Thursday, February 28, 2013

She was born in Britain

Of a Czech father and a German mother so she naturally grew into a well respected jazz & blues singer. And she makes Dylan sound like a great songwriter.

The question that you can not answer.

From the pen of Nick Anderson

Trial by Kafka

Stephen Colbert brings us up to speed on the happenings at Gitmo.

The Colbert Report
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Distinguished Gun Owners

Today's efforts by the gun owning community to show their worth are particularly enlightening today. The first man of exception comes to us from Florida.
A gun owner in Florida was arrested on Wednesday after he opened fire at a suspected Walmart shoplifter because he said he felt threatened and wanted to “mark” the man’s car for police.

As unarmed 42-year-old Eddie McKee allegedly ran from an Orange City Walmart with stolen merchandise, 35-year-old Jose Martinez pulled out his gun and fired at least five bullets, according to WKMG.

“I saw one black gentleman running from the parking lot, he dove in his car,” a caller told 911. “And there were two older gentlemen chasing him down. One drew a gun, ripped open the guys car door and screamed, ‘Freeze, freeze, don’t move!’ And then fired shots.”

Bullets riddled McKee’s vehicle, hitting the trunk and shattering the back window. Two other cars were also hit by gunfire.

Martinez told WKMG that he was shocked that police arrested him because he thought no one other than the shoplifter was in danger. He said he just wanted to mark the man’s car for police.

Orange City police argued that surveillance video showed that the gun owner was never in danger because McKee was in the process of fleeing when the shooting occurred.
Curious that Mr. Martinez imagined that he felt threatened by a fleeing shoplifter. Even better, his delusion that his bullets would stay in the car he was shooting. Fortunately no one was injured by this nimrod's antics.

Not so in Texas where the second incident took place. This time at a firearms training session for school employees.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph on Thursday reported that Van Independent School District school board member Leslie Goode confirmed that “there was an accident involving one of the employees today.”

According to KLTV, multiple sources identified the employee as Glenn Geddie, a maintenance worker for the district.

“At the conclusion of the CHL training on February 27, 2013, one certified person stayed for private instruction with the instructor and had a mechanical malfunction with his weapon,” Van Independent School District said in a statement. “With the assistance of the instructor, the malfunction was addressed, but the gun misfired and the bullet ricocheted coming back to strike the VISD employee in the left leg.”

“The VISD employee was attended to at the scene and transferred to Tyler for further treatment. The injury is not life threatening or disabling. Because of privacy and security issues we cannot make any further statement.”
Two people who should know what they are doing and a gun that goes off in the wrong place. A sure sign that much more training is needed.

Ain't this a kick in the nuts

After all we have done for them, China has delivered a grievous insult to the US. From the anonymous group formerly called the Chinese military has come the news that they have dropped the US as a target.
In a rare announcement from a notoriously publicity-shy group, Chinese hackers revealed today that they were dropping the United States government from their official list of high-value targets.

“We have to allocate our time and energy to hacking powerful organizations,” a spokesman for the hackers said. “Right now, calling the United States government an ‘organization’ would be a reach.”

He added that the hackers’ ultimate goal had been to hurl the U.S. government into a state of abject paralysis, “and they seem to have already taken care of that on their own.”

The spokesman acknowledged that despite years of compromising U.S. government computers, the hackers had obtained little of value, especially on the hard drives of congressional offices.

“Those computers did not appear to be used for anything work-related,” the spokesman said. “Basically all we found were restaurant reservations and porn.”
Once again we have been embarrassed by the Congress and it took the Chinese to show us how it was done.

Notice Of Intent

To All Our Faithful Readers and Visitors:
The Management would like to take this opportunity to inform you fnord that due to mandated Google maintenance fnord and finally fulfilling our oft delayed promise to the staff of a proper orgy for Founders Day, this blog will suspend fnord posting for February 29th, 30th and 31st. Regular Posting will resume on March 1st. We hope to see you then.
The Mgt.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Here is something different.

Two American singer-songwriter sisters that didn't move to Texas. They are from an earlier tier that moved to Nashville.

R.I.P. Van Cliburn

It took lots of talent and skill and a helping of chutzpah to go to Russia and show them how to play Tchaikovsky in 1958.

When your buddy has your back...

You better be sure that he really is your buddy. The multi-faced world of Afghanistan shows how necessary this simple idea is.
In Ghazni Province, a group of 17 Afghan policemen who had just been trained by Americans were drugged into comatose stupors by comrades, described after the episode as Taliban infiltrators, while on duty. They were then shot to death in what appeared to be the single worst episode in a string of similar attacks, according to Afghan officials and an insurgent spokesman.

In Kandahar Province, three policemen were killed in what the Taliban said was an attack carried out by one of its supporters, although police officials attributed the killings to a relative of one of the victims.

The Ghazni attack took place at a remote Afghan Local Police outpost in Habib Godala village in the Andar district at about 1 a.m., according to Gen. Zrawar Zahid, the Ghazni police chief.

Other Afghan officials said the authorities had already arrested two policemen, described as Taliban infiltrators who had carried out the attack. The attackers poisoned the dinner food of the other officers, shot them at close range to ensure they were dead, stole their weapons and fled after setting a police vehicle on fire.

General Zahid said that 10 of the victims were Afghan Local Police officers who had finished their training, and the other seven were recruits who had been undergoing training.
The victims were all members of the Local Police. The A.L.P. are alleged to have committed atrocities and crimes against the local people that led to the demand by Karzai of the Afghans that Special Forces be removed from a province.

Philly cops need not fear the video.

Because a Municipal Court judge has ruled that clear video evidence showing a Philly cop going out of his way to punch a woman in the face is inadmissible in his court.What he swears he really did was attempt to swat away a beer bottle and accidentally struck her face. And then, as the inadmissible video shows, he solicitously bent down and handcuffed her so tightly he raised bruises. Obviously the judge had no choice but to find the officer in question was not guilty. Philly justice reigns unsullied.

The original mob bank

That would be the Institute for Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican bank. The purpose of the bank is to manage the financial needs and properties of the Catholic Church. Over the years it has done that, and more.
The bank’s official role is to safeguard and administer property intended for works of religion or charity. The actual activities of the bank are somewhat different. They include money laundering for narcotics traffickers, bribery, skimming charitable funds to enrich priests, and tax evasion for wealthy Italians.

The scandals associated with the Vatican bank, particularly over the last four decades, are so sordid and improbable as to strain the creativity of a supermarket tabloid. The Church’s past offenses of selling indulgences and charging fees for sacraments have been updated for the world of modern finance, complete with shell companies, speculation and secret transfers. (For more on the antecedents of the current bank, see Betty Clermont’s handy synopsis at Daily Kos.) Last year, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published a book delving into the intrigue and corruption swirling in a bank that has been answerable to no one. It was an eye-opener.

In May 2012, Pope Benedict XVI’s butler was arrested for leaking documents bristling with claims of financial corruption and criminal activity involving major Italian companies. The last Vatican bank chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was shown the door when it was revealed that the bank was running afoul of international money-laundering standards. Leaked material and reporting reveals a bank that appears to be a kind of rogue offshore vehicle favored by various kinds of miscreants, including right-wing politicians, mafia types and tax evaders who wish to hide their financial transactions. Kind of like HSBC, only with God’s imprimatur.

Subsequent investigations have resulted in a shutdown of credit card transactions at all Vatican venues; right now, God can only take cash. In an attempt to restore relations with the international financial community, outgoing Pope Benedict appointed a new director of the bank, German lawyer Ernst von Freyberg, as one of his final acts. So far that’s not looking so good, as Freyberg has been revealed to have unfortunate links with a company with a history of making warships, including those produced for Nazi Germany.
The mysteries of the Vatican Bank are deeper and more opaque than the Mysteries of the Faith.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Until you hear their music

You are pretty much limited to describing them as "Another American singer-songwriter who moved to Texas". Then you hear them and they become separate and distinct and someone you want to hear again.

Congratulations to Tom Tomorrow

Dan Perkins has been named Winner of the 2013 Heblock Prize for editorial cartooning.

This should cut into their earnings

From the NY Times:
In a highly unusual move, federal immigration officials have released a wave of detainees from immigration detention centers around the country in an effort to save money as automatic budget cuts loom in Washington, officials said.

