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Keiser report

Angels in America

Many Americans don’t believe in universal health care, but an awful lot of them think there are angels out there who will take care of us when disaster strikes:

A former police officer who retired from the FBI due to post-traumatic stress disorder linked to her role in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks has written a book about seeing legions of angels guarding the Pennsylvania site where a hijacked airliner crashed.

Lillie Leonardi served as a liaison between law enforcement and the families of the passengers and crew members killed in the United Airlines Flight 93 crash. She arrived on the scene about three hours after the crash.

Although Leonardi’s book, “In the Shadow of a Badge: A Spiritual Memoir,” centers on her vision of angels, she argues her life has been changed more by what she didn’t see that day.

“The biggest thing for me is that that there were no bodies,” she said.

Leonardi, 56, remembers the burning pine and jet fuel stinging her nostrils. She said she also remembers a smoldering crater littered with debris too small to associate with the jetliner or 40 passengers and crew on board.

“I’m used to crime scenes but this one blew me out of the water. It just looked like the ground had swallowed up” the plane, Leonardi said.

“That’s when I started seeing like shimmery lights … and it was kind of misty and that’s when I first saw, like, the angels there,” Leonardi said. “And I didn’t say anything to the guys because you can imagine if I would have said, `I just saw angels on the crash site,’ they’d have called the office and they’d have said, `She lost her mind and tell her to go home.'”

R.I.P. Andy

Before Andy Griffith became the famously easy-going Sheriff Andy on TV, he shocked movie critics with his over-the-top portrayal of Lonesome Rhodes, the hick troubadour who ended up aspiring to be a right-wing power broker in Elia Kazan’s classic A Face In the Crowd:

Every now and then I get the feeling that voters will be smart enough to kick out many of the repulsive wing nuts they elected in 2010. This guy, for example:

Though he never joined the military himself, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) disparaged his Democratic opponent’s military service at a town hall on Sunday, saying that she’s not a “true hero.”

Walsh is running against Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee who lost both her legs in Iraq when insurgents hit her helicopter with an RPG in 2004.

The Tea Party freshman opened the Elk Grove town hall by arguing that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was reluctant to discuss his own military service in 2008, which made him a “noble hero.” By contrast, “Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about,” Walsh said…


Roberts re-programs Romneybot

Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me.

Mittens can barely keep up with that sly dog, Chief Justice John Roberts. From The Raw Story:

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday reversed his campaign’s position that mandates to buy health care are a “penalty” and not a “tax,” telling CBS News that “the majority of the [Supreme Court] has said it is a tax, and therefore it is a tax.”

“They have spoken,” he said. “There’s no way around that.”

Romney’s new position is the exact opposite of what the campaign was saying on Monday. Appearing on MSNBC, senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom revealed that Romney sold his health mandate to Massachusetts residents as a “penalty” and not a tax, just like President Barack Obama did…

Barbequed mystery meat

I hope you had a delicious Fourth of July. As noted in Public Citizen, “your holiday meat could be much more mysterious” next year:

If you’re looking forward to grilling up some hamburgers and hot dogs, think about this: Where does the food you’re eating come from?

That simple question is going to be a lot harder to answer after a ruling from the World Trade Organization (WTO), which decreed last week that such basic consumer information as country-of-origin labels on meat are “unfair trade barriers” to multinational corporate profits…

… It’s the third consecutive WTO attack on a popular U.S. consumer protection or information policy to go down this year. (See the attacks on dolphin-safe labels and cancer prevention through cigarette controls.)

And there was this today from a Public Citizen online petition protesting U.S. trade policy and, in particular, the Obama administration’s handling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which some people are calling NAFTA East:

The recent WTO ruling is not merely advisory. Unlike other international institutions, the WTO packs a punch. The United States will have to abandon some hard-won labeling rules or pay to maintain them in the form of fines or sanctions.

Two decades ago, when the WTO and NAFTA were being forced on us, Public Citizen warned that this day would come.

More here.

Poverty fees

Here in Philadelphia, we have people who have been in jail for weeks because they can’t afford the drunk and disorderly fine. Nothing quite like the high cost of being poor:

CHILDERSBURG, Ala. — Three years ago, Gina Ray, who is now 31 and unemployed, was fined $179 for speeding. She failed to show up at court (she says the ticket bore the wrong date), so her license was revoked.

When she was next pulled over, she was, of course, driving without a license. By then her fees added up to more than $1,500. Unable to pay, she was handed over to a private probation company and jailed — charged an additional fee for each day behind bars.

For that driving offense, Ms. Ray has been locked up three times for a total of 40 days and owes $3,170, much of it to the probation company. Her story, in hardscrabble, rural Alabama, where Krispy Kreme promises that “two can dine for $5.99,” is not about innocence.

It is, rather, about the mushrooming of fines and fees levied by money-starved towns across the country and the for-profit businesses that administer the system. The result is that growing numbers of poor people, like Ms. Ray, are ending up jailed and in debt for minor infractions.

“With so many towns economically strapped, there is growing pressure on the courts to bring in money rather than mete out justice,” said Lisa W. Borden, a partner in Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, a large law firm in Birmingham, Ala., who has spent a great deal of time on the issue. “The companies they hire are aggressive. Those arrested are not told about the right to counsel or asked whether they are indigent or offered an alternative to fines and jail. There are real constitutional issues at stake.”

Geeze, wouldn’t it make more sense for towns to hire these unemployed people to collect the money? Of course, they wouldn’t be able to pay big kickbacks – er, campaign contributions. But maybe that’s the point.

A change is gonna come

Sam Cooke:


The boys:

This land is your land

Tom Morello:

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