Archive for the Global Category

Hurricane Season Doesn’t Give A Damn About Austerity

Posted by Matt on Monday, June 3rd, 2013

One Time.  Just once I’d like to hear a GOP leader say, “Yes, we recognize man-made Climate Change is real. I just don’t give a shit,”  or “Yes, I recognize the scientific consensus and the dangerous course we’re charting, but I want to get reelected.”

But no. Dug in like ostriches with dropsy, the tools of the fossil fuel fucks continue to kick the can down the road to their grandchildren. Thanks!

(Everyone should listen to this episode of This American Life, particularly the part with former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC).  I mean everyone-who-might-give-a-shit-about-this-issue.)

So in light of an overall failure to take steps to combat climate change, we’re stuck dealing with the increasingly volatile and unpredictable weather patterns that result from our CO2 emissions.  Combine that with the budget cuts, obstructionist Republicans, and an overall lack of political will, and things will likely remain interesting.  Thus, Oklahoma won’t be the only place to get ravaged in 2013 as NOAA predicts hurricane season will be “active or extremely active.”  So good luck Coasters.

As coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to more severe storms, across-the-board cuts mandated by the sequester could undermine the ability of federal agencies to keep communities informed and prepared for severe weather.

The National Weather Service, already cash-strapped and under scrutiny for sub-par computer modeling, will be grappling with a hiring freeze and mandatory furloughs as it heads into a potentially daunting hurricane season. The NWS office in Tallahassee, which typically has 18 meteorologists on staff, is down to 14 due to the cuts.

Though officials say they can maintain adequate staffing to provide critical services, such as forecasting at the National Hurricane Center in Miami and sending aircraft known as Hurricane Hunters into storms to measure speed and pressure, the staff and crews will be forced to take turns being furloughed.

In addition, nearly 1,000 Florida national guardsmen and civilian technicians will be furloughed beginning in June and lasting to September, which Governor Rick Scott says will impact their readiness and ability to respond to a major storm.

So everyone please keep those blinders on there’s nothing to see here please disperse go home and get that mattress to the bathtub we’re all fucked…

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George W. Bush Helped Save Lives – It’s The Truth

Posted by Matt on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

looks great o'hai sequester.

looks great o’hai sequester.

Amidst a constant stream of poor and destructive 2003 decisions, George W. Bush did something that should be considered his crowning achievement (unless you’re a billionaire or esteemed magnate of the military-industrial complex or Both!).  In fact, it might be the only substantial and positive contribution he made to the planet before picking up a mirror and a paintbrush.  However, chronic boobery aside, he deserves to be lauded.

10 years ago, the United States expanded on Bill Clinton’s global initiative to combat HIV/AIDS, when on March 27th, 2003, President Bush signed the US’ President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, better known by its acronym PEPFAR.

At the time that PEPFAR was conceived of and then established during the George W. Bush administration, the world was witnessing first-hand the destruction of an entire generation of individuals in the prime years of their lives and the reversal of remarkable health and development gains, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and to a lesser extent in other developing nations. Rates of new HIV infections were rising rapidly, and hospitals, communities, and families were often too under-resourced and overwhelmed to cope with the enormity of this burden. At that time in 2003, despite the availability of life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in most countries in the developed world, in southern Africa and other regions of the developing world, an HIV diagnosis meant a virtual death sentence, since few had access to such drugs.

This is a notable issue.  Many government officials balked at providing wide-scale treatment, and wanted to instead focus solely on prevention.  One US government official said that Africans wouldn’t be able to take their medication consistently because “they didn’t have watches.” The seemingly arbitrary differences in pharmaceutical pricing of ARTs were also a hang-up. However, they persevered.

