February 14, 2009 archive

Weekend News Digest

Special Valentine’s Day Edition

Saturday Final

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

Yahoo News Valentine’s Day Stories

Kisses unleash chemicals that ease stress levels

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer

Fri Feb 13, 9:19 pm ET

CHICAGO – “Chemistry look what you’ve done to me,” Donna Summer crooned in Science of Love, and so, it seems, she was right. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a panel of scientists examined the mystery of what happens when hearts throb and lips lock. Kissing, it turns out, unleashes chemicals that ease stress hormones in both sexes and encourage bonding in men, though not so much in women.

Chemicals in the saliva may be a way to assess a mate, Wendy Hill, dean of the faculty and a professor of neuroscience at Lafayette College, told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Friday.

In an experiment, Hill explained, pairs of heterosexual college students who kissed for 15 minutes while listening to music experienced significant changes in their levels of the chemicals oxytocin, which affects pair bonding, and cortisol, which is associated with stress. Their blood and saliva levels of the chemicals were compared before and after the kiss.

Valentine Confessions 2009

I was quite young when I had my first sexual experience.  It began at 9:45 am and ended rather abruptly, but relatively successfully at 9:49 am.  Central Standard Time.  On the morning of December 25, 1969.  The bringer of that brief but memorable Christmas morning gift was a covertly adventurous “older woman” of 18 who lived next door, and was admired by mothers in the neighborhood as a “nice girl” who had no interest in “that hippie music” so many of their daughters listened to when they weren’t busy “sassing their parents”.    

Unlike many first timers back then, who discovered paradise by the dashboard lights, I discovered paradise by the Christmas tree lights.  I was concerned that my parents would come home earlier than expected from exchanging gifts at my aunt and uncle’s and catch us, but the version of paradise I was experiencing would at least have enabled me to wag my finger at them and say “I did not have sex with that woman.”      

I wasn’t concerned about my parents returning early for very long though, my attention focused rather quickly on the gifts being exchanged where I was, not where they were. Since that Christmas morning in 1969, I’ve found love and lost it, found it again and lost it again, but losing love the first time is so heartbreaking.  Breathing the fire of rejection is no fun at all, but we get used to it.  We have no choice.  This world is filled with dark and lonely backstreets, where no one cares, where people just use each other, where love is all too often filled with defeat.  But love is always worth seeking.  It’s worth seeking no matter how elusive it is, no matter how many years have come and gone, no matter how many times you’ve had to overcome defeat . . .        

Bipartisanship No, Working Majority Yes

Republican demanding bipartisanship

The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

In the grown up world, honorable and reasonable people may initially disagree but eventually compromise upon a collective review of empirical evidence. It was in this spirit, that the nascent Obama administration reached out to Republicans with respect to their proposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which finally passed both houses of congress yesterday.

The Broken Political Economy of the Bail-Out

Burning the Midnight Oil for a Brawny Recovery

Joseph Stiglitz on the Political Economy of the Bail-Out: Who’s At the Table?

Or as your humble correspondent wrote at Obama’s Emergency Banking Act of 2009 (European Tribune) … (below the fold)

“Coming home”: The Conclusion of Salon.com’s Series

Top row, left to right: Kenneth Eastridge, Ryan Alderman, Adam Lieberman, Robert Marko. Bottom row: John Needham, Kenneth Lehman, Mark Waltz, Chad Barrett.

In the final article in Salon’s series, we ask what President Obama will do about the rise of suicide and murder among U.S. soldiers returning from combat.

This is the conclusion to Salon’s weeklong “Coming Home” series, by Mark Benjamin and Michael de Yoanna, on preventable deaths at Fort Carson. You can read the introduction to the series here.

Stopping another war

Why is it that so often when we want to tackle a problem in this country, we think we need to declare war on it? Haven’t we learned over the years that wars tend to make things worse instead of better? If we ever needed proof of that, all we have to do is take a look at this crazy war on drugs our country has been fighting for years.

I’ve firmly believed for a long time that we need to stop this particular war. In my professional life, I see the pipeline to prison that it provides for too many of our young people – especially those of color. But this week, I’ve been devastated to see what its done real close to home. A couple of people I care alot about got caught up in this war because they grow and sell a little marijuana. Their home was invaded by cops last week and they were hauled off to jail in handcuffs. They lost everything they own, including possessions, bank accounts (even the one they’d set up to cover expenses for their father in a nursing home), and all forms of ID due to these crazy laws we call asset forfeiture. I’ve been devastated with and for them.

The Soviet Withdrawal 20 Years Later

This fits, for further study, especially with Brandon Friedman’s posts on Afghanistan, over at Vet Voice, which can be found here and here and the present to future of.