The government has not dropped the deportation cases against the immigrants, however: The detainees have been freed on supervised release while their cases continue in court, officials said.

The releases, which have taken place over the past few days, were approved “in order to make the best use of our limited detention resources in the current fiscal climate and to manage our detention population under current congressionally mandated levels,” Gillian M. Christensen, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement. The budget cuts, also called the sequester, are scheduled to take effect Friday.
As many of the detention facilities are privately run, this should send a shiver through Wall St, even if it is a bald faced effort for more funding.
At a White House news briefing on Monday, Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, seemed to hint at the move. “All I can say is, look, we’re doing our very best to minimize the impacts of sequester,” she told reporters. “But there’s only so much I can do. I’m supposed to have 34,000 detention beds for immigration. How do I pay for those?”

So if it's "official business" you can use campaign funds.

The US District Court is currently trying to determine what, if any, part of Sen. Larry Craig's trip home by way of Minneapolis was official.
A federal court is set to rule this week on whether ex-Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) broke the law when he appropriated $216,000 in campaign funds to defend himself against an arrest for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in an airport bathroom. According to McClatchy Newspapers, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman’s ruling in the case could have far-reaching implications in terms of what politicians accused of wrongdoing are allowed to do in their own defense.

At issue is the question whether U.S. senator-turned-lobbyist Craig was on “official business,” as his lawyers contend, when on June 11, 2007, he stole up outside Minneapolis-St. Paul Police Sgt. Dave Karsnia’s toilet stall and began to peer through the crack in the stall door, fondling his wedding ring in a way that indicated that he was a married man in search of quick, anonymous sex with another man.

If the judge finds that Craig was acting in his official capacity as U.S. senator when he took the stall adjacent to Karsnia’s and began to tap his foot and reach under the stall door to touch the officer, then Craig will be found to have been within his rights when he plundered his campaign treasury in an effort to stay out of jail. His legal team has argued that elected officials have typically used campaign funds for legal matters when finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.

“It would certainly have application for any member of Congress, when they are trying to determine if they could use campaign funds for a legal defense,” Craig’s attorney, Andrew D. Herman, told McClatchy. “We are not asking for anything the FEC hasn’t granted before,” he said.
It certainly would be easier if our politicos only had to so one kind of all purpose fund raising.

Stephen supports Lulu.

Stephen Colbert
the Comedy Central pundit won't endorse any candidate on his show. Stephen Colbert, the brother of Elizabeth Colbert-Busch has no such qualms about supporting his sister Lulu.

You can too, because as Stephen says, South Carolina deserves a sane candidate.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I do like this group

Los Cenzontles are a musical heritage project from California with a fine sound worth enjoying.

Oh, the humanity!

When the sequester hits the fan, the easy life of the soldier on base will disappear along with the contractors who made it possible.
Soldiers may find themselves washing windows, cutting grass, manning post gatehouses and doing other jobs they haven’t performed in a generation, under the current budget crunch, according to a top Army official.

As civilians are laid off or furloughed, the Army will have soldiers do their jobs, providing them with less training and fewer services, said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment.

“What it’s going to mean are shorter operating hours and closed gates,” Hammack said. “It’s going to be inconvenient; it’s going to be longer lines. It’s going to mean you’re going to see soldiers doing things you’ve seen civilians do over the last 10 years. That could be anything from mowing lawns and washing windows to replacing light bulbs.”
Imagine that! Running base security, policing the grounds and the 1000 and 1 work details that encompassed military life before the Republican/Teabaggers privatized it. How will the poor troopers endure this misery and maintain their fighting edge???

The Joys of B.S.

Bowles-Simpson to those inside the Beltway, Bull Shit to the rest of us, as explained by Tom Tomorrow.

Get another canary, they're cheap.

From the pen of Tom Toles

Is he our last hope for a complete pull out?

It has long been known that the more militant members of the US government want to continue with an Imperial outpost in Afghanistan after the bulk of the troops are withdrawn. To do this, the Imperialists must get a Status of Forces agreement with Karzai of the Afghans that, among other things, allows for extrality which puts US soldiers above any local laws. The latset move by Karzai of the Afghans would seem to indicate his objection to this.
Afghan officials said Monday that they demanded the pullout of U.S. Special Operations forces from an insurgency-wracked province because the U.S.-backed NATO command here for months has ignored residents’ allegations of severe abuses committed by the elite American troops.

NATO, meanwhile, said its past inquiries found no evidence to support allegations of misconduct by U.S. Special Operations forces in Wardak province, southwest of Kabul.

A joint commission of inquiry composed of Afghan and NATO coalition officials is expected to be formed within days to explore the claims raised over the weekend by President Hamid Karzai’s administration — including allegations of the arrest, torture and extrajudicial killing of civilians.

Karzai on Sunday stunned the International Security Assistance Force, as the coalition of foreign forces is known, by ordering all U.S. Special Operations forces to leave Wardak in two weeks, based on allegations that they had been involved in the torture and murder of “innocent people.”

NATO officials would not comment Monday on whether Karzai’s other demand — an immediate halt to Special Operation forces’ activity in Wardak — had been implemented...

It remained unclear on Monday whether Karzai would follow through on his order banning U.S. commandos from Wardak or would, as with past edicts aimed at restricting U.S.-led operations, reach a negotiated agreement with NATO forces.

His order comes at a sensitive time, with the withdrawal of conventional forces from Wardak and elsewhere in Afghanistan making the role played by Special Operations forces there more critical. It threatened to cast a pall on deliberations between the United States and its allies over the scope and price tag of the West’s commitment to Afghanistan after NATO’s mandate for operations in the country expires at the end of 2014.

Last week, Karzai banned his forces from calling in NATO airstrikes in populated areas, citing civilian casualties. But Sunday’s statement was Karzai’s most acerbic in recent months against the international community, following a period during which the Afghan president has been largely conciliatory toward the foreign nations that pay the biggest portion of his government’s bills.
Paying the bills does not give you carte blanche to kill anybody you please and Karzai of the Afghans is trying to look like a leader before he bolts with the cash. Hopefully his last act as a leader will be to not sign a Status of Forces agreement.

Britain's Creepy Cardinal resigns

And won't be going to the Clan Conclave to select a new Pope. He says he sent his resignation in months ago, but the Popenfuhrer waited until yesterday to announce it, a day after multiple reports of alleged sexual abuse by Cardinal Keith O’Brien were made public.
The cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, said that he had submitted his resignation months ago, and that the Vatican said Pope Benedict XVI had accepted it on Feb. 18. However, the timing of the announcement — a day after news reports of alleged abuse appeared in Britain — suggested that the Vatican had encouraged the cardinal to stay away from the conclave.

The move is bound to raise questions about other cardinals. It comes amid a campaign by some critics to urge Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles not to attend the conclave because of his role in moving priests accused of abuse to other parishes.

It also comes just days after the Vatican Secretariat of State issued a harsh statement against recent news media reports, including ones alleging a gay sex scandal inside the Vatican. It said that cardinals should not be affected by external pressures when they vote for the next pope. About 115 cardinals are expected to be at the gathering.

Vatican watchers said that Cardinal O’Brien’s decision not to attend the conclave was rare.

“It’s quite unprecedented,” said Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert with the Italian weekly L’Espresso. “He made it clear that his resignation came under the pressure of the accusations. His certainly isn’t a frequent case and hasn’t happened in conclaves in recent memory.”

Cardinal O’Brien’s announcement came a day after The Observer reported that four men had made complaints to the pope’s diplomatic representative in Britain, Antonio Mennini, the week before Pope Benedict XVI announced on Feb. 11 that he would be stepping down as of Feb. 28.
Before anybody wonders about the American Red Beanies going to Rome let us be clear. The Brit Red Beanie actually diddled people, the American Red Beanies merely helped the diddlers to get away with it. Got that?

Responsible gun owners show the value of self restraint.

From the Raw Story:
A Dallas gun range caught on fire on Sunday after a patron reportedly fired military-style tracer rounds inside the building.

A spokesperson for Dallas Fire-Rescue said that the tracer rounds, which ignite like a flare to make projectiles visible to the naked eye, were against DFW Gun Range rules. The rounds apparently hit the back wall of the building, resulting in the four-alarm fire.

