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Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links
- Gingrich, Liberal Sex Fiend
- Gov. Scott: Internet Cafes Should Be Illegal
- Ford Explorer Flips on SR100
- Going Dark for SOPA
- About Those Christian Invocations
- States’ Bet on Internet Gambling
- The Occupy Movement Three Months On
- Diego Rivera at MoMA
- Snakes Alive No More
- Atheism: A Short History
Jan. 19, 1:49 p.m.–From ABC News: “Newt Gingrich lacks the moral character to serve as President, his second ex-wife Marianne told ABC News, saying his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage. In her first television interview since the 1999 divorce, to be broadcast tonight on Nightline, Marianne Gingrich, a self-described conservative Republican, said she is coming forward now so voters can know what she knows about Gingrich. In her most provocative comments, the ex-Mrs. Gingrich said Newt sought an “open marriage” arrangement so he could have a mistress and a wife. She said when Gingrich admitted to a six-year affair with a Congressional aide, he asked her if she would share him with the other woman, Callista, who is now married to Gingrich. “And I just stared at him and he said, ‘Callista doesn’t care what I do,'” Marianne Gingrich told ABC News. “He wanted an open marriage and I refused.” […] “He always called me at night,” she recalled, “and always ended with ‘I love you.’ Well, she was listening.” All this happened, she said, during the same time Gingrich condemned President Bill Clinton for his lack of moral leadership. […] Gingrich divorced his first wife, Jackie, as she was being treated for cancer. […] Gingrich declined to comment to ABC News for this report, but told NBC’s Today Show Thursday morning he would not “say anything negative about Marianne.” Watch:
- Newt Gingrich’s G Spot
- Perry Drops Out and Endorses Gingrich
- Obama in Trouble in Florida
- Romney’s Bain Bomb
Jan. 18, 6:50 p.m.–Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday showed his hand in the debate over Internet cafés, calling the gambling hybrids “illegal” and saying they should be shut down. In a brief question and answer session with reporters the governor said he favors efforts to close legal loopholes that have allowed the venues to spread throughout the state. Since 2006, the number of storefront operations has swelled to more than a thousand. “I don’t believe that the Internet locations are legal, or should be legal,” Scott said, taking in his firmest stand to date on the issue. On Thursday, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee is scheduled to consider two Internet café bills. One of the bills (SB 428) bans them altogether while another (SB 380) seeks to regulate them. On Tuesday, the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee approved a proposal (HB 3) to ban the facilities. On a 10-5 vote the panel approved the ban over objections that the cafés generate thousands of jobs in areas that experience some of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Efforts to shut them down also face opposition from some veterans groups that receive money from the games. An estimated 1,400 Internet cafés are now open in Florida. Bills aimed at shutting them down have generated support from law-enforcement officials, Attorney General Pam Bondi’s and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Scott’s addition to that opposition could increase the pull for legislation that would close them. “I believe that it’s an area that doesn’t make sense and I don’t believe in it,” Scott said. Scott has mostly remained above the vocal fight over expanding gambling that has emerged. He has said he is OK with many existing forms of gambling, including tribal casinos and has defended the Lottery, saying it has funneled billions into education. But he reiterated on Wednesday that he is wary of deepening the state’s reliance on revenue from gamblers. “My position has been I don’t want our budget to be dependent on gaming,” Scott said. —News Service of Florida
- Bill To Ban Internet Cafes Advances in Florida Legislature as Opponents Call It a Job Killer
- Like Palm Coast, Bunnell Wrestles With Gambling Posing as Games–and Punts
- Why Flagler Beach Blocked Disabled Veterans’ Request For a Penny-Ante Gambling Hall
Jan. 18, 3:15 p.m.–A Ford Explorer flipped and landed on its roof just after 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 18) on State Road 100. The Explorer was facing eastbound, resting in the turning lane to I-95. At least one person was injured and taken to the hospital. The person’s identity is not yet available. No other vehicle was involved.
