Prosecute the torture.

January 31, 2010

The Trib Lies - About Lying

From today's Op-Ed page:
The first casualty of political rhetoric always is the truth.

Witness President Barack Obama's contention in last week's State of the Union Address that the recent Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance -- allowing corporations and unions to underwrite political ads -- "reversed a century of law."

And that it "opened the floodgates ... (for) foreign companies to spend without limit in our elections."

But the ruling did no such thing. And, worse, the error was so blatant that it cannot be dismissed as some kind of "inadvertent mischaracterization" spoken off the cuff; it was part of the president's prepared text. [emphasis in original]
Two things to note here. The first is the use of quotation marks and second is the italicized text.

Let's start with the quoted material (that's the stuff in the quotation marks). Is that actually from the President's prepared text?

Um, not quite. Here's the section from the State of the Union addresss:
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.
I note two changes here from the original to the braintrusts' criticisms. First is the verb tense. It's shifted from the future "will open" to the past "opened."

But that's not what the Trib went with. By shifting it to the past tense they change what the President said. That, in turn, changes the entire meaning of the criticism - and it also points to The Trib's Big Lie. The President is obviously making a prediction here and was not describing what's already happened (he even attached an "I believe" to the "will").

The second thing is that what they said was in the president's text wasn't in the president's text.

By putting words into the President's mouth, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was lying.

So where did this all come from?

They were quoting this blog post by Shannen Coffin which then leads to this post by Bradley Smith (who also gets the verb tense wrong):
Tonight the president engaged in demogoguery of the worst kind, when he claimed that last week's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, "open[ed] the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."
It's interesting to note, of course, that while Obama was talking about "special interests" and placing "foreign governments" within that larger group, the reaction has been only about "foreign governments."

Presumably that means the NRO bloggers and the Trib editorial writers are OK with special interests buying our elections.

Interesting way to hide that, huh?

One thing Richard Mellon Scaife's braintrust did get right - the first sentence of the editorial:
The first casualty of political rhetoric always is the truth.
Though I don't think they know that they mean themselves.

Pictures of a Protest

Lots of photographs from yesterday's protest of the closing of UPMC-Braddock Hospital at A Spork in the Drawer.
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January 30, 2010

PA: Senatorial Forum Televised Tonight & Gubernatorial Forum In Pgh Tomorrow

Democratic Senatorial Forum Tonight On PCN-TV, 7:30 PM
(Channel 48 on Comcast Cable in Pgh)

Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak will take questions at the PA progressive Summit. You can tweet questions @ http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23pasenforum

14th Ward Independent Democratic Club Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Forum
Sunday, January 31, 2010 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM in the Wightman School Community Building, 5604 Solway Street, in Squirrel Hill.

The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and the Pitt College Democrats are co-sponsoring the event. KDKA-TV Political Editor Jon Delano will be the moderator.

Appearing: Chris Doherty, Joe Hoeffel, Dan Onorato and Jack Wagner.
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Justice

From HuffPo:
A jury took just 37 minutes Friday to convict an anti-abortion activist of murder for putting a gun to the head of abortion doctor George Tiller and pulling the trigger in the foyer of a church.

Attorneys for Scott Roeder had hoped to argue for a lesser conviction of voluntary manslaughter, based on the defendant's belief that the killing was justified to save the lives of unborn children. But the judge threw out that defense a day earlier, leaving the jurors to choose between a murder conviction or acquittal.

Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., admitted his actions on the witness stand. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
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Pittsburgh is Cometless



Come back anytime, Bram.
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January 29, 2010

NYC Terror Trials Moved To Western PA?

From Politico:
The Obama administration Friday abandoned plans to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Manhattan, following objections from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a senior administration official said. He will be tried domestically, but officials have not decided where. Options for the trial include a military base.

"It's dead," a source said.

The dramatic shift from the administration’s plan to hold trials for Mohammed and four other accused terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay in the metaphoric shadow of the World Trade Center came after Bloomberg, an independent who had been a vocal advocate of holding the trials in Manhattan, reversed his position on Wednesday.

[snip]

The trials would have to move to a federal courthouse, military base or other site in a state where crimes related to the 9/11 attacks were committed, with likely options including White Plains in the Southern District of New York, Newport News or Alexandria in the Eastern District of Virginia, or a venue in the Western District of Pennsylvania. Administration officials told the New York Times Thursday that any decision on an alternate site would be left to the Justice Department. [Emphasis added]
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HOW TO: Report The News/Write An Incendiary Blog Post

HOW TO: Report The News


HOW TO: Write An Incendiary Blog Post

Coyote Crossing: This is the title of a typical incendiary blog post
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Reminder: David's on offQ Tonight (Updated 1x)

For your viewing pleasure:



UPDATE: Going a little crazy trying to watch PA Govenor debate on PCN/Peduto/Obama with Rs recap on MSNBC...
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The Trib, The Heritage Foundation and The UN

Again.

On today's Editorial Page at the Richard Mellon Scaife owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, we find this. It's another "story" referencing some Heritage Foundation research about the United Nations.

Oh, did I just say "Heritage Foundation"?

Here's Richard Mellon Scaife's braintrust today:
Oh, the U.S. assessment for Turtle Bay's regular budget -- 22 percent -- remains unchanged. That's of little consolation, considering U.N. budget increases will inevitably cost the U.S. millions more.

Meanwhile China, among other nations, is ridiculously undercharged; Beijing's share of the U.N.'s regular budget this year is 3.189 percent, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Bad as the U.N. budget deal is, the U.S. share of the world body's peacekeeping fund is even worse. The U.S. share will go up 1.21 percent this year and 1.18 percent in 2011 and 2012. So what? Those increases in a multibillion-dollar budget will cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $100 million more annually over the next three years, notes U.N. watchdog Brett D. Schaefer of The Heritage Foundation.
Do I need to mention again how much money Richard Mellon Scaife has funneled to the Heritage Foundation over the years? (It's about $23 million, by the way) Or that Richard Mellon Scaife is on Heritage's Board of Directors?

More later. Gotta run. I'm on OffQ tonight!

January 28, 2010

Announcement

Looks like I'll be sitting in for the Macyapper tomorrow night on OffQ.

Missed This Yesterday

Yesterday was Mozart's birthday - I missed that with all the Cyril stuff.

Here. Let me make it up to you:


No one wrote for a woman's voice as beautifully. No one.

January 27, 2010

Email from White House Media Affairs Office (Updated 1x - FULL TEXT)

UPDATE: OK, their later email with the full text was fine. You can view it here.

________________________________________________________________

I got home to find an email from the White House Media Affairs Office that was supposed to contain "EXCERPTS OF THE PRESIDENT’S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS" but instead has lines and lines of meaningless (to me) code.

