Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Executive compensation vs. the world

Conservative group aims to delete ‘liberal bias’ from Bible

By Daniel Tencer

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

That famous line, attributed to Jesus in Luke 23:34, could well apply to the folks at Conservapedia -- the "conservative version" of Wikipedia -- who have embarked on a project to rewrite the Bible.

In an effort to rid the Good Book of "liberal bias," the group has set up the Conservative Bible Project, which aims to rewrite the Bible from a modern, conservative perspective.

"Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations," the project's Web site asserts.

And the line quoted above is one of the group's targets for deletion in a truly "conservative" Bible. The "forgive them father" quote "is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible," Conservapedia states.

And evidently many of Jesus' other teachings -- from the "turn the other cheek" lesson, to his disdain for profiteering -- will also no longer be acceptable in the conservative Bible.

"Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification," the Web site states -- a strange assertion, given that English versions of the Bible date back at least to the 16th century, while socialism as a concept was formed in the 18th century.

To combat the Bible's "socialism," the Conservative Bible Project wants to see Biblical use of the words "comrade," "labor" and "fellow" (as in "fellow worker") reduced.

Not surprisingly, the project has come under ridicule and derision from some corners.

"Jesus was obviously misquoted all over the place," blogger P.Z. Myers writes sarcastically. "So what to do? When your claim of godly authority rests on your interpretation of God's holy word, but God's holy words contradict your desired ends, you're in a bit of a pickle."

Are you under...the power of gold?

 Glenn Beck on my car radio earlier this morning, transcribed from memory so it's a paraphase:

Why is it not a big story when the price of gold shoots up $22 in one hour? You know, I was buying gold back when it was $300 and I believe it was $800 when I started telling you to buy it, and now it's at $1,040, and the way things are going I think this is just the beginning....

Uh, isn't that how a classic stock, or in this case commodity, touting scam works -- someone with a large megaphone buys a stock or commodity at a low price, flogs it ceaselessly to the general public, and then sells out at a huge profit once the price is jacked up to absurdly high level. As Beck himself always says, I'm not accusing anybody, just raising questions :-) -- actually, I do seriously doubt this is a conscious scam that Beck is pulling -- would he have told you (or the authorities) that he bought it at $300 if it was? I do also wonder if he's going to tell his audience when he cashes in, though.

But this is about more than Beck. I've noticed over the last few years that almost every radio talker -- regardless of their ideology -- is getting paid to flog gold. Beck is one of the more blatant examples (there's an ad for 1-866-GOLDLINE, "trusted and used by Glenn Beck" at the top of his Web site) but you'll also hear liberals that I like (Rachel Maddow...sigh), liberals I'm not so big on (Randi Rhodes), a, uh,, er....Michael Smerconish, whatever he is these days, all paid promoters of gold.

I guess that shouldn't be a surprise. After all, a talk radio host, regardless of his or her politics, gets good ratings by whipping up anger -- that leads to greater anxiety, the psychological factor that would cause an investor to run to the safe harbor of gold. There's always a bit of a thin line with radio hosts doing on-air promos, but in this instance you have to wonder when the honest talk about global politics and instability stops and when the paid shilling for the likes of Goldline begins.

Israeli highschoolers choose jail over occupation army service

Activism News 

by Nora Barrows-Friedman

Refuseniks Maya Wind and Netta Mishly. (
As US-made Hellfire missiles and white phosphorus rained down on the entrapped people of the Gaza Strip earlier this year, a number of "refuseniks," young Israeli men and women who refuse to serve mandatory military conscription after high school, along with anti-occupation activists attempted to shut down the Israeli Air Force base near Tel Aviv. It was from this base that airborne weapons of war, flown by their former classmates, took off to kill Palestinians just miles down the beach in Gaza.

From chronic checkpoint beatings, to the use of Palestinian children as human shields during invasions, to widespread use of torture and interrogation in detention camps, to the killing of unarmed civilians during incursions and wide-scale massacres that spur international condemnation, Israel's soldiers are the face of the state's expanding and illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine. And a new generation of conscripts have just finished boot camp, eager to carry on this vicious tradition of occupation.

