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Florida’s War on the Jobless, Obama’s Budget, Russian Gun Porn: The Live Wire

| February 14, 2011

'Tropical,' an acrylic by Karlene McConnell, part of her show, with Patricia Zalisko, at Hollingsworth gallery, through March 1. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links

How Florida Will Stick It to the Jobless

From the Palm Beach Post: “with more people collecting unemployment in a weak labor market, and fewer employers paying into the system as businesses have failed, costs have soared. Two years ago, the minimum unemployment insurance premium for Florida employers was $8 per year per employee. This year, the minimum has soared to $72, and next year it’s expected to top $200. Those skyrocketing costs led the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other business groups to push for tighter limits on unemployment benefits. […] State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, [is sponsoring] a bill that would make it harder for some to collect unemployment checks. […] Among other things, Detert’s measure would shift the way the state processes unemployment claims. Now, the system is geared to side with people who apply for benefits. Her bill would make the state take a neutral look at unemployment claims. Detert also would compel job seekers to accept low-paying job offers. During the first 12 weeks of unemployment, they’d have to accept any job that paid at least 80 percent of their previous wage. After that, they’d have to take any job that paid at least as much as their unemployment benefits. […] In addition to Detert’s Senate bill, a House bill introduced last week would shorten the duration of state unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks if the state unemployment rate falls below 9 percent. The jobless rate now stands at 12 percent. And Scott has proposed requiring drug tests and community service of job seekers who receive unemployment benefits.”

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Obama’s De-Bulged Budget

From Politico: “More than any of the president’s prior efforts, this one makes choices that help define the man himself. He bets big on education spending — an 11 percent increase next year — while altering the Pell Grant program to try to save the aid levels now allowed for college students from the poorest families, The National Institutes of Health will grow by about $1 billion, even as old antipoverty programs and heating assistance are cut. And $62 billion in Medicare savings will be plowed back into paying physicians who care for the elderly. Foreign wars, most especially the one of Afghanistan, drain Obama of $118 billion, but for the first time in many years, total expenditures for the Pentagon and military will begin to fall. And much as Republicans ridicule his five-year cap on domestic spending, it has bred new restraint in him. Last year at this time, the president wanted $1.85 billion for two of his public school reform initiatives. Now the request is $1.2 billion — a third less. Transportation remains a priority, but he is also proposing an ambitious consolidation of programs to discipline future spending under a single trust fund covering not just highways but passenger rail systems like Amtrak. […] the administration put out the word this weekend that its new 2012 blueprint will reduce future deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years, two-thirds of which would come from domestic spending. But this pales next to the recommendations his bipartisan fiscal commission made in December, and if nervous Senate moderates begin to stampede, all of the president’s numbers will be thrown out of kilter.” The full story.

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Anderson Cooper, Journalism and “Objectivity”

Glenn Greenwald in Salon: “Over the weekend, The Los Angeles’ Times James Rainey mocked CNN’s Anderson Cooper for repeatedly using the word “lie” to describe the factually false statements of Egyptian leaders. Though Rainey ultimately concluded that “it’s hard to find fault with what Cooper had to say” — meaning that everything Cooper identified as a “lie” was, in fact, a “lie” — the bulk of Rainey’s column derided the CNN anchor for his statements. […] To Rainey, when a journalist calls a government lie a “lie,” that’s veering into “commentary-heavy opinion-making” rather than objective journalism. […] Cooper’s CNN colleague, media critic Howard Kurtz, sounded the same criticism but went even further. […] To Kurtz, when a journalist accurately points out that a powerful political leader is lying, that’s “taking sides,” a departure from journalistic objectivity, something improper. […] Rainey, Kurtz and Dickey all have this exactly backwards. Identifying lies told by powerful political leaders — and describing them as such — is what good journalists do, by definition. It’s the crux of adversarial journalism, of a “watchdog” press. “Objectivity” does not require refraining from pointing out the falsity of government claims. The opposite is true; objectivity requires that a journalist do exactly that: treat factually false statements as false. “Objectivity” is breached not when a journalist calls a lie a “lie,” but when they refuse to do so, when they treat lies told by powerful political officials as though they’re viable, reasonable interpretations of subjective questions. The very idea that a journalist is engaged in “opinion-making” or is “taking sides” by calling a lie a “lie” is ludicrous; the only “side” such a journalist is taking is with facts, with the truth. It’s when a journalist fails to identify a false statement as such that they are “taking sides” — they’re siding with those in power by deceitfully depicting their demonstrably false statements as something other than lies. This warped reasoning is one of the prime diseases plaguing establishment political journalism in the U.S. Most establishment journalists are perfectly willing to use the word “lie” for powerless, demonized or marginalized people, but they genuinely believe that it is an improper breach of journalistic objectivity to point out when powerful political officials are lying. […] what matters is that factually false statements are clearly designated and documented as such, not treated as merely “one side of the story” deserving neutral and respectful airing on equal footing with the truth.” The full piece.

