The Sentinelese- perhaps the most isolated people in the world!

sentinel-island
Sentinelese on the beach of North Sentinel Island fiercely defend heir home.

North Sentinel Island is in the Bay of Bengal, in the waters east of India. The Sentinelese inhabit the island and have an estimated population of anywhere from 50-500.  They are aggressively defensive of their island and fend off visitors with arrows and stones and have even killed to keep visitors away from their home.  After multiple failed attempts to communicate with the Sentinelese, the Indian Government has declared North Sentinel Island off -limits and has imposed a 3 mile no-trespassing boundary around the island.

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North Sentinel Island,- The Indian government has officially closed the island and made it illegal for anyone to visit – It is dangerous to outsiders trying to make contact and potentially devastating to the Sentinelese- who have no immunities to diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza.

 

A few days after the devastating tsunami in 2004, which killed more than 200, 000 and wiped out nearby islands, the Indian Government sent a helicopter to the island to

In 1981, the ship Primrose ran aground on the coral reef, which surrounds North Sentinel Island.  A few days later, the crew noticed “small black men” carrying spears and arrows and building boats on the beach.  Sensing imminent danger the captain radioed for Sentinelese could reach them.  The tribe used scrap metal from the abandoned boat to build weapons and tools

dRRuzug
Sentinelese chasing potential visitors away1

In 2007,  two fishermen fell asleep in their boat, anchored with a rock tied to a rope.  The anchor failed and the boat drifted near the island and inside the coral reef.   The Sentinelese promptly killed the men andburried them in shallow graves, giving others a grim warning sign to stay away from North Sentinel Island or risk death!

The dense forest canopy makes it impossible to get an accurate count of the tribe.

The Sentinelese survived the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and its after-effects, including the tsunami and the uplifting of the island. Three days after the event, an Indian government helicopter observed several of them, who shot arrows and threw stones at the hovering aircraft.  Although the tsunami disturbed the fishing grounds of the Sentinelese, they appear to have adapted.

Since 1947, India has administered the island as part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory.  However, because there has never been any treaty with the people of the island, nor any record of a physical occupation whereby the people of the island have conceded sovereignty, the island exists in a curious state of limbo under established international law and can be seen as a sovereign entity under Indian protection. It is, therefore, one of the de facto autonomous regions of India.

image37
Sentinelese trying to repel a helicopter with bows and arrows. (/the are quite accurate and deadly up to 30 ft)

The Andaman and Nicobar Administration has stated in 2005 that they have no intention to interfere with the lifestyle or habitat of the Sentinelese and are not interested in pursuing any further contact with them.   Wikipedia- North_Sentinel_Island

After the 2004 tsunami showed the dangerous tribal species, the world was still unaware of them: http://therednews.com/News/1913/indian-sentinel-island-where-untouched-human-living

North_Sentinel_Island
The canopy of vegetation covers almost everything on North Sentinel Island, even when looking at the island from satellite view, making it difficult to get an accurate count of people living on the island or seeing how they live.

 

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Should Clarence Thomas Speak in Court?

US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas doesn't speak in court
US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas doesn’t speak in court.

United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was nominated by George H.W. Bush, in 1991 to succeed Thurgood Marshall.  He was narolloly confirmed by the US Senate and has since had a strange presence on the court, speaking or asking questions almost never and going almost 7 years without speaking at all.  In 2013 he cracked a joke, surprising many that he had spoken at all.

Thomas’s confirmation hearings were bitter and intensely fought, centering on an accusation that he had sexually harassed—or engaged in unseemly behavior toward—attorneyAnita Hill, a subordinate at the Department of Education and subsequently at the EEOC. The U.S. Senate ultimately confirmed Thomas by a vote of 52–48 then confirmed after a media filled US Senate hearing. (Wikipedia)

Since joining the Court, Thomas has taken a textualist approach, seeking to uphold what he sees as the original meaning of the United States Constitutionand statutes. He is generally viewed as the most conservative member of the Court (Wikipedia)

Read more:

Clarence Thomas’s Disgraceful Silence – His behavior on the bench has gone from curious to bizarre to downright embarrassing, for himself and for the institution he represents.

