You are browsing the archive for 2013 March 01.

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Did the Internet Kill “Girls Gone Wild”?

March 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon.com



 

When the world is tired of sloppy drunk chicks taking off their tops for trucker hats, it is tired of itself. World, we must be damn weary. The Joe Francis “Girls Gone Wild” empire has filed for bankruptcy protection.

I’m sure you’re absolutely heartbroken over what will happen to the man who’s made a living finding young women whose judgment is deeply impaired and coercing them into acts that range from a flash of boobies to reportedly losing their virginity to him. Across the nation, women everywhere are so sad, they’re leaving their shirts on and can’t even muster a single, forlorn “whooooooo.”

There was a time, just a few years ago, when Francis seemed to have the Midas touch, a moment when everything in his path turned into nipples and girl-on-girl makeout sessions. Francis was said to have been worth $150 million, and his future looked like it would continue to be more of the same. After all, what’s a more reliable moneymaker than youth and poor decision-making?

But we’re not living in the infomercial era anymore. And Francis has seen his share of troubles in recent years, including a string of legal woes, most notably courtesy of Steve Wynn and his multiple lawsuits against him. The Las Vegas entrepreneur says Francis now owes him close to $30 million: a $2 million original gambling debt, and the awards of a defamation and slander suit against Francis. Francis’ bankruptcy protection filing also mentions other claims against the company, including a $5.8 million one from a woman who says “the company used naked images of her without her permission.” You’ve got to sell a lot of “naked and hot amateurs” to pay that kind of tab.

In his disclosure of the filing Thursday, Francis put on a typically festive face. “The only reason ‘Girls Gone Wild’ has elected to file for this reorganization is to restructure its frivolous and burdensome legal affairs,” he said in a statement. “This Chapter 11 filing will not affect any of ‘Girls Gone Wild’s’ domestic or international operations. Just like American Airlines and General Motors, it will be business as usual for ‘Girls …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Bradley Manning's Surprising Statement to the Court Details Why He Made His Historic Wikileak

March 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Bradley Manning, AlterNet



The statement below was read by Pfc. Bradley Manning at a providence inquiry for his formal plea of guilty to one specification as charged and nine specifications for lesser included offenses. He pled not guilty to 12 other specifications. This rush transcript was taken by journalist Alexa O’Brien at Thursday’s pretrial hearing and first appeared on Salon.com.

Judge Lind: Pfc. Manning you may read your statement.

Pfc. Bradley Manning: Yes, your Honor. I wrote this statement in the confinement facility. The following facts are provided in support of the providence inquiry for my court martial, United States v. Pfc. Bradley E. Manning.

Personal Facts.

I am a 25-year-old Private First Class in the United States Army currently assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, HHC, U.S. Army Garrison (USAG), Joint Base Myer, Henderson Hall, Fort Meyer, Va.

My [missed word] assignment I was assigned to HHC, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y. My primary military occupational specialty or MOS is 35 Foxtrot intelligence analyst. I entered active duty status on 2 October 2007. I enlisted with the hope of obtaining both real-world experience and earning benefits under the GI Bill for college opportunities.

Facts regarding my position as an intelligence analyst.

In order to enlist in the Army I took the Standard Armed Services Aptitude Battery or [ASVAB?]. My score on this battery was high enough for me to qualify for any enlisted MOS positon. My recruiter informed me that I should select an MOS that complimented my interests outside the military. In response, I told him that I was interested in geopolitical matters and information technology. He suggested that I consider becoming an intelligence analyst.

After researching the intelligence analyst position, I agreed that this would be a good fit for me. In particular, I enjoyed the fact that an analyst could use information derived from a variety of sources to create work products that informed the command of its available choices for determining the best course of action, or COAs. Although the MOS required working knowledge of computers, it primarily required me to consider how raw information can be combined with other available intelligence sources in order to create products that assisted the command …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Sequestration Math

March 1, 2013 in Economics

By Peter G. Klein

The media are bombarding us with stories of how sequestration, with its “drastic cuts” in government spending, will affect our lives. Marketplace ran one yesterday about the USDA and the potential loss of federal meat inspectors. Don’t worry, we were told, the authorities won’t allow tainted meat on the shelves! But they might inspect more slowly, meaning less meat for sale, and higher prices.

Not being a reporter, I thought it would be useful to collect some facts. So I spent 5 minutes on the CBO website and discovered the following. The USDA spent $145 billion in 2012. Its proposed budget for 2013 was $155 billion, a 6.9% increase. Of that, $128 billion is considered “mandatory” spending — e.g., payments to farmers based on a formula — and isn’t affected by the sequester. What’s in play is $27 billion of projected “discretionary” spending. The sequester cuts that by 8% to about $24 billion. So the sequestered 2013 budget is $152 billion, a 4.8% increase over 2012.

Man, that is one savage cut!

…read more
Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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The Weaponizing of Salt, Sugar and Fat: The Secrets of How Big Food Got Us Hooked on Junk

March 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!



