Saturday, November 19, 2011

Story of the Week: Lobbyists target Occupy Wall Street protestors

This is why we need to get rid of lobbyists.

       Good Morning Humboldt County!

Good to see you. C’mon in and enjoy a cup of hot coffee with me. Today I have a special edition exclusive for you. Call it the opening shot from the 1% ers who have decided to wage all-out class warfare.

It’s always been about the “Haves” and the “Have Nots.” Now we have a lobbying firm offering to undermine the Occupy Wall Street movement. What are the Wall Streeters afraid of? Read on:

A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program “Up w/ Chris Hayes.”

The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association.

CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead.

According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, “This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. … It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bulls eye.”

The memo also suggests that Democratic victories in 2012 should not be the ABA’s biggest concern. “… (T)he bigger concern,” the memo says, “should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies.”

Two of the memo’s authors, partners Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, previously worked for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Geduldig joined CLGC before Boehner became speaker;  Cranford joined CLGC this year after serving as the speaker’s assistant for policy. A third partner, Steve Clark, is reportedly “tight” with Boehner, according to a story by Roll Call that CLGC features on its website.

The CLGC memo raises another issue that it says should be of concern to the financial industry -- that OWS might find common cause with the Tea Party. “Well-known Wall Street companies stand at the nexus of where OWS protestors and the Tea Party overlap on angered populism,” the memo says. “…This combination has the potential to be explosive later in the year when media reports cover the next round of bonuses and contrast it with stories of millions of Americans making do with less this holiday season.”

The memo outlines a 60-day plan to conduct surveys and research on OWS and its supporters so that Wall Street companies will be prepared to conduct a media campaign in response to OWS. Wall Street companies “likely will not be the best spokespeople for their own cause,” according to the memo.  “A big challenge is to demonstrate that these companies still have political strength and that making them a political target will carry a severe political cost.” 

Part of the plan CLGC proposes is to do “statewide surveys in at least eight states that are shaping up to be the most important of the 2012 cycle.”

The memo indicates that CLGC would research who has contributed financial backing to OWS, noting that, “Media reports have speculated about associations with George Soros and others.”

"It will be vital,” the memo says, “to understand who is funding it and what their backgrounds and motives are. If we can show that they have the same cynical motivation as a political opponent it will undermine their credibility in a profound way.”  (article source)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Modern day Jesus Christ attempts to assassinate the Anti-Christ President Obama

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez (photo right) told authorities it was no coincidence he looked like Jesus Christ. He was the modern day version he assured those who listened to him.

He really wanted to get on the Oprah show to spread his message(!) in a bad way, but never got the invite. Go figure.

So Oscar, aka Jesus Christ, went out with an assault rifle to gun down the Anti-Christ…none other than President Obama. Who knew?

But, as fate would have it, he was caught shortly after shooting at the side of the White House, which he reportedly wounded a couple of times. Obama and family weren’t at home when he tried to bless them with his assault rifle.

We live in really strange days folks. It’s not everyday the son of God goes on a rampage and tries to take out the leader of the free world with a semi-automatic weapon and doesn’t even come close! Somewhere in the hinterlands of America some GOP wannabe presidents are destroying their contracts with the “Great Deceiver.” God bless America!



First known foreign cyber attack on a U.S. industrial system?

Federal investigators are looking into a report that hackers managed to remotely shut down a utility's water pump in central Illinois last week, in what could be the first known foreign cyber attack on a U.S. industrial system. The Nov. 8 incident was described in a one-page report from the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center, according to Joe Weiss, a prominent expert on protecting infrastructure from cyber attacks.

Cyber security experts said that the reported attack highlights the risk that attackers can break into what is known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. They are highly specialized computer systems that control critical infrastructure — from water treatment facilities, chemicals plants and nuclear reactors to gas pipelines, dams and switches on train lines.

Canada goes to plastic money, House declares pizza a vegetable, and Backers win right to fight for Prop. 8

I wonder how long it will take counterfeiters to duplicate these?

     Good Morning Humboldt County!

I think a cup of coffee on a rainy day is a Zen-like thing when its coupled with reading. C’mon in and grab a cup of brew. Pull up a chair, and see what I’ve culled from the headlines to start your day:

Watch out counterfeiters: Canada is planning to abandon paper money

This week, our friend to the north introduced the first in its new line of all-plastic notes -- a cool $100 bill made out of a single sheet of plastic polymer and tricked out with all kinds of high-tech security features.


