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My niece the hero

Also does standup!

While my guitar gently weeps

George on acoustic guitar:


Wednesday, March 7 | 9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking Science | Who is John Carter and what have we learned about Mars in the past century? MSNBC’s Alan Boyle (Cosmic Log) talks with JPL Chief Scientist, Mars Exploration DirectorateDave Beaty.  VS Science is produced in cooperation with MICA. Follow @b0yle Watch for the pre-show interview at CosmicLog.Listen live and later on BTR

By Boohunney

While I read this article, I nearly started crying. Some of these stories were so familiar with me and others that I know.

I lost my job about a year ago. After the bad news, I was of course shaken, but not at all surprised. I was worried about finances and healthcare. I was worried because, let’s face it, I am a little long in the tooth.

The Director of the 12 person department seemed professional enough when I first started my position. He was loud, though, had a caustic since of humor and I began noticing within a few days some inappropriate behavior. On my third day he walked up to one of my coworkers (a female) said loudly, “So. You decided to come in today without fixing your hair. HAHAHAHAHA.” I was stunned and embarrassed. My new coworker could not really make eye contact, but, managed a giggle. She had worked for this man for years. I don’t think that the Director noticed that no one else was laughing and even acting as if nothing had just happened.

His job description seemed to be 8th grade playground bully. That’s how he behaved. The pleasure he derived from his horrible behavior was apparent. I don’t think this man knew I could hear every ranting, loud conversation clearly, word for word through the walls of our adjacent offices, even when the door was shut. How he criticized people was appalling. Meetings were torture sessions. No wonder 9 people left a 12 person department in 3 years.

My Team Leader was just the same with her behavior. It started the moment we began working together on training for my position. It was a constant series of bad information and incomplete information. My attempts to fill in the blanks by asking questions turned into a nightmare. Her condescending way was something I could ignore, but, it was very tiring. It seemed her job description was complaining how hard she worked, keeping the mound of hair piled up on top her head, humiliating everyone she could and long walks in the warehouse with the Director.
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By Odd Man Out

'Job creation' can mean all sorts of things, as Paul Muni demonstrates.

I guess we’re supposed to feel good about Barack Obama’s meetings with CEOs, even though they’re always held in private, and with no representatives of working people present. More here.

Task force follies

By Susie

The Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin has a pointed piece about the Obama administration’s inaction on potential speculation in the energy market. Talk is cheap – and it’s costing us quite a bit at the gas pump. I get the distinct impression that the president thinks enforcing any regulations at all, for anybody, will stall the recovery and cost him his reelection:

The topic of gas prices came up at Obama’s press conference on Tuesday after a Fox News reporter asked if the president was on purpose driving up gas prices to wean Americans off fossil fuels. “Just from a political perspective, do you think the president of the United States going into reelection wants gas prices to go up higher?” he asked, with a laugh. “Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?”

Obama said there is “no silver bullet” to lowering high gas prices. Rather, he said, he endorsed an “all of the above strategy,” that includes increased domestic production, energy conservation and the development of renewable energy.

His plans also involve “making sure that my attorney general is paying attention to potential speculation in the oil markets,” Obama said. To that end, he said, “I’ve asked him to reconstitute a task force that’s examining that.”

But it wasn’t an investigative task force. Its job was to “monitor oil and gas markets” for potential violations of criminal or civil law. Even that might have helped — but, as one expert from Public Citizen points out, the task force wasn’t doing anything.

At the time Holder promised, “if illegal conduct is responsible for increasing gas prices, state and federal authorities should take swift action.” Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program for consumer group Public Citizen, said the Obama administration “isn’t reconstituting this task force because this task force wasn’t even meeting in the first place.”
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Kucinich loses

By Susie

And from what I hear, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Although Marcy Kaptor is indeed very bad on abortion rights and so far, has been unwilling to bend, I think the people of this Ohio district will be well served by the famously hard-working Kaptur. In keeping with Kucinich’s reputation, he refused to congratulate Kaptur, instead attacking her campaign as “lacking in integrity.”

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday night, progressives confronted the unimaginable: Congress without Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). The eight-term congressman lost his primary election for Ohio’s newly created 9th district to Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).

The loss also deprives the nation of a general election contest between two national polarizing figures, as one of the candidates in the district’s GOP primary was Joe Wurzelbacher — better known as “Joe the Plumber.” The GOP race was still too close to call at the time of publishing. [Update: Joe the Plumber won the Republican nomination.)

Kaptur and Kucinich were victims of a congressional redistricting process that combined their seats. Because of the population losses recorded by the 2010 U.S. Census, Ohio lost two congressional districts and the borders of the remaining districts were redrawn. The new map combines the districts of Kaptur, who represents what is currently the 9th district, and Kucinich, who represents the 10th.

According to the count on the official Ohio secretary of state website, Kaptur had won four out of the five counties in the district, although not all of the ballots had been counted.

“I thought it was ours to win,” she said, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but in her speech, she assured Kucinich’s former constituents that she would “pay attention to them, too.”

Beans in your ears

By Susie

I’ll sell you these bombs, as long as you promise not to use them!

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States approve the sale of advanced refueling aircraft as well as GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs to Israel during a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.

The American official said that U.S. President Barack Obama instructed Panetta to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible.

During the administration of former U.S. President George Bush, the U.S. refused to sell bunker-penetrating bombs and refueling aircrafts to Israel, as a result of American estimates that Israel would then use them to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Following Obama’s entrance into the White House, however, the United States approves a string of Israeli requests to purchase advance armament.

A bipartisan affair

By Susie

From the Republic Report, a real eye-opener. Listen to these consultants (Democratic and Republican) talk about how important pro-private sector politics is as she talks to members of the for-profit education industry about how to manipulate members of Congress. Truly just as cynical as you’ll always suspected, and illustrative of what’s happening in every major industry, not just this one. But the for-profit colleges have, pardon the pun, done their homework, managing to salt members of both parties throughout their supporters, making it a truly bipartisan affair:

As we head into an election year, we’re going to increasingly hear that Democrats and Republicans fight like cats and dogs, that there is a civil war in Washington. This describes the state of play on some issues, but on others there is bipartisan agreement to do the wrong thing: Both parties do what the money tells them to do. How this works is subtle and often kept secret, done in rooms meant to shield policy-making while the public is distracted with electoral hoopla. Fortunately for Republic Report readers, I got access to one of these rooms, and I can explain how the money guides policy-making.

It starts with high level party functionaries paid by a rich industry, which uses the talents and connections of those party functionaries to extract government concessions. In this case, it’s the for-profit college industry, which perpetually leaves students with astronomical debt while providing poor quality education. The functionaries were former Bill Clinton advisor Doug Sosnik and Republican consultant Sara Fagen. Rather than fighting like cats and dogs, these two showed a keen sense of bipartisanship as they told leaders of these for-profit education companies how they can use their power to manipulate Congress into handing them more money.

The for-profit colleges, multi-billion dollar companies that rely on Federal grants, have collected themselves into the super-boring sounding association known as the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU). Today, they held a closed-to-the-public but open-to-the-media meeting in Washington, D.C. to plot how to keep Congress from approving stricter regulations on the billions of taxpayer dollars that their corporations receive through federal student loans and grants.
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