Saturday, January 31, 2015


Even knowing what they do about the dangers of football a large number (50%) of Americans are still willing to endanger their children by allowing/encouraging them to engage in this "collision sport" which beyond any doubt is known to cause severe brain damage.

Former NFL players who played tackle football as young children were more likely to have thinking and memory problems as adults, a Boston University study published Wednesday in a medical journal found.

Researchers tested 42 retired players between the ages of 40 and 69 and found that those who started playing football prior to age 12 performed "significantly worse" on three measures: estimated verbal IQ; executive function, which includes reasoning and planning; and memory impairment. The study is published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers tested 42 retired players between the ages of 40 and 69 and found that those who started playing football prior to age 12 performed "significantly worse" on three cognitive measures.

"They were worse on all the tests we looked at," said Dr. Robert Stern, lead author and a professor of neurology and neurosurgery. "They had problems learning and remembering lists of words. They had problems with being flexible in their decision-making and problem-solving."

The authors concluded that incurring repeated head impacts in football between the ages of 10 and 12, a critical and sensitive window for brain development, may increase the risk of later-life cognitive impairment. During those early years, the brain is rapidly building connections between neurons.

"We have findings from former NFL players, so it can't be generalizable to the rest of the football-playing public," Stern said. "But it does suggest something that I think makes logical sense. The logic is you shouldn't hurt your brain over and over and over again as a child."

The question is; what parent in their right mind would allow their child to play football? 

The question is: what high school, college, or university would encourage or allow football to be played on their campuses? 

The question is: Are Americans being played for fools by the people that promote and profit from football?

NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka has dedicated his life to football. But if he had a son today, he wouldn’t want that child to do the same, according to a Saturday report by the Chicago Tribune.

In an episode of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” set to air on HBO on Tuesday, Ditka asks sports reporter Bryant Gumbel if he himself would want his child to play football.

“I wouldn’t,” Gumbel says. “Would you?”

“Nope,” Ditka replies. “I wouldn't. And my whole life was football. I think the risk is worse than the reward. I really do.”

Ditka’s and Gumbel’s views are in line with those of fully half the country. A 2014 Bloomberg survey found that 50 percent of Americans don’t want their children to play football. Only 17 percent said they expect football to be more popular 20 years from now than it is today.

The “Real Sports” episode will focus on the use of drugs by a team Ditka coached: the NFL 1985 champion Chicago Bears. The NFL named Ditka Coach of the Year for his work that season, but the HBO report claims that Bears players regularly used painkillers and other drugs to play through injuries, much to their detriment later in life.


Vatican condemns plastic surgery, calling it ‘aggression’ against women | CathNewsUSA

A new Vatican document expresses a negative view of elective plastic surgery for women, warning that procedures such as face lifts and tummy tucks can become a form of “aggression” that threatens female identity.

Surgical alterations in appearance, the document says, can “amputate the expressive possibilities of the human face, which are so connected to empathic abilities,” and “can be aggressive toward the feminine identity, showing a refusal of the body.”

The text suggests that elective plastic surgery may reflect the stress many women feel about their bodies, which sometimes result in “pathologies” such as eating disorders, depression, and dysmorphic disorders.

Americans are among the biggest fans of this form of aggression;

More Than 12 Billion Dollars Spent on Surgical and Nonsurgical Procedures in 2013

NEW YORK, NY (March 20, 2014) – The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) today released its complete 17th annual multi-specialty statistical data indicating a 12% overall increase in cosmetic proceduresperformed in the United States in 2013. More than 11 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed by board-certified plastic surgeons, dermatologists and otolaryngologists in the United States, totaling more than 12 billion dollars for the first time since the Great Recession began in 2008. Of that total, more than 7 billion was spent on surgical procedures and more than 5 billion was spent on nonsurgical procedures.
This year, liposuction replaced breast augmentation as the most frequently performed surgical procedure with a 16% increase and more than one billion was spent on the procedure nationwide.  
The top five surgical procedures were:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Free Speech Advocates or Low Life Scum?

People who protest in the "house of the people" were verbally attacked by a representative of the people for speaking out against war.

A small group of protesters held banners calling Kissinger a "war criminal" and urged his arrest for U.S. actions when he served in the Nixon administration as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.

"Arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes," they chanted.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

TWISTED LOGIC - “It’s just one of those things that happens.............................

 .............................where everything lined up the wrong way, where we had a two-and-a-half year old that was able to take a gun, pick it up turn it around and he shot himself dead center in the middle of the chest,” Gualtieri said.
It's not just something that happens. The one thing all these tragic events have in common is a gun and an the lack of controls which result in "just one of those things that happens". 

A two-year-old Florida boy died on Wednesday after accidentally shooting himself with his father’s .380 caliber handgun that he found in the family car.

