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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In case you missed it

Because it's funny. And fun. And you shouldn't have.

Two old dogs learn new tricks

Great news. There are two stories out right now, showing two people of former mind-sets have, in fact, changed those minds and are now in favor of climate change initiatives, on the one hand, and religious freedom in America--even in New York City. First up, the climate change guy: The world's most high-profile climate change sceptic is to declare that global warming is "undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today" and "a challenge humanity must confront", in an apparent U-turn that will give a huge boost to the embattled environmental lobby. Bjørn Lomborg, the self-styled "sceptical environmentalist" once compared to Adolf Hitler by the UN's climate chief, is famous for attacking climate scientists, campaigners, the media and others for exaggerating the rate of global warming and its effects on humans, and the costly waste of policies to stop the problem. But in a new book to be published next month, Lomborg will call for tens of billions of dollars a year to be invested in tackling climate change. "Investing $100bn annually would mean that we could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century," the book concludes. That's some great news. Then, back here in the States, there's this on the misnamed "Ground Zero Mosque": ThinkProgress's Alex Seitz-Wald has video of Hatch giving an interview to Salt Lake City's Fox 13 News, in which he offers up soft-spoken yet strong support for the Cordoba Initiative's Park51 project in Manhattan. HATCH: Let's be honest about it, in the First Amendment, religious freedom, religious expression, that really express matters to the Constitution. So, if the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so. He goes on, unfortunately, to ask if it's "smart to do so" (build the "mosque" there and backtracks, not unlike the President a while back but still, he's saying it's all about religious freedom so good on him. If this keeps up, who knows? Maybe we can even gain back hope again. Have a great day, y'all.

Think you're having a bad day?

If, sometime within the next 2 to 4 months, you ever think you're having a bad day, stop yourself. Stop yourself and think of the 33 poor--literally poor--Chilean coal miners trapped underground right now--this their 26th day in the dark, away from their family and friends. Away, actually, from everything we know and take for granted. Tear your shirt? Have a flat tire? Heck, even get fired? Deal with it. "The miners call it Hell. The only thing missing is the fire and brimstone. Half-a-mile underground in northern Chile, 33 men are trapped in a cramped shelter where the temperature is a constant 85 degrees." They're down there now and they will be for weeks. In the dark. Without food. Without water. Without beds or showers or a change of clothing. Or sunlight. Or family. Or friends. Somehow it makes things seem much more possible, doesn't it? Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-sherwood/the-great-wait-survival-s_b_699195.html

Update on Adam Smith Foundation's $500m donation to California

Like I said, as an update to yesterday's entry about the Adam Smith Foundation's $500 million contribution to, basically, try "to stop California's tougher pollution regulations...", I ran across this, today, at The Huffington Post: According to the American Lung Association, Los Angeles is the city with the most polluted ozone. The average ozone level in Los Angeles is 138.8 and the average particulates level is 16.8. The California Air Resources Board states that 18,000 deaths a year are "premature deaths" caused by air pollution. So California is listed as the number 2 (of 9) "most polluted places in the world" and the corporations and wealthy are paying money out the wazoo to try to fight any new regulations. Nice. Can you not see why the people of California would want tougher pollution laws and regulations? But again, since the Supreme Court's ruling, earlier this year, eliminating campaign contribution limits, the California voter's voice in the matter will have been reduced to virtually nil unless they remain strong and determined on this. Also, the American people need to speak up, coast to coast, and make it clear we want and need campaign contribution limits put on corporations and the wealthy so our votes still mean something. I hope y'all are paying attention to what's going on--and what needs to happen. Links: http://blogs.pitch.com/plog/2010/08/adam_smith_foundation.php: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/31/photos-most-polluted-plac_n_693008.html#s130738

Good Kansas news

Kansas ranks under the headline "10 States With Ridiculously Low Unemployment -- And Why" just now on Yahoo News and the Business Insider. Check it out: 7. Kansas: Powered by agriculture, energy, and aerospace; Unemployment Rate: 6.5%; Lower Than America's Unemployment Rate By: 3.0%; Major Industries Driving The State's Economy: Kansas isn't the land of Dorothy anymore, although it is still a major grain producer and retains its agricultural roots. These days, the state is also a major oil and natural gas producer and is also a hub of the aerospace industry; % of adult population with a Bachelor's degree or more: 28.8% (Higher than average). Also noteworthy is that Nebraska ranks 3rd and Iowa in the final, 10th spot. Then see who's numbers one and two---the "boring" Dakotas--North Dakota in the number one spot and South at 2. If you also take into consideration Minnesota is ranked at 9, if you took us all out of the picture--us midwesterners--you wouldn't have much of a list, would you? It makes that economic roller coaster ride the East and West coasts take look less appealing all the time, doesn't it? Riddle to close: What state, with the name that sounds like "misery", is NOT on the list? Link to original post: http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/10-states-with-ridiculously-low-unemployment----and-why-535377.html?tickers=^dji,^gspc,spy,dia,udn,edv,uup

Missouri's connection to "The 9 Most Polluted Places in the World"

There is a slideshow out right now on The Huffington Post, showing, as said above, "The 9 Most Polluted Places in the World". Fortunately, none of them are in the 4-state region (though two--Phoenix, AZ and Los Angeles, are here in the US). There is, however, in fact and unfortunately, a Missouri link. It seems "Missouri metal mining and smelting company, Doe Run Peru has contaminated La Oroya, Peru. Over 35,000 of La Oroya residents have been affected by lead, zinc, copper and sulfur dioxide pollution from the company's metal mining and processing. According to Time, 99 percent of the mining town's children have blood levels that surpass suitable limits of exposure. Since 1922, the town in Peru's Andes Mountains has been polluted by mining missions." Ah, yes, Doe Run Company out of good old St. Louis. While they say on their website that "We are committed to environmental leadership and safety and are proud of the acknowledgements we have received for our efforts...", they are known for pollution in plenty of places. From Wikipedia just now: "Doe Run has been cited regularly by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for infringing emission limits, contaminating roads and generally polluting the immediate vicinity of the smelter. Exceeding of emission limits has resulted in the reduction of the permitted capacity of the Herculaneum smelter. Road contamination has resulted in orders to clean up certain roads and to wash down vehicles before they go onto public roads. The company has also been ordered by the EPA to address issues relating to elevated lead blood levels in the community and lead in community soils adjacent to the smelter. It has also spent US$10.4 million on buying up to 160 residential properties close to the smelter that are contaminated and is to clean up contaminated soils. The company has paid for research developing a chemical replacement of primary smelting, Flubor But what the heck, right? It's only Peru. And it's only poor people. Links: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/31/photos-most-polluted-plac_n_693008.html#s130953; http://www.doerun.com/ABOUTUS/COMPANYINFORMATION/tabid/60/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Quote of the day--on Glenn Beck's big day

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Jesus chose to be born poor; he worked as what many scholars now say was not simply a carpenter, but what might be called a day laborer; he spent his days and nights with the poor; he and his disciples lived with few if any possessions; he advocated tirelessly for the poor in a time when poverty was widely considered to be a curse; he placed the poor in many of his parables as over and above the rich; and he died an utterly poor man with only a single seamless garment to his name. Jesus lived and died as a poor man. Why is this so hard for modern-day Christians to see? Liberation theology is not Marxism disguised as religion. It is Christianity presented in all its disturbing fullness. --James Martin, SJ Link to original post: http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&entry_id=3224

The Brown (UPS) Bailout?

When I first heard of this, I thought sure it was a hoax. I thought it must just be some wild, dumb, utterly untrue rumor. Now, with this, I see it's apparently not. Supposedly someone in Washington thinks we should give UPS a "bailout" of some kind? Surely every and any Republican, Democrat, Independent and especially Libertarian and Tea Party member would come down against this--even the corporate suckup Republicans, if it's brought to light of day. Here's hoping.

