Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kanye West on Patrick Swayze's death


Joe Wilson Voted to Provide Taxpayer Money for Illegal Immigrants' Healthcare

by Donny Shaw

On Wednesday night, Rep. Joe Wilson [R, SC-2], shouted "You lie!" at President Obama when he said that the healthcare bill would not cover illegal immigrants. "The supporters of the government takeover of healthcare and liberals who want to give healthcare to illegals are using my opposition as an excuse to distract from the critical questions being raised about this poorly conceived plan," Wilson said the next day in a campaign fundraising video.

However, in 2003, Wilson voted to provide federal funds for illegal immigrants' healthcare. The vote came on the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, which contained Sec. 1011 authorizing $250,000 annually between 2003 and 2008 for government reimbursements to hospitals who provide treatment for uninsured illegal immigrants. The program has been extended through 2009 and there is currently a bipartisan bill in Congress to make it permanent.

Hospitals have a legal obligation to treat everyone who comes in seeking care, regardless of citizenship status, insurance or other characteristics. This means that hospitals treat millions of people every year who don't have the means to pay. Obviously, this drives up the nation's healthcare costs overall. Section 1011 helps cushion the costs for hospitals, but it's not nearly enough to cover the actual costs in most areas.


Forget Hollywood: Nigeria may be the world's cinematic future

By Shashank Bengali

LAGOS, Nigeria — Just after 10 a.m., with the sun still rising overhead, film director Ikechukwu Onyeka stood on a honking street corner and considered his accumulating problems.

His lead actress was more than an hour late. The owners of the restaurant where he'd planned to shoot had suddenly refused to allow it, and by day's end he needed to get through that scene and more than a dozen others. The production had stretched into its 18th day, a marathon by Nigerian standards, and Onyeka was due on another set the following week.

"We've had a lot of setbacks," said Onyeka, a trim man with a neat gray goatee. "This is how it is in Nollywood."

Forget the slick cinematic tricks and big-money excesses of Hollywood; this is Nigeria's scrappy young movie industry, known to everyone here as Nollywood. The budgets are meager, the plotlines fantastical, the performances hammy and the breakneck shooting schedules an affront to logic and the elements.

Yet Nollywood is staggeringly prolific. Using digital video cameras and desktop editing software, Nigeria churns out more than two feature-length films every day — nearly twice as many as the United States does — and has become the world's second biggest movie-making country, trailing only India, according to United Nations statistics.

In less than two decades, Nollywood's straight-to-video artists have built a $250 million industry with fans throughout Africa, a continent with few multiplexes and limited disposable income.

The movies are shot in the streets of Lagos and elsewhere in West Africa, lightly edited, burned onto DVDs by the tens of thousands and hawked for $2 apiece on street corners or beamed by satellite into homes across the continent. The films have spawned imitators from Ghana to Kenya, seemingly confirming the cultural reach of Africa's most populous country.

Behind the scenes, however, the twists and turns of a Nollywood production reflect nothing so much as the nature of life in Nigeria itself: chaotic, whimsical, sometimes verging on violence, swamped in an endless sea of delays and breakdowns, yet ultimately a triumph of will over experience.

"The movies remind people of reality," said Ini Edo, one of Nigeria's best-known actresses, who claims more than 100 film credits. In Onyeka's new movie, the curvy, long-lashed 27-year-old stars as a college student who falls in with a female cult called the Jezebels, which uses its powers to seduce rich men.

"Reality" probably isn't the best description for a film about campus witches, but Nollywood films do follow an appealingly earthy formula. Family bonds are strong. Tribal chieftains are wise. The forces of evil, often represented by philandering husbands and demonic cults, eventually are punished — or find Christianity.

Stories set on college campuses are also popular, Edo explained, because they usually mean pretty girls and a generous shot of sexuality. Her career has included roles in "Sleek Ladies," "Ghetto Queen," "Slave to Lust" and "Fatal Seduction," and on the last day of shooting for Onyeka's as-yet-untitled film Edo didn't perform so much as prowl about the set, all nail polish and neckline.

The film would be an easy sell. Making it, however, proved more challenging.

One actress showed up nine days late because her previous job ran long. This is common, Onyeka explained. The average Nigerian movie budget is about $25,000, meaning that even an A-list actor's paycheck is rarely more than $4,000. Most movies are shot within about 10 days, so casts and crew members cram their schedules with as many jobs as they can get.


