There was a time not so long ago when Americans, regardless of their political stripes, rallied round their president. Once elected, the man who won the White House was no longer viewed as a republican or democrat, but the President of the United States. The oath of office was taken, the wagons were circled around the country’s borders and it was America versus the rest of the world with the president of all the people at the helm.
Suddenly President Barack Obama, with the potential to become an exceptional president has become the glaring exception to that unwritten, patriotic rule.
Four days before President Obama’s inauguration, before he officially took charge of the American government, Rush Limbaugh boasted publicly that he hoped the president would fail. Of course, when the president fails the country flounders. Wishing harm upon your country in order to further your own narrow political views is selfish, sinister and a tad treasonous as well.
Subsequently, during his State of the Union address, which is pretty much a pep rally for America, an unknown congressional representative from South Carolina, later identified as Joe Wilson, stopped the show when he called the President of the United States a liar. The president showed great restraint in ignoring this unprecedented insult and carried on with his speech. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was so stunned by the slur, she forgot to jump to her feet while clapping wildly, 30 or 40 times after that.
Last spring, President Obama took his wife Michelle to see a play in New York City and republicans attacked him over the cost of security for the excursion. The president can’t take his wife out to dinner and a show without being scrutinized by the political opposition? As history has proven, a president in a theatre without adequate security is a tragically bad idea.
Remember: “Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”
At some point, the treatment of President Obama went from offensive to ugly and then to downright dangerous.
The health-care debate, which looked more like extreme fighting in a mud pit than a national dialogue, revealed a very vulgar side of America. President Obama’s face appeared on protest signs white-faced and blood-mouthed in a satanic clown image. In other tasteless portrayals, people who disagreed with his position distorted his face to look like Hitler complete with mustache and swastika.
Odd, that burning the flag makes Americans crazy, but depicting the president as a clown and a maniacal fascist is accepted as part of the new rude America.
Maligning the image of the leader of the free world is one thing, putting the president’s life in peril is quite another. More than once, men with guns were videotaped at the health-care rallies where the president spoke. Again, history shows that letting men with guns get within range of a president has not served America well in the past.
And still the “birthers” are out there claiming Barack Obama was not born in the United States, although public documentation proves otherwise. Hawaii is definitely part of the United States, but the Panama Canal Zone where his electoral opponent Senator John McCain was born? Nobody’s sure.
Last month, a 44-year-old woman in Buffalo was quite taken by President Obama when she met him in a chicken wing restaurant called Duff’s. Did she say something about a pleasure and an honour to meet the man or utter encouraging words for the difficult job he is doing? No. Quote: “You’re a hottie with a smokin’ little body.”
Lady, that was the President of the United States you were addressing, not one of the Jonas Brothers! He’s your president for goodness sakes, not the guy driving the Zamboni at “Monster Trucks On Ice.” Maybe next it’ll be, “Take Your President To A Topless Bar Day.”
In President Barack Obama, Americans have a charismatic leader with a good and honest heart. Unlike his predecessor, he’s a very intelligent leader. And unlike that president’s predecessor, he’s a highly moral man.
In President Obama, Americans have the real deal, the whole package and a leader that citizens of almost every country around the world look to with great envy. Given the opportunity, Canadians would trade our leader, hell, most of our leaders for Obama in a heartbeat.
What America has in Obama is a head of state with vitality and insight and youth. Think about it, Barack Obama is a young Nelson Mandela. Mandela was the face of change and charity for all of Africa but he was too old to make it happen. The great things Obama might do for America and the world could go on for decades after he’s out of office.
America, you know not what you have.
The man is being challenged unfairly, characterized with vulgarity and treated with the kind of deep disrespect to which no previous president was subjected. It’s like the day after electing the first black man to be president, thereby electrifying the world with hope and joy, Americans sobered up and decided the bad old days were better.
President Obama may fail but it will not be a Richard Nixon default fraught with larceny and lies. President Obama, given a fair chance, will surely succeed but his triumph will never come with a Bill Clinton caveat – “if only he’d got control of that zipper.”
Please. Give the man a fair, fighting chance. This incivility toward the leader who won over Americans and gave hope to billions of people around the world that their lives could be enhanced by his example, just naturally has to stop.
Believe me, when Americans drive by the White House and see a sign on the lawn that reads: “No shirt. No shoes. No service,” they’ll realize this new national rudeness has gone way, way too far.
Egberto Willies, the Fifth Estate
Post for the home page belong in this category
I don’t like earthquakes, yet I live in quake country. It’s a paradox.
To mitigate my worry, I err on the side of preparedness. But this post is not to lecture you about creating an earthquake kit (although it’s not hard to do). It’s to let you know what to do the moment the shaking starts.
And it’s to tell you what not to do.
Folks, when the shaking starts, do not head to the nearest doorway. I cannot stress this enough: Do not stand in a doorway.
I always thought the doorway was safe, too — until I heard years ago that this is a myth. The idea of the safety of the doorway goes back to the 19th century. Back then in California, lots of homes were built of adobe. The only wood in the house was the wood-framed door. In a major quake, the adobe crumbled. The only thing left standing? The wood framing of the door.
If you are presently living in a 19th century adobe home, you may stand in your doorway.
So, most of you will not stand in a doorway.
Instead, here’s what you do:
1. Drop, cover and hold on.
In an earthquake, things fall over, move around and generally fling off shelves. These moving or falling objects can hurt you. Standing in a doorway does not protect you. In addition to stuff flying around, the door will swing back and forth, perhaps violently. The door may strike you, or your fingers may be pinched badly, if you have them jammed in the frame to brace yourself. The door could also fall down, as you see in the photo above.
Instead, if you are dropped, covered and holding on, those things flying around are less likely to hurt you. You drop to your knees, so the quake can’t knock you down. You cover under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture to protect yourself from falling objects. You hold on, so your protection moves with you.
2. If you’re inside, stay inside.
This is a hard one. But you don’t want to go outside in the middle of the shaking — because even more stuff is likely falling over outside, like bricks, power lines, all kinds of stuff that can really hurt you.
3. If you’re in bed, stay in bed (unless you have a heavy light fixture or other heavy object over your bed). Protect yourself with your pillow.
4. If you’re outside, try to move to the open. Move away from buildings and power lines.
5. If you’re in your car, stop as quickly and safely as you can and stay in your vehicle. Do not stop under or on bridges, overpasses or trees.
There’s much more I could say. But I’ll leave it with this: Look around in your home and at work. Think where you could duck, cover and hold on.
I compiled this post from my own earthquake obsessions, verified by information from ready.gov(brought to you by FEMA). If you visit the site, scroll down to the helpful tabs that say “before, during, after” to learn more about being — well — ready. California’s Department of Conservation also has a good fact sheet on being prepared. The United States Geological Survey has a fun read about earthquake facts and earthquake fantasy.
California Report, by Lisa Aliferis
Judge Richard Posner, a conservative on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, has long been one of the nation’s most respected and admired legal thinkers on the right. But in an interview with NPR, he expressed exasperation at the modern Republican Party, and confessed that he has become “less conservative” as a result.
Posner expressed admiration for President Ronald Reagan and the economist Milton Friedman, two pillars of conservatism. But over the past 10 years, Posner said, “there’s been a real deterioration in conservative thinking. And that has to lead people to re-examine and modify their thinking.”
“I’ve become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy,” he said.
Posner, who was appointed to the appeals court by Reagan, speculated that the leaks about the deliberations over the national health care law — which are apparently designed to discredit Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion upholding the law — would backfire. “I think these right-wingers who are blasting Roberts are making a very serious mistake,” he said.