Who Cares About Clarence Thomas’s Silence?–  His jurisprudential vision is unattractive in many respects, but he’s far from unqualified or incompetent, and his silence at oral arguments is an interesting trivia question but really nothing more than that.

Malé

Click for larger image of Malé, capital of the Republic of Maldives
Click for larger image of Malé, capital of the Republic of Maldives

This fascinating city is Malé, the capital  and the most populous city in the Republic of Maldives.

Here are some facts:

  • The central part of the city is formed by the island of Malé. Three more islands form part of the city. A commercial harbour is located on Malé Island and serves as the heart of all commercial activities in the country.
  • The central island is heavily urbanized, with the built-up area taking up essentially its entire landmass.
  • Slightly less than one third of the nation’s population lives in the capital city.
  • The population of Malé has increased from 20,000 people in 1987 to 100,000 people in 2006.
  • The whole island group, the Maldives, is named after its capital. The word “Maldives” means “The islands (dives) of Malé”.
  • The Island of Malé is the firth most densely populated island in the world. Since there is no surrounding countryside, all infrastructure has to be located in the city itself.
  • Water is provided from desalinated ground water; the water works pumps brackish water from 50-60 m deep wells in the city and desalinates that using reverse osmosis.
  • Electric power is generated in the city using diesel generators.
  • Sewage is pumped unprocessed into the sea.  Solid waste is transported to nearby islands, where it is used to fill in lagoons. The airport was built in this way, and currently the Thilafushi lagoon is being filled in.
  • Many government buildings and agencies are located on the waterfront. Malé International Airport is on adjacent Hulhule Island which includes a seaplane base for internal transportation. Several land reclamation projects have expanded the harbour.
  • Source: Wikipedia- Malé
  • Map: Malé Map

 

 

China Successfully Launches Rover Mission!

China has launched a lunar rover, only the third country to do so after the United States and the Soviet Union.  The rover, named Jade Rabbit (called Yutu in Chinese) is solar-powered, has 6 wheels and four cameras.  It also has mechanical arms that can dig soil samples up to 30 meters deep.  It can travel up to 200 meters per hour and weighs 120 kg.

Yatu’s mission is to explore the moon’s surface and look for natural resources.  The rover was able to send photos of itself back to Earth.  A rover “selfie.”  Link

China's lunar rover, Yatu
China’s lunar rover, Yatu

 

Taxes on Visiting Professional Athletes and Entertainers

Professional athletes must pay taxes in many of the cities and states in which they play road games, which can create a tax preparation nightmare.  Article – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

…nonresident athlete taxes — seldom collected 20 years ago — are now significant sources of revenue for municipalities and states and can cause serious headaches for entertainers, athletes and accountants at tax time.

Any employee who travels with the team, which includes coaches, broadcasters, equipment managers and scouts, is subject to the same tax requirements.

Of the 24 states that house professional sports teams, 20 collect income tax on their home and visiting teams. And nearly a dozen cities, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Cincinnati, impose “jock taxes” and fees on teams and players to address budget shortfalls and to help pay for arenas and stadiums built with the taxpayers’ wallet.

Athletes, entertainers and support staff receive dozens of W-2s in the mail each year, and the stack of tax returns for dozens of states is as thick as a phone book.

The Great Gatsby Curve

The Great Gatsby is one of those stories everyone can relate to in some way.  These economic and cultural times offer up even more correlations and connections than in past decades.

“The Great Gatsby,” is a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald and now a movie (again) that highlights the inequality and class distinctions in America during the Roaring 20s.

PNG file - Great Gatsby Curve
It is hard to look at these figures and not be concerned that rising inequality is jeopardizing our tradition of equality of opportunity. The fortunes of one’s parents seem to matter increasingly in American society.