Be afraid. Be very afraid

Well, it's begun. The floodgates of money that were officially unleashed by the Supreme Court with their ruling earlier this year, letting corporations and who-knows-who-all spend as much as they want on campaigns, have been opened: ​The Adam Smith Foundation, a conservative, Jefferson City-based political nonprofit started by some of Matt Blunt's pals in 2007, just wrote a $498,000 check to California political cause Yes On 23, which is trying to stop California's tougher pollution regulations. Now a whole lot of people are asking questions of Adam Smith. The mystery at the center of the uproar is why a political group that has never engaged in any action beyond the state border is suddenly sending oodles of cash out west. That's one-half million dollars, dumped out of the blue from a Missouri group to a California organization to fight new pollution laws on corporations. This is just the beginning, too, folks. It's going to get a lot bigger and uglier from here on. It's as I've said here before--our votes shrank tremendously when the Supreme Court made this ruling. It's as if you and I no longer exist, politically. The corporations and wealthy may now get whatever they wish. We're just along for the ride--and it's whatever ride they want. This is just one more reason, too, why Roy Blunt--and all the Blunts--need to be summarily voted out of virtually any and every political office in the country. Link to original story: http://blogs.pitch.com/plog/2010/08/adam_smith_foundation.php

Monday, August 30, 2010

A bad week already in Afghanistan

KABUL, AfghanistanRoadside bombs killed seven American troops on Monday — including five in a single blast in Kandahar — raising to more than a dozen the number who have died in the last three days. The total number of US casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan last week was 11, by comparison. Link to original story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100830/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan

One of the funniest comedians alive right now

Busy day in Kansas City

To start the day, late last night, "A rolling gun battle damaged several buildings in downtown Kansas City, Missouri early Monday morning. Now, police think they may have one of two cars involved in a shootout. It happened around 1:30 a.m. near 11th & Grand." Fortunately, they pulled over a car with two wounded passengers, a gun and some shell casings in the car. Hopefully, that one will be able to solve itself quickly. Then, of course, today was the first day of school for the KCMO School District. I hope we find that all went very well. That was a WHOLE LOTTA kids, going in a lot of new directions, to a lot of different schools. Cross your fingers. Next item: "Authorities said Monday morning they are searching for George Dudley, an inmate who escaped the Wyandotte County Courthouse." Mr. Dudley is a "'charged and convicted sex offender and is considered extremely dangerous,' said Jeffrey S. Fewell, spokesman for the Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office." Next up, this afternoon, "A robber stole a large amount of cash from a Brinks employee near a bank ATM machine this afternoon, Kansas City police said. This afternoon, a big fear for the KCMO School District took place briefly when one of the kids went missing. Fortunately it turned out well: Kansas City police scoured a city park this afternoon before finding a 9-year-old boy reported missing after he didn’t return home from school. He was from John T. Hartman Elementary. I would say they "dodged a bullet" on that one but that's not a great euphemism to use in Kansas City. The last thing for the day--that I'm aware of right now--"A 19-year-old motorist was critically injured in a drive-by shooting this afternoon at Swope Parkway and Cleveland Avenue." And you know that's just East of the Plaza, right?. Anyway, holy cow. It's been one heckuva busy day for the city. And there's not even a full moon to blame it on. Let's hope tomorrow is quieter, eh? Links to original stories: http://www.fox4kc.com/news/wdaf-2car-shoot-out-downtown-11thgrand-083010,0,6806661.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+wdaf-news+(FOX4KC+Local+News) http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/30/2187533/sexual-predator-escapes-in-wyandotte.html http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/30/2187840/robbery-at-atm-reported-in-midtown.html http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/30/2187944/kc-shooting-critically-injures.html

Roy Blunt needs to fail this time 'round

While I do object to the use of Roy Blunt's vote for the 700 billion dollar bailout, since it may have been important in keeping our entire financial system from collapsing last year--time and history will tell on that--I am absolutely committed to doing what I can to help Roy Blunt fail in his bid to be re-elected to his seat in Washington this Fall so here you go--the latest Roy Blunt ad, posted on You Tube by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, admittedly.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday juxtapositions on the Plaza

First, I noticed the leaves on the sycamore trees near the Plaza have turned a rich, warm yellow color. With this late summer sun shining on them, they are beautiful in their own right and I believe I got at least one picture--if not some--of them. Second? There is a big Christmas display--in this same late August--in the windows of the former Sony store on the Plaza. Merry HallowThanksChrismas. (Perhaps I should say "hollow"). Enjoy your Sunday, y'all.

A Missouri "fallen hero"`

In case you hadn't noticed yet, 11 more American soldiers died this week, according to the Pentagon, in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of them was one of our own--a Missourian. Army Sargent Brandon E. Maggart was from Kirksville, Missouri. I searched him on the internet and found the following: Army Sgt. Brandon E. Maggart, Died August 22, 2010 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom. 24, of Kirksville, Mo.; assigned to the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash; died Aug. 22 at Basrah, Iraq, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using indirect fire. According to one site, "He leaves behind a wife and a 3 year old son..." I thought it important to mention--both his sacrifice and the number of soldiers who gave this same ultimate sacrifice for us and their country this week. Links: http://militarytimes.com/valor/army-sgt-brandon-e-maggart/4755720/

Saturday, August 28, 2010

If any politician should be thrown out, it's Roy Blunt

Just what I said. Look at the facts: He's been in office 14 years; he's from a political family dynasty; that political family dynasty shouldn't be continued; he's extemely well-known on the Washington, DC political party circuit; and finally, because I could write more but these are enough reasons, finally, he's repeatedly sold out you and I, the "working person", the "common person", the "little guy", for the corporations and wealthy. How many more reasons do we need? And sure, Robin Carnahan also comes from a family political dynasty but she's our only hope this go-round. Whaddya' say we vote her in, thereby throwing him out and then, next time this vote comes up, then we vote Ms. Carnahan out? It's a terrific idea. As smart as Robin Carnahan is, she'll do fine. In the meantime, we'll have far better representation in Washington. Come on, people of Missouri--this all just makes far too much sense. State of Missouri: VOTE ROY BLUNT OUT OF OFFICE. Pertinent links: http://www.roybluntpartyblog.com/ http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-10-04-bundling_N.htm http://www.firedupmissouri.com/content/shocker-deficit-fraud-blunt-doesnt-have-serious-plan-reduce-federal-deficit

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Plaza: Not that difficult and we all win

Over at TKC, Tony was complaining that we were all whiny, as a city, about preserving the Plaza when a lot of us complained about the possible razing of the Balcony building for the Polsinelli Law Firm's new building. But look what happened. Highwoods Properties and Polsinelli announced their plans, people didn't like them, they reworked them and now everyone, it seems, is getting what they want. Polsinelli and Highwoods get the new facility they want and need, the old Balcony building is saved and, really, the Plaza properties will be "new and improved" and invested in well so it can grow and develop wisely. This truly is one of those hoped-for "win/win/win" situations. Best of all, for Polsinelli--and even Highwoods--they come out of this with the reputations of doing the right thing for, yes, the Plaza, but also the city. It's a great PR move. What would have been a permanent black eye, of sorts, is now a badge of honor. It's a good day for Kansas City and all involved in this process. Have a great weekend, y'all. link to original post: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/26/2179076/highwoods-revises-plans-for-plaza.html

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rep John Boehner said it and--I can't believe this--I agree

First, I have to say that I thought John Boehner was just a gas-filled, tanned, walking, talking suit. I'll get that out of the way right now. Second, I thought he was totally, completely in just for the big corporation and what would benefit them--and, of course, himself. Finally, then, the last thing I thought he would come up with is something that's good for the country. Apparently--I can and will admit--I was wrong. To wit, Rep. Boehner is quoted as having said the following: “We need to take a long and hard look at the undergrowth of deductions, credits, and special carve-outs that our tax code has become,” Boehner said in his speech to the City Club of Cleveland. “And, yes, we need to acknowledge that what Washington sometimes calls ‘tax cuts’ are really just poorly disguised spending programs that expand the role of government in the lives of individuals and employers.” Boehner cited the “tax extenders” bill now making its way through Congress. “There’s everything in this bill: the research and development tax credit, special expensing rules for the film industry, an extension and modification of a tax credit for steel industry fuel, the mine rescue team training tax credit, and tax incentives for investment in the District of Columbia,” he said. “Are they worth it? Many are. But we just go ahead and extend all of them temporarily—and usually right at the last minute—so Washington can continue pandering to the loudest voices instead of implementing the best ideas.” Here, here, Rep. Boehner. Let's have more of this. Link to original post: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/lets_be_honest_about_taxes_20100826/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Truthdig+Truthdig:+Drilling+Beneath+the+Headlines

My favorite wine (whine): "We want Trader Joe's!"

I'm not much of a shopper, either. I just want Trader Joe's here in town, hopefully in a central location for the city. (Ward Parkway Center?). Have a great day, y'all, and enjoy this weather.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When did teacher's unions become "the enemy"?

