Running on hope

I found this via Cartalk, and half an hour later I’m still chortling and snorting to myself. You need to see this. From vimeo.com.

Running on Hope from Douglas Sarine on Vimeo.


SDB Evening News Reads for 113011: Last Day of November…Get your holiday gifts…Sky Dancing Style!

Well, Good Evening Y’all!

Can you believe that tomorrow is December 1st? I sure can’t.

Yes, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice or what every you and yours celebrate during the Month of December is here at last!

There are a few things I would like to see this Holiday shopping season.

The Merry Marijuana Chia Pet Tree…you know the old favorite! Only this one comes with top grade patented Chia Weed Seeds and a high voltage lamp…Light bulb not included. Just soak your Merry Marijuana Chia in water, rub your Chia Weed Seeds into the Merry Marijuana Chia, put your Chia in a special out-of-the-way place under the high voltage lamp provided…and watch it grow!

Or if that doesn’t float your boat…then perhaps this family fun night activity will be just the ticket.

Happy Fetus Gingerbread House! It comes complete with a full variety of Happy Fetus shaped candies, representing all colors and creeds. From Black to Brown to White to Yellow to Green…no ethnic or extraterrestrial fetus will be left out.*  A hearty joyful holiday family treat that is sure to please.

Oh, and don’t forget to read the small print!

*Ratio of colored fetuses reflects the percentage of abortions per race of mother. Black and Brown Happy Fetus Candies are purposely meant to be higher in number compared to White, Yellow and Green Happy Fetus Candies. A great way to teach your kids math…as well as the values associated with the pro-life lifestyle.

Alright, lets light this candle!

Just a few links for you tonight…

If any of you missed Dakinikat’s post about Apple and Siri’s anti-choice stance…then take a look at it!

Now, here is the response from a PLUB Crisis Center: Crisis Pregnancy Center Congratulates Apple’s Siri For ‘Embracing’ An Anti-Choice Position | ThinkProgress

…one crisis pregnancy center in Boise, Idaho is simply “thrilled by the recent discovery that Siri does not promote or provide abortion information or referrals”:

Brandi Swindell, Founder and President of Stanton Healthcare, states,

“We applaud Apple iPhone’s 4S Siri and are thrilled that Siri does not list or refer to abortion clinics. Numerous lives will be saved as a direct result. Siri is setting the standard for all organizations — no one should ever refer anyone to get an abortion. […]

As a woman I’m delighted that Siri is embracing a position that promotes the dignity of women and upholds human rights in the womb.

“It is my hope that Apple remains steadfast and does not cave under any pressure brought by the abortion industry to start marketing abortion clinics.” Swindell states. “This is a huge win for women and a significant step in the right direction.”

I think we must send a special Happy Fetus Gingerbread House Kit to Brandi Swindell don’t you? (Personally, if my name was Brandi Swindell…I’d change it.)

Sticking with the PLUB agenda against women and a woman’s right to choose, the Senate’s anti-choice/pro-life members blocked an important bill that would have made abortion coverage available to military members in cases rape and incest. Why All 100 Senators Should Support Access to Abortion in Cases of Rape in the Military | RH Reality Check

UPDATE: This afternoon, Wednesday, November 30th, 2011, anti-choice members of the Senate voted to block the Shaheen Amendment from coming to a vote.

This article was co-authored by Lucy Panza, Women’s Health and Rights Program policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.

The Senate is currently considering the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which will authorize funding for the nation’s defense for the next year, and negotiations over which amendments will be included in the bill may be settled as soon as today. One of the amendments that deserves attention is Senate Amendment 1120, offered by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The amendment would permanently remove the ban on military insurance coverage for abortions to end pregnancies that result from rape or incest.

The Shaheen Amendment currently has 12 cosponsors. It should have all 100. This amendment should be entirely non-controversial and should appeal even to those who generally oppose abortion but are sympathetic to its need in cases of rape or incest. Even the Hyde Amendment — the original ban on government coverage for abortion — allows for abortion in those circumstances. Thus, as it currently stands, civilian government-sponsored health insurance, such as Medicaid and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, covers abortion in cases of life endangerment of a pregnant woman and when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Yet military government-sponsored health insurance, known as Tricare, only covers abortion care in cases of life endangerment. This means a servicewoman — someone who has volunteered to serve our country and defend our rights in a time of war — is not entitled to the same government-sponsored health care coverage that her civilian counterpart receives. That is the unacceptable situation that the Shaheen Amendment would correct.

This is not just a theoretical problem. According to the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office’s FY 2010 Report, 3,158 sexual assaults were reported in the military last year, of which 27.7 percent, or approximately 875, were rape. However, underreporting is rampant — DoD estimates that 86 percent of military sexual assaults go unreported. That means there may have been closer to 6,250 rapes in 2010. About 5 percent of first-time unprotected sex results in pregnancy, but that number can rise in the context of repeated acts of sexual assault. Based on those factors, we estimate that upwards of 300 military rapes resulted in pregnancy last year. Furthermore, recent research suggests that junior enlisted women are much more likely to be raped and, at the same time, to have the fewest financial resources. DoD reports that more than half of military sexual assault victims are 20 to 24 years old, and the overwhelming majority earn less than $23,000 per year — barely above the federal poverty level for a family of four. Thus, the servicewomen least able to afford to pay out of pocket for an abortion following a rape are the most likely to need it.

