Thursday, December 31, 2015

First hired by Jimmy Dorsey


Until he found out she was only 14, Ella Mae Morse never reached the top in musical fame but she was on the cutting edge of the musical transition to rock and roll in the 40s & 50s. "Shoo Shoo Baby" was recorded when she was 18.


No words necessary


From the pen of Jim Morin



Isn't this special?


In response to reports of the use of psychologists assisting and abetting the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the American Psychological Association adopted a new and stricter set of rules of ethics for its members. As a result, the Pentagon has greatly reduced the use of psychologists there.
Gen. John F. Kelly, the head of the United States Southern Command, which oversees Guantánamo, has ordered that psychologists be withdrawn from a wide range of activities dealing with detainees at the prison because of the new rules of the association, the nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists. The group approved the rules this past summer.

General Kelly’s order is the latest fallout after years of recriminations within the profession for the crucial role that psychologists played in the post-9/11 programs of harsh interrogation created by the C.I.A. and the Pentagon. The psychologists’ involvement in the interrogations enabled the Justice Department in the George W. Bush administration to issue secret legal opinions that declared that the C.I.A.’s so-called enhanced interrogation program was legal, in part because health professionals were monitoring it to make sure that it was safe and that it did not constitute torture...

Officials said that the order to pull psychologists out of detainee operations at Guantánamo, issued about two weeks ago but not made public, is intended to protect the psychologists from violating the new rules, which could expose them to losing their licenses. Many states use the psychological association’s ethics code in their professional licensing requirements for psychologists.

“These psychologists are licensed for independent practice and are volunteers” at Guantánamo, Cmdr. Karin Burzynski of the Navy, a spokeswoman for the Southern Command, said in a statement. “They are bound by their respective professional organizations’ ethical guidelines, and General Kelly will not jeopardize them losing their credentials.”

The new rules specifically bar psychologists from any involvement in national security interrogations, and also bar them from providing mental health services to detainees at sites like Guantánamo that the United Nations has determined do not comply with international human rights law. Currently, no interrogations take place at Guantánamo, Commander Burzynski said, and instead only voluntary interviews are conducted when a detainee asks to speak with American personnel.
Makes sense. If the new rules don't allow psychologists to assist in torture, then there is no reason for them to be at America's premier House of Torture.

Latino Yes, Republican No


As time goes by, the Republican Party more and more needs non white, non racist voters to win elections. Thanks to the blatantly appalling racism of leading candidate Donald Trump. the possibility of those voters being Latinos is fading in the distance.
erman Maldonado could back a Republican. But it’s not likely, not at a time when Donald Trump is calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals.

“The whole GOP base, they tend to attack most of our people,” said the graphic designer, who came to this country from Mexico 25 years ago.

That, in a nutshell, is the crushing challenge Republicans face in 2016, a problem that looms as a serious blow to their hopes of winning in swing states such as Nevada.

Talk to Latinos throughout the Las Vegas area and their views are strikingly similar. Top concerns are better schools, more ability to grow their own businesses and leaders who share their strong religious and moral beliefs.

That gives Republicans tremendous potential. And in some states, including Nevada, the party has done well among Latinos. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is Mexican-American. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the nation’s first female Hispanic governor, was re-elected overwhelmingly last year. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott won 44 percent of Latinos in 2014. President George W. Bush won 39 percent of Nevada’s Hispanic vote in 2004.

Today, though, there’s Trump, as well as a party that’s seen as too eager to send immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally back out of the country.

“We’re digging a very, very deep hole,” said Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Republican Latino voters say they’re well aware of the difficulty of convincing friends and family to join them.

Immigration is the gateway to the community’s heart. Most Latinos in Nevada are either immigrants themselves or know someone who recently arrived in this country. Nevada’s population is about 27 percent Hispanic, and 4 of 5 are of Mexican origin.

When Latinos hear some Republicans eager to deport immigrants here illegally, or refer to them in offensive ways, they recoil.
To win Donald Trump has been greatly exaggerating the fears of the white Republican base, a move that automatically pushes aside any other demographic so desperately needed by the party to win.

He was right then and still is



Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Not to be confused with the other Meg Johnson Bands out there


This one was from the Hudson River valley and gave us "The Way I Do"


Would Fat Tony Scalia get this?


From the pen of Matt Wuerker



After a 14 year run at civilization


It looks like Afghanistan is falling back into the old ways that have kept it the nasty little shithole it has been for millenia.
At a ceremony inaugurating the new “Afghan Pentagon” here Monday, President Ashraf Ghani stressed the importance of building a modern military, subservient to the nation’s constitution and laws rather than to powerful individuals. He portrayed the gleaming new facility, built with U.S. funds, as the central command for that mission.

But 150 miles east, in the embattled district of Achin, news was spreading of an atrocity committed by a private pro-government militia over the weekend. After Islamic State forces captured and beheaded four of its members, Afghan officials reported, the militia retaliated by decapitating four Islamic State prisoners, later placing their heads on piles of stones along a main road.

The incident echoed the worst abuses of Afghanistan’s civil war two decades ago and raised fears that tribal strongmen, goaded by barbaric opponents, could undercut the Ghani government’s efforts to wage a professional fight against Taliban and Islamic State insurgents.
After training and arming Afghans for the last 14 years, some people are surprised that left to their own devices, Afghans will return to the old ways. And I suspect that DAESH is surprised to find the Afghans won't put up with their "bad guy" bullshit. The Afghans have been bad guys for the last 2000 years.

Fare the well, George Pataki, whoever you were.


The onetime governor of New York
has ended his quixotic quest for the White House pretty much where it began, nowhere.
George E. Pataki, the former three-term New York governor who undertook a long-shot presidential bid that failed to catch fire, withdrew from the presidential race on Tuesday, urging Republicans in a televised message to nominate another candidate who could bring the country together.

In a two-minute advertisement that aired on NBC affiliates in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Mr. Pataki, seated before a flickering fire, announced he was suspending his campaign.

The next president must unite the country, Mr. Pataki said, “If we’re truly going to make America great again,” an allusion to the campaign slogan of Donald J. Trump, who Mr. Pataki has often criticized.

His withdrawal from the race leaves 12 Republican candidates still in the field at the battle heads toward its first contest, the Iowa caucuses, which are just a month away.

Mr. Pataki announced his campaign in May, urging Republicans in a New Hampshire speech to court a racially diverse array of voters with a message of economic opportunity.

His wife, Libby, described him then as a candidate who would appeal to Republican moderates, and Mr. Pataki concentrated his efforts on New Hampshire, where independent voters hold powerful sway.
Having set out to appeal to the moderate Republican voters, he found out there were none left. We can only hope he departs with enough money to spend his days in comfort as the rest of us ponder how to eliminate the remaining Dirty Dozen.

Simple enough



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Another singer so hard to pin down


Despite having a distinctive voice, Josephine Foster's genre crossing styles do not lend themselves to pop culture. "I'm A Dreamer" from her album of the same name.


It used to be in the boiler room


From the pen of Tom Toles



They could, at least, send a thank you note


Since you and I and everybody else paying taxes in this country have been shouldering an increasing share of what should be their tax burden. But the thing about the wealthiest people that stands out is their absolute conviction that they deserve it and you should be grateful. Never the less it is not cheap to avoid taxes, but it is well worth it, for them.
With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the “income defense industry,” consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.

In recent years, this apparatus has become one of the most powerful avenues of influence for wealthy Americans of all political stripes, including Mr. Loeb and Mr. Cohen, who give heavily to Republicans, and the liberal billionaire George Soros, who has called for higher levies on the rich while at the same time using tax loopholes to bolster his own fortune.

