Saturday, March 19, 2011

I love this pic - via HuffingtonPost

Via Huffington: The Buddha As Icon

Michael Brenner

The Buddha As Icon

Senior Fellow, the Center for Transatlantic Relations; Professor of International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh
The Buddha image is the most exceptional of religious icons.

Today's WTF? via JMG: Sarah Palin: I Would Have Won In 2008 If I'd Been The Top Of The Ticket

Yup, she said it.
Sarah Palin was in New Delhi, India March 19 for the annual India Today conclave, where she gave a speech on “My Vision for America.” The theme for this years conclave was “The Changing Balance of Power.” After her speech, Palin sat down for a Q and A session with India Today Editor-in-Chief and Session Chairman Aroon Purie, during which she blamed McCain for losing 2008, among other mildly amusing indications that she is running for President in 2012. When asked why she lost 2008, Palin snapped, “I wasn’t the top of the ticket!” Palin’s speech, by the way, was nothing new: Palin bashed green energy, called for more oil drilling, and made sure to blame Obama again for high gas prices (I suspect they know about the global market in India and might not be as prone to buying this jingle as Americans are). I have no idea how they translated her word salad; I couldn’t follow it in English.
(Via - Pam's House Blend)

reposted from Joe

Fieldtrip to Tiradentes to buy Furniture - "The hills are alive!"

Looking down Rua Alvarenga Saturday Morning

Looking up Rua Alvarenga Saturday Morning

I said to myself, "self, this is a cool sink in a nice restaurant"

Miss Minas Gerais Beauty Pageant in Tiradentes

A grand day out... João & Silvia offered to go to Tiradentes in their car for the day. Tiradentes is about 160km from Ouro Preto... and very different than Ouro Preto... warm, flat, trendy... on the way there we stopped at Resnde and looked at furniture and stuff... the furniture in tiradentes was more expensive... and on thewya home we stopped in Lagoa Dorada at a place called "Movies D'Marco" and ordered this table (click the link) and two benches and two chairs... and huge  steel platter that weighs at least 10 kgs... we decided to order a bed from a palce in Resende... if we had a truck and a huge house, man we could really do well... a lot of amazing furniture is being produced from recycled wood, doors, windows, etc...

On the way home we were  gifted a remarkable full moon, and the cruzeiro do sul all the way home...  Obama is here,  the flowers are blooming, the harvest is coming in, life is good, and people are a happy... it is such a contrast from the train wreck of an economy in Os States... I feel especially blessed to be able to be buying  stuff for a new life here...

The evening news was showing us Obamas' visit... Brasil is happy that a US President is willing to go to Rio... they showed the children painting signs in Cidade de Deus (the favela he will visit tomorrow) saying "Yes we also can!"... it is very moving...  he makes me very, very proud!

President Obama is here and the coverage

Is very positive indeed... Mrs Obama of course is taking the country by storm...

They showed signs being painted by children in Ciudad de Deus (the favela he will visit in Rio tomorrow) saying "Yes We Can Too!"

Its a brillant full moon tonight, the cruziero is shining bright in the sky... it sthe end of the rainy season... the flowers are blooming, the harvest is coming in... and people are feeling good here... its quite striking to be here, buying furniture and appliances for a new life here, after the train wreck of an economy in California...

Friday, March 18, 2011

We Are What We Think

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with an impure mind and trouble will follow you, like the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow you, as your shadow unshaken.

In this world, hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. This is the Law, ancient and inexhaustible. We are what we think.

-- Lord Buddha


EPA measures slight radiation increases in Sacramento

A monitor in Sacramento maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today showed slight increases in radiation from sources that are likely from troubled nuclear energy reactors in Japan. The recent increases remain within normal background levels, the EPA said.

Via JMG: WISCONSIN: Judge Issues Restraining Order Against Union Busting Bill

A Wisconsin judge has issued a temporary restraining order against the bill stripping state employee unions of their collective bargaining rights.
The decision, issued by Judge Maryann Sumi of the Dane County Circuit Court, temporarily bars Wisconsin’s secretary of state from publishing the controversial law, one of the procedural requirements for it to come into effect in the state. Publication had been expected late next week, but Judge Sumi’s ruling delays that until at least March 29, when she plans to hold a full hearing on a lawsuit that questions the validity of the collective bargaining law based on the speedy manner in which it was carried out earlier this month. An appeal is possible even before then. Opponents of the measure said they hoped the decision was but the first of many that would ultimately undo a measure that has split the state and has drawn tens of thousands of demonstrators to the state capital over a matter of many weeks. Supporters of the measure, however, said that the judge’s decision was merely a blip, certain to be overturned as various legal efforts make their way fully through the court system.
The bill was signed by Gov. Scott Walker last Friday.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: War Number Three

"No ground troops." But there will be sanctions and probably within days, cruise missiles and drone attacks. Because two wars are not enough.

