A new independent report on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster reveals that Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan feared events following the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami would require the evacuation of Tokyo.[...]
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Mitt Romney is so weak, Rick Santorum may actually win Michigan tonight. (Jim Young/Reuters)Based on media reports from MSNBC and Fox News, the early exit polls show an electorate that is 10 percent Democratic (compared to 7 percent in 2008). Of those, 50 percent have voted for Rick Santorum, while 15 percent have voted for Romney. That means that if those results were to hold up, pro-Santorum Democrats would give Santorum a 3.5 percent boost.
Not every one of those Democrats will have voted for Santorum to mess with things. Some of them legitimately like him! But if this thing ends up within a couple of points, it'll be because of people like this:
If Mitt Romney loses Michigan tonight, it could be because of people like Dennis Budziszewski, 63, of Canton.TPM talks to a few more.
A diehard Democrat and retired autoworker, Budziszewski REALLY doesn?t like Romney, and instead cast a ballot for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Come November, he will vote for President Barack Obama.
But today, he just wants to embarrass Romney.
?I?ve been pushing this on Facebook for days,? he said. ?There?s a very real possibility we can pull this off.?
Ultimately, it all depends on how close the final results end up. But it's clear that the combined anti-Romney air barrage from the Obama campaign, its Super PAC, and MoveOn kept Romney from running away with Michigan, and made it close enough that crossover voting?prodded by the Michigan Democratic Party, Michael Moore, various local unions, and us?might deliver Santorum the victory.
Whether it happens, we'll know in a few hours, assuming Michigan is more competent in vote counting than Nevada or Maine. But if nothing else, Mitt Romney had to blow a day whining about those mean Democrats who cast ballots in a primary his own allies fought to keep open. For a party that loves strength and confidence, whining is death.
Actions are planned throughout the country this evening, as members of the Occupy movement and supporters from various organizations are taking a stand to declare that there should be no tolerance for the suppression of the Occupy movement, which has[...]
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Rick Santorum is a wanker. A Tool. An Asshat. A very, very dangerous person living in a time warp. A sanctimonious right-wing nut job who gives Republicans a bad name, and Democrats a win in November. GO RICK!
The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.
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"We have an active shooter at the high school. Repeat: an active shooter at the high school".
T.J. Lane sounds like the name of a Country and Western singer. But it is not. It is the name of the seventeen year old who took a gun to school and killed three high school students in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. Just the latest troubled A-merry-can youth to act out his Columbine style fantasies for the entire world to see.
Of course, over the next few days, you will be hearing about what a good kid he is. There will be lavish superlatives thrown his way from the usual suspects, and everyone will be shocked that such a nice quiet child could commit such an unspeakable act.
Wait... I think it has started already:
"He was more of a quiet type of kid,? Erasmus said. ?He was more of a quiet type of kid. He was really nice, though, if you did talk to him. He came from a broken home. My family knew his a little bit from high school. And he just came from a really broken down home and he was living with his grandparents. I was really shocked when I found out that it was him. Because he was, I mean, he was quiet, but he was one of the nicest kids there. You could talk to him really easily. I mean, he was funny. It was really shocking that it was him" [Source]
Well, as one of my twitter buddies said earlier, "so was Ted Bundy."
It's always shocking to A-merry-cans when things don't go according to the script. T.J. Lane is not drug dealer Jerome Johnson from North Philadelphia, who blasted another drug dealer on the corner for stealing his money. T.J. Lane is a kid from a wonderful bucolic suburban town in Northeast Ohio. A town where they have maple festivals and violent crime is just something they read about when it's committed by those savages in Cleveland.
Unfortunately, behind this Rockwellian facade, there are problems. And whenever these problems explode into something sinister they lead the evening news.
Those of us who live and breathe the problems of urban A-merry-ca are wondering, once again, what's all the fuss about? This is what troubled kids do. They shoot and kill people with no remorse. T.J. Lane was shooting in a suburban high school in Northeast, Ohio. But the shots were flying through living rooms all over A-merry-ca. Of course we will all take cover and pretend it didn't happen. That is until the next troubled suburban kid decides that he or she wants to lead the evening news.
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Mitt Romney has reinvented himself over and over again since he began campaigning in 1994, but he says there limits to what he will do to get elected.
During a visit to his campaign headquarters in Michigan on Tuesday, a reporter asked the Republican presidential candidate why GOP voters were not enthusiastic about his candidacy.
"You know, it's very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments," the former Massachusetts governor explained. "We've seen throughout the campaign that if you are willing to say really outrageous things that are accusative and attacking President Obama that you're going to jump up in the polls."
"You know, I'm not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support," Romney said. "I am who I am."
Romney later told a reporter that he was not going to set his hair ablaze no matter "how hard you ask."
"It would be a big fire, I assure you," he added.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman also told reporters that he wasn't going to "light my hair on fire" to get support before quitting the race last year.
Even for France, this may scare off too many voters in what may turn out to be a close election. The current income top tax rate is 40% in France, though there is also the "wealth tax" that can add a few points for wealth (house, possessions) above ?790,000. There are also the usual sales taxes (VAT is around 20%) plus social taxes (retirement, health insurance) that can add up to another 12% at the high end.
It's possible to enact such tax increases but unlike the US where citizens are taxed (or at least must report their income, then pay if above an annual amount) French citizens simply have to leave the country. Over the years, many have done this, including celebrities and bankers. It's easy enough to pass such a tax increase but if nobody is there to fund pay it, it's meaningless. It would have made a lot more sense to propose an increases that targeted the super-rich, that yes, do indeed exist in France.