All are among a small group providing much of the early cash for the 2016 presidential campaign.

Operating largely out of public view — in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions, and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service — the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the government’s ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans.

The impact on their own fortunes has been stark. Two decades ago, when Bill Clinton was elected president, the 400 highest-earning taxpayers in America paid nearly 27 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to I.R.S. data. By 2012, when President Obama was re-elected, that figure had fallen to less than 17 percent, which is just slightly more than the typical family making $100,000 annually, when payroll taxes are included for both groups.

The ultra-wealthy “literally pay millions of dollars for these services,” said Jeffrey A. Winters, a political scientist at Northwestern University who studies economic elites, “and save in the tens or hundreds of millions in taxes.”

Some of the biggest current tax battles are being waged by some of the most generous supporters of 2016 candidates. They include the families of the hedge fund investors Robert Mercer, who gives to Republicans, and James Simons, who gives to Democrats; as well as the options trader Jeffrey Yass, a libertarian-leaning donor to Republicans.

Mr. Yass’s firm is litigating what the agency deemed to be tens of millions of dollars in underpaid taxes. Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund Mr. Simons founded and which Mr. Mercer helps run, is currently under review by the I.R.S. over a loophole that saved their fund an estimated $6.8 billion in taxes over roughly a decade, according to a Senate investigation. Some of these same families have also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to conservative groups that have attacked virtually any effort to raises taxes on the wealthy.
So long as the lawyers, bankers and CPA's are producing a return of 10 to 1, they will continue. And the only way to stop it is to eliminate their enablers in Congress who get fat on the crumbs from the wealthiest tables.

Now American Terrorism is spreading.


It used to be that the only place you could find American Whackasses was in America. More an more now they are showing up in other countries, primarily Canada and Australia. and they are carrying with them their same insanely deadly anarchistic ways.
The sovereign citizen movement, which has emerged as a key combatant in the battle against domestic terrorism in the United States, continues to swell, with violent incidents erupting on a regular basis. But authorities and experts say the exponential growth of sovereign citizens — their numbers are now estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands — isn’t strictly a U.S. phenomenon any more. The movement’s tentacles, they say, are reaching worldwide.

“It has gone international,” said Bob Paudert, the former police chief of West Memphis, Ark., whose son and another officer were gunned down by sovereign citizens during a traffic stop in 2010. “We know they’ve been in Canada for several years, and now they’re organizing in Australia.

“This is exactly where we were in 2010. We had no idea who they were or what they were, the judges didn’t know, and the officers didn’t know.”

Sovereign citizens are a loose network of individuals whose adherents believe the government is corrupt and out of control; therefore, they do not recognize local, state or federal authority or tax systems. In Canada, they’re sometimes known as Freemen on the Land.

Not all are violent, but in recent years they have come to be considered a top domestic terrorism threat by the FBI and other government agencies.

In the Canadian case, Raddatz was a divorced father of three who had been going through financial difficulties, and his house was in foreclosure.

After he shot the officers, authorities said, the 42-year-old self-employed refrigeration mechanic set his house on fire, then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In the United States, a survey of law enforcement officers published last year found sovereign citizens were perceived as their greatest terrorism concern. Now, authorities are starting to take notice in other parts of the world as well.

Just last month, law enforcement officials in Australia issued a report warning of a growing threat from sovereign citizens.

A confidential assessment by the New South Wales Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Command said there were up to 300 sovereign citizens in the state and that the numbers were increasing, according to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corp., which obtained the document. The assessment said sovereigns had “the motivation and capability to act against government interests and should be considered a potential terrorist threat.”
The quaint anarchic principles of the original movement have been stretched to cover the criminal intent of the new American terrorists and their exports.

No worry, it's only a picture



Monday, December 28, 2015

Born in Berlin


And Roxanne de Bastion grew up listening to the Beatles. And it all fit together for this Singer/Songwriter now living in England.


Annual Tom Tomorrow Part The Second


In which Mr Tomorrow reviews the second half of the year or shows us a collection of snapshots from a mental hospital, it is not clear which.

Makes a certain kind of Texican sense


From the pen of Ted Rall



Are we great or what?


Once again good old Americans have blown away the rest of the world in the number of citizens we have gunned down for better or worse.
In a grim reminder that violence in America never takes a holiday, 27 people were killed and 63 injured in shooting incidents on Christmas Day this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. This tally does not include people who shot themselves in suicide.

The number of Americans killed in gun homicides on Christmas Day is comparable to the number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in places like Australia or Britain. The 27 people killed by guns in America on Christmas this year is equal to the total number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Estonia, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Iceland, combined.

The dead included the parents of a young child who were shot during a robbery in Columbus, Ohio; a Texas grandfather, whose 73-year-old wife says she shot him for “continuous marital issues and infidelities;” a young couple killed in their vehicle in the early morning hours near Augusta, Maine; and the owner of a barbershop in Alabama who was known as "a strong voice against crime" in the community, according to local news reports.

At least two of the Christmas Day shootings qualified as mass shooting incidents with four or more people shot. In one, a two-year old girl and three teenagers were injured in a shooting in a high-crime neighborhood in Jacksonville, Fla. Later that night in Mobile, Ala., four teenagers were shot by two gunmen outside a movie theater.

So far this year, we've averaged roughly 36 gun fatalities and 73 gun injuries each day, according to the Gun Violence Archive. So the Christmas Day tally represents something of a temporary de-escalation in the violence, but not a huge one.
Perhaps we should change our motto from "One nation under god", adopted when we were facing off against the no longer existing USSR, to "One nation under threat from the NRA" to recognize our current existential threat.

R.I.P. Meadowlark Lemon


Basketball player, Globetrotter, entertainer. Few have brought as much laughter into the world.

This could be big trouble


The TSA, which regularly covers itself in 'glory' when it fails to differentiate the threat from the unusual, may soon have a chance to wreak more havoc upon the traveling public.
As soon as next year, a driver’s license may no longer be enough for airline passengers to clear security in some states, if the Department of Homeland Security has its way.

Federal officials said they would soon determine whether Transportation Security Administration agents would start enforcing a 10-year-old law that requires states to comply with a set of federal standards when issuing driver’s licenses.

The issue is quickly coming to a head, and the debate over identification and privacy has only intensified following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and California.

But some states have bitterly opposed these requirements out of privacy concerns, and more than a dozen have passed laws barring their motor vehicle departments from complying with the law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The new standards require more stringent proof of identity and will eventually allow users’ information to be shared more easily in a national database.

Privacy experts, civil liberty organizations and libertarian groups fear the law would create something like a national identification card.

Federal and state officials have been arguing for years about the merits of the law, called the Real ID Act, which was enacted by Congress in 2005 following the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Its proponents argue that it is a necessary tool to reduce identity theft and fraud, and enhance the nation’s security.
While you won't have to show your papers to the proper authorities, the partial introduction of the national ID will give the TSA plenty of leeway to get confused as to whether you deserve a strip search of not.

Back when you could learn in schools



Sunday, December 27, 2015

A True Daughter of Pennsyltucky


Irene Kelley has worked hard at singing and song writing for many years and enjoyed her best success when others sing her tunes. Here she sings her tune about her coal mining grandfather, "Pennsylvania Coal" from her album of the same name.