“Because if you put [yourself] in his position … what’s he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, ‘What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?’ Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position.”
In addition to his work as an appeals court judge, Posner is the author of more than three dozen books on subjects ranging from law and economics to aging and literature.
by NINA TOTENBERG, NPR
As a first-term senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is advancing her fight for middle-class families with a legislative agenda focused on college affordability and student debt. “Rising student-loan debt is an economic emergency,” she says. “Forty million people are dealing with $1.2 trillion in outstanding student debt. It’s stopping young people from buying homes, from buying cars and from starting small businesses. We need to take action.”
Warren’s bills range from pie-in-the-sky progressive – she called for college loans to be issued at the same, nearly free, interest rates that Wall Street banks receive from the Fed – to soberly bipartisan. Her proposal to refinance outstanding student-loan debt at less than four percent interest (financed by a new minimum tax on America’s top earners) nearly cleared the Senate in June, and will return to the Senate floor for a new vote this fall. “This country invests in tax loopholes for billionaires,” she says. “And forces college students to pay for them through higher interest rates on their loans. That makes no sense at all.”
College affordability is not a new problem. Tuition costs are up 500 percent since 1985. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the solution is that “not everybody needs to go to Yale.” That sounds cynical. But is there some pragmatism there? Is it time to admit that a traditional college education has become a luxury good?
Mitch McConnell’s idea that people should dream a little smaller is deeply flawed. And let me add: The problem is not limited to private universities. States used to pick up about three out of every four dollars it cost to educate someone at a public university. Now it’s about one in four. In America today, a young person needs more education after high school just to have a chance to make it in the middle class. Not a guarantee, just a chance to make it.
What can Congress do about it, on the front end, to rein in tuition?
One way is to force schools to have some skin in the game. I’ve co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Jack Reed [D-R.I.] that requires colleges with high student-loan defaults to pay back some of the federal student aid they use.
The major thrust of your work hasn’t been in trying to lower tuitions, but in making college cheaper to finance. Why is that the right approach?
Just the little slice of loans that were issued between 2007 and 2012 are projected to produce $66 billion in profits to the federal government. Think about that. The role of government has to be helping young people, instead of taxing them for making the effort. I would like [to set student loans] at the same rate that the government currently charges the financial institutions. I tried that last year [laughs].
Your latest proposal is to let people with outstanding student debt refinance loans at the same rate currently being offered to students.
Homeowners refinance their loans when interest rates go down. Businesses refinance their loans. But right now, there’s no way for students to be able to do that. I’ve proposed that we reduce the interest rate on the outstanding loan debt to the same rate Republicans and Democrats came together last year to set on new loans [3.86 percent]. For millions of borrowers, that would cut interest rates in half or more. Unfortunately, the federal government can’t just reduce the interest rate. It has already built those expected profits into the budget. So we propose stitching up tax loopholes that are available only to millionaires and billionaires, and requiring them to pay taxes at the same rate most American families pay. That would more than pay for the cost of reducing the interest rate on student loans.
What’s the status of that bill?
Every single Democrat supported it. Both Independents supported the bill. And even three Republicans voted to move it forward. But the rest of the Republicans filibustered.
We will be voting on it again in September. As a country, we can either invest in tax loopholes for billionaires or lower-cost student loans for young people who are trying to build a future. Billionaires or students: It’s a pretty stark choice.
From Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson
A pastor who uses his Internet platform to teach political lessons based on conservative Christian ideology has proposed a constitutional amendment to punish LGBT people for “ten years in prison at hard labor.”
In a video posted to his PreachingPolitics.com website last month that was flagged by the Good As You blog on Monday, Pastor Michael V. Williams asserts that Christians have been “increasingly tolerant” of gay people over the last 50 years.
“Whereas homosexuality used to be a felony in every state — referred to as sodomy — it has now been decriminalized, and homosexuality is allowed to be openly expressed in public,” he notes. “While Christians are becoming increasingly tolerant of homosexuals, homosexuals are becoming increasingly intolerant of us.”
“It’s time for Christians to resume obeying God and his word, and to re-criminalize homosexuality, outlaw it again,” the pastor continues. “The only way to do this and keep it beyond the reach of activist judges and unaccountable bureaucrats is to create a constitutional amendment.”
Williams’ proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares that the “United States of America is a Christian nation with Judeo-Christian ethics, morals, principles and values.”
And it decrees that the “practice of homosexuality in the United States of America and in all its territories and possessions, and in all its States, Counties and Cities shall be a felony punishable by ten years in prison at hard labor.”
Williams recommends that his viewers “incessantly” contact lawmakers until they agree to outlaw homosexuality.
“Make such a pest of yourself that they’re willing to do anything just to shut you up,” he advises in the video. “And remember, only vote for those who promise to adopt this amendment.”
“We’re in a fight for survival and only one side can win,” the Internet preacher concludes. “Let’s make sure it’s our side.”
David Edwards, The Raw Story
It’s a yearly tradition like champagne on New Year’s Eve and vomit on New Year’s Day: This Sunday is “Go Topless Day,” to be celebrated locally at Dolores Park.
This is the point in the article we inform you that this display of bare female breasts is the most blatant of blatant publicity stunts for the nutty UFO cult calling itself the Raelians, the adherents of the charismatic French crackpot Rael,né Claude Vorilhan.
Rael, to put it mildly, is a pip. In 2002, he claimed his group cloned a baby. This was never proven; would-be purchasers of the Brooklyn Bridge were likely miffed as well. He has, for decades, wheedled the public for funds, ostensibly to erect an intergalactic embassy in Jerusalem with which to serve our alien creators.
He also claims to be a top-notch race car driver, and, like a less buffoonish and more dangerous cult leader, is also a singer-songwriter. As we noted earlier, his tune Toutes Les Femmes (All the Women) is particularly apropos for Go Topless Day.
So, enjoy the view on Sunday. But, remember, it’s all in the name of spreading the word that humans are the spawn of extraterrestrials who have tasked Rael with disseminating their message.
From SF Weekly, Joe Eskenazi
There are two disciplines in which Silicon Valley entrepreneurs excel above almost everyone else. The first is making exorbitant amounts of money. The second is pretending they don’t care about that money.
To understand this, let’s enter into evidence Exhibit A: the annual Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, Nev.
A few years ago, this assumption would have been mostly correct. But now things are a little different. Over the last two years, Burning Man, which this year runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1, has been the annual getaway for anew crop of millionaire and billionaire technology moguls, many of whom are one-upping one another in a secret game of I-can-spend-more-money-than-you-can and, some say, ruining it for everyone else.
Some of the biggest names in technology have been making the pilgrimage to the desert for years, happily blending in unnoticed. These include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the Google founders, and Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon. But now a new set of younger rich techies are heading east, including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, employees from Twitter, Zynga and Uber, and a slew of khaki-wearing venture capitalists.
Before I explain just how ridiculous the spending habits of these baby billionaires have become, let’s go over the rules of Burning Man: You bring your own place to sleep (often a tent), food to eat (often ramen noodles) and the strangest clothing possible for the week (often not much). There is no Internet or cell reception. While drugs are technically illegal, they are easier to find than candy on Halloween. And as for money, with the exception of coffee and ice, you cannot buy anything at the festival. Selling things to people is also a strict no-no. Instead, Burners (as they are called) simply give things away. What’s yours is mine. And that often means everything from a meal to saliva.
