Friday, January 22, 2010

More Stimulus Requested, Throwing Acid on Muslim Women, ADE-651 Finally Banned

Paul Krugman
Eugene Robinson
Lou Cannon
"A message to House Democrats: This is your moment of truth. You can do the right thing and pass the Senate health care bill. Or you can look for an easy way out, make excuses and fail the test of history." - Paul Krugman
"Thus far, Obama has said nothing that would help calm the waters -- or help the party get out of what now can officially be called the Health Care Mess. If anything, Obama is making it messier." - Eugene Robinson
"in the depths of the recession, millions of Americans responded to Reagan's unflinching optimism and believed he would do the right thing. By that measure, if he can once again display the rousing audacity that marked his campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama can make a similar comeback." - Lou Cannon

All three opinion pieces linked above are advice on what President Obama should do now in the wake of the Republican victory in Massachusetts and the bottleneck where the health care reform bill is stuck. Lou Cannon uses Ronald Reagan as an example for Barack Obama to follow; after their first year as President both men had similar lowered results in the polls, and faced daunting economic problems. Reagan was better at blaming the previous administration, he actually started the trend. Both men were/are willing to listen to both sides of an argument. Reagan listened to and championed Paul Volcker, and Obama seems to be listening to him as well. Volcker's policies helped the Reagan era get out of a depression, but he is no longer in charge of the central bank. Ben Bernanke's term ends this month and personally, I would like to see someone like Elizabeth Warren take his place. She was in charge of the Senate watchdog committee that looked at where the TARP money went, and has made some good suggestions on reform.

People were mad at the banks and Wall Street firms that were deemed "too big to fail" and felt that those institutions were just ripping us off in demanding a government bailout. Mr Obama now wants to limit the risk that such an institution would make with our money, adopting a more conservative fiscal approach and not letting them make money in a casino type of atmosphere. His proposed rules would limit the kinds of risks the banks could take, and make them have a certain amount of assets to cover themselves if they do make a mistake. This will set the scenario that if one of these banks or institutions fail in the future, they will no longer be too big to fail, and we can let them sink into the mud while shedding a few crocodile tears...

If Obama can start taking care of the few things that pissed people off for the last few years, targeting Wall Street excesses next, and bribes to Congress by lobbyists after that, he'll go a long way in making up for his current low poll ratings. Though poll ratings don't mean much, phoning and asking 40 people what they think and then extrapolating their answers to have meaning for the whole country is a bogus way to do anything. And with the recent Supreme Court ruling, unleashing corporate money to pour money into campaigns without limits, well, he has an uphill battle all the way. It may be that the military-industrial complex has now officially won, and all of our protests in the future will be in vain...

we need more stimulus...
Politics is played out differently on the national level than it does on the local level. Locally, we have much the same money problems, but less resources to bail our asses out. The recent financial stimulus has worked out pretty well, but, as Paul Krugman has pointed out, it was not big enough to create more jobs, and where that effect is felt the most is on the local level, where the mayor or city council members can't escape from their electorate like members of Congress do. The Council of Local Mayors, which is meeting in Washington this week, is asking for another round of stimulus money aimed at creating jobs: " More than 230 mayors are in Washington for the winter meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, and many said they had been forced to impose layoffs, furloughs, service reductions and fee increases to deal with falling municipal revenue. The next fiscal year looks even worse, they said.

“We are in the middle of a ‘jobs emergency’ that demands decisive and swift action,” said Elizabeth Kautz, the mayor of Burnsville, Minn., and president of the conference. “We need the Senate to pass a Main Street jobs package now.”

