Bloomberg writes $250K check to back gay marriage in Maryland

Mike Bloomberg performing one of the first gay marriages in NY state

New York City’s billionaire three-term mayor has tapped into his personal fortune to further the cause of same-sex marriage, donating $250,000 to support the issue in Maryland where voters will get the chance to weigh in at the ballot box come November.

Maryland will always hold a special place in my heart. … So when Governor (Martin) O’Malley asked me to support Question 6, I didn’t hesitate,” said Michael Bloomberg, who attended college at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Maryland residents are scheduled to cast their ballot November 6 on what’s known as Question 6, voting either to uphold or strike down a bill legalizing same-sex marriage that was signed into law in March by O’Malley.

With the law, Maryland joined seven states and Washington, D.C., in allowing gay couples to wed, but it isn’t scheduled to take effect until January 1, giving both its opponents and advocates a chance to ratchet up campaign efforts to sway voters…

Currently, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In February, Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a bill into law that legalizes same-sex marriage, but that state similarly faces a referendum challenge in November.

Today’s conservatives tend to mask their bigotry as they always have on questions of civil rights by dragging out the oldest phony excuse in the world – states’ rights. Woop-de-doo! Let all of the reactionary, bible-belt losers left over from the civil war vote their ignorance into law – and stop behaving like the so-called United States.

Civil rights is a constitutional issue and one that requires uniform national law. Cripes – it’s certainly more important than uniform protocols for railroad gauge or passing lanes.

Glad to see Bloomberg – who’s been equally supportive on his home turf for folks of the LGBT gender – help carry ethics to a broader circle.

Fearless Felix made it!

Stepping off the capsule at 128,000 feet

Touchdown outside of Roswell, New Mexico

Click on either photo to enlarge. The photos are screen grabs from the live stream online.

New records for descent speed, altitude and more.

Most important – Phew! He made it safe and sound. Felix Baumgartner.

Mauritania’s army doesn’t quite get the Homeland Security concept – You’re not supposed to shoot the president!

Mauritania’s president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, was being flown to France for medical treatment after a bizarre incident in which he was shot in the stomach, apparently by mistake, by his own troops.

Authorities in the west African nation, regarded as a key ally in the battle against al-Qaida in the region, were insisting the shooting, which took place 40km outside the capital, was an accident.

The president appeared on state television from his hospital bed to call for calm. “I want to calm all citizens,” Abdel Aziz said. “I want to reassure everyone about my state of health after this incident committed by error.”

Sources say “jumpy” military guards at a checkpoint mistook Abdel Aziz, who was returning to the capital, Nouakchott, after a trip to the desert, for a security threat…

The Mauritanian press reported the president spent more than eight hours at the military hospital in Nouakchott, where he was operated on by two doctors, and is being flown to France by a Moroccan air ambulance.

Reports say the military and presidential guard worked together to protect the president during the medical procedure, amid scenes of chaos on the streets…

Officials declined to comment on what happened to the soldiers at the checkpoint, or if anyone else in the convoy was hurt.

A world-class “oops!” – fortunate in that this didn’t lead to any wider shootout.

It ain’t only BLS stats that Jack Welch failed to understand

It isn’t only the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics that is issuing surprisingly good news about the U.S. economy these days.

If former General Electric Co. Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch’s charges of a political fix to manipulate economic data ahead of the presidential election are true, there must be a vast econometric conspiracy embracing auto dealers, real estate agents, the Federal Reserve and corporate America’s 96-year-old Conference Board.

The economy is improving more than professional forecasters anticipated, particularly in data on employment and housing, according to the Bloomberg Economic Surprise Index, which compares 38 indicators with analysts’ predictions. The index, based on gauges compiled by private businesses and trade groups in addition to government, confirms U.S. growth is generating jobs in the face of a global slowdown and looming federal spending cuts and tax increases known as the fiscal cliff.

The economy is improving, and the labor market is getting better,” said Robert Brusca, president of Fact & Opinion Economics and a former New York Fed economist. “These numbers are what they are, they’re not being slanted. On a scale of one to 10, the economy is at a fairly firm six and may be heading higher…”

An Oct. 5 report from the BLS showed the jobless rate fell in September to 7.8 percent, the lowest since Obama took office in January 2009, from 8.1 percent in August. The rate was forecast to rise to 8.2 percent, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 88 economists…

The BLS data also showed that employers added 114,000 workers to payrolls last month after a revised 142,000 gain in August. The September figure was in line with economists’ estimates for an increase of 115,000…

The Bloomberg Economic Surprise Index, which compares indicators with analysts’ predictions, shows a growing number of those measures are exceeding expectations. The index climbed to minus 0.06 yesterday from this year’s low of minus 0.42 at the end of July.

The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index shows a more pronounced improvement. It jumped to 49.4 yesterday from this year’s low of minus 65.3 on July 19. A positive reading suggests the economic releases have on balance been better than the Bloomberg consensus.

Among the indicators that have topped analysts’ forecasts: consumer confidence, car sales and purchases of existing homes…

This report from Bloomberg rolls on through many more variables, multifaceted views of the American economy – and even a touch or two on the coming election. The song remains the same.

Politicians and corporate barons who fear continued oversight from our government, who want the same unfettered freedom to lie, cheat and steal that characterized the Bush-Cheney years – want with every fiber of their being to cast our economy into dire straits.

Another reason why I’d rather learn about economics from scholars than pundits.

Inventions that changed the world in ways we didn’t expect

Here are powerful technologies developed last century that are still changing the world, even though we didn’t expect them to.

The Haber-Bosch process

Back in the early part of the 20th century, the German chemist Fritz Haber was alarmed by the growing number of mouths to feed — and the inability of farmers to keep up with the demand. Subsequently, Haber became the first person to figure out that ammonia could be created from nitrogen and hydrogen. In turn, this ammonia could be used to produce fertilizer. A lot of fertilizer…


Nationwide, 85,000 cases of vaccine-preventable diseases are reported every year. The recently debunked claim that there is a link between vaccines and autism hasn’t helped. Globally, over 3 million people die each year mostly on account of insufficient access to vaccines. More to the point, though, it’s easy to forget what it is, exactly, that we’re being protected against on account of their profound effectiveness; vaccines stave off such blights as polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis A and B, shingles, and many other diseases…

The birth control pill

The development of the pill in 1960 marked a major biological and sociological turning point. For the first time in our species’ history, women were actually able to temporarily turn off their fertility. Moreover, its presence has irrevocably altered the social and economic landscape in those countries where it has become available. Subsequently, its impact cannot be overstated…

Lots more in the whole article. Some, I don’t doubt you’ve reflected upon in your own time. Some might be a surprise – again, until you think about what each has accomplished on their own – and provided as a beginning for much more.

Thanks, SmartAlix