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Hugo Chávez has a reality show. It’s called “Aló Presidente.”

Block-letter words pop up on the screen: “humanity,” “struggle,” “socialism.” It looks for all the world like a “Daily Show” parody. And then comes a close-up of the show’s host and star, Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, usually dressed in all red or a military jacket, sometimes crowned with a Che-style beret, standing on the road among his supporters or before a live audience at Miraflores Palace in Caracas.

NY Times

This might easily be the most fun fact that I’ve learned today.

Note: the YouTube clip is from Parks and Recreation. Come on, it was funny. I know you snorted too.

The Absolute Moron’s Guide to the New Military Detention Laws

The above link is NY Mag’s (snarky) guide about the military detention laws included in the National Defense Authorization Act. 

President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 on New Year’s Eve. It authorizes $662 billion in military spending through 2012 and tightens sanctions in Iran. It also contains provisions such as “codifying into law the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trial.” President Obama admits to having some reservations about such stipulations.

“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it,” Obama said in a signing statement appended to the measure. “In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”

Regarding a section on the executive branch’s authority to detain suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens captured on the battlefield, Obama said he wanted “to clarify that my administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”

He will not, but if he changes his mind, he can. And so can future presidents. And because of this power, some consider this Bill to be the greatest threat to civil liberties that Americans face.

The Bill can be found here.

The board operated from 1933 to 1977 as an experiment in genetic engineering once considered a legitimate way to keep welfare rolls small, stop poverty and improve the gene pool.

The NY Times article about the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, which ran the most aggressive eugenics program in the United States, is quite simply disturbing. Over 60,000 people nationwide have been sterilized by state order.

The stories reveal a downright shameful initiative by our governments (it was not just state boards but also local governments who ran such programs).

Now 62, she was adopted but sent to a state school at 7 because her parents thought she was mentally deficient. She remembers being told as a teenager that she was getting an appendectomy. When she was 27 and started having uterine trouble, a doctor requested her records and discovered that she had been sterilized in an operation that had been botched, her medical records show.

She went to her mother, who said she was going to tell her before she got married. Welfare would have ended if she had not consented, her mother said.

Just another WTF from a Republican presidential candidate

Rick Santorum:

I will freeze defense spending, but I will not cut defense spending, which is the highest and most important priority of the federal government.

But he WOULD cut the food stamp program.

If hunger is a problem in America, then why do we have an obesity problem among the people who we say have a hunger program?

Causes of obesity are complex and often interrelated. Obesity is related to genetics and the environment. Even things that SEEM like it’s within our power are not always, like what we eat or how often we exercise. For example, living in walkable communities promote exercise, as public health initiatives like Shape Up Somerville realize. Unfortunately, not every community has streets or infrastructure that are safe or conducive to working out. Having access to healthy foods (that is, being in close proximity to healthy foods and having money to afford them) and being in a culture that eats healthy foods are also important to health. The existence of food deserts and the high unemployment rate show that not everyone has either kind of access. 

EVERY STATE IN THE UNITED STATES has obesity rates of over 20%, so this is no small issue. This is a national public health issue, an epidemic, and we desperately need leaders who get just how serious and complicated this issue is. And it’s not Mister Santorum.

STAT OF THE DAY: 8%

Japan’s science ministry says 8 percent of the country’s surface area has been contaminated by radiation from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

It’s affected their food such as spinach and beef. Told to stay indoors because of the contamination, a study also found that Japanese children’s average growth rate has declined significantly from previous year’s.

They show there was an average weight gain of 0.8 of a kilogram over the past year.

The year before children in the same age group put on 3.1 kilograms, or nearly four times as much weight.

Image source: treehugger.com

While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.

New details are out about the bank bailouts after Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News, harnessed the Freedom of Information Act to compel the Fed and the Clearing House Association LLC, a group of the largest U.S. banks, to provide information about lending and the financial transactions between 2007 and 2009.

Some of the findings:

Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

“TARP at least had some strings attached,” says Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, referring to the program’s executive-pay ceiling. “With the Fed programs, there was nothing.”

The six biggest U.S. banks (JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley), which received $160 billion of TARP funds, borrowed as much as $460 billion from the Fed…

Employees at the six biggest banks made twice the average for all U.S. workers in 2010, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly compensation cost data

The secrecy extended even to members of President George W. Bush’s administration who managed TARP….

Lawmakers knew none of this.

And there’s so much more….

This article should be handed to anyone still confused by all the furor at the banks and the government, the lack of transparency and the deregulated system, the growing inequality and the leaders who perpetuate it. This sense of indignation and injustice is founded in some very real and egregious misgivings.

STAT OF THE DAY: 0

The average savings rate in the United States in 2005.

Over the past three decades, Germany, France, Austria and Belgium have maintained household saving rates between 10 and 13 percent, and rates in Sweden recently soared to 13 percent. By contrast, saving rates in the United States dropped to nearly zero by 2005; they rose above 5 percent after the 2008 crisis but have recently fallen below 4 percent.

Happy Black Friday!

Image Source: Deloitte LLP

Men’s Health has a list of restaurants they have deemed the “manliest”.

Mid-Atlantic: Primanti Bros. (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Los Angeles: Salt’s Cure (Los Angeles, Ca.)
Gulf Coast: Alabama Jack’s (Key Largo, Fl.)
San Francisco: Original Joe’s (San Jose, Ca.)
Northeast: Keens Steakhouse (New York City, Ny.)
Southwest: Salt Lick BBQ (Austin, Tx.)
Southeast: Gus’s World Famous Hot & Spicy Chicken (Memphis, Tn.)
Northwest: Couloir (Jackson Hole, Wy.)
Midwest: Jethro’s BBQ (Des Moines, Iw.)

The manliest of them all? Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh.

Vegetarians need not bother voting or paying any attention to this.

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