Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Full body scanners are just the latest in a list of ridiculousness. Here are some example images that full body scanners produce. OK, so if these scanners can "see" under your clothes, isn't that good? Won't that help catch bombers? Well, there are several issues, not the least of which are health and privacy.
There are two main types of full body scanner. One uses X-rays while the other uses lower-energy millimetre wavelengths. X-rays are hazardous; they can cause damage to DNA that subsequently leads to cancer. The machines are supposedly safe because the total dose that someone receives during a scan is tiny. But earlier this year a group of scientists at the University of California raised a number of concerns over X-ray scanners. They said the X-rays they use are low energy to ensure they bounce only off skin rather than passing through the body, to produce an image focused on objects concealed beneath clothes. This means that the entire dose that the person being scanned receives is concentrated on the skin rather than spread throughout their body. That could mean the skin receives a dose that is one or two orders of magnitude more than expected. To many observers, the response of the US Food and Drug Administration failed to properly address these concerns.
You can choose to opt out of being scanned and instead be frisked. In the US, one group is hoping to highlight the controversy over full body scanners by encouraging everyone travelling on 24 November to elect to be frisked. Since I fly frequently, I will likely refuse the body scanner and opt for a pat down. Who knows, I might even enjoy the pat down (unlikely)!
At any rate, the whole shebang is crazy. What is needed at airports is trained detectives who can spot high risk folks and send them through additional screening, while letting others pass through without this added crap. That means letting me keep my shoes on and my bottle of shaving cream in the bag!
The safest airline is El Al and they don't scan everyone or make everyone do stupid, useless things like take off their shoes or belts. It is because they are trained police folks who understand how to spot security risks... and then focus their efforts there instead of making Granny get out of her wheel chair or patting down a 12 year old.
By the way, I was in Europe a couple weeks ago and I didn't have to take off my shoes over there. Just take my laptop out of its bag, metal items out of pockets, and go through the metal detector. And everybody safely flew... We have lost our minds over here... We truly have.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Since 1980, it's been a very different story. The economy has continued to grow handsomely, but for the bottom 90 percent of Americans, it's been a time of stagnation and loss. Since 1980, the share of all income in America going to the bottom 90 percent has declined from 65 percent to 52 percent. In actual dollars, the average income of Americans in the bottom 90 percent flat-lined -- going from the $30,941 of 1980 to $31,244 in 2008.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Read all about here --> http://www.suntimes.com/news/elections/2801976,CST-NWS-whitney14.article?referrer=dongs
Many of the Republicans candidates in the upcoming mid-term elections are VERY much to the right of the majority of this nation. It is only the economic mess created by the last administration and not fixed by the current administration that could possibly get any of these cave men and women elected...
"We need to phase Medicare and Social Security out."
—Sharron Angle, Republican Senate candidate in Nevada
"There should not be [a federal minimum wage]. That is not within the scope or the powers that are given to the federal government."
—Joe Miller, Republican Senate candidate in Alaska
"I am pro-life. I don't believe in the exceptions for rape or incest."
—Ken Buck, Republican Senate candidate in Colorado
Sunday, October 10, 2010
In 2001, Zaun had to be told by West Des Moines police to stay away from a former girlfriend who had accused him of harassing her. The woman called police to complain that Zaun showed up in the early morning hours and pounded on her windows. “Brad yelled from outside calling her slut and other names,” the police report states.
In one case, Perry was the supervisor at the scene when the officer stuck his hand in a 14-year-old girl’s underwear, ostensibly searching for drugs. In the other, Perry accompanied the same officer to the house of a 16-year-old girl to tell her parents that she had voluntarily pulled down her pants to show she did not have any drugs.
Perry was a Wareham police sergeant in the early 1990’s
Last week we learned that a woman has filed a suit against Ganley for sexual assault and attempted rape. Ganley allegedly met with the woman, who was interested in volunteering for his U.S. Senate campaign and talking about her car payments, when he propositioned and sexually assaulted her in his private office.
An election year already notable for its menagerie of extreme and unusual candidates can add another one: Rich Iott, the Republican nominee for Congress from Ohio's 9th District, and a Tea Party favorite, who for years donned a German Waffen SS uniform and participated in Nazi re-enactments.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
In a YouTube video titled ''Bible or Koran - which burns best?'' Queensland University of Technology staff member Alex Stewart compares cigarettes made with pages from the two texts. The atheist says in the clip that burning religious books is no big deal and people need to get over it.
Mr Stewart, an assistant organiser with a group called Brisbane Atheists, was not at home yesterday but in a message on the group's website said he expected to be sacked. ''I'm screwed. I think I will lose my job over this. Damn it.''
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The Second Annual Robert G. Ingersoll Oratory Contest will be held on Sunday, October 24, 2010... and with that in mind, here are a few of his interesting thoughts:
"The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow-men."
- Robert Green Ingersoll, "The Liberty of Man, Woman and Child"
"The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance, called "faith.""
- Robert Green Ingersoll, The Gods
"This century will be called Darwin's century. He was one of the greatest men who ever touched this globe. He has explained more of the phenomena of life than all of the religious teachers."
- Robert Green Ingersoll, "Orthodoxy"
"The hands that help are better far than the lips that pray."
