04/21/2011 archive

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 New Haiti president calls for ‘collaboration’

by Andrew Gully, AFP

1 hr 56 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Haiti president-elect Michel Martelly urged opponents Thursday to work with him to rebuild the quake-hit nation after being officially declared the winner of last month’s run-off election.

While Martelly, a former singer and carnival entertainer, courted vital foreign investment in the United States, violence erupted in several towns back home following the announcement overnight of definitive poll results.

Demonstrators burned vehicles and blocked roads, and at least one person was killed in protests linked to legislative results confirming the ruling Unity party’s long-time grip on parliamentary power.

We paid our dues, where’s our change?

Full Lyrics

Dear Mr. President we honor you today sir

Each of us brought you $5,000

It takes a lot of Benjamins to run a campaign

I paid my dues, where’s our change?

We’ll vote for you in 2012, yes that’s true

Look at the Republicans — what else can we do?

Even though we don’t know if we’ll retain our liberties

In what you seem content to call a free society

Yes it’s true that Terry Jones is legally free

To burn a people’s holy book in shameful effigy

But at another location in this country

Alone in a 6×12 cell sits Bradley

23 hours a day (and) night

The 5th and 8th Amendments say this kind of thing ain’t right

We paid our dues, where’s our change?

(h/t emptywheel)

Naturally Dyed Eggs


The Garden Party

I am not a prophet, but sometimes I have prophetic dreams, like the one where I was at a garden party.

Excuse me. Everyone, I have a brief announcement to make. Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the Devil, and the government is lying about 9/11. Thank you for your time and good night.

Mmm-hmm! You were havin’ that dream where you made the white people riot, weren’t you?

But I was telling the truth!

How many times have I told you, you better not even dream about tellin’ white folk the truth! You understand me? Shoot! Makin’ White people riot! You better learn how to lie like me! I’m gonna find me a white man and lie to him right now!

McClatchy Points Out Key FBI Failure in Amerithrax Investigation

By: Jim White Thursday April 21, 2011 5:58 am

In an article published Wednesday evening on their website, McClatchy points out yet another failing in the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people. The article focuses on the fact that the FBI was able to get a clear genetic fingerprint of a bacterial contaminant that was found in the attack material mailed to the New York Post and to Tom Brokaw (but not to either Senator Daschle or Senator Leahy). This contaminant, Bacillus subtilis, is used in some cases by weapons laboratories as an anthrax simulant, because its behavior in culture and in drying the spores is very similar to Bacillus anthracis but it is easier to handle because it is not pathogenic.  I covered the FBI’s failure to link this B. subtilis contaminant to Ivins in this diary in February of 2010.

Buried in the McClatchy article is an admission from a source close to the investigation that seems to shed some light on why the FBI continues to insist that Ivins was the sole attacker, even going so far as to concoct an after-the-fact “forensic psychiatric profile” in an effort to bolster their case:

“If they ever had any doubts, once he committed suicide, they had to unite,” this person said. “Otherwise, you’ve driven an innocent man to suicide. And that’s a terrible thing.”

Yes, driving a man to suicide is a terrible thing. But is it any less terrible to continue to insist on the guilt of a man who cannot conclusively be proven to have carried out these horrendous attacks ten years ago?

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”

New York Times Editorial: How Not to Plan for the Future

The agreement between Congress and the White House to virtually eliminate money for high-speed rail is harebrained. France, China, Brazil, even Russia, understand that high-speed rail is central to future development. Not Washington.

The budget package eliminated about $1 billion that President Obama had wanted to add to the current budget, and it rescinded $400 million of $2.4 billion that was already designated for high-speed rail this year.

Laura Flanders; US Lack of Investment Is Destabilizing the World

Here in the United States all we seem to hear about is deficits and debt. Yet even the countries that hold a lot of our debt are concerned for our lack of investment at home.