The toddler, Kaleb Ahles, climbed into the front seat of the family’s vehicle while his parents carried boxes to move out of their home in Tarpon Springs, located about 30 miles north-west of Tampa.

Kaleb, alone in the car, crawled across the seat and found the gun that was stored in the glove compartment, sheriff Bob Gualtieri of the Pinellas County sheriff’s office said during a Wednesday evening press conference.

Kaleb then grabbed the gun, turned the barrel toward his chest, and squeezed the trigger, Gualtieri said.

His parents heard a loud “pop” and ran toward the car, deputies said. His mother, Christina Nigro, immediately began CPR while another family member who was there to help with the move called 911.

Kaleb Ahles

Monday, January 26, 2015


You see, if you're very, very stupid, how can you possibly realize that you're very, very stupid? You'd have to be relatively intelligent to realize how stupid you are.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It’s 3 minutes till midnight.

Runaway climate change and the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons have pushed the world closer towards irreversible catastrophe, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announcedThursday, as the group pushed the symbolic Doomsday Clock forward to three minutes before midnight.

The two factors "pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity," the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which came to its assessment with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates, said in a statement.

"World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth," it added.

'Doomsday Clock' Ticks Forward: Climate Change, Nuclear Weapons Push Humanity Closer Towards Global Catastrophe


And both the NFL and the Patriots are jumping on this silly controversy knowing full well it will get the attention of people who probably had not intention to plant themselves in front of a flat screen on Superbowl Sunday.

It's obviously a publicity stunt and most Americans are "scandal" junkies; a win-win for the NFL and their high powered team owners where money (not balls or concussions) is the main concern.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Two charismatic and influential leaders are taking a stand against those who put profits before people or the environment.

President Obama sent them a message in his State of the Union speech;

" America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. "

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does – 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what – I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.

That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement – the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.

Solar and wind power are environmentally friendly sources of energy and readily available to everyone on the planet. Unless, of course, you're a cave dwelling troglodyte.

Fossile fules (oil, gas, coal) and nuclear (Chernobyl, Fukushima) are environmentally hostile sources of energy and using them is literally killing us and the planet (pollution, earthquakes,climate change).

So, why don't we do something to save ourselves and our planet; which, by the way, is the only one we have?

The technology is there and is being used: sparingly.

It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that the environment we all share is in a death spiral and, with each passing day, the signs are becoming more frequent and undeniable.

So why do we stay the course and continue down this path of self destruction?

All one needs to do is listen closely to the "nay-sayers" for the answer. Pope Francis is calling them out;

In October he told a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peasants and other social movements: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.

“The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. "

"It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands."

“The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.

People obsessed with wealth and power to the extent that they disregard or minimize the damage they are inflicting on people and the planet are, for the lack of a better word, STUPID!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


A new study found that couples who spend less on their wedding tend to have longer-lasting marriages than those who splurge. The study, by two economics professors at Emory University, found a similar correlation between less-expensive engagement rings and lower divorce rates.

The study's authors didn't examine why, although they floated a few theories.

"It could be that the type of couples who have a ... (cheap wedding) are the type that are a perfect match for each other," said Professor Hugo M. Mialon, who co-authored the study with Andrew M. Francis.

"Or it could be that having an inexpensive wedding relieves young couples of financial burdens that may strain their marriage," he said.

The research was based on a detailed survey completed by 3,151 adults in the United States who are, or have been, married. The authors believe theirs is the first academic study to examine the correlation between wedding expenses and the length of marriages.

Specifically, the study found that women whose wedding cost more than $20,000 divorced at a rate roughly 1.6 times higher than women whose wedding cost between $5,000 and $10,000. And couples who spent $1,000 or less on their big day had a lower than average rate of divorce.

The study won't be cheered by the booming wedding industry, which encourages couples to spend freely on everything from invitations and flowers to videographers and Champagne. Couples in the United States spent an average of $29,858 for their big day in 2013 -- a record high -- according to a survey of 13,000 brides and grooms by wedding website

Oscar-winning actor George Clooney, 53, reportedly spent $13 million on his wedding Saturday in Venice to human rights attorney Amal Alamuddin, 36. The Lexington, Kentucky-born star reportedly spent $750,000 on the bride’s engagement ring, which he presented to her in April, seven months after the pair met.

The wedding included guests like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and Cindy Crawford. The amount spent on the wedding rivals reality star Kim Kardashian’s $12 million marriage ceremony to musical artist Kanye West in May.

The wedding weekend, which Clooney and Alamuddin decided to turn into a three-day event, kicked off Saturday afternoon when guests were welcomed to the city in private water taxis. Attendees were initially put up at Hotel Cipriani, one of the Oscar winner’s favorite resorts, where a cocktail is named after the star.

ABC News reported friends and family of the couple were then transported via police boats to the seven-star Aman Canal Grande Hotel.