In my opinion we lost there already, when they pulled out to destroy Iraq.

Memories don’t die, and we, as well as many others, made promises we didn’t keep in not filling the vacuum after the Soviet pullout in helping that country rebuild. That vacuum was filled which led to this present!!  

Docudharma Times Saturday February 14

Republicans Vote Against America  

Saturay’s Headlines:

Public Radio Fundraisers Dial It Back

Dubai’s six-year building boom grinds to halt as financial crisis takes hold

Hamas murder campaign in Gaza exposed

British envoy banned in war without witnesses

The anti-Valentine website: find a girlfriend and you’re out

Europe’s Black Friday seized on to defend British policies

Occitania in struggle to reclaim identity

A New Role for Iraqi Militants: Patrons of the Arts

Lebanese campaign for civil weddings

Chávez, Sí, but maybe not forever

Stimulus Plan Tightens Reins on Wall St. Pay


Published: February 13, 2009

WASHINGTON – A provision buried deep inside the $787 billion economic stimulus bill would impose restrictions on executive bonuses at financial institutions that are much tougher than those proposed 10 days ago by the Treasury Department.

The provision, inserted by Senate Democrats over the objections of the Obama administration, is aimed at companies that have received financial bailout funds. It would prohibit cash bonuses and almost all other incentive compensation for the five most senior officers and the 20 highest-paid executives at large companies that receive money under the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.

The stimulus package was approved by the House on Friday, then by the Senate in the late evening.

GOP lawmakers tout projects in the stimulus bill they opposed

By David Lightman | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – Rep. John Mica was gushing after the House of Representatives voted Friday to pass the big stimulus plan.

“I applaud President Obama’s recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America’s future,” the Florida Republican beamed in a press release.

Yet Mica had just joined every other GOP House member in voting against the $787.2 billion economic recovery plan.

Republicans echoed their party line over and over during the debate: “This bill is loaded with wasteful deficit spending on the majority’s favorite government programs,” as Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., put it.

But Mica wasn’t alone in touting what he saw as the bill’s virtues. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, also had nice things to say in a press release.



Buffalo crash claimed Sept. 11 widow, Rwanda advocate

Beverly Eckert, whose husband died at the World Trade Center, helped survivors and pushed to create the 9/11 commission. Alison Des Forges fought for justice after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

By Bob Drogin

February 14, 2009

Reporting from Silver Spring, Md. — If tragedy brings people together, the still-unexplained crash of a Continental Airlines commuter jet Thursday night forever links Beverly Eckert and Alison Des Forges, two extraordinary women who led separate crusades, against seemingly impossible odds.

Eckert was a Sept. 11 widow who turned her grief into powerful advocacy. She helped force a reluctant Bush White House to create the 9/11 Commission to investigate the attacks, and then helped push Congress to pass sweeping reforms of America’s secret intelligence agencies. “She really redefined for America how to be an effective activist and a committed citizen,” said Tim Roemer, a member of the 9/11 commission and liaison to the victims’ families. “That’s an extraordinary achievement.”

Des Forges led a tireless, often dangerous campaign to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and other massacres. She appeared as an expert witness at scores of war crimes trials and other judicial proceedings around the world.

Late Night Karaoke

Nothing But Love Here

Random Japan

You can’t make this stuff up

In an effort to get people to use less toilet paper, a “research center” called Japan Toilet Labo has been placing poems in public restrooms. The asinine verses include “Fold the paper over and over and over and over again” and “That paper will meet you for but a moment.”

After seven diners in Yamagata were sickened by improperly prepared fugu, the restaurant’s owner told police that he has “never eaten blowfish before, but I heard it was good, so I served it.”

Cops say a homeless man broke into an apartment in Chiyoda-ku and installed a “keylogger” virus on the resident’s computer, allowing him to steal some ¥9 million from the victim’s bank account.

Police in Osaka reported that a Buddhist priest who was upset over the noise made by delivery vehicles sprinkled salt on a shipping company’s doors in an attempt to make them rust. The priest initially told the cops he was using the salt to conduct a purification ritual.

Deja vu: Republicans resurrect 1100 page lines decade+ later

Watch where you drop it … you could hurt your feet!

There must be something about the number, but Republicans truly don’t seem to like 1100 page bills.

At the White House meeting, Mr. Gingrich said, he told Mr. Clinton that any “attempt to ram through an 1,100 page bill, which is what I am told the Mitchell measure is, would so embitter the process that I don’t think anything else would pass. I think this is crazy.”

Perhaps if the page count had been different, Americans would have universal health care today.


I tend to divide my mental calendar into seasons rather than days or months.

These are my seasons.



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