I just can’t understand these assholes…Who would block coverage for a military servicewoman’s abortion due to rape or incest. Unbelievable!

I guess that is just the way things are changing for women’s rights.

Let’s move on and talk about backward ass thinking, Kentucky church bans inter-racial couples ‘in the name of the greater unity’ | Pam’s House Blend

What century is this? This story intrigues me because it makes me wonder how many houses of worship are this racist in this day and age? At Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church in Pike County, Kentucky, an inter-racial couple, Stella Harville, who is white and who was baptized there and a member of the church as a child, brought her fiancé, Ticha Chikuni, a native of Zimbabwe, to sing at a service. And then this happened:

Dean Harville said Melvin Thompson, who had been pastor for many years, told him in August that his daughter and her fiancé couldn’t sing at the church again.

Thompson stepped down as pastor in August, citing health issues, but he refused Harville’s requests to drop the issue, Harville said.

The new pastor, Stacy Stepp, said the couple could sing at the church if they wanted, Harville said.

In early November, Thompson proposed the church go on record saying that while all people were welcome to attend public worship services there, the church did not condone interracial marriage, according to a copy of the recommendation supplied by the Harvilles.

The proposal also said “parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services” or other church functions, with the exception of funerals.

The recommendation “is not intended to judge the salvation of anyone, but is intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve,” the copy supplied to the Herald-Leader read.

Alrighty, then. So you can show up if someone dies, but not in any other context. Where is that in the bible? By the way, Thompson told the newspaper after this blew up that “the proposal has been taken out of context.” He declined to elaborate what all of this actually meant, you see.

Racism…plan and simple!

Oh, this reminds me…better make sure we have “creamy coffee” colored Happy Fetus Candies in the Happy Fetus Gingerbread House Kit…don’t want to leave the interracial fetuses out of the loop!

And last, but not least…Cops, movers refuse to foreclose on 103-year-old woman | The Raw Story

In a heart warming story just in time for the holiday season, a 103-year-old woman in Atlanta avoided foreclosure of her home Tuesday afternoon, thanks entirely to the kindness of strangers.

According to WSBTV Atlanta, movers hired by Deutsche Bank AG and police were ready to go through with the bank’s request to remove Vita Lee and her 83-year old daughter from their home.

However, when they first got sight of Lee, they had a change of heart and declined to go through with it.

Yes Virginia…sometimes people do have a heart!

“I saw the sheriffs who came to put them out, take off and leave,” community activist Michael Langford said to WSBTV. ”I gave all glory to God.”

Yes, I will say Amen to that…

nd Lee decided to give Deutsche Bank a message if they pondered to still go through on the foreclosure.

“Please don’t come in and disturb me no more,” she reportedly said. “When I’m gone you all can come back and do whatever they want to.”

And that is all I have for you tonight!


Occupy Philly and Independence Hall

Black Friday, Philadelphia, Pa.

 My first look at Occupy Philly was after a free ride on the 9:52 Media Local, The Santa Train.  This was not by plan but a matter of sheer coincidence.  I should have guessed; I was the only one standing on the Morton platform without a small child in tow.  But shortly after boarding, it was all too clear.  The elves came first, wailing Jingle Bells and Wish You a Merry Christmas.  They were followed by out-of-season Mummers dressed in holiday garb, belting out another round of X-mas cheer, complete with accordion, banjo and sax.  Mrs. Claus assured the children that Santa was busy, busy at the North Pole, making sure all their wishes [even though edited to economic realities] would come true. And then, there was the free candy and balloon animals.

The magic of childhood!  Where we can believe everything and anything.  When the world appears kind and right and true.

An out-of-stater now, I deliberately got off at Suburban Station, my old work stop.  Also, the stop at which I’ve frequently disembarked to attend exhibits at the Franklin Institute, the Museum of Natural History or the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a brisk walk west up the Parkway, past the Rodin Museum and the soon-to-open home for the controversy-laden Barne’s collection.

But not today. 

This morning I headed east, winding through the underground towards City Hall and the Occupy Philly encampment.  Later, I would team up with a friend and hoof down to the historic district.  But right now, I had a different historical event in mind.

I no sooner hit the outside doors than the vivid blue of plastic tarps and tent tops were visible.  A strange sight.  Normally, I would have walked through the West arch at City Hall, stood for a few moments googling at the city’s Christmas tree.  But this year was different.  So different.

The western entrance to the City Hall complex was barricaded.  ‘For Restoration’ the signs said.  No towering tree this year.  Instead, the Occupy tents decorated Dilworth Plaza, a strange but fascinating sprawl of makeshift living quarters and standard issue camping gear.  The area was quiet and still, the air crisp.  I circled around the entire plaza.  No sight of my friend, so I headed back towards the encampment, spotted the medical and information tents, as well as a petition table outlining the dangers of in-state fracking by over-zealous gas drilling companies.

At the Information Tent there was an array of literature on upcoming actions, the November issue of the Occupy Wall Street Journal and several people discussing Mayor Nutter’s deadline to dismantle the encampment within 48 hours.  Two of the occupiers said almost in unison: ‘It was never about the tents.’

