lighthouse (fire_rag)

The Quaker Movement

The Religious Society of Friends, known as the Quaker movement, was founded by George Fox around the mid-16th Century in England. Tired of the exisitng Christian denominations with their reliance on hierarchy and structure, George Fox wanted a return to "traditional" Christianity without the added ceremony. Later, with access to an English translation of the Bible, converts to this new movement became known as "Friends of Truth", regarding themselves as Friends of Jesus after the Gospel of John 15:14 ("You are my friends if you do what I command you."). Mocked by others as "trembling with religious zeal", the Friends adopted the term "Quaker" as their own.Collapse )
lighthouse (fire_rag)

Who can top this?

I'm sorry there's no image available that would suit the bombshell. If you think what happened in December was big, then you haven't seen the indictment.

It hit the fan yesterday, and it hit big. Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was formally indicted on sixteen counts of corruption. Six others were also indicted, including his brother Robert and chief of staff John Harris. The counts range from selling Barack Obama's Senate seat to exchanging state funding for campaign cash.

But what's truly horrifying is that the feds allege all this started before Blagojevich took the Governor's office. If these allegations are true - and he is innocent before proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt - then the people of Illinois have been virtually raped by the man who claimed to save them from corruption for over six years.

The indictment hasn't been made available to the public, but should be soon. A 14-page summary of the charges was released by the U.S. Attorney's office. As Patrick Collins, the former assistant U.S. Attorney who tried former Illinois Governor George Ryan, said, Ryan's convictions are small potatoes compared to what they have on Blagojevich.

Also being investigated but not yet charged is Blagojevich's wife Patti. The daughter of a Chicago alderman, she has allegedly racked up commissions through her husband. If she were indicted, then it may be enough for her husband to capitulate and make a plea deal to spare his wife prison time. Maybe they'll wait if they want to see the bigger case against her husband go to trial.

Right now the former governor and family are at Disney World. A local reporter tried to interview him but was chased off by a big guy with a Chicago accent.

I have to reserve judgement until the case comes to court. But I will say that if Blagojevich is convicted - and chances are that he will on at least some of the charges - then it will mean a long exile for the Democratic Party in Illinois. Every Democrat - good and bad - is being tarred with the same brush, and that is truly sad.

But will people really reform the system this time, or will there be another Blago in the wings - worse than the last incarnation?
sparkbearer (fire_rag/Stephanie Pui-Mon

The meaning of an Irish Car Bomb

Well, St. Pat's Day is next Tuesday. I always enjoy celebrating the day and Irish (American) culture with food, parades and some silliness. I also enjoy a beer on occasion, but usually a Harp lager, thank you very much.

Last week I leafed through the Tribune's free daily, Red Eye, and found several ads from bars promoting their St. Pat festivities with drink specials. What caught my eye was a drink called the Irish Car Bomb...Collapse )
myth (fire_rag/Stephanie Pui-Mon Law)

Hooray! Pluto's a planet again!

This Friday, March 13, 2009, citizens of the state of Illinois will have reason to celebrate:

No, Rod's not going to prison. He hasn't been formally charged or tried yet.
No, it's not baseball season yet. That begins next month.
No, the movie version of "A Haunting in Connecticut" won't be in theaters until the following Friday.
And no, the Illinois State Legislature won't go into the sea like lemmings (though many wish they would, I'm sure). Instead, they came up with the next best thing...

Collapse )
strands (fire_rag/Stephanie Pui-Mon Law)

Dispatches from the Huffington Post

On days like today, I have to thank the journalism gods for the Huffington Post. This morning I was feeling depressed over the general state of the news and contemplated doing a post about it and why people were being so nasty in response. Then I visited HuffPo, where not only the news is intelligent but so is the commentary, and my faith in the media was restored.

It was also too bad I missed the evening news programs last night that I usually watch. I was going to, but when I saw Chris Matthews go on the MSNBC Kick of the Week - "Oh my god Rush Limbaugh's taken over the GOP!" - I let my daughter watch "Poltergeist" and I spent the evening reading the paganmaid archives and listening to System of a Down songs on YouTube. But I'm grateful that HuffPo's got the recap of what I missed: Collapse )
passage - Kagaya image (fire_rag)

More about our friend Paul Harvey...

My tribute to Mr. Harvey, written late last night, spoke more about the love story he created with his wife Lynne than what he meant to me and the rest of the world. Today, I'll try to do the latter.