The couple chose a “simple and elegant” floral theme and chose white and yellow as the ceremony colors. It’s rumored the menu consisted of Lebanese and Italian cuisine -- and plenty of alcohol, as TMZ reported earlier this week guest Randy Gerber and Clooney shipped 100 cases of their tequila line Casamigos directly to Venice via jet.

The most significant expense of the British Royal wedding between the heir to the British throne and schoolteacher Lady Diana was security, which accounted for around $600,000 USD. Diana’s wedding dress was estimated to cost around $13,000 USD and had a 25 foot (7.62m) long train. While around 3,000 guests attended, the Royal Wedding was observed by nearly one billion television viewers and radio listeners. The couple’s marriage lasted 11 years, and they officially separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996, one year before Diana’s death in a car accident.


Rather than being concerned about brain damage (concussions) the NFL (and fans) are going ballistic about deflated balls.

It's their brains stupid!

Patriots? Cheating? Again? Here's a quickie Q

The NFL has found that 11 of the 12 games balls the New England Patriots provided for the AFC Championship Game were underinflated,according to a report by ESPN.

That would be a serious violation of the rules, especially for an organization that already has a cheating rap sheet, and it puts the NFL's showcase game — Super Bowl XLIX — under a dark cloud of suspicion.

According to the report, the investigation found the footballs were underinflated by 2 pounds per square inch of air during the Patriots' 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Monday, January 19, 2015


The 1% are busily going about looking for ways to continue stiffing the 99% out of our nation's resources in order to satiate their feeding frenzy. 

Billionaires and politicians gathering in Switzerland this week will come under pressure to tackle rising inequality after a study found that – on current trends – by next year, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%.

Ahead of this week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the ski resort of Davos, the anti-poverty charity Oxfam said it would use its high-profile role at the gathering to demand urgent action to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

The charity’s research, published on Monday, shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the best-off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while the least well-off 80% currently own just 5.5%.

Oxfam added that on current trends the richest 1% would own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.

Pope Francis and the IMF managing director Christine Lagarde have been among those warning that rising inequality will damage the world economy if left unchecked, while the theme of Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book Capital was the drift back towards late 19th century levels of wealth concentration.

Barack Obama’s penultimate State of the Union address on Tuesday is also expected to be dominated by the issue of income inequality.

He will propose a redistributive tax plan to extract more than $300bn (£200bn) in extra taxes from the 1% of rich earners in order to fund benefits specifically targeted at working families.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


The advantage to being a lame duck is that you're not beholden to anyone you don't want to be.

So, putting the high-rollers in the back seat President Obama can do what he does best. Represent the American people and restore the country back to what it's Founding Fathers intended; a democratic republic.

1. a government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

 2. a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.

3. the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.

President Obama plans to propose raising $320 billion over the next 10 years in new taxes targeting wealthy individuals and big financial institutions to pay for new programs designed to help lower- and middle-income families, senior administration officials said Saturday.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama will propose raising the capital gains and dividend tax rates to 28 percent for high earners; imposing a fee on the liabilities of about 100 big financial institutions; and greatly broadening the amount of inherited money subject to taxes.

Obama will also seek to boost private retirement savings by requiring employers without 401(k) plans to make it easier for full-time and part-time workers to save in individual retirement accounts, which could assist as many as 30 million people. The administration would provide small employers tax credits to cover costs.

Senior administration officials said that the package would highlight the president’s desire to boost taxes on the nation’s wealthy households and help lower- and middle-class families. New tax credits would help those in need of child care and households with two earners, they said, while other proposals — such as covering community college tuition — would help students.

The moves would “eliminate the biggest tax loopholes and use the savings to let the middle class get ahead,” said one of the senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity during a conference call with reporters to describe the plan before the president’s speech. This person also said that 99 percent of the impact of the tax increases would fall on the top 1 percent of earners.

Pope Asks American archbishops; Who's your master?

“Jesus affirms that you cannot serve two masters, God and wealth,”

Clearly, "lifestyles of the rich and religious" doesn't cut it for Pope Francis.

The pontiff has said it "breaks my heart" to see priests and nuns driving the latest-model cars.

He's blasted "airport bishops" who spend more time jet-setting than tending to their flocks.

And he's warned against church leaders who bear the "psychology of princes."

The Vatican fired one such "prince" last year: German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst -- aka "The Bishop of Bling" -- who spent $43 million to remodel his opulent pad.

(Bronze window frames? $2.4 million. Getting on the wrong side of the Pope? Far more pricey.)

"God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings!" Francis said in his book-length blueprint for the church.

In an interview on NCR Pope Francis strongly defends his repeated criticisms of the global market economy in a new interview released Sunday, rebutting those who accuse him of “pauperism” by saying he is only repeating Jesus’ message of caring for the poor.
“Jesus affirms that you cannot serve two masters, God and wealth,” Francis states in the interview, bluntly asking: “Is it pauperism?”

