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Bill USA

Profile Information

Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

Journal Archives

Spending Cuts Could Derail Meals on Wheels leaving homebound and disabled seniors on their own

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/10/meals-on-wheels-cuts/1902751/

...homebound and disabled seniors behind closed doors are "the hidden hungry" across the USA, says Larry Tomayko, interim chief executive officer of the Meals On Wheels Association of America. (MOWAA). Now, Tomayko fears that his senior-nutrition organization is at risk.

If congressional domestic-spending cuts take effect March 1, MOWAA faces an estimated 5.1% reduction in Older Americans Act funding, said Erika Kelly, assistant vice president for policy and legislation.

"That would translate into an estimated 19 million fewer meals, and approximately 200,000 seniors would lose the congregate or home-delivered meals they depend on for an entire year," Kelly said.

The possible cuts from sequestration come at a time when Meals on Wheels already faces a fiscal "quadruple-whammy" generated by the recent economic recession, Kelly said. Donations are down; state and local funding have decreased; gasoline and food costs are up; and the USA's needy population keeps growing as Baby Boomers grow older.
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Hey, here's an idea. How about a transaction tax on Wallstreet securities transactions so the Wallstreet Banksters could pay to keep the support for programs feeding the poor and disabled ederly in business? This would give the Banksters a chance to help out some of the people they screwed with their "the market will police itself" catastrophe.





SPIDERS TAKING OVER A TOWN IN BRAZIL

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/11/meanwhile-in-brazil-spiders-have-taken-over-an-entire-town/


You think you have problems? In the Brazilian town of Santo Antônio da Platina, spiders are constructing giant sheet webs across the sky to capture insects:

"


Here’s more info from the Examiner, which explains why it sometimes “rains spiders” in the area:


Brazilian’s news portal G1 consulted with a Brazilian biologist who identified the spiders as Anelosimus eximius. The Brazilian local spider is considered to be a “social spider” species known for its massive colonies. The spider species is also known for forming massive webs. …


The Brazilian spider’s colony is often made up of several thousands of spiders. The massive spider webs created by the Anelosimus eximius can be found from ground level to at least 20 m up. The webs of the Brazilian spider species can range in size from tiny structures with a length of 10-25 cm and containing only one or a few spiders, to large spider webs of 2 to 3 meters or more.

Strong tornado-like winds can pick up the web, along with the thousands of spiders, carry it anywhere, and as the winds die down, it can rain spiders, as in this case.


(The footage was captured by Erick Reis, a 20-year-old web designer who was leaving a friend’s engagement party. The link to the video is via Laughing Squid.)

USA Today survey of economists: growing optimism about 2013


http://www.democraticunderground.com/101655424


"The nation's economy and job-creating engine will start to purr later this year as business activity picks up — more than offsetting federal government cutbacks, predict economists surveyed by USA TODAY.

After starting the year slowly, the economy will shift into a higher gear this summer and then grow for the next nine months at the fastest pace in three years, according to the median estimates of 46 economists."

Lo, there will be much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments in Republican salons tonight...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/02/09/open-thread-11/

LO, THERE WILL BE MUCH GNASHING OF TEETH AND RENDING OF GARMENTS IN REPUBLICAN SALONS TONIGHT!

...... Economists are becoming more optimistic about 2013 - expecting growth to increase despite all Republican efforts to sabotage any recovery Obama and the Dems can manage to the Republican's Trickle Down - Deregulation catastrophe.

USA Today quarterly survey of economists reveals they are gaining in optimism for the economy in 2013... despite threats of Government shutdowns, defaults, filibustered jobs bills. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/...

"The nation's economy and job-creating engine will start to purr later this year as business activity picks up — more than offsetting federal government cutbacks, predict economists surveyed by USA TODAY.

After starting the year slowly, the economy will shift into a higher gear this summer and then grow for the next nine months at the fastest pace in three years, according to the median estimates of 46 economists."


