September 30, 2008

Big Three Nets’ Evening News Programs Still in Collective Decline

You might think that a presidential election year might give the Big Three networks’ evening newscasts a shot in the arm.

You would be wrong.

Full-year figures released last week and available MediaBistro’s TVNewser showed yet another audience decline.

The comparisons that follow are of the 2007-2008 ratings year just ended (each ratings year begins of fall season premieres) to 2006-2007:

EveningNews2008v2007

NBC’s small pickup is more than wiped out by the audience losses at ABC and CBS.

The first week of the new ratings year was better than the previous week, but the overall downward trend clearly continues, as you can see by comparing it to the two previous years’ averages:

EveningNewsFirstNewWeekVs2008and2007

Viewership should be strongest right now, but it isn’t. NBC’s decline is especially steep, and makes you wonder if the fever-swamp nuttiness of MSNBC is hurting the parent brand.

They”ll say the audience declines are because of competition from alternative media. That’s somewhat valid, but the nets continue to chase their audiences away faster than would otherwise have happened with their relentless bias.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Memo to the ‘Jean Schmidt Is a RINO’ Chorus ….. (UPDATE: Let-Down)

Filed under: Economy,OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:05 pm

….. uh, not exactly (HT Weapons of Mass Discussion; roll call vote of 205 for and 228 against is here):

Schmidt said she voted against the (bailout) bill because taxpayers need a better deal in which “every penny of their investment” is returned. Also, the bill did nothing to prevent the underlying problems “that caused this mess,” she said.

“If you have a flat tire, you can’t just fill it with air, you have to fix the hole first,” Schmidt said.

Calls to the congresswoman’s office had been running as high as 70 percent against the bailout proposal.

Those who thought she would always vote the GOP leadership’s line, especially when it varies from conservative principles, appear to be in need of a rethink. She didn’t go wobbly on us; I’m sure quite a few expected it.

8th District Congressman, House Republican Leader, and usually Great American John Boehner temporarily wandered yesterday. I look forward to his return shortly.

__________________________________________

UPDATE, Oct. 3 — Unfortunately, in the end, Schmidt joined a few dozen others and wilted, as this BuckeyeRINO post indicates. Very. Disappointing.

US Deaths from Hostile Action in Iraq Hours Away from All-Time Single-Month Low

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,TILTpatBIDHAT,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 8:21 am

UPDATE, Oct. 1, 11:25 p.m.: The final number for deaths from hostile action came in at 8, which ties the previous lows of July 2008 and April 2003.

_________________________________________________

This item will likely not make an Old Media splash, because overall US troop deaths in Iraq in September will be higher they were in July and August. But they’re probably not interested anyway.

To be sure, it would be ideal to note that no US soldiers have died.

Nonetheless, with eight hours remaining until the month ends in Iraq, in what would seem to be strong evidence that the gains from the 2007-2008 troop surge are holding, it is good to note that September US troop deaths from hostile action are at an all-time low (Source: icasualties.org; select “Hostile” in the drop-down bar to replicate):

IraqUShostileDeathsHistoryThur0908

Unfortunately, deaths not related to hostilities, at 17, are up compared to previous months.

September’s hostile death result, if it holds, caps a quarter of remarkable improvement. The quarter that is about to end will, without a doubt, show the lowest death toll from hostile action ever — by far (UPDATE, Oct. 1, 11:25 p.m.: The final number for deaths from hostile action came in at 8, causes the three-month total to be 28, still by far an all-time low):

IraqHostileDeaths0908

With the financial industry bailout dominating news coverage, I suspect that the improvements just noted will be downplayed or ignored. They probably would be anyway, given Old Media’s previous track record of ignoring good news from Iraq (two of many examples from NewsBusters, both involving NBC, are here and here). That’s why I put up this post.

Cross-posted at NewsBuster.org.

Matthews Interviews Daughter, Doesn’t Tell Viewers; She Disses Tax Cuts and Calls for ‘Sacrifice’

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:57 am

MatthewsAndDaughter0908The news comes from Media Bistro’s DC Fishbowl, with a twist that the post overlooked:

On Friday’s “Hardball,” Chris Matthews interviewed a number of student members of the group Concerned Youth of America.

One of those students — Caroline — is his daughter, a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Did Matthews disclose that fact as he interviewed her?

Not so much.