AMY GOODMAN: We spend the rest of the hour going deep inside the “processed-food-industrial complex,” beginning with the “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.” That was the cover story in the recent New York Times Magazine that examined how food companies have known for decades that salt, sugar and fat are not good for us in the quantities American’s consume them, and yet every year they convince most of us to ingest about twice the recommended amount of salt, 70 pounds of sugar—22 teaspoons a day. Then, there’s the fat. Well, New York Times reporter Michael Moss explains how one of the most prevalent fat delivery methods is cheese.

MICHAEL MOSS: Every year, the average American eats as much as 33 pounds of cheese. That’s up to 60,000 calories and 3,100 grams of saturated fat. So why do we eat so much cheese? Mainly it’s because the government is in cahoots with the processed food industry. And instead of responding in earnest to the health crisis, they’ve spent the past 30 years getting people to eat more. This is the story of how we ended up doing just that.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter Michael Moss. His new book is called Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. He goes deep inside the laboratories where food scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary drinks or the “mouth feel” of fat, and use advanced technology to make it irresistible and addictive. As a result of this $1 trillion-a-year industry, one-in-three adults, and one-in-five kids, is now clinically obese.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Michael. You open your book with a remarkable summit. Talk about who was there.

MICHAEL MOSS: This is a meeting in 1999 that engaged the CEOs of some of the largest food companies in the country, and they were presented with a vivid picture of the emerging obesity crisis. And what really amazed me about this meeting, when I found out about it and found the records to it and talked to some of the people who were present, is that it was none other than one of their own, a senior executive at Kraft, who basically laid the emerging obesity crisis at the feet of the processed food industry and …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Why Scalia’s ‘Racial Entitlement’ Nonsense Is More Dangerous Than You Think

March 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Ian Millhiser, Think Progress



 

Justice Antonin Scalia quite deservedly came under fire yesterday for his claim that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act is a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” If the justice were looking to confirm every suspicion that conservative opposition to the law that broke the back of Jim Crow voter exclusions is rooted in white racial resentment, he could hardly have picked a better way to do so.

Viewed in context, however, Scalia’s quote is actually even more disturbing than the initial headlines suggested. Beyond whatever resentments Justice Scalia may hold, his “racial entitlements” statement was also part of a broader theory about the proper role of judges in society. And if that theory were taken seriously by a majority of the justices, it would potentially undermine Medicare, Social Security and countless other programs. According to Scalia:

Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes. I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there’s a good reason for it.

That’s the — that’s the concern that those of us who — who have some questions about this statute have. It’s — it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress. There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now.And even the Virginia Senators, they have no interest in voting against this. The State government is not their government, and they are going to lose — they are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act.

As Scott Lemieux points out, this theory resembles some of the reasoning behind an 1883 decision which struck down an early precursor to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that banned many forms of segregation by private business. But the roots of Scalia’s legal theory are probably several decades more recent than …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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The Sequester as a Tea Party Plot

March 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, RobertReich.org



 

Imagine a plot to undermine the government of the United States, to destroy much of its capacity to do the public’s business, and to sow distrust among the population.

Imagine further that the plotters infiltrate Congress and state governments, reshape their districts to give them disproportionate influence in Washington, and use the media to spread big lies about the government.

Finally, imagine they not only paralyze the government but are on the verge of dismantling pieces of it.

Far-fetched?  Perhaps. But take a look at what’s been happening in Washington and many state capitals since Tea Party fanatics gained effective control of the Republican Party, and you’d be forgiven if you see parallels.

Tea Party Republicans are crowing about the “sequestration” cuts beginning today (Friday). “This will be the first significant tea party victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington,” says Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), a Tea Partier who was first elected in 2010.

Sequestration is only the start. What they set out to do was not simply change Washington but eviscerate the U.S. government — “drown it in the bathtub,” in the words of their guru Grover Norquist – slashing Social Security and Medicare, ending worker protections we’ve had since the 1930s, eroding civil rights and voting rights, terminating programs that have helped the poor for generations, and making it impossible for the government to invest in our future.

Sequestration grew out of a strategy hatched soon after they took over the House in 2011, to achieve their goals by holding hostage the full faith and credit of the United States – notwithstanding the Constitution’s instruction that the public debt of the United States “not be questioned.”

To avoid default on the public debt, the White House and House Republicans agreed to harsh and arbitrary “sequestered” spending cuts if they couldn’t come up with a more reasonable deal in the interim. But the Tea Partiers had no intention of agreeing to anything more reasonable. They knew the only way to dismember the federal government was through large spending cuts without tax increases.

Nor do they seem to mind the higher unemployment their strategy …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Paul appears on Fox Business' Stossel Show with John Stossel- 2/28/13

March 1, 2013 in Politics & Elections

…read more
Source: RAND PAUL

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Asymmetric Coverage of Climate Science Fools Very Few, and It's Not the Koch Brothers' Fault

March 1, 2013 in Economics

By Patrick J. Michaels

Patrick J. Michaels

USA Today has run yet another dire climate change feature, this time riffing off a federal compendium on climate change that hasn’t even been published—it is in draft form and is being severely criticized at this very minute.