Even kids have to go with the flow (chart)


From the pen of Darrin Bell



Nothing propinques like propinquity


And it is that daily closer contact with the voters of their states that pushes a more practical approach to Medicaid on Republican governors that their more ideologically hidebound senators and congressmen can choose to ignore.
A week later, his state’s Republican governor, Dennis Daugaard, announced that he wanted to make 55,000 additional South Dakota residents eligible for Medicaid under the law.

“I know many South Dakotans are skeptical about expanding Medicaid, and I share some of those sentiments,” Mr. Daugaard said. “It bothers me that some people who can work will become more dependent on government.”

“But,” Mr. Daugaard said, “we also have to remember those who would benefit, such as the single mother of three who simply cannot work enough hours to exceed the poverty line for her family.”

In state after state, a gulf is opening between Republican governors willing to expand Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act and Republican members of Congress convinced the law is collapsing and determined to help it fail. In recent months, insurers have increased premiums and deductibles for many policies sold online, and a dozen nonprofit insurance co-ops are shutting down, forcing consumers to seek other coverage.

But in Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada and Ohio, Republican governors have expanded Medicaid under the health care law or defended past expansions. In South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah, Republican governors are pressing for wider Medicaid coverage. And Republican governors in a few other states, including Alabama, have indicated that they are looking anew at their options after rejecting the idea in the past.

That has created tension with Washington that some lawmakers can no longer ignore.

“I am very reluctant to take positions that counter the decisions made by the governor,” said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, where more than 78,000 people have gained Medicaid coverage under legislation signed in 2013 by Jan Brewer, a Republican who was then the governor. Now, Gov. Doug Ducey, also a Republican, is seeking a federal waiver to charge premiums and co-payments and create work incentives within the limits allowed by federal rules.

“The governor and Legislature in my state decided that they wanted” to expand Medicaid, Mr. McCain said.

Joan C. Alker, a senior researcher at the Health Policy Institute of Georgetown University, said the divide was “a reflection of the larger fight in the Republican Party between more pragmatic Republicans, including governors, and the ideological wing of the party that wants to stop Obamacare at all costs.”

Tarren Bragdon, the chief executive of the conservative Foundation for Government Accountability, said that to governors of both parties, federal funds looked like “free money.” By contrast, he said, Republicans in Congress focus on costs to the federal government and believe that the expansion of Medicaid will not be sustainable or affordable in the long term.
And so ACA drives a wedge between Republicans and allows their voters to see the malicious contradictions in Teabagger ideology.

One was a mistake


Despite initial hopes that that one of their blue brothers had bagged two black people with one shot, it turns out that one of the latest Chicago Blue Murder victims was actually shot by mistake.
A Chicago police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call accidentally shot and killed a 55-year-old woman, who was among two people fatally wounded by police gunfire, according to officials with the department that's already facing intense scrutiny.

Relatives said Bettie Jones lived downstairs from Quintonio LeGrier, the 19-year-old who prompted the initial call to police and who also was killed about 4:25 a.m. Saturday in a West Side neighborhood.

Officers who responded to the call "were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer's weapon," the Chicago Police Department said in a brief statement late Saturday.

"The 55-year-old female victim was accidentally struck and tragically killed," reads the statement, which extends "deepest condolences to the victim's family and friends."

The Cook County medical examiner's office and family members said Jones, a mother of five who had hosted family for Christmas, and LeGrier, a college student home for holiday break, were pronounced dead at hospitals. Both Jones and LeGrier were black, the medical examiner's office said.

Police did not immediately disclose the race of the officer, saying in a statement only that officers involved in the incident will be placed on administrative duties for 30 days while "training and fitness for duty requirements can be conducted." It isn't clear how many officers responded, how many used their firearms and how many times both LeGrier and Jones were struck.
Oops! Our bad. If only she were white so the officers could have known she was not supposed to be shot.

Men of their words



Saturday, December 26, 2015

The sisters toured with Leonard Cohen


And The Webb Sisters sang his song, "Show Me The Place" in concert and on their last EP.


Minimum daily requirement



Protect us Obig Wan Christie


As part of his continuing futile effort to be president, The Outlaw Jersey Whale Chris Christie is presenting himself on the campaign trail a great protector of the people.
As a presidential candidate, Gov. Chris Christie has sought to differentiate himself by spotlighting his tenure as the United States attorney for New Jersey, framing it as a time when he spent his “life protecting our country” against terrorism. The message has begun to resonate: Mr. Christie, long an underdog in the Republican presidential field, has recently risen in the polls.

A close examination of Mr. Christie’s record as New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor from 2002 to 2008 shows that he did acquire greater counterterrorism experience than his current rivals. But it also shows that he has, at times, overstated the significance of the terrorism prosecutions he oversaw — he has called them “two of the biggest terrorism cases in the world” — and appears to have exaggerated his personal role in obtaining court permission for surveillance of terrorism suspects.

At the first Republican debate in August, Mr. Christie called himself “the only person on this stage who’s actually filed applications under the Patriot Act, who has gone before the Foreign Intelligence Service Court.” Similarly, his campaign website says “Christie’s office” secured authorization from that court for the surveillance of terrorism suspects.

While the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court, did approve national security wiretaps in New Jersey during Mr. Christie’s tenure, neither he nor his office secured them. Only the Office of Intelligence at the Justice Department’s headquarters drafts and submits applications for surveillance and then litigates them before the court.

Mr. Christie’s campaign website credits his office with obtaining an indictment against the kidnapper of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was abducted and killed in Pakistan, and notes that the defendant, Ahmed Omar Sheikh, was “sentenced to death.” It does not mention a key fact: The trial took place in Pakistan. Mr. Christie’s office had no role in it.
The Big Protector is mostly talk and his protection skills are after the fact. He is like that dog who barks and barks at the slightest provocation, until you end up throwing a book or shoe at it to get it to shut up. And when a real intruder shows up that dog will be all tail wags and happy licks while you are cleaned out.

The free ride is ending


And the people of Alaska may soon find themselves once again paying income and other taxes that were ended when the oil bonanza began. And is now showing signs of passing into history.
Oil money no longer pays the bills here.

The governor, facing a profound fiscal crisis, has proposed the imposition of a personal income tax for the first time in 35 years. State lawmakers, who recently moved into a palatial new office building here, where they work when not toiling in the far-off Capitol in Juneau, are now seeking less costly digs.

And a state budget that was a point of Alaskan pride — and envy from around the nation — lies in tatters as revenue that flowed from selling crude oil from Prudhoe Bay over the past four decades has been swept away.

With oil prices down along with oil production, the state is facing an Alaska-size shortfall: Two-thirds of the revenue needed to cover this year’s $5.2 billion state budget cannot be collected.

Many Alaskans are not old enough to recall times this bad. This is the nation’s least-taxed state, where oil royalties and energy taxes once paid for 90 percent of state functions. Oil money was so plentiful that residents received annual dividend checks from a state savings fund that could total more than $8,000 for a family of four — arriving each autumn, as predictable as the first snowfall.
And no doubt those who have become dependent on the oil powered free ride will howl in despair but all good things must end. Sadly their kind will linger and be a problem for a long time.

Marco Rubio, Class A Pissant


The United States needs an ambassador to Mexico. Unlike the usual political plum appointment, President Obama has nominated a very qualified woman for the position. The Senate committee has approved her choice and the Senate as a whole waits to vote their approval. Except for one little pissant Senator who used one of those rare visits to the Senate to put a hold on her nomination. Marco Rubio.
most accounts, Roberta Jacobson’s confirmation as U.S. ambassador to Mexico should have been a shoo-in.

Fluent in Spanish, expert in Latin American politics and skilled in cross-bordeteign service post six months ago.

