The Watering Hole: Monday, December 17, 2012 – Can We PLEASE Talk About Guns In Our Society Now?

On the morning of December 14, 2012, it was Newtown, Connecticut.
Before that it was Clackamas Town Center, Oregon.
Before that it was Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Before that it was Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Aurora, Colorado.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Before that it was Oakland, California.
Before that it was Seal Beach, California.
Before that it was Carson City, Nevada.
Before that it was Tucson, Arizona.
Before that it was Manchester, Connecticut.
Before that it was Fort Hood, Texas.
Before that it was Binghamton, New York.
Before that it was Carthage, North Carolina.
Before that it was Northern Illinois University, Illinois.
Before that it was Kirkwood, Missouri.
Before that it was Omaha, Nebraska.
Before that it was Virginia Tech, Virginia.
Before that it was Salt Lake City, Utah.
Before that it was Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Red Lake, Minnesota.
Before that it was Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Meridian, Minnesota.
Before that it was Fort Worth, Texas.
Before that it was Atlanta, Georgia.
And before that, on the morning of April 20, 1999, it was Littleton, Colorado.

These are all places where someone, or several someones, took a gun, or several guns, and began shooting people at some location, or several locations. Does this list strike you as being rather long? These are just ones since Columbine. There were others in between and before that. Many people died in those mass shootings. Too many. And too many were children. Far, far too many. And yet, we can’t seem to have that talk about all these mass shootings and the prevalence of guns in our society.

How many people have to die in mass shootings before we are allowed to talk Continue reading

The Watering Hole – Saturday, October 6, 2012 – Republican Denial of Reality

Rep. Paul Broun, M.D. (R-GA) is member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. At a recent banquet in Georgia, Rep. Broun had this to say: [WARNING: The following transcript and video may precipitate an episode of irritable bowel syndrome.]

From Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-GA) remarks at the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet on September 27, 2012, in Hartwell, Georgia:

BROUN: God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.

Rep W. Todd Akin (R-MO), a candidate for the U.S. Senate running against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), is another member of this committee. Rep. Akin rose to national attention when he brought the phrase “legitimate rape” into the political conversation. One could call it a public service since it helped bring attention to the well-documented Republican War on Women. [In Arizona, Gov Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that could declare a women pregnant before she even had intercourse.]

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) refuses to believe that man-made Global Warming is happening. He prefers to think that solar flares are contributing more to the problem than Man.

This is just a sampling of the way Republicans approach their Constitutional responsibilities to govern. They choose people to write legislation on topics they deny need regulating, in order to to solve critical life-threatening problems they deny exist. They refuse to accept the facts as proven by scientists and prefer to write scientific legislation based on their Biblical beliefs. These people are, by definition, unqualified to sit on any committee with the word “Science” in its name. Until the Republican Party begins choosing qualified people to sit on committees overseeing various areas of our lives, they should have no voice on any legislation writing body. They can vote against the bills when they come to a floor vote, but they should be the authors of none of them.

This is our Daily Open Thread. Feel free to discuss this or any other topic you’d like to bring up. It’s okay. We’re open-minded people here. 🙂

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.]

Oh My Aching Back

Georgia has put tough immigration laws into effect and as a result, many immigrants, both legal and illegal, are refusing to work in the fields picking crops.  It is estimated that up to 40% of Georgia’s produce will be left to rot in the fields.

The governor of Georgia created a plan to help with the labor shortage.  Probationers are encouraged to work in the fields.  Unfortunately, it is not working out so well for the growers as these new workers quit half way through the day.  Productivity is low and is not sufficient to complete the harvest.

Mendez put the probationers to the test last Wednesday, assigning them to fill one truck and a Latino crew to a second truck. The Latinos picked six truckloads of cucumbers compared to one truckload and four bins for the probationers.

“It’s not going to work,” Mendez said. “No way. If I’m going to depend on the probation people, I’m never going to get the crops up.”