One tipster tells FishbowlDC that “Matthews, at the asking of his daughter, instructed the producers not to name her.”

Video is at the link.

Here is what Matthews asked his daughter, and how she answered (bolds are mine):

(at the 0:35 mark)

Chris Matthews: And what happens after the bailout. (The national debt is) $11 trillion, right?

Caroline Matthews: If you keep on spending like this, our generation, in like 20 to 30 years, the debt will get to like 53 trillion dollars.

(at the 1:00 mark)

Chris Matthews: How come politicians don’t talk about this?

Caroline Mathews (away from camera, causing Chris Matthews and cameraman to hastily move to her): Because people aren’t – because it’s not an attractive issue. People want to say – Politicians worry about being voted for, and you know, the people want taxes to be cut, and they want entitlement programs. And that’s how a politician gets elected. They’re not going to get elected by saying we’re going to have to make sacrifices, which is what we’re going to have to do.

FishbowlDC didn’t note that at the very end, Matthews said “her name is Caroline,” and pointed to his daughter. That would appear to contradict his daughter’s stated wish to producers, at least according to FishbowlDC’s tipster.

Mathews should be asked if he used his daughter as a political prop, especially because Caroline mentioned tax cuts as a problem before spending, despite the fact that the financial industry bailout, the topic of the day, is obviously all about spending. Did Matthews coach his daughter beforehand?

The “Our Issue” page at the Concerned Youth for America web site has this to say about the deficit problem:

Debts accumulated to pay for bloated and inefficient entitlement programs and the War in Iraq will have to be paid for not by the current leadership, but by us, the youth of America.

The irresponsible spending policies of today will weaken the American economy if not stopped.

Note that there’s no mention of tax cuts, no claim that taxes are too low, or any mention of the word “sacrifice.”

In fact, I found no mention of tax cuts anywhere on CYA’s site. That’s with good reason. Because of President Bush’s tax cuts, tax receipts grew 44% between fiscal 2003 and fiscal 2007. The national debt situation would be even worse if the cuts had not been enacted.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: UCLA mathematicians discover a 13-million-digit prime number

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Los Angeles: (video here):

UCLA mathematicians appear to have won a $100,000 prize from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for discovering a 13-million-digit prime number that has long been sought by computer users.

While the prize money is nothing special, the bragging rights for discovering the 46th known Mersenne prime are huge.

“We’re delighted,” said UCLA’s Edson Smith, leader of the effort. “Now we’re looking for the next one, despite the odds,” which are thought to be about one in 150,000 that any number tested will be a Mersenne prime.

Prime numbers are those, like three, seven and 11, that are divisible only by themselves and one. Mersenne primes, named after the 17th century French mathematician Marin Mersenne, who discovered them, take the form 2P – 1, where P is also a prime number.

In the new UCLA prime, P = 43,112,609.

Thousands of people around the world have been participating in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, or GIMPS, in which underused computing power is harnessed to perform the complex and tedious calculations needed to find and verify Mersenne primes. The prize is being offered for finding the first Mersenne prime with more than 10 million digits.

Smith and his UCLA colleagues have, since last fall, harnessed the power of the 75 machines in the university’s Program in Computing/Math Computer Lab, which is used by students for computer projects. Smith, a system administrator, realized that the lab was using only a fraction of its available CPU power. Rather than let it go to waste, he and his colleagues decided to use it for the GIMPS project. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 29, 2008

Bailout’s ‘$700 Billion’ Cost Is a Contrived Wild Guess; Media Mostly Ignores

As I write this on Monday afternoon, the People’s House has rejected “the $700 billion bailout.”

You won’t believe, unless you’re a very experienced cynic, where that $700 billion figure came from.

The answer appears to be “out of nowhere.”

With no basis.

I’m not kidding.

Here’s the evidence, carried six whole days ago at Forbes (HT LAT’s Top of the Ticket Blog via BizzyBlog commenter Dan Scott):

….. The committee’s top Republican, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, says he’s concerned about its cost and whether it will even work.

In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

“It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”

My guess is that the person just quoted, if discovered, might be better known today as a “former Treasury spokesman.”

It doesn’t seem like a wild stretch to suggest that there is a whiff of blackmail in the figure Treasury decided to use (i.e. “How big does it have to be to get them to do what we want?”).

This is serious stuff ….. right?

