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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

House passes major overhaul of US financial rules

The House of Representatives passed the most ambitious restructuring of US financial regulations since the 1930s on Friday, aiming to prevent a replay of last year's Wall Street failures.

House passes major overhaul of US financial rules

Citigroup Nearing Deal To Repay Goverment Aid

Citigroup is nearing a deal with the U.S. government to begin repaying some of the billions in bailout aid it has received, according to a published report.

Citigroup Nearing Deal To Repay Gov't Aid

For Wingnuts Online, Plenty of 'Commentary' But Not Enough News

A number of the wingnut's prominent online figures are battling to be the deluded's equivalent of Talking Points Memo or Huffington Post--political organizations that report hard news. Many believe that to truly harness the power of the Web, political organizations must report their own news, rather than comment on reporting from traditional outlets.

"The left needs Daily Kos, but they also need the Huffington Post," Politics Daily columnist Matt Lewis told Politico. He praised the roles of agitators and wingnut talking heads such as Red State's Erick Erickson, but noted that the wingnuts have not yet matched the left's capability for original reporting.

Through HuffPo, TPM, and other politically stilted but journalism-oriented sites, liberals "have the ability to amplify stories into the mainstream media conversation," according to Politico. Wingnuts have a large void to fill when it comes to producing original content, rather than solely commenting on what is already out there. There are wingnut sites providing "original reporting", but there are so far no wingnut equivalents to the left's powerhouse online news operations, (and they never will have).

Full story

Not the Best Time for a Bath

A 25-year-old man suspected of breaking into an east Texas house is jailed after police found him taking a bath in the house.

Not the Best Time for a Bath

Santas get drunk, run amok

Who wants a Ho-Ho-Hoegaarden?

Yesterday evening dozens of people strapped on their Santa Claus suits and headed off to numerous nightclubs in the name of the holiday season.

The hardest jobs to fill in America

The hardest jobs to fill in America

With the right technology degree, you could land a good-paying job, even in the bad economy.

How T-Mobile Scares its Employees with a “Culture of Fear”

From FireDogLake:

photo: Gadget Virtuoso via Flickr

T-Mobile has a nasty habit of intimidating its employees from joining unions, including repeated instances of turning surveillance and security guards on employees and organizers.

A new report from Labor Professor John Logan and American Rights at Work details multiple violations of the law by T-Mobile, recurring intimidation of employees, and what one employee called a “culture of fear” preventing employees from joining together in a union.

Workers have roundly criticized what one Allentown-based employee called the “culture of fear” that management has created around the issues of unionization and collective bargaining. “We have to be secretive,” he explains, “like spies.” Another employee elaborated on this culture of fear: “We are basically left to fear for our jobs on a daily basis, or just quit…. In the past [some workers] tried to contact a union and were then fired. [I’m afraid] this is what will happen to me.”

What makes up the “culture of fear” for T-Mobile corporate management?

Making sense of it all

Hidden Sensory System Discovered in the Skin

The human sensory experience is far more complex and nuanced than previously thought, according to a groundbreaking new study published in the December 15 issue of the journal Pain.

Full Story

Science News

From BBC-Science:

Tawa hallae (J Gonzalez) T.rex's 'little cousin': Researchers unearth new dinosaur species

Amanda Knox from jail: 'I am scared'

Amanda Knox from jail: 'I am scared'

Reporters visit the convicted American student in her cell, where she speaks about hope and family.

Comfort foods that won't make you fat

Comfort foods that won't make you fat

Try these gooey, chewy brownies that taste amazing but don't add to your waistline.

Coach kicks out fan for tame heckle

Coach kicks out fan for tame heckle

North Carolina's Roy Williams has a fan ejected for his mild comments during a free throw.

Where the most overpriced homes are

Where the most overpriced homes are

One state has three of the top five cities with the most inflated home prices.

Urban 'Gang' Deerly Takes Over The Street

A North Carolina business owner is recovering from injuries she suffered when she encountered a herd of deer on a downtown Tarboro sidewalk.

The Daily Southerner of Tarboro reported that Michelle Brewer was opening the jewelry store she co-owns with her husband when one deer passed by. Then she says so many deer appeared that she couldn't move.

Brewer doesn't remember the deer stepping on her Saturday. But she does recall being eye-level with them before she hit the sidewalk, saying she thinks the deer were as afraid of her as she was of them. Others told her that one deer kicked her several feet in the air before the rest trampled her.

Her injuries included two bruises on the right side of her face and a hoof print on her leg, although she didn't need to go to the hospital.

A Word Or Two From General George S. Patton . . . .The Real One - 1945

(Gen. George S. Patton - bore no resemblance to George C. Scott)

With many pundits invoking the spirit of General George S. Patton lately, it would seem they are actually invoking the spirit of George C. Scott, who played the legendary World War 2 General in the movie "Patton" rather than the actual real-life General. And so I ran across a series of broadcasts on the occasion of VE Day from May 8,1945 where General Patton addressed the listening audience to the work his 3rd Army had achieved in declaring victory over Germany.