So what is it about? It’s a question I read constantly on the blogs and in newspapers, even hear from family and friends.

Here’s what I learned in the morning hours I spent on the Plaza:

  1. In the 53 days of Occupy Philly, 26,000 local citizens signed on expressing support.
  2. At the height of the encampment, City Hall was encircled with tents, sleeping bags and a variety of makeshift living accommodations.
  3. Active supporters numbered around 200-300, some living on-site, others coming in to protest, march and rally during the day.
  4. Local Unions support the effort.  In fact, the Trades Union offered to assist the protestors in the original plan to move off Dilworth to an encampment across the street.  The Union needs those ‘renovation’ jobs.  That idea was scrapped because permits were denied.
  5. The area was clean.  No needles, drug paraphernalia or trash scattered about as the MSM would have readers/viewers believe taints all encampments. Talking to several encampment members, I was told a goodly portion of each day is spent ‘cleaning up.’
  6. The encampment/protest was peaceful.  There was a sense of community and the overriding sentiment was to voice anger and dissent over the widening income inequality in the US and the corporate capture of all facets of government.
  7. I heard no political posturing or Obama shilling. Simply stated, the system is broken for the 99%.
  8. Forty to fifty of the encampment members were homeless. They joined for the free food and the safety of numbers.
  9. The police presence, even on this Friday morning, was unusually large but basically stationed within the confines of the City Hall plaza.
  10. Though Mayor Nutter had leveled a 48-hour deadline, there was no sense of panic or great urgency the morning I arrived.  I later learned that the majority of the encampment was dismantled voluntarily Sunday evening and the homeless were moved elsewhere for their own safety.
  11. This morning [Wednesday 11/30 at 1:20 am, according to the Associated Press], the Philly police department began tearing down the remaining tents.

But as the protesters I spoke with said: It was never about the tents. It has always been about visibility—the eyesore of inequality, injustice and corruption.

I left Dilworth Plaza, and then headed down to Independence Mall.  A surreal juxtaposition. In a matter of a few blocks, my friend and I walked from the current protest to the historical marker of the Mother of All Protests.  Philadelphia is the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. We strolled through the portrait gallery installed in the Second Bank of the United States and the faces of those earlier protesters, that grand collection of merchants and farmers, philosophers and scientists, lawyers and bankers stared back.  What would they be thinking? I wondered.

We went on to Carpenter’s Hall, where Benjamin Franklin reportedly had secret meetings with like-minded citizens prior to the Revolution.  Years later, on leaving the Constitutional Convention, a woman reportedly asked Franklin what sort of government he and the others had designed. Franklin’s terse reply: ‘A Republic, Ma’am. If you can keep it.’

Our final stop was Independence Hall, which was originally the Pennsylvania State House. This was where the Second Continental Congress met, the Declaration of Independence was adopted and where the Constitutional Convention met to draft, debate, and then sign the US Constitution in 1787.

We’re a long way from who and what we were in 1787. But Franklin’s words have a haunting edge to them: ‘A Republic, Ma’am. If you can keep it.’ Another quote that’s perhaps equally pertinent is:

‘We must hang together, gentleman, or assuredly we will all hang separately.’

For me at least, this is what the Occupy Movement has been and is still about.  In an age where corporations have been awarded the distinction of personhood, when free speech is equated to money and The Rule of Law is applied in an unjust and inequitable fashion then we, ordinary citizens, have a duty to support and join one another in protest. To hang together, if you will.

Oh, and that Tea Party, the real one in Boston that got everything rolling? 

We all recall the ‘taxation without representation’ line from our school years, stemming from the passage of the Stamp Act in the 1760s and later the Tea Act in 1773.  King George had debts to pay off—a Seven Year’s War among other things.  And the East India Company’s tea pitched into the Boston Harbor?  East India was basically provided a monopoly on tea shipped into the colonies. The company [and its aristocratic shareholders] were none too happy about their profits pinched and drowned in the harbor and helped push [lobby] the King to pass the Coercive Acts, aka The Intolerable Acts. The colonists were generally peeved at the British Parliament for taxing them without their consent and then adding insult to injury, giving the East India Co. a cushy, duty-free export to undercut colonial merchants. But they were beyond peeved when punitive measures were leveled. They demanded that Parliament end its corrupt economic policies with and stop the bailout of that era’s own TBTF East India Company.

Sound vaguely familiar?  Whatever’s old is new again. Of course, no one age can be accurately compared to another. Context is everything. To quote Barbara Kingsolver from the November issue of The Occupy Wall Street Journal:

“Every system on earth has its limits. We have never been here before, not right here exactly, you and me together in the golden and gritty places all at once, on deadline, no fooling around this time, no longer walking politely around the dire colossus, the so-called American Way of consecrated corporate profits and crushed public compassion. There is another American Way. This is the right place, we found it. On State of Franklin, we yelled until our throats hurt that we were the 99% because that’s just it. We are.”

