Friday, April 29, 2016

A pop song in the 60's

Turns into a sexy song in the hands of Joan Osborne. The Classics IV song "Spooky"

What he calls "man"

From the pen of Tom Toles

They meant well but they screwed up

So the Pentagon, in its brass plated wisdom, will punish 16 people for the bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Shitholeistan. According to the Pentagon they will all get an administrative "whack on the pee-pee" for it.
Mistakes by the crew flying an AC-130 gunship, compounded by equipment and procedural failures, led to the devastating attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan last year, and 16 American military personnel, including a general officer, have been punished for their roles in the strike, the Defense Department announced on Friday.

The punishments for the attack on Oct. 3 in Kunduz, which killed 42 people, will be “administrative actions” only, and were not more severe because the attack was determined to be unintentional. The punishments include suspension and removal from command as well as letters of reprimand, which can seriously damage a career. But none of the service members being disciplined will face criminal charges.

The new top officer of the military’s Central Command, Gen. Joseph L. Votel, made the announcement during a Pentagon news conference. He said the military had conducted “a thorough investigation” that was “painstaking” in seeking an “accurate account” of what occurred.

Its conclusion was that the crew members of the gunship who fired on the hospital “did not know they were striking a medical facility” and that the attack on the hospital was the result of human errors compounded by “process and equipment failures.”

The AC-130, whose assignment was to support an American Special Forces team that was working with Afghan forces, came under fire from a surface-to-air missile, General Votel said, and received incorrect coordinates for the source of the attack. Its crew, communicating with ground forces, came to believe that the hospital basically matched the description of a Taliban-controlled building about a quarter of a mile away, and fired at the hospital.

The crew of the gunship did not get all the information it should have received about “no strike areas” that included the hospital, which was categorized as a protected facility.
The punishment to be meted out is more likely a response to the embarrassment of missing the real target by such a wide margin than it is for hitting a hospital. The MSF people should know better than to work anywhere near US Forces.

Someone always finds a way

And North Carolina's crying need for this device has been answered.

More Republican abuse of power

It could be said that almost all the Republican actions have been an abuse of power since the inauguration of Barack Obama. One thing is certain, it has now become as casual and accepted as racism was 100 years ago. One example is the nomination of the Secretary of the Army, a non controversial selection, that is being blocked by that paragon of pettiness, Pat Roberts of Kansas. And his reason? President Obama wants to close Guantanamo and Pat is scared shitless he might put some of those super-human terrist critters in Fort Leavenworth.
Arizona Sen. John McCain pleaded with a fellow Republican, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, on the Senate floor Thursday to withdraw his objection and allow a vote on Eric Fanning to be Secretary of the Army.

But Roberts wouldn’t budge, again citing his opposition to President Barack Obama’s proposal to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and transfer its detainees to U.S. sites, including, potentially, Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

Roberts said the White House called him Thursday to try to work out a solution but wouldn’t promise to take Fort Leavenworth off the list.

Obama nominated Fanning in September, and McCain’s committee voted to confirm him last month. If confirmed by the full Senate, Fanning would be the first openly gay secretary of any branch of the military.

At times getting impatient with Roberts, McCain said Fanning was “eminently qualified” and that he had “nothing to do” with he president’s policy on Guantanamo.

McCain, a Navy veteran and former prisoner of war, said Roberts’ action was “not the appropriate use of senatorial privilege” and “a distortion” of the Senate’s duty to advise and consent.

“If we inaugurate a practice here of holding nominees over an issue that is not related to those nominees,” McCain said, “we are abusing our power and authority as United States senators.”
It is to be noted that the Republicans have moved beyond using his being gay as a sticking point. But there is always some irrelevant point that the GOP can use to stop the proper functioning of government. And as Sen. McCain rightly puts, it is an abuse of power.

