Monday, December 14, 2009

Republicans Lie, Part (we ran out of numbers)

In what can only be described as pathetic, Ken Spain, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee has attributed the retirements of 9 congressional democrats to their aversion to having to "toe the line for Nancy Pelosi’s reckless agenda." What I find amusing about this is that 11 congressional republicans have also announced their retirements. I guess they are sick and tired of having of having to destroy the middle class.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sign Letter to Susan B. Komen Foundation: Donations Shouldn’t Go To Hadassah Lieberman

By: Jane Hamsher Friday December 11, 2009 9:02 am

Nancy G. Brinker
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation Headquarters
5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250
Dallas, TX 75244

Dear Ms. Brinker,

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are driving forces in funding breast cancer research. Each year they take in hundreds of millions of dollars from people who want to end the suffering of those who are fighting breast cancer.

How these donations are channeled, therefore, is of great concern to those those who have invested untold amounts of money and support in its work.

It has come to my attention via an article by Joe Conason in Salon that Hadassah Lieberman – wife of Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) – is currently a compensated “Global Ambassador” for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It is widely known, however, that not only has Senator Lieberman been an instrument of obstruction to the kind of health care reform advocated by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but that Mrs. Lieberman is also a former lobbyist for APCO Associates, which represents the interests of the same major, private health insurance and pharmaceutical companies which Mr. Lieberman seeks to protect.

Mrs. Lieberman’s relationship with Susan G. Komen for the Cure is unethical and misleading. Important and often very personal donations made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure to benefit the sick and dying are essentially undermining their intended use. And as Hadassah travels the globe under the banner of Susan G. Komen for the cure, decrying the inadequacies of our health care system and the desperate need to reform it, her husband is at home to kill the reform efforts we so desperately need.

As a three time breast cancer survivor, I call on Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Komen Foundation to ask Hadassah Lieberman to step down as a “Global Ambassador” for the organization in light of the inherent conflict of interest her continued presence brings. It is counterproductive not only to Susan G. Komen for the cure’s positions and goals, but is also unfair to the millions of families that depend on its work.

Sincerely,

Jane Hamsher

Please join me in calling on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure to ask Hadassah Lieberman to step down by signing the petition.

Monday, December 7, 2009

90% of Canadians like their Universal, One-Payer Health Care System

Felt obligated to share this report with those who believe that Canadians are unhappy with their health care system.
90% of Canadians like their healthcare system. What's our statistic? 0%!
Most people in the civilized world think that access to health care is a right.

We are unique among western nations in the folly that health care is only a right given to those that can afford it.

Public health is everyone's problem. Preventative medicine is far more cost-effective than emergency medicine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

If you are a Republican, this is what you believe. This is why you should not be a Republican.

Text from Jim Bopp's resolution, as circulated among several RNC members (annotations by a box of rain pointing out that only millionaires and racists need apply):

"THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee identifies ten (10) key public policy positions for the 2010 election cycle, which the Republican National Committee expects its public officials and candidates to support:

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill (i.e. we support increasing social stratification, we don't support opportunity creation for minorities or the poor, and we think that somehow benefits for the rich are in the interest of the middle class. We are blind to the fact that these policies destroyed our economy changing it from the best ever to the worst ever during the eight years of the Bush administration. We believe that markets can survive without a viable consumer class.);
(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare (i.e. we believe that as government employees we are entitled to better health care than our constituents. We believe that health insurance should continue to become more costly, executive compensation at the health insurance companies should rise while the quality of medical care decreases. We believe that costs of health insurance should exceed the costs of home ownership. We believe that it is okay for our children to go to school with children who's parents can't afford health insurance and who thus spread their easily treated diseases to our children unnecessarily.);
(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation (i.e., we support a complete lack of environmental controls. Cap and trade BY DEFINITION is the market based energy reform. By creating a market in allowable pollutants, the MARKET creates the incentive to limit pollution. By market based, perhaps the writers of this resolution mean laissez faire. In other words eventually businesses will discover that it is in their own best interests to control their polluting. This is just plain retarded.);
(4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check (i.e. we support effectively putting an end to Labor Unions. Hmmm, I know lots of Republicans who belong to and rely on their labor Unions. They certainly wouldn't vote for a candidate who supported this proposition. Here's an idea: make the language regarding this resolution so obscure that blue collar workers can't understand it; then make the language regarding opposing gun control really clear. That way the labor class, assuming they are as stupid as we think they are, will still vote for us even though we have declared our intention to destroy their livelihoods.);
(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants (i.e. we support closed borders and the no immigration at all. The fallacy in this resolution is that there is no current system in place for legal immigration. The reason that we have illegal immigration is because there is no practical method for becoming a resident of the United States unless (1) you have an employer is unable to fill a position with a current resident or citizen and can hold that position open for the 5 or more years it takes to hire foreign labor; (2) you already have a relative who is a resident or a citizen of the United States and you are willing to wait up to 20 years for a visa to become available; or (3) you have $1,000,000 to invest--Anyone care to challenge me on this?);
(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;
(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;
(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act (i.e. we support discrimination against people who are different from us. We believe our religious views take precedence over our obligations to protect the liberties of our constituents.);
(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion (i.e. we support a system in which rich people have excellent health care and everyone else has no healthcare. Instead of providing decent, if not excellent health care to everyone, we would rather see half of the population denied access to any health care at all.); and
(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership (i.e. this ought to keep the farmers, the workers, and the illiterate mountain folk voting for us, even though our interests and their could not be further removed..); and be further

