There is a rich history of Orwellian realities in fiction. One of my recent favorite reads is 1Q84 which borrows heavily from Orwell–including the title–to create an alternate Tokyo. You figure out that you’re in the alternate universe when a character looks into the sky and sees a second moon. Haruki Murakami’s book is based on the idea that you can step through some kind of portal and wind up in the world with the second moon by making one fateful decision. In the modern US, you enter the world of two moons by consuming anything come from the Murdoch Empire or the Koch endowments or any other number of billionaires that can afford to place a small green moon in the sky next to the usual one. It’s amazing to me how many politicians see that second moon. Bill Moyers and and Michael Winship see these as The Lies that will Kill America.
Here in Manhattan the other day, you couldn’t miss it — the big bold headline across the front page of the tabloid New York Post, screaming one of those sick, slick lies that are a trademark of Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing media empire. There was Uncle Sam, brandishing a revolver and wearing a burglar’s mask. “UNCLE SCAM,” the headline shouted. “US robs bank of $13 billion.”
Say what? Pure whitewash, and Murdoch’s minions know it. That $13 billion dollars is the settlement JPMorgan Chase, the country’s biggest bank, is negotiating with the government to settle its own rip-off of American homeowners and investors — those shady practices that five years ago helped trigger the financial meltdown, including manipulating mortgages and sending millions of Americans into bankruptcy or foreclosure. If anybody’s been robbed it’s not JPMorgan Chase, which can absorb the loss and probably take a tax write-off for at least part of it. No, it’s the American public. In addition to financial heartache we still have been denied the satisfaction of seeing jail time for any of the banksters who put our feet in cement and pushed us off the cliff.
Moyers details the number of Murdoch outlets that echo and repeat the lies.
Over the last few days, The Wall Street Journal, both Bible and supplicant of high finance as well as one of Murdoch’s more reputable publications — at least in its reporting — echoed the “UNCLE SCAM” indignation of the more lowbrow Post. The government just wants “to appease their left-wing populist allies,” its editorial writers raged, with a “political shakedown and wealth-redistribution scheme.” Perhaps, the paper suggested, the White House will distribute some of the JPMorgan Chase penalty to consumers and advocacy groups and “have the checks arrive in swing congressional districts right before the 2014 election.” We can hear the closet Bolsheviks panting for their handouts now and getting ready to use their phony ID’s to stuff the box on Election Day with multiple illegal ballots.
Such fantasies are all part of the Murdoch News Corp. pattern, an unending flow of falsehood and phony populism that in reality serves only the wealthy elite. Fox News is its ministry of misinformation, the fake jewel of the News Corp. crown, a 24/7 purveyor of flimflam and the occasional selective truth. Look at the pounding they’ve given Obama’s healthcare reform right from the very start, whether the non-existent death panels or claims that it would cause the highest tax increase in history.
The Murdoch media empire is perhaps the most obvious example of billionaires buying their own reality. However, it’s not the sole example. There are a number of billionaires each with their addition to the alternative reality of the world with the second, small, green moon. Other than George Soros, there have been very few taking up the science and fact based reality where there is only one moon, climate change, and a financial oligarchy run wild. That may be changing.
There is no shortage of billionaires — the Koch brothers, Carl Icahn, Dan Loeb and, yes, Mike Bloomberg, to name a handful — who are willing to use their vast wealth to push a particular political agenda or to advocate for a specific social reform. That’s hardly a revelation.
Then there’s Tom Steyer, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. arbitrager who was mentored by Robert Rubin and eventually formed the San Francisco hedge fund Farallon Capital Management. Since then, Steyer has made a bloody fortune. He has never spoken publicly about how he raked it in at Farallon. Nor has he talked on the record about his years at Goldman. (He didn’t respond to my interview requests when I was writing a book about Goldman in 2011.)
But now that he has departed Farallon to become a political activist — some say he is considering a run for the U.S. Senate or the governorship of California — he is everywhere. Last month, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizzawrote a lengthy profile of Steyer. This month, Bloomberg Markets magazine explained why Steyer has teamed up with Henry Paulson, like Rubin a former Treasury secretary and Goldman chairman, as well as with Bloomberg, the outgoing New York City mayor and the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, to commission a study about the economic consequences of failing to curb carbon emissions.
On Oct. 1, at a benefit for the North Country School and Camp Treetops in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, Steyer and Bill McKibben, his fellow environmental activist, led a paneldiscussion on their efforts to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline.
You may recall recently that the CEO of Starbucks decided that his outlets were not going to be places open to concealed weapon carrying.