- Robert Green Ingersoll
"The liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church.
Wherever the Bible and sword are in partnership, man is a slave."
- Robert Green Ingersoll, Some Mistakes of Moses
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The pastor, author of the book "Islam is of the Devil," is using the burning to urge American Christians to "stand up" to what he describes as a monolithic Muslim threat. A Facebook page for the event has accrued thousands of "likes" and Jones has said people have been mailing him Qurans to burn.
What to think of this one... well, there sure is a lot of ridiculous bluster here. Jones is using a stupid tactic (burning books) to raise attention. Instead of getting his message out, he will be equated with censorship a la Fahrenheit 451. Of course, there is an element of that in these books burning (it would seem that this pastor would be thrilled if Islam were to be censored), but I think the larger meaning of this burning event is as follows: Christianity is being threatened by Islam and there are militant factions within Islam that are violently anti-American.
Of course, Jones and his ilk say it much more offensively than that, and that is what hides some actual viable criticism of Islam (and, oh, yes, there is MUCH to criticize). Furthermore, the city of Gainesville has not given the chruch permission to burn, but the church said it will do so anyway. I hope they all get thrown in jail for that.
The other side seems to be a bunch of whining babies, making statements like "Jones' burning will have great symbolic significance to a Muslim world already feeling under attack by the United States. It will cause undue harm to U.S. relations with the Muslim world and particularly the war effort." Ridiculous. We are to worry about how a free expression of thoughts and ideas (albeit a patently stupid one) impacts on the very people that are being targeted by the event?
So, bottom line, there is more stupidity here than you can shake a stick at. Maybe if we wait around long enough the various religions of the world will destroy themselves. That'd be fine with me... except, of course, that they'd probably take most of us down with them.
For the time being, I think I'll just sit back and laugh at everyone involved in this one -- both sides.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
-Benjamin Franklin, in Poor Richard's Almanac
"As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith."
- Thomas Paine, Common Sense 1776
"Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matter is of importance."
- President James Madison, in a letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822
"We all agree that neither the government nor political parties ought to interfere with religious sects. It is equally true that religious sects ought not to interfere with the government or political parties. We believe that the cause of good government and the cause of religion suffer by all such interference."
- Rutherford B. Hayes, in a statement as Governor of Ohio, 1875
"Whatever one's religion in his private life may be, for the officeholder, nothing takes precedence over his oath to uphold the Constitution and all its parts--including the First Amendment and the strict separation of church and state."
- President John F. Kennedy, Look magazine interview, 1959
"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others."
- President Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Benjamin Rush, 1803
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."
- President Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802
"Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated."
- President George Washington, in a letter to Edward Newenham, 1792
I think we could use more of this caliber of politician in this day and age.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Adding to the inappropriateness of a government-sponsored community prayer event, the mayor wrote the clergy:
"Also, August 30th marks the one year anniversary since we held a prayer meeting for rain, we will give thanks for the rain that we have been so blessed with this year. Please let me know if you have any questions, we believe this is the right thing to do to show our support for Santiago, and we need your help!"
It is a serious violation of our treasured constitutional principle of the separation between church and state for any elected official to hold a public prayer service, or to enjoin citizens to pray at all. Prayer is something that Thomas Jefferson as president pointed out was beyond the purview of elected officials. Elected officials hold civil powers alone.
This is not the first time that San Marcos is in the news for mixing religion and government. The San Marcos city council prays at its meetings. San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz backs that too, saying "I think it’s our right (to pray at government meetings). It’s our history. If they can do it in Washington, we can do it in San Marcos. I have a belief that it serves a higher purpose to do so."
An interesting point... but the folks "in Washington" are wrong, too.
What starts out semi-sane quickly dives down a rat hole of idiocy... the stupid... it burns!
Monday, August 30, 2010
The White House says the multiyear $814 billion stimulus program passed by Congress in 2009 boosted employment by 2.5 million to 3.6 million jobs and raised the nation's annual economic output by almost $400 billion. A recent study by two prominent economists generally agrees, crediting the pump-priming with averting "what could have been called Great Depression 2.0."
If President Obama expected anyone to say, "Thank you," however, he's been disappointed. In a recent USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, 59% of respondents disapproved of the president's handling of the economy. In the partisan war over the economy's performance, the word "stimulus" has became synonymous with "boondoggle," making the notion of a repeat any time soon highly unlikely — especially if Republicans seize control of one or both houses of Congress in November.
This is the kind of thing that dismays me. The stimulus was not enough -- and it was known at the time that it would not be enough -- but blustering Republicans opposed it and pansy Democrats caved and weasled to a lower amount.
OK, that lower amount probably saved us from a second great depression -- happy about that. But fer fuck's sake, the Dems had majorities everywhere and they couldn't muster up the courage to do what needed to be done? Too bad.
And it is a shame that Obama is getting the blame for all of the economic woes. Sure, some of the blame belongs on him for not doing enough... but when it comes from those blowhard know-nothing fucksticks on Fox, that is ridiculous.
Now the right is crowing about extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy because that will stimulate the economy. Bullshit! I'm tired of hearing the rightwing lie that tax cuts create jobs. They don't! They create more wealth in the pockets of the wealthiest.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Here is the latest:
Today scientists revealed the results of an investigation into the severity of the Deepwater oil spill. The plume of petroleum hydrocarbon chemicals measures a staggering 22 miles long, and has settled in a deep underwater layer (see photo).