RESOLVED, that a candidate who disagrees with three or more of the above stated public policy position of the Republican National Committee, as identified by the voting record, public statements and/or signed questionnaire of the candidate, shall not be eligible for financial support and endorsement by the Republican National Committee; and be further

RESOLVED, that upon the approval of this resolution the Republican National Committee shall deliver a copy of this resolution to each of Republican members of Congress, all Republican candidates for Congress, as they become known, and to each Republican state and territorial party office.

Chief Sponsor:
James Bopp, Jr. NCM IN

Sponsors:
Donna Cain NCW OR
Cindy Costa NCW SC
Demetra Demonte NCW IL
Peggy Lambert NCW TN
Carolyn McLarty NCW OK
Pete Rickets NCM NE
Steve Scheffler NCM IA
Helen Van Etten NCW KA
Solomon Yue NCM OR"
(Remember these names and don't say I didn't warn you! Ed.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Why are you opposed to the House Bill?

The House bill would impose a surcharge on individuals who make more than $500,000 and couples who make more than $1 million. The previous House bill would have imposed the surcharge on individuals who make $280,000 and families that make $350,000. The current bill also would impose a tax of 2.5% of income for those who make more than $250,000 and fail to purchase health insurance.

If I hear one more working shlub complain about the public option, which is an absolutely necessary part of health care reform, because, "it's gonna raise my taxes," I think my head will explode. SERIOUSLY man, wake up and smell the reality here. The only people who have any right to oppose this plan are:

  1. the insurance companies who will lose their anti-trust exemption and have to compete fairly by actually providing value;*
  2. individuals who report over $500,000 in personal net income and couples who report over $1,000,000 in personal net income (i.e. those with actual incomes in the 1-5 million dollar a year range); and
  3. people who believe that "trickle-down" economics was anything other than an experiment that failed faster and more spectacularly than Soviet Communism and who actually believe they benefited by excessive executive compensation, outsourcing of labor jobs, and unequaled wealth stratification (aka "idiots").

* This week I had to cancel a doctor's appointment. I am insured with Kaiser Permanente at a cost of over $850 per month for my family of four as I am self-employed. After 21 minutes on hold to give them the courtesy of a cancellation call, I was rescheduled for: December 21, 2009! The first available appointment for a member paying $850/month was nearly two months away (my $30/visit co-pay actually raises the cost of medical care to my family to nearly $1,000/month). I could understand this kind of delay if the appointment were just some kind of annual physical or something, but this appointment is about a problem with a complication from a medication I am taking! Trust me, the government cannot do worse. I have had to receive medical care in both Canada and Israel. Believe me, we MUST have a public option when people like me are seriously considering the benefits of being uninsured.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The REAL Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

I have been re-reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books by Douglas Adams and am enjoying them immensely. In a moment of unquenchable curiosity, I decided to see if I could find a recipe for a "Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster". To start, I have consulted the modern day equivalent of the Hitchhiker's Guide, commonly referred to as Wikipedia. Consider the similarity from this quote:
The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an indispensable companion to all those who are keen to make sense of life in an infinitely complex and confusing Universe, for though it cannot hope to be useful or informative on all matters, it does at least make the reassuring claim, that where it is inaccurate it is at least definitively inaccurate. In cases of major discrepancy it's always reality that's got it wrong.
Wikipedia kindly explains, "The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster was invented by Zaphod Beeblebrox, a major character in Douglas Adams' novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon, wrapped 'round a large gold brick. It has also been described in the novel as the alcoholic equivalent to a mugging; expensive and bad for the head."