By the time firefighters arrived, popping sounds could be heard inside the building as ammunition exploded. At least 50 people were in the building at the time and were able to escape unharmed. One firefighter, however, was injured by smoke inhalation.

“It was pretty scary,” a range patron named Brett told KVUE. “There are a bunch of bullets in there, and there’s not telling how far or when they’re going to go off.”

By nightfall, the fire was under control and authorities turned their attention to securing weapons in the building — including assault rifles — from possible looters.
And tomorrow the NRA will declare the shooter/arsonist was a plant by the Brady Bunch.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

He was alive when they wrote this song

Alas, Timothy Leary hasn't held up as well as the Moody Blues' music.

It's finger pointing time on the Potomac.

And the boys and girls are out pointing and blaming with a villainous zeal that they seldom bring to their designated tasks. Indeed, if they worked that hard on their real jobs can you imagine where our country would be?
First the White House and Congress created a potential fiscal crisis, agreeing more than a year ago to once-unthinkable governmentwide spending cuts in 2013 unless the two parties agreed to alternative ways to reduce budget deficits.

Now that those cuts are imminent — because compromise is not — they have created one of Washington’s odder blame games over just whose bad idea this was.

The battle lines over cuts that are scheduled to begin on Friday, known in budget parlance as sequestration, were evident on Saturday in President Obama’s weekly address and the Republican response, by Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota.

“Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising, instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans, they would rather let these cuts fall squarely on the middle class,” said Mr. Obama, who proposed a substitute mix of spending cuts and revenues from repealing some tax breaks for wealthy people and corporations.

He added: “Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids’ schools and mental health care just to protect tax loopholes for corporate jet owners? Are they really willing to slash military health care and the Border Patrol just because they refuse to eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies?”

For Republicans, who oppose any tax increases, Mr. Hoeven countered: “He blames Congress for the sequester, but Bob Woodward, in his book ‘The Price of Politics’ sets the record straight. Woodward says it was President Obama who proposed — and promoted — the sequester.”

What makes this debate over blame so odd is that both sides’ fingerprints — and votes — are all over the sequestration concept. The point of sequestration, in fact, was to define cuts that were so arbitrary and widespread that they would be unpalatable to both sides and force a deal.
Apparently nothing is unpalatable to the Republican/Teabaggers. Either that or they all get their rocks off pointing and blaming.

I love knowing what the future will bring.

From the pen of Brian McFadden

When your state outlaws payday loans

Have no fear, they will get on the Internet and continue to fleece you from a friendly state or off shore, if necessary. And the operators can make their loans secure in the fact that the banks will pass on their payments, no matter what.
“Without the assistance of the banks in processing and sending electronic funds, these lenders simply couldn’t operate,” said Josh Zinner, co-director of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, which works with community groups in New York.

The banking industry says it is simply serving customers who have authorized the lenders to withdraw money from their accounts. “The industry is not in a position to monitor customer accounts to see where their payments are going,” said Virginia O’Neill, senior counsel with the American Bankers Association.

But state and federal officials are taking aim at the banks’ role at a time when authorities are increasing their efforts to clamp down on payday lending and its practice of providing quick money to borrowers who need cash.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are examining banks’ roles in the online loans, according to several people with direct knowledge of the matter. Benjamin M. Lawsky, who heads New York State’s Department of Financial Services, is investigating how banks enable the online lenders to skirt New York law and make loans to residents of the state, where interest rates are capped at 25 percent.

For the banks, it can be a lucrative partnership. At first blush, processing automatic withdrawals hardly seems like a source of profit. But many customers are already on shaky financial footing. The withdrawals often set off a cascade of fees from problems like overdrafts. Roughly 27 percent of payday loan borrowers say that the loans caused them to overdraw their accounts, according to a report released this month by the Pew Charitable Trusts. That fee income is coveted, given that financial regulations limiting fees on debit and credit cards have cost banks billions of dollars.

Some state and federal authorities say the banks’ role in enabling the lenders has frustrated government efforts to shield people from predatory loans — an issue that gained urgency after reckless mortgage lending helped precipitate the 2008 financial crisis.
Anything to make a profit so they don't have to subsist on government handouts.

Because they so love America...

That they will sacrifice your only begotten son in its defense. Indeed, the Republican/Teabaggers are ready to sacrifice America itself to prove their love of something or other.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), however, bragged that Republicans were actually undermining Hagel’s ability to defend the United States with historic opposition and the first-ever filibuster against a secretary of defense nominee.

“In modern times, we haven’t had a secretary of defense that’s had more than three votes against him,” Coburn observed. “And you’re going to have 40 votes against him or 30 votes, and that sends a signal to our allies as well as our foes that he does not have broad support in the U.S. Congress, which limits his ability to carry out his job.
Because who doesn't believe that we need a hamstrung Secretary of Defense.

Republicans suppport Rapists, Wife Beaters and the like.

There is a good reason why the renewed Violence Against Women Act included protections for Native American women, including justice in their own tribal courts.

What is difficult to understand is why the Republicans would be so eager to protect Rapists and Wife Beaters and other such scum?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

When you are married to one member of the band

And can't keep your pecker out of another member of the band, you are going to have trouble keeping the energy going, Even though their second album sold better than their first, their sound was never as good as the "White Bird" album.

Remember when "getting tough" meant that?

Matt Taibbi takes a look at the latest "get tough" policy from the Justice Department in its dealings with Wall St. Matt is to be praised for being able to finish his post through the laughter. And he also gives his take on what a real "get tough" policy would do.
The Arthur Andersen case has become like Wall Street's magic mantra – you hear the name whispered anytime any company gets in trouble. This is a tactic straight out of Blazing Saddles, with banks essentially taking themselves hostage, putting guns to their own heads as they creep sideways out the door: "Back off! Prosecute us and all these jobs will die!"

And prosecutors, just like the idiot town leaders of Mel Brooks's Rockridge, are screaming, "They're just crazy enough to do it!"

This isn't brain surgery. You know what an effective deterrent to crime is? Jail! And do you know what kind of criminal penalty actually makes people think twice about committing crimes the next time? The kind that actually comes out of some individual's pocket, not fines that come out of the corporate kitty.

I get that regulators are worried about job losses. They should be. But the long-term job losses are going to be much greater when investors around the world lose confidence in the U.S. financial system because they recognize that individuals do not face punishment for criminal activity. The individual incentive not to commit crime on Wall Street now is almost zero. Even the worst of the worst – like, say, a certain unindicted co-conspirator in an evolving insider trading case – is only threatened with individual prosecution after years of monstrous and obvious market manipulation, resulting in massive profits that he'll almost certainly get to keep most of, by the way, if previous settlements are any guide.

It continually amazes, the way all of these law-and-order types are so willing to pontificate about the importance of taking individual responsibility for one's actions, until the guy in their crosshairs is someone he/she went to college with, or a former client of his or her law firm. Then, suddenly, their idea of drastic justice becomes maybe yanking the license of a foreign subsidiary.

Let's make a new rule: The Department of Justice doesn't get to call itself "tough" until a) it puts someone from one of these companies in jail for at least 24 hours, or b) it extracts fines from either companies or individuals that represent at least slightly more than laughable fractions of their ill-gotten gains. That's setting the bar pretty low, but you have to start somewhere, right?
That's not too much to ask for, is it?

R.I.P. Morris Holt

Magic Slim

This is going too far.

Anybody who would compete professionally in Ice Fishing has got to have a few screws loose, but to find anything in their urine besides beer is just plain foolish.
The ice fishermen spent a week on the frozen lake, and on the last day, after emptying perch and bluegill from their buckets and scrubbing bait from their hands, several winners of the World Ice Fishing Championship were ushered into their rooms in the Plaza Hotel.

There, an official from the United States Anti-Doping Agency ordered them to provide urine samples for a surprise test to detect steroids and growth hormones — drugs not normally associated with the quiet solitude of ice fishing.

“We do not test for beer, because then everybody would fail,” said Joel McDearmon, chairman of the United States Freshwater Fishing Federation.
And why in Hell would the Olympics consider this a sport? Not skintight suits or jiggle. And what possible use could drugs have on the outcome? If you have an answer to that I want to hear it.