Gen.George S.Patton: “Now that victory in Europe has been achieved, let us review the Third Army’s part in this epic struggle.”

Not the hellfire and out-of-control zealot as portrayed in fiction, but rather the cool and level-headed professional soldier.

Don't forget that reality and fiction are rarely on speaking terms.

Child Hunger Is A Lot More Complicated Than Getting Enough Food

Susie Madrak writes over at Crooks and Liars:

Living in poverty is a very complicated enterprise that requires vast amounts of emotional energy, time and money. You pay a "food tax" if there are no supermarkets in your neighborhood, because corner stores are more expensive. You pay additional fees to have electricity or the phone turned back on because you couldn't pay the bill on time, and you're at higher risk of losing your job because you have so little control of your environment and anything could happen at any time to keep you from getting to work.

This Washington Post article
is one of the few I've seen that does a really good job of separating the strands:

Anajyha, a serious girl with two younger brothers and a mother who has lost two of her three part-time jobs, is growing up with an ebb and flow of food typical of a growing number of families. In her home, in a scuffed neighborhood called Strawberry Mansion a few miles north of the Liberty Bell, food stamps arrive but never last the month. There can be cereal but no milk. Pancake mix and butter but no eggs.

The intricacy of the problem -- and of the Obama administration's task -- plays out here, where Anajyha could have enough to eat but shortchanges herself.

Philadelphia offers a particularly vivid ground-level view of what researchers call a "silent epidemic" of hungry and undernourished youngsters. For years, local civic activists, health experts and politicians have tried some of the nation's most innovative experiments -- and learned how intractable hunger can be. Researchers here have also been at the leading edge in trying to fathom the effects of a scarcity of food.

Even when children are not hungry, studies have found that slight shortages of food in their homes are associated with serious problems. Babies and toddlers in those homes are far more likely to be hospitalized than children in families with similar incomes but adequate food. School-age children tend to learn and grow more slowly, and to get into trouble more often. Teenage girls are more prone to be depressed or even flirt with thoughts of suicide.

Solving the problem is further complicated by its subtle nature. "Most people who are hungry are not clinically manifesting what we consider hunger. It doesn't even affect body weight," said Mariana Chilton, a Drexel University medical anthropologist who is part of Children's HealthWatch, a network of pediatricians and public health researchers in Philadelphia and four other cities. Hunger cannot be solved by food alone, their work shows, because it is one strand in a web of pressures that trap families, including housing and energy costs.

This more nuanced picture is emerging as the problem has become more widespread. With the economy faltering, the number of youngsters living in homes without enough food soared in 2008 from 13 million to nearly 17 million, the Agriculture Department reported last month.

In Philadelphia, researchers found that, during the first half of this year, one in five homes with a baby or toddler did not have enough food. And one of every dozen young children was outright hungry, a rate twice that of the same period the year before.


Well put.

Leading Chinese pro-democracy activist going to trial for subversion

You know it would be asking too much for any political leader in the west to speak out against this farce.
We need China to build cheap stuff or to fund our debt, too much for that.
Proof again that the Olympics failed to change anything.
Liu Xiaobo was one of 300 democratic activists in China to author a bold call for constitutional reform last December. The manifesto was published under the name Charter 08, and called for greater freedom of expression, multi-party elections and independent courts. Seen as a figurehead for the movement, Liu was taken into detention shortly before the document was published online. Then, in June, he was formally arrested on suspicion of incitement to subvert state power.

In the latest development – which came on International Human Rights Day, a year and a day after the charter's publication – officials told Liu's lawyer they would charge him. He will almost certainly be convicted and sentenced to jail, say experts, probably within weeks.

"The timing is not coincidental," said Joshua Rosenzweig of the Dui Hua Foundation, which supports political prisoners. "It draws attention away from commemorating the document and says: 'Look, you want to talk about Charter 08? This is what it gets you.' "

Professor Perry Link, of Princeton University, New Jersey, who translated Charter 08 into English, said: "He must have known that he was running a risk of becoming the regime's target."

Fabled Orient Express comes to an end

Fabled Orient Express comes to an end

Cheap flights and faster trains spell the demise of the famous railway route.

The secrets of Warren Buffett's success

The secrets of Warren Buffett's success

The billionaire isn't alarmed about this recession — and he says you shouldn't be, either.

Prince William not taking over for Queen yet

Buckingham Palace has denied a newspaper report that the queen is passing more of her duties to her grandson, Prince William.

Reindeer Op Is World Surgery First

A star attraction at Edinburgh Zoo has become the first reindeer in the world to receive life-saving keyhole surgery.

Reindeer Op Is World Surgery First

Iran's president pledges support to Hamas leader

Iran's official news agency says President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reiterated his support for Hamas during a visit by the Palestinian militant group's Syrian-based leader.
The report on Sunday said Ahmadinejad met the Hamas delegation led by group's political leader, Khaled Mashaal.