“Jesus tells us that it is the ‘protocol’ on the basis of which we will be judged, it is what we read in Chapter 25 of Matthew: I had hunger, I had thirst, I was in prison, I was sick, I was naked and you helped me: dressed me, visited me, you took care of me,” the pontiff continues.

“This is the touchstone,” he states, asking again: “Is it pauperism? No, it is the Gospel.”

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Should there be a second march with people carrying sign saying; "Je suis hypocrite?"

More than four dozen people are facing punishment for free speech violations in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Less than a week after millions took to the streets of Paris to declare "Je suis Charlie" to show their support for freedom of speech in the wake of the vicious attacks against the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, a growing chorus of critics is now wondering if the slogan should be "Je suis hypocrite." See How the World Reacted to Shootings in Paris That Left a Dozen Dead

Controversial French comedian Dieudonne has been arrested in the wake of the deadly attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and held on charges of apologizing for terrorism. He was one of 54 people held across France; none has been linked to the attacks.

Dieudonne's alleged crime: writing "Je suis Charlie Coulibaly" (I am Charlie Coulibaly) on his Facebook account.

It's an apparent reference to "Je suis Charlie," the message of solidarity that many people shared after the attack on the magazine that was targeted by Islamist extremists for its cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Coulibaly is the last name of Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four people at a kosher market in Paris last week.


Francis was not swayed by the argument that free speech is absolute and trumps everything; even just simple common sense. Using free speech to incite violence is fool hardy and only serves to endanger the lives of innocent people.

Pope Francis has said there are limits to the freedom of expression - and that anyone who swears at his mother deserves a punch.

Francis spoke about the Paris attacks while on his way to the Philippines, where around 1,500 Muslims protested yesterday against the depictions of the Prophet in the satirical French
magazine Charlie Hebdo.

He said that freedom of speech and expression are fundamental human rights however he added that he believes there should be limits to offending and ridiculing the faiths and beliefs of others.

By way of example, he referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organises his trips and was standing by his side on board the papal plane.

“If my good friend Dr Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” Francis said while pretending to throw a punch in his direction.

He added: “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

But recently the Vatican and four prominent French imams issued a joint declaration that denounced the attacks but also urged the media to treat religions with respect.

Francis, who has urged Muslim leaders in particular to speak out against Islamic extremism, went a step further when asked by a French journalist about whether there were limits when freedom of expression meets freedom of religion.

Francis insisted that it was an “aberration” to kill in the name of God and said religion can never be used to justify violence.

But he said there was a limit to free speech when it concerned offending someone’s religious beliefs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


There are approximately 2 billion people on this planet who believe that depicting the image of their Prophet is an act of blaspheme and is an affront to his followers.

Those that cloak themselves with the "freedom of speech" blanket to purposefully assault (and nothing more) a groups religious beliefs knowing it will incite violence  are abusing these rights and endanger innocent people for nothing more than personal gain.

The next edition of Charlie Hebdo, out on Wednesday with a million-copy print run, will “naturally” contain cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, along with jibes against politicians and religions across the board, said the stricken weekly’s lawyer.

Richard Malka was among the first to call for the magazine to continue functioning after nine of its contributors, including famed cartoonists Cabu and Wolinski and its publishing director, Charb, were gunned down last Wednesday by Chérif and Saïd Kouachi.

When asked whether that meant more cartoons of Mohammed, which have been a regular feature in the magazine until last Wednesday’s attack, he replied: “Naturally.”

“We will not give in otherwise all this won’t have meant anything,” he told France Info radio on Monday, which broadcast from the magazine’s heavily guarded temporary offices at Libération newspaper.

“Humour without self-deprecation isn’t humour. We mock ourselves, politicians, religions, it’s a state of mind you need to have.”

“The Charlie state of mind is the right to blaspheme,” he went on.

Referring to the “Je Suis Charlie” slogans in support of its slain cartoonists that have circled the globe, he said: “A Je Suis Charlie banner means you have the right to criticise my religion, because it’s not serious.”

“We have never criticised a Jew because he’s a Jew, a Muslim because he’s a Muslim or a Christian because he’s a Christian. But you can say anything you like, the worst horrors – and we do – about Christianity, Judaism and Islam, because behind the nice slogans, that’s the reality of Charlie Hebdo,” he said.

Asked whether the surviving Charlie editorial team were able to focus on their job, he said: “It’s complicated, because we have to manage the future, the funerals that will take place all this week, but it’s moving forward and will be completed this evening.”

“It’s an act of life, of survival,” he said.


There are those in the 1% community who are going on the offensive by accusing Francis of pauperism rather than acknowledging they chose to ignore the Gospel's teachings and confirming which ''master" they serve..

(NCR) Pope Francis strongly defends his repeated criticisms of the global market economy in a new interview released Sunday, rebutting those who accuse him of “pauperism” by saying he is only repeating Jesus’ message of caring for the poor.