In the end, the Seattle-based coffee giant says all it wants to do is sell coffee.
But increasingly, it has been dragged into the fracas between open-carry gun activists who want to be able to keep taking their firearms with them when they buy their morning lattes and gun-control advocates who’d rather the company banned such behavior.
Starbucks struck a compromise when itannounced this week that guns were no longer welcome in its stores, but stopped short of an outright ban.
The company will run an ad in some major newspapers Thursday, an open letter from CEO Howard Schultz, explaining that his company is being used as a political stage and that guns in his stores make his customers uneasy.
There has also been a number of CEOs that are standing firm in the face of anti-GLBT crusaders. However, none of this is quite the same as owning news and media outlets and funding think tanks that come up with conclusions at odds with academic studies. It’s also not the same as buying tons of air time to run ads made to creep young people out of looking into Health Care Insurance via the ACA exchanges. There’s also targeted campaigns aimed at various states.
Conservative advocates funded by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch have launched a massive campaign pressuring states to deny health care coverage to lower income Americans through the Medicaid expansion contained in the Affordable Care Act.
The effort, orchestrated by the group Americans for Prosperity, is targeting lawmakers in Virginia tasked with deciding whether the state should accept federal dollars to provide insurance to individuals and families below 133 percent of the federal poverty line ($31,321 in income for a family of four). Volunteers with the organization are distributing flyers through door-to-door canvassing, attending committee hearings, and according to one lawmaker who has become a target of the campaign, intimidating constituents.
As many as 400,000 Virginians could qualify for coverage if the state expands the Medicaid program, but AFP is warning Virginians that the system “will cost Virginia taxpayers billions,” require “future tax hikes and budget cuts to vital services like schools, police and fire departments,” undermine the “doctor-patient relationship,” increase wait times and even endanger lives. “Medicaid patients are almost twice as likely to die during surgery than individuals with private insurance,” the group writes on its website.
It’s difficult to imagine that this could get worse, but there is a possibility it will even if a few billionaires on the other side of the political spectrum try to provide an offset. A new SCOTUS case that could remove limits to campaign contributions might create even more havoc.
At issue in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (12-536) are aggregate contribution limits that restrict the total amount of money an individual can give a candidate and committees during a two-year election cycle.
Supporters of the limits say they are necessary to prevent crafty contributors from circumventing other campaign finance restrictions to funnel huge amounts of money from one donor to one candidate.
Opponents of the limits say they are unnecessary and lack any constitutional justification in the wake of the high court’s Citizens United decision.
The 5-4 opinion in Citizens United v. FEC declared that corporations and unions have a First Amendment rightto spend unlimited amounts of money on independent issue advertisements during election season.
Certainly, we have seen some push back recently to billionaire activists who are funding alternative realities. The blow back to “Fix the Debt” and Pete Peterson who seeks to end Social Security and Medicare as we know it comes to mind. But, it’s hard to keep up with all of them. We need to keep a keen eye out for the second green moon if we are to protect our democracy, our country, our economy, and our hard-earned entitlement programs.
August is a special month on TCM, it is when they have their Summer Under The Stars programming…where every 24 hour day is devoted to one special classic movie star.
We lost a few movie stars this past month, Dennis Farina and Eileen Brennan to name a couple…and in just the last two days…gone are a former Munchkin from the movie The Wizard of Oz, a 70′s actress that helped define the cultural changes facing women, sex, drugs and dysfunctional relationships in film…and a woman who blamed it all on the Bossa Nova.
Before we get to the stories of these fallen stars, let us take a look at some of the news making headlines this morning.
And I guess I should give you a heads up, this is one very long post…so get your coffee/tea/orange juice/prune juice/beer/champagne mimosa, or whatever it is you drink when you get up in the morning/ afternoon, because you will be sitting here a while reading this.
The man who kidnapped Hannah Anderson has been killed, but at least the Missing teen found safe in Idaho wilderness – The Washington Post
The volcano had rumbled the past year…and it finally erupted.
Earlier Saturday at UCLA, UN Ambassador Samantha Power Gives First Public Speech – ABC News
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power used her first public speech Saturday night to urge young activists to demand results and criticized the UN and red tape-mired bureaucracies that don’t always prioritize progress.
Power told the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit at UCLA that ideology and entrenched methods sometimes get in the way of the work of the UN, but praised those who get results and focus on problem-solving.
“Bureaucracies are built. Positions become entrenched. And while the United Nations has done tremendous good in the world, there are times when the organization has lost its way, when politics and ideology get in the way of impact,” she said.