The Recipe given in the book is as follows:
Take the juice from one bottle of that Ol' Janx Spirit.
Pour into it one measure of water from the seas of Santraginus V.
Allow three cubes of Arcturan Mega-gin to melt into the mixture (it must be properly iced or the benzene is lost).
Allow four litres of Fallian marsh gas to bubble through it.
Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qalactin Hypermint extract.
Drop in the tooth of an Algolian Suntiger.
Sprinkle Zamphuor.
Add an olive.
Drink . . . but . . . very carefully . . .
Wikipedia lists no fewer than six different concoctions that have been called Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters by various bars and clubs, but I believe all of these recipes are lazy. It is clear to me that Douglas Adams left plenty of good literary clues as to what the Earth equivalents of each of these ingredients are and it is my intention to create a REAL Pan Galactic Galactic Gargle Blaster.

First: "Ol' Janx Spirit". Janx is defined in the Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com) as follows: (1) junk, stuff, thing as in "hey, slob, can you unload all that janx from the dishwasher"; (2) everything in the freakin world as in "What the hell? Where's my janx?"; and (3) verb- to steal or to take from a bitch; to burgle as in "Dude, you janxed my chair." There is only one word in the English language that is synonymous with Janx as so defined and which can be used interchangeably in all three definitions. Coincidentally, it is also the common name for a popular form of Earth spirit: Jack. Also coincidentally, the word "Old" also appears on the label of this beverage, "Old No. 7". Clearly, almost obviously, "Ol' Janx Spirit" refers to Jack Daniel's Old No. 7.

Second: Water from the seas of Santraginus V. The book provides the following information about Santraginus V as summarized in Wikipedia: "Santraginus V is a planet known widely for its marble-sanded beaches. Seawater from the oceans adjoining those beaches, which contain extremely oblivious fish that apparently don't care where they're going, forms a key ingredient for the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. The drummer of rock band Disaster Area once stayed here while the rest of the band moved onto the next tour location (the planet Kakrafoon), and found a small pebble that he declared would be his friend." The first literary clue in this paragraph is the "oblivious fish." This is clearly reference to Einstein's famous quote, "What does a fish know about the water in which it swims all its life?" This is one of only two Einsteinisms involving fish that I am aware of. The other is the perplexing "Einstein Riddle" which he claimed was unsolvable by 98% of the world populations. The riddle goes like this:

1. In a street there are five houses, painted five different colours.
2. In each house lives a person of different nationality
3. These five homeowners each drink a different kind of beverage, smoke a different brand of cigar and keep a different pet.

THE QUESTION: WHO OWNS THE FISH?

HINTS

1. The Brit lives in a red house.
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
3. The Dane drinks tea.
4. The Green house is next to, and on the left of the White house.
5. The owner of the Green house drinks coffee.
6. The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
7. The owner of the Yellow house smokes Dunhill.
8. The man living in the centre house drinks milk.
9. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
10. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
12. The man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
13. The German smokes Prince.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbour who drinks water.

The answer is like this:

I only know of one Green German liquor: It's Jaegermeister! "So, water from the seas of Santraginus V" is quite clearly Jaegermeister.

Third: Arcturan Mega-gin. The recipe says, "Allow three cubes of Arcturan Mega-gin to melt into the mixture (it must be properly iced or the benzene is lost)." This one is tricky. My first instinct was to look for gin as solid which could thus melt and "solid gin" turned up some promising possibilities. But what of the Benzene? Oh, Mr. Adams, you're a tricky one. Here's the key: U.S. Pat. No. 3,771,653, issued to J.P. Harnett, Nov. 13, 1973 describes a method for using the trash from a cotton gin to remove benzene and other contaminants from water. But here, we don't want the Benzene removed. Drinking water already contains benzyne from a number of sources. Accordingly, this ingredient is merely three ice cubes made from unfiltered tap water.