HuffPo seems to have received a good copy (see here).
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Howard Zinn (1922 - 2010)

From The Boston Globe:
Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and a leading faculty critic of BU president John Silber, died of a heart attack today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling, his family said. He was 87.

“His writings have changed the consciousness of a generation, and helped open new paths to understanding and its crucial meaning for our lives,” Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, once wrote of Dr. Zinn. “When action has been called for, one could always be confident that he would be on the front lines, an example and trustworthy guide.”
Zinn said, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

Celebrate Howard Zinn. Go read A People's History of the United States.

Apple iPad actually debuted a couple of years ago

I have the proof. An old commercial for it:


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And Now I Respond...

I am glad the OPJ did most of the heavy lifting in her response to Dr Cyril Wecht's piece in today's P-G. All I can say about what Maria wrote is, "Yea, what she said."

It also frees me up to do a more detailed deconstruction of Cyril's ethnic slur.

To put things in their proper context, let's go back to the original reporting. Here's the set-up:
A simmering personal feud erupted again Tuesday on KQV Radio when Dr. Cyril H. Wecht accused Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. of prosecuting his family's political enemies.

The famous forensic pathologist lashed out at Zappala's grand jury investigation of state Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless, for campaign irregularities. Wecht said it closely resembles the investigation launched against him in 2005 by then-U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, which he said was done at Zappala's behest.
And then:
During the interview, Wecht referred to FBI Agent Bradley Orsini, a lead investigator in the Wecht case, as Zappala's "goombah" and a "disgraced FBI agent." Orsini developed the search warrants used to seize records from Wecht's offices.
So in an interview where there was a complaint about the abuse of power of two Italian-American men, someone who isn't Italian used the term "goombah" to describe one of them. That's the context.

And yet, in his response, Cyril says:
I have made a serious effort to speak to many Italian-Americans over the past three weeks regarding the meaning of the word "goombah," which I recently used in a radio interview. In fact, a few friends asked their grandmothers, who were born in Italy, what their definition and societal understanding of this word is. Every one of these people -- professional, business, labor, academic -- responded the same way. They all utilize and accept goombah as an expression of close friendship, a warm greeting and sometimes even use it to greet a relative like a cousin.
And then:
Anyone can state (whether candidly or disingenuously) what they believe a particular word or phrase means. Many words may strike different chords among various individuals, most often derived from some event or recollection from the past. Obviously, this is what Mr. DeAngelo has done in recalling a childhood experience with his father. While he has a perfect right to draw a semantic inference based upon such a personal incident, he has no right to publicly imply that I used the word goombah to suggest some kind of Mafia relationship between Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala and FBI Agent Bradley Orsini.
I have to ask, first off, why he felt the need to check in the three weeks since the interview with his Italian American friends over the meaning of the word? Was the issue raised then?

In any event, this part is interesting as all the Italian-Americans I spoke to regarding the term, once I put it in context, agreed that it was a slur. Internally among Italians, it may be an expression of warm friendship etc, but when someone who isn't Italian uses the term looking to discredit someone who is, it's a slur.

Cyril goes on:
If I believed Messrs. Zappala and Orsini were Mafioso, I would have stated so. I used goombah to characterize exactly what I (and a respected dictionary) believe it to mean -- a warm friendship, some kind of personal relationship. That is exactly the kind of unholy alliance that developed between Mr. Zappala and Mr. Orsini, which was the original, major factor that resulted in an egregious, unjust 84-count federal indictment against me -- a five-year dramatic saga that extracted a very heavy toll from me, my wife and my children in many ways.
No one who's been in the Pittsburgh area for any length of time can possibly question either Cyril's intellect or his command of the English language. And so I am surprised that he goes literal here. Any slur or insult is, once you look at it closely, a metaphor. If I were to call someone an asshole (insignificant or otherwise) I am not literally saying they are the opening at the lower end of the digestive tract through which solid waste is excreted, I am using a metaphor to show how disagreeable I find that person.

Cyril was not merely pointing out the warm friendly relationship between Zappala and Orsini. He was using a mafia reference to describe how two Italian American men "extracted a heavy toll" on him and his family.

And for the record, I am on Cyril's side regarding his complaint about USAttorney Buchanan's prosecution of him. It was an abuse of power, no doubt about that (so that'sat least two things we agree on, Cyril - Mary Beth Buchanan and Southern Connecticut Pizza. I am sure there are many more). I don't question his anger at Buchanan and by extension DA Zappala. From what I've read in the news, his anger is completely justified.

But that's not the point. The point is his use (and now his justification) of the term goombah.

You're not going to win this one, Cyril. You said it, it was an insult, and you should just apologize for your poor choice of words rather than trying to explain it away it with a roundabout discussion of how many trips you made to Italy and how many Italian friends you have and how none of them were offended by your use of the term.

Cyril Wecht Responds (Some of his best friends are Italians)

In last Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, my co-blogger David DeAngelo had an opinion piece in the Perspectives section. He wrote about the guido/goombah stereotypes of Italian-Americans. You can read it here.

In it, he mentioned Dr. Cyril Wecht's recent use of the word "goombah":
But Dr. Wecht did refer to FBI Agent Bradley Orsini (an Italian-American) as a goombah in a radio interview. He also said that Mr. Orsini was the "goombah" of political rival Stephen Zappala, the Allegheny County district attorney, who also is Italian-American.

One Italian-American man as the goombah of another? We're talking bigtime Mafia references here.

When I first read of this, I was profoundly disappointed that a man of such intelligence and learning as Dr. Wecht would use such a disgraced and ignorant slur. If Dr. Wecht would lower D.A. Zappala and Agent Orsini to the level of Mafia goons, what must he think of the rest of us with vowels at the ends of our names?
In today's P-G, Dr. Wecht responds to David's piece with his own Perspectives column, titled, "I didn't use 'goombah' as a slur: Few people have more connections to Italy or love for Italians"

Aside from his love for Italians (apparently more powerful than most Italians have for each other if you believe the headline), Wecht's argument is as follows:

1) His sample of Italian-Americans do not use/see "goombah" as a slur.

2) Wecht writes, 'The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines goombah as "a companion or associate, especially an older friend who acts as a patron, protector or adviser." This is my reference. I would ask Mr. DeAngelo, please tell me -- aside from your own personal definition -- what is your literary reference?'

3) David is apparently the only Italian-American to think that "goombah" can be used as a slur.

Cyril as an Italian-American myself (OK, an Italian-Ukrainian-Rusyn-German-Irish-American), I have certainly heard the word "goombah" used as a negative.

But, you don't have to take my word or David's word for it (or Stephen Zappala's). Just look at what was written in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on your usage of that word:
Carla Lucente, a professor of modern languages at Duquesne University, said she was surprised that Wecht used the word "goombah."

Lucente said the context makes the use of "goombah" offensive because it implies unethical behavior by Zappala and Orsini. She said the word is slang, not true Italian. Its origin refers to a godparent.