After working on Latin American affairs for both Democratic and Republican administrations for three decades, Jacobson has broad bipartisan support in Congress.

Mexico expressed enthusiastic approval and prepared to welcome her to Mexico City. The Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination and sent it to the full Senate.

But the nomination is in limbo, hostage to GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s staunch opposition to Obama's diplomatic opening with Cuba, which Jacobson helped negotiate as assistant secretary of State.

The hold-up means the United States has not had an ambassador in its third-biggest trading partner since August, when Ambassador Tony Wayne retired.

Mexico is an important export market for California and other states. It also is the permanent residence of approximately 1 million U.S. citizens, and 1.5 million visit on any given day, according to the State Department.

The two countries share a 2,000-mile border and are partners in numerous security agreements involving extradition, weapons trafficking and cross-border police training.

"The failure to complete her nomination sends a bad signal to our Mexican partners and all those Americans whose livelihoods and well being depend on maintaining a good and balanced relationship between neighbors," said Eric Olson, associate director of the Latin American program at the nonpartisan Wilson Center in Washington.

Rubio, a senator from Florida, placed a hold on Jacobson's nomination in October, a legislative maneuver that blocks a confirmation vote.

"We need an ambassador in Mexico City that has the trust of Congress for this important post," Rubio explained. "I do not believe that Ms. Jacobson is that person and will oppose her confirmation."

He cited several concerns, including the Obama administration's failure to seek timely extradition of notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman before he escaped from a Mexican prison in July.

But Rubio's sharpest knife was whetted on Cuba.
Little Marco does not like the normalizing of relations with Cuba. Much of his political base and presumably the money he spends so freely comes from the old Moustache Petes in the Miami Cuban community who will take the massive butt hurt of losing to Castro to their graves. And they want everyone to come with them so Little Marco dutifully takes his orders from them and the hold remains, preumably until Marco dies.

Happy Boxing Day


And on this Second Day of Christmas if you don't have two turtledoves, don't worry. It's not called Boxing Day for nothing. Just strap on a pair of a pair of 14oz. gloves, climb in the ring and throw a few jabs for the season!



Friday, December 25, 2015

101 years ago today


Something very subversive happened among the great armies of the Western Front that had been trying to kill each other with villainous zeal, Christmas Day. On this one day December 25, 1914 soldiers from the German & English armies stopped shooting and met between the lines to fraternize and exchange Christmas greetings. This did not last even one day as the generals on both sides realized that this could literally destroy their fine armies and ordered it to be stopped, up to and including firing artillery upon their own troops. This clip from the movie, "Oh, What A Lovely War" encapsulates what happened very well.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

And to All a Good Night!



Deanna Durbin singing "Silent Night"


From the movie Lady On A Train.


The Newest And Greatest Trump Extravaganza


From the pen of Ted Rall



Military to start shooting down drones in US?


As more and more people acquire drones without any training or understanding of their use, the possibility of a deadly encounter in the airspace above us becomes more real daily. And the US military is one of the users of the airspace who have experienced increasing close encounters of the stupid kind.
Rogue toy drones — a hot-selling Christmas gift this season and last — are starting to interfere with military operations at several bases across the country. With sales of consumer drones expected to approach 700,000 this year, military officials say they are bracing for the problem to get worse and are worried about the potential for an aviation disaster.

Last month, an Air Force A-29 Super Tucano aircraft reported a near midair collision with a small rogue drone over the Grand Bay Bombing and Gunnery Range in Georgia, Air Force officials said.

In June, an Air Force KC-10 aerial refueling tanker flying over the Philadelphia suburbs at an altitude of 3,800 feet was forced to take evasive action and barely avoided striking a football-sized drone that passed within 10 feet of its right wing, officials said.

There have been at least 35 cases of small drones interfering with military aircraft or operating too close to military airfields in 2015, according to reports filed with the armed forces or the Federal Aviation Administration.

That’s a small fraction of the estimated 1,000 reports received by the FAA this year of small drones interfering with civilian air traffic or coming too close to passenger airports.

But military officials, who once thought the remote locations of their airfields and restricted airspace offered a measure of protection from wandering drones, said they are no longer immune...

Under FAA guidelines, drone pilots flying for recreation are supposed to keep their aircraft below 400 feet and at least five miles away from airports. Regulators, however, have been largely unable to enforce those guidelines.

In an attempt to bring a measure of order to the skies, the FAA on Monday began requiring all recreational drone owners to register online with the agency and to affix identification numbers on their aircraft.

More than 45,000 people registered in the first two days, overwhelming the system and forcing the FAA to take it offline temporarily for repairs. The FAA said it expects that as many as 400,000 small drones could be sold during the holidays.
Potentially 400,000 new drone "pilots" who have little or no understanding of what happens above their approved airspace, but that won't stop them until their kewl little toys start getting shot down and they spend some time in the slam.

It matters not if he had any influence


Just the nature of the filth that Donald Trump has been spewing about Muslims has many people around the world blaming him for the US refusal to let a British Muslim family visit DisneyLand.
An uproar grew in Britain on Wednesday over what many saw as an unspoken new American policy to bar British Muslims from visiting the United States, after revelations that a large Muslim family, including young children, bound for a Disneyland vacation was inexplicably stopped from boarding a London flight to Los Angeles last week.

Social media reverberated with messages of anger and vexation by a diverse range of citizens in Britain, where around 5 percent of the population is Muslim, and where many people have expressed revulsion over calls two weeks ago by Donald J. Trump, a Republican presidential candidate, to prohibit all Muslim visitors. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group in Washington, said Wednesday that it had asked the Department of Homeland Security to investigate whether its officials had “implemented informally” Mr. Trump’s proposal.

That request came amid signs that a number of British Muslims had been stopped without explanation at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports in recent days — not just the 11-member Mahmood family, which was abruptly denied permission to board a Los Angeles-bound jetliner at Gatwick on Dec. 15.

Their terminated plans became a catalyst for growing publicity and criticism of the United States. A member of the British Parliament, Stella Creasy, who represents a district in northeast London, demanded an explanation from the Americans for why the Mahmood family’s vacation had been ruined. “Widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice,” Ms. Creasy wrote on the website of The Guardian on Tuesday.

Ajmal Masroor, a prominent British imam who has spoken out against Islamic extremism, said on Facebook on Wednesday that he was barred from boarding a flight at Heathrow on Dec. 17 by an American diplomatic official who gave no explanation.

Mr. Masroor wrote in a Facebook posting: “I am amazed how irrational these processes are but does USA care about what you and I think? I don’t think so!”

Daniel Hetlage, a spokesman for the Customs and Border Protection unit of the United States Department of Homeland Security, declined to discuss the specifics of any case, but he denied that religion was a factor in deciding who could enter.

An applicant to enter the United States “must overcome all grounds of inadmissibility,” Mr. Hetlage’s statement said, adding that there were more than 60 such grounds, “including health-related, prior criminal convictions, security reasons, public charge, labor certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds.” The statement did not indicate which grounds, if any, caused the British family to be denied entry.
Worse than the refusal is the lack of explanation for it. That lack has led many to blame Donald Trump and visit him with influence over the government that we hope he never gets. Still, he has managed to embarrass and degrade the image of the US, none too elevated before, even further thanks to his insane rantings. DAESH does not need to make recruiting videos with Donald, just watching the nightly news will do it for them.

R.I.P. Fernande Grudet


As "Madame Claude" she elevated the service industry to new heights of quality and glamour.
Two things in life sell,” she once said. “Food and sex. And I was not meant to be a chef.