This next story is ironic, in a twisted religious right-wing nut kind of way. Religious family abandons U.S., gets lost at sea
A northern Arizona family that was lost at sea for weeks in an ill-fated attempt to leave the U.S. over what they consider government interference in religion will fly back home Sunday.
Hannah Gastonguay, 26, said Saturday that she and her husband “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us” when they took their two small children and her father-in-law and set sail from San Diego for the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May.
But just weeks into their journey, the Gastonguays hit a series of storms that damaged their small boat, leaving them adrift for weeks, unable to make progress. They were eventually picked up by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile where they are resting in a hotel in the port city of San Antonio.
Their flights home were arranged by U.S. Embassy officials, Gastonguay said. The U.S. State Department was not immediately available for comment.
The island Gastonguay picked out is a small place in the middle of nowhere, it is out in the Pacific Ocean halfway between Hawaii and Australia….and they just took a small boat out for this major trek across the largest body of water in the world? What in the hell would make a person do such a thing? Could it be Satan? Nope…Could it be Jeeeeezuz? Maybe….but I tend to think it was, the stupid.
Hannah Gastonguay said her family was fed up with government control in the U.S. As Christians they don’t believe in “abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church,” she said.
U.S. “churches aren’t their own,” Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence.
Among other differences, she said they had a problem with being “forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with.”
The Gastonguays weren’t members of any church, and Hannah Gastonguay said their faith came from reading the Bible and through prayer.
“The Bible is pretty clear,” she said.
Well, seems pretty clear to me that sailing off across the Pacific in a small boat can be dangerous.
In May, Hannah, her 30-year-old husband Sean, his father Mike, and the couple’s daughters, 3-year-old Ardith and (8 month old) baby Rahab set off. They wouldn’t touch land again for 91 days, she said.
At one point a fishing ship came into contact with them but left without providing assistance. A Canadian cargo ship came along and offered supplies, but when they pulled up alongside it, the vessels bumped and the smaller ship sustained even more damage.
Do you think the first fishing boat saw that the small boat was full of stupid, anti-woman, geezuz praying, gay-hating, religious tea-bag nuts and got the hell out of there? The prefect of police in Chile says that the Gastonguays did not have the knowledge, ability or expertise to navigate to Kiribati….(no shit) and what will the family do when they finally do get back to the states?
Hannah Gastonguay said the family will now “go back to Arizona” and “come up with a new plan.”
I suggest next time they try a country that does not require them to cross the world via ocean voyage to get there.
And since I touched on the abortion subject…let’s take a look at a few links on that chestnut.
This link to a post by Amanda Marcotte is something you may have missed,and I think it is an interesting point…but there hast to be much more to it than this: Abortion in Europe and America: To understand the difference, you can’t ignore religion.
Please give this article a full read…US abortion ban should not be foisted on Central African Republic: The UK and other donors must ensure US aid restrictions do not deny vital support to women raped in conflict
In his May 2013 report to the security council, the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, noted the conflict’s devastating impact on women and girls, highlighting continuous reports of sexual violence including rape, gang rape and sexual slavery.
Mass sexual violence is not new to CAR. After failed coup attempts in 2001, widespread sexual violence was documented in the country from 2001 to 2003. Some of those crimes are being prosecuted by the international criminal court. The ICC prosecutor noted that “[t]his is the first time the prosecutor is opening an investigation in which allegations of sexual crimes far outnumber alleged killings”.
I will just put this link here, with a warning…if you want to get angry, read it. It is about our special star out of the Lonesome Star State: On Abortion, Wendy Davis Doesn’t Know What She’s Talking About – The Daily Beast by Kristen Powers
Just a few more links before we get to the Hollywood good times stories, after the jump.
But we all know where the mind goes when the word “profiled” is used, especially in a case like this. Besides, from Zimmerman’s continuous calls to the Sanford Police Department involving African American men to his nonemergency call that tragic night in February 2012, race was omnipresent in this case.
So, no wonder it struck more than a few people as a little odd when Florida Assistant State Attorney John Guy told the jury during his rebuttal closing argument that the Zimmerman case was not about race. But what he did was brilliant. He used race to take race off the table and he did it by pulling a reverse Matthew McConaughey.
The 1996 movie “A Time to Kill” is set in Mississippi and stars McConaughey as country lawyer Jake Tyler Brigance. He takes the case of Carl Lee Hailey, a black man who shot and killed the two white men who raped and tortured his daughter. Hailey doesn’t stand a chance with the all-white jury, but Brigance makes a dramatic closing statement that left me in tears when I saw it in the theater 17 years ago this month.
