Pic of the Day – American law and order


Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

An 84-year-old woman in Seattle became a face of the national Occupy Wall Street movement after she was hit with pepper spray during a Seattle march.

A photo of Dorli Rainey with the chemical irritant dripping from her chin on Tuesday night quickly went viral, becoming one of the most striking images from the protests that have taken place in cities across the globe.

The photograph shows Ms Rainey, wearing a scarf and jacket, being helped by two people. One man is cradling her head in his arms as they walk away from the area. The Seattle activists were blocking downtown streets. Ms Rainey said police told the group they had to move.

“They picked up their bicycles and started shoving them at us and confining us in a very small place and they started to pepper spray,” she said.

The former schoolteacher has been active in Seattle’s liberal politics for decades and once ran for mayor. She says on Wednesday that she showed up at the downtown protest to show her support…

…Six people were arrested.

Ms Rainey was not among those arrested. She says she has no plans to stop protesting, adding “I’m tough.”

Good for you, sister.

If I had a photo of the “heroic” copper who hit you with the pepper spray, I’d post that, as well.

Middle-Class communities shrink – Income gap increasingly divides the rich and poor

The portion of American families living in middle-income neighborhoods has declined significantly since 1970, according to a new study, as rising income inequality left a growing share of families in neighborhoods that are mostly low-income or mostly affluent.

The study, conducted by Stanford University…uses census data to examine family income at the neighborhood level in the country’s 117 biggest metropolitan areas. The findings show a changed map of prosperity in the United States over the past four decades, with larger patches of affluence and poverty and a shrinking middle.

In 2007, the last year captured by the data, 44 percent of families lived in neighborhoods the study defined as middle-income, down from 65 percent of families in 1970. At the same time, a third of American families lived in areas of either affluence or poverty, up from just 15 percent of families in 1970.

The study comes at a time of growing concern about inequality and an ever-louder partisan debate over whether it matters. It raises, but does not answer, the question of whether increased economic inequality, and the resulting income segregation, impedes social mobility.

I don’t hear any Republicans saying this matters. In fact they accuse anyone bringing up the question – of starting class warfare.

Much of the shift is the result of changing income structure in the United States. Part of the country’s middle class has slipped to the lower rungs of the income ladder as manufacturing and other middle-class jobs have dwindled, while the wealthy receive a bigger portion of the income pie. Put simply, there are fewer people in the middle…

And the gap between rich and poor in college completion — one of the single most important predictors of economic success — has grown by more than 50 percent since the 1990s, said Martha J. Bailey, an economist at the University of Michigan. More than half of children from high-income families finish college, up from about a third 20 years ago. Fewer than 10 percent of low-income children finish, up from 5 percent.

RTFA. There is more to consider than education, than changing neighborhoods.

There are examples to consider in the article. There are more in the report [.pdf] itself.

The found art that is photography – melting icebergs by Souders


The setting midnight sun lights a massive arched iceberg from the Ilulissat Kangerlua Glacier

“Several of the shots remind me that I’m lucky to be alive. There was a massive arched iceberg in Greenland that captivated me,” says Paul. “The midnight sun lit the arch with this amazing orange light, but the only way to photograph it was to motor inside it. The berg was shaped like an enormous hollow molar, and I sucked up my courage to dash in with my boat, shooting the scene as fast as I could. The light was fading fast and I was pretty worried that the whole thing could collapse, roll over, dump me in the ocean. I kept listening for the thunderclap that would mean the end for me. A tour boat from the nearby village motored past and watched in disbelief. I could hear the guide telling them how very, very dangerous this was. When I was done, I yelled across to them, “Please don’t tell my mom!

While I’ve never cared to work at being a professional photographer, I’ve known a few. Specialists in everything from food to motorsports. Truly tempting way to earn a living recording truth, beauty – or seemingly unimportant moments.

My own work – especially outdoors – is with nature as found art. I’m only a recordkeeper. I can tweak and tune a bit and prefer to do so with rather elemental and simple software. As I did in a darkroom years ago.

Talent like Paul Souder’s deserves a special level of recognition.

Which is it, Gingrich? Hypocrite, liar or both?


Even pigs wear boots to a Gingrich press conference

Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.

The total amount is significantly larger than the $300,000 payment from Freddie Mac that Gingrich was asked about during a Republican presidential debate on Nov. 9 sponsored by CNBC, and more than was disclosed in the middle of congressional investigations into the housing industry collapse.

Gingrich’s business relationship with Freddie Mac spanned a period of eight years. When asked at the debate what he did to earn a $300,000 payment in 2006…the former speaker lied and said he offered lessons from history.

Gingrich said this morning that the payments were for “strategic advice over a long period of time.” His fees were sent to his consulting firm, The Gingrich Group, not to him personally…well, that’s a big difference, eh?

