Poll shows Nick Clegg in contention for Prime Minister – Har!

Nick Clegg has surged into contention as a potential prime minister, according to a Guardian/ICM poll carried out following last night’s TV leaders’ debate. A quarter of voters who watched the three leaders on the ITV programme say they will switch their vote, with most changing to the Liberal Democrats.

Clegg emerges from the telephone poll as the overwhelming winner, with 51% who watched saying he came out on top. David Cameron and Gordon Brown trail in far behind: 20% say Cameron won and 19% Brown…

The Guardian poll coincides with a survey of voting intentions carried out by ComRes for ITV…Among those voters who had watched the debate, the surge in Lib Dem support was more dramatic: up 14 points to 35%, only a shade behind the Conservatives on 36%, who were down three. Labour languished in third place, at 24%, also down three.


Labour and the Conservatives vied with one another to claim the other had been the bigger loser from the unprecedented debate, watched by 9.9 million viewers at its peak, as Labour’s election co-ordinator, Douglas Alexander, admitted: “It is now impossible to predict the course of the next three weeks.”

David Cameron conceded that Clegg had performed strongly, as his aides reviewed how they could puncture the Liberal Democrat leader’s image as the anti-establishment outsider. Tory sources, ruing Cameron’s personal decision to grant Clegg equal status in the three debates, started to point to his past as a full-time European commission bureaucrat, as well as his firm Europhile views…

Labour, happy to see a Liberal Democrat wave so long as it does not convert into a tsunami, continued to emphasise the similarities between Lib Dem and Labour policies. Lord Adonis, the transport secretary and a former Lib Dem, took hints of postelection co-operation a stage further by saying he would not tell voters whether to back Labour in Lib Dem-Tory marginals.

The stodgy incompetents are falling over each other trying to blame the old rival as having lost the most. They both deserve to lose.

A hell of an object lesson on why the TweedleDeeDum parties in the US fear a solid 3rd Party movement more than anything else.

National Prayer Day ruled unconstitutional

A federal judge in Wisconsin ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional Thursday, saying the day amounts to a call for religious action.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic.

“In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual’s decision whether and when to pray,” Crabb wrote.

Congress established the day in 1952 and in 1988 set the first Thursday in May as the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based group of atheists and agnostics, filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 2008 arguing the day violated the separation of church and state…

Crabb wrote that her ruling was not a judgment on the value of prayer. She noted government involvement in prayer may be constitutional if the conduct serves a “significant secular purpose” and doesn’t amount to a call for religious action. But the National Day of Prayer crosses that line, she wrote.

“It goes beyond mere ‘acknowledgment’ of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context,” she wrote. “In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.”

Prayer serves no function especially different from other exercises in onanism. Probably less harmful than consuming alcohol – and not as much fun as masturbation.

Onions: a natural alternative to artificial preservatives

Some components of the onion have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, making it possible to use this bulb for food preservation. This is demonstrated by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Cataluña (UPC) and the University of Barcelona (UB) in a study that has just been published…

The study, that has just been published by the International Journal of Food Science and Technology, shows that the flavonoids of onion, in addition to having beneficial properties for health, increase the life of foods, and so “they are a natural alternative to artificial additives used in the food industry.” Flavonoids are phenolic compounds (with the phenol group) which are synthesized by plants.

The results confirm that, especially the yellow variety, is “a good source of these types of substances, and there is a positive correlation between the presence of flavonoids and their antioxidant capacity…”

Previous studies indicate that flavonoids have beneficial effects for health due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, vasodilatory and anti-carcinogenic properties, making it of special interest in the prevention of chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular illnesses, and some types of cancer…

The onion (Allium cepa) is one of the most cultivated and consumed vegetables on the planet (around 66 million tonnes in 2008, of which 1.1 million were produced in Spain, especially in Castilla-La Mancha), and one of the main ingredients of the Mediterranean diet.

Certainly is a significant part of my diet. Most of my recipes start with “brown an onion”…

Goldman-Sachs pimp exec bragged about his untouchable power!

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Fabrice Tourre, the Goldman Sachs executive accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of making misleading statements about toxic investments, had a grandiose view of his own position in the financial system, according to emails the SEC said he wrote.

An email by Tourre, according to the SEC’s complaint against him and Goldman Sachs, proclaimed, “More and more leverage in the system. The whole building is about to collapse anytime now…Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab(rice Tourre)…standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstruosities!!!!” (Sic)

That email was sent to a friend of Tourre’s, according to the SEC complaint.