Chip Ward, The Ruins in Our Future


All of us have been watching drought in action this summer. When it hits the TV news, though, it usually goes by the moniker of "fire." As we've seen, California, in the third year of a major drought, has been experiencing "a seemingly endless fire that has burned more than 250 square miles of Los Angeles County" (and that may turn out to be just the beginning of another fire season from hell).

Southern California has hardly been the only drought story, though. For those with an eye out, the southern parts of Texas, the hottest state in the union this year, have been in the grips of a monster drought. Seven hundred thousand acres of the state have already burned in 2009, with a high risk of more to come.

Jump a few thousand miles and along with neighboring Syria, Iraq has been going through an almost biblical drought which has turned parts of that country into a dustbowl, sweeping the former soil of the former Fertile Crescent via vast dust storms into the lungs of city dwellers.

In Africa, formerly prosperous Kenya is withering in the face of another fearsome drought that has left people desperate and livestock, crops, and children, as well as elephants, dying.

And, if you happen to be on the lookout, you can read about drought in India, where rice and sugar cane farmers as well as government finances are suffering. Or consider Mexico, where the 2009 wet season never arrived and crops are wilting in a parched countryside from the U.S. border to the Yucatan Peninsula.

Everywhere water problems threaten to lead to water wars, while "drought refugees" flee the land and food crises escalate. It's a nasty brew. But here's the strange thing -- one I've commented on before: there has been some fine reporting on each of these drought situations, but you can hunt high and low in the mainstream and not find any set of these droughts in the same piece. There's little indication that drought might, in fact, be an increasing global problem, nor can you find anyone exploring whether the fierceness of recent droughts and their spread might, in part, be connected to climate change. The grim "little" picture is now regularly with us. Whatever the big picture may be, it escapes notice, which is why I'm particularly glad that environmentalist and TomDispatch regular Chip Ward has written a drought piece in which, from his perch in Utah, he takes in the whole weather-perturbed American West. Tom

Red Snow Warning

The End of Welfare Water and the Drying of the West
By Chip Ward

Pink snow is turning red in Colorado. Here on the Great American Desert -- specifically Utah's slickrock portion of it where I live -- hot 'n' dry means dust. When frequent high winds sweep across our increasingly arid landscape, redrock powder is lifted up and carried hundreds of miles eastward until it settles on the broad shoulders of Colorado's majestic mountains, giving the snowpack there a pink hue.

Some call it watermelon snow. Friends who ski into the backcountry of the San Juan and La Plata mountain ranges in western Colorado tell me that the pink-snow phenomenon has lately been giving way to redder hues, so thick and frequent are the dust storms that roll in these days. A cross-section of a typical Colorado snowbank last winter revealed alternating dirt and snow layers that looked like a weird wilderness version of our flag, red and white stripes alternating against the sky's blue field.

The Forecast: Dust Followed by Mud

Here in the lowlands, we, too, are experiencing the drying of the West in new dusty ways. Our landscapes are often covered with what we jokingly refer to as "adobe rain" -- when rain falls through dust, spattering windows or laundry hung out to dry with brown stains. After a dust "event" this past spring, I wandered through the lot of a car dealership in Grand Junction, Colorado, where the only color seemingly available was light tan. All those previously shiny, brightly painted cars had turned drab. I had to squint to read price stickers under opaque windows.

All of this is more than a mere smudge on our postcard-pretty scenery: Colorado's red snow is a warning that the climatological dynamic in the arid West is changing dramatically. Think of it as a harbinger -- and of more than simply a continuing version of the epic drought we've been experiencing these past several years.


TV Networks Should Be Afraid -- Very Afraid -- of Hulu

If analyst Laura Martin is right, Hulu is the demon seed that will wipe out the network television business as we know it. In a new report, the Soleil Securities analyst estimates that the online video hub will cost TV networks $920 per viewer in advertising if their audiences are cannibalized by Hulu. And she believes the bulk of viewing on Hulu is indeed taking eyeballs from TV.

It's not the first time Martin has sounded the alarm on the rise of online TV. In a May report she warned that the entire $300 billion market valuation of the television industry is threatened by the shift of programming from TV to the Web. Spearheading the overthrow of TV-as-we-know-it is Hulu, the premium video site backed by NBC Universal, News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. that offers content from 120 partners from the Food Network to Paramount Pictures.

As of July, Hulu had grown to 38 million monthly viewers who watched 457 million streamed videos, making it the sixth-most-visited video site, ahead of competitors like AOL, CBS Interactive and the Turner Network, according to comScore.

