Late Evening Reads: After the Frenzy

Oh boy, it is late…well then, good later evening!

Today I was cooking those 7 pounds of meatballs, and while I was cooking I got to see three full length movies…funny that is usually how I gauge time while I am in the kitchen. So, I saw Salt, Lone Star State of Mind and Marigold…talk about three movies that could be so different for each other.

Here are tonight’s reads, I will start with the big news that has got a lot of attention. The Mega Million’s Jackpot.

Illinois is selling lottery tickets online, people in California are waiting in line to buy their tickets…and like my family today, when those meatballs were done and the feeding frenzy began…all around the nation, folks are putting their dollar down and hoping that ticket brings them a big payout.

Mega Millions: $540-million jackpot fever sweeps California –

Mega Millions lines

The borrowed pickup truck, a crack inching its way across the windshield, lumbered into the parking lot off Sunset Boulevard a little before noon Thursday. Diana Delmuro parked illegally, grabbed her purse and dashed inside Silversun Liquor. She slapped a crinkled dollar bill on the counter.

“Mega!” she said with a broad smile. “And make it a lucky one.”

Record Mega Millions jackpot sets off ticket-buying frenzy –

Sierra Luchien, left, and Tammy Redlen celebrate as they walk into the Bluebird Liquor store in Hawthorne, Calif., after waiting in line for nearly three hours to purchase their Mega Millions lottery ticket.

Getty Images

Sierra Luchien, left, and Tammy Redlen celebrate as they walk into the Bluebird Liquor store in Hawthorne, Calif., after waiting in line for nearly three hours to purchase their Mega Millions lottery ticket.

With a world record $540 million (and growing) jackpot at stake, much of the nation is gripped by Mega Millions fever.

Millions of lottery tickets are being snapped up ahead of Friday night’s Mega Millions drawing, which could provide a lucky ticket holder with a lump-sum payoff of about $390 million.

From Vermont to Louisiana and New York to California, the jackpot has been the wistful talk of TV, social media sites, office water coolers and dreamy high rollers for the past week, electrifying ticket sales with a frenzy likely to amp up even further ahead of Friday night’s drawing at 11 p.m. ET.

I have to say, I really love that picture of those women dancing with their tickets.

Illinois sells lottery online as jackpot soars –

…Illinois picked the right week to become the first state in the nation to sell lottery tickets online. Others are watching closely to see if the new approach pays off and whether the state takes the next big step: launching online poker, blackjack and other casino games.

It took only three minutes for the first online lottery ticket to sell once the system went live at 7 a.m. Sunday. By Thursday evening, more than $425,000 worth of tickets had been sold online, and officials expected sales to increase by the hour as people take their shot at Friday night’s record prize.

Internet sales on Thursday alone amounted to just more than $64,000 by evening, while the day’s retail sales topped $3.2 million.

Alright, any of you folks buy the winning ticket…just keep the Sky Dancers in the back of your mind. I am sure each of us would be happy with a little token. I’ve already got my agreement with Fannie, one of our readers…Krispy Kreme donuts, for at least a year…if not for life. I wonder what the other front pagers would like if one of our readers won. See, I am pessimistic enough not to think in terms of, if I won a half a billion dollars…my luck would not permit that. But to think that perhaps someone I know would win it, that is a different story.

Moving on, MSNBC is leading its world news tonight with this story:

Child witnesses to Afghan massacre say Robert Bales was not alone

Here are two versions of what happened the night of March 11, when 17 Afghan villagers were shot to death.

First, the Army version: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, troubled by marriage woes, drunkenly left Camp Belambai, 12 miles from Kandahar, with a pistol and an automatic rifle and killed six people as they slept. Bales then returned to the base and left again for another village, this time killing 11. He acted alone and he admitted to the killings, according to the Army.

Then there is the account that child witnesses provided Yalda Hakim, a journalist for SBS Dateline in Australia. Hakim, who was born in Afghanistan and immigrated to Australia as a child, is the first international journalist to interview the surviving witnesses. She said American investigators tried to prevent her from interviewing the children, saying her questions could traumatize them. She said she appealed to village leaders, who arranged for her to interview the witnesses.

Dateline video at the link.

This next link is something I would like our resident Ph.D. Boston Boomer to chime in on: Man who evaluated alleged Sandusky victim in 1998 was not psychologist

After State College psychologist Alycia Chambers talked to an 11-year-old boy about Jerry Sandusky showering with him in May 1998, she concluded Sandusky was exhibiting signs of grooming the boy for sexual abuse.

A couple days later, a counselor, John Seasock, met with the boy and had a different conclusion. The showering episode, Seasock determined, was rather the result of a routine that coaches like Sandusky do after a workout.

Centre County prosecutors did not pursue criminal charges against Sandusky after that incident, and whether the competing conclusions factored into that decision remains a subject of conjecture.

But, almost 14 years later, the fact that Seasock wasn’t a psychologist at the time, according to state records, raises questions about how much weight his opinion should have carried.

“To take that person’s word over a psychologist who has been prepared and licensed by the state is, I would say, very surprising and a serious concern,” said Marolyn Morford, a State College psychologist.

Morford said Tuesday she’s been alarmed by Seasock’s representation as a psychologist at the time in question. That’s how the Penn State police investigation report refers to him, and that’s how Seasock has been referred to in media reports after the document was leaked Saturday.

State records show that Seasock has been licensed as a professional counselor since January 2002. Prior to 1998, counselors didn’t need to be registered, and after a law passed that year, Seasock had four years to apply to the state for a license.

Hmmm…interesting, yes?

Meanwhile in other Fukushima’d up news…Remember that phrase from last year, playing on the words “fucked up,” as in a term of endearment…just like the phrase Fukushima Goons…

Still critical: radiation levels at Fukushima can kill in minutes –  I tried to find an article in the Japanese press, but could not. Even though this article here cites a post from NHK.

 A lethal level of radiation has been detected inside one of the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, throwing fresh doubts over the operator’s claims that the disabled complex is under control.

Engineers for Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) say readings of airborne radiation inside the containment vessel of Reactor 2 showed nearly 73 sieverts per hour this week, the highest since the crisis began following the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March last year. Exposure to radiation at that level is deadly within minutes, according to Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.

Tepco said the find would have “no impact” on the company’s long-term plans to decommission the plant’s six reactors. “We were not surprised that the radiation was this high because the reading was taken from inside the pressure vessel,”a spokesperson said.

I don’t believe a word that TEPCO says, do you? You can read the rest of the story at the link.

And lastly, I caught this story earlier today and it actually made me scratch my head and wonder, what year is this?

Vote: Is it time for Augusta to get first female member?

If there is a drumbeat to admit the first woman to Augusta National, but officials don’t hear it, does it make a sound?

The home of the Masters has found itself back in the speculation business with questions of whether IBM CEO Virginia “Ginni” Rometty will be offered a membership.

Tradition has been that the CEOs of Exxon, AT&T and IBM — the three Masters sponsors — get a membership. But this is the first a time a woman has held that position.

