Monday, December 27, 2010

Profits trump safety and accountability in Gulf oil rig explosion

Here are two stories from Democracy Now! headlines this morning (Mon. 12/27) regading the failure of the system intended to protect the oil rig in the Gulf because profits took precedence over safety & the interference of the same companies with the investigation of the disaster.

Investigators: Involvement of Companies Undermining Oil Spill Probe

Report: All of Rig's Defense Systems Failed During Explosion

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hatred on the right: homophobia

Those on the right of the political spectrum today must find it very difficult keeping track of all the people they hate. Here are several comments made by right-wing Republicans in the immediate aftermath of the historic U.S. Senate vote last Saturday to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) and take a baby step toward making LGBT human beings American citizens. (These comments are from a correspondence I recently received from Michael Keegan of People for the American Way.)

Bryan Fischer of The American Family Association: "The new Marine motto: 'The Few, the Proud, the Sexually Twisted.' Good luck selling that to strong young males who would otherwise love to defend their country. What virile young man wants to serve in a military like that?"

Tony Perkins of The Family Research Council: "It is clear why this was done: not to enhance the military's ability to accomplish its mission or to enhance national security. Rather, it is a political payoff to a tiny, but loud and wealthy, part of the Democratic base."

Peter LaBarbara of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality: "If the lame-duck Congress succeeds in ‘gaying down' our military this weekend, it will take a disastrous leap toward “mainstreaming” deviant, sinful homosexual conduct."
I don't know what these people are smoking, but it seems to me that no one with a brain that hasn't turned to mush could possibly make such bigoted and utterly ignorant statements. These people and others like them are willing to undermine our security by making young men & women in the front lines mistrust the person next to them because of his or her homosexuality.As Rodgers & Hammerstein told us: "You have to be taught to hate and to fear."

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Inmates have Taken Over the Asylum: Airport Security

Here's what security technologist and author Bruce Schneier has to say in the NYT about airport security:i
A short history of airport security: We screen for guns and bombs, so the terrorists use box cutters. We confiscate box cutters and corkscrews, so they put explosives in their sneakers. We screen footwear, so they try to use liquids. We confiscate liquids, so they put PETN bombs in their underwear. We roll out full-body scanners, even though they wouldn’t have caught the Underwear Bomber, so they put a bomb in a printer cartridge. We ban printer cartridges over 16 ounces — the level of magical thinking here is amazing — and they’re going to do something else.

This is a stupid game, and we should stop playing it. (For more)
One thing that Schneier doesn't mention is that one of the most pervasive voices on the tube promoting the full-body scanners is former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. One thing Chertoff never mentions when he appears - as an expert - on these TV news shows is that one of the customers of his firm, The Chertoff Group, is the manufacturer of the full body scanners - Rapiscan. Conflict of interest you say. Ah well, that's capitalism. Here's a CNN video on Chertoff, Rapiscan & airport security. It's definitely worth a look

Monday, December 13, 2010

New York Film Critics choices for 2010

Best Film: The Social Network
Best Foreign Language Film: I Am Love
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actor: James Franco, 127 Hours
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Ensemble Cast: The Kids Are All Right
Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Breakthrough Performer: Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Debut Director: John Wells, The Company Men
Best Cinematography: Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
Best Score: Clint Mansell, Black Swan

Thursday, December 02, 2010

"Let them eat cake!" said the Republicans

"Let them eat cake"
Although there's considerable disagreement as to which princess uttered these infamous words when told the peasants had no bread,
there is no question as to the callous imperiousness of this sentiment. It has now been surpassed in the words and deeds of today's Congressional Republicans. Here's what Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said several days ago (on The Rachel Maddow show) about their actions,
The Republicans want to give billionaires in this country, people like Rupert Murdoch, a million dollars a year in tax breaks and yet they are balking , resisting providing unemployment compensation for people who have no jobs. I think that is just horrendous.
Well today they took the first step toward fulfilling their obligations to their millionaire masters. Their designated hit-man on this issue, Massachusetts Senator Scotty Brown said that he could only vote for the extension of unemployment insurance if it did not add to the deficit. Despite the fact that there is no question that extending unemployment insurance would help to stimulate the economy to a much larger extent than tax breaks for millionaires, no such concern about the deficit has impinged on the GOP's demands for tax breaks for the very rich.

So when the Republican Scrooges were told that the unemployed would have no bread for Christmas, they followed in the imperious footsteps of the unknown princess.