American college students are multi-media junkies

American college students are hooked on cellphones, social media and the Internet and showing symptoms similar to drug and alcohol addictions, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Maryland who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full day found that after 24 hours many showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety along with an inability to function well without their media and social links.

Susan Moeller, the study’s project director and a journalism professor at the university, said many students wrote about how they hated losing their media connections, which some equated to going without friends and family.

“I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening,” said one student. “Between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable to shed their media skin.”

Moeller said students complained most about their need to use text messages, instant messages, e-mail and Facebook…

Few students reported watching TV news or reading a newspaper.

RTFA. Any surprises?

Anyone expect that greater immersion in communications actually leads to an equivalent upgrade in content? Are you still stuck into Marshall McLuhan?

Penis enlargement barred for Papuan coppers


Move along – you can’t park here!

Forget about getting a job as a police officer in Indonesia’s Papua if you have had your penis enlarged. You won’t get it, according to local media reports citing the Papua police chief.

An applicant “will be asked whether or not his vital organ has been enlarged,” said Papua police chief Bekto Suprapto, quoted on local website Kompas.com. “If he has, he will be considered unfit to join the police or the military.”

The ban was applied since the unnatural size causes “hindrance during training,” said police spokesman Zainuri Lubis in Jakarta…

Papuans use a local technique to achieve the enlargement, according to a sexologist quoted by local newspaper Jakarta Globe, wrapping the penis with leaves from the “gatal-gatal” (itchy) tree so that it swells up “like it has been stung by a bee,” the expert said.

Eeoough! That has to sting.

WellPoint insurance deliberately dropping breast cancer patients


Braly is head of the real Death Panels
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has called on health insurer WellPoint to stop dropping coverage for patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer, calling the practice “deplorable.”

In a letter dated April 22 to Angela Braly, WellPoint’s chief executive, Sebelius said she was “surprised and disappointed” to learn from a Reuters report that the company has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with intent to cancel their policies.

“As you know, the practice described in this article will soon be illegal,” Sebelius wrote. “The Affordable Care Act specifically prohibits insurance companies from rescinding policies, except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact…”

“WellPoint should not wait to end the unconscionable practice of deliberately working to deny health insurance coverage to women diagnosed with breast cancer,” Sebelius wrote in her letter. “I urge you to immediately cease these practices and abandon your efforts to rescind health insurance coverage from patients who need it most.”

Breast cancer is the second-leading type of cancer among women, has touched millions of families, and will affect one in eight American women during their lifetime, Sebelius wrote.

These are the “leaders” Republicans and their Teabagger flunkies relied on for guidance in their opposition to health care reform.

Seems to me – and anyone else with a sense of ethics and humanity – that thugs like Wellpoint should be jailed for the fraud they perpetrate upon the people they insure.

The crap politicians who support their policies should be assigned to cleaning the toilets in their cells.

Oil now leaking from Gulf disaster piping – UPDATED


Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Oil appears not to be flowing from a sunken drilling rig and damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico, but hope was dimming as search continued for 11 workers missing in the disaster, said the U.S. Coast Guard.

“As of right now, the spill is not growing,” a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

A remotely operated unmanned submarine sent down Thursday to inspect the scene found no oil leaking from the sunken Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and no oil flowing from the well, reducing the risk of a major spill, a spokeswoman said…

But 11 workers remained missing despite an intensive search and it was feared they were unable to escape the blast.

The Transocean Deepwater Horizon sank Thursday after burning since Tuesday following an explosion while trying to temporarily cap a new well drilled for BP 42 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana.

The blast occurred about 10 p.m. CDT Tuesday as the rig was capping a discovery well pending production, company officials said. Some 115 of the 126 workers on board at the time of the explosion were rescued.

I’m truly glad to see that the blowout protection systems appear to be working.

Obviously not as designed – for that would have prevented the explosion and resulting fire, loss of life and the rig. But, one of the critical portions of such systems is closing the wellhead and preventing an oil spill.

Folks will still need to get down to the bottom and properly cap the well. No doubt the process will include drilling an ancillary well to access the original production holes.

UPDATE: Capping the well acquires a higher priority now that risers and drill pipe from the wellhead are leaking oil at a rate approximated at 1000 barrels a day.

This is a serious rate – and although the blowout protection system did its job, the drill rig components failed as a result of the explosion and mechanical forces exerted on the drilling system.

Financial “reform” debate? Follow the money!

Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress may want to look tough on financial reform in front of voters but that has not stopped them from filling their re-election war chests with plenty of Wall Street cash.

The political action committees of six Wall Street banks spent the first quarter of 2010 giving handsome donations to Republicans and Democrats who are critical to passing legislation that could determine the future of the U.S. financial sector.

The banks — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs — gave about $106,000 to 12 members of the Senate and House of Representatives who sit either in leadership positions or on the committees that forged the measures.

The sum is 40 percent of the $272,000 that the same institutions donated overall to political campaigns and committees between January and March.

But it is only a tiny fraction of the more than $30 million that has flowed into campaign coffers from the PACs and employees of banks, securities firms and finance companies since the 2010 election cycle began on January 1, 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the non-partisan watchdog that tracks the role of money in U.S. politics…

Wall Street has maintained a long and robust relationship with Washington decision-makers over the years, providing nearly $1 billion in campaign funds since 1990 and millions of dollars more on behind-the-scenes lobbying.

Analysts say big spending in Washington helps explain the evolution of the financial regulatory reform debate in the Senate, from harder-edged Democratic proposals last year to modifications that seem headed for a bipartisan deal with Republicans…

The biggest financial sector beneficiary in the current election cycle is Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who has received $1.6 million from securities firms and commercial banks, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Close behind are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with $1.5 million and fellow Republican Senator Bob Corker, who broke party ranks to open reform talks with the Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Christopher Dodd. Corker raised $1.4 million from financial sources.

“Follow the money” never meant as much as it does in American politics. Whether it’s a weekly pay-off to a hometown police chief or six-figure political contributions to world-class congressional thugs, gold always settles to the bottom of the cesspool.

Bush era special counsel charged with contempt

Former U.S. Special Counsel Scott Bloch has been charged with criminal contempt of Congress…

Longtime POGO fans will recall that Bloch was the head of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent federal agency tasked with protecting whistleblowers from retaliation. POGO and others were highly critical of Bloch for routinely ignoring and dismissing whistleblower complaints, abusing his authority, and turning the agency’s mission on its head by retaliating against his own staff.

The charges filed today allege that Bloch withheld key information from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as it was investigating Bloch’s use of a private tech company to delete files from OSC computers. Investigators suspected he was destroying evidence related to allegations that he had used his office for political purposes and retaliated against career staff. FBI agents raided his offices in May 2008, seizing computers and documents belonging to Bloch and his staff. Bloch was forced to resign from the OSC several months later…

Bloch’s other greatest hits include:

Distributing an internal newsletter in which he instructed his female employees to avoid wearing tight clothes, and advised both men and women to wear “conservative watches”;

Assembling a task force to help create the impression that the OSC was engaged in a multi-faceted investigation of the White House, as Bloch himself was under investigation;

Assigning interns to close out hundreds of whistleblower retaliation complaints; and

Ignoring federal air marshals and countless other whistleblowers who were the victims of retaliation.

Though a group of Republican Party hacks stretching back to Watergate days have already founded a “Scott Bloch Defense Fund” it appears that Bloch is going to plead guilty.

I guess even with the defense fund he couldn’t come up with a Dick Cheney-style army of lawyers.