Friday, January 15, 2010

Indoctrination of Youth: Not Just for Commie-Nazis! (IOKIYAR)

If President Obama is indoctrinating our youth, then the National Right to Life's camp is brainwashing on steroids.
If everyone who reads this article takes the time to invest in just one young person, imagine the political and social landscape in our nation just five or ten years from now.

Here's what you can do.

If you are a state affiliate of National Right to Life: get excited about youth! We have resources and advisors available to help you plan teen conventions, rallies, and even camps. Our National Teens for Life Convention every summer provides tons of educational information for teens.

Send us a few key teens from your state and we will give them back ready to spread the word about life.
(emphasis mine)

Imagine, for a moment, that this group was NARAL, a pro-choice organization. Imagine the outcry from our conservative friends were a liberal organization calling on people to "Send us a few key teens from your state and we will give them back ready to spread the word about [insert issue here]."

Now, this would be no big deal whatsoever, if the NRLC had not put out this message about President Obama "indoctrinating" our youth back in September:
Just checking my e-mail today when I ran across a story from today's Salt Lake Tribune headlined, "Parents upset over 'leftist propaganda' video: Principal Apologies for showing 'I Pledge' to students." (The headline is intended to marginalize the parents, but what else is new?)

Maybe lots of people have seen the 4 minute, 18 second, "I Pledge" video put together by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, but I hadn't. Looking online, I guess it first popped up in January.

And if it were being shown to adults, that's fine. Presumably they would have chosen to watch the video whose theme is "service."

We're told in the story that's why the local PTA chose the video to show at an assembly--in their minds it harmonized with the school's theme for the year--even though the elementary school principal hadn't seen it, according to the school district's spokesman.

Along with stuff no one could possibly object to, like feeding the hungry, the video is larded with the usual PC drivel. But, again, that's fine if we aren't talking about indoctrinating six-year-olds into pledging "to advance stem cell research" and to "be of service to Barack Obama," and (in case we missed it the first time), "I pledge to be a servant to our president and all mankind."
To sum up, when our President calls on school children to take part in serving your country, that is indoctrination, but when a conservative organization calls on you to send them "a few key teens" from your state, so that they can "give them back ready to spread the word about life," that is just fine and dandy. And if all this confuses you, just keep in mind the golden rule: It's Okay If You're A Republican (IOKIYAR)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to help Haitian earthquake victims

The death toll of the earthquake in Haiti is being estimated to be as high as 50,000. The carnage is simply horrific.

ABC News has compiled a list of foundations to which people can contribute funds to help those affected by the catastrophic tragedy in Haiti.

To lend a hand, please check out the following sites:

Jan. 13, 2010 —

After a magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti 10 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince Tuesday, the United States and countries around the world have shifted their focus to helping those in need.

Click here for our full report on the quake and its aftermath.

U.S. State Department

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the earthquake a "catastrophic" event and said the United States "will be providing both civilian and military disaster relief and humanitarian assistance."

In a blog post on the U.S. State Department Web site, Clinton's Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills called for those wanting to help to donate $10 by texting "HAITI" to "90999." The $10 donation will go automatically to the Red Cross "to help with relief efforts" and will be charged directly to your cell phone bill, the Web site said.

For more information, click here to visit the U.S. State Department Web site.

American Red Cross

Hours after the quake struck, the American Red Cross pledged an initial $200,000 to assist those affected by the devastation. The American Red Cross has partnered with the Haitian Red Cross, which is leading the response efforts.

"As with most earthquakes, we expect to see immediate needs for food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support," said Tracy Reines, director of international disaster response for the American Red Cross, in a report posted on its Web site.

The American Red Cross offers several ways to donate to various funds, including international relief to Haiti.

Click here to visit the American Red Cross Web site to find out more or donate online.

Those who wish to donate by phone can dial (800) Redcross or (800) 257-7575.

Those who wish to donate by mail can do so by contacting their local Red Cross chapter or by mailing a donation to the following address:

American Red Cross
P.O. Box 37243
Washington D.C. 20013

William J. Clinton Foundation

Former president Bill Clinton is the United Nations special envoy to Haiti.

"My UN office and the rest of the UN system are monitoring the situation," Clinton said in a statement today. "While we don't yet know the full impact of this 7.0-magnitude earthquake, we do know that the survivors need immediate help."

Click here to donate to the foundation's Haiti Relief Fund and other relief efforts they support.