Brigance asks the jury to close their eyes as he tells them a story. “I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves,” he says. “This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this girl. Suddenly a truck races up. Two men grab her.” And then Brigance describes every abominable thing the men did to her. Choking back tears of his own, Brigance concludes his closing with a powerful request of the jury.
I want you to picture…
…that little girl….
Now, imagine she’s white.
Guy asked the Zimmerman jury to do the same thing but with a twist. Rather than switch the race of the victim, he switched the race of the defendant.
“This case is not about race; this is about right and wrong,” he told the all-white jury of women. “What if it was Trayvon Martin who shot and killed George Zimmerman? What would your verdict be?,” Guy asked. “That’s how you know it’s not about race.”
Whether we want to admit it or not, we know the answer to Guy’s question. If the verdict would be guilty for Trayvon if he were the accused murderer then it must be the same for Zimmerman. Now, we wait to see if the jury agrees.
Second, women have less rights than the clumps of cells attached to their bodies because MotorCycle Safety, Masturbating Fetuses, and Men that want to believe all kinds of crazy things about biology based on religious tripe. Regulation is not for industries that can kill hundreds of workers or guns that can kill thousands. It’s for tampons and some one else’s uterus.
When North Dakota’s Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law in March, Bette Grande was thrilled. The Republican state legislator had spent months lining up support for a bill that makes it illegal for women to end a pregnancy because the fetus is shown to have Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities. Set to take effect in August, the law also bans abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks.
Anti-abortion activists praised Grande’s work. “It’s the right thing to do,” she says. “I don’t worry about the political fallout; I worry about the life of the unborn child.” Yet she concedes the campaign wasn’t quite homegrown. She didn’t come up with the legal justification for the legislation or all the arguments to persuade fellow lawmakers to sign on. A lot of that was provided to her by a group of activists 1,500 miles away in Washington. Americans United for Life gave Grande a cut-and-paste model bill it had drafted, along with statistics and talking points—“good, factual information regarding abnormalities and the discrimination that occurs inside the womb,” she says. “My colleagues didn’t need a whole lot of persuasion after that.”
Familiar in Washington for its 40-year effort to make abortions harder or impossible, Americans United for Life is now having more success outside the capital, offering itself as a backstage adviser to conservative politicians trying to limit state abortion rights. The group’s leaders say they hope Grande’s success will give encouragement to lawmakers in other places, including Texas and North Carolina, that are debating anti-abortion bills AUL is helping to promote. “Our organization has attempted to inject, if you will, a bit of competition between the states,” says Daniel McConchie, vice president for government affairs. The group ranks states by how much they’re doing to reduce abortions (Louisiana ranks first; Washington, 50th). “People come to us and say, ‘What else do we need to do to boost our ranking?’ ”
So far this year, 17 states have enacted a total of 45 new restrictions on abortion, many of them with AUL’s help. The group is explicit about its larger goal: to provoke a Supreme Court challenge to one or more of the state anti-abortion laws, giving the court’s conservative justices a chance to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. “In order for the court to actually reconsider Roe, it has to have an active case before it,” says McConchie. “So we work with legislators to pass laws that will essentially spark the right kind of court challenge and give them the opportunity to reconsider the question.”
To increase the number of laws—and therefore potential test cases—the group publishes a 700-page anti-abortion field guide called Defending Life, which contains 48 pre-written bills politicians like Grande can copy. Among the most popular is a bill to limit or outlaw abortions after 20 weeks. That’s one of the restrictions Texas Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis temporarily derailed on June 25 with her pink-sneakered filibuster.
Republicans are acutely aware of the political risk in pressing for new abortion laws. The GOP is already struggling to make up lost ground with women voters, who increasingly favor Democrats and are more likely to regard abortion as a top voting issue. In Defending Life, AUL suggests one way around this problem is to emphasize women’s health when talking about abortion laws. “Legislative and educational efforts that only emphasize the impact of abortion on the unborn are insufficient,” the book says.
Third, if you happen to believe he existed and had some kind of extra special relationship with a universal creator, Jesus does not want us to feed the poor or house the poor or take care of our children. He wants us to subsidize the wealthy as they fit themselves into heaven via the eye of the camel. This is from the excellent mind and keyboard of Charles Pierce.
Witness yesterday’s callous and shameful fandango regarding the Farm Bill. Last week, a traditional Farm Bill failed to pass the House because the flying-monkey caucus thought it was insufficiently harsh on people who use food stamps. So, yesterday, as Democrats went fairly far up the wall, the flying-monkey caucus went one better. They simply took out the food stamp provisions entirely and passed a Farm Bill containing all those sweet, gooey subsidies and gifts to big agribusiness. They were very, very proud of how clever they had been, and they exhibited their shiny red rumps to all the world.
