Sunday, March 31, 2013

Some Easter music

From Eliza Gilkyson that may not be what you expect.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Only 2 More Days To Dyngus Day

Hope you are ready for it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Anytime I'm looking for good music

I can look through the various videos from the Trishas to get a great post. This was recorded by Music Fog at MusicFest 2011 in Steamboat Springs, CO.

And speaking of doing well

Our other success story
in the Middle East, Iraq, had another boffo Friday at the mosques.
Iraqi officials say four car bombs have struck Shiite mosques in Baghdad, killing at least 19 people and wounding 72.

A police officer says the deadliest bombing was in western Jihad neighborhood when a parked car bomb exploded as worshippers were leaving a mosque after Friday prayers. Seven people died there and 25 were wounded.

Another police officer says four worshippers were killed and nearly 20 were wounded in a bombing in eastern Qahira neighborhood. He says three people died and 15 were wounded in the eastern Zafaraniyah district and that another car bomb killed five and wounded 14 in the northeastern Binook neighborhood.
Nice to see the people having a blast.

We did so well in Afghanistan

That the Taliban is now setting up shop in Karachi, Pakistan. Needless to say, like any new gang in town, they are muscling there way in and seem to be doing vary well, too.
But there is a new gang in town. Hundreds of miles from their homeland in the mountainous northwest, Pakistani Taliban fighters have started to flex their muscles more forcefully in parts of this vast city, and they are openly taking ground.

Taliban gunmen have mounted guerrilla assaults on police stations, killing scores of officers. They have stepped up extortion rackets that target rich businessmen and traders, and shot dead public health workers engaged in polio vaccination efforts. In some neighborhoods, Taliban clerics have started to mediate disputes through a parallel judicial system.

The grab for influence and power in Karachi shows that the Taliban have been able to extend their reach across Pakistan, even here in the country’s most populous city, with about 20 million inhabitants. No longer can they be written off as endemic only to the country’s frontier regions.

In joining Karachi’s street wars, the Taliban are upending a long-established network of competing criminal, ethnic and political armed groups in this combustible city. The difference is that the Taliban’s agenda is more expansive — it seeks to overthrow the Pakistani state — and their operations are run by remote control from the tribal belt along the Afghan border.

Already, the militants have reshaped the city’s political balance by squeezing one of the most prominent political machines, the Pashtun-dominated Awami National Party, off its home turf. They have scared Awami operatives out of town and destroyed offices, gravely undercutting the party’s chances in national elections scheduled for May.
Good thing the Pakis have nukes to deter these thugs, amirite?

Another arrest at SAC Capital

Not the boss yet,
but one of his managers and longest tenured employees.
A SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager was arrested by federal agents on Friday, becoming the most senior employee at the giant hedge fund ensnared in the government’s vast insider trading investigation.

Michael Steinberg, 40, was arrested at his Park Avenue apartment early Friday morning and taken out of his building in handcuffs. He has worked for SAC and its owner, the billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen, since 1997 and became one of the firm’s senior portfolio managers, focusing on technology stocks...

Mr. Steinberg is one of SAC’s longest-tenured employees. He joined SAC shortly after graduating from the University of Wisconsin when the fund was just Mr. Cohen and several dozen traders. For years, he sat near Mr. Cohen on the trading floor and the two grew close.

When Mr. Steinberg was married in 1999 at the Plaza Hotel, Mr. Cohen attended the black-tie affair. The two share the same hometown, Great Neck, N.Y., on Long Island, where they both attended Great Neck North High School...

Earlier this month, Mr. Cohen signed off on two settlements in which the firm agreed to pay federal securities regulators $616 million to resolve two insider trading cases against SAC. On Thursday morning, a federal judge refused to approve the larger of the two settlements, a $602 million pact, raising concerns over a provision that allows SAC to avoid admitting that it did anything wrong.

The smaller of the settlements, for about $14 million, related to trading by Mr. Steinberg and a fellow portfolio manager, Gabe Plotkin, according to people familiar with the case. Mr. Plotkin has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Mr. Steinberg’s name first surfaced in the broader inquiry last September when a former SAC analyst who worked under him pleaded guilty to being part of an insider trading ring that illegally traded the technology stocks of Dell Inc. and Nvidia. As part of his guilty plea, the analyst, Jon Horvath, implicated Mr. Steinberg, saying that he gave the confidential information to his SAC boss and that they traded based on the secret financial data about those two companies.
All of this begs the question, why is Steven Cohen still at large? He took most of the credit and profit when things went well, how can he say he didn't know anything now?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I grew up just down the road from there

So what is some Portland,OR band doing singing about it.

Will this myth disappear as well?

From the pen of Tom Toles

I wonder if this would work with Congress

In the New York Times we find an article on the creative use of shit.
Here at one of the largest dairy farms in the country, electricity generated using an endless supply of manure runs the equipment to milk around 30,000 cows three times a day.

For years, the farm has used livestock waste to create enough natural gas to power 10 barns, a cheese factory, a cafe, a gift shop and a maze of child-friendly exhibits about the world of dairy, including a 4D movie theater.

All that, and Fair Oaks Farms was still using only about half of the five million pounds of cow manure it vacuumed up from its barn floors on a daily basis. It burned off the excess methane, wasted energy sacrificed to the sky.

But not anymore.

The farm is now turning the extra manure into fuel for its delivery trucks, powering 42 tractor-trailers that make daily runs to raw milk processing plants in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Officials from the federal Department of Energy called the endeavor a “pacesetter” for the dairy industry, and said it was the largest natural gas fleet using agricultural waste to drive this nation’s roads.

“As long as we keep milking cows, we never run out of gas,” said Gary Corbett, chief executive of Fair Oaks, which held a ribbon-cutting event for the project this month and opened two fueling stations to the public.

“We are one user, and we’re taking two million gallons of diesel off the highway each year,” he said. “That’s a big deal.”
30,000 cows is a big herd, but many smaller farmers are already involved in Co-operatives. There may not be much glory in telling people you run a shit co-operative, but hey, look at the money you are saving.

The Siphoning of Public Assets for Private Gain

The very heart of radical Conservative efforts to destroy the public school system continues to grow as Republican/Teabaggers and other shady characters push through laws to make sure public schools lack the funding to do their jobs and their friends get a nice profit, too.
On Tuesday, after a legal fight, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the state’s voucher program as constitutional. This month, Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama signed tax-credit legislation so that families can take their children out of failing public schools and enroll them in private schools, or at least in better-performing public schools.

In Arizona, which already has a tax-credit scholarship program, the Legislature has broadened eligibility for education savings accounts. And in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie, in an effort to circumvent a Legislature that has repeatedly defeated voucher bills, has inserted $2 million into his budget so low-income children can obtain private school vouchers.

Proponents say tax-credit and voucher programs offer families a way to escape failing public schools. But critics warn that by drawing money away from public schools, such programs weaken a system left vulnerable after years of crippling state budget cuts — while showing little evidence that students actually benefit.

“This movement is doing more than threaten the core of our traditional public school system,” said Timothy Ogle, executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association. “It’s pushing a national policy agenda embraced by conservatives across states that are receptive to conservative ideas.”

Currently, 17 states offer 33 programs that allow parents to use taxpayer money to send their children to private schools, according to the American Federation for Children, a nonprofit advocate for school vouchers and tax-credit scholarship programs that give individuals or corporations tax reductions if they donate to state-run scholarship funds.
The radical Conservatives have a firm belief that an ignorant populace is a docile populace. Largely because they have no idea what is happening to them.

In the worst spirit of Inigo Montoya

Who famously said that, "I do not think that word means what you think it means", the Republican Party shows us that reactionary Conservatives and similar radicals have no understanding of the English language.
America is home to a very active pro-life movement founded on the concept that all life is precious, and is synonymous with the concepts of right-to-life and culture-of-life the religious right and Republicans spend undue time on attempting to control women and protect single-celled organisms. However, at the end of gestation, the same movement spends unwarranted amounts of time and energy abandoning infants and children to poverty, hunger, and ill-health in a never-ending crusade to cut programs that ensure babies and children are mired in poverty and lack basic necessities of life making a mockery of their pro-life moniker.