The Great Gatsby Curve was introduced in a speech last year (Jan 2012) by Alan Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. It illustrates the connection between concentration of wealth in one generation and the ability of those in the next generation to move up the economic ladder compared to their parents. Krueger’s speech

The curve shows that children from poor families are less likely to improve their economic status as adults in countries where income inequality was higher – meaning wealth was concentrated in fewer hands – around the time those children were growing up.

So why does this matter for the United States? The U.S. has had a sharp rise in inequality since the 1980s. In fact, on the eve of the Great Recession, income inequality in the U.S. was as sharp as it had been at any period since the time of “The Great Gatsby.”

It is hard to look at these figures and not be concerned that rising inequality is jeopardizing our tradition of equality of opportunity. The fortunes of one’s parents seem to matter increasingly in American society.  Whitehouse.gov Article

App a hit with Icelanders

The risk of Icelanders accidentally sleeping with a relative is apparently high enough to justify a smartphone app to help prevent it.

  • Iceland isn’t a big country. Most Icelanders are descended from the Norse and Celtic settlers that first began arriving on the island some time in the 700s and 800s, with few additions to the gene pool.
  • Roughly two-thirds of its 320,000 population live in and around the capital, Reykjavík, so the chances that you’re at least not-too-distantly-related to most of the strangers you walk past in the street are high. Or, indeed, someone you might meet in a bar and go home with.
  • Part of the problem, beyond the small population, is that Icelandic naming conventions don’t reflect someone’s descendants.
  • Android app seeks to save any incredibly awkward revelations in the future. It uses an online genealogical database that contains records of more than 720,000 Icelanders going back 1,200 years.
  • When two people who both have the app meet — they both get their smartphones out and “bömp”(bump) them together. If they share a grandparent, the app will bring up an alert that it is most definitely not cool to go any further than a handshake with that person. The feature is called “Sifjaspellsspillir”, or “Incest Spoiler”. Link: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-04/18/iceland-incest-app

Link (Video included): http://www.newsy.com/videos/new-app-helps-icelanders-avoid-accidental-incest/

http://www.newsy.com/videos/new-app-helps-icelanders-avoid-accidental-incest/#ooid=F1amMyYjqlZj535gVMdHdw_saQxLCcKd

The Redesigned $100 Note

Front view of the new $100 bill, which will begin circulation in October, 2013

The Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday announced that the redesigned $100 note will begin circulating on October 8, 2013. This note, which incorporates new security features such as a blue, 3-D security ribbon, will be easier for the public to authenticate but more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate.  Full press release: http://www.newmoney.gov/stakeholder/journalist/release_04242013.htm

The Redesigned $100 Note
The new $100 note is the latest denomination of U.S. currency to be redesigned. Over a decade of research and development went into its new security features.  Read more:  http://www.newmoney.gov/newmoney/default.aspx

New Security Features
The advanced security features offer a simple and subtle way to verify that a new $100 note is real.

  • 3-D Security Ribbon-  Look for a blue ribbon on the front of the note. Tilt the note back and forth while focusing on the blue ribbon. You will see the bells change to 100s as they move. 
  • Bell in the Inkwell- Look for an image of a color-shifting bell, inside a copper-colored inkwell, on the front of the new $100 note.

Additional Design and Security Features

  •  Portrait Watermark- Hold the note to light and look for a faint image of Benjamin Franklin in the blank space to the right of the portrait. The image is visible from either side of the note.
  • Also:  security thread, a color-shifting “100” on bill, raised printing, and more.

Security Features:  http://www.newmoney.gov/uscurrency/redesigned100.htm

Many additional features are included in the redesigned bill for added security

Tax Day!

Austerity- Insanity!

Europe was a good model for us to examine, where austerity has failed.. Their extreme action are actually having a reverse effect with negative economic impact.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/28/sequester-austerity_n_2782773.html

“Insanity,” as Albert Einstein is said to have once remarked, “is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

The results of Europe’s experiment in fiscal shock therapy are in: austerity has failed, and failed miserably. The Eurozone club of 17 countries is now plagued by mass unemployment –- 26 percent and rising in Spain and Greece –- and a prolonged drought in demand. Recession-hit Italy is in the grips of a political crisis; neo-Nazis have been elected to parliament in depression-hit Greece.

