Religious folks who live up to the standard – arrested in Capitol

Frustrated that their pleas to the Administration and Congress to protect funding for the nation’s most vulnerable are being ignored, nearly a dozen leaders from the faith community were arrested inside the U.S. Capitol Building on Thursday.

Despite repeated warnings from the U.S. Capitol Police, the leaders refused to end their public prayers asking the Administration and Congress not to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.

Among those who were arrested were the Rev. Michael Livingston, former president of the National Council of Churches, now director of the NCC’s poverty initiative; and Jordan Blevins, director of peace witness for the Church of the Brethren and the NCC.

“Congress is paralyzed by toxic partisan politics while people suffer,” said Livingston. “Our elected officials are protecting corporations and wealthy individuals while shredding the safety net for millions of the most vulnerable people in our nation and abroad. Our faith won’t allow us to passively watch this travesty unfold. We’ve written letters, talked with and prayed for our elected officials, and prayed together daily in interreligious community. Today, we ‘offer our bodies as a living sacrifice’ to say to congress ‘Raise revenue, protect the vulnerable and those living in poverty…’”

Others arrested include Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church; Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Shalom Center in Philadelphia; Rev. Jennifer Butler, Executive Director, Faith and Public Life; Rev. Paul Sherry, Director of the Washington Office, Interfaith Worker Justice; Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Director of Public Witness, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Sandy Sorenson, Director of Washington Office, United Church of Christ; Martin Shupack, Director of Advocacy, Church World Service; and Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, President of Common Cause. Edgar is a former general secretary of the NCC…

Capitol Hill police asked them to clear the rotunda but the religious leaders continued praying. As they were being arrested, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D.-Maine) announced on the floor of the House of Representatives that religious leaders are being arrested for standing up for persons in poverty…

There was no response from those members of the House of Representatives who campaign for office as Christian conservatives.

War Texting lets hackers unlock cars via OnStar

Cellular-based automotive roadside assistance services like GM’s OnStar and BMW Assist allow remote unlocking of vehicles by communicating with remote servers via standard mobile networks. Now a pair of security systems engineers have managed to prove it takes just a few hours of clever reverse engineering to crack the in-car cellular network-based technology to gain access to vehicles. They call their method “War Texting.”

Don Bailey and Mathew Solnik of security company iSEC Partners set up an ad-hoc GSM network, which allowed them to communicate directly with the in-car system, posing as authorized servers. A proprietary protocol that is normally in use proved not be secure enough. All they eventually needed to do, was to send simple messages from a laptop to the car’s computer.

Bailey and Solnik will present their findings during the upcoming Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas in a briefing entitled “War Texting: Identifying and Interacting with Devices on the Telephone Network,” although they will skip the details regarding the attack, to allow manufacturers to fix vulnerable systems.

However, apparently not just car security technologies are defenseless against the “War Texting” hacking method, as cellular networks are also utilized by SCADA systems that monitor and control industrial infrastructure, or facility-based processes.

Isn’t it a little overdue to require manufacturers of systems like these to build-in security protocols to guarantee safety and security. I surely hope no one is counting on wireless providers to do it.

Crook ran ID theft scam while in Missouri prisons

A former Missouri prison inmate has admitted running an identity theft scheme from behind bars, the U.S Attorney’s office said.

Danwine Dewayne Renard, 47, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to four felony charges: conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud; aiding and abetting bank fraud; and two counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft.

Renard was serving time in various Missouri prisons for check kiting and other charges. For more than two years beginning in July of 2008, Renard advised his co-conspirators via phone calls and letters from prison, prosecutors said.

Renard and others obtained personal information in the name of others and Renard’s co-conspirators used those IDs to open bank accounts in Madison and St. Clair counties and elsewhere, prosecutors said.

They would then deposit bogus checks in the accounts and use ATMs to withdraw money that didn’t really exist. They also wrote bad checks on the accounts, prosecutors said. Losses due to the scheme topped $200,000, court documents show.

When he gets out of prison, next time, he’s going to work for Goldman Sachs. Or Congress.

I doubt if federal regulators or anyone charged with Congressional oversight does their job any better than whoever is supposed to be keeping an eye on Missouri felons.

Are you upset over the breast-feeding baby doll?


 
Little girls love mimicking their mommies. They clomp around in high heels, push toy Dyson vacuums and tenderly strap stuffed animals into baby strollers. Big sisters — and brothers — who see their mothers nursing a new baby sibling often pretend to do the same. Lifting their tiny tees, they smush a doll or, in my daughter’s case, a panda to their chest. As parents, we race for the camera and post the adorable pics on Facebook. So why all the brouhaha over the The Breast Milk Baby?

“Yuck” is the general reaction that the sweet-faced Spanish import is receiving in the U.S. It’s apparently a hit in Europe, but more prudish Americans are clamoring to decry the inappropriateness of a doll that lets a young girl pretend to breast-feed. The six models — Cameron, Jeremiah, Lilyang, Jessica, Savannah and Tony — are sold with a flowered halter top for your breast-feeder-in-training to wear. Hold the baby to the strategically placed flower “nipple,” and the doll moves its mouth and makes associated suckling sounds.