Within mainstream Israeli Jewish society, mandatory conscription into the military is regarded as a rite of passage; a normalized violent adventure meant to codify nationalism and Zionist supremacy while carrying out Israel's policies of aggression. (Paradoxically, a few thousand non-Jewish, "Arab-Israeli" citizens have also served in the army -- see Jonathan Cook's recent article "False promise of integration for Palestinian soldiers in Israel.") Recently, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman repeated an oft-heard mantra as he attempted to defend the state's criminal massacres in Gaza earlier this year. "Israel," Lieberman claimed, "has the most moral army in the world."

However, a growing number of Israeli Jewish youth facing mandatory military conscription -- the Shministim -- are breaking the chain of conventional cooperation with the occupation. Refusing to participate in a system they agree to be immoral as well as illegal, these young people exemplify complicity with their ethical values rather than their state's colonialist policies.

FTC: Bloggers, testimonials need better disclosure

Yahoo! Finance

Bloggers must disclose freebies or payments; testimonials to reflect typical results

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday took steps to make product information and online reviews more accurate for consumers, regulating blogging for the first time and mandating that testimonials reflect typical results.

The FTC will require that writers on the Web clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products. The commission also said advertisers featuring testimonials that claim dramatic results cannot hide behind disclaimers that the results aren't typical.

The FTC said its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final guidelines, which had been expected. The guides are not binding law, but rather interpretations of law that hope to help advertisers comply with regulations. Violating the rules, which take effect Dec. 1, could result in various sanctions including a lawsuit.

Testimonials have to spell out what consumers should expect to experience with their products. Previously, companies had just included disclaimers when results were out of the ordinary -- such as a large weight loss -- noting that the experience was not typical for all customers.

Testimonial advertisements can be effective for consumers since they show others talking about their experiences, giving hope to the consumer that they'll have that experience too. But they are misleading to consumers if they don't disclose what they should truly expect to experience, the commission said.

For bloggers, the FTC stopped short of specifying how they must disclose conflicts of interest. Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC's advertising practices division, said the disclosure must be "clear and conspicuous," no matter what form it will take.

Merrill Markoe presents: Quickdraw Noir

The rare noir episode of Quickdraw McGraw that featured Peter Lorre. With music by Andy Prieboy.

Why I Give My 9-Year-Old Pot calms down J., an autistic 9-year-old. Pot, Part II

He has autism and terrible pain. Marijuana is taming his demons.

By Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Pot calms down J., an autistic 9-year-old. Last spring, I wrote about applying for a medical marijuana license for my autistic, allergic 9-year-old son, J., in hopes of soothing his gut pain and anxiety, the roots of the behavioral demons that caused him to lash out at others and himself. After reading studies of how cannabis can ease pain and worry, and in consultation with his doctor, we decided to give it a try. A month into daily cannabis tea and mj-oil cookies (my husband discovered his inner baker), I reported, we both felt that J. seemed happier. But it was hard to tell. He'd have a good morning, then at dinner he'd throw his food. Still, we did notice that when he came home from school with stomach pain (he wasn't getting any supplemental cannabis there), he'd run to the kitchen and demand his tea and cookie. As if he knew this was the stuff that dulled the hellish gut pangs.

How is J. doing now, four months into our cannabis experiment? Well, one day recently, he came home from school, and I noticed something really different: He had a whole shirt on.

Pre-pot, J. ate things that weren't food. There's a name for this: pica. (Pregnant women are known to pica on chalk and laundry starch.) J. chewed the collar of his T-shirts while stealthily deconstructing them from the bottom up, teasing apart and then swallowing the threads. By the time I picked him up from the bus stop after school, the front half of his shirt was gone. His pica become so uncontrollable we couldn't let him sleep with a pajama top (it would be gone by morning) or a pillow (ditto the case and the stuffing). An antique family quilt was reduced to fabric strips, and he even managed to eat holes in a fleece blanket—so much for his organic diet. I started dressing him only in organic cotton shirts, but we couldn't support the cost of a new one every day. The worst part was watching him scream in pain on the toilet, when what went in had to come out. I had nightmares about long threads knotting in digestive organs. (TMI? Welcome to our life!)

Almost immediately after we started the cannabis, the pica stopped. Just stopped. J. now sleeps with his organic wool-and-cotton, hypoallergenic, temptingly chewable comforter. He pulls it up to his chin at night and declares, "I'm cozy!"