His department was also of the view that CDOs were in terrible shape, according to the SEC. A Feb. 11, 2007 email that the complaint says was sent to Tourre by the head of Goldman Sachs’ structured production correlation trading desk allegedly said, “the cdo biz is dead we don’t have a lot of time left.”

The SEC said Goldman Sachs and Tourre misled investors about a synthetic collateralized debt obligation, or CDO, that hinged on the performance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities…

The CDO, called ABACUS 2007-AC1, was structured and marketed by Goldman in early 2007 when the U.S. housing market and related securities were beginning to show signs of distress, the SEC complaint said.

According to the SEC, Goldman Sachs failed to disclose to investors vital information about the CDO, in particular the role that John Paulson, a major hedge fund manager, played in the portfolio selection process, and the fact that the hedge fund had taken a short position against the CDO. Neither Paulson nor his hedge fund company were named as defendants in the SEC complaint.

These crooks all play by the same rules – or in the case of this recession – play by the absence of rules and oversight. Something the Republican Party is about to say NO to, once again. The last thing they want is for the real money in this land to be hampered by living up to the law.

It was the same at all levels. The first example I personally witnessed of how the system had been corrupted – I watched a young married couple, both undocumentados, buying a single-wide with no credit history and 10% down. The trailer farm salesman promised them “no problem” and as he explained to me – a group of trailer dealers owned the storefront mortgage company which would make the mortgage and sell the paper to someone like Countrywide.

No state rules or oversight required for the storefront mortgage company. Still isn’t any, btw.

These cruds at Goldman-Sachs did the same thing on a global scale. Only they had their Republican buddies from the Contract on America handling things for them in the federal government. Deals that weren’t worth the paper they were written on – floated merrily downstream – no oversight, no regulators worth their salt would actually look at their dealings.

Right-wing + teabaggers capture Florida Republican Party – and maybe lose an election to the Moderate they want to force out.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist, fighting for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, stirred more speculation he may leave the party and run as an independent when he vetoed a contentious Republican measure on Thursday…

Crist vetoed a bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature to eliminate traditional teacher tenure, saying the measure went too far in taking away teacher protections that constituents overwhelmingly wanted to keep. The bill also would have linked teachers’ pay to improvements in student test scores.

The ultimate George W Jeb Bush cheap-out.

Crist trails in [Republican] opinion polls to Marco Rubio, a former House Speaker from Miami who has become the darling of the Republican Party’s conservative wing.

He further distanced himself from Rubio on Thursday by siding with teachers and some of the state’s largest unions, the Florida Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

A Quinnipiac Poll released hours before the veto showed Crist losing to Rubio by 23 points if the Republican primary were held now. If Crist ran as an independent, the poll found he would win a three-way race with 32 percent of the vote, compared with Rubio’s 30 percent and Democratic front-runner Kendrick Meek’s 24 percent…

Crist told reporters the measure was inflexible and too hastily crafted without proper input from teachers, parents, superintendents and school boards and had damaged the morale of teachers, parents and students.

As usual, the Republican version of “reform” is designed to cut jobs and downgrade education.

Of course, keeping someone sensible in office remains a function of the Florida electorate. One of the blogs I’ve been involved with for quite a spell maintains a special logo just for silly things that happen in Florida.

And now, a State Microbe

There it was, amid the long list of crucial bills that state legislators in Wisconsin were racing to vote on before their session ends next week: A bill to select the state’s official microbe. Yes, microbe.

Peculiar, perhaps, until one considers what appeared to be the extremely short list of contenders (one) for this state honor — none other than Lactococcus lactis, the bacterium used to make cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack cheese, and an unsung hero in this, the nation’s No. 1 cheese-producing state.

“The first time I heard the idea, I thought, I’ve got more important things to do than spending my time honoring a microbe,” said Gary Hebl, a Democratic state representative who proposed the bill which, he says, would make Wisconsin the first state in the nation to grant such a designation. “But this microbe is really a very hard worker…”

The proposal in Wisconsin had faced only one detractor in committee – “the opponent was clearly lactose intolerant,” Mr. Hebl said.

The article mentions in passing that here in New Mexico we have a State Question: Red or Green. There is a third answer for those of you who can’t figure out which chile sauce you prefer. It is “Christmas.”