Simple Solution to a Non-Existent Problem

Thursday, April 28, 2016

One from the 60's that still plays well

From South Africa, Four Jacks And A Jill do "Master Jack"

Trump The Calendar

From the pen of Jack Ohman

R.I.P. Uziel Silna

You screwed the NBA really good when they thought they had got you. Well Done Ozzie Silna!

Doctors In The Bullseye

Doctors Without Borders is a charity of medical professionals who provide medical treatment in crisis areas to all who need it. And once again it becomes the target of one of the belligerents for reasons never stated but hardly accidental.
Syria’s divided city of Aleppo plunged back into the kind of all-out war not seen in months on Thursday, witnesses and health workers said, as they reeled from government airstrikes that demolished a hospital in the insurgent-held side and from retaliatory mortar assaults by rebels on the government-held side.

At least 27 people, including three children and six staff members, were reported killed in the strike on the hospital, which turned it into a smoking pile of rubble on Wednesday night. At least eight people, mostly civilians, were killed in the mortar attacks on government-controlled areas, said officials at a hospital where casualties were streaming in at midday on Thursday...

The location of Al Quds hospital, the destroyed facility on the rebel side of the city, was well known, and the hospital was assisted by the international charity Doctors Without Borders. “This devastating attack has destroyed a vital hospital in Aleppo, and the main referral center for pediatric care in the area,” the head of the charity’s Syria mission, Muskilda Zancada, said in a statement. “Where is the outrage among those with the power and obligation to stop this carnage?”

Two hospitals in the town of Maarat al-Noaman to the east, including one working with Doctors Without Borders, were hit on the same day earlier this year, each by multiple strikes. Groups such as Physicians for Human Rights have tracked what they call a pattern of deliberate targeting of health services by government forces.

Witnesses contended that the same appeared to be true in the strike on Al Quds hospital, in the neighborhood of Sukkari.

“Those were multiple airstrikes targeting the same area with less than two-minute gaps,” Adnan Hadad, an opposition journalist, said shortly after returning from the scene.

The International Committee of the Red Cross called on all parties to stop indiscriminate attacks and to avoid harming civilians, or Aleppo would face what it called a new humanitarian disaster...

The hospital was hit when it was already full of victims from government shelling, Hadi Abdullah, an opposition journalist, reported in a video from the scene, in which a medical worker said that three of his colleagues had been killed.
Perhaps only hopeless dreamers believe that you can retain some humanity in a war, even a civil war.

The Once Brave Palmetto Bug State

Which once upon a time had the courage to start a war with the industrial northern states over a failed business model, now is scared shitless at the idea that a handful of prisoners may be held in South Carolina.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley came to Washington, D.C., on Thursday with one clear message – keep Guantanamo detainees out of South Carolina, and if you need extra money to keep the prison open I’ll help you find it.

“You could pay the state of South Carolina to host these terrorists, and we wouldn’t take them. For any amount of money,” she said in her testimony before a House Homeland Security subcommittee on the local impact of transferring prisoners from the facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

President Barack Obama in February released his plan to shutter the prison, including measures that would transfer 30 to 60 detainees, many of whom have never been charged with a crime, from Guantánamo to an unidentified high-security prison in the United States.

Haley told the committee that the Pentagon reached out last summer to tell her they were scouting the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig in Hanahan, S.C., as a possible site to transfer the detainees. The facility lies five miles from North Charleston.

“Imagine my surprise,” she said. “Not only was it against federal law (…) but why would anyone want to put terrorists in Charleston?”

Obama said his plan would save American taxpayers more than $300 million in the first 10 years after implementation and as much as $1.7 billion over two decades. Haley said that saving federal dollars does not justify the risk.

“I come from a state where we balance our budget – I promise we can help you find the $85 million elsewhere to cut,” she said.

Moving detainees to a different zip code just shifts the target and creates imminent danger for nearby communities, Haley said. The South Carolina delegation has argued for months that this is especially a concern for the Charleston location, a national tourist destination with a metropolitan population of almost 700,000.
Where they once stood up to a blockade and faced the Wrath of Sherman, now they cower in fear at the thought of al-Qaeda and ISIS driving their Toyotas across the Atlantic to attack South Carolina and free a handful of now worthless schmucks. Well Done South Carolina!