The House of Representatives dealt a blow to childhood obesity warriors on Thursday by passing a bill that abandons proposals that threatened to end the reign of pizza and French fries on federally funded school lunch menus.
The scuttled changes, which would have stripped pizza's status as a vegetable and limited how often French fries could be served, stemmed from a 2010 child nutrition law calling on schools to improve the nutritional quality of lunches served to almost 32 million U.S. school children. The action is a win for the makers of frozen French fries and pizza and comes just weeks after the deep-pocketed food, beverage and restaurant industries successfully weakened government proposals for voluntary food marketing guidelines to children.



         Backers win right to fight for Prop. 8

The California Supreme Court ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8 have the right to defend the measure, clearing the way for federal courts to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.
Thursday's unanimous decision, written by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, strongly affirmed that ballot sponsors may represent California in defending initiatives when elected officials fail to do so. Gov. Jerry Brown and Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris have refused to challenge last year's federal ruling against Proposition 8.

Robin Tyler, left, and Diane Olson, who were among the original plaintiffs in the 2004 lawsuit that led to same-sex marriages in California, said that the California Supreme Court’s decision Thursday was not a loss for them, merely a hurdle. (Michael Robinson Chavez, Los Angeles Times)

Time to walk on down the road…

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The world we live in is one big mystery…

photo source

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. --Albert Einstein

Jobless rate down, Marilyn Monroe memorabilia for sale, and it’s Guinness Record Day

             Good Morning Humboldt County!

C’mon inside on this rainy day and have a cup of coffee with me. I’ve searched out three stories for your reading entertainment this morning. Records are being set today as people from around the world try to get their name in the Guinness Book of World Records. So pull up a seat, relax, and read:

New jobless claims slide to 7- month low

New claims for unemployment insurance dropped to their lowest level in seven months, government data showed on Thursday, raising hopes that hiring may be picking up.

"The U.S. economy continues to show signs of strong momentum. The improvement in claims underscores that the gains in labor market activity over the past few months are being sustained," said Millan Mulraine, a senior macro strategist at TD Securities in New York.

Marilyn Monroe memorabilia going on sale at auction house

Leapin' leprechauns, it's Guinness records day

Irish leprechauns, tea-sipping Britons, Australian ABBA impersonators and the oldest yoga teacher on the planet were just some of the people setting world records Thursday.

More than 300,000 people around the world took part in the seventh annual Guinness World Records Day, in which a number of records have already been confirmed.


Time to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Does anyone know the consensus on Vitamin D? I’m hearing two different stories…

Image: Vitamin D

Earlier this year while getting my annual physical at the VA Clinic, my doctor told me I can’t take enough vitamin D and prescribed it for me in large daily doses. He gushed about how it was a miracle nutrient that would prevent me from getting prostate cancer.

I was sold until I saw another (civilian) doctor last week and he told me not to take vitamin D. I didn’t need it. It was just a fad among some less-informed doctors he suggested. I left his office understandably confused.

Two polar opposite opinions on the merit of taking vitamin D coming from two doctors. I’ve been waffling about taking vitamin D since my last visit. Then I read this article today about new research showing that higher than normal levels of it can make the heart beat too fast and out of rhythm (a condition known as atrial fibrillation). 

 The way I’ve always understood it is most people get at least some of their daily needs of vitamin D from sunlight. The research out of the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah warns that everyone absorbs supplements (like vitamin D) differently and should have their blood levels tested to be safe.

If I don’t take vitamin D will I get prostate cancer? If I do will my heart go into overdrive and crash? I hate choices like this. Maybe I’d have been better off not even hearing about these conflicting studies and mindlessly gobbled the controversial nutrient forever.

As It Stands, The only way I can make a decision, after giving this dilemma great thought, is to….flip a coin!

College coach blames loss on latest video game release

As It Stands list of “Stupid Things People Say,” has been expanded today to include the following story:

I’m going to chalk this excuse up under the heading of Creative Ways to Explain Losing a Football Game...

One week after crowd-surfing in the postgame locker room after beating West Virginia, Louisville coach Charlie Strong isn’t riding so high after his team’s 21-14 home loss to Pitt.

