Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nice change in the middle section

Erin McKeown & Her Fine Parade perform "That's Just What Happened" from an appearance on WFUV Public Radio.

Making money the hard way

From the pen of Jeff Danziger

The bad & the good news about zika

The latest news regarding two pregnant women who returned to the US with the Zika virus, they have miscarried. A miscarriage is never good news for a woman however, tests have shown the presence of the virus in the placentas.
Two U.S. women who contracted the Zika virus while traveling out of the country miscarried after returning home, and the virus was found in their placentas, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Federal health officials have not previously reported miscarriages in American travelers infected with the mosquito-borne virus while abroad. But there have been miscarriages reported in Brazil, the epicenter of a Zika epidemic that now spans nearly three dozen countries.

The STAT website first reported the U.S. miscarriages, based on information from the CDC's chief pathologist. The pathologist told STAT the women miscarried early in their pregnancies but provided no additional details.

Last month, officials said a baby born in a Hawaii hospital was the first in the country with a birth defect linked to Zika. Hawaii officials said the baby's mother likely contracted the virus while living in Brazil last year and passed it on while her child was in the womb. Babies born with this rare condition, known as microcephaly, have abnormally small heads and brain abnormalities.

In testimony before Congress Wednesday, CDC Director Tom Frieden reiterated that the agency is learning more about Zika every day, including how it can be transmitted from mother to fetus. Increasing evidence in Brazil also is linking Zika to microcephaly and other suspected neurological complications.

More than four dozen Zika cases have been confirmed in 14 states and the District of Columbia -- six involving pregnant women -- with at least another 21 cases in U.S. territories, the CDC said last Friday. Frieden also said that one U.S. case of Guillain-Barré syndrome may be linked to Zika.
And until a vaccine can be found, miscarriage or abortion may be the only hope for pregnant women with Zika.

Now if they would only admit to the murder

The city of Cleveland has a cruel and heartless automated billing system. At least that is the excuse the city has used for billing the family of Tamir Rice $500 for his last ambulance ride after a city policeman duly murdered him in 2014.
Nearly 15 months after a Cleveland police officer fatally shot Tamir Rice, 12, while the boy was playing with a pellet gun near a recreation area, the city sued to collect $500 for his “last dying expense” — the cost of his emergency medical treatment.

The documents were signed by legal officials and posted online, drawing condemnation from the family’s lawyers, one of whom called the suit by the city on Wednesday “nothing short of breathtaking.”

But on Thursday, officials told local television stations that the bill had been generated automatically and that they were withdrawing the claim.

Court documents published online showed that the city of Cleveland filed suit against the boy’s estate Feb 10. The final moments of his life were itemized in an emergency medical services bill: $10 for each of the five miles it took to get him to the hospital, where he later died; $450 for advanced life support in the ambulance that took him there.

The lawsuit said that it wanted Tamir’s family to pay the bill by March 11.

A lawyer for the Rice family, Subodh Chandra, denounced the suit and told the Cleveland Scene on Wednesday, “The mayor and law director should apologize to the Rice family and withdraw this filing immediately.

“That the city would submit a bill and call itself a creditor after having had its own police officers slay 12-year-old Tamir displays a new pinnacle of callousness and insensitivity.”

On Thursday, another lawyer for the family, Earl S. Ward, said in a telephone interview that the lawsuit was “cold and callous,” especially coming shortly after an announcement that no charges would be filed in the case.

The lawsuit, he added, was “really rubbing salt into the wounds” of the family “when in fact the city of Cleveland is responsible for his death.”
Kind of hard to believe that someone didn't review the list of claims before they were filed. Kind of sad to think that someone really didn't care.

Another ancient tradition dies

Or you could say that the House of Lords has finally entered the 21st century. Either way, acts of Parliament and other important documents will no longer be recorded on vellum. Paper will have to do going forward.
For centuries, acts of Parliament and other important documents have been inscribed on vellum, a parchment made from calfskin. Magna Carta, which King John signed 800 years ago last year, was written on vellum. So was the Domesday Book compiled in 1086, 20 years after William the Conqueror sailed across the English Channel.

