Archive for April 4th, 2012
Preface: This post refers to very difficult subject matter and is not suitable for all audiences. It comes with a heavy trigger warning. However, as April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I thought it was important to share my own story. For more information on SAAM, resources and how you can get involved in the campaign, visit their website.
Hi, there (continue reading…)
In “Mad Men’s” heyday, Don Miller, a Burke marketing leader, developed a method for measuring the effectiveness of television commercials. The Burke test said that, to be effective, a TV commercial had to grab the viewer’s attention within the first 10 seconds of airing. Ad agencies quickly made the Burke Test the industry standard. If a spot passed the test, “It Burked well!” If it failed, “It didn’t Burke,” and the agency immediately scratched it from the rotation or, at least, reedited it with a more striking beginning (continue reading…)
Brazil’s reluctance to help Washington topple Syria and their support for Iran’s nuclear program have drawn the ire of a White House eager to turn foreign policy into political currency during a presidential election year.
Flexing its muscles, the Pentagon abruptly cancelled a deal with defense giant Embraer and the White House refused to give next week’s visit by president Dilma Rousseff state visit status relegating the event to the lower category of bi-lateral talks.
Brazil is miffed that Washington has given leaders of other BRICS nations full state visit status, which include formal state dinners and other high profile events but have excluded Dilma, a former urban guerrilla who was jailed and tortured by a U.S.-backed military regime.
With the White House courting the Latino vote affluent Cuban-American voters and campaign contributors have shown concern over Dilma’s ties with the Castro brothers in Cuba and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who provides Iran with a media platform to pump anti-American and anti-Israel propaganda into Latin America. Then too, some in the pro-Israel lobby that is close to the White House are worried that Brazil’s relationships with Syria and Iran could cause some of its sensitive defense technologies to get loose.
How Brazil plays the rebound could impact on the fortunes of Team Obama’s friends at Boeing since the president will use Dilma’s non-state visit as yet another opportunity to help the global defense giant close a multi-billion dollar jet fighter deal with her government that could have a long term value of $30 billion.
Scratching the patina of inter-American dialogue the latest round of Brazil bashing has struck a nationalist chord among Brazil’s political class. Apologists for Washington’s efforts to win back the #1 trade partner status it lost to China are at odds with those who see Brazil’s economic model providing an equal voice for emerging nations regardless of their politics or cultural heritage (continue reading…)
Getting audited by the IRS is one of the biggest fears for taxpayers. But what is the likelihood that you will be audited? And what are common audit triggers?
Most people don’t realize that only 1.1 percent of individual taxpayers receive an audit letter every year. And if you are one of the few people audited, you most likely won’t have to come face-to-face with an IRS agent. In fact, 75 percent of audits are conducted entirely by mail (continue reading…)
Like the city it’s named for, this classic cocktail is the epitome of urbane sophistication. But that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to make.
Created sometime in the mid-to-late 1800s, the three-ingredient tipple is a relative of the Martini, Rob Royand Bobby Burns. It was probably made originally with rye whiskey, but bourbon is perfectly acceptable today.
read full news from www.huffingtonpost.com
One of the lasting symbols of the May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado was a makeshift sign that stood in front of the destroyed Joplin High School.
Where those who had passed the forlorn sight earlier had seen all but two letters blown off the sign, someone saw those two letters, an O and a P, added two homemade letters and turned a symbol of tragedy into one of hope.
That hope was realized tonight when voters in the Joplin School District, still reeling from the effects of the most deadly tornado to hit this nation in six decades, looked past their own difficulties and made the biggest step to not only recovery, but to moving the city of Joplin forward into the future.
Thanks to Joplin School District voters, the sign that had offered a hope for the future is now a guarantee. Sometime in the next three years, the city of Joplin will have a new high school, one that not only replaces the memory-filled building at 20th and Indiana, but one that will move the school firmly into the 21st Century.
