredible.  Pencil lead turned into teeny tiny sculptures:

Photograph by Dalton Ghetti/Solent News

 

Photograph by Dalton Ghetti/Solent News

Wow.  Just wow.

Look at the detail on that shoe.

More info and amazing photos here.

January 31, 2011 at 5:19 PM Leave a comment

Ethics Watch: Beware if You Send a Tweet to John Boehner

Beware if you send a tweet to John Boehner, especially if you’re a reporter.  Looks like he and his staff think it’s just fine, thank you very much, to change incoming tweets and send them back out after they’ve been modified to fit the GOP’s agenda:

Nope.  No shame in that.

Gawd.

January 31, 2011 at 4:42 PM Leave a comment

Waiting for Screams from the Right About Activist Judges

Okay righties — time for your faux “activist judge!” outrage.  What!  What?  You only jump up and down about that  when a judge issues a decision you don’t like?

A federal judge on Monday ruled that the entire health care overhaul is unconstitutional, but he stopped short of ordering the federal government to stop implementing it.

Judge Roger Vinson ruled that Congress overstepped its legal bounds when it included the provision requiring nearly all Americans to buy insurance. Because the provision is key to the rest of the law, he declared the whole thing unconstitutional.

Seriously, read about the “new frontiers in partisan judging” evidenced by this decision here.

January 31, 2011 at 3:47 PM Leave a comment

Egyptian Military Says it Will Not Use Force Against the Public

This is so cool:

The Egyptian army has said it will not use force against protestors who have taken to the streets to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak – the first such statement by the institution widely seen as the power broker in Egypt.

January 31, 2011 at 2:55 PM Leave a comment

It’s Easy to Buy a Glock 9mm, No Questions Asked

From Gunshow Undercover:

Two weeks after the tragic shootings in Tucson, undercover investigators went to a gun show in Phoenix, Arizona and purchased guns — no background check, no questions asked.

(H/t Liz G.)

January 31, 2011 at 2:19 PM 1 comment

Is Fox Gearing Up to Blame Obama for High Gas Prices?

Crude oil pushed past $100.00 a barrel today, “for the first time in more than two years, with continued turmoil in Egypt pushing the benchmark contract past the key threshold” (of $100.00).

At almost the exact same time, Fox News sent out the tweet pictured in the post below, asking its audience if the US should take military action to protect the Suez Canal.

See what’s happening here?  Back in early January, even before Egypt erupted, gas prices were expected to spike come the early summer.  If turmoil continues in the Arab peninsula through the spring, prices will likely spike more than expected.  And, come that time, the meme on Fox won’t be that gas prices were expected to go up anyway.  The meme Fox is setting up is that Americans are suffering  high gas prices because Obama didn’t “take military action” to protect the Suez Canal.

That’s my bet anyway.

It riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave.

January 31, 2011 at 1:08 PM Leave a comment

Fox Wants to Know if You Want Another War

Just got this tweet from Fox:

Typical insane wingers.  They don’t want to spend a dime to ween us off of oil but they have no qualms about bombing a foreign country and getting involved in a third war that would cost billions in order to protect our oil supply.  Yes sir.  Love that forward thinking.

January 31, 2011 at 12:28 PM Leave a comment

Income Inequality Worse in the U.S. Than in Egypt

We’re hearing a lot about income inequality and the high price of goods mixed in with the coverage of what’s going on in Egypt.  What we’re not hearing is that the divide between the rich and poor is actually worse in the United States than it is in Egypt:

As Yasser El-Shimy, former diplomatic attaché at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wrote in Foreign Policy, “income inequality has reached levels not before seen in Egypt’s modern history.” But Egypt still bests quite a few countries when it comes to income inequality, including the United States.

According to the CIA World Fact Book, the U.S. is ranked as the 42nd most unequal country in the world, with a Gini Coefficient of 45.

In contrast:

– Tunisia is ranked the 62nd most unequal country, with a Gini Coefficient of 40.

– Yemen is ranked 76th most unequal, with a Gini Coefficient of 37.7.

And Egypt is ranked as the 90th most unequal country, with a Gini Coefficient of around 34.4.