In recent years, the competition for who in the tech world could outdo who evolved from a need for more luxurious sleeping quarters. People went from spending the night in tents, to renting R.V.s, to building actual structures.
“We used to have R.V.s and precooked meals,” said a man who attends Burning Man with a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. (He asked not to be named so as not to jeopardize those relationships.) “Now, we have the craziest chefs in the world and people who build yurts for us that have beds and air-conditioning.” He added with a sense of amazement, “Yes, air-conditioning in the middle of the desert!”
His camp includes about 100 people from the Valley and Hollywood start-ups, as well as several venture capital firms. And while dues for most non-tech camps run about $300 a person, he said his camp’s fees this year were $25,000 a person. A few people, mostly female models flown in from New York, get to go free, but when all is told, the weekend accommodations will collectively cost the partygoers over $2 million.
This is drastically different from the way most people experience the event. When I attended Burning Man a few years ago, we slept in tents and a U-Haul moving van. We lived on cereal and beef jerky for a week. And while Burning Man was one of the best experiences of my life, using the public Porta-Potty toilets was certainly one of the most revolting experiences thus far. But that’s what makes Burning Man so great: at least you’re all experiencing those gross toilets together.
That is, until recently. Now the rich are spending thousands of dollars to get their own luxury restroom trailers, just like those used on movie sets.
“Anyone who has been going to Burning Man for the last five years is now seeing things on a level of expense or flash that didn’t exist before,” said Brian Doherty, author of the book “This Is Burning Man.” “It does have this feeling that, ‘Oh, look, the rich people have moved into my neighborhood.’ It’s gentrifying.”
For those with even more money to squander, there are camps that come with “Sherpas,” who are essentially paid help.
Tyler Hanson, who started going to Burning Man in 1995, decided a couple of years ago to try working as a paid Sherpa at one of these luxury camps. He described the experience this way: Lavish R.V.s are driven in and connected together to create a private forted area, ensuring that no outsiders can get in. The rich are flown in on private planes, then picked up at the Burning Man airport, driven to their camp and served like kings and queens for a week. (Their meals are prepared by teams of chefs, which can include sushi, lobster boils and steak tartare — yes, in the middle of 110-degree heat.)
“Your food, your drugs, your costumes are all handled for you, so all you have to do is show up,” Mr. Hanson said. “In the camp where I was working, there were about 30 Sherpas for 12 attendees.”
Mr. Hanson said he won’t be going back to Burning Man anytime soon. The Sherpas, the money, the blockaded camps and the tech elite were too much for him. “The tech start-ups now go to Burning Man and eat drugs in search of the next greatest app,” he said. “Burning Man is no longer a counterculture revolution. It’s now become a mirror of society.”
Strangely, the tech elite won’t disagree with Mr. Hanson about it being a reflection of society. This year at the premiere of the HBO show “Silicon Valley,” Elon Musk, an entrepreneur who was a founder of PayPal, complained that Mike Judge, the show’s creator, didn’t get the tech world because — wait for it — he had not attended the annual party in the desert.
“I really feel like Mike Judge has never been to Burning Man, which is Silicon Valley,” Mr. Musk said to a Re/Code reporter, while using a number of expletives to describe the festival. “If you haven’t been, you just don’t get it.”
Non-tech Burners who have been may “get it” but don’t like all this excess, and are starting to push back. This month, the Key Group, a Swiss luxury concierge service, announced that it would be offering a Burning Man Concierge Service that seemed more like a cruise liner vacation than a week in the dusty desert. (The company did not respond to a request for comment.)
Among the dozens of options offered by the Key, there is the “establishment of a camp with electricity, water and satellite Internet Wi-Fi connection,” “cooks and fresh buffets for every meal” and — not a small task by any means given the distance from the real world — the “possibility of ordering goods and products from outside Black Rock City every day.”
When the website Burners.me, which blogs about the festival, posted a link to the Key’s site, the Burning Man community seemed generally confused as to whether such extravagance was actually real or if someone was playing a joke. When it turned out to be quite real, people railed against the service, and the Key removed the Burning Man concierge option from its site.
Of course, you won’t likely see pictures on Instagram or Facebook of the $2 million camps, chef-cooked meals, the Sherpa helpers and concierge services, or private and pristine toilets. That would mean that the tech elite actually cared about money — which would just go against the entire Burning Man spirit.
By NICK BILTON, NYT
Written & Directed by Roger Bean
Music Direction by Brandon Adams
Choreography by Lee Martino
SH-BOOM! Meet Denny and the Dreamers, a fledging doo-wop singing group preparing to enter the Big Whopper Radio contest with dreams of making it to the big time! Trouble comes in the form of Lois, who arrives to put some polish on the boys. Denny falls in love, Wally falls in line, Eugene falls apart, and then the trouble doubles when handsome heartthrob Skip enters, played by Derek Keeling, star of Broadway’s Grease and NBC’s “You’re the One That I Want!” to send things spinning. The ‘60s hits say it all: “Fools Fall in Love,” “Tears On My Pillow,” “Runaround Sue,” “Earth Angel,” “Stay,” “Unchained Melody,” “Lonely Teardrops,” and “The Glory of Love.”
Center REPertory Company 1601 Civic Drive in downtown Walnut Creek.
DATES / TIMES / TICKET INFO:
Performances begin Friday, August 29th at 8PM. Press opening is Tuesday, September 2nd at 7:30 PM. Closes Saturday, October 5th at 8:00PM.
TICKET PRICE RANGE: $37 – $66
For more information go to CenterREP.org or call 925.943.SHOW (7469). You can also visit the LCA Ticket Office at 1601 Civic Drive or the Ticket Office Outlets at Barnes & Noble in Walnut Creek and the Downtown Walnut Creek Library.
That’s right. After the Safe Carry Protection Act passed in Georgia, many of us made the sarcastic remark, “What could possibly go wrong?’ Well, Saturday night something did. In the picturesque tourist town of Helen in the North Georgia mountains, a woman died as the result of a stray bullet which had already penetrated the shooter’s hand as he stood outside a bar across the street from her.
The German Alpine themed small town hosts many bars and is a popular tourist destination. The streets can be crowded on weekends and during the yearly Oktoberfest celebrations. Drinking is one popular pastime and set the scene for Saturday’s tragedy.
The shooter is a 53 year old man with a previous drunk driving conviction in 1999. He was outside a bar when the shooting occurred. He was found sitting on a bench with his injured hand. The woman his bullet found lay on the sidewalk across the street, dead at the scene, surrounded by family and friends, some of them children.
Many years ago our family visited the little town during their Oktoberfest. We noticed students in various stages of intoxication staggering into a fudge shop and joked, “What could possibly go wrong?” as we imagined the nauseating mixture of fudge and way too much beer. We never imagined the deadly new combination that would result many years later.
The man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
By Lily O Lady, Daily Kos
Today, Silicon Valley community members led by Campbell Council Member and former Mayor Evan Low called on Ro Khanna to denounce his highest profile Republican supporter, former Republican Congressman Ernie Konnyu, over his recent homophobic remarks.
Low said: “Ro Khanna, who identifies as a Democrat, should immediately denounce the homophobic attacks of his biggest Republican Tea Party supporter, former Congressman Ernie Konnyu. His continued silence on this issue raises concerns that he may share Konnyu’s views, and I urge him to join me, Congressman Honda, and the thousands of Americans nationwide who would like to see the FDA change its views.”
Konnyu has come under fire from Bay Area press for his recent comments stating that “Gay pride is worth more with Evan Low than our citizens’ lives” and perpetuating outdated views that all gay men have AIDS. The comments were prompted by the San Jose Chamber PAC’s endorsement of Low, which Konnyu apparently couldn’t stomach.