But Strong has a reason for the Cardinals’ sluggish follow-up to their big win: The release last Tuesday of the popular video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3″ distracted his players from their preparation. Yes, Strong was serious. “It’s young people,” Strong said. “That’s what we’re dealing with. We’re dealing with young guys who–all of the sudden there’s something new and they want to try it, and it just engulfs them.” Hmm, we know college kids tend to waste time playing video games, but this seems like the most-ludicrous excuse ever.” [Mike Rutherford on Twitter]

Opposition to fracking in Australia growing, America’s two-tiered society, suspect wanted for shooting at White House

Image: Farmer Clive Duddy sits in front of an access gate to a property owned by coal seam gas miner Santos.

    Good Morning Humboldt County!

Step right in, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and relax. The first of the three stories I have for you is on fracking (a mining procedure) in Australia. It’s becoming controversial in the states because of a recent study that shows fracking is polluting aquifers. My Times-Standard column will deal with this issue Sunday.

Opposition to fracking in Australia in Australia growing

Australia's coal seam gas industry is expected to grow into an $80 billion enterprise as demand for gas, particularly in Asia, drives rapid growth in the industry.

A big concern is a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting large amounts of water mixed with sand and chemicals into coal seams to free trapped gas.

The process, also known as "fracking," is used on about 8 percent of coal-seam gas wells in Queensland, although that will likely increase to 25 to 40 percent of wells as they age and the gas becomes more difficult to extract, according to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Opponents say fracking could pollute groundwater beneath prime agricultural land, but the industry says safety precautions mean that water quality will not be impacted and that the industry can co-exist with farmers.

Image: People push a shopping cart loaded with items collected from the streets in the once middle-class Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia

Middle-class areas shrink as America divides into 'two-tiered society' of rich and poor

The portion of American families living in middle-income neighborhoods has declined significantly since 1970, according to a new study, as rising income inequality left a growing share of families in neighborhoods that are mostly low-income or mostly affluent.

The study, conducted by Stanford University and scheduled for release on Wednesday by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University, uses census data to examine family income at the neighborhood level in the country’s 117 biggest metropolitan areas.The findings show a changed map of prosperity in the United States over the past four decades, with larger patches of affluence and poverty and a shrinking middle.

Image: Oscar Ramiro Ortega

         Suspect hunted after bullet strikes White House

                                 UPDATE BELOW

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating whether a shooting incident in Washington on Friday night was a rash attempt to fire at the White House.

Initial police reports said the Friday shooting at around 9 p.m. involved two cars speeding along Constitution Avenue, the wide street south of the White House and the Ellipse. The shots were believed to have been fired from a moving car as it passed along the 1600 block, a little over a third of a mile from the White House, in an area between the White House and the Washington Monument.

The car from which U.S. Park Service police believe the shots were fired was found about seven blocks away, crashed into a barrier, with an assault-type rifle still inside. About 10 shell casings were also found in the car, indicating that the shots were fired from inside the vehicle, NBC News reported. The car has been traced to Oscar Ramiro Ortega, 21 (Photo left), who has connections to Idaho, Utah, and Texas, authorities said. He is also known by the name Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, according to the Secret Service.

The latest on this story:White House shooting suspect arrested

Time to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

As It Stands features Artwork by Nacho Diaz


This artist has a very unique style that I think you’ll appreciate…

Reason # 24 for living in Humboldt County: Nightmare roads identified in congestion study

The single most congested stretch of highway in the United States, according to the researchers, is on the Harbor Freeway in Los Angeles, specifically the three-mile stretch of northbound California Highway 110 near Dodger Stadium.

The report estimates more than 1.4 million person hours are wasted each year by people sitting in traffic at that one intersection, using 2.1 million gallons of gasoline. A person hour is an hour spent by one person; if six people are in a car stuck for an hour in a traffic jam, that's six person hours lost.

The second-worst stretch of highway is just a few miles to the south, where the Harbor Freeway intersects with Interstate 10 just south of downtown Los Angeles near the Staples Center. In that six-and-a-half-mile corridor, 1.1 million person hours are wasted and 3.6 million gallons of fuel are lost each year.

Six of the seven most congested stretches of highway in the country are in Los Angeles; the other is New York City’s Van Wyck Expressway just outside John F. Kennedy International Airport. (Article source)

Nightmare roads:
Farther down the list, it seems every big city has its nightmare road, including:

  • San Francisco: Eastbound Interstate 80 at the Bay Bridge.
  • Houston: Eastbound Interstate 10 at T.C. Jester Boulevard.
  • Chicago: The Stevenson Expressway at State Street.
  • Seattle: Southbound Interstate 405 at Coal Creek Parkway.

