Oh how the Lord does hammer

“Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?”

CNN Poll:

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than six in 10 supported it.

People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

25% said torture is never justified.

Morality becomes a license.

Protecting Flag Vessels

Maersk Captain Richard Phillips at Senate Foreign Relations CommitteeMaersk Captain Richard Phillips testifying to Congress:

… the four most senior officers should be armed, or,

… military detachments should be aboard U.S. vessels, or,

… the U.S. Navy must escort U.S. merchant vessels.

“First, I believe it is the responsibility of our government to protect the United States, including U.S.-flag vessels that are by definition an extension of the United States, their U.S. citizen crews, and our nation’s worldwide commercial assets.

“So, it follows then that the most desirable and appropriate solution to piracy is for the United States government to provide protection, through military escorts and/or military detachments aboard U.S. vessels. That said, I am well aware that some will argue that there is a limit to any government’s resources – even America’s.”

We've become crops?

Rant at the Economic Populist:

Economic Populist blogWe need a new economic system because the old has failed. American Capitalism has failed so many people in so many ways.

We need to transform our economy to one that works for the most people possible.

We need a new form of capitalism.

What is the state of American capitalism today? As Professor James Galbraith has stated American capitalism is not what we are told by politicians, media or textbooks: benign competition leads to a greater good for most people. We are far from that.

The defining feature of American capitalism today is predation – where a class of people – the oligarchs – feed off the demise of people not within this class. This oligarchy, or as Professor Galbraith calls them the predatory class, has control over the government and the capital in our economic system.

Favors out in the open

Earmarks policy evolves under Obama:

These principles begin with a simple concept: Earmarks must have a legitimate and worthy public purpose. Earmarks that members do seek must be aired on those members’ websites in advance, so the public and the press can examine them and judge their merits for themselves. Each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings, where members will have to justify their expense to the taxpayer.

Next, any earmark for a for-profit private company should be subject to the same competitive bidding requirements as other federal contracts. The awarding of earmarks to private companies is the single most corrupting element of this practice, as witnessed by some of the indictments and convictions that we’ve already seen. Private companies differ from the public entities that Americans rely on every day –- schools, and police stations, and fire departments.

When somebody is allocating money to those public entities, there’s some confidence that there’s going to be a public purpose. When they are given to private entities, you’ve got potential problems. You know, when you give it to public companies — public entities like fire departments, and if they are seeking taxpayer dollars, then I think all of us can feel some comfort that the state or municipality that’s of benefit is doing so because it’s going to trickle down and help the people in that community. When they’re private entities, then I believe they have to be evaluated with a higher level of scrutiny.

Furthermore, it should go without saying that an earmark must never be traded for political favors.

And finally, if my administration evaluates an earmark and determines that it has no legitimate public purpose, then we will seek to eliminate it, and we’ll work with Congress to do so.

Distributing illness

The list of difficult issues on our human agenda seems to increase, wot?

Q&A on swine flu with virus hunter Nathan Wolfe:

“We’ve created a perfect storm for viruses”

“For most of our history, we lived in geographically disparate populations. So viruses could enter from animals into humans, spread locally and go extinct. But the human population has gone through a connectivity explosion.

Romance through a surgical mask“All humans on the planet are now connected to each other spatially and temporally in a way that’s unprecedented in the history of vertebrate biology.

“Humans — as well as our domestic animals and wild animals we trade — move around the planet at biological warp speed.

“This provides new opportunities for viruses that would have gone extinct locally to have the population density fuel they need to establish themselves and spread globally. … we’ll continue to see … a whole range of new animal diseases as outbreaks in human populations. …

“Right now, global public health is like cardiology in the ’50s — just waiting for the heart attack, without understanding why they occur or the many ways to monitor for them, detect them early and ultimately prevent them.”

How did swine flu enter into the human population?

Swine flu has been known since at least the early part of the 20th century, since the 1930s. It was originally a virus of bird origin — all influenza viruses were originally bird viruses — and it probably spread to humans before it was in pigs.

A fine reply

Charlie Rose asks Bill Gates, “Do you have a role model?”

He answers, “I’d have to say Warren Buffet.” Charlie asks, “Why?”

Bill answers, “Because of his thoughtfulness, integrity, and joy.”

Now We All Hereby Proclaim

Office of the Press Secretary
————————————
For Immediate Release April 28, 2009

NATIONAL EQUAL PAY DAY, 2009

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 28, 2009, as National Equal Pay Day.

I call upon American men and women, and all employers, to acknowledge the injustice of wage discrimination and to commit themselves to equal pay for equal work.