Friday, December 19, 2014

She left home at 18 Because she was gay

If you don't like it, just shut your eyes and listen to Amelia White sing "Motorcycle Dreams" from her album of the same name.

Fare Thee Well, Stephen

Even though you will still be on at 11:30

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,The Colbert Report on Facebook,Video Archive

TPM has a list of everyone they could identify.

An audio-visual exhibit

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

About that trade embargo

Republicans may get up on their high hobby horses and condemn the normalizing of relations with Cuba, but they have one major constituency that heartily disagrees with their stand, business big and small.
PepsiCo wants in. So do Caterpillar and Marriott International.

Within hours of President Obama’s historic move to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba, companies in the United States were already developing strategies to introduce their products and services to a market they have not been in for the better part of 50 years — if ever.

“Cuba is a potential market for John Deere products and services,” Ken Golden, a spokesman for Deere & Company, a leading maker of farm and construction equipment based in Illinois, said by email.

But while there may be robust opportunities for some companies, especially those selling products or goods that could be viewed as enhancing Cuba’s own domestic production or helping to develop its underused resources, other companies could get the cold shoulder.

“For a company like McDonald’s, the Cuban government is going to ask, ‘How does McDonald’s coming in and selling hamburgers help the economy of Cuba?’ ” said Kirby Jones, founder of Alamar Associates, which has advised companies on doing business in Cuba since 1974. “It’s just not going to be like other regions where you see a McDonald’s on every corner.”

Despite Cuba’s long stagnation and isolation from the global economy, the potential trade opportunities go both ways. While some Americans will be itching at the opportunity to obtain the famed Cuban cigars more easily, the country also has a surprisingly robust biotechnology industry that makes a number of vaccines not now available in the United States. Another hot spot for the economy could be mining, as Cuba has one of the largest deposits of nickel in the world.
Though all these companies will not get what they want, they may well push aside the fossil wing of the Republican party and shatter what has up to now been a remarkable lochstep unity in the Party.

The locals are cheaper to buy

And the extreme reactionary groups that strive so hard to bolshevize America found this out with education. Fresh from seriously damaging science and public education in general, they are now turning their sights on unions at the local level.
Conservative groups are opening a new front in their effort to reshape American law, arguing that local governments have the power to write their own rules on a key labor issue that has, up to now, been the prerogative of states.

Beginning here in the hometown of Senator Rand Paul and the Chevy Corvette, groups including the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Heritage Foundation and a newly formed nonprofit called Protect My Check are working together to influence local governments the same way they have influenced state legislatures, and anti-union ordinances are just the first step in the coordinated effort they envision.

A carefully devised plan began to unfold last week, when the Warren County Fiscal Court met here and preliminarily approved, in a 6 to 1 vote, a “right to work” ordinance that would allow employees represented by a union to opt out of paying union fees. This week two more Kentucky counties, Fulton and Simpson, followed suit, and a dozen more are expected to do the same in the next six weeks.

Supporters of the effort say that if they are successful in Kentucky, they will try to pass similar local laws in Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other places that do not have a statewide right-to-work law. Protect My Check is promising to pay for the legal battles of any local government that tries it.

“There are literally thousands of targets for the initiative,” said Brent Yessin, an anti-union consultant and lawyer who is on the board of advisers for Protect My Check, said at a recent meeting in Washington. “Doing this county by county, city by city is more time consuming, but it’s also more time consuming and draining for the unions to fight.”
The mis-education about unions has been relentless since the advent of St. Ronnie and now the perpetrators of the rape of the working class hope to harvest the fruits of their evil endeavors.

A step in the right direction

Colorado, which has legalized and taxed medical marijuana for a few years now, is putting some of those tax dollars to good use.
Colorado health officials this week awarded $8 million in research grants to study the use of medical marijuana to treat symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease, childhood epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder. The funding comes from taxes imposed on the state-regulated sale of medical marijuana.

Colorado was one of the first two U.S. states to legalize recreational pot use, and it is among 23 states and the District of Columbia that permit use of the drug for medicinal purposes.

But the use of weed for any reason remains illegal under federal law, a situation that has long meant a dearth of funding for medical marijuana research. Results have been limited and largely anecdotal.