Conditions in the field are bruising, and the probationers didn’t seem to know what to expect. Cucumber plants hug the ground, forcing the workers to bend over, push aside the large leaves and pull them from the vine. Unlike the Mexican and Guatemalan workers, the probationers didn’t wear gloves to protect their hands from the small but prickly thorns on the vines and sandpaper-rough leaves.

Be careful what you wish for.

CNN: Family Raffles Off House To Save Their Child’s Life

The Thornton family are raffling off a house, in Clayton Co., Georgia, to pay medical bills for Payton’s future transplant.

Another reason why we so desperately need healthcare reform.

To say “my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, ‘Your end of the boat is sinking’.”

The Top Ten Worst Corporations For 2008

To be on this list, not only do you have to be a corporate villain, the actions of the corporation have to be really bad, in some cases criminal, others are labor abuses, workplace safety violators and many fall into the category of not having one shred of human decency.  These corporate scoundrels will do anything to have a large bottom line, no sacrifice is too low, even at the expense of human lives.

Here are the 10 Worst Corporations of 2008 and their misdeeds by Multinational Monitor:

AIG: Money for Nothing

There’s surely no one party responsible for the ongoing global financial crisis. But if you had to pick a single responsible corporation, there’s a very strong case to make for American International Group (AIG).

Why did AIG – primarily an insurance company powerhouse, with more than 100,000 employees around the world and $1 trillion in assets – require more than $100 billion ($100 billion!) in government funds? The company’s traditional insurance business continues to go strong, but its gigantic exposure to the world of “credit default swaps” left it teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Government officials then intervened, because they feared that an AIG bankruptcy would crash the world’s financial system.

AIG’s eventual problem was rooted in its entering a very risky business but treating it as safe. First, AIG Financial Products, the small London-based unit handling credit default swaps, decided to insure “collateralized debt obligations” (CDOs). CDOs are pools of mortgage loans, but often only a portion of the underlying loans – perhaps involving the most risky part of each loan. Ratings agencies graded many of these CDOs as highest quality, though subsequent events would show these ratings to have been profoundly flawed. Based on the blue-chip ratings, AIG treated its insurance on the CDOs as low risk. Then, because AIG was highly rated, it did not have to post collateral.

Through credit default swaps, AIG was basically collecting insurance premiums and assuming it would never pay out on a failure – let alone a collapse of the entire market it was insuring. It was a scheme that couldn’t be beat: money for nothing.

After the bailout, it emerged that AIG did not even know all of the CDOs it had ensured.

Cargill: Food Profiteers
Continue reading

Georgia Early Vote Total Surges

Great News from Georgia!

If it is, the news continues to be extremely good for Obama. Early vote totals have now reached 499,582 — more than 75,000 more than were cast early in all of 2004, according to Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for the Secretary of State. (The state is also newly encouraging early voting this year, so that’s a major factor in the overall increase.)

Continue reading

Putin accuses U.S. of orchestrating Georgian war

CNN

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of orchestrating the conflict in Georgia to benefit one of its presidential election candidates.

In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Matthew Chance in the Black Sea city of Sochi Thursday, Putin said the U.S. had encouraged Georgia to attack the autonomous region of South Ossetia.

Putin told CNN his defense officials had told him it was done to benefit a presidential candidate — Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are competing to succeed George W. Bush — although he presented no evidence to back it up.

“U.S. citizens were indeed in the area in conflict,” Putin said. “They were acting in implementing those orders doing as they were ordered, and the only one who can give such orders is their leader.”

Read this entire article..

Previously posted at TheZoo on this subject:

Why was Cheney’s guy in Georgia before the war?

More perspectives on Russia vs. Georgia

Breaking News – Cindy McCain to Travel to Georgia

They’re baaackkk… Lieberman and Graham return from Georgia to put an op-ed in the WSJ.

From Glenn Greenwald of Salon:

Warnings to Russia from Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham

And from Robert Scheer of Truthdig:

Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?

Breaking News – Cindy McCain to Travel to Georgia

Yeah Georgia, the one skirmishing with Russia. I kid you not. I heard Kelly O’Donnell on MSNBC, who travels with the McCain campaign, say that Cindy McCain will be traveling to Georgia to address the issues there. When asked why one of McCain’s foreign policy advisers wasn’t going it had something to do with how experienced Cindy is because of her philanthropic works.