The Gini coefficient is used to measure inequality: the lower a country’s score, the more equal it is. Obviously, there are many things about the U.S. economy that make it far preferable to that in Egypt, including lower poverty rates, higher incomes, significantly better infrastructure, and a much higher standard of living overall. But income inequality in the U.S. is the worst it has been since the 1920′s, which is a real problem.

Currently, the top one percent of households make nearly 25 percent of the total income in the country, after they made less than 10 percent in the 1970′s. Between 1980 and 2005, “more than 80 percent of total increase in Americans’ income went to the top 1 percent.”

More…

Oh, and by the way, that top 1 percent is the crowd the GOP was fighting for when it insisted on an extension of the Bush tax cuts.

January 31, 2011 at 12:08 PM Leave a comment

The Palin Money Racket

So, explain it to me again.  How does a 21-year-old who became a single mother at age 18, demand a $20,000 fee to give a talk about abstinence?  I mean, obviously a person is free to set whatever fee they want, but what makes grown-ups take a $20,000 fee seriously?

Bristol Palin has landed herself in the news again, this time for the “furor” that was stirred up among Washington University students when the school agreed to spend an outlandish $20,000 for Palin to give a pro-abstinence speech at the university. The appearance, which was to occur next month as part of Wash U’s Student Sexual Responsibility Week, has now been called off, with school officials saying “that the message that they intended on sharing would be overshadowed by controversy.”

A Facebook petition launched by Wash U’s College Democrats group to protest Palin’s exorbitant speaker’s fee and “lack of expertise” (indeed, her track record with abstinence isn’t so great) garnered at least 800 participants. The university claims the decision to cancel Palin’s appearance was “100% mutual,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

What a racket.  What more can Palin say other than hey, look at me.  I didn’t practice abstinence, now I have a kid.  I should have listened to my mom?

That, for $20,000?

January 31, 2011 at 11:48 AM Leave a comment

Steve Kroft — You’re No Julian Assange

OMG.  I just watched Steve Kroft’s 60 Minutes interview with Julian Assange.

HO; Sara Jaye Weiss

Right off the bat Kroft set Assange up to be hated:  He’s “eccentric” and he has to wear an “ankle bracelet” because of [he didn't say dubious] pending charges against him.

Along the way Kroft said, “People in the United States think” you’re a “traitor” and, “There’s a feeling within the community [the corporate media] that you’re not one of them.”

I’m a “people in the United States” and I don’t think Assange is a traitor but then again, my head isn’t stuck in the toilet of DC power politics,  protecting the 200-some families who rule the world.

Assange isn’t a member of the corporate media suck-up-to-power club?  That’s the biggest complement anyone could pay him.  You go guy!

Aaaaaahhh!  More later but suffice it to say, Julian Assange will be remembered as a journalist but Steve Kroft won’t be.

Oh, and BTW, per the wingnutOsphere, this is the liberalist of the liberal media we’re talking about here.

More via Glenn Greenwald:

Exactly.

 

January 30, 2011 at 9:18 PM Leave a comment

“Isolated Incident” #7

Immediately after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson on January 8, a defensive right-wing uniformly proclaimed that any acts of violence by those in its ranks were few and far between.  They were “isolated incidents.”

Since then — a mere three weeks — I have been keeping track of those, ahem, “isolated incidents,” and today I add “isolated incident” #7:

An ex-Army veteran from California who is accused of driving to Metro Detroit’s largest mosque with a trunk full of explosives is behind bars after being charged with making a terrorist threat.

Roger Stockham, 63, is charged with one count of a false report or threat of terrorism and one count of explosives-possession of bombs with unlawful intent after Dearborn police arrested him Monday outside the Islamic Center of America, one the largest mosques in North America.

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Stockham, a resident of Imperial Beach, Calif., is being held on a $500,000 cash bond. He will be in court on Friday for hearing on the charges before 19th District Court Judge Mark Somers.

FBI special agent Sandra Berchtold confirmed today the FBI is investigating an incident referred to the federal agency by Dearborn police.

[...]

Investigators chose to keep the arrest quiet during the week while detectives determined whether Stockham was acting alone or with others, O’Reilly said. Police worked with the mosque’s Imam during the investigation, he said.

