Wednesday, September 1, 2010

News That Matters - Wednesday, September 1, 2010

News That Matters

News That Matters
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“Imam Hussein Obama is probably the best anti-American president we’ve ever had.” - Rush Limbaugh

"I believe that if he [Obama] could, he would rather see Israel annihilated. I don't think he believes Israel belongs to the Jews. I think he sympathizes with terrorists. I believe he is an anti-Semite." Rob Arnold, pro-Beck demonstrator speaking to an Ha'aretz reporter.

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." - Albert Einstein

Good Wednesday Morning,

The National Weather Service has announced an air-quality alert today for ozone pollution ending late this evening. They recommend you stay indoors with the windows closed and the air-conditioning running. For those of us who work outside we are, as usual, doomed.

Just a few weeks ago I was saying how calm the Atlantic hurricane season had been this summer yet that has changed all on a sudden. With hurricane Danielle now long gone on its way to bring Ireland some rain, Earl is churning up the coast prepared to give our region a glancing blow over this coming weekend though it may be far enough out to sea that all we'll get will be some nice breezes. If you're down on the coast however, all bets are off. Next in line is Fiona which is following the same track as Earl and will be around the weekend after next if she can huff it up the coast without dissipating.

State Supreme Court justice Francis Nicolai struck down Putnam's recently passed law on where convicted Level 2 and 3 sex offenders could live - and before you jump all over the guy consider that his ruling on the law was expected by the Legislature with county attorney Jennifer Bumgarner saying that it was 'unfortunate but not wholly unexpected.'
In other words, for nothing but political expediency, a Legislature passed another law they knew would be successfully challenged in court and that's the real story here.

How many other unconstitutional laws are passed, enforced, and then not challenged until someone with the proper resources comes along? The obvious solution is to stop passing laws just because lawmakers think it will earn them votes and makes it look like they're doing something.
Also In The News:
  • Last year's winner in the "Fried Food" category at the Texas State Fair was fried butter. This year perhaps the most interesting entry will be fried beer. Yeah, you read that right. Injected into a pretzel-like dough ravioli-shaped thing, it's dipped in 350 degree oil for 20 seconds. The state has already determined that you'll have to be over 21 in order to try it out.
  • The school board in Helena, MT has proposed a new sex education program that teaches children the actual names for body parts - including those under your bathing suit - and it's got locals all up in arms. The word "penis" is too advanced and personal for young children according to their parents. "Long dong silver" and "one-eyed-jack" are acceptable euphemisms in that part of the country however.
  • Candi Cushman, Focus on the Family's "education expert" warned that anti-bullying campaigns are being led by homosexuals in order to make your child a homosexual. Among other things she said, "We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while the viewpoint of Christian students and parents are increasingly belittled." As if "Let's beat the crap out of that little fag" is what Jesus would have done.
  • At Whitesotck last weekend keynote speaker and organizer Glenn Beck wore a bullet-proof vest under his shirt. I guess his personal comparison to MLK, Jr. and his 1968 murder by the FBI went a little too far?

Last Friday I wrote:
"...if you want to restore honor, feed a hungry person, teach a child to read, employ the unemployed, house the homeless and heal the sick and do so selflessly. That's what we'll be judged on, not how many flags we fly, speeches we make or countries we bomb."
It doesn't matter if you recite the pledge of allegiance or salute or fly the flag. It doesn't matter if you don't get all teary-eyed when some junior high school kid sings the national anthem at a baseball game or if you even sing it at all. This false national pride and patriotism as portrayed by too many over the years has divided us one from another and allows no gentle discourse but only a dogged battle to win over the other regardless of the outcome, no matter the fallout. It signals winning at all costs even if it means leaving burning ruins and failed communities in your wake.

By not comprehending - nor caring to understand - that political and moral thought covers a broad spectrum of ideas and influences and that the world is not just black or white, liberal and conservative, moral and immoral, Democrat and Republican, win and lose, we deny the truths that are necessary to turn the dream of America into a reality and leave the nation divided neatly in two: those who practice the blind patriotism of nationalism and those who practice the patriotism of community.