"I'm angry he used that," she said. "It is offensive, especially when we talk so much today about diversity."
But, I'm sure Wecht will say the Trib is against him or that Lucente is just one person -- despite being an actual professor of modern languages -- and that he, Dr. Cyril Wecht, has a "fair command of the English language."

However, dear Cyril, surely someone with such a well known propensity for flair with language would know that different dictionaries can produce different -- or more expanded -- results when giving the meaning of a word.

So, let's look at the definition of "goombah" by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Main Entry: goom·bah
Pronunciation: \ˈgüm-ˌbä\
Function: noun
Etymology: Italian dial. (Campania) cumbà, voc. form of cumbare respected older man, literally, godfather, from Medieval Latin compater — more at compeer
Date: 1968
1 : a close friend or associate —used especially among Italian-American men
2 : a member of a secret chiefly Italian-American crime organization : mafioso; broadly : gangster
3 : a macho Italian-American man
Oh my.

Would you call that a "literary reference"?

Now, as to your final contention that, "I am not hesitant or ashamed to say what I think about someone, especially individuals who have attacked and attempted to destroy me and my family. If I believed Messrs. Zappala and Orsini were Mafioso, I would have stated so. I used goombah to characterize exactly what I (and a respected dictionary) believe it to mean -- a warm friendship, some kind of personal relationship," I have to ask why exactly did you use the word "goombah"? Why didn't you just say "close, personal friend"?

Would you have said "goombah" if you were referring to a relationship between two non Italians? Sorry, but I doubt it. The same way that I doubt that you would think that you could use the word "homie" to describe the relationship between two African-American men and get away without any criticism. Certainly "homie" is mostly used to indicate a close, personal friend, but it's also a word you hear on TV cop shows to describe -- lets play with words -- "urban" (CODE) youth as in "there were a bunch of homies on the corner."

Yes, the same word can have different meanings depending on the context and the person who speaks it. Words can be used as code and as dog whistles.

And, Dr. Wecht, a lot of us heard you whistling loud and clear.
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January 26, 2010

"CLOSING DAY" / KEEP IT OPEN Rally for UPMC/Braddock Hospital


First, a preliminary injunction request regarding the closing of UPMC/Braddock Hospital will be held tomorrow:
Date:
Jan. 27th Wednesday
Time: 1:30 pm (meet in lobby at 1:00 pm)
Place: City County Building
Judge Strassburger--Room 819

"CLOSING DAY" / KEEP IT OPEN Rally:
Last chance to rally before the planned closure
Date: Saturday, January 30th
Time: NOON
Place: UPMC/Braddock Hospital
Fifth Street above Braddock Avenue in Braddock

http://www.savebraddock.org

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James O'Keefe Gets Watergate Backwards


James O'Keefe

From Talking Points Memo:
James O'Keefe, the young conservative filmmaker who was behind the undercover operations that led to the ACORN scandal last year, was arrested with three others for allegedly trying to bug the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) yesterday.
O'Keefe may think he's Woodward/Bernstein when he's actually Hunt/Liddy.

What a moran...

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Emergency Rally Today: Landlord shuts off utilities at home of disabled man & family

I just saw this from Maryellen Hayden's Facebook page (via a heads up from Joy Sabl):

Emergency Rally, 1:30 PM 2527 Columbia Street, Stand with us for a family without heat, lights, or water-shut off by landlord to drive him out...though the Sheriff gave him till Feb 24...Dad is paralyzed, a mom, and two kids, 6 & 8...wear RED!
The full address:
2527 Columbia Ave
Swissvale, PA 15218

Map here.
Hayden was the former Head Organizer at ACORN in Pittsburgh.
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The Trib's Still Pushing "Climategate"

From today's editorial page:
A painstakingly detailed review of the Climategate e-mails bolsters the picture they paint of deliberate data manipulation by "scientists" bent on blaming mankind for climate change.

"Climategate Analysis," available from the nonprofit Science & Public Policy Institute (scienceandpublicpolicy.org), presents all the leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit -- in chronological order, with commentary.

John P. Costella, the 149-page report's author, does a tremendous service by documenting, step by step, how science was perverted to advance misguided ideology, cynical politics and personal and professional interests.

Mr. Costella says massive "research" funding -- with strings attached requiring production of "evidence" backing preordained eco-wacko "findings" -- helped spread such venality far and wide among "scientists." What Climategate reveals and his report itemizes is "science" unworthy of the name -- and on a vast scale.

With rampant ignorance of how science should work, the public's gullibility hardly is surprising. Kudos to Costella and the institute for lessening that ignorance -- and the influence of the unsupported beliefs, masquerading as fact, espoused by what he calls "the Church of Climatology."
Not the frequent use of the ironic quotation marks. It means that the "scientists" who support the "science" based on the "evidence" are not really scientists and the "science" is not really science and the "evidence" evidence is not really evidence.

This should come as a surprise to the 1700 or so British scientists (note the lack of the ironical quotation marks) who signed this statement:
We, members of the UK science community, have the utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities. The evidence and the science are deep and extensive. They come from decades of painstaking and meticulous research, by many thousands of scientists across the world who adhere to the highest levels of professional integrity. That research has been subject to peer review and publication, providing traceability of the evidence and support for the scientific method. The science of climate change draws on fundamental research from an increasing number of disciplines, many of which are represented here. As professional scientists, from students to senior professors, we uphold the findings of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, which concludes that "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal" and that "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations".
The Trib, on the other hand, as the research of one John P Costella.

And who is John P Costella?

At the tail end of the report the Trib sites, in Costella's own bio paragraph, there's a link to his homepage. It's at a website called "Assassination Science" and some of the other research found at the website where John Costella chose to plant his bio include:
Some of the other areas of Costella's research include:
I kid you not. Assassination Science seems to be a mishmash of a ton of conspiracy theories (some contradictory some just goofy - there are links to research showing how the moon landing was faked and other links debunking various 9/11 conspiracies).

And it's the place where John Costella hangs his online hat.

So on the one hand you have 1700 UK scientists who support the science of global warming and on the other a Kennedy Assassination conspiracy theorist who doesn't.

And who does the Trib side with? Talk about teh crazie.

January 25, 2010

Then & Now

THEN
Candidate Obama in
2008:
Sen. John McCain proposed a possible spending freeze on virtually every federal program except the Department of Defense, for veterans and entitlement programs in a presidential debate with rival Barack Obama Friday night. Obama countered that approach is too broad-based, saying it was the equivalent of "using a hatchet where you need a scalpel."
NOW
President Obama in
2010:

In his State of the Union address Wednesday night, President Obama will unveil a three-year freeze on non-military discretionary spending, according to a senior administration official.