Today, as we mark the 10th anniversary of PEPFAR, the situation has changed dramatically. Plummeting life expectancy rates in much of Africa have been reversed; HIV-infected, but healthy, fathers and mothers who are receiving therapy are able to return to work, care for their families, and spur economic development. Doctors, nurses, and community health workers, who once had little to offer their patients beyond a more dignified death, are delivering life-saving ART to millions of people. AIDS-related mortality has declined by more than 26 percent since its peak in 2005. Where despair once cut a devastating swath through so many communities and countries, hope has been renewed.

With regard to the prevention of HIV infection, globally, in the decade since PEPFAR began, new HIV infections have declined by nearly 19 percent. Between 2009 and 2011, new HIV infections among children, still an important component of the epidemic in many southern African countries and other regions in the developing world, declined by 24 percent globally, compared to a 23 percent decline in the previous six years. Not only is progress happening, but its pace is accelerating.

PEPFAR is not perfect.  In its early days, too many resources were pushed towards abstinence-only programs. There are issues with family planning and contraception access as well.  Condom distribution is part of the program, but that’s it.  Still, look at the numbers below:

PEPFAR now estimates that it has provided life-saving treatment for more than 5.1 million people—a number that is set to go up and likely exceed the 6 million target set for the end of 2013.  In 2012 alone, it also provided treatment for 750,000 HIV-positive women to help prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies and support and care for more than 5 million orphans and vulnerable children.

The term “American Exceptionalism” makes me cringe, but if we’re looking for true examples of high-minded ideals, isn’t this it?  A bipartisan achievement that brought together names like Durbin, Santorum, Pelosi and Isakson in order to assist in saving a generation of people from deadly disease. When conservatives scoff about ‘soft power,’ or the relatively small amount of money spent on foreign aid, they do so derisively – decimating the discourse and dehumanizing those this country has helped. Isn’t this the type of undertaking the richest and most powerful country in the world should pursue?

PEPFAR has also been a common cause of three US Presidents: President Bush, whose steadfast political leadership was critical in PEPFAR’s early years; President Obama, who has expanded treatment and prevention targets; and President Clinton, who has championed the program since leaving office.

Here’s to another 10 years of growth, program improvements, and ultimately saving more lives.

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Commie Hussein Obama Can’t Keep Country From Hemorrahging Public Workers

Posted by Matt on Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Job trends don’t always reflect conventional narratives.


The above graph relates to private sector job growth during Bush + Obama terms.  Obviously, Obama took office shortly after the ’08 economic collapse – the worst in 3 generations.  To be fair, Bush took office during a period of tepid growth following the burst of the stock market bubble.

At the end of Mr. Bush’s second term, private employment was collapsing, and there were net 665,000 jobs lost during Mr. Bush’s two terms.

The recovery has been sluggish under Mr. Obama’s presidency too, and there were only 1,933,000 more private sector jobs at the end of Mr. Obama’s first term.  A couple of months into Mr. Obama’s second term, there are now 2,282,000 more private sector jobs than when he took office.


But what about Big Government Obama? Stimulus. Obamacare. Basketball.



A big difference between Mr. Bush’s tenure in office and Mr. Obama’s presidency has been public sector employment. The public sector grew during Mr. Bush’s term (up 1,748,000 jobs), but the public sector has declined since Obama took office (down 718,000 jobs). These job losses have mostly been at the state and local level, but they are still a significant drag on overall employment.

Dozens of election cycles focused on Obama’s middling job numbers without drawing this distinction.  Obviously many of these jobs were at the state and local level – governments similarly hit by crippling financial crisis (for some) of ’08 and the subsequent loss in revenue.

Austerity measures are hurting job growth (and worse) in all corners of the globe.  As the economy strengthens, maybe a little reinvestment will help job numbers match other economic growth numbers and we can all capture a sliver more than the 7% the top-1% is leaving for us…

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In New Zealand, Big Government Saves Children

Posted by Matt on Thursday, May 2nd, 2013



From ridicule.

Some New Zealand parents were getting so creative devising unique names for their newborns that the country’s Department of Internal Affairs has stepped in to stop the shenanigans.