By splitting farm policy from food stamps, the House effectively ended the decades-old political marriage between urban interests concerned about nutrition and rural areas who depend on farm subsidies. ”We wanted separation, and we got it,” said Representative Marlin Stutzman, Republican of Indiana, one of the bill’s chief authors. “You’ve got to take these wins when you can get them.”
Do we need to mention that Mr. Stutzman is a member of the Class of ’10, when the country decided with malice aforethought to elect the worst Congress in the history of the Republic? Do we need to mention that this bill has no chance of passing the Senate, or of being signed by the president, or of ever becoming law in this country? Of course, we don’t. That isn’t what this brutal act of maladministration was about. That isn’t what this House is about any more. We’ve made jokes about how Eric Cantor has Boehner’s balls buried in a Mason jar in his backyard. As far as governing the country goes, the rest of the House is more along the lines of Origen of Alexandria who, when he found himself tempted by the sins of the flesh, seized a knife and, as Flann O’Brien’s vision of St, Augustine puts it, deprived himself in one swipe of his personality. Whenever the House majority feels itself tempted by the sin of actually governing, out comes the blade and all of them sing soprano harmonies.
They do this to demonstrate that government cannot work. They do this so that they can go home and talk at all the town halls and bean suppers to audiences choking on the venom that pours out of their radios and off their television screens about how government doesn’t work, and how they stood tall against it, and against Those People who don’t want to work for a living. (When Stutzman says he’s a “fourth-generation farmer” who doesn’t want the Farm Bill to be a “welfare bill,” the folks back in LaGrange County don’t need an Enigma machine to decode what he’s saying.) They do this out of the bent notion, central to their party’s presidential campaign last fall, that anyone on any kind of government assistance is less entitled to the benefits of the political commonwealth. And they all believe that; the only difference between Paul Ryan and Marlin Stutzman is that Ryan has been a nuisance for a longer period of time. That the country rose up and rejected that notion in a thundering manner is irrelevant. What does the country matter in the Third Congressional District of Indiana? There, they believe government cannot work, and they elect Marlin Stutzman to the Congress to demonstrate to the world that it cannot.
Our Congress is now a cut-rate circus with nothing but eunuchs as performers. Some of these people, like Stutzman and his colleagues in the flying-monkey caucus, become eunuchs by choice. Some of them, like John Boehner, are drafted into the position. Their job is to be forcibly impotent so that the government itself becomes forcibly impotent. They are proud of what they do. They consider it a higher calling to public service that they decline to serve the public. They sing a soprano dirge for democracy in Jesus’s name, amen.
Whether we want to admit it our not, we are experiencing an overthrow of democracy in this country. A radical, religious-based, white minority that mostly dwells in the wonderland of the confederacy has completely taken over one of our major political parties. It has strategically planned and plotted do this since nasty Pat Robertson sold evangelical votes to corporate, libertarian-leaning assholes in the 1980s. They can’t pass things through the system and so they are now abusing the process of governance in every possible way they can. They have spent decades insisting that courts be stacked with ideologues and religious nuts. They have made money the central priority in elections. They are drowning our Republic in their gilded bathtubs. This cannot stand. This is the second civil war and again, we must take the side of Lincoln and the rights of people to overthrow the tyranny of an ignorant and ugly minority intent on enslaving us to plutocracy and bigotry. No Republican official should be left standing when this is all over. Vote them out of office with every pull of the lever regardless of what the other choice may be.
And here we are, another Sunday morning…well, yesterday was the first time in weeks that I found myself suffering from a migraine. As I write this post, I still feel the after effects; that groggy disoriented unattached feeling that comes with a sense of exhaustion and overwhelming emotional blah…with all that being said, the links this morning will be quick and to the point. I just can’t muster up the energy to do anything more than that.
