Thursday, April 28, 2011

2012 VW Beetle


From DailyTech.com:


Since November, we've only seen a silhouette shot of the 2012 Beetle along with a pretty interesting Super Bowl commercial that teased the vehicle. Now, Motor Trend has broken the 8AM embargo on the '12 Beetle announcement and posted pictures and information on the vehicle.

The '12 Beetle is clearly an evolution of the current model that burst onto the scene the United States in 1998. The roofline is less circular and carries on a more "chopped top" look first seen on the New Beetle Ragster concept in 2005 (the roof is lower by half an inch). The front of the '12 Beetle carries on with the familiar large "eyes", while the lower grille is more in keeping with more conservative models in the Volkswagen lineup like the '11 Jetta and the '12 Passat.

Volkswagen Announces Third Generation Beetle, TDI Tops Out at 40MPG
Brandon Hill
April 18, 2011
http://www.dailytech.com/Volkswagen+Announces+Third+Generation+Beetle+TDI+Tops+Out+at+40MPG/article21402.htm

Kindle Goes to the Library

From TechNewsWorld.com:
Young Kindle is getting a library card -- at 11,000 libraries. Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) announced Kindle Library Lending on Wednesday. The new feature, which launches later this year, will let Kindle customers borrow Kindle books from more than 11,000 libraries in the United States. Kindle Library Lending will work on all generations of Kindle devices and Kindle reading apps...

Libraries don't get talked about much in connection with ebooks, King noted, but they may provide an untapped swarm of e-book fans.

"The 11,000 branches -- in the United States alone -- provide a valuable interface between publishers and the reading public," said King. "Making e-books available on the market's preeminent e-reader should be good news for everyone."

This could be a way for Amazon to prepare for future e-book battles with other popular readers such as the iPad.

"This is a classic example of strategic market cultivation for Amazon and publishers, so its short term economic value is hard to quantify," said King. "In a publishing market that's under increasing stress, that could be considered a downside. Some may also see the move by Amazon as indicating the company is feeling growing pressure from tablets -- especially the iPad."

Kindle Could Lock Down Libraries

The Kindle is one of the best selling e-readers, and Amazon's name is already closely associated with e-books. This move could further solidify its position.

"This was one of the primary reasons heavy readers that didn't yet have a Kindle had for not buying one," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld. "Amazon wants to be THE company when it comes to e-book readers, and that means it can't just be for purchased content, but borrowed content as well. Eventually, they will have to deal with people that want to pass books around as well, though that is going to be a difficult balancing act."

There isn't much good in this news for book publishers, observed Enderle -- except that libraries help to keep reading alive.

"I think most book publishers would just as soon have libraries as a concept become extinct, but that isn't happening," he said. "However, strategically there is a concern that reading will decline, and libraries are a lot of what keeps reading a viable market. By supporting libraries, publishers better ensure that there will be a need for books in the future."

With e-books, writers have the ability to deliver their books directly to their readers via downloads.

"E-books increasingly have me wondering whether publishers won't go into somewhat of a decline as writers increasingly bypass them," said Enderle...

Amazon Kindles Enthusiasm of Library Crowd
Rob Spiegel
04/20/11
http://www.technewsworld.com/story/Amazon-Kindles-Enthusiasm-of-Library-Crowd-72306.html

La. Oil Spill Crews Suffer Mystery Illnesses

Kerry Sheridan, AFP
Sun Apr 17, 2011
http://news.discovery.com/human/oil-spill-health-effects-04172011.html

Jamie Simon worked on a barge in the oily waters for six months following the BP spill last year, cooking for the cleanup workers, washing their clothes and tidying up after them.

One year later, the 32 year old said she still suffers from a range of debilitating health problems, including racing heartbeat, vomiting, dizziness, ear infections, swollen throat, poor sight in one eye and memory loss.

She blames toxic elements in the crude oil and the dispersants sprayed to dissolve it after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana on April 20, 2010.

"I was exposed to those chemicals, which I questioned, and they told me it was just as safe as Dawn dishwashing liquid and there was nothing for me to worry about," she said of the BP bosses at the job site.

The local doctor, Mike Robichaux, said he has seen as many as 60 patients like Simon in recent weeks, as this small southern town of 10,000 bordered by swamp land and sugar cane fields grapples with a mysterious sickness that some believe is all BP's fault.

Andy LaBoeuf, 51, said he was paid $1,500 per day to use his boat to go out on the water and lay boom to contain some of the 4.9 million barrels of oil that spewed from the bottom of the ocean after the BP well ruptured.

But four months of that job left him ill and unable to work, and he said he recently had to refinance his home loan because he could not pay his taxes.

"I have just been sick for a long time. I just got sick and I couldn't get better," LaBoeuf said, describing memory problems and a sore throat that has nagged him for a year.

Robichaux, an ear, nose and throat specialist whose office an hour's drive southwest of New Orleans is nestled on a roadside marked with handwritten signs advertising turtle meat for sale, says he is treating many of the local patients in their homes.

"Their work ethic is so strong, they are so stoic, they don't want people to know when they're sick," he said. "Ninety percent of them are getting worse... Nobody has a clue as to what it is."

According to a roster compiled by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a total of 52,000 workers were responding to the Gulf oil spill as of August 2010.

The state of Louisiana has reported 415 cases of health problems linked to the spill, with symptoms including sore throats, irritated eyes, respiratory tract infections, headaches and nausea.

But Bernard Goldstein, an environmental toxicologist and professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said the US government's method of collecting health data on the workers is flawed.

For instance, a major study of response workers by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences was not funded until six months after the spill, a critical delay that affects both the biology and the recall ability of the workers.

"It is too late if you go six months later," he told AFP.

Benzene, a known carcinogen present in crude oil, disappears from a person's blood within four months, Goldstein said.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, are pollutants that can cause genetic mutations and cancer. They are of particular interest in studying long-term health, but without a baseline for comparison it is difficult to know where they came from -- the oil spill or somewhere else in the environment.

"They last in the body for a longer period of time but they also get confounded by, if you will, obscured by, other sources of PAHs," like eating barbecued meat or smoking cigarettes, said Goldstein.

Further blurring the situation, Louisiana already ranks very low in the overall health of its residents compared to the rest of the United States -- between 44th and 49th out of the 50 states according to government data.

Some similar symptoms, including eye irritation, breathing problems, nausea and psychological stress, have been seen among responders to the Prestige oil tanker spill off Spain in 2002 and the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 off Alaska.

Local chemist Wilma Subra has been helping test people's blood for volatile solvents, and said levels of benzene among cleanup workers, divers, fishermen and crabbers have been as high as 36 times that of the general population.

"As the event progresses we are seeing more and more people who are desperately ill," she said.

"Clearly it is showing that this is ongoing exposure," Subra said, noting that pathways include contact with the skin, eating contaminated seafood or breathing polluted air. "We have been asking the federal agencies to please provide medical care from physicians who are trained in toxic exposure."

She said she has received no response.