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2 UF Students Die in Climbing Accident

From the UF Alligator: “Two UF students died Saturday while rappelling into a cave in northwest Georgia during a weekend trip with some friends. Michael Pirie, a marketing freshman, and Grant Lockenbach, a sociology senior, were going down into Ellison’s Cave in Walker County when they stopped responding to their friends’ calls. One of the friends called 9-1-1 at 2:19 p.m. County officers speculated the cause of death was hypothermia but won’t know for sure until autopsies have been completed. The coroner’s report will be released early this week. More than 300 people gathered at Abundant Grace Community Church on Sunday night to remember them in a prayer service. Pirie, of Ocoee, was a drummer in the UF Drumline. Lockenbach, of DeLand, was the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a member of UF’s ROTC program.”

Rethinking Education: New From Michael Wesch

From Open Culture: “Since 2007, Michael Wesch, a Kansas State University anthropologist, has released a series of viral videos interrogating the ways in which new web technologies shape human communication and interactions with information. First came The Machine is Us/ing Us, then Information R/evolution and An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube. Now he’s back with a new video called “Rethinking Education,” a montage that pulls together sound bites of thought leaders (Tim O’Reilly, Yochai Benkler, Brewster Kahle, Ray Kurzweil, etc.) describing how technology is altering the broader educational landscape…”

When Parents Kill Their Adolescents

Katherine Ellison in The Times: “I WANT to believe I have little in common with Julie Schenecker, who the police say confessed to killing her two “mouthy” teenagers. Ms. Schenecker, who was indicted on charges of first-degree murder on Thursday, lives in Tampa, and is married to an Army colonel. I live near San Francisco, and am married to a newspaper editor. […] It chilled me to read that the police questioned Ms. Schenecker for slapping her daughter three months before the killings — behavior that I’ve unfortunately shared with millions of other American parents. In a 2007 study of 141 adolescents, published in the journal Development and Psychopathology, 85 percent reported that they’d been slapped or spanked. Moreover, the latest government records show that more than 121,000 cases of physical abuse against minors were reported in 2008. Even as corporal punishment is declining in social acceptability, about 7 in 10 Americans agreed, in a 2004 survey, that children sometimes need “a good, hard spanking.” This came despite mountains of studies establishing that such tactics do children much more harm than good, increasing the risk of anxiety, depression and addiction. Moreover, it’s easy for spanking, slapping and swatting to escalate — sometimes even to the point of deadly violence. […] I spent much of the year learning about A.D.H.D., a condition I soon realized that I shared with my then 12-year-old son. Among its classic symptoms are conflict-seeking and hot-headedness. Humbling as it was, I ultimately heeded friends and professionals who encouraged me to shed my fantasy of being the victim of a raging, impossible child, and own up to the ways I was contributing to our fights. […] It’s easy to write these cases off as freak results of severe mental illness. But most of these women’s stories also include a lot of ordinary stress and social isolation, the fallout from divorce and the dispersal of extended families.” The full column.

What Happened to Sex in movies?

Maria Schneider

Manohla Dargis in The Times: “”American filmmakers shy away from sex, especially the hot, sweaty kind. The old production code might have crumbled in the 1960s and couples can now share a bed, but the demure fade to black and the prudish pan — coitus interruptus via a crackling fire and underwear strewn across the floor — endures. […] In the 1950s and into the 1960s foreign-language stars like Brigitte Bardot, Hollywood directors like Otto Preminger and avant-garde filmmakers like Jack Smith did their part to ready the audience for the imminent sex-screen revolution. By the time “Last Tango in Paris” first played in New York in 1972, naked breasts and butts if not always penises had jiggled across screens and “porno chic” had turned Linda Lovelace into a household name. Forbidden topics, deeds and blue words had entered the mainstream: “Monkey nipples,” Richard Burton had announced in 1966 in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Seen now, “Last Tango in Paris” — which centers on strangers who become something else after having sex every which way in an empty apartment — scarcely seems the landmark it was heralded as, including by a breathless Pauline Kael: “This must be the most powerfully erotic movie ever made.” What’s striking about the film, beyond that it was an American (X-rated and then R) hit, beyond Brando’s beauty and Ms. Schneider’s too-tender youth, is its blissfully unselfconscious sexism, its celebration of maudlin masculinity and warmed-over crazy chick clichés. […] The movies still exploit female bodies, though today American actresses working in the commercial mainstream rarely strip down past their undies. If they tend not to bare it all it isn’t because of feminist progress. Neo-Puritanism and the mainstreaming of pornography have played a role, as have corporate blockbusters aimed at teenage boys, with their sexless superheroes and disposable pretty women smiling on the sidelines. Mind you, there isn’t much for women to smile about when it comes to American film, where for the past few decades, the biggest hits have starred men in stories about and for men. Though every so often there is something for us too; after all, women helped make a success of “Brokeback Mountain” a few years ago. At last, a film with sex and romance, pretty boys and no Jennifer Aniston.” The full monty.