The bond issue, which needed 57.4 percent to pass, only made it by a 45-vote margin, but in this case 45 votes were as good as 4,000.
It was a hard-fought battle for those in the Joplin community who saw the rebirth of a school system that had 10 buildings either completely destroyed or almost destroyed by the tornado.
Joplin High School students in grades 11 and 12 have been going to school in a converted anchor store at Northpark Mall, while those in grades 9 and 10 are attending classes in a converted middle school that was a high school three decades ago.
The children attending East Middle School, where I teach, are in what had been a spec building in an industrial park on the far outskirts of the district. Each day, they are greeted by the uninviting aroma of the nearby dog food plant. Students in some of our elementary schools are also in different locations, while even our administrative staff is a building that was formerly used by the Missouri Highway Department.
It is not easy to convince people to invest their faith in a type of school building that the Joplin area has never seen before, but the people of this school district learned something about our Superintendent C (continue reading…)
The annual San Francisco Rhne Rangers grand tasting, which was held March 25, got me reflecting on the state of Rhne varieties in California. I’ve been to this and other Rhne-themed tastings for many years, and there are clear trends in what Rhne grapes do well here, and which have, to date, produced less impressive results.
The Rhne is one of the great wine regions of France, and of the world. Based on centuries of experience with grape growing and working with specific sites, a major division has developed there between grapes grown in the hilly, more rain-soaked north versus the warmer south.
In the Northern Rhne, the sole red grape is Syrah, which is sometimes blended with a small amount of the white grape, Viognier. The white grapes are floral Viognier, and the oily-textured, often very ageworthy Marsanne and Roussanne (the latter two typically blended) (continue reading…)
Paul Slavin, the veteran news producer and executive at ABC News who left the network last year, joined the big health destination site Everyday Health where he is creating an ambitious slate of video for the Web and television.
Last night, the New York-based company launched its own YouTube channel as part of the new partner’s program.
Earlier in the day, we spoke with Slavin, whose title is SVP and General Manager for News, about the site’s mix of programming for the Web and for broadcast (it has 30 minute show on ABC Televison).
read full news from www.huffingtonpost.com
American Reunion is like a movie that’s become a zombie: a franchise that has risen from the grave of straight-to-video sequels to bring back the no-longer-youthful original cast for one more (hopefully lucrative) go-round.
The stench of desperation permeates this film, a sequel to American Pie, the 1999 gross-out hit, and its many offspring. This one tries to recapture the same inappropriate zest as the original, whose biggest moment involved poor Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs), caught in the act of having masturbatory sex with a fresh apple pie by his hilariously horrified father (the masterful Eugene Levy).
Levy still offers the comic high points of American Reunion, a film built around the Class of ’99′s 13th high-school reunion (since they never got it together to have a 10th). Each of the original gang shows up with secrets and baggage, aimed at inducing gasps of surprised laughter.
But the bar has been raised significantly since the release of the original (and overrated) American Pie, a film which didn’t set the bar all that high to begin with. The Harold & Kumar movies far eclipsed American Pie in the ability to be nasty, smart and gross, all at the same time.
Where are they now? Jim and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are married, but their sex life is suffering since the birth of their 2-year-old son (continue reading…)
Locked Down, the new Dr. John (aka Mac Rebennack) album, has a new sound but the energy reminds me of his early ’70s recordings at Trident Studio in London. At the time, Mac was working songs with a bombastic horn section, slamming backup choir and sidemen Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger. The Trident sound worked its way into The Sun, Moon & Herbs with mysticism and general badassery (continue reading…)
On Feb. 24, 2012 in Loei province, Thailand, a 14-year-old girl reported to police that her 38-year-old father, who had sole custody of her since 2008, had been raping her continuously for four years because she “liked to hang out with toms” and wouldn’t listen to his instructions to stay away from them. She told police that the most recent rape had been on Feb. 11, 2012 (continue reading…)
The returns weren’t all in yet on Tuesday’s Republican primaries but President Obama didn’t wait. He kicked off his 2012 campaign against Mitt Romney with a hard-hitting speech centered on the House Republicans’ budget plan — which Romney has enthusiastically endorsed.