Is it just me or does this seem above and beyond the duties of a senator’s wife. Remember when Nancy Pelosi traveled to the Syria and the uproar of the right about how it wasn’t appropriate. And does Syria have missiles that can reach the United States, I doubt it. But Cindy McCain is going to Georgia, hopefully the Russians won’t notice.

Well Dick Cheney is also traveling there, we can only hope they are going together.

UPDATE

SACRAMENTO, California – John McCain told a crowd at a fundraiser that his wife is on her way to the embattled nation of Georgia, an announcement coming just hours before Barack Obama’s wife makes a high-profile speech at the Democratic National Convention.

LINK TO MSNBC

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Politics of Fear 2.0

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Ok, it’s a wee bit more subtle this time: No mushroom clouds, no smoking guns, no weapons of mass destruction, no UN hearings or white powder in vials. On the other hand the Georgian President was nudged into war and a contract with Poland allows the ultimate provocation to place powerful American weaponry into Russia’s back yard. With the help of Russia’s imperialistic tendencies and their stick at nothing government, the Administration managed to get the public perception back to military threats as a major concern of Americans. The threat level’s up. And expect it to get boosted even more.

There’s nothing like a good old crisis with Russia to get voters to toe the line. And consequently bring McCain’s poll numbers up.

My behind is clearly much, much too close to Poland – which Russia threatened with a nuclear attack – for my own comfort, to appreciate gameplaying with the security of us Europeans for a cheap, albeit quite successful, election campaign booster. I do not need another mindless, intellectually incurious, neocon tool as a leader of the still remaining superpower. I loathe and fear the clueless risk-taking of diplomatically challenged leaders and their military recklessness which is designed to instill fear in you all. For their own political gain and at the cost of lives all over the world.

Former Reagan Official: White House Sanctioned Georgia-Russia Conflict

Truthdig:

Paul Craig Roberts, who was assistant secretary of the treasury during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, sees the Georgia-Russia conflict differently than the Bush administration does: “Americans themselves have nothing to gain,” Roberts said Friday; “What is operating is the dangerous ideology of the American neoconservatives whose goal is to assert American hegemony over the entire world.”

More perspectives on Russia vs. Georgia

Russia and Georgia: All About Oil
by Michael Klare

In commenting on the war in the Caucasus, most American analysts have tended to see it as a throwback to the past: as a continuation of a centuries-old blood feud between Russians and Georgians, or, at best, as part of the unfinished business of the Cold War. Many have spoken of Russia’s desire to erase the national “humiliation” it experienced with the collapse of the Soviet Union 16 years ago, or to restore its historic “sphere of influence” over the lands to its South. But the conflict is more about the future than the past. It stems from an intense geopolitical contest over the flow of Caspian Sea energy to markets in the West.

This struggle commenced during the Clinton administration when the former Soviet republics of the Caspian Sea basin became independent and began seeking Western customers for their oil and natural gas resources. Western oil companies eagerly sought production deals with the governments of the new republics, but faced a critical obstacle in exporting the resulting output. Because the Caspian itself is landlocked, any energy exiting the region has to travel by pipeline – and, at that time, Russia controlled all of the available pipeline capacity. To avoid exclusive reliance on Russian conduits, President Clinton sponsored the construction of an alternative pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan to Tbilisi in Georgia and then onward to Ceyhan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast — the BTC pipeline, as it is known today.

Read on…

Putin’s war enablers: Bush and Cheney
by Juan Cole (Salon)

The run-up to the current chaos in the Caucasus should look quite familiar: Russia acted unilaterally rather than going through the U.N. Security Council. It used massive force against a small, weak adversary. It called for regime change in a country that had defied Moscow. It championed a separatist movement as a way of asserting dominance in a region it coveted.