“Jesus affirms that you cannot serve two masters, God and wealth,” Francis states in the interview, bluntly asking: “Is it pauperism?”

“Jesus tells us that it is the ‘protocol’ on the basis of which we will be judged, it is what we read in Chapter 25 of Matthew: I had hunger, I had thirst, I was in prison, I was sick, I was naked and you helped me: dressed me, visited me, you took care of me,” the pontiff continues.

“This is the touchstone,” he states, asking again: “Is it pauperism? No, it is the Gospel.”

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


President Obama locking arms with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, and a handful of other leaders of countries that stomp all over human rights and freedom of the press.

RWB condemns presence of “predators” in Paris march, calls for solidarity with “all Charlies” - Reporters Without Borders

On what grounds are representatives of regimes that are predators of press freedom coming to Paris to pay tribute to Charlie Hebdo, a publication that has always defended the most radical concept of freedom of expression?

Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the presence of leaders from countries where journalists and bloggers are systematically persecuted such as Egypt (which is ranked 159th out of 180 countries in RWB’s press freedom index), Russia (148th), Turkey (154th) and United Arab Emirates (118th).

“We must demonstrate our solidarity with Charlie Hebdo without forgetting all the world’s other Charlies,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

“It would be unacceptable if representatives of countries that silence journalists were to take advantage of the current outpouring of emotion to try to improve their international image and then continue their repressive policies when they return home. We must not let predators of press freedom spit on the graves of Charlie Hebdo.”

The authorities have announced the presence of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, Algerian foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra, UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Gabonese President Ali Bongo.


Finally the Democrats (not Republicans) are fulfilling the promise to share the wealth held by the "haves" to the "soon to haves" (as Republicans put it) which will probably have to wait until 2016 to see it happen.

Senior Democrats, dissatisfied with the party’s tepid prescriptions for combating income inequality, are drafting an “action plan” that calls for a massive transfer of wealth from the super-rich and Wall Street traders to the heart of the middle class.

The centerpiece of the proposal, set to be unveiled Monday by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), is a “paycheck bonus credit” that would shave $2,000 a year off the tax bills of couples earning less than $200,000. Other provisions would nearly triple the tax credit for child care and reward people who save at least $500 a year.

The windfall — about $1.2 trillion over a decade — would come directly from the pockets of Wall Street “high rollers” through a new fee on financial transactions, and from the top 1 percent of earners, who would lose billions of dollars in lucrative tax breaks.

The plan also would use the tax code to prod employers to boost wages, which have been stagnant for four decades despite gains in productivity and profits.

“This is a plan to help tackle the challenge of our times,” Van Hollen said, previewing a Monday speech at the Center for American Progress. “We want a growing economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy few.”

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Where's the outrage? The economic sanctions? The closing of embassies?

Just like 9/11 when 7 Saudis attacked NYC there's barely a whimper heard from the US when the Saudis flaunt the so-called freedom of speech rights so heavily defended elsewhere by the US and Western Europe.

It's seems that crime's against humanity and freedom of speech are interpreted differently and applied selectively by those who claim to be champions of human rights and free speech.

Saudi Arabia has lashed a liberal blogger 50 times in public, despite widespread international outrage and calls for clemency from human right groups.

Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, said on twitter that blogger and activist, Raif Badawi, was lashed outside a mosque in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on Friday.

Badawi is due to undergo 50 lashes every week after Friday prayers, which will continue for 20 weeks until his punishment is complete.

Amnesty International says Badawi, who started the "Free Saudi Liberals" website, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes on charges related to accusations he insulted Islam on the online forum.

He was also ordered by Jeddah's Criminal Court to pay a fine of $266,000.

"It is horrifying to think that such a vicious and cruel punishment should be imposed on someone who is guilty of nothing more than daring to create a public forum for discussion and peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression," Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Director, said.

"Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately halt all plans to carry out this brutal sentence," he said.

The United States had also appealed to Saudi Arabia to cancel the sentence.

State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said the US was "greatly concerned." She called the 1,000 lashes an "inhumane" response to someone exercising his right to freedom of expression and religion.

"The United States government calls on Saudi authorities to cancel this brutal punishment and to review Badawi's case and sentence," Psaki said.


Hold on there! Not so fast!

As it turns out, a quick peek into the history books tells a different story and has more to do with who the target(s) are.

Take, for example, a group who's speech offended most Europeans (and the US) back in the 40's;

Nazi Julius Streicher never pulled a trigger in the Second World War. He never ordered anyone to die. He was a soldier in the First World War, not the second. But Nuremberg judges found him guilty of crimes against humanity and saw fit to sentence him to death for what he had written during the war. American soldiers carried out his execution in 1946.
The largely forgotten execution of Streicher serves as a reminder that Western society also has set limits on what is deemed acceptable speech.