Even the angel's confused



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What is Christmas without Peanuts


And after all these years, The Vince Guaraldi Trio plays Our Christmas Music


Don't let them steal your Christmas


From the pen of Stuart Carlson



Stop him before they are Trumpled


The Republican establishment, having unleashed the monster Donald Trump, are in full battle mode to stop him in New Hampshire. It is the first primary and the first opportunity for a regulation candidate to make his move.
Republican establishment candidates are locked in a mortal fight to win the state of New Hampshire – where failure, for some, could mark the end of their presidential ambitions.

As the outsider Donald Trump widens his lead over the Republican field in national polls, with less than six weeks until the first nominating contests begin, the more traditional candidates are shuttling frenetically around the critical early state.

“The people of Iowa pick corn, the people of New Hampshire pick presidents,” the adage goes. And so four Republicans currently splitting the mainstream vote – Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich – crisscrossed the state ahead of the Christmas holiday seeking to distinguish themselves from a crowded field of 13 candidates.

Rubio vowed to be a unifying figure amid challenging times both at home and abroad, while acknowledging the disillusionment that has driven voters into the arms of outsider candidates who have never held elected office.

“I know that times are tough,” the Florida senator told voters at a town hall in the riverside city of Berlin on Tuesday. “I know that people are frustrated and that this is a time to be angry about the direction of our country. But not just to be angry. This is a time to act. This is a time of urgency,” he said.

A few hours later, at his own town hall just down the street, Bush also emphasized the necessity of the moment – but as part of an appeal to voters to reject candidates he dubbed as unserious.

Standing inside a garage classroom at a community college, the former Florida governor began with a confession that – from the very outset – he had served as a particular foil to the bombastic arrogance that has defined Trump’s candidacy.

“I don’t know everything. I’m not the biggest personality on stage,” Bush said. “We have a few candidates – I won’t mention their names, you all know who I’m talking about – that don’t pass the humility test.”

“Humility is a sign of strength, not weakness,” he added.
The establishment really does not know what plays to run against a man who has torn up and thrown away the play book.

When we could carpet bomb with nukes


An illustration of just how bloody minded, or maybe crispy minded might be a better way to put it, our military was while we had a numerical nuclear advantage over the Soviets. The targeting list for nuclear bombers in 1959 has been released and surprisingly, despite many targets being in populated areas, a number of targets were simply listed as “Population.”
For the first time, the National Archives and Records Administration has released a detailed list of the United States’ potential targets for atomic bombers in the event of war with the Soviet Union, showing the number and the variety of targets on its territory, as well as in Eastern Europe and China.

It lists many targets for “systematic destruction” in major cities, including 179 in Moscow (like “Agricultural Equipment” and “Transformers, Heavy”), 145 in Leningrad and 91 in East Berlin. The targets are referred to as DGZs or “designated ground zeros.” While many are industrial facilities, government buildings and the like, one for each city is simply designated “Population.”

“It’s disturbing, for sure, to see the population centers targeted,” said William Burr, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University that obtained the target list in response to a request first made in 2006. Mr. Burr, who specializes in nuclear history, said he believed it was the most detailed target list the Air Force had ever made public...

It was produced at a time before intercontinental or submarine-launched missiles, when piloted bombers were essentially the only means of delivering nuclear weapons. The United States then had a huge advantage over the Soviet Union, with a nuclear arsenal about 10 times as big, said Matthew G. McKinzie, the director of the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

He said that while the document conjured the height of the Cold War, the targeting of urban populations still remained an underlying principle of the use of nuclear weapons to deter attack. “The heart of deterrence is the threat to destroy the adversary’s cities, even today,” Mr. McKinzie said.
The concept of winning in those good old days was simple. If the other side had more 'crispy critters' after all the bombs were dropped, they lost and you won. Life was much easier back then.

The New Fantasy Land



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Before she was America's Super Virgin


Doris Day was a very talented singer. And even though we won't get any in the District this Christmas, it is a pleasure to hear her sing "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow"


Trump The Christmas Carol


From the pen of Rob Rogers



The Donald is just a regular guy


And sometimes he has to prove it by talking like a pubescent teen discovering masturbation with his buddies. Such was the case Monday when Der Trumpehfuehrer dug up some old yiddish he wasn't able to use with the Republican Jewish group he spoke to so he flung it out at Hillary.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign hit back at Republican frontrunner Donald Trump on Tuesday, accusing him of using “degrading language” which inflicted humiliation on all women.

The response came after Trump used a Yiddish vulgarity to refer to Clinton on Monday, saying she was “schlonged” in her 2008 Democratic primary loss to Barack Obama.

Schlong is a Yiddish term for penis.

Trump used the insult during a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and also denigrated Clinton for taking too long to return from a commercial break during Saturday night’s Democratic debate.

“I know where she went. It’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. Clinton was reportedly using the women’s restroom, which was a significant distance away from the debate stage.

The Clinton campaign responded on Twitter on Tuesday morning. Communications director Jennifer Palmieri wrote: “We are not responding to Trump but everyone who understands the humiliation this degrading language inflicts on all women should.”

The campaign event was Trump’s first since Saturday’s Democratic event when Clinton claimed that Isis used the Republican frontrunner’s heated rhetoric in recruiting videos. The New York real-estate mogul pushed back and claimed she was a liar, alleging that the former secretary of state was “crooked”.

Trump was slightly more charitable to journalists than he was to the former secretary of state. He proclaimed that while he hated some reporters, “I would never kill them. I would never do that.”
It is curious that when being a 'dick' in front of non-yiddish speakers, he was unable to say she was 'dicked' in 2008. And he finds going to take a pee is "disgusting"? Now that he is running scared he is showing that he really doesn't have a good side.

Some adults need to be told it's only a movie


One such "adult" is a swaggering pile of ball clanking manhood who works to impose his stupidity on the poor, suffering people of Wisconsin, teabagger state representative Bob Gannon. There was a shooting a a mall in his district and, for some reason, no real adults around to explain what is real and what is not. And so on Monday Bob Gannon channeled his inner Dirty Harry.
After a shooting last Saturday at a Wisconsin mall, a state representative has said citizens holding concealed carry gun permits could “clean our society of these scumbags” by taking “careful aim”.

“Wisconsin does not have a death penalty law, but with significant practice and careful aim, law-abiding citizens can help clean our society of these scumbags,” Republican state representative Bob Gannon wrote in a Monday news release.

The release was first posted on the Wheeler Report, a clearinghouse for Wisconsin political news.

Gannon’s office published the statement in response to a shooting that occurred over the weekend at East Town Mall when two groups of male teenagers started arguing. One of the teenagers shot a gun during the dispute, but no one was killed.

Gannon, who has a concealed carry permit, said he has never been to the mall because he will not shop anywhere that bans guns.

“Criminals no longer have any fear of our courts or our prisons, so it’s time that the citizens of this fine state stand up and fight back,” Gannon said. “A gang banger in the mall with a gun is going to think twice if there could be a law-abiding CCW holder standing behind them fully prepared to shoot center mass, as this is how you’re trained to eliminate the threat these creeps pose to you, your family, and all law-abiding citizens unwillingly dragged into their public crime spree.”

When asked whether his comments went too far, Gannon told reporters that he was not calling for vigilantism, but “self-defense”.
Such a rich fantasy life Mr. Gannon has, but he forgets that when a a good guy with a gun got the drop on Jerad Miller, one of the Bundy inspired Colorado cop killers, it was Jerad's wife Amanda who got the drop on the good guy and blew him away. But who cares how many bodies there are as long as the bullets fly when evil appears. Amirite?