China’s pension fund head recently said that the US government needs to reduce not just its fiscal deficit but its trade gap, in order to maintain the dollar’s stability. US average levels need to be closer to those of developing nations and emerging markets, the manager of China’s Sovereign Wealth fund advised.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.: By what Standard is the U.S. Poor?

The decision by Standard & Poor’s to move U. S. government debt to a negative outlook is really a political intervention by a ratings agency into the country’s debt and deficit debate.

I truly doubt that any investor expects the United States government to default on its debt. The underlying assets of the United States – which is to say, the largest economy in the world – are rather formidable. And history says that we eventually get our act together on budget matters, even though the politics on the way there is usually ugly.

Amy Goodman: Power Shift vs. The Powers That Be

More than 10,000 people converged in Washington, D.C., this past week to discuss, organize, mobilize and protest around the issue of climate change. While tax day tea party gatherings of a few hundred scattered around the country made the news, this massive gathering, Power Shift 2011, was largely ignored by the media. They met the week before Earth Day, around the first anniversary of the BP oil rig explosion and the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, while the Fukushima nuclear plant still spews radioactivity into the environment. Against such a calamitous backdrop, this renewed movement’s power and passion ensure that it won’t be ignored for long.

Rallying those attending to the work ahead, environmentalist, author and founder of 350.org Bill McKibben said: “This city is as polluted as Beijing. But instead of coal smoke, it’s polluted by money. Money warps our political life, it obscures our vision. … We know now what we need to do, and the first thing we need to do is build a movement. We will never have as much money as the oil companies, so we need a different currency to work in, we need bodies, we need creativity, we need spirit.”

Robert Sheer: The New Corporate World Order

The debate over Republicans’ insistence on continued tax breaks for the superrich and the corporations they run should come to a screeching halt with the report in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal headlined “Big U.S. Firms Shift Hiring Abroad.” Those tax breaks over the past decade, leaving some corporations such as General Electric to pay no taxes at all, were supposed to lead to job creation, but just the opposite has occurred. As the WSJ put it, the multinational companies “cut their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million, new data from the U.S. Commerce Department show.”

Gail Collins: The New Anti-Abortion Math

One of my favorite stories about the Texas State Legislature involves the time Senator Wendy Davis was trying to ask a colleague, Troy Fraser, some questions about a pending bill. Fraser deflected by saying, “I have trouble hearing women’s voices.”

Really, she was standing right there on the floor. Holding a microphone.

These days in the budget-strapped, Tea-Party-besieged State Capitol, you can be grateful for any funny anecdote, no matter how badly it reflects on Texas politics in general. Like the time Gov. Rick Perry defended the state’s abstinence-only birth control program by saying that he knew abstinence worked “from my own personal life.”

Jim Hightower: Gubernatorial Goofiness in Maine

Gov. LePage’s rampage includes busting unions, rolling back child labor laws, gutting programs for the middle class and poor, and raising the retirement age for the state’s workers

Here’s a bit of political trivia: Three of the goofiest, most anti-worker governors in America are named Rick. What’re the odds of that?

They are Scott of Florida, Snyder of Michigan, and Perry of Texas. But all three Ricardos are in danger of being out-goofied by Paul LePage of Maine. He’s the right-wing extremist who slipped into the governor’s chair last fall after a three-way race in which he got a mere 38 percent of the vote. Rather than show a bit of humility, however, this minority governor has pumped himself up with high-octane hubris and gone on a tear against the state’s workaday majority.

John Henry was a steel driving man

The Management Myth

By Matthew Stewart, The Atlantic

June, 2006

After I left the consulting business, in a reversal of the usual order of things, I decided to check out the management literature. Partly, I wanted to “process” my own experience and find out what I had missed in skipping business school. Partly, I had a lot of time on my hands. As I plowed through tomes on competitive strategy, business process re-engineering, and the like, not once did I catch myself thinking, Damn! If only I had known this sooner! Instead, I found myself thinking things I never thought I’d think, like, I’d rather be reading Heidegger! It was a disturbing experience. It thickened the mystery around the question that had nagged me from the start of my business career: Why does management education exist?