Asked for comment, BP said in an email that "protection of response workers was a top priority" and that it had conducted "extensive monitoring of response workers" in coordination with several government agencies.

"Illness and injury reports were tracked and documented during the response, and the medical data indicate they did not differ appreciably from what would be expected among a workforce of this size under normal circumstances," it added.

Any compensation for sick workers would fall under state law, and "BP does not make these determinations, which must be supported by acceptable medical evidence."

For Simon, her way of life has been completely altered. She said she takes pain relievers every day just to function.

A couple of weeks ago, she read in a local newspaper that other ex-cleanup workers were feeling sick too, and her grandmother urged her to see a doctor.

"I never put the two together. I am just realizing that this is possibly related," she said.

Wii 2: The Nintendo Revolution

From PCWorld.com:
Almost five years after the Nintendo Wii launched, broke sales records, and revolutionized gaming with the introduction of motion-sensitive controllers, the console is slated to get a successor by E3 in June 2011.

Game Informer has "confirmed with multiple sources" that the Wii 2 (I'm hoping it'll be called the Nintendo Revolution; the Wii's pre-release code name) will be capable of HD gaming. Game Informer wasn't certain whether or not the Wii 2 will be powerful enough to compete with rival powerhouses the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but IGN's sources say it'll be capable of 1080p resolutions, be "significantly more powerful than the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360," and is Nintendo's attempt to "recapture the hardcore market." By that I presume they mean 1996, with the Nintendo 64.

Either way, a more graphics-capable Wii 2 will improve Nintendo's relationships with developers who are understandably tired of creating games that might as well be on the GameCube...

Wii 2 on the Way: Nintendo is Growing Up
Brennon Slattery
Apr 14, 2011
http://www.pcworld.com/article/225300/wii_2_is_on_the_way_nintendo_is_growing_up.html

Beam me up, BEAMS


Teleporting breakthrough as scientists transport light particles
15th April 2011
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1377370/Teleporting-breakthrough-scientists-transport-light-particles.html

Sci-fi enthusiasts have dreamt of being able to teleport from one location to another since Gene Roddenberry popularised the idea in Star Trek.

But the first steps towards making that dream a reality have now been taken by Japanese scientists who’ve found a way to transport light particles from one place to another – and echoed a popular theory in the process.

The famed Schrodinger’s Cat theory suggested that a body could be both alive and dead until its particles decide either way , due to outside interference.

In the experiment, Schrodinger proposed the idea of a cat left in a box with a radioactive substance, which had a 50 per cent chance of decaying and releasing a poison, thus killing the cat within an hour.
Because there is also a 50 per cent chance the substance would not decay, and thus not release the poison, quantum mechanics dictate that the cat is neither alive, nor dead, until the box is opened for measurement.
And new findings by scientists from the University of Tokyo bear similarity to Schrodinger’s Cat after they teleported light that is in two, seemingly contradictory, states simultaneously.

A team led by Noriyuki Lee used the quantum entanglement characteristic – where two particles can affect each other even after being separated – to dismantle a packet of light and then reassemble it elsewhere.

According to livescience.com, the team linked a light packet to one half of a pair of entangled particles, and then destroyed the light and the particle it had been linked to.

But because the remaining particle of the formerly entangled pair maintains a link to its partner – which had been linked with the light packet – the light can be reassembled elsewhere.

Though the technology is one small step on the road to teleporting a human, it echoes the particular destruction and reassembly of the teleporting deck used in Star Trek.

And, like the cat in Schrodinger’s famed thought experiment, the light exists in two states of being until it is measured by an outside observer.

Physicist Philippe Grangier of France's Institut d'Optique, who wrote an accompanying essay for the research in the Science journal, said the light ‘can't be presented classically — it would be an oscillation both up and down, which makes no sense’.

Despite the Tokyo team managing to teleport light, Mr Grangier admitted a similar human experiment would be unlikely in the near future, saying: ‘There is not at present a way to teleport even a bacteria’.

He added: ‘This is a long and painful process, especially for experimentalists like me. All these things, just a few years ago they were just ideas. Now they are turning into experimental realities.’

KT on Roswell Document

PARAPOLITCIS OFFHAND
Feature at SteamshovelPress.com
Kenn Thomas

4/10/11: Researchers trying to Roswell-cubbyhole a well-known 7/15/47 note by J. Edgar Hoover now see its infamous "La." abbreviation as possibly being "Sw"--as in "Southwest", like around Roswell where the flying saucer crashed. Steamshovel agrees that the damned abbreviation could be anything, especially in a time before the standardization of such abbreviations.

The memo goes on that "the army grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination." Well, J. Edgar, it's kinda diffcult to just pass over a big ol' space ship like that for cursory examination. Perhaps he refers to the 30 inch saucer handed over to Guy Banister three days prior to Hoover's note. Banister was the FBI special agent in charge of the Pacific northwest at the time-later famous for his association with Lee Harvey Oswald down in Louisiana ("La."!)--who reported that the army took the small saucer. This happened in Twin Falls, Idaho, was urned over in Butte, Montana, and got reported in the Tacoma and Seattle papers, and who knows how J. Edgar might have abbreviated any of those? Read all about it in JFK & UFO!

Flying Saucers in New Mexico


From IO9.com:


It's unclear whether this memo is a hoax, but it has just appeared on the FBI's "vault" website, devoted to once-classified documents that have become public. The brief memo contains information from an Air Force informant about "flying saucers."

In the memo, FBI agent Guy Hottel records what an "investigator for the Air Forces" (whose name is blacked out) told him about what is popularly called "the Roswell incident." Hottel writes:

Three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico . . . they were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter . . . Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in a metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed flyers and test pilots.


The informant speculates that the saucers were found in New Mexico because the US government had a "high powered radar set up" there, and "it is believed that the radar interferes with the controlling mechanism of the saucers."

This memo seems to confirm what many believed happened at Roswell, which includes flying saucers crashing and alien autopsies. But it's important to remember that even if the memo is authentic, it is simply the record of what one informant said to another. We don't know who this Air Force investigator is, nor do we know whether he's reporting what other people told him, or if he witnessed the saucers himself. He could be simply reporting a rumor...

Newly-released FBI memo from 1950 confirms "flying saucers" crashing in New Mexico
Annalee Newitz
Apr 12, 2011
http://io9.com/#!5791340/newly+released-fbi-memo-from-1950-confirms-flying-saucers-crashing-in-new-mexico

Stoner Cooking

Vegan New Luther Sandwich
http://www.namelymarly.com/2011/03/the-vegan-new-luther-sandwich-americas-top-10-new-sandwiches-veganized/

Mapled Donut Bun
(Adapted from Vegan Dad’s Vegan Chocolate-Glazed Donuts)

You’ll need . . .

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond milk
1 tablespoon soy-free Earth Balance
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch of coarse Kosher salt
1-1/2 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1-1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil for frying
Pecans or walnuts and 1/8 cup maple syrup for glaze

Method . . .