USA TODAY columnist Christine Brennan thinks it is time that a woman walks through the gates as a member.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN:  Columnist says it is time for a female member at Augusta

(It is)…one of the most majestic and beautiful sports venues on earth, and it hosts one of the world’s great sporting events, the Masters. But at its core, it’s a place where change comes by the century, not the year or decade, which is exactly as Augusta’s leaders want it.

At least that’s the way it used to be.

Others disagree saying Augusta is a private club and should make whatever membership rules it prefers.

Say what? There are no…repeat no, female members of this private club? What the hell is it with these people…aren’t there women who are also part of the 1%?

What do you think about all that? Comments are below, get busy!


Wednesday Reads: Pole Reversal, Merging Tsunamis and Malicious Joy of Epic Proportions

Good Morning, there is new information about the Tsunami that struck Japan nine months ago. ‘Merging tsunami’ amplified Japan carnage

The massive tsunami generated by the March 2011 earthquake off the coast of northeastern Japan was a “merging tsunami” — a type of tsunami long thought to exist, but seen now for the first time, scientists report.

The magnitude-9.0 Tohoku-Oki temblor, the fifth-most powerful quake ever recorded, triggered a tsunami that doubled in intensity over rugged ocean ridges, amplifying its destructive power at landfall, as seen in data from NASA and European radar satellites that captured at least two wave fronts that day.

The fronts merged to form a single, double-high wave far out at sea. This wave was capable of traveling long distances without losing power. Ocean ridges and undersea mountain chains pushed the waves together along certain directions from the tsunami’s origin.

The data from the merging tsunami is helping scientist discover why a massive wave can cause so much destruction in one area, yet leave other areas relatively unscathed.

“It was a one-in-10-million chance that we were able to observe this double wave with satellites,” said study team member Y. Tony Song, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who presented with team member C.K. Shum of The Ohio State University.

[…]

The researchers think ridges and undersea mountain chains on the ocean floor deflected parts of the initial tsunami wave away from each other to form independent jets shooting off in different directions, each with its own wave front.

USGS

Wave heights from the Japanese earthquake are displayed here.

The sea floor topography nudges tsunami waves in varying directions and can make its destruction appear random. For that reason, hazard maps that try to predict where tsunamis will strike rely on sub-sea topography. Previously, these maps considered only topography near a particular shoreline. This study suggests scientists may be able to create maps that take into account all undersea topography, even sub-sea ridges and mountains far from shore.

Let’s stick with Japan’s Tsunami a bit more…there has been some new articles about Fukushima lately. Dakinikat posted some updates the other day, at Mother Jones they have gathered a round-up of new information. There may be some items you have missed. Fukushima Fallout | Mother Jones

  • The Tokyo Electric Power Company estimates that of 45 tons of radioactive wastewater that leaked from the plant, some 40 gallons (150 liters)  leaked into the Pacific Ocean in recent days, reports the New Zealand Herald.
  • The Japanese milk-powder company Meiji, whose factory lies within 200 miles (320 kilometers) of the Fukushima plant, recalled 400,000 cans of baby formula after discovering 30.8 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilo in the product, reports the BBC. This level is considered within the safety range, though infants and children are more susceptible than adults to lower levels of exposure, and eating radiation is worse than external exposure. Until now, Meiji had been checking waterborne but not airborne radioactivity levels near their factory, reports the New York Times—hence the “new” findings.

Give that MoJo link a go and see a few more disturbing news items on the status of Fukushima nine months after the earthquake and tsunami.

Oh, and since the word fallout is fresh in your mind, did you hear the latest about Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona? Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Failed To Investigate Over 400 Sex Crimes, Including Molestations Of Undocumented Children | ThinkProgress

The AP reports that, over a three-year period ending in 2007, Arpaio “inadequately investigated” or in some instances didn’t even work more than 400 sex-crimes reported to his office. The cases “include dozens of alleged child molestations.”

In El Mirage, Arizona, where Arpaio provided contract services, he failed to follow through on at least 32 reported child molestations — with some victims as young as 2. Many of the children were undocumented immigrants. According to an El Mirage detective, Arpaio’s people essentially “put their feet on the desk, and that was that”

El Mirage Detective Jerry Laird, who reviewed some the investigations, learned from a summary of 50 to 75 cases files he picked up from Arpaio’s office that an overwhelming majority of them hadn’t been worked. That meant there were no follow-up reports, no collection of additional forensic evidence and zero effort made after the initial report of the crime was taken.

Of course, the fallout from this latest outrage is making a few headlines in the left leaning blogosphere. Arizona Outrage at Latest Sheriff Arpaio Fiasco, Calls for Resignation « SpeakEasy

In truth, reports on Arpaio’s extraordinary incompetence and oversight on sexual abuse cases have been well-documented for months — an ABC15 investigation earlier in the spring noted that “children who had the courage to come forward and say they were molested, raped or abused were simply ignored by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office detectives.”

As part of a groundswell of outrage, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) called for Arpaio’s immediate resignation in a released statement today:

“This nothing-to-see-here attitude is the worst kind of unaccountable arrogance, and Mr. Arpaio needs to step down before any more damage is done to public confidence in our law enforcement and justice system,” Grijalva said. “The picture emerging — no follow-up, no investigation, no prosecution, no justice and a shield of silence after the fact — is not how we conduct law enforcement in this country. Enforcing laws against violent crime, whatever a victim’s legal status, is mandatory and not something we leave to individual communities as an open question. Selective enforcement undermines respect for our brave legal officers and is rightly not tolerated by the public.

“Mr. Arpaio might love headline-grabbing crackdowns and theatrical media appearances, but when it comes to the everyday work of keeping people safe, he seems to have lost interest some time ago. He should give the affected families a sense that justice is finally being done by taking the honorable route and resigning now.”

Arpaio is facing a federal court hearing on racial profiling and civil rights abuses…

Fox News is silent, a quick search on their website shows zero news reports about this extreme example of Arpaio’s continued racially motivated abuses. I know the lack of media coverage on this should not be such a shock, but we are talking over 400 sexual assault and abuse cases that were ignored specifically due to racism.

Moving on, because I am so inflamed about the Arpaio stuff, that I fear my fingers will melt the keys on the laptop as I type my disgust.

This year marks the last reunion for Pearl Harbor veterans in Hawaii…70 years since the attack, and many people who experienced it first hand are gone… Fewer Veterans to Remember Pearl Harbor Day – NYTimes.com

Hugh Gentry/Reuters

Emerie Aresenaul, front, with other Pearl Harbor survivors.

For more than half a century, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association gathered here every Dec. 7 to commemorate the attack by the Japanese that drew the United States into World War II. Others stayed closer to home for more intimate regional chapter ceremonies, sharing memories of a day they still remember in searing detail.

But no more. The 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack will be the last one marked by the survivors’ association. With a concession to the reality of time — of age, of deteriorating health and death — the association will disband on Dec. 31.