Republicans have developed a stellar record of perpetuating poverty, and are renowned for cutting safety nets for the poorest Americans while taking particular delight in promoting their cuts as common sense and crucial to protect future generations from crushing deficits. However, at the rate poverty among children is rising, future generations will be hard-pressed to survive, much less contribute to paying off Republicans’ debts. In a new study from First Focus and the Urban Institute, there are 6.2 million children living in poverty where at least one parent is unemployed, and the number rises to 12.1 million when considering that most of the parents are underemployed. Obviously, when parents are under, or unemployed, children are bound to live in stark poverty and suffer the effects of hunger, ill-health, and the likelihood of never escaping poverty in their lifetime.
The Republican Party, America's Greatest Shame.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bluegrass, newgrass or just Michigangrass

Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellies call the Great Lakes State home.

Life is a series of choices

Whether you choose or not.

Something to think about

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

The price of arrogance

J P Morgan Chase has, since the beginning of the Bush Depression, been the benchmark of of banking arrogance on Wall St. The trouble with arrogance is that it pays no dividends and usually ends up pissing people off. JPM appears to be experiencing that last part these days as multiple investigations of the bank are continuing.
At least two board members are worried about the mounting problems, and some top executives fear that the bank’s relationships in Washington have frayed as JPMorgan becomes a focus of federal investigations.

In a previously undisclosed case, prosecutors are examining whether JPMorgan failed to fully alert authorities to suspicions about Bernard L. Madoff, according to several people with direct knowledge of the matter. And nearly a year after reporting a multibillion-dollar trading loss, JPMorgan is facing a criminal inquiry over whether it lied to investors and regulators about the risky wagers, a case that could accelerate when the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other authorities interview top JPMorgan executives in coming weeks.

All told, at least eight federal agencies are investigating the bank, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. in New York are also examining potential wrongdoing at JPMorgan.
When you piss off that many people at one time,it would be nice to see something more than a cash settlement come from this.

Stupid erupting like pimples on a teens face

And the latest eruption comes to us from Arizona, a state quickly becoming notorious for the amount and the quality of its stupid.
A failed Republican mayoral candidate says that he has raised enough money to give away dozens of shotguns in the same town where former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and 18 other people were shot.

Former mayoral candidate Shaun McClusky told Tucson Weekly that he was leading a Tucson chapter of the Armed Citizen Project, which launched in Houston earlier this year to prove that more guns mean less crime. McClusky said that he had already gotten $12,000 in pledges, enough to arm at least three dozen people.

Participants in high-crime neighborhoods “will receive a cleaning kit, they’ll receive the shotgun, they’ll receive slugs, they’ll go through a background check and they’ll also go through the training class,” McClusky explained.

The shotgun giveaway program was expected to kick off in Pueblo Gardens, Midvale Park and the Grant-Campbell area in the next 30 to 45 days. Residents could have new shotguns in their hands within 60 days.
So he is making a start, but will he have enough to reach all the needy white families who want protection?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Time for another Eva Cassidy post

This one a big hit for Ray Charles in the '50s but it was first recorded in 1951 by Lula Reed. Eva does very well with it.

Fracking earthquakes

And not just from fracturing the bedrock below. Now we have to worry about the large quantities of water disposed of back into the ground by the frackers and others in the drilling business.
A 2011 Oklahoma earthquake has been tied by researchers to the disposal of wastewater from oil production, the latest study suggesting the energy boom from advances such as fracking is increasing temblors.

A series of quakes in November 2011 followed an 11-fold bump in seismic activity across the central U.S., as disposal wells are created to handle the increase in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas, geologists at the University of Oklahoma, Columbia University and the U.S. Geological Survey said in the journal Geology today.

The wastewater that triggered the earthquakes came from conventional wells in the Hunton formation, said Katie Keranen, assistant professor at Oklahoma and co-author of the report. The findings are a cautionary note for disposal of the millions of gallons of fluids from hydraulic fracturing, she said.

“It has little to do with where the water comes from,” Keranen said in an interview. “What really matters is how you’re getting rid of the water.”

A spate of earthquakes in the central U.S. in recent years is “almost certainly” man-made, and may be caused by oil-and- gas wastewater disposal, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said a year ago. For the three decades until 2000, seismic events in the nation’s midsection averaged 21 a year. They jumped to 50 in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 in 2011.
They are increasing in number and size, but fracking is harmless, it's those darn rocks down below that are the problem.

If it's good enough for the Marines

It's good enough for the rest of us. This ad is directed at Jeff Flake but you can call your own Senators to demand what is right.

Following oral arguments

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

North Dakota GOP wants government out of their lives

Except where it comes to their womenfolk. Then it is right and proper for Big Government to decide every little thing that goes on in their Little Lady's Chamber of Horrors.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota signed the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions into law on Tuesday, approving three bills including one that would outlaw abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy...

Perhaps the most controversial bill outlaws abortion once a fetal heartbeat is “detectable,” which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

“Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade,” Mr. Dalrymple, a Republican, said in a statement.

Mr. Dalrymple also affirmed measures to require doctors performing abortions to get admitting privileges at a local hospital and to outlaw abortions for gender or genetic abnormalities.
So you North Dakota ladies get ready now. When the OB/GYN shows you your ancephalic fetus you will have to make the long trek to civilization if you want to do what is right. Because the North Dakota Big Government will make you carry it to term.

Tennessee, Where The Stupid Is Strong And Long Lasting

Ever since the beginning of the reign of King George the Stupid, when Tennessee first learned the word sharia, the people across the state has trembled in fear of any implementation of the devils own code. This has led to some remarkably stupid events in a state noted for its low double digit IQs. The latest one upholds this great Volunteer State tradition.
Republican lawmakers in Tennessee sprung to action and demanded answers after confusing a mop sink recently installed in the state Capitol for a Muslim foot-washing sink.

Members of the state House and Senate contacted state Senate Clerk Russell Humphrey to ask if the floor-level sink had been installed outside the House chamber men’s restroom to accommodate Muslims’ ritual of washing their feet before prayer, according to The Associated Press.

“There was concern about why it had been modified,” Humphrey said.

Republican state Sen. Bill Ketron confirmed that he had taken this issue up with Humphrey after state Rep. Judd Matheny (R) became troubled that the sink could be for Muslims.

“I just asked the question about what was the intent of that,” Ketron explained.

Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley assured the lawmakers in an email that “the facility administrator for the State Capitol Complex that the floor-level sink installed in the men’s restroom outside the House Chamber is for housekeeping use.”

“It is, in layman’s terms, a mop sink,” Ridley said.
One might suppose that, given the level of fear generated by the very idea of sharia, some of the Tennessee Troglodytes might do a little research. After all it was only two years ago they did this.
In 2011, hundreds of Muslims showed up at the Capitol to protest after Ketron and Matheny sponsored a bill that would have made following Sharia code a felony.

“Tennessee, like the federal government, has a compelling state interest to protect our citizens from jihad terrorism,” Matheny said at the time.

That measure would have criminalized Muslim foot-washing rituals and dietary restrictions.
Not a chance! In Tennessee this form of stupidity is how state legislators "make their bones".

Monday, March 25, 2013

Have you met Barnaby Bright?

An indie folk group that does some nice tunes. Sadly the sound mix isn't too good at the camera. but you can still enjoy it.

A look back ten years

And the joys that being absolutely, totally wrong can bring you, from Tom Tomorrow.

The NRA gets technical

The future of hunting by Nick Anderson

R.I.P. Anthony Lewis

A journalist and a reporter of the old school

This must give Ms. Lindsey Graham a thrill

From the NY Times:
With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

As it evolved, the airlift correlated with shifts in the war within Syria, as rebels drove Syria’s army from territory by the middle of last year. And even as the Obama administration has publicly refused to give more than “nonlethal” aid to the rebels, the involvement of the C.I.A. in the arms shipments — albeit mostly in a consultative role, American officials say — has shown that the United States is more willing to help its Arab allies support the lethal side of the civil war.
After torturing all those people for us, this is the thanks Assad gets? And though most Americans have no clue about it, we are getting ourselves in the middle of another tribal dispute that does not align with our world views and will probably result in another party we don't like in control. Brilliant!