O’Reilly said it appears Stockham was acting alone.

So, we’re working on just over 2 incidents per week here folks.  Not exactly “isolated,” are they?

January 30, 2011 at 4:18 PM Leave a comment

How Many People You Can Fit On a Train?

Thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims board overcrowded trains as they try to return home after attending the three-day Islamic Congregation on the banks of the river Turag in Tongi, outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011. AP / Pavel Rahman

 

Muslim pilgrims leave the 'Biswa Ijtema' or World Muslim Congregation on an over-crowded train at Tongi, about 30 kms north of Dhaka on January 23, 2011. AFP/ Getty Images / Munir Uz Zaman

 

Tens of thousands of Muslims seeking peace and the revival of Islam’s tenets joined a mass prayer Sunday to wrap up an annual three-day Islamic congregation outside the Bangladeshi capital. It was not clear how many devotees joined the final prayer, but the organizers had earlier said the congregation was expected to attract more than 4 million people on the sandy bank of the River Turag. Local police chief S.M. Mahfuzul Haque Nuruzzman said the gathering was peaceful like previous years as thousands walked to the site overnight and in the morning to join the final prayer of the World Congregation of Muslims, or Biswa Ijtema. The gathering, held each year since 1966, is among the world’s largest religious gatherings. It shuns politics.

More extraordinary photos here.

January 30, 2011 at 4:04 PM Leave a comment

The President of Yemen Confirms His Solidary With Mubarak

Given that “many” are saying Yemen is at the top of the list of countries which could be hit by a popular uprising like the one occurring in Egypt, this is an asshat move on the part of Yemen’s president:

President Ali Abdullah Saleh made a phone call Saturday evening with his Egyptian counterpart Muhammad Hosni Mubarak.

In the phone conversation, Saleh got assured of the situations in Egypt in light of the unfortunate events currently witnessed by Egypt.

Saleh confirmed Yemen’s solidarity with the government and brotherly people of Egypt, wishing security, stability and tranquility for Egypt.

 

 

January 30, 2011 at 1:49 PM Leave a comment

Reform in the Arab World

Amen to this tweet of the day:

 

 

January 30, 2011 at 12:24 PM Leave a comment

Al Jazeera Blocked in Egypt as in the United States

Roughly three hours ago Egyptian government blocked Al Jazeera.  A collective gasp when up from the Internet but don’t forget, for all intents and purposes, Al Jazeera is blocked in the United States too.  On the teevee at least.

January 30, 2011 at 11:38 AM Leave a comment

China Blocks Searches for the Word “Egypt”

China has blocked searches for the word “Egypt” on Twitter-like sites there.  It doesn’t want people to get any ideas:

China blocked the word “Egypt” from micro-blog searches in a sign that the Chinese government is concerned that protests calling for political reform in the country could spill into China’s internet space.

Searches on Sunday for “Egypt” on micro-blog functions of Chinese web portals such as Sina.com and Sohu.com — sites comparable to Twitter — showed phrases saying search results could not be found or could not be displayed in accordance with regulations.

January 30, 2011 at 11:30 AM Leave a comment

Tweeting From Egypt

Sharif Kouddous — a senior producer at DemocracyNow! — is tweeting live from Tahrir Square in Cairo, here.

January 30, 2011 at 10:34 AM Leave a comment

The Washington Post Gives Up

In a time when the United States is involved in two long wars, dictatorships are being overthrown by fed-up citizens, global warming goes unchecked, the world faces food and water shortages and millions of people are unemployed, it is sad, just plain sad –  filed under NotEvenTryingAnymore –  to see one of the nation’s (formerly) premiere newspapers — the Washington Post — run an article about potty training and football players’ hair on the front page of its Sunday edition:

January 30, 2011 at 9:50 AM Leave a comment

To the Idiots Who Watch Fox

Yo, Fox watchers:  It’s 5:14 a.m. in Cairo, Egypt.  The video of burning cars and crowds that Fox “News” is airing in the US right now is old stuff but they want you to think it’s happening now.

It isn’t.

Want real-time info about what’s going on in Egypt instead of a movie? Go here.