“We had no choice,” said William H. Eckel, 89, who was once the director of the Fourth Division of the survivors’ association, interviewed by telephone from Texas. “Wives and family members have been trying to keep it operating, but they just can’t do it. People are winding up in nursing homes and intensive care places.”

Harry R. Kerr, the director of the Southeast chapter, said there weren’t enough survivors left to keep the organization running. “We just ran out of gas, that’s what it amounted to,” he said from his home in Atlanta, after deciding not to come this year. “We felt we ran a good course for 70 years. Fought a good fight. We have no place to recruit people anymore: Dec. 7 only happened on one day in 1941.”

The fact that this moment was inevitable has made this no less a difficult year for the survivors, some of whom are concerned that the event that defined their lives will soon be just another chapter in a history book, with no one left to go to schools and Rotary Club luncheons to offer a firsthand testimony of that day. As it is, speaking engagements by survivors like Mr. Kerr — who said he would miss church services on Sunday to commemorate the attack — can be discouraging affairs.

This reminded me of the The Civil War, and the moving images that were filmed of the reunions at Gettysburg. Here is the New York times article commemorating the last reunion of the Blue and Gray… at the 75th Anniversary of the Battle at Gettysburg. At the end of this post I’ve embedded a few videos that show film of the 75th  Anniversary Reunion of Gettysburg. The last one has the only recorded rebel yell…it is fascinating stuff. (Nope, does not sound like the Duke Boys at all, yeeeehaw.)

Two links left for y’all, some have heard about 2012 and the idea of the magnetic poles reversing in a rapid manner, causing chaos and destruction. The end of the world, unless you are lucky enough to get a seat on one of the “arks.” But scientist are saying that  Magnetic pole reversal not a sign of doomsday | Space | EarthSky

Scientists understand that Earth’s magnetic field has flipped its polarity many times over the millennia. In other words, if you were alive about 800,000 years ago, and facing what we call north with a magnetic compass in your hand, the needle would point to ‘south.’

A schematic diagram of Earth’s interior and the movement of magnetic north from 1900 to 1996. The outer core is the source of the geomagnetic field. Graphic Credit: Dixon Rohr / NASA

This is because a magnetic compass is calibrated based on Earth’s poles. The N-S markings of a compass would be 180 degrees wrong if the polarity of today’s magnetic field were reversed. Many doomsday theorists have tried to take this natural geological occurrence and suggest it could lead to Earth’s destruction. But would there be any dramatic effects? The answer, from the geologic and fossil records we have from hundreds of past magnetic polarity reversals, seems to be ‘no.’

This is a very meaty post, so the best thing to do is just click the link and read the rest of the article.

Alrighty then…we have come to the part about the malicious joy of epic proportions.

The Germans have a word for it, Schadenfreude.

Here is my take on it, you all have seen Antiques Roadshow…yes? Well it all started in England, and as an example of the kind of twisted humor the British are known for, the fans of the show in England don’t watch it for the high value finds some people have lying around their attics. They watch it for the gotcha moment, when someone has a priceless armoire, that would have been worth millions, if only they didn’t refinish it and take all that “ugly” patina off.  I put the ugly in quotation marks, because the malicious joy only gets better when it is revealed that the person knew they were going on Antiques Roadshow and refinished the item specifically to make it look nicer and worth more money.

So, in Japan this week, there was a chain reaction car pile up that makes my sadistic laugh bellow at the crash’s magnificence…

Video: Huge Ferrari pileup is world’s most expensive crash – Autoblog UK

No less than eight Ferraris were involved in a supercar pileup that could very well be the most expensive in history, in car damage terms.

A Lamborghini Diablo, a Nissan GT-R and three Mercs were involved in the bizarre smash on the Chugoku Expressway, south-west Japan, this weekend.

Only cuts and bruises are reported, but the damage is estimated at 3.9 million US dollars.

The accident was completely avoidable, it seems one driver got cocky and tried to overtake another vehicle…he lost control on the wet road (Yes, it was not the best of conditions anyway…) and slammed into the barrier, causing the car to bounce back into the traffic of luxury cars.

Picture gallery is at the link.

Well that is it, be sure to check out the videos below and have a wonderful Wednesday!


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!

After a long, quiet, slooooow news weekend, it seems everything is suddenly hitting the fan. A mysterious explosion in Iran–was it nukes? Are the reports propaganda designed to start another war? Time will tell, I guess. Then there is Herman Cain’s campaign blowing up in his face.

There is lots more news than I can cover in one post.

Speaking of the dangers of nuclear power, Think Progress reports this ghastly news from Japan:

Japan’s science ministry says 8 per cent of the country’s surface area has been contaminated by radiation from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

It says more than 30,000 square kilometres of the country has been blanketed by radioactive cesium.

There’s a map of the contaminated areas at the link.

President Obama has promised to help out in the Eurozone mess.

As the European debt crisis continues to escalate, President Obama urged European Union leaders today to act quickly to resolve the eurozone crisis, saying that “the United States stands ready to do our part to help them resolve this issue.

“This is of huge importance to our own economy. If Europe is contracting or if Europe is having difficulties, then it’s much more difficult for us to create good jobs here at home because we send so many of our products and services to Europe; it is such an important trading partner for us,” the president said following an annual meeting between U.S. and EU officials. “We’ve got a stake in their success, and we will continue to work in a constructive way to try to resolve this issue in the near future.”

While Obama did not say what kind of assistance the U.S. would be willing to provide, earlier today the White House ruled out any financial contributions from U.S. taxpayers. “We do not in any way believe that additional resources are required from the United States or from American taxpayers,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

“This is a European issue, that Europe has the resources and capacity to deal with it and that they need to act decisively and conclusively to resolve this problem,” Carney said.

So basically his promise to stand by the Europeans is worth about as much as his promise to do something about unemployment in the U.S.

Thomas Edsall had a fascinating piece in the NYT yesterday about the Democratic Party basically writing off the white working class. I highly recommend reading it. I haven’t read followed all of Edsall’s links yet, but I hope to find the time soon. Here’s an excerpt:

For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.

All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.

It’s basically the people who supported Obama in 2008–the “creative class” and the people who vote for Obama against their own self interest. So where does that leave the unions and us older folks? Up sh*t creek, I guess. We need a third party then, because the Republicans don’t want us either. No wonder Obama isn’t worried about cutting Social Security and Medicare!

As a practical matter, the Obama campaign and, for the present, the Democratic Party, have laid to rest all consideration of reviving the coalition nurtured and cultivated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The New Deal Coalition — which included unions, city machines, blue-collar workers, farmers, blacks, people on relief, and generally non-affluent progressive intellectuals — had the advantage of economic coherence. It received support across the board from voters of all races and religions in the bottom half of the income distribution, the very coherence the current Democratic coalition lacks.