In a microwave-safe dish, heat the almond milk, Earth Balance, and maple syrup. Whisk to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the warm water and ground flax seeds. Let sit until thickened.
In a large bowl, whisk combine the salt, yeast, and flour. Then pour in the milk mixture and the flax seed mixture to form an elastic dough.
Add more flour if necessary. Dough should not stick to fingers.
Let rise in a lightly oiled bowl for 2 hours. Then divide into 4 dough balls.
On a floured work surface, flatten each ball to form a donut shape. (Optional: Cut out a hole in the middle using a ketchup or other bottle top.)
Then in a small pan, pour in the 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil. When hot, fry each side of the donut. Then cut in half and dry the middle.
Repeat with remaining to-be donuts.
Put your walnuts/pecans in the pan for a bit to warm/brown in the oil. Then pour the maple syrup over them and wait to pour onto the sandwich before serving.

Applewood Smoked “Bacon”

What you’ll need . . .

A couple slices of apple
Paprika

Method . . .

Simply sprinkle paprika on the apple slices.
Heat for a couple minutes (on both sides) in the leftover oil after you’ve finished frying your donut.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken replaced with a Chickpea burger
What you’ll need . . .

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons tahini
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Method . . .

Mash together all ingredients until you can form a patty with them. Divide into 4 patties.
Then using the same pan you’ve used for the donuts and “bacon” — fry in the leftover oil on each side until browned.

The Vegan New Luther Sandwich Assembly

What you’ll need . . .

Maple Donut Buns
Applewood Smoked “Bacon”
Chickpea Burgers
Maple Syrup/Nut Mixture

Slice the Maple Donut Buns in half
Place the chickpea burger on the bottom half and top with the Applewood Smoked Bacon.
Place other half of donut bun on top.
Add a bit of sprouts if you’re feeling healthy.
Pour the maple syrup/nut mixture over it all before serving.

*

Creamy Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
http://vegetarian.about.com/od/maindishentreerecipes/r/creamysheppie.htm

Ingredients:

•1 carrot, diced
•1/2 cup broccoli, chopped small
•1/2 cup cauliflower, chopped
•1/2 cup green beans
•1/2 cup green peas
•1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
•2 tbsp margarine + 2 tbsp
•1/4 cup flour
•1 cup vegetable broth
•2/3 cup milk or soy milk
•2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
•salt and pepper to taste
•4 potatoes, chopped
•1/4 cup soy or regular yogurt
•1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine all the vegetables and steam just until tender. In a large saucepan, combine the steamed veggies, 2 tablespoons of margarine, flour, vegetable broth, soy milk and sage. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken and add a bit of salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Boil the potatoes until soft. Drain and mash with 2 tablespoons margarine, yogurt and cheese.

Spread the vegetables in a large baking dish, and spread the potato mixture on top. Sprinkle additional parmesan cheese on top if desired.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until lightly golden.

*

Beer Can Chicken
http://www.bbqpitboys.com/grilled_beer_can_chicken_recipe.html

These two 3-4lb. roasters are so tender and juicy that they dance on the fire! Some say it's the beer that makes these chickens dance, but try this recipe yourself and see what happens. -BBQ Pit Boys

Ingredients:

2 (3-4lbs each) Roasting Chickens
One large sliced Sweet Onion
Your favorite salad oil
Olive oil and Soy Sauce
2 12oz. cans of beer
Salt and Pepper

Fire up your charcoal or gas grill to 325-350f. Clean and pat dry two fresh roasting chickens. Thoroughly rub the salad oil all over the chickens. Salt and pepper.

Insert 1/2 to 3/4 full can of beer in each cavity as shown in the video. Place the chickens upright, opposite the hot coals and then cover your grill. Mop the chickens every 20-30 minutes or so with a basting liquid like the Oil and Soy sauce we use, or better yet, choose your own. Remove from the BBQ grill when the temperature of the chickens reach 185f. internal. Let rest for 15 minutes, slice up and enjoy!

*

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake
http://www.naturalnews.com/032094_cinnamon_cake_recipes.html

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons organic coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon organic cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup xylitol, powdered*

3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup high-oleic sunflower oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line an 8X8 pan with parchment paper, oiling the pan and paper lightly. Set aside.

Combine dry ingredients. Whisk together wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Pour into prepared pan.

In a medium saucepan over low-heat combine:

2 tablespoons organic butter
1-2 tablespoon organic cinnamon
1 tablespoon xylitol
30 drops liquid stevia
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash sea salt

Once butter and xylitol are melted add 1-2 tablespoons organic heavy cream. Mix well and add 2 tablespoons chopped pecans.

Spoon cinnamon mixture over cake batter and swirl it in with a knife.

Next combine the following in a coffee grinder: 2 tablespoons each of whole flaxseed, xylitol, pecans, organic cinnamon, dash of sea salt.

Grind until powdery. Sprinkle over top of cake. Cut 2 tablespoons of chilled organic butter into cubes. Sprinkle over cake with 2 tablespoons of chopped pecans.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cinnamon is our spotlight ingredient today. Medicinal use of cinnamon dates back as far as 2800 B.C. in Chinese writings and later in the first century A.D. 350 grams of cinnamon was equal in value to over 5 kilograms of silver; in other words cinnamon was 15 times more valuable than silver! Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon in the process of embalming, and physicians used cinnamon to treat coughs, sore throats, colds, and digestive upsets.

Battles have been fought and lives lost over this spice that was once so highly prized.

Even after thousands of years of use we are still learning about the health benefits of this tasty herb that arouses the senses and passions (cinnamon is a known aphrodisiac!). It reminds us of Saturday mornings as children, awakening to the scent of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven, or of delicious Autumn evenings sipping hot mulled cider around a campfire.

Recent studies on the health effects of cinnamon have shown that it may help control blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics. One study published in September, 2010 showed that cinnamon bark oil had significant antimicrobial and anticarcinogenic properties, indicating great potential for treating topical infections. (Always seek guidance from a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner; cinnamon oil may cause skin irritation if not properly diluted, and it has also been linked to miscarriage). Yet another study cites cinnamon leaf oil as containing "excellent anti-inflammatory activities", making it an ideal choice for many natural health products.

Like trying to obtain health benefits from any food source, cinnamon is thought to be best consumed in its whole form rather than in oils (though, as we can see from several of the studies referenced above that the oil does yet have health benefits). Aside from using cinnamon as a spice with other foods it can also be consumed as a tea either by adding powdered cinnamon to hot water, allowing it to sit for a few minutes and drinking (without stirring), or by adding a stick of cinnamon to your favorite tea or even a cup of coffee. Slainte!

*Coffee grinders work well to powder xylitol

*

Beautiful Butterfly Treats

From RiceKrispies.com:

Prep Time: 20 minutes • Total Time: 40 minutes • Servings: 12

Kids will love decorating the wings with colorful frosting almost as much as they'll love having these butterflies in their tummies.

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
- OR -
4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies®
Canned frosting
Assorted candies

Why use Kellogg's® Rice Krispies®?

