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Live Wire Weekend, Oct. 29-31: NPR’s Deserved Black Eyes, Privatization Follies and AA’s Bummer

| October 30, 2010

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Florida’s Worst Campaign Offenses

From The St. Pete Times: “Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott has shamelessly preyed on seniors’ financial insecurity to inaccurately paint Democrat Alex Sink as an irresponsible administrator of the state pension funds. The worst scare tactic is a television ad that features a mix of somber, older actors talking into the camera contending “Sink lost billions in Florida’s pension funds. … If she can’t run a pension fund, how can she run a state?” Sink doesn’t run the pension fund. She is one of three elected officials who serve as trustees of the State Board of Administration. A Republican, Attorney General Bill McCollum, and Gov. Charlie Crist are the others. They set broad policy, but the SBA staff does the actual vetting of stocks and investments and make the purchases for the pension and other government accounts. SBA accounts lost significant value with the 2007 collapse of the stock market, but have since rebounded. No retiree’s benefits have been cut or threatened. That hasn’t stopped Scott from scaring seniors. Shameless.” More examples of shamelessness.

NPR’s Two Black Eyes

It wasn’t enough for NPR to fire Williams, the reporter who said on Fox that he worries every time he sees a Muslim on a plane (a stupid statement by all means, especially since the majority of Muslims he encounters are not robed in his stereotypical impression of what a Muslim looks like, but not an unusual statement: it’s how a majority of Americans think, unfortunately). Before Jon Stewart’s Restore Sanity rally at the National Mall on Saturday, NPR told its reporters that they were barred from attending, unless they were covering the event. From NPR: “We’ve received enormous attention from media of all kinds today about our communication to NPR staff on this question. More press than our coverage of the war in Afghanistan or our investigation of the military’s treatment of those suffering from mild traumatic brain injury. […] We didn’t get questions from staff about the Restoring Honor and One Nation rallies, because it was obvious to everyone that these were overtly political events. It’s different with the Colbert and Stewart rallies; they are ambiguous. But their rallies will be perceived as political by many, whatever we think. As such, they are off limits except for those covering the events.”

It’s the old notion that a reporter is too dumb to know how to keep her personal opinions separate from a story she might cover. As if attending the event would be any different than watching it from a window or watching it live on TV.

BP Dispersants’ Agent Orange Effect

Independent reporter Dahr Jamail investigates sa story no one in the Gulf states, including Florida, has yet touched: sicknesses resulting from BP’s use of chemical dispersants during its Deepwater Horizon spill: “Injected with at least 4.9 million barrels of oil during the BP oil disaster of last summer, the Gulf has suffered the largest accidental marine oil spill in history. Compounding the problem, BP has admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of widely banned toxic dispersants (one that has been banned in the UK), which according to chemist Bob Naman, create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil. And dispersed, weathered oil continues to flow ashore daily. Naman, who works at the Analytical Chemical Testing Lab in Mobile, Alabama, has been carrying out studies to search for the chemical markers of the dispersants BP used to both sink and break up its oil. According to Naman, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from this toxic mix are making people sick. PAHs contain compounds that have been identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic.” The full story al Al-Jazera, and Jamail’s interview:

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The Privatization-Industrial Complex

“I think this is just the latest way for people to make money off state and local governments. This is the new way the investment banks, their lawyers, and consultants squeeze the taxpayers….They’re going around making these deals, and it’s very lucrative. It’s like a circus coming to town.” – Clint Krislov

From New Geography: “Privatization has long been advocated by many conservatives as a good government measure. Traditionally, privatization was used a tool that subjects government monopolies to competition from the marketplace, driving down costs and improving quality of service. Privatization pioneer Steve Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis and now deputy mayor of New York City, used to apply what he called the “Yellow Pages test.” If he could open the Yellow Pages and find several companies providing a service, he wondered why government should be in that business. […] Today, sadly, privatization is less about Goldsmith style operational effectiveness and more about providing jackpots for financiers who stand at the core of a growing privatization-industrial complex. Cities and states salivate over ways to sell or lease off underperforming public asset for large payouts. With local governments cash-strapped and the public unwilling to pay more in taxes, it is politically difficult to even bring user fees to a market rate. Combined with the potential billions in payoffs – Indiana received $3.9 billion for its toll road and Chicago $1.1 billion for its parking meter system – the appeal is obvious.” The full article.

