Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hockey and poutine are OK

But Catherine MacLellan is a Canadian treasure. This is from her 2009 album Water in the Ground, "Everything'll Be Alright"

Any day now

According to The Register, just as soon as his people can get the SpaceShipTwo up there, Virgin Galactic will be flying people with too much money into space.
Beardy Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is one step closer to opening its cabin doors for business, having secured authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to launch its rocket plane from US soil.

The Virgin mogul's space tourism outfit announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the FAA that spells out how the agency will provide clear airspace for Virgin Galactic's space missions.

The company will work with the FAA's Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to coordinate its commercial flights, which it plans to launch from Spaceport America, located in the New Mexico desert.

In addition, Virgin Galactic has secured agreements with the FAA's Joshua Control Facility and Edwards Air Force Base to continue its tests in California.

"As a whole, these agreements provide coverage for the company's airspace needs through the remainder of the test flight program in California and into commercial service in New Mexico," the company said in a canned statement.

The announcement was made mere hours before Elon Musk's SpaceX, Branson's main rival in the commercial space race, unveiled its new Dragon V2 spacecraft at an event in Hawthorne, California.

Branson says his outfit plans to start launching well-heeled passengers into space by the end of this year, and that more than 600 people have plonked down $250,000 apiece for the privilege – including Mark Zuckerberg nemeses Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who paid in Bitcoin.

On top of the fee, each passenger will have to undergo some medical checks and complete a three-day training course before boarding Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane.
You can pay for it in BitCoin and the FAA says its OK with it. Just as soon as I save up $250,000, I'll be good to go.

A change of perspective can bring clarity

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

Outside of Texas, at least

The establishment Republicans are sensing weakness in their Teabagger foes and are preparing to get medieval on their asses.
Tea Party thunder fills the Hilton Riverside ballroom with denunciations of President Obama and criticism of congressional Republicans for not being tough enough on him. The atmosphere has the energetic but hostile tone that helped propel conservatives to success in 2010.

Yet outside of this hermetic setting, where the Republican Leadership Conference was meeting this weekend, the political reality was sharply different: Incumbents have fended off Tea Party challengers in primary after primary, and the establishment has reasserted itself as the party’s center of gravity.

The ultimate test of its strength will come on Tuesday in Mississippi, where Senator Thad Cochran, a 76-year-old master of pork-barrel spending who is seeking a seventh term, will face a challenge from State Senator Chris McDaniel, who has attracted support from Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum and an array of conservative groups.

After the Mississippi results are in, Tea Party-aligned forces will have little opportunity to upend mainline Republicans, or even throw them much of a scare.
Haley Barbour, a former governor of Mississippi, was among the few speakers at the conference to call for party unity. Credit Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

That 2014 has been the year that the establishment struck back — preparing and financing their candidates with a new determination and focus — is evident in their success.

That may prove to have been the easy part. Republicans on both sides of the internal divide are now looking at the impact the primary season will have as the party seeks to build on its House majority and take control of the Senate this year and win back the White House in 2016.

Emboldened by their success, establishment Republicans are using tough language about the party’s more conservative groups. They are suggesting that the federal government shutdown last fall — led by hard-liners like Senate Ted Cruz of Texas — and this year’s primary results have staggered the organizations claiming the Tea Party mantle.
The best outcome will be for many Teabaggers to stay home on Election Day in November and not vote for the impure candidates of the establishment.

Every family wanted sons

So now all those stupid boogers in India have no wives for them. So they go out and do this shit. And don't believe that crap about castes being abolished.
Police arrested a third suspect Saturday in the gang rape and slaying of two teenage cousins found hanging from a tree in northern India, as a top state official said he was recommending a federal investigation into a case that has triggered national outrage.

The three suspects detained in the attack in Uttar Pradesh state are cousins in their 20s from an extended family, and they face murder and rape charges, crimes punishable by the death penalty, said police officer N. Malik. Two other suspects from the same village are also being sought, he said.

Facing growing criticism for a series of rapes, authorities in Uttar Pradesh, which has a long-standing reputation for lawlessness, also arrested two police officers and fired two others Friday for failing to investigate when the father of one of the teenagers reported the girls missing earlier in the week.