Sue Sisley is a doctor who received $2 million in grant money from the Colorado awards. She'll be researching the effects of medical marijuana on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. She says she hopes these first peer-reviewed studies will lead to more medical marijuana research.

"We're arming the public with real data," Sisley said. "What’s happening is, as laws are changing in various states, even elected officials, even the most conservative, are acknowledging the needs of rigorous science to understand how this plant works. Most of the research money now is only looking at harmful side effects."

In awarding eight grants for landmark peer-reviewed studies into various maladies, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said on Wednesday that it hopes to provide objective scientific research on the efficacy of medical marijuana.
After years of trying to prove the imagined dangers of weed, it is a good time to look at the benefits.

They will stay put for now

Both the US and Cuba, now that relations are going to be normalized (less any Republican whackdoodlery), the question arises as to whether the countries will seek extradition for those who fled to the other for various legal and political reasons. At this time, the answer appears to be no.

Soon after President Barack Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Havana on Wednesday, Cuba watchers began to raise questions over potential extradition orders U.S. exiles in Cuba, specifically regarding rights activist Assata Shakur — who has been living on the island for decades.

Shakur and other black activists, including Black Panther Party (BPP) founder Huey P. Newton, fled from U.S. intelligence and security agencies in the 1960s and 1970s to Cuba, which was sympathetic to socialist ideals. Now supporters of Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, wonder what the future holds for the 67-year-old exile.

Questions have also been raised over Cubans who fled to the United States during the same period, especially those who allegedly took part in organizing the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.

But legal experts say extraditions from either country are unlikely to pass muster considering provisions contained in the extradition treaty the United States has with Cuba.

“The extradition treaty between the U.S. and Cuba went into force on March 2, 1905 … and was never revoked,” Douglas McNabb, an international criminal defense lawyer, told Al Jazeera. “Of course, when diplomatic relations were terminated, from a practical but not legal standpoint the extradition ceased between the two. But now that diplomatic relations are being renewed, the existing treaty is still in force and will not have to be renegotiated.”...

“Article six of the extradition treaty says a fugitive criminal shall not surrender if the offense is of a political character,” McNabb said. “Cuba could say we can’t extradite her based on that … we determined a long time ago that it was politically oriented and we gave her political asylum.”
Sadly, this also means that Cuba can't ask for the return of Ted Cruz's father.

A sign of serious illness

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hats and Sax

And both Tara O'Grady, singing "Black Is The Color" and Michael Hashim on saxophone can keep their hats on.

And you thought he was from Wyoming

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

R.I.P. Richard C. Hottelet

CBS Newsman and Last of ‘Murrow Boys’ When Journalists Actually Reported News, Dies at 97.

We know we won't prosecute torture

Any any level, those involved with the Bush/Cheney torture program are feeling pretty safe, as long as they don't try to travel abroad. But the International Criminal Court may still have a card to play.
The International Criminal Court quietly revealed in a recent report that it was inching toward its first-ever investigation into the alleged torture of U.S. detainees in Afghanistan. That update — which came two weeks ago, just as the White House was bracing itself for the release of Senate findings on CIA torture — seemed to send a message: If the Obama administration continues to rule out prosecuting CIA torturers, the ICC could take action.

"Certain of the enhanced interrogation techniques apparently approved by U.S. senior commanders in Afghanistan … could, depending on the severity and duration of their use, amount to cruel treatment, torture or outrages upon personal dignity as defined under international jurisprudence," read a Dec. 2 report from the ICC prosecutor's office.

In the wake of the Senate report’s release — which brought fresh assurances from President Barack Obama that alleged CIA torturers would have immunity from criminal prosecution — the ICC has emerged as potentially the only hope for those demanding that the CIA be held accountable.

It had previously seemed impossible that there would ever be such an investigation into the covert program, which was specifically crafted by the George W. Bush administration to shield the agency from prosecution. But now that the Senate has entered a potential body of evidence into public record, the door has opened slightly for the ICC to pursue a case, according to Jennifer Trahan, an ICC expert with the New York University Center for Global Affairs.

Even though the United States is not a member of the ICC, Trahan said the court may have jurisdiction to prosecute alleged violations of international law that took place on CIA black sites in member countries — including Afghanistan, Poland and Romania.