That plan, by the way, is the most radical reverse-Robin Hood proposal propounded by any political party in modern America. It would save millionaires at least $150,000 a year in taxes while gutting Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, transportation, child nutrition, college aid, and almost everything else average and lower-income Americans depend on.
Here’s what the president had to say about it:
“Disguised as a deficit reduction… it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country (continue reading…)
Photo: Havana housing. M.J. Porter (Translator)
After the storm, may also come the storm, the hurricane, the tornado. A few days ago, we thought the punishment would be concentrated between Monday and Wednesday of last week, that it would last only as long as Benedict XVI was on Cuban soil (continue reading…)
On a recent visit to Sarasota, I was captured by the sight of the beautiful pelicans as they gracefully, even effortlessly, soared through the air. I wondered what they were thinking knowing, of course, they were thinking nothing. Instead, they were just doing, or rather, being the wonderful creation they are. What was most striking was the way they allowed the winds to carry them (continue reading…)
The first amendment of the United States Constitution forbids state-sanctioned religion, yet guarantees the right to its expression: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Today, certain groups seem eager to promote nonsense in public education derived (openly or not) from their beliefs, whereas others argue that religion itself consists of nothing but nonsense. Herein lies a conflict: given these competing interests, how do we implement a constitutional mandate enabling both freedom from and to religion?
According to the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think-tank with a long history of support for creationism, “open discussion in science is under growing attack by the Darwin lobby.” Modern creationists have championed many cases of alleged persecution at the hands of the “Darwin lobby,” arguing that leftist academics are purging the ranks of schools and workplaces alike. One such example publicized by the Discovery Institute concerned Minnesota high school teacher Rodney LeVake. Because he refused to accurately cover evolution in his biology class, his district reassigned him the following year (continue reading…)
After winning a landslide victory in April 1 by-elections in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) will face the hard yards of politicking in a parliament dominated by the same military and its allies that the NLD trounced in Sunday’s vote.
Late on Monday, the Burmese election commission announced that the NLD had swept 40 out of 45 seats available, with results pending in the remaining constituencies. The loss of face for the army and its Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was compounded by the NLD taking all 4 seats in the former junta’s purpose-built capital in Naypyidaw.
Despite the understandable euphoria among party supporters in Rangoon and elsewhere in Burma as tallies came through suggesting that the NLD would win most, if not all, of the 45 seats on offer, some Burmese are less than sanguine.
Soe Aung, a Thailand-based Burmese activist, said that the NLD will have to prioritise amendments to the oppressive laws that remain in place in Burma, which are underpinned by the country’s 2008 constitution, a document which critics say gives the military decisive behind-the-scenes sway, and which bars Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming President of Burma.
The army has a 25% reserved block of seats in the country’s legislature, while the army-backed USDP won itself a landslide victory in 2010 elections, taking almost 80% of the remaining seats in a vote dismissed as rigged.
Tough job looms
“It is definitely a tough job ahead for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow party candidates”, he said. “After all, they will still be a minority compared to he combined regime-backed USDP and military representatives in the parliament.” The 45 seats up for grabs on Sunday represent only around 5% of the total legislative seats in Burma’s upper, lower and regional houses of parliament.
However some reforms have already been enacted by the Burmese government, and prior to the April 1 by-election, the Burmese government released hundreds of political prisoners, suspended a controversial dam project in war-torn Kachin state, enacted new laws allowing limited public protests and relaxed restrictions on the country’s media.
After the by-elections, western governments may relax or drop some of the economic sanctions imposed on the Burmese government, paving the way for investment as Burma weighs up new foreign investment laws and plans to open up sectors such as telecommunications.