The gang rape and killing of the 14- and 15-year-old girls — which was followed by TV footage showing their corpses swaying as they hung from a mango tree — has caused outrage across the nation. The father who reported the girls missing, Sohan Lal, has demanded a federal investigation...

The girls in the latest incident were attacked in the tiny village of Katra, about 180 miles from Lucknow. They disappeared Tuesday night after going into fields near their home to relieve themselves.

Lal went to police to report them missing, but he said they refused to help. That infuriated his neighbors, who, once the bodies were discovered, refused to allow them to be taken down from the tree until the first arrests were made.

The girls were Dalits, from the community once known as "untouchables" in India's ancient caste system. The fired policemen and the men accused in the attack are Yadavs, a low-caste community that dominates that part of Uttar Pradesh. The chief minister is also a Yadav.

Also in Uttar Pradesh state, police on Thursday arrested three men for brutally attacking the mother of a rape victim after she refused to withdraw her complaint.

The attack, in the town of Etawah, followed the May 11 rape of the woman's teenage daughter. The arrests were made after the mother filed a complaint with authorities.
Maybe the NRA should go to India and start selling guns to women. It's a large market and obviously there is no "good guy with a penis" to stop the "bad guys with a penis".

Lone US PW in Shitholeistan has been freed

From Al-Jazeera:
The only American soldier held captive in Afghanistan has been freed and is in U.S. custody as part of a prisoner swap with Guantanamo detainees, the White House said Saturday.

Officials confirmed that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release was part of a negotiation that includes the release of five Afghans held at the controversial U.S. camp in Cuba. Bergdahl is expected to be transferred to Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, from where he will be flown to the United States.

A U.S. defense official said Bergdahl became emotional after he became aware of his release.

"Once the was on the helicopter, he wrote on a paper plate, 'SF?'" the official said, referring to the abbreviation for special forces.

"The operators replied loudly, 'Yes, we've been looking for you for a long time.' And at this point, Sergeant Bergdahl broke down."

His family were told of Bergdahl's release by President Obama. “We were so joyful and relieved when Pres. Obama called us today to give us the news that Bowe is finally coming home," his parents said in a statement.

Bergdahl was said to be in good condition and able to walk. The exchange was mediated by the government of Qatar, the U.S. confirmed...

The five Afghan detainees from Guantanamo were still at the base as of Saturday morning, but were being transferred into the custody of Qatari officials. Under the conditions of their release, the detainees will be banned from traveling outside of Qatar for at least one year.
But we are still going to leave 9800 soldiers there after yearend incase the Taliban wants to make any more swaps.

Another first for the USA

If the reports are true
, we have had our first American born suicide bomber. Fortunately he chose to do his stuff in Syria, this time.
The young American suicide bomber who last weekend blew up an explosives-laden truck halfway across the world in Syria made his home in Florida, law enforcement officials said Friday. Records indicate the man played high school basketball in Vero Beach and lived at some point in Fort Pierce.

The 22-year-old, identified late Friday in news reports as Moner Mohammad Abusalha, is believed to have been the first American suicide bomber in Syria.

Few details have emerged on Abusalha, whose name was kept secret by federal authorities for most of Friday while they interviewed his family and friends — some of them elsewhere in Florida — and traced his movements, investigating whether he was recruited or radicalized online.

Basketball statistics posted on a youth sports website show Abusalha played in 2007 for the Indian River Warriors, a team based in Vero Beach. Records show his parents have lived there and owned several grocery stores along the Treasure Coast.

Law enforcement sources told the Miami Herald that Abusalha resided, at least for some time, in Fort Pierce, about 130 miles north of Miami. The most recent address listed for him in public records — an apartment with a blue door in a one-story Fort Pierce building — now has a different tenant who said he didn’t recognize Abusalha’s name.

At the nearby Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, an imam who did not give his name declined an interview request late Friday. Earlier in the day, several men leaving an afternoon prayer who were shown Abusalha’s photograph said they did not know him.

Photographs posted on jihadi social media sites show the suicide bomber purportedly in Syria, smiling and sporting a reddish-brown beard. In one of them, he is cradling a cat.

Those photos seem to match a Facebook profile for Moner Abusalha, who is pictured in one of his posts there standing in front of a beach. His other posts show Abusalha was religious and frequently mentioned prayer, God and the Prophet Mohammed. He also liked football, video games and Dunkin’ Donuts.