Oh, it's tough being a Republican these days. Nihilism and internecine insurgencies just aren't what they used to be. (cf: "Let's just say it: The Republicans are the Problem" - Mann & Ornstein - WaPO: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-04-27/opinions/35453898_1_republican-party-party-moves-democratic-party

"Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.

It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."



Fourteen Propaganda Techniques Fox "News" Uses to Brainwash It's Viewers

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/1964:fourteen-propaganda-techniques-fox-news-uses-to-brainwash-americans

There is nothing more sacred to the maintenance of democracy than a free press. Access to comprehensive, accurate and quality information is essential to the manifestation of Socratic citizenship - the society characterized by a civically engaged, well-informed and socially invested populace. Thus, to the degree that access to quality information is willfully or unintentionally obstructed, democracy itself is degraded.

It is ironic that in the era of 24-hour cable news networks and "reality" programming, the news-to-fluff ratio and overall veracity of information has declined precipitously. Take the fact Americans now spend on average about 50 hours a week using various forms of media, while at the same time cultural literacy levels hover just above the gutter. Not only does mainstream media now tolerate gross misrepresentations of fact and history by public figures (highlighted most recently by Sarah Palin's ludicrous depiction of Paul Revere's ride), but many media actually legitimize these displays. Pause for a moment and ask yourself what it means that the world's largest, most profitable and most popular news channel passes off as fact every whim, impulse and outrageously incompetent analysis of its so-called reporters. How did we get here? Take the enormous amount of misinformation that is taken for truth by Fox audiences: the belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that he was in on 9/11, the belief that climate change isn't real and/or man-made, the belief that Barack Obama is Muslim and wasn't born in the United States, the insistence that all Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists, the inexplicable perceptions that immigrants are both too lazy to work and are about to steal your job. All of these claims are demonstrably false, yet Fox News viewers will maintain their veracity with incredible zeal. Why? Is it simply that we have lost our respect for knowledge?

My curiosity about this question compelled me to sit down and document the most oft-used methods by which willful ignorance has been turned into dogma by Fox News and other propagandists disguised as media. The techniques I identify here also help to explain the simultaneously powerful identification the Fox media audience has with the network, as well as their ardent, reflexive defenses of it.

The good news is that the more conscious you are of these techniques, the less likely they are to work on you. The bad news is that those reading this article are probably the least in need in of it.
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I have listed the techniques below (In the article they go into detailed descriptions and examples):


1. Panic Mongering.
2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem.
3. Projection/Flipping.
4. Rewriting History.
5. Scapegoating/Othering.
6. Conflating Violence With Power and Opposition to Violence With Weakness.
7. Bullying.
8. Confusion.
9. Populism.
11. Saturation.
12. Disparaging Education.
13. Guilt by Association.
14. Diversion.

While they don't identify the "Big Lie" technique, I think it is the most favored of them all, by the Right. I guess "Projection/Flipping" and "Rewriting History" and "Scapegoating" would fit in this technique. Conservatives seem to lean on the "Big Lie" technique more than any other. THey make up something and just keep talking about the alleged something with each other to give the Lie a life of its own --- and hopefully in the minds of the multitude of uncritical (non-)thinkers.

Perhaps the biggest Big Lie of the Corporate Lobbyist Party (aka the Republican party) is "Trickle Down - Supply-side" economics, so called. This is a phony theory of economics used to rationalize tax cuts for the wealthiest in society, and fighting against efforts to obtain or preserve living wages for various groups of working people (i.e. workers in manufacturing, transportation, various service sectors).

Ample evidence disproves the assertions of TD-SS economics but the Republicans keep on talking about "job creators", and how keeping wages low will make the economy grow, despite the evidence showing that low and middle income people have higher marginal propensities to consume - which produces economic growth and job creation - than wealthy people (who invest much more of any additional income they obtain). Put another way, no matter how clever or driven Steven Jobs was, he wouldn't have been so succussful if millions of 'average' working people had enough money in their pockets to buy not inexpensive personal computers to play games on.