Our Expanding Empire

As the was in Shitholeistan is winding down, the Military Industrial Complex and their Pentagon flunkies need places to put their equipment to properly police the part of the world that do not already acknowledge our hegemony.
The new drone base, located for now in the capital, Niamey, is an indication of the priority Africa has become in American antiterrorism efforts. The United States military has a limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in Djibouti, more than 3,000 miles from Mali, where insurgents had taken over half the country until repelled by a French-led force.

In a letter to Congress, Mr. Obama said about 40 United States military service members arrived in Niger on Wednesday, bringing the total number of those deployed in the country to about 100 people. A military official said the troops were largely Air Force logistics specialists, intelligence analysts and security officers.

Mr. Obama said the troops, who are armed for self-protection, would support the French-led operation that last month drove the Qaeda and affiliated fighters out of a desert refuge the size of Texas in neighboring Mali.

Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, signed a status-of-forces agreement last month with the United States that has cleared the way for greater American military involvement in the country and has provided legal protection to American troops there.
Oh goody, the troops are covered by extrality, just like in the good old days of the British empire. And doesn't it make you feel so much more comfortable to know we have plenty of money to police the world. Kind of makes running out of Unemployment or SNAP easier to take.

Everybody wants to settle

Because if they get the settlement approved, they get the money much sooner than if they go to trial, which would drag on through appeals if BP lost. While it would be fun to see BP get hammered by penalties and non-deductable fines, the governments position is understandable.
With a major civil trial scheduled to start Monday in New Orleans against BP over damages related to the explosion of an offshore drilling rig in 2010, federal officials and those from the five affected Gulf Coast states are trying to pull together to strike an 11th-hour settlement to resolve the case.

A lawyer briefed on those talks said that the Justice Department and the five states — Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — have prepared an offer to resolve the two biggest issues central to series of trials against BP starting Monday.

Those issues are the fines that the company would pay for violations of the Clean Water Act related to the four million gallons of oil spilled after the rig, which it leased from Transocean, exploded. The primary issue is how much the company will have to pay for environmental damage caused by the oil to area, beaches, marshes, wildlife and fisheries.

The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday that federal and state officials were preparing a $16 billion settlement offer. “The ball is on BP’s side of the table,” said the lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to do so.

Both Justice Department officials and state officials could not be reached Saturday to comment on any possible offer.

A spokesman for BP, Geoff Morrell, said that the idea that the oil giant would accept a settlement demand of $16 billion was “far-fetched.” The most BP is liable for under the Clean Water Act is about $17.5 billion and the company is subject to billions more in other environmental damage penalties.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they put something on the table at the 11th hour,” Mr. Morrell said. “But we’re going to trial Monday even if they put something on the table.”

The lawyer briefed on the talks said that one problem with the current proposal by federal and state officials was that it did not resolve economic damages claimed by the states related to the spill. Such claims could still leave BP on the hook for billons more, in addition to the environmental damages.
BP seems determined to go to trial. Let us hope that the trial result leaves BP wailing in sack cloth and ashes.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pentagon grounds F-35 fleet

A mere week after they resumed flying following their previous grounding. This is the wonder plane that was supposed to do everything and save money by using the same platform for all three service models. So far it is 7 years behind schedule and wildly over budget. So far the only thing about the plane that works as planned is Lockheed's plan to make the program bulletproof from cost cutters, waste eliminators and anybody else sick of throwing good money after bad.
the Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) aircraft has been plagued by a costly redesign, bulkhead cracks, too much weight, and delays to essential software that have helped put it seven years behind schedule and 70 percent over its initial cost estimate. At almost $400 billion, it’s the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history.

It is also the defense project too big to kill. The F-35 funnels business to a global network of contractors that includes Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) and Kongsberg Gruppen ASA of Norway. It counts 1,300 suppliers in 45 states supporting 133,000 jobs -- and more in nine other countries, according to Lockheed. The F-35 is an example of how large weapons programs can plow ahead amid questions about their strategic necessity and their failure to arrive on time and on budget.

“It’s got a lot of political protection,” said Winslow Wheeler, a director at the Project on Government Oversight’s Center for Defense Information in Washington. “In that environment, very, very few members of Congress are willing to say this is an unaffordable dog and we need to get rid of it.”
Bloomberg takes a good long look at the program "too big to kill". They even have a graphic that shows the many tentacles of the program reaching across the country and around the world.

Who could ask for anything more?

Written by Randy Newman, sung by Linda Ronstadt with backing by Emmylou Harris. "Feels Like Home"

Seems reasonable to me

After all, what's the sport in it?
Officials in Texas announced on Thursday that State Troopers would no longer be allowed to open fire on suspects from helicopters after the recent killing of two immigrants.

While announcing the new policy, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw insisted that the ban on aerial shootings had nothing to do with the October 2012 death of two Guatemalan immigrants, who were gunned down by troopers in helicopter while they were hiding in the back of a speeding pickup truck near La Joya.

“I’m convinced that now, from a helicopter platform, that we shouldn’t shoot unless being shot at, or unless someone is being shot at,” McCraw told the state House Committee on Appropriations. “Last Friday, after a review of the policy and looking at all of the different things, and this is not a reflection of what happened there, I’m a firm believer they did exactly what they thought they needed to do.”
They didn't do anything wrong and we won't allow them to do it again.

How women are losing their freedom

So take off those fancy Manolo Blahnik's and get in the kitchen ladies, America's Taliban has work for you to do.

Corporate welfare whores are expensive

The function of a business is to sell a product or service at a profit. We all agree on this and even banks work that way. So it should be a surprise that the largest banks are barely breaking even. And the profits they do declare are the result of taxpayer funded corporate welfare.
Let’s start with a bit of background. Banks have a powerful incentive to get big and unwieldy. The larger they are, the more disastrous their failure would be and the more certain they can be of a government bailout in an emergency. The result is an implicit subsidy: The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail.

Lately, economists have tried to pin down exactly how much the subsidy lowers big banks’ borrowing costs. In one relatively thorough effort, two researchers -- Kenichi Ueda of the International Monetary Fund and Beatrice Weder di Mauro of the University of Mainz -- put the number at about 0.8 percentage point. The discount applies to all their liabilities, including bonds and customer deposits.
Big Difference

Small as it might sound, 0.8 percentage point makes a big difference. Multiplied by the total liabilities of the 10 largest U.S. banks by assets, it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion a year. To put the figure in perspective, it’s tantamount to the government giving the banks about 3 cents of every tax dollar collected.

The top five banks -- JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. - - account for $64 billion of the total subsidy, an amount roughly equal to their typical annual profits (see tables for data on individual banks). In other words, the banks occupying the commanding heights of the U.S. financial industry -- with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S. economy -- would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfare. In large part, the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.

Neither bank executives nor shareholders have much incentive to change the situation. On the contrary, the financial industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle on campaign donations and lobbying, much of which is aimed at maintaining the subsidy. The result is a bloated financial sector and recurring credit gluts. Left unchecked, the superbanks could ultimately require bailouts that exceed the government’s resources. Picture a meltdown in which the Treasury is helpless to step in as it did in 2008 and 2009.
They just think they are big ganstermachers and sharp traders.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking back through the years

We remember the great folk singers like Peter Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins & Joni Mitchell. But what of the others, some easily as fine in their own ways who are not remembered today. Judy Roderick was one such folk singer easily at home in traditional folk and blues. She and others created the base the great ones stood upon and they should not be forgotten.

Little Crappy Ships

That is what critics inside the Navy are calling the Littoral Combat Ship (Or LCS in snappy acronym speak). As the Sequester a/k/a Boehner's Boner, approaches we have been treated to outgoing SecDef Leon Panetta wailing like a yeshiva student at the Temple Wall about how much damage will be done to the active military if it goes through. In the meantime money continues to be available for failed projects like the LCS.
As the Pentagon faces $500 billion in spending cuts over a decade that are set to begin March 1, the $37 billion program to design and build Littoral Combat Ships may become a target for reductions that would take business from Lockheed and Austal.

“The ships are costing too much,” Norman Polmar, a naval analyst and author, said in an interview. “The support costs are ridiculous with two different designs.”

The Littoral Combat Ship -- derided by critics inside the Navy as the “Little Crappy Ship” -- reflects the enduring influence of the “military-industrial complex” that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against in his 1961 farewell address. It is an example of a troubled project that has sailed on with the support of a military seeking the most advanced war- fighting equipment possible, companies eager to build it and politicians hungry for the jobs created...