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Remember John Kenneth Galbraith

From the Reader’s Almanac at the Library of America: “In his 1955 best-selling book The Great Crash, 1929 economist John Kenneth Galbraith sets the stage for the week of the Crash with a hundred pages of what the Atlantic Monthly called “a trenchant and timely re-examination of the most spectacular boom and bust period in American history . . . Mr. Galbraith’s prose has a grace and wit, and he distills a good deal of sardonic fun from the whopping errors of the nation’s oracles and the wondrous antics of the financial community.”

Here’s how Galbraith wrote of the curtain rising on Black Tuesday, the beginning of the Great Depression: “The curtain rises on “Black Tuesday”: “Tuesday, October 29, was the most devastating day in the history of the New York stock market, and it may have been the most devastating day in the history of markets. It combined all of the bad features of all of the bad days before. Volume was immensely greater than on Black Thursday; the drop in prices was almost as great as on Monday. Uncertainly and alarm were as great as on either. Selling began as soon as the market opened and in huge volume. Great blocks of stock were offered for what they would bring; in the first half hour sales were at 33,000,000-a-day rate. The air holes, which the bankers were to close, opened wide. Repeatedly, and in many issues there was a plethora of selling orders and no buyers at all. . . . By [the close] 16,410,030 sales had been recorded on the New York Stock Exchange—some certainly went unrecorded—or more than three times the number that was once considered a fabulously big day.” The full post.

Watch an homage to Galbraith:

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Al Bana and the Muslim Brotherhood on Political Participation

The Muslim Brotherhood is one of those Islamic movements the West loves to slosh under the single, all-purpose banner of Islamist violence or terrorism. The simplification is not just narrow minded. It’s flat out wrong, given the Brotherhood’s internal diversity and its affinities with what any American conservative would recognize as a kindred ideology dating back to its founder, Hassan al-Bana. From the Carnegie Middle East Center: “The debate over political participation has been complicated by the movement’s difficult relations with other political actors, from the ruling regime to opposition parties and protest movements. Fearing regime repression, the Brotherhood has been conscious to avoid signaling a determination to challenge the regime’s grip on power. The movement has consequently remained reluctant to commit to formal and electoral alliances with other opposition actors. This understanding was evident in the Brotherhood’s self-limited participation in 2005 parliamentary elections when it fielded candidates in less than onethird of the electoral districts, sending the message that they did not seek to challenge the ruling National Democratic Party’s two-thirds majority in the People’s Assembly.

Relations between the Brotherhood and other opposition parties have been less hostile but have nonetheless been characterized by a long-standing tradition of mutual mistrust, limiting their attempts to harmonize political positions and coordinate activities. Liberal and leftist parties as well as protest movements have remained deeply concerned by the Brotherhood’s ambiguous positions on equal citizenship rights for Muslims and Copts, as well as their position on women’s rights. Possible partners fretted about the negative impacts of Shari’a provisions on the freedom of expression and pluralism. Ultimately, they were equally disturbed by the contradictions between the Brotherhood’s Islamic frame of reference and the constitutional pillars of Egyptian politics.” The full article.

Bullshit Watch: Energy Bracelets

These so-called energy bracelets (also pendants and cards) allegedly contain a hologram embedded with frequencies that react positively with your body’s energy field to improve your balance, strength, flexibility, energy, and sports performance; and they also offer all sorts of other benefits (such as helping horses and birds and relieving menstrual cramps and headaches). The claims and the language on their websites are so blatantly pseudoscientific it’s hard to believe anyone would fall for them. Here are just a few examples from the Power Balance website:

  • We react with frequency because we are a frequency.
  • Your body’s energy field likes things that are good for it.
  • Why Holograms? We use holograms because they are composed of Mylar—a polyester film used for imprinting music, movies, pictures, and other data. Thus, it was a natural fit.
  • A primitive form of this technology was discovered when someone, somewhere along the line, picked up a rock and felt something that reacted positively with his body.”

Money-grubbing bullshit indeed. Read the full post.

GoToby’s New Facebook Page

Attention all Like button-pushers: head over to‘s new Facebook page and add it to your list if you intend to keep up with all things Real Estate and more in Palm Coast (and anything relevant to this region beyond Palm Coast). Don Tobin is the man behind the sites who also kindly and frequently keeps us honest here at FlaglerLive (which goes to show that ideological provenance and integrity are not mutually exclusive, at least not in his case).

