Thursday, May 1, 2008

BREVITAS

The possibility of the host of MSNBC's "Hardball" Christopher Matthews, running against Senator Specter of Pennsylvania, a Republican, for Mr. Specter's senate seat in Pennsylvania is intensifying. Although Mr. Matthews said to Bill Maher of HBO that he's "not getting involved in it" when asked about whether he would seek the position in 2010, it is odd to employ his television program in a way that would make him a favorable candidate to run for senator of Pennsylvania as a Democrat. Mr. Matthews, who is from the Philadelphia area, broadcasted his show from Philadelphia during the week of the Pennsylvania primary. Political figures that appeared on his national show were the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, and an African-American congressman of Philadelphia, Chaka Fattah. In addition, Mr. Matthews interviewed on "Hardball" the chairmen of the Democratic committees of Allegheny, Montgomery, and Lackawanna counties, James Burn Jr., Marcel Groen, and Harry McGrath, local figures vital to any statewide candidacy. . . Unlike those of the entertainment world, Mr. Matthews would be the rare person attempting to move from the press. He would be a test case for the notion that interrogating, blustering, and posturing on cable television can prepare one for a life of questioning and public speaking on the floor of the Senate. - NY Sun

Presidential candidate Ralph Nader told an audience in Connecticut the U.S. government has been taken over by big business. In a fundraiser at a former bank building in Waterbury, the long-shot independent said "global corporations" were exercising unchecked power and basically running every government department and agency. "Think of that," Nader said. "We've lost our government." He went on to say he could never return to his roots as a consumer advocate since there were no agencies in Washington that would do anything other than what corporate leaders wanted.

Peter Dreier, Huffington Post A few months ago, Sid Blumenthal, a former Clinton White House aide who is now a top advisor to Hillary Clinton's campaign, circulated a scurulous article, "Obama's Communist Mentor," taken from an extreme right-wing group. It turns out that this was hardly an exception. Blumenthal, who has been widely credited with coining the term "vast right-wing conspiracy" used by Hillary Clinton in 1998 to describe the alliance of conservative media, think tanks, and political operatives that sought to destroy the Clinton White House, is now exploiting that same right-wing network to attack and discredit Barack Obama. And he's not hesitating to use the same sort of guilt-by-association tactics that have been the hallmark of the political right dating back to the McCarthy era. Blumenthal regularly dispatches emails to a list of opinion shapers, including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers -- an obvious effort to create an echo chamber that will reverberate among talk shows, columnists, and Democratic Party funders and activists.

Just hours before the Indiana and North Carolina presidential primaries, ABC News has offered to air a 'town hall' meeting with Hillary Clinton -- to be hosted by former Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos.. . . It is not clear if ABCNEWS will inform viewers of Stephanopoulos's past employment. Stephanopoulos helped run Mr. Clinton's first presidential election campaign and acted as his press secretary and advisor on policy and strategy before joining ABC News. . . The network hit controversy last month over the decision to allow Bill Clinton's former press secretary to moderate a debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- without any disclaimer. - Drudge Report

Al Franken's admission Tuesday night that his corporation had owed $70,000 in back taxes and penalties in 17 states threatens to upend what has been until now a disciplined, on-message campaign against one of the GOP's most vulnerable incumbents. The story of Franken's failure to pay the taxes - on income earned from celebrity appearances and speeches - was front-page news Wednesday in the state's two biggest newspapers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Franken told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the unpaid taxes were a result of his accountant's error, and all of the back taxes "are a repercussion of the same mistake." Franken's corporation also failed to pay $25,000 in worker's compensation insurance to his employees in New York - a potentially glaring vulnerability, given that he's been running as an advocate of middle-class voters.

London will be electing a new mayor using a modified form of instant run off voting. As Rob Richie of Fair Vote explains: London has "limited IRV" -- only two rankings, and the race immediately goes to the top two choices. This year there are 11 candidates, but two clear frontrunners -- so the great majority of voters likely will rank one of them as their first or second choice. Click for an animated explanation

Fewer than 2000 homeowners facing foreclosure have been assisted by the so-called FHA Secure program, which was heralded by President Bush last August as a plan to help vulnerable homeowners. The Federal Housing Administration program was supposedly designed to provide homeowners with an option to refinance their unaffordable subprime loans. In other news, the Times reported that the federal plan to make it easier to get jumbo mortgages, loans over $417,000, and to "raise the ceiling for loans backed by government-sponsored housing finance agencies to nearly $730,000 in the nation's costliest locations," is failing miserably. "Democratic lawmakers estimate that at least 1.5 million people have fallen behind on their mortgage payments. Yet from October 2007 through the end of March, only 1729 delinquent mortgages were refinanced by F.H.A. housing statistics show." It's not difficult to understand why. The program requires that out of the past 12 months applicants must make 10 on-time payments. Which means that, by design, the program is suited for people who don't need the help in the first place.