The actual existence of the plume was in some doubt until a team of researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution provided incontrovertible proof. The researchers managed to catch up with the plume about three miles southwest of the original blowout location, then used a remote-controlled submarine and an underwater spectrometer to figure out its dimensions. They were able to study the plume for ten days in June before Hurricane Alex forced them from the area. It's still not known whether this was the only plume or whether others formed, and the team said at a press conference today that they would be unwilling to commit themselves either way on that point.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
- George Bush the First: "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."
- Ed Murnane, cochairman of the Bush-Quayle '88 Illinois campaign: "Everything that American Atheists does, Rob, is bullshit."
- Ed Derwinski, the secretary of the Department of Veteran's Affairs, for the First Bush Administration: "What you should do for me is what you should do for everybody: Believe in God. Get off our backs."
Religious organizations are not taxed, yet many want to be politically active and foist their backwards mindsets on the nation. Just look at all the anti-gay sentiment. It would be unlikely to proper without religious backing. And what about David Patterson's (Governor of New York) suggestion that New York would provide money (taxpayer money) to those wishing to build a mosque on ground zero if they'd just move it elsewhere?
But now I'm rambling... back to the point of this post... there are a lot of atheists and people "without faith" out there; many more than the religious believe. I think it would do a world of good if all atheists/agnostics/no-religionists came out of the closet and proudly exclaimed they don't need faith because they have reason.
Monday, August 16, 2010
For some time now, there have been plans to build a mosque near ground zero in New York City. Some are frothing at the mouth and complaining that this should not be allowed, under the assumption, I guess, that Muslims blew up that area and should not be permitted to build there.
Now I don't know how the folks building this thing acquired the land, but if it was all done above board, then why is anyone fucking whining. The location used to be a Burlington Coat Factory. Now... (w)hen completed, the building will incorporate a prayer space to accommodate 2,000 worshipers; a gym and pool; a 500-seat theater and galleries for exhibitions; and a catering hall for weddings and other social events.
The president has it right on this one. Our country provides freedom of worship and there is no reason to forbid any group from legally purchasing property and building a house of worship. PK, maybe a less incendiary location could have been chosen, but if you don't like it, you should have bought it yourself... or done something to turn the area into a park or something...
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
In late July 2010, two members of the Followers of Christ church were charged with first-degree criminal mistreatment for failing to provide medical care for their infant daughter. The couple,
Timothy and Rebecca Wyland pleaded not guilty during a brief appearance before Clackamas County Circuit Judge Robert D. Herndon and were released without bail.
The area above their child's left eye started swelling shortly after birth. She developed a hemangioma -- a fast-growing mass of blood vessels -- that bulged out and pushed the eyeball down and outward. Oregon Health & Science University doctors who examined the girl said that without treatment, she could lose sight.
This shit has got to stop. This is a pattern with this particular church (and, let's face it, there are others). Two other couples from this church failed to provide medical care to their children: a15-month-old and a 16 year old, and both died as a result.
These folks should lose custody of their children. There are many responsible folks out there who would be willing to raise them and give them the proper care they need.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker made his ruling in a lawsuit filed by two gay couples who claimed the voter-approved ban violated their civil rights.
Gay couples waving rainbow and American flags outside the courthouse cheered, hugged and kissed as word of the ruling spread.
No one has yet been able to explain to me why they care who other choose to marry.
Of course, the battle is not over yet... not even in California where the bigoted proponents of Prop 8 plan to appeal the judge's decision.
Let's hope they fail miserably.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
" RELIGIOUS TESTS: No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being."
Tennessee's Bill of Rights: Article 9:
Section 2. " No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."
South Carolina's Constitution, Article 4 Section 2:
"Person denying existence of Supreme Being not to hold office. No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution."
North Carolina's Constitution, Article 6 Sec. 8:
" Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God...."
Maryland's Bill of Rights: Article 36:
" That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious persuasion, or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent, or maintain, or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain, any place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in this world or in the world to come."
Why these are all unconstitutional:
Article VI, section 3 of the United States Constitution
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
How will this happen? BP is planning to use tax-code provisions that allow companies to get refunds on losses. Since the disaster will cost BP at least $32 billion, they want almost $10 billion dollars from taxpayers -- effectively cutting BP clean-up costs by a third.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
It is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/schedule/complete.
Again... sorry for the lack of posts around here lately. Hopefully I'll crawl out from under the work avalanche and be more active here again soon...
Thursday, May 27, 2010
So we get eleven oil workers dead. The largest oil spill in U.S. history getting larger every day. The Gulf of Mexico (and even the East Atlantic Coast) will be feeling the ecological effects of this disaster for years to come. And for you Republicans, there is an economic impact, too, as this debacle destroys fisheries and the livelihoods of people who fish and shrimp in the Gulf, or rely on the Gulf for tourism business.
BP CEO Tony Hayward is sanguine about the whole problem. The Financial Times quotes him saying, “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest.”
The time to boycott BP is now.
Go here: www.beyondbp.org
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The e-mail gets some of the wording wrong... and the date of the quote wrong... but it gets the essence of Roosevelt's position essentially correct.