On the financial side, Martin estimates that in 2009 Hulu will still lose money -- $33 million on revenue of $164 million. NBCU, News Corp. and Disney are believed to keep 75% of estimated revenue, or $123 million. With a rapidly growing audience, high-quality video and increasing revenue, Martin has little doubt Hulu will succeed in the long term.

In its success, however, lie the seeds of value destruction for its TV network creators. Martin's prophecy of doom is built on the assumption that the more content that becomes available on Hulu, the more likely it is that consumers will cut the cable cord altogether. Coupled with that trend is the less attractive economics of online video, which may offer higher CPMs but fewer ads.

The report derives the figure of $920 per viewer lost to Hulu by estimating that Hulu runs four ads each hour at a $50 CPM compared to 32 ads during each hour of programming on TV at a $35 CPM. ($1,120-$200 = $920). Hulu has not disclosed actual ad sales or ad rates.


Teenager invents £23 solar panel that could be solution to developing world's energy needs ... made from human hair


By Daily Mail Reporter

A new type of solar panel using human hair could provide the world with cheap, green electricity, believes its teenage inventor.

Milan Karki, 18, who comes from a  village in rural , believes he has found the solution to the developing world's energy needs.

The young inventor says hair is easy to use as a conductor in solar panels and could revolutionise renewable energy.

Milan Karki
Hair-raising: Science student Milan Karki with his innovative solar panel made with human hair while a friend holds a light bulb above his head

'First I wanted to provide electricity for my home, then my village. Now I am thinking for the whole world,' said Milan, who attends school in the capital, Kathmandu.

The hair replaces silicon, a pricey component typically used in solar panels, and means the panels can be produced at a low cost for those with no access to power, he explained.

In Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world, many rural areas lack access to electricity and even in areas connected to power lines, users face shortages of up to 16 hours a day.

Milan and four classmates initially made the solar panel as an experiment but the teens are convinced it has wide applicability and commercial viability.

Milan Karki
Close shave:  Milan (second from right) demonstrates his solar panel in a tiny barber shop in Kathmandu

'I'm trying to produce commercially and distribute to the districts. We've already sent a couple out to the districts to test for feasibility,' he said.

The solar panel, which produces 9 V (18 W) of energy, costs around £23 to make from raw materials.

But if they were mass-produced, Milan says they could be sold for less than half that price, which could make them a quarter of the price of those already on the market.

Melanin, a pigment that gives hair its colour, is light sensitive and also acts as a type of conductor. Because hair is far cheaper than silicon the appliance is less costly.

 solar panel
Hair today: A detailed shot shows the human hair used as an alternative to silicon

The solar panel can charge a mobile phone or a pack of batteries capable of providing light all evening.

Milan began his quest to create electricity when he was a boy living in Khotang, a remote district of Nepal completely unconnected to electricity. According to him, villagers were skeptical of his invention at first.

'They believe in superstitions, they don't believe in science. But now they believe,' he said.

Milan Karki
Cost effective: The solar-hair panel is estimated to be four times cheaper than an industrial made solar panel of comparable capacity

He first tried to use water currents hydro power  on a small scale, but said the experiment became too expensive.

'I searched for new, other renewable, affordable sources. People in these places are living the life of the stone age even in the 21st century,' he said.

Milan, whose hero is the inventor Thomas Eddison, describes himself as lucky because his family could afford for him to receive a proper education while many other villagers are forced to work from an early age. Most of those from his village are illiterate.

He was originally inspired after reading a book by physicist Stephen Hawking, which discussed ways of creating static energy from hair.

Obama 'clones' Bush in killing sovereignty

You thought plan was dead, but Democrat brings it back

By Jerome R. Corsi

President Bush with the leaders of Mexico and Canada in New Orleans last year (WND photo)

NEW YORK – President Obama is continuing President George W. Bush's effort to advance North American integration with a public-relations makeover calculated to place the program under the radar of public opinion and to deflect concerns about border security and national sovereignty.

The Obama administration has "rebranded" and "refocused" the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP, to advance the Bush administration's agenda of North American integration under the rubric of the "North American Leaders Summit," a less controversial banner, according to confidential sources in the U.S. Department of Commerce and State Department who agreed to speak with WND only if their comments were kept off the record.

As WND reported in August, the White House offered few details to the press in advance of the most recent North American Leaders Summit held in Guadalajara, Mexico.