reposted from Joe

Two from Truthout:

House Passes Bill to Cut NPR Funds
Nadia Prupis, Truthout: "The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would cut federal funding of National Public Radio (NPR). HR 1076, which passed 228-192, would also prohibit other public radio stations from using federal funds to acquire content from NPR to broadcast over their own networks. NPR says it earns about 40 percent of its funds through those fees, while the $5 million the network receives in government funds accounts for 2 percent of its revenue."
Read the Article

"When the World Is Turned Upside Down and Protest Is Privatized"
Joseph Natoli, Truthout: "We live now in a country which is perceived, according to a decreasing (increasing?) number, as having turned upside down. A plutocracy has emerged from previous aspirations toward egalitarian democracy; a 'trickle down' economics in which tax burdens are transferred from rich to poor persists even though it has only continued to redistribute the wealth to the wealthy; a tax rebate to the wealthy, which increases the national debt, is insisted upon by those who seeks massive cuts in government spending in order to decrease the national debt; a monumental collapse of the economy resulting from the reckless finagling of financial institutions results in an 'austerity' campaign against the working class and the middle class; the largest wealth gap among all industrialized nations is defined as a war between taxpayers and public employees; a privatized energy industry has silenced a major threat to its profits - global warming; programs which have greatly benefited the majority of Americans - Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid - face a continuous attack by the wealthy and a capitulating response by its defenders ..."
Read the Article

Via Lester and Charlie:

‎"Sitting in a church isn't going to make me any more holy than sitting in a garage would make me a Ford." - Aunt Betty's Almanac

Weiner Mocks GOP For Defund NPR Bill

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Via JMG: It's like a scene from the 1960s — a Black mayor stepped out of line with powerful White politicians in a small Louisiana town, and it cost him his freedom.

Dear friends,
It's like a scene from the 1960s — a Black mayor stepped out of line with powerful White politicians in a small Louisiana town, and it cost him his freedom. Now it's up to us to help win it back.
Bobby Higginbotham, mayor of Waterproof, LA, started making policies intended to bring the town more revenue and give it more control over police matters. In doing so, Higginbotham made mistakes, but he didn't commit any crimes. But District Attorney James Paxton took advantage of the errors to arrest Higginbotham on 44 trumped-up charges and install a political ally in his place.
After being forced to represent himself in trial, Higginbotham was convicted before a nearly all-White jury in a parish where the majority of residents are Black.
This isn't the first time a Louisiana prosecutor has abused his power against Black folks who don't "know their place" — a similar scene played out in the case of the Jena Six.But if enough of us speak out, we can expose his behavior and help free the former mayor.  That's why I've joined my friends at in calling on Paxton to end his bogus prosecution of Bobby Higginbotham. Will you join me? It takes just a moment:
Waterproof is a town of only 800 people in Louisiana’s Tensas Parish, the last parish in the state to allow Black folks to vote. The parish is more than 55% Black, but it’s the wealthy Whites who hold the power there. Journalist Jordan Flaherty writes that “Waterproof is 'reminiscent of the bygone days of southern politics,' with a White power structure maintaining political power over a black majority...”1 Even with a minority of citizens, Whites controlled the wealth, the jobs, and the politics.
Soon after Bobby Higginbotham took office in tiny Waterproof, LA the new Black mayor began challenging the area’s most powerful White officials — namely Sheriff Rickey Jones and District Attorney James Paxton — by establishing a local police force that would provide better local service, in effect competing with the parish Sheriff. Before Higginbotham took office, the Waterproof police force was anemic. According to former Waterproof Police Chief Miles Jenkins, "[If] You called the Waterproof police for help before, [they] would say, 'wait 'til tomorrow, it's too hot to come out today.'" Under Higginbotham and Jenkins, Waterproof's new police force grew in size and collected its own traffic tickets — siphoning revenue and influence from the Sheriff.
A Black deputy sheriff warned not to push against the system too hard: “You’ve got to adapt to your environment. You can’t come to a small town and do things the same way you might in a big city. Like the song says, you got to know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em.”
Mr. Higginbotham didn't fold. Instead, he brought a direct, some say in-your-face, attitude that rubbed figures like the Sheriff and DA the wrong way. According to Waterproof resident Annie Watson,“The Mayor and the Chief said you can’t treat people this way, and the Sheriff and DA said you got to know your place. If you’re educated and intelligent and know your rights in this parish, you are in trouble. They are determined to let you know you have a place and if you don’t jump when they say jump you are in trouble.”2
As a result, Higginbotham and Jenkins endured major harassment by Paxton and Jones — Jenkins alleges being beaten by Sheriff's deputies, while both Waterproof officials claim that Paxton and Jones had them arrested under false pretenses on several occasions. The harrassment culminated with Higginbotham's arrest on bogus, trumped-up corruption charges.  With Higginbotham out of the way, Paxton pulled levers to replace Higginbotham with a political ally.
It’s clear to us that Higginbotham made mistakes as mayor, mistakes pointed out in a 2008 Louisiana legislative auditor’s report. But what also seems clear is that Higginbotham's errors as mayor did not rise to the level of the criminal. In the wake of the report, the mayor sought to correct all issues highlighted by the audit, including hiring an independent auditor to review the town's financial records. That didn't stop the District Attorney from charging Mr. Higginbotham with 44 counts of corruption, all but two of which were later dropped.
Higginbotham was charged with felony theft for giving himself what the DA claims is an unauthorized raise. But this raise was in the budget passed by the Board of Aldermen, along with raises for themselves which they received, just as he did. Higginbotham was also charged with malfeasance in office for allegedly using a town credit card for personal charges — an honest mistake that Higginbotham immediately corrected. Both of these charges are the result of an intentional distortion of facts based on a personal vendetta against Higginbotham.
At trial, Higginbotham was forced to represent himself. It also appears that the record of the meeting where the mayor's raise was approved, which could clear him, is now "missing." He was convicted by a jury containing five White members to only one Black member — in a parish where Blacks make up nearly 60% of the residents. The judge gave the jury polling slips that had "guilty" pre-selected. Higginbotham was not told of the error until a week after he had been convicted and sent to jail without bond. Higginbotham wants to appeal, but the court reporter failed to keep a trial record during several of the prosecution’s key witnesses.
Mayor Higginbotham has been denied bail at every turn since his conviction — a consequence usually reserved for violent offenders and flight risks — and he's been sitting in jail for nearly a year awaiting final sentencing.
This isn't right. Please join me and my friends at in calling on District Attorney Paxton to immediately drop all charges against Bobby Higginbotham and release im from jail pending an appeal.  It takes only a moment.
2. Ibid.
3. "Town of Waterproof Advisory Services Report," Louisiana Legislative Auditor, 8-27-2008$FILE/00004C58.pdf
4. See reference 1
5. See reference 1

