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A few items here and there…

At a local Food CoOp meeting last night there was a pile of information revealed. First of all, there is in existence a Jefferson County (WV) Food CoOp, has been for around 25 years, but it has been shrinking and is all but invisible (down to a couple of dozen members). The Shepherdstown group looks like they are willing to buy into it (membership is $25.00 a year and they order food from a National CoOp supplier once a month).

Ruth Robertas got the Shepherdstown bunch together for meetings and is keeping minutes on the meeting, which are expected by e-mail.

At some point I hope to write an update on this venture… I’d give anything to have it turn into a real ongoing shopping area, like the Frederick Common Market which I go down to at least one Wednesday a month (on Wednesdays there is a 5% discount for folks over 60, which usually covers my gas and my lunch) and which sells the best organic and natural stuff and is especially full of products appealing to Vegans like us. That, however, is a long way away and would require a REAL organization.


Yesterday at the Farmer’s Market in Shepherdstown, I saw this good looking woman and her family shopping and she was covered in intricate tattoos. It made me stop and think about how many people you see these days that have turned their bodies into artworks…

While watching one of the Top Chef shows on Bravo I noticed that 2/3 of the contestant chefs, both male and female, were more than decorated with tattoos. They were never commented on or apparently even noticed by anyone (I mean, no one said “gee, what a great design” or anything like that), but were simply accepted as part of the current mode of expression.

And then, of course, I thought of Janeane Garafolo, who is even more tattooed every time she appears on television. Certainly this effects her ability to be cast in films. Or maybe not.

So I started thinking about what I would decorate myself with if I were to go for tattoos. My big problem is that I would tire of an image or a pattern relatively quickly and I don’t imagine removal is an easy thing (although I’ve heard of it being done.) The upshot is that I don’t want to find out how my skin would change as I got older. I don’t think I’ll ever get a tattoo.


The word on the BP oil leak this morning is that the cap that was put on the broken pipe is sucking in 11,000 barrels a day, but that may be only 10% or 20% of what is going directly into gulf waters.

At the government’s press update this morning they seemed to be trying to put an optimistic face on all this, but the bottom line was that there is no real solution until the relief wells are finished in August… and even then there is still a strong possibility that the problem could go on.

Somebody made the statement that there would be months of cleanup after the leak was stopped , but everyone knows that they are still cleaning up much less pollution from the Exxon Valdez spill 10 YEARS AGO!

BP’s cleanup price tag so far is 1.25 Billion Bucks and climbing.This doesn’t count any of the lawsuits which are being brought by destroyed businesses along the coastlines or by amounts that are being claimed by individual states who will lose tourist industry income. No one is questioning whether BP will survive, but if they go bankrupt, who will pay for all this. You and I both know the answer to that one (keep your hand on your wallet and wait for the tax increases.)

Here’s a blast from the Times of London…I wasn’t expecting this one:

Bravo to Dawkins and Hitchins… it’s time Religion took it on the chin for all the evil it produces!

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Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XV
RICHARD DAWKINS, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.

Atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins
Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.
The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he signed arguing that the “good of the universal church” should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against two boys. It was dated 1985, when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases.
Benedict will be in Britain between September 16 and 19.
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“Dawkins and Hitchens believe the Pope would be unable to claim diplomatic immunity from arrest because, although his tour is categorised as a state visit, he is not the head of a state recognised by the United Nations. ”

Cartoon(s) of the Week – I had two favorites.

Bob Englehart in The Hartford Courant:

Don’t Criticize Judges. They Bite.

Clay Jones in the Fredericksburg Free Lance – Star:

History in the Sight of God! Goodbye Reality.

Will the Talking Heads screw up this week’s accomplishments?

I can’t say I’ve been looking forward to the Sunday morning talking heads shows… they, actually, scare me a little. This week, with both the State of the Union speech and the Q&A session with Republican congressmen, Obama did a major reach-out for working together and some of the comments by the Republicans involved seemed to indicate that things might soften up a bit.

As has happened in the past, the talk shows can come on and blow any cooperation that may have started to partisan bits, both to promote the points of view of their panels and to keep the “news” a seeming attraction for TV viewers.