But jurisdiction is merely the first hurdle to clear before the ICC considers prosecution. The court, which is designed “to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern,” operates on a principle of complementarity, meaning it can only prosecute such crimes when a government refuses or is unable to do so. The fact that there is an ongoing Justice Department probe into CIA tactics could be problematic for the ICC, though most experts believe the court can argue that Obama’s guarantees of immunity for CIA officers would satisfy complementarity.

“Obama is trying to walk a fine line, but I think it’s an untenable position,” said Jens Ohlin, a national security law expert at the Cornell University School of Law. “If Obama believes we engaged in torture, which he’s said he does, then why aren’t we prosecuting it?”
A question whose honest answer would damn the giver.

Repeating the obvious

Will they ever stop acting like 8 yr old assholes?

Congressional Republicans
are frantically searching around for the means to do what they do best, block a Presidential initiative that is in the best interests of the country.
The shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba triggered fierce partisan warfare Wednesday in Congress, as some Republicans vowed to take strong steps to block the changes.

“I am committed to doing everything I can to unravel as many of these changes as possible,” said Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a view many top Republicans shared.

Among the possible strategies: They could refuse to end the economic embargo of Cuba, block funding for a new embassy, or stall or defeat an ambassadorial nomination...

Leading the opposition Wednesday were lawmakers with close ties to Cuba, notably Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants...

Obama pledged to work with Congress...

“This Congress is not going to lift the embargo,” Rubio said flatly. Rubio is also mulling a run for the 2016 GOP nomination for the presidency.

Any negotiation will take some time, predicted Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a senior Foreign Relations Committee member. “It’s too early to predict what will happen,” he said.

The money dispute could begin early next year. If Obama requests funds to build an embassy, a Republican-led Congress would need to approve the request.

“I will do all in my power to block the use of funds to open an embassy in Cuba,” tweeted Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who’s slated to become chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s foreign operations subcommittee.

The Senate also would have to confirm an ambassador nominee, and almost any Obama pick would be subject to brutal scrutiny.
The usual whine from the Republican sour grapes vineyard. Were it a white Republican president doing this, all except Baby Marco would be falling all over themselves in support. What a bunch of useless whiny ass titty babies!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A song for the season

From Norway by Katzenjammer. "Vi tenner våre lykter"

The free hand of the market

From the pen of Jim Morin

Nurmeberg was settled law

Until Bush/Cheney came along and decided that torture was the only thing that would stimulate the old bastard enough to keep him alive. And so he had his legal minions twist and pervert the law so that he could order the CIA to torture, as if his say so was enough to make it legal. And now we still argue whether committing such a heinous crime is legal.
CIA health professionals may have committed war crimes by collecting and analyzing data on brutally interrogated detainees in potential violation of U.S. and international bans on research on human subjects without their consent, a human rights organization said Tuesday.

Physicians for Human Rights called on President Barack Obama and Congress to establish a commission of inquiry to examine the participation of CIA and private medical personnel in the interrogation program, including possible breaches of domestic and international laws.

“The CIA relied upon health professionals at every step to commit and conceal the brutal and systematic torture of national security detainees,” the organization said in an analysis of a four-year study of the agency’s interrogation program released last week by the Senate Intelligence Committee. “While most of the acts detailed . . . violate international human rights and domestic laws prohibiting torture, several of these alleged violations can also constitute war crimes.”

In raising possible war crimes by medical personnel, the analysis cited bans on experimentation on prisoners that grew out of the trials of Nazi officials and doctors held in Nuremberg, Germany, after World War II.

CIA spokesman Christopher White denied that CIA medical personnel violated any laws, saying that officers of the agency’s Office of Medical Services monitored the health of detainees and “did so consistent with their professional obligations.”

“The men and women who participated in this program did so at the direction of the president and with the approval of the Department of Justice,” White said. “Sadly, the (Senate) study makes a number of unsubstantiated allegations, mainly a result of the report’s many investigative and methodological flaws. Anyone making allegations based solely on the (Senate) study does so at their own peril.”
And so they followed their orders and committed crimes against humanity. And because their country has not been conquered, they and their enablers will escape punishment for their crimes, crimes that Fux Nooz will convince the feeble minded are not even crimes, anymore.