If the Socialists want to regain the presidency, they're going to need to be more thoughtful. The current president is a very beatable candidate but if they go off message, something that seems to be the case here, they will struggle. Most people understand that the existing model needs to be modernized and the super-rich are lumped in with the rich, but this surprise may require additional thought. Repealing the Sarkozy tax cuts would have been fine and acceptable for many people. Raising taxes to help the country during a tough economic time would also be sellable. But throwing out a surprise increase of 35% across the board for everyone at the high end is poor planning.
Maybe Hollande was only referring to the super-rich, but if that was the case, he needed to get his messaging clear before the announcement. This is no longer the blowout election that was predicted last year when Strauss-Kahn was the leader of the left. BBC News:
The Socialist favourite in France's presidential election, Francois Hollande, has said top earners should pay 75% of their income in tax. "Above 1m euros [£847,000; $1.3m], the tax rate should be 75% because it's not possible to have that level of income," he said. Speaking on prime time TV, he promised that if elected, he would undo tax breaks enacted by Nicolas Sarkozy.
Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, a novel about a futuristic America wracked by poverty and severe energy shortages where most people spend the majority of their time inside an extremely sophisticated video game world called OASIS, and the billionaire inventor of the game who sets off a treasure hunt within it on his death, came out last summer and I finally got around to it last weekend. It’s not a perfect book?Cline does a lot of telling when he should show, as when he introduces us to a blogger and tells us what her style is like at length rather than letting us see it for ourselves in sample posts. But it’s an engaging story, and I think worth comparing to both Reamde, Neil Stephenson’s novel about a similar video game empire though set in a time closer to our own, and The Hunger Games, which features a similar teenaged protagonist?and in a similar way, prioritizes romance over political engagement.
Ready Player One‘s main character is an isolated teenager named Wade, who lives in extreme poverty with his aunt in the stacks?a name for tightly packed and deeply unsteady complexes of stacked trailers. Wade goes to school in OASIS and after the game’s founder dies, Wade becomes a deeply dedicated participant in the scavenger hunt that the man left behind?and that guarantees the winner access to his fortune. As Wade advances further in the quest, a corporation that wants to take control of OASIS starts stalking Wade and his counterparts, killing his aunt and one of Wade’s fellow gamers in an effort to coerce them into turning over the clues that lead to the treasure. In that respect, the book is a lot like The Hunger Games?both books feature a poor teenaged protagonist struggling to maintain his or her integrity in the face of a murderous and seemingly unalterable system, whether it’s a corporation that’s more powerful than any government, or a government that’s taken control of the economy. And like Reamde, Ready Player One features a game founder with a near-unkillable avatar who is an unpredictable free agent in the game.
But all three books have slightly different perspectives on how their main characters should engage with the world outside of the games they’re playing. At the end of The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, who has been turned into a political symbol and used for purposes contrary to her values, quits altogether: she commits a symbolic act of political violence and returns home, marries, starts a family, and gets as far away from engagement as possible. At the end of Ready Player One, Wade’s victory ensures him not just tremendous wealth but tremendous political power?the reward for winning the scavenger hunt isn’t just the billionaire’s fortune, but his OASIS avatar and the ability to self-destruct the game, driving everyone back into their real, and very broken, world. But the book treats that power, and the possibility of a massive intervention to change the fate of the American public, raised by another character, as if they’re simply not very interesting, at least in comparison to Wade’s reconciliation with his first love. In Reamde, by contrast, getting out of the game and into a world where they go head-to-head with some very nasty terrorists and a mountain lion, is reinvigorating and rewarding for the characters. They get major personal rewards for acting in the world?there doesn’t have to be a tradeoff.
Now, not all novels have to be social novels. And not all heroes have to change the world?nor is it realistic to expect that all heroes will be in a position to kill the hell out of an Osama bin Laden stand-in while also helping ensure the marital happiness of their favorite niece. But there’s something very odd about setting up very clear dystopian conditions, enumerating how they affect the characters, and then suggesting that engaging with those conditions and working to change them isn’t very differing. Both Ready Player One and The Hunger Games are grounded in more explicit social critiques than Reamde, but Reamde‘s far more interested in engaging with the world than they are.
In November of 2010, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) joined the public outcry against the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) security precautions in airports by describing body scans and mandatory pat downs as crossing “the line” in regard “to people’s concerns about privacy” and “beneath the dignity” of air travelers. But just two months later, the anti-abortion McDonnell had no problem violating women’s privacy and freedom to make medical decisions by throwing his support behind a measure that originally required women seeking abortions to undergo ultrasounds in which a wand is inserted into the vagina.
Following a public outcry, McDonnell revised the measure to exempt women from the more invasive procedure, but not before encountering the wit of comedian Jon Stewart, who characterized the bill as “a TSA pat-down inside their vagina.” McDonnell addressed the contradiction between supporting mandatory ultrasounds for women and opposing “invasive” TSA pat downs during a radio interview this morning on WTOP and claimed that there is no comparison between the legislation and the enhanced security procedures:
MCDONNELL: There are things that are required in the interest of public safety, like TSA procedures. There are ways to accomplish the same result without an invasive patdown. [...]
I believe this is something that respects the dignity of women by making sure they have necessary information.
And while McDonnell has regularly attacked President Obama’s health care reform plan as an unfunded mandate, he brushed off concerns that the ultrasound bill would create an unfunded mandate for women. He described the ultrasound as a necessary mandate that provides women with more information before having an abortion. “If there are legitimate mandates for health and safety, obviously I’m for those,” he explained.
The ultrasound bill passed the Senate earlier this afternoon and now heads to McDonnell for his signature.
My Inner Frenchman was surprised to see a guvmint blog linking to a Langston Hughes poem. And it being Unheartlandishly-Hued History Month, he demanded that I publish it here. God damned commie.
Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.
O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!