Fourth: Fallian marsh gas. Okay, unfortunately, marsh gas, on Earth is methane, the main ingredient in farts. However, this little tidbit suggests Fallian marsh gas to be something far more pleasant than farts: "Four litres of Fallian marsh gas should be allowed to bubble through the drink 'in memory of all those happy Hikers who have died of pleasure in the Marshes of Fallia.' It can therefore be assumed that these gases are highly intoxicating, possibly even hallucinogenic." (http://zipcodezoo.com/Key/Animalia/Fallia_Genus.asp). What lawfully obtainable intoxicating or hallucinogenic gas could be used to carbonate this drink? At 2%, carbon dioxide is mildly narcotic and causes increased blood pressure and pulse rate, and causes reduced hearing. So, I'm guessing that the marsh gas of Fallia is 2% carbon dioxide. Quinine is a muscle relaxer and pain killer. As such some combination of carbon dioxide and quinine would cause all those happy hikers to die of pleasure in the marshes. Where to get a mixture of carbon dioxide and quinine? It's tonic water.

Fifth: Qalactin Hypermint extract. Mint Extract is Mint Extract. Altoids peppermints claim to be "many times stronger" than regular peppermints. Their secret (according to Wikipedia) is real peppermint oil. I believe this is as close as we're going to get with Earth ingredients.

Sixth: Tooth of an Algolian Suntiger. Tiger's Tooth in Malay is, "Bukit Takun". Bukit Takun is a mountain in Malaysia. And, gasp! It is made entirely of limestone! I have looked no further, the fifth ingredient is a wedge of lime. Curiously enough, I discovered that there is a certain lime-like fruit called a Rangpur. One more quick search: where can you find a Rangpur farm in the United States? Sit down for this: Angola, Indiana. Coincidence? I think not.

Seventh: Zamphuor. Zamphour is a place on Earth but it is spelled Zamfur or Zamfara and it is in Nigeria. Zamfara State is mainly populated by people of the Hausa and Fulani tribes and their main staple crop is sorghum. The Chinese have been fermenting Sorghum into an alcoholic drink called, "Baijiu" for centuries. According to Wikipedia, the taste of Baijiu has been compared in English to paint thinner, rubbing alcohol or diesel fuel. Based on this description, if you can't find Baijiu, I think a sprinkle of Italian Grappa might make a fair substitute.

Eighth: An Olive. I believe this to be an olive.

So, here's the REAL recipe with Earth ingredients:

  • Add one bottle of Jack Daniel's Old No. 7;
  • Pour into it one measure of Jaegermeister;
  • Add three tap water ice cubes;
  • Allow four litres of tonic water to bubble through it.
  • Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of pure peppermint extract.
  • Drop in a lime.
  • Sprinkle Baijiu or grappa.
  • Add an olive.

I'm off to experiment!
(Wish me luck!)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why California is F***'ed

When my 7th grader announced that she had fifty-seven students in one of her classes, I decided to get to the bottom of the current economic fiasco and I discovered that the problem is very, very easy to find.

The same law that allows homeowners to pay property taxes based on the value of their home at the time of purchase also applies to corporate and business landowners. The most expensive real estate in the country is being taxed based on its value from over 20 years ago! So, where once the counties used to be able to contribute back to the State, the State now has to subsidize all of the counties!

Revenue has to come from somewhere, and our schools should be funded by property taxes, not by spend now-pay later bond issues. Every commercial owner of land should pay property taxes based on the present value of their land and improvements, not on the value assessed in the 1980's. This would not adversely effect the business climate in California, in fact it would give new businesses a fighting chance against the big, staid players who have helped ruin this state.

But, once again the Reaganite conservatives refuse to accept the fact that "trickle-down" economics was the root cause of the destruction of the entire American economy and refuse to make corporate America and the Super-Wealthy pay a slightly higher percentage of the income in taxes preferring rather to raise the sales tax and put the burden on those least capable of bearing it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

There is a little less light today

A Box of Rain mourns the death of Mary Travers. The songs of Peter, Paul and Mary have been a part of my conscience for my entire life. They always seemed to know what was important: from maintaining the innocence of childhood to sacrificing oneself for their ideals, to cherishing each moment of joy. Mary's passing has effected me in an unexpectedly profound way.

We're Number 37! Yay!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Our pal Galo

Live @ the Stand on 5780 Canoga Ave, Woodland Hills on Friday evenings, 6p-9p.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Teens locked up for life without a second chance

Story Highlights
  • At least 73 inmates serve life without parole for offenses committed at 13 and 14
  • [Imbecile] proponents of tough sentencing laws say public safety is top priority
  • Only 19 [backward] states punish minors under 14 with sentences of life without parole
  • "They took away all hope for the future," says Quantel Lotts, now 23

By Stephanie Chen
CNN
(CNN) -- It began as horseplay, with two teenage stepbrothers chasing each other with blow guns and darts. But it soon escalated when one of the boys grabbed a knife.