Thanks to the good offices of the Vatican, the US and Cuba will be taking some large steps to normalize relations between the two countries.
The U.S. will restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and expand travel and trade in the most sweeping changes to U.S.-Cuba policy in 50 years after President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro agreed to the outlines of a deal that freed American contractor Alan Gross and sent three Cubans convicted of spying back to Cuba.

"We will end an outdated approach that has failed to advance our interests,” Obama said in remarks from the White House. “These 50 years have shown isolation does not work, it’s time for a new approach.”

The deal – which was reached with the involvement of Pope Francis -- also involved the release of a U.S. intelligence “asset” who had been imprisoned for nearly 20 years, Obama said.

As a result, the U.S. will look at setting up an embassy in Havana – it severed contact in 1961 -- and possibly removing Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism. And it will loosen restrictions on travel and trade with the country, making it easier for more Americans to travel there, and allowing them to bring back as much as $400, including $100 in alcohol and tobacco.

The moves are a repudiation of the hands-off stance and economic stranglehold the U.S. has employed against Cuba since Fidel Castro came to power in the 1960 – a policy the White House said “had failed to advance our interests.’

The moves stop short of lifting the economic embargo against Cuba – which only Congress can do – but Obama said he “looked forward” to talking with Congress about the possibility.

The move was immediately condemned by some of the staunchest anti Castro lawmakers from South Florida as a paean to the Cuban regime, even as Obama insisted he would continue to press Cuba on democracy and human rights.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called the decision to relax U.S. restrictions, “the latest in a long line of failed attempts by President Obama to appease rogue regimes at all cost.”
Naturally all the old Cuban "Moustache Petes" and their little stooge Marco are furious at the idea. Mostly because any steps taken will not restore their "hereditary" dominance of Cuba, with all their imagined privileges. And the Republican Congress is unlikely to repeal the embargo because they really don't care for business or free trade.

Some comments on Jeb Bush

Now that he is running for the presidency, a few comments from people who have seen through all the Bush family argle-bargle to the real man.
“If you want a government that’s gonna intrude on your life, enforce their personal views on you, then I guess Jeb Bush is your man. We really don’t need another Bush in office.” - Michael Schiavo, husband of Terri Schiavo whose brain dead body Jeb attempted to hijack for political purposes.

“An egregious example of the fat hand of government inserting itself into a family’s medical decision and the obtrusive hand of government trying to override their decision.” and “The propriety of using your office to hunt and harass people, as the governor did to Mr. Schiavo after his wife’s death, I think raises significant questions about his judgment and his character.” - George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo
For those who need any more reason to oppose Jeb Bush.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hummed Low

Odessa Rose

When we deserve the very best

They are not even trying anymore

Pity the poor Fux Nooz. They came up with a killer story that would absolutely destroy the Democrats in the eyes of sports fans everywhere. The only problem was that it was so preposterous and so easily proven wrong that all Fux did was failo in the eyes of anyone with a functioning brain.
Fux and Fiends breathlessly reported this morning that the Super Bowl could be canceled,

There is a chance that Super Bowl 49 will not happen. It’s bad news for folks looking to watch it or better yet, head to Arizona to attend it. The reason is Congress, and a piece of legislation you might have never heard of The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. It was signed into law after 9/11, and established a risk sharing partnership between the government and the insurance industry that made terrorism insurance to businesses, including organizers of sporting events like the NFL.

See the most expensive disaster in the history of insurance was the 2001 terrorist attacks at $44 billion in claims. Under The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, the government provides a financial backup for insurers by covering a portion of insured losses above $27.5 billion and up to $100 billion. So insurers have at least some certainty of their exposure, and in return they give terrorism coverage to their business clients.So unless this act is reauthorized by the end of the year, and the clock is ticking, insurers have the right to cancel terrorism coverage after January 1.

Fox News just demonstrated how they invent their “news.” Fox took one piece of factual information; terrorism insurance must be renewed and turned it into Democrats canceling the Super Bowl because Harry Reid’s Democratic majority in the Senate didn’t reauthorize funding for the insurance.

