Archive for ‘Technology’

September 11, 2011

Support America – Not Your Political Party. Watch “9/11: Press for Truth.”

by Ben Hoffman

or watch full video on Google Videos:
9/11: Press for Truth

September 7, 2011

God Tries To Kill Reverend at the National Cathedral

by Ben Hoffman

A crane toppled at the National Cathedral this morning, sending one person to the hospital and damaging two out-buildings and crushing several vehicles.

DC Fire/EMS Battalion Chief John Donnelly said one person was taken to the hospital but he did not have not have more information on the extent of the person’s injuries.

When the crane came down, it damaged both the Herb Cottage and the Church House, the headquarters of the diocese. Three to five parked cars were also crushed, said D.C. Fire/EMS spokesman Oscar Mendez.

The crane was lifting supplies to the roof when it became unbalanced, Donnelly said. Wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph were recorded shortly before the accident but it’s not known whether that caused the accident.

The Rev. Simon Bautista, the Canon for Latino Ministries for the diocese, said he was on a conference call with his staff as part of their ongoing planning for an Oct. 8 Latino celebration. The window of his second-floor office in Church House overlooks the parking lot.

Suddenly he heard a sound that was like “thunder,” Bautista said. “My office started shaking.”

Read more…

September 5, 2011

Post Office May Lay Off 120,000 Workers

by Ben Hoffman

The United States Postal Service has long lived on the financial edge, but it has never been as close to the precipice as it is today: the agency is so low on cash that it will not be able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month and may have to shut down entirely this winter unless Congress takes emergency action to stabilize its finances.

“Our situation is extremely serious,” the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, said in an interview. “If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Donahoe has been pushing a series of painful cost-cutting measures to erase the agency’s deficit, which will reach $9.2 billion this fiscal year. They include eliminating Saturday mail delivery, closing up to 3,700 postal locations and laying off 120,000 workers — nearly one-fifth of the agency’s work force — despite a no-layoffs clause in the unions’ contracts.

The post office’s problems stem from one hard reality: it is being squeezed on both revenue and costs.

As any computer user knows, the Internet revolution has led to people and businesses sending far less conventional mail.

At the same time, decades of contractual promises made to unionized workers, including no-layoff clauses, are increasing the post office’s costs. Labor represents 80 percent of the agency’s expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx, its two biggest private competitors. Postal workers also receive more generous health benefits than most other federal employees.

Read more…

The Post Office needs to become more efficient, but laying off 120,000 employees at a time of high unemployment is just going to make the economy worse. The federal government is currently laying off people at a rate of 50,000 a month. That’s taking money out of the economy and further hurting businesses. The Republicans currently in Congress are the most anti-business group we have ever seen. And they’re destroying our country.

July 27, 2011

Republicans Seek Large Scale Destruction of Our Country’s Environment

by Ben Hoffman

With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are loading up an appropriations bill with 39 ways — and counting — to significantly curtail environmental regulation.

One would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from designating new wilderness areas for preservation. Another would severely restrict the Department of Interior’s ability to police mountaintop-removal mining. And then there is the call to allow new uranium prospecting near Grand Canyon National Park.

There is little chance that all the 39 proposals identified by Democrats will be approved by the Senate, which they control, or that a substantial number could elude a presidential veto. In fact, one measure — to forbid the Fish and Wildlife Service to list any new plants or animals as endangered — was so extreme that 37 Republicans broke ranks Wednesday and voted to strip it from the bill.

Read more…

Republicans have destroyed our economy, destroyed our standing in world affairs, started two unwinnable wars, so why stop there? Let’s just totally destroy everything good about our country for some simple-minded ideology.

July 27, 2011

Science Scores a Minor Victory Over Religion – Stem Cell Research Gets Funding

by Ben Hoffman

WASHINGTON — A lawsuit that had threatened to end the Obama administration’s funding of embryonic stem cell research was dismissed Wednesday, allowing the U.S. to continue supporting a search for cures to deadly diseases over protests that the work relies on destroyed human embryos.

The lawsuit claimed that research funded by the National Institutes of Health violated the 1996 Dickey-Wicker law that prohibits taxpayer financing for work that harms an embryo. But the administration policy allows research on embryos that were culled long ago through private funding.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, chief of the federal court in Washington, last year said the lawsuit was likely to succeed and ordered a stop to the research while the case continued. But under swift protest from the Obama administration, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here quickly overturned Lamberth’s injunction and said the case was likely to fail.