Here is the correct quote, from a letter by then former president Roosevelt on January 3, 1919 to the president of the American Defense Society. It was read publicly at a meeting on January 5, 1919. Roosevelt died the next day, on January 6, 1919.
"We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin.
But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn't doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people."
This seems like a very sensible position to me. I think there are things in it that both the far left (one language) and the far right (perhaps too open on allowing immigration) may disagree with... but it seems like a good, high-level statement to me.
Monday, May 10, 2010
The Erie County sheriff deputy's report said the teenager's mother called authorities at about 11:35 p.m. Tuesday and asked deputies to meet her at a car wash on Ohio 101 in Margaretta Township, the Sandusky (Ohio) Register reported Monday.
The mother told deputies she had seen her son smoking in his room and discovered a small bag of marijuana in his nightstand.
The report said the woman told deputies the boy "was smoking a marijuana cigarette using a page from his Bible."
Deputies confiscated the marijuana and the boy was arrested and charged with drug possession.
What an intrepid young man! I've never found the bible to be useful for much of anything, but he found an interesting use...
I wonder if the page was from Exodus 3?
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Every once in a while, a news story crops up about yet another lie or omission regarding the briefings the CIA gave to Congressional intelligence committees on their interrogation aka torture program during the Bush years. Marcy Wheeler has been assiduously covering this for months, even years now, gathering together the disparate reports from a mostly disinterested mainstream press.
There was the time in July 2009 when House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes complained that his committee “has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and (in at least one occasion) was affirmatively lied to.” Only months before, in a well-publicized press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the CIA of lying to Congress. “They didn’t tell us everything,” Pelosi complained. The Speaker’s complaints followed CIA’s release of a list (PDF) that purported to show how it had briefed Congress over the years on the interrogations program. The list, in Marcy Wheeler’s words, was illustrative of CIA “playing around with its obligation to inform the intelligence committees.” Her deconstruction of the list is juicy reading.
Sometimes, as Wheeler also recently reported, the efforts to sabotage Congressional oversight came from within, as in early 2003 when then-new Senate Intelligence Committee chair Pat Roberts scotched all plans to send a committee staffer to review CIA interrogation sites on behalf of the committee.
What isn’t often mentioned was how the CIA was given the green light to lie and obfuscate by their superiors in the Executive Branch. It’s well known that former President Bush used an unprecedented amount of signing statements during his administration, nullifying dozens, if not hundred of provisions in the bills he signed. A Pulitzer Prize winning account of this was written up by Charlie Savage in the Boston Globe in 2006. One should read the entire article (as well as others on the subject by Dahlia Lithwick and John Dean), but I’m only going to mainly concentrate on the signing statements that targeted Congressional oversight demands.
Although presidential signing statements had been used before George W. Bush's reign of (t)error, this turd of a practice is laying squarely at the feet of our former president. For all of his other failings (real or perceived), President Barack Obama has kept his word, when he indicated he would not rule by presidential signing statement.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
The state Senate voted 17-11 nearly along party lines to send the bill to Gov. Jan Brewer, who has not taken a position on the measure championed by fellow Republicans. The House approved the bill April 13.
Sounds like fascism is alive and well in the desert.
Show me your papers, Bawdy!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
In Justice John Paul Stevens, we had a voice on the Supreme Court worthy of the founders; a voice that stood against the unconstitutional encroachment of religion into government, and a voice that explicitly took into account non-theistic Americans in his decisions.
John Paul Stevens was not just any justice. John Paul Stevens is a Justice for the ages. He stood for the timeless secular character of our constitutional heritage. Mr. President, you have a momentous and historic responsibility that goes far beyond any one time or particular political climate. Please be sure that your nominee to replace Justice Stevens follows his truly great example. Particularly when certain justices espouse theocratic philosophies, it is essential that your next Supreme Court nominee emulates the Stevens legacy of denying special rights for religion, upholding the separation of church and state, and acknowledging the tens of millions of Secular Americans who always lose when religion is privileged.
Justice Stevens is easily one of our greatest living Americans -- a Justice who has consistently stood up for what is right. Please ensure that his replacement stands for the separation of church and state with a passion and brilliance worthy of John Paul Stevens.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
After being alerted to the coming vote by the Secular Coalition for America, thousands took action, writing to their senators, and the amendment never made it to the jobs bill--though Senator Lieberman promised he would bring it back as soon as he could.
On March 16, 2010, Senator Lieberman managed to bring the amendment to the floor, attaching it this time to a bill funding the Federal Aviation Administration. Debate was heard, votes were cast, and the amendment was defeated, with 42 voting for the amendment to 55 against. It was a fantastic example of Secular Americans working together, helping to stop the unconstitutional public financing of religious education.
Monday, March 22, 2010
The Bishop of Clogher, Joseph Duffy, said in a statement that he had been been party to at least one civil settlement involving a claim made against the diocese in which a non-disclosure agreement was signed between the diocese and the claimant.
Bishop Duffy, who was unavailable for comment last night, told the 'Sunday Business Post' he was bound to secrecy by the victim's parents at the time of the offence, but that he would not now be restricted by such a condition.