As the first crisped rice cereal, Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® has been bringing families together in the kitchen for over 80 years.

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

2. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool slightly. Using cookie cutters coated with cooking spray cut into butterfly shapes. Decorate with frosting and/or candies. Best if served the same day.

MICROWAVE DIRECTIONS:

In microwave-safe bowl heat butter and marshmallows on HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Follow steps 2 and 3 above. Microwave cooking times may vary.

Note

For best results, use fresh marshmallows.

1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème can be substituted for marshmallows.

Diet, reduced calorie or tub margarine is not recommended.

Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container. To freeze, place in layers separated by wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Richard Metzger: How I became an accidental spokesperson for gay rights


Richard Metzger: How I, a married, middle-aged man, became an accidental spokesperson for gay rights overnight
Xeni Jardin
Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011
http://www.boingboing.net/2011/04/19/richard-metzger-how.html

Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds (you may know him as founder of Disinformation, or as a BB guestblogger, or as the counterculture "Charlie Rose"), writes in with the odd story of a Facebook photo ban, and the media misinfo frenzy that followed.
Since just last Friday, the above photo, a publicity still from the popular BBC soap opera "EastEnders" has become the emblem of an utterly unnecessary Facebook scandal. One that's already gone international and one that I, personally, I am tangentially involved in. I say unnecessary because it never should have happened in the first place, but let me state this at the beginning of this for those of you--you know who you are-- who'll just read the first two paragraphs before zipping off to write something snarky in the comments: I do not personally believe that the Facebook corporation is in any way homophobic. Not even in the slightest. Okay?

Now that I've got that out of the way, here is what happened and why some people might think that they are:

On Friday afternoon, one of my fellow bloggers at Dangerous Minds, Niall O'Conghaile did a quickie cut-n-paste blog post about a "kiss-in" protest scheduled for that night in London at a pub where two young men had been asked to leave earlier in the week because they were kissing. You can read Niall's post here. He decided to use the above photo because he felt that it was inoffensive (Some outlets have reported that this photo came from the London "kiss-in" page on Facebook, but this is not true, it was Niall's choice and he found it on Google Images).

I posted this to my own Facebook wall as a matter of course. I put up all of the Dangerous Minds content on my wall. Sometime mid-day is when this would have gone up.

I didn't really pay that much attention to the matter, but before we went to sleep that night, my wife Tara McGinley, who also blogs at Dangerous Minds, mentioned that this heavy metal kinda guy "Jerry" had written a bunch of childish and homophobic things about this picture on my Facebook wall, saying that he found it "disgusting." Predictably, a bunch of people jumped all over him and right around 10:30pm Tara noticed that "Jerry" had deleted all of his comments and vamoosed.

The next morning I woke up around 6am to find a note from Facebook waiting for me with the ominous subject "Facebook Warning" informing me that I had posted "abusive material" which they had removed. Here's what it said:

"Hello: Content that you shared on Facebook has been removed because it violated Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Shares that contain nudity, or any kind of graphic or sexually suggestive content, are not permitted on Facebook.

This message serves as a warning. Additional violations may result in the termination of your account. Please read the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities carefully and refrain from posting abusive material in the future. Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

--The Facebook Team"

I assumed that the item in question was a post that had legitimately risqué footage of 1960s strippers in an embedded video and shrugged it off. I didn't even look. When my wife Tara woke up, I told her about the Facebook warning and she also assumed that it came as a result of the stripper footage.

Five minutes later she came into my office and said "You won't believe this. The thing Facebook cited you over? It was the thing about the kiss-in at the London pub that Niall posted."

Here is what I wrote back to Facebook:

Hello,

Can you please tell me exactly what this objectionable post was? My FB profile is an extension of the Dangerous Minds.net blog which gets around 200,000 daily readers and over 5 million a month. We post tons of content there, so it would be helpful to find out what this material was.

Does this mean that you got a specific complaint?


The more I thought about it, the more this minor act of censorship bothered me. It seemed so small-minded.

I wondered why Facebook would remove this rather innocuous photo and I was also pissed off that this "Jerry" fellow, this supposed "friend" of mine (someone I've never met of course) should be able to get something taken down from my wall simply because he's a whiner. I mean... look at that picture. They are both fully-clothed. It's a still from a popular prime-time (or "pre-watershed" as they say in the UK) BBC TV show, not a porn film! Why should this ridiculous homophobe heavy metal guy get to call the tune?

The stupidity of this situation really bugged me, so I sat down and wrote up a quick blog post because I was in such a snit about it. When I was adding HTML links I realized that the link in Niall O'Conghaile's original post to the Facebook page organizing the London pub "kiss-in" was now gone. I worked this in also, but only in the sense of asking IF there was a connection (I now know there wasn't, but I'll get to that part later). I put up the post, titled "Hey Facebook: What's SO wrong about a pic of two men kissing?" and went about my day.

Within a matter of minutes, that blog post was getting hundreds upon hundreds of shares. And then thousands and then tens of thousands. There are currently, as I type this, over 75,000 shares and over 1100 tweets. In just two days, considerably more than a million people have read that post. Without trying to, I wrote a blog post that was heard round the world. Had I known so many people would be reading it, I'd have spent more time polishing my prose.

The post I wrote is still being read by many hundreds more people every hour who come to the (I think false) conclusion that Facebook is a homophobic, evil company. As I stated at the beginning of this, I don't believe that is true. My beef with them was about "Jerry" as I think I make clear in my post, but other people, and I can't say I blame them, are jumping to different conclusions.

What pissed me off is that they let a knucklehead like my "friend" get away with this and allowed a dummy--the turd in the punchbowl-- to get the better of my nearly 5000 other "friends" who were laying into his dumbass with knives drawn! The group/tribe there wished to oust "Jerry" and his lowbrow homophobia from their midst. Why did Facebook side with him and not the vast majority of my "friends"? It was obvious that he was the irritant to the group at large, not the photograph! Him!

According to Facebook's FAQ on matters like this, EVERY claim of "abusive" posts is investigated by an actual live human being. If we take them at their word, it wasn't automatically deleted.

My assumption is that "Jerry" complained and that perhaps a conservative or religious person working for Facebook --maybe it was an outsourced worker in another country, I can't say--got that case number, looked at it for a split second, vaguely (or wholeheartedly, who can say?) agreed with "Jerry" (or it was just "easier" to "agree" with him as a matter of corporate policy) dinged it and moved on. I doubt that there was very, very little thought given to the matter. "Delete" and move on to the next item of "abusive material" on the list.

THAT'S ALL I THINK HAPPENED.

There is little else to report. How people reacted to it is in evidence all over Facebook now with thousands of people changing their photo to one of a same sex smooch. There are protests planned all over the world now. It has a life of its own now, but one that resulted from a mistake, ultimately.