"These are the marks of a great society, not the flag-waving jingoism of thousands of people on the Mall in Washington, D.C. bemoaning a nation that never was and desiring a nation that was never meant to be."
It's the people here at home who stand for civil and equal rights who are the genuine fighters for freedom: The people who question authority. Who demonstrate against injustice and who put their lives and reputations on the line to ensure that the next generation will be more free than the current: these are the true patriots to the promise of America. Not those with their chest thumping nationalism projecting their dysfunctional egos and crying over the loss of "traditional family values"... whatever they are.

In the end what does matter is what you do in your community; How you help your neighbors. How you treat your employees. How you respect your peers, the people you meet on the street and the person at the check-out at the Hannaford's. How you apply yourself to your education and the education and good health of others. How you vote to maintain what's best for a community and not because you're a fan of a political party. How you listen to others and seek acceptance. How you treat the sick, the infirm and the poor. The immigrant, the laborer, the bus driver and your child's teachers. These are the marks of a great society, not the flag-waving jingoism of thousands of people on the Mall in Washington, D.C. bemoaning a nation that never was and desiring a nation that was never meant to be. They have been blinded to the truth by demagogues who seek power and influence over others and have no desire other than to remake this nation into a myopic vision of a totalitarian theocratic-industrialist state that our founding fathers warned us against... the very same founders they misquote, misunderstand and misappropriate.

They rail against "socialism" when they've arrived at the Mall using an interstate highway system and mass transit with the ability to read signs and directions thanks to public education. Many, according to news reports, are elderly and are probably using Medicare and Social Security. Most have never been injured on the job nor sickened by toxins, not knowing that those responsible for modern labor laws and safe workplace conditions are the very socialists they despise. They believe the Christian bible should be the law of the land yet are unwilling to pay their employees each day. They shave their beards, leave naught in their fields for the poor and think nothing of bouncing from marriage to marriage as if it were a Chinese buffet. But when a man wants to marry another man they tell us it's neither 'Christian' nor 'American' and will battle on the airwaves and the 'net until their throats are sore and their fingers bloody. And woe to those who earn less than is needed for basic survival for they are the most vilified among us as they represent the failure of our system to provide a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and you know, it's their fault for not working hard enough even if there is no work to be had.

I do not know what motivates people to deny basic truths about our communities and our nation, about what issues are genuinely dangerous and what we like to think are but that are not. How is it hurtful to ensure that every American has basic health care? How is it damaging to the nation to employ every American at meaningful and gainful labor? How does it detract from the honor of our once-global empire to guarantee every child a college education or mass transportation to move goods and employ services?

Why are these people more concerned with national pride than they are with the general welfare of their neighbors? Why do they care more about what others think of us a nation and yet care so little about what it is that makes a nation great and envied? Why are they willing to bomb innocents abroad yet care so little for those of us right here at home?

I have no ending for this treatise other than to say that it's your job and responsibility to educate these folk and make them understand they've been hoodwinked and lied to and not by the myth of a liberal media (I wish there was a liberal media!) but by their own fears, insecurities, prejudices and bigotries. That "live and let live" and "love they neighbor" is the basic law-of-the-land to which we should all aspire and that the greatness of a nation is not measured by the number of flags you wave or patriotic songs you sing but by the collective success of each and every member of our communities.

We are not "anti-American" for standing up for civil rights and social justice regardless of what the brashest voices among them will say. We are the *true* Americans for we are doing at home what the propagandists claim we are doing overseas and we are working to make the promise of America a reality.

Stand up and be counted. Get active. Let's take this country back once and for all and make this nation into a shining reality of the myth we've fooled ourselves into thinking we already are. There is not liberty and justice for all, and until there is we are a nation built on lies and the world sees that and is confused by our duplicity. We preach one thing to others yet deny that very thing to ourselves.

Volunteer. Educate. Heal. Work for the betterment of your family and neighbors and do so selflessly each and every day. That's the only path to a great nation and are the true traditional American values.

And now, The News:

Westchester County offers free home energy assessments with federal stimulus money

By Diana Costello

OSSINING — Looking for ways to save on your home-energy bill?

A program just kicked off in Westchester County that will help residents identify ways to make their homes more energy efficient.