Not ‘Survivable’

The USS Freedom had a crack as long as six inches through its hull that had to be repaired. Austal’s first ship, the USS Independence, suffered from what the Navy described as “aggressive” corrosion in the propulsion area, partly the result of the marriage of steel water jets and an aluminum hull. Murdoch said the problem is “largely solved,” at an additional cost of about $500,000 per ship.

Then there’s the persistent debate over how vulnerable the Littoral Combat Ship may be to attack.

The vessel “is not expected to be survivable in that it is not expected to maintain mission capability after taking a significant hit in a hostile combat environment,” Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s chief of weapons testing, said in a January report.

Navy officials say the LCS has sufficient defenses to perform its missions while working in tandem with the rest of a battle group.

“These ships are designed for speed,” Rear Admiral Tom Eccles, deputy commander for naval systems engineering at the Naval Sea Systems Command, said at the Surface Navy Association conference. “They’re designed to be in the fight and then get out of the fight when it’s required.”

Polmar, the naval analyst, said that may not be enough.

“Speed is irrelevant to threats today because of aircraft, missiles and torpedoes,” he said. “When you’re going faster, you’re putting more noise in the water and they’re going to find you.”
Just like the continuing failed 'Star Wars' project, the Little Crappy Ships have a critical mass of brass and politicians pushing for them regardless of how useless they may be. All Hail the Military-Industrial-Complex Freedom!

A little Q & A for today

Share this with your friends, Do Not Sequester It!

The Goal of Boehner's Boner

From the pen of Ben Sargent

The usual suspects are still trying to stop Hegel

And now we find that 15 Republican/Teabagger Senators are calling for the nomination to be withdrawn.
A group of 15 Republican senators is calling on President Obama to withdraw the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary, the latest move in a contentious battle to block the confirmation of their former colleague.

But even as Republican senators tried to throw up another obstacle, Senate Democrats were pushing ahead with plans to hold a vote on Mr. Hagel’s nomination by Tuesday.

While Mr. Hagel seems likely to be confirmed, Republicans signaled in a letter to Mr. Obama on Thursday that they would not let the issue die quietly.

Saying that Mr. Hagel’s confirmation would be “unprecedented” because of near-unanimous opposition from Republicans, the senators urged Mr. Obama to pick another candidate.

“Over the last half-century, no secretary of defense has been confirmed and taken office with more than three senators voting against him,” they wrote. “The occupant of this critical office should be someone whose candidacy is neither controversial or divisive.”

Signing the letter were John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican; Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of South Carolina; Roger Wicker of Mississippi; David Vitter of Louisiana; Ted Cruz of Texas; Mike Lee of Utah; Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania; Marco Rubio of Florida; Dan Coats of Indiana; Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; James E. Risch of Idaho; John Barrasso of Wyoming; and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
One would expect The Lady Lindsey Graham to be in the lead on this but the rest of the signers shows the depth of the reactionary lunatic fringe in the Senate. They will probably fail but they make clear how many will never vote yes to any initiative from President Obama.

If you don't catch it yourself...

Or buy a whole fish
from your local fishmonger, you may not be getting what the label says it is. And it is a problem because cleaned and filleted, one fish can easily pass as another and the temptation to call it the higher priced variety is hard to resist.
That tempting seafood delight glistening on the ice at the market, or sizzling at the restaurant table in its aromatic jacket of garlic and ginger? It may not be at all what you think, or indeed even close, according to a big new study of fish bought and genetically tested in 12 parts of the country — in restaurants, markets and sushi bars — by a nonprofit ocean protection group, Oceana.

In the 120 samples labeled red snapper and bought for testing nationwide, for example, 28 different species of fish were found, including 17 that were not even in the snapper family, according to the study, which was released Thursday.

The study also contained surprises about where consumers were most likely to be misled — sushi bars topped the list in every city studied — while grocery stores were most likely to be selling fish honestly. Restaurants ranked in the middle.

Part of the problem, said the study’s chief author, Kimberly Warner, is that there are quite simply a lot of fish in the sea, and many of them look alike. Over all, the study found that about one-third of the 1,215 fish samples bought, from 2010 to 2012, were mislabeled.

“Even a relatively educated consumer couldn’t look at a whole fish and say, ‘I’m sure that’s a red snapper and not lane snapper,’ ” she said.
It is a long standing problem. Forty years ago I worked in a restaurant and we were never quite sure if the "scallops" came from their shells or the wings of a ray, punched out by cookie cutters.

Approach an old problem from a new angle

If the old approach doesn't work you really have to try a new one. And the people who want reasonable regulation of firearms are trying a new approach, taking a page from the automobile folks.
Lawmakers in at least half a dozen states, including California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, have proposed legislation this year that would require gun owners to buy liability insurance — much as car owners are required to buy auto insurance. Doing so would give a financial incentive for safe behavior, they hope, as people with less dangerous weapons or safety locks could qualify for lower rates.

“I believe that if we get the private sector and insurance companies involved in gun safety, we can help prevent a number of gun tragedies every year,” said David P. Linsky, a Democratic state representative in Massachusetts who wants to require gun owners to buy insurance, which he believes will encourage more responsible behavior and therefore reduce accidental shootings. “Insurance companies are very good at evaluating risk factors and setting their premiums appropriately.”

Groups representing gun owners oppose efforts to make insurance mandatory, arguing that law-abiding people should not be forced to buy insurance to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. But some groups, including the National Rifle Association, endorse voluntary liability policies for their members. And as several states pass laws making it easier for people to carry concealed weapons and use them for self-defense, some gun groups are now selling policies to cover some of the legal costs stemming from self-defense shootings.
Granted that after you have blown holes in one of your neighbors the insurance is little more than weregild, the insurance companies will provide some pushback to the willy-nilly ownership problem we currently have.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Something new on the alt-folk-rock scene

From Falls Church VA by way of San Francisco, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

Their shit doesn't stink

It powers their machinery. They being various companies and utilities in Europe that are producing their own electricity and gas from food waste and sewage.
Sewage-derived power supplies 22 percent of Severn Trent’s energy, almost double that of 2005. At United Utilities, it’s 14 percent. British utilities are shifting fecal matter to vats of bacteria that consume the waste, releasing biogas that’s burned to drive water treatment. The result is lower energy bills and surplus power sent to the grid that heat more U.K. tea kettles.

Water businesses in Britain aren’t the only ones finding value in waste. Companies in Europe and China are turning more to biogas to counter fossil-fuel costs and energy price volatility. Microsoft Corp., the largest software maker, uses effluents to help power a data center in Wyoming. Skiers in northern Arizona speed down slopes on artificial snow made entirely from treated wastewater.

“We live in a resource-constrained world, we’re going to have to squeeze more and more out of our waste,” said Christopher Gasson, the publisher of Global Water Intelligence in Oxford, England. Sewage sludge “smells like money to an increasing number of entrepreneurs.”

Some investors in Europe see an opportunity in such a market. Last year, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG heiress Susanne Klatten, Germany’s wealthiest woman, bought 20 percent of Paques BV, a Dutch biogas technology business.

There are about 2,250 facilities in Europe now using sewage sludge to produce biogas that can generate power, according to the European Biogas Association.

Germany and Switzerland have the highest concentration with 980 and 463. The U.K. and Sweden have at least 100 each.
An elegant solution to recycling. Take a shit in the morning and heat your home with it that night.

Hey. You never know...

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

In this modern world of ours

New technology spreads much more quickly than before. And that speed is illustrated by the Chinese and their plan to use drones and navigation.
It was one of the most brutal assaults on Chinese citizens abroad in recent years. Naw Kham, a member of Myanmar’s ethnic Shan minority and a major drug trafficker, was suspected in the killings.

A manhunt by the Chinese police in the jungles of the Golden Triangle produced no results, and security officials turned to a drone strike as a possible solution.

China’s global navigation system, Beidou, would have been used to guide the drones to the target, Mr. Liu said. China’s goal is for the Beidou system to compete with the United States’ Global Positioning System, Russia’s Glonass and the European Union’s Galileo, Chinese experts say.