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Jon Special: Russian Gun Porn

Best line: “Let me show you why you don’t want to get shot by a .357 Magnum.” Not that the point need be made. Enjoy, you gun nuts.

A Friend’s Call for A1A Friends Stan Drescher’s Latest Poem

Stan Drescher (© FlaglerLive)

Stan Drescher is Flagler Beach’s unofficial poet laureate. He’s the man who got the city to paint the city’s name on the city’s water tower at the south end of town. He’s the man who, like Motormouth in “Hairspray,” seems more comfortable speaking in rhymes than in prose. He has a new poem (he always has new poems). This one is a call for friends to join the Friends of A1A, the environmental group.

The Friends of A1A Want You

The start was a crew of 72
The embryonic stage
A history book was opened
And this was the first page

There could be no wages
Or remuneration
And there were no benefits
Or any compensation

It was just the opposite
The charter members paid
And though told they’d get it back
No check was ever made

So with pure dedication
They were volunteers
With amends they made new friends
Then wept with joyful tears

Nature endowed us with a gift
That we’re pledged to protect
So we must keep a watchful eye
To endlessly respect

But sometimes nature can be cruel
When there’s a hurricane
It’s then we clear the aftermath
From fickle and inane

For scenic beauty to sustain
It must have preservation
But when A1A gets flooded
We revert to innovation

The beach is shared by everyone
So there is much debris
That’s why we work endlessly
To keep it litter free

Our ranks are getting older
So work cannot desist
So to retain what we have done
We need more to enlist

If you love our way of life
“The Friends” may be for you
No bragging rights, no I, I, I,
It’s only for the few

So if perhaps you wish to join
We’re a 501c3
You get no pay, no pension plan
So you may not agree

“The Friends” of scenic A1A
Want you in the loop
The pay is psychic income
But you’ll be part of the group

But if you cannot volunteer
You won’t be assaulted
So if you donate what you can
You’ll be thanked, not faulted

When traveling south on A1A
You smell the ocean air
Let’s hope the view gives you a clue
To care and be aware

We even have an audio
To tune in so you’ll learn
And when you know our history
You’ll make plans to return

You’ll start out at the gateway
And drive to Flagler Beach
While viewing what’s around you
History in your reach

Though Gamble Rogers was the end
There’s now a lower flank
A new historic border
The Flagler water tank

Let’s give thanks we’ve been enriched
With passion to persist
Enhancing beauty in our midst
The reason we exist

–Stan Drescher

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A Few Good Links

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2 Responses for “Florida’s War on the Jobless, Obama’s Budget, Russian Gun Porn: The Live Wire”

  1. PC MAN says:

    “Just mailing a check for 99 weeks and not finding them a job, I don’t think that’s helping their mental health,” Nancy Detert said. “Times are tough, but I don’t think it’s good for anybody to be out of work almost two years. I don’t think we’re being fair to the unemployed by saying, ‘Go home and we’ll deposit almost $300 a week in your account.’ ”
    Nancy is such a sweet and caring person. This constant assault on the unemployed is now becoming monstrous. After a 2003 layoff I got $275.00 a week minus taxes, coming from $750.00 a week that $275 was hardly a dent. Luckily I had 401k money which I used for mortgage payments, but that was also taxed and penalized, it took me seven months to find work again at about half what I had previously made and this was before any sort of financial meltdown.
    So this whole idea of unemployed scum laying in a hammock is cruelty at it’s worst. Let it be known that the Republican party is full of bastards. And Nancy is past the bitch category and is in the solid C word territory.

  2. How can you saw no to him? You can’t. The silver tongued fox can talk the pants off you.
    good luck Stan you are the man…
    Cheers, Sausuage

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