Yet the press coverage of this quote, admittedly unattributed (not that it’s stopped the press before), is very light. Further, though I may have missed it, I haven’t seen anyone challenge Paulson, or Bernanke, or Bush about the validity of the $700 billion figure.

The New York Times has not reported it (search is on “particular data point” in quotes) in its regular news coverage. It is mentioned at the Times’s Freakonomics blog — in a comment.

The same search at Google News at about 3:00 p.m. ET returned 61 items (not 66, as claimed on the first page). Almost all are local TV stations, relatively minor publications, or right-leaning blogs. I saw not major Old Media outlet.

Although many of those TV items indicated that the Associated Press had a hand in their reports a 7-day search at the home page of ap.org came up empty, even typing “particular data point” without quotes.

I daresay if most Americans knew of the Treasury person’s quote, the communication lines in Washington would melt down. How can this possibly not be important?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Missouri Sheriffs’ and Prosecutors’ Obama ‘Truth Squad’ Getting Old Media Silence

(Originally posted shortly after midnight, carried forward to the top)

What if I told you that sheriffs and prosecutors in, say, Indiana, had formed “truth squads” and “subtly” threatened prosecutions of critics of John McCain?

Does anyone think that the New York Times, Washington Post and Old Media in general wouldn’t be putting the news on the front page, even with the bailout-apalooza going on in Washington?

Well, there is a “truth squad.” It’s in Missouri. It includes prosecutors and sheriffs. Oh, and they have formed their truth squad to threaten and intimidate the critics of ….. Barack Obama.

Here is a transcript of a report from station KMOW in St. Louis (first 1:45 of vid; HT Gateway Pundit) that may leave you wondering whatever happened to the country we once knew:

(more…)

Hank Paulson’s Resignation Should Be a Bailout Precondition

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:54 am

Paulson can assert that he can be independent in fact all day long, but his lack of independence in appearance, and attitude, is obvious.

Many of the provisions in what Paulson originally proposed betray his lack of true independence.

His original “solution” involved him becoming the country’s virtual chairman of the board. There may still be probably is too much power concentration even in the current bailout bill.

Not to mention the possibility that Paulson, perhaps with the help of Ben Bernanke, may have blackmailed Congress into acting — which, if true, is grounds for doing more than merely forcing his resignation.

Newt Gingrich:

Gingrich even expressed concern with Paulson’s connections to Wall Street.  The treasury secretary served as the chairman of a major global investment banking and securities firm before joining the Bush administration.

“You have the former Chairman of Goldman Sachs asking for 700 billion dollars, and in his initial request, asking for it in such an un-American way that I think he should have resigned,” said Gingrich. “I think Paulson has terminally misunderstood the nature of the American system. Not just no review, no judicial review, no congressional accountability. Give me 700 billion dollars, 700 BILLION dollars! ‘I’ll be glad to spend it for you.’  That’s a centralization of power that is totally un-American.”

“Even expressed?” Zheesh, ABC, those connections form the heart of the problem.

Paulson will never be able to make a convincing case that valuation decisions involving investments originally made by people he used to either work with, manage, or hang around were made fairly and impartially. Despite the presumption that “of course” he’s leaving on January 20 of last year, I believe that he intends to convince the next president that he’s “indispensable” and needs to stay.

The bailout in any form shouldn’t pass unless Paulson leaves.

___________________________________________

UPDATE: Here’s the link to Michelle Malkin’s post containing the bailout bill as of sometime yesterday afternoon.

Positivity: Soccer player returns to the field where he nearly died

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:15 am

From Augsburg College in Minnesota (video is also at link):

Sept. 25, 2008

On a damp field at Augsburg College Tuesday night, Matt Bowman enjoyed his soccer team’s Homecoming game.

But the game wasn’t just Matt’s return to where he belongs — it was his return to where he nearly died just a little more than a month ago.

On August 20th, the 19-year-old sophomore collapsed in the final minutes of his soccer game.

“I was jogging around the field, my vision tunneled. I thought, ‘I have to go down,’” said Matt on Tuesday night.

Matt’s parents ran from the bleachers to their son’s side.

“She looks at me and says, ‘I can’t find a pulse,’ and I say, ‘what, what do you mean you can’t find a pulse?’” said Gary Bowman, Matt’s dad. “His lips were already blue, tops of his ears were blue.”

But then Gary started calling his son’s name. Matt heard the calls and eventually, recovered.