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Joe Hoeffel Kicks-off Gubernatorial Campaign In Pittsburgh Tomorrow With Peduto Endorsement


Progressive Democrat Joe Hoeffel -- former State Representative, former U.S. Congressman, and current Montgomery County Commissioner -- will kick-off his gubernatorial campaign in Pittsburgh tomorrow.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto will announce his endorsement and introduce Hoeffel in front of the City-County Building at 8:00 AM:
“Joe Hoeffel is a progressive leader who will fight for Pennsylvania,” Peduto said. “I am supporting Joe, because he understands the challenges facing communities like Pittsburgh, and he isn’t afraid to make the tough decisions to change the direction of our economy for the benefit of working families. He has a record in support of reforming state government to make it more transparent and accountable to the people. He knows how to balance the tough financial issues that Pennsylvania faces with a progressive agenda to build a 21st Century economy.”
And, if like me you're pining for some pol -- any pol -- in Pennsylvania who you can vote for who is pro choice, know that Joe has appointed Kate Michelman, past president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, to head up “Women for Hoeffel.”

Joe Hoeffel Statewide Campaign Kick-off!
Tuesday January 26th
Pittsburgh
8:00 am – 9:00 am
City-County Building Portico
414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh PA 15219


You can RSVP to this event here.

Campaign web site: http://joehoeffel2010.com
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Action Items for Jordan Miles Police Brutality Case

Something went terribly wrong on January 11th in the predominantly African American neighborhood of Homewood in Pittsburgh.

Teenager Jordan Miles, a violinist and senior Honor student at Pittsburgh's Creative and Performing Arts high school (CAPA), said he was walking that evening from his mother's house to his grandmother's house.

He never made it.

Instead, he ended up at the hospital looking like this:

.....

Jordan Miles account is that he was attacked by three men screaming "Where's the money? Where's the gun? Where's the drugs?" who he only later found out were undercover police officers.

What do the police say? From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (P-G):
According to the police criminal complaint, three officers on undercover patrol on Tioga STreet saw Mr. Miles at 11 p.m. Jan. 11. Seeing a heavy object in his coat and indentifying themselves as police, they ordered him to stop.

Mr. Miles ran and the three officers, suspecting he might have a gun and be under the influence of drugs, shot him with a Taser and struck him with their knees and fists. The complaint said the heavy object in his coat turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew.
So, there's some law against carry heavy objects? I must have missed that one. Moreover, Miles says he wasn't even holding Dew (and last time I checked, if he had consumed some, it doesn't leave you in a drug-induced-like state). The police complaint also claims that he was standing against a building while black "as if he was trying to avoid being seen". Obviously, also against some law that I'm unaware of...

According to the P-G:
Jordan Miles, 18, had a hearing scheduled this morning on charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest for an altercation Jan. 11 with three plain clothes Pittsburgh Police officers, but it was suspended when the officers did not appear. Mr. Miles was going to defend himself from the charges by describing the beating he took from police, which included a tree branch impaling his gums and a chunk of hair pulled from his head, his attorney said today, in addition to repeated blows to his head. [Emphasis added]
Pittsburgh's Office of Municipal Investigations is investigating the incident and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he is "very troubled" by Miles' claims of police brutality.

If you're equally disturbed by this story, B-PEP (Black Political Empowerment Project) Black and White Reunion, and CAV (Coalition Against Violence) suggest the following actions you can take:

Action Plan in support of CAPA Honor student Jordan Miles

1. Attend the 9:00 a.m. news conference on Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at the City-County Building, Fifth Floor in front of City Council Chambers.

2. Drop off (in person) letters of protest, with regard to the incident, to the Mayor’s Office.

3. Speak to City Council Members at the 10:00 a.m. January 26, 2010 regularly scheduled City Council hearing.

4. Speak to the City Police Review Board at the 6:00 p.m. hearing in City Council Chambers on January 26, 2010
There's also a Facebook support page for Jordan here.

The story has received national coverage including CNN and The Huffington Post.

It bears repeating what First Lady Michelle Obama said when she visited CAPA last year bringing spouses of the G-20 Summit dignitaries with her:
We're here because I wanted to introduce them to some of America's finest, most creative, most accomplished young people."
Apparently the police could not view Jordan in the same light as our First Lady saw him.
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SC Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer compares needy getting govt. aid to "feeding stray animals"

....

Lt. Gov. Andre "Potter" Bauer, Lt. Gov. Andre "Burns" Bauer, or Lt. Gov. Andre "Scrooge" Bauer? Take your pick.

From The Sun News:
GREENVILLE - Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has compared giving people government assistance to "feeding stray animals."

Bauer, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, made his remarks during a town hall meeting in Fountain Inn that included state lawmakers and about 115 residents.

"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better," Bauer said.

[snip]

Later in his speech, Bauer said, "I can show you a bar graph where free and reduced lunch has the worst test scores in the state of South Carolina," adding, "You show me the school that has the highest free and reduced lunch, and I'll show you the worst test scores, folks. It's there, period.

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The Trib's At It Again.

It's Monday and the Editorial Board over at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is citing some think-tank's research in one of its editorials:
A Supreme Court ruling on ambiguous legal language discourages prosecution of illegal aliens for identity fraud -- so Congress, which wrote that language, must revise it immediately.

Janice Kephart, director of national security studies for the Center on Immigration Studies (cis.org), details the problem and its solution in "Fixing Flores: Assuring Adequate Penalties for Identity Theft and Fraud."
It should not be a surprise to anyone reading this blog that Richard Mellon Scaife (who owns the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) has funneled a large amount of money to the CIS over the years by way of the Scaife foundations he controls.
  • The Sarah Scaife Foundation gave $150,000 to the CIS in 2008.
  • The Sarah Scaife Foundation gave $150,000 to the CIS in 2007.
  • The Sarah Scaife Foundation gave $150,000 to the CIS in 2006.
That's close to a half million dollars from 2006-2008.

In fact, according to Mediamatters.org, the Richard Mellon Scaife controlled foundations have given a total of $1,422,500 to the CIS since 1991. There is an additional $438,000 given to the CIS by the Scaife Family Foundation that I did not include as Richard Mellon Scaife gave up control of that foundation by 1999 to his son David and daughter, Jenny.

By my count, Mediamatters lists $2,248,000 in grants by various conservative foundations over the years to the CIS. If that's the case then more than half of that money came from the foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife.

Not a peep of a mention of that in the editorial, of course.

The circle-jerk continues.

Finally for the REAL embarrassing part: THEY GOT THE NAME OF THE ORGANIZATION WRONG. Take a look at the report. Same author (Janice Kephart) and the same website address (cis.org) but the name in big letters across the top of the page is Center For Immigration Studies not the Center On Immigration Studies.

Scaife's half funded the CIS and his own paper can't get the name of the organization right??

How embarrassing is that?