In Syria, the suicide bomber was known by his nom de guerre, Abu Hurayra al Ameriki, or Abu Hurayra the American. The original Abu Hurayra was a companion of the Prophet Mohammed and is considered one of the most important figures in early Islamic history.
All those who had Florida as his home state in the pool can collect their winnings.

Friday, May 30, 2014

She sounds both old and new

Kelsey Waldon is a country singer from Kentucky paying her dues in a tough business. Here she sings "Not My First Time"

Thanks to American Industrialists in the M-I-C

The US military and spy business rely on Russian rocket engines
to send our spy satellites and other hardware aloft. Seems we haven't been able to build a powerful and reliable rocket engine for some years now.
U.S. military officials and space-industry experts say it’s high time the United States had an industrial base that produced rocket engines that can do what the Russian engines do. Congress is in the process of authorizing money for such an effort. In theory, it’s a no-brainer: Why rely on Russians for such an integral element of the U.S. national security program?

But everything is highly inertial in the world of rocket science. The creation of powerful rocket engines in the United States could take several years at least. If the supply of Russian engines were cut off in the meantime, the U.S. launch program would face delays, with attendant costs to the taxpayers of billions of dollars, according to a recent U.S. Air Force study.

Currently the United States is planning 38 launches of the Atlas V, the main stage of which uses the Russian-made, liquid-fueled RD-180 engine, but it has only 16 of those RD-180s in the stockpile, the study said.

Another complication is that both the United States and Russia have enjoyed doing space-related business with each other for a number of years. The Russians like the hard currency coming into their country, and American aerospace companies like the reliable, robust Russian hardware.

Although the central planners of the Soviet Union struggled to create simple consumer goods, they excelled at ordering up large things like military weaponry and rocket engines. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. policy encouraged government agencies and aerospace companies to snap up Russian hardware and keep the Russian engineers busy, lest they find employment in countries hostile to U.S. interests.

Long-term U.S. plans to produce a domestic cousin to the RD-180 never got off the ground. The aerospace sector discovered that it was comfortable with the workhorse Russian engines when it came time to launch sensitive missions like spy satellites. The Atlas V rocket has made more than 50 consecutive successful launches using the RD-180. NASA and other government agencies rely on the Atlas V for some of their scientific payloads.

“The former Soviet Union invested in technology. Our country has not invested in that technology for now going on 30 years,” said Mike Gass, the chief executive of United Launch Alliance, the 50-50 joint partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing that owns the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets and has a virtual monopoly on national security launches.

“One thing about the Russians, it may not be the most elegant and subtle design, but man, the thing works. It’s a tank,” said another executive in the U.S. launch industry, requesting anonymity because of the delicate nature of the issue.

The United States and Russia continue to cooperate in operating the International Space Station with their other partners. But on May 13, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of the country’s space sector, said at a media briefing that his country would no longer sell rocket engines to the United States for military purposes. On his Twitter account he made a reference to the U.S. reliance on Russian rockets to send astronauts to and from the International Space Station, saying the United States should consider using a trampoline.
Once upon a time we had the skills and the industry to produce them. One upon a time we had a government that was capable and interested in governing and maintaining our country. Then St. Ronnie was elected.

Synthetic biology

Which is just another way of saying genetic modification, in this case with artificially designed and created DNA for bacteria and algae. The products that result are desirable but no one knows yet about the process.
An ingredient crucial to malaria drugs, artemisinin, is already being produced from a yeast altered through synthetic biology. Specific brands have not been disclosed.

Solazyme points to substances like rennet, a key processing aid in cheese-making that requires an enzyme called chymosin to promote clotting. Traditionally, calves’ stomachs were used to provide that enzyme to curdle milk for cheese. But since the late 1990s, rennet has been generated by a microbe whose genetic code was altered with the insertion of a single bovine gene, and that process is the one most widely in use now in the United States.

The processes using synthetic biology involve techniques that more extensively alter genetic code. Those include “artificial gene synthesis,” in which DNA is created on computers and inserted into organisms, and other methods for changing DNA sequences and genes within organisms to alter their function.

Such techniques are used to coax bacteria, fungi and other organisms into producing substances they do not naturally produce. The algae now churning out the oil Ecover is using in its laundry detergent, for instance, would not generate such oil without genetic tinkering.