“I definitely felt like something was going on. I was going somewhere, I was slipping into something – it felt like back and then coming to,” Matt said.

After one long minute, Matt was conscious again. A week later, doctors figured out what had happened.

Dr. Tim Kroshus of the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, said Matt experienced a “sudden death episode” caused by an anomalous coronary artery. One of his arteries was being pinched between his aorta and pulmonary artery which cut off the blood supply to his heart.

“The condition itself is one of the most common causes of death in young athletes,” Dr. Kroshus said, adding that they learned of Matt’s condition through a relatively new test: a CT coronary angiogram.

Dr. Kroshus and his team were able to correct Matt’s condition — moving it from one side of the valve, to the other.

Matt will be able to return to playing soccer and other sports by mid-November. According to Matt, it’s a medical miracle that he doesn’t take lightly.

“I’m so grateful. I don’t know why I was given a second chance but I know someone was watching over me and God pulled me through, I think,” Matt said. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 28, 2008

Hank Paulson’s Blackmail? (Bernanke, Too?)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:11 pm

(Carried to the top, likely for the rest of the day)

Are the following events coincidences? I don’t think so.

More like 2 + 2 = 4.

As in, two ….

Bailout Failure ‘Will Cause US Crash‘”

The US stock market could suffer a devastating crash with shares losing a third of their value this week if Hank Paulson’s financial bailout plan fails, US Treasury officials have warned.

….. plus two …..

WaMu Bondholders are ‘Stranded’ in Thrift Seizure

“It seems that WaMu’s major debt holders have been stranded by regulatory intervention,” David Hendler, an analyst at bond research firm CreditSights in New York wrote in a report today. “The deal structure seems to be unprecedented in that it excludes bondholders at the holdco and bank levels from the major assets and liabilities of the operating bank.”

….. equals four:

Lawmakers Reach Tentative Bailout Deal

WASHINGTON — Top U.S. policymakers emerged from hours of tense negotiations with a clear message just after midnight on Sunday morning: A deal to bail out U.S. financial markets has been agreed on and all that remains to be done is to commit the legislation to paper.

My take: The way the WaMu bondholders are being treated is unprecedented (I also read that at another link), and is a major and again (sorry for the tired word) unprecedented threat to the markets’ confidence.

I think that Hank Paulson threatened to tank the markets himself if the bailout deal didn’t get done very quickly. Maybe Ben Bernanke, too.

If the government changes its position on the treatment of WaMu bondholders and makes them whole or almost whole, you will know that I was right. If the government treats future situations as it did pre-WaMu, you will know that I was right.

You have no idea how much I want to be wrong.

This is sickening.

______________________________________

UPDATE: More on this from the UK Times Online (where is the US Press?) –

The broader debt markets were crippled by fears on Friday after the sale of WaMu. Unlike other recent bank deals, this one saw senior creditors wiped out alongside shareholders – an unexpected blow.

The wipeout of WaMu bonds is likely to make it much more difficult for any struggling US bank to raise new finance. If bondholders can be wiped out so easily, there is little point in extending debt to struggling firms. The added uncertainty is likely to make it harder for all companies to renew their debt facilities, and put a further squeeze on the price.

Chances are very great that the uncertainty will bleed into the equity markets, perhaps even giving Paulson & Co. the 1/3 meltdown “Treasury officials have warned of.”

I detect a whiff of financial sedition.

__________________________________________

UPDATE 2: Thanks to Michelle Malkin for linking to this post. Her entries today are here, here (with the bailout bill), and here.

UPDATE 3, Sept. 29: Related, from istockanalyst.com

Did FDIC Sabotage WaMu Management And Erode Investor Confidence?

FDIC Chairwoman Sheila C. Bair, together with JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon shared the spotlight for saving Washington Mutual (WM) depositors without costing the government a dime. The story is old by now; JPM got the good and the bad of the bank without the holding company’s ugly debt. (Think Clint Eastwood.)

After the glory fades, the reality will come out that the FDIC cannot be trusted. JPM and others were conducting real negotiations with the FDIC at the same time they were conducting fake negotiations with WaMu’s management.

….. (did) FDIC undercut WaMu’s management ….. before or after the fall of Lehman? WaMu started to face a bank run on September 15 – the day Lehman filed for Chapter 11.