The older teen, Michael Barton, 17, was dead by the time he reached the hospital, stabbed twice.The younger boy, Quantel Lotts, 14, would eventually become one of Missouri's youngest lifers.

Lotts was sentenced in Missouri's St. Francois County Circuit Court in 2002 to life in prison without parole for first-degree murder in his stepbrother's stabbing death.

It made no difference that at the time of the deadly scuffle, Lotts was barely old enough to watch PG-13 movie and too young to drive, vote or buy beer.

"They locked me up and threw away the keys," Lotts, now 23, said from prison. "They took away all hope for the future."

His stepmother, the victim's mother, has forgiven Lotts and is working with lawyers to gain his release.

Lotts is one of at least 73 U.S. inmates -- most of them minorities -- who were sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison for crimes committed when they were 13 or 14, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization in Alabama that defends indigent defendants and prisoners.

The 73 are just a fraction of the more than 2,000 offenders serving life sentences for crimes they committed as minors under the age of 18.

Across the country, most juvenile offenders and many adults are given a second chance. Charles Manson, convicted in seven notorious murders committed when he was 27, will be eligible for his 12th parole hearing in 2012. He's been denied parole 11 times. Even "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz, who confessed to killing six people in the 1970s when he was in his 20s, has had four parole hearings, though he has said he doesn't deserve parole and doesn't want it.

But Quantel Lotts has no hope for a parole hearing. At least not yet. See which states have sentenced minors to life without parole »

Lotts is part of a trend that has developed over the past two decades. Numerous studies have shown that In the 1970s and 1980s, minors were rarely given life sentences, let alone life without parole, experts said. By the early 1990s, according to the Department of Justice, an alarming spike in juvenile homicides spawned a nationwide crackdown, including a movement to try kids in adult courts.

"Criminal court doesn't care they are kids," said Melissa Sickmund, chief of systems research at the National Center for Juvenile Justice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "Once they are there, it's just another case."

Today, there are only a handful of states -- including Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oregon -- that prohibit sentencing minors to life without parole, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Proponents of the strict sentencing laws said public safety should be top priority. They argued that judges give certain criminals, regardless of their age, life sentences because the crimes are so abhorrent.

"There are some people who are so fundamentally dangerous that they can't walk among us," said Jennifer Jenkins, who co-founded the National Organization for Victims of Juvenile Lifers. The Illinois-based group has fought legislation in nine statesthat would remove sentences of life without parole.

Jenkins has experienced the devastation of losing family members to a teen killer. In 1990, her sister and her sister's family, who were living in a wealthy suburb in Chicago, Illinois, were murdered by a teenager.

"Victims have the right not to be constantly revictimized," she said.

"They will come back to my community and your community and repeat," said Harriet Salerno, president of Crime Victims United of California, a group trying to block the passage of laws that would ease sentencing for juveniles.

She founded the victim's group after her daughter, a pre-medical student, was murdered at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California in the 1979. "Many of them have dysfunctional homes, and the crimes will escalate because there is no place to put them."

Only 19 states punish children under 14 with life sentences without parole, according to a study conducted by the Equal Justice Initiative.

Over the past three years, the advocacy group's attorneys have appealed cases involving 13- and 14-year-old offenders in state and federal court. Attorneys argue that the sentences are "cruel and unusual punishment" given the tender years of the offenders. Read the center's report

Last week, the state of Missouri dismissed Quantel Lotts' case in St. Francois County Circuit Court. The Equal Justice Initiative will challenge the decision in the Missouri Court of Appeals. A separate petition, filed in 2007, is pending in federal court in the Eastern District of Missouri.

Lotts remains in prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri, and he is hopeful. He has new dreams of going to college and maybe even becoming a lawyer.

"My family motivates me," he explained. "Because I want to be out there with them so I can never give up."

He wishes he could start over, but not at the beginning. He grew up in a crack house with a mother who used and sold drugs. In Lotts' case, court documents reveal that he was sexually abused as a child.

When child welfare officials took Lotts from his mother at the age of 8, they noted that he "smelled of urine and had badly decayed molars as well as numerous scars on his arms, legs and forehead."

"Quantel had a lot of anger because of all he has been through," said stepmother Tammy Lotts, 45, whose son Michael Barton was Lotts' victim. iReport.com: Sentence 'totally unfair'

At the time of the crime, Tammy Lotts said she left her children for several days with her husband to get high on crack cocaine.

"But I don't believe that Quantel did it," she added. "They took care of each other. They didn't see each other as stepbrothers; they considered them brothers."