Management theory came to life in 1899 with a simple question: “How many tons of pig iron bars can a worker load onto a rail car in the course of a working day?” The man behind this question was Frederick Winslow Taylor, the author of The Principles of Scientific Management and, by most accounts, the founding father of the whole management business.

Taylor was forty-three years old and on contract with the Bethlehem Steel Company when the pig iron question hit him. Staring out over an industrial yard that covered several square miles of the Pennsylvania landscape, he watched as laborers loaded ninety-two-pound bars onto rail cars. There were 80,000 tons’ worth of iron bars, which were to be carted off as fast as possible to meet new demand sparked by the Spanish-American War. Taylor narrowed his eyes: there was waste there, he was certain. After hastily reviewing the books at company headquarters, he estimated that the men were currently loading iron at the rate of twelve and a half tons per man per day.

Taylor stormed down to the yard with his assistants (“college men,” he called them) and rounded up a group of top-notch lifters (“first-class men”), who in this case happened to be ten “large, powerful Hungarians.” He offered to double the workers’ wages in exchange for their participation in an experiment. The Hungarians, eager to impress their apparent benefactor, put on a spirited show. Huffing up and down the rail car ramps, they loaded sixteen and a half tons in something under fourteen minutes. Taylor did the math: over a ten-hour day, it worked out to seventy-five tons per day per man. Naturally, he had to allow time for bathroom breaks, lunch, and rest periods, so he adjusted the figure approximately 40 percent downward. Henceforth, each laborer in the yard was assigned to load forty-seven and a half pig tons per day, with bonus pay for reaching the target and penalties for failing.

When the Hungarians realized that they were being asked to quadruple their previous daily workload, they howled and refused to work. So Taylor found a “high-priced man,” a lean Pennsylvania Dutchman whose intelligence he compared to that of an ox. Lured by the promise of a 60 percent increase in wages, from $1.15 to a whopping $1.85 a day, Taylor’s high-priced man loaded forty-five and three-quarters tons over the course of a grueling day-close enough, in Taylor’s mind, to count as the first victory for the methods of modern management.

Of course, at the end of the song John Henry dies (h/t Avedon @ Eschaton).

The Great Motivator

Obama to supporters: I understand your frustration

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press

Thu Apr 21, 6:27 am ET

SAN FRANCISCO – Easing into his 2012 campaign, President Barack Obama is telling his supporters he understands their frustration over the compromises he’s made with Republicans, while preparing them for more to come.

It’s a timely warning given the upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling and the ongoing debate over long-term deficit reduction, both issues Obama says can only be solved if Republicans and Democrats work together. But further compromises could prove a tough pill to swallow for many of Obama’s liberal backers, who have grown tired of watching the president cede ground to the GOP on spending cuts and tax breaks for the wealthy.

Obama senior adviser David Plouffe offered a more sobering political forecast to the hundreds of young supporters gathered for the nighttime rally.

“This is going to be a close campaign,” Plouffe said. “The one thing we better assume is that it’s going to be closer than the last one.”

No shit Sherlock.

On This Day In History April 21

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here. (Click on image to enlarge.)

April 21 is the 111th day of the year (112th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 254 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1777, British troops under the command of General William Tryon attack the town of Danbury, Connecticut, and begin destroying everything in sight. Facing little, if any, opposition from Patriot forces, the British went on a rampage, setting fire to homes, farmhouse, storehouses and more than 1,500 tents.

The British destruction continued for nearly a week before word of it reached Continental Army leaders, including General Benedict Arnold, who was stationed in nearby New Haven. Along with General David Wooster and General Gold Silliman, Arnold led a contingent of more than 500 American troops in a surprise attack on the British forces as they began withdrawing from Danbury.

Sybil Ludington (April 16, 1761- February 26, 1839), daughter of Col. Henry Ludington, was a heroine of the American Revolutionary War who became famous for her night ride on April 26, 1777 to alert American colonial forces to the approach of enemy troops.