Really, when did this happen? I can't trace it back to any specific time. Do we begrudge them collective bargaining because we don't have it or because we pay taxes that makes up their pay? I know unions, in general, have been looked down on for some time, foolishly, by even the more common working man, to his peril, but when did teacher's unions, specifically, become the center of evil in this country? I was just on Facebook and there was a sponsored ad for a group calling itself "Teachers Unions Exposed". Really. And what horrible things are teachers after, anyway? Oh, that's right--those horrible things like being treated fairly by the school district they work in and the administration they work for, right, that horrible stuff. So I Googled "Teachers Unions Goals" and this is some of horrific, diabolical stuff they're up to: Our Vision Our vision is a great public school for every student. Our Mission Our mission is to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world. Our Core Values These principles guide our work and define our mission: --Equal Opportunity. We believe public education is the gateway to opportunity. All students have the human and civil right to a quality public education that develops their potential, independence, and character. --A Just Society. We believe public education is vital to building respect for the worth, dignity, and equality of every individual in our diverse society. --Democracy. We believe public education is the cornerstone of our republic. Public education provides individuals with the skills to be involved, informed, and engaged in our representative democracy. --Professionalism. We believe that the expertise and judgment of education professionals are critical to student success. We maintain the highest professional standards, and we expect the status, compensation, and respect due all professionals. Partnership. We believe partnerships with parents, families, communities, and other stakeholders are essential to quality public education and student success. --Collective Action. We believe individuals are strengthened when they work together for the common good. As education professionals, we improve both our professional status and the quality of public education when we unite and advocate collectively. NEA also believes every student in America, regardless of family income or place of residence, deserves a quality education. In pursuing its mission, NEA has determined that we will focus the energy and resources of our 3.2 million members on improving the quality of teaching, increasing student achievement and making schools safer, better places to learn. Does that all sound so horrible? Does that not sound fair and smart and even good for the kids in the schools? I'm not so naive to think bad things don't come out of good ideas--in this case, unions, but I have to ask you, when did teachers and teachers unions become a big threat to us? To our society? What? When they asked for fair pay and fair representation in their school districts and with their administrations? When did teachers become the "big bogeyman" of our society? And why? Would you answer me that? Links: http://www.nea.org/home/19583.htm, http://www.wtulocal6.org/Goals/

Remember the "shoe-throwing guy"?

Of course you do. We all do. His name was Muntadhar al-Zeidi and he threw his shoes at then-President George W. Bush as protest over his--W's--attack on Iraq. It seems there's a report out right now that shoe-throwing has become more common, since he first came up with the incident and it's been repeated by others, as their own protest. Since that infamous Baghdad press conference on Dec. 14, 2008, shoes have flown at the prime ministers of China and Turkey, the chief justice of Israel's Supreme Court, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, a Ukrainian politician who favored joining NATO, and a string of Indian politicians. Just this month, shoes flew at Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and the top elected official in Indian-controlled Kashmir. And you know what? Much as I'm against anarchy and I am about respect and respect for authority, this got me thinking. I have to say, I'm a big fan of Mr. al-Zeidi's. Here's why: First, he had an original thought. Honestly, not that many people do, I don't think; Second, he acted on it and that took courage; Third, he was prosecuted (persecuted?) for it as surely he knew he would be. He was willing to pay for what he thought was right--and it was right, given that W's unprovoked attack on Iraq was and is, still today, against both internal, national law, here in the US, as well as international law. Finally, Mr. al-Zeidi left Iraq afterward and went to Switzerland (clearly a smart man) and began a charity. Admittedly, I don't know what the charity is for or what they do but it's a charity so I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt that he's somehow helping humankind. So, all in all, I think I give the guy kudos, all 'round. As I said, I'm not for either anarchy or disrespecting leaders but in this case, I have felt strongly and for some time--since the Iraq invasion in 2003--that "W" deserved what he got (and a whole lot more, too, of course) when he had those 2 shoes dis-respectively thrown at him. Link to original post: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/throwing_shoes

Quote of the day--on voting against your own best interests

...in light of what Bob Herbert calls "the most painful evidence imaginable of the failure of laissez-faire economics and the destructive force of the alliance of big business and government against the interests of ordinary Americans," the Tea Party movement wants to abolish government and expand even more the deregulated capitalism that has unsettled the lives of so many of its members. Ignorance prevails around both the movement's policy recommendations and its often racist protest against "the election of a "foreign born' - African-American to the presidency." Link to original post: http://www.truth-out.org/the-disappearing-intellectual-age-economic-darwinism61287

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quote of the day--on the disappearing intellectual

In a media scape and public sphere that view criticism, dialog and thoughtfulness as a liability, such anti-intellectuals abound, providing commentaries that are nativist, racist, reactionary and morally repugnant. But the premium put on ignorance and the disdain for critical intellectuals is not monopolized by the dominant media, it appears to have become one of the few criteria left for largely wealthy individuals to qualify for public office. One typical example is Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who throws out inanities such as labeling the Obama administration a "gangster government." Bachmann refuses to take critical questions from the press because she claims that they unfairly focus on her language. She has a point. After all, it might be difficult to support statements such as the claim that "the US government used the census information to round up the Japanese [Americans] and put them in concentration camps." Another typical example can be found in Congressman Joe Barton's apology to BP for having to pay for damages to the government stemming from its disastrous oil spill. This "upscaling of ignorance" gets worse. Richard Cohen, writing in The Washington Post about Sen. Michael Bennett, was shocked to discover that he was actually well-educated and smart but had to hide his qualifications in his primary campaign so as to not undermine his chance of being re-elected. Cohen concludes that in politics, "We have come to value ignorance." He further argues that the notion that a politician should actually know something about domestic and foreign affairs is now considered a liability. Link to original post (good, important read): http://www.truth-out.org/the-disappearing-intellectual-age-economic-darwinism61287

Iraq after George W. Bush and his extremely expensive--and illegal--escapade

A lot of us protested the Iraq War George W. Bush brought it on us and them, before it even took place. We knew it was stupid. We knew it was wrong. Heck, at the time, I didn't know it was against our own internal, national laws, let alone international ones as well. Out today comes a story telling U.S. Leaves Iraq Much Worse Off. Not that we've visited the country but we knew this, too, didn't we? We went in, blew 'em up real good and now we're leaving but not without first having gotten nearly 4,500 American soldiers killed and spending billions of dollars. This from Truthdig: Iraq has between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums. The killing of innocent people has become part of daily life. What a havoc the United States has wreaked in Iraq. For the past few decades, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the percentage of the urban population living in slums in Iraq hovered just below 20 percent. Today, that percentage has risen to 53 percent: 11 million of the 19 million total urban dwellers. I see where the former President also went to Haiti to talk up helping that country and while that's good, I'd love to ask him when he's going to visit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast since his administration virtually completely, totally and utterly ignored that entire area of the country during and after Hurricane Katrina. If you haven't seen the Brian Williams interview discussing this on the Charlie Rose show on PBS, you should. It's extremely enlightening. What a great idea this turned out to be, right, George--invading Iraq? Your idea destablized the entire country and so, likely, further destabilized the Middle East. Thanks, loads, George! Link to original post: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/us_leaves_iraq_much_worse_off_20100823/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Truthdig+Truthdig:+Drilling+Beneath+the+Headlines

China's intrinsic problems

Word out last week showed that China just became the 2nd largest economy on the planet. Okay. New development. Surprising to some, if not most of us. But I've been seeing China's significant, if not huge, problems for its people and economy for some time. Their pollution alone could keep their economic boom from expanding: China, for instance, is home to 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. But by far the most serious environmental issue that the Chinese urgently need to resolve is that of water. The country is facing increasingly frequent and desperate shortages, disastrous flooding in some areas, and dangerous levels of pollution. And the problem is not just environmental - insufficient water is already limiting industrial and agricultural output in some areas and threatening to curb China's high economic growth rate and food production if solutions are not found quickly. And that's one thing but take a look at this beauty, out today: China Traffic Jam Enters 9th Day, Spans Over 60 Miles Can you even imagine a 60-mile long traffic jam, let alone one that would last 9 days? How long would you tolerate those conditions? So, yes, China has huge, huge internal problems. Huge. Link to orginal posts: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/23/china-traffic-jam-enters-_n_690742.html http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/chinaroadtraffic;_ylt=ArMNOWl1TQRsEOhYMH7KEPes0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNsY281ZGdwBGFzc2V0A2FmcC8yMDEwMDgyMy9jaGluYXJvYWR0cmFmZmljBGNjb2RlA21vc3Rwb3B1bGFyBGNwb3MDOARwb3MDNQRwdANob21lX2Nva2UEc2VjA3luX2hlYWRsaW5lX2xpc3QEc2xrA2NoaW5hc25pbmUtZA-- http://www.new-ag.info/focus/focusItem.php?a=1302

Daniel Tosh and I share the same view of firearms

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On Ronald Reagan, the man and the big myth