Indeed, despite George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s howls of outrage at Russian aggression in Georgia and the disputed province of South Ossetia, the Bush administration set a deep precedent for Moscow’s actions — with its own systematic assault on international law over the past seven years. Now, the administration’s condemnations of Russia ring hollow.

Read on..

Also, more thoughts today from Juan Cole at Informed Comment:

US Deters Israel from Attacking Iran; Russian Cooperation seen Key to Dissuading Tehran’s Nuclear Program
by Juan Cole

Then, there is this:

Moscow flexed military muscle, and left West humiliated
by Anne Penketh (The Independent)

Russia is back. That is the indisputable result of the six-day war in the heart of Europe which may have changed the borders of a state for ever.

The conflict, conducted with brio by Vladimir Putin, who clearly remains the man in charge of the Kremlin, has ended on Russia’s terms, and there is nothing the West can do about it. Moscow has demonstrated that it is prepared to use military might to further its strategic goals, while the democracies of the West are not.

In the world of international power games, Mr Putin’s newly assertive Russia has chalked up a victory whose ripples will be felt for years to come. The US and Europe, dependent on Russian goodwill and gas, have been humbled. But the most chilling defeat is for Georgia, the former Soviet republic which dared to switch strategic allegiances and stand up to the Kremlin.

Russia’s goals in embarking on the war in Georgia were twofold.

Read on..

Previous post at TheZoo on the Russian/Georgian conflict. This post includes the article by Robert Scheer “Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?

Across The Pond: War in the Caucasus, Russia invades Georgia

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It would be unnatural if the War in the Caucasus didn’t dominate all the news in Europe. We are, after all, a lot closer to there, than the US. Moreover, the imperialism of Putin’s Russia are alarming many of us.

A short summary of the situation, as I read it up and/or recall it: Georgia is one of the few democratic states of the former Soviet Union countries. Far from perfect, Sakashvili’s rule is less authoritarian than Putin’s or his successor/handpuppet Medvedew’s. Russia doesn’t like to have autonomous regions, most certainly not, where important oil pipelines are situated. So they busily destabilized the country by supporting the Abkhazian and South Ossetian breakaway provinces. The situation was more or less a draw, until the Georgian President Saakashvili misunderstood the support from the west, most prominently from the US as a kind of protection. So he proceeded to crack down on South Ossetian separatists, hoping the inevitable response by the Russians would catapult Georgia into the NATO. He was wrong.

The situation could be a forgotten war, like the one in Chechnya (an oil pipeline runs close to Grozny the capital), where unspeakable Russian atrocities have gone almost unnoticed by the world. But there are Georgian troops in Iraq and Georgia’s support for the US after 9/11. The US are now flying back much needed Georgian troops into the country and we should all take a minute to pray, that there won’t be any unpleasant incidents involving American and Russian troops.

Another story is developing around Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf. Pakistan seems to have been actively involved in transferring nuclear technology to North Korea, among others. And nuclear scientist Abdul Qadir Khan the alleged head of an international smuggling ring for nuclear materials was acting on the Musharraf government’s order. Musharraf, by the way, is going to be impeached for ruining his country. Well..

As I am not blogging on the Olympics, there is not much more to tell from here. The Caucasus crisis is deteriorating as I am writing this, so, back I’m going to watch this and let’s hope nothing even worse comes of it.

Hello from Europe – 438 Days to Go

Thistles – I feel prickly today

There is not much news today except maybe for this:Will the Dow Jones start lower today, again, after a hard beating yesterday? Some people seem to wake up from their months of partying and don’t like what they see. The Fed can’t cut rates on a weekly basis, so when the aspirin wears off the real hangover sets in. And Bernanke doesn’t seem to be very upbeat about the economy either.

A Blackhawk helicopter crashed in Northern Italy with ten people on board, killing four.

Finland still reels from their first school massacre which cost eight lives.

Elections seem to be the flavour of the day. One is calling for early elections. The other postpones. Both are violently suppressing dissent just to keep a grip on power.

And finally: Winter is coming to Switzerland!

This is “Europeanview’s” rather hung-over view of the news today. Stay safe and See you Soon!