This ancient tradition has survived wars, revolutions and the rise and fall of the British Empire. Now, the use of vellum, which has been a contentious issue for more than a decade, has fallen victim to austerity.

The House of Lords, Britain’s unelected upper chamber of Parliament, is finally moving to replace the calfskin with high-quality archival paper, calling the move which will come into force in April a necessary — and thrifty — adaptation to the digital age.

The House of Lords — with 819 members, the world’s largest legislative assembly outside China — said the move would save about 80,000 pounds, or nearly $116,000, annually. It said that using animal skin to painstakingly record and preserve laws was hardly efficient, given, among other things, that it is more unwieldy and difficult to store than paper. It can take the skins of as many as 130 calves to produce a 500-page book. Moreover, archival paper is surprisingly durable.

“Currently, the oldest paper records in the Lords date back to the early 16th century, and are only a few years younger than the oldest vellum record in the Archives, which is an Act of Parliament from 1497,” the House of Lords said in an email statement on Wednesday.

This being Britain, where tradition runs deep, the plan to scrap vellum has prompted the ire of traditionalists who argue that history is being forsaken for a pittance.
Money was the spur to overturn this tradition, despite claims by traditionalists that vellum will outlast both paper and digital recording. Penny wise and pound foolish? Time will tell.

And they are still not happy with the choice

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Seekers "Georgy Girl"

R.I.P. Margaret Forster, author of the novel Georgy Girl.

Snarly, we hardly knew ye, you too Jersey Whale

And as far as we are concerned, that was too much to know about Snarly Failorina. Carly Fiorina has now failed as CEO of H-P, candidate for Senator from California and candidate for President. Perhaps now she will get the hint and retire from public view.
Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina said Wednesday that she is suspending her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, following a lackluster showing in the New Hampshire primary.

Fiorina, 61, had pitched herself as an outsider who could bring a business mentality and global contacts to the White House — and who would not be afraid to attack the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton. But she was badly outspent, as she was unable to translate strong debate performances and enthusiastic crowds in early appearances in key primary states into sustained poll momentum — or into votes, coming in seventh in both the Iowa caucuses, with less than 2 percent of the vote, and in New Hampshire, with 4 percent.

“While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them,” Fiorina said in a Facebook post announcing her decision.
Perhaps she and The Outlaw Jersey Whale, Chris Christie who has just now announced his return to the swamps of New Jersey, could join forces and make Fux Nooz even more unwatchable.

Will evil trump the law?

From the pen of Kevin Siers

You must be true to Him

But when it suits the various followers of imaginary invisible sky demons, they can lie and cheat you for the greater glory of their ISD. And the availability of abortions in California is the latest focus of their efforts on behalf of their imaginations.
The clinic is one of more than 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers around the country that are operated by religious opponents of abortion, with the heartfelt aim of persuading women to choose parenting or adoption. Now it and others in California are in a First Amendment battle with the state over a new law that requires them to post a notice that free or low-cost abortion, contraception and prenatal care are available to low-income women through public programs, and to provide the phone number to call.

The clinics argue that the law, which took effect in January, flagrantly violates their rights of free speech, and it appears that many of the dozens of licensed pregnancy centers in California are not yet complying.

“I don’t want to put up a sign telling you where you can go for an abortion,” said Mr. McClure of the clinic here, which is a plaintiff in one of several legal challenges. “The sign is not up here now because it’s unconstitutional.”

Many states are passing restrictions that could force abortion clinics to close, a tactic under scrutiny in a major Supreme Court case to be argued next month. Here in California, it is the abortion opponents who are seeking to block a law — one adopted by a liberal state government to offset what officials call the misleading advice dispensed by pregnancy centers.