Restating the obvious

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

They can sing them and write them

And the trio of Matraca Berg, Gretchen Peters and Suzy Bogguss encompass some of the finest signing and writing talent in Nashville. "You And Tequila" was written Berg and Deanna Carter. A ladylike drinking song.

Step 2 - Underpants Gnomes Business Plan

From the pen of Chan Lowe

The Cicadas are coming! The Cicadas are coming!

And if you are in one of the prime areas for the emergence of this years brood, the warm summer days will be filled with the buzz of male cicadas trying to get laid after 17 years underground.(And you think your life is hard)
Although adult cicadas are harmless to people, they can cause some damage to shade and fruit trees, Mr. Hoover said. They can also cause a mess and discomfort for humans.

In addition to the eerie noise cicadas emit, they leave behind casings that can coat decks and patios, prompting some homeowners in the past to get power washers to remove them. If you have a phobia about insects, this will be a time of high anxiety. Dog owners have discovered the undigested remnants of the insects from the upset stomachs of their pets.

But for some other animals, such as birds and fish, the emergence of the periodical cicada means a bumper crop of food. Trout, bass and carp “will literally gorge themselves” on the adult insects, Mr. Hoover said.

The lead-up to cicadas’ emergence is a prolonged, low-key process. Cicada nymphs spend 17 years underground, where they “await an undetermined signal for emergence,” Mr. Hoover said.

A combination of soil temperatures reaching 64 degrees and light rain seems to trigger their ascension, he said. The nymphs climb trees and within an hour, they shed their skins and become adults.

Ten days later, the mating begins. Each female lays up to 400 eggs in the twigs of more than 75 species of trees.

Nymphs hatch in six to eight weeks and then drop to the soil for a period longer than four presidential administrations before they re-emerge and the cycle continues.
And kids will be finding shed casings of their former life, harmless but perhaps icky to people afraid of nature.

Send the lunch pail to a museum

The idea, and the hope, that any political candidate can bring about a manufacturing resurgence in this country is just another "snipe hunt". Worldwide thanks to automation and increased productivity, manufacturing of all kinds is declining.
In America’s factories, jobs are inevitably disappearing, too. But despite the political rhetoric, the problem is not mainly globalization. Manufacturing jobs are on the decline in factories around the world.

“The observation is uncontroversial,” said Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-winning economist at Columbia University. “Global employment in manufacturing is going down because productivity increases are exceeding increases in demand for manufactured products by a significant amount.”

The consequences of this dynamic are often misunderstood, not least by politicians offering slogans to fix them.

No matter how high the tariffs Mr. Trump wants to raise to encircle the American economy, he will not be able to produce a manufacturing renaissance at home. Neither would changing tax rules to limit corporate flight from the United States, as Mrs. Clinton proposes.

“The likelihood that we will get a manufacturing recovery is close to nil,” Professor Stiglitz said. “We are more likely to have a smaller share of a shrinking pie.”

Look at it this way: Over the course of the 20th century, farm employment in the United States dropped to 2 percent of the work force from 41 percent, even as output soared. Since 1950, manufacturing’s share has shrunk to 8.5 percent of nonfarm jobs, from 24 percent. It still has a ways to go.

The shrinking of manufacturing employment is global. In other words, strategies to restore manufacturing jobs in one country will amount to destroying them in another, in a worldwide zero-sum game.

The loss of such jobs has created plenty of problems in the United States. For the countless workers living in less developed reaches of the world, though, it adds up to a potential disaster.
There may still be pockets of manufacturing sprouting up here and there but overall it is a field that needs less people every year. And when you take away the means to work without taking away the need to work you create a huge problem that does not lend itself to old solutions.