US turns over prisons to Karzai of the Afghans

And worries about the probability that dangerous characters will be released. Actually that should be certainty. Let's face it, anybody who was not Taliban going into prison sure is now after all that "coddling" they received.
If recent history is any guide, the decisions the Afghans make on Taliban releases after taking control are not likely to reassure the American military.

Among those released in recent years by Afghan officials or Afghan courts were most of the 46 Taliban prisoners who had been returned from the Guantánamo Bay prison camp. One became the top insurgent commander in southern Afghanistan: Maulavi Abdul Qayum Zakir, whose real name is Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul. He was released from an Afghan prison in late 2008, just before the American troop surge was to start. Another was the suicide bomber who in December very nearly killed Asadullah Khalid, the head of the Afghan intelligence service. The attacker had previously been freed by a presidential pardon, according to officials of that agency.

Keenly aware of such cases, American military commanders had stubbornly insisted that they retain some control over decisions about releasing prisoners, which in turn led to a toxic, protracted dispute with the government of PresidentHamid Karzai.

Now, however, the Americans have given in, their eyes on a post-2014 security deal seen as critical to keeping insurgents from returning and keeping tabs on two of Afghanistan’s worrisome neighbors, Iran and Pakistan, officials said. Western and Afghan officials interviewed about the issue spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive negotiations. The handover ceremony came just hours before the new American secretary of state, John Kerry, arrived in Kabul for talks with President Karzai.
Their reasons don't match ours which is a good reason why we should leave no one behind after 2014.

First take one deadly virus

Then put it in a lab for study, then manage to lose a vial of said virus. You are now in Texas.
A virus that authorities worry could easily be weaponized as an aerosol went missing from a medical research facility in south Texas, an official at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston said Saturday.

About a quarter of a teaspoon of frozen viral material went missing last Wednesday, UTMB President David L. Callender explained in prepared text. The virus is an exotic strain from south America called Guanarito, which can cause a life-threatening condition that includes fever, convulsions and hemmhoraging.
But have no fear. Despite the loss of Risk Level 4 materiel, the crack management team at the lab is on top of it.
“The only way it could pose a risk is if it were stolen and that’s unlikely,” UTMB scientific director Scott Weaver told The Houston Chronicle. “We don’t think anything that happened this past week endangers the community. We think this is an error that any one facility is inevitable and we are going to improve to prevent this in the future.”
Nothing to see here, let's move along now.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Republican Gospel on this Palm Sunday

They say Music hath charms to soothe the savage boob.

But most of the boobs I know would not take the time to listen to or watch one of the great masters play one of the best examples of what humanity is capable of creating. That may explain why they are savage boobs.

The Hunger Strike In Camp 6

Faced with eternal detention and a newer, more aggressive guard detail, the prisoners of Guanatanamo Bay have gone on a hunger strike.
It’s hunger-strike time at Guantánamo. And while the military and their captives dispute when it started and how widespread it is, it was clear from a three-day visit to the prison-camp compound this past week that the guard force is confronted with its most complex challenge in years.

• By this weekend, the U.S. military had defined 26 of the 166 captives as hunger strikers. Eight were being fed nutritional shakes through a tube snaked through a shackled captive’s nose to his stomach. Two were hospitalized, getting nutrition through a tube and intravenous hydration as well. Lawyers for the captives quote their clients as counting dozens more as long-term hunger strikers, who are getting weaker by the day.

• Communal captives are no longer cooperating with guards at the once-showcase Camp 6. They’ve covered the cameras inside their cells. They’ve quit going to art classes. Both sides report frequent fainting spells — the military calls them “Code Yellows” — although the prison spokesman says they’re fake, staged for visitors.

• More and more men are being moved out of communal confinement to the maximum-security prison, where up to 125 can be kept in 8-by-12-foot cells and where it’s easier to conduct tube feedings. But the Camp 5 commander, an Army captain who wouldn’t give her name, decided it would be too disruptive for a reporter to observe lunch being served there. To watch a guard pass a lunchbox through slits in the cell doors at the disciplinary block, the captain concluded, was too “high-risk.”


Although it’s camp policy to prevent a captive from starving himself, the prison staff talks about the possibility that a hunger-striking captive will be found dead one day.

Lawyers for the men say the strike was sparked in early February by an unusually aggressive search of prisoners’ Qurans that to them amounted to desecration. Prison staff says no Qurans were disrespected, no policy changed.

All sides blame long simmering frustration with President Barack Obama’s inability to deliver on his promise to close the facility.
At least they can blame it on President Obama. No one knows where to send them. No one wants them. And no one knows what to do with this last legacy from that GWOT upon the political landscape, George W. Bush.

There is a solution for every problem

And Brian McFadden shows us how to deal with all those infrastructure problems easily and simply. And within budget.

What's easy for the goose, is easy for the gander

And the easy in this case is the ease with which data is collected and stored for us and from these stores, about us.
Today, many experts predict that the next wave will be driven by technologies that fly under the banner of Big Data — data including Web pages, browsing habits, sensor signals, smartphone location trails and genomic information, combined with clever software to make sense of it all.

Proponents of this new technology say it is allowing us to see and measure things as never before — much as the microscope allowed scientists to examine the mysteries of life at the cellular level. Big Data, they say, will open the door to making smarter decisions in every field from business and biology to public health and energy conservation.

“This data is a new asset,” says Alex Pentland, a computational social scientist and director of the Human Dynamics Lab at the M.I.T. “You want it to be liquid and to be used.”

But the latest leaps in data collection are raising new concern about infringements on privacy — an issue so crucial that it could trump all others and upset the Big Data bandwagon. Dr. Pentland is a champion of the Big Data vision and believes the future will be a data-driven society. Yet the surveillance possibilities of the technology, he acknowledges, could leave George Orwell in the dust.
If it is true that, as one Microsoft adviser declared. "There’s no bad data, only bad uses of data", then how do we stop that bad use of what is so freely available? Or do we just get used to some bastard rummaging through our files whenever he pleases?

Always hold onto your edge.

The secret to NRA success in eliminating all gun law and regulation.

Republican Talking Points are now Mix-N-Match

In his latest appearance on Fuz Nooz, Kentucky's second greatest shame, Aqua Buddha, tried to show his kind feelings towards LGBT's. While still not approving of their right to marry, he did offer them a boon of great value.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Sunday suggested that implementing a flat tax could assuage gay and lesbian Americans who want equal marriage rights because straight marriages would not get a tax break.
Damn! That man is just the sole of Christian kindness.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It's Saturday Night, everybody has naughty thoughts

So let's post some naughty music for folks to enjoy. From 1938, Tampa Red.

And speaking of Popes

Bill Maher goes off on Catholicism.

Two Popes hang out, do lunch

And both got so blasted on the sacramental wine they couldn't stand up and had to lean on the furniture.

A man of low moral character

Is probably the best way to describe Pat Roberts, the mean spirited Senator from Kansas. His latest act of spite concerns the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Though his military service predated Viet Nam, his morality seems to have been derived from that war. His latest efforts call for cutting food stamps to save the program. Kinda like destroying the village to save it.
Once hailed as the savior of food stamps, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts has introduced a bill to cut $36 billion from the federal aid program over 10 years.

Up for re-election in 2014, the Republican says he’s trying to offer an alternative to both a budget proposal on the right that would effectively dismantle the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and another on the left that offers no savings at all.

Roberts said in an interview that the program must reform now or face more drastic changes down the road. “We have a program that could self-implode if we’re not careful. I don’t want to see that happen,” he said.

But critics complain that Roberts’ legislation would reduce or eliminate benefits for millions of needy Americans at a time when many still struggle to make ends meet in a weakened economy.