Gingrich’s first contract with the mortgage lender was in 1999, five months after he resigned from Congress and as House speaker…His primary contact inside the organization was Mitchell Delk, Freddie Mac’s chief lobbyist, and he was paid a self- renewing, monthly retainer of $25,000 to $30,000 between May 1999 until 2002, according to three people familiar with aspects of the business agreement.

During that period, Gingrich consulted with Freddie Mac executives on a program to expand home ownership, an idea Delk said he pitched to President George W. Bush’s White House.

“I spent about three hours with him talking about the substance of the issues and the politics of the issues, and he really got it,” said Delk, adding that the two discussed “what the benefits are to communities, what the benefits could be for Republicans and particularly their relationship with Hispanics…”

While campaigning in Iowa this week, Gingrich, 68, was asked about his relationship with Freddie Mac. He said he did no lobbying “of any kind…”

RTFA if you can stand the stink of Gingrich’s lies. I’d recommend wearing rubber boots, as well.

There’s a good deal of sound journalist research and statements from Freddie Mac officials and employees trying to tightrope it between saying what really happened and keeping their jobs while facing a Republican House.

More Gingrich lies, of course. As more comes out into the light of day, Newt has to rearrange his lies to suit the occasion. A reflection of the cesspool that is Congressional ethics.

Here’s a shock – Doctors paid for cardiac tests order more of them

Doctors who earn money for cardiac stress testing are much more likely to prescribe the tests than those who don’t, a new study has found.

Researchers at Duke University studied data on 17,847 patients nationwide who had cardiac bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty, checking to see how often doctors prescribed nuclear stress tests and echocardiograms later than 90 days after discharge…

Among doctors who billed for administering and interpreting a stress test, 12.6 percent prescribed the test, compared with 5 percent of those who were not paid for testing. Results for echocardiograms were similar: 2.8 percent of patients were tested by doctors who billed for both test and interpretation, and 0.4 percent by those who were paid for neither.

After controlling for the patient’s age and disease characteristics, the doctor’s specialty and other factors, researchers found that a patient of a doctor earning money from testing was more than twice as likely to be tested as a patient of a doctor without financial interest in the tests.

“If you’re having symptoms or a change in health status, testing is appropriate,” said Dr. Bimal R. Shah, the lead author of the analysis and a fellow in cardiology at Duke. “But in situations where there aren’t any clinical indications for tests, these reimbursement structures seem to be associated with increased testing use.”

Do you think so? Cripes.

I had one doctor who sent me for a battery of tests at an eye clinic that cost Medicare a bundle – when the headaches I was experiencing actually meant that New Mexico’s hardy and aggressive range of pollen had finally caught up with me and I had developed hayfever.

Yes, I found that he got a spif for the referral – and, no, I never went to him, again.

Republicans and other paid-for politicians say pizza a vegetable


Pissaladière rouge et blanche

Is pizza a vegetable? Maybe not in most homes, but in public school cafeterias it is.

School meals that are subsidized by the government are required to contain a certain minimum of vegetables under current rules, and a serving of pizza that contains at least two tablespoons of tomato sauce meets the veggie requirement. The Obama administration recently sought to change the rule so that only a half-cup of tomato paste or more could be counted as a vegetable — part of their efforts to cut back on the amount of pizza, French fries and other “unhealthy” foods showing up on school lunch trays.

But the food industry and some lawmakers are pushing back. On Monday, Congress released the final version of a spending bill that would block the new tomato-paste rule, essentially keeping pizza in the vegetable category. The bill would also eliminate other changes the U.S. Department of Agriculture had proposed, like increasing whole grains in school meals and limiting the use of starchy vegetables to two servings a week, which would have cut back on the fries served daily at many schools.

As the Associated Press reports…food companies that produce frozen pizzas for schools, the salt industry and potato growers requested the changes and lobbied Congress….

Piling on to the companies’ opposition, some conservatives argue that the federal government shouldn’t tell children what to eat. In a summary of the bill, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee said the changes would “prevent overly burdensome and costly regulations and…provide greater flexibility for local school districts to improve the nutritional quality of meals.” School districts have said some of the USDA proposals go too far and cost too much when budgets are extremely tight.

Which is a crock! Not much different from the days of “states rights” used to protect bigotry. Only this is used to protect the industries paying to keep your friendly neighborhood fat-and-salt laden Congress-critter in office.

As someone who cares specially for the Mediterranean portion of my family who taught me to prepare something more than Haggis – I make a delightful pissaladière along with dozens of variations on pizza from scratch. But, even one covered in onions only counts halfway as vegetable. The crappy nutrition designed by lobbyists from the American fast-food industry is matched in our schools only by the crappy education that satisfies our politicians.