The real problem here is certainly not that Facebook is a homophobic company. It's that their terrible corporate policy on censorship needs to stop siding with the idiots, the complainers and the least-enlightened and evolved amongst us as a matter of business expediency! That ill-advised policy can cause huge --and otherwise avoidable-- international public relations problems for them. Why just give that power to dummies and homophobes to use like a caveman club on the rest of us? It makes no rational sense (certainly not from a legal standpoint) and is anything BUT expedient when you consider the damage to their brand which can occur in a situation, ahem, exactly like this one.

They're a young company, but this is something that they've GOT to get right. If Facebook adopted new guidelines that would put the "burden of proof," so to speak, on the complaining party, this would have an undeniably positive effect on society at large because of the supremely high leverage point an entity like Facebook holds in cultures all over the world.

On Monday morning, I was contacted by a woman working with a foundation in New York that aims to accelerate full equality and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, about advising them on an advertising campaign hitting Facebook hard over this policy. This seems like an especially good idea to me. If Facebook can be persuaded to modify their censorship criteria, and PREVENT the stupids, the jerks, the blue-noses and the idiots from always having the advantage, the LGBT community will have won a very important battle FOR free speech and AGAINST hate speech and bullying.

It's a win-win situation all the way around for everyone except for the assholes. What do you say, Facebook?

[When I get a reply from Facebook, with an explanation which they owe not just to me, but everyone using their contraption I'll update this post. I still haven't gotten one. They know how to reach me, obviously.]

Addendum: I also wanted to mention that it turns out that the Facebook event for the "kiss-in" was not, in fact, blocked by Facebook, as I questioned on Saturday morning in my original post. The page was made private by the creator of the event itself, Paul Shetler, due to the"abusive material" that he was having to deal with himself left by homophobes and Internet trolls. Come Saturday morning it was a dead link. Paul Shetler wrote this in the comments of the post at Dangerous Minds to clear the matter up:

Paul Shetler says: Hey I just saw this. Before it goes too far, I just want people to know that FB have NOT removed the kiss-in event page; it's still there, but _I made the event private after the event_ was over and only visible to those who had been invited as there were starting to be trolls posting abusive nonsense on it.

Other people, seem to be confused about what exactly was taken down from my Facebook page, it was a link to the Dangerous Minds post that Niall wrote, not, as some seem to think, the link Paul refers to above.

Once more with feeling: They were two separate things, my speculation did not really assume they were conjoined matters, but I think I did confuse some readers. I noticed both things at the same time. My speculation in the first post was pretty clearly just that, speculation.

I'm not walking back what I wrote Saturday morning, I'm just reporting what subsequently came to light with Paul's note. Niall tried to clear up some of the confusion that we could see was happing in the comment with this follow-up post. It's worth mentioning that aside from this ZDnet article, almost everything I've been reading about this on Perez Hilton, The Advocate's blog and elsewhere, outlets both pro and con, even when they are trying to be supportive, are often really factually incorrect, or simply inept in their reporting, sometimes to a idiotic degree. It's been very odd to see all of this transpire. I've been accused of all kinds of nefarious things.

What still remains to be seen is why Facebook removed the original Dangerous Minds post from my personal profile with the warning that I had posted "abusive" material. Still waiting on that.

Culture, Sex, Technology • Tags: BBC, Facebook, Gay, Homosexual, LGBT, Social Media

Mothership Connection

http://amirfatir.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/Mothership.htm

Underlying all spiritual movements is an esoteric system of thought that's often obscured by the movement's own public rhetoric.

Few movements have been less understood than the Lost-Found Nation of Islam established by W. Fard Muhammad July 4, 1930 in Detroit, Michigan.

Most people are familiar with the Nation because of charismatic members like Malcolm X, boxer Muhammad Ali, singer Joe Text and Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Some of the Nation's doctrines have shocked and horrified the general public while fascinating those who are sympathetic to its goals.

All of the Nation's teachings are actually symbols and myths that serve as codes for deep, universal truths.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad inherited the leadership from Master Fard Muhammad who was, himself, believed to have succeeded Noble Drew Ali.

All of these men held Masonic titles, i.e., noble, honorable and master. As masons, they'd taken vows of secrecy and could not reveal the deeper wisdom to the uninitiated.

So they spoke in codes.

So deep and multilayered were those codes that few, to this day, have a notion of what they were really teaching.

"I am the Supreme Ruler of the Universe"

When Elijah Muhammad met Master Fard, he asked, "Who are you?"

Master Fard replied, "I am the Supreme Ruler of the Universe."

The spiritual masters often say things like that, things that blow our minds. Such masters are not lying. We simply don't understand what they mean.

Jesus made a similar statement: "Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world."

The "universe" that W. Fard Muhammad ruled is represented by his astrological influences. In 86% of us, the signs and planets rule us. But the 5% who reach mastery rule, by consciousness and will, their astrological configurations.

Each of us, consciously or not, constantly creates the universe in which we live. A master, however, controls what she or he creates by controlling the input into the subconscious generator. Please see Seth Speaks for a complete discussion of how every person creates and co-creates the universe.

Every person can become "the supreme ruler of the universe" by developing their spiritual abilities as did Jesus and Master Fard Muhammad (and many others).

Before UFOlogy became popular, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught that a large spaceship had been built "to destroy the white man's world." He called this spaceship "the Mother Plane." He also referred to it as "the Mother of Planes." The various parts of the ship were build in factories across the world, but the workers had no idea of what they were actually building. It was eventually assembled in Japan in 1929.

Often, when Mr. Muhammad was dropping a part of the secret wisdom, he'd let out a little chuckle before finishing a sentence.

The Mother plane, he taught, was one-half mile by one-half mile in size. It stayed primarily in outer space but entered the Earth's atmosphere every six months "to take on air."

The purpose of this Mother Plane was to "destroy the white man's world."

In Nation of Islam esoteric symbolism, white, black, red and yellow "people" were symbols of states of mind. Very few people in the Nation, however, knew that most of the doctrine was given metaphorically and symbolically. The rank-and -file membership considers the teachings to be "actual facts."

We will return to the "white" man a bit further.

The Mothership was piloted by "Black men 4 1/2 feet tall." (I don't know where the women were during those extended orbits.)

There were 1500 "baby planes" on the Mothership, each plane possessing three bombs.

Those bombs had drills on their tips and, when deployed, would drill a mile deep beneath the surface and, upon explosion, force up a mountain a mile high.

The Messenger taught that such bombs were used to separate the Moon from the Earth 66 trillion years ago.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught that Ezekiel's vision of wheels was a vision of the Mothership.

The 4500 bombs would all strike land. None, Mr. Muhammad taught, would fall into water.

America was the first nation the Mothership would attack. Before striking and releasing its bombs, it would drop leaflets printed in English and Arabic warning of the coming destruction.

Some unspecified time later it would emit a high-pitched, piercing sound to warn that the attack is imminent. At that point, it was too late. The destruction would commence.

When I first learned of these things I wondered what the purpose of the warnings were and why, in America, would Arabic leaflets be dropped. Few Americans read Arabic.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad once gave a strong clue that the Mothership material was symbolic. He wrote that Master Fard Muhammad told him that the ship flew 40 miles above the Earth's atmosphere but that he thought that the 40 miles was a sign of his own 40 year mission.