Mercy Corps

While Mercy Corps does not have a staff in Haiti, the organization does have "extensive experience responding to earthquakes," according to Mercy Corps contributor Randy Martin.

The agency started planning a deployment to Haiti Tuesday evening and quickly set up the Haiti Earthquake Fund.

Click here to find out more or donate online.

Those who wish to donate by phone can call (888) 256-1900.

Or donate by mail by sending a check to the follow address:
Mercy Corps
Dept W
P.O. Box 2669
Portland, OR 97208-2669


Shortly following the quake's eruption, the U.S. division of UNICEF issued a statement on its blog calling attention to some of the smallest victims of the emergency.

"Children are always the most vulnerable population in any natural disaster, and UNICEF is there for them," the statement said.

UNICEF invited people to give by mail by printing out a form on its Web site, which you can find by clicking here.

Those interested in donating can also call (800) For Kids or (800) 367-5437.

Click here for more information from the UNICEF Web site or donate online.

Food for the Hungry

Food for the Hungry has staff located near the earthquake and in neighboring Dominican Republic, according to the organization's Web site.

The site calls on visitors to donate to "help us respond now."

Click here to learn more and find out how to donate online.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is mobilizing resources and personnel to assist with the international relief effort in Haiti, the group said in a statement today.

The group has been working in Haiti since 1950. At present, they operates schools, clinics, a hospital, feeding programs, children's homes and church-related activities in Port-au-Prince. They are sending more than 44,000 pounds of pre-packaged emergency rations to the country, along with emergency disaster teams.

Click here to visit the Salvation Army Web site to learn more and donate.

Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders had teams on the ground in Haiti when the earthquake struck who "witnessed significant damage to its medical facilities, injuries to patients and staff and an influx of wounded toward these hospitals in the capital," according to its Web site.

Click here to learn more about the Doctors Without Borders relief effort in Haiti and how you can help.

Partners in Health

Partners in Health is an aid organization that has a team in Haiti and aims to provide "a preferential option for the poor in health care," according to its Web site.

Partners in Health has sent their medical director and a doctor to Santo Domingo and are working to get into Port-au-Prince.

Click here to learn more about Partners in Health and get information about donating online.

World Food Programme

In a press statement, the World Food Programme (WFP) said it will "bring urgently needed food assistance to thousands of people affected by the devastating earthquake" in Haiti.

WFP already has stocks of food located in Haiti, and intends to first "distribute nutritious high energy biscuits, which require no cooking" to victims.

In addition, there are plans to airlift 95 tons of food from the WFP's emergency hub in El Salvador. "This will allow us to feed 30,000 people in urgent need for food for up to seven days," the statement said. WFP emergency staff will also be deployed to the country.

Click here to learn more about WFP in Haiti and get information about donating online.


CARE has 133 people on the ground in Haiti and is deploying additional staff immediately to distribute food, hygiene kits and water, as well as to deliver emergency health services. The organization is coordinating with other U.N. agencies and aid organizations to assess damage and on-the-ground needs.

Click here for more information and to donate online, or call (800) 422-7385.


AmeriCares has put together a $3 million relief package in the form of medications, trauma supplies, intravenous solutions, pain medication and other medical supplies.

Click here for more information about AmeriCares.

Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan's Purse is sending medication, plastic for emergency shelter, blankets, water filters and water purification solutions to Haiti, along with doctors and disaster specialists.

Click here to learn more and to help.

Operation Blessing International

Operation Blessing International, the seventh largest international charity, has disaster relief teams on the ground and more en route. The organization is assessing the damage and beginning relief efforts.

Contact information:
977 Centerville Turnpike
Virginia Beach, Va. 23463
(757) 226-3401

Click here to learn more and find out how to help.

Action Against Hunger

The mission of Action Against Hunger is to save lives by eliminating hunger through the prevention, detection and treatment of malnutrition, especially during and after emergency situations of conflict, war and natural disaster. Click here to learn more about what Action Against Hunger is doing in Haiti and find out how to help.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is addressing shelter solutions for low-income families affected by the earthquake. The group says on their Web site that their ability to respond effectively to this disaster will require support from donors, volunteers, corporate partners and other community organizations.

Click here to learn more and donate to Habitat for Humanity's effort.

Merlin (Medical Emergency Relief International)

Merlin is sending four people to Haiti, including a doctor specializing in tropical diseases and public health. The group is appealing to trusts, foundations, companies and individuals to help it raise funds for its immediate emergency response.Click here for more information.

