Wednesday, October 30, 2013

As gay marriage bill passes Hawaii senate 20-4, a desperate GOP attempts to block measure in house

Unlike the 5-1 senate margin, the tally will be very close in Hawaii's house, where last-ditch machinations are underway to defeat marriage equality.

State Sen. Ken Haar appears on Rachel Maddow Show, lays sabotage of NE Climate Study, executed by Beau McCoy, at the feet of Gov. Heineman

Yesterday AKSARBENT blamed State Sen. Beau McCoy for torpedoing Nebraska's Unicameral-mandated climate change study by inserting the unscientific (in terms of climate change) word "cyclical" in order to sacrifice free scientific inquiry at the altar of GOP political correctness. We also saw the fingerprints of Gov. Dave Heineman all over this debacle:
The World-Herald's excellent coverage of this betrayed the invisible hand of GOP Gov. Dave Heineman, undercutting unfettered inquiry, but, as usual, not willing to answer direct questions about his office's below-the-radar machinations.
     Nothing Ken Haar said tonight to Rachel Maddow has dissuaded us from either contention.
     Maddow's customary shaggy dog exposition, which usually prefaces the discussion with her guest, ends here at the 10:40 mark, at which point she mentions Nebraska's particular circumstances before introducing Senator Ken Haar to her audience.
     You may want to skip ahead, though doing so means you'll miss an examination of GOP tactics in other states to make scientists kow-tow to right wing political correctness.

     Here's how the interview ended:
     Haar: The perversion of this study, as I would call it, happened in a committee that's supposed to carry out this study — that's supposed to find someone to do this study and report back to the governor and legislature.
      So it's the committee appointed by the governor, that has made this decision, which is not the intent of the legislation, that it should exclude anything that has to do with humans. In fact, it would almost be funny, Rachel, if it weren't so serious, but the study in my bill asks that we look at what climate science tells us about agriculture, water, wildlife, ecosystems, forests, outdoor recreation — all the kinds of things that will be affected by climate change. And then they go on to say, "But it can only be natural causes like volcanoes and solar variations."
So... you know, I can tell them exactly what's going to happen to Nebraska recreation if that volcano in Yellowstone blows up again. You know, we're going to be under 20 feet of ash. But volcanos are not cyclical, they're not predictable, and so this request for information being sent out, I think is an embarassment.
     Maddow: Nebraska state senator Ken Haar. Thank you very much for helping us understand this tonight, sir. I know that you've got a long fight ahead on this issue. Thanks for helping us understand it.
     Haar: Thanks for having me.
     Maddow: We appreciate it... Amazing. You can go study agriculture in this intensely agricultural state that has had huge issues with both drought and flooding and you are limited to studying whether it comes from volcanoes or solar flares. [Laughing] Get right on that! Anything else will make us too uncomfortable. It's just amazing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NE state senator Ken Haar, whose climate change study was sabotaged by fellow Sen. Beau McCoy, to appear on the Rachel Maddow show tonight

Nebraska State Senator Ken Haar, widely
considered to be an environmental leader
in Nebraska's Unicameral
Joanne Young, of the Lincoln Journal-Star reports that Haar was asked to fly to Minneapolis to appear on the "Rachel Maddow Show" on Tuesday night to discuss the climate change debate in Nebraska.
     From Young's story:
     Sen. Ken Haar's priority bill (LB583) in the 2013 session required a study on the effects of climate change in Nebraska on agriculture, water, wildlife, ecosystems and outdoor recreation. It was his intent, he said, that the study look at all causes of climate change equally.
     But the request for information sent out by the Department of Agriculture on Monday defined cyclical climate change to mean "a change in the state of climate due to natural internal processes and only natural external forcings such as volcanic eruptions and solar variations."
     That definition violates both the explicit language and the intent of the bill, he said.
     During the legislative session, at the urging of Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy, who disputes human involvement in global warming, the senators ultimately modified LB583 to study "cyclical" climate change.
(Via @OmahaNightHawk via @janekleeb)

A Mars Express red planet flyover

From Phil Plaits description:
I was also intrigued by a crater shown at the 1:50 mark, which looks like it got filled by a landslide off a nearby hill. Mars isn’t what you might call geologically active, but it does commonly suffer landslides and avalanches when the frozen carbon dioxide ice under the surface sublimates (turns directly from a solid into a gas), which can dislodge material. If that happens at the top of a hill or cliff, material can cascade down dramatically. I strongly suspect that’s what we’re seeing in this video.

Video: How corporations gained the rights of people

Discredited former UNL professor Paul Cameron goes to Russia, tells Duma roundtable that a third of LGBTs "support" pedophilia