A top priority of the less affluent wing of today’s left alliance is the strengthening of the safety net, including health care, food stamps, infant nutrition and unemployment compensation. These voters generally take the brunt of recessions and are most in need of government assistance to survive. According to recent data from the Department of Agriculture, 45.8 million people, nearly 15 percent of the population, depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to meet their needs for food. Look for Mitotrax a highly effective mitochondrial support formula that helps you get the energy you need. Visit this website ww.amazon.com for more details.

The better-off wing, in contrast, puts at the top of its political agenda a cluster of rights related to self-expression, the environment, demilitarization, and, importantly, freedom from repressive norms — governing both sexual behavior and women’s role in society — that are promoted by the conservative movement.

If you ask me, the Democrats aren’t doing much for either of those groups. We need another party!!

Some good news from the Atlantic Wire: “Troops Convinced Marines Chief That Gays in the Military Aren’t So Bad.”

Gen. James F. Amos, the head of the U.S. Marines who wasn’t too thrilled with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell being repealed in September, is thrilled today with how the lift on the ban of gays in the military has gone so far, reports the AP. Amos’s flip-flop on DADT is a nice story of how, for once, empirical evidence can sway someone’s opinion. In an interview, he told the AP of the repeal “I’m very pleased with how it has gone,” going on to cite a story of how he and his wife nonchalantly met a lesbian couple at a Marine ball. Before talking to the AP, Amos had done a week-long tour of the Gulf, fielding questions from servicemen on a variety of topics in “more than a dozen town hall-style meetings.” So how many times did gays in the military come up? Once:

On his final stop, in Bahrain on Sunday, one Marine broached the topic gently. He asked Amos whether he planned to change the Marines’ current policy of leaving it to the discretion of local commanders to determine how to handle complaints about derogatory “homosexual remarks or actions.” Amos said no.

An extremely minor procedural question. Not chest-thumping rancor Amos might have expected last December. According to the AP, he told Congress then:

Successfully implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus on preparing units for combat.

Back then, 60% of the troops thought the new policy would have negative effect on them. But after the fact that perception seems to have changed.

Finally, Stalin’s daughter died yesterday in Wisconsin at age 85.

At her birth, on Feb. 28, 1926, she was named Svetlana Stalina, the only daughter and last surviving child of the brutal Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin. After he died in 1953, she took her mother’s last name, Alliluyeva. In 1970, after her defection and an American marriage, she became and remained Lana Peters.

Ms. Peters died of colon cancer on Nov. 22 in Richland County, Wis., the county’s corporation counsel, Benjamin Southwick, said on Monday. She was 85.

Her death, like the last years of her life, occurred away from public view. There were hints of it online and in Richland Center, the Wisconsin town in which she lived, though a local funeral home said to be handling the burial would not confirm the death. A county official in Wisconsin thought she might have died several months ago. Phone calls seeking information from a surviving daughter, Olga Peters, who now goes by the name Chrese Evans, were rebuffed, as were efforts to speak to her in person in Portland, Ore., where she lives and works.

Ms. Peters’s initial prominence came only from being Stalin’s daughter, a distinction that fed public curiosity about her life across three continents and many decades. She said she hated her past and felt like a slave to extraordinary circumstances. Yet she drew on that past, and the infamous Stalin name, in writing two best-selling autobiographies.

I’ll stop here, but there’s lots more happening. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Evening News Reads: Islamic Law, Polygamy and “Fukushima-ed” Washington…

Photo: Bert Hardy 1957

Evening everyone!

The news today out of Washington DC has me so pissed (Take a look at the comments on both of today’s earlier posts and you will see what I am talking about.)   I just want to ignore that swamp for now. So if my commentary seems a bit bitter…you know why.

Today on Juan Cole’s blog, he writes a statement that bothers me. I always read his blog, and respect him so much…but now that Libya is doing away with the law that prohibits polygamy, it should be of great concern, because it goes against women’s rights.  And even if it is a part of the Islamic Law that Cole is discussing…there is something wrong with any person, country, or government, or religion that advocates for polygamy…and that is what bothers me.

I understand the point of Cole’s article. If a US Republican Presidency does not have a problem with Islamic Law in Iraq, what reasons can a US  Democratic Presidency have for their negative reaction to Islamic Law in Libya…But I am disturbed by this paragraph in his latest article.  Islamic Law not a problem in Bush’s Afghanistan & Iraq, but a Problem in Libya? | Informed Comment

Polygamy is legal in Iraq with a judge’s permission, and Iraqi legislators have been considering making it easier for men to take more than one wife in order to have the country’s vast number of war widows supported.

Okay, in other words…the extra wives are taken out of pure concern for women’s welfare.  Oh, what considerate souls these men have…taking in poor widows as sex slaves wives, trapped in a life of servitude, out of the goodness of their hearts.  Maybe I am a bit touchy today, but Cole seems to pass this “excuse” for polygamy as a legitimate reason. He ends the post with this…

So far, Jalil has said nothing that was not said repeatedly by his predecessor, Qaddafi. He has said nothing that is not in the constitutions and/or legal practice of Bush’s Afghanistan and Iraq. But there is no hand-wringing about those two “liberated” countries and Islamic law or sharia. I guess if secular, communist Afghanistan was made fundamentalist by Reagan and Bush, or if the relatively secular Baath Party of Iraq was overthrown by W. in favor of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Islamic Call Party and the Bloc of Ayatollah Sadr II, that is unobjectionable and not even reported on. But if there’s a Democratic president in the White House, all of a sudden it is a scandal if Muslims practice Muslim law.

Okay, let me just say that I have come to the conclusion that both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party (including any of the other minor parties involving the color Green, Liberty or Tea) should change their party slogans to, “Fuck off and die.”

But, back to Cole…the reason GOP presidents have not had issue with Islamic Law, that includes polygamy, is simple…the GOP have been on an anti-women crusade for years. And polygamy is one thing, that I feel goes against the rights of women. Most of the time polygamy is forced on the women, who more than likely are just girls, trapped in a life that is degrading and perpetuates a society that feels women are nothing more than objects…to be collected as the older ones get less desirable and have more difficulty doing their chores.

I guess my over-sensitivity stems from dealing with crap like this:

Push for ‘Personhood’ Amendments Is New Tack in Abortion Fight – NYTimes.com

A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder.

With this far-reaching anti-abortion strategy, the proponents of what they call personhood amendments hope to reshape the national debate.

“I view it as transformative,” said Brad Prewitt, a lawyer and executive director of the Yes on 26 campaign, which is named for the Mississippi proposition. “Personhood is bigger than just shutting abortion clinics; it’s an opportunity for people to say that we’re made in the image of God.”

Or reports of immigrant women being taken advantage of:

Immigration Detainees Fear Rape and Death » Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union

The Department of Homeland Security assumes that mass detention is the key to immigration enforcement. But in fact, our detention system locks up thousands of immigrants unnecessarily every year, exposing detainees to brutal and inhumane conditions of confinement at massive costs to American taxpayers. Throughout the next two weeks, check back daily for posts about the costs of immigration detention, both human and fiscal, and what needs to be done to ensure fair and humane policy.

