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Yakuza aid

Well, I’ll try not to second-guess their motives, although it’s tempting. But the yakuza are involved in some pretty horrific stuff, too:

The worst of times sometimes brings out the best in people, even in Japan’s “losers” a.k.a. the Japanese mafia, the yakuza. Hours after the first shock waves hit, two of the largest crime groups went into action, opening their offices to those stranded in Tokyo, and shipping food, water, and blankets to the devastated areas in two-ton trucks and whatever vehicles they could get moving. The day after the earthquake the Inagawa-kai (the third largest organized crime group in Japan which was founded in 1948) sent twenty-five four-ton trucks filled with paper diapers, instant ramen, batteries, flashlights, drinks, and the essentials of daily life to the Tohoku region.

An executive in Sumiyoshi-kai, the second-largest crime group, even offered refuge to members of the foreign community—something unheard of in a still slightly xenophobic nation, especially amongst the right-wing yakuza. The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime group, under the leadership of Tadashi Irie, has also opened its offices across the country to the public and been sending truckloads of supplies, but very quietly and without any fanfare.

The Inagawa-kai has been the most active because it has strong roots in the areas hit. It has several “blocks” or regional groups. Between midnight on March 12th and the early morning of March 13th, the Inagawa-kai Tokyo block carried 50 tons of supplies to Hitachinaka City Hall (Hitachinaka City, Ibaraki Prefecture) and dropped them off, careful not to mention their yakuza affiliation so that the donations weren’t rejected.

This was the beginning of their humanitarian efforts. Supplies included cup ramen, bean sprouts, paper diapers, tea and drinking water. The drive from Tokyo took them twelve hours. They went through back roads to get there. The Kanagawa Block of the Inagawa-kai, has sent 70 trucks to the Ibaraki and Fukushima areas to drop off supplies in areas with high radiations levels. They didn’t keep track of how many tons of supplies they moved. The Inagawa-kai as a whole has moved over 100 tons of supplies to the Tohoku region. They have been going into radiated areas without any protection or potassium iodide.

The Yamaguchi-gumi member I spoke with said simply, “Please don’t say any more than we are doing our best to help. Right now, no one wants to be associated with us and we’d hate to have our donations rejected out of hand.”

Abortion audits

First of all, this particular bill will never pass. It’s just the kind of red meat that wingnuts like to throw to the wackiest members of their hungry base, and the Senate won’t pass it. But it’s important to understand the way their minds work: Namely, that it’s very, very important that men keep a very tight rein on women. And if they could pass a bill like this, of course they would!

Because, as PZ Myers recently wrote about Newt Gingrich and family values:

Our ideal is a community of equals, while theirs is a hierarchy of power, a relic of Old Testament values in which marrying a woman was like buying a camel, a certification of ownership, and nothing must compromise the Big Man’s possession of properties.

If we strip marriage of the asymmetry of power, as we must if we allow men to marry men and women to marry women, then we also strip away the man and wife, dominant and submissive, owner and owned, master and servant relationship that characterizes the conservative view of marriage. This is what they want to preserve, and this is what they are talking about when people like Gingrich echo those tired phrases about “Judeo-Christian values” and complain that their “civilization is under attack”. And it is, when we challenge their right to treat one partner, so-called, as chattel.

And once you look at it that way, you see no abuse of their values when Gingrich goes tomcatting around—he’s simply asserting his traditional privilege as the Man.

Paradoxically, though, it turns marriage into a brittle business where women are stressed by subservience and oppression (believe it or not, women are human beings who might resent being treated as servants), and men feel it is their right to possess any woman willing to surrender to them. It’s not surprising that their relationships break up in courtroom battles.

Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee on Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans’ “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops—that is, during an audit, they’d have to detemine, from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion.

The proposed law, also known as H.R. 3, extends the reach of the Hyde Amendment—which bans federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake—into many parts of the federal tax code. In some cases, the law would forbid using tax benefits—like credits or deductions—to pay for abortions or health insurance that covers abortion. If an American who used such a benefit were to be audited, Barthold said, the burden of proof would lie with the taxpayer to provide documentation, for example, that her abortion fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.

“Were this to become law, people could end up in an audit, the subject of which could be abortion, rape, and incest,” says Christopher Bergin, the head of Tax Analysts, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit tax policy group. “If you pass the law like this, the IRS would be required to enforce it.”

Yep. Aside from the sheer repressive evil of these laws, it’s illustrative of so much more. Women aren’t partners, they don’t have brains (or souls), and conservative men will continue to trade these compliant females in for newer, shiner models. See any connection there?

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

I love Morgan Spurlock.

Hah

James O’Keefe refuses to be taped while speaking to a Bayshore NJ teabagger event:

No one knows

Queens of the Stone Age:

You didn’t try to call me

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention:

It wouldn’t have made any difference

Todd and Daryl:

Suicide

A Wisconsin teacher kills herself, stressed out over Gov. Walker’s changes to her job.

Cruel, cruel world

It was 74 here today and I have all the windows open. The weatherman just told me it’s going to get cold and maybe even snow by Wednesday. Spring, why do you tease me like this?

YouTube won’t let me upload the audio, even though this is clearly fair use. So if you want to see it, you’ll have to click on the link.

mrpresident

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