Oxfam America

Oxfam America is working to send water and sanitation resources for a push into Haiti in the coming days.

Click here to learn more and find out how to help.

International Medical Corps

The group's first response team is en route to Haiti via Santa Domingo. Its doctors are trained in crisis medicine.

Click here for more information.

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee, a global leader in humanitarian assistance, is deploying its Emergency Response Team to Haiti to deliver urgent assistance to earthquake survivors and help overwhelmed local aid groups struggling to meet the immense emergency needs. They will be focusing on critical medical, water and sanitation assistance.

Click here to help.

World Relief Corporation

The organization has 40 staff people on the ground in Haiti. It is sending an assessment team down that will include emergency kits, food and water.

Click here to visit its Web site.

Hope for Haiti

It has eight staffers in country and serves about 500,000 Haitians a year -- children and adults -- through education, nutrition and medicine. The staff is traveling to Port-au-Prince with two doctors, support staff and 1,000 emergency relief buckets that contain items such as chlorine tablets and fortified food.

Click here to find out how to help Hope for Haiti.

Save the Children

Save the Children has been working in Haiti since 1985, and has offices in earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince.

The charity has begun to assess needs and damage, and has already started to help affected children and families. The agency was already sending out teams by motorbike in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday morning, and is flying in additional staff to help support the emergency response.

For more information, or to donate, click HERE.

Food for the Poor

Food for the Poor has been working in Haiti since 1996, according to its Web site.

The organization said in a statement that it is accepting "cash donations, canned meats, fish, condensed, evaporated and powdered milk and water. The agency is immediately sending 400 containers of rice, beans, water, blankets, lumber and repairing zinc. We cannot accept clothing at this time."

Click here to donate or to learn more about Food for the Poor.

Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services made a $5 million commitment for emergency supplies and is preparing to send water purification tablets, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits and mosquito nets to Haiti from the Dominican Republic, according to its Web site.

Click here to find out how to help Catholic Relief Services.

CLICK HERE for information on safely making charitable donations during a crisis.

For more resources on how to help, please visit

ABC News' Daniel Arnall contributed to this report.

“One Life: Echoes of Elvis” at the National Portrait Gallery

It's a bit hard for the average Washingtonian to get to Graceland, but now, that may not be our only way to get our Elvis fix.

Last Friday, The National Portrait Gallery opened “One Life: Echoes of Elvis,” an exhibit showcasing paintings, sculptures and photographs inspired by Elvis and his legacy. Opening day also happened to be what would have been the King of Rock and Roll's 75th birthday.

A variety of interesting -- and odd -- items are on display, including a larger than life golden bust of Elvis portrayed as Julius Caesar, several solemn photographs of Graceland and an Elvis child's doll.

Let's not forget The Book of "E," a scrapbook of newspaper clippings dating from the time immediately following Elvis' death. The collection was unearthed from an abandoned warehouse in Chicago, Illinois.

Also, an impressive number of book titles were included, most notably a cookbook which purports to contain the King's favorite recipes. You can bet there's one for fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Despite the range of items on display, those expecting a celebration of all things Elvis may be disappointed. The collection is small and fills only one small room. This is hardly a shrine worth paying a monthly homage, but if you're in town and feeling "a little lonesome tonight," then by all means, stop on by.

The exhibit will be at the National Portrait Gallery until August 29th.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Training Tuesday: GOTV

This week's Training Tuesday takes us back to Democracy for America's Campaign Academy in Gettysburg, PA 2009. For the last couple trainings we brought you lessons from the Organizing 2.0 conference, and we still have plenty more to come.

Anyways, first things first, a little history on the DFA campaign academy:

Now on to our lesson for the day. This weeks training is GOTV, or get out the vote. If you missed the training on vote goals and targeting, I suggest watching that lesson real quick.

Without further ado, we present a few quick lessons on GOTV:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Green Bank Action Briefing Live Feed, And More

We have three great events coming up that we will be broadcasting live over at Sum Live Change.

To begin with, The Green Bank Action Briefing on Tuesday, January 12th from 1:00-3:00pm (EST):
The Carrots and Sticks Project invites you to a briefing on Green Bank legislation on January 12th from 1:00-3:00 (Cannon House Office Building, room 121). The Green Bank is one of the most powerful and efficient ways to finance the clean energy economy. The briefing will examine how a Green Bank can create jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and promote energy independence.

Click here to RSVP for this event!