I told you that I didn't listen to him until 2001, when I began to listen to WGN-AM. Yeah, I remember my grandparents listening to it and thinking that it would never be me doing it. But as we grow older, our tastes change. Last night, for example, I sipped a little of my mother's scotch that was left in a shot glass. I tried scotch over the years and couldn't handle the harsh taste. But last night it was rather smooth and the little that I had, a fraction of an ounce, was enough to produce a mellow sensation that lasted a little while. I won't make scotch a regular habit, as I rarely drink, but it's another example of my changing tastes and perspectives.

As I said, I never thought I would ever listen to 'GN, but the older I get, the hungrier I become for news and perspectives. The music I love is still edgy and eclectic, but it can be smooth and a bit mellow, tempered with time as I am. And so it was that I turned to WGN for my news and talk. It was the beginning of an uncertain time in my life, when my husband became more ill and I was saddled with raising our small child alone (which I have NEVER regretted, let's get that straight), and I needed a beacon of light to guide me through the rough, dark sea that I was crossing. Later I would find friends in my pagan faith to help guide me, but for that time radio would do. Collapse )
lighthouse (fire_rag)

Silence in the radio world - Paul is with his Angel at last...

Today I learned of the passing of radio legend Paul Harvey, almost ten months to the day that his beloved wife Lynne "Angel" Harvey passed on. Together, they created a legend. Separately, they created milestones.

I came to hear and appreciate Paul Harvey in 2001, just as he signed a ten-year deal with ABC Radio for a reported $100 million. To me, he signified what radio news was meant to be - hard and delivered with a firm and reassuring voice. He had the slightly wavering voice of an old man, but he could still do it and he did. He would be off the air for weeks at a time due to health concerns, but I always looked forward to hearing him say "Hello Americans, this is Paul Harvey...STAND BY FOR NEWS!"

I hadn't listened in a couple of years, and I knew he wouldn't be here forever, but he seemed like a man who would never die. But now he has, and it's bittersweet - I'm sad I won't hear that greeting again, but I'm happy that he can be with his beloved "Angel" forever. And I'll look forward to his broadcasts in the Summerlands one day.

For Paul and Angel, I can only think of one tribute, and that is my favorite Scorpions song...Collapse )
lighthouse (fire_rag)

A fallen soldier's fateful words...

Sgt. Scott Stream of Mattoon, Illinois was killed in Afghanistan a few days ago, the victim of an IED (improvised explosive device). He was killed with another member of his platoon.

On New Year's Eve, Sgt. Stream wrote a letter to a friend that would prove to be fateful. Today, his letter is published in the Chicago Tribune, and it may well represent the thoughts and beliefs of the soldiers still fighting in Afghanistan. It's touching and I think it should be read by everyone here: Collapse )

I agree with some of the posters to the online article - we cannot forget what Sgt. Stream fought and died for. There have been many who believe that President Obama wants to simply end the war and recall our troops. That is wrong - he is merely redeploying many of them to continue the fight in Afghanistan.

But as history points out, no foreign invader has ever successfully conquered Afghanistan. The former Soviet Union couldn't do it. Iraq under Saddam Hussein couldn't do it. Seven years later, we're spinning our wheels. The Taliban has not been eradicated. Osama bin Laden (if he's still alive) has not been captured. The people and the topography of the land have proven to be an invincible force. But we also cannot simply withdraw from there either, like we did with Iraq after Desert Storm I.

Instead, the challenge with President Obama is this - instead of fighting harder, fighting smarter. We can better train our troops to understand the land and the people. We can increase the intelligence of the land and the enemy. We must make friends with the civilians, build networks, survive the rough terrain. We must also define our objectives - what do we want to do with Afghanistan? Do we want bin Laden, alive or dead? Do we want the Taliban gone? I thought those were the original objectives when we went in there after 9/11, but many people seem to forget why we went there in the first place.

Sgt. Stream did not die in vain, nor will we forget him and his sacrifice. But to ensure that, we must learn to fight smarter, not harder.

When he was lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn made it a point to attend every funeral for every Illinois soldier who died in combat. Now that he is governor, will he continue the practice? It would be touching if he could, and speak well to his character. He has made veterans' issues a major concern in his new administration. I hope his pressing duties won't preclude the commitments he has made as lieutenant governor. (EDIT: He's still continuing the practice.)

Hail and farewell, Sgt. Stream. The warrior queen Morgana will bind your wounds and see to your rest.
lighthouse (fire_rag)

(no subject)

That's what he is all right - a major dick.

If you haven't heard by now, Rick Santelli, a former Chicago trader now reporter for CNBC, ranted on the floor during his broadcast on Thursday. It must had been a lousy trading day for so many traders to take in Santelli's floor show, hearing him rant about the "losers" with unaffordable mortgages and how President Obama plans to bail them out.

