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Eternal flame

Bangles:

Technical, foul

This week on Blogger is the reason why I finally switched to my own hosting service. They’ve been down for two days and now YouTube is down, too.

I wonder if Google is under a DNS attack?

UPDATE: Twitter’s down, too. Hmm.

Sick fish in the Gulf

Gee, I wonder why?

Scientists are alarmed by the discovery of unusual numbers of fish in the Gulf of Mexico and inland waterways with skin lesions, fin rot, spots, liver blood clots and other health problems.

“It’s a huge red flag,” said Richard Snyder, director of the University of West Florida Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation. “It seems abnormal, and anything we see out of the ordinary we’ll try to investigate.”

Are the illnesses related to the BP oil spill, the cold winter or something else?

That’s the big question Snyder’s colleague, UWF biologist William Patterson III, and other scientists along the Gulf Coast are trying to answer. If the illnesses are related to the oil spill, it could be a warning sign of worse things to come.

In the years following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, the herring fishery collapsed and has not recovered, according to an Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee report. The herring showed similar signs of illness — including skin lesions — that are showing up in Gulf fish.

Worried that same scenario could play out along the Gulf Coast, Patterson is conducting research on the chronic effects of the BP oil spill on Gulf fish. And he sees troubling signs consistent with oil exposure: fish with lesions, external parasites, odd pigmentation patterns, and diseased livers and ovaries. These may be signs of compromised immune systems in fish that are expending their energy dealing with toxins, Patterson said.

Tomorrow’s the day

To put out a bag of canned goods for your local food banks:

You can help “Stamp Out Hunger” this weekend by joining with the Letter Carriers’ (NALC) in the largest one-day food drive in the nation. NALC asks that you collect canned goods and dry food, such as tuna, canned meat, soups, pasta, rice and cereal, and leave them in a bag or box by your mailbox on Sat., May 14. Your letter carriers will pick them up as they deliver your mail. NALC members will deliver the goods to local food banks, pantries and shelters to help needy families in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions.

This is NALC’s 19th annual food drive, held on the second Saturday in May. National and local NALC food drive coordinators hope to expand on last year’s record of 77.1 million pounds of donations collected along postal routes. Over the past 18 years, NALC members have collected and donated more than one billion pounds of food to help feed hungry Americans.

Demands for food assistance have reached record levels. More than 50 million people—including 17.2 million children—live in households that are hungry or at risk of hunger, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s a 30 percent increase in one year and represents more than one in seven households in the country (14.6 percent).

Coburn’s part in Ensign’s affair

I don’t know how closely any of you have been following this, but basically Tom Coburn was helping John Ensign cover up his affair and pay off the involved parties.

In other words, obstruction of justice.

And really, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you belong to an extremist religious cult that’s vowed to lie its way into power so they can establish God’s kingdom on earth!

Bet you dollars to doughnuts there are no consequences whatsoever for Coburn. After all, the Family’s too powerful.

Chris Hedges

Writing on why the U.S. is destroying its education system:

“If the Bloomberg administration can be said to have succeeded in anything,” he said, “they have succeeded in turning schools into stress factories where teachers are running around wondering if it’s possible to please their principals and if their school will be open a year from now, if their union will still be there to offer some kind of protection, if they will still have jobs next year. This is not how you run a school system. It’s how you destroy one. The reformers and their friends in the media have created a Manichean world of bad teachers and effective teachers. In this alternative universe there are no other factors. Or, all other factors—poverty, depraved parents, mental illness and malnutrition—are all excuses of the Bad Teacher that can be overcome by hard work and the Effective Teacher.”

The truly educated become conscious. They become self-aware. They do not lie to themselves. They do not pretend that fraud is moral or that corporate greed is good. They do not claim that the demands of the marketplace can morally justify the hunger of children or denial of medical care to the sick. They do not throw 6 million families from their homes as the cost of doing business. Thought is a dialogue with one’s inner self. Those who think ask questions, questions those in authority do not want asked. They remember who we are, where we come from and where we should go. They remain eternally skeptical and distrustful of power. And they know that this moral independence is the only protection from the radical evil that results from collective unconsciousness. The capacity to think is the only bulwark against any centralized authority that seeks to impose mindless obedience. There is a huge difference, as Socrates understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to think. Those who are endowed with a moral conscience refuse to commit crimes, even those sanctioned by the corporate state, because they do not in the end want to live with criminals—themselves.
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The strategy

What really pisses me off about this is that we simply can’t trust the Democrats not to go along. And if “compromise” on Medicare and Social Security happens, people will be staying home in droves for the next election. Steve Benen:

Look, this is so obvious, it usually goes unsaid, but it’s important to understand. McConnell and other Republicans are eager, practicallydesperate, to make major changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — changes that the public won’t like. What the GOP needs more than anything is bipartisan cover. They want Obama to make it so, to use McConnell’s word, this isn’t “usable” in the next election, because if Republicans tried to do this on their own, the electoral consequences would be severe.

That leaves Republican leaders with two choices to get what they want. Option #1: the GOP can agree to some tax increases and Pentagon cuts as part of a grand bargain with Democrats. Option #2: the GOP can threaten to destroy the economy, on purpose, unless Democrats give in to Republican demands on entitlements.

Guess which one the GOP prefers?

Neither McConnell nor Boehner have been willing to speak publicly about exactly what’s on the GOP’s ransom note, but that’s part of the game, too — they’re keeping things vague so they can wait and see how far Democrats will go to fill in the blanks.

With that in mind, the White House is also effectively left with two options. Option #1: tell Republicans there will be no deal and when the economy crashes, it will be their fault. Option #2: tell the GOP negotiations can proceed after Republican leaders start adding details to their own ransom note.

What do Democrats still stand for? Not much, as far as I can tell.

Flashbacks

When the Bush administration did this, we raised a ruckus. Gee, what do you suppose will happen now?

If this is accurate

We are so screwed.

Words of love

I’m still on my spring cleaning binge, and today I went through a huge stack of papers that were stowed in a box under my bed. In it, I found several printouts of emails exchanged between me and my significant other of some eight or nine years ago.

I thought I’d gotten rid of everything I had from that era (I know I did build a bonfire with my journals from that time), but these were three or four letters shoved in a box with a bunch of old legal pads.

At the time we were involved, I thought of us as star-crossed lovers, but when I read these letters again today with the help of several years’ distance, I was a little surprised. “Wow,” I thought. “He really was a selfish, dishonest jerk, and it’s all right there, plain as day. Why didn’t I ever see it?”

Liberals! We’re just so good at making excuses for people.

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