Why then is the United States Congress committed to repeating Europe’s economic mistakes?

Europe, suffice to say, lacks a Grover Norquist.

North Korea

Kim Jong Un, Ri Yong Ho, Kim Yong Chun

Weird, fascinating and tragic for those living under the oppressive regime.

Here is an interesting link:

http://kimjongunlookingatthings.tumblr.com/

and this one (his dad, who died last year):  http://kimjongillookingatthings.tumblr.com/

About these links: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/12/20/kim-jong-il-looking-at-things-has-a-tumblr-successor/

10 Things you might not know about Kim Jong Un (Current Great Leader of North Korea):  http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/12/19/kim-jong-un-10-things-you-might-not-know-about-north-koreas-new-leader/

Mind boggling facts about Kim Jong Il (The current leader’s dad, and previous Great Leader, who died in Dec 2011): http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/from-fashion-icon-to-golf-pro-mind-boggling-facts-about-kim-jong-il/story-e6frf7lf-1226226100974

Deficits and Debt- Republicans or Democrats?

As we watch the Republican Convention, here are some documented facts:

  • The last 4 Democratic presidents all reduced public debt as a share of GDP, while the last 4 Republican presidents saw increase in public debt.
  • The debt has increased since 1973, except during terms of Presidents Carter and Clinton.
  • Spending, taxes and deficits are all lower today than when Obama took office:
  • VP Dick Cheney said in 2002, that “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”

History of the U.S. Public debt

“Economist Mike Kimel notes that the five former Democratic Presidents (Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and Harry S. Truman) all reduced public debt as a share of GDP, while the last four Republican Presidents (George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford) all oversaw an increase in the country’s indebtedness.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_United_States_public_debt

“Debt as a share of the US economy reached a maximum during Harry Truman‘s first presidential term. Public debt as a percentage of GDP fell rapidly in the post-World War II period, and reached a low in 1973 under President Richard Nixon. The debt burden has consistently increased since then, except during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.”  (From above link)

Interesting national debt chart:  http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

US-national-debt-GDP

The deficit is the amount we spend more that we take in annually.  In other words, how much more debt we add on each year, which is added on to the overall debt.  The debt is the total amount owed.

If we look at yearly deficits, we can at least see which way the economy is headed, and this is usually for a variety of reasons.

http://home.adelphi.edu/sbloch/deficits.html   Look at this link and notice the deficits for each year, represented by red dollar signs on the right side of the chart.  Looking at Ronald Reagan, (1980-1988) see a trend of rapidly growing deficit amounts, and the same general trend under George H.W. Bush.(1989-1992)  See Bill Clinton’s years, (1992-2000) and see the shrinking deficits.  Now for the alarming years of 2000-2008 under George W. Bush, the deficits are alarming.  President Obama’s first 3 years, although still showing large deficits, are at least trending in the right direction.   Are Republicans the economic saviors they claim to be?
One more, just to make a point:

Ideas? Any plan? Republican Convention 2012

I haven’t heard any new ideas or anything interesting coming out of the 2012 Republican Convention in Tampa.  The speakers are unanimous in their negativity aimed at President Obama, but have offered very little substance.  The party seems to be confused and leaderless.  They all agree that President Obama is awful and has ruined the economy…  They keep focusing on the Obama’s remarks, taken out of context.

Almost all of the speakers are obsessed with the debt, something they cared very little about until 2008, when under 8 years of George W. Bush’s leadership the economy was spinning out control.   The Bush tax cuts and two unfunded wars created the debt monster.  President Obama inherited that mess, but don’t tell conservative that, they will let you know that we should focus on the future.  I think a little peek at history is probably a good thing.  What is the Republican plan to reduce the deficit and the debt?  They have the Debt Clock up at the convention, what are they going to do to slow it down?  Cut taxes?  Increase military spending?  Give us some ideas.  “Obama bad, Republican Good” isn’t going to do it.