 Wartime England heard regular broadcasts from American-born fascist William Joyce, who was raised in Ireland and England. The Tokyo Rose of Europe, Joyce emigrated to Germany in 1939 and broadcast radio messages urging Britain to surrender. He was found by British forces in March 1945 and returned to England for trial.

He was found guilty by a jury of high treason, and the penalty was death by hanging.

The United States has its own grim precedents, predictably during war. The 1918 Sedition Act led to the imprisonment of several anarchists, particularly women. But none was threatened with death.

In September 2011, the drone strike slaying of militant propagandist Samir Khan was explained as an opportune moment: The main target was terrorist suspect Anwar Awlaki, and Khan was nearby. 

They were American citizens, but Khan, 25, wasn't suspected of planning attacks or shooting at soldiers. His crime was publishing Al Qaeda's Inspire, a digital magazine written in Khan's American vernacular, preaching the undoing of the U.S government.

These examples of speech was deemed offensive and punishable by death by approximately 500 million (give or take a million) inhabitants of Western countries; many of which claim to be proponents of "free speech." and make boisterous claims about defending it to the bitter end.

Now, let's compare this with speech that defames (and is considered blasphemy) by Approximately 23% of the world's population which is Muslim. Current estimates conclude that the number of Muslims in the world is around 1.6 billion.

How is that not more or less as serious of an offense (a crime against Muslims) and deserving of similar retributions?

Friday, January 9, 2015


The trend is disturbing. People are working more and getting paid less. Where is all the money going? It's obviously not going down to those who are doing the work growing the economy, but rather flows upward to those who sit in Boardrooms scheming for ways to hoard more profits and enrich themselves at the expense of those who provide the labor.  Income inequality is alive and well in the USA.

Jobs are up, but wages are down.

The economy added 252,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department reported Friday, down from November’s robust increase of 353,000 jobs. Unemployment was 5.6 percent, down from November’s 5.8 percent. But average hourly private-sector earnings were down 5 cents, compared to November’s increase of 6 cents.

The picture for wages, both through 2014 and over the past decade and a half, remains dismal. Nominal average annual wages grew 2.2 percent in 2014, beating inflation projections by only 0.7 percent and leaving median income well below its level not only before the Great Recession began but also after the recession ended. In five-and-a-half years of economic recovery, the median income should have increased. Instead, it is lower.

Speaking at the Washington event, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, “For tens of millions of working families who are the backbone of this country, this economy isn’t working. These families are working harder than ever, but they can’t get ahead.”

Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA – FRONTLINE

Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA – FRONTLINE

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Leave it to the Lone Star state to inflict disaster on itself. It's a classic example of a poorly governed, mismanaged, and unregulated state where politicians are blinded with making money regardless of the damage inflicted on it's environment and population.  

There’s a monster lurking under Texas, beneath the sand and oil and cowboy bones, and it’s getting a little restless after a 15 million year nap. Shaking things up in the city of Irving, just slightly west of Dallas, where no less than ten earthquakes yesterday and today bring the total tremors to 26 since October in that town alone. Over 100 quakes have been registered in the North Texas region since 2008, a staggering uptick from just a single one prior that year.

The Balcones Fault Zone divides the Lone Star State in half, loosely following the route of Interstate 35 and passing under Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, and San Antonio. And it’s not just a huge amount of human populations that sit on top of it. There are also thousands of fracking wells boring down in to the earth’s crust, pumping millions of gallons of water down with the direct intent of breaking apart what lay beneath.

Irving itself has more than 2,000 of these sites nearby, and some of the more than 216,000 state wide “injection wells” responsible for disposing of fracking’s wastewater byproduct are in close proximity. Located thousands of feet below the ground, these wells hold millions of gallons of chemically tainted h2o, and science has proven that the pressure and liquid combination can combine to “lubricate” fault lines. And that may well be what is happening in the Barnett Shale region around, yes, Dallas and Irving.

Barnett Shale is the largest land-based gas field in Texas, with an estimated 40 trillion cubic feet of natural gas just waiting to be hammered out of the ground and into your SUV’s tank. It’s a nearly bottomless potential bank account for corporations with the resources to drill and grind. But, as the people of Irving are now discovering, all of this poking and prodding is not without potential consequences.

“This is the largest earthquake in Irving since the ’70s. That’s as far back as our catalog goes,” USGS geophysicist Jessica Turner said to CBSDFW. “There hasn’t been anything like this at all, so it’s new.”

This is not making the 228,000 residents of Irving, Texas feel very relaxed. The most recent activity had a high point of 3.6 on the Richter Scale. While minor, it’s strong enough to be felt and shake objects. And feel it they did -- the local 911 system was overloaded with calls, the school district held earthquake drills, and the Irving’s mayor met with her counterpart in Dallas to discuss emergency management plans, according to the Dallas Morning News.