Getting past that first one


When doing something not natural, like killing another human, the first one is a difficult step. After that the next one comes easy. And a study done of police officers involved in shootings shows that
more than a few have done it before.
More than 50 police officers involved in fatal shootings this year had previously fired their guns in deadly on-duty shootings, according to a Washington Post investigation.

For a handful of officers, it was their third fatal shooting. For one officer, it was his fourth.

The findings concerned many law enforcement experts, who said most officers never fire their weapons on the job. The analysis also exposed another gap in the federal government’s oversight of fatal police shootings nationwide: the absence of a system for tracking multiple shootings by individual officers.

The 55 officers were identified as part of a Post project tracking all fatal shootings by police in the line of duty in 2015. It is the first nationwide attempt to determine whether fatal police shootings are isolated events in an officer’s career or whether some officers repeatedly fire their weapons in deadly encounters.

The Post also found that another 45 officers had previously been involved in non-fatal shootings.

“It’s a national embarrassment. We don’t even know how many times cops pull their triggers,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina.

In most cases, the person killed was armed and the shootings were found to be justified by authorities or were still under investigation. The shootings cut across departments of all sizes, involved officers on a range of assignments and grew out of circumstances such as routine patrols, undercover police operations and standoffs with SWAT teams that spanned hours...

Policing experts said the phenomenon has not been deeply studied nationwide, and a deeper review of the cases could root out officers who resort too often to deadly force and help officials develop strategies for officers to defuse — or avoid — volatile situations.
Studies in the military have shown a similar concentration of shooters to those who don't shoot. But in the military they are supposed to shoot as a first resort. For police, deadly force should e the last resort.

A better way to say it



Monday, December 21, 2015

An Interesting arrangement of an old classic


Julie Andrews sings "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" from what the ancients used to call a TV Special.


After working so hard all year


Tom Tomorrow has so much to recall that he needs two sections for his review of the year. Here is his review of the first half "highlights".

About that War on Christmas


From the pen of Lalo Alcaraz



Take away the laws and guess what?


Apparently when you repeal laws applying to guns that were designed to maintain public safety the result is a decline in public safety. Now who could have imagined that! Certainly not the folks in Missouri who had to see for themselves.
In the past decade, Missouri has been a natural experiment in what happens when a state relaxes its gun control laws. For decades, it had one of the nation’s strongest measures to keep guns from dangerous people: a requirement that all handgun buyers get a gun permit by undergoing a background check in person at a sheriff’s office.

But the legislature repealed that in 2007 and approved a flurry of other changes, including, last year, lowering the legal age to carry a concealed gun to 19. What has followed may help answer a central question of the gun control debate: Does allowing people to more easily obtain guns make society safer or more dangerous?

It is difficult to isolate the impact of gun laws in a single state, given the pervasiveness of interstate trafficking and illegal markets, but a variety of measures, including a marked increase in police seizures of guns bought in-state, suggest the changes in Missouri’s laws have had some effect.

Research by Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, found that in the first six years after the state repealed the requirement for comprehensive background checks and purchase permits, the gun homicide rate rose by 16 percent, compared with the six years before. In contrast, the national rate declined by 11 percent over the same period. After Professor Webster controlled for poverty and other factors that could influence the homicide rate, and took into account homicide rates in other states, the result was slightly higher, rising by 18 percent in Missouri.

New federal death data released this month for 2014 showed a continuation of the trend, he said. Before the repeal, from 1999 to 2006, Missouri’s gun homicide rate was 13.8 percent higher than the national rate. After, from 2008 to 2014, it was 47 percent higher. (The new data also showed that the national death rate from guns is now equal to that of motor vehicle crashes for the first time since the government began systematically tracking it.)

Other measures suggested that criminals had easier access to guns after the permit law was repealed. Professor Webster analyzed data from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and found that the share of guns that were linked to crimes soon after they were bought doubled in the state from 2006 to 2010. The portion of guns confiscated by the police in Missouri that had been originally bought in the state — ordinarily a very stable statistic — rose to 74 percent last year, from 56 percent before the law changed...

“There is this idea that law-abiding citizens’ rights are being secured,” said Richard Rosenfeld, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. “In fact, it’s the people most inclined to do harm whose privileges are being secured.”
Their privileges are secured because they are the ones most likely to buy a gun, which is the only reason some are so eager to remove public safety laws.

Your next vacation destination


People will go out of their way to see unusual places but the thought of vacationing at the nation's most polluted nuclear weapons production site is not on my bucket list. Still there are enough strange people out there who would like to do so.
The nation's most polluted nuclear weapons production site is now its newest national park and thousands of people are expected next year to tour the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, home of the world's first full-sized nuclear reactor, near Richland, about 200 miles east of Seattle in south-central Washington.

While details of the new national park are still being worked out, the plan is to greatly expand the number of tourists and school groups who visit the site.

They won't be allowed anywhere near the nation's largest collection of toxic radioactive waste.

"Everything is clean and perfectly safe," said Colleen French, the U.S. Department of Energy's program manager for the Hanford park. "Any radioactive materials are miles away."

In September, the state of Washington sued the federal government alleging it had failed to adequately safeguard crews involved in the decades-long cleanup of the nuclear reservation.

The Manhattan Project National Historic Park, signed into existence in November, according to the Tri-City Herald news site, also includes sites at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico. The Manhattan Project is the name for the U.S. effort to build an atomic bomb during World War II.

At Hanford, the main attractions will be B Reactor — the world's first full-sized reactor — along with the ghost towns of Hanford and White Bluffs, which were evacuated by the government to make room for the Manhattan Project.

The B Reactor was built in about one year and produced plutonium for the Trinity test blast in New Mexico and for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, that contributed to Japan's surrender.

Starting in 1943, more than 50,000 people from across the United States arrived at the top-secret Hanford site to perform work whose purpose few knew, French said.
Well OK, if it's going to be a national park, it must be safe. Just stay in the safe areas and stay away from the cute bunny rabbits. They are quite radioactive.

R.I.P. Miss Lindsey Graham's Presidential Campaign


With its passing goes
the last Republican candidate anywhere close to rational thought and presidential capability.
He entered the race hoping that his conservative national security credentials would appeal to voters, especially in his home state, which holds the nation’s first Southern presidential primary.

In addition, he pushed for entitlement revisions to reduce spending and the nation’s debt and his support for an immigration overhaul.

He also repeated his call for the U.S. to put more troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria and said he believed his presence in the race elevated the conversation about national security.

But Graham’s campaign failed to gain traction, even as terrorism became a growing concern among voters in the wake of the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California, and Paris.

Graham was routinely relegated to the undercard GOP presidential debates – the early sessions before the prime-time debates – because his polling numbers weren’t strong enough for him to qualify for the main event. Still, Graham made his presence felt in the undercard events through his quips and self-depreciating humor.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Graham’s fellow military hawk and good friend in the Senate, said in a statement Monday that “As sorry as I am to see Lindsey’s candidacy end, I understand his reasons, and I’m as proud of him as I’ve ever been for his exemplary service to our party and our country.”
His ideas are bad for the country but they were not based on lies, fantasies and malice, which is more than any of the remaining candidates can say.