Upon reading that, I wondered: "If the 40 miles high is a sign, how much more of this teaching is also symbolic?"

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught that there were two safe places to which people could repair to survive the destruction brought on by the Mothership.

After the bombing, America would burn for 310 years and require 690 years to cool off. After the destruction, a "new world" would be born and "a new God" would bring in "a new Islam" and "a new Quran."

Mother of Planes

In speaking of the "Mother of Planes," Mr. Muhammad provided a clue that he was really speaking of planes of consciousness, not physical spacecrafts.

In Qaballah wisdom the planes of consciousness were named Assiah, Yetzirah, Briyah and Atziluth. Assiah incorporated the physical plane and the lower part of the astral plane. The mentality focused upon that plane was called "the Asiatic Black man."

The astral plane is the "mother of planes" because the astral plane becomes impregnated by all the consciousness seeds and eventually "gives birth" to a physical event or object. In addition, spiritual development has to commence from the level of the astral or mother plane.

The astral plane was identified with the Virgin Isis, the Virgin Mary and other "mother goddesses."

It is the consciousness plane that includes alpha states, trance states, dreaming states, daydreaming states, and emotionally charged states.

The Mother Plane, then, represents the trance state of consciousness. By cultivating such altered states, all the peoples in the world participated in producing elements of the universal spiritual wisdom.

No single nation developed all the wisdom-elements alone. Each cultivated a part of the universal truth. So The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught that parts of the Mothership were build in factories all around the world.

Some people mastered the use of herbs and plants, others mastered use of sounds and chants, others mastered astrology, martial arts, hatha yoga, tantra, use of gems and stones, energy manipulation, pranayama, spiritual dancing etc. But when they are all assembled and used in their appropriate place, then we have a "vehicle" that can take us to "the new world."

Japan is symbolic of joppa, a yogic meditation technique which involves chanting a work of power (mantra) repeatedly until a trance state is attained.

Assembling the Mothership in Japan represents the use of joppa to unity all the various spiritual techniques.

The year 1929 symbolizes 19 forces and 29 Arabic letters and lunar days.

Upon it are 19. And we have made none but angels to be friends of the fire.

-Quran 74:30-31

There are 19 energy points on the Microcosmic Orbit which accord with the 12 zodiacal signs and seven "personal planets."

There are 29 Quranic surahs which begin with mystic letters that actually form mantras.

The 29 Arabic letters are mantras that are used to achieve high spiritual states, especially when used on their appropriate day of the lunar month.

½ x ½ = ¼. The Mothership's size simply encode the four cardinal signs which, back when most of the spiritual language was developed, were Aquarius, Leo, Scorpio and Taurus.

The fellows operating the craft were said to be 4 ½ feet tall. Four and one-half represents the number of breaths per minutes one must breathe in order to achieve the lower level of waking trance (which is rather like lucid dreaming without falling asleep).

In the Western Hemisphere people breathe at an average of 15 breaths per minute. These are 15 hundred baby plane, i.e. each breath is a subplane of consciousness.

The bombs are symbols for mantras. Three bombs represent the three breaths per minute which results in full waking trance.

At three breaths per minute (while mentally chanting a mantra) the ego (the symbolic "white man") succumbs and one's awareness of and focus in the physical world evaporates.

That is what The Honorable Elijah Muhammad meant by the Mothership destroying the white man's world.

In the spiritual language, killing, destroying, sacrificing et al. doesn't really mean doing such things literally.

For example, the Egyptian symbol for Amen was a ram on a sacrificial offering tray. Once the symbol was well-known the offering tray alone meant a ram being sacrificed on an offering tray.

The ram symbolized the sexual urge, the urge to ejaculate. Sacrificing the ram didn't mean killing or extinguishing the sex function. On the contrary, many Amen-level masters were quite sexually active. Ram sacrifice meant controlling, refining, sublimating the sexual function by transforming it into a more spiritual (tantric) level.

Taoists achieve this in the Enlightenment of Kan and Li practices.

The ram itself symbolizes Aries which is ruled by Mars and which, astrologically, controls the sex organs, energy and activity.

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Conscious awareness is often equated with light and depicted by the color white. In the West the ego dominates the consciousness. Mr. Muhammad used "white man" as a symbol for the part of the psyche called the ego.

There were a total of 4500 'bombs' on the Mothership. forty-five hundred is just a code name for the same 4.5 breaths a minute that is also symbolized by the 4 ½ feet height of the Ship's crew.

Each bomb (mantra) goes a mile deep under the Earth. That symbolizes the fact that mantras effect the subconscious mind.

The hour drew near and the Moon was rent asunder.

-Quran 54:1

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught that "a Black scientist" blew up part of the Earth by digging a shaft to the center of the Earth and filling it with dynamite. This scientist was upset because he couldn't get everyone to speak the same dialect. So he tried to destroy the world. But he only succeeded in getting part, the current Moon, to break off and drop its water down to the Earth.

I won't delve into all of the heavy symbolism here. Suffice it to say that Earth/Moon united equates to a whole mind: spiritual/rational, left and right brain hemisphere etc.

Sixty-six trillion years equals 12 zodiacal signs (6 + 6 =12). After the world split off from the astrological paradigm, people's spiritual and rational consciousnesses were no longer integrated, i.e., "the Moon [spiritual consciousness] was separated from the Earth [rational consciousness]."

The same kind of bombs, taught Mr. Muhammad, would now be used to 'destroy the white man's world." Dynamite symbolizes "dyn" (pronounced "deen"), an Arabic word which is usually translated "religion."

America being "destroyed first" actually conceals an important code. America would become foremost in spiritual development as an eventual balance to its overweighted technological focus.

Land and earth often stand for concrete thinking. When the Honorable Eljah Muhammad said all the bombs would hit land and not water, the meaning is that they'd end a materialistic view of the universe.

Most English translations of the Quran are written with English on one side of the page and Arabic on the other. The Mothership's leaflets, then, really refer to the Quran. Once a person achieves trance/Mothership consciousness she can understand the Quran at a very different level.

The sound that the plane emits is code for the high-pitched sound that is sometimes heard in meditation. Eckankarists call it the Flute of God. The Quran refers to it as "a single compelling cry." This sound announces the arrival of a very deep level of trance.

After that the "bombs explode," meaning that the mantras succeed in reaching the deepest subconscious regions. Sometimes the meditator experiences becoming enormous in size. This expansive effect on the energy body is "the mountain a mile high."

At the waking trance state the physical world ceases to exist, it is metaphorically destroyed.

That the Mothership enters the atmosphere every six month (1/2 of a year) is a sign that the first level of trance commences at breathing 7.5 breaths per minute. This brings on mediumistic trance.

Seven point five breaths per minute are ½ of the 15 breaths per minute people average. That is encoded by the Mothership's entering earth's atmosphere "to take on air" every half year.

