Sunday Reads: Anticipation of Stop and Frisk for Cotton Candy

$(KGrHqUOKj8E6,2h5192BOp(YVVQT!~~60_35Good Morning

We are freezing our banjo playing fingers off up here in the Georgia mountains.  Winter took an awfully long time to get here.

I guess you can tell by the image on the left, one of our stories this morning is about the Heinz merger deal. S.E.C., Suspecting Insider Trading, Freezes Account Over Heinz Merger

Regulators froze a Swiss account at Goldman Sachs on Friday after unearthing activities suggestive of insider trading in the $23 billion acquisition of H. J. Heinz, taking an abrupt action after one of the biggest deals in recent years.

The action, by the Securities and Exchange Commission, illustrates the temptation that such big takeovers may present. Despite a number of prominent crackdowns on insider trading, regulators continue to uncover cases involving traders who spin confidential tidbits into illicit profits ahead of deals.

Ya know what? I bet any of these greedy white-collar crooks get away with crimes that would land most of us in prison. Then you have those people who get treated like criminals, just because of the color of their skin. Take this news out of New York City…Forest Whitaker given the ‘stop and frisk’ inside NYC deli in false theft allegation…No freakin’ kidding!

“See, not even an Academy Award can stop a Black man from being criminalized…”


God almighty, if it’s not the police it’s shopkeepers shaking down The Scary Black Man. And apparently it doesn’t matter if you’re an Academy Award winning actor. Forest Whitaker was on the Upper East Side and deigned to step into Milano MarketNewsOne:

TMZ reports that Whitaker said he was falsely accused of lifting an item off the store’s shelf and subsequently frisked by an employee. An eyewitness told the entertainment site that the Academy Award winner was frisked in plain view of everyone.

Of course, the shake down produced nothing belonging to the store and Whitaker left the establishment angry and embarrassed.

TMZ was told this by Whitaker’s rep:

“This was an upsetting incident given the fact that Forest did nothing more than walk into the deli. What is most unfortunate about this situation is the inappropriate way store employees are treating patrons of their establishment.  Frisking individuals without proof/evidence is a violation of rights.”

“Forest did not call the authorities at the request of the worker who was in fear of losing his employment. Forest asked that, in the future, the store change their behavior and treat the public in a fair and just manner.”

Damn, nothing ever surprises me. For another look at race in today’s climate…h/t Tennessee Guerrilla Woman: Emory president holds up “three-fifths” compromise as noble, honorable

In a shockingly horrible column, the president of Emory University held up the “Three-Fifths Compromise” — the deal between Northern and Southern states which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person — as a shining example of political compromise at its best.

In his “from the president” column — titled “As American as … Compromise” —  in the winter issue of Emory magazine, president James Wagner writes about the fiscal cliff and the importance of keeping one’s mind open to other points of view. All standard president’s letter dullness so far, right?

Then comes this:

One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote. As the price for achieving the ultimate aim of the Constitution—“to form a more perfect union”—the two sides compromised on this immediate issue of how to count slaves in the new nation. Pragmatic half-victories kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely together.

Some might suggest that the constitutional compromise reached for the lowest common denominator—for the barest minimum value on which both sides could agree. I rather think something different happened. Both sides found a way to temper ideology and continue working toward the highest aspiration they both shared—the aspiration to form a more perfect union. They set their sights higher, not lower, in order to identify their common goal and keep moving toward it.

So under Wagner’s formulation, one of the basest and demeaning political deals of American history, if not the basest, is an example of working toward a “highest aspiration.” Counting slaves as three-fifths of a person becomes an example of American politicians setting their sights high!

Wagner is no history professor…his specialty is Electrical Engineering. I’ve got a couple of takes on Wagner’s position:

From Erik Loomis,  Almost Verbatim Emory University President James Wagner: “The 3/5 Compromise is a Model to Which We Should Aspire. Also, the Liberal Arts are Like Slaves and Should Be Treated As Such” – Lawyers, Guns & Money

The president of Emory University evidently lacks people to make sure he doesn’t say insane, horrible things.

Take a quick look at his point of view. And be sure to look through the comments on that LGM post.

Raw Story takes a different approach, also citing Gawker comment on Wagner’s statements: University president: ‘Three-Fifths’ slavery agreement example of ‘pragmatic’ compromise

Wagner’s invocation of the agreement as a “lesson of our forebears” was immediately criticized on social media on Saturday; Salon also called “shockingly horrible” ; and Gawker suggested that same day that The Affordable Care Act, the Voting Rights Act, or “Do all homework, you get to watch The Simpsons” would have been more appropriate examples of political compromise.

As stated in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution, the agreement mandated that, “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.”

The agreement was abandoned after the abolition of slavery, as mandated by the 13th Amendment.