The development follows the revelation that Cardinal Sean Brady took part in a similar process in 1975 concerning the abuse of two boys by paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smith. They were asked to take a vow of silence as part of an internal investigation by clergy.
The cardinal's admission followed another controversy in which the Bishop of Derry, Seamus Hegarty, was embroiled in a case in which an out-of-court settlement was agreed between a priest and a woman who claimed she was abused by him as a child over a 10-year period.
"A confidentiality agreement was not proposed by the diocese but was agreed. This agreement was in the year 2000, five years after the civil authorities were first aware of the matter," Bishop Hegarty said.
"People must be accountable for their actions. And the cardinal has certainly done that, except that in the light of where we are now, he made an awful error of judgment and he's very, very ashamed of that," Bishop McKeown said.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
As the nation’s second-largest textbook market, Texas has enormous leverage over publishers, who often “craft their standard textbooks based on the specs of the biggest buyers.” Indeed, as The Washington Monthly has reported, “when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas rarely stays in Texas.”
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
But now the decidedly non-liberal Rush Limbaugh has made a similar move, telling his audience he will move to Costa Rica if health care reform becomes law. And now the only question that remains is whether Limbaugh will make good on his word, or join the ranks of the empty-promisers.
CHRISTIAN "FAMILY VALUES" GROUP WANTS EXECUTION
-- BY STONING -- OF SEAWORLD KILLER WHALE
"And he piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the rage and hate felt by his whole race. If his chest had been a cannon he would have shot his heart upon it."
-- Herman Melville, "THE WHALE" or "MOBY DICK"
While it is misleadingly called "the Good Book," that collection of scriptural snippets known as The Holy Bible is, in fact, filled with outrages, blood-curdling tales of divine wrath, absurd instructions and -- as Richard Dawkins has so aptly pointed out -- downright psychopathic behavior.
Jehovah, God, call-him-what-you-will is an especially wrathful creature demanding the full supplication of His human subjects, and bringing havoc to those who disobey. or even doubt. Jesus, the star and central character of the New Testament, is a bit less barbaric perhaps. He does not command the slaying of countless first-borns by a worldly king, nor the wholesale sacrifice of thousands of other innocents (children included) who happened to reside in the Sodom and Gomorrah zip code areas. He instead washes feet, feeds a crowd using his miraculous powers, and promises an afterlife for those who comply with his Father's commandments. Still, the bible remains a book of horrors, baffling contradictions, and for the most part brutal instructions on how people should live.
Which brings us to Exodus, 21:287 and 21:29, which calls for the stoning to death of any oxen which kill a man or a woman. In the first passage, the animal's owner is spared, but in the second, he, too, shall meet his maker by stoning.
Oxen may not be common in most advanced countries which practice mechanized farming, but stoning remains a popular and almost fetishized method of execution for some Christians and their brethren Muslims. Christian Reconstructions advocate this brutal penalty for those guilty of transgressions like adultery, homosexuality, blasphemy and "witchcraft." Indeed, Gary North, a leader in the Reconstructionist church movement, praised this method of execution since stones were "cheap" and readily available.
Now comes the American Family Association which, since its founding over three decades ago, has served as the nation's self-appointed arbiter of all things obscene, unwholesome and at odds with God's commandments. Hardly a swatch of exposed, inappropriate skin has escaped the watchful eye of the AFA (Janet Jackson's Super Bowl gaffe is a case in point) which has denounced a long list of movies, television programs, theatrical plays and books for objectionable content. The group, founded by Rev. Donald Wildmon is based in Tupelo, Mississippi, and describes itself as "a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American Society..."
AFA tactics include boycotts, pickets and, of course, lobbying state legislatures and Capitol Hill for tough -- and likely unconstitutional -- restrictions of anything deemed "obscene." It has also been a stalwart opponent of gay rights; and recently an AFA official proposed that homosexual behavior be criminalized.
Lately, however, the group has waded into, well, new waters. No longer reserving its wrath for pornographers or salacious entertainment industry moguls, it is now targeting a new and formidable nemesis, namely Tilikum, the killer whale of Sea World Fame.
No, this is no fish tale!
Recall that two weeks ago, the whale dragged 40-year old trainer Dawn Brancheau to her death during a performance in front of a stunned, terrified audience. No sooner had questions been raised about how this horrify accident happened than an American Family Association blogger promptly posted a call for Tilikum's execution by stoning in accordance with biblical mandates. No, the prophets of the Old Testament never anticipated something like Sea World where the ferocious creatures of the deep performed tricks for the amusement of their human captors, but they did know a thing or two about oxen.
The blogger, identified as Bryan Fisher, unearthed the relevant passages from the Book of Exodus. One was Chapter 21, Verse 28:
"When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable."
In the following Verse 29, the wisdom of Jehovah is even more obvious.
If the same owner has another ox guilty of the same offense:
"The ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death..."
Tilikum is guilty of this second transgression, at least according to the writer of Exodus. In 1991, the killer whale downed another trainer at a Sea World facility in Canada. Eight years later, a man who apparently entered the park after it had officially closed was discovered dead and naked on Tilikum's back.
The divine message is clear, at least to the American Family Association: the offending whale has violated God's law and must be put to death by stoning, along with the principals of the Sea World corporation which includes hundreds, if not thousands of "owners" in the form of officers, shareholders and possibly even employees related to the incident.