The two places that are safe represent the two primary spiritual approaches: trance cultivation and energy development.

Using gematria, America's 310 years of burning amounts to 4(3 + 1 + 0 = 4). The four represents the four sons of Horus, four cardinal signs, four directions, four fundamental chakras, four elements (air, fire, water and earth) and four "wives" of Islam.

American's "burning" symbolizes the kundalini heat that ignites the chakra centers at the heart (Leo/fire), throat (Taurus/earth), sex organs (Scorpio/water) and third eye (Aquarius/Air).

The 690 years of cooling amounts to the number 15(6 + 9 + 0 = 15) and describes the meditator's eventual return to normal breathing patterns and the cooling down of the kundalini heat. The 15 becomes the number 6 (1 +5 = 6) which, according to Elijah Muhammad, is the number of creation (Cf. Theology of Time by Elijah Muhammad).

In later writings, Mr. Muhammad discussed the Mothership in nearly astrological terms. He discussed the wheel (solar system) within the wheel (galaxy). In that respect the wheel refers to the circular movement of chi in the Microcosmic Orbit.

All of the Nation of Islam teachings are symbolic, even those which sound distinctly political or economic in nature. The symbolism is the power within the teachings -- which Mr. Muhammad called "the germ" -- that has such an attractive force upon many people. Master Fard Muhhamad used to call those teachings "mathematical theology."

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught that every human being was actually a god who had lost the knowledge of himself and was living a beast (i.e. astrologically influenced) life. When we decipher what the great teachers actually meant when they taught we can put those ancient and modern truths into practice to actualize the god experience in our lives.

"I'm down here in the mud and nobody can see me."

One of the last times I saw the Honorable Elijah Muhammad he was giving a Savour's Day speech. I happened to be sitting in the third row next to Muhammad Ali who was seeking reinstatement into the Nation.

Mr. Muhammad seemed to stop his main subject and look at me. Then he said, "Brother, I'm down here in the mud and nobody can see me." There seemed to be deep sadness in his voice.

It is highly unlikely that the Messenger was speaking directly to me, but that is how it felt.

For years I pondered what he'd meant. Much later I learned that "mud" is an ancient symbol for material and I have no doubt, now, that Mr. Muhammad was saying that his teachings were only being viewed as material teachings and that nobody could see the advanced spiritual science inside those seemingly material ideas.

Mr. Muhammad once said, "I'm a preacher. My ministers will be the teachers."

No prophet, sage, seer or messenger interprets himself. That task is left to the people who work with his teachings and explain them to later generations.

Most of the world is suffering a kind of spiritual anguish. If we grasped the deep ideas that sages like Mr. Muhammad brought and put them into practice we could heal the world, eliminate suffering and advance to the next level of human evolution which is intended to culminate in our experience of divinity.

Caucasians and Asians have just as much right to benefit from Mr. Muhammad's spiritual science as do Africans for, despite what would seem obvious upon the surface, Mr. Muhammad was not just for Blacks. He signed all of his later letters and official statements, "Messenger of Allah to you all."

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RIP: Gerard Smith of TV On The Radio

TV On The Radio is that rare band that is embraced by hipster rock critics and yet actually deserves the hype. Their bassist, the ultra-talented Gerard Smith, died on 4-20 of lung cancer. His work (and his bandmates) can be heard on the just released Nine Types of Light...
Gerard Smith, Member Of TV On The Radio, Has Died
Jacob Ganz
April 20, 2011
http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/04/20/135578544/gerard-smith-member-of-tv-on-the-radio-has-died

Games of Thrones on HBO

The adaptation of A Game of Thrones has finally been released, and the reviews are overwhelmingly raves. Here's the USA Today crtic on the series:
Game boys, rejoice. It has been a long haul for fans of George R.R. Martin's 1996 fantasy best seller A Game of Thrones — the first in a planned seven-book series.

They've had to endure a lengthy wait between books (only four have been finished so far, the last in 2005) and an even lengthier one for a movie or TV adaptation.

On the TV side, at least, chances are that most will think the wait has been worthwhile. It's hard to imagine a better screen transfer than this HBO series from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, which starts its 10-episode run with a slightly extended opener (in case you're setting a recording device). If you love quasi-medieval, sword-and-fantasy epics, this is pretty much what they should be, and what Starz's Camelot might have been had it been done with more talent and a whole lot more money.

When it comes to money, of course, no one spends like HBO. In this case, the result is a show where everything looks exactly as you'd imagine it should. The value of that initial sensory impression is that it immediately settles you into Martin's world and makes you more receptive to his incredibly complex — and, for non-initiates, not readily grasped — tale of courtly intrigue in the mythical Seven Kingdoms of Westeros...

'Game of Thrones' rides in handsomely on HBO
Robert Bianco
4-15-11
http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/reviews/2011-04-15-thrones15_ST_N.htm

The Great American Witch-hunt

Dave Zirin http://www.thenation.com/blog/159935/great-american-witch-hunt-how-barry-bonds-became-convicted-felon

This wasn’t supposed to happen in Barack Obama’s America. We were told that these sorts of prosecutions wouldn’t be the priority of an Eric Holder Justice Department. But just as Guantanamo Bay detention centers and military tribunals have remained in place, the perjury witch-hunt trial of Major League Baseball’s home run king, Barry Lamar Bonds, continued unabated and has now reached a predictably ugly conclusion.

After seven years, and millions of dollars in court costs, Bonds has been found guilty of obstruction of justice. As for the all-important three perjury charges, the jury couldn’t agree whether Bonds lied to a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) when he swore under oath that he never knowingly took performance enhancing drugs. Without corroborating evidence from Bonds’s trainer and lifelong friend Greg Anderson, the jury could was deadlocked and the Judge declared a mistrial on all perjury charges. But the obstruction of justice conviction makes Bonds a convicted felon, and sets him up for a May 20th hearing where he could get as many as 10 years behind bars.

What did Bonds do to “obstruct justice”? According to one juror, “Steve,” the obstruction of justice charge was reached because, "The whole grand jury testimony was a series of evasive answers. There were pointed questions that were asked two or three or four different ways that never got clearly answered. That's how we came to that.'' Wow. Apparently, a “series of evasive answers” lines you up for a 10-year sentence behind bars. By that standard, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Scooter Libby should be breaking rocks in Leavenworth for their performance at the Valerie Plame trial.

As BALCO founder Victor Conte - who is no friend of Bonds - said to USA Today, "This verdict absolutely makes no sense to me. Of all of these counts, the one that makes the least sense to me is the obstruction charge. Tell me how there was obstruction of justice. This is all about the selected persecution of Barry Bonds. This is not fair. I was the heavy in this. I accepted full responsibility and the consequences and went to prison. How is that obstruction? Doesn't make sense.”