According to a US Congressional Research Service report published last week, the US could remove some sanctions quickly. “Under current law, President Barack Obama has the authority to waive many, but not all, of the existing sanctions on Burma, and he may choose to exercise that authority following the by-elections,” read the report.
The rush to reform could generate undue expectations among ordinary Burmese, millions of whom live in poverty, and, say activists, could see laws passed that emulate other southeast Asian countries by trampling on the rights of Burmese and unduly favouring investors.
One such possible reform is the the Farmland Bill, which as currently-drafted, said Soe Aung, “grants broad discretionary power to the government to confiscate land for a wide range of activities and projects, such as the construction of factories, railways, pipelines, and amusement parks”.
Given the parliamentary arithmetic, the NLD might have its work cut out to stop potentially-unpopular laws such as the Farmland Bill coming into place, and the party could, in turn, be tarnished as a result (continue reading…)
Anyone who has experienced the delight of reading the magnificent works of Pulitzer prize-winning author Edith Wharton might enjoy the opportunity to learn more about her life and her books. Indeed, isn’t the sign of the timelessness of novels such as The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence not just about the decades of discussion and analysis they inspire but also the ongoing fascination with the story behind the story. In a sense, the end of a classic fictional work is only the beginning of a new journey, a journey in which fans will continue to seek answers to often complex or unanswerable questions about the people, the places, the history and the experiences that inspired the story.
There are of course many biographies on Wharton as well as an autobiography, A Backward Glance, published in 1934 (continue reading…)
Last week as the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of President Obama’s landmark legislation the Affordable Care Act, a familiar drama was playing out on the steps of the High Court. On the steps protesting universal health care for American citizens was my favorite GOP splinter group, the Tea Party. Yes, the Tea Party is back like a case of herpes, spreading across the American political landscape once again.
So what ignited these valiant freedom fighters back in 2010 has sadly conjured them back on the political stage. “What galvanized this movement was health care (continue reading…)
Do not miss Tracie Bennett as Judy Garland. The petite frame, boyish chestnut do, twitchy gesture, agile thrashing, lusty bravado, pouting tantrums, and powerhouse voice, Tracie Bennett has the “Over the Rainbow” girl down.
End of the Rainbow, coming to Broadway’s Belasco Theater upon the heels of Whitney Houston’s sad demise, illustrates with great verve and great music: the untoward journey of the famous can be glamorous and grim. Focused on Judy Garland’s last comeback in 1968, Peter Quilter’s play under Terry Johnson’s expert direction, features the star in a triangle with her fifth husband, a much younger Mickey Deans (Tom Pelphrey), and her adoring piano accompanist, Anthony (Michael Cumpsty), in many ways a stand-in for her legions of gay worshippers. This cast — with Jay Russell in a variety of roles — is exceptional, as are the band and William Dudey’s sets, a suite at the London Ritz, and the Talk of the Town nightclub where at times Ritalin, liquor-feuled performances hit notes high and low (continue reading…)
Here’s a headline we’re tempted to write – or rather, one that we would be tempted to write if we weren’t so nice, or so dedicated to avoiding oversimplification:
“Climate-Change Deniers Struck by Climate Change in Texas Tornado Outbreak.”
This week two seemingly unrelated but very connected events took place: In the first, freak tornadoes struck the Dallas area today with unexpected ferocity, causing many experts to revisit the issue of whether tornadoes should be included in this list of extreme weather caused by climate change.
In the second, the hard-hit area’s Member of Congress bragged about cutting funds for – predicting storms and reducing their impact.
If you think that’s bad – and it is – last year Mitt Romney did the Representative one better: He said it would be “immoral” to spend Federal money to help victims of national disasters like the one that just struck Texas.