UPDATE: More on this from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

From a previous AKSARBENT post citing Wikipedia:
     ...In 1980, Cameron left the University of Nebraska and took up private practice as a psychologist in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1982, when the Lincoln City Council asked residents to vote on a proposal to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, Cameron led the opposition as chairman of the Committee to Oppose Special Rights for Homosexuals. Despite his earlier moderate position on teenage relationships, Cameron had come to take a hard-line stance on the topic of homosexuality. He has stated that his approach, emphasising the harms he believed to be caused by homosexual behavior and its acceptance, was influenced by his work on the "lethal" behavior of smokers.
     During the campaign in Lincoln, Cameron delivered a speech at the University of Nebraska Lutheran chapel. This drew much attention after he stated that a four-year-old boy had suffered a brutal homosexual assault in a local mall. [Gateway Mall — AKSARBENT] Police were unable to confirm the incident, and Cameron acknowledged that he had heard the story only as a rumor. On May 11, Lincoln voters rejected the proposed measure by a 4–1 margin.
From Buzzfeed, which translated adoring tweets from Russian Lawmaker/homophobe Alexander Sidyakin:
     Cameron has made a career out of publishing statistics that seek to bolster the argument that homosexuality is harmful to society and leads to suicide, drug addiction, and depression, which the civil rights organization the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “hate literature masquerading as legitimate science.”
     ...[Alexander] Sidyakin is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is the author of a law that imposes stiff penalties on NGOs who receive money from abroad and do not register as “foreign agents.”
     Based on his tweets, the roundtable seemed to be intensifying the drumbeat in favor of laws targeting gay and lesbian parents. A pending proposal to away their children was recently withdrawn by its sponsor, Deputy Alexei Zhuravlyov, but he has promised to re-introduce it after some tweaks are made to its wording. Russia has already banned citizens of countries that have approved same-sex marriage from adopting Russian children.
     Sidyakin tweeted that Cameron’s statistics should silence critics of the law criminalizing “promoting non-traditional sexual relations to minors”

Below: Cameron, interviewed by David Pakman, makes a surprising admission.

Omaha hate crime gives city, state nasty publicity, but Mayor Stothert doesn't bother to issue statement; Internet a lot faster than city's cops

The AKSARBENT post which begat this is here.
From Joshua Foo's Facebook page. Incident happened almost 3 days ago.

Today at about 11 a.m. we pulled this screencap of important things Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert wants the media to know about. Any thoughts on the three-day-old hate crime that is dragging the City's and State's name through the mud on the Internet, Ms. Mayor? Nah. Crickets.

Parody twitter account of Omaha Mayor "Mean Jean"
At least Jean Stothert's deep-as-the-Platte concern for gay Omahans and their friends hasn't wavered since she was a council­woman. Give her props for consistency:

Yesterday, Google's S.W.A.T. team pulled wiki references from searches on 'St. Louis Cardinals'
after vandals altered wiki entry to 'gay buttsex team'

Please believe AKSARBENT when it says the hooting from our computer was because we were laughing AT the 'phobes and not with them. We're sure the St. Louis Cardinals are a very nice team. At left you can see what Google's unquestioning servers served up when users search for the team on Google.

Omaha man bashed at Pepperjax after sticking up for gay friends: 'Yes, I know. I'm a boy in a dress.'
'Yeah, you're disgusting... Should I? Should I?'

Ryan Langenegger was bashed after three Old Market
Pepperjax customers harassed two of his gay friends,
one of whom was in drag, then followed them outside
when they abruptly left. Langenegger got facial bruising,

a gash and two chipped teeth. The rather stupid
assailants have apparently left a trail which includes
credit card receipts and security camera footage.
UPDATE: How mayor, cops are following up on this.

(Note: Although WOWT allows embedding of their video, AKSARBENT can't show it to you because it's way too big for our biggest column and can't be resized. KMTV allows embedding too, but their video of this incident rudely autoplays and doesn't stop when the piece ends. Sigh.)

Ryan Kellenegger, via WOWT:

"I see this happen all the time with my friends and it’s really sickening it’s 2013, we live in Omaha, a lot of people don’t realize that this stuff is going on and it's just not right, and I'm just not going to stand by and watch my friends and pretty much family get degraded its just not right."

The assault happened last Saturday night about 2 a.m. when Ryan Langenegger and his two friends, Josh Foo and Jacob Gellinger, were eating at the Pepperjax Grill in the Old Market
"We were eating and there was three guys watching us and one of them stepped up and was a foot or two away from my friend [Gellinger] and he just kept saying should I should I?" Langenegger explained.
Gellinger said eventually he told the men, "I know I'm a boy in a dress." Kellenegger said the men then told Gellinger, "Yeah, you're disgusting and more colorful language and insisted on using more derogatory toward my two friends."
At that point the three decided to leave the restaurant (at 12th & Howard), but they were followed out the door and cut off.
"I stepped in and said hey we aren’t looking for any trouble and as I’m talking to him one of his friends from the corner of my eye comes up and hits me in the face and I stand up and he also swings at my other friend and misses and I just look at him and say why? There's no reason for this."
     The friends say they are upset because they were minding their own business and didn't do anything to provoke the fight.

Sen. Feinstein doesn't care if the NSA spies on you, but is OUTRAGED that it monitored the German Chancellor's phone

Now, Sen. Feinstein wants a total review of intelligence programs. Here's her statement:
Oct 28 2013

Feinstein Statement on Intelligence Collection of Foreign Leaders

—Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today issued the following statement on reports the National Security Agency has conducted surveillance on leaders of foreign countries:
     “It is abundantly clear that a total review of all intelligence programs is necessary so that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are fully informed as to what is actually being carried out by the intelligence community.
     “Unlike NSA’s collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed. Therefore our oversight needs to be strengthened and increased.
     “With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of U.S. allies—including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany—let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed.
     “Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers. The president should be required to approve any collection of this sort.
     “It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002. That is a big problem.
     “The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support. But as far as I’m concerned, Congress needs to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing. To that end, the committee will initiate a major review into all intelligence collection programs.”