It doesn’t. After all the public money, drama, and hysterics, this is what we’re left with. He was “evasive." Keep in mind that we live in a country where the US Department of Justice has not pursued one person for the investment banking fraud that cratered the US economy in 2008. Not one indictment has been issued to a single Bush official on charges of ordering torture or lying to provoke an invasion of Iraq. Instead, we get farcical reality television like the US vs Barry Bonds.

This was a trial where you longed for the somber dignity of a Judge Judy. Since Anderson wouldn’t talk, the government was left with two real witnesses: Kimberly Bell, Bonds mistress, brought in to discuss his sexual dysfunctions resulting from steroids, and Steve Hoskins, the business manager whom Bonds fired for alleged theft and fraud. But their real star was a once-anonymous IRS official named Jeff Novitsky, who has proudly seen Bonds as an all-consuming obsession, U.S. Constitution be damned.

ESPN legal expert Lester Munson described the verdict as “a major triumph for federal agent Jeff Novitzky.” That alone should chill our bones. Without a warrant, Novitzky started his BALCO investigation by rooting through Victor Conte’s trash and taking it back to his house to sift through in his leisure hours. But Conte was a nothing to Novitzky. From the beginning, his sights were on Barry Bonds.

Jonathan Littman of Yahoo! Sports wrote, “two agents working on the case knew that Novitzky ‘hated' Bonds, and heard him brag about his hopes to cash in on a book deal. The agents demanded to see copies of his reports and were rebuffed by federal officials. Novitzky, however, was given carte blanche by the head of the IRS to drop the normal duties of an IRS agent -- investigating tax fraud and money laundering -- and became our de facto national sports doping czar.”

In 2004, accompanied by eleven agents, Novitsky marched into the offices of sports-drug testing monolith Comprehensive Drug Testing. Carrying a warrant which authorized him to see the sealed drug tests of just ten baseball players, he paraded out with 4,000 supposedly confidential medical files, including records for every baseball player in the Major leagues. As Jon Pessah wrote in ESPN the Magazine, "Three federal judges reviewed the raid. One asked, incredulously, if the Fourth Amendment had been repealed. Another, Susan Illston, who has presided over the BALCO trials, called Novitzky's actions a 'callous disregard' for constitutional rights. All three instructed him to return the records. Instead, Novitzky kept the evidence..."

During closing arguments, Bonds’s attorney, Cristina Arguedas, looked at the jury as she pointed at the prosecution, accused them of misconduct and asked, "Why are we even here?"

It’s a good question. But asking the question is much safer than answering it. We’re here because Major League Baseball and the US government has long decided that Barry Bonds would shoulder the burden for the steroid era. We’re here because a surly Black athlete who thinks that the press is just a step above vermin was easy pickings for an industry rife with systemic corruption. Major League Baseball made billions off of the steroid era, an era many now see as a rancid, tainted lie. It was an era where owners became obscenely wealthy and billions in public funds were spent on ballparks. The press cheered and America dug the long ball. Now the dust has cleared, our cities have been looted, Barry Bonds could be going to prison, and Commissioner Bud Selig still has a job - and a RAISE. With apologies to Harvey Dent, this is the story of the Black athlete today: die a hero or live long enough to be a villain. And the men in the suits walk – or in Selig’s case, slouch - all the way to the bank.

Around the start of the trial, nearly a decade ago, Bonds said, "This is something we, as African-American athletes, live with every day. I don't need a headline that says, 'Bonds says there's racism in the game of baseball.' We all know it. It's just that some people don't want to admit it. They're going to play dumb like they don't know what the hell is going on." We shouldn’t play dumb either. Both President Obama and Attorney General Holder said words to the effect that the US government would no longer be in the steroid-inspection business. Like so much else in the last two years, it was just words.

Dave Zirin is the author of “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner) and just made the new documentary “Not Just a Game.” Receive his column every week by emailing dave@edgeofsports.com. Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com.

Michael Bay, Genius

“This one is a more mature storyline. It’s definitely darker. When people see the movie, they feel it’s more emotional at the end. The stakes are higher because it takes place in an American city. You’re not as disconnected with Egypt and the pyramids, which are kind of otherworldly.”

Michael Bay on his upcoming Transformers: Dark of the Moon

BabeWatch


Lady Gaga in Harper's Bazaar


Jordana Brewster in Maxim


Karina Smirnoff from the May 2011 Playboy cover


Jennifer Lopez, "The World's Most Beautiful Woman" according to People Magazine

 

Nicole Scherzinger of The Pussycat Dolls



Scarlett Johansson


Christina Hendricks


Jennifer Garner


Camilla Belle



Megan Fox

Album Cover of the Year?


Lady Gaga's Born This Way. Love it or hate it?

GE Returns Billions to Public, NOT

The Yes Men punk A.P.
04.15.2011
Richard Metzger
http://www.dangerousminds.net/comments/ge_to_donate_billions_to_the_federal_government_the_yes_men_punk_a.p

Once again the heroically funny Yes Men (along with the anti-Tea party patriots of “US Uncut”) have punk’d the establishment. This time their victim was the Associated Press. From the press release:

USA Today, AP fall for US Uncut ploy; GE stock loses billions
Contact: Blair Fitzgibbon 202-503-6141 blair@fitzgibbonmedia.com, Duncan Meisel 512-657-9124 duncan.meisel@gmail.com, Carl Gibson 601-454-6443 usuncut@gmail.com, The Yes Lab info@yeslab.org

Washington, DC - US Uncut, a burgeoning grassroots movement pressuring corporate tax cheats to pay their fair share, posted today a fake GE press release announcing that they would return their illegitimate (but legal) $3.2 billion tax refund, and that they would lobby to close the sort of corporate tax loopholes that had allowed them to skip taxes in the first place. Several major media outlets, including USA Today, ran the story as true. (Here is a link to the original USA Today story; here is the first article debunking the release.)

US Uncut quickly reacted with another release pretending to praise GE for this entirely unpredictable, unlikely, and in fact impossible act.

“At a time when working families are being asked to accept massive cuts nationwide, this action showed another way the world could work,” said US Uncut spokesperson Carl Gibson. “For a brief moment people believed that the biggest corporate tax dodger had a change of heart and actually did the right thing. But the only way anything like this is really going to happen is if we change the laws that allow corporate tax avoidance in the first place.”

In the period the hoax was believed, GE’s stock plunged by .6% (far more than the value of the supposed return), then quickly recovered as soon as it became apparent the press had been duped. “Obviously, GE can’t possibly be expected to do the right thing voluntarily; their stock would keep plunging,” noted Gibson. “That’s why we must change the law.”

“GE’s tax avoidance is unpatriotic, it’s undemocratic, it’s unfair,” said Andrew Boyd, a US Uncut spokesperson. “It might be legal, but that’s only because GE has used its money and lobbying influence to buy the loopholes they’re now taking advantage of.”

US Uncut developed the project with help from the Yes Lab.


US Uncut’s Andrew Boyd told MSNBC (partially owned by General Electric, of course): “It might be legal but it’s immoral.”

YES it is. The Yes Men guys are absolute geniuses. If you’re going to infiltrate capitalism, you have to do it all the way...