Starting today, homeowners can call 211 to set up a free home assessment with one of the program's six authorized contractors.

But don't wait until the last minute to sign up.

The Home Energy Assessment Program will last only until 2,000 assessments are conducted or through May 31 — whichever comes first. A federal stimulus grant of $200,000 helped fund the program, sponsored by Westchester County, the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Investment Board and the Business Council of Westchester.

"This is a great example of people coming together ... to put stimulus dollars to work for the benefit of homeowners as well as people who have been displaced from their jobs," said Lawrence Gottlieb, Westchester County director of economic development.

Read More

Wolves Reintroduction - Wildlife Conservation

By Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

EarthTalk is a Q&A column from E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What is happening with various programs initiated over the years in the U.S. to return to the wild certain animal species that had been endangered or threatened? And do environmentalists tend to be for or against such efforts? -- Susan Adams, Owl's Head, ME

From the standpoint of species and ecosystem health, limited attempts at predator reintroduction in the United States have for the most part proven very successful. The gray wolf, extirpated by hunters in the Yellowstone region some 90 years ago, is now thriving there in the wake of a controversial reintroduction program initiated in 1995, when the National Park Service released 31 gray wolves into the park's expansive backcountry. Today as many as 170 gray wolves roam the park and environs, while the elk population -- which was denuding many iconic park landscapes in the absence of its chief predator -- has fallen by half, in what many environmentalists see as a win-win scenario.

Other reintroduction efforts across the U.S. have also been successful. From the lynx in Colorado to the condor in California to the Black-footed ferret on the Plains, scientists are pleased with how well reintroduced species have taken to their new surroundings. As a result, many conservationists now view the reintroduction of iconic wildlife species as key to restoring otherwise degraded natural landscapes.

Read More

Spit, Glue and Maybe Even Chewing Gum


AMERICANS, take heed. Here is what it takes to bring one of the world’s great transportation networks to its knees: a tiny electrical fire in an obscure contraption of levers and pulleys, installed nearly a century ago.

The scenario played out last week at the Long Island Rail Road, steward of more than 100,000 daily commutes in and out of New York, after a pair of cables short-circuited and set fire to a single 1920s-era signaling machine that left the railroad unable to run trains through a crucial hub station. Delays and canceled trains plagued commuters for days, and as the workweek ended officials still could not say when full service would be restored. The ancient machine had been due for a multimillion-dollar upgrade, but it turned out the program was over budget and behind schedule.

Normally blasé New Yorkers seemed stunned at the vulnerability of their railroad, but in that, they should not have felt alone. The combination of antiquated hardware and delayed maintenance is far from uncommon in America’s infrastructure, a Colossus often held together by spit and glue.

Consider the nation’s dams, on average a half-century old. Despite their monumental size, the dams can be weakened by foraging gophers and squirrels, whose holes undermine the foundations. Or even by simple operator error. A major gate at Folsom Dam in California burst in 1995 after the wrong lubricant was used on its gears.

Tree stumps and rusting pipes can undermine levees in Sacramento. Water systems in Alaska and Washington State depend on wood pipes dating back to pioneer days. And locks on inland shipping routes can be weakened by simple flotsam like discarded tires.

The causes may be small, but the consequences can be grand: national commerce, essential utilities, and the homes of thousands can be threatened if these antiquated systems suddenly give out.

Here are just five examples:

Read More

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party

By Frank Rich

Another weekend, another grass-roots demonstration starring Real Americans who are mad as hell and want to take back their country from you-know-who. Last Sunday the site was Lower Manhattan, where they jeered the “ground zero mosque.” This weekend, the scene shifted to Washington, where the avatars of oppressed white Tea Party America, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, were slated to “reclaim the civil rights movement” (Beck’s words) on the same spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream exactly 47 years earlier.

Vive la révolution!

There’s just one element missing from these snapshots of America’s ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the “death panel” warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs’ banner may not know who these brothers are.

Their self-interested and at times radical agendas, like Murdoch’s, go well beyond, and sometimes counter to, the interests of those who serve as spear carriers in the political pageants hawked on Fox News. The country will be in for quite a ride should these potentates gain power, and given the recession-battered electorate’s unchecked anger and the Obama White House’s unfocused political strategy, they might.