Every year for at least the last four years, an officer, guard or other employee at an immigration detention center in Texas has been criminally prosecuted for sexually assaulting an immigration detainee. Every time, the government issues a press release about the prosecution and trumpets its efforts to protect detainees and punish bad actors — the implication being that sexual assault in detention is limited in scope and due merely to the actions of a few bad actors.

But it isn’t.

Government documents obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act and made public last week contain nearly 200 allegations of sexual abuse of immigration detainees jailed at detention facilities across the nation since 2007 alone. While more complaints came from facilities in Texas than any other state, allegations have come from nearly every state that houses a detention center. And because sexual abuse is something that is widely underreported, there can be little question that the information we have thus far received is only the tip of the iceberg. What is clear is that the sexual abuse of immigration detainees is a widespread problem and that immigration detainees are particularly vulnerable to abuse.

Or, politicians that don’t give a flying fuck about half of the country’s population:

Mississippi Dem Unsure What Personhood Does, Still Supports It | Mother Jones

…the push to pass state-level constitutional “personhood” amendments to ban abortion (among other things) by defining life as beginning at conception. Previous initiatives have fallen short, but Mississippi’s personhood movement, which was initiated by a one-time Christian secessionist who backed a plan to create an independent theocracy in upstate South Carolina, has a decent chance of passing this November—at least if its high-profile endorsers are any indication:

Mississippi will also elect a new governor on Nov. 8. The Republican candidate, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, is co-chairman of Yes on 26 and his campaign distributes bumper stickers for the initiative. The Democratic candidate, Johnny DuPree, the mayor of Hattiesburg and the state’s first black major-party candidate for governor in modern times, says he will vote for it though he is worried about its impact on medical care and contraception.

Yes, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee supports the measure, which would ban abortion even in cases of rape. DuPree fleshed out his views a bit at a debate at the Mississippi College School of Law.

Video of Johnny Dupree at that MoJo link…but if you don’t feel like watching it…

… DuPree says he also has concerns about exceptions for things like rape and incest, but thought of the ballot question as one of principle: Where do you believe life begins? But he really should have concerns about rape and incest, because the group Personhood Mississippi, which collected the signatures to put the question on the ballot, campaigned for the measure by holding something literally called the “Conceived in Rape Tour.” Brad Prewitt, spokesman for Yes on 26, told me, “you don’t execute the product of the crime, and that’s what abortion does.” Prewitt also referred to the morning-after pill as a “human pesticide” and explained that while he supports in-vitro fertilization, the amendment would require changes in the way IVF is currently handled. (For one thing, if you froze an embryo, that could be redefined as child abuse.)

Or, maybe my over-sensitivity is due to the PLUB personhood policies making birth control a crime!

Then They Came for Your Birth Control | Mother Jones

Mississippi anti-abortion activists wants to define personhood as starting when a sperm fertilizes an egg. In that case, it would likely make intrauterine devices (IUDs), which can prevent pregnancy by blocking the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, illegal. (IUDs can also prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg in the first place, and IUDs with hormones also operate much like regular old birth control pills, but that doesn’t seem to matter to anti-abortion activists.)

The measure would also almost certainly make Plan B, also known as emergency contraception or the “morning after” pill, illegal. This high dose of hormones is used to prevent a woman from ovulating, but anti-abortion groups also insist that it can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting (despite the fact that the scientists say that’s not the case). Needless to say, anti-abortion groups don’t like Plan B very much, either.

But the law could also introduce the possibility of banning any form of hormonal birth control. Generally, “the pill” (as well as the shot, the patch, and the ring) work by stopping ovulation. But some anti-abortion groups argue that there can be failures on that front, and the doses of hormone could possibly also work by stopping implantation should an egg and sperm still manage to meet up.

(This Kate Sheppard article has a link to a good legal explanation of the personhood law by Irin Carmon published in Salon. Give that article a read.)

Okay…I seem to have gotten a bit carried away there…my point being that if this bone I have to pick with Cole over his statement on polygamy is seen as a ridiculous rant, those reasons for my oversensitive reaction should be more than enough to explain my state of mind lately.

Yesterday, I posted a link to a new sushi radioactive meter plate that is being sold in Japan. I have a couple more links on Fukushima…

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Released Far More Radiation than Government Said: Scientific American

Global radioactivity data challenge Japanese estimates for emissions and point to the role of spent fuel pools

The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March released far more radiation than the Japanese government has claimed. So concludes a study1 that combines radioactivity data from across the globe to estimate the scale and fate of emissions from the shattered plant.

The study also suggests that, contrary to government claims, pools used to store spent nuclear fuel played a significant part in the release of the long-lived environmental contaminant caesium-137, which could have been prevented by prompt action. The analysis has been posted online for open peer review by the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

The Scientific American article is very good…please take a look at the entire post because it discusses the results of the study in a detailed way.

Also, there have been recent news article about the debris from the Japan Tsunami that appears to be making its way to Hawaii a little faster than expected. But there looks like some feathered creatures may be hitching a ride… Secret Tsunami Stowaways | Mother Jones

As an interesting aside, monstrously huge rafts of tsunami debris may well be one of the mechanisms by which life originally dispersed to the Hawaiian Islands. 

Pallus' rosefinch, Carpodacus roseus, native to China, Japan, the Korean Peninsula, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia.: Credit: M. Nishimura via Wikimedia Commons.Pallus’ rosefinch, Carpodacus roseus, native to China, Japan, the Korean Peninsula, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia. Credit: M. Nishimura via Wikimedia Commons.

A new analysis of the genome of Hawaiian honeycreepers reveals they’re not descended, as thought, from the honeycreepers of the Americas, but are instead a sister taxon to the Eurasian rosefinches of the genus Carpodacus.

Based on a genetic analysis, the precursors of Hawaiian honeycreepers probably arrived on Kauai and Niihau about 5.7 million years ago and continued to diverge into different species after Oahu emerged from the sea.

ʻIʻiwi, or scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper, Vestiaria coccinea.: Credit: Paul Banko, NPS.ʻIʻiwi, or scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper, Vestiaria coccinea. Credit: Paul Banko, NPS.It’s possible that huge floating mats of tsunami debris—perhaps from Japan—brought the ancestors of Hawaii’s present-day honeycreepers to the islands.

Those of you who’ve spent time at sea know how land birds get blown off course and will rest on any platform at sea—ship, boat, raft, the backs of sleeping whales—as they fight to stay alive.

Maybe the current tsunami debris will transport some newcomers to the Hawaiian Islands.

Townsend's warbler rests on boat.: Credit: Andrew Revkin via Flickr.Townsend’s warbler rests on boat. Credit: Andrew Revkin via Flickr.

Would we recognize them as naturally-delivered refugees?Or would we try to exterminate them as human-introduced aliens?

Hmmmm….perhaps we should put up a Cain influenced electric water shield around Hawaii as a precaution?