Judging from what people really think about global warming, the paper should have saved its talent for something they are actually interested in.

Hardly a day goes by without some climate scare, and earlier this week we found a terrific example of how biased the reporting on this issue has become. This particular threat, coming from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Eastern Germany, is that increasingly persisting jet stream patterns “almost freeze” weather anomalies in one place. This would create longer heat waves and persistent rainfall anomalies (high or low), which, they say, “can result in a high death toll, forest fires, and dramatic harvest losses”. The cause, of course is dreaded global warming caused by pernicious economic activity.

Needless to say, that generated a lot of news traffic.

At precisely the same time, two University of Melbourne scientists published a paper in Geophysical Research letters, studying virtually the same data and finding little significant change. Further, they found that any changes in these patterns, known as atmospheric “blocking”, under which weather tends to stagnate, were small compared to natural year-to-year variability. In what is always a bad sign for solid science, they found that any connections between blocking frequency and global warming are highly dependent upon the methodology they used. Bottom line: they couldn’t find much of a signal, and even if they did, they weren’t sure what it all meant.

News traffic? Zilch.

The difference is that death and destruction sell ad copy, while, as the story goes, “plane lands on time” doesn’t. But, in climate change, there’s a remarkable disconnect between what people read and what they think.

A large number of people will be exposed to the story that scientists are reporting that global warming is leading to more severe weather. Meanwhile, no one will hear about the negative results in Geophysical Research Letters.

In climate change, there’s a remarkable disconnect between what people read and what they think.”

The type of global warming science reported to the public grows asymmetrically, with alarming evidence receiving far more exposure than evidence for more modest changes and impacts, or, climate-as-usual.

And what’s the bottom line? People still don’t give a darn.

The prestigious …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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What's the Matter with Bob Woodward These Days?

March 1, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet



On last night’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart took on the collapse of famed Watergate journalist, Bob Woodward.

Woodward riled up the press this week claiming the Obama administration issued him a “veiled threat” over a Washington Post op-ed he wrote saying the president “moved the goal posts” by demanding new revenue in budget talks.  

Stewart expressed the hysteric tone of Woodward’s claims, after the former journalistic hero made media rounds riding on this senior official’s alleged threat.

“These Chicago-style thugs strong arming a formerly young reporter like this,” Stewart said. “If only we had the emails.”

Stewart proceeded to read snippets of the email exchange between Woodward and the White House’s muscle—economic advisor Gene Sperling.

“I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today,” Sperling wrote, “I do truly believe you should rethinking your comment about saying that POTUS asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

Jon ridiculed the notion that Sperling’s words could ever be conceived as a threat.

“And Woodward, if I ever see you on these streets of this town again,” Stewart said in a mock gangster voice, “I will wave to you because we are good friends.”

That Woodward’s response email begins, “You do not ever have to apologize to me,” makes assertions of threat victimization even more laughable.

Stewart observed, “Access means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Watch:


Fri, 03/01/2013 – 05:51

…read more
Source: ALTERNET

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Young Pawns in Sequestration Fight

March 1, 2013 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

Federal education involvement seems to be all sweetness and light, focused on helping the most innocent and needy of Americans. But, as sequestration is bearing out, reality is often quite the opposite: it’s about exploiting “the children” for political gain.

In an ongoing rhetorical effort to whip up hysteria about sequestration, Education Secretary Arne Duncan was caught this week in an outright fabrication. “There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall,” Duncan told CBS’ Sunday talk show. The Washington Post reported Thursday that Duncan’s claim is bogus: when pressed, he could only specify five or six teaching jobs already slated to be cut in one West Virginia county, and admitted, “Whether it’s all sequester-related, I really don’t know.”

Such a revelation is in keeping with the overwrought rhetoric of the entire Obama administration, which makes it seem as if an $85 billion reduction to a $3.6 trillion budget would cut us back to the Stone Age. Especially when it comes to education, there’s simply no basis for such talk.

Are we truly supposed to believe that schools can’t find a way to make a half-percent trim without robbing children of their futures?”

Let’s start with the size of the cuts.

Under sequestration, federal education spending is slated to be reduced by about 5 percent. Almost any business in America could find a way to trim that much without seriously affecting its core operations.

But that’s just the federal portion of education funding, meaning the overall cut would be even smaller. While it spends too much, Washington provides only about 10 percent of total elementary and secondary funding. Multiply that by 5 percent, and you get just a half-percent overall reduction.

Are we truly supposed to believe that schools can’t find a way to make a half-percent trim without robbing children of their futures?

Over the past roughly 40 years, we’ve seen huge increases in public school staffing that have dropped student-to-employee ratios from around 14-to-1 to just 8-to-1. Even more telling, according to the latest available federal data, inflation-adjusted spending per-pupil rose from $5,726 to $13,141 in the same timeframe — a 129 percent increase that utterly dwarfs a half-percent divot.

At least academic achievement increased in that time, right? Wrong: According to the federal government’s own National Assessment of Educational Progress, scores for seventeen-year-olds, our schools’ “final products,” …read more
Source: OP-EDS