US Troops Attack Somalia


US Confirms Invasion, Won't Say Why

by Jason Ditz

Following confirmation by the French military that they definitely weren't in the process of invading Somalia, the United States military is now confirming that it is, in fact, American forces that are pouring into the southern portion of the country in a helicopter-backed invasion.

US military officials confirmed to the Associated Press today that forces from the US Joint Special Operations Command had invaded the lawless African nation, and were the ones responsible for the attack on the tiny village near Barawa this morning that was the first staging ground of the attack.

What the officials wouldn't comment on was exactly why the United States, which launched a failed "peacekeeping" operation in the nation in 1993 and backed an Ethiopian invasion in 2007, had decided to launch yet another foreign adventure, though media outlets speculated that it was probably something to do with al-Qaeda.

The United States has recently been supplying the self-described Somali "government" with "tons of arms," according to the State Department. Yet reports on the ground suggest that forces loyal to this faction, which only controls a handful of city blocks in the capital city of Mogadishu, have generally just sold the US-supplied weapons on the open market.


West Fest: The Free 40th Anniversary of Woodstock

west fest
west fest poster

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West Fest is a free festival set to take place October 25 in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock

West Fest: The Free 40th Anniversary of Woodstock

By now, most Woodstock enthusiasts have turned to West Fest as the destination for their Woodstock 40th anniversary celebration. The event is set to take place on October 25 at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and will feature a slew of Woodstock 1969 veterans, speakers on a wide variety of issues, Woodstock era artists, and 3,000 guitarists simultaneously shredding "Purple Haze". Did we mention that West Fest is free?

In the true spirit of the Woodstock Nation, the completely free West Fest will symbolize the meaning of the original Woodstock as people from all around the world to celebrate peace and music. Original Woodstock icons include Cynthia Robinson (Sly and the Family Stone), Harvey Mandel (Canned Heat), Barry 'the Fish' Melton (Country Joe and the Fish), Peter Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane), and the Merry Pranksters members Ken Babbs, George Walker, And Mountain Girl. More original Woodstock guests are also expected to make an appearance.

The great music acts and nostalgic figureheads of Woodstock 1969 will be accompanied by San Francisco musicians, artists from the Woodstock era, up and coming beat poets, poster artists (including designer of the original Woodstock poster Arnold Skolnick), and speakers that will address national and global issues. Topics of discussion include free speech, The Green Movement, and anti-war issues. A true embodiment of the ideals of the counterculture, West Fest is sure to be the highlight of the 40th anniversary of the legendary event.

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock in a free and epic fashion. See some of the most prolific icons of the 1960s as well as some of the newer West Fest bands who have adopted the views of one of the most influential counterculture groups in American history. Join Woodstock 1969 veterans, fans, and a new generation that has embraced the ideals of the counterculture in the free event that is West Fest.

 Event:             "West Fest" Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock

Producer:       2b1 Multimedia Inc. and the Council of Light in association with Artie Kornfeld

When:            October 25, 2009, 9am to 6pm

Where:           Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA USA

Non-Profit:      501-(c) 3

Admission:    FREE

Contact:          Boots Hughston, 415-861-1520 http://www.2b1records.com/woodstock40sf/


Michael Moore: Newspapers 'Slit Their Own Throats'

The Wrap News

By Sharon Waxman

It's not the Internet that has killed newspapers, the gadfly documentarian said in a four-minute detour from talking about his film, which rejects capitalism as "undemocratic."

Instead, he said, it's corporate greed. "These newspapers have slit their own throats," he said. "Good riddance."

Moore said that newspapers, bought up by corporations in the last generation, have pursued profits at the expense of news gathering. By basing their businesses on  advertising over circulation, newspaper owners have neglected their true economic base and core constituency, he said.

He also accused those corporations of supporting Republican candidates, which have discouraged reading and education in measures such as supporting the elimination of the Education Department at the federal level.

And Moore cited newspapers like those in Baltimore or Detroit, his home town, with firing reporters that cover subjects that affect the community.

Ultimately, he said, this was self-defeating. It would be like GM deciding to discourage people from learning how to drive, he said.

"It's their own greed, their own stupidity," he said. "It's capitalism that taken (newspapers) from us."


The Substance of Truth

Youth in a Suspect Society: A Review - The Substance of Truth - By Tolu Olorunda - BlackCommentator.com Columnist
"In a radical free-market culture, when hope is precarious and bound to commodities and a corrupt financial system, young people are longer at risk: they are the risk."