The FDIC alone could be proud of its accomplishment, but in the overall context they further eroded investor confidence. Now the moral hazard has spread beyond equity holders to bond holders.

….. The Paulson/Bernanke team has not been very pragmatic in creating value in the form of investor confidence for their bailout money. Punishing or killing shareholders and now bond holders have proved very expensive to the government. With each new implementation of moral hazard, the government has to lay out more money to lift investor confidence

….. If the government lets another large financial or insurance institution fail, or severely punishes their shareholders, Paulson $700B slush fund would be the same as you know what in the wind.

Trillions Left on the Table

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:45 pm

Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media on Friday. I have revised parts of it below to reflect the passage of time since I first submitted it.
________________________________________

Uncle Sam’s Multi-Trillion Dollar Lockup

Maybe the Treasury bailout debate will force us to look at what we are losing by locking up our energy resources.

This past week’s two major news stories were that:

  1. The Treasury’s $700 billion-plus bailout of the financial industry is in jeopardy — at least the blank-check, right-now, no-accountability version Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed Chairman Bernanke appear wedded to. (Update: As of Sunday, there was a tentative deal that may have been forced by financial blackmail.
  2. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have apparently bowed to reality, and will not try to renew the annual ban on offshore drilling for oil and natural gas that has annually been enacted into law for over a quarter-century.

Assume for the moment that the bailout passes, and that the ultimate taxpayer loss runs into the hundreds of billions (in theory, it should be less than the amount Paulson and Bernanke want; but never underestimate the government’s ability to make a bad thing worse). Where is that money going to come from?

How about Item 2 above?
(more…)

Catch of the Weekend: Ryan David Jopek’s Mother Told Obama NOT To Wear Slain Son’s Bracelet

Keith Howington of Dehavelle.com is the source of this “Can You Top This?”shocker (HT Warner Todd Huston of NewsBusters).

The original audio interview involved is at Wisconsin Public Radio between Brian Jopek, father of slain soldier Ryan David Jopek, and “Route 51″ show host Glenn Moberg is here (scroll down to March 20, 2008 at link; go to about the 10:01 mark).

Here is the relevant portion of the transcript (this is beyond what Huston posted, as I believe it’s important for set-up), which begin after Mr. Jopek gives a bit of a defense of the mission:

Moberg: Let’s fast-forward to the present time. A few weeks ago, in the Wisconsin Primary election, there was a speech by presidential candidate Barack Obama, who was wearing Ryan’s, Ryan’s military bracelet, a bracelet that your wife Tracy and your daughter Jessica gave to him during an appearance in Green Bay.

Obama: We’re here, because of the mother that I met in Green Bay, Wisconsin, who gave me this bracelet that I’m wearing. Inscribed on it is the name of her son Ryan. He was 20 when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. And next to his name it says, “He gave …. All gave some, but he gave all.” We are here because it is time to ask ourselves as a nation if we are serving Ryan and his compatriots, and all our young brave men and women as well as they are serving us. They need us to end this war, and bring them home, and give them the care and the benefits that they deserve. They need change, Houston.

Houston? As in “Houston, we have a problem?” Seems a bit flip, considering the speech topic.

Here’s how Moberg picked it up after the speech excerpt (bolds are mine):

Moberg: For better or worse, Brian, your son’s sacrifice has now become part of the political campaign. Can you tell us why Tracy wanted to give him the bracelet to the extent that you can, because I know that you personally do not want to become, or at least I imagine you don’t want to become, part of the political conversation here.

Brian Jopek: I want to make clear that Tracy and I are no longer married. She’s my ex-wife. Basically Glenn, from what I understood, in some e-mail exchanges with Tracy and from reading some of the stories that came out at the time, she just wanted to put a name, y’know, Mr. Obama to know Ryan’s name. That’s all. It was just something that she had intended, uh, to just hand to him. She wasn’t looking to turn it into a big media event, which of course is what it ended up being. She just wanted it to be something between Barack Obama and herself. And actually, because of some of the negative feedback she’s gotten on the Internet, you know Internet blogs, you know people accusing her of… or accusing Obama of trying to get votes doing it… and that sort of thing.

Moberg: Yeah -

Jopek: She has turned down any subsequent interviews with the media because she just didn’t want it to get turned into something that it wasn’t. She had told me in an email that she had asked, actually asked Mr. Obama to not wear the bracelet any more at any of his public appearances. Which I don’t think he’s…

Moberg: It has been a while since he’s brought it up.