That's a whole bunch of stones!
The story would be utterly ridiculous -- just the thought of the AFA turning to the ossified passage of a bronze age holy book for fair and legal answers to complex modern problems is absurd -- were it not for the influence the organization wields. AFA is part of a coterie of groups that constitute "the religious right," and until recently enjoyed carte blanche on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Some Hollywood studios even gave Wildmon's board of censors advance screenings of forthcoming films with an eye to excising offending segments that might prompt boycotts (never mind letting the "free market" of consumers decide the box office success). And for many politicians, there was not sufficient book-spittle on hand when Wildmon and his legal arm demanded more restrictions on free speech in the name of that elusive chimera known as "community decency."
Hopefully, this incident will be the nail-in-the-coffin for the American Family Association, There is debate among biologists and other experts as to the wisdom of releasing the 13-ton Tilikum into the open sea or keeping him at Sea World. Mr. Fisher did urge the parents of Dawn Brancheau to "sue the pants off Sea World for allowing this killer whale to kill again..." That is wiser counsel than suggesting that Tilikum and his owners be stoned to death. It also confirms that groups like AFA and other Christian Reconstructionists, while purporting to represent the best interests of (Christian, heterosexual) families harbor a dark and brutal creed. Their God is coming not with loves, fishes and blessings, but with a vengeful attitude and a very, very large pile of stones.
Monday, March 8, 2010
My first five years of life we spent in Skagway, Alaska, right there by Whitehorse. Believe it or not – this was in the ‘60s – we used to hustle on over the border for health care that we would receive in Whitehorse. I remember my brother, he burned his ankle in some little kid accident thing and my parents had to put him on a train and rush him over to Whitehorse and I think, isn’t that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada.
She never fails to take an opportunity to make herself look more buffoonish, does she?
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Atheist Agenda calls the exchange "Smut for Smut," prompting prayers and protests from Christian students at the University of Texas San Antonio campus.
Student Monica Cornado says it's offensive to compare pornography to "the Word of God."
University officials say the atheist group has the right to conduct the swap.
I'm LMFAO. I don't think there is much thought behind this, but it is rather amusing.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Officials from the Justice and Health and Human Services departments met Friday with representatives of the Secular Coalition for America, an umbrella group that includes American Atheists and the Council for Secular Humanism. The coalition called it "the first time in history a presidential administration has met for a policy briefing with the American nontheist community."
"It is one thing for Administration to meet with groups of varying viewpoints, but it is quite another for a senior official to sit down with activists representing some of the most hate-filled, anti-religious groups in the nation," said Council Nedd, chairman of the religious advocacy group In God We Trust.
You see, just because a group doesn't believe in a mythical sky Daddy they get called names like hate-filled. But many of these religious mother fuckers are more hate-filled than any atheist or humanist I've ever met.
But I guess it is OK for the White House to consult "religious leaders" before a speech to Muslims... or for the president to meet the Dalai Lama... or to meet with prominent religious leaders on torture... or to spend over an hour talking and praying with a group of 20-some leaders of America's diverse religious communities...
No, meeting with the deluded is fine... just don't meet (and not even the president, only members of his staff) with the reasonable.
It makes me angry (if not exactly hate-filled).
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
"If this is all about jobs, we have this massive job loss and ... we have domestic violence problems in Nevada, what we need to do is lay this right at the feet of Obama, who in the last year twice slammed Nevada, slammed Las Vegas, so we can say that this is partly Obama's fault for causing so much job loss in Nevada."
Yes, yes, yes... and while we're at it let's blame the president for the snow in the Northeast, the Colts losing the Super Bowl, and the pimple on your ass.
There will be NO bi-partisan politics as long as the Republicans are out of power and the right wing fringe continue to be lunatics.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
According to a new study published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Atheists are "just as ethical as churchgoers," and religion is only one way through which people can manifest a moral code.
Dr. Marc Hauser of Harvard University reported that his research team was investigating the foundations of moral behavior and religion.
"The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments," said Hauser.
Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, said that the study should help dispel one of the many great lies about non-religious Americans.
"Nearly 13% of the US population, according to surveys, have 'no religion'; that's about 40 million people," said Buckner. "Surveys indicate, however, that a near-majority of people would not support an otherwise qualified Atheist candidate for public office and falsely believe that 'there are no Atheists in foxholes.'"
Both perceptions are incorrect. "At least a few TV preachers and other demagogues almost certainly and knowingly encourage these misunderstandings, intentionally lying to shore up their own power and prestige. Atheists are already serving in government, the armed forces,and the professions (even in the clergy); most just don't openly advertise the fact that they have no religious beliefs," added Buckner.
The study is available at http://www.cell.com/trends/cognitive-sciences.
Monday, February 15, 2010
"...to confer a “Christian” history upon the United States then, isn’t merely annoying — it’s also deeply dishonest."
The most popular story at NYTimes. com this hour focuses on the never-ending story to define the Founding Fathers in religious terms.
The one thing that underlies the entire program of the nation’s Christian conservative activists is, naturally, religion. But it isn’t merely the case that their Christian orientation shapes their opinions on gay marriage, abortion and government spending. More elementally, they hold that the United States was founded by devout Christians and according to biblical precepts. This belief provides what they consider not only a theological but also, ultimately, a judicial grounding to their positions on social questions. When they proclaim that the United States is a “Christian nation,” they are not referring to the percentage of the population that ticks a certain box in a survey or census but to the country’s roots and the intent of the founders.