Plagiarism: where'd you get your video, Rachel Maddow?

Recently, part-time antiplagiarism activist Rachel Maddow excoriated Rand Paul for lifting uncredited sections of Wikipedia in a speech. Maddow has indignantly spoken out against the practice before (here at 1:36.)
     Problem is, her show can hardly afford to be holier-than-thou. Below is what was visited on a videographer during Occupy protests covered by The Rachel Maddow Show:

Later the MSNBC show made nice with Peter Brauer in its blog, but the program didn't stop its practice.
     Below is a screen cap from twelve seconds of clips from an AKSARBENT YouTube video used by The Rachel Maddow Show (at the 1:13 mark here), all of which were cropped to hide the AKSARBENT bug at the lower right of the frame (at the 1:11 mark here.)
     In other words, in our case, The Rachel Maddow Show engaged in (legal) plagiarism of AKSARBENT when it would have been easier not to do so.
     We like Rachel Maddow here at AKSARBENT and often embed videos from her show, but sheesh — lay off the accusations until whoever it is on your staff who assembles video clips starts walking the walk.
     UPDATE: We saw Nebraska State Senator Ken Haar on Maddow discussing a proposed climate change study and the sabotage thereof by the Nebraska GOP and noticed that the Maddow show now is meticulously tagging the YouTube videos it appropriates. Good. 

Compare and contrast: When CNN used AKSARBENT video, it didn't attempt to obscure our bug; in fact it added another credit showing where it got the clip. (It also cleaned up our rather dreary audio — thanks, CNN!)

Monday, October 28, 2013

BBC Newsnight: Russell Brand: Jeremy, my darling... Jeremy Paxman: You are a very trivial man.

This is pretty good. Paxman (who is much better than the Brit newsman we get on CNN, Piers Morgan) asked a number of interesting questions, such as why his audience should listen to the political views of a man who refuses to vote. Brand refuted every skeptical query effectively. Here is one playful exchange:
Brand: It can't just be because of that beard. It's gorgeous... The day... you don't want it, I do. Grow it longer. Tangle it into your armpit hair.
Paxman: You are a very trivial man. 

NFL defensive end Dexter Manley calls Hall of Fame quarterback a queer on air; is banned from further appearences D.C.'s WTOP

The hosts gave Manley an opportunity to apologize on the spot. He refused. Later, vice-president of news and programming Jim Farley tweeted that Manley would not be back on WTOP.

Piers Morgan's puffball interview with Warren Buffett, the so-called 'people's billionaire'

In between getting Buffett to strum a uke CNN bought for him to play and displaying the contents of his wallet, Piers might have found time to ask a serious question or two about recent nasty revelations about the dozens of lawsuits filed against Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries National Indemnity and Resolute Management for wrongfully delaying or denying (in order to boost Berkshire's profits) compensation from asbestos and pollution policies to people dying of cancer.
     Scripps recently reported that in multiple cases, courts and arbitrators have ruled that the Berkshire subsidiaries' tactics have been in "bad faith" or intentional. And it's not just sick victims who are mad: large corporations like Ford, Estee Lauder, and other companies whose commercial policies were bought from or sold to Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries are now suing for reimbursement of fines, legal fees and payments of injury claims.
     Morgan also might have asked why one of the subsidiaries of the 'people's billionaire', Nebraska Furniture Mart, will be, according to the Dallas Morning News, the happy beneficiary of $802,000,000 in financial and tax incentives for building one new store in The Colony, a city of just 20,000, north of Dallas.
     Morgan also might have asked why Berkshire Hathaway recently received an HRC score of zero and whether Warren Buffett is as homophobic as some writers think.

Now Gen. Keith Alexander's out-of-control NSA has pissed off Spain, too; 60 million Spanish calls monitored in one month

Sunday, October 27, 2013

SNL rips Obamacare web rollout

Lou Reed, Velvet Underground and solo artist, dead at 71

Cause of death is unknown, although Rolling Stone says he underwent a liver transplant in May.

A wild ending to World Series game three

Buzzfeed explains the complicated final 15 seconds of the game, which put the Cards one up on the Red Sox, 2-1. CBS Sports says the ump made the right call.

Antibullying effort by Tipton, Iowa high schooler, Jason Stallman, earns an award from the Matthew Shepard foundation and a profile on NBC Nightly News

NSA Chief, Gen. Keith Alexander, explains, in Pentagon video, why mass surveillance of Americans isn't really spying... Does that make sense?

This is not Photoshop snark. It is an actual title slide from
the Department of Defense's "Armed With Science" interview
with Gen. Alexander at the 12:36 mark. Click to enlarge

Well, first, they aren't spying programs. So, I would correct the title of them. These are — one is called the business records, uh FISA program or section 215 and the other is called FISA MMX 702 or Prism...

Josh Gerstein, of Politico, which posted the video, quoted the general about his view of the correct way that newspapers should report news about the NSA:

     "I think it’s wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000—whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these—you know it just doesn’t make sense," Alexander said in an interview with the Defense Department's "Armed With Science" blog.
      "We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on," the NSA director declared.
      Alexander did not elaborate on what he meant by reporters "selling" documents or what options he might consider for halting the disclosures. An NSA spokeswoman declined to expand on the general's comments.