The Ride

Ludington’s ride started at 9:00 P.M. and ended around dawn. She rode 40 miles, more than twice the distance of Paul Revere, into the damp hours of darkness. This is especially remarkable because modern day endurance horse riders using lightweight saddles can barely ride such distances in daylight over well marked courses (see endurance riding). She rode through Carmel on to Mahopac, thence to Kent Cliffs, from there to Farmers Mills and back home. She used a stick to prod her horse and knock on doors. She managed to defend herself against a highwayman with her father’s musket. When, soaked from the rain and exhausted, she returned home, most of the 400 soldiers were ready to march.

The memoir for Colonel Henry Ludington states,

Sybil, who, a few days before, had passed her sixteenth birthday, and bade her to take a horse, ride for the men, and tell them to be at his house by daybreak. One who even now rides from Carmel to Cold Spring will find rugged and dangerous roads, with lonely stretches. Imagination only can picture what it was a century and a quarter ago, on a dark night, with reckless bands of “Cowboys” and “Skinners” abroad in the land. But the child performed her task, clinging to a man’s saddle, and guiding her steed with only a hempen halter, as she rode through the night, bearing the news of the sack of Danbury. There is no extravagance in comparing her ride with that of Paul Revere and its midnight message. Nor was her errand less efficient than his. By daybreak, thanks to her daring, nearly the whole regiment was mustered before her father’s house at Fredericksburgh, and an hour or two later was on the march for vengeance on the raiders.

The men arrived too late to save Danbury, Connecticut. At the start of the Battle of Ridgefield, however, they were able to drive General William Tryon, then governor of the colony of New York, and his men to Long Island Sound.

Steven Jobs is spying on you

I know you all ♥ your trick little iPhone and Apple is all that stands between you and the evil empire that is Microsoft (for the record I don’t think they’re evil so much as clueless hacks who produce second rate products).

But did you know that your iPhone is storing a record of every place you carry it, whether it is turned on or not?

True enough.  This is why smart criminals won’t have a cellphone at a sit down.  In fact most of them can be set to listen to everything within a 15 foot radius remotely without your even being aware of it.

Here’s what John Aravosis at Americablog thinks-

Holy crap. This is for real. I just ran the software and found the secret file on my laptop, detailing where I’ve been over the past year, including lots of details of where I visited in Vegas last year during the Netroots Nation conference, where I’ve been to in DC, and Chicago. It even shows you, over time, where I’ve been. Watch the video below I made of the data using the software I link to above. It show where I’ve traveled, and when I traveled, and how much. It gets a lot more detailed, in terms of location, I’m showing you the general view.

And it’s actually much worse than the video shows.  The guys who uncovered this, and who made it possible for you to see your own data, have washed the data slightly – it’s FAR more detailed than my video shows below:

A detailed record, second by second, of everywhere you have been over the past year.  And anyone with an iPhone knows that the damn phone knows where you are within a few feet.  It seems they’re only using cell tower data, rather than GPS data, but still, that data is pretty accurate if you’re in a bit city.

For those of you who don’t know how tower triangulation works your cell phone is constantly seeking the best signal.  By recording the strength (which translates to distance for the most part) you can use a compass and three known reference points to locate yourself “within a few feet” just as John says.

I’m still trying to decide if “bit city” is a typo or another piece of jargon I have to memorize so I can appear hip.

Six In The Morning

Bahrain’s secret terror

Desperate emails speak of ‘genocide’ as doctors who have treated injured protesters are rounded up

By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor Thursday, 21 April 2011

The intimidation and detention of doctors treating dying and injured pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain is revealed today in a series of chilling emails obtained by The Independent.

At least 32 doctors, including surgeons, physicians, paediatricians and obstetricians, have been arrested and detained by Bahrain’s police in the last month in a campaign of intimidation that runs directly counter to the Geneva Convention guaranteeing medical care to people wounded in conflict. Doctors around the world have expressed their shock and outrage.

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