The narrow answer to the question, of course is that some of the Founders were Christians and some, like Thomas Jefferson, were deists at best, and thus “Christian” only in the sense that Unitarians are Christians — which is to say, not really Christians at all.
The broader answer to the question of whether the Founders were Christians, though, is this: Who cares?
As a thought experiment, let’s consider asking a similar question: How slavery-loving were the Founders? The answer would be about the same; some were, some weren’t — and it doesn’t really matter all that much today. Truth is: The Founding Fathers thought a lot more about slavery than religion in putting together the Constitution: The clause that designates slaves as three-fifths of a person appears in the fifth paragraph of the document. The entire structure of the legislative branch — the bicameral thing — was designed to let slave-owning states feel comfortable the free states wouldn’t run roughshod over them. Religion, meanwhile, makes no appearance until the First Amendment; it’s an important amendment, but — coming four years after the main body of the Constitution had been adopted — a bit of a historical afterthought. And rather than enshrine religion, of course, the First Amendment serves to keep the state and the church out of each other’s ways.
In thinking back to the Founders, too, it’s important to remember that they lived in a much less ecumenical age than we. The Catholics of Maryland probably thought the Puritans of Massachusetts were going to Hell — and vice versa. Connecticut and Rhode Island were, in fact, founded by religious splinter groups that found the Massachusetts colonists too stifling. If the Founding Fathers had sought to enshrine Christianity is the state religion, then, they would’ve had to answer a critical question: Whose Christianity? It’s likely the whole project might’ve died in the cradle.
It’s fair to say, then, that the United States exists because the Founders sidestepped the question. So the project to confer a “Christian” history upon the United States then, isn’t merely annoying — it’s also deeply dishonest.
But still: Who cares? The Founding Fathers should be treated with respect and a bit of reverence, I suppose, but we often seem to be in danger of fetishizing them.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
In honor of the recent Supreme Court decision to remove corporate funding limits in federal elections, a Washington, D.C.-area public relations firm has decided take the ruling to its logical conclusion and run for Congress. "Until now," Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, "corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves." The firm, which prides itself on its progressive agenda and knack for satire, claims to be the first "corporate person" to run for office and has announced plans to run in the Republican primary for Maryland's 8th Congressional District. "The strength of America," the statement continues, "is in the boardrooms, country clubs and Lear jets of America's great corporations. We're saying to Wal-Mart, AIG and Pfizer, if not you, who? If not now, when?"
The O'Reilly Factor broke down the case of Joseph Reyes, a father facing criminal charges and jail time for having his daughter baptized and taking her to church despite a judge's December ruling barring him from doing so. The temporary restraining order, filed by Reyes' estranged Jewish wife, bars Reyes from exposing the couple's daughter to any religion other than Judaism.
So this is the gist of this story. This guy, Reyes, converts to Judaism to marry some gal he fell for. They got married and produced a child. Three years later they have divorced and the guy rethinks his conversion. Magically he is a christian again. And he wants his child to be a christian, too. But the mother says no dice, the child is a Jew. She gets a court order. The father defies it and baptises the child.
What a cluster fuck!
Crazy religious bullshit IMHO.
Stories like this one help to clarify why Richard Dawkins calls religious indoctrination of children a form of child abuse...
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Neil Beagley of Oregon City was only 16 when he died in June 2008 of complications from a urinary tract blockage that doctors said could have been easily treated. Neil and his parents refused to seek medical treatment in favor of prayer. The decision proved fatal.
The Beagleys are also the parents of Raylene Worthington, whose 15-month-old daughter, the Beagleys' granddaughter, died in 2008 of pneumonia and a blood infection.
Jeff and Marci Beagley are members of the Followers of Christ Church, which rejects doctors and medical treatment in favor of faith healing. The church has become notorious in Oregon for allowing children to die rather than seek routine medical care.
The Beagley's defense hangs on the claim that Neil, being 16 years of age, had the legal right to refuse medical attention under Oregon law. Yet poor Neil never had a chance. Home schooled and isolated, surrounded and raised by religious zealots lacking any moral compass, Neil was brainwashed from birth.
In addition to the negligent homicide charges, Jeff and Marci Beagley should be charged with 16 years of child abuse. What else can we call parents who isolate their children and feed them a diet of nothing but religious mumbo jumbo and biblical non-sense?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I'm highly impressed with your recent decision to vaporize limits on corporate political spending. It's the kind of campaign finance reform our ailing res publica needs. In fact, I found it so inspirational, here's an even better idea.
Let's give corporations the right to vote. One share, one vote. The logic? It's simple. Corporations are people; all people are created equal; ergo, corporations must have equal rights — and no right is more important than the right to vote. (Well, maybe the right to buy fully automatic machine guns, but that's another story).
Goldman Sachs, for example, has 514,080,000 shares outstanding — so they'd get 514 millon votes (in fact, maybe we should give them more, because they're so smart). Ford has 3.31 billion shares outstanding, so they'd get approximately 2.8 billion more votes than Goldman.
