Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why do pelicans hate capitalism?

How Much Cyber-Parenting Must Schools Do?

Froma Harropby Froma Harrop

A boy has apparently sent filthy text messages to your daughter over the weekend. Both are sixth-graders at the same school. You, the girl's father, coach sports with the boy's father. What would you do?

a. Disconnect your daughter from all texting services.

b. Talk to the boy's father, whom you know.

c. If the father refuses to do something about it, stop socializing with him.

d. Call the police.

e. Do some combination of a, b, c and d.

f. Complain to the school principal.

This is a real-life example, and the parents chose only f.

The two students attended Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J. The principal, Tony Orsini, asked the girl's parents whether they had contacted the boy's family. No. That would upset the coaching arrangement. He asked whether they had called the police. They again said no, making several excuses.

In olden days, the parents probably would have intervened personally. They could have cut off their daughter's texting capabilities and diplomatically called the other parents. Or they might have gone directly to the door of the offending schoolmate's house to make their displeasure very clear.

The more aggressive approach is best done with calm. The parents may have had no idea of their child's activities and would be grateful for the information. Or, the odious messages may have come from someone else who had found the cell phone. That had happened in the above case.

But outsourcing this parenting role to teachers and principals seems to have become the common practice. (By the way, some students also viciously smear teachers and principals on networking sites.)

Most schools understandably don't have the time or desire to monitor their charges' electronic communications. And what's a school to do when one student sends obscene texts to another from home on a weekend? Obtain a search warrant?

Suppose the principal confiscates a cell phone and finds provocative photos of the owner on it, not uncommon for those who do "sexting." The educator risks having an unhinged parent retaliate by charging him (or her) of trafficking in child pornography.

Schools have come up with varied responses to the cyber-bully problem.

A Seattle middle school suspended 28 students who ganged up on a classmate on Facebook. By contrast, a mother asked a school in Fairfax, Va., to punish students involved in a Facebook pile-up on her son and was told there was nothing it could do.

My favorite response was Principal Orsini's. He sent an e-mail to all parents that described their responsibilities.

"There is absolutely NO reason for any middle school student to be part of a social networking site," Orsini wrote. He noted that cruel 12-year-olds pose more a threat to their middle-schoolers's well-being than the adult predators of parental nightmares. And he told parents whose children were attacked through networking sites or messages: "IMMEDIATELY GO TO THE POLICE!"

Typing these words, I feel like reaching for the hand sanitizer.


by Jim Hightower
Way to go, Al!

At last, there's a Democrat in the Senate who's acting like a real Democrat in the FDR mold, unafraid and unabashed to go right at the corporate powers who dominate our economy, environment, media, politics, and government. Al Franken, the new Minnesota senator who won the seat once held by the fighting populist, Paul Wellstone, is shaking up the Washington establishment on behalf of regular folks. Instead of going-along-to-get-along, Franken is speaking bluntly about the raw judicial activism and corporate obsequiousness of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, a lifelong servant of the corporate agenda.

For years, I've railed about the wimpiness of Democrats who approach every Supreme Court nomination strictly from the viewpoint of such social issues as abortion and gay rights. Of course those are important, but the Dems have given nominees a free pass on the fundamental issues of steadily-rising corporate supremacy. Most Supreme Court cases don't involve hot social issues, but questions of power between moneyed behemoths and the rest of us – things like pollution of our water and air, denial of basic worker rights, abuse of consumers, and usurpation of the People's governing authority.

By not delving deeply into every nominee's record and bias on these populist questions, Democrats have allowed the judicial branch, including today's five-man majority of the Roberts Court, to become a corporate wet dream, with corporatist judges ruling routinely to expand corporate power over the rest of us.

With Al Franken, we have a leader on our side, daring to challenge the enthronement of corporations over our democracy. Of course, the Powers That Be are coming down on him – so let's bolster Al with our grassroots support. Contact him at"Excerpts from Sen. Al Franken,", June 28, 2010.

"Al Franken hit on the truth about the Supreme Court,", June 30, 2010.

"Another rhetorical strikeout from Al Franken,", June 23, 2010.

Larry Flynt Urges Sen. Vitter (R-Louisiana) to Donate "Diapers and Other Personal Items" to Assist Victims of BP Disaster


Hustler Publisher requests Senator to donate "diapers and other personal items" to control costly effects of the disaster. 