A Spell of Bad Weather
Even as presumptive GOP nominee Romney was talking like that last year, fourteen weather disasters caused a billion dollars or more in damage. And yet House Republicans insisted on cutting funds for studying the climate, predicting violent storms, early storm warnings, and assistance in helping communities minimize damage and loss of life (continue reading…)
SXSW Hangover 1 A Conversation With Perez Hilton Plus Chatting With Ian Anderson and Wilson Phillips
A Conversation With Perez Hilton Interview in The Hard Rock Lounge During SXSW (Better Late Than Never)
Mike Ragogna: Hello, Perez!
Perez Hilton: Hello!
MR: What in the world is going on here today?
PH: Well, I am here because I love coming to Austin every year for the SXSW music festival. This is my 6th year coming and my 5th year putting on a big event. This year, I’m especially excited because we’ve been able to raise $45,000 for the VH1 Save The Music foundation.
MR: Perez, can you go into that relationship?
PH: I had a light bulb moment. I was like, I’m doing this every year, I should also turn it into an opportunity to raise, not just money, but also awareness for a cause that I believe in (continue reading…)
Wake up Goldman Sachs! If your firm had more women, things would be better.
In recent years, those of us on the outside have come to view Goldman Sachs as the perennial poster child for ethical lapses. But, when a departing employee — an insider for 12 years — writes an op-ed describing the Goldman environment as ”toxic and destructive” — unrecognizable from when he joined in 1999, it’s all the more damning:
Which left me to wonder: what if Goldman were run instead by ‘Fiona’ Blankfein?
An interesting question in light of survey data just released by the Harvard Business Review which analyzes the leadership styles of women and men. Are women better leaders than men? The finding of the survey: unambiguously, yes!
Here’s how the Goldman Sachs insider described the ingredients — the secret sauce — of the firm’s successful culture: “It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients.”
According to Harvard Business Review, a ‘Fiona’ would outperform Lloyd in every element: ‘Collaboration and Teamwork’ — female mean percentile +6.1, ‘Displays High Integrity and Honesty’ +9.3, ‘Practices Self Development’ +9.4 and ‘Builds Relationships’ +7.1.
Women managers represent the same values which allowed Goldman to earn it’s clients’ trust for 143 years.
Truth is, however: the difficulties at Goldman Sachs are not unique — even if they are the latest corporate pariah. My former employer, Morgan Stanley, recently announced its 2012 class of Managing Directors — 83 percent are men (continue reading…)
The Federal Trade Commission’s final report on digital privacy contains some very welcome recommendations.
The recently released report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change,” looks at challenges consumers face in “today’s world of smart phones, smart grids, and smart cars,” as “companies are collecting, storing, and sharing more information about consumers than ever before.” It sets out a framework that would allow consumers to control whether they are tracked online, have better visibility into how information is used by mobile apps and have access to their information being held by data brokers.
The commission isn’t calling for “do not track” legislation similar to the “do not call” law that, in theory, protects us against unwanted marketing calls. Rather, it calls for voluntary industry compliance, which it says is starting to happen through browser-based tools and cooperation from the Digital Advertising Alliance and other players.
Ironically, this voluntary approach may actually work better than the “do not call” law, which makes it a crime for businesses to cold call phone numbers registered at DoNotCall.gov. I’ve registered all my phone numbers, but I still get annoying robocalls trying to sell me carpet cleaning, car insurance and a new mortgage.
The commission’s focus on mobile apps is right on target. Between Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS there are now about a million smartphone apps capable of doing virtually anything with your phone, including tracking who you know (your contact list), where you go (your geolocation) and even who you’re calling and what you’re texting (continue reading…)
Is Carnie Wilson the New Poster Child for Why Invasive Weight Loss Surgeries Might Not Be the Answer
I admit it. I’ve begun to wonder if singer Carnie Wilson’s aim is to become the poster child for people (like myself) who don’t think that invasive weight loss surgeries are the answer for most people battling excess weight.
According to People magazine, Ms. Wilson had lap bad surgery on Jan (continue reading…)