When I get to the end of them (and listen to them rebroadcast without commercials on C-Span Radio this afternoon) I wonder how I’ll be feeling? I hope I still have the positive feeling I start this morning with.

State Of The State of the Union Speech Tonite… Read it on your iTablet?

OK, Obama has to put everything on the line tonite. If he’s going to do this partial budget freeze and not look like a reborn Herbert Hoover he has to come up with an understandable plan. Would that his plan didn’t include the Three Blind Mice… Summers, Geithner and Bernanke, Don’t count on it, though.

And since today is when Apple announces its new tablet (hush, hush… I mean its new “product”… even though the CEO of McGraw Hill confirmed it on CNBC yesterday:

Yes, they’ll make their announcement tomorrow on this one. We have worked with Apple for quite a while. And the Tablet is going to be based on the iPhone operating system and so it will be transferable. So what you are going to be able to do now — we have a consortium of e-books. And we have 95% of all our materials that are in e-book format on that one. So now with the tablet you’re going to open up the higher education market, the professional market. The tablet is going to be just really terrific.”

…so I guess it’s not such a secret), I want to see what the news pays more attention to. My guess is that Obama still has the chance of being the bigger story, but I don’t underestimate Steve Jobs.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to doing a couple of major posts in the next 24 hours. So stick around.

A quick News Note from Thom Hartmann’s Blog

I got this off Thom’s newsletter which you can subscribe to by going HERE.

Sally Kern, the Oklahoma state legislator who infamously called homosexuality “the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam,” now wants to force heterosexual couples to stay married. Under Kern’s legislation, incompatibility would not be an OK reason to obtain a divorce if the partners have been married for over a decade or are raising minor children. At least there’s some internal consistency to Kern, unlike most who oppose gay marriage. She realizes that the biggest threat to the “sanctity of marriage” is…divorce! Or Tiger Woods.

Juan Cole summarizes Top 10 Good Stories from the Muslim World…

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Top Ten Good News Stories from the Muslim World in 2009 that You Never Heard About

10. Saudi Arabia opened its first coeducational college campus, the King Abdullah Science and Technology University.
9. Qatar is on track to average 7.5 percent per annum growth for the next few years.
8. A Pew Forum on Religion and Life poll finds that American Muslims are unusual in the degree to which they are integrated into mainstream American society
7. The information revolution is making strides in the Arab world. A University of Maryland Poll finds that “the use of the internet continued to grow
6. Albania has averaged 10 percent a year growth for each of the last four years, and was the fastest-growing economy in Europe in 2009. It held elections in 2009, and although they were imperfect, an EU report described them [pdf] “as meeting most OSCE commitments,” despite flaws.

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Does it occur to you that there is really no escape from bad news?

I was just browsing headlines, and the level of depression THAT can create is enough to send me directly to a Cymbalta capsule.

Some examples:

Karzai Says Afghan Army Will Need Help Until 2024

Greenhouse Gases Imperil Health, E.P.A. Announces

Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water

Car bombings kill 103, wound 197 in Iraq’s capital

Elf Arrested After Threatening to Blow Up Santa (I just call ’em as I see ’em)

Vatican Cardinal on Gays and Transsexuals: ‘No Heaven for You!’

Oy! I’m going to the gym. A nice workout will make me forget all this for an hour.

Open Thread – Your Comments Today, 11/30/2009

It’s the last day of the month, the first day of the Major Senate Debate on Health Care, the Day Before Obama Announces Troop Increase in Afghanistan,and a day when there is a forthcoming Federal announcement to save mortgages for struggling homeowners.

If you have something to say, then place a comment now. I’ll be reviewing them to keep off pure advertising and will gey yhem up right away.

– Bill

I’ve put a new link on the NEWS Blogroll: The Appalachian Independent

While on the Frostburg Art Walk, I met a guy named Kurt Hoffman who was promoting an on-line newspaper serving the tri-state area, the Appalachian Independent, which had received a grant to get rolling. He was pretty excited about it… and I was, too, when I took a look at it.

You should, too.