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – July 1, 2010 – As rough seas from Hurricane Alex delay oil clean-up operations on the Gulf Coast, Hustler Magazine publisher, Larry Flynt, in a letter to Republican Senator David Vitter today, urged the Louisiana lawmaker to personally contribute "diapers and other personal items" in an effort to control the costly effects of the eleven week old British Petroleum oil disaster.

Three years ago, Flynt and his team of investigators assisted in exposing Senator Vitter's extracurricular activities with female prostitutes. Others have reported on the Senator's penchant for diapers during his transgressions.  Vitter later apologized for his "very serious sin" after documents released by the D.C. Madam, Deborah Jane Palfrey, revealed that he had patronized her high-end, fantasy escort service.

In the letter to Vitter, Flynt acknowledges the Senator's statement that everyone does their part to solve this catastrophe.  Additionally, he suggests that, when it comes to blocking the oil that's gushing into the Gulf, Vitter might consider donating his extensive collection of diapers, known for their super absorbency, to help stop the leak by creating a giant "plug."

"Senator Vitter has gone on record claiming that the oil spill in the Gulf is 'too big of an endeavor' for one company," said Flynt. "Accordingly, in an effort to protect the coastlines and marshes on the Gulf Coast, I am asking Senator Vitter to use the personal articles that he's best known for to aid in the relief.  His experience in the discipline of 'spills' is unprecedented."

The Letter:

Senator David Vitter
516 Hart Senate Building
Washington DC, 20510
Dear Senator Vitter:

Forgive me for intruding on your valuable time.  I know you are a very busy man, especially in regards to the current problems in the Gulf of Mexico. But that's exactly what I want to talk to you about. I concur that everybody must do their part to solve this serious catastrophe.  And that's where I think you, in particular, can be of so much help.

As I understand it, you have some expertise regarding diapers.  I have no idea how many diapers you actually have on hand (quite a collection from what I hear) but as you know, diapers are quite absorbent. So, when it comes to blocking the oil that's gushing into the Gulf, they might be a very effective way of solving that problem. With that in mind, I urge you to donate your extensive diaper collection to BP so they can use them to stop the leak by creating, for want of a better term, a giant "plug."  

It could be a historic moment: An ecological disaster thwarted. And you'll get the credit for it.  In fact, when people hear the word "diaper" they will automatically think of you. Hell, they already do.
Please don't piss away this golden opportunity.


Larry Flynt

News release received from Julie Messing, Director of Public Relations for the Flynt Management Group.

'Climategate' review clears scientists of dishonesty over data

'Rigour and honesty' of scientists not in doubt but Sir Muir Russell says UEA's Climatic Research Unit was not sufficiently open

by David Adam

Sir Muir Russell, second left, talks to the media about his report into leaked climate change emails
Sir Muir Russell, second left, talks to the media about his report into the leaked University of East Anglia climate change emails today. Photograph: Sang Tan/AP

The climate scientists at the centre of a media storm were today cleared of accusations that they fudged their results and silenced critics to bolster the case for man-made global warming.

Sir Muir Russell, the senior civil servant who led a six-month inquiry into the affair, said the "rigour and honesty" of the scientists at the world-leading Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) are not in doubt. They did not subvert the peer review process to censor criticism as alleged, the panel found, while key data needed to reproduce their findings was freely available to any "competent" researcher.

The panel did criticise the scientists for not being open enough about their work, and said they were "unhelpful and defensive" when responding to legitimate requests made under freedom of information (FOI) laws.

The row was sparked when 13 years of emails from CRU scientists were hacked and released online last year. Climate change sceptics claimed they showed scientists manipulating and suppressing data to back up a theory of man-made climate change. Critics also alleged that the scientists abused their positions to cover up flaws and distort the peer review process that determines which studies are published in journals, and so enter the scientific record. Some alleged that the emails cast doubt on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Announcing the findings, Russell said: "Ultimately this has to be about what they did, not what they said."

He added: "The honesty and rigour of CRU as scientists are not in doubt ... We have not found any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments."

Alyeska CEO Steps Down Following Truthout Exposé


(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: bigweasel, Travis S.)