We will primarily be discussing Congressman Chris Van Hollen's Green Bank Act of 2009 (HR 1698). In addition to substantive policy concerns, this briefing will look at where HR 1698 and related green bank legislation currently stand in the legislative process, and what next steps would be best to move it forward. Finally, we will examine how best to frame the Green Bank in order to generate the largest possible amount of public support for it both before and after bill passage.

Click here to reserve your spot!

We expect a invigorating discussion of how this proposal can clean up our environment, create jobs, and renew our economy, and we look forward to your participation! Light refreshments will be served.

For more information on Carrots and Sticks, please visit our website at

Panelists will include:

* Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.

* Bill Parsons [invited] is the Legislative Director for Congressman Chris Van Hollen.

* Jeffrey Feldman is the editor-in-chief of the influential political blog Frameshop, and the author of the books Framing the Debate, and Outright Barbarous: How the Violent Language of the Right Poisons American Democracy.

* Jeremy Koulish is the founder and Executive Director of the Carrots and Sticks Project.

Click here to register!
Next up on the schedule is a Grow the Hope/Rapid Response House Party on Sunday, January 17th from 2:00-4:00pm (EST):
A new year is upon us, and it is time to get back to work. We are hosting our first House Party of 2010 and it should be a good one.

We will focus on building the emerging Rapid Response Action Team which will counter lies and distortions in the media about the President and about legislation. We will hear from exciting speakers including Yvette Lewis and Jon Randall.

Get a sense of the wonderful energy behind this effort by watching this short video:

Last, but certainly not least, is a fundraising house party that Grow the Hope is hosting for us to help in our efforts to cover Netroots Nation 2010 on Sunday, February 21st from 2:00-4:00pm (EST):
We are excited to be hosting a house meeting fundraiser for Sum of Change and their efforts to cover Netroots Nation 2010. For one weekend every year, Netroots Nation brings together many of the greatest minds in the progressive netroots. Sum of Change was on the scene at last year's conference in Pittsburgh, but they want to expand and improve their coverage of next year's conference in Las Vegas and they could use your help.

Our featured speaker will be Chris Hayes, the Washington DC Editor of The Nation, and a fellow at the New America Foundation. From his website: "Since 2002, he’s written on issues including union organizing and economic democracy, the culture of right-wing email forwards, the worldview of the anti-globalist right, and the culture of technology. His essays, articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The American Prospect, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, The Guardian, and The Chicago Reader. From 2005 to 2006, Hayes was a Schumann Center Writing Fellow at In These Times." Mr Hayes is also the subject of Sum of Change’s most popular video, “Christropher Hayes, Netroots Nation Day 1, Simple Explanation of the Proposed Public Option” (

Nolan Treadway, the Logistics and Political Director of Netroots Nation will join us and address the group. The program will also include several other speakers, such as Will Urquhart and Mitch Malasky from Sum of Change who will discuss the connection between online journalism and community organizing and showcase some short videos from last years Netroots Nation 2009.

This event should be very educational and exciting and we hope you can join us. Whether you can give $5 or $5,000, we would love to have you.

All these events will be aired live at Sum Live Change, I hope you will join us!

Music Monday: Nicky Egan from the World Cafe Live [VIDEO]

Since the trip to Baltimore for our last Music Monday concert didn't seem quite far enough, this week we traveled to Philadelphia to see Nicky Egan and her band at The World Cafe Live. The trek up I-05 was well worth it however, as the band gave a spirited and soulful performance of authentic sounding original songs and excellently arranged covers. Nicky and most of her band are still in college (a school for music, not surprisingly, in the Boston area) so they don't get to travel too extensively outside of New England but they were able to bring a full band, including horn section and backup vocalists to this New Year's break show, nearly doubling the usual lineup.

Though still students, Nicky and her band definitely know how to put on a fun and interesting show. They obviously know each other very well, both on and off the bandstand, and perform very well together. Their musical training and education is also evident, as they all appear to be excellent artists individual of the band. Moreover, the diversity in songs and styles begs and educated musical background. As Nicky says, the prevailing musical style through every song is 'soul' but every song has a secondary style (or two) as well, such as r&b rock, folk, or the blues. No matter which genre(s) they played, the band performed it excellently together.

The concert was in the downstairs performance space of a large building on the banks of the Schuylkill river which houses a total of two performance spaces (upstairs and downstairs) and the University of Pennsylvania Public Radio Station, amongst other things it would appear. Don't discount this space however just because it is downstairs- it is a huge space with a good sized bar and a large open dancing/seating area in front of a wide stage. There was a large crowd, partially since Nicky and others in the and are from the Philadelphia area, but whether they had a previous familiarity with the band or not, everyone seemed to love the show.