“Every one of the provisions in the bill would have detrimental impact on those who need help,” said Joanna Sebelien, chief resource officer for Harvesters: Community Food Network, a Kansas City, Mo., food bank. “It’s just so, so frustrating.”
I hope you noticed that he is up for re-election in '14. He is probably scared shitless about a Teabagger primary. Poor little man would rather hurt millions of people, including farmers in his own state rather than stand up to a small claque of cowards and bullys. Definately a man of low moral character.

Wayne LaPierre Is Full Of Shit

Friday, March 22, 2013

Now that the Civil Wars are not playing together

Maybe we can interest Krugman in another indie folk duo, these married to each other. They don't have many good videos out there yet, but that is a matter of time.

I guess no one has any.

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

Israel apologizes to Turkey for act of piracy.

You may remember that, as part of their illegal blockade of all commerce and aid to Gaza, Israeli commandos attacked a Turkish ship carrying supplies in international waters and during the attack gunned down 9 unarmed people including a Turkish citizen. After what was arguably Ben "Bugsy" Netanyahu's proudest moment, Turkey severed relations with Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Friday apologized in a personal phone call to Turkey’s prime minister for a deadly commando raid on a Turkish ship in 2010, in a sudden reconciliation between the two countries that was partly brokered by President Obama during his visit to Israel this week, according to Israeli, Turkish and American officials.

In the call, Mr. Netanyahu expressed regret for the raid, which took place as Israeli troops were enforcing an aid embargo on Gaza, and offered compensation, Turkish and Israeli officials said. And after years of holding out for a public apology for the deaths, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accepted Israel’s gesture in the phone call.

Afterward, officials from both countries said that diplomatic relations had been fully restored and that ambassadors would be reinstated.
Lord knows what was promised to Turkey, but it couldn't have come cheap.

NRA Youth Outreach shows first success

From the Raw Story:
A woman in coastal Brunswick, Georgia was shot in the leg and her 13-month-old son murdered in his stroller, allegedly by a pair of boys with a handgun. According to CNN, Sherry West was out walking her son Thursday morning when a pair of juveniles, one around 13 or 14 years of age and the other possibly as young as 10, approached her with a weapon and demanded her money.

“He said, ‘I am going to kill you if you don’t give me your money,’” said West.

When she replied that she wasn’t carrying any money, the older boy reportedly said, “Well, I am going to kill your baby.”

West tried to shield her child with her own body and was shot in the leg. The boy with the gun shot the infant in the head, then he and the other suspect fled on foot.

West’s son died at the scene. No witnesses have come forward and no weapon has been recovered. The boys are still at large.
The NRA hopes the lads will be more successful next time and score enough money to arm both of them.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Some fifty years ago

Oscar Peterson released an album with this Duke Ellington composition on it. It quickly became a favorite of jazz radio everywhere. Of course, to be honest, just about anything Oscar Peterson played became a favorite of the listeners.

Remember when drill baby drill was going to bring gas prices down?

Driil baby, drill!
It was so simple that even Sarah Plain and Louie Gohmert could say it without screwing up. But someone had trouble with the simple statement.
The U.S. is increasing its oil production faster than ever, and American drivers are guzzling less gas. But you'd never know it from the price at the pump.

The national average price of gasoline is $3.69 per gallon and forecast to creep higher, possibly approaching $4 by May.

"I just don't get it," says Steve Laffoon, a part-time mental health worker, who recently paid $3.59 per gallon to fill up in St. Louis.

U.S. oil output rose 14 percent to 6.5 million barrels per day last year — a record increase. By 2020, the nation is forecast to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest crude oil producer. At the same time, U.S. gasoline demand has fallen to 8.7 million barrels a day, its lowest level since 2001, as people switch to more fuel-efficient cars.

So is the high price of gasoline a signal that markets aren't working properly?

Not at all, experts say. The laws of supply and demand are working, just not in the way U.S. drivers want them to.
See, there is the problem, experts are involved. If the world would just let the prices be set by a bunch of costumed ninnyhammer Teabaggers, everything would be perfect. Until then Big Oil will continue to sell it anywhere they can get the highest price and profit margins.

Hey, when did the NRA go Platinum?

But I thought the river In Iraq was the Tigris?

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

R.I.P. Rise Stevens

So many years you were Carmen, so sad to hear you going.

Taliban as popular as Karzai

At least in some areas of the country. And when one area is the same region that first gave birth to the Talibs, you know they are doing something wrong.
Since early February, when villagers joined with police forces to begin ousting Taliban fighters from this region of rich vineyards and orchards southwest of Kandahar City, hundreds of residents have rallied to support the government. Nearly 100 village elders vowed at a public meeting Monday to keep the Taliban out as the new fighting season sets in, and Afghan flags are flying from rooftops in the villages, residents said.

Isolated uprisings against the Taliban have been reported in several different parts of Afghanistan over the past 18 months. But the revolt in Panjwai is considered significant because it is the first in southern Afghanistan, in the spiritual heartland of the Taliban movement, where the group’s influence had endured despite repeated operations by American and NATO forces.

Though no one is claiming that the Taliban are forever out of the fight even in this district — the insurgents have vowed a vengeful return and in the past week killed two men in the area — the Panjwai uprising has given an example of what can be accomplished when local resentment over bullying by militants is accompanied by reliable government support.
This does read somewhat like a nice propaganda piece, but tribalism is still a powerful force in Shitholeistan and should never be taken for granted.

Congress passes another continuing resolution

With enough funding to keep everything running until September. As usual it contains a number of bad ideas squeezed in to get some asshole's vote.
The funding plan for the rest of the year, which passed by a vote of 318 to 109, locks in across-the-board spending cuts that will usher in the most austere government outlook in decades. It underfunds key elements of the president’s health care law, as the administration builds up health insurance purchasing exchanges. And it makes permanent four formerly temporary gun-rights provisions just as Senate Democrats prepare a final push on gun control legislation.
After passing this idiot child, the House then passed Lyin' Ryan's Budgetary Shit Pile and the Republican/Teabaggers were so pleased with themselves they gave themselves 2 weeks off. Granted most people work harder taking a shit, but the delicate flowers in Congress need the time to regain their strength.

Is it Romney's fault

For exposing the vacuous nullity of Paul Ryan to the public when he was chosen to be Mitt's VP candidate? Or was it the incomprehensible dog's breakfast of every bad RWNJ fiscal idea that he called a budget that is dragging down his approval to Rick Scott levels? Either way, the more the public learned about Lyin' Ryan the less they liked him, unlike the Very Serious People inside the Beltway.
As Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget advances toward the finishing line in the Republican-led House, a new Rasmussen poll shows Ryan flailing with a 15 point drop from August of 2012, when Mitt Romney picked him as his Vice Presidential candidate. Ryan’s personal favorability now mirrors the approval of his budget at 35%...

Republicans support Ryan’s budget even as Ryan plunges in the polls — even Republicans think less of the Wisconsin Republican than they did in August of 2012. According to a new Rasmussen poll, Ryan’s favorability tanked to just 35% among all likely voters, which is a 15 point drop from his heyday as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

A whopping 54% view Paul Ryan unfavorably, with 12% undecided.

A separate Rasmussen poll determined that 35% favor Ryan’s budget plan with 49% opposed and 16% undecided. However, “It was described as a plan to balance the budget in 10 years without raising taxes but cutting spending by nearly $5 trillion in areas including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security but not defense.” That description is hopeful at best, since Ryan has still not done the math and his budget lacks specifics. There is no reason to assume his plan would balance the budget in ten years or even twenty years as it stands currently. Perhaps the Republicans are seeking solace in the numbers for Senator Patty Murray’s budget, which only got 19% favorability in the same poll.
Proof that when you look in the bag, people won't buy the pig in the poke.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Congress still won't talk about jobs & the economy

So I'll just let Brother Ray predict the future.

Off to an NRA approved school

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

Another day, another scam

This one involves heating oil and the illegal recycling of waste oil. And it reaches all the way up to one of the major East Coast oil companies.
State and federal authorities are investigating whether several New York heating oil businesses cheated tens of thousands of customers for years, selling fuel diluted with waste or recycled oil, according to law enforcement and city officials. Two related civil lawsuits make similar accusations against two other companies that in recent years have sold tens of millions of gallons of oil to New York City and New York State for schools, housing complexes, universities, hospitals and other buildings.