Kevin Hostler, the chief executive officer of Alyeska Pipeline, informed company employees Wednesday morning that he "plans to retire to Houston and to spend time with his family." 

The announcement comes one day after Truthout published an extensive investigative report that was highly critical of his leadership of the company and revealed details, based on hundreds of pages of internal documents and in interviews with more than a dozen senior employees, of severe cost-cutting measures Hostler implemented that threatened the safety and integrity of the pipeline.

According to one email, "the budget cuts over the last couple of years is creating a large 'bow wave' of deferred projects and program work ... The oversight of the integrity of the system is at risk."

"Reductions in the budgets for the Aboveground [pipeline] program; fuel gas line; and mainline pipe can place the integrity of the system at risk," the email says. "There is a risk ranking exercise that is used and the concern that the risk ranking is being used primarily for budget reductions and although work is shown as lower risk it still should be done to protect the environment."

The employee who wrote the email alleged that Alyeska's 2010 budget was cut from $680 million to $600 million on orders from BP.

Over the past several months, Alyeska Pipeline and Hostler have been under intense scrutiny by a Congressional oversight committee and an independent investigator, who has been probing explosive allegations leveled by managers that severe cost-cutting efforts could put the integrity of the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) at risk.

Crack the Code in Cyber Command’s Logo

The U.S. military's new Cyber Command is headquartered at Ft. Meade, Maryland, one of the military's most secretive and secure facilities. Its mission is largely opaque, even inside the armed forces. But the there's another mystery surrounding the emerging unit. It's embedded in the Cyber Command logo.

On the logo's inner gold ring is a code: 9ec4c12949a4f31474f299058ce2b22a

"It is not just random numbers and does 'decode' to something specific," a Cyber Command source tells Danger Room. "I believe it is specifically detailed in the official heraldry for the unit symbol."

"While there a few different proposals during the design phase, in the end the choice was obvious and something necessary for every military unit," the source adds. "The mission."

With that hint in hand, go crack this code open.

Resurrection of a Scandal


Too Old For A Job, Too Young For Medicare Or Social Security

Here is a fact: There. Are. No. Jobs. I'm in Silicon Valley where the official unemployment rate dipped in May to 11.2%. This dip was, of course, because of so many people just giving up trying to get a job, certainly not because of some wave of hiring. The underemployed figure, known as "U-6," is 21.7% in California, 16.7% nationally.

You have to know someone to get a humiliating job standing on a corner waving a sign. And if you are over 40, things are even worse than that. Don't give me any conservative Rush Limbaugh-Ayn Rand dehumanizing nonsense about parasitic lazy people who won't lookthere are no jobs.

I know so many people here who are over 40, were laid off in the 2000-era dot com crash, still haven't found a regular job and aren't going to. They have had occasional "contract" positions—which means no benefits, no security, a 15% "self-employment" tax and no unemployment check when the job ends. And now, 10 years later they're a lot over 40 and are not going to find a job because so many employers here won't hire people over 40.

And now there are so many more who lost their jobs in the mass layoffs of 2008-2009 and can't find a job. So many of them are also over 40. In fact, many were laid off in obvious purges of over-40 workers, offered a small severance that they could only receive if they promised to take no age-discrimination action against the employer. (I don't say "company" because some of these worked at nonprofits.)

Most of these people will not find another job, but are too young for Medicare and Social Security.

One Person's Story

I ran into a friend this weekend who I hadn't seen for a couple of years. He had been a computer engineer who had been making 6 figures in the dot-com years. Laid off in the 2000 crash, he moved in with his parents back in the Midwest and worked in a bakery. He came back out here when things picked up a bit and worked in one "contract" job after another. (Contracting is just a scam to get around employment laws—but the government doesn't enforce the rules.) But now he just can't find anything. He managed to get unemployment but now that is running out. He has no health insurance. He can't afford a place to live; he "house sits" for people or visits friends, and doesn't know what he is going to do even two days from now.

Olbermann calls on Oprah to ‘crush’ ‘racist’ Limbaugh

rush limbaugh cigar Olbermann calls on Oprah to crush racist Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh may have met his match if MSNBC Keith Olbermann has his way. Olbermann wants Oprah Winfrey to take to the air and "crush" Limbaugh.