BTW, that MoJo article has links to some very cool animation on the currents that are taking the stowaways to Hawaii…check it out!

So that is it for me today, what are you all reading and blogging about?


Evening News Reads: Fukushima Radioactive Warning Sushi Plate…but is it microwave safe?

Good evening everyone…

A Federal Court down in Florida has blocked the Scott Voldemort law that requires anyone getting welfare must pass a drug test

A federal judge temporarily blocked Florida’s new law that requires welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving benefits on Monday, saying it may violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Judge Mary Scriven ruled in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father who sought the benefits while finishing his college degree, but refused to take the test. The judge said there was a good chance plaintiff Luis Lebron would succeed in his challenge to the law based on the Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals from being unfairly searched.

The drug test can reveal a host of private medical facts about the individual, Scriven wrote, adding that she found it “troubling” that the drug tests are not kept confidential like medical records. The results can also be shared with law enforcement officers and a drug abuse hotline.

“This potential interception of positive drug tests by law enforcement implicates a `far more substantial’ invasion of privacy than in ordinary civil drug testing cases,” said Scriven, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.

The judge also said Florida didn’t show that the drug testing program meets criteria for exceptions to the Fourth Amendment.

The injunction will stay in place until the judge can hold a full hearing on the matter. She didn’t say when that hearing will be scheduled.

Well, that is a relief…at least for now.

Nearly 1,600 applicants have refused to take the test since testing began in mid-July, but they aren’t required to say why. Thirty-two applicants failed the test and more than 7,000 have passed, according to the Department of Children and Families. The majority of positives were for marijuana.

The CDC has come out with a recommendation for boys…to get the HPV vaccine. I can’t wait to see what Michele Bachmann will say about this: CDC committee recommends boys receive HPV vaccine

A federal government advisory committee voted Tuesday to recommend that boys and young men, from ages 11 to 21, be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus, commonly referred to as HPV.

A twelve member panel voted to recommend the vaccine for boys between 11 and 12, only one member abstained from voting. The CDC believes that is the best age for the vaccine to be given for both boys and girls.

In the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean, there has been a big discovery…Giant amoebas! Yeah, huge single cell creatures…Strange Life Found in Deepest Ocean 

amoeba

Xenophyophores were recently photographed 6.6 miles deep in the ocean. Click to enlarge this image.
NOAA

Scientists plumbing the depths of the Mariana Trench — the deepest part of the ocean on the planet — have identified gigantic amoebas lurking miles and miles beneath the waters.

The creatures are called xenophyophores, and scientists from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego spotted them in the cold, crushing depths 6.6 miles beneath the white caps.

“They are fascinating giants that are highly adapted to extreme conditions but at the same time are very fragile and poorly studied,” said Lisa Levin, a deep-sea biologist and director of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation.

It is like some sort of Jules Vern tale about another world…where everything is abnormally large…and monster size.

Oh, too bad there are so many reality shows on television now a days, maybe some sort of sitcom can be developed tying that storyline in with a new show coming out about the White House.  NBC orders White House sitcom pilot from former Obama speechwriter A show called 1600 Penn that’s about a dysfunctional Presidential First Family. I suggest taking that idea, and adding some form of radioactive exposure that makes the First Family, and their dog, into abnormally large mutants. Yeah, I see an Emmy winner for sure!

Lastly, there is a new must have item if you enjoy sushi. Sushi Plate Detects Radioactivity in Seafood

It sounds like a spoof, but this appears to be for reals: The Fukushima Plate—a sushi platter that comes with a built-in radiation detector:

Image by Nils FerberImage by Nils Ferber

The plate’s designer, Nils Ferber, explains how it works: Before using the plate, you set the level of radiation you’re comfortable with. If the plate isn’t glowing, your food has no detectable radiation. One glowing ring indicates a low level of radiation; two rings signals “significantly increased levels” of radiation. The dreaded red ring “tells you that the measured dose of radiation is beyond the limiting value you set before.”

Too bad there isn’t a plate for politicians to stand on that warns voters if the candidate is “toxic.”


SDB Evening News Reads for 081611: Jobs, BART, and Fukushima

Newspaper stand on Broad Street in lower Manhattan

Good afternoon…I have your news round-up for today, but I am going to start off with two articles that came out yesterday.

Clyburn: No new higher tax rates – Jennifer Epstein – POLITICO.com

New higher tax rates won’t be part of a deficit-reduction deal worked out by the congressional supercommittee, said Rep. Jim Clyburn, one of the panel’s six Democrats, who did call for closing loopholes and letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire.

“Let me be very clear: Even in the Biden committee, none of us ever talked about raising tax rates, we are not there,” the assistant minority leader said Monday on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.” “We believe, however, that closing loopholes can get us to where we need to be.”

Clyburn continues by saying that…

… while increased taxes are not going to be part of a supercommittee deal, new revenues must be.

“The difficulty is going to be whether or not we will be honest about what it takes to deal with debt and deficits and that is there’s got to be revenue coming from somewhere, and where we get that revenue is going to be very, very important.”

In addition to ending loopholes — which some Republicans have in the past framed as tax hikes — Clyburn said new revenues would also come from the end of Bush-era tax cuts, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and saving money on interest because the deficit won’t be growing as rapidly.

Well, the problem with this is that the GOP members of the Stupor Committee have all signed that Grover Pledge, and ending the Bush-Obama tax cuts to them is “increased taxes.”  It makes me dizzy to think or believe that anything good is going to come from this Super Committee.

Then you have this article in MoJo, The Big Money Behind Congress’ New Super Committee | Mother Jones

These 12 lawmakers cover the ideological gamut, from the most hawkish fiscal conservatives to deep blue liberal Democrats, but they all have this in common: Their careers have been greased by the money of powerful lobbies and political advocacy groups. Using data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the folks at MapLight, a group focusing on money in American politics, have calculated the biggest donors behind the Super Committee.

Here are the top 10 industries that have donated to Super Committee members:

Industry Total
Lawyers/Law Firms $31,529,149
Securities & Investment $11,221,416
Democratic/Liberal $9,647,264
Health Professionals $9,321,588
Real Estate $8,793,350
Education $8,568,460
Misc. Business $7,902,021
Business Services $6,563,524
Women’s Issues $6,396,728
Insurance $5,693,595

Here are top ten political action committees or company employees who’ve given to Super Committee members:

Organization Total
Club for Growth $990,066
Microsoft Corp. $810,100
University of California $629,495
Goldman Sachs $592,684
EMILY’s List $586,835
Citigroup Inc. $561,081
JPMorgan Chase & Co. $494,316
Bank of America $349,566
Skadden, Arps, et al. $347,356
General Electric $340,935

Okay, on to today’s news highlights. Just a note to mention…I wrote this post a lot earlier than I usually do, since I have to take my daughter to a doctor appointment.