Jefferson County Public Schools asks judge not to intervene in case of 13-year-old relentlessly bullied
at Louisville, KY school

WDRB 41 Louisville News
(Via Rod 2.0)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A blind horse and his devoted guide goat

We like the narrator, who is benevolently, but dispassionately observant. She noted that after Charley, the horse, died, the health of Jack, the goat, quickly went downhill even though the animal seemed, on the surface, to have taken the death of his longtime companion in stride.

Via Americablog

How politicians have turned tables on special interests with industry shakedown 'tollbooth' and 'milker' bills

Via Peter Schweizer, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, comes a truly fascinating New York Times op-ed exposé of how legalized extortion now plays out in Washington. 
How John Boehner does it with tollbooth tactics:
     In 2011, he collected a total of over $200,000 in donations from executives and companies in the days before holding votes on just three bills. He delayed scheduling a vote for months on the widely supported Wireless Tax Fairness Act, and after he finally announced a vote, 37 checks from wireless-industry executives totaling nearly $40,000 rolled in. He also delayed votes on the Access to Capital for Job Creators Act and the Small Company Capital Formation Act, scoring $91,000 from investment banks and private equity firms, $32,450 from bank holding companies and $46,500 from self-described investors — all in the 48 hours between scheduling the vote and the vote’s actually being held on the House floor. 

How Obama does it with a milker bill:
     In the first half of 2011, Silicon Valley had chipped in only $1.7 million to Mr. Obama’s political campaign. The president announced that he would “probably” sign antipiracy legislation — a stance that pleased Hollywood and incensed Silicon Valley. The tech industry then poured millions into Mr. Obama’s coffers in the second half of 2011. By January of 2012, Hollywood had donated $4.1 million to Mr. Obama.
     Then, suddenly, on Jan. 14, 2012, the White House announced that it had problems with the antipiracy bills and neither passed.

Ted Cruz puts hold on Senate confirmation of Tom Wheeler to head FCC because he won't promise to ignore law requiring disclosure of dark money groups financing TV ads

What Ted Cruz Doesn’t Want You to Know (via Moyers & Company)

By now it seems pretty clear that Senator Ted Cruz has a plan to occupy the White House. But he doesn’t want people to know too much about it. And he definitely doesn’t want you to know about the special interests that have already begun to bankroll…

NBC: NSA still doesn't know how much intel Snowden has, and is bracing for more disclosures

Russia Today covers today's Stop Watching Us D.C. rally against NSA mass surveillance

One thing you probably won't be seeing on Russia Today is coverage of Russia's SORM program, an even more intrusive version of the NSA's prism program which, with deep packet inspection capability, will allow Russia's security agency, the FSB, new telephone and internet spying capabilities that will give it free rein to intercept any telephony or data traffic and even track the use of sensitive words or phrases mentioned in emails, webchats and on social media at Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Such drastically intrusive monitoring of Olympians and other attendees will easily allow Russian authorities to stop any gay demonstrations or criticism of Russian LGBT abuse before they even start.

Scenes from today's D.C. rally against NSA mass surveillance

University of Nebraska scientists won't participate in climate study rigged by state senator Beau McCoy

Beau McCoy, president of Nebraska Roof
Savers and anthropogenic climate change
denier. McCoy ()
represents District 39, including parts of
Last year, homeschooled GOP State Sen. Beau McCoy, of Elkhorn, a western Omaha suburb, tried to outlaw municipal antibias LGBT ordinances statewide when he introduced LB912, subsequently killed in the Judiciary Committee.
     It seems he also has put his evangelical thumb on the scale of a proposed climate change study — he got language added to LB583 to focus the study on "cyclical" climate change, a term that state climatologist Al Dutcher said the scientific community does not recognize and doesn't use because it offers no clarity.
     McCoy, who owns a roofing company, appears to care less about science than his recklessly deviant personal "philosophical" views on global warming and wants to make sure the state tows the line on his denialism. He said this last year:
"I, for one, and this is a philosophical position, don't subscribe to global warming, to that theory. I think there are normal cyclical and rhythmic climate changes that are not caused by man-made attempts."
     Leading climate and weather scientists in Nebraska are having nothing to do with this latest of McCoy's tricks.
  • Barbara Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service also noted that "cyclical" is not a scientific term.
  • Mike Hayes, director of UNL's National Drought Mitigation Center, said, "We would be uncomfortable in sending it to our peers within the scientific community if the human component wasn't included. For me, it's really tough to separate those out. Everything with climate is connected with humans."
  • Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, a Democrat and an environmental leader in the Unicameral, said his intent was to examine all aspects of climate change. He said that any analysis that rejected science and excluded the role of humans would make the state “look stupid... 'Let's just embrace ignorance, and let our children deal with the consequences.' That's what that sounds like,” he said.
  • Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the university's acclaimed National Drought Mitigation Center, said he wouldn't send out a study proposal to his peers if it excluded the role of humans.
  • Climatologist Martha Shulski, director of the High Plains Regional Climate Center, said of the study's scope:“If it's only natural (causes), but not human, we would not be interested.”
     The World-Herald's excellent coverage of this betrayed the invisible hand of GOP Gov. Dave Heineman, undercutting unfettered inquiry, but, as usual, not willing to answer direct questions about his office's below-the-radar machinations.
     Asked after the meeting whether “cyclical” includes or excludes human influences on climate change, Kriz-Wickham declined to answer and instead referred to the Legislature's floor debate and final bill.
     Kriz-Wickham is the assistant director of the Department of Agriculture, which answers to the Governor's Office. The climate committee also is under the umbrella of the Governor's Office.
     Sue Roush, spokeswoman for Gov. Dave Heineman, said his office does not plan to become directly involved in defining “cyclical.” She said Heineman believes that should be left to the committee.