Reality deserves an airing. I found the following on The Huffington Post, earlier today: Firstly, let’s keep politics out of this. Whatever your affiliation, Reagan just doesn’t deserve all that hype! He was always a popular President, but he has since been recast (mainly by conservative historians) as a great one as well. Yes, you can easily place him on that pedestal. You would merely need to ignore the Iran-Contra scandal, the huge budget deficits, his environment ignorance, his do-nothing reaction to the looming AIDS epidemic, his courting of Saddam Hussein, and numerous other blunders. “Reagan was truly a great president whose achievement rivals that of Franklin Roosevelt,” wrote conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, in his 1997 reappraisal where he credited Reagan for everything from the strong Clinton economy (go figure) to world peace (while somehow forgetting to mention Iran-Contra anywhere in the book). But Reagan belongs in this slideshow for one thing in particular: his reputation as the man who ended the Cold War. D’Souza and others have suggested that Reagan’s arms build-up was a cunning ploy to bankrupt the USSR, which is a relief, because I always thought it was a cunning ploy to risk everyone’s life. Reagan showed little sign of burying the hatchet with the “evil empire” (as he called them) until the reformer Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet leader in 1985. Even then, he was very uncooperative in peace talks with Gorby until, facing scandal and low approval ratings, he was willing to do anything – even something crazy like helping to save the world. As for Russia’s bankruptcy… The war in Afghanistan started in 1979. Reagan was still in California. Oh, and if you don’t think I can talk about US Presidents because I’m not American… then you’re a dope. Even Australians can do their research. Link to original post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-juddery/overrated-people_b_688237.html#s129497

In case you'd care to help fight the new Polsinelli building on the Plaza

This entry is for just that--in case you want to help fight the new Polsinelli building proposed for the Plaza. If you're on Facebook (come on, admit it, you are), search for this group: Save the Plaza 2010 Then join, of course. They're having an organizational meeting this Friday evening at 5:30 pm, you'll find. You can also reach them at their email address savethe Plaza@yahoo.com. You are recommended to attend the rezoning hearing on oct. 5 at 12:30 at City Hall, too, if you can. Finally, if you can, listen in today on KCUR 89.3 FM, 11am as Steve Kraske will be talking with Kansas City Star development reporter Kevin Collison, Polsinelli Shughart chairman and chief executive W. Russell Welsh, Historic Kansas City Foundation president Scott Lane and others about the proposed project and why it's creating so much controversy. Side note: I'll bet the Polsinelli people are regretting now that they are immediately known as "The Law Firm That Wants to Tear Down Part of the Historic Country Club Plaza, Only to Build a New, Irrelevant, Contemporary Structure." Just bad PR, all the way around, huh? Too bad. Here's hoping. Have a great week, y'all.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On the Plaza and the proposed new building

I thought I might avoid this entry but I just can't. I can't help but write on how monumentally stupid and short-sighted it is for Highwoods Properties and the Polsinelli-Shughart Law Firm to propose tearing down one of the original, landmark Plaza buildings, in order to build a new, contemporary one that fits their needs. At least when the Lockton Companies built theirs they a) built it on an otherwise barren property and b) put one up that matched, in style, the mediteranean/Spanish style of the rest of the Plaza. The fact is, the Plaza still works, as a retail and restaurant destination right now, in spite of the fact that a huge quantity of the stores and spaces on it are utterly empty right now. And do you know why it works? It works because JC Nichols put up good, solid, one-style architecture and so created a destination. It only still works because it has good architecture--good "bones", so to speak--and so, feels like we've really gone somewhere, when we do go down there. What other area or place in town does that? Downtown? Decidedly not. Oak Park Mall? Please. No, the answer is no. The fact is, there is no other one area in town that is built the way places used to be built like this and that is the Country Club Plaza. For Highwoods and Polsinelli to now propose the beginning of what is surely the further dismantling of the Plaza is tremedously short-sighted and empty. If they want this building, find another site, please, ladies and gentlemen. But the fact is, this go-round, they know better than to ask for TIF money to create this debacle and it's all their own, private money. I'm afraid it looks as though it really will go through---unless Kansas Citians truly raise hell about it. I hope we're not all so poor that we don't have time to do just that--protest so much the plans are changed. Note to Polsinelli-Shughart: can't you just, please, make the "West Edge" project work for you? Please?? Links to related posts: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/19/2162001/office-building-planned-in-heart.html http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/20/2164294/irate-plaza-fans-object-to-law.html

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Fleecing of Westar (and Kansas): 1, 2, 3, Part II

News from a front page article in The Kansas City Star today tells "After nearly eight years and two trials, federal prosecutors on Friday dismissed all charges against former Westar Energy executives David Wittig and Douglas Lake." I was stunned. Holy cow. These two all but knocked down your Grandmother, raped her and stole her money and here they are, getting off, scott-free. Truly, who says crime doesn't pay? And why do I say this? As you may have read here on an earlier post, look at just a short, abbreviated list of what these two did while at Westar, as shown by The New York Times: “During Wittig’s brief tenure with the company he managed to extract more than $25,000,000 in compensation and benefits,” the indictment read. “During Lake’s brief tenure with the Company he managed to extract more than $7,000,000 in compensation and benefits. During this same tenure Wittig and Lake presided over a company whose stock prices went from $44.00 per share to less than $9.00 per share, whose [energy] rates soared, whose debt increased to more than $3,000,000,000, and whose future was poised on the brink of bankruptcy.” Again, keep in mind, this is only a partial list. So, folks, if you're a Kansas electric rate-payer or a Westar stock owner from this time frame, the fact is, you just got screwed. And you got screwed big time. For all the rest of us who are simply law-abiding citizens, well, forget about all that. Crime does pay, ladies and gentlemen. Just make sure, when you do it, you go after HUGE amounts at the top of a corporation--not that little stuff you get holding up a Quickie Mart. Try to have a great weekend, y'all. Link to original posts: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/20/2164274/charges-against-former-westar.html http://moravings.blogspot.com/2010/07/great-nyt-article-on-enron-of-kansas-or.html http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/what-happened-at-the-enron-of-kansas/?hp

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chill, people

A great deal of people, I think it can be shown, didn't pay much, if any, attention from 2000 to 2008, as our president and leaders at the time took us from budget surpluses to huge budget deficits. And now, now that there is a person in the White House who isn't the same color as a lot of them is trying to save our collective butts, doing all he can, they suddenly, as of last inauguration day, wake up and want to scream and complain and whine and cry about where we are and what's going on. Suddenly they're upset because they think he's spending too much. But were they saying much when the last guy in the White House was blowing through money like we'd all have it forever? How about when he arbitrarily and against both national and international law took us into an unprovoked war in the Middle East? Were they (you?) complaining then? I know I got out and protested the war before it happened so, hopefully, it would make a difference. Well, you know what? You can't not pay attention 8 or more years and then all of a sudden pretend you either a) care or b) are informed. You're clearly, especially not informed. So please, everyone who's screaming--calm down, sit down, close your mouths and start listening and reading. You have some old ground to cover. I absolutely recommend a lot of NPR (National Public Radio) and PBS on television, for starters. You have a lot of learning to do for a while and we don't need your irrationality, emotionalism and/or your reactionary rants. It's not even good for you, let alone the country.

Further proof of why we shouldn't have smoking in public areas

I still see and hear, once in a while, someone complain that they can't smoke in public. Last week, someone wrote in to The Kansas City Star, sarcastically ripping our smoking bans, saying life will be perfect one of these days, if we just keep passing laws similar to this one. And to this I say, you need to read the following scientific information on what smoking does to us, just released this morning: Scientists led by Dr. Ronald Crystal at Weill Cornell Medical College documented changes in genetic activity among nonsmokers triggered by exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke. Public-health bans on smoking have been fueled by strong population-based data that links exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke and a higher incidence of lung diseases such as emphysema and even lung cancer, but do not establish a biological cause for the correlation. Now, for the first time, researchers can point to one possible cause: the passive recipient's genes are actually being affected. The results suggest that the genetic changes among the low-exposure volunteers, some of whose exposure is exclusively secondhand, mimicked those of smokers and represent the first molecular steps toward later lung disease. ...the latest findings should reinforce public-health messages about the dangers of cigarette smoke, even if it is secondhand, says Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. "When you look at the biology, there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke," he says. "This [study] adds an important piece of evidence that inhaling secondhand smoke is deleterious and does things to the airway that are not good." Okay? Got that? It's bad enough your cigarettes make us stink. We could live with that. And the scientific data told us years ago that secondhand smoke does cause cancer, even though you may not want to believe it. But here is further proof of just what you, smoking in public, in restaurants and so on, does to us--all of us. Could we get over this now? Link to original post: http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/08599201210300;_ylt=AiwAHJetTqWiLcUjXzd7otHpCcB_;_ylu=X3oDMTM1dTVqMjI1BGFzc2V0A3RpbWUvMjAxMDA4MjAvMDg1OTkyMDEyMTAzMDAEY2NvZGUDbW9zdHBvcHVsYXIEY3BvcwM4BHBvcwM4BHNlYwN5bl90b3Bfc3RvcmllcwRzbGsDc2Vjb25kaGFuZGNp

The price of a gallon of gas

We need to transition to clean fuel, that's all there is to it and we need to get at it as soon as possible. The country that masters this technology first, will have a significant advantage indefinitely. THAT's the kind of war--a technological one--that we need to win. Have a great weekend, y'all.