As I’ve said elsewhere, I support Occupy until I don’t. The ‘don’t’ for me is if the Movement becomes another co-opted arm of one corrupt political party or another. Our existing two-party system is thoroughly compromised; a shipload of bleach and scrub brushes couldn’t clean it up.  I support Occupy because I hate the idea of leaving my kids and future grandbabies with a broken, twisted Republic, one dedicated to piranha-school profits, the amassing of criminal wealth by a callous, irresponsible few at the expense of the many. I support the Occupiers because of those sweet-faced kids on the Santa train; they deserve the best we have.  But I also support what I saw on Dilworth Plaza because of what I saw and recalled inside Independence Hall, what we owe to all those who sacrificed and struggled, dreamed and achieved, lived, loved and died over the last 200+ years.  We stand on the shoulders of so many.

That’s something we should never forget because our past, our history is no small thing. But our future, that other American Way?  That’s all about what we do now.


Wednesday Reads: Criminals, Whistleblowers, Journalists and Artists…

Good Morning!

Wednesday is upon us again, and today we have some interesting reads for you…as the title teases, we cover just about everyone.

At least the European parliament hasn’t forgotten the Wikileak Whistleblower who has been held captive in a US military jail. The MEP’s are asking questions about Bradley Manning, and want to send a UN special reporter on torture to visit Manning and check on his condition. So here are a couple of links about this request.  Bradley Manning treatment in custody concerns MEPs

More than 50 members of the European parliament have signed an open letter to the US government raising concerns about the treatment of Bradley Manning, the US soldier in military detention for allegedly leaking classified US documents to the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks.

The call on the US government comes before a pre-trial hearing – Manning’s first appearance in court – which begins on 16 December.

The MEPs said internal investigations into Manning’s treatment in custody, which included solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, inspections by officers every five minutes from 5am onwards and removal of his clothes, had been marred by “clear conflicts of interest”.

They call for US authorities to grant Juan Méndez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, access to Manning.

Mendez has made repeated requests for access to the military base where Manning is held, all of which have been refused by US authorities.

That the US authorities are refusing to allow Mendez visitation, it makes one think, “What are they trying to hide?”

The open letter from European parliamentarians, which follows another signed by several hundred US legal scholars, questioned the charges against Manning and warned that his pre-trial treatment may harm the UN’s work elsewhere, “particularly its mandate to investigate allegations of torture and human rights abuses”.

“In order to uphold the rights guaranteed to Bradley Manning under international human rights law and the US constitution, it is imperative that the United Nations special rapporteur be allowed to properly investigate evidence of rights abuses. PFC Manning has a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. People accused of crimes must not be subjected to any form of punishment before being brought to trial,” they wrote.

“We certainly do not understand why an alleged whistleblower is being threatened with the death penalty, or the possibility of life in prison. We also question whether Bradley Manning’s right to due process has been upheld, as he has now spent over 17 months in pre-trial confinement.”

You can read the entire letter for yourself here:  Bradley Manning: MEPs’ open letter to the US government

Manning will attend an Article 32 hearing, the US military equivalent of a pre-trial hearing, on 16 December. This is expected to last five days. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, has indicated he wishes to call 50 witnesses at the hearing, but military authorities are considered unlikely to grant such a request.

The Article 32 hearing then makes a recommendation to a general as to whether to proceed to a full trial.

Now, compare this to recent news from China…Ai Weiwei’s wife detained by police. 

 The wife of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei was detained by police yesterday, the latest move in what has been seen as a concerted campaign to silence one of the government’s most vocal critics.

Speaking to The Independent, the artist, whose works include the Sunflower Seeds exhibition at London’s Tate Modern last year, described his wife Lu Qing’s three-hours of questioning as “ridiculous. They accused her of being a criminal suspect. When she asked them what crimes, they said it was a secret.”

Four policemen took Ms Lu, also a high-profile artist, from the couple’s Beijing studio to a local police station where she was questioned about a design company that manages Ai’s art, which is currently the focus of a £1.5m tax-evasion case.

“She is quite hurt. She’s very innocent; she doesn’t know anything about politics.” Mr Ai said.

Her cameraman and assistant has also been detained for questioning, in regards to one of Lu’s photographs that is now being labeled by the police as “pornography.”

What can you say, it does not seem to be much difference between China and the US.

In fact, this next link from the ACLU has information on the process of detaining US Citizens using the ICE’s Secure Communities.  Detain First, Investigate Later: How U.S. Citizens Are Unlawfully Detained Under S-Comm

Detain first, investigate later — that is Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) mantra when it comes to its Secure Communities (“S-Comm”) program, a program designed to immediately ensnare any immigrant in the deportation pipeline the moment they come into contact with the criminal justice system.

Under S-Comm, the fingerprints of every person arrested by the police are shared with ICE at the moment they are booked into police custody. Without investigating the person’s immigration status, ICE immediately sends an “immigration detainer” or a request back to the police if they want the person to continue to be detained for immigration purposes. Detain first, investigate later.

See a problem with this? Not only does it violate the Fourth Amendment’s basic prohibition against detaining a person without probable cause to do so, but it commonly ensnares the wrong people, including people who are not even immigrants, but United States citizens, causing them to be unlawfully detained.

The post goes on to describe personal experiences with the policy of Detain First, Investigate Later.

ICE, quite clearly, has no business arresting and detaining American citizens. But as described in a recent report by the Warren Institute at University of California — Berkeley, they do so over and over again through the fundamentally-flawed S-Comm program. (ICE’s own data in the first year of S-Comm activation revealed that five percent of persons identified by S-Comm were in fact U.S. citizens.) And they do so by enlisting the unwitting participation of local jail authorities in these unconstitutional practices.