Here is chart, courtesy of the Congressional Budget Office:

Republicans seem to be afraid to get behind their candidate, Mitt Romney.  They are promoting Republicans, and they are proud to talk about Paul Ryan, but they cautiously tiptoe when mentioning Romney.

NY Times Opinion on Truth and Lies About Medicare

We need some way to control misleading campaigns, regardless of party.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/truth-and-lies-about-medicare.html?smid=pl-share

It is utterly irresponsible for the Republicans to promise not to trim Medicare spending in their desperate bid for votes.

Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made statements last week implying that the Affordable Care Act would eviscerate Medicare when in fact the law should shore up the program’s finances.

Olympic Tower Bridge!

 

The Moon became the 6th Olympic ring, at least for a moment. This photo was taken on August 3, 2012 and topped the trending charts for a day.

A photographer used a smart phone app to predict the trajectory of the moon and timed this photograph perfectly.  The Olympic Rings have been hung off London’s Tower Bridge to celebrate London Olympiad 2012. http://tinyurl.com/c6bawkm

 

The gigantic rings cost about $100,000 to install, and not without controversy.  http://tinyurl.com/9slgvx8

The Tower Bridge is a drawbridge and opens about 1,000 times a year to allow river traffic to pass.
                                             The rings weigh 3 tons and lift up when the bridge opens to let sailboats and other river traffic through.

 

 

Health Care

A colleague shared her experience with her daughter and the health care situation.  It was via email and articulate and touching.  I told her that what she explained in that email sums it all up concerning pre-existing conditions, loss of health care, inadequate health coverage, etc….  I told her they should invite her to congress and share her experience.  There a millions of stories just as dramatic, many of them tragic. How do those who are so against a new plan but yet with no plan of their own, able to be OK with the current situation?  Aren’t the obligated to help those who they represent from misery and suffering?  Is it that they believe in economic “tough love” much like Hoover?  The sad thing is, those who should feel shame,  just feel greed, envy and hatred instead.  Why isn’t taking care of our people the top priority of our government?  In the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, we spent and are still spending billions.

If I  had no health care plan, our son wouldn’t be talking.  He needed expensive tests at Children’s Hospital and we were able to suppress his seizures, which allowed him to learn how to communicate.  I always think of unemployed or any other example of uninsured or under-insured kids, families or individuals and it breaks my heart.  I really hope we are able to keep stepping forward on this and not step back.

The crazy thing is that a national plan would be way LESS expensive, saving us millions at a time when almost all of those against “Obamacare” are complaining about spending and reducing the debt.  (I won’t bring up the fact that many these same people didn’t care about the debt at all when times were good)  We have social medicine right now.  When those without insurance require medical attention, they go to emergency rooms, filling up the rooms, and that cost is absorbed in many ways by the public.  What a terrible situation.

I also think all kids should get free lunch at school, but that’s another story…….

Rodney King- Interesting Individual

  Rodney King ended up playing a part in American culture, politics, violence and peace, he never intended to play.  He was a reluctant figure in civil rights, a victim, a peace-maker and an occasional criminal.  Quite a mix.  He appreciated life, yet died at the relatively young age of 47 years.

Many of us who followed the story focused on the verdict and the violence the broke out after it was announced.   The public was also concerned about who was at fault in the violent arrest, which was caught on film and played in the media over and over as we all became jurors in the case.  However, what many don’t realize, or may have forgotten, is the severity of the injuries suffered by King, or the emotional and mental anguish he dealt with following the riots which took the lives of 53 people.

Below: NPR with an interesting piece on Rodney King-

Audio with text transcript:   http://www.npr.org/2012/04/27/151526928/rodney-king-two-wrongs-dont-make-a-right

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/06/18/155270776/rodney-king-what-i-had-to-do-was-make-it-better

Kim Jong Il Looking

Looking at sausages!

Kim Jong Il recently passed away, but lives on forever!  Check out this link, and find many pictures of the Great Leader looking at various things!

Link:  http://kimjongillookingatthings.tumblr.com/

Looking at corn?