Lamberth said in his opinion Wednesday that he is bound by the higher court’s analysis and ruled in favor of the administration’s motion to dismiss the case.

“This Court, following the D.C. Circuit’s reasoning and conclusions, must find that defendants reasonably interpreted the Dickey-Wicker Amendment to permit funding for human embryonic stem cell research because such research is not `research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed,’ ” Lamberth wrote.

Researchers hope one day to use embryonic stem cells in ways that cure spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments. Opponents of the research object because the cells were obtained from destroyed human embryos. Though current research is using cells culled long ago, opponents also fear research success would spur destruction of new embryos. Proponents say the research cells come mostly from extra embryos discarded anyway by fertility clinics.

Read more…

July 24, 2011

France Has The Right Idea: Ban Religion

by Ben Hoffman

France, a fiercely secularist state where all religion is banned from the public sphere, was long isolated and berated for its staunch opposition to the laissez-faire of multiculturalism. Girls who show up in public schools there with the Muslim headscarf are suspended, as are teachers or any other employees in the public sector.

If Mr. Sarkozy appeared to soften his understanding of official secularism, or “laïcité” earlier in his political career, even toying with the idea of affirmative action, he has recently scrambled to backtrack. He held a nationwide debate on “national identity” last year and earlier this year banned Muslim full-face veils like niqab, as well as the burqa.


Without religion, the Norway terrorist attack wouldn’t have happened. Without religion, George W. Bush (with the help of other religious fanatics) would never have become president, destroyed our economy, put us deep in debt, started two unwinnable wars, and deeply polarized our nation. Religion and right-wing radicalism are the root of almost all evil in our world. It’s hard to believe that in this day-and-age, with all the advances in science, that people still believe in the children’s fairy tails that are religion.

“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
~ Steven Weinberg

July 22, 2011

Private Firms Take Over U.S. Space Exploration

by Ben Hoffman

Odyssey Moon Lander

Now that the last space shuttle has landed back on Earth, a new generation of space entrepreneurs would like to whip up excitement about the prospect of returning to the Moon.

Spurred by a $30 million purse put up by Google, 29 teams have signed up for a competition to become the first private venture to land on the Moon. Most of them are unlikely to overcome the financial and technical challenges to meet the contest deadline of December 2015, but several teams think they have a good shot to win — and to take an early lead in a race to take commercial advantage of our celestial neighbor.

For the Moon competition, Google put up $30 million. Of that, $20 million will go to the first team to land a spacecraft on the Moon, explore 500 meters and send back high-definition video and photos. The second team will win $5 million, and the remaining $5 million will pay for bonus prizes like surviving a frigid lunar night or traveling more than 5,000 meters on the surface.

Not all the competitors see dollar signs in the Moon. Rocket City Space Pioneers, a consortium of businesses, is using its Moon effort largely to market technology that will allow multiple payloads to share one rocket, greatly reducing launching costs. (In other words, as the lander headed for the Moon, it could drop off a few satellites in orbit.)

Read more…

July 17, 2011

Stimulus Facts or One of Many Inconvenient (for conservatives) Truths

by Ben Hoffman


Feel free to share this or make a better one.

July 16, 2011

What could be wrong with Bob? (Hint: Bob’s a Conservative)

by Ben Hoffman

By priernet
I once knew a guy who talked about building a machine using an electric generator and an electric motor connected in such a way that the motor would spin the generator and the electricity it generated would power the motor. He further suggested that through a belt and pulley arrangement the wheels on a go-cart could be turned to move the go-cart along. He was adamant that his theory would work. Unfortunately he did not have the manual skills or financial backing to build a model.

Bob has stopped talking about his perpetual motion powered go-cart. Today he is a Tea-partier proclaiming that reducing taxes for everyone making more than $400,000 a year, continuing corporate welfare to the oil companies, and cutting Medicare while privatizing Social Security will end unemployment, eliminate the deficit, and fill the government’s tax coffers.

Bob elects and blindly supports legislators that make foolish pledges that limit any innate intelligence, judgment, or problem-solving ability they could bring to their job. Bob is too busy and ill-equipped to understand or keep up with the political issues. He is easily confused and will likely continue to fall prey to the Tea Party blather and vote against his own best interest.