Next, we started seeing changes in J.'s school reports. His curriculum is based on a therapy called Applied Behavioral Analysis, which involves, as the name implies, meticulous analysis of data. At one parent meeting in August (J. is on an extended school year), his teacher excitedly presented his June-July "aggression" chart. An aggression is defined as any attempt or instance of hitting, kicking, biting, or pinching another person. For the past year, he'd consistently had 30 to 50 aggressions in a school day, with a one-time high of 300. The charts for June through July, by contrast, showed he was actually having days—sometimes one after another—with zero aggressions.

Sotomayor shows she's no Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court opens

WASHINGTON -- A recast Supreme Court kicked off its new season Monday, with novice Justice Sonia Sotomayor immediately taking center stage.

In just an hour, the court's newest justice asked more questions than Justice Clarence Thomas has asked over the course of several years. Sotomayor's aggressive role in a Fifth Amendment case, in turn, underscored how she could put her own stamp on a court whose 2009-2010 docket is still taking shape.

"The Supreme Court is already off to a notable start, and there is so much more to come," Caroline Fredrickson, the executive director of the American Constitution Society, a liberal lawyers organization, said even before inaugural oral argument Monday.

The 55-plus cases already scheduled for the coming months cover everything from gun rights and patent protection to free speech and the punishment of juveniles. The court is likely to accept another 25 or so cases before the 2009-10 term ends next June.

As always, some cases are acutely technical; dry as dust pension disputes, for instance. Others carry constitutional significance, a compelling set of facts or sometimes both.

On Tuesday, for instance, the court will consider the criminal conviction of a man who sold videotapes of pit bulls fighting. Virginia resident Robert J. Stevens was sentenced to 37 months in prison for violating a federal law that bans depictions of animal cruelty.

Congress passed the law in 1999 in response to reports about so-called "crush videos."

"A crush video is a depiction of women inflicting torture on animals with their bare feet or while wearing high-heeled shoes," the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals explained. "In some video depictions, the woman's voice can be heard talking to the animals in a kind of dominatrix patter."

Stevens -- joined by civil libertarians, book publishers and the entertainment industry, among others -- argues that the law infringes on free speech. The Obama administration defends the law as reasonable, saying that "the value of the speech" is outweighed by its "social costs."

An equally anticipated set of cases from Florida question whether it's cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Improbable movie trading cards

Why is Betsy McCaughey on MSNBC?

County Fair
by Jamison Foser

Yesterday, I noted that the problem with Betsy McCaughey isn't that she's a liar -- it's that the media gives her a platform to lie.

Let's be clear about this: it isn't just FOX News and the New York Post that are guilty of promoting someone whose claim to fame for 15 years has been spreading falsehoods about health care reform.

As I write this, McCaughey is on MSNBC, talking about health care.  Why?  What has she ever done to deserve such a platform?

(And remember MSNBC's promotion of McCaughey next time someone tells you it is a "liberal" cable channel.)

UPDATE: McCaughey and MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan just had this exchange:

McCAUGHEY: You're not a very fair moderator.

RATIGAN: Well, you're not a very fair answerer, so there you go.

Right.  McCaughey isn't a very fair answerer.  in fact, she's a liar.  We've known she's a liar for 15 years.  She's famously a liar about the very topic MSNBC is hosting her to discuss.  So why is she on television?  Why is Ratigan interviewing her?

From One House To Another: Dems Warn Honduran Lawmakers Not To Heed GOP

 by Scott Nance

A group of six senior House Democrats have penned an open letter to members of the Congress in Honduras, urging President Manuel Zelaya be restored to office and rebutting apparent Republican statements to the contrary.

The letter signed by Reps. James McGovern and Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts, Sam Farr and Xavier Becerra of California, Gregory Meeks of Florida, and Janice Schakowsky of Illinois, was sent to Honduras as four Republican members of Congress visited interim Honduran President Roberto Micheletti and communicated their support for the coup, according to an organization that released the letter.

The elected leader of Honduras, Zelaya was deposed in a June 28 coup. Zelaya has since returned to Honduras but is isolated in Brazil's embassy there.

"We believe that the coup against President Zelaya was unconstitutional; the absence of a legitimate president, the violations of human rights and the curtailment of civil liberties are unacceptable; and these conditions make the holding of free and fair elections next November in Honduras impossible," the Democrats write in their letter, addressed to the president of the Honduran legislature.

The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), an organization that supports the reinstatement of Zelaya, praises the Democrats' letter.