But it looks so cool!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Harmonious Singings Of Sweet Sisters

Joseph sings "Sweet Dreams" with a background of Casper The Friendly Ghost

Under Der Trumpenfuehrer

From the pen of Matt Bors

The power of public shame

The other day some Okie deputies from Muskogee County stopped a Burmese immigrant working with a Christian-Burmese band to raise money for a Karen school back in Burma, for a broken taillight. A semi-legal dog inspired drug search turned up $53,000 raised by the band, the deputies seized the money and charged Eh Wah with drug crimes despite not drugs or incriminating paraphenalia being found. The DA then eagerly sought to steal the money under the cover of a civil forfeiture. The the story went public.
On Monday, I wrote about a strange civil forfeiture case out of Oklahoma, in which Muskogee County sheriff's deputies seized over $53,000 in cash from a Burmese Christian rock band, a church in Omaha and an orphanage in Thailand following a traffic stop over a busted tail light.

After the story was published, Muskogee County District Attorney Orvil Loge decided to dismiss both the civil case (the cash seizure) and a criminal charge of "acquir[ing] proceeds from drug activity" against the principal defendant, Eh Wah, after reviewing the evidence and speaking with the officers involved.

"I looked at the case and met with the officers and determined that we would not be able to meet the burden of proof in the criminal case and in the civil case," Loge said in an interview. He also cited the press coverage of the story and said that his office has heard from "a lot of citizens" who were upset about the details of the case.

Eh Wah was acting as the volunteer tour manager for the Klo and Kweh Music Team, a group from Burma. They were touring the United States to raise money for a Christian liberal arts school in Burma and an orphanage in Thailand. They collected their concert proceeds in cash, which they entrusted to Eh Wah to manage and safeguard.

Eh Wah was pulled over for a broken tail light in February by Muskogee County sheriff's deputies, who said a drug-sniffing dog alerted on the car. When the deputies searched the car, they found all $53,000 that the band had raised. They didn't like Eh Wah's explanation for why he had it, citing inconsistencies in his responses to police questions. So they seized the cash and eventually charged him with a drug felony, even though they found no drugs or paraphernalia in the car or in his possession.

In an interview, Loge, the district attorney, said the officers had enough probable cause to take the cash.

"In this case, the question was did they have probable cause to act? And in my opinion they did," he said. But he added, "Once you file cases and facts come to light, things change. That's the way our justice system is designed, and you have to let the wheel of justice turn and act — and that's what we did."
Yes, it is amazing how facts change when you shine a light on what is happening. No one as yet is calling DA Loge and the deputies a bunch of thieving bastards. Perhaps that is because no one yet has looked at how many civil forfeitures he has done.

The value of activist judges

As everybody knows, their value is revealed when they bend and twist the laws to make rulings that you approve of. In North Carolina, those who want to keep the pesky coloreds and poors from voting appear to have gotten their wish in the latest ruling from a Bush appointed activist judge in the North Carolina District Court.
A federal judge on Monday upheld sweeping Republican-backed changes to election rules, including a voter identification provision, that civil rights groups say unfairly targeted African-Americans and other minorities. The ruling could have serious political repercussions in a state that is closely contested in presidential elections.

The opinion, by Judge Thomas D. Schroeder of Federal District Court in Winston-Salem, upheld the repeal of a provision that allowed people to register and vote on the same day. It also upheld a seven-day reduction in the early-voting period; the end of preregistration, which allowed some people to sign up before their 18th birthdays; and the repeal of a provision that allowed for the counting of ballots cast outside voters’ home precinct.

It also left intact North Carolina’s voter identification requirement, which legislators softened last year to permit residents to cast ballots, even if they lack the required documentation, if they submit affidavits.

The ruling could have significant repercussions in North Carolina, a state that Barack Obama barely won in 2008, and that the Republican Mitt Romney barely won four years later.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which sits in Richmond, Va., will be the first to consider an appeal, which the law’s opponents said they would pursue. If the Fourth Circuit or the Supreme Court does not intervene, the changes will be in force when voters go to the polls this autumn. North Carolina voters will also elect a governor in what is expected to be one of this year’s most competitive state races.

