Idiot TSA agents harass Ron Paul-activist who records them

Meanwhile, on the next concourse…

Steve Bierfeldt says the Transportation Security Administration pulled him aside for extra questioning in March. He was carrying a pocket edition of the U.S. Constitution and an iPhone capable of making audio recordings. And he used them…

On a recording a TSA agent can be heard berating Bierfeldt. One sample: “You want to play smartass, and I’m not going to play your f**king game.”

Bierfeldt is director of development for the Campaign for Liberty, an outgrowth of the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He was returning from a regional conference March 29 when TSA screeners at Lambert-St. Louis (Illinois) International Airport saw a metal cash box in his carry-on bag. Inside was more than $4,700 dollars in cash — proceeds from the sale of political merchandise like T-shirts and books…

Officer: Why do you have this money? That’s the question, that’s the major question.

Bierfeldt: Yes, sir, and I’m asking whether I’m legally required to answer that question.

Officer: Answer that question first, why do you have this money.

Bierfeldt: Am I legally required to answer that question?

Officer: So you refuse to answer that question?

Bierfeldt: No, sir, I am not refusing.

Officer: Well, you’re not answering.

Bierfeldt: I’m simply asking my rights under the law.

The officers can be heard saying they will involve the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and appear to threaten arrest, saying they are going to transport Bierfeldt to the local police station, in handcuffs if necessary.

The American way of making air travel exciting. If you still travel by air. I don’t.

Government Health Plan? 90% of Democrats, 75% of Independents, 50% of Republicans – say “YES”

Obama addresses a meeting of millionaires
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.

Across a number of questions, the poll detected substantial support for a greater government role in health care, a position generally identified with the Democratic Party. When asked which party was more likely to improve health care, only 18 percent of respondents said the Republicans, compared with 57 percent who picked the Democrats. Even one of four Republicans said the Democrats would do better…

Who besides the faithful would believe otherwise? The Republican Party is led by the thugs who worked to destroy practically every aspect of a better life for working people, the American middle class, a generation of young people denied opportunity.

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Greenland celebrating the beginning of their self-rule

Inuit choirs gathered around the port of Greenland’s capital sang traditional songs Sunday to welcome a new era of self rule after 300 years under Danish authority.

The prospect of global warming opening up access to Greenland’s potentially rich oil and mineral wealth put an international spotlight on the ceremonies which saw thousands of the island’s 57,000 citizens pack the port of Nuuk for the day.

Denmark’s Queen Margrethe and her husband, Prince Henrik, were strongly applauded as they walked in Inuit traditional costume to a church that overlooks the port for a service of commemoration…

Greenland’s Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist said in a speech: “This morning we awoke with new hope in our heart…”

The new status took effect as Greenland celebrated its national day, six months after 75 percent of voters approved a referendum demanding more power for the local government and control of the island’s vast natural resources — gas, gold, diamonds and oil…

The social democratic Siumut party was ousted from power after 30 years amid allegations of misuse of public funds and corruption.

Spurred on by deepening social and economic problems, voters rebelled against Siumut, putting the extreme-left Inuit Ataqatigiit (Community of the People) party into power with some 44 percent of votes.

Inuit Ataqatigiit, which wants complete independence from Denmark, is led by 51-year-old intellectual Kleist who has vowed to improve public services.

I probably have too much experience with this sort of struggle. Even through a jaundiced eye I can see much been achieved through the ballot box instead of bullets.

I presume Denmark will help – and hang onto – a big chunk of the prospective mineral wealth of Greenland. That helps. In Copenhagen, anyway.

Feds to record same-sex marriages in 2010 census

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Married same-sex couples will be counted as such in 2010, Census Bureau officials said, reversing a decision of the Bush administration.

Steve Jost, a spokesman for the Census Bureau, said same-sex couples would be counted, “and they ought to report the way they see themselves,” adding, “In the normal process of reports coming out after the census of 2010, I think the country will have a good data set on which to discuss this phenomenon that is evolving in this country.”

Same-sex couples could not be married in the United States during the last decennial count. But last year, after two states had approved same-sex marriages, the bureau said those legal marriages would go uncounted because the federal Defense of Marriage Act prevented the government from recognizing them…

The White House announced Friday that its interpretation of the act did not prohibit gathering the information.

First, the Obama government and our heroic Democrat-majority Congress should dump the Defense of Marriage Act (sic) for what it is. Bigoted, reactionary legislation passed by opportunist politicians to cater to the most backwards elements in American society.

I realize that probably defines the bulk of Congressional action; but, the DOMA should be accurately characterized for what it is. Crap for cowardly hacks.

Second, the Obama administration had better commit to future progress – even if the rationale in place is “we don’t wish to distract from tough challenges ahead in the fight for proper health care, etc”. That also would be less of a problem if the Dems in Congress had backbone enough to match their campaign budgets.

If you need all your allies to pressurize Congress to actually accomplish more than posturing for TV talking heads you damned well better act like you deserve those allies.