Most young offenders serving life without parole were exposed to poverty, violence or drugs during childhood, the Equal Justice Initiative reported.

Some victims' families say that's exactly why the juveniles should stay locked up.

Salerno, of Crime Victims United of California, said that some juveniles can be rehabilitated but that some committed crimes so severe, resources shouldn't be wasted on them.

Two cases in which juvenile offenders got life without parole didn't even involve murder.

Antonio Nunez was 14 years old when he committed a crime that gave him life without parole. The crime was an armed kidnapping that occurred in 2001. He spent his childhood in a gang-ridden neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles, California. He was shot in the stomach multiple times while riding his bike at age 13. See stories of other inmates who were sentenced to life in prison without parole »

In Florida, Joe Sullivan, who case will be heard soon by the U.S. Supreme Court, was sentenced to life without parole for 1989 rape of an elderly woman. He was 13 at the time of the crime and is mentally disabled.

In 2005, groups that opposed life sentences without parole for young people, began to gain traction after the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for crimes committed by 16 and 17 year olds in the landmark case Roper v. Simmons.

A year later, Colorado abolished life without parole for minors who commit crimes. At the federal level, Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-Virginia, will introduce legislation this year to give youthful offenders the option of parole. In California, Democratic Sen. Leland Yee has proposed a law that grants young offenders a chance at parole after ten years.

"Children aren't just little adults, and it's starting to resonate with people," said Ashley Nellis, an analyst at the Sentencing Project, a research organization tracking sentencing patterns. "There has been a general momentum of changing juvenile law in the last few years."

Nearly a decade later, Lotts, now a grown man, still cries himself to sleep over the loss of his stepbrother. To ease the pain, he reads novels or listens to the tunes of R&B group Dru Hill.

One sleepless night in prison, Lotts found himself reading the book "Lightning" by Dean Koontz. The novel, about time travel, has become one of his favorites. He often thinks about what it would be like to turn back time.

"This would have never happened," he said. "My brother would be here today."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Italian Pasta Diet, etc

It's beem a long time since I posted something just for fun.  These are from my mom:

ITALIAN PASTA DIET -- IT REALLY WORKS !!
1. You walka pasta da bakery.
2. You walka pasta da candy store.
3. You walka pasta da Ice Cream shop.
4. You walka pasta da table and fridge.
You will lose weight!
For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health.
It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.
1. The Japanese eat very little fat  and suffer fewer heart attacks than  Americans.
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. 

CONCLUSION:  Eat and drink what you like.  Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spanish court considers trying former US officials

By PAUL HAVEN, Associated Press Writer

MADRID, – A Spanish court has agreed to consider opening a criminal case against six former Bush administration officials, including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, over allegations they gave legal cover for torture at Guantanamo Bay, a lawyer in the case said Saturday.

Human rights lawyers brought the case before leading anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzon, who agreed to send it on to prosecutors to decide whether it had merit, Gonzalo Boye, one of the lawyers who brought the charges, told The Associated Press.
The ex-Bush officials are Gonzales; former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith; former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington; Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee; and Pentagon lawyer William Haynes.

"The charges as related to me make no sense," Feith said Saturday. "They criticize me for promoting a controversial position that I never advocated."

Yoo declined to comment. A message left at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco where Bybee is now a judge was not immediately returned. A message left at Chevron Corp. in San Ramon, Calif., where Haynes reportedly works as an attorney was not immediately returned.

Spanish law allows courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes under a doctrine of universal justice, though the government has recently said it hopes to limit the scope of the legal process.

Garzon became famous for bringing charges against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, and he and other Spanish judges have agreed to investigate alleged abuses everywhere from Tibet to Argentina's "dirty war," El Salvador and Rwanda.
Still, the country's record in prosecuting such cases has been spotty at best, with only one suspect extradited to Spain so far.

When a similar case was brought against Israeli officials earlier this year, Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos assured his Israeli counterpart that the process would be quashed.

Even if indictments are eventually handed down against the U.S. officials, it is far from clear whether arrests would ever take place. The officials would have to travel outside the United States and to a country willing to take them into custody before possible extradition to Spain.

The officials are charged with providing a legal cover for interrogation methods like waterboarding against terrorism suspects at Guantanamo, which the Spanish human rights lawyers say amounted to torture.

Yoo, for instance, wrote a series of secret memos that claimed the president had the legal authority to circumvent the Geneva Conventions.

