Thursday, April 24, 2008

Daily Freep - Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Bum Bot" Targets Atlanta Vagrants

Homeless Advocates "Appalled" By Bar Owner's Electronic Vigilante Invention

(AP) Cars passing O'Terrill's pub screech to a halt at the sight of a 300-pound, waist-high robot marked "SECURITY" rolling through downtown long after dark.

The regulars hardly glance outside. They have seen bar owner Rufus Terrill's invention on patrol before - its bright red lights and even brighter spot light blazing, infrared video camera filming and water cannon at the ready in the spinning turret on top.

"You're trespassing. That's private property," Rufus Terrill scolds an older man through the robot's loudspeaker. The man is sitting at the edge of the driveway to a child care center down the street. "Go on."

The man's hands go up and he shuffles into the shadows. Almost immediately, a group of men behind him scatters too.

It's a play for public attention for Rufus. He's certainly got a lot of attention - but not the kind we need for housing, living wages. This robot isn't casting attention to the deep, deep poverty in Atlanta. Anita Beaty, director of Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. The Bum Bot's reputation, it seems, has preceded it.

The electronic vigilante - on the beat since September - has enraged neighborhood activists, who have threatened protests. Street people say it is intimidating. And homeless advocates question the intentions of its inventor, who uses the Bum Bot as a marketing tool and a political prop.

Terrill, a 57-year-old ex-Marine, asserts his motives are pure: He says more police now patrol the area at night, the park across the street feels safer and he has had no break-ins since the cube-shaped robot, which Terrill controls with a wireless remote, has roamed the area. To Henrik Christensen, director of Georgia Tech's Robotics and Intelligent Machines Center, the Bum Bot exploits the kind of anxiety that underlies the Terminator movies.

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Take a Sierra Club "Green" Path hike --see the real "green" the power lines would destroy

The Sierra Club has scheduled two hikes to tour parts of the proposed Green Path North power line route. On April 26, a scenic tour and hike will explore the BLM Big Morongo Area of Critical Environmental Concern. On May 3, a hike will view two little know archaeology sites and their array of Indian pictographs. Join a hike to see the true "green" we could lose to GPN power lines. Visit our website at for hike details.

Learn the facts about renewable energy (including why GPN is not needed)from the current issue of the Sierra Club's Desert Report

The Sierra Club C/NDC Desert Report is a highly respected resource for information on environmental issues affecting the California/Nevada deserts. The current issue is dedicated to renewable energy issues. Visit our website at to read this important information about threats to our area from unnecessary transmission lines and the feeding frenzy associated with "big solar" and other destructive projects. Learn about the truly green alternatives that can provide renewable energy and save our planet, while leaving in place our beautiful desert for future generations to enjoy.

Thanks for your continuing support,

California Desert Coalition

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Thursday MAY 1st - Stop the Raids & Deportations
Legalization Now
Justice for ALL

We Say:
  • Black, Latin, Asian, Indigenous, Arab, & White; In Unity there is strength.
  • ICE raids are racist, anti-union and violate immigrant and US workers' civil rights & divide families.
  • Jobs & homes, not lay-off and foreclosures. Stop demolition of public housing in New Orleans & everywhere.
  • No war in Iraq. Bring the troops home now.
  • Political asylum for Victor Toro. No deportation for Flor Crisostomo.
  • Money for levees in New Orleans, not the US / Mexico border wall.
  • Repeal NAFTA, no more U.S. trade agreements that force migration & cause lay-offs here.
12 pm: Gather at Union Square, 14th Street & Broadway

4 pm: Rally & March

May Day 2008 is critically important. Will the optimism and hope expressed around the Presidential elections translate into an end of immigrant raids and deportations? Will it bring an end to the foreclosures of homes, the lowering of gas and food prices, or an end to lay-offs?

Whatever the outcome in November, the May 1st Coalition for Immigrant and Workers Rights will be marching once again on May Day, International Workers Day to say no to all the attacks against workers here and around the world.