Tim Meadows & Craig Ferguson Skewer Kanye, Bush, Oprah In Olympics Sketch

Craig Ferguson talked to "Late Late Show" correspondent Tim Meadows last night about Chicago's failed bid for the Olympics. After taking shots at Chicagoan Kanye West, and former President George W. Bush, the pair decided that Oprah has lost some cache: "Ten years ago she could have forced the world to host the Olympics between her butt cheeks." Meadows then told Ferguson to embrace Rio's win by getting a Brazilian bikini wax--it just got weirder from there.


Congressional GOP Fundraising Committee On Pelosi: It’s Time To ‘Put Her In Her Place’

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has a press release today, hitting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for having the temerity to express doubts that Democratic members of Congress will support with the troop increase that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal has recommended for the war in Afghanistan. The release claims that in the past, Pelosi has made "pleas for action in Afghanistan" and is now "backpedaling on Afghanistan amidst increasing criticism from the radical left." It cites her saying this:

"I've also made it clear it's a very difficult vote to get from the members," she added. "Their constituents don't like an escalated war in Afghanistan. They'd like to see a different approach. But let's see what the president has to say." (Glenn Thrush, "Pelosi skeptical about Afghan surge, McChrystal," Politico, 10/05/2009)

Pelosi, of course, is not "backpedaling" in any way. In the first paragraph of the Politico article cited by the NRCC, the reporter notes that Pelosi said she is still "agnostic" on a troop surge; she was simply stating the realities in her party.

So what is the NRCC's solution to dealing with Pelosi? It wants McChrystal to "put her in her place":

NRCC Press Release

What place does the NRCC think that this accomplished woman — the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history — deserves to be in?

AZ Sheriff Loses 287g ICE Immigration-Enforcement Authority: Critical Moment for Immigration Reform

I usually lurk and read (occasionally comment). But we are at a seminal moment in immigration reform, and I didn't see any diaries here about today's important development on 287g.

287g is the program that allows local law enforcement agencies to act as ICE agents -- investigating and detaining people suspected of living or working in the country without authorization. Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the "poster boy" for this program. He's the guy that you hear about who has "neighborhood sweeps" and has been accused of arresting people for cracked windshields and then hauled them in on immigration violations. More than 500 advocacy groups asked last month for the entire program to be terminated. Arpaio is always used as the example for why the program is no good.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced Monday evening that ICE stripped away his 287g authorization to investigate and detain people he suspects are living/working in the U.S. without authorization... But wait, there's more...

Arpaio is currently under investigation by the Dept of Justice for civil rights violations, and by the Dept of Labor for labor violations. He is being sued by a number of individuals, organizations, and fellow local officials. The mayors of two cities in Maricopa County have called him out for what they allege is racial profiling.

NOTE: If Arpaio's name sounds familiar, it's because he's in the news constantly... The county even pays for his international PR firm. Still not sure who he is? Just think "tent city jails," pink underwear, striped uniforms, chain gains, pink flip-flops, and green bologna. Also, after you read what I posted here, if you want more info, you can read my Huffington Post article here.

Under what's left of Arpaio's 287g agreement with ICE, Arpaio will still be able to screen inmates already in his jails, but he will no longer be able to detain people for suspicion of being/working in the U.S. without authorization under the agreement.

Arpaio, though, says:

I don't need the feds to do my crime suppression to opt to arrest illegals. I can do it without the federal authority, and I'm going to continue to do it. It makes no difference. It helps us. Because I don't have to do all the paperwork for the feds, number one. And number two, I won't be under their umbrella, their guidance. So I will operate the same way, nothing is going to change.

So, whether or not he has authority under 287g, Arpaio says he is still going to continue doing what he was doing. He also says:

Nothing changes because pursuant to our duties in these crime suppression [sweeps] we arrest anybody that violates the law. If we find during the arrests that that there are illegals, we arrest them. Now the only difference [is] we're going to take 'em down to ICE. I hope they accept them, if they don't, I'll bring 'em myself to the border. So nothing really has changed. This is all politics. They want to use me to get rid of this 287 agreement across the country.

He was on a local radio show last night (Sunday) saying not only will nothing change, but he intends to conduct immigration raids "very soon to show Washington and everybody else I'm not changing, I will not be intimidated by Congress, by alleged racial profiling investigations by the Justice Department, by all these demonstrators, these politicians, all trying to keep me from doing my job, so nothing will change. Stay tuned."

Roman Polanski looks for work