Tribal fight in Okalahoma over marriage of native American gay couple

Jason Pickel and Darren Blackbear were going to travel to Iowa to get married, but a call to tribal authorities revealed they didn't have to: they live within the tribe's jurisdiction and are of native American descent so they were able to get married on a Okalahoma Cheyenne/Arapahoe reservation since no gender criteria are specified and the jurisdiction is not bound by Oklahoma's prohibition of marriage equality. They were told to "Come one down. It's 20 bucks."
     Now, however, some tribal homophobes, like Chief of Staff Ida Hoffman, want to put a stop to tribal same sex marraiges.

Why the NFL has rules against excessive celebration

Here we see Francisco Gallardo (note that in Spanish, as in French, double l's usually have a "Y" pronunciation, if you catch AKSARBENT's drift) demonstrating why, in November of 2001 he was fined and suspended by the Royal Spanish Football Federation merely for congrat­ulating a teammate on a goal.

More driver's license woes: Hawaii won't let man take exam in Hawaiian, one of two official state languages; upside: it did allow him to appear on court barefoot and in a loincloth

Oklahoma forcing woman married in Iowa to another woman to get a court order to update driver's license

The Center for American Progress lists Oklahoma as the third worst state to live if you're a woman.

Don't piss off your waitress: Internet scalliwags out 26-year-old boyfriend (whoa!) of Fox News' Shepard Smith, 49, after Bathtub Gin imbroglio

Mugshot of Shepard Smith following Florida arrest
for aggravated battery during aftermath of 2000
presidential election. Shepard deliberately bumped
reporter Maureen Walsh with his car during a
parking space altercation
After annoyed Fox News personality Shepard Smith, 49, unleashed an f-bomb tirade on a waitress at New York's Bathtub Gin bar for not serving his party another round quickly enough, the equally-annoyed server mentioned during her recounting of Smith's misbehavior that he had been accompanied by his boyfriend, Penn State grad 26-year-old Giovanni Graziano, who, while not as hot as Anderson Cooper's boyfriend, is certainly not bad looking.
     Graziano evidently works at  Fox too, but don't tell Roger Ailes, okay?

Live stream of Stop Watching Us DC rally

Live streaming video by Ustream

Technologically stupid TN Rep. Marsha Blackburn: cloud servers are, um, kind of metaphysical

House GOP party hack Blackburn, from Tennessee, lately has repeated the Tea Party charge that, in violation of ACA, consumers are "sharing" their "health information" with multiple insurers as they compare rates, despite the fact that the only thing remotely related to health information collected by the ACA website is the question about whether the inquirer smokes.
     CNN's Carol Costello asked Blackburn at least five times what information gathered by the ACA website violates HIPAA, and five times Blackburn refused to answer the question and refused to be accountable for her reckless, unsubstantiated claim.
     Instead, she attempted to cover her tracks with a crudely obvious diversion — trying to explain how the structure of the ACA website might be fraught with privacy perils. In so doing, what Rep. Blackburn ended up exposing was her own technological stupidity, to whit:
Now when you have a company that is utilizing at least 80 or 100 different servers, whether they're physical or cloud servers...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Google's autocomplete is saving heterosexual supremacists a lot of time, which they presumably will fill by joining and uploading pictures of themselves to Google+

We noticed, via JoeMyGod, that the Huffington Post has taken notice of the UN human rights office's Free & Equal campaign — a series of ads imitative of the UN Women campaign, which shows Google autocomplete search suggestions when a user substitutes "gays" for some of the expressions spotlighted in the UN Women campaign. Below: Bing isn't going there. Guess it learned its lesson from the autocomplete suggestions it made for "women need to..."

Tired Old Queen at the movies recounts why the U.S. government requested that 40s film star Veronica Lake change her hairstyle

Jon Stewart:
Thanks NSA! Now all America's friends hate it too

Google continues to rudely shove users into Google+

Now it seems to be forcing users to open a YouTube channel (and a Google+ account) just to compliment someone else's video. Google is becoming more and more like Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. Ugh.