For them.

For the rest of us, it's kinda funny.

January 24, 2010

Today's P-G

It has the usual stuff (news, rational commentary, Jack Kelly, etc) and then there's this.

Here's the headline:
On goombahs and guidos
Classic stereotypes of Italian-Americans just keep stalking us, writes Pittsburgh blogger DAVID DEANGELO
WTF? Who gave that guy some column space??

January 23, 2010

The Gab Show

The lovely wife and I caught The Gab show last night dahn-tahn.

Good show. Here's how the P-G previewed it:
Another post-Gallery Crawl event Friday is the launch of comedian Gab Bonesso's new project with theater/performance company Bricolage. "Gab Bonesso's Comedy Party" showcases comedy, but in a context closer to theater and performance art than to comedy clubs and stand-up venues.

Bonesso said the concept is influenced by Andy Warhol's famous parties at The Factory during the '60s. "He had this ability to bring artists from all different genres together." Similarly, she says, "Comedy Party" will feature "the edgiest and hardest-working Pittsburgh artists," along with the occasional stand-up comedians from across the country.

Pop band Meeting of Important People will start the evening off at 9 p.m. The lineup also includes a video by Neal Rosenblat, political comedy from John McIntire, a Cat Power cover band and an hour-long comedy set from Bonesso.
Something you need to know if you've never seen The Gabster make the comedy: There's a vast difference between her off and on stage personas. She outright explodes on stage in zesty manic energy, bouncing left and right while swearing like a sailor with Tourette's. This surprised me a little the first time I saw her perform because I usually found her to be painfully shy at our Bible study group.

And here's something else few people know about The Gab: She's volunteered at the American Family Association's phone crisis line ever since she made her abstinence pledge right after graduating college.

This, too, was a surprise to me, considering all the vagina and abortion jokes she makes on the stage.

Next time she does the show, go see her. You won't be disappointed.

January 22, 2010

Blog for Choice Day


Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and for the last five years it's also Blog for Choice Day.

The topic this year is: What does Trust Women mean to you?

As always, I will slightly paraphrase what I've written on this day in years past.

My answer?

"Trust Women" means trusting a woman to have the right to control her own body -- and that necessarily must include anything that may going on inside it.

Simple, no?

Yeah, it gets messy if there's a fetus in there, and more messy the older that fetus is.

But you either get to control your body or you don't.

And women and girls face an opposition who believes that a mass of cells smaller then the head of a pin has not just equal rights, but more rights, than the woman or girl herself. An opposition who believes that a woman should not be trusted with the control of her own body -- that only the State or a religion -- or anyone but the woman gets that trust.

I will never understand that.

I will also never believe that a man would put up with everyone and his uncle trying to micromanage his body.

So I trust women to control their own bodies and that makes me pro choice.

Period.

Toles

More Lousy Reading At The Trib

Proving, yet again, that they're very good at ignoring reality when it gets in the way of their politics, the good folks at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review take a swipe at Senator Arlen Specter.

Not that I am defending the Senator, just pointing out that the people who make a living writing for a newspaper should be better at reading the news.

From the Whispers column:
Arlen Specter apparently is feeling cranky these days.

And, apparently, badly in need of a drink.

The Pennsylvania senator seems to be feeling some pressure from U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, of Delaware County, who is attempting to unseat Specter in the Democrat primary. At least that's the impression we got from reading a lengthy profile of Specter in The Philadelphia Inquirer last week.

The story's author recounted Specter's increasing irritation with a waiter as he attempted to get a gin martini with olives at a Vietnamese restaurant in Washington, D.C.

"Bartender not here tonight," the waiter said. "No mixed drinks -- beer, wine only."

Specter asked to see a manager, only to have the waiter shake his head.

"Well, how about straight gin on ice? Can you do that?" Specter asked.

When the young man appeared confused, the exasperated senator repeated, "Straight gin."

After the waiter finally ambled off to get the drink, Specter remarked, "It's ridiculous not having a bartender. I guess I'll have to go home and make my own martinis."

The apparent urgency with which the senator wanted his drink has us concerned and pondering this question: Couldn't he have settled for a 7-Up?
NOW let's take a look at that profile in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Everything from "Bartender not here tonight." to "...make my own martinis" is from the profile. Simple cut and paste job - nothing wrong with that.

Do you know what the very next paragraph is in that profile? Here, I'll cut and paste it for you:
On this evening last spring, Specter, 79, was under siege. Not long before, he had been one of three Republican senators whose votes had enacted President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus, and the blowback was fierce.
So it was last spring when Specter was still a Republican? But look again at the Trib's take on this:
The Pennsylvania senator seems to be feeling some pressure from U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, of Delaware County, who is attempting to unseat Specter in the Democrat (sic) primary.
Hmm. Shouldn't they already know that Representative Sestak didn't officially announce he was running against Senator Specter until August 4 of last year - months after this martini story reportedly took place? And shouldn't they already know that, according to the very story they quote, Specter was "under siege" for his vote against the GOP last spring? Didn't have anything to do with Representative Sestak's challenge.

Isn't it, at the very least, misleading to write it in any other way than one that reflects reality? Isn't it, well, dishonest to do otherwise?

More "news" from our friends at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

For the record, I am not defending Senator Specter. But fair's fair and a lie's a lie. Something we can expect more of from the Trib.

Olbermann: Freedom of speech has been destroyed


I'll add that if corporations are people, we should never forget what kind of people they are -- by definition, they are people whose sole goal is to benefit their bottom line; they are people who lack a sense of moral responsibility, social conscience, heart or soul if it interferes with said bottom line, in other words -- sociopaths. (Please note, I'm not saying that any particular person who works for a corporation or any particular shareholder who benefits from a corporation is a sociopath, just that a corporation itself -- as a person -- is a sociopath.)
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January 21, 2010

Supreme Court Opens Floodgates to Buying Elections (game over man, game over)


FUCK!

From Talking Points Memo:
In a ruling that has major implications for how elections are funded, the Supreme Court has struck down a key campaign-finance restriction that bars corporations and unions from pouring money into political ads.

The long-awaited 5-4 ruling, in the Citizens United v. FEC case, presents advocates of regulation with a major challenge in limiting the flow of corporate money into campaigns, and potentially opens the door for unrestricted amounts of corporate money to flow into American politics.
Yes, it was the right wing of the Supremes who overturned a century's worth of laws and voted in favor of allowing elections to be bought and sold like any other trinket.

Hey, assholes, if speech really were "free" than lil ol me could run ads on *your* TVs 24/7.

Also from TPM:
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) warned last week that if the court found unconstitutional all efforts to ban corporations and unions from financing political ads, it would take the country "not just back to a pre-McCain-Feingold era, but back to the era of the robber barons in the 19th century."