Abortion rights advocates have long accused the centers of luring women in without revealing their bias, then providing false accounts of medical and emotional risks of abortion, among other tactics, to steer them away from the procedure. But the Constitution’s high bar for interfering with free speech has largely protected the centers from regulation. Previous efforts in New York City and a few other places to require them to state, upfront, that they do not provide abortion referrals and make other disclosures have been largely struck down by federal courts.

So far, California’s law has fared better, with three federal district courts and one state court refusing to block it as the cases proceed toward trial. Officials say their law is written to comply with the First Amendment because it does not force the centers to say anything about their beliefs. Rather, it requires licensed centers to prominently post, or hand out, factual notices about public programs.
Truth is always the first casualty when religion battles with reality.

SCOTUS Rules In Favor Of Dirty Air

And in a surprise move of blatant judicial activism, the conservative members of the court granted a stay of EPA rules before any appeals court had an opportunity to review the rules in question.
The U.S. Supreme Court has put President Barack Obama’s emissions-reduction plan on hold, in a victory for Kentucky and more than two dozen states that had sued to stop it.

Thanks to a five-justice majority on the high court Tuesday, those states do not have to comply, at least for now, with the Clean Power Plan until a lower court has resolved the legal case against it.

Under the plan, states would have to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by a third by 2030. But states that rely heavily on coal to produce electricity, including Kentucky and West Virginia, had argued that the plan was unconstitutional.

Kentucky is the nation’s third-leading coal producer behind Wyoming and West Virginia, and much like those states gets the vast majority of its electricity from coal.

In a statement, Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, called the Supreme Court’s stay of the Clean Power Plan “great news.” Bissett’s group represents companies that mine 90 percent of the state’s coal.
US air is not as foul as recent times in China so why should we worry when cleaning up the air will endanger profits. And Kentucky will continue to lose its coal mines because, well that's just bidness.

Not hard to understand

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

A new video from Lindi Ortega

Filmed during a recording session with her co-writer John Paul White. "Someday Soon" is on her last album, Faded Gloryville.

The driving force behind evolution

From the pen of Dan Piraro

Florida continues to burnish its reputation

We have to seriously ask how many times his momma dropped him on his head? Once would not be enough for this paragon of Floridian excellence.
Authorities in Florida have arrested a man accused of throwing a live alligator through a restaurant’s drive-through window.

Investigators identified Joshua James, of Jupiter, Fla., as the man who tossed the 3 1/2-foot reptile into a Wendy’s last fall, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission incident report.

He faces three charges related to the incident: Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; unlawful sale, possession or transporting of an alligator; and petty theft. James, 24, was taken into custody and booked into the Palm Beach County Detention Center on Monday, as first reported by NBC affiliate WPTV.

The driver, wearing a backwards baseball hat, arrived at the drive-through window to receive a large drink just before 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 11, according to the report’s summary of surveillance footage.

“While the attendant has her back to the window and is at her register, the male driver reaches across the inside of his vehicle in the passenger area and throws an alligator from his vehicle into the drive through window,” the report reads.

A photograph in the report shows the American Alligator flat with its legs splayed on the fast food restaurant’s kitchen floor. An officer responding to the incident captured the alligator, taped its jaws shut “for safety” and released it into a nearby canal, according to the report.

An average female American alligator grows to just over eight feet in length, according to the National Zoo. The average male grows to just over 11 feet in length. The alligator thrown through the Wendy’s drive-through window was just 3 1/2 feet long.
Not sure if this is some new mating ritual among the bozos designed to show their qualifications to live in Florida or not. But if there is a medical cure for it, I expect Gov. Scott will set up a chain of store front clinics to cure it, using the storfronts from his defunct chain of pill mills.