Iran's president pledges support to Hamas leader

Downturn has mixed effect on sex lives

Job losses, flat home values and diminishing bank accounts.
Financial worries have kept plenty of couples awake at night.

Downturn has mixed effect on sex lives

Mugshots of people arrested while wearing unfortunate ironic t-shirts

trouble.jpg You have to wonder if they might have been arrested for the crime of wearing these shirts.

Cave 'breathing' regulates growth of stalactites

The way caves "breathe" from season to season is the true controller of stalactite growth – so estimates of ancient rainfall may be wrong.

Cave 'breathing' regulates growth of stalactites

The Geminids are coming

From BBC-Science:
A meteor shower (SPL)
The annual Geminids shower is expected to reach its peak, making it particularly easy see.

Words of Wisdom

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

And I Quote

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Rare Pneumonia May Be Linked To Luxury Hotel

One foreign visitor died after coming down with a rare case of pneumonia following a stay at downtown Miami luxury hotel.

Rare Pneumonia May Be Linked To Luxury Hotel

Santa Claus banned from visiting locked-up children in UK asylum detention center

Santa Claus was prevented from giving presents to the imprisoned children of asylum seekers at the notorious Yarl's Wood detention center by private security guards. Yarl's Wood is a privately run prison whose inmates are UK immigrants who arrived seeking asylum, but whose claims have been denied. They are dragged out of bed in the dead of night and stuck in mesh-windowed vans without their belongings and without the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones, and then detained in terrible conditions that have been decried by human rights advocates, doctors, psychiatrists and other experts. Their "crime" is trying to escape torture, privation, and disaster.

The rent-a-cops at Yarl's Wood told the Anglican church's leading expert on Father Christmas (dressed in a Santa costume) that he couldn't enter the center to give the children presents. They also blocked the canon theologian at Westminster Abbey. Then they canceled a later scheduled visit with detained families at the center.

And the whole mess is on video.

But when the Anglican church's leading expert on Father Christmas, dressed as St Nicholas himself, arrived with one of Britain's most distinguished clerics to distribute presents to children held at the Yarl's Wood immigration removal center in Bedfordshire, things took a turn straight out of Dickens.

An unedifying standoff developed that saw the security personnel who guard the perimeter fence prevent St Nicholas, the patron saint of children and the imprisoned, from delivering £300 worth of presents donated by congregations of several London churches.

In a red robe and long white beard, clutching a bishop's mitre and crook, St Nick - in real life, the Rev Canon James Rosenthal, a world authority on St Nicholas of Myra, the inspiration for Father Christmas - gently protested that he was not a security threat, but to no avail.

Then as St Nicholas, accompanied by the Rev Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, canon theologian at Westminster Abbey, attempted to bless the gifts, the increasingly angry security guards called the police. The resulting ill-tempered and surreal impasse between church and state was videotaped by asylum seeker support groups and could become an internet viral hit.

Hundreds of billions in crime money knowingly laundered by banks during credit crunch

drugmoney_34f82.jpgThe Observer reports that an estimated $352bn of drug and mafia money was laundered by the major banks at the peak of the credit crunch, while regulators turned a blind eye, since the highly liquid criminal underworld was the only source of the cash necessary to keep the banks' doors open. As Charlie Stross notes, "A third of a trillion dollars is a lot of money; it's enough to fund the US military invading another country halfway around the world, or a manned Mars exploration program." Charlie goes on to mention that now that these narcobucks "aren't neatly bundled up inside the mattress any more; they're in the system," that there's $0.3 trillion sitting there, nice and legal, entering the investment world.
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organized crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result...

"Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities... There were signs that some banks were rescued that way." Costa declined to identify countries or banks that may have received any drugs money, saying that would be inappropriate because his office is supposed to address the problem, not apportion blame. But he said the money is now a part of the official system and had been effectively laundered.

"That was the moment [last year] when the system was basically paralyzed because of the unwillingness of banks to lend money to one another. The progressive liquidation to the system and the progressive improvement by some banks of their share values [has meant that] the problem [of illegal money] has become much less serious than it was," he said.

Unusual Holidays and Celebrations

No holidays today.

But, there is only 11 shopping days left until xmas.

Daily Almanac

Today is Sunday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2009.

There are 18 days left in the year.

Today In History December 13

Our Readers

Some of our readers today have been in:

Stoke On Trent, England, United Kingdom
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Zagreb, Grad Zagreb, Croatia
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Cario, Al Qahirah, Egypt
Male, Kaafu, Maldives
Bayreuth, Bayern, Germany
Villeurbanne, Rhone-Alpes, France

Daily Horoscope

Today's horoscope says:

Your friendships are ordinarily fun and easy.
At the moment, however, the stars are itching for a bit of passion, drama or intrigue -- or better still, all three.
Does this mean a friend is about to make a romantic overture?
Might not -- but if it happens, think about whether you'll be able to go back to being 'just friends' if it doesn't work out.

Friends with benefits?