Cain bows out, and Gingrich soars! Surprise!

Keep everyone busy talking about Cain, who was never really very serious or he wouldn’t have run that crazy TV ad, then nobody picks on Gingrich as he surges, just before the primary season!  Click on the picture above to see a similar tactic.

Herman Cain Ad

Come on, this has to be some kind of joke!  This candidacy is just an attempt to pull attention away from reality.    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/richard-adams-blog/2011/oct/25/herman-cain-smoking-ad-video?newsfeed=true

A tax cut the GOP doesn’t like!

http://news.yahoo.com/obama-challenges-gop-back-more-payroll-tax-cuts-081824835.html

Portions below from Theweek.com  September, 9, 2011

“Republicans are steadfastly opposed to raising taxes,” said Adam Serwer in WashingtonPost.com. “Except when they aren’t.”  President Obama wants Congress to extend the payroll tax holiday, which he pushed through last year.  It  put more money in average Americans’ pockets and may stimulate the economy a bit.  It is temporary and reduces Social Security deductions from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent.  Works out to about $1,000 annually for most working families.  Republicans say they are opposed to extending the payroll tax cut for another year, even though last year they aggressively defended the extension of tax cuts for the wealthy.  Even more puzzling is that Republicans introduced and passed a temporary payroll tax cut to stimulate the economy during the recession in 2001 and again in 2008, when George W. Bush was president.

“The GOP was happy to cut the payroll tax to boost economic growth.”  Jonathan Chait in TheNewRepublic.com

http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/94167/why-republicans-turned-against-payroll-tax-cuts

“I know some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live,” Obama told a joint session of Congress on Thursday night. “Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes.”

James Fallows, TheNewRepublic.com:

“I had thought that Republican absolutism about taxes, while harmful to the country and out of sync with even the party’s own Reaganesque past, at least had the zealot’s virtue of consistency. Now we see that it can be set aside when it applies to poorer people, and when setting it aside would put maximum drag on the economy as a whole. So this means that its real guiding principle is… ??? You tell me.”  James Fallows

Reminds me of this post from last year:

Fox News Bubble Bursting?

“It’s a sad commentary on the state of American media when the battle for news dominance is between a right-wing propaganda outlet and a comedy channel.”

http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2011/06/fox-news-bubble-angry-white-men-bursting

United States Government by Administration

Nice information on United States Government by Administration

http://developer.wolframalpha.com/widgets/gallery/view.jsp?id=ab77f065607841db59736aa77a08453b

Wolfram/Alpha Widgets:  (These things are awesome)

http://developer.wolframalpha.com/widgets/index.html

Deficit Editorial -NY Times

Good editorial on the deficit:
 
In a nutshell: (from article)
 
Growth will not be enough. There is no chance to put the budget on a sustainable path without significant tax increases, and not just on the wealthy. Few politicians, of either party, are willing to tell that truth.
 
Playing on Americans’ deep anxiety about the economy, Republican politicians have seized the deficit issue as their own — eagerly blaming the stimulus and even an extension of unemployment insurance for the problem — while denying their own culpability for helping dig this deep hole with years of irresponsible tax cuts.
 
We agree the situation is unsustainable. But cutting spending right now on relief and recovery efforts would worsen the economic slowdown and the suffering of millions of Americans, while making only a tiny dent in future deficits.
 
When it comes to controlling the near-term problem — trillion-dollar deficits every year for the next 10 years — the biggest help will be a return to solid economic growth and, with that, increasing tax revenues.
Growth will not be enough. There is no chance to put the budget on a sustainable path without significant tax increases, and not just on the wealthy. Few politicians, of either party, are willing to tell that truth.
 