This is a bipartisan plea for help. I know that in our Republican controlled city, we have been laying off all kinds of city workers, sold the police helicopters, closed most of the parks, stopped most recreation projects, closed down city hall on Fridays, dipped into hidden funds, and the prognosis for the next two years is even worse. Cities all across the country are in similar dire situations. Save some of that aid to Haiti, we may need it again in New Orleans, Denver, Fargo, and Billings...
"You know, it's hard to believe President Obama has now been in office for a year. Isn't that amazing? It's a year. And you know, it's incredible. He took something that was in terrible, terrible shape, and he brought it back from the brink of disaster: The Republican party." –Jay Leno

smile again, if you can...
There is a horrible tradition in Pakistan and in the Muslim world, of throwing acid on women's faces, and the skin burnes and melts like it has been in a fire, causing permanent disfigurement. There are cases where Talibans have done this to women who attend school, which they say violates sharia law. Most are done by the ones who are supposed to love and support you: husbands, in-laws, brothers, and street gangs. Ok, the street gangs are trying to intimidate, and poring acid on a face works pretty well.

A woman named Musarat Misbah is trying to change this pattern of abuse and help these victims through her Smile Again Foundation: "A woman walked into her office late one evening and demanded her help. She asked her to return in the morning.

"The woman was very insistent and said no, you must help me now. She removed her scarf and I saw a woman without a face. I saw a girl, there was no nose, eyes are gone, she had a contraction from his chin to her chest which meant she could not move her neck. And I sat down. There was no life in my legs. I asked her 'What happened?'"

"I saw a girl, there was no nose, eyes are gone, she had a contraction from his chin to her chest which meant she could not move her neck. She told me acid had been thrown at her by her own family members, her husband, her in-laws. She said she wanted me to help her look beautiful. And no make up could change her features or bring back the eyes, so I told her 'I will help you'".

And Misbah did. Using her own money, she paid for surgery. Word spread and now, almost 400 women and girls have asked Misbah and her Smile Again Foundation for help. Doctors from Italy and the UK have given their services to help with medical treatment. And she tries to direct many of the women into jobs."  Sometimes our inhumanity towards each other is overwhelming, and I despair if the mean spirited people in this world will ever see justice...

all hail bastat, the goddess of cats...

This next item is at the request of my pet cat, Wiley, who is sitting next to the computer, and who often rests his head on the keyboard while I am typing... A 2000 year old temple has just been found in Alexandria, Egypt, dedicated to the cat goddess Bastat.: "The temple is the first trace of the royal quarters of the Ptolemaic dynasty to be revealed in Alexandria. The find confirms the Greek dynasty of Egyptians continued the worship of ancient animal deities.
Many more ruins of the ancient capital of Hellenistic Egypt lie preserved under the modern city, yet to be unearthed, archaeologists say.

Archaeologists found statues of Bastet, worshipped by the Greek-speaking Egyptians as the moon goddess. For thousands of years the Egyptian Pharaohs believed Bastet was a lion-headed goddess, a relative of the sun-god Ra and a ferocious protector." This just proves what my father always used to say about cats:
"The problem with cats is that we used to worship them as gods, and they have never forgotton this..."  - Dad

UK bans ADE-651... 

Extraordinary... Months ago I wrote how the Iraqi government had spend $85 million on a scam, hand-held bomb detectors that also claimed to find elephants, truffles, humans, and $100 dollar bills. They were based on the pseudo-principles of "ionic detection." The Iraqi government loved them because most members of the iraqi government are illiterate with limited education, and they are amazed by bright, shiny objects... The use of the detectors at checkpoints for bombs have resulted in many bombs getting past the checkpoints and killing hundreds of people. The Afghan government has been using them, also. You might have read about the recent spate of suicide bombers that have mysteriously passed checkpoints; it's from using this hand-held dowsing rod... Finally the UK government is stepping in and banning the exportation of these devices: "The device is sold by Jim McCormick, based at offices in rural Somerset, UK.

The ADE-651 detector has never been shown to work in a scientific test.
There are no batteries and it consists of a swivelling aerial mounted to a hinge on a hand-grip. Critics have likened it to a glorified dowsing rod.
Mr McCormick told the BBC in a previous interview that "the theory behind dowsing and the theory behind how we actually detect explosives is very similar". It's not just the amount of corruption in these govcrnments we have to face, but also their blind, pig-headed stupidity...

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