The debt problems facing our nation are serious, yet Bob’s heroes, in blind defiance, are refusing to take a balanced approach to dealing with the issues. If they keep this up we all lose, even those making more than $400,000 a year will suffer significant loss.


July 14, 2011

The Emerging “delusional religious fanaticism in America”

by Ben Hoffman

Chris Hedges on the appeal of the Christian Right: “The rage is real…These people have transferred their allegiance to an ideological system which is not connected to the real world, and they have done so because the real world has destroyed them, you know the kind of love of apocalyptic violence within the Christian Right is a relishing of the destruction of those forces that almost destroyed them, and in some cases did destroy them.” Read more…

July 9, 2011

The 20 Most Anticipated Books Of Summer 2011

by Ben Hoffman

Sorry, I just wanted an excuse to post this photo. 🙂

July 3, 2011

End Corporate Personhood! – Move to Amend

by Ben Hoffman

“We the corporations”
On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

* Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

* Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.

* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate “preemption” actions by global, national, and state governments.

The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule. We Move to Amend.

June 26, 2011

Despite 12% Unemployment, Republican Governor Outsources Bridgework To China

by Ben Hoffman

Next month, the last four of more than two dozen giant steel modules — each with a roadbed segment about half the size of a football field — will be loaded onto a huge ship and transported 6,500 miles [from China] to Oakland. There, they will be assembled to fit into the eastern span of the new Bay Bridge.

The new Bay Bridge, expected to open to traffic in 2013, will replace a structure that has never been quite the same since the 1989 Bay Area earthquake. At $7.2 billion, it will be one of the most expensive structures ever built. But California officials estimate that they will save at least $400 million by having so much of the work done in China.

California decided not to apply for federal funding for the project because the “Buy America” provisos would probably have required purchasing more expensive steel and fabrication from United States manufacturers.

Despite the American union complaints, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, strongly backed the project and even visited Zhenhua’s plant last September, praising “the workers that are building our Bay Bridge.”

Pan Zhongwang, a 55-year-old steel polisher, is a typical Zhenhua worker. He arrives at 7 a.m. and leaves at 11 p.m., often working seven days a week. He lives in a company dorm and earns about $12 a day.

Read more…

June 25, 2011

Progressives Are Today’s Patriots. Conservatives are Loyalists

by Ben Hoffman

When our Founding Fathers fought for our independence, they were standing up against the tyrannical rule of the King George III and the power of the church. America today is ruled — not by the people — but by large corporations and the Christian Church.

As did England in the 1700s, we now use mercenaries to provide a great deal of our security and fighting forces. Those mercenaries are provided by large corporations with multi-million dollar contracts. When Washington crossed the Delaware River in 1776, he didn’t fight the British army; he fought mercenaries: the German Hessian soldiers.

The Church today dictates many of our laws. Take away religion and you take away the argument to ban abortion. Religious fanatics want the Bible taught as science in our schools. They want to take away funding for Planned Parenthood. They have dictated laws and that is in direct opposition to what is explicitly stated in our Constitution.

Our Founding Fathers were part of the Enlightenment Movement — also called the Age of Reason. That was a movement away from religion. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in Church and state. Those who fought for America’s independence would have been against the teaching of Creationism as science. They would have embraced the science of global climate change. They would have wanted us to be the leaders of renewable energy technologies.

The Loyalists in of 18th century America supported British rule and oppression by the Church. Today, conservatives support a plutocracy and laws dictated by the Church, which is even more dangerous. The merging of corporations and government is fascism.

Conservatives are today’s Loyalists. It’s time we took our country back — we being the people.

June 25, 2011

Gas Prices Are Falling Fast

by Ben Hoffman

Gasoline prices are falling fast. In the past 7 weeks, the average U.S. retail prices has dropped 38 cents to $3.60 per gallon. Another 25-cent drop is expected by mid-July.

When prices approached $4 in early May, drivers were worried that $5 gasoline was a possibility this summer. But since then, oil prices have collapsed, the result of slowing economic growth in developed countries, weaker demand for oil and gas and this week’s decision by the U.S. and other countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves. Economists say falling prices will benefit consumers by leaving money in their wallets, and making them feel freer to spend on travel, shopping and dining. Read more…

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