Jopek: Right. But, the other night I was watching the news and he was on, uh, speaking somewhere and he was still wearing it on his right wrist. I could see it on his right wrist. So, that’s his own choice. I mean that’s something Barack Obama, that’s a choice that he continues to wear it despite Tracy asking him not to… Because she is a Barack Obama supporter and she didn’t want to do anything to sabotage his campaign, so, if he’s still wearing the bracelet then, uh, that of course is entirely up to him.

Moberg: Maybe there’s a difference between wearing it and making a point to bring it up in your speeches?

If there ever was a “difference,” Glenn Moberg, that difference has vanished. You are such a tool.

I ask this question sparingly, because it’s overused, but it realy fits this situation — Who in the bleep does Barack Obama think he is?

If what Brian Jopek says about his ex-wife’s wishes is true (does anyone seriously doubt it?), add Tracy Jopek to the list of those Obama and his radical backers have stepped on, and over, on the way to achieving their blind ambition.

Expect a full-court Obama press to have Tracy Jopek come out and say “Oh, it’s OK. Don’t believe those e-mails I sent my ex.” Expect the press to then pronounce the controversy “contrived” and “over.”

Horse manure. Obama’s cold, craven opportunism has been exposed, and no after-the-fact cleanup operation will ever change that.

Why should anyone believe that Obama has any intention of giving soldiers and veterans “the care and the benefits that they deserve” when he won’t even honor the simple request of a slain soldier’s mother?

______________________________________

UPDATE: Jason at Darke Blog — “Sick and shameful.”

UPDATE 2: The “after-the-fact cleanup operation” came in, but it changes nothing — “She DID ask him not to wear it.” The fact that she appreciated Obama’s debate mention is irrelevant. Again, who in the bleep does Obama think he is to deliberately go against a dead soldier’s mother’s stated request?

Positivity: Pope Benedict praises symposium on Pius XII for uncovering the historic truth

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Vatican City:

Sep 18, 2008

Pope Pius XII, has drawn the interest and scrutiny of many people over the last few decades, but as Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the Pave the Way Foundation at Castel Gandolfo today, he highlighted that previous investigation into the late Pope’s efforts to save Jews from the Nazis and fascists have been biased.

Around noon today at the Pope’s summer residence, he received Mr. Gary Krupp, the president of the Pave the Way Foundation and other members of the organization.

Mr. Krupp and his wife, who are Jewish, founded Pave the Way to fight against religious intolerance and prejudice through educational, cultural and technological means. As part of those efforts, Pave the Way organized a symposium to conduct an in-depth investigation into Pius XII’s life and his pastoral and humanitarian work.

Noting that 50 years have passed since the October 9, 1958 death of the Servant of God Pius XII, the Holy Father pointed out that although “so much has been written and said of him during these last five decades, … not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light.”

The symposium aimed to address some of these deficiencies by “conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favor of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth,” the Pope said.

“When one draws close to this noble Pope,” observed Benedict XVI, “one can come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people.”

Pope Benedict then went on to thank the foundation for “the vast quantity of documented material which you have gathered, supported by many authoritative testimonies,” because, as he explained “your symposium offers to the public forum the possibility of knowing more fully what Pius XII achieved for the Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes.”

One of the many aspects of the symposium that Pope Benedict praised was how the foundation’s work “had drawn attention to Pope Pius’ many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews. This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them.”

One special event that Benedict XVI recalled, “Pius XII’s meeting on the 29th of November 1945 with eighty delegates of German concentration camps who during a special Audience granted to them at the Vatican, wished to thank him personally for his generosity to them during the terrible period of Nazi-fascist persecution.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 27, 2008

Gaffe of the Night: Uh, Uh, Uh, Sergeant Who? (Updates: Obama’s Agree-giousness, Kissinger)

Sept. 28 UpdateCatch of the Weekend: Ryan David Jopek’s Mother Asked Obama NOT To Wear Slain Son’s Bracelet

_____________________________________________

From “The One” I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas HusseinObambiObama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters), as he’s getting his butt kicked (forget the mindless spin – I know what I saw, and the reporters do too; if this is what they admitted to, imagine how they really felt) by the candidate I refer to as “JS3M3″ (John Sidney the Mad Maverick McCain III):

(Direct YouTube link; debate transcript here)

Jim, let me just make a point. I’ve got a bracelet too. From, Sergeant, uh, uh, from the mother of, uh, Sergeant, Ryan David Jopek. Given to me in Green Bay. And she asked me, “Will you please make sure that another mother’s not going through what I’m going through.”