“This kind of homophobic rhetoric has no place in our politics, from any politician of any party. We hope that Ro Khanna will quickly condemn these comments by Konnyu and denounce his support,” said James Gonzales, President of Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee. BAYMEC is a 30 year old Silicon Valley LGBT nonpartisan political organization.
Khanna’s campaign has said that it is “happy to have [Konnyu’s] support,” despite his attempts to organize the Tea Party Express to attack Democratic Congressman Mike Honda. In a message to press late last week, Konnyu reiterated his opposition to Low and Honda’s efforts to overturn the FDA’s gay blood ban, defended his efforts to bring the Tea Party Express into the race on Khanna’s behalf, and stated that his offer to stop supporting Khanna’s campaign had not been accepted.
Congressman Mike Honda has been supporting the overturn of the FDA’s gay blood ban since at least 2008, when he supported an effort by San Jose State University to bring attention to the issue by suspending blood drives on campus. His petition to overturn the ban, started last year, has been signed by over 51,000 people. He has also joined with over 70 colleagues in the House and Senate to urge the FDA to overturn the ban.
The FDA’s policy dates back to 1983 and has been in place in its current form since 1992. The lifetime ban is opposed by the American Medical Association and the American Red Cross has stated that the current lifetime deferral for men who have had sex with other men is medically and scientifically unwarrante
A new study indicates that wheat contributes to the growth of pathogenic bacteria in our gut, adding to growing concern that GMO foods are doing the same.
A new study published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology titled, “Diversity of the cultivable human gut microbiome involved in gluten metabolism: isolation of microorganisms with potential interest for coeliac disease,” has revealed something remarkable about the human gut bacteria (microbiome). Some of the extremely hard to digest proteins in wheat colloquially known as “gluten” (there are actually over 27,000 identified in the wheat proteome) were found metabolizable through a 94 strains of bacterial species isolated from the human gut (via fecal sampling).
This discovery is all the more interesting when you consider that, according to Alessio Fasano, the Medical Director for The University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, the human genome does not possess the ability to produce enzymes capable of breaking down gluten.
As reported on TenderFoodie in interview:
“We do not have the enzymes to break it [gluten] down. It all depends upon how well our intestinal walls close after we ingest it and how our immune system reacts to it.”
The new study helps to fill the knowledge gap as to how humans are capable of dealing with wheat consumption at all. As we have analyzed in a previous article, The Dark Side of Wheat, the consumption of wheat is a relatively recent dietary practice, stretching back only 10,000 years – a nanosecond in biological time. We simply have not had time to genetically adapt to its consumption (at least not without experiencing over 200 empirically confirmed adverse health effects!).
If bacteria in our microbiome extend our ability to digest physiologically incompatible foods – or at least tolerate them to the degree that they don’t outright kill us – then this may explain why there is such a wide variability in responses to gluten and why the health of our microbiome may play a central role in determining our levels of susceptibility to its adverse effects.
Another provocative finding of the study is that some of the strains capable of breaking down the more immunotoxic peptides in wheat, including the 33 amino acid long peptide known as 33-mer, are highly pathogenic, such as Clostridium botulinum – the bacteria that is capable of producing botulism. As we discussed in a previous article on Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (glyphosate) contributing to the overgrowth of this pathogenic strain of bacteria in animals exposed to GMO feed,
“[It]t only takes 75 billionths of a gram (75 ng) to kill a person weighing 75 kg (165 lbs). It has been estimated that only 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) would be enough to kill the entire human population.
There are several implications, therefore, of this finding. First, the consumption of wheat preferentially favors the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut. Second, given that much of the Western diet now contains Roundup herbicide contaminated food, including wheat – where Roundup is used as a post-harvest dessicant, virtually guaranteeing it is contaminated with it despite being non-GMO – there is likely an amplifying effect of this pathogenic bacteria in those who consume both wheat and GMO food. This may help to explain why the mass introduction of GMOs over the past decade has contributed to the explosion in diagnoses of gluten sensitivity.
Additionally, a recent article by Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD, discussed how the hunter-gatherer microbiome is conspicuously low in the Clostridium bacteria family, based on research into the modern hunter-gatherer Hadza gastrointestinal flora. This study indicates that for much of our evolution – the vast majority of it – Clostridium was not present in significant quantities in our bodies, likely because their diet did not encourage it.
From the perspective of our ancestral microbiome, modern humankind has become almost a new species due to our reliance on novel new ‘foods’ like wheat and agrochemical contaminated GMOs that have contributed to the development of a relationship with strains of bacteria that were alien to us, for some populations, even 100 years ago. The microbiome genome is 95% larger than our genome – containing 2 million protein coding genes versus only 23,000 for the human body alone. The shift towards pathological strains may have to do both with a radical change in the human diet to a grain-based — and particularly wheat-based diet – and, again, the ever-expanding consumption ofRoundup herbicide laden foods.
SO, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Fundamentally, this study indicates that wheat is not something that we want to eat. It forces our body to become inhabitants of strains of bacteria that we have never before needed to occupy our bodies, and which are capable of doing great harm. While some of the strains that degrade gluten are non-pathogenic (e.g. 39% were from the mostly beneficial Lactobacillus family), taken as a whole, the discovery that a variety of Clostridium strains (as well as related potentially pathogenic strains from genuses such as Klebsiella and Staphylococcus) thrive in a wheat-based diet, and adding in the fact that GMO foods further contribute to their overgrowth, it seems that the pathway towards optimal health requires the elimination of both.
Members of the controversial Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church are planning a protest at tragic actor Robin Williams’ funeral over his portrayal of a gay man in the movie The Birdcage.
The Good Will Hunting star passed away on Monday and while details of his funeral have not been made public, members of the church have already announced plans to picket the memorial.
A message posted on the group’s official Twitter.com page reads: ‘Westboro Baptist Church Hopes To Preach In Lawful Proximity To Robin Williams’ Funeral – To Warn The Living: Repent Or Likewise Perish.’
However, organisers at the global non-profit organisation Planting Peace have launched a fundraiser to counter the church’s plans.
A message from co-founder Aaron Jackson reads: “Robin Williams played many different roles in so many people’s lives, and giving back to others was at the top of that list.
“His appeal crossed generational boundaries. I was personally impacted when I heard of his passing. This is a small gesture to honour his legacy and the difference he made to so many,” he said.
Jackson said that when the WBC announced they were protesting the star’s funeral, “we felt like launching a fundraiser for a charity Robin loved would be the perfect way to honour him and counteract the message of hate and intolerance that the WBC continues to convey”.
The proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit St Jude Children’s Hospital, which Williams supported during his life.
Richard Nixon was a traitor.
The new release of extended versions of Nixon’s papers now confirms this long-standing belief, usually dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” by Republican conservatives. Now it has been substantiated by none other than right-wing columnist George Will.
Nixon’s newly revealed records show for certain that in 1968, as a presidential candidate, he ordered Anna Chennault, his liaison to the South Vietnam government, to persuade them refuse a cease-fire being brokered by President Lyndon Johnson.
Nixon’s interference with these negotiations violated President John Adams’s 1797 Logan Act, banning private citizens from intruding into official government negotiations with a foreign nation.