The Explorer appears to have been going west on 100, but then drove over the concrete media: two tire marks were clearly visible on the divider, at an angle from the wreck. Flagler County Fire Rescue and Flagler County sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene. There were no road blockages.
From the Washington Post: Wikipedia, Reddit and Boing Boing are planning to black out their services Wednesday to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act by showing users the bill’s effect on Web companies. These companies object to language in the bills, which are aimed at stopping online piracy on foreign Web sites, that grant the U.S. government the right to block entire Web sites with copyright-infringing content on them from the Internet. Wikipedia will block all of its English-language pages — the first time since the encylopedia’s 2001 launch that it has ever restricted access to those pages as a form of protest. […] It’s also a form of protest that isn’t for everyone. Twitter, for example, has been a vocal opponent of both bills, but chief executive Dick Costolo said the service has no plans to participate in a blackout over the bills. In a tweet reply to O’Reilly Media’s Alex Howard Monday, Costolo said that “closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish,” referring to suggestions that Twitter lacked the backbone of the other services by not shuttering its virtual doors in protest. […] Discussion over the bills is heating up, in part because of the White House’s decision to weigh in on the topic over the weekend. In a statement, the White House said the proposals to block domain names had serious implications for cybersecurity and that the bill has several other issues that need to be worked out after a conversation with all stakeholders. The White House was clear that it still supports swift action on legislation to combat online piracy, but said that it will “not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet.”” The full story.
- Stop SOPA Website
- Protest on Web Uses Shutdown to Take On Two Piracy Bills
- Stop Online Piracy Act: The Wikipedia Page
- Sopa plans set to be shelved as Obama comes out against piracy legislation
From Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Jan. 17: “The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it will not intervene in a controversy over sectarian prayer before meetings of the Forsyth County, N.C., Board of Commissioners. The justices’ action leaves in place an appellate court decision barring the county from regularly opening its meetings with Christian invocations. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, one of the groups sponsoring the lawsuit, said the high court was right not to intervene. Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “When government meetings are opened regularly with Christian prayer, it sends the unmistakable message that non-Christians are second-class citizens in their own community. That’s unconstitutional, and it’s just plain wrong. “All Americans ought to feel welcome at governmental meetings,” he continued. “The Constitution clearly forbids government to play favorites when it comes to religion.” The record in the Joyner v. Forsyth County case indicates that 26 of the 33 invocations given from May 29, 2007, until Dec. 15, 2008, contained at least one reference to Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christ, Savior or the Trinity. […] On July 29, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the county’s prayer practice is unconstitutional. “Faith is as deeply important as it is deeply personal,” wrote Judge J. Harvey Wilkinson, “and the government should not appear to suggest that some faiths have it wrong and others got it right.”” The full story.
- Prayer Becomes Official Policy at Bunnell Meetings; “You Can Wait Outside” If Offended
- Bunnell Manager’s “God’s City Day” Proposal Yields to Tamer Prayer Proclamation
- Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
While a bill in the Florida Legislature seeks to ban internet cafes, many states are looking to those small-stakes gambling halls and other forms of online gambling as a way to plug their budget deficits. From The Times: “It has been more than four decades since states began putting numbers runners out of business by starting their own legal lotteries, which now yield them close to $18 billion a year. Now several states are thinking about trying to plug budget gaps by profiting again from their residents’ optimism — by legalizing, licensing and taxing Internet gambling. Nevada and the District of Columbia have already taken steps to authorize online poker, and state officials in Iowa have been studying the issue closely. Lawmakers in New Jersey and California are redoubling their efforts to legalize it, bolstered by a recent Department of Justice decision that reversed the federal government’s long-held opposition to many forms of Internet gambling. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey spoke this month of making his state an “epicenter” of the online gambling industry. But as desperate as states are for new revenue, after four years of often painful austerity, there are questions about just how much income they can expect to receive from online gambling. The state of Iowa released a study last month that found that legalizing online poker might net it $3 million to $13 million a year, far less than private companies had estimated. The American Gaming Association, a casino industry trade group, has estimated that legalizing online poker would generate roughly $2 billion a year in new tax revenues, a fraction of what states get from their lotteries. Supporters of legalizing online poker in California estimate that it would net the state $100 million to $250 million a year — a tidy sum, to be sure, but still only enough to put a small dent in the $9.2 billion budget shortfall California faces.