- Giroux, Henry. Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability? New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, p. x.

"If youth once constituted a social investment in the future and symbolized the promise of a better world, they are now entering another stage in the construction of a global social order in which children are increasingly demonized and criminalized…"
-Ibid. p. 29.
"As the politics of the social state gives way to the biopolitics of disposability, the prison becomes a preeminently valued institution whose disciplinary practices become a model for dealing with the increasing number of young people who are considered to be the waste products of a market-mediated society."
- Ibid. p. 82.

It need not be said, though I find it necessary to restate, that Henry Giroux is one of the most important public servants the last 100 years have produced. In his expansive three decade plus academic career, Henry has written over 35 books, contributed to countless scholarly journals, and received numerous educational honors.

But perhaps what most makes this former high school basketball star distinct is his tireless advocacy on behalf of the frail, the vulnerable, the disposable.

Henry has focused much of his writing over the fragile existence disenfranchised populations are largely relegated to. Giroux's "critical sympathy" to the often forgotten, as Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson once mentioned, is what pushes him time after time to engage issues many of his peers would rather stay far away from - for fear of sanction, resentment, or job loss.

In that spirit of deep moral determination and fervent conviction, comes his latest work: Youth in a Suspect Society, which, above all else, is an attempt to interrogate the increasingly hostile future our society is preparing, with no sense of shame or irony, for its next tenants - young people.

Giroux wastes no time condemning the "assault against youth" being waged by all those blind to the radical realities of reproof youth, and especially those of color, are being confined to by way of policy and legislation. An example of this is provided in the case of Deamonte Driver, a seventh grader from Prince George's County, Maryland, who "died because his mother did not have the health insurance to cover an $80 tooth extraction."


Unlikely allies

Marijuana Arrests For Year 2008: 847,864


Marijuana Arrests For Year 2008: 847,864

Pot Arrests Now Comprise One-Half Of All US Drug Arrests

Washington, DC: Police arrested 847,864 persons for marijuana violations in 2008, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. The total marks a three percent decrease in marijuana arrests from 2007, when law enforcement arrested a record 872,721 Americans for cannabis-related violations.

Marijuana arrests now comprise one-half (49.8 percent) of all drug arrests reported in the United States.

Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 89 percent, 754,224 Americans were charged with possession only. The remaining 93,640 individuals were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation offenses, even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use.

Marijuana arrests were highest in the Midwest and southern regions of the United States, and lowest in the west.

The 2008 marijuana arrest total is the second highest annual total ever reported.

Commenting on the 2008 figures, NORML Director Allen St. Pierre said: "Federal statistics released just last week indicate that larger percentages of Americans are using cannabis at the same time that police are arresting a near-record number of Americans for pot-related offenses. Present enforcement policies are costing American taxpayers tens of billions of dollars, ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, and having no impact on marijuana availability or marijuana use in this country. It is time to end this failed policy and replace prohibition with a policy of marijuana regulation, taxation, and education."

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano added, "According to a just-released Rasmussen poll, a majority of American adults believe, correctly, that marijuana is less harmful than booze. The public has it right; the law has it wrong."

2008 847,864
2007 872,721
2006 829,625
2005 786,545
2004 771,608
2003 755,187
2002 697,082
2001 723,627
2000 734,498
1999 704,812
1998 682,885
1997 695,200
1996 641,642
1995 588,963
1994 499,122
1993 380,689
1992 342,314
1991 287,850
1990 326,850

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500, or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.


NORML and the NORML Foundation: 1600 K Street NW, Suite 501, Washington DC, 20006-2832
Tel: (202) 483-5500 • Fax: (202) 483-0057 • Email: norml@norml.org




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No Such Thing As Ethnic Groups, Genetically Speaking, Researchers Say


Central Asian ethnic groups are more defined by societal rules than ancestry. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Genetics found that overall there are more genetic differences within ethnic groups than between them, indicating that separate 'ethnic groups' exist in the mind more than the blood.

Evelyne Heyer, from the Musée de l'Homme in Paris, France, led an international team of researchers who studied mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome data from several populations of two major language ethnic groups of Central Asia, the Turkic and Indo-Iranian groups.

She said: "Our results indicate that, for at least two of the Turkic groups in Central Asia, ethnicity is a constructed social system maintaining genetic boundaries with other groups, rather than being the outcome of common genetic ancestry."


Truth is a lie