We call on the progressive community, the anti-war movement, the women's & LGBT movement, and especially the labor movement, to come out for May Day 2008. March for solidarity, because an injury to one is an injury to all!

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I'm A Member of & A Terrible Bowler
Photobucket The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal and x-posted at The Wild, Wild Left, Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus, The Independent Bloggers Alliance, The Peace Tree and World Wide Sawdust.

As many of you know by now, The Huffington Post reported yesterday that Senator Clinton slammed the activist organization at a fundraiser in February:

" endorsed [Sen. Barack Obama] -- which is like a gusher of money that never seems to slow down," Clinton said to a meeting of donors. "We have been less successful in caucuses because it brings out the activist base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn didn't even want us to go into Afghanistan. I mean, that's what we're dealing with. And you know they turn out in great numbers. And they are very driven by their view of our positions, and it's primarily national security and foreign policy that drives them. I don't agree with them. They know I don't agree with them. So they flood into these caucuses and dominate them and really intimidate people who actually show up to support me."

You can read their entire post by clicking here where audio of Senator Clinton's remarks is also provided. I'm hardly the first blogger to post about this and surely won't be the last. Many across the progressive blogosphere venting about Clinton's rhetorical cluster bomb against the Democratic Party's activist base are far more articulate than me. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to hit back on behalf of this movement I proudly call my own.

I first became aware of when they stood up for the Constitution and supported censure over impeachment during the Monica Lewinsky scandal a decade ago. I was delighted such a movement sprang from the toxic bile of Ken Starr's witch-hunt. Do you remember Senator Clinton how we advocated for censure as a means of "moving on"?

We were your allies against the racist and misogynist "right wing conspiracy" represented by Richard Mellon Scaife that you now sit down with to exploit racial divisions. So to paraphrase James Carville, attacking us is "an act of betrayal" that resembles Judas. Anyway, that was the beginning of the netroots movement.

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Gaza's sewage 'tsunami' By Jeremy Bowen: BBC Middle East editor

A five-month-old baby lay on a blanket in the shade of a hut made of metal sheets.

Thin tree branches, with leaves and twigs intact, were laced around the ends of the hut to insulate it against the hot wind that blows into the sand dunes, rolling away to the border fence and on to Israel.

Aziza Abu Otayek and baby
Aziza lost one baby child when a wall of sewage hit her home
The baby's mother sat with her legs tucked under her, hiding most of her face behind her black head-scarf. It flapped slightly in the breeze, and she used it to wipe her tears and muffle her sobs.

The woman's name is Aziza Abu Otayek. She wept because she was remembering the death of another baby son, one morning in March last year, just after the older children had gone to school.

Until that day their home was just downhill from a deep pond of sewage, pumped into a depression in the dunes and held there by earth walls because the water authorities in the Gaza Strip had nowhere else to put it.

'Wall of human waste'

On 27 March 2007, the walls gave way.

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Don't let a little thing like missing limbs
get in the way of doing ballet

Portable Parasolar gathers energy,
might be a great picnic companion

Parasols are good for more than just decorating those fruity tropical cocktails. For example, Parasolar, a design concept by Oded Shorer, has an easily carried case that opens up to reveal a cloth canopy with integrated photovoltaic panels. Neat.

Holding it steady in its base is a battery that’s charged up by all that solar energy, and you can tap into it via a 12v outlet or two USB ports. And hey, if there’s no sun that day, it looks like it might also function as an umbrella in a pinch. The symbiosis of combining shade and solar energy just makes sense.