Published as the 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s resignation approaches, Will’s column confirms that Nixon feared public disclosure of his role in sabotaging the 1968 Vietnam peace talks. Will says Nixon established a “plumbers unit” to stop potential leaks of information that might damage him, including documentation he believed was held by the Brookings Institute, a liberal think tank. The Plumbers’ later break-in at the Democratic National Committee led to the Watergate scandal that brought Nixon down.
Nixon’s sabotage of the Vietnam peace talks was confirmed by transcripts of FBI wiretaps. On November 2, 1968, LBJ received an FBI report saying Chernnault told the South Vietnamese ambassador that “she had received a message from her boss: saying the Vietnamese should “hold on, we are gonna win.”
As Will confirms, Vietnamese did “hold on,” the war proceeded and Nixon did win, changing forever the face of American politics—with the shadow of treason permanently embedded in its DNA.
The treason came in 1968 as the Vietnam War reached a critical turning point. President Lyndon Johnson was desperate for a truce between North and South Vietnam.
LBJ had an ulterior motive: his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, was in a tight presidential race against Richard Nixon. With demonstrators in the streets, Humphrey desperately needed a cease-fire to get him into the White House.
Johnson had it all but wrapped it. With a combination of gentle and iron-fisted persuasion, he forced the leaders of South Vietnam into an all-but-final agreement with the North. A cease-fire was imminent, and Humphrey’s election seemed assured.
But at the last minute, the South Vietnamese pulled out. LBJ suspected Nixon had intervened to stop them from signing a peace treaty.
In the Price of Power (1983), Seymour Hersh revealed Henry Kissinger—then Johnson’s advisor on Vietnam peace talks—secretly alerted Nixon’s staff that a truce was imminent.
According to Hersh, Nixon “was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government [of South Vietnam] making it clear that a Nixon presidency would have different views on peace negotiations.”
Johnson was livid. He even called the Republican Senate Minority Leader, Everett Dirksen, to complain that “they oughtn’t be doing this. This is treason.”
“I know,” was Dirksen’s feeble reply.
Johnson blasted Nixon about this on November 3, just prior to the election. As Robert Parry of consortiumnews.com has written: “when Johnson confronted Nixon with evidence of the peace-talk sabotage, Nixon insisted on his innocence but acknowledged that he knew what was at stake.”
Said Nixon: “My, I would never do anything to encourage….Saigon not to come to the table….Good God, we’ve got to get them to Paris or you can’t have peace.”
But South Vietnamese President General Theiu—a notorious drug and gun runner—did boycott Johnson’s Paris peace talks. With the war still raging, Nixon claimed a narrow victory over Humphrey. He then made Kissinger his own national security advisor.
In the four years between the sabotage and what Kissinger termed “peace at hand” just prior to the 1972 election, more than 20,000 US troops died in Vietnam. More than 100,000 were wounded. More than a million Vietnamese were killed.
But in 1973, Kissinger was given the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the same settlement he helped sabotage in 1968.
According to Parry, LBJ wanted to go public with Nixon’s treason. But Clark Clifford, an architect of the CIA and a pillar of the Washington establishment, talked Johnson out of it. LBJ’s close confidant warned that the revelation would shake the foundations of the nation.
In particular, Clifford told Johnson (in a taped conversation) that “some elements of the story are so shocking in their nature that I’m wondering whether it would be good for the country to disclose the story and then possibly have [Nixon] elected. It could cast his whole administration under such doubt that I think it would be inimical to our country’s best interests.”
In other words, Clifford told LBJ that the country couldn’t handle the reality that its president was a certifiable traitor, eligible for legal execution.
Fittingly, Clark Clifford’s upper-crust career ended in the disgrace of his entanglement with the crooked Bank of Credit and Commerce (BCCI), which financed the terrorist group Al Qaeda and whose scandalous downfall tainted the Agency he helped found.
Johnson lived four years after he left office, tormented by the disastrous war that destroyed his presidency and his retirement. Nixon won re-election in 1972, again with a host of dirty dealings, then became the first American president to resign in disgrace.
by Bob Fitrakis, Harvey Wasserman
From Common Dreams
The Republican National Committee recently condemned the College Board’s AP U.S. History exam framework for its purported anti-American bias, and it comes as no surprise that the resolution is identical to resolutions sponsored by Religious Right groups like Eagle Forum and Concerned Women for America that regularly assert that public schools engage in anti-American brainwashing.Concerned Women for America’s Georgia chapter has sponsored a nearly identical resolution, as did Eagle Forum’s Alabama affiliate.Indeed, after the RNC resolution was approved, Concerned Women for America and others wrote to the College Board, arguing that the AP classes should do more to teach high-school students that the United States is a “City upon a Hill.”As the Education Week report added, the College Board appears to be taking the complaints seriously: “Troubled by the controversy, College Board President David Coleman released to the public a practice AP U.S. history test. Practice tests are typically only released to certified AP teachers. He also announced that the College Board will issue ‘clarifications’ about the new framework.”Steve Benen, MSNBC
Congressional candidate Ro Khanna should immediately take action and publically denounce the support of homophobic former Congressman Ernie Konnyu, Khanna’s highest-profile Republican endorser.
Konnyu, a one-term Silicon Valley Congressman who was voted out of office following a sexual harassment scandal, made news last week for orchestrating Tea Party support for Khanna, who is hoping to unseat longtime U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose.
But this week Konnyu took his right-wing vitriol a step further, using Facebook to publically attack the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce PAC for supporting openly gay Campbell Mayor Evan Low in his State Assembly race against former Saratoga mayor Chuck Page.
Konnyu waged his attack last Friday on a Facebook comment by former Chamber CEO Jim Cunneen, calling it “sick” that the Chamber PAC would support “a liberal so left that he wants to change the law to allow blood donations by gays. This, even though the current law forbids it since such blood has a risk of transferring the deadly AIDS virus. Yes! Gay pride is worth more with Evan Low than our citizens’ lives.”
Despite Cunneen’s efforts to prevent Konnyu from doing more damage by “counting to 10 before posting on Facebook,” Konnyu instead redirected his attack on Cunneen. “I am wiser, more experienced, and a lot older than you,” he said.
The San Jose Inside blog broke the story Wednesday but so far we’ve heard nothing from the Khanna campaign. By contrast, following last week’s news about the Tea Party’s support, Khanna’s campaign immediately responded with a “with friends like these…” shake of the head.
Konnyu is becoming a tremendous liability for Khanna, and we’re shocked that Khanna hasn’t denounced Konnyu’s misguided statements and support.
Let’s face it; Khanna doesn’t have a shot at defeating Honda, a seven-term incumbent with a proven track record of fighting for civil rights and same-sex equality. However, that’s no excuse not to stand up and speak out against this kind of discrimination and homophobia – in his district and on his endorsement list.
Mayor Ed Lee today joined SKS Partners, Mitsui Fudosan America and more than 50 dignitaries at a ceremony today to officially break ground on 270 Brannan St. – the new 213,000 gross sq. ft. office building located in the heart of San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. The space is already 100 percent leased to machine data player Splunk, which has another leased office building within the block of the new development.
“Our City’s South of Market neighborhood is going through an exciting renaissance, transforming an underutilized warehouse district into a growing, modern mixed-use area with office space, housing and small businesses,” said Mayor Lee. “I am thrilled to break ground on the 270 Brannan St. office building with SKS Partners and Mitsui Fudosan America who are committed to working with the community to ensure this neighborhood thrives economically yet maintains its historic presence.”
The building is being developed as a joint venture between San Francisco’s SKS Partners and Mitsui Fudosan America. The building was designed by prominent local architect, Peter Pfau, and Charles Pankow Builders is the general contractor.