The version of funding for terrorism insurance is controversial with some Democrats and the White House because it contains provisions that weaken some financial regulations in Dodd-Frank. The White House wrote in a statement of policy, “The Administration strongly opposes the inclusion of modifications to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, specifically the end user provision, in this TRIA-related bill that has broad bipartisan support. Broadening Dodd-Frank’s statutory exemptions is a complicated issue with serious implications for the health and stability of the Nation’s financial markets. The main purpose of S. 2244 is to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program; this bill should not be used as a vehicle to add entirely unrelated financial regulatory provisions.”

There is no evidence that Democrats aren’t going to reauthorize the program, and even less evidence that the Super Bowl will be canceled if they don’t. When the NFL was asked about the Fox News report, the league offered a one sentence reply, “The Super Bowl will be played.”

Fox News tried to blame Democrats for canceling a Super Bowl that hasn’t been canceled, because they didn’t pass a bill that will probably be passed. Fox News viewers are some of the most misinformed people in the United States, because when all else fails, Fox makes up the news.

Monday, December 15, 2014

I'll be there, as well.

Suzanne Vega, "Left of Center"

The Short, Torturous Life of the CIA Torture Report

As written and presented by its biographer Tom Tomorrow.

A faith based organization?

It seems as if that Teabagging Asshole Governor of Ohio John Kasich has stepped in a big steaming pile of shit. He signed into law a program to help students and provide a government subsidy for businesses and churches from state education funds. To do so he opened the door for just about anybody with a spiritual bent.
Gov. John Kasich's $10 million plan to bring mentors into Ohio's schools for students now has a surprise religious requirement – one that goes beyond what is spelled out in the legislation authorizing it.

Any school district that wants a piece of that state money must partner with both a church and a business – or a faith-based organization and a non-profit set up by a business to do community service.

No business and no faith-based partner means no state dollars.

"You must include a faith-based partner," United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson, told potential applicants at an information session the United Way hosted Thursday here in Cleveland.

Kitson sits on Kasich's advisory panel for the program, called "Community Connectors," which is taking applications for grants now.
Does a faith-based requirement make sense for a public schools program? Tell us below.

Buddy Harris, a senior policy analyst for the Ohio Department of Education, told the gathering of church and non-profit representatives that each application must include a school district (or charter school) plus a business and a place of worship or faith-based organization in its partnership.

Other non-profits can be involved, he said, only if they involve all three of the other groups. Partnerships between just schools, business and a community non-profit won't qualify.

"The faith-based organization is clearly at the heart of the vision of the governor," Harris said after the session.

"We do not forsee any proseletyzing happening between mentors and students," Harris said. "That's not really what we're seeking."

Asked why the governor is mixing religion with a state program - items usually required to be kept separate - Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said: "The governor believes faith-based organizations play an important role in the lives of young people."
Either the ACLU will sue or various out of favor faith based groups like Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Pastafarians and Satanists will rush to apply for this. This could be a major popcorn event.

Another Inigo Montoya moment

From the pen of Joel Pett

Notorious N Korean mole says CIA went to far

When a man instrumental in creating the legal cover for torture, a man who has devoted his life to destroying the American legal system, a man like John Yoo says the CIA torture program went too far, you know the CIA was really getting into it.
Former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo said the sleep deprivation, rectal feeding and other harsh treatment outlined in a U.S. Senate report last week could violate anti-torture laws.

"If these things happened as they're described in the report ... they were not supposed to be done. And the people who did those are at risk legally because they were acting outside their orders," Yoo said on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

As deputy assistant U.S. attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel in 2002, Yoo co-wrote a memo that was used as the legal sanction for what the CIA called its program of enhanced interrogation techniques after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The memo said only prolonged mental harm or serious physical injury, such as organ failure, violated the Geneva Convention's ban on torture. Aggressive interrogation methods like waterboarding fell short of that mark.

Yoo's comments on Sunday contrasted with those of Cheney and former national security officials who invoke his memo to argue that the harsh treatment of detainees was legal.

"They specifically authorized and OK'd what we did," Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"No one tortured anyone else," former CIA counterterrorism head Jose Rodriguez said on "Fox News Sunday."

The Senate Intelligence Committee's review of 6.3 million pages of CIA documents, released on Tuesday, found that some captives were deprived of sleep for more than a week, at times with their hands shackled above their heads, while others were abused sexually.