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War Funding, Impeachment, and Health Care
By David Swanson
Remarks delivered in San Luis Obispo, California, on April 23, 2008

When I started giving speeches about Iraq and impeachment three years ago, I liked to list the major impeachable offenses for Bush and for Cheney, but as the list grew it became rather cumbersome. It got to the point where adding another crime to the list would bring to mind four others I needed to add, and then someone would discover a whole new field of criminality and report it in the news while I was on the airplane to the speaking event. And if I left out somebody's favorite crime from the list, there would be hell to pay. So, I've decided to switch gears. I didn't do this last night down in Ventura, but starting tonight I'm going to give you my top 10 reasons NOT to impeach Dick Cheney.

Here they are, in reverse order:

10. If we just wait nine more months only a couple of more hundred thousand Iraqis and some hundreds of US troops will die, not exactly big news, and what's nine months anyway, just the blink of an eye, just the time a woman is pregnant.

9. In these next nine months we'll probably only launch at most one more foreign war beyond the ones we're running now. It could expand, bring in other nations, and ultimately engulf the world, but it will only be a single additional war, hardly a significant change.

8. Our ongoing actions in Iraq and around the world under the current administration might not provoke an attack in this country during the next nine months, and if such a thing does happen, we wouldn't want a functioning democracy to be in place in Washington, and we certainly wouldn't want to prevent the same people who got us into the disaster from managing our efforts to make it worse. You don't change horses in the middle of an apocalypse.

7. Even starting in 2009, we'll still have several years left in which we can try to reverse global warming if we hurry. And won't it be more exciting if we procrastinate and then have to cram? We might even force a real breakthrough and discover how to refreeze icebergs or re-evolve species. Plus the rap Mars has gotten as an undesirable place to live is not entirely fair.

6. The millions of American families about to lose their homes to foreclosures will only have one more winter to brave and it may be an especially warm one anyway.

5. Right around the corner, a mere 7 months away, a completely unreliable and probably fraudulent election will give us a new president and vice president.

4. If we're lucky, the new president won't be a crazy old senator who wants to stay in Iraq for 10,000 more years. We might get an inspiring young senator who refuses to say how long he'd try to keep us in Iraq.

3. If we're really lucky, future presidents and vice presidents will go ahead and obey laws even though they won't be required to do so anymore.

2. During the impeachment hearings, it would be very difficult to prove that Dick Cheney had sex with someone.

And the number one reason not to bother impeaching Dick Cheney....

1. George W. Bush could become president.

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The Commander Riseth
by Chris Floyd

Here's a big shock: General Petraeus is to be put in charge of the whole Terror War shebang in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and everywhere else in the great "arc of crisis."

How surprising, that a colorless apparatchik favored and feted (and found useful) by the entire "bipartisan foreign policy establishment" was able to ace out his marginally independent superior and claim his job!

Yes sir, the sky's the limit for this eager beaver. Next up, head of the Joint Chiefs, then -- why not? -- Commander-in-Chief!

Sometimes I look at Petraeus, and I see....Putin.

UPDATE: Our ever-insightful commenter, Grandma Jefferson, offers this telling gloss on the story:

[Petraeus] will do for the entire war-crime theater what he did for Iraq...sell weapons under the table to all sides, allow a trillion $$ or so to vanish from a locked room in his headquarters, and "catapult" the chaos into an exponential global catastrophe. I feel so much better now, knowing his invincible stupidity is to be the presiding genius of the Iran war. Democracy is safe!

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Observations from the back of the line
by Garrison Keillor

For some people, the urge to compete is very, very strong, such as the tall red-haired woman Sunday morning at New York's LaGuardia Airport who cut in front of me at the boarding gate and did it so smoothly, expertly, no body contact, you have to assume she's been acing people out all her life.

She was standing behind me and then alongside and then, although I was moving forward behind the old lady in front of me, Red Riding Hood planted her right foot in front of my left foot and leaned over and handed her ticket to the gate agent and without a murmur of apology or explanation, she slipped into the Jetway. Pure competitive urge, for no prize at all, as you see every day on the freeway at rush hour, the salmon leaping, cutting each other off, to get back home three minutes earlier than if they'd gone with the flow.