New Zealand released an official list of rejected names on Wednesday that includes “4Real,” “Mafia No Fear” and “Anal.” Other gems — like “.” and “*” — didn’t even bother with the alphabet. All of the names on the list were at some point proposed by parents, soon to be rejected by the government, which deemed the names too offensive.

Are these kiwi blokes just mad dags?

“um, it’s pronounced ‘uh-nal.’ ”

Sure it is buddy.

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Yes, Being A Teacher Is The Congo Is As Thanklessly Awful As It Sounds

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

problem is always greedy teachers obv...

problem is always greedy teachers obv…

Teachers in the Congo peacefully protested amidst ongoing contract negotiations and concerns about working conditions.  So of many of them have been arrested, detained and denied access to an attorney.

Hilaire Eyima, head of the French department at the school Lycée de la Révolution, was arrested by plainclothes police officers at his home on 18 April. He is still being held at the headquarters of the General Directorate for the Surveillance of the Territory (DGST).

Claude Nzingoula, a teacher at the medical school in the capital Brazzaville, was arrested on Friday 19 April at his school and was also taken to the DGST headquarters, where he has been detained since.

The strike began on February 25.

Other CPRE members have been harassed and intimidated and some have gone into hiding after their houses were searched without a warrant.

“Instead of punishing them for standing up for their rights, the Congolese authorities should ensure teachers are able to protest without fear of reprisals and engage in a constructive dialogue with them,” said Paule Rigaud.

There might not be a place on earth with more mineral wealth than the Congo.  So of course it’s a violently corrupt hellscape where government assists warlords and corporate raiders in exploiting everyone because there’s a ton of wealth to be extracted and it’s Sub-Saharan Africa.

good day. :(

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While Two Murderous Shitbirds Took The Country Hostage, Texas Happened.

Posted by Matt on Monday, April 22nd, 2013

i think the word you're looking for is 'negligence.' it'll come to you buddy.

i think the word you’re looking for is ‘negligence.’ it’ll come to you buddy.

This week, Rick Perry will visit Chicago in an attempt to poach Illinois businesses from the Land of Lincoln.

Surely he’ll tout lower tax burdens, a lax regulatory environment, and um, he’ll probably forget the 3rd one, but I’m pretty sure it could relate to zoning, workers’ comp requirements, or possibly the dangerous lack of potable water climate.

Maybe Exhibit #1 should be the explosion at Adair Grain Inc.’s Fertilizer Plant in West, Texas.

While vocal politicians and media members are quick to blame the Boston bombing on the whole of Chechnya, the Muslim World, and Russia (let’s throw in the Czech Republic for the hell of it because we’re idiots), most have merely shrugged instead of shedding light on the Texas tragedy that is responsible for at least 14 deaths and 200 hundred injuries.

While the cause of the fire is still unknown, preliminary investigations into the West, Texas explosions indicate the following:

  • OSHA hadn’t visited the plant since 1985.  You would think an agency with a $500 million budget would be able to inspect…um, no that’s about right.  It’s almost as if there was someone in an important position of power around that time who loved to villainize government workers. (OSHA also lost 8% of its budget in the sequester);
  • Complaints of ammonia smells triggered state investigation in 2006;
  • “In its report to the EPA in 2011, West Fertilizer said its worst-case scenario was a release of one of its storage tanks of anhydrous ammonia “as a gas over 10 minutes.” It said nothing of fire risk. It also said nothing of ammonium nitrate at the site.” [NPR]
  • But aw shit, looks like they didn’t look for that ammonium nitrate behind Door Number #AllOfThem.

But according to records from the Texas Department of State Health Services obtained by StateImpact Texas, the plant had as much as 270 tons of ammonium nitrate at the site in 2012. To put that in perspective, the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, which killed 168 and injured hundreds, used 4,800 pounds of ammonium nitrate mixed with other chemicals and diesel fuel, or about 2.4 tons.