Splunk, the big data technology company, will occupy the building when it opens in Dec. 2015.
“270 Brannan is the realization of the City’s 2008 Eastern Neighborhoods plan, creating a new office building for the growing economy that respects the historical context of the South Beach neighborhood,” said Dan Kingsley and Paul Stein, the Managing Partners at SKS.
City planners have praised the design of 270 Brannan St. for incorporating the character and history of the neighborhood while meeting the needs of its tenants.
The building will include a 5,000 sq. ft. internal atrium which will connect the building’s five-story front section and seven-story rear section. The building is targeting LEED Platinum Certification by the US Green Building Council and has many environmentally-friendly features such as roof-top solar panels. It also includes spaces for 52 bikes along with adjacent showers and lockers in its basement. Automobile parking is limited to 12 spots in the building’s underground garage.
The building’s design will feature a pattern of alternating aluminum curtain wall windows and terracotta cladding on its Brannan Street façade, consistent with the surrounding South End Historic District. The rear façade, which fronts on DeBoom Street, will feature terracotta cladding on the lower floors with a floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall on the top two floors.
“This groundbreaking is happening during a truly important time for environmental responsibility, both locally and globally. We are making real and lasting investments to improve our city, while protecting our environment and creating new jobs,” said Yukio Yoshida, President of Mitsui Fudosan America. “This building is believed to be one of the first to feature more bike parking spaces than car parking stalls in the history of San Francisco real estate developments and that, in and of itself, is a huge indication that we are opening a new chapter in San Francisco’s history of progress.”
The new 270 Brannan St. is scheduled to open in December 2015.
For more information, visit www.270brannan.com
If you’re looking for answers as to what has gone wrong in the U.S. economy–why so many people are unemployed, why so many Americans barely make enough to live on, why “the 1%” just keeps getting richer–here are two charts for you.
1) Corporate profit margins just hit an all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than they ever have before. (And some people are still saying that companies are suffering from “too much regulation” and “too many taxes.” Maybe little companies are, but big ones certainly aren’t).
2) Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. This is closely related to the chart above. One reason companies are so profitable is that they’re paying employees less than they ever have before.
What’s wrong with this picture?
What’s wrong is that an obsession with a very narrow view of “shareholder value” has led companies to put “maximizing current earnings growth” ahead of another critical priority in a healthy economy:
- The happiness and well-being of employees.
What those who obsess exclusively about profits forget is that one company’s wages (costs) are other companies’ revenues.
If American companies were willing to trade off some of their current earnings growth to make investments in wage increases and hiring, American workers would have more money to spend. And as American workers spent more money, the economy would begin to grow more quickly again. And the growing economy would help the companies begin to grow more quickly again. And so on.
But, instead, U.S. companies have become obsessed with generating near-term profits at the expense of paying their employees more, making capital investments, and investing in future growth.
This may help make their shareholders temporarily richer.
But it doesn’t make the economy healthier.
And, ultimately, as with any ecosystem that gets out of whack, it’s bad for the whole ecosystem.
Our current system and philosophy is creating a country of a few million overlords and 300+ million serfs.
That’s not what has made America a great country. It’s also not what most people think America is supposed to be about.
So, with American companies earning record-high profits and paying record-low wages–and the economy continuing to sputter–we might want to rethink our priorities.
From Henry Blodget, Business Insideer
The leader of an anti-LGBT group who has joined with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to ban same-sex marriage had his own marriage end after his wife began a romantic relationship with another woman.
According to court documents obtained by Lone Star Q, Corrine Morris Rodriguez Saenz was dating another woman when she filed for divorce from Jonathan Saenz in 2011. Less than six months later, Jonathan Saenz took over as the president of the state’s top anti-gay group, Texas Values.
Corrine Saenz told the court that she wanted to end her marriage on the grounds that it was “insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities … that destroys the legitimate ends of marriage and prevents reasonable expectations of reconciliation.”
Jonathan Saenz initially asked the court to refuse to grant the divorce, and to bar “any unrelated adult, with whom the parent has an intimate, romantic, emotional, and/or dating relationship to remain in the presence of the children, including but not limited to Ercimin Paredes, a/k/a Ercilia M. Paredes.”
Paredes was reportedly Corrine Saenz’s girlfriend, and the two worked together at as teachers at Becker Elementary School in the Austin Independent School District.
Nearly two years after the divorce battle began, Jonathan Saenz filed a counterpetition for divorce in May of 2013, accusing Corrine Saenz of adultery. The petition also asked that Paredes be permanently barred from access to the children.
The divorce became final on Aug. 1, 2013, and the Agreed Final Decree of Divorce made no mention of Paredes.
The Final Decree stated that both parents had the right “to direct the moral and religious training of the children.”
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage violated the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Jonathan Saenz has been working alongside Attorney General Abbott, the Republican Party’s nominee for governor, to overturn the decision.
“There is wide support for the state’s rights and for marriage to remain between one man and one woman. That cuts across political lines, across faith lines and across demographic lines,” Jonathan Saenz said earlier this month.
From Dave Edwards, The Raw Story
The pastor of a Tampa, Fla., church that canceled a man’s funeral because the deceased was gay is standing by his decision, despite negative reaction from around the nation.
“I don’t hate gay people,” Pastor T.W. Jenkins of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church told Tampa TV station WFLA, which first reported the news. Jenkins said he does, however, preach against marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Julion Evans was married to his partner of 17 years, Kendall Capers. In his obituary, Capers was listed as the surviving spouse, which Jenkins said caused church members to complain. “It would have been more of a negative response to hold the funeral than to cancel it,” the pastor said.
Evans, 42, died in July of a rare illness called amyloidosis, which destroys bodily organs. As reported last week, his mother, Julie Atwood, was baptized at New Hope Missionary Baptist, and some members of her family still attend services there. While her son and his husband did not go to the church, the family requested that the funeral be held there, as the church offered a space large enough to accommodate the crowd of hundreds expected to attend. The service was scheduled for July 26, but canceled the day before by the church. The funeral had to be moved within 24 hours. As there was not enough time to notify all of the mourners, some people missed the funeral.
Otis Cooper, 29, who performed the ceremony, is a pastor at New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa. Atwood attends his church, and he had initially agreed to perform the ceremony at New Hope, then helped the family find another location, Blount & Curry Funeral Home. He told WFLA that he “can’t make a judgment call for” Jenkins, just as Jenkins “can’t make a judgment call for me.”
Capers, Evans’s husband, said he would have understood the church’s decision not to allow the service, had it given the family proper notice. Meanwhile, Atwood said getting the call about the cancellation was “devastating. I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death.”
BY MICHELLE GARCIA, The Advocate
This is a brutal example of how far the struggle between Muslims and Catholics in Nigeria has reached.
Muslims are determined to impose their ‘religion’ all over Africa as well as in other continents and countries of the world. Islam has but one goal: rule the world at any cost!
And where are the International Human Rights Organizations? Christians are burnt alive in Nigeria: a horrific Holocaust right in front of International indifference! As denounced by Father Juan Carlos Martos, on behalf of the Missionari Clarettiani, via del Sacro Cuore di Maria, Rome, Italy.
By publishing this graphic document on Facebook, I have intended to make the world aware of certain terrible events totally ignored or minimized by the mainstream media; an authentic genocide so cruel and inhuman only comparable with the most hateful and vile acts in the Nazi extermination camps.