"Looking at it now, I think of course you can do these things cumulatively or too much that it would cross the line of the anti-torture statute," Yoo said on the C-SPAN television network.
Joh Yoo moved legal heaven and earth to justify torture so if he said they went too far you know it is. After all, John Yoo wrote the book on it. But he made one mistake. He said,"they were acting outside their orders", as if obeying their orders would excuse them. The Nuremburg Tribunals and all subsequent prosecution made it quite clear that just following orders was no excuse for torture, ever.

Your morning Bernie

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's close enough to Christmas

To post a Christmas song. "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" with an interesting arrangement by Callie & Colette

A gift guide for your Crazy Uncle Torture

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Children as the detritus of an epidemic

Just as with any other disaster, natural or man-made, the Ebola plague in West Africa has left thousands of orphaned children as their parents died of the disease. Unlike other disasters, surviving family and friends turn away from these children because of the disease that made them orphans.
Ebola has been wretched for children. More than 3,500 have been infected and at least 1,200 have died, United Nations officials estimate. Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the most-afflicted countries, have shut down schools in an attempt to check the virus, and legions of young people are now being drafted into hard labor by their impoverished parents. Little boys who should be sitting in a classroom are breaking rocks by the side of the road; little girls struggle under gigantic loads of bananas on their heads. This was always true to some degree, but social workers say there are more children, especially teenagers, on the streets than ever before, which could lead to an increase in crime and adolescent pregnancies. When the schools do reopen, there will probably be many vacant seats.

But the worst off, by far, are the Ebola orphans. The United Nations Children’s Fund, or Unicef, says that across the region there may be 10,000 of them. Many are stigmatized and shunned by their own communities.

“If there’s an earthquake or a war, and you lose a mother or a father, an aunt will take care of you,” said Roeland Monasch, head of Unicef’s office in Sierra Leone. “But this is different. These children aren’t being taken in by extended family. This isn’t like the AIDS orphans.”

People in hard-hit Ebola areas see children as mini time bombs. They do not wash their hands very often, they constantly touch people, they break all the Ebola rules. Something as simple as changing a diaper becomes a serious risk because the virus is spread through bodily fluids.

“Younger children are believed to be more contagious,” Mr. Monasch said.

Even if that is not true, the stigma remains, and many families have been reluctant to absorb children from Ebola-stricken households because of worries that those children might sicken their own.
And to compound the tragedy, those who offer to take the children all too often are suspected of less than humanitarian reasons for doing so.

New defense spending fucks personnel, coddles contractors

As it has been in the past, the new Defense Spending Bill passed by Congress reduces costs for the personnel required to fight all their dirty little wars and protects the manufacturers and developers of all the overpriced junk the personnel are supposed to use from any cuts in monies wasted.
The Senate passed the legislation 89-11 and sent it to President Barack Obama to sign into law. The House of Representatives last week endorsed the measure, which sets defense policy and authorizes spending levels for the 2015 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, but does not actually appropriate funding.

The bill approves a Pentagon base budget of $496 billion, in line with Obama's request, plus nearly $64 billion for conflicts abroad including the war in Afghanistan. It also authorizes $17.9 billion for Energy Department nuclear weapons work.

The bill takes new steps to control personnel costs, which consume about half the Pentagon budget, essentially approving a year's worth of proposed long-term reforms but delaying further action until hearing in February from a congressionally appointed commission on military compensation.

The measure increases co-pays on most prescription drugs by $3, reduces the military housing allowance by 1 percentage point and remains silent on military pay hikes, thus allowing the Pentagon to implement a proposed 1 percent raise. In the past, Congress often approved pay raises above levels recommended by the Pentagon but did not do so this year.

The bill rejects a number of Pentagon efforts to retire or curtail weapons systems the department insists it can no longer afford to maintain because of budget cuts intended to trim projected defense spending by nearly $1 trillion over a decade.