- Bill To Ban Internet Cafes Advances in Florida Legislature as Opponents Call It a Job Killer
- With Pill Mills and “Internet Cafes” in Sight, Palm Coast Prepares Stricter Regulations
- Worries About ‘Convenience Casinos’ in Florida
From the New Statesman: “Three months on, this is what the Occupy movement looks like: a network of mutual support for the lost and destitute, with anti-capitalist overtones. The Bank of Ideas, an abandoned building owned by the Swiss banking giant UBS and transformed into a space for art sessions, lectures and late-night discussion on the future of the free market, is one of four sites squatted by London’s branch of the movement. The occupations, which today face the threat of imminent eviction, began with the encampment on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral and have branched out to Finsbury Square and an empty magistrate’s court on Old Street. Other world cities have seen similar protests violently evicted by local police, but the occupiers of London have clung on through a winter that has seen the nature of the camps change profoundly. […] As the winter drags on, many of those who have stayed are those, like Spiral and his cat, who can’t or won’t go home. They are the waifs and strays and nuts and eccentrics, the wide-eyed young men with theories about how computers can calculate the perfect democracy, the straggle-haired women with bags full of paintbrushes and dirt in the creases of their cheeks. For the more media-savvy organisers of Occupy London, this has created something of a public relations dilemma. The people who live full or part-time in the camps can now be divided into roughly three categories: those who were homeless before the occupations, those who will shortly be homeless, and those who merely look homeless. Three months of sleeping in tents, washing in the bathrooms of nearby cafes and working around-the-clock to run a kitchen feeding thousands with no running water and little electricity will transform even the most fresh-faced first-year student into a jittering bundle of aching limbs and paranoia. Even those who haven’t been living here full-time have an air of righteous exhaustion about them. This is the part where the adventure of political resistance becomes a straightforward slog — and there are many for whom the unglamorous parts of maintaining an honest counter-culture do not fit into the narrative of presentable protest. Last week in New York City, activists from the original occupation in Zuccotti Park were turned away at the door of an event being held in their honour, because they looked and smelled precisely as if they had been living in tents and abandoned buildings since September.” The full story.
- “It’s Messed Up”: Occupy Tallahassee Group Denied Access To Florida Senate Gallery
- The 99% Answer the 53%
- What I Learned Occupying Wall Street and DC
- Occupy Wall Street Protests Spreading to Florida–Jacksonville, Gainesville and Ocala
From the London Review of Books: “It comes as a surprise to learn that the second artist given a major show at the Museum of Modern Art was Diego Rivera, for when the exhibition opened in December 1931, the 45-year-old Mexican was already a celebrated Communist. Just as surprising, given that the museum was founded by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and friends, is what Rivera chose to display: five fresco panels devoted to Mexican history from the perspective of the recent revolution, and three others concerning New York City during the Depression. Five of these massive pictures, along with related prints, documents and materials for other commissions, including the famous mural for Rockefeller Center that the Rockefellers first commissioned, then destroyed, are now at MoMA again (until 14 May). At the time the show opened, Rivera was acknowledged, along with David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco, as a leader of Mexican muralism, which was supported by the new government of Alvaro Obregón as a way to promote a transformed sense of Mexican identity through public art. This new identity would yoke an indigenous past to a modern future while condemning a long history of colonial abuse and dictatorial rule. […] Rivera used art history to underscore these desired shifts. His time spent in Paris and Italy is evident in pointed allusions to French and Italian painting. The woman who stands with her child between the police and the workers in The Uprising evokes The Intervention of the Sabine Women by David, and the lacerated peasant in Liberation of the Peon calls up the crucified Christ in Lamentation by Giotto. Here the sacrificial nature of history according to Rivera is both pagan and Christian, as is the mythical gloss that