A few years ago I would have felt like pulling her hair out by the roots and spitting on her shoes and saying a few words about the importance of civility, but I am over that now. I don't care if you step on my blue suede shoes, just don't steal my laptop and don't hurt my baby. I'm not the judge of other people's manners. I come from quiet mannerly Midwestern people and evidently she was raised in a home in which you had to elbow your way to the feed trough. Not her fault, just as what manners I have are to my mother's credit and not mine.

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Long Hot Summer in Minnesota
by Froma Harrop

ST. PAUL, Minn. This city will be hosting the Republican National Convention starting Labor Day. In the interests of showing Republicans a good time, the Minnesota state legislature voted to let bars here and in Minneapolis stay open until 4 a.m. during the convention. The closing time is now 2 a.m.

But the very Democratic St. Paul City Council voted against extending the bar hours, which may have reflected a reluctance to stretch the rules for Republicans as much as for drinking. Council member David Thune put it memorably, "I got 8,000 people who live downtown who don't want a bunch of Republican lobbyists puking on the streets."

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by Dana Goldstein

Via Newsweek, I've just been alerted to a dust-up in the world of upper middle class parenting: Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun, penned a column in early April describing why she allowed her 9-year old son to travel by himself from Bloomingdale's department store on Manhattan's Upper East Side to their home in Midtown West. (It's not a very long trip.) She wrote, "[F]or weeks my boy had been begging for me to please leave him somewhere, anywhere, and let him try to figure out how to get home on his own. So on that sunny Sunday I gave him a subway map, a MetroCard, a $20 bill, and several quarters, just in case he had to make a call. ... Long story short: My son got home, ecstatic with independence."

Predictably, this anecdote garnered joyous cries of support, as well as rabid calls for Skenazy's head. The writer appeared on television and radio to defend herself against cries of "bad mother!" and even coined a catchphrase for the kind of parenting she supports: "Free Range Kids" -- complete with a new blog, of course. At first, I figured the backlash was in part suburban and exurban parents' horror at the idea of allowing a child to roam New York City alone. People don't realize that New York's crime rate is similar to that of Boise, Idaho and that New York ranks number 136 in crime among the nation's 182 cities with populations over 100,000.

But in a follow-up column and podcast, Skenazy recounted her correspondence with parents nationwide, which proved that hovercraft parenting knows no geographical boundaries. A dad in Park Slope, Brooklyn won't let his 9-year old cross the street to go to the playground. An Atlanta mother doesn't allow her daughter to walk alone from the front door to the mailbox. A suburban lawyer makes his 11-year old call home immediately after walking one block from her own home to a friend's house. All this despite the fact that we now know "stranger danger" pales in comparison to the violence and sexual and emotional abuse too many children suffer at the hands of adult family members or acquaintances. And that the number of child abductions has been falling steadily for years.

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Hagee Says Hurricane Katrina Struck New Orleans Because It Was ‘Planning A Sinful’ ‘Homosexual Rally'

mccain_hageeweb.jpgOn September 18, 2006, Pastor John Hagee — whose endorsement Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said this past Sunday he was “glad to have” — told NPR’s Terry Gross that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.” “New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God,” Hagee said, because “there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came.”

On his radio show yesterday, right-wing talker Dennis Prager asked Hagee to respond to “the various charges made against him” in a fact sheet put out by the Democratic National Committee. Asked about his comments on Hurricane Katrina, Hagee said “the topic of that day was cursing and blessing”:

HAGEE: Yes. The topic of that day was cursing and blessing. … What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God, in time if New Orleans recovers and becomes the pristine city it can become it may in time be called a blessing. But at this time it’s called a curse.

Prager followed up by asking if all natural disasters are a result of “the divine hand” and if there is “any natural disaster that is not the result of sin?” Hagee responded by saying “it’s a result of God’s permissible will” and “that there was going to be a massive homosexual rally there the following Monday,” which he said “was sin”:

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