Virtually Speaking tonight

Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd | 6pm pacific | 9pm eastern | Thurs May 24, 2012

Tonight, Alex Lawson, Exec Director of Social Security Works, a DC organization dedicated to the preservation of the Social Security system. Alex and Jay talk about SSW’s Strengthen Social Security campaign and material from ‘The Battle for Social Security’ by Nancy J Altman.

Listen here to Alex’s excellent framing of Social Security benefits for C-Span. Listen live and later on BTR.

This is how to respond to bad laws

Canadians gone wild!

“The single biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history.”


That’s how yesterday’s Montreal protest is being described today. Hundreds of thousands red-shirted demonstrators defied Quebec’s new “anti-protest” law and marched through the streets of downtown Montreal filling the city with “rivers of red.”


Tuesday marked the 100th day of the growing student protests against austerity measures and tuition increases. In response to the spreading protests, the conservative Charest government passed a new “emergency” law last Friday – Bill 78.


Since Bill 78 passed, people in Montreal neighborhoods have appeared on their balconies and in front of their houses to defiantly bang pots and pans in a clanging protest every night at 8 p.m.


Bill 78 mandates:


Fines of between $1,000 and $5,000 for any individual who prevents someone from entering an educational institution or who participate in an illegal demonstration.


Penalties climb to between $7,000 and $35,000 for protest leaders and to between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student federations.


All fines DOUBLE for repeat offenders


Public demonstrations involving more than 50 people have to be flagged to authorities eight hours in advance, include itinerary, duration and time at which they are being held. The police may alter any of these elements and non-compliance would render the protest illegal.


Offering encouragement for someone to protest at a school, either tacitly or otherwise, is subject to punishment. The Minister of Education has said that this would include things like ‘tweeting’, ‘facebooking’, and has she has implied that wearing the student protest insignia (a red flag-pin) could also be subject to punishment.


No demonstration can be held within 50 meters of any school campus


Bill 78 not only “enraged civil libertarians and legal experts but also seems to have galvanized ordinary Quebecers.” Since the law passed Friday, people in Montreal neighborhoods have appeared on their balconies and in front of their houses to defiantly bang pots and pans in a clanging protest every night at 8 p.m.

Happy birthday, Bob

He’s 71 today!

Nice to see the young folks carrying it on. Here’s Miley Cyrus doing “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”:

Flogging Molly:

Brain fog

I was so out of it when the alarm went off this morning, I started pulling office clothes out of the closet. It took me a few minutes to realize I wasn’t going to a job interview, but to a doctor’s appointment.

Finally, I met with the endocrinologist. Nice older gent, very sharp and a good communicator. He asked how I found him. I told him he was the senior specialist listed on the hospital website. “I thought you might have found me on Google,” he said. “I wrote a paper on subclinical hypothyroidism, that’s how a lot of people end up here.”

Nope, I told him. For once, I simply lucked out.

I told him I thought I’d been hypothyroid for a long time, but the tests didn’t confirm it. (I’d actually had a couple of tests that did indicate it, but when they were redone, I was normal.) Why did you think you were? he wanted to know. Brain fog, dry skin, low body temperature, I said.

“That’s just a variation,” he said. “Lots of people have a lower temperature.”

“Yeah, but when I get sick, mine goes even lower.”

“How low?” he asked.

“When I was sick in February, it was 93.3.” (I remember because it was the same as WMMR-FM, the classic rock station.)

He looked at me, but didn’t say anything.

So he ordered a more extensive set of blood tests but because of the holiday, I probably won’t get the results until next week. He told me it was unlikely that the new test would show much of a difference, but he’d have a better idea of possible causes. I asked (because I’m curious that way) if this had anything to do with why I have such strong reactions to such small doses of medication. He said yes, because I’d metabolize things much more slowly and they would have that effect – interesting, I thought.

Anyway, so we’ll see what happens. He told me to make a followup appointment in six weeks; the next available one was the end of August. Good thing we don’t have socialized medicine, huh?

UPDATE: By the way, blood pressure’s still good – 132/72. Glad I didn’t let the primary doc put me on statins!

Occupy Frankfurt

German police officers escort an anti-capitalism protest march with some 20,000 people in Frankfurt, Germany, Saturday, May 19, 2012. Protesters peacefully filled the city center of continental Europe’s biggest financial hub in their protest against the dominance of banks and what they perceive to be untamed capitalism, Frankfurt police spokesman Ruediger Regis said. The protest group calling itself Blockupy has called for blocking the access to the European Central Bank, which is located in Frankfurt’s business district. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Over 20,000 Occupiers marched in Frankfurt, Germany last Saturday, and even the cops joined them:

BERLIN — At least 20,000 people held a major rally of the local Occupy movement in Frankfurt on Saturday to decry austerity measures affecting much of Europe, the dominance of banks, and what they call untamed capitalism.

The protesters peacefully filled the city center of continental Europe’s biggest financial hub on a warm and pleasant afternoon, said Frankfurt police spokesman Ruediger Regis. He said 20,000 people were there, while organizers put the number at 25,000.

Organizer spokesman Roland Seuss the protest is “against the Europe-wide austerity dictate by the (creditor) troika of ECB, the EU Commission and the International Monetary Fund.”
Continue Reading →

Mittens ‘on board’ with legacy of Cheney

Is anyone surprised that Mitt Romney, who seems to have stopped following what was happening in the world after the Cold War ended, is a fan of Dick?

On her show Wednesday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained that although presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had distanced himself from George W. Bush, Romney had openly expressed his admiration for Dick Cheney.

She began the segment by outlining the history of Cheney, who had defended President Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal and argued an expansive view of presidential power.

“It is not surprising that the Republican Party would not be all that enthused with about the legacy of George W. Bush, but what do you make of the fact that they all are on board with the legacy of Dick Cheney?” Maddow wondered…

Don’t touch that $1T defense budget!

Hardly anyone in Congress ever asks why. From TomDispatch:

… Think of it this way: National security accounts for one quarter of every dollar the federal government is projected to spend in 2013. And if you pull trust funds for programs like Social Security out of the equation, that figure rises to more than one third of every dollar in the projected 2013 federal budget.

Yet the House recently passed legislation to spare the defense budget from cuts, arguing that the automatic spending reductions scheduled for January 2013 would compromise national security. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said such automatic cuts, which would total around $55 billion in 2013, would be “disastrous” for the defense budget. To avoid them, the House would instead pull money from the National School Lunch Program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, food stamps, and programs like the Social Services Block Grant, which funds Meals on Wheels, among other initiatives…

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