The costs and consequences of S-Comm’s detain first, investigate later are borne out every day in the jails and police stations across the country where non-deportable citizens and noncitizens suffer needless detention, while they beg for ICE to finally investigate their cases so that they may be released from jail.

Which makes me think of the recent Immigration Law passed in Alabama. Via Atrios:  But The Law Was Only Supposed To Apply To Brown People

…many foreign manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Honda, have set up there. Its business-friendly reputation took a serious blow with the arrest in Tuscaloosa of a visiting Mercedes manager who was caught driving without his license and taken to jail as a potential illegal immigrant.

You see, you aren’t business friendly when you’re locking up the people who run the business, only when you’re locking up the people who work for it.

I know it isn’t funny, but the fact that they treated this Mercedes executive like an illegal immigrant made me laugh out loud.

Now here are some links involving Journalism and Journalists…which according to one link, calling some of the media’s reports “journalism” is rather a large leap.

First, this report about Lynsey Addario, New York Times Journalist, Strip Searched By Israeli Soldiers.

Israel’s Defense Ministry apologized Monday for the treatment of a pregnant American news photographer who said she was strip searched and humiliated by Israeli soldiers during a security check.

Lynsey Addario, who was on assignment for the New York Times, had requested that she not be forced to go through an X-ray machine as she entered Israel from the Gaza Strip because of concerns for her unborn baby.

Instead, she wrote in a letter to the ministry, she was forced through the machine three times as soldiers “watched and laughed from above.” She said she was then taken into a room where she was ordered by a female worker to strip down to her underwear.

Wait, they forced her to take the x-ray three times and then made her strip?

In the Oct. 25 letter sent by the newspaper said Addario, a Pulitzer Prize winner who is based in India and has worked in more than 60 countries, had never been treated with “such blatant cruelty.”

The ministry said an investigation found that the search followed procedures but noted that Addario’s request to avoid the X-ray machine had not been properly relayed.

Addario said she made the request not to go through the X-ray machine before arriving at the crossing.

“We would like to apologize for this particular mishap in coordination and any trouble it may subsequently have caused to those involved,” the statement said.

Hopefully, the x-ray screening did not harm her fetus…

Here in the US, CBS and CNN is getting flack for its recent “Exclusive Interviews” that are not real interviews, but video of a reporter knocking on the door and being told to f-off. Laurie Fine Interview On CNN

On Nov. 15, CBS touted an exclusive interview with Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, the man who allegedly saw and reported Jerry Sandusky abusing a boy in the locker room shower. The interview with Armen Keteyian lasted a whopping 24 seconds and its only legacy was a brief “shaken like a snowglobe” Internet meme. To say it was roundly mocked by anyone watching would be an understatement.

On Monday, CNN — with far less lead-up fanfare — touted an exclusive interview with Laurie Fine, wife of former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, who is accused of molesting team ball boys. This interview lasted 18 seconds, and consisted of AC 360‘s Gary Tuchman knocking on the door of the Fine house, and swatting down “no comments” from Laurie Fine by asking more questions. He eventually got the door shut in his face as a dog barked at him.

The Mediate post goes on to breakdown these “interviews” and honestly it is a laugh.

Keteyian’s interview consisted of 68 words, 29 of which were McQueary’s. Tuchman’s was 70 words, 21 of which were Fine’s…And we never see Laurie Fine’s face. Just a voice from inside the house, caught on a microphone that Tuchman had on him.

Video at the link above.

I’m giving you another link to Mediaite, this time highlighting a segment on Colbert: Stephen Colbert On CNN iReporters: ‘This Bold Move Will Help You Get Rid Of Your Remaining Viewers’

On Monday night’s The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert deftly tore into CNN for laying off dozens of its employees and choosing instead to rely more heavily on free (and, as one might be inclined to point out, often irrelevant) viewer-produced “iReports.”

“Why buy the cow,” Colbert mused, “when you can have it shakily videotape its own milk for free?”

Perhaps if CNN used an iReporter for the Fine interview, it would have been better than the professional one Tuchman taped?/snark

Colbert also noted that readers are reimbursed for their efforts with badges, which, he assumes, can probably be used to pay for food and rent. So far, readers have submitted personal vacation footage, a little girl’s weather report, and footage of some rambling man who calls himself “Blitz” or some such.

[…]

“Bravo CNN,” added Colbert, “for getting rid of all those pesky professionals. Hopefully this bold move will help you get rid of your remaining viewers.”

Too damn funny!

Okay, now this next journalism link is serious…and very interesting. h/t Susie Madrak: Tehelka – India’s Independent Weekly News Magazine

‘Journalism, not truth, is the first casualty of war’

WAR IS a well-produced reality show. Embedded journalism is the star cast. Yes, there are innocents dying, but why let that interfere with what the boss wants reported? Award-winning documentary filmmaker-journalist John Pilger is like the Censor Board in reverse. He hunts down secret footage and uses it as damning evidence, countering what war mongers want you to believe. His 2010 documentary The War You Don’t See had its Indian premiere in Delhi recently. Its footage of a US chopper firing on unarmed Baghdad residents and injured children being ignored as collateral damage raises questions about the media’s engage ment with war. Ironically, the journalists were conspicuous by their absence. For someone who has covered every major war of our times, even Pilger, 72, underneath his composed exterior, seemed disappointed. He tells Karuna John that journalists owe their loyalty to telling the truth. Period.