As did I. I really had a great time and think that this is an awesome band with a great future that is well worth knowing. Find out more about them through their MySpace page-

Besides for the interview, we recorded nearly the whole show and are happy to share several songs with you. Be mindful that this is a playlist, not just one song, so once you are finished with the first make sure to check out the other 5 (which you can browse using the thumbnails at the bottom of the player). Enjoy!

A photographer Fabian Checo, was taking some photos of the show. Here is a slideshow of a few of them.

The Line Up:

Nicky Egan-- Vocals

Eli Winderman-- Keys, Organ

Johnny Simon--Guitar

Chuck Jones-- Bass

Mark Purrington-- Drums

Josh Schwartz-- Horn Section

Greg Sanderson-- Horn Section

Chris Brouwers-- Horn Section

Vanessa Winters-- Vocals

Kristin Brooks-- Vocals

*Jesse Dee-- Vocals

*Johnny Trama-- Guitar

*On 'I'd Rather Go Blind'. Also, was the opening act for the evening

Read more 'Music Monday' articles at

Sunday, January 10, 2010

NASA's Contribution to Science in '09 5th Highest in 37 Years

This is cool, if you find space science as riveting as I do. Thanks to a lot of hard work by Greg Davidson and Dr. Luke Sollitt, we get a glimpse of NASA contributions to science in 2009 and how they stack up:

NASA’s 8.7% contribution to worldwide scientific discoveries in 2008 is the fifth-highest in the 37 years covered by the Science News metric

Most NASA science continues to come from extended missions, with only 2.3% from spacecraft now in their prime mission (see analysis, below)

Hubble produced 1.1% of discoveries following the final servicing mission

Discoveries include some of the oldest galaxies and development of a new technique which may result in 100 new exoplanets in archived HST data.

Fermi was the most productive prime mission, with 0.8% of discoveries

Confirming that supernovae are indeed the source of high-energy cosmic rays and showing that positrons are produced in lightning storms on Earth.

Space Science contributions at 6.2%

Chance simultaneous flyovers of the two poles by the IMAGE and ISTP-Polar satellites showed anisotropy between the northern and southern aurorae.

MESSENGER mapped previously unknown parts of Mercury.

IBEX and Cassini found that neutral atoms, instead of being isotropic in the solar system, are actually confined to a narrow ribbon.

The Spitzer Space Telescope found the largest planetary ring in the solar system around Saturn, extending outside of the orbit of its moon Phoebe

NASA Earth Science had 1.7% of discoveries, highest total in a decade

GRACE found increased irrigation has greatly depleted groundwater in northern India.

Landsat data used to determine that substituting plant-derived biofuels for fossil fuels will not diminish greenhouse gas emissions if those biofuels are grown at the expense of tropical forests.

Multiple satellite data sets used by researchers to understand Antarctic warming and the effects of aerosols on climate models

NASA’s Exploration Directorate produced 0.8% of discoveries

LCROSS and LRO contributed to the discovery of water on the Moon, both in reservoirs in permanently shadowed basins, and in a thin layer all over the surface.

A zircon collected by Apollo 17 suggests that the lunar surface solidified 4.4 billion years ago, far earlier than previously thought.

NASA’s non-mission science produces 1.5% of world-wide science

NASA Astrobiology discoveries included the existence of plumes of methane in the Martian atmosphere and that organisms during the Late Heavy Bombardment might have survived the impact-induced environmental stress by gravitating to the thermal vents created by the impacts.

Other non-mission science contributions include the use of a DSN antenna as a radio telescope to find the first evidence of lightning on Mars

Most NASA science continues to come from extended missions

Most NASA discoveries in 2009 (4.9%) came from spacecraft which were operating beyond their prime mission lifetimes; 1.5% came from non-flight project science, and only 2.3% came from spacecraft in their prime mission phase. The 2.3% prime mission science came from 2008 prime contributors MESSENGER and Fermi, as well as GRACE, IBEX, LRO and LCROSS
If you are like me, you can vividly remember hearing about some of these things. It has been a big year for NASA, with discoveries that leave the coming years full of new potential.

The development that most captured me last year, was the pictures given to us after the Hubble's last service mission. With new technology, they were able to look farther than we have ever seen before, finding untold galaxies in space we could only see as black previously.