January 29, 2011 at 10:18 PM Leave a comment

Act Up Against the Koch Brothers

Heads up to folks in SoCal who don’t think it’s right that corporations and rich people rule the world:

Environmentalists, labor union members and liberal activists across Southern California are mounting a protest Sunday in Rancho Mirage against billionaire “tea party” funders Charles and David Koch and their semiannual confab of conservative activists.

The brothers, who own oil refineries across the U.S., helped fund last November’s Proposition 23, the failed ballot initiative to delay California’s landmark global warming law, AB 32. They are major backers of groups that seek to refute scientific evidence of global climate change.

The Kochs’ regular gatherings attract several hundred Republican officials and wealthy business executives to raise money for conservative causes. In the past, the Koch-sponsored conferences have attracted such luminaries as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas along with GOP members of Congress.

The counter-meeting, dubbed “Uncloaking the Kochs,” will feature former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, Oakland green energy activist Van Jones, and constitutional scholar Edwin Chemerinsky at a panel discussion at the Hilton Rancho Mirage, two blocks from where the Koch group is meeting. Protesters will rally afterward on the street.

They look like nice guys but they despise defective you and me small people.

They think they’re special because they’re rich.  They think they’ve been chosen by god to lead us peasants — never mind that they inherited their money from their daddy. They didn’t earn it by being brilliant or innovative on their own.  They’re trust fund kids.

Forget the will of the people. They want to rule the United States (and the world) and they’re out to make that a reality.

You go SoCal.  Act up!!

January 29, 2011 at 9:51 PM Leave a comment

News About Egypt

Reminder: there’s no comparison between the atrocious coverage of CNN and MSNBC as to the goings on in Egypt to that of Al Jazeera.  Watch Al Jazeera here on Facebook.

What’s happening in Egypt (and in the Middle East) is much more complicated and fascinating than MSNBC and/or CNN let on.

The “news” we get here in the U.S. us nothing but awful.

January 29, 2011 at 8:18 PM 2 comments

Money in Egypt Only Reaching the Rich

Tweet of the day:

January 29, 2011 at 6:37 PM Leave a comment

Know Where Egypt Is? You May Not if You Watch Fox

Check out this map Fox aired in 2009.  They put Egypt where Iraq is and a no-man’s land — desert — where Egypt is.  So, if you’re watching coverage of the events in Egypt on Fox, and it whips out a map, you might want to view it with a big dose of skepticism.

Oh, and I would apply that to any map you see on Fox.  If, after nine years of war they don’t know where Iraq is, they got problems.

January 29, 2011 at 6:33 PM 2 comments

David Balmer (R) “Accosts” Fellow Democratic State Senator — “Isolated Incident” #6

Are there any grown-ups in the Republican party?

Colorado State Senator Gail Schwartz, a Snowmass Democrat whose narrow win in November saw what some deemed the “most tasteless” mailers of the campaign, now finds herself in the middle of the ugliest incident of the young legislative session. State Rep. David Balmer,

(Colorado Republican David Balmer.  (Image via Westword.))

R-Centennial, was banned Friday from the Senate chamber for accosting Schwartz there on Wednesday.

“This morning Rep. Balmer came to my office to apologize for his conduct on the Senate floor when he confronted Sen. Schwartz,” Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, said in a prepared statement Friday. “Mr. Balmer’s behavior was unacceptable, and for that reason I have revoked his privilege to enter the Senate chamber for the remainder of the legislative session.

“At my request Rep. Balmer will apologize publicly in the House chamber at his first convenience. The Senate chamber must be a sanctuary for the exchange of ideas in an atmosphere free of intimidation. I will not tolerate a breech in decorum. We have real work to do for the people of Colorado.”

Schwartz has decried the increasing lack of civility in state elections and has called for stiffer penalties against outside groups seeking to unduly influence voters with questionable campaign materials. She called imposing stiffer penalties one of her top legislative priorities this session.

Here are “isolated incidents” No. 1 – 5 of documented or threatened violence against Democrats in the last three+ weeks.

Republicans want to bring guns to the floor of statehouses across the country.  That said, I can only imagine what will happen next.

January 29, 2011 at 2:30 AM Leave a comment

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