Ohio Governor’s Tax Plan Would Cut Taxes For Wealthy, Raise Them On The Poor

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/02/08/1559921/kasich-tax-the-poor/

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has joined the growing list of Republican governors pushing income tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens of his state, and like those other governors, his plan would raise taxes on the poor to pay for it.

Kasich’s plan would cut income tax rates by 20 percent and some business tax rates in half, and it would pay for the plan by levying sales taxes on goods and services that were previously exempt. Since sales taxes are inherently regressive, Kasich’s plan would raise taxes on the poorest 60 percent of the state’s residents by as much as $77. The top 1 percent, though, would see an average tax cut of $10,369, according to an analysis by Policy Matters Ohio:

The proposal would provide a $10,369 annual tax cut on average to taxpayers in the top 1 percent of the income spectrum, who made more than $335,000 in 2012. The bottom fifth of taxpayers, making less than $18,000 a year, would see an average increase of $63. Those in the middle fifth, making between $33,000 and $51,000 in 2012, would come out about even, averaging an annual tax increase of $8.




The poor in Ohio already pay more of their income in taxes than do the rich. The bottom fifth of Ohio taxpayers pay 11.6 percent of their income in taxes, while the top 1 percent pays an effective rate of 8.1 percent, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. That disparity exists because of sales taxes: the bottom 20 percent pay 6.7 percent of their income in sales taxes compared to just 1 percent for the wealthiest taxpayers.

Ohio isn’t unique in that situation. Across the country, states tax the poor at higher rates than they do the rich, but that hasn’t stopped Republicans in Nebraska, Louisiana, North Carolina, Kansas, and Indiana from proposing tax plans that would cut taxes for the rich while raising them on the poor.

Why quantum mechanics is an “embarrassment” to science

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/07/quantum-mechanics-is-an-embarrassment/

Back in 2011, a survey was taken of various physicists and mathematicians at a conference on “Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality” in Austria. Thirty-three of the world’s top experts were asked to list their favorite interpretation of quantum mechanics.

The result? Not a single one of the interpretations could even garner a simple majority vote. Ninety years after the theory was first developed, there’s still no consensus on what quantum physics actually means. “I’ll go out on a limb to suggest that the results of this poll should be very embarrassing to physicists,” wrote cosmologist Sean Carroll.

(On the plus side, the theory turns out to be very, very, very, very accurate in making experimental predictions. So there’s that!)

In the video below, Carroll breaks down the basics of why scientists can’t seem to agree on how to interpret quantum mechanics — and explains why it’s so critical: ”What is quantum mechanics, really? I mean, that’s like saying ‘what is the Universe?’ What more important question is there than that?”
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"There are some things so serious you have to laugh at them." - Neils Bohr

Meet the 18 For-Profit Companies Fighting Obamacare’s Contraception Coverage

http://jezebel.com/5982261/meet-the-12-for+profit-companies-against-obamacares-contraception-coverage
[div class="excerpt" style="border: 2px solid #DD8888;"]
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Here are the 18 for-profit companies that are challenging Obamacare's contraceptive coverage provision on the basis of their precious religious freedom, yet expect the women who work for them to pay the costs of a creed they don't support.

18 of the 48 lawsuits that have been filed in federal court challenging the contraceptive coverage benefit are led by for-profit companies and entrepreneurs, ranging from Hobby Lobby (Ye Holy Crafts) to Weingartz Supply Company (outdoor power equipment personally blessed by J.C. himself) to a dude who hasn't even hired any employees to oppress yet.

According to the National Women's Law Center, which is tracking the lawsuits, the cases brought by non-profits have been largely dismissed as "not being ripe" because non-profits with religious objections get a one year delay in implementing the benefit; basically, their anti-slut gripes can be worked out later.

But the cases brought by for-profits are moving quickly because most of them are already required to provide their employees with contraceptive coverage benefits, which is awesome for workers but distasteful for bosses who would prefer to limit their employees' access to reproductive health. (Which apparently means they all give excellent maternity/parental benefits? Just checking!)