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Abolishing Nukes Goes Mainstream

If abolitionists were so successful with abolishing slavery, the nuclear-weapons abolitionist movement thinks it can eventually be just as successful. The movement makes a compelling argument: the weapons’ existence is the inalterable certainty that the weapons can be used and their derivatives exploited, with just as inalterably devastating effects. (No, the word inalterable doesn’t exist, but neither, yet has devastation on a scale made possible by the weapons in existence.)

From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “It is unclear whether nuclear weapons will be abolished, but it is clear that the nuclear abolitionist movement is now being mainstreamed. Exhibit A in this process is the new general release film, Countdown to Zero, made by the same team that brought us An Inconvenient Truth. The movie’s slogan: “More than a movie. It’s a movement.” In some ways Countdown to Zero reprises the 1982 documentary If You Love this Planet, a film that was built around a lecture by the anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott and helped start the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign of the early 1980s. Like If You Love This Planet, Countdown to Zero seeks to break through public ignorance and denial about nuclear weapons by asking viewers to imagine a nuclear explosion in the city where they live and by detailing all the unpleasant ways large numbers of people would die. Unlike If You Love This Planet, Countdown to Zero has music by Pearl Jam and Radiohead, great sound bites, rich visuals, and the kind of fast-paced visual entertainment that today’s college students demand. If You Love This Planet looks like an amateur home movie by comparison.” The full story, and watch the clip. As JFK once put it, “The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us”:

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How AA Destroys Fun-Loving Americans’ Lives

A different way to restore sanity. Especially after Nov. 2’s results: drink. Good thing the ABC is on its way, in time for Thanksgiving. From America’s finest news source (The Onion, of course):
AA Destroying The Social Lives Of Thousands Of Once-Fun Americans

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We Miss You John Candy

John Candy wasn’t a great actor, but he was an indispensable one if you had clogged arteries and couldn’t afford bypasses: his humor was good enough to unclog them for you. It worked for everyone else but him. He died stupidly too soon, of a heart attack in 1993, his weight rivaling that of small Yugoslavian cars of the era. He was 43. He would have been 60 this weekend (he was born Oct. 31, 1950). Strange, this business of dying of the one thing you have the most of. Here are a couple of clips, one from the better known Candy (“Uncle Buck,” in that scene with the Nazified assistant principal that would have six school cops and seven felony charges on his Tasered ass if it were happening in this police state’s day and age) and one from an appearance on Letterman from 1983, from the earliest years of Letterman’s Late Show on NBC.

Hooters Goes Japan

Don’t blame us: we got this from Bill Delbrugge‘s Facebook page, though in fairness to him the item was posted there by one of his friends, and in unfairness by us, we thought we’d repost it here as a tribute to shameless exploitation of, by and for the Hooters brand which, contrary to its official history (the company claims to have been founded IN Clearwater, Fla., in 1983), is actually a much older company dating back to the latter days of the Roman Empire. Edward Gibbon spent 3,000 pages trying to figure out what led to the empire’s fall. It wasn’t the Neros and Caligulas of the times. It was an earlier version of Hooters. Florida merely revived the obsession in a fit of neo-classical boobism. The item in question, from Japan Today: “Hooters girls and their trainers from the U.S. pose in the restaurant’s first Japan store in Tokyo’s Akasakamitsuke. The restaurant has 30 Japanese and 10 foreign waitresses. At left in the front row is LeAngela Davis, the current Miss Hooter International.” Sorry. No breast-enlargements if you click on the image.

hooters girls japan

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A Few Good Links

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2 Responses for “Live Wire Weekend, Oct. 29-31: NPR’s Deserved Black Eyes, Privatization Follies and AA’s Bummer”

  1. NortonSmitty says:

    Everybody, please watch the video about BP’s use of the dispersant Corexit on their oil spill, when the effects have been known for decades since it was used on a spill on the French coast. The effects have been so well documented there is no question how deadly they are short and long term. British Petroleum could not even prevent it from being banned IN BRITAIN! Yet they and our toady government allowed almost 2 Million Barrels of this shit to be dumped in the Gulf! The results are starting to be released by the University of Georgia and University of South Florida.

    If that’s not enough to piss you off, tell me why with our vast and legendary Liberal Media, the only news organization even talking to these scientists is Al Freakin Jazeera!!

  2. lawabidingcitizen says:

    “How AA Destroys Fun-Loving Americans’ Lives”

    Gee, I thought you might have had a moment of lucidity, but you’re not referring to Affirmative Action, but Alcoholics Anonymous. I should have known better.

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