Shitholeistan Redux

US soldiers are being redeployed in Afghanistan to support the Afghan Army in Helmand province. According to the Pentagon, which produces more shit than the entire US dairy industry, they are only going there to train and advise and assist the helpless boogers.
Col. Michael T. Lawhorn, a spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, said in a statement that the new deployment would provide protection for the current Special Operations troops in Helmand and give extra support and training for the 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army. Afghan forces in Helmand have taken heavy casualties in recent months and have been cut off by the Taliban in many places.

“Our mission,” Colonel Lawhorn said, “remains the same: to train, advise, and assist our Afghan counterparts, and not to participate in combat operations.”

He would not detail the number of troops or the unit involved in the deployment, citing Pentagon policy. But a senior American military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters, said the unit being sent to Helmand, the Second Battalion, 87th Infantry, was slightly smaller than the usual battalion size of 700 to 800 soldiers. On Monday, The Guardian newspaper reported that up to a battalion would be sent to Helmand.

The new troops are replacing another unit that was already in Afghanistan, the official said, and were not adding to the total number of American troops in the country, which stands at roughly 9,800 service members.

The official could not say where the deployment would be based within Helmand, but said they said that the problems in the province demanded the attention of American and Afghan commanders.

“Certainly Helmand is the diciest place in Afghanistan right now, the place where ANSF have had the most setbacks from without and within,” the official said, using the abbreviation for the Afghan National Security Forces, meaning the army and police. “It’s part of what matters most right now or the future of the country.”

The additional American soldiers would be “doing some retraining, re-equipping and advising” for the troubled Afghan 215th Army Corps, the official added.
And if the locals shoot at them, they will shoot back. And if the Talibs have any success we will have to double down on our continuing failure. The slope will get slippery soon enough.

Samantha Bee has a modest proposal

On her new show she rips a new asshole for Kansas Sen Mitch Holmes for his dress code.

Good Morning New Hampshire

Monday, February 08, 2016

Too young to know Albert Collins

But when they recorded this 17 yo Samantha on bass, 16 yo sister Sadie singing & playing guitar and 18 yo friend Krista also on guitar play a fine "Black Cat Bone" picked up through Samantha Fish. When the 3 have paid their dues, they should be a joy to behold.

Primaries should answer your questions

About the candidates. The help you, Tom Tomorrow provides you with the answers that some of the other candidates would like you to believe.

In other words

From the pen of Jack Ohman

It was boom, now its bust

In the excitement of the North Dakota oil boom, the local economies enjoyed a dizzying flush of people and money into their little towns. Now that the price of oil has dropped to bust levels, the locals are discovering the other end of the cycle.
“You couldn’t find a place,” Brian Resh, 32, said, recalling the busy days one recent morning as he glanced across a nearly empty cafeteria of one of the area’s largest remaining man camps. “Two years ago, you’d drive at night at 3 a.m. and you’d see 300 people.”

Now, laid-off oil-field workers are piecing together new jobs, and some have left town. Hotels that were once booked solid for months are about half occupied. Some of the new luxury apartments built to handle the surge of arrivals are dark. Business is down by 40 percent at a new brewery that once had two-hour dinner lines for cowboy-cut rib-eyes and Williston brownies (which come à la mode). And many of the camps built to house an influx of workers, the vast majority of them male, are emptying out like a bar after last call.

It is hardly a bust — unemployment is low, and there are still plenty of help-wanted ads for the area — but the slowdown opens an uncertain second chapter for a place that has spent heavily on new roads, schools, hotels and developments over the past five years.

“We’re overbuilt,” said Marcus Jundt, a businessman who followed the boom to Williston and owns several restaurants here, including the Williston Brewing Company, the place that serves the rib-eyes and brownies. “We have too many hotel rooms, too many apartments, too many restaurants. People are going to go broke. People are going to lose their jobs. It’s going to be painful.”
Too much too soon until there was not enough to sustain it, classic boom and bust.