Limbaugh suggested Tuesday that Winfrey and other African-Americans owe their success to their skin color.

"If Obama weren`t black, he`d be a tour guide in Honolulu or he`d be teaching Saul Alinsky Constitutional law or lecturing on it in Chicago," Limbaugh announced.

"He wouldn`t have been voted president if he weren`t black. Somebody asked me over the -- oh, I need to remember. Somebody asked me over the weekend, why does somebody earn a lot of money, have a lot of money. I said it`s because he`s black," he continued.

Limbaugh then went on to attack Winfrey. "It was Oprah. No, it can't be. Yes, it is. There's a lot of guilt out there. To show we`re not racist, we`ll make this person wealthy and big and famous and so forth," said Limbaugh.

Olbermann named Limbaugh "Worst Person in the World" Tuesday.

There it is. See, the United States is tilted in favor of black people. That`s the premise. We have made it so easy that human beings inferior to the great Rush Limbaugh, the fired by ESPN one month into his dream job, Rush Limbaugh-- inferior creatures like Obama and Oprah Winfrey have been made wealthy and big and famous and so forth. They have not earned it. They aren`t actually talented. They haven`t actually done the job.

Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama and presumably every other black person in this country has not succeed despite the fact that they`re black, when this country is still filled with racists like this homunculus Limbaugh. They`ve succeeded because they`re black, and only because they`re black.

Well, you heard it. It`s naked, ugly racism. It`s the distillation of Rush Limbaugh`s view of our country.

"The only other thing I can say is, Oprah, please, crush this schmuck," Olbermann concluded.


Two More Candidates for the McChrystal Treatment


It's not working. Time for the president to concede that the economy is at best stagnating and at worst about to take another steep nose dive. I don't know if we are headed for another Great Depression, as Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman dared suggest recently, but it is amply clear that the Obama strategy, inherited from George W. Bush, of bailing out Wall Street in the forlorn hope that it would repair the economic damage the fat cats inflicted on the rest of us has not worked.

The housing market remains in dire shape, and with it the nest eggs of Americans who are responding by squelching their appetite for consumption. The Wall Street hustlers were made whole, but not so the people whose home mortgages the banks are foreclosing, or businesses and their customers looking for the credit that the banks had promised to free up.

The president conceded last week that our economy is 8 million jobs in the hole despite his bailout and stimulus program. With deficits running wild, heartless Republicans get to claim that six months more of unemployment insurance to 1.7 million out-of-work people whose benefits have ended is more than we can afford.

Of course it's not. That would be a $34 billion outlay to people who would actually spend the money instead of using it for acquisitions, as the big banks have done with far larger gifts of taxpayer funds. That the Republicans who favor huge military spending and tax breaks for the rich and who launched the Wall Street bailout are being hypocritical scoundrels when they say we don't have the money to help ordinary folks is obvious. But the problem is that Barack Obama embraced the GOP strategy, and the failures of the bailouts to turn the economy around, along with the cost of two wars, are now his problems to explain.

What we need is for the president's economic hotshots, Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, to grant damaging interviews to Rolling Stone as Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently did in self-destructing. Perhaps then President Obama would have the gumption to fire the misleaders of his economic team. It was always bizarre that those two, who did so much to wreck the economy, were put in charge of the effort to salvage it. Their previous records should have provided ample warning that their economic outlook begins and ends with the demands of Wall Street.

Welcome to Big Brother T-Shirts

The perfect shirts for all you passive-aggressives annoyed at having to take your shoes off. And other Free Speech enthusiasts.
Front pocket: Tasteful CCTV camera and store address. Back: Text "Nobody is safer when yuo make me throw away my water bottle" with an image of a guy throwing away a water bottle and a small image of an airplane.
Nobody is safer when you take my water
Front pocket: Tasteful CCTV camera and store address. Back: Text proclaiming you to be cast member #3860227 of Airport Security Theater and an image of a guy standing at the security gate.
Cast Member of Airport Security Theater
Front pocket: Tasteful CCTV camera and store address. Back: Quote by Bruce Schneier
Technology can't solve security problems
Front pocket: Tasteful CCTV camera and store address. Back: Quote by Bruce Schneier
You can only detect and respond