Store launches underpants for left-handed men…

And who says there are no more new inventions?
clipped from
A British store is launching a range of underpants for left-handed men, an innovation it says will save them both time and embarrassment in front of the porcelain.

The new range, by UK-based Hom, will have a horizontal opening instead of a vertical slit accessed from the right-hand side, breaking a tradition that has lasted for 75 years.

“In our view, this is a vital step toward equality for left-handed men,” said Rob Faucherand of Debenhams store.
Almost 10 percent of British men are believed to be left handed but men’s Y-fronted underpants have traditionally had a right-handed opening from the time they were invented in 1935.
The new pants mean that left handed men can finally go to the bathroom as quickly and efficiently as their right-handed colleagues, the store said.
“Switching the opening from vertical to horizontal may sound like a small step, but it’s the major breakthrough that many have been waiting for,” added Faucherand.
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Walter Cronkite 1916 – 2009

Elly and I just got home from a post theatre event at the CATF to find out that Walter Cronkite had died earlier this evening at age 92.

To quote President Obama:

“Walter was always more than just an anchor. He was someone we could trust to guide us through the most important issues of the day; a voice of certainty in an uncertain world. He was family. He invited us to believe in him, and he never let us down. This country has lost an icon and a dear friend, and he will be truly missed.”

Cronkite reporting the death of JFK in 1963
You can bet that the Sunday morning news programs are going to be filled with tributes to Cronkite, easily the last of the fully trustworthy and impartial television newsmen. None since have had the same inspiring effect on fellow journalists. He was called “the most trusted man in America.

Palin Resigns Post…

This from the Anchorage Daily News:

ANCHORAGE — Gov. Sarah Palin stunned Alaska and the nation Friday by abruptly announcing her resignation from office. Palin will be governor only until July 26, when Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell will take over.

Palin made the announcement at a hastily called press conference held at her Wasilla home as the holiday weekend began.

Palin said she first decided not to run for re-election next fall when her term is up, then figured in that case she’d just quit now. Palin said she didn’t want to be a “lame duck,” a political phrase for an officeholder approaching the end of their term and losing clout to get their political agenda through.

“Many just accept that lame duck status and they hit the road, they draw a paycheck. They kind of milk it. And I’m not going to put Alaskans through that. I promised efficiencies and effectiveness,” she said.

But Palin could have waited until next year to announce her plan not to run for re-election. Her explanation makes no sense, said state Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, a leading critic of her.

“That isn’t a reason. Seated governors just don’t resign in the last year of their term no matter how successful or for that matter unsuccessful they’ve been. Right now there are a lot more questions than answers. And until the governor chooses to reveal more of her motive here, it’s just one of those questions we will never know the answer to,” Hawker said.

Palin said the decision came after polling her children about whether they wanted her to “make a positive difference and fight for all our children’s future from outside the governor’s office.” She said the response was four yes’s and one “Hell yeah!”

“The ‘hell yeah’ sealed it — and someday I’ll talk about the details of that. … I think much of it had to do with the kids seeing their baby brother Trig mocked by some pretty mean-spirited adults recently,” Palin said.

An Alaska blogger recently photo shopped the head of a pro-Palin talk radio host on to a picture of Trig Palin being held by the governor, causing Palin and her allies to declare outrage.

Palin said people changed after John McCain picked her last year as the Republican nominee for vice president. She brought up all the ethics complaints against her, saying they get dismissed but end up costing the state and herself in legal bills.

“It’s pretty insane — my staff and I spend most of our day dealing with this instead of progressing our state now. I know I promised no more ‘politics as usual,’ but this isn’t what anyone had in mind for Alaska,” the governor said.

As for her future, Palin said: “I look forward to helping others — to fight for our state and our country, and campaign for those who believe in smaller government, free enterprise, strong national security, support for our troops and energy independence.”


During her press conference, Palin ran off a list of accomplishments during her two-and-a-half years as governor, from pushing forward on a North Slope natural gas pipeline to rewriting oil taxes to revising state ethics laws.