Granted, it’s — pardon the pun — pretty over the top. But it’s hardly odder than the anatomically correct boy-doll my mother-in-law bought my son; fill it with water and it obediently wet the plastic potty it came with. Yet while urinating — and defecating — dolls are commonplace, major retailers have shied away from Breast Milk Baby so far, although manufacturer Berjuan Toys intends to tout the doll’s appeal at a mega-trade show later this month in Las Vegas…

Berjuan, meanwhile, is milking its 15 minutes of fame for all it’s worth. On its website, the company trumpets that “God Supports The Breast Milk Baby” and U.S. spokesman Dennis Lewis complains of being labeled “perverts and pedophiles” for promoting breast-feeding. “Churches all over the world are filled with images of Mary nursing baby Jesus, and yet we can’t imagine letting our daughters learn how important breastfeeding is for our society?” he says on the site.

Religious guilt aside, it’s undeniable that the doll is a good match for children, who are naturally curious about biology. The Breast Milk Baby simulates the miraculously complex way a woman’s body can produce all the food her baby needs for many months. It’s one thing to castigate Bratz dolls with their sultry, made-up eyes and Angelina Jolie lips or Barbies with their infinitesimal waists and big boobs; they ooze sexuality and project unattainable body ideals. If anything, The Breast Milk Baby is a refreshing change from the doll-as-tarted-up-playmate paradigm: it’s not about sex; it’s about eating.

Not that there is anything unusual about Americans blurting out their ignorance and archaic fears over sex and/or food. You probably could turn out a joint Christian/Tea Party demonstration against a local retailer offering this doll – ten times faster and easier than, say, the equivalent herd showing up at a public exposition on neutering stray dogs and cats. Though the latter addresses longterm questions our society should deal with and the former – well, the former is a historic footnote on the insecurities of this nation.

Vaults full of gold? How about warehouses filled with aluminum?

In a rundown patch of Detroit, enclosed by a cyclone fence and barbed wire, stands an unremarkable warehouse that investment bank Goldman Sachs has transformed into a money-making machine.

The derelict neighborhood off Michigan Avenue is a sharp contrast to Goldman’s bustling skyscraper headquarters near Wall Street, but the two operations share one important element: management by the bank’s savvy financial professionals.

A string of warehouses in Detroit, most of them operated by Goldman, has stockpiled more than a million tonnes of the industrial metal aluminum, about a quarter of global reported inventories. Simply storing all that metal generates tens of millions of dollars in rental revenues for Goldman every year.

There’s just one problem: only a trickle of the aluminum is leaving the depots, creating a supply pinch for manufacturers of everything from soft drink cans to aircraft.

The resulting spike in prices has sparked a clash between companies forced to pay more for their aluminum and wait months for it to be delivered, Goldman, which is keen to keep its cash machines humming and the London Metal Exchange (LME), the world’s benchmark industrial metals market, which critics accuse of lax oversight.

Analysts question why London’s metals market allows big financial players like Goldman to own the warehouses which store huge quantities of metal even as they trade the commodity.

Robin Bhar, a veteran metals analyst at Credit Agricole in London says the conflict of interest is so acute he wants U.S. and European anti-trust regulators to weigh in.

“I think it makes a mockery of the market. It’s a shame,” Bhar said. “This is an anti-competitive situation. It puts some companies at an advantage, and clearly the rest of the market at a disadvantage. It’s a real, genuine concern. And I think the regulators have to look at it…”

The inflation Goldman Sachs bakes into every ton of aluminum they store affects the whole North American market. It sound like a little – only a few percent – and adds up to millions of dollars.

RTFA. Long, detailed, well-researched – and disgusting. Manipulating supply in this manner certainly should be illicit if not illegal.

Bible Belt copper puts woman on trial for truck testicles

The police chief of a small South Carolina town will ask a jury to decide if a woman broke the state’s obscenity laws by driving a pickup truck with plastic testicles hanging from the back.

Bonneau Police Chief Franco Fuda ticketed Virginia Tice, 65, in early July at a local convenience store after spying the adornment dangling from her truck.

South Carolina law considers a bumper sticker, decal or device indecent when it describes, in an offensive way as determined by contemporary community standards, “sexual acts, excretory functions, or parts of the human body…”

The Charleston law firm Savage & Savage will represent Tice for free, attorney Scott Bischoff said. The trial had been scheduled for next week but was delayed because the defendant will be out of town.

“She’s such a sweet lady and she just says ‘I don’t want to pay the fine.’ We’ll let a jury decide whether this is really criminal behavior. I don’t want to take away from the importance of free speech, but it’s really comical,” he said…

Fuda said if the fake testicles were a free speech issue, “I don’t know what they would be trying to express.”

I think what they’re trying to say is that a certain segment of the American population has the sense of humor of a horse’s ass.

The fact remains it isn’t up to the local commissar in blue to decide what your free speech is saying or laughing about. You have the right to decide, think and speak – or laugh!