The ruling is an early signal of how federal judges might regard changes and challenges to voting laws in the aftermath of a 2013 Supreme Court decision that effectively eliminated a portion of the Voting Rights Act that had forced nine states, mostly in the South, to obtain advance federal approval before changing their election laws.
Needless to say, North Carolina Gov. Pat "Pee-Pee" McCrory is delighted by the ruling as it now makes his re-election possible, he hopes.

Planning to vote GOP this year

Samantha Bee explains the 16 3 jamokes running for President

A woman goes to a shooting range

And hangs up a human silhouette target with the bullseye on the crotch...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Yesterday looks better tomorrow

Or as The Wild Reeds called "Everything Looks Better In Hindsight"

The Trump pivots

And, according to that intrepid reporter Tom Tomorrow, pivots on.

Happy World Penguin Day

Herring all around bartender!

And add a dollop of Kasich

From the pen of Jim Morin

Reviewing the Governor's Corruption case

It should be interesting to see which way the Supreme Court will go in their review of the conviction of Republican former Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell. And there are more truly interested parties to this case than we would like.
Along with the state officials and law professors who are happy that the Supreme Court this week is reviewing the corruption conviction of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell, add inmate No. 24775-001 at the federal prison in Oakdale, La.

He is otherwise known as Don E. Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama, whom many of those same people supported when the justices decided — twice — that his conviction did not warrant an extended review.

“I’m not the slightest bit bitter about that at all,” Siegelman said last week in a telephone interview from prison. “I’m delighted that the court has taken the McDonnell case, and I’m hopeful the court will clarify what constitutes political quid pro quo bribery.”

Most convicted politicians who ask the Supreme Court for relief — former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and former congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana being just recent examples — meet fates similar to Siegelman’s.

But the longtime Alabama officeholder was the cause celebre — still is, really — for those who believe vague federal corruption laws give politically ambitious prosecutors too much leeway in deciding what and whom to investigate. Such questions about political influence are only likely to grow as relaxed campaign contribution laws give rise to a new galaxy of individual mega-donors.

While the Supreme Court never accepted Siegelman’s case for full briefing, McDonnell grabbed the brass ring twice.

Not only is the court reviewing his 2014 conviction in its last oral argument of the term Wednesday, but the justices intervened at the final hour last fall to keep McDonnell from having to report to prison while the legal drama played out.

That was something the court had never done before, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the justices before they acted.
When governors are convicted, you can be pretty sure there is politics involved. The question is which way will the politics play in an 8 judge court.

The clusterfuck that is Puerto Rico

John Oliver explains how the Commonpoverty created itself, with lots of help from Congress & Wall St

The Senate needs her

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Not in the middle of the road

The Dead Fox that is. When Courtney Barnett sings "Dead Fox" from her Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit album she does include traffic hazards.

Some monetary changes that didn't make it

From the pen of Brian McFadden

She can dance with the President

But she can't fly commercial because she doesn't have the required "face card" as she puts it. And at 107 years, the hoops required to jump through to get the required ID become insurmountable barriers.
Virginia McLaurin, who recently turned 107, was still basking in the glow of her dance with President Obama in February. A White House video of the meeting has been viewed nearly 66 million times. The attention has resulted in invitations to New York and Los Angeles for media interviews.

To board an airplane, however, McLaurin needs to replace a long-lost government-issued photo ID.

To get a D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles non-drivers’ photo ID, she needs a birth certificate from South Carolina, where she was born. To get the birth certificate, she needs the photo ID. A classic bureaucratic Catch-22.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get that face card,” McLaurin told me during a recent visit to her apartment in Northwest Washington. “I was birthed by a midwife and the birthday put in a Bible somewhere. I don’t know if they even had birth certificates back then.”
She is not only a good dancer, but she illustrates the problems unnecessary ID laws create for people who have lived most of their lives just not paying attention to the brand new shiny requirements of those who too often have an ulterior motive to their high sounding legal acts.