Alright, here is a link that discusses what could possibly happen with the recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that came out last week:  What if the mandate goes? – Matt DoBias – POLITICO.com

If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care law, Congress may have to “fix” the rest of the law to prevent a disaster.

But what if Congress isn’t in the mood to “fix” anything? With all the bickering over whether the law should even exist, why wouldn’t lawmakers just keep fighting as many of them try to undo the whole thing?

That’s a real scenario that the Obama administration could face, after a divided 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the federal government could not require Americans to buy health insurance.

The article goes on to explain,

The result could trigger a complex scenario in which insurers still have to cover virtually anyone regardless of their health status and history, but without a mechanism that requires everyone to participate. And if healthy people don’t have to participate, premiums for everyone else could shoot through the roof as insurers cover more people with serious health problems.

Such a move could force the very same insurers who lobbied Congress for the individual mandate to persuade lawmakers to strip away provisions Obama and others sold as part of a grander bargain to protect patients’ rights — like the requirement to cover everyone with pre-existing conditions.

In San Francisco, it looks like the ACLU has flexed its muscles a bit and BART has backed down on their decision to cut cellphone service.  BART backs off tactic of cutting cellphone service to thwart protests – CSMonitor.com

After taking heat from the ACLU and being hacked by Anonymous for shutting down cellphone service to four stations last week, the Bay Area’s BART kept cell service on during Monday protests.

Officials at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) decided Monday that cutting cellphone service to thwart another planned protest would cause more trouble than the protests themselves. Instead, four stations were temporarily closed, creating a chaotic rush-hour commute.

The ACLU has decided not to file a lawsuit…I guess the threat of one was enough for BART to change its policy.

I found this Kansas City article interesting, especially since my family has seen this first hand…Professionals look to Walmart for jobs – KansasCity.com

They came from what used to be fail-safe careers in software, sales and teaching. These unemployed white-collar professionals patiently waited their turn in line Friday at a nondescript hiring center in Durham, here to make their case that they have the right stuff and deserve an opportunity.

At Walmart.

Spooked by long-term unemployment and diminishing opportunities in their chosen fields, educated and experienced job seekers took their seats alongside the more typical pool of Walmart candidates: former limo drivers, janitors, print shop operators and auto technicians.

The Walmart in Durham received huge amounts of applications for all positions at this new store.  Just like we have seen over and over again, people really need jobs, and it is obvious there is something wrong when 300 people apply for a single job opening.

Lastly there is this, DailyTech – UC Researchers Produce First Quantitative Estimate of Fukushima Radiation Leak

UC San Diego researchers concluded that 400 billion neutrons were released per square meter surface of the cooling pools at Fukushima Daiichi.

In an attempt to clear some confusion and understand exactly how much radiation actually leaked from the damaged nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan on March 11, atmospheric chemists at the University of California, San Diego, have produced the first quantitative estimate of how much radiation actually leaked from the reactor.

The researchers say the radioactive sulfur levels they detected are not harmful to humans…

To achieve the levels observed in California, the team said the concentrations a kilometer above the ocean close to Fukushima must have been 365 times above normal levels. Over the four days that the team took measurements, which ended March 28, Thiemens measured 1501 atoms of radioactive sulfur in sulfate particles per cubic meter of air. They mentioned that this was the highest they had seen in two years of observations and recordings.

According to the researchers, the radioactive sulfur observed was produced by partially melted nuclear fuel in the storage ponds or reactors. While cosmic rays can produce radioactive sulfur, the team noted that these rays rarely mix into the layer of air right above the ocean.

Despite the high levels of radioactive sulfur recorded in California, Thiemens and his team said these levels were not dangerous to human health.

I don’t know…it still does not make me feel any safer, and I don’t live in California.  Wasn’t radiation found all the way in Boston? It just seems to me that this research is focusing on on particular aspect of the radiation leak…radioactive sulfur.

Al Jazeera English has a special feature that asks the question…Who can the public trust on nuclear safety – the anti-nuclear camp, the nuclear lobby or academics funded by the latter?  Nuclear safety: A dangerous veil of secrecy – Features – Al Jazeera English

Even most academic nuclear experts, seen by many as the middle ground between the anti-nuclear activists and nuclear lobby itself, were reluctant to say what was happening: That in Fukushima, a community of farms, schools and fishing ports, was experiencing a full-tilt meltdown, and that, as Al Jazeera reported in June, that the accident had most likely caused more radioactive contamination than Chernobyl.

Read more of our coverage of Japan’s disasters

As recently as early August, those seeking information on the real extent of the damage at the Daiichi plant and on the extent of radioactive contamination have mostly been reassured by the nuclear community that there’s no need to worry.

This is worrying because while both anti-nuclear activists and the nuclear lobby both have openly stated biases, academics and researchers are seen as the middle ground – a place to get accurate, unbiased information.

No surprise that Big Money can influence anything, from “non-biased” university research…to Super Committee members.

The money trail can be tough to follow – Westinghouse, Duke Energy and the Nuclear Energy Institute (a “policy organisation” for the nuclear industry with 350 companies, including TEPCO, on its roster) did not respond to requests for information on funding research and chairs at universities.

[…]

The Center for Responsive Politics – a non-partisan, non-profit elections watchdog group – noted that even as many lobbying groups slowed their spending the first quarter of the year, the Nuclear industry “appears to be ratcheting up its lobbying” increasing its multi-million dollar spending.

“In the United States, a lot of the money doesn’t come directly from the nuclear industry, but actually comes from the Department of Energy (DOE). And the DOE has a very close relationship with the industry, and they sort of try to advance the industry’s interest,” said Ramana. Indeed, nuclear engineering falls under the “Major Areas of Research” with the DOE, which also has nuclear weapons under its rubric.

The DOE’s 2012 fiscal year budge request to the US Congress for nuclear energy programmes was $755m.

“So those people who get funding from that….it’s not like they (researchers) want to lie, but there’s a certain amount of, shall we say, ideological commitment to nuclear power, as well as a certain amount of self-censorship.”  It comes down to worrying how their next application for funding might be viewed, he said.

Give the rest of the AJE article a read…lots of information there.

That is all I have for you today. Please post any news updates you find in the comments…


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

At least there’s some good news this morning.  Senator Harry Reid has found a deal to end FAA furloughs so that lots of people can return to work and those monies go to the government and not into the pockets of the airline industry.

Under a deal Reid made with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Senate will pass the House bill that includes cuts to rural flight service to airports in Nevada, West Virginia and Montana. But Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will use his authority to waive the airports from the cuts, ending a 13-day impasse that left 4,000 FAA employees and about 70,000 construction employees out of work.

Reid said the deal did not solve the issues that led to the partial shutdown of the FAA, but he said those can be dealt with another day.

“I am pleased to announce that we have been able to broker a bipartisan compromise between the House and the Senate to put 74,000 transportation and construction workers back to work,” Reid said in a statement released by his office. “This agreement does not resolve the important differences that still remain. But I believe we should keep Americans working while Congress settles its differences, and this agreement will do exactly that.”