Parnell, who will take over as governor on July 26, said he found out Wednesday night when Palin called him and his wife, Sandy, into her office. “I was very surprised at first. But then as she began to articulate her reasons I began to understand better,” he said.

Parnell said it will be hard for people to grasp why Palin is doing this unless they’ve been in her position and dealt with the kinds of things she’s had to deal with. He said she “wants to be able to expand her work on behalf of us all and I could tell she felt frustrated where she was and unable to do that.”

After Parnell is sworn in as governor, Craig Campbell, head of the state Department of Military Affairs and National Guard, will become lieutenant governor.

Anchorage Rep. Hawker noted that Palin’s decision to quit “gives her unfettered ability to pursue her economic interests, whether it be a book deal or speeches, that type of thing, without being cluttered by state ethics law.”

Even the member of Palin’s cabinet who is possibly closest to her, Department of Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt, said he didn’t see this coming.

“All of Sarah’s decisions have been very easy for me to support, and I will support this one. But this one took me aback a little bit,” said Schmidt, who went to high school with Palin.

Palin’s closest ally in the state Legislature, Senate Minority Leader Gene Therriault, was also taken by surprise.

“Not sure what the governor intends to do at this point. I suspect she’s keeping her options open,” Therriault said.

Republican Party of Alaska Chairman Randy Ruedrich reacted with “complete surprise” to Palin’s decision to step down.

But he said it could free Palin up to spread her message. “For the governor to make any statement in person in the Lower 48 is at least a six hour plane trip to the central U.S.”

“She can become a much more functional spokesman for Alaska working from a more southerly location,” Ruedrich said.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, an Alaska Democrat, said Palin gave no indication of a resignation when he met with her for 45 minutes just two days ago.

State House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, a Juneau Democrat, said it “was almost a relief” to have Palin out of office.

“But on another, deeper level, it is disturbing that she is leaving her post. On the eve of the 4th of July, in Alaska’s 50th year of statehood, to have the governor stand down is a terrible statement about commitment to public service and our state,” she said.

National prospects

Many national Republicans were uncomplimentary of Palin’s resignation — and not impressed. It does nothing to shake what GOP pollster Whit Ayers called “the ‘lightweight’ monkey on her back.”

“If you’re a serous politician and you’re seriously interested in higher office, the best thing you can do is as good a job as possible in the current office,” Ayers said. “I suppose it frees her from the responsibility of a full-time job. It does nothing to enhance the image she has that she’s not material for the president of the United States.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, considered a potential rival for Palin if she decides to run for president in 2012, put out a carefully worded statement.

“I wish Sarah Palin and her family well, and I know that she will continue to be a strong voice in the Republican Party,” he said.

Those close to Palin’s former running mate, Sen. John McCain, were less circumspect. One of McCain’s closest friends and confidants, John Weaver, told the Washington Post that he was “not smart enough to see the strategy in this.”

“We’ve seen a lot of nutty behavior from governors and Republican leaders in the last three months, but this one is at the top of that,” Weaver told the Post.

It does free her to run for president “without playing the balancing act of keeping Alaskan voters happy,” said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean. Although Palin has what he described as a “core following,” Bonjean also said that the “constant drama” that surrounds her and her family, has become tiresome to many Republicans.

“To win over mainstream Republicans and independents, Palin will need to start talking about important ideas and solutions instead of creating or reacting to tabloid issues,” he said.

Shedding the bad

Palin’s staunchest supporters in the anti-abortion movement, however, said they felt Palin’s entrance on the public stage had been a positive one, and said they hope her next step will have an “equal and profound impact.”

“Sarah Palin has always been an intensely independent woman — always true to her faith, her family and call to public service,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, who co-founded the Team Sarah social networking Web site popular with Palin supporters.

Larry Persily, a former aide to Palin in her Washington, D.C., office, said he thinks she is shedding all that is bad about her job as governor — from the ethics complaints to her bruising fights with the Legislature — “and she can just be a national star in front of adoring crowds.”

“It’s like the kid who leaves college early for the NBA draft and says, this is when I am at my height in the market and I’m going for it,” said Persily, a former Anchorage Daily News opinion editor who is now an aide to Rep. Hawker.