Click to enlarge

Horrible: food-allergic 3-year-old's body rejects FDA-
mandated change of the only prescription formula he can digest; family has 60 cans left, can't buy more

Go to WOWT's website for the video, here. (The station generously allows its video to be embedded, but stupidly doesn't allow the video to be resized to fit the space requirements of various blogs; their videos are too big for AKSARBENT. )

Anti-gay rights students at Catholic NE U. object to giveaway of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis tickets; push­back crashes Creightonian website; administration overrules them

Well this is different. Usually antigay initiatives at Catholic Universities are top-down, not bottom-up. And usually it's the administration overruling progay, not antigay students.
     In Omaha, the Creighton Students Union Program Board was about to begin giving away some 50-75 free ticket vouchers for an upcoming Macklemore & Ryan Lewis concert at the CenturyLink Center (the duo's last Omaha venue was at Sokal Hall).
     We say "about" because the giveaway was delayed while university officials pondered whether to cancel the promotion after Creighton's Catholic Student Organization protested.
James Doyle, president
of Creighton U's Catholic
Student Organization,
which failed to stop
distribution of tickets
for Macklemore & Ryan
Lewis concert
     Kevin Coffey, of the Omaha World-Herald, reported that the group sent letters to the student union and the Rev. Timothy Lannon, Creighton's president, and that the group's president, James Doyle (a fine undergraduate gift to Omaha from Central Texas and Topeka, Kansas), wrote, in a letter obtained by the Herald, that "when artists so deliberately and outwardly advocate such a position [marriage equality], they should not be publicly supported."
     Two offended members of the Class of 2016, Ben Thompson and his best girl, Christina Laubenthal (a bartender/server at the (seriously) Outing Club of Des Moines), dashed off a long letter to the Creightonian objecting to ticket giveaway: "We at Creighton pride ourselves on being a Catholic school with strong Catholic values, and we believe we are still that university. With concern for its integrity, we urge Creighton to resist popular practice and instead hold itself to the highest moral standards. Please continue Creighton’s tradition of excellence in this area; cancel the CSU Program Board vouchers for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis."
     The letter stirred up a hornet's nest of progay Creighton students so great that they crashed the website of the university's student newspaper.  The authors of the antigay letter have now clammed up, refusing to be interviewed by KETV.

     After delaying the voucher giveaway, Creighton officials cancelled the moratorium, adding that the school is committed not to “endorse issues that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church” but reminding the public that “in the past, the university has hosted debates on the issue of same-sex marriage. We have had open sessions on this topic which centered on (Catholic) tenets of understanding and inclusion.”
     According to the World-Herald:
Since “Same Love” was released, Macklemore and Lewis have performed on some Catholic college campuses, including Boston College, University of San Francisco and St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Universal Studios uses copyright law to hide fair comment evidence on YouTube of homophobic stereotyping in Halloween show at its theme park

Universal Studios, not usually an LGBT-phobic company, was called out recently by for the stereotypically gay, stereotypically racist and rape joke-laden "Halloween Horror Nights," entitled "Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure."
     After the Huffington Post's Gay Voices section piled on, here and here, Universal cancelled (rather than revised) the show and tried to remove the fair-comment evidence on Google-owned YouTube, which seemed largely, but evidently not totally cooperative, — unless Universal somehow missed this clip of similar shenanigans in 2006:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jon Stewart rips bleeding heart greed apologists (aka financial journalists) who cried foul from their fainting couches over $13b JPMorgan Chase fine

Jon Stewart has recordings of all of Jim Cramer's old diatribes and, sadly, they often don't match his revisionist economic history rants... This is very, very good.

Electronic Frontier Foundation releases Stop Watching Us video before this weekend's D.C. demonstration

Wow. It isn't every day that Hollywood's Obama backers draw a straight line from Nixon to him.
     We always thought that a coalition of tree huggers and tea partiers would be Washington's worst nightmare, and now that the NSA has managed to piss off both groups, that's exactly what we'll see this weekend at the U.S. Capitol.
     AKSARBENT hasn't been this excited about the conjoining of strange bedfellows since Brokeback Mountain's staggered theatrical release.
     Maybe this will have some effect on the silent, apathetic, I-have-nothing-to-hide-so-why-should-I-worry-about-the-construction-of-the-infrastructure-of-totalitarianism majority. Stay tuned.
      From the YouTube description: is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum. Join the movement at This video harnesses the voices of celebrities, activists, legal experts, and other prominent figures in speaking out against mass surveillance by the NSA. Please share widely to help us spread the message that we will not stand for the dragnet surveillance of our communications.
     The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a nonprofit civil liberties law and advocacy center that has been fighting the NSA's unconstitutional spying for years. Learn more at

After NSA snooping angered Brazil, Mexico, France and Italy, Germany's Chancellor called Obama to find out if he's been tapping her phone

NBC's Richard Engle:
"Friends don't like friends reading their mail... especially if everybody finds out about it... There is a growing impression around the world that Washington spies on its friends, on its enemies and even on its own citizens and over time, Brian, this has a corrosive effect on the United States, which claims to respect free speech."

    The companion story on NBC's website delves into diplomatic blowback from NSA spying on other countries. Today, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the U.S. wasn't intercepting German Chancellor Merkel's communications and wasn't going to, but he didn't say anything about the past.

Millard South grad Adam Devine debuts tonight in recurring role as nanny on Modern Family; says
getting hit by a cement truck helped him 'a lot'

KETV aired a piece about this on its 6 pm newscast; anchor Melissa Fry went to school with him. The story notes that "In 2012 he had a role in the movie “Pitch Perfect.” Since 2011, he has produced and stared [sic] in Workaholics on Comedy Central."
     AKSARBENT wishes Fry had told her viewers what he was staring at, because we don't subscribe to cable and would like to know whether he was peering at a cast member or something off camera.