Republicans (and a lotta honkies) aren't gonna' like this

Don't look now but President Obama got some "wins" this week, folks. The oil spill in the Gulf is stopped (we're pretty sure) and BP is still handing out money and trying to clean up its image, at the same time--and that's all good for this President. Added to that, we're getting the last of our combat troops out of Iraq just now (well, except for the 50,000 Dick Cheney always wanted over there indefinitely, to secure our oil supply). And then, finally today, as if that weren't enough, as if there weren't enough things going right for this President, it's been announced this morning that Israel and the Palestinians are close to resuming peace talks, thanks to Secretary of State Clinton, this White House and administration, along with, no doubt, a lot of other people. Sure, we're still going to heck in a handbasket in a lot of ways--economically, above most all others it seems--but for a week of news, that's pretty good stuff for a President. Maybe he can even enjoy his weekend and his 10 days of "r and r" out at Martha's Vineyard. Have a great weekend, y'all. Links to posts: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_obama; http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_us_mideast

Quote for the day--on creating jobs

From "Five Washington Excuses for Ignoring the Jobs Crisis"--my favorite, what I think is the most important one: "We can't afford a job creation program -- it'll increase the deficit": It's certainly true that the deficit is growing rapidly as a result of the Wall Street crash and bailouts. But if we want the deficit to shrink, we'll have to put people back to work so that they start paying taxes again. We also need to place a significant windfall profits tax on the very financial elites who wrecked the economy. We wouldn't have a deficit problem if our politicians had the will to truly tax the super-rich -- those earning $3 million or more a year. Link to original post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/les-leopold/five-washington-excuses-f_b_687381.html

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quote of the day--from a Conservative Libertarian

Either you believe in religious freedom or you don't. Either you believe in the Constitution (hello Tea Party people) or you don't. It makes you look stupid to have situational ethics on it. How can someone with a straight face call for stricter interpretation of the Constitution and then say these Americans don't have a right to build religious facilities where other Americans are allowed to build their religious facilities? It might not make me popular.....but I think Muslims have a right to follow a false god and a false doctrine if they want. In short, they have the right to be wrong. --JoCoEveryman (Johnson County, as in Kansas, as in part of the Kansas City metropolitan area, for those who don't know). Taken from his "Life in SoJoCo" blog Link here: http://sojoco.blogspot.com/2010/08/shocker.html

Lewis Black on "Eat, Pray, Love" (or "Why there is no way I'm checking out this movie")

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Somebody had to say it and no one says it with more conviction than Lewis. Have a great day, y'all.

What Republicans (really) stand for

Taken from the Minnesota Republican Senate District 56 website just now (with my input, as appropriate, afterward, in italics): Republican Principles I'm a Republican Because... --I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person's dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored. (EXCEPT if a corporation or a wealthy person or group needs something that interferes with this. Then we're for them. But otherwise, sure, the individual and all that stuff.); --I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability. (EXCEPT for the those pesky gays and homosexuals--we don't think they should have equal rights. It's bad enough we had to give "equal rights"--ugh, we still hate the phrase--to women and African-Americans); --I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity. (ESPECIALLY for corporations, particularly if it benefits them over the individual, "main street America", the "little guy", the working man and most especially, over the poor. We're not for the poor AT ALL). --I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn. (EXCEPT from 2000 to 2008 when Republican Geo. W. Bush was president and took us from budget surpluses to huge budget deficits and his arbitrary and illegal war. THEN we weren't for fiscal responsibility. NOW we are. Is that clear? You don't have a problem with that, right?) --I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least. (And if we can get in the way of the EPA or banking regulations and overseeing corporations so they can take advantage of the American people, by God we will, just so you know); --I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people. (But wait--we just said it should be very little government. We don't know what this means. Sorry about that.); --I BELIEVE Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times. --I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world. (And this means we want to give as many billions--trillions?--of tax dollars we can to the American military-industrial complex of corporations so they can, in turn, give us thousands of dollars for our campaigns and--who knows?--maybe on a good day, free flights on their corporate jets and free food and booze and who knows what all we can get. Gosh, it's fun being in office!); --FINALLY, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government. (Because, by golly, we're for "Big Business" and they circle money and power back to us better than anyone!) God Bless America! Link to original post: http://www.mnsd56.com/35/about-us.html

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Government, the people and society today

MoveOn.org just put out a "flash mob" video that was apparently performed and shot yesterday at a Target store that protested the $150,000.00 their company's president gave to a right-wing, Republican candidate, rather infamously (or famously, if you're on that side). The organization is using it to raise people's awareness and fight the unlimited corporate donations that are allowed to go to campaigns and politicians since the Supreme Court's ruling earlier this year. The reason I bring this up is because it is showing, once again, the place of change we're in right now. This is mixing the "flash mob"/dance craze along with the old political protest. And while that's an okay idea, what's fascinating right now is the reaction by young people, mostly, I assume, at YouTube. It's bizarre. What's obvious from the responses to the video are 1) the fact that most people don't know what this protest is about and 2) the blatant hate, mostly against homosexuals. A sampling of some of the responses: if you don't want to be called a giant queer, don't dance around like fairy in the middle of target jackasses. i think thats a given...; and then this one: ok gays have gone to far again. I call this extremism. but then again straight people just dont care. Besides the inability to spell, it points out that there seems to be this whole generation that doesn't understand politics, government or what's going on in the country. In short, I fear for the future of this country and it's their future and their country but this is nothing but bad. Between the corporations buying the government and then not knowing what's going on, it can be nothing but bad. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FhMMmqzbD8

More proof: If you're not angry, you're not paying attention

It was bad enough when our government--the George W. Bush White House, to be precise--took us into an unnecessary, murderous, wreckless, unnecessary and both nationally and internationally illegal war. The Iraq War, of course, to be specific. That was bad enough. To date, 4415 American Soldiers have given their lives because of it, while at least 31,907 American men and women have been wounded. If that isn't enough to make you angry right there, I don't know what will. But now, after the Supreme Court's ruling earlier this year which made legal unlimited quantities of money they can contribute to any political campaign, here's another one--another reason to be angry and, hopefully, for us to do things about it. Get this: News Corp., the media company controlled by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch, gave the Republican Governor's Association $1 million in June. The floodgates of unlimited money to politicians and political campaigns have been opened, folks, and your democracy isn't just for sale. Your democracy and your vote has been sold. It's been given away. And the corporations bought and sold it. Angry yet? You'd better be. And we'd better start doing something about it all. Links: http://antiwar.com/casualties/ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-16/republicans-set-for-gains-in-u-s-governors-races-as-funding-sets-record.html

The real problem here is unlimited corporate money buying our elections

Forget the small issue here. The real issue, the big issue, the big concern for the country and for our politics and government and functioning society is that, with the Supreme Court's ruling this year, corporations can, right now, give unlimited money to any campaign they want, skewing the democratic political process in this country. Your vote just got a whole lot smaller, folks.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Five facts about Congressman Roy Blunt

1) He accepted a $1,000 contribution from Halliburton's PAC after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill began--even though, as the second-highest-ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, he is responsible for regulating the company; 2) He's been named as one of "the 13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress" in a report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; 3) Challenged by his opponent to return more than $25,000 in big oil donations, he refused -- and has said in the past that he "doesn't know" how much he's pulled in from oil and energy interests; 4) He has received almost $3.6 million from banking, securities, and other financial special interests in his career -- and opposed Wall Street reform legislation that will help protect consumers from these industries' risky practices; 5) He said it would have been "best" if the federal government had never gotten "into the health care business" by providing Medicare, Medicaid and coverage for veterans -- programs upon which hundreds of thousands of Missourians rely. Back to me: No matter your political party, Roy Blunt is not fit for this office. Let's vote him out, at last. Have a great day, y'all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quote of the day--on nature and what we're doing to it

There are more cars on the roads now, more satellites in the sky. The footpaths up the fells are like stone motorways, there are turbines on the moors and the farmers are being edged out by south-country refugees like me, trying to escape but bringing with us the things we flee from. The new world is online and loving it, the virtual happily edging out the actual. The darkness is shut out and the night grows lighter and nobody is there to see it. --Paul Kingsnorth, "Confessions of a recovering environmentalist", Open Democracy (OpenDemocracy.net) Link to original post: http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-kingsnorth/confessions-of-recovering-environmentalist