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( this is just the list. details about their suits filed in various district courts at site._Bill USA)

1. Tyndale House

2. Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics

3. Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation

4. Weingartz Supply Company

5. Autocam Corporation

6. Domino's Farms

7. Infrastructure Alternatives, Inc.

8. Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc.

9. Triune Health Group

10. Grote Industries

11. Tonn and Black Construction, LLC

12. O'Brien Industrial Holdings

13. American Pulverizer Company

14. Annex Medical Inc.

15. Sharpe Holdings, Inc.

16. Sioux Chief MFG. Co, Inc.

17. Hercules Industries, Inc.

18. Hobby Lobby

CBO: Deficit will tumble this year, but obsession with fiscal tightening will hurt economic growth

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/05/1184797/-CBO-Deficit-will-tumble-this-year-but-obsession-with-fiscal-tightening-will-hurt-economic-growth#





The Congressional Budget Office released its 10-year forecast for the economy Tuesday. You can read a condensed version here. The news that is getting the most headline attention in the report is the fact that the annual deficit will fall in 2013 below a trillion dollars—an estimated $845 billion—for the first time since 2008. That's 5.3 percent of gross domestic product, half of what it was in 2009 compared to the size of the economy then. Assuming federal budget policies were to remain the same, the deficit would continue to fall for several years, reaching 2.4 percent of the GDP in 2015, before starting a slow rise again in 2016, the CBO says.

What's not getting as much headline attention is what Brian Beutler points out: The counterproductive obsession with cutting the deficit has worked to do just that but "at the expense of the still-struggling economy":


“[E]conomic activity will expand slowly this year, with real GDP growing by just 1.4 percent,” according to CBO’s projections. “That slow growth reflects a combination of ongoing improvement in underlying economic factors and fiscal tightening that has already begun or is scheduled to occur-including the expiration of a 2 percentage-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax, an increase in tax rates on income above certain thresholds, and scheduled automatic reductions in federal spending. That subdued economic growth will limit businesses’ need to hire additional workers, thereby causing the unemployment rate to stay near 8 percent this year, CBO projects.”



The most recent government report puts the official unemployment rate at 7.9 percent. (Critics, including me, have argued since the Bush administration that the official rate severely understates the true unemployment situation.) And while the official rate had fallen to 7.8 percent last September, CBO does not expect it to drop below 7.5 percent before 2015. It has been 70 years since the last time the United States experienced an unemployment rate that high for longer than six consecutive years.

A key reason for failing to reduce unemployment faster is because of fiscal belt-tightening and tax adjustments. That includes the reinstatement of the 2 percent payroll tax cut that affects consumer spending and cuts in government spending. The latter sent GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2012 into negative territory for the first time in three and a half years, the government reported last week. Most of the reduced spending was defense-related. Read more about the CBO's report below.
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Relaunch of ‘Declaration For Democracy’ Campaign to Overturn Citizens United - PFAW

http://www.pfaw.org/press-releases/2013/02/pfaw-and-allies-applaud-re-launch-declaration-democracy-campaign-overturn-cit

WASHINGTON – This week People For the American Way and ally organizations applauded the re-launch of the “Declaration For Democracy” campaign. Public officials signing the declaration are proclaiming their support for amending the constitution to limit the influence of money in our democracy and to restore the rights of the American people in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Representatives Donna Edwards (D-MD), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Keith Ellison (D-MN), James P. McGovern (D-MA), and John Yarmuth (D-KY) circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter today urging their colleagues to sign the declaration.

By the end of the 112th Congress, 2,000 public officials had expressed their support for a constitutional amendment, including President Obama, 102 Members of the House, and 29 Senators (list visible at http://united4thepeople.org).

The Declaration For Democracy reads: “I, ____________, declare my support for amending the Constitution of the United States to restore the rights of the American people, undermined by Citizens United and related cases, to protect the integrity of our elections and limit the corrosive influence of money in our democratic process.” The declaration can be found here: http://united4thepeople.org/index.html
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