I agree with TGW on this one...she says:

Amazing. An amazingly stupid thing to say. Emory University does not need this and neither does Atlanta or this already bad-mouthed region.

Moving on to immigration: Report: White House immigration bill in the works would lay out an 8-year path to legal status

The White House is circulating a draft immigration bill that would create a new visa for illegal immigrants living in the United States and allow them to become legal permanent residents within eight years, according to a report published online Saturday by USA Today.President Barack Obama’s bill would create a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. The bill includes more security funding and requires business owners to adopt a system for verifying the immigration status of new hires within four years, the newspaper said.

USA Today reported that the bill would require that immigrants pass a criminal background check, submit biometric information and pay fees to qualify for the new visa. Immigrants who served more than a year in prison for a criminal conviction or were convicted of three or more crimes and were sentenced to a total of 90 days in jail would not be eligible. Crimes committed in other countries that would bar immigrants from legally entering the country would also be ineligible.

Those immigrants who pass the requirements can apply for a visa, and work on getting their green card within eight years.

Another bit of news from the swamp, this time a group of Democrats have put their feelings on Medicare/Social Security cuts down on paper. Majority of House Democrats Call on President Obama to Reject Benefit Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security Benefits

107 House Democrats, a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives, wrote President Obama today, urging him to reject any proposals to cut benefits millions of American families depend upon through Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The letter was led by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL),Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and Rep Donna Edwards (D-MD).

The Members specifically singled out “Chained CPI”—a proposal to reduce Social Security benefits by changing the way inflation is calculated—and raising the Medicare retirement age as policies they oppose.

“A commitment to keeping the middle-class strong and reducing poverty requires a commitment to keeping Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid strong,” the Members said in the letter. “We urge you to reject any proposals to cut benefits, and we look forward to working with you to enact approaches that instead rely on economic growth and more fair revenue-raising policies to solve our fiscal problems.”

Full letter to Obama can be found at the above link. At least someone is making a case for their constituents…

Just a few more links for you. There is reason to believe a suspected serial killer has been caught:  Man Charged in Killings of 2 Women in Missouri

A Kansas City-area man was arrested Saturday in the killings of two prostitutes whose bodies were found posed on the sides of rural Missouri roads nearly a year apart.

At a news conference Saturday night, authorities said Derek Richardson, 27, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of abandonment of a corpse. His bail is set at $2 million. It wasn’t immediately known whether he has an attorney.

“We absolutely stopped a person who was going to kill again,” said Kansas City police Sgt. Doug Niemeier, adding that authorities will search across the United States to ensure there weren’t other victims.

Police say they know Richardson has traveled around the US, they are now investigating other crimes that may be connected.

And over in Japan, someone is sending out golden packages worth a total of $250,000…Golden gifts sent to tsunami-hit Japan port

People in a small Japanese fishing port that was devastated by the 2011 tsunami have been receiving gold bars in the post from an anonymous benefactor.

Packages containing gold bars started turning up in Ishinomaki, in Miyagi prefecture, about 10 days ago.

I’ve got two space stories for you, one is in connection with the huge meteor that struck Russia a couple of days ago. Dismissed as Doomsayers, Advocates for Meteor Detection Feel Vindicated

For decades, scientists have been on the lookout for killer objects from outer space that could devastate the planet. But warnings that they lacked the tools to detect the most serious threats were largely ignored, even as skeptics mocked the worriers as Chicken Littles.

Well, the sky was literally falling in the outskirts of the Ural Mountains…

No more. The meteor that rattled Siberia on Friday, injuring hundreds of people and traumatizing thousands, has suddenly brought new life to efforts to deploy adequate detection tools, in particular a space telescope that would scan the solar system for dangers.

A group of young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who helped build thriving companies like eBay, Google and Facebook has already put millions of dollars into the effort and saw Friday’s shock wave as a turning point in raising hundreds of millions more.

“Wouldn’t it be silly if we got wiped out because we weren’t looking?” said Edward Lu, a former NASA astronaut and Google executive who leads the detection effort. “This is a wake-up call from space. We’ve got to pay attention to what’s out there.”

Hot rocks falling from the heavens are not the only thing out there in the darkness of space, there is a cloud bursting with color relatively near us that holds something dark indeed.  Cotton Candy Cloud Hides Baby Black Hole

Composite image of supernova remnant W49B

This looks like the explosion of a cotton candy Death Star (run by evil space clowns, perhaps?) but it is the remains of a star’s death. This colorful cloud is a supernova remnant, seen in infrared, radio, and x-ray light… and at its center may hide one of the galaxy’s youngest black holes.

Located 26,000 light-years away in the northern constellation Aquila, W49B is a snapshot of the shockwaves from a star that went supernova an estimated 1,000 years ago (not including the time it took for its light to reach us). Several observation methods and instruments were used to create the technicolor image above – X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shown in blue and green, radio data from the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array in pink, and infrared and optical data from the Palomar Observatory in orange and yellow — but put all together, one feature becomes glaringly obvious.