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Wayseer Manifesto

George Takei on the Japan Quake and Tsunami: Gaman

Todays Cup of Stupid (via JMG): Cindy Jacobs: God Devastated Japan Because They Worship Dragons

Whackadoodle "prophet" Cindy Jacobs piles on the growing Christianist claims that God deliberately devastated Japan, where the residents are godless heathens because the country is shaped like a dragon! Or something!
This island, Hokkaido, looks like the head of a dragon with the body being the rest of Japan. The people of Asia have worshipped the dragon for 5,000 years. If one looks at the place where the earthquake took place, it looks like the soft underbelly of most vulnerable part of the dragon. Let's pray that the deep idolatry and the worship of hundreds of idols under the guise of Shintoism, Buddhism, and allegiances to being "sons of the dragon" will be broken and thousands will turn to the Lord. My interpretation of this is that while God did not want people to perish, He is going to use this to "pierce" the darkness surrounding the Japanese people if we will cry out to God for them in the midst of this crisis ... If we respond correctly, the darkness and the grip of idolatry of all forms that has blinded the eyes of so many in Japan will be broken off of them. The faithful believers in Jesus Christ will be strengthened as they are used for great harvest across Asia and the face of the earth.
May Gojira smite Cindy Jacobs with his mighty tail.

reposted from Joe

Via Climate Progress : VIDEO: Before Japan disaster, GOP mocked concerns about nuclear safety

Noaa -3

Matters reported Monday that the right-wing media kept pushing for accelerated permitting of nukes and removal of “obstacles” even in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis.
Now ThinkProgress has compiled a video of GOP Senators’ “frighteningly blasé and contemptuous attitude towards the severity of nuclear power’s dangers and the regulations necessary to address them”:

Commenting on the unfolding nuclear reactor crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, John McCain (R-AZ) said recently:
I think what happens now to this power plant as to whether the damage is contained or not will have a direct effect on the future of nuclear power in the United States. Let’s have a little straight talk.
… Not surprisingly, the crisis has also inspired renewed debate over the future of nuclear technology here in America. It’s worth noting that, before offering “straight talk” on nuclear energy, McCain and fellow Republicans — including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) — were displaying a frighteningly blasé and contemptuous attitude towards the severity of nuclear power’s dangers and the regulations necessary to address them [as the video shows].
McCain is probably regretting that his views on nuclear safety did not advance sooner beyond “blah blah blah.”
The worst-case scenario seems to be playing out more and more these days, and it remains foolish to downplay the risks.

Via TED: Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education

NPR "Apologizes" to the Tea Party

Fascinating map from Richard Florida in the Atlantic:

Guess which Americans don't have passports? Hint: Jesusland

If they got out there and saw how the rest of the world lives, they might be less interested in voting solely based on gays, guns and abortion. They also might realize that in many areas, including health care, we're hardly "number one."
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