  • Math:  This is 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). So National Security, too!! Still…*crickets*
  • In February, a school in West evacuated because of a fire at this fertilizer plant. [LGM]
  • A school, you say?
  • Actually 2 schools are located across the street. Lax zoning laws allowed a school and homes within a pigskin’s toss of the plant and a nursing home is located 4 blocks away.
  • The plant was fined by the Environmental Protection agency in 2006 for failing to have a risk management plan that met federal standards, an EPA report shows.  A whole $2,300.
  • Did I already point out that The Dallas Morning News uncovered an EPA report revealing that West Fertilizer Co. reported the “worst possible scenario … would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would or injure no one?”

Again – at least 14 dead. 200 injured.

Media members and political vultures are quick to swoop in on any hint of terrorism driven by misguided Muslim ideology.  After all, there’s a pattern that emerged in the mid/late 90s that can’t be ignored (like the similar pattern of right wing terrorism that is ignored.)

But while we’re looking for patterns, and more importantly the roots of such patterns, let’s look at the state sold by the elected officials and purchased by Big Business.  A state that touts ‘tort reform,’ a lack of meddlesome unions, and that employers don’t have to own Workers’ Comp insurance:

Texas leads the nation in workplace fatalities, with 433 deaths in 2011. That’s nearly a hundred more than California, which has six million more people in its workforce.

Tragic but predictable?

West, Texas and Boston, MA have more in common than at first glance.  The striking similarities concern the innocence of the victims and the bravery of the first responders.  While we don’t know the precise motivation for the bombings or the exact cause of the explosion, the tragedies tore up their respective communities, though I’m guessing Small Town Texas will take longer to heal.

While the coverage of Boston quickly devolved into nauseating speculation and repetition, at least the public stayed generally informed.

So whenever the Media and our elected officials want to lend their powerful pulpits to the Texas tragedy, please proceed, because it’s long overdue.

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Maldives Will Flog 15 Year Old Rape Victim Because That’s Their Thing

Posted by Matt on Thursday, February 28th, 2013

A 15-year old Maldivian girl who was raped by her stepfather will get 100 lashes.  Because their glorious Allah is apparently a misogynist asshole.

The religious Adhaalath Party (AP) has declared that the 15 year-old rape victim who was recently sentenced to 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest “deserves the punishment”, as this is the penalty for fornication under Islamic Sharia.The party, members of which largely dominate the Maldives’ Ministry of Islamic Affairs, stated that the sentence of flogging had not been passed against the for being sexually abused by her stepfather, but rather for the consensual sex to which she had confessed to having on another occasion.

oh that’s nice.  Her flogging is not because she’s an abuse victim, it’s because she had consensual sex – which is also the most evil thing a child can do. The ruling party cites some isolated nuggets of ancient text as rationalization for this criminal punishment.

Qur’an 24:2—The woman and the man guilty of illegal sexual intercourse, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment

So Does Allah give any other guidance to these men handing down the punishment?

Qur’an 60:8- God does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact God loves the equitable.


The “equitable,” of course.  But what about the poor souls who drew the shortest straw?  The ones subjected to the most scarring of emotional tolls? The 15 YEAR OLD Rape victims??

According to His self-professed mediums, Maldivian Allah does not want these questions asked…

The Adhaalath Party further cautioned that criticising issues like this would “encourage enemies of Islam, create confusion among the general public and open up opportunities for people who aim to stop the practice of similar penalties commanded in Islam.”

Are you confused about the appropriateness of whipping a minor victim for harmless behavior?  We should all take this opportunity to aim to stop the practice of similar penalties cherry-picked to conform to these jerks’ antiquated notion of women-as-chattel. Stop being terrible.

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Samantha Power Stepping Down To Spend More Time With Her Family / Be A Delightful Ginger

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Samantha Power.