At Craigslist, which has become a kind of online flea market for the world, the number of for-sale listings has soared 70 percent since last July. In March, the number of listings more than doubled to almost 15 million from the year-ago period. Craigslist CEO Jeff Buckmaster acknowledged the increasing popularity of selling all sort of items on the Web, but said the rate of growth is "moving above the usual trend line." He said he was amazed at the desperate tone in some ads. Like a Georgia teenager whose mother lost her job and whose ad pleaded, "Please buy anything you can to help out." Or like Alabama mobile home resident Ellona Bateman-Lee, whose husband was disabled in 2006 by an electric shock on the job as a dump truck driver: "Among her most painful sales: her grandmother's tea kettle. She sold it for $6 on eBay." - Alternet

Six longtime Maine anti-war activists arrested last year for refusing to leave the Federal Building when it closed for the day were found not guilty Wednesday of criminal trespass. A Penobscot County Superior Court jury deliberated for 2½ hours after a two-day trial. . . After the verdict was announced about 1:45 p.m., the defendants, their attorneys and their supporters celebrated on the steps of the courthouse in between interviews with reporters. . . "To be honest, I'm a little incredulous," Freeman said after the verdict. "I thought there was a remote chance that we'd have a hung jury, but I didn't expect this. The fact that this was a not-guilty verdict says something about the way the wind is blowing in this state. . . District Attorney Almysaid the verdict most likely would affect whether his office prosecutes protesters arrested in the Federal Building in the future. "At this point," Almy said, "we're going to have to consider the precedent that this verdict sets and we may very well have to consider giving these cases to the U.S. attorney to prosecute because this state court case may preclude successful future prosecutions. Also, I would like to say that Snowe and Collins got us involved in this mismanaged war and it may be up to them to persuade the U.S. attorney to take on these cases." - Bangor Daily News

Nataline Sarkisyan, a 17-year-old cancer patient who died in December waiting for a liver transplant, drew national attention when former presidential candidate John Edwards lambasted her health insurer for refusing to pay for the operation. But what went largely unnoticed is that Ms. Sarkisyan's hospital, UCLA Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital that is part of the University of California system, refused to do the procedure after the insurance denial unless the family paid it $75,000 upfront, according to the family's lawyer, Tamar Arminak. The family got that money together, but then the hospital demanded $300,000 to cover costs of caring for Nataline after surgery, Ms. Arminak says. UCLA says it can't comment on the case because the family hasn't given its consent. A spokeswoman says UCLA doesn't have a specific policy regarding upfront payments, but works with patients on a case-by-case basis. Federal law requires hospitals to treat emergencies, such as heart attacks or injuries from accidents. But the law doesn't cover conditions that aren't immediately life-threatening. - Wall Street Journal

Army officials said that they are "inspecting every barracks building worldwide to see whether plumbing and other problems revealed at Fort Bragg, N.C., last week are widespread." "We let our soldiers down," said Brig. Gen. Dennis Rogers, who is responsible for maintaining Army barracks. A video shot by the father of a soldier showed problems such as a "bathroom drain plugged with sewage."

San Francisco Chronicle Rocky Twyman - a community organizer, church choir director and public relations consultant from the Washington, D.C., suburbs - staged a pray-in at a San Francisco Chevron station, asking God for cheaper gas. He did the same thing in the nation's Capitol, with volunteers from a soup kitchen joining in. Today he will lead members of an Oakland church in prayer. "God is the only one we can turn to at this point," said Twyman, 59. "Our leaders don't seem to be able to do anything about it. The prices keep soaring and soaring.". . . To solve the problem, Twyman isn't begging the Lord for any specific act of intervention. He is not asking God to make OPEC pump more oil. Nor is he praying for all the speculative investors to be purged from the New York Mercantile Exchange, where crude oil is traded. Instead, he says anyone who wants to follow his example should keep it simple. "God, deliver us from these high gas prices," Twyman said. "That's all they have to say."

Annals of Improbable Research "The Emotional Force of Swearwords and Taboo Words in the Speech of Multilinguals," J.M. Dewaele, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, vol. 25, nos. 2–3, 2004, pp. 204–22 . This paper investigates the perception of emotional force of swearwords and taboo words (S-T words) among 1039 multilinguals. . . Participants who learned their language(s) in a naturalistic or partly naturalistic context gave higher ratings on emotional force of S-T words in that language than instructed language learners

Rules of Thumb: Antimatter detectors are easy to build. Take any matter and add your sample to it. If they annihilate each other in a flash of light, your sample was antimatter.

2 Comments:

At May 2, 2008 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ralph, the US, hence its government has always been controlled completely by mercantile interests.

The revolutionary war was fomented by the most wealthy and powerful merchants of the times. For 90% of the population, the colonial period was a vast improvement in lot over their previous life on the mother isle. For 9% life was adequate to instill complacency. For less than 1% the call of freedom from being taxed by the monarchy was too great to resist. Not content with what lucre they were accumulating, they lusted after that which was appropraited by crown.

It was the filthy rich of the age seeking to maximise their profits that began to foment public unrest in the colonies that lead to the perception that much wrong was being done under parlaimentary rule. It took some years to convince the Yeoman farmer that his situation was dreadful and needed improvement, but in the end the merchants prevailed and many a commoner died to enable a differnt cadre of aged white men to set the agenda.

Nothing has changed in the interim....

 
At May 3, 2008 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a difference between revolutionary war times and today. The filthy rich hide behind corporate fictions, which have far more power economically and legally today than living, breathing persons. When the USA was first created, corporations were only granted a charter to operate for a limited number of years. The law at the time was focused on protection of the public interest, and not on the interests of corporate shareholders. The rights of corporations expended greatly during the mid-1800's, culminating with the landmark ruling Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886, which has been misinterpreted to hold that corporations have the same rights as real persons under the law.

 

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