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Truth To Power

the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must

Archive for October, 2009

Todays exercise in nanny state nonsense: Empty gun shells

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Des Moines school suspends girl over empty gun shells

An 11-year-old Des Moines girl was at home on suspension Tuesday for bringing a handful of empty shotgun shells to school last week.

Jazmine Martin, a sixth-grader at Brody Middle School, picked up the shells as souvenirs during a family trip to a ranch in South Dakota, where the rounds were fired as part of a show. They were blanks.

“I didn’t think they were going to hurt anyone,” Jazmine said. “I wanted to show them to my science teacher because he’s into stuff like this.”

She said she didn’t have time to show her teacher, but she did show a couple of friends. This week, she was called into the office and suspended.

Principal Randy Gordon said the shells were considered ammunition even though they were empty, and were therefore against school policy.

A copy of the school policy shows that it specifically bans “live ammunition or bullets” but makes no reference to empty shells or casings. However, the policy says it is not limited to the items specifically listed as being banned.

Like that last bit? How policy is not limited to reality, but to anything that some puckerass pinhead of a principal might get sweaty and tense over…such as empty shotgun shells?

And we wonder why todays youth appear to be slack-jawed dullards- they are raised that way by idiots like this, baby tyrants.

Known by the company you keep- and in this case, its a complete creep

Friday, October 30th, 2009

House GOP turns to Oliver North on Afghanistan

House Republicans have a new foreign policy adviser with a controversial pedigree: Oliver North.

North, an aide on Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council who is best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scheme to sell arms to Iran and divert the funds to Nicaraguan revolutionaries in the 1980s, was the special guest at a House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday. North was convicted on three counts related to the Iran-Contra scandal and his efforts to cover it up, but the convictions were later overturned.

North’s mission: Relay his insights into the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, where he recently visited.

North’s message reinforced the advice of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who wants to add tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan.

“Basically, his point was unless we put the troops in there, it’s lost,” said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.).

Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), who is the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, joined forces to issue the invitation to North.

Col. North is someone who enjoys the very broad respect of the House Republican Conference,” Pence said.

Nice. The disgraced hack from the Reagan anti-American war machine, feted by House Republicans. Perfect.

Is big Ag afraid of Michael Pollan?

Friday, October 30th, 2009

What’s So Scary About Michael Pollan? Why Corporate Agriculture Tried to Censor His University Speech

Even if agribusiness could shut Michael Pollan up, the outspoken author of Omnivore’s Dilemma and a journalism professor at University of California, Berkeley, it still has the Los Angeles Times to contend with.

Last week, the Times blasted California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo for downgrading a scheduled Pollan lecture because it received pressure from David E. Wood, a university donor who happens to be chairman of the Harris Ranch Beef Co.

“Agribusiness gets plenty of opportunities to preach its point of view at agriculture schools such as Cal Poly, where the likes of Monsanto and Cargill fund research,” the Times wrote, calling the 800-acre Harris Ranch, near Coalinga, whose “smell assaults passersby long before the panorama of thousands of cattle packed atop layers of their own manure,”–“Cowschwitz.” Ouch.

Let’s ruin an industry because 15 people won’t read a warning sign

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

FDA: Gulf of Mexico Oysters Unsafe
Officials Plan to Ban Sales of Raw Oysters Unless Shellfish Treated to Destroy Dangerous Bacteria


Federal officials plan to ban sales of raw oysters harvested from the Gulf of Mexico unless the shellfish are treated to destroy potentially deadly bacteria – a requirement that opponents say could deprive diners of a delicacy cherished for generations.

The plan has also raised concern among oystermen that they could be pushed out of business.

The Gulf region supplies about two-thirds of U.S. oysters, and some people in the $500 million industry argue that the anti-bacterial procedures are too costly. They insist adequate measures are already being taken to battle germs, including increased refrigeration on oyster boats and warnings posted in restaurants.

About 15 people die each year in the United States from raw oysters infected with Vibrio vulnificus, which typically is found in warm coastal waters between April and October. Most of the deaths occur among people with weak immune systems caused by health problems like liver or kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, or AIDS.

“Seldom is the evidence on a food-safety problem and solution so unambiguous,” Michael Taylor, a senior adviser at the Food and Drug Administration, told a shellfish conference in Manchester, N.H., earlier this month in announcing the policy change.

“We have one man who’s 97 years old, and he comes in here every week and gets his oyster fix, no matter what month it is,” said Mark DeFelice, head chef at Pascal’s Manale Restaurant in New Orleans. “There comes a time when we need to be responsible. Government doesn’t need to be involved in this.”

The anti-bacterial process treats oysters with a method similar to pasteurization, using mild heat, freezing temperatures, high pressure and low-dose gamma radiation.

But doing so “kills the taste, the texture,” DeFelice said. “For our local connoisseurs, people who’ve grown up eating oysters all their lives, there’s no comparison” between salty raw oysters and the treated kind.

Maybe I’m just sensitive to this issue, having just returned from Louisiana, a state who’s oyster industry would be largely wiped out by stupid little government nannies like Michael Taylor, but this is simply insane. People make a choice to eat raw oysters, knowing the risk. How do they know the risk? Because every freaking restaurant that sells the nasty things has a sign telling you its potentially unsafe. Job done. We made the choice.

So how about our government do something about warning us about unsafe bridges, or companies pouring toxic chemicals into our drinking water- neither of which we make a choice to use, in large part- and leave the oysters- and the lives dependent on them- alone?

See that my grave is kept clean…and that it ain’t from frackin’ WALMART!

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Wal-Mart Starts Selling Caskets, Urns Online

The world’s largest retailer wants to keep its customers even after they die.

A company offers wooden caskets as a cheaper option to those planning a funeral.