he gave it, and this is why his otherwise weird anachronisms of subject and technique – indigenous and modern, Mexican and European, fresco and steel, history painting and photographic effects – make sense. […] The showstopper in the New York group is Frozen Assets, which presents a fictive cross-section of Manhattan in three layers. In the bottom rank, a caged bank vault is watched over by a clerk and a guard; at a desk inside a woman looks through her jewel box, while on a bench outside two young women wait with an older man (who resembles John D. Rockefeller Jr) to handle their own treasures. In the central rank, a vast hangar is filled with shrouded figures on the floor overseen by another guard (the near twin of the one below). Finally, in the top level, above an elevated platform where an endless line of anonymous workers shuffles to work in trains, the great metropolis rises; three cranes signal that the skyline is in active production. Frozen Assets is an inspired montage: Rivera based the vault on those he had toured in Wall Street and the hangar on the interior of the Municipal Pier on East 25th Street, while his skyline combines a few downtown banks with several new buildings in midtown, including the Chrysler, Empire State, McGraw-Hill, Daily News and Rockefeller Center (the last three of which were designed by Rockefeller favourite Raymond Hood). The allegory of this literal exposé is explicit: the building boom that gave us the great skyscraper city depended on the cheap labour represented by the subway drones and the sleeping bodies as much as on the stashed assets. In this not-so-divine comedy, the pier is a grey purgatory and the vault a brown hell, as much prison as bank (in this faecal cavern, Rivera almost suggests the anal sadism that Freud associated with money). Only the skyscrapers have any vitality, but their animation is fetishistic; indeed, Frozen Assets depicts a fetishisation of capital on a metropolitan scale, in which urban liveliness counts far more than the actual livelihood of working men and women; unlike the labouring bodies in the other murals, they are the real ‘frozen assets’ here.” The full essay.
A Short Tribute to Diego Rivera:
- Diego Rivera: Murals for The Museum of Modern Art
- Socialism, Capitalism, and Other Fallen Stock
- Diego Rivera: From the American Masters Series
Federal officials on Tuesday announced a ban on the importation and interstate trade of four species of exotic snakes, using as a backdrop the Everglades where many of them have invaded. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the rule banning the trade in Burmese pythons, Northern and Southern African rock pythons and the Yellow anaconda. Salazar was joined at the news conference by US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, who has pushed for the ban. Many of the large constrictors have been released into the Everglades by people who could no longer safely care for them as pets, and they’ve flourished in the ecosystem. Many grow to be several feet long, and have eaten full size dear and alligators. “These snakes sure-as-heck don’t belong in the Everglades,” Nelson said. “And they certainly don’t belong in people’s backyards.” Officials say there are likely tens of thousands of pythons in the Everglades. While backers of the ban had called for a more comprehensive rule that would take in more species, Salazar said during a stop later Tuesday in Tallahassee that a broader ban may come in the future. “We tailored our regulation to go after the present danger that we have,” Salazar said. “… These first four are the first step and we have the (five additional species) under consideration.” –News Service of Florida
From Open Culture: “With the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the emotional whiplash that followed, the monotheistic religions of the West took a more stridently political turn. It was in this context that Jonathan Miller, the British theatre and opera director, felt compelled to create a three-part documentary tracing the history of religious skepticism and disbelief. Broadcast by the BBC in 2004 under the title, Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief, the series wasn’t broadcast by PBS in America until 2007, and only after “Atheism” had been removed from the title and the word “rough” changed to “brief.” “I’m rather reluctant to call myself an atheist,” Miller says at the outset. “It’s only in the light of such current controversies with regard to belief that I’ve found myself willing to explicitly articulate my disbelief.”” Watch:
- Bertrand Russell on God
- George Carlin on Religion
- Ayn Rand on Her Atheism
- Flouting the First: Florida’s Slouch Back To Religious Favoritism
- Christopher Hitchens, Gone