What we need to know about the Pakistani flooding

The thing about these Pakistani floods right now is that it's not just a matter of an area of the country getting one big rain, like we usually do, and that being the flood and mess and it's over. No, no, the thing is, this is from their monsoon season. They've gotten a great deal of rain and more is on its way. They're expecting at least two more big assaults from the sky, as far as the meteorologists can tell at present. Other things to know about their dire situation right now: --At least one case of cholera has been reported and they're concerned, of course, that this is just the beginning of an outbreak; --One-fifth of Pakistan is still under water after three weeks of devastating flooding; --as many as 6 million affected people have not yet received any relief; --about one in 10 Pakistanis — 20 million people altogether — have been affected by the flooding; --at least 1,500 people are feared dead; --approximately 2 million are homeless; --up to 3.5 million children are at risk for dysentery and other diseases caused by drinking dirty water; --the country's most populous province, Punjab, was also one of the worst-hit areas; --relief agencies and the government are still tallying damage to millions of acres of farms; --many villages have no health care at all. They're in a world of trouble and need everyone's help. This reinforces what I wrote yesterday about humankind not being able to afford "the sick luxury that is war" any longer. Link to original post: http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100816/wl_yblog_upshot/one-fifth-of-pakistan-under-water-as-flooding-disaster-continues

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Glee-based flash mob dance at The Legends Saturday

It was brief and it was even hot but a good time was had by all. Thanks to all those who put this on for us viewers.

We can no longer afford the sick luxury that is war

The fact is, with global climate change and what it’s doing to the world—drought, forest fires and losing at least 20% of their food crops all in Russia alone, the floods that have ravaged the people, cities and towns of Pakistan, the 100 square mile ice sheet that just broke off Greenland this week, along with the shrinking of both polar ice caps and the glaciers all over the planet, I think the point needs to be made and considered that humankind can no longer afford war or war machinery and the senseless killing of each other any longer. It seems evident that we need to, instead, use the helicopters and war materiel to, instead, feed, clothe, house and nurse one another and build infrastructure—roads, bridges, highways, streets, power plants, hospitals, etc. If you look at conditions around the world ni various countries from Iraq to, again, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, China, etc., it’s clear too many corners of the world and peoples of the world are in desperate condition. Heck, even look here in the US at what we need—we have too many homeless, underfed, undernourished, in need of health care and so on. So, yeah, the time has come and the time is now. We need to accept that we can afford war no longer. We need to come to this collective conclusion and start working together aound the world. Too many of us are already dying and it will surely only get worse, the longer we put it off. Links to additional posts: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100816/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_floods http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100816/ap_on_bi_ge/eu_russia_fires

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Coming back to sanity?

There are two stories out today, telling of Senator John McCain backing off his call for the repeal of the 14th Amendment , thankfully, and a GOP candidate backing away from his original call for repeal of the 17th Amendment. Thank goodness. Could we all just calm down and back away from irrational, emotional absurdity and get back to a) accepting that we're all Americans--including not demonizing one another--b) agreeing that we need to define and prioritize our problems and issues and then c) discussing--again, calmly, unemotionally and rationally--what possible solutions we do have and that are available to us? Is it too much to ask? Can't we all just get along? Have a great weekend, y'all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The day of abortions is nearly over

From the Associated Press and Yahoo! News earlier this evening: FDA OKs new, five-day emergency contraceptive By MATTHEW PERRONE, AP Business Writer WASHINGTON – Federal health officials on Friday approved a new type of morning-after contraceptive that works longer than the current leading drug on the market. The pill ella from HRA Pharma reduces the chance of pregnancy up to five days after sex. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Friday as a prescription-only birth control option. The ruling clears the way for U.S. sales of the drug, which is already approved in Europe. Back to me: This should be nothing but good news to all of us out here in the world who don't want to see or hear about abortions out there in the world, for whatever reason. Right? But you watch--all the Catholics and holier-than-thou chuckleheads who don't want to lose their single-issue problem they can rail about and against will declare that this, too, is an abortion and will want it banned, young women's lives be damned. Seriously, they need to get over it just like they need to get over stem cell research. Science and technology have made stem cells now available from common, everyday, living cells from you and I, walking around on terra firma. Science and technology has also made these "morning after" pills like RU486 and now this "Plan B" pill so women can take them after having had sex, take the pill and avoid the situation of needing or wanting an abortion. And no, please don't say I'm advocating young people having indiscriminate sex. It's just that they're young, their hormones are raging and it's going to happen so wouldn't it be better that they have some way of protecting themselves and a possible child from an abortion? Wouldn't it? Of course it would. But I'm sure these single-issue abortion people won't agree with us. (Slapping forehead in disbelief and frustration). Link to original post: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100813/ap_on_bi_ge/us_birth_control_pill_fda

Let's lighten up for the weekend

"Little Skippy Silverspoon". I love that. Have a great weekend, y'all.

The answer? Nothing. We will learn nothing

From The Huffington Post today: NRA Instructor Shoots Student: What Can We Learn? When an NRA safety instructor accidentally shoots a student in one of his classes, is it a teachable moment about guns in America? I am referring to an incident reported in the Orlando Sentinel in which a person attending a National Rifle Association class for applicants for concealed carry licenses was shot when his instructor's gun accidentally discharged during the class. The bullet penetrated a table before hitting the victim, who fortunately recovered from his wound. I think it's safe to say that the NRA instructor in this case is unlikely to appear in future "I'm the NRA" promotional ads. Here we have an individual, who the NRA itself has decided is such an expert in safe gun handling that he can teach a class in it, nevertheless accidentally discharging his weapon in a public place and wounding an innocent person. If this can happen to the instructor, what can we expect from his students, who presumably will be carrying their concealed guns on the streets? Back to me: We will learn from this, as a nation, exactly what we learned from the Vietnam War--nothing. Again, nothing. Sorry, that's my take on it. I am sadly, frustratingly convinced that's what we'll get from this. Link to original post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-a-henigan/nra-instructor-shoots-stu_b_680349.html

Prediction on KCMO School District first day

Imagine you're a school district. (Bear with me). Now imagine you've closed about 1/2 of the school buildings in your district earlier in the year because you were 50 million dollars in debt and needed to. Further, imagine you have taken all the schoolchildren from those closed schools and put them in the remaining, open school buildings. Then, keep in mind you had a rough, busy Summer, trying to coordinate the school closings while also trying to figure out which teachers stay and which go while, at the same time, trying to figure out a new curriculum for the kids, and, finally, trying to make sure you at least keep the kid's scores where they are, if not higher. Okay, last thing you have to do (though this certainly wasn't really all you had to do this fateful Summer)--coordinate all the kids, all the schools and all the buses so all the right kids go to all the right, new, unfamiliar schools on the same first day--at least a few of which have school populations that have increased by a whopping 30% (from about 600 to 900+ kids, for example). Now tell me, what do YOU think is going to take place?

Really? Extending tax cuts for the wealthy with our debt?

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What about this makes any sense?

Quotes of the day--I think we're getting through to 'em

"Do you believe that gay marriage is a threat to the country in any way?" asked Bill O'Reilly. "No, I don't," said Glenn Beck. "Will the gays come and get us?" Link to original post: http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/node/38973

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Republican support for the wealthy---but not those pesky unemployed working class folks

From The Washington Post: A Republican plan to extend tax cuts for the rich would add more than $36 billion to the federal deficit next year -- and transfer the bulk of that cash into the pockets of the nation's millionaires, according to a congressional analysis released Wednesday. New data from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation show that households earning more than $1 million a year would reap nearly $31 billion in tax breaks under the GOP plan in 2011, for an average tax cut per household of about $100,000. Nice. Very nice. They railed against extending unemployment benefits for the longest time ostensibly for "adding to the the deficit" and it wasn't nearly this large an amount of money. And they don't get the hypocrisy or disconnect. How is anyone--but the wealthy--supporting these people? Link to original post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/11/AR2010081105864_pf.html

Russia's ugly situation

This is how serious it is: Russia fought a deadly battle Tuesday to prevent wildfires from engulfing key nuclear sites as alarm mounted over the impact on health of a toxic smoke cloud shrouded over Moscow. The emergencies ministry said that over the last 24 hours, 247 new fires had appeared, more than the 239 that were extinguished, and 557 fires were still raging across the affected region. The heatwave has a huge impact on all areas of Russian society and economists warned Tuesday the record temperatures could have cost the country 15 billion dollars and undercut a modest economic revival. Worst hit has been the agriculture industry, which has seen 10 million hectares of land destroyed. Climate change, anyone? Link to original post: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/10-1

Action on the West Edge Project??