Flint is not alone

Just the initial response of people around the country donating bottled water shows that people are concerned about this man made disaster. What people are now finding out is that Flint may be the worst but it is not the only drinking water disaster in the US.
In Sebring, Ohio, routine laboratory tests last August found unsafe levels of lead in the town’s drinking water after workers stopped adding a chemical to keep lead water pipes from corroding. Five months passed before the city told pregnant women and children not to drink the water, and shut down taps and fountains in schools.

In 2001, after Washington, D.C., changed how it disinfected drinking water, lead in tap water at thousands of homes spiked as much as 20 times the federally approved level. Residents did not find out for three years. When they did, officials ripped out lead water pipes feeding 17,600 homes — and discovered three years later that many of the repairs had only prolonged the contamination.

The crisis in Flint, Mich., where as many as 8,000 children under age 6 were exposed to unsafe levels of lead after a budget-cutting decision to switch drinking-water sources, may be the most serious contamination threat facing the country’s water supplies. But it is hardly the only one.

Unsafe levels of lead have turned up in tap water in city after city — in Durham and Greenville, N.C., in 2006; in Columbia, S.C., in 2005; and last July in Jackson, Miss., where officials waited six months to disclose the contamination — as well as in scores of other places in recent years.

Federal officials and many scientists agree that most of the nation’s 53,000 community water systems provide safe drinking water. But such episodes are unsettling reminders of what experts say are holes in the safety net of rules and procedures intended to keep water not just lead-free, but free of all poisons.

The Environmental Protection Agency says streams tapped by water utilities serving a third of the population are not yet covered by clean-water laws that limit levels of toxic pollutants. Even purified water often travels to homes through pipes that are in stunning disrepair, potentially open to disease and pollutants.

Although Congress banned lead water pipes 30 years ago, between 3.3 million and 10 million older ones remain, primed to leach lead into tap water by forces as simple as jostling during repairs or a change in water chemistry.
Rebuilding of the delivery systems would halt the threat from lead and cost an astronomical amount but even methods of amelioration require money and that money has disappeared with all the Republican tax cuts that really have done us no good at all.

The important things in life

Sunday, February 07, 2016

She's not mean at all

But Mean Mary James does play a mean banjo on "Wherefore Art Thou, Jane".

R.I.P. Dan Hicks

We can miss you now that you have gone.

We're not in Pisa anymore.

From the pen of Tom Toles

Fraud loses again

In a move that will warm the hearts of decent people everywhere, the nasty shits responsible for the fraudulent Planned Parenthood video have been enjoined by a federal judge from releasing new videos designed to fire up the mindless moral crowd.
In a sharp rebuke, a federal judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction ordering abortion opponents not to release videos they had secretly made at meetings of abortion providers, and he added that the opponents’ claims that such organizations were illegally selling fetal tissue were baseless.

In the ruling, Judge William H. Orrick of United States District Court in San Francisco also brushed aside claims by the abortion opponents that their use of fraudulent documents and violations of confidentiality agreements to infiltrate meetings of abortion providers were protected because they were journalists involved in what they described as an undercover investigation.

The ruling marked the second major setback in recent weeks for the anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress.

Late last month, the center’s director, David Daleiden, and an associate, Sandra S. Merritt, were indicted by a grand jury in the Houston area on criminal felony charges of tampering with a government record — specifically, creating phony California driver’s licenses. Mr. Daleiden was also charged with trying to buy human organs, a misdemeanor. Both have pleaded not guilty...

Judge Orrick initially issued a temporary restraining order barring the group from releasing videos, transcripts or other material from the meetings pending his review of the legal issues involved. On Friday, he issued a preliminary injunction ordering the group not to release any material gathered at the association’s conventions.

The Center for Medical Progress also made recordings of abortion providers it courted after meeting them at conferences and it infiltrated a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas.

In his ruling, Judge Orrick said that his review of hundreds of hours of video secretly shot by the center at meetings of abortion providers found no evidence that any of them had violated the law. No one “admitted to engaging in, agreed to engage in, or expressed interest in engaging in potentially illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit,” he wrote.
So far the law has not been kind to the fraudsters, as it should be. Sadly too many people are willing to follow a mindless hysteria based on a tsunami of lies. We hope the courts can stop it in time.