To my great surprise, Facebook has criticized me for the publication of this graphic document as a proof of the Holocaust that Christians have been suffering in Nigeria in the last ten years. According to Facebook’s Security policy of the ‘social’ Network, this photo has been classified as ‘pornographic’, ‘violent’ or ‘inappropriate’ and hence I was disallowed to publish any picture for a week. And I was threatened drastic measures if I insist publishing any document that prove the terrible violations of Human Rights in Nigeria. This attitude by the (Spanish) Facebook Management is an attack to the freedom of expression as much as a
shameful insult to the 500 victims (only in this horrible episode) slaughtered by Islamic terror only for being christian.
I thought that this social network, originated in the United States , would not bend its knees in front of terror.
Especially, when still healing their wounds suffered in the gruesome 9/11 attack, just as our own 3/11 at Madrid railway station, all innocent victims of the wild fury and insanity of Islamic terror.
This seems even more unacceptable in Spain, a Democratic state, where the rights of opinion, expression and religion are guaranteed by the Constitution (Art. 16 and 20), if there is an attempt to limit such rights, let alone through threats and coercion thus weakening their freedom of expression by condemning as “inappropriate” a graphic document (not a photomontage) which reflects a brutal reality in all its crudeness.
Contrarily, the Administrators of Facebook Spain should welcome this public protest advocating that such a barbarian act will never be replicated and that its perpetrators will be brought to justice. This is a right and duty of every citizen: a service to society, ultimate goal, I feel, of any network that defines itself as ‘social’.
Regrettably, if the murders continue, this is greatly because truth is always hidden to the sovereign people, so that they may not be aware and ‘disdained’ by it: complicit silence by the mainstream media leads to the indifference of the international political community facing this unspeakable Holocaust! Let alone the cowardice already rooted in the western world facing the Islamic terror. A consequence of the stupid ” Alliance of civilizations”: another regrettable incident of our former Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero.
Can you imagine the reaction of the Islamic terrorist organization in the (impossible) case of a massacre of Muslims in a mosque, by the hands of christian terrorists? And how widely would our media cover and condemn the crime and the criminals??
Therefore, from this modest blog, I ask a favor from all people who are reading me: please distribute this photo and its comments using all the media you have. If only for commemorating these martyrs since, unfortunately, Facebook seems to be on the side of the executioners by preventing the publication of such tragic events.
Statement by Father Juan Carlos Martos cmf Secretariat of PV Clarettiani Missionaries
Posted by EU Times
San Francisco–The Gorilla Foundation announced a series of important changes today, including anticipated new management positions, potential new Board members and a certain new focus, all designed to strengthen one of the world’s leading organizations for great ape understanding, care and conservation. “We have come to a crossroads in our Foundation’s history, and we have recognized the need to do more for the cause of the great apes through building global empathy for their preservation and care”
These improvements, made after an extensive internal review with the help of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, Governing Board and outside consultants, seek to balance the vital goals of caring for and protecting the gorillas (Koko and Ndume) while refocusing and reinvigorating the organization’s core mission of learning about gorillas through direct communication, and applying that knowledge to advance great ape conservation and prevent their extinction through education, compassionate care and empathy worldwide.
“We have come to a crossroads in our Foundation’s history, and we have recognized the need to do more for the cause of the great apes through building global empathy for their preservation and care,” said Dr. Penny Patterson, the lead researcher behind the Foundation’s groundbreaking “Project Koko,” which is to date the longest running interspecies communication project in history and the only one involving gorillas.
“Koko and her family have taught us so much over many decades and now, more than ever, we feel it is incumbent on this organization to share what we’ve learned with people across the globe, as a way to help put an end to poaching and build compassion for enhancing the care of gorillas and other great apes everywhere,” she said.
The Gorilla Foundation was founded in 1976 by Dr. Patterson, Ron Cohn and philanthropist Barbara Hiller to expand the groundbreaking and unique work of “Project Koko,” the first-ever project to study the linguistic capabilities of gorillas through sign language. Today, after decades of research and learning, Koko is able to use more than 1,000 signs, understands as many words of spoken English, and demonstrates the amazing ability to communicate her thoughts and express her feelings through sign language.
With the goal of protecting and honoring this legacy for generations to come, the Foundation’s leadership today announced, in addition to organizational changes, a series of goals and programs that are designed to make better use of what Koko and her family have taught us over the years. These include:
1. Gorilla Emotional Awareness Study (GEARS) will provide an analysis of Koko’s awareness of her emotions (introspection) and the emotions of others (empathy), in research made possible by her unique communication abilities.
2. Digital Data Archival of Project Koko for Future Crowd-Sourced Research will involve a partnership with a major university to digitize and preserve four decades of unique Gorilla Foundation data and archive it in a form that will facilitate analysis and collaboration.
3. Koko Signing App will allow the public to learn to sign with Koko and to understand her in videos designed to advance the public’s knowledge about gorillas and learn about their need for compassionate conservation.
4. Project Koko Interactive Database will be made available to scientific colleagues and great ape facilities so that they can make use of our direct experience and data, gained through years of communicating with gorillas.
5. Publication of new book (with video), Michael’s Dream, about the remarkable life of Koko’s gorilla friend Michael, who, on several occasions, communicated (in sign language) his memory of witnessing his gorilla mother being killed by poachers in Africa. This was documented on video.
6. Wide Distribution of Koko’s Kitten & Michael’s Dream Books and Educational Curricula throughout Africa, to strengthen compassionate conservation values and support the preservation of endangered gorillas In their homelands. This builds on our successful distribution of Koko’s Kitten (and curriculum) to over 100,000 students in Cameroon.
CARE AND WELLNESS:
7. Enhancement of Koko & Ndume’s facilities to enrich their lives, expand their options for exploration and privacy, and create capacity for a larger gorilla family.
8. Gorilla Interspecies Communication Work/Play-Station will provide the gorillas with the use of interactive computer technology (including “tough tablets”) to allow them to have fun, express their preferences and have more control over their environment.
9. Expanding the Foundation’s Board of Directors to include more experts in our highly specialized field, as well as strategically selected business, finance and fundraising experts.
10. Developing a new executive team for leadership, fundraising and building strategic alliances.
These changes are being made as part of a focused process with three primary goals: 1) to ensure the care and protection of Koko and Ndume now and into the future and 2) to better apply the lessons learned by the Foundation to protect and enhance the lives of gorillas and other great apes worldwide, and 3) to allow our enlightening dialogues with Koko, Ndume and other gorillas to continue.
The Foundation’s leadership is tremendously appreciative of the contributions of its Board of Directors, Advisory Board, and its many consultants and colleagues, who were integral to the development of this new vision.
For more information about the Gorilla Foundation, visit www.koko.org.
From The Daily Kos
The Kansas primaries yesterday taught us a great many things, but one lesson that we learned is that large money spending in races by Koch backed Americans for Prosperity and Kris Kobach backed Prairie Fire PACs backfired.
I’ll talk about the results in many races, but I want to highlight a few:
Kansas House District 122
R-J. Russell “Russ” Jennings 1,475 65%
R-Stan Rice 802 35%
Kansas House District 9
R-Kent L. Thompson 1,505 60%
R-Chad E. VanHouden 1,005 40%
Kansas House District 21
R-Barbara Bollier 1,777 59%
R-Neil Melton 1,215 41%
Kansas House District 19
R-Stephanie Clayton 2,322 68%
R-Jennifer Flood 1,107 32%
These numbers out of these Republican state Primaries should put a smile on the face of every moderate to progressive in Kansas and send a giant red flag up to the Kochs. Why?