The measure bars retirement of the A-10 Warthog close air support plane, beloved by ground troops because of its ability to fly low and destroy enemy tanks. The Air Force wants to retire the fleet to cut costs and retrain maintenance personnel to work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
It's good to see we will be able to pay for our continued failure in Shitholeistan and get a bunch of shiny new nukes as well. The one good point is the saving of the A-10, a successful weapon that the Air Force, with its current leadership, will never see the like of again. And as a point of curiosity, how many maintenance personnel does the F-35 Joint Budget Buster need??

The Wisdom of Bernie

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Detroit music has greatly improved since Ted Nugent

And Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas performing "Picture Me With You" are proof of that.

Great American Enhancements

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

Behold! The Social Services of the Future

When the Evil Koch Brothers finish re-doing America into the authoritarian oligarchy that will please them, social services for the poor will take on a new look, perhaps like this event from Massachusetts.
There exists, somewhere within the general vicinity of Bellingham, Mass., a layaway hero.

This was proven earlier this week, when customers at a Toys “R” Us learned that a woman — whose identity is not yet known — walked in and paid off the entire layaway balance for the store in full.

Yep. The. Whole. Balance.

That means the woman paid for about $20,000 worth of merchandise on more than 150 accounts, according to the Milford Daily News.

“This incredible act of kindness is a true illustration of holiday giving at its best,” Toys “R” Us said in a statement to ABC News.

Here’s what happened, according to the Milford paper:

Described by employees as a bubbly older woman and a local, she offered the store manager a hug and reportedly said, “If you have it, give it.”

One employee said the woman told her that knowing the layaway purchases were taken care of would help her “sleep better at night.”

This kind of thing has happened before.

For example, last year, a Florida man spent about $20,000 at Walmart, paying off the accounts of strangers.

“I know it affected people immediately. I mean they were getting text messages that payments were being made on their accounts while we were there and people were calling saying ‘I think there’s a mistake,’” Greg Parady said, according to ABC. “It was so special. It was really special.”
Sadly, not every store has a Lay-Away Angel or even a lay-away plan so as you desperately struggle to make ends meet, you will also have to pray that your store has a charitable 1%er who feels the spirit of the season. If not you can hang out at the back door of the Evil Koch Mansions and hope the staff will let you pick through the garbage.

Who do you trust?

Certainly not your ex-wife and stepmother.

What the Last 10,000 can expect

Current Pentagon plans for Shitholeistan, which our President has bought into, call for leaving 10,000 soldiers there for some mythical purpose that was never achieved in the previous 13 years. Yesterday the Taliban provided an example of what they may expect.
Taliban fighters shot dead at least 12 workers clearing land mines Saturday in southern Afghanistan, authorities said, part of a series of attacks over the last 24 hours that saw seven Afghan and two U.S. soldiers killed, as well as a Supreme Court official.

The attack targeting the mine-clearing project struck southern Helmand province between its Nadali and Washir districts, police spokesman Farid Ahmad Obaid said. Taliban fighters killed at least 12 workers there and wounded another 12 before Afghan soldiers engaged in a gun battle with the assailants, he added.

Obaid identified the company leading the project as Star Link. A company employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the number of dead could be higher.

Mohammad Din, a Star Link manager, said separately that 81 workers were at the site when the gunmen launched their attack.

Afghanistan, which has suffered decades of continuous war, is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. The nonprofit Halo Trust estimates some 640,000 land mines have been laid there since 1979 and at least 20,500 people have been killed or wounded by such ordinance since.

Also on Saturday, a Taliban suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying Afghan soldiers, killing seven and wounding 18, according to Maj. Gen. Afzal Aman, chief of operations at Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry.

Earlier, gunmen shot dead senior Supreme Court official Atiqullah Raoufi as he left his home in Kabul.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, but did not say why it had killed him. The insurgents, ousted from power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001, run their own courts in parts of the country and consider the official judiciary to be corrupt.

In a separate development late Friday, an attack on a military convoy killed two U.S. soldiers by the Bagram air base in Parwan province near Kabul, an international military official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as the information wasn't authorized for release.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force said in a statement that two service members "died as a result of an enemy forces attack in eastern Afghanistan."

The deaths were the first foreign troops killed this month, bringing to 65 the total number of international troops killed in the country this year, 50 of them Americans.
The numbers may never be large but they will continue. The purpose for their being in harm's way will probably never be explained but the excuses will sound good. All Hail the Empire!

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