Mr. Liu’s comments on the use of the Beidou system with the drones reflects the rapid advancement in that navigation system from its humble beginnings more than a decade ago.

The experimental navigation system was started in 2000 and has since expanded to 16 navigation satellites over Asia and the Pacific Ocean, according to an article in Wednesday’s China Daily, an English-language state-run newspaper. The Chinese military, particularly the navy, is now conducting patrols and training exercises using Beidou, the newspaper said.

As an example, China Daily quoted the information chief at the headquarters of the North Sea Fleet, Lei Xiwei, saying a fleet with the missile destroyer Qingdao, along with the missile frigates Yantai and Yancheng, entered the South China Sea on Feb. 1 using the Beidou navigation system to provide positioning, security and protection for the fleet.

As China has been vastly improving its navigation system, it is also making fast progress with drones, and many manufacturers for the Chinese military have research centers devoted to unmanned aerial vehicles, according to a report last year by the Defense Science Board of the Pentagon.

Two Chinese drones, apparently modeled on the American Reaper and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, were unveiled at the Zhuhai air show in November. A larger drone that Western experts say is akin to the American RQ-4 Global Hawk is also known to be in the Chinese arsenal.

One of the Chinese drones, the CH-4, had a range of about 2,200 miles and was ideal for surveillance missions over islands in the East China Sea that are the subject of a dispute between China and Japan, an official with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said at the Zhuhai air show.
And I wonder what scruples the Chinese may have about blowing up people, foreign and domestic.

When good priests go bad..

If they are not doing it with children, the Motherfucking Church will come down on them like a ton of bricks.
From the time he joined the priesthood three decades ago, he seemed destined to become a star. As a confidant to two bishops and then as the erudite and clubbable pastor of two churches, Msgr. Kevin Wallin was a towering figure in the Roman Catholic Church in southwestern Connecticut.

Parishioners felt buoyed by his homilies. They hungrily signed up for his far-flung spiritual pilgrimages, flocked to church fund-raisers to catch his melodious voice interpreting show tunes. He attended opera with a man who would become a cardinal and he himself appeared bound for a bishop’s miter.

But then about two years ago troubling questions began to be whispered. He acted odd. He was thinner. He walked stooped over. He was absent. Was he sick? Or dying? And then the spicy talk about suspicious men trooping in and out of the rectory.

Finally, last month’s revelation. The priest was locked up, charged with dealing crystal methamphetamine.

At a time when priests from California to Delaware have been accused of loathsome deeds, the allegations against Monsignor Wallin, the former pastor of the Cathedral of St. Augustine in Bridgeport, are of a notably different dimension: that he was a drug dealer and addict who was buying an adult novelty shop to launder ill-gotten proceeds, a priest who was cross-dressing and having sex with men.
If only he had been having sex with children. The the CHurch could have protected him.

Digital medical records set record profits.

It is the received wisdom in the medical community that digitizing medical records is the wave of the future and will greatly reduce medical costs. While that may be true someday, the digital records business is currently greatly increasing the profits of the companies that muscled and bought their way to a dominant position.
It was a tantalizing pitch: come get a piece of a $19 billion government “giveaway.”

The approach came in 2009, in a presentation to doctors by Allscripts Healthcare Solutions of Chicago, a well-connected player in the lucrative business of digital medical records. That February, after years of behind-the-scenes lobbying by Allscripts and others, legislation to promote the use of electronic records was signed into law as part of President Obama’s economic stimulus bill. The rewards, Allscripts suggested, were at hand.

But today, as doctors and hospitals struggle to make new records systems work, the clear winners are big companies like Allscripts that lobbied for that legislation and pushed aside smaller competitors.

While proponents say new record-keeping technologies will one day reduce costs and improve care, profits and sales are soaring now across the records industry. At Allscripts, annual sales have more than doubled from $548 million in 2009 to an estimated $1.44 billion last year, partly reflecting daring acquisitions made on the bet that the legislation would be a boon for the industry. At the Cerner Corporation of Kansas City, Mo., sales rose 60 percent during that period. With money pouring in, top executives are enjoying Wall Street-style paydays.

None of that would have happened without the health records legislation that was included in the 2009 economic stimulus bill — and the lobbying that helped produce it. Along the way, the records industry made hundreds of thousands of dollars of political contributions to both Democrats and Republicans. In some cases, the ties went deeper. Glen E. Tullman, until recently the chief executive of Allscripts, was health technology adviser to the 2008 Obama campaign. As C.E.O. of Allscripts, he visited the White House no fewer than seven times after President Obama took office in 2009, according to White House records.
And for all the good they may do, the programs still have major stumbling blocks that hinder their effectiveness, in the medical field, not the bottom line.

Once upon a time...

A reporter for the NY Daily News made a joke. And a young fellow working for, dumb enough to be an editor, picked up on the joke and declared it BREAKING NEWS.
Friedman wrote on Tuesday, “I became part of an inadvertent demonstration of how quickly partisan agendas and the Internet can transform an obvious joke into a Washington talking point used by senators and presidential wannabes.”

On February 6, said Friedman, he phoned a Republican staffer on Capitol Hill to ask about rumors that Hagel, whose nomination has been filibustered by Senate Republicans, had addressed “controversial” groups.

Republican skepticism was centered around Hagel’s supposed hostility to Israel. “So, I asked my source,” Friedman said, “had Hagel given a speech to, say, the ‘Junior League of Hezbollah, in France?’ And: What about ‘Friends of Hamas?’”

“The names were so over-the-top, so linked to terrorism in the Middle East, that it was clear I was talking hypothetically and hyperbolically. No one could take seriously the idea that organizations with those names existed — let alone that a former senator would speak to them,” he wrote.

When Friedman didn’t hear back from the source, he followed up with a snarky email, “Did he get $25K speaking fee from Friends of Hamas?”

Hearing nothing from the source, he let the story drop.

The next day, conservative website blasted the headline, “SECRET HAGEL DONOR?: WHITE HOUSE SPOX DUCKS QUESTION ON ‘FRIENDS OF HAMAS.’”
And so a baseless attack on an honorable man who has served his country began. It ended quickly enough but the sewer crawling slime that started it have yet to admit they were wrong, much less apologize.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In the good old days

If a sports team had a stadium, it was probably named after the team that played there, like Yankee Stadium. Sometimes it was named after a geographical location or feature like Fenway Park. And sometimes it was named it was named after the owner or other prominent citizen who had a role in the teams history, like Comiskey Park or Shea Stadium. Municipal stadiums or arenas were often generic memorials such as Veterans Field if not named after a local hero. Lately however the lust for cash has led to a frenzy of naming rights deals that often lead to ridiculous and inappropriate combinations. The latest to surface comes to us from Florida.
In recent years, where stadium naming rights could be sold, universities and professional sports teams have sold them — to airlines and banks and companies that sell beer, soda, doughnuts, cars, telecommunications, razors and baseball bats. This led to memorable examples like Enron Field, the KFC Yum! Center and the University of Phoenix Stadium.

On Tuesday, that trend took another strange turn when Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton, firmed a deal to rename its football building GEO Group Stadium. Perhaps that pushed stadium naming to its zenith, if only because the GEO Group is a private prison corporation.

For this partnership, there is no obvious precedent.

The university’s president described the deal as “wonderful” and the company as “well run” and by a notable alumnus. But it also left some unsettled, including those who study the business of sports and track the privatization of the prison industry. To those critics, this was a jarring case of the lengths colleges and teams will go to produce revenue, of the way that everything seems to be for sale now in sports — and to anyone with enough cash.

“This is an example of great donor intent, terrible execution,” said Paul Swangard, the managing director at the University of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. “Here’s a guy with strong ties to the university, who wants to make a difference, and is mixing his philanthropic interest with a marketing strategy that doesn’t make any sense.”
Maybe it will serve as a reminder to those team members who may drop out of the program that there will always be a place for them.

Someone we should have heard of...

But didn't. Barbara came from Detroit by way of San Francisco and began her singing at political and union events. She achieved success in jazz and blues and a side career as a solo folk singer. Throughout her career she was active in civil rights and antiwar movements and even established her own label for international protest music. Here she sings Dink's Blues with Frank Hamilton, guitar; Bill Lee, bass at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival.