When I saw the rant on YouTube, I thought it was staged. How else could a guy compete for attention on a (supposedly) noisy trading floor, the traders listening and cheering him on in spots? And who was that guy in the yellow and black jacket standing next to him and egging him on - a plant? I then watched a couple more earlier rants of his, and I realized it was his "shtick", his calling card, his reporting (and some might say entertaining) style. But no one, save the CNBC regular viewers, knew who he was until his rant was brought to the attention of other media and, more notably, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. By then, the rant has been seen thousands of times. He was the topic du jour on the Sunday news shows and political leaders became nervous, especially when they heard the cheers from the other traders.

Now the anti-Obama crowd is anointing him their hero. There have been cries of "Santelli 2012" on the blogosphere. Talent agents are begging to represent him, as it was reported today that his CNBC contract expires this year, and book deals are being mentioned.

Well, the hero of today can just as easily become the goat of tomorrow. I have no interest in seeing his star rise any longer. Time to take this son of a bitch down a notch or two. Read this from Crooks and Liars (you can also see the rant on the website).

Who are these "losers" Santelli's ranting about? Chances are you know one or two. You also might be one. A person who's worked hard to provide for themself and their family, lived in a modest home in which you raised your family, then something catastrophic happens and for reasons or other, you're having a hard time keeping your head above water. This is the person the so-called "mortgage bailout" is supposed to help. A person like "Mary"...Collapse )

I'd like to see a group of these so-called "losers" organize a protest against Santelli at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Just so these traders know who they really are. Then they can go home and eat their bailout money while the "losers" go to an uncertain future. I'll be there too, because I'm one. Our name is Legion.

Right now Santelli's riding the wave of popularity, with many people supporting him. The commentary to the article blamed Mary for her own situation. What's most troubling is that Santelli's supporters appear to have little or no compassion for their fellow human being. They may not need it now, but one day they will.

The economy isn't the biggest problem. We are.
lighthouse (fire_rag)

Scam alert

A week ago last Friday, I got a UPS envelope. It was next-day air. I wasn't expecting anything, but I tore open the envelope, wondering what I could be receiving.

It was a check for $3000, supposedly drawn from an Edward Jones office in Missouri. I checked the return address on the envelope and it was from someone in San Leandro, CA named Midco Tsang. I had never heard from this person (or company). Before acting on the check, I decided to do a little digging.

A check to revealed phone numbers for the Edward Jones office in MO and the address for Tsang revealed a listing for a woman residing at the same address. The following Monday, I tried both numbers several times. The Edward Jones number had busy signals, and the woman who answered said that Tsang was at work.

Needless to say, I was suspicious the whole time. Yet I remained hopeful that it was a sudden windfall, a forgotten account perhaps.

Then when I finally decided to bring the check to the bank where it was drawn (a long-respected Chicago bank) today, the teller told me what I expected to hear. It was a fraud.

No letter had accompanied the check, telling me why I received it and what to do with it. But I knew that similar schemes were on the rise. I wonder if the person sending me the check had simply forgotten to enclose a letter. But he had a return address, and that may be his fatal mistake.

The teller confiscated the check and the UPS envelope in which it came. I had written the info I got from Whitepages on the label. I hope that will be useful in their investigation, and that the person(s) involved will be arrested.

This is a cruel trick to play on someone. You get a check in the mail, with or without a letter telling you what to do with it. Usually, the instructions will be to deposit the check in your account, keep a little for yourself, and send the rest of the cash to the person. You might be happy for some money. Maybe you lost your job, or your home is a step away from foreclosure, and the money might save it.

Then the bank finds out the check is a fraud, and you're out the money. If you can absorb it without too much financial damage, you're lucky. If not, it's terrible indeed.

I was lucky I didn't lose money on this. I brought it to the bank that was on the check. I don't have a bank account, what the idiot sending me the check was probably not counting on. Either way, I hope he gets arrested.

This isn't the first time it happened. I had applied for a mystery shopping job a few weeks ago, and my first "job" was to cash a check for the same amount of money ($3000), keep some as commission and send the rest back via Western Union. The check was supposed to have been sent via FedEx. Well, I missed FedEx and the check went back. I contacted the "company" and they told me "too bad", and to get the information they wanted anyway. I didn't, but saved the e-mails anyway. Then, a few days ago, I got another e-mail for another "job". It went into the files. I think I'll contact the state Attorney General (if she isn't too busy trying to find evidence against Roland Burris) about this.

The adage rings true - if something's too good to be true, it is.