There should be a question mark at the end of the sentence, but that’s not how Obama articulated it.

Check out Obama’s (mostly masked, but still present) facial expressions after he realizes that, in front of millions of viewers, many seeing him perform for the very first time, he couldn’t even remember Jopek’s name without looking at his bracelet, when he (Obama) was the one who was insisting on making a “me too” point.

Petulant. Punk. Pwned.

As a matter of fact, I think I’m going to have to add to this guy’s nickname for the balance of the race. Proud Unborn Unapologetic Neonatal Killer is the current front-runner. Petulant Unaccomplished Nonsupporter of Kin, and others, are under consideration.

The wheels are turning. Other suggestions are welcome. Stay tuned.

Matt Sheffield at NewsBusters asks:

Had a Republican, say Sarah Palin, made this gaffe, who wants to bet that we wouldn’t hear this clip repeated endlessly during the post-debate spin shows and in the days ahead? How much would the sincerity of our hypothetical Republican politician be called into question.

I didn’t hear it discussed once in the post-debate coverage. Did you?

Sheffield cites several examples of media silence.

With all due respect to Sgt. Jopek’s mother, and grief for her loss, if she wants her goal achieved, she gave the bracelet to the wrong guy.

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UPDATE: Others getting in their late-night and early-morning points — Michelle Malkin, Ed Driscoll, AJ Strata.

UPDATE 2: Looks like Obama “agrees” on who did better (direct YouTube link) –

UPDATE 3: Henry Kissinger smacks down the punk.

Positivity: Bionic breakthrough as prosthetic lets woman ‘feel’ her missing hand

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

From Chicago, and Maryland (HT Good News Blog):

Last updated at 3:11 PM on 10th September 2008

A bizarre discovery by the woman fitted with the world’s most advanced bionic arm could pave the way for hi-tech limbs that feel as well as move.

When surgeons fitted Claudia Mitchell’s £2million prosthetic, they hot-wired it to her brain via her original shoulder nerves so she could control the mechanical arm by thought alone.

But now she can also ‘feel’ sensations in her missing hand.

Miss Mitchell, a former US marine, lost her left arm at the shoulder in a motorcycle accident in 2004.

Because her real arm had been severed almost at the shoulder, she had lost the use of the nerves that ought to have been able to control a conventional prosthetic.

But in a new surgical technique called ‘targeted reinnervation’, her dormant shoulder nerves were implanted in her chest, away from the damaged area.

Now when Miss Mitchell wants to move her arm, her brain sends a signal to the chest muscle rather than to her useless shoulder.

‘We have rewired her,’ said Dr Todd Kuiken, the American who devised the technique.

Electrical pulses from her chest muscle are transmitted to the bionic limb where a computer decodes them and turns them into arm movements.

By thought alone, Miss Mitchell, of Ellicott City, Maryland, can bend her wrist back, move her thumb and clench her fingers.

‘I have what I call my “eureka moments,”‘ she said. ‘There are a lot of daily tasks that people don’t even think about being able to do that I can do now.’

But the twist came four months after her 2006 operation as Miss Mitchell was taking a shower.

When the hot water hit her chest, she felt it on her missing left hand.

She found that touching her chest or applying heat and cold to it would give her the sensation of pressure, warmth or coolness in her lost arm.

This was because doctors had moved not only her motor nerves but also her sensation nerves.

‘Claudia was the first person that we did this on. We purposely directed her hand sensation nerves onto some chest skin, and it worked,’ Dr Kuiken, of Chicago’s Rehabilitation Institute, told ABC News.

Paul Marasco, a touch specialist at the institute, has since charted the way Miss Mitchell’s hand sensations correspond with locations on her chest.

Depending on her chest is touched, he said, ‘She has the distinct sense of her joints being bent back in particular ways, and she has feelings of her skin being stretched.’

Researchers hope Miss Mitchell’s experiences – bizarre as they are – will open up major improvements in prosthetic technology.

She has become an honorary member of the research team, even spending her holidays testing out new equipment.

Go here for the rest of the story.