I am going to start with this kick ass photo from NASA. It is a billion, let me say that again….a biiiiiilllllion pixel photo of the planet Mars, and it is interactive! Seriously, take a look, there is a rock that is called “Toilet Seat Rock” and when you zoom in you can see little Marvin the Martian dude from Looney Tunes sitting there making his very own an “Earth shattering kaboom”….Mars Exploration Program: Interactive: Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover
- Original Caption Released with Image:
- This image is a scaled-down version of a full-circle view which combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. The Full-Res TIFF and Full-Res JPEG provided in the top right legend are smaller resolution versions of the 1.3 billion pixel version for easier browser viewing and downloading. Viewers can explore the full-circle image with pan and zoom controls at http://mars.nasa.gov/bp1/.The view is centered toward the south, with north at both ends. It shows Curiosity at the “Rocknest” site where the rover scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. Curiosity used three cameras to take the component images on several different days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012.This first NASA-produced gigapixel image from the surface of Mars is a mosaic using 850 frames from the telephoto camera of Curiosity’s Mast Camera instrument, supplemented with 21 frames from the Mastcam’s wider-angle camera and 25 black-and-white frames — mostly of the rover itself — from the Navigation Camera. It was produced by the Multiple-Mission Image Processing Laboratory (MIPL) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.This version of the panorama retains “raw” color, as seen by the camera on Mars under Mars lighting conditions. A white-balanced version is available at PIA16918. The view shows illumination effects from variations in the time of day for pieces of the mosaic. It also shows variations in the clarity of the atmosphere due to variable dustiness during the month while the images were acquired.NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity and the rover’s 10 science instruments to investigate the environmental history within Gale Crater, a location where the project has found that conditions were long ago favorable for microbial life.Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Curiosity’s Mastcam. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington and built the Navigation Camera and the rover.
- Image Credit:
- Image Addition Date:
That is the description of the image shown above, to get a better view of the picture you can click on the link and check it out yourself. It is freaking cool! And I bet you will spend some time getting lost in the red dust on the Martian surface.
You may have seen the next few links during the past few days, but I will put them here in link dump fashion just in case.
In 2011, the multibillion-dollar nonprofit Goodwill Industries paid Pennsylvania workers with disabilities wages as low as 22, 38 and 41 cents an hour, according to Labor Department records obtained by NBC News. In 2010, an Applebee’s in a tony New York suburb hired hearing- and visually impaired employees through a placement program with the Helen Keller National Center and paid them between $3.97 per hour and $5.96, well below the state minimum wage of $7.25.
And it’s perfectly legal due to a Depression-era loophole in federal labor law, as NBC reports:
Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was passed in 1938, allows employers to obtain special minimum wage certificates from the Department of Labor. The certificates give employers the right to pay disabled workers according to their abilities, with no bottom limit to the wage…
The non-profit certificate holders can also place employees in outside, for-profit workplaces including restaurants, retail stores, hospitals and even Internal Revenue Service centers.
While employers like Goodwill defend the practice as providing jobs to people who need and want them, disability and labor rights advocates have called the loophole exploitative, saying it traps workers in a “two-tiered” system that says “Americans who have disabilities aren’t as valuable as other people,” as Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, told NBC. “That’s wrong. These folks have value. We should recognize that value,” he added.
When we lived in Tampa, my brother worked for Marriott at Tampa International Airport, they paid minimum wage and with the exception of the last manager who did not want to work with the Downs students at Denny’s school, the experience was very good for both Marriott and my brother. But…this crap about below minimum wage…that is ridiculous. There is a bill proposed which could repeal Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act…but it is facing opposition. Guess we will just have to wait and see.
This next link from Digby:
This really is Big Brother: the leak nobody’s noticed
This McClatchy piece (written by some of the same people who got the Iraq war run-up story so right while everyone else got it wrong) is as chilling to me as anything we’ve heard over the past few weeks about the NSA spying. In fact, it may be worse…
She links to this article: Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S. | McClatchy
Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.
President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.
I know that this was linked to in the comments yesterday, but I thought it deserved to be on the front page. Creepy is what Boston Boomer thought about it. Yup…it sure is.
Well, in the finance news: SEC Wants Banks To Admit Wrongdoing – Business Insider
For decades, the SEC has let companies and individuals settle charges without actually admitting guilt, letting bigwigs more or less off the hook with only tacit — but not legal — acknowledgment of wrongdoing.
No longer. The Commission will begin to push for more accountability on a “case-by-case” basis, the Wall Street Journal reports:
From the Journal:
The new policy, which came out of a review [SEC Chairman] Ms. White began when she joined the agency in the spring, will be applied in “cases where…it’s very important to have that public acknowledgment [of wrongdoing] and accountability,” she told reporters at a Wall Street Journal CFO Network conference in Washington, D.C.
Decisions will be made on a “case-by-case” basis, Ms. White said. But she added the agency intends to target cases of egregious intentional conduct or widespread harm to investors.
Most cases still will be allowed to settle using the standard “neither admit nor deny” formula, Ms. White said.
Washington legislators like Elizabeth Warren have recently urged the SEC to take big banks to task for wrongdoing, the Journal reports.