This thing is a mess.

Typically supernova remnants have a roughly circular or shell-like shape, generally seen as a ring of bright material surrounding the dense burnt-out core of a star. The ring is bright because it’s composed of interstellar gas and dust that’s being violently ionized by the spreading force of the supernova. Ionized material gives off many forms of radiation, detectable in various wavelengths by observatories on the ground as well as in space.

W49B isn’t a ring, though. It’s a sloppy barrel shape that indicates an uneven, asymmetrical eruption, hinting that the original star didn’t go peacefully into this good night.

That Discover article calls this star corpse a black hole, and if that turns out to be the case,

…would be the galaxy’s newest black hole — at least as far as what’s been discovered so far. A mere thousand years old, an alleged black hole at the heart of W49B would have just been born in the night sky around the same time that Vikings were first setting foot on North American shores.

The paper on W49B was published in the Feb. 10 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.Read more on the Chandra X-ray Observatory website here.

Y’all try and stay warm today, and let us know what you are reading and thinking about today.


Wednesday Reads: Strange Coincidences

Abruzo Italy vintage travel poster

Good Morning

Yesterday was a sort of strange day for Santorum of the Frothy. I don’t know if it just was the typical reaction to the new front runner…but it was like some people suddenly realized this guy…this is not my kind of guy.

Rick Santorum defends Satan comments

Santorum told roughly 200 supporters at a rally here that when candidates veer from “very structured, very ordered events,” voters believe they have to “worry about everything he says.”
“No, you don’t, because I’ll defend everything I’ll say,” Santorum told the applauding crowd, pledging to “tell you the truth about what’s going on in this country.”

Santorum didn’t specifically mention the four-year-old speech from Ave Maria University in Florida, from which the Satan comments came, or a number of other statements on the campaign trail that have raised eyebrows in recent days, including remarks that some say called into question President Barack Obama’s Christian faith. Questions have also arisen over comments Santorum made that appeared to compare the Obama presidency to the rise of Nazism before World War II and remarks about prenatal testing.

Asked about the Ave Maria speech by reporters following the Phoenix rally, Santorum called the question “a joke” and “absurd.”

“You know … I’m a person of faith. I believe in good and evil. I think if somehow or another because you’re a person of faith you believe in good and evil is a disqualifier for president, we’re going to have a very small pool of candidates who can run for president,” Santorum said.

Santorum said questioning whether he believed Satan was attacking America was “not relevant.”

“Look, guys, these are questions that are not relevant to what’s — what’s being discussed in America today. What we’re talking about in America today is trying to get America growing. That’s what my speeches are about, that’s what we’re going to talk about in this campaign,” Santorum said.

“If they want to dig up old speeches of talking to [a] religious group, they can go ahead and do so, but I’m going to stay on message and I’m going to talk about things that Americans want to talk about, which is creating jobs, making our country more secure, and yeah, taking on the forces around his world who want to do harm to America, and you bet I will take them on.”

I am not sure that this is really a defense of his Satanic comments…

“Ronald Reagan did it. He called the Soviet Union an evil empire and the media went wild,” he said. “How dare you, how dare you ascribe terms like good and evil to regimes? Because Ronald Reagan told the truth, he didn’t sugarcoat it. He went out and called it the way it was. He went out and promoted the values of our country.”

It all seems so comic…doesn’t it?  Hmmm….what could be causing Santorum to act this way?  Could it be….Satan?

Uh…okay then…good luck with all that.

One thing is funny about these last remaining GOP candidates, they all seem mentally ill. We all know people who are like these dudes, they are the ones who you avoid when their name pops up on caller id. They are the guys you make excuses to when invited over to their house on game day. Lets face it…they are the people who you never feel quite right about. The kind of guy who is described by neighbors to local news stations after the police tape has been put up around his house as, “He was weird, I always knew it would end up this way. There was just something not right about that guy…”

There were some other revelations yesterday that did not involve frothy dick, check it out. Pet abuse seems to run in the Romney family. Seamus Was Not The Only One! – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast

Screen shot 2012-02-21 at 12.41.11 PM

That is from the cross-country travel blog of Craig Romney and friends in 2009. It’s a pet fish that didn’t fit into the crammed truck used for the road trip. Inquiring minds immediately want to know. Did it eventually travel inside the truck? Did they strap it to the roof and have it constantly sprayed with water? Did they just suspend it from the bumper, Clark Griswold style, because it enjoyed the view? Here’s Craig’s caption – and, no, I am not making this up, Gail, I promise:

our fearless sidekick. this fish has cheated death more times than i can remember

Wow, there is a sadistic quality to that comment.

There is something wrong with these people.

The rest of today’s links will be quick ones, because glancing at the clock, I see it is 6:40 am and this post should have been published 10 minutes ago.