And “minor” can be relative.

"Was looking to see if an 18-wheeler wrecked into our building! That is what it felt like,” Irving local Aletha Allie Pate Martinez told a local ABC affiliate.

As of now, there’s no 100-percent definitive scientific connection between this latest swarm of earthquakes and fracking activity, but the United States Geologic Survey noted in a statement on the swarm, “Activities that have induced felt earthquakes in some geologic environments have included impoundment of water behind dams, injection of fluid into the earth's crust, extraction of fluid or gas, and removal of rock in mining or quarrying operations.”

Worth noting: This cluster of quakes is taking place almost directly beneath the Exxon-Mobile world headquarters, which is located in Irving. The company’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, joined a lawsuit last year to prevent a water tower used in the fracking process from being built near his 83-acre horse ranch in a swanky suburban Dallas enclave. Whether these are considered ironic or karmic quakes – that’s up to you. But for the repeatedly shaken up people of North Texas, it’s not very funny anymore.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


It is common knowledge that Muslims believe that images of the Prophet are bad juju and have been very vocal about; and at time threatening when someone blatantly violates (or ignores) their strongly held religious beliefs.

The Koran contains a general reference to the worshipping of idols being a “manifest error”, without referring to pictures of Mohammed, but ancient oral traditions, called Hadith, quote Allah as saying it is “unjust” to “try to create the likeness of My creation”. 

Another Hadith says that “all the painters who make pictures would be in the fire of Hell”.

Islamic scholars are divided over whether it is ever permissible to depict the Prophet, though the biggest controversies in recent years have followed depictions which are mocking or disrespectful.

That being said why would an organization (or individual) premeditatedly incite violence by violating or discriminating against followers of Islam?

Freedom of speech is a fundamental right recognized in international
law and entrenched in most national constitutions. However, a balance
needs to be maintained to ensure the protection of other rights. Any
derogation, restriction or criminalisation of speech in the name of the
protection of other rights or security interests has the potential to impact
freedom of expression, and courts have striven to find the proper balance
between protected speech and prohibited expression.

Freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination are not
incompatible principles of law. Hate speech is not protected speech under
international law. In fact, governments have an obligation under
international law to prohibit any advocacy of national, religious, racial or
ethnic hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or

A great number of countries around the world, including Rwanda,
have domestic laws that ban advocacy of discriminatory hate, in
recognition of the danger it represents and the harm it causes.

It is now well established in international and national jurisprudence that hate
speech that expresses ethnic and other forms of discrimination violates the norm
of customary international law prohibiting discrimination. Within this norm of
customary international law, the prohibition of advocacy of discrimination
and incitement to violence is increasingly important as the world confronts
current conflicts and international acts of terrorism against civilian

A movement toward regulating hate propaganda is fast gaining
momentum throughout the world. Internet hate speech is of particular
interest because the Internet is available in all countries and provides access
to vast amounts of material. In a 2000 case in France, Yahoo, Inc. was held
liable for allowing French citizens access to sites that sold Nazi

 Current regulation of hate speech seeks to protect against,
first, the harm of potential violence, which refers to the propensity of hate
speech to incite and cause violence, not only physical harm but the harm
created by engendering fear, suspicion, and alienation; and second, to
protect against harms affecting human dignity. States are obliged to protect
their citizens against violence, and therefore they have a compelling
interest in regulating speech.

The concept of human dignity played an important role in Europe and
South Africa in forming constitutional standards that the government must
enforce to ensure the rights of its citizens. In the case of Khumalo v.
Holomisa, involving a defamation claim based on an alleged violation of
human dignity, the South African Constitutional Court balanced both
freedom of expression and human dignity and stated that free speech must
be “construed in the context of other values enshrined in our Constitution.
In particular, the values of human dignity, freedom and equality.

The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs. It was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

Charlie Hebdo is part of a venerable tradition in French journalism going back to the scandal sheets that denounced Marie-Antoinette in the run-up to the French Revolution.

The tradition combines left-wing radicalism with a provocative scurrility that often borders on the obscene. Its decision to mock the Prophet Muhammad in 2011 was entirely consistent with its historic raison d'etre.

The paper has never sold in enormous numbers - and for 10 years from 1981, it ceased publication for lack of resources.

But with its garish front-page cartoons and incendiary headlines, it is an unmissable staple of newspaper kiosks and railway station booksellers.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What is America?

The land of the free? Equality? Justice for all?

Sounds good, but how does that stack up against how this country is governed?

Here's a look at the power structure, make up of the leadership, and those that influence and have an impact on the American way of life.

America appears to be headed in the direction of Plutocracy. This form of government believes a society should be ruled by its wealthiest members. The Supreme Court has allowed a flood of money to buy our elections, rather than the will of the people. Income inequality is growing, the middle class is disappearing, and Republicans continue to block raising the minimum wage for hard working Americans. Women don't make equal pay for equal work, and CEOs make insane compensation, while workers are pushed for greater productivity for less money. The rich are getting richer, while the poor are barely living paycheck to paycheck.