30 years down 3000 to go

And that is just an estimate of when the site of the failed reactor at Chernobyl will cease to be a threat. And until then it remains a radioactive wild life preserve with occasional guided tours and brave intruders.
It will be 30 years ago Tuesday that Pripyat and the nearby Chernobyl nuclear plant became synonymous with nuclear disaster, that the word Chernobyl came to mean more than just a little village in rural Ukraine, and this place became more than just another spot in the shadowy Soviet Union.

Even 30 years later – 25 years after the country that built it ceased to exist – the full damage of that day is still argued.

Death toll estimates run from hundreds to millions. The area near the reactor is both a teeming wildlife refuge and an irradiated ghost-scape. Much of eastern and central Europe continues to deal with fallout aftermath. The infamous Reactor Number 4 remains a problem that is neither solved nor solvable.

All told, about 4,000 people would eventually die from the accident, according to a report by the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Others say those numbers are wildly low. Alexey Yablokov, a former environment adviser to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, estimated the global death toll to be 1.44 million. Other reports placed the cancer death totals at 30,000 to 60,000. Belarusian physicist Georgiy Lepin, a vice president of the association of liquidators of Chernobyl, the men brought in to fight the fire and clean up, estimated that within a few years, 13,000 rescue workers had died and another 70,000 were left unfit for work. The official number of disabled Chernobyl rescue workers today in Ukraine is 106,000.

A United Nations study says that “5 million people currently live in areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine that are contaminated with radionuclides due to the accident; about 100,000 of them live in areas classified in the past by government authorities as areas of ‘strict control.’ ” About 4,000 people, mostly children, developed thyroid cancer from the radiation, the U.N. says; the survival rate for the cancer is 99 percent.
No joy in a 30 year anniversary when you can't open your present for another 3000 years.

Do we really want to know?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A song of junkie love

From her 2006 album Harpo's Ghost Thea Gilmore sings "The List"

But for how much longer?

Living up to her name

The Teabaggette Governor of Oklahoma has another chance to live up to the name many call her, Mary Failin. In a bill awaiting her signature, Gov. Fallin has the opportunity to further the termite like efforts of the vicious right wing warriors on women to outlaw abortion.
Oklahoma is just a signature away from revoking the licenses of most doctors who perform abortions.

Under a bill passed by the legislature this week, doctors who perform abortions — defined in the measure as “unprofessional conduct” — would be barred from obtaining or renewing their medical licenses. The bill, now on the governor’s desk, would not apply to abortions performed to save a mother’s life, although the bill lacks similar exceptions for abortions performed in cases of rape or incest.

“This is our proper function, to protect life,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Nathan Dahm (R), said last month.

The bill passed the Senate early last month and the House on Thursday. Both houses are controlled by the GOP, but a few Democrats in each chamber voted for the bill. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has not yet said whether she will sign the bill, Reuters reports.

“Oklahoma politicians have made it their mission year after year to restrict women’s access vital health care services, yet this total ban on abortion is a new low,” Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which advocates for abortion rights, said in a statement.

“The Center for Reproductive Rights is closely watching this bill and we strongly urge Governor Fallin to reject this cruel and unconstitutional ban,” she added.

Several Democrats, outnumbered roughly 2-to-1 in the House, pushed back against the bill in debate on Thursday, suggesting it was misguided and unconstitutional.
And the governor will fail her state if she signs it or fail her party if she doesn't. And in the end another so-called fiscally responsible Republican will cost her state millions in legal fees to be overturned.

R.I.P. Lonnie McIntosh

Too many musicians. If you never heard Lonnie Mack, you probably heard one of your favorites playing his style.

400 years ago today

R.I.P. William Shakespeare. A pitiable scribbler dead at 52.

Some we already knew

But Bill Maher gives us a few more things we didn't know about Ted Cruz

Vocabulary lesson

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