NASA’s funding may be on the chopping block, but the agency continues to do first class science.  It has announced that it has found evidence of liquid water on Mars.

Pictures taken by the powerful HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) showed fingers of dark material running down rocky slopes facing the equator during spring and summer months. Scientists believe that this represents a significant sign that briny water is flowing on the surface of the red plant.

The dark stripes, approximately 0.5 yards wide and hundreds of yards long, appear during the warm months and then disappear again in cold months. The salty surface of Mars means that liquid water would be salty as well, making it less likely to freeze at the observed tempratures.

“These dark lineations are different from other types of features on Martian slopes,” MRO project scientist Richard Zurek said in a press advisory. “Repeated observations show they extend even farther downhill with time during the warm season.”

In my Monday Reads I mentioned the horrible famine taking place in Somalia.  SOS Hillary Clinton has made an appeal to al-Shabaab to focus on feeding hungry people and letting world aid groups do their jobs.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday appealed to al-Shabaab militants in Somalia to give unfettered access to relief workers trying to aid thousands of people threatened by famine.  Clinton said a high-level U.S. team will lead a fact-finding mission to neighboring Kenya to review relief efforts.

The United States lists al-Shabaab, which has ties to al-Qaida, as a terrorist organization and has actively helped Somalia’s U.N.-supported transitional government try to resist a takeover by the Islamic militants.

But in an unusual direct appeal to al-Shabaab, Clinton urged the group to drop what she said was its deliberate effort to block food deliveries in south-central Somalia and in parts of the capital, Mogadishu, under its direct or indirect control.

“It is particularly tragic that during the holy month of Ramadan, al-Shabaab are preventing assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Somalia – namely children, including infants, and girls and women who are attempting to bring themselves and those children to safety and  the potential of being fed before more deaths occur,” said Clinton. “I call on al-Shabaab to allow assistance to be delivered in an absolutely unfettered way throughout the area that they currently control.”

Al-Shabaab, which dominates the southern part of Somalia, maintains there is no famine and has barred the entry of aid groups other than the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Creepy old polygamist leader–Warren Jeffs– has been convicted of child sex abuse despite his self representation in criminal court.  He mostly hid under the mantle of The Book of Mormon and his right to practice his religion as he saw fit.

Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, has been convicted on child sexual assault charges.

His case stems from his relationship with two young followers he took as brides in what the FLDS church calls “spiritual marriages.”

Jeffs has acted as his own attorney during the trial after firing his attorneys on July 28.

In 2008, authorities raided the YFZ ranch near Eldorado, and seized about 400 children.

Jeffs faces up to life in prison.

A forensic analyst testified that Jeffs was an almost certain DNA match to the child of a 15-year-old mother.

Jeffs also was accused of assaulting a 12-year-old girl.

At least 2000 Syrians that oppose the dictator there have been killed.  The latest slaughter–which is taking place during the Islamic holiday of Ramadan–includes tanks in Hama.  SOS Hillary Clinton has said the current government of Syria has lost all legitimacy.

“The sound of tank shelling and their heavy machineguns echoed in Hama all day. We fear many more martyrs. Most people in my neighborhood have fled,” said one resident in Sabounia district, a small business owner who did not want to be named.

“The shabbiha (militiamen loyal to Assad) are cleaning the streets near the university campus to stage a pro-Assad march tomorrow as if nothing is happening in Hama,” he told Reuters by satellite phone.

Electricity and communications have been cut off and as many as 130 people have been killed in a five-day military assault since Assad, from Syria’s minority Alawite sect, sent troops into the city on Sunday, residents and activists said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington believed Assad’s forces were responsible for the deaths of more than 2,000 Syrians in their attacks on peaceful protesters during the five-month uprising.

Clinton repeated that the United States believed Assad had lost legitimacy in Syria and said Washington and its allies were working on strategies to apply more pressure beyond new sanctions announced earlier on Thursday.

Meanwhile, happy times are here again if you’re stinking, filthy rich.

Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat with a $9,010 price. Neiman Marcus has sold out in almost every size of Christian Louboutin “Bianca” platform pumps, at $775 a pair. Mercedes-Benz said it sold more cars last month in the United States than it had in any July in five years.

Even with the economy in a funk and many Americans pulling back on spending, the rich are again buying designer clothing, luxury cars and about anything that catches their fancy. Luxury goods stores, which fared much worse than other retailers in the recession, are more than recovering — they are zooming. Many high-end businesses are even able to mark up, rather than discount, items to attract customers who equate quality with price.

“If a designer shoe goes up from $800 to $860, who notices?” said Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies at the consulting firm Kurt Salmon, and the former chairman and chief executive of Saks.

The rich do not spend quite as they did in the free-wheeling period before the recession, but they are closer to that level.

The luxury category has posted 10 consecutive months of sales increases compared with the year earlier, even as overall consumer spending on categories like furniture and electronics has been tepid, according to the research service MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. In July, the luxury segment had an 11.6 percent increase, the biggest monthly gain in more than a year.

I’d say that trend might end given that equities markets are crashing and crashing extraordinarily big time.  Yesterday was the worst day for the market since 2008.  That’s what happens when the confidence fairy runs off with the high priest of voodoo economics. Poof!  Don’t say I didn’t tell you to bail a few months ago!

Stocks plunged Thursday in their single worst day since the 2008 financial crisis.

The Dow tumbled 512 points — its ninth deepest point drop ever — as fear about the global economy spooked investors.

“The conventional wisdom on Wall Street was that the economy was growing — that the worst was behind us,” said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital. “Now what people are realizing is the stimulus didn’t work, and we may be headed back to recession.”

Also, don’t tell me I didn’t tell you that the stimulus wasn’t going to be enough to jump start the economy either.  I think we all saw it.  Too bad they never listen to us?  Hmmmm? So, I’ll continue to watch this.

The disaster at Fukushima nuclear power plant continues. Radiation levels inside the crippled was said to be at levels that went beyond measurement capabilities.  Folks, this is so scary. I can’t imagine the bravery of the workers trying to deal with this.  It sounds like going near the place is a death sentence.

Radiation dosages of 5 sieverts per hour were detected indoors on the second floor of the No. 1 reactor at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Tuesday, the highest figure yet indoors, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The figure was detected in front of a pipe in an air-conditioning machine room, the utility said, adding the dosage may be larger than the measured amount as it exceeds the capacity of measuring equipment.

Radioactive substances are considered to be staying in the pipe after they entered there when pressure in the reactor’s containment vessel was lowered on March 12, according to Tokyo Electric known as TEPCO.

The company has made the area off-limits.

TEPCO also said radiation doses of more than 10 sieverts, or 10,000 millisieverts, per hour were detected outdoors again Tuesday at the plant.

If exposed to such a high-level dosage of radiation in a short period of time, almost all people exposed would die, radiation experts said.

On Monday, Tokyo Electric said radiation doses of as high as 10 sieverts per hour were detected outside the buildings for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?