HOW DID WE GET HERE? When President Bill Clinton left office in 2001, the government had run surpluses for three straight years. By the time President George W. Bush left the White House, the government had run deficits for seven straight years, and the Congressional Budget Office projected a 2009 deficit of over $1 trillion.
Much of the deterioration resulted from huge Bush-era tax cuts, which left the nation chronically short of revenue, especially when it had to pay for two wars. And because the budget was already in bad shape when the financial crisis hit in late 2008, the necessary spending to rescue the system only deepened an already deep deficit. Unchastened, Republicans — joined by a few Democrats — are now determined to dig the hole even deeper by calling for all of the Bush tax cuts to be extended beyond their scheduled expiration at the end of this year.
 

Schumer gets heat for profanity

Senator Schumer- New York, mutters some profanity under his breath, when a flight attendant asks him to shut down his cell phone.   After it was reported on the Politico Web site on Tuesday, Mr. Schumer issued an apology and called the flight attendant to say he was sorry.

Schumer’s b word: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/17/nyregion/17schumer.html

However, in 2004,  then Vice President Cheney got into an argument with Senator Patrick Leahy, and told him to go F… himself.  All this on the Senate floor during a photo-op.   It doesn’t appear an apology was issue by Cheney.  In fact, it apparently made him “feel better.”

Cheney’s f-bomb:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3699-2004Jun24.html

Health Care

A guy is charged $2,200 for an MRI of his lumbar.  His insurance has a pre-paid agreement for $1,700.  It is still way too much for an MRI.  In Japan they cost about $160.

I think health care needs a big change.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2009/11/podcast_shopping_for_an_mri.html

 

Ted Kennedy- for the common American!

Ted Kennedy:

A great article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/us/politics/27year.html?pagewanted=1&hp

This from President Obama;

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For nearly five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives — in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education’s promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me.

In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that’s one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

I personally valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I’ve benefited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

His fight gave us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye. The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we’ve all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives.

For America, he was a defender of a dream. For his family, he was a guardian. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today — to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still.

Sincerely,

President Barack Obama

Health Care

As the paranoid try to ruin town hall meetings, many at the urging of right-wing radio and TV hosts, our chances at improving health care in the US are crumbling.   Citizens have the right to speak out, and peacefully demonstrate.  When they purposely interupt and obstruct conversation, is that the “right” thing to do?   A town hall meeting last night in Virginia, televised live on C-SPAN, was embarrassing to watch.  It was held in a high school gymnasium, but the behavior of the adults would have been unacceptable for any student body.  Check out the link below;

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/08/26/howard-deans-town-hall-better-than-jerry-springer/

France has a good health care system, and the per capita cost is about half of that in the US.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/08/11/frances_model_healthcare_system/

What I don’t hear from the meeting-wreckers and those who wear tea-bags, are ideas.  Where were these people the last eight years, as republicans let the deficit and overall debt spin out of control?  How do we insure or even give primary and/or preventative care to the 40+ million uninsured?  The irony is that a national system would probably benefit most of these irate people and it would most likely save money in the long run.  But then what would Rush do?

Kenyan man offers Clintons goats and cows for Chelsea’s hand in marriage!

Should she take the offer?
Should she take the offer?
Not a bad offer, but I don’t think she will take it.  Read all about it here:

Best Press Conferences Since Reagan

Reagan was even better than Clinton in a press conference, although that could be open for debate.  Are we judging delivery or content?

George W. Bush was the worst in modern times and rarely appeared, giving awkward and scripted and even clumsy presentations.

President Obama is a a league of his own, laughing, non-defensive and entertaining, even educational.    It is something rarely seen in modern politics and it is fascinating.  Here is an example of a man on the spot:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/us/politics/23text-obama.html?_r=1&bl&ex=1245988800&en=948520d3f4de6dd5&ei=5087%0A

Questionnaire for Sotomayor

Next time you get stressed out filling out paperwork, forms, applications or resumes, think about the process US Supreme Court nominees must endure.  Then they have to put up with months of analysis and scrutiny, and even harassment.   Robert Bork went through it all for nothing.  The nice thing is, if you make it,  job security is rock-solid.

The background check/resume is quite extensive.   170 page.pdf file

5000+ pages with index

What is wealth?