Flint is not the only trouble spot

Now that the issue of clean water has flowed into people's consciousness, the existence of too many other towns in similar if less dire circumstances. Much of our water infrastructure was built before Wall St dismantled the production economy of the US and has little or nothing done to it since then.
While state officials and the EPA have deemed the water safe to drink, virtually no one risks it. Most here do not even use tap water to cook or brush teeth, and many, especially children, bathe with bottled water. Lots of residents spend several hundred a month on store-bought water.

To add to the mounting frustration, $6 million of state funds allocated to St. Joseph for water line repairs in 2013 are still being withheld because the town’s mayor, Edward Brown, has failed several times to turn in a mandatory financial audit on time. New Governor John Bel Edwards said this week his office was working with the town of St. Joseph and the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to fast track the allocation of at least some of that money to start system repair work. Mayor Brown said he expects to file the overdue audit by the end of February...

Nevertheless, the town’s water woes illustrate a more slow-moving and commonplace catastrophe: failing infrastructure in small, impoverished communities that cannot afford to replace their systems, leaving residents with limited resources to cope on their own...

St. Joseph’s decaying water distribution system, installed in the 1930’s, is the main cause of the town’s water problems. “Over time, these old cast iron pipes that convey the water, they deteriorate and start to crack and leak,” said Davis Cole, a Baton Rouge-based civil engineer working on the redesign of St. Joseph’s water system. Leaks cost the town money; according to Mayor Brown, the system loses 50 percent of its water. And with resources already stretched thin, long-term repairs are out of reach. “This is typical of communities probably all over the U.S., especially poor communities,” Cole said.

The water’s rusty tint comes from naturally occurring iron and manganese sediment in the underground well that has built up in the water lines over the years. Every time the system has to be shut down for repairs, and then restarted, sediment is injected into the water flow. The problem started to become obvious over a decade ago, according to residents, but has gotten progressively worse. The water main reportedly broke four times last month alone.

While the state does monthly bacterial tests, the last detailed analysis of St. Joseph’s water was in 2013. It showed 32 times the EPA-recommended level of iron and 9 times that of manganese, according to an analysis by the local Sierra Club. But the EPA considers these contaminants to have merely “aesthetic” affects on the water. They are not regulated by the EPA or the state.
It doesn't help St. Joseph that the majority of it residents are low income and black, but without a major effort to replace old systems, these problems will start spreading to white lands as well.

Not Valid After Birth

Saturday, February 06, 2016

A Berlin girl missing her wall

And other vital parts of our lives. Roxanne De Bastion sings "Wasteland"

Holy Bag Man

From the pen of Matt Wuerker

For fun and profit

When talking about the yooge sums of money in a political race, it usually refers to the sums spent by a candidate. In the case of the vulgar talking yam, it may well refer to the profits he draws from his effort.
Donald J. Trump once boasted that he could someday be the only person to turn a profit running for president. He may be closer than anyone realizes.

Mr. Trump’s campaign spent just $12.4 million in 2015, according to disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission, millions less than any of his leading rivals for the Republican nomination. More than half of Mr. Trump’s total spending was covered by checks from his supporters, who have thronged to his stump speeches and bought millions of dollars’ worth of “Make America Great Again” hats and T-shirts.

About $2.7 million more was paid to at least seven companies Mr. Trump owns or to people who work for his real estate and branding empire, repaying them for services provided to his campaign. That total included more than $2 million for flights on his own planes and helicopter, a quarter of a million dollars to his Fifth Avenue office tower, and even $66,000 to Keith Schiller, his bodyguard and the head of security at the Trump Organization.

While the convoluted accounting is required by law — so that Mr. Trump’s companies do not make illegal corporate contributions directly to his campaign — it also means that Mr. Trump is in effect taking millions of dollars out of one pocket and depositing it into another.