I've discussed this with several other economists, and we all agree: it's the most efficient solution. Why, it should save hundreds of millions in lobbying alone. Who needs K Street when corporations can simply, quickly, easily vote in the candidate of their choice? As a bonus, political scientists agree that the increasing polarization between left and right would quickly disappear, too. Human people — with their perpetual squabbling — would be simply outvoted by corporate people, who know what's good for everyone.
But the most lucrative upside is this. The money that's saved can then be invested in the high-value products and services which our publicly traded corporations, the Goliaths of the global economy, excel at — like toxic CDOs, bigger burgers, and mega bonuses. And if we've learned anything over the last 30 years, it's this: everyone's better off when the benefits of more mass-produced stuff trickle down to the average (lazy, shiftless) Joe.
It's time to save our democracy, Justices — through a better kind of democracy. I call it "corpocracy": power to the people who matter most, corporations. Democracy 2.0: it's the next stage in the evolution of the American Dream.
It's not just humans who are people. We've been discriminating against corporate people for too long, and it's unethical. Are you with me, Justices? Its time to liberate corporations from human oppression. Here's hoping it's your legacy.
Friday, January 15, 2010
I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher.
The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth -- glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake.
Haven't you seen "Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox -- that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it -- I'm just saying: Not how I roll.
You're doing great work, Pat, and I don't want to clip your wings -- just, come on, you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.
(From Minneapolis - St. Paul Star Tribune)
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Rush Limbaugh was released from a hospital in Hawaii two days after suffering from chest pains. He's fine. Doctors say they don't know what caused it, but it may have something to do with being an overweight man whose job is being enraged.
Yesterday, President Obama prank-called a Washington radio station, calling himself 'Barry from D.C.' Then, just to mess with him, Obama called Glenn Beck's radio show as 'B. Hussein from Kenya.'
Dick Cheney has been named “Conservative of the Year” by Human Events magazine. I think this is the first time “Dick Cheney” and “human” have been used in the same sentence.
The design for George W. Bush's presidential library was unveiled Wednesday in Dallas, and features a lantern-shaped roof that will glow at night. Mr. President, I don't want to make any more jokes about you being dumb, but you have to meet me halfway. Don't build a library where the lights are on when no one is home.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
This change to the Constitution was not the result of, say, a formal amendment, but a procedural rule adopted in 1975: a revision of Senate Rule 22, which was the old cloture rule. Before 1975, it took two-thirds of the Senate to end a filibuster, but it was the “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” filibuster: if senators wanted to stop a vote, they had to bring in the cots and the coffee and read from Grandma’s recipe for chicken soup until, unshaven, they keeled over from their own rhetorical exhaust.
For the record, nothing like Senate Rule 22 appears in the Constitution, nor was there unlimited debate until Vice President Aaron Burr presided over the Senate in the early 180os. In 1917, after a century of chaos, the Senate put in the old Rule 22 to stop unlimited filibusters. Because it was about stopping real, often distressing, floor debate, one might have been able to defend that rule under Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution, which says, “Each house may determine the rule of its proceedings.”
As revised in 1975, Senate Rule 22 seemed to be an improvement: it required 60 senators, not 67, to stop floor debate. But there also came a significant change in de facto Senate practice: to maintain a filibuster, senators no longer had to keep talking. Nowadays, they don’t even have to start; they just say they will, and that’s enough. Senators need not be on the floor at all. They can be at home watching Jimmy Stewart on cable. Senate Rule 22 now exists to cut off what are ghost filibusters, disembodied debates.
As a result, the supermajority vote no longer deserves any protection under Article I, Section 5 — if it ever did at all. It is instead a revision of Article I itself: not used to cut off debate, but to decide in effect whether to enact a law. The filibuster votes, which once occurred perhaps seven or eight times a whole Congressional session, now happen more than 100 times a term. But this routine use of supermajority voting is, at worst, unconstitutional and, at best, at odds with the founders’ intent.
Here’s why. First, the Constitution explicitly requires supermajorities only in a few special cases: ratifying treaties and constitutional amendments, overriding presidential vetoes, expelling members and for impeachments. With so many lawyers among them, the founders knew and operated under the maxim “expressio unius est exclusio alterius” — the express mention of one thing excludes all others. But one need not leave it at a maxim. In the Federalist Papers, every time Alexander Hamilton or John Jay defends a particular supermajority rule, he does so at length and with an obvious sense of guilt over his departure from majority rule.
Second, Article I, Section 3, expressly says that the vice president as the presiding officer of the Senate should cast the deciding vote when senators are “equally divided.” The procedural filibuster does an end run around this constitutional requirement, which presumed that on the truly contested bills there would be ties. With supermajority voting, the Senate is never “equally divided” on the big, contested issues of our day, so that it is a rogue senator, and not the vice president, who casts the deciding vote.
The procedural filibuster effectively disenfranchises the vice president, eliminating as it does one of the office’s only two constitutional functions. Yet the founders very consciously intended for the vice president, as part of the checks and balances system, to play this tie-breaking role
Hamilton denounced the use of supermajority rule in these prophetic words: “The history of every political establishment in which this principle has prevailed is a history of impotence, perplexity and disorder.” That is a suitable epitaph for what has happened to the Senate.