Yes, the same holds true for the environment and alternative energy, inclusive rights for workers, actively working for peace everywhere we stick our noses – especially the Middle East. I’m not a single issue kind of dissident. Civil liberties and civil rights, peace and prosperity are what we’re always promised. I just would like to see the folks who say they’re leading the political side of these struggles – prove it on a daily basis.

Safeguards against poor care for veterans – just not at VA hospitals

For patients with prostate cancer, it is a common surgical procedure: a doctor implants dozens of radioactive seeds to attack the disease. But when Dr. Gary D. Kao treated one patient at the veterans’ hospital in Philadelphia, his aim was more than a little off.

Most of the seeds, 40 in all, landed in the patient’s healthy bladder, not the prostate. It was a serious mistake, and under federal rules, regulators investigated.

But Dr. Kao, with their consent, made his mistake all but disappear. He simply rewrote his surgical plan to match the number of seeds in the prostate, investigators said.

The revision may have made Dr. Kao look better, but it did nothing for the patient, who had to undergo a second implant. It failed, too, resulting in an unintended dose to the rectum. Regulators knew nothing of this second mistake because no one reported it.

Two years later, in 2005, Dr. Kao rewrote another surgical plan after putting half the seeds in the wrong organ. Once again, regulators did not object.

Had the government responded more aggressively, it might have uncovered a rogue cancer unit at the hospital, one that operated with virtually no outside scrutiny and botched 92 of 116 cancer treatments over a span of more than six years — and then kept quiet about it, according to interviews with investigators, government officials and public records.

The team continued implants for a year even though the equipment that measured whether patients received the proper radiation dose was broken. The radiation safety committee at the Veterans Affairs hospital knew of this problem but took no action, records show.

There was a time when VA hospitals were among the best in the nation. I had friends and family who only survived their wartime injuries because of the dedicated care and concern of VA hospitals and staff.

We had one physician in the family who left private practice to spend most of his career in VA hospitals – to give back to the service that paid for his training and education. And I’ve participated in clinical trials for medication that proved to be a boon for the elderly – trials centered at our local VA hospital even though most of those in the trials were civilians.

Crap treatment for our vets – regardless of history’s judgement of the politics of American wars in the last half-century – is unforgivable. Please, someone nudge the chickenhawks in Congress into getting off their rusty dusties and doing something about preventing this meanness.

Banned from flying – OK to buy guns and explosives

People on the government’s terrorist watch list tried to buy guns nearly 1,000 times in the last five years, and federal authorities cleared the purchases 9 times out of 10 because they had no legal way to stop them, according to a new government report.

In one case, a person on the list was able to buy more than 50 pounds of explosives.

The new statistics, compiled in a report from the Government Accountability Office that is scheduled for public release next week, draw attention to an odd divergence in federal law: people placed on the government’s terrorist watch list can be stopped from getting on a plane or getting a visa, but they cannot be stopped from buying a gun.

Gun purchases must be approved unless federal officials can find some other disqualification of the would-be buyer, like being a felon, an illegal immigrant or a drug addict.

“This is a glaring omission, and it’s a security issue,” Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, the New Jersey Democrat who requested the study, said in an interview.

Mr. Lautenberg plans to introduce legislation on Monday that would give the attorney general the discretion to block gun sales to people on terror watch lists.

Good luck, of course. The NRA and the nutball Right in this land of political Oz will battle tooth and claw to protect everyone’s heaven-ordained right to kill and maim their fellows. As long as it’s done with firearms.

The bottled intellects of Homeland Insecurity know where their bread is buttered. They will fight to stop anyone who ever uttered a syllable of dissent from climbing aboard one of our overpriced airborne cattle cars. Otherwise no one gets elected.

But, the oversight brigade – clotted comfortably in Congress – haven’t half the spine required to challenge the money and noise, obedient media clowns and commentators, dedicated to an excess of gunpowder. Otherwise no one gets elected.

So they believe.

Spelling and Special

Spelling and special

I probably could post a photo like this every Saturday – from the morning’s grocery shopping. Santa Fe – like most northern New Mexico towns and villages – ain’t very strong on skills like spelling.

You can see why I took the snap of this “sale” sign. I didn’t even notice till I was home and uploading the shot to my desktop that the “special” price was a reduction of exactly $0.00.

Lucky us!

Wedding ceremony lacks appropriate gravity. Har!

These Brooklyn lovebirds are head over heels.

Noah Fulmore and Erin Finnegan Saturday became the first people on the planet to tie the knot while weightless.

The couple took off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral with a small group of friends and photographers. They were in an aircraft owned by the Zero Gravity Corp. – the only federally approved provider of commercial weightless flights.

Space tourist and adventurer Richard Garriott, the son of an astronaut, officiated at the ceremony, and the couple exchanged vows, smooched as husband and wife and tossed the bouquet to the bridesmaids while literally walking on air.

Good luck. They may not have their feet planted firmly on the ground; but, I think their hearts are in the right place.