President George W. Bush always denied the U.S. tortured anyone. The U.S. has acknowledged that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described plotter of Sept. 11, and a few other prisoners were waterboarded at secret CIA prisons before being taken to Guantanamo, but the Bush administration insisted that all interrogations were lawful.
Boye said he expected the National Court to take the case forward, and dismissed concerns that it would harm bilateral relations between the two countries.
He said that some of the victims of the alleged torture were Spaniards, strengthening the argument for Spanish jurisdiction.

"When you bring a case like this you can't stop to make political judgments as to how it might affect bilateral relations between countries," he told the AP." It's too important for that."

Boye noted that the case was brought not against interrogators who might have committed crimes but by the lawyers and other high-placed officials who gave cover for their actions.

"Our case is a denunciation of lawyers, by lawyers, because we don't believe our profession should be used to help commit such barbarities," he said.
Another lawyer with detailed knowledge of the case told the AP that Garzon's decision to consider the charges was "a significant first step." The lawyer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

There was no immediate comment from Garzon or the government.

The judge's decision to send the case against the American officials to prosecutors means it will proceed, at least for now. Prosecutors must now decide whether to recommend a full-blown investigation, though Garzon is not bound by their decision.
The proceedings against the Bush Administration officials could be embarrassing for Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who has been keen to improve ties with the United States after frosty relations during the Bush Administration.
Zapatero is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama for the first time on April 5 during a summit in Prague.
___
Associated Press writers Harold Heckle in Madrid and Lisa Leff in San Francisco contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Law

Recently got this in my e-mail:

With the high rate of attacks on women in secluded parking lots, especially during evening hours, the Minneapolis City Council hasestablished a "Women Only" parking lot at the Mall of America. Even the parking lot attendants are exclusively female so that a comfortable and safe environment is created for patrons
Below is the first picture available of this world-first women-only parking lot in Minnesota:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The most important thing Obama can do to restore faith in the American government, both nationally and internationally.

AP 1/13/09
WASHINGTON – The incoming Obama administration should launch a criminal investigation of Bush administration officials to see whether they broke the law in the name of national security, a House Democratic report said Tuesday. President-elect Barack Obama has been more cautious on the issue and has not endorsed such a recommendation.
Along with the criminal probe, the report called for a Sept. 11-style commission with subpoena power, to gather facts and make recommendations on preventing misuse of power, according to the report by the Democratic staff of the House Judiciary Committee.
The report covers Bush administration policies that Democrats have protested for some time. Among them: interrogation of foreign detainees, warrantless wiretaps, retribution against critics, manipulation of intelligence and political dismissals of U.S. attorneys...
...The criminal investigation would include issues apart from national security, such as whether laws were violated in the politically inspired firing of U.S. attorneys.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said his staff has met with the Obama transition officials on the report. The president-elect's transition team has not endorsed it.

The congressionally appointed commission should have subpoena power, the report said. It suggested the new president order "full cooperation by all present and past federal employees with requests for information."

Conyers already has introduced legislation to form the commission.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Do not pity Hamas. They asked for this.

Q: How can Israel justify killing civilians if their intent is to crush Hamas?

A: The death of innocents is a tragic inevitability of war. Our hearts go out to all those caught in the middle. The sad fact is that the Palestinian people are being held hostage by Hamas. Just as it is clear that Hamas is morally culpable for any harm done to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli hostage that they hold, so too are they culpable for the fate of Palestinian innocents amongst whom they hide. A civilian who is killed while being used by a terrorist as a human shield is a victim of the terrorist, not the Israeli army, who does not target innocent civilians.

Q: Isn't Israel's response a bit disproportionate?

A: If Israel's purpose was to take revenge, then perhaps the question of "proportion" would apply here. But Israel is waging a defensive war. In war, you don't measure your response to the enemy by what they have done to you in the past, but rather by what needs to be done to stop them from attacking you. Israel must destroy Hamas' capability to continue shooting rockets at Israeli cities. Israel's actions are proportionate to the present and future threat, not just the damage done in the past.

Q: Doesn't Israel understand that they are just creating more terrorists? The anger and fury at Israel as a result of bombing Gaza will only make more people want to join Hamas.

A: Feelings of frustration, anger, fear and rage do not make you into a terrorist. A culture of death and an education of hate does. Israel doesn't need to do anything to create terrorists - Islamic extremism does that - but Israel must act to destroy those who threaten its people.