Today Show's Matt Lauer welcomes confirmed liar into dysfunctional NBC 'family'; Johnny Weir will comment on Sochi Olympics

Weir deliberately misleading Keith Olbermann's ESPN audience
about competing in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi
Here's a timeline of Johnny Weir's recent mendacity:
  • 9/1/2013: Deadline for registering for Nationals to qualify for Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics passes without Johnny Weir registering
  • 9/11/2013 to Keith Olbermann: While this is a beautiful thing for fans over the world that want to see the Olympics live and for the athletes like myself who are hoping to compete there...
  • 9/16/2013: Johnny Weir tells Queerty "If I'm lucky enough to qualify for the Olympics, I will bring the usual Johnny Weir."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dad lipdubs kid's tantrum

Father has gotten some grief over this — for supposedly traumatizing his offspring — but mom says the daughter throwing the fit rarely does so, so she must be pretty well adjusted.

Time Magazine psychoanalyzes Nebraska: Cornhuskers are neurotic and furtive, but quite conscientious

If you're the type who likes to give Myers-Briggs tests to your employees and you enjoy pop psychology, then by all means surf to Time.

Cher thinks she's figured out why she's a gay icon

Here's Cher's Attitude Awards acceptance speech after being introduced by Graham Norton.

Magnificent Haunting: a gay Italian moves into a flat, discovers he has company — a WWII theatrical troupe

More clips here:

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria now kill more Americans than car accidents. Here's a mind-boggling interview by Charlie Rose of Craig Venter, who wants to design and "print" viruses that kill those bacteria

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are rapidly spinning out of control and are terrorizing hospitals and physicians (who exacerbated the problem by over-prescribing antibiotics.) Tomorrow's installment of FRONTLINE investigates just that issue — the rise of deadly, drug-resistant bacteria that modern antibiotics cannot kill.
     “Twenty-five years ago, there were more than 25 large companies working to discover and develop new antibiotics,” infectious disease doctor Brad Spellberg told FRONTLINE. “Now there’s two, maybe three.”
     Craig Venter wants to build a machine to "print" a digitized genetic blueprint of a bacteriophage (a bacteria-killing virus) to his proposed Digital Biological Converter (DBC.) It will build the phage, and then his team at the Venter Institute will infect a bacteria with it.
     If the bacteria dies, the test worked.
     Once they've gotten this worked out, they'll start constructing a machine that automatically inserts the newly built DNA into a cell that's had its own genetic material removed. The new DNA would program the cell to develop into the "e-mailed" organism.
Below is Charlie Rose's mind-boggling interview with Venter.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Scout leader who pushed over heavy boulder in Goblin State Park, Utah was suing over "disability" from 2009 car accident

Both the videographer (David Hall) and the vandal (Glenn Taylor) have now been kicked out of the Boy Scouts of America. Taylor, it turns out, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed last month stemming from a 2009 car accident. He's suing driver Cassie MacDonald and her father, Alan, who owned the car, claiming he “endure(d) great pain and suffering, disability, impairment, loss of joy of life” as a result of the minor collision. The defendant, Alan MacDonald is a former personal injury lawyer.

AntiLGBT protest proffers more proof France isn't remotely like the U.S.

Hommen is a group of antiLGBT French male exhibitionists who like to protest.
     Recently they visited the offices of Femen to yell chants at them and to throw brassieres at the windows.
     Femen is a Ukrainian group of feminist exhibitionists who protest in favor of women's and LGBT rights.
     Naturally, where there are exhibitionists, there is video, here discovered by @Str8grandmother and posted on JMG.
     Only in France are political protests built around a Mardi Gras / West Side Story theme, except that no beads were thrown, although some may or may not have been read. We don't know. We only speak high school French.

Les Hommen vs les Femen by actuclip

Donald Trump bans Edward Snowden from Miss Universe pageant; twitter reels in shock, devastation

Binding arbitration: two Iowa state troopers who handcuffed bunk mate to bed, pulled down his pants and applied powder to his butt have been reinstated

Harrelson (left) and Guhl
how to get out
of handcuffs

It's always helpful to have a powerful union on your side when you misbehave.
     Andrew Harrelson, a gaming officer in Council Bluffs, was ordered reinstated today in a ruling that wasn't immediately made public. He denied involvement in the unusual training exercise of a fellow recruit in 2008. Trooper Joshua Guhl, who did admit involvement, was also reinstated because an arbitrator found that the state failed to discipline other hazers who took part in the attempt to get another recruit to quit. How the ruling in Guhl's case came to light is interesting:
The Department of Administrative Services said Wednesday that Nathan's ruling must be kept secret based on advice from the Iowa Attorney General's Office, which argues that such decisions are confidential personnel records. But another agency, the Public Employment Relations Board, released a copy to the AP, shedding light on a case that had been shrouded in secrecy.
Guhl served in Iraq, where he learned the powder hazing technique, known as bonding, in the United States Marine Corps.

Video: Take this party and shove it — San Antonio Judge Carlo Key blasts anti-LGBT GOP extremism,
will run for reelection as Dem

From the video: "I believe that justice demands fairness. It requires careful and intelligent probing of evidence." This is something that the Nebraska State Patrol and authorities in Cass and Douglas counties might want to take more seriously.