Read More

Who is Destroying "Traditional" family values?

By  Alex Henderson

For decades, social conservatives have had a lot to say about the decline of “family values” in the United States, and they have a long list of people they like to blame, including gays and lesbians, Hollywood, the adult entertainment industry, feminists, rappers, the ACLU and abortion providers. As the Christian Right sees it, a major cultural war has been taking place in the U.S. -- and the American family is being attacked by everyone from Larry Flynt and Planned Parenthood to 50 Cent and proponents of gay marriage.

Social conservatives are right about one thing: the American family is under attack, but not from cultural liberals. The greatest threat to the American family is economic stress -- and the modern-day Republicans and social conservatives who preach family values are the ones who have done the most to imperil the American family. From union-busting and the outsourcing of jobs to developing countries and opposing universal health care, social conservatives have not only endangered the American middle class -- they have also made it increasingly hard to raise a "traditional" family.

Read More

The Republican Who Dared Tell the Truth About Oil

By Andrew Nikiforuk
Matt Simmons understood the wages of addiction and wasn't afraid to sound warnings, even to George W. Bush.

After criticizing the reckless conduct of BP in the Gulf of Mexico most of the summer, 67-year-old Matt Simmons eased into his hot tub at his home in North Haven, Maine on Aug. 8. For a short while the famous oil analyst might have pondered his grandiose plans for the world's largest $25-billion offshore wind farm. But Simmons then suffered a heart attack and drowned.

The New York Times duly observed the passing of "the noted energy banker" while Forbes called him "the crazy uncle of the oil patch." And that he was. Gadfly. Visionary. Contrarian. Educator. "Crude Cassandra." Conservative. Together with millions of Americans and Europeans, I dearly miss the life-long Republican and let me tell you why.

Not too many people in the oil patch speak honestly about the world's most powerful industry, but Simmons did. He didn’t let the money, bullshit or arrogance cloud his judgment. Or his basic reading of geology for that matter.

Read More

TSA's "Enhanced" Pat-Down Procedure Lets Their Fingers Do The Searching

"If anybody ever groped me like that in real life, I would have punched them in their nose."
In an effort to make air travel safer but less appealing, the TSA has begun using an "enhanced" pat-down procedure for those who would rather not subject themselves to a full-body scan. And if you're a fan of having strangers touch you all over, then you should just get straight in line for this one.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the TSA has confirmed the existence of the enhanced pat-down, but wouldn't budge on specifics about details of the procedure, nor would they say at which airports it is being used.

"We are in the process of evaluating and updating our procedures at airports across the country," a TSA spokesman explained/

But the ACLU in Massachusetts has already begun hearing negative feedback from travelers at Boston's Logan Airport who claim to have felt the full force of the new and improved pat-down.

"To call it a pat-down is a euphemism," said a spokesman for the ACLU in Massachusetts. "They really go for it."

Read More

So, Who Won the War in Iraq? Iran.

By: Mohamad Bazzi 

Beirut, Lebanon - In February 2003, as he marshaled the United States for war, President George W. Bush declared: “A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.”

Now, as the U.S. military concludes its combat role — which President Barack Obama will formally announce from the Oval Office on Tuesday — Iraq is indeed a dramatic example for the Middle East, but not in the ways that Bush and his administration envisioned. Iraq did not become a beacon of democracy, nor did it create a domino effect that toppled other dictatorial regimes in the Arab world. Instead, the Iraq war has unleashed a new wave of sectarian hatred and upset the Persian Gulf’s strategic balance, helping Iran consolidate its role as the dominant regional power.

The Bush administration argued that its goal was to protect U.S. interests and security in the long run. But the region is far more unstable and combustible than it was when U.S. forces began their march to Baghdad seven years ago. Throughout the Middle East, relations between Sunnis and Shiites are badly strained by the sectarian bloodletting in Iraq. Sunnis are worried about the regional ascendance of the Shiite-led regime in Iran; its nuclear program; its growing influence on the Iraqi leadership; and its meddling in other countries with large Shiite communities, especially Lebanon.

Read More
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