What remains is a quintessentially Trumpian endeavor that blurs the line between campaigning and brand-building and complicates Mr. Trump’s claims that he is funding his own White House campaign. About three-quarters of Mr. Trump’s total campaign spending has either gone to reimburse his own businesses or has been covered by funds from grass-roots donors, according to an analysis by The New York Times of F.E.C. reports. Virtually all of the money Mr. Trump himself has put into the campaign was lent, rather than donated outright, meaning that he could potentially sell enough hats and T-shirts to pay himself back down the road...

While the convoluted accounting is required by law — so that Mr. Trump’s companies do not make illegal corporate contributions directly to his campaign — it also means that Mr. Trump is in effect taking millions of dollars out of one pocket and depositing it into another.

What remains is a quintessentially Trumpian endeavor that blurs the line between campaigning and brand-building and complicates Mr. Trump’s claims that he is funding his own White House campaign. About three-quarters of Mr. Trump’s total campaign spending has either gone to reimburse his own businesses or has been covered by funds from grass-roots donors, according to an analysis by The New York Times of F.E.C. reports. Virtually all of the money Mr. Trump himself has put into the campaign was lent, rather than donated outright, meaning that he could potentially sell enough hats and T-shirts to pay himself back down the road.
What a novel idea, running a political campaign like a business and to the same end. I'll bet he could teach Snowflake Snooki a few things about the grift.

Gerry gets caught Mandering in N. Carolina

A federal court has ruled that two of the 13 state Congressional districts are invalid as drawn, earning an elegent judicial WTF! from the 3 judge panel.
A federal court panel ruled on Friday that two of North Carolina's 13 congressional districts are racial gerrymanders and must be redrawn in two weeks.

An order, written by U.S. Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory, also bars elections in North Carolina's 1st and 12th congressional districts until new maps are approved.

The ruling, released late on Friday afternoon, throws the North Carolina congressional and legislative maps in flux...

"Today's ruling once again shows the need for North Carolina to establish a nonpartisan system for drawing our state's voting maps," Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, which advocates for government transparency and accountability. "For years, partisan gerrymandering has led to costly litigation and deprived North Carolina voters of having a real choice and a voice in our elections. Fortunately, a growing number of citizens and leaders across the political spectrum agree that North Carolina should adopt an independent redistricting process."

The 1st Congressional District according to the lawsuit, is “akin to a Rorschach inkblot” that weaves through 24 counties, containing only five whole counties. The district is mostly in the northeastern part of the state and includes Durham, Elizabeth City, Roanoke Rapids, Rocky Mount, Goldsboro and New Bern.

The length of the district’s perimeter, according to the lawsuit, is 1,319 miles - “almost precisely the distance from Chapel Hill to Austin, Texas.”

The three voters contended that the Republican-led General Assembly that designed the maps in 2011 "ignored the common rural and agricultural interests" of Coastal Plain residents that federal courts have previously recognized. Durham, the newly added urban center, constitutes 25 percent of the district’s population.

The 12th Congressional District is 120 miles long but only 20 miles wide at its widest part. The district includes large portions of Charlotte and Greensboro connected by a thin strip — “averaging only a few miles wide” - that follows Interstate 85.

“A person traveling on Interstate 85 between the two cities would exit the district multiple times, as the district’s boundaries zig and zag to encircle African-American communities, " the federal lawsuit contended.
Naturally the Republicans who had worked so hard to corral the most Democrats into the fewest district whined about the negation of all their hard work. No one yet knows what effect the redrawing of the districts will have on other carefully executed districts.

Let's Be Clear About This

Friday, February 05, 2016

Harmonies from L.A.

The Wild Reeds sing "Blind And Brave" from their first album.

The Iowa bounce

From the pen of Rob Rogers

R.I.P. Mary Fiumara

One simple role in a spaghetti ad made Wednesday Prince Spaghetti Day and you immortal.