Burning waste oil in furnaces could present a significant environmental hazard, and if the accusations that the companies cut their fuel are correct, it would mean that dangerous amounts of toxic pollutants had been released into the atmosphere, experts said.

As part of the criminal investigation, the authorities on March 12 raided at least five heating oil businesses in and around the city, including a delivery company and several businesses that deal in waste oil and some that are licensed to recycle it.

Two days later, several commercial and residential building owners filed the two lawsuits, seeking class-action status. One accuses Castle Oil Corporation, which describes itself as the largest independent fuel oil distributor in the metropolitan area, of defrauding customers by mixing its fuel with waste oil. The other accuses Hess Corporation, among the world’s leading energy companies, of delivering fuel oil blended with waste oil to its customers, but one of the lawyers who brought the suit said in court last week that Hess might have been duped.
Another reason why you can't have clean air.

At 7:02 AM EDT

The Sun crossed the equator and officially ended winter, about a half hour after my driveway was plowed out of the residue of the latest winter storm. While Mother Nature may not respect the calendar, it does provide a marker for the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.

picture cheerfully swiped from the web

Cyprus tells ECB to get stuffed

And now they still have the problem of failed banks and how to save them or let them collapse. If they don't find a solution, the Cyprus economy may well collapse and they might leave the Euro. The probably should leave the Euro anyway, it obviously is not set up to help the smaller countries.

Stupidity, not just for Steubenville anymore.

It seems that football players have too much in common and so do their friends and supporters. Just after the guilty verdicts in the horrendous Steubenville Rape case, we find more football players in Torrington, CT thinking they shared the same entitlements as their Steubenville comrades.
The Register Citizen on Wednesday reported that Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio, both 18, had been arrested on charges of felony second-degree sexual assault and other crimes.

School officials told the paper that the incident was not an indication of deeper problems within the school’s culture.
No, really! Nothing to see here.
The sexual assault charges follow a string of recent incidents involving the Torrington football team. Four players were suspended last year in connection with a hazing scandal. And Gonzalez, the team’s second-highest scorer, was allowed to continue playing even after being charged with felony robbery and assault.

Former Head Coach Dan Dunaj defended his decision to allow Gonzalez to continue playing, saying that he “reeled the kid in after that, and he walked the line.”

“As a coach, I was doing something right,” Dunaj said. “[I]f you didn’t give the kid a chance then who’s going to?”
Looks like he got his second chance and committed a second crime. And as usual, their staunch supporters jump to their aid with the usual merciless abuse of the victim.
But The Register Citizen found evidence on social media that “dozens” of athletes and students had antagonized the girl, accusing her of “ruining the lives” of the football players.

“I wanna know why there’s no punishment for young hoes,” one student tweeted.

“You destroyed two people’s life,” another wrote.

One person posted a screen grab of an SMS message: “U should shout out the 8th grade hoes from torrington fucking juniors & seniors.”

“Idk what’ more sad,” the person wrote on Twitter. “The young ass hoes or the creeps fuckin these young ass hoes! Shouts out to Torrington CT!”
Torrington CT football players and their stooges, just one tick smarter than Steubenville because they didn't make videos and post them. But they are still a pack of evil shits.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Some singers whisper and squeak

And have to fellate the mike to be heard. And some like Kristina Train have the power and the pipes to keep the mike at a proper distance.

Republican recycling

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

Happy Anniversary Iraq

From the New York Times:
Iraq closed a painful decade just as it began: with explosions reverberating around the capital.

Beginning in the early morning Tuesday with the assassination of a Ministry of Finance official by a bomb attached to his vehicle and continuing for hours, the attacks were a devastating reminder of the violence that regularly afflicts Iraq. And they somehow seemed more poignant coming on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the American-led invasion, which is being marked in the West by new books, academic studies and polls retesting public attitudes a decade later.

By midmorning, the familiar sight of black smoke rose above a cityscape of palm fronds, turquoise-tiled mosque domes and squat concrete buildings. By midafternoon, the numbers stacked up: 52 dead and nearly 180 wounded in separate attacks that included 16 car bombs, 2 adhesive bombs stuck to cars, and 1 assassination with a silenced gun.

Most attacks hit Shiite neighborhoods, and their targets were varied: restaurants, a bank, a vegetable market and a parking garage. Others were near a courthouse and a university, and some seemed to have no other target than innocent passers-by. Many Iraqis say they are worried about an increase in sectarian tensions, and, while there were no immediate claims of responsibility, the attacks were carried out in the fashion of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni insurgent group left weakened but not vanquished by the American military.
We've come a long way in 10 years, haven't we?

Dear Georgie & Dickwad,

A veteran of Bush War II in Iraq has written a letter to the perpetrators of that continuing disaster. He was gravely wounded there and is now dying from hid wounds. He chose to write a letter to those who sent him to his fate. You can read the whole thing here. He explains himself in these two paragraphs.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Half of a Duo

Is not always less than the original whole. Jonatha Brooke began singing with her friend as The Story. Since going solo she has put out a number of albums and had her ups and downs. This is the title track from her 2007 album.

Who is that knocking at my door?

Tom Tomorrow let's all you Conservative Belles know who might be there when you play "Conservative Mystery Date".

Where gun rights trump your right to life.

Thanks to the NRA and its campaign to see no gun law or restriction exists, most of the states will allow a threatening husband/boyfriend to keep his weapons in spite of an Order of Protection.
Early last year, after a series of frightening encounters with her former husband, Stephanie Holten went to court in Spokane, Wash., to obtain a temporary order for protection.

Her former husband, Corey Holten, threatened to put a gun in her mouth and pull the trigger, she wrote in her petition. He also said he would “put a cap” in her if her new boyfriend “gets near my kids.” In neat block letters she wrote, “He owns guns, I am scared.”

The judge’s order prohibited Mr. Holten from going within two blocks of his former wife’s home and imposed a number of other restrictions. What it did not require him to do was surrender his guns.

About 12 hours after he was served with the order, Mr. Holten was lying in wait when his former wife returned home from a date with their two children in tow. Armed with a small semiautomatic rifle bought several months before, he stepped out of his car and thrust the muzzle into her chest. He directed her inside the house, yelling that he was going to kill her.

“I remember thinking, ‘Cops, I need the cops,’ ” she later wrote in a statement to the police. “He’s going to kill me in my own house. I’m going to die!”

Ms. Holten, however, managed to dial 911 on her cellphone and slip it under a blanket on the couch. The dispatcher heard Ms. Holten begging for her life and quickly directed officers to the scene. As they mounted the stairs with their guns drawn, Mr. Holten surrendered. They found Ms. Holten cowering, hysterical, on the floor.

For all its rage and terror, the episode might well have been prevented. Had Mr. Holten lived in one of a handful of states, the protection order would have forced him to relinquish his firearms. But that is not the case in Washington and most of the country, in large part because of the influence of the National Rifle Association and its allies.
Two conservative hypocrisies here. The NRA wants us to believe that an emotional retard who threatens his wife/girlfriend won't use his guns if a nice judge tells him not to. And second we see the Right to Life people surrendering to the gun lobby the right of individuals to survive. Yes, she is well past her birth, but what if she were pregnant? Would her ex-husband still have the right to kill her and her fetus because he used a gun?

EXTRA: Wonkette sums it up quite well.
But before you get all weepy about a few women who died from entirely preventable acts of violence that were arguably the direct result of a cynical lobbying strategy by the weapons industry, let’s remember that this is what freedom is all about. Yes these women and probably thousands like them might exist in a perpetual state of fear because the government that they fund is powerless to protect them from a known and completely fixable danger, but really shouldn’t the onus of keeping oneself safe from harm be on the individual anyway? More guns could easily defuse any and all domestic arguments. Each heated discussion in the kitchen about infidelities or which brand of dish soap to buy could be solved via quick draw contest, just like god intended! Let’s not let the “safety net” of an organized police force and justice system become a hammock for these lay-about domestic abuse victims. The NRA is helping them pull themselves up by their own holster-straps in order to take care of themselves! Therefore if these women fail to do so and end up being killed/raped by their ex-husbands then they really just brought the harm on themselves.