Four days before Christmas



Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas carols are celebrations and entertainment


And Annie Lennox is nothing if not entertaining in this rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen"


Christmas products safety warnings


From the pen of Brian McFadden

click pic to big


Time for hedge funds to take a haircut


Puerto Rico got itself into financial trouble when the tax breaks that brought $Billions to its economy were discontinued and the capital retreated from the island. So it turned to hedge funds to help out. On paper they had a sweet deal so they poured $Billions back into the island. And quicker than you can say Trump Sucks, Puerto Rico is in trouble again and the hedge funds want all their money back.
There were plenty of reasons for the hedge funds to like the deal: They would be earning, in effect, a 20 percent return. And under the island’s Constitution, Puerto Rico was required to pay back its debt before almost any other bills, whether for retirees’ health care or teachers’ salaries.

But within months, Puerto Rico was saying it had run out of money, and the relationship between the impoverished United States territory and its unlikely saviors fell apart, setting up an extraordinary political and financial fight over Puerto Rico’s future.

On the surface, it is a battle over whether Puerto Rico should be granted bankruptcy protections, putting at risk tens of billions of dollars from investors around the country. But it is also testing the power of an ascendant class of ultrarich Americans to steer the fate of a territory that is home to more than three million fellow citizens.

The investors with a stake in the outcome are some of the wealthiest people in America. Many of them have also taken on an outsize role in financing political campaigns in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. They have put millions of dollars behind candidates of both parties, including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Some belong to a small circle of 158 families that provided half of the early money for the 2016 presidential race.

To block proposals that would put their investments at risk, a coalition of hedge funds and financial firms has hired dozens of lobbyists, forged alliances with Tea Party activists and recruited so-called AstroTurf groups on the island to make their case. This approach — aggressive legal maneuvering, lobbying and the deployment of prodigious wealth — has proved successful overseas, in countries like Argentina and Greece, yielding billions in profit amid economic collapse.

The pressure has been widely felt. Senator Marco Rubio, whose state, Florida, has a large Puerto Rican population, expressed interest this year in sponsoring bankruptcy legislation for the island, says Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut. Mr. Rubio’s staff even joined in drafting the bill. But this summer, three weeks after a fund-raiser hosted by a hedge-fund founder, Mr. Rubio broke with those backing the measure. Bankruptcy, he said, should be considered only as a “last resort.”

And this past week, House Republican leaders said any financial rescue for Puerto Rico may not come until the end of March.
The rich and powerful don't like to lose money. They will squeeze the island into utter abject poverty first. And if that isn't enough, they will get the rest of us to make up the difference. They never make a bad investment.

Alabama where sex isn't in the bag, and the teens pay for it


Thanks to a combination of GOP lust for power and the evangelical/Baptist aversion to sex unless absolutely necessary, the State of Alabama is giant testbed for theories about Abstinence Only sex education. And not surprisingly, from the beginning it has proved to be a failure.
According to the most recent National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50 percent of high school students in Alabama have had sex, and nearly half have had sex without condoms. Over the past few years, according to the Alabama Department of Health, people ages 13 to 24 are the only cohort in the state to see an increase in new HIV diagnoses. In 2013 people 13 to 24 accounted for almost half of new HIV infections in the state.

Alabama has high rates of STD infections. Data from the CDC in 2013 show that the state capital, Montgomery, had the highest STD rate in the nation. That year the state ranked third in the U.S. in numbers of chlamydial and gonorrheal infections, and the infection rate skyrockets in young adults 15 to 24 years old.

The CDC issued a report in December of last year criticizing middle school and high school sex education programs across the U.S. for not teaching all the recommended sexual health topics. The least covered topic, the report noted, was how to get and use condoms.

When Ali Simpson attended Vestavia Hills High School, a public school in an affluent neighborhood outside Birmingham, sex education was “100 percent abstinence only.” She graduated in 2011, and the last time she remembered a discussion about sexual health was in middle school. Her class gathered in the wrestling room. She said a woman entered and told a story about how she remained a virgin until marriage. Her husband, however, had had sex with one other person. “He gave her an STD that made her infertile, and that was her story about why not to have sex until marriage,” Simpson recalled many years later.

Alabama’s teen birth rate has dramatically declined since, from 61.8 births per 1,000 people ages 15 to 19 in 1991 to 34.3 in 2013; however, it’s still higher than the national average of 26.5.
Teens will have sex regardless of the promises they may have to make. And STD from Chlamydia to HIV are much cheaper to prevent with condoms that to treat with medicines later. But too many people think it is condoms and not human nature that will lead their children astray. And if they can not afford the treatment, some of them will watch their children die.

Quick history lesson



Saturday, December 19, 2015

A promise and a hope for many


From St.Johns Newfoundland, The Ennis Sisters sing "I'll Be There For Christmas".


Chewing the scenery again


From the pen of David Horsey

click pic to big


The return of the Mugwump


A curious political creature named for his habit of having his mug on one side of the fence and his wump on the other. MArio Rubio, the wunderkind of the Republican clown car, ha adopted many of the postures of the classic mugwump.
It is a habit with Rubio, a candidate aiming at moderate and conservative voters who often seems to advocate two positions at once. He tells voters that he has a personal view on the subject — whether abortion, immigration, Syrian refugees or gay marriage. But he also has a view of what is politically possible. Which, usually, is not what he personally wants.

That tactic allows Rubio to offer two right answers to the same question, and lets him carve out wiggle room on topics where none seemed possible.

He did it Tuesday night in Las Vegas, talking about immigration in the fifth Republican debate.

“I am personally open — after all that has happened and after 10 years in that probationary status where all they have is a permit — I personally am open to allowing people to apply for a green card,” Rubio said, talking about his views on whether and how to offer legal status to immigrants who entered the country illegally. Then the caveat: He is also open to not following his own personal views. If that’s what people want.

“That may not be a majority position in my party, but that’s down the road,” Rubio said. “You can’t even begin that process until you prove to people” that border security is working, he said.

Such a strategy might guard him against being pushed too far to the right for general election appeal, but avoid riling conservatives during the primaries. But the extent of his equivocation on key issues has left many Republicans, including his supporters, wondering what he really believes.
Being so familiar with the absolute certainty of the modern Republican extremists, the moderation, equivocation or perhaps two faced attitude leaves many voters confused. While they may want to vote for the cute kid who says nice things, they really don't know why they like him. This may work during the scramble, but it could be a killer when the field is narrowed down.

Jeb! Bush, you remember him?


It seems the aforementioned Bush lad is still lukewarm on the trail of the presidency. And he is pushing on with that peculiar Bush Family style that requires that no one else say anything interesting. In a race with Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Chris Christie among others released from all restraint about what they say, this leaves the poor Bush lad at a disadvantage.
Jeb Bush was halfway through an early morning town-hall-style event here Saturday when he paused, announcing he had something he wanted to get off his chest.

“Donald Trump is a jerk,” Mr. Bush said, seemingly unprompted, to applause.

“You cannot insult your way to the presidency,” he said. “You can’t disparage women, Hispanics, disabled people. Who is he kidding? This country is far better than that. The idea that he’s actually running for president and insulting people is deeply discouraging, to be honest with you, and I think we should reject that out of hand. I hope you’ll reject it by voting for me, but a guy like that should not be the front-running candidate of our great party.”

Finally finished, Mr. Bush exhaled with a laugh: “I gave myself therapy there,” he joked.
Wow! Can't you just feel the emojis surrounding what he says? Neither can I.
On Saturday morning, Mr. Bush made an explicit plea to the voters here, asking them for their vote, and for their active involvement in his campaign.

“I’m going to be up here a lot,” Mr. Bush said. “If I don’t get it today, I’m coming back next week. I’ll ask for it again. And I’m coming back the week after that and the week after that. I love campaigning here and I’m going to ask for your support until I get it.”