Give it up, America. We've lost. Elections will now be one big infomercial and the win will go to the highest bidder.

Fuck.

UPDATE: I forgot this:


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Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is CBS

From Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, we learn that CBS will air an anti abortion ad by evangelical parachurch organization Focus on the Family during the Super Bowl. Focus on the Family is anti gay and anti feminist in addition to being anti choice. They're also pro school sponsored prayer and pro corporal punishment (for kids and lil weiner doggies!).

The ad will feature Tim Tebow:
Tim Tebow is taking his star power to sport’s biggest stage.

The former Florida quarterback and his mother will appear in a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl next month. The Christian group Focus on the Family says the Tebows will share a personal story centering on the theme “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.”

The group isn’t releasing details, but the commercial is likely to be an anti-abortion message chronicling Pam Tebow’s 1987 pregnancy. After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child and gave birth to Tim.
Now, I have no problem with CBS airing this ad in and of itself. (Although the ad, of course, fails to note while celebrating the choice Pam Tebow made, that they want to deny any other woman from having a choice to follow their own doctor's medical advice.)

My problem with CBS is that five years ago, they refused to air an ad by United Church of Christ (UCC):
In the letter from the CBS official to the United Church of Christ, the network said it refuses advertising that "touches on and/or takes a position on one side of a current controversial issue of public importance."
What was the controversial issue in that ad?

That UCC accepts all individuals as members in their church.

Here's the ad:


As you may have noticed, the ad shows two women that may be a lesbian couple that the church accepts -- horrors!

So when exactly did CBS change their "longstanding policy of not accepting advocacy advertising"?

If you think that CBS are BIG, FAT HYPOCRITES, then follow Sue's suggestions:
So what to do? One thing you can do to weigh in locally is call the local CBS affiliate ... yes, that would be KDKA and let them know if you think CBS should be carrying such a controversial ad, especially given their history with UCC. The number for KDKA is +1-412-575-2288. You can weigh in via email here.

Weigh in with CBS here.

You can also join a national petitions at Change.Org here.

The Facebook page is here.

One point to keep in mind is there is no move from the UCC to run their ads (4 years later). It is simply a point of reference to hold CBS accountable for consistent decisions with regard to advertising decisions, especially those that promote a social issue agenda. So the message is clear -- don't run the Focus on the Family ad.

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From The Slag Heap

Check it aht:
The city of Pittsburgh is trying to bill the Thomas Merton Center a whopping $6,346.44 for security used during a Sept. 25 G-20 march.
Melissa Minnich, communications director for the TMC, says the bill arrived Jan. 15, billing the long-time activist group for the cost of policing a permitted march that went from Oakland through Downtown and the North Side.
Wait, it gets better:
No arrests were made during the march, which took place along a route that was tightly controlled by police -- to the point that, on some Downtown streets especially, it resembled nothing so much as a cattle run. And for the Merton Center -- which had to file a lawsuit against the city to have the march in the first place -- the bill is insult to injury. Activists were highly critical of heavy-handed security tactics ... the very tactics they are now being charged for. [emphasis added.]
Now I'm wondering if a one-time retroactive "user fee" is going to be tacked onto the tuition bills that Pitt and CMU will be sending out - to pay for all that tear gas, you know. It doesn't grow on trees, you know.

Joe Sestak Responds to Mass. Senate Election

Pennsylvania Democratic primary Senatorial contender Rep. Joe Sestak, responding to the election of Scott Brown (R-Naked) in Massachusetts on Tuesday, thankfully does not interpret it as a craven call to roll over and play dead for more "bipartisanship" and positions himself as a change candidate and the real Democrat in the race.

Here's his statement:
"One year after President Obama's historic election, we have lost the seat of Senator Ted Kennedy and have seriously jeopardized his life's work of seeing that all Americans have access to health care. Back-room political dealing in the Senate delayed this bill, weakened this bill, and tarnished it in the eyes of the American people. The message to Democrats is clear. People have had enough of establishment politics on both sides, such as Senator Specter's party switch after 30 years as a Republican in order to save his job. The people are looking for a new generation of accountable leadership. We must do what we were elected to do: get rid of the old politics of Washington and the Senate and get to work for America's working families."
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Specter to Bachmann: "Act like a lady" (Updated 1x)

UPDATE: Here's the audio courtesy of Early Returns:


_______________________________________________________________


Sen. Arlen Specter (PA-D)-- sounding all of his 80 years -- told Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-R) to "act like a lady" while they were sparring on the radio yesterday. From Early Returns:
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., took to the radio airwaves this afternoon to talk about President Barack Obama's first year in office and the fallout from the Massachusetts special election. Paired with conservative firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., things got a little heated.

[snip]

Ms. Bachmann declared last night's victory by Scott Brown a repudiation of Mr. Obama's policies. Mr. Specter then asked what, exactly, Ms. Bachmann is in favor of.

The Minnesotan detailed a list of fiscal changes: cutting the effective income tax rate to 22 percent, dashing capital gains taxes and eliminating the estate tax will stimulate the economy plenty, she said, as opposed to the overreach of the Obama administration with the stimulus and health care legislation. As Mr. Specter started to respond, Ms. Bachmann interjected to try to reinforce her point. Mr. Specter, clearly, did not appreciate the interruption.

"I'm going to treat you like a lady," Mr. Specter shot back. "Now act like one."

Ms. Bachmann replied, "I am a lady."

The two continued to spar and Mr. Specter later again asked Ms. Bachmann to "act like a lady" when things got heated.

No one who reads this blog can possibly think that I'm a fan of Rep. Bauchmann's, but asking a woman to "act like a lady" has all kinds of sexist and negative connotations that saying "act like a gentleman" does not have. Certainly some guy telling me to "act like a lady" while I was arguing with him would sound a whole lot to me like "how dare you forcefully express your opinion while having lady bits."

Arlen, you might want to drop future requests for ladylike behavior from your colleagues -- or any other woman -- here in the 21st Century.

Michele, if you had a feminist bone in your body, you would have called him out on this instead of protesting what a good little lady you are.

Double UGH!
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January 20, 2010

More Lousy "Research" At The Tribune-Review

From today's Midweek Briefing, we see, yet again, that Richard Mellon Scaife's editorial board doesn't really care about the truth. Take a look:
Human Events reminds that Attorney General Eric Holder, who wants to afford the Christmas Day jetliner bomber all the rights and privileges of an American citizen in our civilian courts, once thought such terrorists -- enemy combatants -- should enjoy no such consideration. Mr. "Holder puts political convenience above common sense, military tradition and concern for the safety of American citizens," the newspaper notes in an editorial. So much for Eric Holder sticking to his principles.
And from the Human Events editorial they reference:
The American people overwhelmingly think that the Christmas Day airplane bomber, not to mention 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, should be treated as enemy combatants, not common criminals or Prisoners of War afforded protections under the Geneva Conventions.