Holy cow, wouldn't that be great news? The Kansas City Star reports that "A federal bankruptcy judge has agreed to an Aug. 26 auction of the unfinished West Edge project, concluding an eight-month effort to market the forlorn development." For those of us who have lived (me, mostly, anyway) through the original construction and now, nearby, as it sits not even half-completed, this would be great news, indeed. It's sat empty through two winters and more. What a mess. And check this out: Debts totaling $120 million were listed when the project developer, Trilogy Development Co. LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2009. Trilogy was established by advertising mogul Bob Bernstein to build a 203,000-square-foot headquarters for Bernstein-Rein advertising and a 131-room boutique hotel at 48th Street and Belleview Avenue. The developer spent $100 million on the project before filing for bankruptcy with work about two-thirds complete. It will cost an estimated $40 million or more to complete the project. But wait--there's more: Major creditors include the primary lender, BB Syndication Services, a Wisconsin banking consortium, which lent $61.5 million; M&I Bank of Kansas City, which funded the $31.9 million tax-increment financing loan; and J.E. Dunn Construction Co., the general contractor, $13.87 million. CB Richard Ellis began actively marketing the property in January. Last spring, the real estate brokerage firm had identified a potential buyer, a “stalking horse” whose offer would have set the floor for other bidders, but a final deal couldn’t be completed. I think this means we--the citizens of KCMO are just about to "eat" $31.9 million in a TIF loan, but I'm not sure. Here's the big kicker: Several people familiar with the discussions said that offer was about $12 million. Looks like somebody's going to get themselves one heckuva bargain. Sorry 'bout that, Bob! Anyway, here's hoping someone buys the thing and gets the completion of it going. And as soon as possible. It is one big eyesore. Link to original post: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/11/2144283/judge-approves-auction-of-west.html

From The Star: "Murder's Big Month" page

I was clunking around at the Kansas City Star website just now and ran across a page I didn't know they had. It shows the people who were murdered in the metropolitan area, all on one page, and links to the original story in the paper that told about them and their deaths. I think it's quite a nice touch, on the Star's part. I also think it should get more coverage. I think we need to pay more attention, as a city, to who's killed and how and where, so we know what's going on and maybe so we can offer up solutions. But you're heard all this before from me here on this blog. Here's a sampling: Vincent McCollum His goal was to open a restaurant Erick S. Gandarilla Guardsman died here while his unit was in Kosovo Jarod Sesley His mom will move... once his killer is caught Darnell Cooper He forgave the killer of his daughter Derrick Blount Died after being shot for a second time this year Thomas Howard II He was preparing to buy a house to raise his boys Here's a thought--I'd love to know if the Mayors read this. (I seriously doubt it). I wonder if the City Council members do? Church and community leaders? Anybody give a damn about these people and our murder rate? Link to original post: Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/murdersbigmonth/#ixzz0wQGdDcjq

It could be worse--you could always be a KC Royals player this weekend

Ever think you have it bad? Of course you have. We all do it at times, right? Well, no matter how badly you have it right now (unless you're terminally ill or perpetually unemployed or something), you probably couldn't have it too much worse than if you were a Kansas City Royals baseball player right now. They lost last night and rolled up their 7th loss (of 9 games played) and this weekend, with their 47-67 record this year that "leaves them in a tie for last place in the American League Central division with Cleveland (according to The Kansas City Star) and, finally, they go up against the New York Yankees this weekend for a 3 game stretch. Anyone care to guess how that's going to go? Then again, you could be this guy: A Sugar Creek man suspected of several burglaries was arrested Wednesday after he tried to make a getaway on a riding lawnmower, authorities said today. Either way, it ain't good. Keep cool y'all. Links to original posts: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/11/2144412/offense-scuffles-again-as-royals.html http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/12/2145225/burglary-suspect-arrested-after.html

Glacier melt in our hot, hot Summer and what it might mean

Greenland Ice Sheet Faces 'Tipping Point in 10 Years' Scientists warn that temperature rise of between 2C and 7C would cause ice to melt, resulting in 23ft rise in sea level by Suzanne Goldenberg WASHINSTON - The entire ice mass of Greenland will disappear from the world map if temperatures rise by as little as 2C, with severe consequences for the rest of the world, a panel of scientists told Congress Tuesday. An enormous chunk of ice, roughly 97 square miles in size, has broken off the Petermann Glacier along the northwest coast of Greenland. Greenland shed its largest chunk of ice in nearly half a century last week, and faces an even grimmer future, according to Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at Pennsylvania State University "Sometime in the next decade we may pass that tipping point which would put us warmer than temperatures that Greenland can survive," Alley told a briefing in Congress, adding that a rise in the range of 2C to 7C would mean the obliteration of Greenland's ice sheet. The fall-out would be felt thousands of miles away from the Arctic, unleashing a global sea level rise of 23ft (7 metres), Alley warned. Low-lying cities such as New Orleans would vanish. "What is going on in the Arctic now is the biggest and fastest thing that nature has ever done," he said. From a different article and source yesterday, too: Since 1970, temperatures have risen more than 4.5 degrees (2.5 degrees C) in much of the Arctic — much faster than the global average. In June the Arctic sea ice cover was at the lowest level for that month since records began in 1979, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Back to me: Two plus two is starting to look like four, folks. Link to original posts: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/11-1 http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100810/ap_on_sc/eu_ice_island

Terrific news out of Kansas City---and hope for humanity

`Cathy' comic strip ending after 34 years Now if we could just get Mort Walker to do the same. Here's hoping. Keep cool today, y'all.

Quote of the day--on climate change

An island of ice more than four times the size of Manhattan is drifting across the Arctic Ocean after breaking off from a glacier in Greenland. It's been a summer of near biblical climatic havoc across the planet, with wildfires, heat and smog in Russia and killer floods in Asia. But the moment the Petermann glacier cracked last week — creating the biggest Arctic ice island in half a century — may symbolize a warming world like no other. "It's so big that you can't prevent it from drifting. You can't stop it," said Jon-Ove Methlie Hagen, a glaciologist at the University of Oslo. Back to me: If you don't yet think anything is happening with climate change due to man's injection of CO2 in large quantities into the atmosphere, what is it going to take to convince you? Link to original post: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100810/ap_on_sc/eu_ice_island

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Russia's disbelief in global warming? What about ours?

There is an article out right now at Time Magazine asking "Will Russia's Heat Wave End Its Global-Warming Doubts? It seems the people over there, too, apparently didn't believe there was any change coming about, in spite of the polar ice caps and the glaciers the world over, melting. So yeah, I have to ask, what with Russia's literally, historically unprecedented and ongoing heat wave over a good deal of the country, their drought (admittedly a possibly if not likely shorter-term indication, however problematic right now), the fires raging out of control, the ice sheet that just broke off Iceland this week that is larger than the island of Manhattan, the glaciers that have been shrinking for the past few decades at least and the ice caps that are doing the same, are people in the US, here at home, going to "wake up and smell the forest fires"? Are we going to collectively face facts and accept that how we all--worldwide--are living is unsustainable and that we have to do things about it? I doubt it. But I hope it. I hope we'll learn and all accept that we have to change. And soon. Link to additional posts: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100810/ap_on_sc/eu_ice_island http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/11-1 http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/09-4

You think you could do better?

"...Obama's job 'would be almost unrecognizable to most of his predecessors — thanks to the enormous bureaucracy, congressional paralysis, systematic corruption and disintegrating media' in Washington, D.C." --Todd Purdum, Vanity Fair Link to original post: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129090078

Quote of the day--warm enough for you?

If Russia's current heatwave being the worst in 1000 years and doubling the daily death rate in Moscow wasn't enough, check out this sweaty stat: According to Wunder Blog (via Mongabay), already this summer 17 nations have set or matched their all-time heat records. Not to mention an all-time hottest temperature for Pakistan, and possibly all of Asia. --From the Treehugger blog. At what point do we collectively believe in man-made climate change? Then, at what point do we all start doing something about it? Just asking. Link to original post: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/08/17-nations-beat-all-time-heat-records-this-year.php

News flash: The US has and keeps more people in prisons than China (but our government doesn't know it)

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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From Common Dreams just now: On last night's Colbert Report, an amazing moment occurred when Stephen Colbert raised a major social issue that U.S. mainstream media assiduously ignore: the huge U.S. prison population. The issue quickly disappeared due to the apparent ignorance of Stephen's guest: Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, in charge of "Democracy, Human Rights and Labor." In a sometimes jokey interview, with Posner discussing China's various human rights abuses (including prisoners), Colbert tried to steer the conversation to human rights problems in our own country. COLBERT: We've actually got more people in prison than China does. POSNER: Well I'm not sure that's true. Colbert's assertion is indisputably true. Posner's denial is false. Does the State Department's man in charge of human rights not know the facts? According to statistics gathered by the authoritative International Centre for Prison Studies in London, the United States has by far the largest prison population in the world: almost 2.3 million people behind bars. China's prison population is second in the world: roughly 1.6 million. The United States is also number 1 in the world in its "prison population rate": 748 inmates per 100,000 citizens. Russia is 3rd. China is tied for 114th. This is a U.S. human rights problem of enormous proportions. Our bloated prison population has many causes: the "drug war," mandatory minimum sentencing, poverty, racism. And there are corporate profits to be made from "The Prison-Industrial Complex" -- as independent journalists like Eric Schlosser began documenting a dozen years ago. US' total population: 308 million; China's total population: 1.3 billion But we have more people in prison. Sure. That makes sense. Link to original post: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/08/05-4

No good news today?