Wal-Mart has started selling caskets on its Web site at prices that undercut many funeral homes, long the major seller of caskets.

The move follows a similar one by discount rival Costco, which also sells caskets on its site.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., quietly put up about 15 caskets and dozens of urns on its Web site last week.

Prices range from $999 for models like “Dad Remembered” and “Mom Remembered” steel caskets to the mid-level $1,699 “Executive Privilege.” All are less than $2,000, except for the Sienna Bronze Casket, which sells for $3,199.

Caskets ship within 48 hours. Federal law requires funeral homes to accept third-party caskets.

The caskets come from Star Legacy Funeral Network, Inc., a company based in McHenry, Ill., that sells the same caskets for about the same price — some less — on its site, along with many others.

“Honey, you run get you some pringles, and I’ll find me another pack of them 3 for a dollar panties…and remember your daddy died last night, you pick out one of them coffins…try the one with the air-brushed picture of the pearly gates, ok?”

Ugh.

And then there’s Maude!

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Bea Arthur leaves $300k to Ali Forney Center

Late “Golden Girls” star Bea Arthur has left $300,000 of her estate to the Ali Forney Center, an organization that supports homeless LGBT youth, according to a press release from the organization.

“We work with hundreds of young people who are rejected by their families because of who they are. We are overwhelmed with gratitude that Bea saw that LGBT youth deserve as much love and support as any other young person, and that she placed so much value in the work we do to protect them, and to help them rebuild their lives.” says Executive Director Carl Siciliano.

The Ali Forney Center, which began in 2002, offers emergency shelter to homeless LGBT in sites scattered throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. It also operates two drop-in centers that offer food, clothing, medical and mental health treatment, HIV testing, treatment and prevention services, and vocational and educational assistance.

One of the Ali Forney Center’s transitional residences is named for Bea Arthur.

How very cool…and humane. Kudos, Bea Arthur!

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

TTP and LH do the Big Easy! (As if they haven’t suffered enough!)

See ya next week…

Pickens: It’s our oil, just under their sand

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

T. Boone Pickens: U.S. ‘entitled’ to Iraqi oil.

T. Boone Pickens has in recent years been involved in efforts to develop alternative energy. He has even developed his own energy independence plan, dubbed “The Pickens Plan,” which on its website proudly pledges to reduce “our dependence on foreign oil” and enhance our national security. Yet in remarks to Congress yesterday, Pickens revealed that he is just as interested as ever in tying our national security to oil interests in the Middle East, suggesting that American oil companies are “entitled” to Iraq’s oil because we spent blood and treasure invading the Arab country:

T. Boone Pickens told Congress on Wednesday that U.S. energy companies are “entitled” to some of Iraq’s crude because of the large number of American troops that lost their lives fighting in the country and the U.S. taxpayer money spent in Iraq.

Boone, speaking to the newly formed Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, complained that the Iraqi government has awarded contracts to foreign companies, particularly Chinese firms, to develop Iraq’s vast reserves while American companies have mostly been shut out.

“They’re opening them (oil fields) up to other companies all over the world … We’re entitled to it,” Pickens said of Iraq’s oil. “Heck, we even lost 5,000 of our people, 65,000 injured and a trillion, five hundred billion dollars.”

Unfortunately for Pickens and others who feel that the U.S. can freely exploit Iraq’s oil because we invaded it, the U.S. is a signatory to the Hague Conventions, which specifically bar the confiscation of private property by occupying powers. And while Pickens is right that the invasion cost us tremendously in both blood and treasure, it is Iraqis who have suffered the most. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed in the war, millions fled the country, and the nation’s infrastructure remains in tatters.

Sounds like a robber caught in the house by the cops, don’t he?

Chelsea Hotel remembers Leonard Cohen

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Chelsea Hotel Will Remember Leonard Cohen Well

Artists don’t always want to brag about things they did at the Chelsea Hotel, but Leonard Cohen will soon receive a distinction there that’s worth boasting about. On Friday, the hotel will unveil a plaque in recognition of Mr. Cohen, the singer-songwriter and poet, who resided there and wrote his song “Chelsea Hotel No. 2? in memory of it (and a liaison with Janis Joplin). The honor puts Mr. Cohen in the company of other notable former hotel denizens, including Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller and Dylan Thomas, who have also received plaques in its entranceway. Mr. Cohen’s plaque, which is dated Sept. 21, 2009, to honor his 75th birthday, is scheduled to be unveiled at 2:30 p.m.

Bageant: Raising up dead horses

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Raising up dead horses
By Joe Bageant

The fiesta is over, the economy as we knew it is dead.

…Meanwhile we may all feel free to row ourselves to hell in the same hand basket. Except of course the elites, the top five percent or so among us. But 95 percent is close enough to be called democratic, so what the hell. The trivialized media, having internalized the system’s values, will continue to act as rowing captain calling out the strokes. News gathering in America is its own special hell, and reduces its practitioners to banality and elite sycophancy. But Big Money calls the shots.

With luck we will see at least some reverse of the Bush regime’s assault on habeas corpus, due process, privacy. Changing such laws doesn’t much affect that one percent whose income is equal to the combined bottom 50 percent of Americans.

Beyond that, the big money is constitutionally protected. Our Constitution is first and foremost a property document protecting their money. In actual practice, our constitutional civil liberties, inspiring as they are in concept to people around the world, are mainly side action to make the institutionalization of the owning class more palatable. You can argue that may not have been the intent of the slave owning, rent collecting, upper class founding fathers. But you would be full of shit. We can keep on pretending to be independent, free to keep on living in those houses on which we still owe $300,000. But they own and control the money that comes through our hands. And they plan to keep on owning it and charging us to use it.