The Republican primary has long been the deciding ground for many races within Kansas. In 2012, unhappy with the level of moderates in the Kansas Republican Party, Sam Brownback engaged in an effort to sweep them out by running primary opponents against them who would be lock step with his issues. This campaign against moderates was largely successful, and we ended up with the current slate in the Kansas Statehouse.
Last night, however, the same tactic failed miserably.
Kris Kobach spent significantly in mail pieces and an ad campaign against Thompson and Russ Jennings. He did so on the back of a single issue: Kobach wanted Turn Gay Away legislation and they voted no.
But Kobach and Chamber of Commerce spending was all for naught, as the moderate Republican walked right through. The real story of the night came out of Johnson County proper, where Stephanie Clayton – a moderate Republican who has been under fire, whipped her opponent, a hand picked Koch candidate who stood with them and against Stephanie on significant issues like Renewable Energy, education, etc.
Clayton faced a high money campaign against her, with mailpieces from Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity and door knocking campaigns going on to oust her from office.
What happened? Clayton walked away with 68% of the vote in a clear rebuke of all the money spent. Clayton couldn’t match AfP or Chamber in dollars, but her performance at the League of Women Voters and her ability to reach out to her constituents and explain the issues proved to be the ultimate trump card – and despite the big money spend, she was never in any real trouble it seems.
This is a huge rebuke of the way Koch, AfP and the Chamber of Commerce have done business in Kansas.
Numerous races in Kansas last night went much farther than they should have, and resulted in some odd moments.
Sam Brownback, facing a significant protest vote was ON VIDEO declaring that the reason why Pro-Pot Jennifer Winn garnered so much of the vote was because of Obama. That’s right. Obama caused people to vote for Jennifer Winn.
In Western Kansas, Tim Huelskamp went down to the wire, giving up 47% of the vote to “Not Tim Huelskamp” LaPolice in a primary. People have written off District 1, but the momentum behind “Not Huelskamp” is in fact pretty real. The question is, can Democrats capitalize on that? We’re going to have to find out.
Margie Wakefield Had to have a wry smile as Lynn Jenkins found herself with a protest vote that also went over 20% – what makes that troubling for Lynn Jenkins is that Jenkins spent significant money in the last few weeks going up with ad buys in the Pittsburg/Joplin area and out of Topeka. This was not an expected result, as most felt that Jenkins wouldn’t be sullied by the Brownback problem as part of the Republican leadership and unconnected with the Huelskamp fiasco, but she also couldn’t escape getting hit with some of the debris.
The one dark spot For all the good news, there was one race in Kansas that had a pretty troubling result. Kansas House District 30, Olathe Kansas had a potentially scary result in that Randy Powell, anti-choice, anti-gay minister managed to be one of the very few tea conservatives who cleared through the primary. He’s in a district that is fairly divided and where a Democrat last ran with a micro-campaign netted 47% of the vote.
Randy Powell is one of those candidates that has a real shot to cause real damage in the state house, and Liz Dickinson’s campaign becomes much more important for Democrats to win and overturn. Powell, who is openly committed to re-advancing Turn Gay Away legislation and ‘anything’ that can stop choice, birth control, etc. makes for a dangerous potential candidate. The upside is that he won a divided Republican primary where the moderates split away and left him a thin margin win.
It is now pretty important that Democrats actually commit to helping Liz Dickinson win if we want to not just flip a house seat but we have a desire for sanity.
The window that was vandalized at Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Two FBI agents visited Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue on Monday to investigate a broken window the government believes was smashed by animal rights activists.
The large plate glass window of the market, which has been run by the Pappas family since 1922, was smashed around 2 a.m. on Sunday, July 27, according to Nick Pappas, the store’s owner. He wasn’t aware of the animal rights connection until the FBI contacted him a few days later, he said.
“They told us we were attacked,” said Pappas. “We didn’t know. We thought it was vandalism, a couple of broken windows.”
The FBI apparently had been monitoring the website of “Bite Back” an animal liberation organization based in Florida. The site posted pictures of the broken windows of Star Market in its “Direct Action” section. The magazine received news about the windows from someone who calls himself “veganarchist lone wolf.”
“On the night of June 26th two windows were smashed at Star Meats in Berkeley CA, a butcher shop that boasts about its organic and locally sourced meat,” according to the article. “Cage free, organic, murder is murder and death is death. This is a continuation of last years actions in which windows were smashed out of Waylands Meat Market in Oakland and windows smashed in an East Oakland Burger King.”
by DEVIN HOLT, Bold Italic
Photo by Kim Lianthamani
Today in things to make you smile: SF Weekly is reporting that a group of passengers moved some fool’s car that was blocking the Muni last night. It happened at Carl and Arguello, right on the border between Cole Valley and the Inner Sunset. An N Judah driver pulled up to make the sharp turn on that corner and discovered an Infiniti parked in the red zone with its trunk blocking the train’s path. Instead of slamming the accelerator and smashing the car into a heap of metallic memory (which is what I would have done) the driver parked the train and opened the doors so anyone who wanted to could start walking. But some folks wanted to do more than the Muni-just-kicked-us-out-again shuffle.
Passengers quoted in the SF Weekly story (one of whom took the photo above) said it took 10 or 15 men about a half-dozen tries to move the car off the tracks. They described it as “a real community moment,” complete with high fives and a feeling of shared accomplishment. Muni passengers 1, anonymous bad parkers 0.
I just happen to live nearby and ride the N Judah with a regularity that would make Metamucil jealous. I’ve seen cars block the train several times — it’s a busy area with three difficult turns between the UCSF stop and the 9th/Irving corridor — and I’ve often fantasized about forcibly removing them. But I’ve never actually done it. So now this small group of civic doers can consider themselves my personal heroes.
My other N Judah fantasy is to block the street with a group of stranded passengers who have watched three “out of service” trains go by in the last half hour. Any takers?
Elizabeth Warren showed her disgust with banks in the manner in which they handle student loan issues with those afflicted with financial problems. She provided the following story reported by CNN Money.
When his 27-year old daughter Lisa died suddenly of liver failure five years ago, Steve Mason was as devastated as any father would be.He and his wife Darnelle immediately took in Lisa’s three children — ages 4, 7 and 9 at the time — even though they knew it would be a huge struggle to support them. Steve earns less than $75,000 per year as a pastor, while Darnelle earns even less as a director at the same church.
Then the student loan bills started coming.
Mason had co-signed on the $100,000 in private student loans that his daughter took out for nursing school, and the lenders wanted their money.
Unable to keep up with the monthly payments on top of all of the other mounting expenses, the $100,000 balance ballooned into $200,000 as a result of late penalties and interest rates of as high as 12%.
“It’s just impossible on a pastor’s salary raising three kids to pay $2,000 a month on loans,” said Mason, who has been searching for a second job.
Elizabeth Warren grilled Richard Hunt, President and CEO of Consumer Bankers Association about the banks being inflexible in working with situations like Mr. Mason. When he attempted to use smoke and mirrors to make it appear that banks were doing something about it, Warren would have none of it.
“They have not provided adequate relief,” said Elizabeth Warren. “… And I don’t know how many other families are in these circumstances. … So far what that bank has said is no, “The banks have not forgiven those loans. They have not provided adequate relief to this family and I don’t know how many other families are in those circumstances. … There really is no substitute for bankruptcy protection. But banks went out and lobby to make sure that they were going to be exempt from the bankruptcy laws. And now they won’t even provide the modest relief that is provided on federal loans for people who end up in terrible financial circumstances. I think this is wrong.”
Source: Daily Kos