For the first time in history, most members of Congress are millionaires, according to a new analysis of personal financial disclosure data by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and candidates. The median net worth for the 530 current lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767 — an increase from the previous year when it was $966,000. In addition, at least one of the members elected since then, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), is a millionaire, according to forms she filed as a candidate. (There is currently one vacancy in Congress.)

Last year only 257 members, or about 48 percent of lawmakers, had a median net worth of at least $1 million.

Members of Congress have long been far wealthier than the typical American, but the fact that now a majority of members — albeit just a hair over 50 percent — are millionaires represents a watershed moment at a time when lawmakers are debating issues like unemployment benefits, food stamps and the minimum wage, which affect people with far fewer resources, as well as considering an overhaul of the tax code.

The 114th Congress, which gets to "work" on Tuesday, is one of the most diverse in American history, comprised of nearly 20 percent women and just over 17 percent of which is non-white. Which means, of course, that four out of five members of Congress are white and four out of five are men. Congress is nearly as unrepresentative on race and gender. More than half of the population is female; white non-Hispanics are about 63 percent of the population.

white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate)
note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean persons of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin including those of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic, Spanish, and Central or South American origin living in the US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); about 15.1% of the total US population is Hispanic

Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Gun Laws in The Most Dangerous States in America

Comparing gun laws with a list of the 10 most dangerous states in America is one way to shine the light on why guns; in the hands of the NRA's "good" and "bad" guys is a bad idea. Here's how the numbers look when  The Most Dangerous States in America are compared with Annual Gun Law; States Score Card .

The numbers speak for themselves. 7 of the 10 most dangerous states in America get an "F" in gun control. Simply put, guns kill people and don't discriminate between good and bad guys.

1. Alaska
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 602.6
> Population: 735,132
> Total 2013 murders: 34 (11th lowest)


2. New Mexico
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 596.7
> Population: 2,085,287
> Total 2013 murders: 125 (21st lowest)


3. Nevada
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 591.2
> Population: 2,790,136
> Total 2013 murders: 163 (25th highest)

4. Tennessee
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 579.7
> Population: 6,495,978
> Total 2013 murders: 328 (18th highest)

5. Louisiana
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 510.4
> Population: 4,625,470
> Total 2013 murders: 498 (9th highest)

6. South Carolina
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 494.8
> Population: 4,774,839
> Total 2013 murders: 297 (20th highest)

7. Delaware
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 479.1
> Population: 925,749
> Total 2013 murders: 39 (12th lowest)

8. Maryland
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 467.8
> Population: 5,928,814
> Total 2013 murders: 381 (13th highest)


9. Florida
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 460.0
> Population: 19,552,860
> Total 2013 murders: 972 (3rd highest)


10. Arkansas
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 445.7
> Population: 2,959,373
> Total 2013 murders: 159 (23rd lowest)


As for the remaining states, over 50% of the states received and F while 10% were graded A.

Every year, more than 30,000 Americans die from gun violence. But there’s more to the story. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has been fighting for smart gun laws for over 20 years, and we’ve noticed a trend: the states with stronger gun regulation have lower gun death rates, and the states with weaker regulation have higher gun death rates.

By grading all 50 states on their gun laws and showing the clear correlation between smart gun laws and reduced gun violence, we can encourage state legislators to adopt the common-sense solutions that will save lives. And not just at home—we found that states with the weakest gun laws are also responsible for trafficking the most crime guns.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Is this an example of income inequality?

The cost of a 1 year membership to Disney's Club 33 is equal to the yearly income of someone at the poverty line threshold in the US.

For access to what is billed as "the most exclusive address in all of Disneyland" — Club 33 — many members pay $11,000 a year.  Disney alters perks for Club 33 members

There are people who are able and willing to fork over the money just for the privilege of belonging to a Club sponsored by an amusement park. In fact, so many the waiting list had to be closed. 

The annual income threshold for being counted as living in poverty was $11,490 last year for a person and $23,550 for a family of four.

Poverty is particularly dire for single mothers: A third of all families headed by single women were in poverty last year -- that's 15.6 million such households.

The black poverty rate was 27.2 percent, unchanged from 2012 and higher than 24.3 percent before the recession began. More than 11 million black Americans lived below the poverty level last year. About 42.5 percent of the households headed by single black women were in poverty. The Hispanic poverty rate was 23.5 percent.

More than 45 million people, or 14.5 percent of all Americans, lived below the poverty line last year, the Census Bureau reported.  The percentage of Americans in poverty fell from 15 percent in 2012, the biggest such decline since the year 2000. But the level of poverty is still higher than 12.3 percent in 2006, before the recession began.