4 reasons songs get stuck in your head, oil boom in ND raises rents, pushes seniors out, and study links solvent to Parkinson’s disease

          Good Morning Humboldt County!

I’m glad you could make it today. I have some hot coffee on so grab a cup, pull up a seat, and check out the trio of headlines I picked to start your day.

    4 reasons a song gets stuck in your head

“Known as earworms, these random snippets of songs or melodies pop into our minds repeating themselves again and again like a broken record. For me, another one was that silly jingle from the McDonald's filet-of-fish commercial, which undoubtedly would delight advertisers but I found both amusing and mildly annoying.

So it helps to know that earworms are an incredibly common experience: Studies suggest that 90 percent of people get them at least once a week. Over the last decade, researchers have spent time collecting data to learn who gets earworms, how often they occur, how long they last and which songs won't budge from our brains.

Now, a new British study in the journal Psychology of Music has tried to understand their origins. They looked at how earworms, which psychologists call involuntary musical imagery, get started in the first place.”

Image: Seniors moving out of North Dakota

Oil boom raises rents in ND, pushes seniors out

After living all of her 82 years in the same community, Lois Sinness left her hometown this month, crying and towing a U-Haul packed with her every possession.

She didn't want to go, but the rent on her $700-a-month apartment was going up almost threefold because of heightened demand for housing generated by North Dakota's oil bonanza.

Other seniors in her complex and across the western part of the state are in the same predicament. "Our rents were raised, and we did not have a choice," Sinness said. "We're all on fixed incomes, living mostly on Social Security, so it's been a terrible shock."

A doctor examines the hands of a man with Parkinson's disease

                Study links Parkinson's disease to industrial solvent

Researchers found a six-fold increase in the risk of developing Parkinson's in individuals exposed in the workplace to trichloroethylene (TCE). Although many uses for TCE have been banned around the world, the chemical is still used as a degreasing agent.

In 1997, the US authorities banned its use as an anaesthetic, skin disinfectant, grain fumigant and coffee decaffeinating agent, but it is still used as a degreasing agent for metal parts.

Time to walk on down the road…

Monday, November 14, 2011

Alert Reader Warning: Your help is needed to protect the Internet

I received the following information from a reader, Jim Popenoe, and believe it’s important enough to share with you:

“The House Judicial Committee holds a hearing November 16 on new internet legislation called "SOPA".  So far the only people invited to participate have been the proponents.  I have a feeling that the normally busy, quiet, technical folks out there may not
get heard.  They may oppose SOPA, but they will be vastly over-spent.  So, in spite of their common-sense opposition, they simply will be shouted down, that is, unless there is a huge grass-roots effort.
We need that grass-roots effort right now.  I am personally trying to light a fire under it, and I pray that I am not the only person doing so.  Please view my link below.  If it looks okay to you, please forward to whomever you think may be interested enough to take action.  It is not so difficult.  But the only way to turn the
tide is if enough good people take the time to read, to tell their friends and colleagues, and to express their views to Congress.” – Jim Popenoe

The Golden Age of opposition research, Russian military gets into badminton, and the expense of bringing water to the southland

                       Good Morning Humboldt County!

There’s a thin layer of fog rapidly disappearing outside as shafts of sunlight break through this morning. In other words, looks like another beautiful day. Pull up a seat and grab a cup of hot coffee and check out the trio of stories I’ve collected for your morning entertainment:

The golden age of opposition research

The sort of search tools that discovered presidential candidate Joe Biden's plagiarism in 1987 have become more sophisticated and the outlets to shop damaging information are now virtually unlimited. "This is a golden age" of opposition research, said Jeff Berkowitz, who dug dirt on Democratic candidates for the Republican National committee from 2002 to 2010.

Rick Perry was addressing a tiny audience of about 10 in New Hampshire last Friday. He told the story of a 38-year-old Occupy Wall Street protestor named Jeremy, who had complained that bankers got to work so early that he never managed to get out of bed in time to insult them face-to-face.

"I guess greed just makes you work hard," joked Perry, who said that his son had told him about the lazy protestor. What Perry didn't realize is that "Jeremy" was fictional, part of a satirical column by the Toronto Globe and Mail's Mark Schatzker mocking reactions to the Occupy movement.

Also in the small crowd at the Barley House was a "tracker" from American Bridge, a newly formed SuperPAC doing research for the Democratic Party. The tracker was videotaping Perry's every word and gesture, and even though the gaffe was a relatively minor one, the candidate was about to become a victim of the latest, state-of-the-art opposition research.