I can’t even think straight to make sense of anything dealing with finance, numbers, math, numbers, but I will say that I sure liked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s signature when it was all loopy-loops. Treasury chief’s loopy signature evolves into something almost legible – U.S. News
The official signature of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on a $5 bill, top, and Lew’s signature on a 2011 memo.
The top finance official in the federal government was given the humiliating nickname Loopty Lew. Worse still, the treasury chief is one of two people whose signatures grace United States currency. President Barack Obama joked that he might devalue the dollar.
This next item is something that worries me, hopefully it does not give us a preview of what we are going to see here. Google Makes Google News In Germany Opt-In Only To Avoid Paying Fees Under New Copyright Law | TechCrunch
Google News in Germany will soon change. Starting August 1, it will only index sources that have decided to explicitly opt-in to being shown on the search giant’s news-aggregation service. Google News remains an opt-out service in the other 60 countries and languages it currently operates in, but since Germany passed a new copyright law earlier this year that takes effect on August 1, the company is in danger of having to pay newspapers, blogs and other publishers for the right to show even short snippets of news.
Publishers will have to go into Google’s News tools page to agree to be indexed by Google News. Publishers who don’t do this will simply be removed from the index come August 1.
Many of Germany’s publishers had hoped to force Google to pay a licensing fee for their content, but today’s announcement does not even mention this. Instead, Google notes that it is saddened by the fact that it has to make this change. On its German blog, Google argues that Google News currently gets 6 billion visits per month and that, if anything, it’s providing a free service for publishers that brings them more traffic.
One of the main issues with the “Leistungsschutzrecht” (how’s that for a good German word?) — the ancillary copyright law that the German government passed after large protests earlier this year — is that it’s not clear when a “snippet” becomes a snippet. The law doesn’t feature a clear definition of how long a snippet actually is (140 characters? 160? 250?).
Google always argued that the new law was neither necessary nor useful and that it wouldn’t pay for links and snippets. A number of major German publishers have already said that they will opt-in to being featured in Google News, but there is a good chance that quite a few will decide that they don’t need the traffic.
It then makes you wonder what will eventually happen here in the US, with more and more newspapers going to paywall subscription services…and what that means for bloggers and news-aggregate or RSS services.
Deep in the heart of Texas via Policy Mic: Texas Passed Abortion Laws In a Special Session, Because Trampling On Women’s Rights Can’t Wait
Late Tuesday night, the Texas Senate advanced anti-abortion legislation known as SB5, raising serious concerns for the future of abortion clinics in Texas. Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to discuss redistricting issues which arose from the 2011 court rulings that deemed Texas’ redistricting as discriminatory. SB5 passed 20-10 in the Texas Senate, leading way to a vote in the GOP-dominated House of Representatives in Texas.
The bill includes many provisions to limit women’s access to health care resources in Texas. The bill would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy with one or two exceptions. In addition, the bill also would require abortions to be conducted in ambulatory surgical centers by doctors with admitting privileges. These surgical centers have to be within a 30-mile radius of a hospital near the clinic. Furthermore, the bill would ban telemedicine, which would require doctors to only give abortion-pill prescriptions in person and not via telecommunications such as Skype or other means.
This provision would endanger all but five clinics in Texas, severely limiting women’s access to healthcare options and limting their right to choose. This is in line with what Governor Perry and some other Republican state sentors have said about reshaping a “Culture of Life” in Texas. Such provisions have been said to “reshape the landscape” in the state, as fewer clinics and longer distances to reach them will make it far more difficult for women in many parts of Texas to obtain abortion if they choose to.
And the latest on the Paula Deen mess:
[VIDEO] Paula Deen Apologizes but Food Network does not renew her contract.
They are lining up to stuff their mouths and support Deen In Savannah, Many Defend Paula Deen From Critics – NYTimes.com
This video explains the situation down in Brazil, give it a look see if you have some time.
The next few links revolve around one photo I saw yesterday on Reuters. Photos of the week | Reuters.com
The caption reads:
A submerged statue of the Hindu Lord Shiva stands amid the flooded waters of river Ganges at Rishikesh in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India, June 17, 2013.
When I saw this image, it immediately made me think of an image from an old movie…from 1939. I will show you the image shortly. The film was called The Rains Came, according to TCM:
The Rains Came (1939) A lavish and expensive prestige picture, budgeted at $2.5 million, and based on a critically acclaimed novel, The Rains Came (1939) stars Tyrone Power as an Indian doctor in the mythical city of Ranchipur, India. He begins an affair with a married British noblewoman (Myrna Loy) until a massive flood, earthquake and plague disrupt everyone’s lives. To complement its huge star Tyrone Power, Twentieth Century-Fox borrowed Myrna Loy and director Clarence Brown from MGM, and George Brent from Warner Brothers. Rounding out the cast is a splendid roster of supporting players including Maria Ouspenskaya, Henry Travers, Jane Darwell, H.B. Warner and Nigel Bruce (cast against type).