Soon to be a movie

Although they might want to wait until the crooks are caught, if ever, to give it a proper ending. Finally in the tradition of great criminal capers, $50 Million in gemstones, cut and uncut have been stolen in a clean and swiftly executed heist at the Brussels airport.
In a meticulously planned raid that took barely five minutes to execute, armed men disguised as police officers drove onto the tarmac at the international airport in Brussels on Monday night and stole diamonds worth around $50 million as they were being loaded onto a plane bound for Switzerland, officials said.

The stolen gems, a mix of rough and cut stones, had arrived at the airport by road from the Belgian port city of Antwerp, the world’s biggest diamond trading center, and were to be flown on a scheduled passenger flight to Zurich, an important transit point in the global diamond business...

Helvetic Airways, an independent Swiss airline that operated the plane targeted in the robbery, said security for valuable cargo is normally the responsibility of the airport and the security company hired to transport the shipment to the plane. An airline spokesman in Zurich declined to comment further.

Diamonds bought in Antwerp for either cutting or sale abroad are usually taken to the Brussels airport under police escort in armored security vans, and the thieves took advantage of a brief gap in this tightly guarded procedure during the loading of cargo. No arrests have been reported. The police said that they had found the burned remains of a vehicle believed to have been used in the robbery near the airport on Monday night.
Now the biggest question is not whodunit? but who will play the lead? And do we root for the crooks or the cops?

Hot Stuff!

We have all seen our share of hotties, may even have been one, but I doubt that any of us were ever this hot.
The sheriff of Sequoyah County in Oklahoma believes that a 65-year-old man recently died by spontaneously bursting into flames.

“If you read about spontaneous human combustion that’s what we have here,” Sheriff Ron Lockhart told KFSM.

After a neighbor contacted police on Monday, authorities discovered the burned body of Danny Vanzandt in the kitchen of his home.

“The body was burned and it was incinerated,” Lockhart explained. “You hardly ever have a burned body, especially when there’s no damage to the house. Where the fire occurred, there was no damage to the furniture or anything around the fire. So, it was a low-heat fire.”

“We started researching and talking to other fire investigators and we started looking at this spontaneous human combustion, and anything that’s in that is basically what we have,” he added. “It’s an unusual and bizarre case, but we’re not ruling out spontaneous human combustion.”
Maybe he was just spending a quiet evening at home lighting farts and one backfired? Who knows?

Wisdom can be found anywhere

Monday, February 18, 2013

Have you ever wondered

What you would get if you mixed the world's best jazz pianist with the world's best jazz banjoist and had them play one of the great jazz tunes? Listen and find out.

The Feds sure do love Bank of America a lot

So much so that they gave the bank another bailout worth as yet unknown $Billions. Gretchen Morgenson has the details.
The existence of one such secret deal, struck in July between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Bank of America, came to light just last week in court filings.

That the New York Fed would shower favors on a big financial institution may not surprise. It has long shielded large banks from assertive regulation and increased capital requirements.

Still, last week’s details of the undisclosed settlement between the New York Fed and Bank of America are remarkable. Not only do the filings show the New York Fed helping to thwart another institution’s fraud case against the bank, they also reveal that the New York Fed agreed to give away what may be billions of dollars in potential legal claims.

Here’s the skinny: Late last Wednesday, the New York Fed said in a court filing that in July it had released Bank of America from all legal claims arising from losses in some mortgage-backed securities the Fed received when the government bailed out the American International Group in 2008. One surprise in the filing, which was part of a case brought by A.I.G., was that the New York Fed let Bank of America off the hook even as A.I.G. was seeking to recover $7 billion in losses on those very mortgage securities.

It gets better.

What did the New York Fed get from Bank of America in this settlement? Some $43 million, it seems, from a small dispute the New York Fed had with the bank on two of the mortgage securities. At the same time, and for no compensation, it released Bank of America from all other legal claims.
It remains to be seen if the court will back the Fed's claim that they got the litigation rights even if they didn't write it down.

They many like BoA, but all the TBTF banks are slopping at the fraud trough.

The Tree Of Liberty

Tom Tomorrow explains how one can water it with their AR-15 and stop their junk mail, as well

Everybody is doing it these days.

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

Las Vegas in your living room

The latest efforts of the gaming industry is to bring the gambling experience right into your living room. New games, some based on traditional casino games and some based on arcade games are currently in development.
Silicon Valley is betting that online gambling is its next billion-dollar business, with developers across the industry turning casual games into occasions for adults to wager.

At the moment these games are aimed overseas, where attitudes toward gambling are more relaxed and online betting is generally legal, and extremely lucrative. But game companies, from small teams to Facebook and Zynga, have their eye on the ultimate prize: the rich American market, where most types of real-money online wagers have been cleared by the Justice Department.

Two states, Nevada and Delaware, are already laying the groundwork for virtual gambling. Within months they will most likely be joined by New Jersey.

Bills have also been introduced in Mississippi, Iowa, California and other states, driven by the realization that online gambling could bring in streams of tax revenue. In Iowa alone, online gambling proponents estimated that 150,000 residents were playing poker illegally.
So stock up on your favorite beverages, call up the escort service and have a gambling experience that even Vegas can't give you, a mercy bj as you lose, no waiting.

Welcome to the 19th Century

Some folks are slow. And some folks are even slower them most. Congratulations to Mississippi for finally, officially, ratifying the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. From The Raw Story:
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported on Sunday that the state had passed a resolution ratifying the amendment, which mandated the abolition of slavery, in 1995. But somehow, that resolution was never sent to the Office of the Federal Register until last month, when current Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann sent a copy to the Office of the Federal Register.

The clerical error came to light following a search late last year by Ranjan Batra, an associate professor of neurobiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who looked up various state votes on the amendment after watching “Lincoln.” Batra discovered that the state had “an asterisk” behind it indicating the ratification was never made official.

He then informed a colleague, Ken Sullivan, who contacted the Federal Register to confirm the mistake; when the state ratified the amendment in 1995, then-Secretary of State Dick Molpus’ office was supposed to have sent a copy.

“What an amendment to have an error in filing,” Molpus told the newspaper. “Thanks to Ken Sullivan for being a good citizen in bringing this oversight to light, so it can be corrected.”

There has been no explanation as to why Molpus’ office never sent the original copy to federal officials for ratification.
They are almost as fast as UPS.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

NRA Jesus

From the folks at SNL

To everyone's favorite love child

Lindsey Graham
, the errant offspring of a palmetto bug and a horse's ass.

One form of multitasking

From The Great Orange Stan:

And the winner is....

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Somebody noticed that 50%+ of voters are women

And as another piece of his plan to run for President when the time comes, Andrew Cuomo has acted to counter the reactionary sex fiends of the red states who constantly seek to impose big government and their fantasies on women's health.
Bucking a trend in which states have been seeking to restrict abortion, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is putting the finishing touches on legislation that would guarantee women in New York the right to late-term abortions when their health is in danger or the fetus is not viable.

Mr. Cuomo, seeking to deliver on a promise he made in his recent State of the State address, would rewrite a law that currently allows abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy only if the pregnant woman’s life is at risk. The law is not enforced, because it is superseded by federal court rulings that allow late-term abortions to protect a woman’s health, even if her life is not in jeopardy. But abortion rights advocates say the existence of the more restrictive state law has a chilling effect on some doctors and prompts some women to leave the state for late-term abortions.

Mr. Cuomo’s proposal, which has not yet been made public, would also clarify that licensed health care practitioners, and not only physicians, can perform abortions. It would remove abortion from the state’s penal law and regulate it through the state’s public health law.
He is going in the right direction.

Israel knows what to do with a Lieberman

From The Raw Story:
The trial of Israel’s former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman on charges of fraud and breach of trust opened at a Jerusalem court Sunday in a case which will decide the former bouncer’s political future.

Wearing a dark-blue suit and white shirt, Lieberman was silent as he entered the courtroom and did not speak to waiting reporters, an AFP correspondent at Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court said.

Lieberman is accused of having promoted an Israeli ambassador who provided him with confidential information about a police investigation into his affairs.
Meanwhile our Lieberman continues to walk among us, a free man.