Your serve! Russian military takes up badminton

Forget nuclear missiles. Russia's military arsenal will soon be bristling with badminton rackets.

Hoping to keep soldiers and recruits in fighting form without great expense, the Defence Ministry plans to buy 10,000 badminton rackets and tens of thousands of shuttlecocks next year, the newspaper Izvestia reported on Monday. Call it military exercise.

California's precious liquid cargo

The energy, and expense, of bringing water to the Southland

The twin forces of power costs and climate-change regulations are threatening Southern California's long love affair with imported water, forcing the region to consider more mundane sources closer to home.

"It will further encourage retail water suppliers to use less imported water," said Edward Osann, a former federal water official who is a policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It's that simple."

Time to walk on down the road…

Sunday, November 13, 2011

As It Stands: If you survive reading this column you’ll be better off


"Out of life's school of war: what does not destroy me, makes me stronger."
Friedrich Nietzsche, from The Twilight of the Idols "Maxims and Arrows" sec. 8

                  By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
  “What doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger,” is a modern version of an old phrase I’ve always embraced. I don’t have the space here to list every time this philosophy has carried me through hard times. 
  Instead, to support this wise saying, I’m  going to talk about three deadly poisons that also save lives. 
  A few months ago my brother-in-law Tom was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. It’s the deadliest form you can get, but also the most treatable if caught early enough.

  The treatment they gave him surprised me. Arsenic, which has a long and deadly history. Back in the 15th and 16th century it was the poison of choice for the infamous Borgias in Italy.
  I was aware that arsenic was used as a pigment, a pesticide, and a sure way to kill someone, but to learn that Tom was getting it in a series of infusions caught me off guard. “You’ve got to be kidding!” I told my wife when she called and told me about this treatment plan.  
   He’s still getting arsenic infusions and will continue to receive them for a year. The positive news is he’s now in clinical remission. His future looks good.
   The irony of something so deadly being a medical cure actually occurs with many minerals and plants.
    Take Foxglove (Digitalis) a summer flower which was unfamiliar as a medicine to people in ancient times, but is now used in a number of medicines highly valued by cardiologists and is irreplaceable for many patients.
   Unlike most poisonous plants used in medicine, Foxglove has no ancient myths or mysteries surrounding it. The first reports of it being used in medicine date back to 1542. A German physician and professor of botany, Leonard Fuchs, put together a list of herbs of the time and gave Foxglove it’s scientific name digitalis (meaning a small finger) because it’s blossoms were similar to a thimble.

  Foxglove (pictured left) is a perennial herbaceous plant with long leaves. It’s native to West Europe (Ireland) and flourishes in many countries around the world. This is a common wild flower in California, Oregon and Washington. The whole plant is poisonous because every part of it contains the cardiac glycosides digitoxin (the most important one), gitoxin, digoxin and also some saponins, according to Websters New World Dictionary.
   The Irish and the Scots both used the plant, but it first became officially noted in a London pharmacopoeia in 1722. Later it was recognized for it’s medicinal properties in Edinburgh in 1744, and Paris in 1756.
   It was a trial and error situation as far as how much to give, and was administered in enormous doses as a laxative drug that led to many severe poisonings and deaths. Needless to say, it got a bad reputation and fell out of use for a long time.
  Nowadays, Foxglove has been redeemed, and doctors know its safe limits.

  The third deadly plant used in medicine (and other applications) is Atropa belladonna (pictured right) commonly known as Belladonna, Devil's Berries, Death Cherries or Deadly Nightshade. It’s native to Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. The foliage and berries are extremely toxic, containing tropane alkaloids. These toxins include scoploamine and hyoscyamine which cause a bizarre delirium and hallucinations. Belladonna is also used as pharmaceutical anticholinergics. The drug atropine is derived from the plant.
  It has a long history of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and poison. Before the Middle Ages, it was used as an anesthetic for surgery; the ancient Romans used it as a poison (the wife of Emperor Augustus and the wife of Claudius both used it to murder contemporaries); and predating this, it was used to make poison tipped arrows, according to Wikipedia.
   As It Stands, it still strikes me as odd to think the same substance I once put out in our garage to kill rats is now saving my friend and brother-in-law’s life!

Blogger Hits Pause Button

I know.  I just came back from a blog break and now I'm taking another one. Some readers may be saying, "Hey Dave! What's with...