The link takes you to a Q & A with John Pilger, and after reading the “crap” being called “journalism” at CNN…it is refreshing to read about the real thing.

Just a few more links for you this morning. I find it curious that in Georgia, Herman and Newt’s extra-marital affairs are actually illegal. Map: Is Adultery Illegal? Why is the religious right so silent? Hasn’t both of these presidential candidates broken a few of those laws written on stone that folks like Pat Robertson are so passionate about?

Times are tough, the economy sucks ass and it doesn’t look like any help will be on the way soon.

Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars  This is a video link to a segment from this week’s 60 Minutes.

More than 16 million children are now living in poverty and, for many of them, a proper home is elusive. Some cash-strapped families stay with relatives; others move into motels or homeless shelters. But, as Scott Pelley reports, sometimes those options run out, leaving an even more desperate choice: living in their cars. 60 Minutes returns to Florida, home to one third of America’s homeless families, to find out what life is like for the epidemic’s youngest survivors.

Add to this an article from the New York Times that highlights the loss of jobs within the black community.  As Public Sector Sheds Jobs, Black Americans Are Hit Hard

Though the recession and continuing economic downturn have been devastating to the American middle class as a whole, the two and a half years since the declared end of the recession have been singularly harmful to middle-class blacks in terms of layoffs and unemployment, according to economists and recent government data. About one in five black workers have public-sector jobs, and African-American workers are one-third more likely than white ones to be employed in the public sector.

“The reliance on these jobs has provided African-Americans a path upward,” said Robert H. Zieger, emeritus professor of history at the University of Florida, and the author of a book on race and labor. “But it is also a vulnerability.”

A study by the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California this spring concluded, “Any analysis of the impact to society of additional layoffs in the public sector as a strategy to address the fiscal crisis should take into account the disproportionate impact the reductions in government employment have on the black community.”

Jobless rates among blacks have consistently been about double those of whites. In October, the black unemployment rate was 15.1 percent, compared with 8 percent for whites. Last summer, the black unemployment rate hit 16.7 percent, its highest level since 1984.

Economists say there are probably a variety of reasons for the racial gap, including generally lower educational levels for African-Americans, continuing discrimination and the fact that many live in areas that have been slow to recover economically.

Hmmm…maybe Obama’s lack of attention to African-Americans high unemployment also is not helping matters…please give the entire article you time. The story is a sad one, and many of us are familiar with the stresses a family will go through when jobs are lost and people are in survival mode. The holidays make it even more difficult.

This next link discusses how the Recession hits families hard as half of Americans fear they won’t be able to do their holiday shopping . The article points out that one in five American families do not have disposable income.

Worried: Financial troubles are dampening people's expectations this season

Worried: Financial troubles are dampening people’s expectations this season.

While the deals in stores and online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are meant to encourage shoppers, many people’s bank statements are having the opposite effect.

As a result of the difficult financial times and the diminishing disposable cash in many American households, half of the country is concerned that they will not be able to buy the gifts they want for family and friends this holiday season.

A CBS poll reports that 33 per cent of those polled will not have enough money for holiday shopping.

Okay, very depressing news…and very depressing numbers. Let’s end this post with some geeky news about True Random Numbers Created by Firing Lasers at Diamonds

True random numbers are very hard to come by, as this article from Geeosystem points out:

Computers have an especially hard time creating random numbers since they operate by algorithm. Sure, you can get a pseudo-random number by using a “randomly” selected seed and running a whole bunch of operations on it, but that’s still not random. For that matter, neither is rolling dice. Granted, we generally don’t have enough information to predict the outcome, so rolls are effectively random, but not actually random. Now, Ottowa physicist Ben Sussman has come up with a way to create large quantities of true random numbers, with science!

The process works a little something like this. Sussman takes a big old beam of science a laser, and fires a several-trillosecond burst through a diamond. In the process of going through the diamond, the laser fundamentally changes in completely random ways, providing those true random numbers everyone craves. That’s right. Ben Sussman makes random numbers by shooting lasers at diamonds, for science. This is exactly the kind of experiment I imagined scientists doing when I was about 6 years old. The only way this could be cooler is if it were all going down in space.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “So what’s so random about this? After all, if dice rolls aren’t random because we theoretically could predict them, what makes this laser-diamond stuff any different?” Well, we theoretically can’t predict these numbers. It’s not that we don’t know how the light changes inside the diamond. It’s that we can’t know. It is unknowable. To know would defy the very laws of physics.

As you can probably guess, quantum physics is to blame for this one. While traveling through the diamond, the laser experiences a quantum fluctuation, and according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, it is literally impossible to figure out what happened in there; all we can do is take a look at what’s coming out the other side. Basically, when you shoot a laser through a diamond, quantum physics does a whole bunch of stuff that is literally impossible to know, ever. Are you getting this?! This is science, baby!

Yeah Baby!

What are you all reading about this morning!


Free markets are for losers

You don’t have to believe me. The S&P says so. At the very heart of the supposedly free market, right there on Wall St., they’ve got no use for it. Standard & Poors announced a mass of ratings cuts for the biggest names in banking.

Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, … Barclays, HSBC, … Citigroup, … Morgan Stanley, Commerzbank, and UBS, [all] had ratings cut by one notch. …

But. But, but, but, and however,

it upgraded ratings on two Chinese banks, Bank of China Ltd. and China Construction Bank Corp. …

The upgrade for the Chinese banks has come at a time when there have been increased concerns about the health of the country’s banking sector. …

Analysts said while the Chinese banks were prone to the risk of accumulating bad debt, they still remain a safe bet.

“The key factor is that they are largely government owned, that means the risk to shareholders of these banks is quite low.”

Too funny. The joke is on me, thinking they believed all that free market eyewash.


Later SDB Evening News Reads 112911: Eeeek…

Good Evening…

Everywhere you look it’s just terrible news…and to top it off, my internet is again giving me problems, this time it is the wireless router. So that is why the evening reads is late, and it will be a quick one, so here it goes.

Iranian protesters storm British diplomatic compounds | Reuters

The latest on the problems in Iran, like RalphB said earlier in the comments, for those of us who remember the time when it was the US Embassy…and the result was the Iran hostage crisis, this latest “attack” on the British Embassy is bringing back some scary memories.

Iranian protesters stormed two British diplomatic compounds in Tehran on Tuesday, smashing windows, torching a car and burning the British flag in protest against new sanctions imposed by London.

Britain said it was outraged and warned of “serious consequences.” The U.N. Security Council condemned the attacks “in the strongest terms.” U.S. President Barack Obama said he was disturbed by the incident and called on Iran to hold those responsible to account.

The attacks come at a time of rising diplomatic tension between Iran and Western nations who last week imposed fresh sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program, which they believe is aimed at achieving the capability of making an atomic bomb.

I don’t know if anyone has made this connection but it seems the timing is perfect to get our attention away from the explosions that have occurred in Iran the past week.

Several dozen protesters broke away from a crowd of a few hundred outside the main British embassy compound in downtown Tehran, scaled the gates, broke the locks and went inside.

Protesters pulled down the British flag, burned it, and put up the Iranian flag, Iranian news agencies and news pictures showed. Inside, the demonstrators smashed windows of office and residential quarters and set a car ablaze, news pictures showed.

One took a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth, state TV showed. Others carried the royal crest out through the embassy gate as police stood by, pictures carried by the semi-official Fars news agency showed.

All embassy personnel were accounted for, a British diplomat told Reuters in Washington, saying Britain did not believe that any sensitive materials had been seized.

You can see images of the protesters overrunning the security here:

Protesters storm British embassy | Reuters.com

In Pakistan:

Pakistan Announces Boycott of Afghanistan Conference | Asia | English

Pakistan says it will boycott a major Afghanistan reconciliation conference next week in Germany to protest NATO’s recent airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s decision to boycott the Afghanistan conference in Bonn, Germany, comes despite an appeal by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to reconsider.

And because certain Afghan militant groups have ties to Pakistan’s security forces, Pakistan’s engagement is considered crucial to any future Afghan stability effort.

U.S.-led NATO combat forces are scheduled to depart in 2014, meaning the window of time to negotiate a secure peace framework is rapidly shrinking.

The CDC has some new numbers out, ready for it? Check out the amount of Americans who don’t know they have HIV. CDC: 240,000 Americans have HIV and don’t know it – HealthPop – CBS News

Once a death sentence, AIDS can now be managed so effectively that people with the disease can live almost as long as those without it – but that’s true only for those who get good medical care.

Unfortunately only one in four Americans with AIDS has the virus under control, according to a new CDC report.

PICTURES: AIDS hotspots: 15 states with most cases

“The big picture is we could do a lot better than we’re doing today,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC’s director.

Why is the treatment success rate so low? Partly because, of the 1.2 million Americans who have HIV – the infection that  causes AIDS – 20 percent don’t know they’re infected. That’s 240,000 people. People can have the infection for years without developing symptoms.

Another reason for the low success rate,  only about 40 percent of people with HIV are getting HIV-fighting medications regularly. Worse, only 28 percent have gotten the virus to low levels in their blood. That translates to roughly 850,000 Americans who don’t have the virus controlled, Frieden said.

Success rates were lowest in blacks and women, he said.

Sad to see this number of unknowing HIV infected American is so damn high.

“The fact that nearly three quarters of Americans living with HIV still have the virus circulating in their bodies, damaging their brains and immune systems and putting their sexual partner at risk is something we think we can do a lot about,” Frieden told Reuters.

The report – published Tuesday on the CDC’s website – was based on surveys and surveillance reports from 2010 and a study that focused on medical care for people with HIV.

I don’t know, it seems like AIDS/HIV is the old boring news…

Tonsil Trouble (Season 12, Episode 1) – Full Episode Player – South Park Studios

For a quick clip:

Boston Boomer sent me these next two links today:

How Zuccotti Park Became Zuccotti Prison: Creeping American Police State | Occupy Wall Street | AlterNet

Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s police assault on the park, OWS has largely decamped for spaces unknown and for the future.  Left behind was a grim tableau of our distinctly up-armored, post-9/11 American world.  To take an obvious example, the “police” who so notoriously pepper-sprayed non-violent, seated students at UC Davis were just campus cops, who in my college years, the 1960s, still generally wore civvies, carried no weapons, and were tasked with seeing whether students had broken curfew or locked themselves out of their rooms.  Now, around the country, they are armed with chemical weapons, Tasers, tear gas, side arms, you name it.  Meanwhile, some police departments, militarizing at a rapid rate, have tank-like vehicles, and the first police surveillance drones are taking to the air in field tests and capable of being weaponized.