Q: Hamas indeed has a militant wing, but it also does a lot of good. They are responsible for social programs, educational projects and humanitarian work in Gaza. By destroying Hamas, Israel also destroys all the good they do. Aren't we demonizing a group that is not all bad?

A: If a serial killer also happens to volunteer for his local hospital, has donated money to an orphanage, and looks after his ailing grandmother, he is still a serial killer, and he and the threat he represents must be treated as such. The danger he poses far outweighs the concern for any good he may do.

Q: By using violence, how is Israel any better than its terrorist enemies?

A: That is as ridiculous as saying that a woman who fights off an attacker is no better than her attacker. Israel would not touch Hamas if Hamas would stop sending rockets and suicide bombers into Israel. Israel seeks to live in peace with its neighbors; Hamas and its allies seek to destroy Israel, no matter what Israel does.

There is a world of difference between the Hamas terrorists and the Israeli soldiers. The Hamas terrorist seeks violence as a way of life; his aim is to sow war and death. For the Israeli soldier, war is a necessity, and a moral duty, because Israel's citizens are being attacked and innocent lives are being threatened. The Hamas terrorist seeks to maximize civilian casualties; the Israeli soldier does everything in his power to minimize them.

The Hamas terrorist fears times of peace, because then he has no purpose. The Israeli soldier dreams of a time when peace will reign. Then, the Israel Defense Force will be made joyously redundant, as "one nation will not lift a sword against another nation, and they will no longer learn to wage war".

No, its not a UFO

Its a birthday cake with 75 candles on it. Again, I swear its not photoshopped.
 
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Restaurant where Black Angus used to be.

I swear this is not photoshopped. The Black Angus in my neighborhood had a light out on their sign. It was like this for weeks.

From photos from my phone 3 08

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bushisms over the years

By The Associated Press The Associated Press Sat Jan 3, 11:06 am ET

President George W. Bush will leave behind a legacy of Bushisms, the label stamped on the commander in chief's original speaking style. Some of the president's more notable malaprops and mangled statements:
___

• "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." — September 2000, explaining his energy policies at an event in Michigan.

• "Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?" — January 2000, during a campaign event in South Carolina.

• "They misunderestimated the compassion of our country. I think they misunderestimated the will and determination of the commander in chief, too." — Sept. 26, 2001, in Langley, Va. Bush was referring to the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.

• "There's no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail." — Oct. 4, 2001, in Washington. Bush was remarking on a back-to-work plan after the terrorist attacks.

• "It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber." — April 10, 2002, at the White House, as Bush urged Senate passage of a broad ban on cloning.

• "I want to thank the dozens of welfare-to-work stories, the actual examples of people who made the firm and solemn commitment to work hard to embetter themselves." — April 18, 2002, at the White House.

• "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." — Sept. 17, 2002, in Nashville, Tenn.

• "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." — Aug. 5, 2004, at the signing ceremony for a defense spending bill.

• "Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." — Sept. 6, 2004, at a rally in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

• "Our most abundant energy source is coal. We have enough coal to last for 250 years, yet coal also prevents an environmental challenge." — April 20, 2005, in Washington.

• "We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job." — Sept. 20, 2005, in Gulfport, Miss.

• "I can't wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbors back into neighborhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs." — Sept. 5, 2005, when Bush met with residents of Poplarville, Miss., in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

• "It was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship. After all, 60 years we were at war 60 years ago we were at war." — June 29, 2006, at the White House, where Bush met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

• "Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die." — Dec. 7, 2006, in a joint appearance with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

• "These are big achievements for this country, and the people of Bulgaria ought to be proud of the achievements that they have achieved." — June 11, 2007, in Sofia, Bulgaria.

• "Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit." — September 2007, in Sydney, Australia, where Bush was attending an APEC summit.

• "Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech." April 16, 2008, at a ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to the White House.

• "The fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there's jobs at the machine-making place." — May 27, 2008, in Mesa, Ariz.

• "And they have no disregard for human life." — July 15, 2008, at the White House. Bush was referring to enemy fighters in Afghanistan.

• "I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office." — June 26, 2008, during a Rose Garden news briefing.

• "Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people." — July 4, 2008 in Virginia.

• "The people in Louisiana must know that all across our country there's a lot of prayer — prayer for those whose lives have been turned upside down. And I'm one of them. It's good to come down here." — Sept. 3, 2008, at an emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, La., after Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast.

• "This thaw — took a while to thaw, it's going to take a while to unthaw." Oct. 20, 2008, in Alexandria, La., as he discussed the economy and frozen credit markets.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Do something that does not compute

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.