Interestingly enough, Attorney General Eric Holder agrees -- at least, he did back in 2002. Here’s what he said when discussing the 9/11 terrorists: “One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located.…It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves,…that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war. If, for instance, Mohamed Atta had survived the attack on the World Trade Center, would we now be calling him a prisoner of war? I think not.”
B-u-u-u-u-u-t when you go find the entire quotation, it turns out that both Human Events and by extension Scaife's brain trust have it, well, wrong. And they should have known this because this smear was debunked almost a year ago at mediamatters.

You'd think they'd find some new smear to use. Here's the reality. Holder was being interviewed by Paula Zahn. And she asks:
The president will be meeting with his National Security team this morning to talk about, well, the apparent discord here. Give us a preview of what this discussion might entail. When you have Secretary of State Powell saying, "Let's abide by the Geneva Convention," and then folks on the other side, we are told, saying "Wait a minute. If we hold them to that kind of status, then all they'll be required to give us is their name, rank and file number."
So she's looking for Holder to map out both sides of a discussion. Right after the part quoted by Human Events, he answers:
And yet, I understand what Secretary Powell is concerned about, and that is we're going to be fighting this war with people who are special forces, not people who are generally in uniform. And if unfortunately they somehow become detained, we would want them to be treated in an appropriate way consistent with the Geneva Convention.[emphasis added]
And when he's asked how he would resolve the issue, Holder ultimately says:
I can understand the tensions that exist, but I think the way to resolve it is, in fact, the way Secretary Powell has proposed, which is to say these are not people who are prisoners of war as that has been defined, but who are entitled to, in our own interests, entitled to be treated in a very humane way and almost consistent with all of the dictates of the Geneva Convention. [emphasis added]
So what about a "flip-flop"?

I think this would constitute a lie. By Human Events and by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. They should know better. It took me all of 10 minutes to find the truth. It should not have taken them any longer.

Looks like they're the ones putting political considerations above common sense (and reality).

January 19, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Senator-elect Scott Brown (MA-Naked):


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Just watch

Just watch:


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Today's Coakley Vs. Brown Race

Via Twitter:


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BRESMA Haitian Orphans Land In Pittsburgh


On the bus to the plane


The kids on the plane to Pittsburgh


Coming off the plane


PA Gov. Ed Rendell


Rep. Jason Altmire (PA-D)


UPMC Sr. Consultant for Government Leslie McCombs


Ali McMutrie


From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The chartered plane carrying the 53 orphans from earthquake-ravaged Haiti has arrived at Pittsburgh International Airport and the children are en route to Children's Hospital.

The plane arrived from Orlando, Fla., at about 9:30.

The rescue mission came in response to messages last week from sisters Jamie and Ali McMutrie of Ben Avon, who said this month's devastating earthquake endangered the health of 130 children in their care at the BRESMA orphanage in Port-Au-Prince.

While Ali McMutrie arrived in Pittsburgh today, one child -- Emma --couldn't be found during the rush to leave. She has since been found and she and Jamie McMutrie -- who refused to leave without her -- and the rest of the McMutrie family are coming back to Pittsburgh on a later plane.

Ali McMutrie verified that the other 90 children from the orphanage were being taken in similar rescue missions conducted by the Dutch and French governments.

The rescue mission also brought 2.5 tons of medical supplies, two doctors and a nurse with them to stay in Haiti.

Again as wonderful as this is, it bears keeping in mind that there's millions of Haitians who still need help.

NOTE: Updated and revised at 12:35 PM, 1-19-10
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The Trib Spins.

From the editorial page from today's Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
Granting more than half a million federal stimulus dollars to a professor whose Climategate role prompted a Penn State University investigation is politically motivated misuse of public money at its worst.

Michael Mann received the three-year, $541,184 grant in June, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research, a nonpartisan educational foundation in Washington. Creator of the discredited "hockey stick" temperature graph that purportedly buttressed the case for man-made global warming, he's a key figure in the leaked Climategate e-mails that show data were manipulated and destroyed and contrary research was suppressed to bolster scientifically suspect climate-change orthodoxy.
First off, the NCPPR is hardly "nonpartisan." From their own About Us page:
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.

In 1982, we started The National Center to provide the conservative movement with a versatile and energetic organization capable of responding quickly and decisively to fast-breaking issues. Today, we continue to fill this critical niche through a top-flight research and communications operation driven by results and the bottom line. [emphasis added.]
But this is Richard Mellon Scaife's braintrust here - can't expect them to pay any attention to, you know, reality.

But wait, there's more. In an editorial about climate change on the pages of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review you know there's a circle jerk coming.

And here it is. According to Mediamatters.org it turns out that two Richard Mellon Scaife-controlled foundations (Carthage and Sarah Scaife) have given close to $1.1 million dollars to the National Center for Public Policy over the years.

That's almost exactly twice the amount that the Richard Mellon Scaife's editorial board is complaining about.

Funny that wasn't a part of the editorial. I wonder why. I mean, a long history of financial grants for a conservative think tank that criticizes a financial grant for a scientist it opposes might be seen, oh I don't know, as an important part of the story. Perhaps undermining the credibility of the source.

We can always count on Scaife's braintrust for a healthy circle jerk.

Overnight BRESMA Orphanage News

UPDATE: BRESMA orphans arrive in Pittsburgh. Story here.


Michael Henninger / Post-Gazette

As the Post-Gazette reports here, Children's Hospital is ready to receive 53 children coming from the BRESMA orphanage in Haiti to Pittsburgh. There were some last minute hurdles on the Haiti end:
The original plane carrying a medical team, as well as Gov. Ed Rendell and U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, was forced to take off without the children, so the group stayed behind and managed to secure a C-130 military plane.

Security hurdles, caused in part by reports about the mission by the media, made it impossible for the group to get the children aboard within the two-hour window they had been given to be on the ground in Haiti, according to Paul Wood, vice president of public relations for UPMC.

"Word leaked and security at the compound [where the orphans were located before being taken to the airport] became compromised by the incredible needs of others," he said.

But the group was able to secure the C-130, which left Port-au-Prince at 11:23 p.m., carrying the children, the governor, Mr. Altmire and caregiver Ali McMutrie, one of the two Ben Avon sisters who ran the orphanage and refused to leave the country without the children, according to Mr. Wood.

Mr. Wood did not know whether other children and Ms. McMutrie's sister Jamie were still in Haiti.

PittBriefly has more photos of the preparations for the orphans here.

The exact number of children originally at BRESMA and number of orphans on the plane has varied in different reports: from 130 - 150 originally at BRESMA and from 61 to 53 children on the plane.