It’s Power’s show all the way, however, as he is costumed stunningly in outfits ranging from turbans and satins to military uniforms and hospital whites. Power’s most significant co-star here is probably the special effects, which won the first-ever Oscar® in that category. The picture was also nominated for five further Academy Awards: Art Direction, Black-and-White Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound, and Musical Score.
You can see the first scene in the film here at this link, in it you will see the statue that mimics the image in the Reuters photograph above.
From the opening scene, Brit artist Ransome (George Brent) and local doctor Major Safti (Tyrone Power) discuss the former’s inertia and the state of contemporary India, a missionary mother and daughter (Marjorie Rambeau, Brenda Joyce) visiting, in The Rains Came, 1939, co-starring Myrna Loy.
This statue of Queen Victoria later becomes one of the iconic images in a film that was loaded with advance special effects and cinematography…from the TCM link above:
Cinematographer Arthur Miller had plenty of fascinating recollections about The Rains Came, too. He was asked to replace Bert Glennon early in production because Glennon was not lighting the sets the way Brown wanted. For a grand dinner-party scene, for instance, Brown wanted the furniture and dcor to shine, “and Glennon had made it shadowy and soft.” Miller got the brilliant, shiny look Brown was after by spraying the tables and other furniture with oil, and having the silverware polished over and over until everything glistened. “When the old Maharajah died and the veil over the bed blew a little in the wind, I made the whole scene glow as vividly as possible, to suggest a spiritual, transcendent quality.”
Miller had photographed Myrna Loy once before, on The Truth About Youth (1930), and he knew some of her tics. He described one exchange which says much about how stars of the time tried to control the technical aspects of their on-screen appearance: “She asked me before we did the test to have a matchbox light with a red gelatin on it shine in her eyes with fifteen candle power. I thought, ‘What the hell was the use of that when I already had hundreds of watts shining on her anyway?’ And I asked her what she wanted it for. And she said, ‘It makes my eyes dark.’ Crazy, of course, but I jiggled it around for her and whether she had the light and the gelatin on it or not didn’t make any difference! It was all hokum; stars get that way. Luckily, she accepted my point that the light she wanted had no sense, and from then on we got along O.K.
“But oddly enough, I did use the red gelatin once. It’s when she takes a drink in the hospital and you know she’s become infected with a disease and her face fills with shadows. I just wanted a special kind of look in her face, as though death is coming over her and she doesn’t know it. And the gelatin was wonderful for that.”
Miller continued: “I became obsessed with rain on that picture; I was always amazed when I left the studio that it wasn’t raining. I hate movie rain that falls straight down, and I know that rain never does; it always falls at an angle. I made the prop department adjust the spouts accordingly. I even shot the raindrops so they seemed much larger. You never saw such water in your life! Brent and the others took a hell of a beating on the picture. There was one scene when Nigel Bruce and his manservant were on the landing of their house and the water rushed in and ‘drowned’ them in one shot, without a cut. And in fact the actors actually took the full force of that, and even had bits of the set flying on to them! They risked their lives, even though the material was balsawood; if it had hit them the wrong way it would have killed them instantly…
“One trouble with the way they handle rain today…is that they don’t backlight it. You have to backlight rain or you don’t see it; it’s just a blur. And all the way in my picture the rain shines; it was the theme of the film.”
Beautiful, that is what the film is.
There is another post, from the blogMatte Shot that looks at how the film makers actually shot some of the sequences in this movie: Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Era special fx: December 2010 Fred Sersen burns Chicago and floods Ranchipur – the effects shots from IN OLD CHICAGO and THE RAINS CAME I will give you a quote from the section that deals with The Rains Came:
And here is that same matte being painted by Hector Serbaroli. I’d like to compliment the effects cameraman for this shot too as the composite is flawless and at no time would one suspect a trick is being played on us the viewer. *Photo from the collection of Joseph Serbaroli
You need to go to the blog Matte Shot and read that post to fully understand the work behind these “old school” special effects, which I think looks way better than some of the CG shit coming out today.
Anyway, I want to show you the two photos side by side, so you can see why I thought of that specific shot from this old 1939 movie…
Anyway, here are the rest of the links….after the jump and yes, I am sticking with the movies for a little longer.