They're not going to take it

And the people of Cyprus will take down the bankers and politicians who approve of the felonious bailout plan or they will let their economy collapse before they are forced to pay for others, read bankers, mistakes.
President Nicos Anastasiades was trying to compel policy makers in Brussels to soften demands for a tax to be assessed on Cypriot bank deposits, saying European Union leaders used “blackmail” to get him to agree to those conditions early Saturday in order to receive a bailout package worth 10 billion euros, or $13 billion.

Cyprus, whose banking system is verging on collapse, is now the fifth nation in the 17-member euro union to seek financial assistance since the crisis broke out three years ago.

As anger in this country swelled against the measure, Mr. Anastasiades delayed an emergency vote parliamentary vote on the bailout plan until Tuesday, the second step in as many days. Faced with a lack of support from lawmakers, the vote could be delayed until as late as Friday.

The government also said it would keep Cypriot banks shuttered until at least Wednesday, beyond a bank holiday that was supposed to end Monday, a move aimed at staving off a possible bank run.

Cyprus’s banking association issued a statement calling on people to remain “calm,” saying it was ready to implement whatever measures were needed to protect the stability of the banking sector. The association said it would instruct banks to load automated teller machines with cash while banks remained closed.

Financial markets stuttered on the news, with Asian stocks suffering the most, closing down about 2 percent. European market indexes were off about 1 percent by the end of the session, and Wall Street shares were less than 0.4 percent lower in afternoon trading.

For the first time since the onset of the euro zone sovereign debt crisis and the bailouts of Greece, Portugal and Ireland, ordinary depositors — including those with insured accounts — were being called on to bear part of the cost, €5.8 billion.

The previous bailouts have been financed by taxpayers, and the new direction raised fears that depositors in Spain or Italy, two countries that have struggled economically of late, might also take flight.
The foolish embrace of austerity, even beyond the urging of the Germans will be yielding more bitter fruit soon.

Nothing gets in the way of profits

And if you run a factory farm, one of the most productive ways to maintain or increase profits is to cut corners and limit the animals in cruel and abusive ways. Some of these abuses may have carry over effects on the consumer. And the last thing the meat industry wants you to know is what is happening. With that in mind, their good friends at ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council a/k/a Abuse of Laws Elect Conservatives) have put forth some pre-written legislation to stop this outrage.
The bills to block animal rights activists are in California, Nebraska, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, according to The Associated Press. Three other states — New Mexico, Wyoming and New Hampshire — have already rejected similar bills this year, and HSUS told Raw Story that three more — Minnesota, Vermont and North Carolina — are yet expected to take them up.

Several states already have laws similar to what ALEC is pushing, and virtually all of them were triggered in response to shocking videos produced by animal rights activists, who some critics have taken to calling propagandists.

In one such recent case, undercover video from an Iowa factory farm produced by a group called Mercy for Animals caused the Iowa legislature to support a so-called “Ag-Gag” law that makes it a crime to lie in order to infiltrate a farm’s staff. That act is now a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,500. Lawmakers in Utah passed a similar law in 2012 that bans unauthorized photography in farms. Missouri also has an older law that accomplishes effectively the same thing.

“This, I think, this a good example of just how much this industry has to hide,” Shapiro said. “You know you’ve got a lot to hide when you want to make it a crime merely to take a photo of what you are doing.”
Why is it always cheaper to fight doing what is right than to do what is right?

His friends did him no favors

From the Raw Story:
A teenager who was shot and killed in Sterling, Virginia over the weekend may have accidentally entered the wrong home after a night of drinking.

Law enforcement officials told The Washington Post that the drunk teen had been dropped off by friends at a house just two doors down from where he lived. Both houses were two story, red brick homes and on the same side of the street.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office refused to release the names of anyone involved, and only described the shooting as an unknown intruder being killed by a homeowner.

According to the Post, law enforcement sources believed that the teen may have entered the home through a rear window and was not armed.
Being a stupid teenager should not be a capitol offense but maybe failing to identify your target should be.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Very traditional Irish

And probably the reason why Irish Americans drink so much more than their homies.

And when they pick a President, too.

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

The NRA goes international

In its quest to insure that no gun ever made goes without a home, The NRA is gearing up to oppose a UN arms treaty designed to limit the flow of weapons to areas of conflict.
The National Rifle Association, which is battling a raft of gun control measures on Capitol Hill, also has an international fight on its hand as it gears up to oppose a U.N. treaty designed to restrict the flow of arms to conflict zones.

Negotiations open Monday in New York on the Arms Trade Treaty, which would require countries to determine whether weapons they sell would be used to commit serious human rights violations, terrorism or transnational organized crime.

The gun lobby fears that the treaty would be used to regulate civilian weapons. Human rights activists counter that it would reduce the trafficking of weapons, including small arms such as the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifle, to outlaw regimes and rebel groups engaged in atrocities against civilian populations.

“This treaty is a common-sense alignment of the interests of governments, law-abiding citizens and individuals all over the world, who deserve the right to live free from harm,” said Michelle A. Ringuette, chief of campaigns and programs at Amnesty International USA. “Any step toward restraining the illicit sale and transfer of weapons used to commit horrific crimes is a good move forward, and the world could use a lot more steps in the direction of ending human rights abuses.”
Without the 2nd Amendment to distort in his favor, Mad Wayne LaPierre is going to need to get very creative for this one. Even their favorite tool won't work on foreigners.

Let them try it once and they WILL try again

The latest European Austerity/Pain measure
has most of Europe abuzz and Cypriots looking for ways to get their money out of the banks. The European finance ministers agreed to bailout Cyprus banks which were devastated by the enforced Greek austerity. The new twist is a requirement that a percentage of all savings, from 6.7% to 9.9% be stolen up front from all current accounts to partially pay for this.
Euro zone policymakers made a point of saying they would monitor any signs of money moving out of Cyprus but did not say how they might react in the event.

"For us, Cyprus is systemically relevant. Despite the small size of the economy, disorderly developments in Cyprus could undermine the important progress made in 2012 in stabilizing the euro zone," ECB policymaker Joerg Asmussen said after the Eurogroup meeting concluded before dawn on Saturday.

A Cypriot bank holiday on Monday will limit any immediate reaction. The deposit levy - set at 9.9 percent on bank deposits exceeding 100,000 euros and 6.7 percent on anything below that - will be imposed on Tuesday, if voted through in parliament.

That is not certain to happen, but fear of the alternative - probable default - will focus minds.
Theoretically the purpose of this is toprevent large Russian depositors from profiting from the bailout, a situation that really bothers Herr Chancellor Merkel. But in a largely peasant economy, who will leave their money in a bank that will steal up to 10%? Will there be an uncontrollable run on the banks? Will Cyprus go bust refusing the bailout? Will Tuesday be the day that Cyprus blows up the Euro? Time will tell.

Rand Paul "making his political bones"

And the first step is introducing a Zygote Personhood bill in the Senate.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Friday introduced so-called “fetal personhood” legislation that would completely outlaw abortion in the United States.

The Life at Conception Act would declare that human life began at conception, providing fertilized eggs with the same legal status as born persons.

“The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known – that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward,” Paul said in a statement. “ The right to life is guaranteed to all Americans in the Declaration of Independence and ensuring this is upheld is the Constitutional duty of all Members of Congress.”
This should wrap up the Reactionary Right whackdoodles vote for him. And lose the votes of most women and all the scientifically literate. One curious point about this, Paul's beloved Ayn Rand was quite specific that an embryo has no rights and abortion was a moral right of the woman who chooses to have the procedure. I guess the copies of Ayn's books that he sells to his staff have those bits cut out.

Steubenville gets its scapegoats

True the price was high, losing the star quarterback and wide receiver. But the upside is several other teammates were spared by turning states witness, the coach has not been charged as an accessory or for obstructing justice and thanks to juvenile law, Ma’lik Richmond could get out in time to attend his senior prom.
The verdict came after four days of testimony that was notable for how Ohio prosecutors and criminal forensics investigators analyzed hundreds of text messages from more than a dozen cellphones and created something like a real-time accounting of the events surrounding the incident and aftermath.