The many ways you can qualify

To be a reactionary right wing crackpot. With so many baseless conspiracy theories running loose the possibilities are many. Here are some by which you may judge yourself (but not others).
If you think Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud, you might be a right-wing crackpot.
If you think Obama’s social-security number is a fraud, you might be a right-wing crackpot.
If you think Obama’s Selective Service registration document is a fraud, you might be a right-wing crackpot.
If you think Obama was born in Kenya, you might be a right-wing crackpot.
If you think Obama is a secret Muslim, you might be a right-wing crackpot.
If you think Obama is in the pocket of the Muslim Brotherhood, you might be a right-wing crackpot.
If you think Obama sealed all his records, you might be a right-wing crackpot.
If you think Obama registered as a foreign student at Occidental College, you might be a right-wing crackpot.
If you think Obama used a fake college ID “Barry Soetoro,” you might be a right-wing crackpot.
And this is just a sampling of the ones that include President Obama. There are plenty more where these came from.

It's good to be rich

As America's wealthiest mayor of America's wealthiest city has proved again. Bloomie doesn't like guns, they cause big problems in a big city. And his SuperPAC has been throwing some money out there against the pro-gun candidates in the Illinois 2nd District race. His first round of ads was directed at pro-gunner Debbi Halvorson. And it has had the desired effect.
Chicago has been plagued with gun violence for years and Jackson Jr.’s former seat represents the south side of Chicago, one of the most violent areas. Unsurprisingly, gun control is a major issue to the electorate. With this reality in mind, a Democratic candidate, Toi Hutchinson attempted to capitalize on the damage Bloomberg inflicted on Halvorson by claiming she had reversed her opinion of the NRA and the multiple “A” ratings they’ve given her over the years. While the NRA’s recent (and revolting) antics have given pause to many who previously supported them, Hutchinson’s sudden conversion left Bloomberg’s PAC unconvinced.

Starting on Friday, the following ad attacking both Hutchinson and Halvorson was released:

Earlier on Sunday, Hutchinson released a statement ending her bid for Congress and instead putting her support behind Kelly.
One down and one to go.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A lot of people have done this song

Going back to 1959 with The Crickets. All those militia types who cherish their military style weapons thinking some day they too will fight the law, should consider the fate of Chris Dorner. He was well trained and well armed and the cops didn't even need to call out the black helicopters. He Fought The Law (And The Law Won)

It has been the least corrupt part of Shitholeistan

Which is not a very high bar to get over. And it was previously getting equipment from NATO militarys that kept an eye on it. Now the Afghan Army gets to stand on its own.
The Afghan army is one of the least corrupt parts of a society where more than two-thirds of the citizens think it’s fine for bureaucrats to take bribes. Now that reputation is getting its biggest test: access to more money. Billions of dollars more.

For most of the war, equipment and supplies for the Afghans have been supplied primarily by the foreign militaries operating here. But as the United States and NATO fulfill a vow to withdraw the vast majority of their troops by the end of 2014, Afghan security officials will be expected to do their own purchasing, giving them more opportunities for the kind of bribery and embezzlement that perpetually has Afghanistan ranked among the worst two or three nations on Earth for corruption..

"It is a delicate moment, because if there is a high level of corruption in the military it means that institution will not work, because it will lose the confidence of the people," said Yama Torabi, the director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan, an Afghan group that monitors corruption. "It means, basically, the beginning of collapse of the army."
Will they hold back until we are all gone? Or are the old ways too strong to resist?

Tennessee tries for the crown

Not in sports of any kind, but in total butthead stupidity on the part of its public officials.
Police in Tennessee, in a black SUV and in full body armor, pulled over an elderly couple because they had a “suspicious” marijuana-ish (or so the cops claimed) bumper sticker on their car, that in fact was a buckeye leaf – the couple are Ohio State Buckeye fans. The cops then ordered the couple to remove the bumper sticker.

Good grief. I’m not sure what’s the most ridiculous part of this recent episode.

Was it the person who phoned in the dangerous car sticker that slightly resembles a marijuana leaf? The cops insinuated that it was another cop who called it in.

Or perhaps the idiotic Tennessee cops that pulled over the elderly couple with armor-covered police in black vans simply because they might have had a marijuana leaf sticker on their car? Although, perhaps the most ridiculous part is the cop, after learning that it’s a buckeye leaf common to Ohio State fans, still ordered the woman to remove the sticker.
One would almost think that Ernest P. Worrell was Chief of Police. The article also has a list of some other stupidities committed in the Volunteer State.

It's all in the pipeline

As the utilities close down oil and coal fired electric generation plants, they are being replaced by natural gas fired plants. And thanks to fracking we are floating on a cloud of methane. But just as many fracked wells are not in production because of lack of pipelines, so too increased demand for gas for generation has pushed pipeline capacity to the limit and beyond in New England.
Electricity prices in New England have been four to eight times higher than normal in the last few weeks, as the region’s extreme reliance on natural gas for power supplies has collided with a surge in demand for heating.

Frigid temperatures and the snowstorm that hammered parts of the Northeast last week have revived concerns about the lack of alternatives to natural gas. Many plants that ran on coal or oil have been shuttered, and the few that remain cannot be put into service quickly enough to meet spikes in demand. The price of electricity is determined by the price of gas.

Last year, natural gas provided 52 percent of New England’s electricity, and that share is expected to grow. Gas is generally cheaper than other energy sources, and the lower costs have spurred the retirement of aging coal generators and nuclear reactors. The six-state New England region and parts of Long Island are the most vulnerable now to overreliance on gas, a vulnerability heightened by a shortage of natural gas pipeline capacity, but officials worry that similar problems could spread to the Midwest.

“We are sticking a lot of straws into this soft drink,” said William P. Short III, an energy consultant whose clients include companies that move and burn gas. “This is a harbinger of things to come in New England, as well as New York.”

James G. Daly, vice president for energy supply at Northeast Utilities, a company that, through its subsidiaries, provides electricity to homes and businesses in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, said: “There is concern we don’t have enough capacity to supply heating and electricity generation.”
Yet, curiously, while the price has climbed, nothing has been shut down for lack of supply. And so we must build new pipelines. Fortunately gas pipelines don't spill. They do blow up from time to time, however.

Quote of the Day

A Senate that is beginning to resemble a bad Carnival cruise. They’re dead in the water, nothing’s working and the chief engineer is Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Gail Collins on the working of the US Senate.

Once upon a time

The Catholic Church was very much in favor of contraception and family planning.
We begin at Notre Dame in 1966. Faculty members formed a group to advocate for government funding of family planning programs and advertised a statement of support in Catholic publications. They received over 500 signatures in under a month from Catholic clergy, nuns, lawyers, doctors, and faculty members at Catholic universities, including the deans of Notre Dame and Santa Clara’s law schools. The Notre Dame professor chairing the committee told the New York Times the group wished to emphasize that “in a pluralistic society, some legislation may be desirable even though it may not be in accord with the moral principles of a minority of the society’s members.”...

Let’s return to Notre Dame. From 1963 to 1967 Notre Dame held an annual “Conference on Population.” The conference, organized with the help of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was intended from its inception to be a forum to develop a more liberal Catholic position on contraception. In 1965, thirty-seven scholars who attended the conference sent a statement to the Pope that declared “[t]here is dependable evidence that contraception is not intrinsically immoral, and that therefore there are certain circumstances in which it may be permitted or indeed even recommended.” Notre Dame’s President, Father Theodore Hesburgh, later got his friend John D. Rockefeller a secret meeting with the Pope to discuss the problem of overpopulation...

A 1967 Times article, “150 Fordham Women Petition for a Class on Birth Control” shows that Fordham students sharing their adventures in contraceptive access activism with the Gray Lady is nothing new. One of the Times’ follow-up articles on the topic, “Fordham to Give Seminars on Sex,” indicates that what has changed since 1967 is the responsiveness and boldness of the University administration.

The Fordham dean of students explained to the Times in 1967 that the sexual education program would “include frank discussions of methods of conception and contraception” and was permissible because “the morality of contraceptives does not enter into the discussion.” The University even agreed to the students’ request for a physician at the health center who could answer questions about birth control.
All this happened about the time that the Vatican reactionaries suffocated Pope John Paul I and got their Polish reactionary bishop installed in his place. Since then the Church has been on a downward spiral away from the teachings of Christ and into the foul Pit of Reactionary Conservatism. And with the College of Cardinals stacked with their kind it won't end soon.

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