Mr. Bush added, almost as if trying to convince himself, “I think you’re looking at the Republican nominee.”
Perhaps, but nominee for what?


And one of them is a white supremecist



Friday, December 18, 2015

A beautiful melody


With several sets of lyrics including one for Christmas, "What Child Is This". Just call it "Greensleeves" and play on.


Portable slogans, one size fits all


From the pen of Jim Morin



Champagne corks popping at the NRA


And even Grumpy Old Wayne LaPierre is probably busting out into a happy dance at the news. After years of diligent politician buying and spewing mindless propaganda to eliminate as many public safety laws as possible, the number of annual gun deaths has finally equaled the number of automobile deaths.
For the first time in more than 60 years, firearms and automobiles are killing Americans at an identical rate, according to new mortality data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2014, the age-adjusted death rate for both firearms (including homicides, suicides and accidental deaths) and motor vehicle events (car crashes, collisions between cars and pedestrians, etc) stood at 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

The convergence of the trend lines above is driven primarily by a sharp drop in the rate of motor vehicle fatalities since 1950. In the late 1960s, for instance, there were well over 25 motor vehicle deaths for every 100,000 people in the United States. Since then, that rate has fallen by more than half.

Over the same period, gun deaths rose, but by a considerably smaller amount. Gun homicide rates have actually fallen in recent years, but those gains have been offset by rising gun suicide rates. Today, suicides account for roughly two out of every three gun deaths.

One way of illustrating the shift in gun and auto deaths is to look at state-level data. In 20o5, gun deaths outnumbered vehicle deaths in just two states, Alaska and Maryland, plus the District of Columbia. By 2014, gun deaths were greater in 21 states plus D.C.

Medical ailments, such as cancer and heart attacks, kill considerably more people each year than either guns or automobiles, according to the CDC. But firearms and motor vehicles are among the leading non-medical causes of mortality in the United States. They kill more people than falls do each year, and considerably more people than alcohol.

The steady decline in motor vehicle deaths over the past 65 years can be attributed to a combination of improved technology and smarter regulation. The federal government mandated the presence of seat belts in the 1960s. The '70s brought anti-lock brakes. The '80s brought an increased focus on drunk driving and mandatory seat belt use. Airbags came along in the '90s. More recent years have seen mandates on electronic stability systems, increased penalties for distracted driving and forthcoming requirements for rear-view cameras.
A big bonus should be in store for the NRA executives and maybe even one for their stable of pet congressmen. Now they have to redouble their efforts to overcome cancer and heart attacks, no easy feat thanks to the continued spewing of crap into our air and water.

Holding Shell accountable


In the history of petroleum extraction, one of the few countries that has been despoiled by leaks and spills as much as Russia, is Nigeria. And Dutch courts have just given Nigerian citizens a chance to do something about that.
Four Nigerian farmers will have the chance to sue Shell, the multinational oil and gas company, in the Netherlands for pollution they blame on leaking pipelines, a Dutch appeals court has ruled.

The farmers, backed by the Dutch branch of environmental group Friends of the Earth, first filed the case in 2008 against Shell in the Netherlands, wanting the Anglo-Dutch company to clean up devastating oil spills in four heavily polluted villages in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta.

The case also asked Shell to prevent further spills and to pay compensation.

Shell had argued that it had no liability in the case and that Dutch courts did not have jurisdiction.

"It cannot be established in advance that the parent company is not liable for possible negligence of the Nigerian operating company," The Hague Appeals Court said in a statement.

Shell said it would comment after studying the decision.

Activists said Friday's ruling sets a landmark legal precedent that clears the way for Netherlands-based companies to be sued for alleged negligence of their subsidiaries elsewhere in the world.

"There is now jurisprudence that means victims of human rights violations or pollution can sue Dutch multinationals in the Netherlands," said Geert Ritsema of the Dutch arm of Friends of the Earth.
We hope the plaintiffs do get something from all this.

A mutual admiration society


It began with Vladimir "Pooty-Poot" Putin declaring his unbounded admiration of Donald "Der Trumpenfuehrer" Trump.
He is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that… He is an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today. He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it.
And today Der Trumpenfuehrer returned the favor with his remarks about Pooty-Poot.
Russian President Vladimir Putin heaped praise on Donald Trump on Thursday. And on Friday, the Republican presidential front-runner returned the favor.

“Sure, when people call you ‘brilliant’ it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

And he didn’t back down after host Joe Scarborough pointed out that Putin “kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries.”

“At least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” Trump responded.

After the hosts repeated that Putin kills journalists and political opponents, Trump said: “Our country does a lot of killing also.”
So Far Der Trumpenfuehrer has now declared that in addition to bad guys, he will kill innocent bystanders, women and children and journalists. Is this why Pooty-Poot likes him so much? And if they get together, how many other groups will they select for killing. We should always beware of German/Russian Pacts of Friendship.

Reality check



Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lots of people won't get one this year


The weather is not cooperating for areas that normally get snow. But your ears are still working so enjoy Martina McBride singing "White Christmas". The song is originally from the movie Holiday Inn, which also gave us the name of the hotel chain.


Another Inigo Montoya Moment


From the pen of Jim Morin



Yes, There Is A Santa Claus


And he has brought to us, through his FBI elves, a Christmas present to gladden the hearts of millions of Americans. Martin Shkreli, the man with the most punchable face, has been arrested for securities fraud. The charges predate his assholery regarding his new drug company.
Martin Shkreli, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur and former hedge fund manager who has come under fire on allegations of drug price gouging, was arrested Thursday morning by the federal authorities.

The investigation, in which Mr. Shkreli has been charged with securities fraud, is related to his time as a hedge fund manager and running the biopharmaceutical company Retrophin — not the price-gouging controversy that has swirled around him.

Mr. Shkreli, 32, is now chief executive and founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals, which has drawn scrutiny for acquiring a decades-old drug and raising the price of it overnight to $750 a pill, from $13.50. In a recent interview with The New York Times, he acknowledged the regulatory and criminal investigations into claims of wrongdoing at hedge funds he once controlled as well as at Retrophin, but was dismissive of the inquiries’ importance.

He was arrested in his Midtown Manhattan apartment. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn were expected to hold a news conference on the charges later Thursday.

Evan L. Greebel, a corporate lawyer who joined Kaye Scholer last summer and had worked with Mr. Shkreli, was also arrested Thursday morning. Andrea Orzehoski, a spokeswoman for Kaye Scholer, said in an email that “the transactions in question predate his arrival to the firm.”

In addition to an indictment filed on Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission also filed a lawsuit contending that Mr. Shkreli’s empire was built on lies to his investors.

According to the suit: He told investors in his hedge fund that he had a prominent industry auditing firm, which he did not. In a 2010 email, he told investors his MSMB Capital Management fund had returned 37.77 percent since its founding when in fact it had sustained losses of 18 percent. He also told investors the firm had assets of $35 million when in fact it had less than $1,000 in the bank and its brokerage accounts.

In 2011, while running MSMB Capital Management, Mr. Shkreli started Retrophin, which adopted a controversial business strategy. It acquired old, neglected drugs often used for rare diseases and substantially raised their prices. Retrophin, for example, raised the price of Thiola, used to treat a disease that causes kidney stones, to $30 a pill from $1.50. In 2012, he took Retrophin public through a merger with a publicly traded shell company.
Slick little bastard stayed in the public eye a little too long. He should have retired off shore somewhere before this last scam. Now he will make bail and we will have to wait until the jury returns. At least we will have the pictures of his arrest for small comfort.

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