And keep in mind, when it comes to that pepper-spraying incident, we’re talking about sleepy Davis, California, and a campus once renowned for its agronomy school.  Al-Qaeda?  I don’t think so.

And this link about the drought it Texas:

Texas Drought Is Revealing Secrets of the Deep – NYTimes.com

For more than three years, the lake on Jack Mewbourn’s ranch here held a secret at its murky bottom: A 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. His grandson was the first one to notice the top of the car peeking out of the water. It wasn’t luck, or even fate. It was drought.

The water level in the seven-acre lake has dropped about five feet from a lack of rain. Stand on the grass lining the lake’s edge today, and in any other year you would be standing nearly waist-deep in water.

On a recent Saturday, Mr. Mewbourn, a longtime rancher in this rural unincorporated community about 90 minutes southeast of Dallas, took a boat to the middle of the lake with two of his grandsons. They confirmed that the small object they thought at first might be a barrel was indeed a car. Mr. Mewbourn called a local constable, and with the help of a diver and a tow truck, the vehicle was slowly dragged out. Inside, still buckled into the driver’s seat, were the remains of Brenda Kay Oliver, who had been missing since July 2008.

But finding missing people is not all that is starting to show up in lakes and ponds that are drying out.

The historic drought that has devastated crops and forced millions of Texans in small towns and large cities to abide by mandatory water restrictions has had at least one benefit: As lake levels have dropped around the state, objects of all kinds that had been submerged for years, decades and even centuries are being revealed. Some of the discovered items are common debris like computer monitors, tires and sunken boats. But much of it has attracted the attention of historians, anthropologists, criminal investigators and, in one case, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Long-submerged marble tombstones from the 1880s have become visible in the receding waters of Lake Buchanan in Central Texas. Near the Texas-Louisiana border, the grave sites from an early 19th-century cemetery have turned up at one drought-stricken lake. Pat Mercado-Allinger, the director of the Texas Historical Commission’s archaeology division, said one water authority estimated having roughly 200 previously unreported archaeological sites resulting from lowered lake levels.

Take a look at both of these links, they are very interesting…

I’m sorry this is such a pathetic evening news reads, but I wanted to get this post up before my router completely goes kaput…


Apple bites Women

Drop that Apple Eve!

Here’s an outrageous story about Apple’s Siri that is supposed to give you interactive information on all kinds of things.  Just don’t be a woman in need of birth control or abortion counseling.  It seems Siri has been programed to be clueless.  Is this another battle we have to fight to simply exercise our constitutional rights?  Who is behind this Luddite answer to a high tech information tool? Siri can, however, point you to a place where you get can Viagra.  Siri also has lots of ideas when it comes to places you can bury dead bodies.   Isn’t that interesting?

Do any of our readers have the new iPhone 4? If so, I’m curious if you could do us a favor, and ask Siri

-I am pregnant and do not want to be. Where can I go to get an abortion?
-I had unprotected sex. Where can I go for emergency contraception?
-I need birth control. Where can I go for birth control?
-What is an abortion?

I ask because I have heard from others in the women’s reproductive health community that Siri is noticeably silent on these issues.

Basically, Siri works by reading your speech, translating that into whatever action is necessary — pulling up a contact’s information, adding an appointment to your calendar, or, if information is what the asker is after, pulling from the web. Now, I don’t know what search engine is powering Siri/where she is pulling the information from, but generally if you search “abortion denver” or whatever city you’re in, relevant material comes up. (A whole bunch of anti-choice information comes up too, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).

So my question is this – if abortion information is plentifully available on the interwebs, and Siri is pulling those types of requests from the web, why does Siri not have an answer about birth control or abortion?

Feministing provides some examples of Siri’s clueless response to these questions from The Abortioneer’s questions listed above.

Here are the answers that a commenter at the Abortioneers got to some pretty basic questions.

Q: I am pregnant and do not want to be. Where can I go to get an abortion?

“I’m really sorry about this, but I can’t take any requests right now. Please try again in a little while.”

“Sorry, [my name], I can’t look for places in Tanzania.”

“I don’t see any abortion clinics. Sorry about that.”

Q: I had unprotected sex. Where can I go for emergency contraception?

“Sorry, I couldn’t find any adult retail stores.” This was repeated every time.

Q: I need birth control. Where can I go for birth control?

“I didn’t find any birth control clinics.” [This was repeated every time I asked about birth control, all three times. This is also the answer given when I asked, “What is birth control?”]

Why are we worrying about religious fundamentalists like the Afghan indigenous Taliban when we clearly have problems with our own version or religious extremism? I can’t help but wonder if Apple is avoiding the inevitable stalking and harassment that comes from ignoring the American Taliban.  If using factories in China with slave like labor conditions isn’t enough to get you to drop your Apple products into the toilet, this should give you another reason.

Drop the apple before it bites you back!