He's going to have a hard time saying why

It turns out that not only did Governor Snyder know the drinking water for Flint was full of slow poisoning lead, but the e-mail trail shows that he also knew that the water contained the fast acting diseases like Legionaires.
Michigan state officials were aware of an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases and a possible tie to Flint’s troubled water supply at least 10 months before Gov. Rick Snyder informed the public of the situation last month, newly obtained emails show.

The emails, obtained through a public records request by Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group, indicate that county health officials were concerned last March about a wave of Legionnaires’ cases, and were at the time raising the possibility of a connection to the city’s switch to a new water source, the Flint River.

“Essentially,” the county health officials are “putting up the flare” and asserting that the “uptick in cases is directly attributable to the river as a drinking water source,” said an official at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in an email to his state colleagues March 13.

Mr. Snyder, a Republican who has faced the harshest criticism of his tenure for his handling of the crisis in Flint, announced Jan. 13 that the state had concerns about whether the water supply might be connected to an increase in cases of the disease, which can be fatal.

A spokesman for the governor said Thursday that he had not been briefed by his aides on the issue until January, shortly before he made his public statements on it.

“He took action promptly and released the information publicly,” the spokesman, Dave Murray, said.

Concerns about Flint’s water have largely focused on the presence of lead. Since Flint, a shrinking city of fewer than 100,000, switched its source in April 2014 to save money, the water has had rising, dangerous lead levels as well as unsafe levels of fecal coliform bacteria. After extra chlorine was added to treat that bacteria, levels of a contaminant from extra chlorine also increased.

But at the same time, the emails suggest, county health officials were noting another problem: a wave of Legionnaires’ disease cases.
Real nice piece of work that Gov. Snyder. Public whipping would be too good for him. But even though in his world government is meant to be ineffective, it is hard to understand why he would take this route at all. There was never any chance he would kill them all.

Hey, they are just like us

Now that the sanctions have been lifted, Iran is working its way back into international commerce. And under the color of limiting western influences in Iran, the ayatollahs in charge are making sure that their BFF's are the ones who benefit.
Behind the headlines announcing big business contracts with European companies it is becoming increasingly clear that, so far, the only deals being struck have been with the state-backed conglomerates. These are the groups that dominate major industrial and commercial sectors of the Iranian economy and are tightly controlled by pension funds and investment companies linked to state organizations, like the Revolutionary Guards.

As a result, little or nothing is trickling down to the lower levels of Iran’s beleaguered but still enormous private sector. “We have a conflict of interest with the government,” said Bahman Esghi, the secretary general of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce. “Because they have outgrown all their competitors.”

All the major international deals signed in recent weeks have involved state or semistate-backed industries. The national carrier, Iran Air, signed at deal to buy more than 100 planes from Airbus. The Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, one of the largest state entities, started a $2 billion joint venture with an Italian steel producer, Danieli. PSA Peugeot Citroën of France will invest $439 million in carmaker Iran Khodro.

But when smaller private businesses reach out to their foreign counterparts the response they get is still: how will you pay? Nuclear sanctions might be lifted but almost all international banks continue to shy away from the Iranian market because of unilateral American regulations that label Iran as a state sponsor of terror.

“We are not getting any credit, inside or outside of the country, we can’t make transfers and the government has other priorities,” Mr. Esghi said. Next week Mr. Esghi, the public face of the largest private business ownership organization in the country, will be shutting down his own business, a bus factory, and sending his remaining 14 employees home. The reason, he said, is that there is no work and no prospect of any, even after the lifting of sanctions.

“I’ll be the unemployed secretary general of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “Ironic, isn’t it?”
If you have the connections you have a deal, just like in America. And sadly we still label Iran a state sponsor of terrorism while we maintain normal relations with Saudi Arabia and Israel. That kind of thinking may explain why we have Donald Trump and Ted Cruz running for president.

The Cycle of Life

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