GW Favorite Samantha Power, longtime foreign policy advisor to President Obama, is leaving the administration.  Power has been an advisor to the president for almost a decade and is the author of the must-read, comprehensive genocide chronicle, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.

[Power] is leaving the administration in the next few weeks to “spend more time with her family.”

(That may be the first time we’ve ever written that phrase where it actually happens to be true. She’s got two little kids at home; one is three, the other 8 months.)

What else, Washington Post?

She had been the number one pick for the U.N. slot if incumbent Susan Rice had become secretary of state.

That didn’t happen, of course. But with deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough moving down the hall to be White House chief of staff, it’s hard to figure anyone but Rice becoming National Security Adviser if, as expected, that slot opens up with incumbent Tom Donilon leaving perhaps later on this year.

Power knows her stuff, but insiders ride both sides of the fence on the answer to this question: if a forceful human rights advocate speaks in a forest of 21st Century American militarism, does she make a sound?

Enjoy your time off but come back anytime.

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Remains Of Richard III Found Under Parking Lot

Posted by Matt on Monday, February 4th, 2013

my kingdom for a horse. preferably a horse experienced in necromancy.

Richard III, immortalized as a dick by Shakespeare, has been found.  He is officially dead, or at least quite malnourished.

In one of Britain’s most dramatic modern archaeological finds, researchers here announced on Monday that skeletal remains found under a parking lot in this English Midlands city were those of King Richard III, for centuries the most widely reviled of English monarchs, paving the way for a possible reassessment of his brief but violent reign.

“Paving the way.” Really, NYT?

The skeleton, moreover, had a gaping hole in the skull consistent with contemporary accounts of the battlefield blow that killed the monarch more than 500 years ago.

Before the DNA findings came in, Mr. Taylor and other team members said, the university team had  assembled a mounting catalog of evidence that pointed conclusively at the remains being those of the king. These included confirmation that the body was that of a man in his late 20s or early 30s, and that his high-protein diet had been rich in meat and fish, characteristic of a privileged life in the 15th century.

Still more indicative, they said radiocarbon dating of two rib bones had indicated that they were those of somebody who died between the years 1455 and 1540. Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth Field, 20 miles from Leicester, in August 1485.

Richarad III – short on reign, long on murder, or just a victim of Shakepearean propaganda?  Either way, it’s nice that the family will finally have some closure and be able to move on.

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Picture Of The Week

Posted by Matt on Friday, January 11th, 2013

We’re pretty partial to Putin.  When he’s not throwing awkward Zerberts on kids’ stomachs, he’s whispering strategic threats to them.  You can take a guy out of the KGB, but…

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Gratuitous World Blog

    • College Football Players, Awaken…
      January 29, 2014

      [Former NCAA President Myles Brand:] They can’t be paid. [Q:] Why? [Brand:] Because they’re amateurs. [Q:] What makes them amateurs? [Brand:] Well, they can’t be paid. [Q:] Why not? [Brand:] Because they’re amateurs. [Q:] Who decided they are amateurs? [Brand:] We did. [Q:] Why? [Brand:] Because we don’t pay them. – Michael Rosenberg’s 2010 Sports Illustrated interview of former NCAA president Myles Brand Yesterday, quarterback Kain Colter led a group […]

    • GW: Favorite Albums Of 2013
      January 11, 2014

      On time as always! Happy New Year. 20.  Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City:  Ok kids, we get it. Good work. 19.  Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – Any Port In A Storm 18.  Charlie Parr – Barnswallow 17. My Bloody Valentine – MBV:  Per usual, I can’t understand a fucking word, but still pretty […]

      January 7, 2014

      (originally posted 2/10/10) then again (7/9/10) now one more time before retirement. for love. UPDATE: So it’s as hot as fuck out east because, you know, it’s July. Anyway, I’m just checking in because although You Know and I Know daily mid-Atlantic microtrends in weather do not offer any proof or disproof with regard to […]