Through the prosecution’s reconstruction and reading aloud of these messages, Judge Lipps heard Mr. Mays in texts from his cellphone state that he had used his fingers to penetrate the girl, who he also referred to in a separate message as “like a dead body.” In another text message, Mr. Mays admitted to the girl that he took the picture that had already circulated among other students of her lying naked in the basement with what he told her was his own semen on her body, from what he stated was a consensual sex act.

Other text messages read before the judge suggested that Mr. Mays grew increasingly worried within the first day or two, urging a friend to curb dissemination of a video related to the assault. He also seemed to try to orchestrate a cover-up, telling a friend in a text, “Just say she came to your house and passed out.”
Even when throwing the book at juveniles, it all ends at age 21. Had either of these feckless lads been tried as an adult, he would have been making Bubba happy for many years to come. In the end justice was required to give the victim a "Fuck You" and now the town can go back to saying all the malicious things about her and saying how the poor boys were railroaded.

UPDATE: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has said he would convene a grand jury to consider the broader complicity of numerous people in this case. Apparently the evidence trail in this case is as big as a super highway.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The name that broke apart so many Irish families

Ellis Island.

Time to give the people what they want.

Or you could say Shitholeistan for the Shitholeies.
The continued presence of American Special Operations troops in Wardak Province, against the wishes of the Afghan government, brought demonstrators to the capital on Saturday and provoked a strongly worded denunciation from Muslim clerics.

President Hamid Karzai had given the Americans until March 10 to remove all Special Operations troops from the province, after complaints about night raids in which victims disappeared. In two cases, local officials and residents contend, bodies later showed up beheaded.

American forces are still in the province, and the top American commander, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., said that despite public demands by President Karzai for such a withdrawal, “he has not issued a directive to the force and he realizes that we’re working this as quickly as we can,” referring to a longer-term plan to hand over authority to Afghan officials. American officials have confirmed that no withdrawal of the Special Operations troops is currently under way.

On Saturday, the influential Ulema Council, whose members are appointed by President Karzai and represent all of the country’s Islamic clerics, issued a threatening statement demanding the withdrawal from Wardak as well as a transfer of the American-controlled prison at Bagram to Afghan control.

“If the Americans once again do not honor their commitments and keep on disobeying, then this will be considered as an occupation, and they may expect to see a reaction to their action.”
Even after more than 10 years, we have to realize it is still their country. It is quite rude not to respect their wishes.

Like two skinny kids in sumo suits

Overwhelmed by the immense padding of the suits, they flail away at each other in ways that won't ever be effective. Such is the latest part of the Best Korea/US confrontation.
The Pentagon will spend $1 billion to deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors along the Pacific Coast to counter the growing reach of North Korea’s weapons, a decision accelerated by Pyongyang’s recent belligerence and indications that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, is resisting China’s efforts to restrain him.

The new deployments, announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday, will increase the number of ground-based interceptors in California and Alaska to 44 from 30 by 2017.

The missiles have a mixed record in testing, hitting dummy targets just 50 percent of the time, but officials said Friday’s announcement was intended not merely to present a credible deterrence to the North’s limited intercontinental ballistic missile arsenal. They said it is also meant to show South Korea and Japan that the United States is willing to commit resources to deterring the North and, at the same time, warn Beijing that it must restrain its ally or face an expanding American military focus on Asia.
Yessir, By God! We are so willing, we will piss away a Billion dollars on an ineffective system to counter an attack from an ineffective system. That should show them we mean business! And once again a worthless weapons system, desperately in need of cutting, gets a new lease on life.

Remember The Nuns On The Bus?

The group that faced off against the reactionary US Catholic Bishops regarding much of election years politics. One bone of contention was the so-called Ryan Budget, not really a budget but a wish list of tax cuts for the wealthy and social program cuts and tax increases for most Americans. Because Lyin' Ryan made much of his Catholicism, the nuns appealed to him to practice his alleged faith. As it turned out, he prayed more at the altar of Ayn Rand than at the cathedral. The nuns are hoping to make one more appeal.
A nun with the Catholic social justice group NETWORK Lobby said in an interview with Raw Story on Friday that she was encouraged by the new pope’s emphasis on income inequality, and her “secret dream” was for Pope Francis to write a letter to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) about his “extremely unjust” budget.

“I guess one of my secret dreams would be to invite Pope Francis to write a letter to Paul Ryan about his budget. I think Paul Ryan’s budget, for one thing, strongly increases the wealth gap. And I think that’s something that Pope Francis would be very opposed to,” Sister Marge Clark, NETWORK’S lobbyist on domestic human needs, told Raw Story.

NETWORK has been a strong voice against income inequality and organized a “Nuns on the Bus” tour last year to bring attention to the fact that Ryan’s 2012 budget, which similarly cut programs for the poor while expanding tax cuts for the wealthy went against Catholic teachings.

Clark described Ryan’s budget this year as “extremely unjust.”
Francis the Talking Pope has made this one of his areas of deep concern, I hope she can make a connection with him.

A Virtual Who's Who of WTF!

Bill Maher's New Rules adresses CPAC and other Republican/Teabagger myths.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sunday is St. Patrick's Day

So a few tunes to get you properly in the mood, starting with Planxty, a band that started in the '70s and, on and off, played through to 2005.

Big Banks see a rebound in the housing market.

But probably not for the reasons you might think. According to a report in Bloomberg:
Ben S. Bernanke’s efforts to revive housing are making real estate bulls even more bullish.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) more than doubled its forecast for U.S. home price gains in 2013 to 7 percent this week, and predicts a more than 14 percent increase through 2015. Bank of America Corp. (BAC) said last week property values will jump 8 percent this year, up from a prior estimate of 4.7 percent in a report titled “Someone say house party?”

The two biggest U.S. banks are predicting an accelerating rebound as homebuyers and investors rush to acquire a dwindling supply of properties and the Federal Reserve pushes down borrowing costs by buying mortgage bonds. That’s strengthening the economy and sustaining a rally in homebuilder shares after the stocks more than doubled since the end of 2011.
Got that? They are running out of foreclosed homes to buy after they ruined the lives of millions of Americans to be able to steal those homes.
Growth last year was driven by a lack of housing stock coupled with rising demand from institutional investors, including private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, which has purchased 20,000 single-family homes to rent. The number of homes for sale fell 5 percent to 1.74 million in January from the year-earlier period, the fewest since December 1999, according to the National Association of Realtors...

Fed Chairman Bernanke has sought to bolster the economy with bond purchases each month. While the most recent round has “not done much for mortgage rates” the “resulting reach for yield is now firmly grounded in the housing market,” they wrote.
But that nice Mr Bernancke is still working to insure they will make a healthy profit when they fence the goods. And well he should, as they are running low on new properties to steal what with being forced to re-negotiate and all that.
One issue that’s propelled prices has been shrinking supply from foreclosed homes. In 2012, 1.3 million liquidations occurred, about 30 percent less than the bank expected, in part because of loan modifications that let distressed borrowers stay in their houses.

Foreclosures plunged 29 percent last month from a year earlier to the lowest level since 2007 amid increased efforts by state lawmakers and courts to delay property seizures, according to RealtyTrac.

JPMorgan estimates that by the end of the year, 10 percent of borrowers will be underwater, or owe more on their mortgages than the home is worth, compared with 25 percent two years ago. As distressed sales continue to decline and the inventory of homes remains tight, demand for non-performing assets will probably increase, according to the report.
It's nice to know the Banksters will be allowed to continue profiting from the misery of millions of Americans that they created.