Virginia Delays Ultrasound Vote I wonder if it could have anything to do with the “optics” of these transvaginal ultrasounds. Jon Stewart Explains Ultrasound Law To GOP: ‘A TSA Pat-Down In Your Vagina’ 

Nuclear Inspectors Say Iran Mission Has Failed –  did we really expect anything less?

Iceland Provides Blueprint for How to Deal With the Financial Crisis Hang on…isn’t this the country that refused to bail out the banks?

Icelanders who pelted parliament with rocks in 2009 demanding their leaders and bankers answer for the country’s economic and financial collapse are reaping the benefits of their anger.

Since the end of 2008, the island’s banks have forgiven loans equivalent to 13 percent of gross domestic product, easing the debt burdens of more than a quarter of the population, according to a report published this month by the Icelandic Financial Services Association.

So does the story end there? Did the people revolt and the banks give in, leading to a lower standard of living or some financial disaster or something? No. Debt deleveraging successfully brought back the Icelandic economy.

The island’s steps to resurrect itself since 2008, when its banks defaulted on $85 billion, are proving effective. Iceland’s economy will this year outgrow the euro area and the developed world on average, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates. It costs about the same to insure against an Icelandic default as it does to guard against a credit event in Belgium. Most polls now show Icelanders don’t want to join the European Union, where the debt crisis is in its third year.

The island’s households were helped by an agreement between the government and the banks, which are still partly controlled by the state, to forgive debt exceeding 110 percent of home values. On top of that, a Supreme Court ruling in June 2010 found loans indexed to foreign currencies were illegal, meaning households no longer need to cover krona losses.

We’ve heard in this country for the past several years of housing crisis that principal forgiveness rewards bad actors and causes moral hazard, and that we can’t do that to the poor, put-upon banks. Well guess what? Debt write-downs work. They generate a wealth effect among the population, and they help to end balance-sheet recessions and bring about economic growth. What’s more, Icelandic home values came back, just 3% off their September 2008 pre-crisis level. You can take the example of Iceland or you can take the example of the rest of Europe. It’s your choice. But the facts reveal that austerity is counter-productive, while debt forgiveness is extremely productive.

And those Icelandic banksters?

P.S. Here’s another element of the Icelandic comeback: they are actually prosecuting the people who caused the crisis:

Iceland’s special prosecutor has said it may indict as many as 90 people, while more than 200, including the former chief executives at the three biggest banks, face criminal charges.

Larus Welding, the former CEO of Glitnir Bank hf, once Iceland’s second biggest, was indicted in December for granting illegal loans and is now waiting to stand trial. The former CEO of Landsbanki Islands hf, Sigurjon Arnason, has endured stints of solitary confinement as his criminal investigation continues.

Since there has been a lot of talk about “lady parts” this next link is about another organ that most of the GOP dumbasses also lack.

Study: Women Can Be Missing Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

Chest pain is considered the hallmark symptom of a heart attack, but patients can also experience other kinds of pain, and in some cases, none at all. That’s especially true for women, and they can be missing the symptoms.

Researchers say younger women have a greater risk of dying from a heart attack. A new study in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that may be because their warning signs are often very different.

Lalina Franklin was having neck and jaw pain. She had no idea she was on the verge of a severe heart attack .

“You think of some really bad pain in your chest and collapsing. I wasn’t having any pain at all in my chest,” Franklin said.

New research shows 42 percent of women under 55 do not feel chest pain during a heart attack. And hospitals often don’t diagnose those women properly until it’s too late.

Symptoms to look out for:

“They might have other symptoms like jaw pain, back pain, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue and simply sweating. All of these things could be a heart attack,” Steinbaum said.

Steinbaum says for any woman noticing those symptoms, getting help immediately could be critical.

And lastly, if you think there has been a lot of decisions made lately that seem beyond our control, my suggestion is to round up all the misogynistic religious right wing righteous jackasses, you know the “usual suspects” and put them in a rocket heading in the direction of this particular black hole. Because it would probably the only way to send these “good Christians” to hell where most of them belong. Cosmic Hurricane: Black Hole Has 20 Million MPH Winds

Scientists have measured the fastest winds yet observed from a stellar-mass black hole, shedding light on the behavior of these curious cosmic objects.

The winds, clocked by astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, are racing through space at 20 million mph (32 million kph), or about 3 percent the speed of light. That’s nearly 10 times faster than had ever been seen from a stellar-mass black hole, researchers said.

“This is like the cosmic equivalent of winds from a Category 5 hurricane,” study lead author Ashley King, of the University of Michigan, said in a statement. “We weren’t expecting to see such powerful winds from a black hole like this.”

I think that we have been seeing a display of these forceful winds coming from the mouths of the GOP for a long, long time.

Okay, that is it…the post is late enough already. What you all reading about today?