The following message was posted at That's Church last night:

“Please don’t panic about what you may be hearing on the media about numbers of BRESMA orphans who have left Haiti. You will know the accurate numbers as soon as we are permitted to say.”
An earlier article by the Post-Gazette has also reported:
About 90 other children from the orphanage were being taken in similar rescue missions conducted by the Dutch and French governments, he said.
So, that would be 5-6 children evacuated on Sunday, 53-61 today and about 90 being handled by Dutch and French governments. That would seem to account for all the orphans who were at BRESMA -- we hope.

Of course that would leave the entire country of Haiti which still needs help...
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January 18, 2010

God, Guns and...Well, really, just God & Guns

Via A Spork in the Drawer:
Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.
[...]

Trijicon confirmed to ABCNews.com that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions "have always been there" and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is "not Christian."

[...]

A photo on a Department of Defense Web site shows Iraqi soldiers being trained by U.S. troops with a rifle equipped with the bible-coded sights.

"It's wrong, it violates the Constitution, it violates a number of federal laws," said Michael "Mikey" Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group that seeks to preserve the separation of church and state in the military.
And, Spork reminds us why this should not be surprising.
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Sec. Napolitano Announces Humanitarian Parole Policy for Certain Haitian Orphans

Press release:
January 18, 2010
Contact: DHS Press Office,


SECRETARY NAPOLITANO ANNOUNCES HUMANITARIAN PAROLE POLICY FOR CERTAIN HAITIAN ORPHANS

WASHINGTON—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, in coordination with the U.S. Department of State, today announced a humanitarian parole policy allowing orphaned children from Haiti to enter the United States temporarily on an individual basis to ensure that they receive the care they need—as part of the U.S. government’s ongoing support of international recovery efforts after last week’s earthquake.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to help reunite families in Haiti during this very difficult time,” said Secretary Napolitano. “While we remain focused on family reunification in Haiti, authorizing the use of humanitarian parole for orphans who are eligible for adoption in the United States will allow them to receive the care they need here.”

Humanitarian parole into the United States may be granted by the Secretary of Homeland Security to bring otherwise inadmissible individuals into the country on account of urgent humanitarian reasons or other emergencies. The humanitarian parole policy announced by Secretary Napolitano today will be applied on a case-by-case basis to the following children:

Children who have been legally confirmed as orphans eligible for intercountry adoption by the Government of Haiti and are being adopted by U.S. citizens.

Children who have been previously identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for intercountry adoption and have been matched to U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents.

Under applicable laws, unaccompanied minors entering the country without a parent or legal guardian will be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Today’s announcement expands the humanitarian relief that the U.S. Government is extending to Haitians in response to the devastation caused by the earthquake. Last week, Secretary Napolitano announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals who were physically present in the United States as of Jan. 12, 2010—allowing eligible Haitian nationals to continue living and working in the United States for the next 18 months. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after Jan. 12, 2010 will not be eligible for TPS and will be repatriated

More information about humanitarian parole and TPS is available at http://www.uscis.gov/ or by calling USCIS toll-free at (800) 375-5283. DHS encourages U.S. citizens with pending adoption cases in Haiti to send us detailed information about their cases to HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov .
Latest on BRESMA orphanage here.
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Martin Luther King Day


There are many events in and around Pittsburgh to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. See here for a listing.

WQED and Pittsburgh's Light of Life Rescue Mission invite you to "Celebrate the Spirit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." with a volunteer opportunity. Information here.

Also, The Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network will hold a rally today at 2:30 PM at Mellon Park (Penn Ave at East Liberty Blvd across from Bakery Square) to "announce our opposition to the Mayor’s actions against the taxpayers and working people of Pittsburgh. The hotel complex in the former Nabisco plant got $13 million in tax subsidies and wants to pay hotel workers minimum wages. We call on City Council to immediately pass the original Prevailing Wage bill again and override the Mayor if he attempts to veto it again." You can find more information/RSVP to the rally here.
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CNN Update & WPXI Report On BRESMA Orphanage (Updated 5x)

UPDATE 6: BRESMA orphans arrive in Pittsburgh. Story here.

UPDATE 5: Overnight BRESMA update here (1/19/10, 3:00 AM ET)

UPDATE 4: Report from Bob Mayo's blog here. (For those coming to this blog from outside Pittsburgh, Mayo is an excellent and reliable reporter from WTAE.)

UPDATE 3: Best advice from Chris Potter (Slag Heap at Pittsburgh City Paper) here

UPDATE 2: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story here. [Completely new article, same URL]

UPDATE: KDKA is reporting on a "secret mission" (well, not so secret if they broadcast it on their noon news). They report that 60 more children will be flown to the US from the BRESMA orphanage. A plane left Pittsburgh today with Rep. Jason Altmire, and ten doctors from UPMC and McMutrie family members. See the video here.

WPXI story here.
__________________________________________________________________


First, let's state from the start that the media has been mistaken in some of their reports; most notably when they claimed that all 150 children from the Brebis de Saint Michel de L'Attalaye (BRESMA) orphanage in Port-au-Prince -- run by Pittsburgh (Ben Avon) sisters Jamie and Ali McMutrie -- had received clearance to leave Haiti and come to Pittsburgh.

The children are in various states in the adoption process and many were never slated to be adopted in the US to begin with (for example, we've received numerous hits from France and the Netherlands in the last couple of days).

What's most important to know now is that the situation at BRESMA is still dire. Getting water and food into the walled-off orphanage is dangerous because there are Haitians understandably desperate for supplies surrounding it. At this point, the BRESMA orphanage probably needs security as much as supplies.

Those following the situation on Twitter at #BRESMA know that rumors abound and that people are "retweeting" old information. Virginia Montanez at her That's Church blog took the extraordinary step of removing several older blog posts so that people would not stumble upon outdated information, post rumors, or give out too much information in their comments which could possibly lead to breaches of security that could endanger the orphans. (I'm seeing GPS coordinates being tweeted publicly which I'm sure is a bad idea!)

What we all need to understand in this era of texting, IMing and tweeting is that the old saying, "A lie can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on" is more true now than ever before.

That said, three sources -- CNN, WPXI and the KAS in Haiti blog -- are all reporting that five children from BRESMA have been evacuated to the US. These children were apparently all well along in the adoption process and had the most documentation available. Note that there is one main source for all these stories: Diana Boni. She has worked with BRESMA Orphanage directly for five years and is the Haiti Coordinator for Kentucky Adoption Services. However, CNN has actual video of children leaving Haiti on a military plane.

You can see WPXI's interview with Boni here (they've been repeating parts of it this morning). Her blog is here. She is quoted in Time Magazine here.

You can view the CNN update on BRESMA here (original CNN story here):




I would still highly recommend going to That's Church, @JanePitt on Twitter, and Ali Pace's Facebook page for McMutrie Family-verified information. It may be slower in coming, but that is because their top priority is the safety of all those concerned and because they are busy working to get all the kids out.
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