Check out the view of wealth and luxury in Finnland.   I don’t mind the idea of high taxes.  I think college should be free in the United States.  I also think every kid should be fed at school.  We can afford to give our students free breakfast and lunch.  Many kids have parents who don’t qualify for free and reduced lunch, or they won’t fill out the paperwork, or the kids are too embarrassed.  They go hungry, and that is a crime.  While we are at it, everyone in the United States should have free health care.  It is time to face it.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20090501/cm_csm/ycorson

Good article on cutting government aid too soon

FDR’s programs helped pull the United States out of the Great Depression.  However, under increasing republican pressure, he caved in and cut spending.  The US then suffered a “recession within a depression”.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/13/1937-haunts-democrats-dur_n_174358.html

Bush team unhappy with Obama inauguration speech

Hopefully, this is the last Bush on Air Force One.
Hopefully, this is the last Bush on Air Force One.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/us/politics/22web-baker.html

Maybe Bush was gracious at the end, he needed to be.  That doesn’t undo the damage done to our country.

 

Karl Rove wrote in The Wall Street Journal that as his former boss departed, “in a last angry frenzy his critics again distorted his record, maligned his character and repeated untruths about his years in the Oval Office.” Mr. Rove said Mr. Bush had cut taxes, expanded Medicare, improved schools, liberated Iraq and protected the country.

Here is that Wall Street Journal article on Blow-Hard Rove;

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123258532378704477.html

Largest cities in the world

Nice link, full of information:

http://www.worldatlas.com/citypops.htm

Largest cities in the world

1. Tokyo, Japan – 28,025,000
2. Mexico City, Mexico – 18,131,000
3. Mumbai, India – 18,042,000
4. Sáo Paulo, Brazil – 17, 711,000
5. New York City, USA – 16,626,000
6. Shanghai, China – 14,173,000
7. Lagos, Nigeria – 13,488,000
8. Los Angeles, USA – 13,129,000
9. Calcutta, India – 12,900,000
10. Buenos Aires, Argentina – 12,431,000

Alaskan Way Viaduct/Tunnel, Seattle Dig

Alaska Way Viaduct Seattle- damaged and doomed
Alaskan Way Viaduct Seattle- damaged and doomed

Any person can drive a piece of crap car or truck along the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle and get the best view in town.  To the west is Elliott Bay, with ferries, sailboats and the pristine Olympic Mountains in the background.  To the east are the skyscrapers and towers of downtown Seattle.  100,000 vehicles per day use the north-south Highway 99, relieving congestion on the already too-crowded Interstate-5, also a north-south thoroughfare.  Somehow, the real estate developers and the mayor have convinced Governor Gregoire and the others in power that we should build a tunnel.  This more expensive option will open up the existing buildings to the panoramic views of the waterfront, and keep the rest of us peons out of their eyesight.    What a sad decision.  Learn from others, check out the Big Dig in Boston. 

Viaduct- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Way_Viaduct

Tunnel- http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008619010_webviaduct12m.html

Big Dig- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig_(Boston,_Massachusetts)

Adios George W. Bush

 “We are about to enter a world in which our commander in chief speaks in full sentences”

How did George W. get re-elected in 2004?

Here is a sad Op/Ed on our strange executive situation:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/15/opinion/15collins.html

Bush (Obama) hosts past presidents

President-Obama suggested this meeting to President Bush, who agreed to host the past presidents.  What a great idea.  Why hasn’t anyone done this since 1981?

The post-meeting comments by Obama were impressive.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/07/presidents.meeting/index.html

President Club
President Club

Great article about Iran travel!

Rick Steves has done great for himself, and for many others who learn travel, culture and history from his shows, tours and lectures.  This article on visiting Iran is great article for a lot of reasons, read through to the end:

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20090103/LIVING/701039980/1027/LIVING#Visiting.Iran.requires.cultural.attitude.adjustments

Israel- What would you do?

Things have changed, Iran may get the bomb, Hezbollah and Hamas threaten, the world is shrinking and Israel is probably more vulnerable.  Another great article from the Opinion of NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/30/opinion/30morris.html?ref=opinion