Mitch For Sale

He was gonna bring 'em some freedoms

At least that was what W was told to say, but no one has ever determined what thoughts were actually in President Cheney's mind when he started W's Dirty Little Private War.What we do know is that 10 years after it began, the Middle East just keeps getting worse.
Ten years later, the era that dawn ushered in looks anything but simple. After tens of thousands of deaths, not just of Americans, but also of Iraqis – many, if not most, at the hands of other Iraqis – that country is still in turmoil. American troops are gone and a democratically elected government rules. But bombings and massacres continue, and the country remains mired in sectarian feuding between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Elsewhere, conflict rules – in some cases, coincidentally, with anniversaries that fall also around this weekend:

– In Libya, French planes under NATO command opened the campaign to topple Moammar Gadhafi on March 19 two years ago. Today, a democratic government is in place, though it controls little in the face of Islamist militias whose unchecked presence frequently forces the national assembly to cancel sessions. Libyan weapons, taken from Gadhafi’s unguarded stores, were crucial to the advance of Islamist fighters in Mali.

– In Syria, the civil war marks its second year on Friday, with most observers calling the conflict a stalemate and the death toll likely to have passed 70,000 – and rising every day. The Obama administration has called for the defeat of President Bashar Assad even as it denounces as a terrorist group the most effective anti-Assad rebel military faction, the Nusra Front – a branch of al Qaida in Iraq, the same radical Islamist group that the U.S. fought in that country and that the current Iraqi government also is battling.

– Even the relatively peaceful January revolutions that ushered in what came to be known as the Arab spring two years ago are unsettled. In Egypt, the world’s most populous Arab country, a religiously affiliated political party fights to establish its pre-eminence against a group of revolutionaries who demand a share of political power but seem incapable of organizing for upcoming parliamentary elections. Anti-government demonstrations have become so frequent that they hardly deserve news coverage, and the economy is in free fall.

Never has the region seen so much change in the nine decades since the end of World War I, when Western powers carved up the territories of the defeated Ottomans by drawing lines across a map.

The role in that turmoil of U.S. intervention – direct, in the cases of Iraq and Libya, and through rhetoric, in Syria and Egypt – remains an open question.
What we do know is that all the US decision makers from that era have profited mightily and never spent on minute in the jail cels they so richly deserve. But they sure did make a lot of people suffer.

A good idea

Poor Republican/Teabaggers,
so determined to keep President Obama from spending any money for the good of the country that their heads must assplode when he proposes an idea like this.
With few options available for financing his clean-energy ambitions, President Obama on Friday will propose diverting $2 billion in revenue from federal oil and gas leases over the next decade to pay for research on advanced vehicles, White House officials said.

Mr. Obama will visit the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago to tour its state-of-the-art research facilities and to promote his idea, first proposed in last month’s State of the Union address, to use oil and gas money to find ways to replace hydrocarbons as the primary fuel for the nation’s cars, trucks and buses.

The idea enjoys some bipartisan and business support, but is likely to encounter strong resistance from Congressional Republicans, who will portray it as a tax on energy producers. The White House says the money will come from growth in drilling revenue from leases on public lands and waters over the next decade and is not a new tax.
A clever repurposing of funds that the Teabaggers can't stop. Fuck them if they can't take a joke or anything else.

Jeez, he has only been in office 2 days

And the Vatican is already defending Francis the Talking Pope against charges that he was complicit in the Argentine Dirty War.
For the first time since the election of Pope Francis two days ago, the Vatican on Friday formally defended him from accusations that, decades ago, in the so-called Dirty War in his home country of Argentina, he knew about serious human rights abuses but failed to do enough to halt them.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said there had “never been a credible accusation against him” relating to the period in the 1970s when he was the superior of the Jesuit order in Argentina.

Indeed, “there have been many declarations of how much he did for many people to protect them from the military dictatorship,” Father Lombardi said in a statement at a news conference.

“The accusations belong to the use of a historical-social analysis of facts for many years by the anticlerical left to attack the church and must be rejected decisively.”...

But the question of his past has never been far below the surface, rekindling accusations relating to a conflict in which as many as 30,000 people were disappeared, tortured or killed by the dictatorship.

At the news conference on Friday, Father Lombardi repeated assertions by a prominent human rights campaigner that there had been “no compromise by Cardinal Bergoglio with the dictatorship.”

The debate has simmered in Argentina, with journalists there publishing articles and books that appear to contradict Cardinal Bergoglio’s account of his actions. These accounts draw not only on documents from the period, but also on statements by priests and lay workers who clashed with Cardinal Bergoglio.
For those of us old enough to remember, the defense sounds very similar to those used to defend Pope Pius XII of charges of collusion with the Nazis during WW II. And the situation is similar, a high church official having to deal with a brutal dictatorship that controls his environment. And just as with Pius XII, we will never really know what he thought and how much he did, good or bad.

Ignorant Buffoon Paul Ryan speaks at CPAC

And by all accounts it was as deep as a reflecting pool and as substantial as a baby fart. Despite a lot of people trying to dress up Ryan in undeserved raiment, he has always been a lightweight. His pretty boy demeanor and glib manner have been used by others to advance ideas that no one else wanted to be associated with and he never showed any comprehension of what he was really doing.
At CPAC, Ryan attacked the Senate Democrats’ budget, “You know, this has been a really big week. We got white smoke from the Vatican, and a budget from the Senate. The Senate, they call their budget a foundation for growth, restoring the promise for American opportunity. Wow, I feel like saluting already, but when you read it, you find the Vatican isn’t the only place blowing smoke this week. You see the Democrats, they call their budget a balanced approach. The thing is, they never balance the budget ever. In fact, they call for another trillion dollar plus tax hike on top of even more spending. If we did nothing, meaning not pass their budget, the government would save money.”

The rest of Ryan’s defense of his budget was almost word for word taken from lines that he used last year as Mitt Romney’s running mate. The so called ‘numbers guy’ ignored several realities about his own budget. Paul Ryan’s budget is predicated on the big lie that Obamacare adds to the deficit. Ryan has admitted that his entire budget implodes if Obamacare isn’t repealed. Not only does his budget not balance, it isn’t even based in reality.
Paul Ryan truly is a Potemkin person and in no way deserves the adulation of the ignorant he takes as his due.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It only took two

When Santo and Johnny first played Sleep Walk. Now it takes 3 of the primo slide guitar players Sonny Landreth, Colin Linden and Steve Dawson, plus some helpers, to do it.

You can check it out against the original.

Indulging in a little hero worship

When you answer to your neighbors

Instead of the the money hungry hounds of Wall St., you do a better job. And that is why some cities are re-examining the advantages of municipal electric companies.
Roughly 70 percent of the nation’s homes are powered through private, investor-owned utilities, which are allowed to earn a set profit on their investments, normally through the rates they charge customers. But government-owned utilities, most of them formed 50 to 100 years ago, are nonprofit entities that do not answer to shareholders. They have access to tax-exempt financing for their projects, they do not pay federal income tax and they tend to pay their executives salaries that are on par with government levels, rather than higher corporate rates.

That financial structure can help municipal utilities supply cheaper electricity. According to data from the federal Energy Information Administration, municipal utilities over all offer cheaper residential electricity than private ones — not including electric cooperatives, federal utilities or power marketers — a difference that holds true in 32 of the 48 states where both exist. In addition, they can plow more of their revenue back into maintenance and prevention, which can result in more reliable service and faster restorations after power failures.

In Massachusetts after Hurricane Irene in 2011, for instance, municipal utilities in some of the hardest-hit areas were able to restore power in one or two days, while investor-owned companies like NStar and National Grid took roughly a week for some customers. According to an advocacy group called Massachusetts Alliance for Municipal Electric Choice, government-owned utilities on average employ more linemen per 10,000 customers than the private companies.

And in Winter Park, Fla., which in 2005 took over from its private utility, now part of Progress Energy, customers pay competitive rates for more reliable service, said Randy Knight, the city manager. It took time to get there: The utility lost money and raised rates in its early years while it made capital improvements to the system. But now, Mr. Knight said, it is making about $5 million in profit on about $45 million in revenue, profit that is paying to put the wires underground. The city has already buried 10 of its 80 miles of cable, a project that should be completed in the next 15 years at current rates and power supply costs.
It's not all beer 'n skittles for municipal systems. And the private utilities can be expected to put up a hell of a fight to keep the people from taking the bonuses from the mouths of their CEO's, but overall it can be a winner for people.

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