A sampling of headlines today: --The Fed is worried about the economy; --Russian wildfires raise Chernobyl radiation fears; --Huge ice island could pose threat to oil, shipping; --Primary winners highlight political inexperience; --Greenland Ice Sheet Faces 'Tipping Point in 10 Years'; I wish going back to bed were an option. I wish that option could make this stuff go away. Think positive thoughts, people! Keep cool and have a great day, anyway.

The shape of local news

Watching the news last night, I was reminded of the somewhat new comedy show on Comedy Central, Tosh.0 (which I happen to love, by the way). If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. It's a show that takes video clips--mostly from YouTube--and covers them with commentary and a great deal of humor. Usually the vids speak rather loudly for themselves but there's still plenty to add. And, really, this is what too much of the local evening news--"at 5 and 10"--has become. Not the entire 20 minutes but too much of it, for sure. They're doing their best to be both relevant and up to date as well as "infotainment" so people will watch and they'll get their ratings and, finally, because having those reporters on staff is more expensive but man does it make the news weak and irrelevant. You used to be to turn on the news and know what's going on in your city and region. You used to be able to know what local politico and/or agency was doing what---but no more. They have videos of "man bites dog" or some such silly, trivial and/or unimportant local event. And you know what? It's not the TV station's fault. It's our fault. It's our fault for being lazy and wanting the infotainment and light, fluffy crap. It would be nice to blame the stations but we can't. They're putting out the cotton candy we seem to call demand and require, unfortunately. So that's the way it is, this Wednesday, August 12, 2010, and it ain't pretty. Walter Cronkite is no doubt spinning in his grave.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Politics in America: What works, what doesn't, and what we have to do

America no longer has a political system. In its place is a vaudeville of celebrity politics, bait-and-switch politics, spin politics. As citizens, we are lax and self-absorbed; our leaders prefer to keep things this way. --Michael Brenner, Senior Fellow, The Center for Transatlantic Relations. Proof positive, from recent headlines: Ousted GOP Congressman Bob Inglis: I Refused To Call Obama 'A Socialist' And I Lost And then this beauty: Colorado Senate, Governor's Races Have Become a Political Three-Ring Circus And I have news for you, folks--the only way it's going to change is if we all get up off our collective butts and demand good things for our country. Oh, and we have to work together, as Americans, and not just shout at each other, to get this done. Here's hoping. Link to original posts: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-brenner/americas-defunct-politica_b_675468.html http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/09/bob-inglis-i-refused-to-c_n_675580.html http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/09/colorado-senate-governors_n_675540.html http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2010/08/can-washington-be-fixed.html

Yeah, we definitely need more guns

From The Huffington Post today: 5-Year-Old Boy Accidentally Shot And Killed By Twin CHICAGO — The twin 5-year-old boys had just climbed out of the bathtub and into their pajamas the night before the first day of kindergarten when a relative's handgun they'd found went off. The bullet struck Jonathan Jackson in the stomach. Less than an hour later, after being rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital, he was pronounced dead at 11:07 p.m. Monday. If you go to the link, you'll see he was a beautiful child. What a shame. And a waste. Link to original post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/10/5yearold-boy-accidentally_n_676869.html

Quote of the day---and you're still voting Republican?, Part III

Decline of the Middle Class as Metaphor for the Decline of America: 'Disproportionate' is the freighted word that shackles our society. Over the past few years some two-thirds of the gain in national income has gone to the top one percent of Americans. ...too much of our political system is bought and paid for. Too much of our political system is self serving, responsive to the wings of our two parties and indifferent to the day to day concerns of middle Americans in spite of the incessant lip service extended to them. Yes, there is limp Wall Street reform, but no clawback of the exigencies that drove the nation to the brink. Yes there is a stimulus program, but faltering shamelesly through lack of clear direction. Yes, there is an alternative energy program without clear mandates nor meaningful results as the transfer of billions to the oil providers continues unabated. Yes, there are our soldiers dying in fragmented nation states far away without a modicum of sacrifice being asked of the home front. Yes, there are moneyed interests both domestic and foreign who have access to those who govern, without limitation and a shameless Congress ready to do their bidding in spite of the promises made in Presidential campaigns to curtail their influence. Yes we have courts of law who, through judicial minutiae rather than pragmatic sense of national welfare have given these moneyed interests even greater influence by striking down financial restraints on the powerfully funded in election laws, that make the middle class even more disenfranchised. Yes, there is talk of restraining government spending while special interests with access to government and its earmarks are encumbering the nation into ever greater indebtedness. Yes, while Main Street and middle class Americans continue to lose jobs, the pay checks on Wall Street and corporate boardrooms continue in their unabated and inflated manner while middle class Americans are absorbing pay cuts or shortened work weeks if they have any jobs at all, while teachers, the backbone of the nations future, police and firemen are losing their employment. And so it goes, leaving the nation with a Frankenstein system whose core objective of governance has become self preservation of power and personal influence. This, while governing for the greater good of the nation has become a secondary and distant gerrymandered priority leaving the great body of the American electorate virtually without meaningful representation and forestalling and diminishing America's middle class' engagement with its government with every passing day. --Raymond J. Learsy, Scholar and author, "Over a Barrel: Breaking Oil's Grip on Our Future"

Quote of the day---and you're still voting Republican? redux

Beginning with the Reagan administration, and reaching its fullest realization during the presidency of George W. Bush, conservatives have systematically been acting to redistribute wealth from the middle class upward. The result has been the steady decay of the middle class, and it's all a result of conservative policies, specifically involving taxes and deregulation. --Mitchell Bard, Link to original post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mitchell-bard/krugmans-takedown-of-ryan_b_674845.html

Quote of the day---and you're still voting Republican?

Notes From a Class Worrier Robert Reich, Nobel Prize-winning economist The decline of America's middle class can be charted directly. In the three decades after World War II, the median wage (smack in the middle) grew rapidly, right along with productivity gains. Even as late as 1980, the richest 1 percent of Americans received only about 9 percent of the nation's total income. But starting in the 1980s -- and increasingly since then -- the economy has made the rich far richer without doing squat for the vast middle. The median hourly wage has barely grown, if you take inflation into account. Indeed, it dropped in the last so-called "recovery" between 2001 and 2007. And health-care and pension benefits have declined; we've gone from defined-benefit pensions to do-it-yourself pensions, while health insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-payments have skyrocketed. Meanwhile, the rich have been getting a larger and larger portion of total income. From 9 percent in 1980, the top 1 percent's take has increased to 23.5 percent in 2007. CEOs who in the 1970s took home 40 percent of the compensation of average workers now rake in 350 times. Financiers who forty years ago made only modest fortunes today, even after the Great Recession they helped bring on, routinely earn seven and eight-figures. In 2009, when most of the nation's middle class was deep in recession, the 25 best-paid hedge-fund managers took in an average of $1 billion each. (Their marginal income tax, by the way, was barely over 17 percent, while the typical family paid a marginal tax far higher.) What happened? It wasn't just greed. It was also the systematic and ever cleverer manipulation of laws and rules by those able to pay lobbyists, legislators, lawyers, accountants to do their bidding. As income and wealth have risen to the top, so has the power to manipulate the system in order to acquire even more money and more influence. ...Our choice in the years ahead is either demagoguery that turns Americans further against one another and the rest of the world, or genuine reform that enlarges shared prosperity. It is the responsibility of all of us to fight the former and work toward the latter. Back to me: As if you didn't know it, our legislators are being bought and sold. But we're letting it happen. We let it happen by not pushing for campaign finance reform and not limiting our political campaigns as Britain does and, finally, by not putting the "Fairness Doctrine" back into our political discussions. In the meantime, NASCAR and NFL comes on soon. Pass me a beer. (Right?) Link to original post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/notes-from-a-class-worrie_b_676140.html