(Via ThinkProgress)

Ten ways that the NSA spies on you

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why art directors should not be allowed punctuation privileges

This is just stupid branding run amuck on the flag of the Kansas City Star, a fine newspaper which should put a stop to the marketers and "creative" types who are probably now embarrassing the actual journalists and copy editors at the paper.

Asbestos-related cancer victims allege compensation stalling by Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries Resolute and National Indemnity to increase profits; Ford, Estee Lauder are mad too — and they're suing

Scripps investigative reporter Mark Greenblatt reveals that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., of Omaha, Neb., is now a foremost global titan in asbestos and pollution litigation.
Scripps interviewed more than 20 sources — some confidential — reviewed dozens of lawsuits and spoke with former insiders, who all allege the Berkshire-owned companies that handle its asbestos and pollution policies — National Indemnity Co. and Resolute Management Inc. — wrongfully delay or deny compensation to cancer victims and others to boost Berkshire's profits. In multiple cases, courts and arbitrators have ruled that the Berkshire subsidiaries' tactics have been in "bad faith" or intentional.

Through 25 known deals, insurers like American Insurance Group, CNA Financial Corp. and Lloyd's of London have paid Berkshire to assume their risk for tens of billions of dollars in future asbestos and pollution claims.
It's not just asbestos cancer victims that are mad: dozens of large corporations are also livid. Ford, Estee Lauder, and other companies whose commercial policies were bought from or sold to Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries are now suing for reimbursement of fines, legal fees and payments of injury claims.

Our favorite Jonas brother gets tied to a chair

If you landed here because you thought we were talking about those three twink spawns of Disney, Inc., consider yourself rick-rolled by art on a higher plane. This post is about an actual grown-up — German tenor Jonus Kaufmann as Don José in the 2006 Royal Opera Company production of Carmen in Covent Gardens.
     Mostly Opera said Kaufmann (and Anna Caterina Antonacci) were "shattering as the leads with stage chemistry and acting making this, by far, the best Carmen on DVD."

Credits: Carmen - Anna Caterina Antonacci; Don José - Jonas Kaufmann; Escamillo - Ildebrando D'Arcangelo; Micaela - Norah Amsellem; The Royal Opera Chorus; Chorus Director: Renato Balsadonna; The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden; Conductor: Antonio Pappano

Here's more of Kaufmann:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Buffett on GOP: This particular hole belongs to them; likens healthcare to tapeworm of American economy

Omaha's Croesus, Warren Buffett, was on CNBC's Squawk Box earlier this week. In the video below, he gave some free advice to the GOP: don't screw up two centuries of good credit that the U.S. has built. On other topics (not in the video below) he talked about the recent departures of two of his Benjamin Moore CEOs and the continuing drag that healthcare, American-style, is on the economy.
Healthcare is the tapeworm of the American economy. When u get up to 17-18 percent and other countries have 10%, You've got 7 or 8 cents out of the dollar that we are at a disadvantage – I mean we think we are at a disadvantage and we are because we talked about the $500 billion spent on foreign oil but $500 billion is 3% of GDP. We're talking about a huge cost disadvantage versus rest of world, and we need to address it.

Russian bill to take children from gay parents with­drawn for revision; LGBT activists suspicious of timing

From Buzzfeed:
     A spokesperson for Alexei Zhuravlyov, the far right MP who tabled the bill, later confirmed the move, but said it would be resubmitted after some changes were made.
     ...Support for the bill in question was always less clear cut. Elena Mizulina, the sponsor of the federal propaganda law and the public face of Russia’s anti-LGBT campaign, repeatedly said she believed it would not pass.
     The decision to withdraw the bill comes one month after it cleared a bureaucratic hurdle that put it on the agenda to be considered as soon as February 2014. That is the month that Russia is set to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi — something that has already pointed global attention to the country’s abysmal record on LGBT rights.
      Activists welcomed the move cautiously, with some predicting that it would be brought for consideration again once the global spotlight on Russia fades after the Olympics conclude. “Are they putting on a good face before a bad game?” one asked. “Let’s not relax.”

Toyota loses $6.5m suit; Lexus airbag didn't deploy

Obviously this picture, taken by AKSARBENT in 2012,
is not of Katharine Sprague's car, but we think
whoever did this is totally amazing and
we'll use any excuse to repost it.
The driver, an Omaha woman, was struck by a turning vehicle; her car was pushed up a limestone wall. From the World-Herald:
     [Katharine M.] Sprague’s attorneys, Lynn Shumway of Phoenix and John Weis of Omaha, presented evidence that the air bag didn’t fully inflate...
     Attorneys for Toyota, the manufacturer of Lexus luxury vehicles, suggested to jurors that the way Sprague was sitting in the driver’s seat — and the fact that her seat belt was not taut against her body — contributed to the extent of her injuries.

Your cat is way more near sighted than you (acuity: 20/100 to 20/200) but sees 6-8 times more in the dark and has wider vision

This photo simulates what your cat sees (bottom) vs. what you do. More interest­­ing facts and pictures by Nicholas Lamm are here.

Good to know: Walmart forbids its employees from helping you fend off attackers in their parking lots

This happened in Hartland Township, Michigan to a "temporary" employee of Walmart, which considers hirees not really hired until half a year has elapsed, during which time we assume the company's health insurance, such as it is, is not available to them.