“It is not possible to harvest algae in the sea and get this oil,” Mr. Domen said.
Continue reading the main story

According to the ETC Group, a Canadian organization that tracks emerging technologies, Ecover is so far the only company that has publicly confirmed the use of synthetic biology to create an ingredient found in a specific product, its Ecover Natural Laundry Liquid.

Ecover buys the ingredient, algal oil from Solazyme, which used to describe itself as a synthetic biology company but has taken the term off its website.

“We use both natural strains, classic breeding, and strain selection, along with the tools of modern biotechnology, to produce a wide variety of oils and ingredients,” Genet Garamendi, a spokeswoman for Solazyme, wrote in an email.

Solazyme describes the organism that produces the oil as “an optimized strain” of single-cell algae “that have been in existence longer than we have.”

The company already sells its own line of cosmetics made from a different algal oil, Algenist, that are carried in stores like Sephora and Nordstrom.

Solazyme pointed to the environmental benefits of its processes and noted that the World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Alliance and other environmental groups support its work. “We use molecular biology and standard industrial fermentation to produce renewable, sustainable algal oils that help alleviate pressures on the fragile ecosystems around the Equator that are frequently subject to deforestation and habitat destruction,” Jill Kauffman Johnson, the company’s director of sustainability, wrote in an email answering questions posed to Ms. Garamendi.

Other environmental and consumer groups, however, want Ecover to note the use of synthetic biology in the new oil it is using so that consumers know what they are buying.
Under what guidelines are genes created and/or modified and how thoroughly is the testing to prevent adverse results escaping the lab? So far we just have to take their word for it.

A race to the finish?

The ALEC sucking, Teabagging mass of hillbillies calling themselves the North Carolina legislature is working hard and as fast as possible to complete the destruction of the state before the election. One might think they are afraid that they will be tossed out of office by the voters in November, but it is more likely these goobers want to rush home and brag about the pile of shit they left on the floor.
In a rush of 11th-hour activity, the North Carolina legislature gave final approval to a bill allowing the state to issue permits for hydraulic fracturing for gas extraction. The bill now goes to Governor Pat McCrory, who has already signaled his intention to sign it.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, involves injecting a mixture of water, chemicals and sand or gravel into rock under high pressure in order to force out natural gas or oil.

North Carolina had a moratorium in place, prohibiting fracking until the state approved new rules to regulate the practice, but Thursday’s bill leapfrogs the process. The new law will see permits issued 61 days after the state finalizes its regulations.

Legislation passed in the Republican-dominated Senate without debate hours after the N.C. House, led by Speaker Thom Tillis, North Carolina’s GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, approved the bill after voting down or blocking with parliamentary maneuvers about a dozen amendments.
And one more time since the Teabagger takeover of the state, the people of North Carolina have been sold down the river for a handful of silver.

A good man attacked by curs.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has tendered his resignation and President Obama has accepted it and the swine who starved the VA of funds and their running dogs are grunting and howling with joy.
President Barack Obama announced on Friday the had accepted VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation "with considerable regret" after determining that the politics of the growing scandal at the department were becoming a distraction.

Shinseki, a decorated Army general, was seen as damaged following a scandal over nationwide gaming of treatment numbers at VA hospitals, and dozens of members of Congress from both parties had called for him to step down.

Obama said Shinseki's commitment to veterans is unquestioned. He praised Shinseki for helping to reduce veteran homelessness, improve services for women veterans and cut back on the VA's record backlog of disability claims.

"Ric Shinseki has served his country with honor for nearly 50 years," Obama said. "He did two tours of combat in Vietnam. He's a veteran who left a part of himself on the battlefield. He rose to command the 1st Cavalry Division, served as Army chief of staff, and has never been afraid to speak truth to power."

Shinseki helped enroll 2 million new veterans in health care and oversaw the rollout of the post-9/11 GI Bill, Obama said.

"He has worked hard to investigate and identify the problems with access to care," Obama said...

Deputy Director of VA Sloan Gibson, a West Point graduate who joined the department just three months ago. Like Shinseki, Gibson has devoted his life to serving his country and veterans, the president said.

"Most recently, he was president and CEO of the USO, which does a remarkable job supporting our men and women at war, their families, our wounded warriors, and families of the fallen," Obama said.

"So, all told, Sloan has 20 years of private sector and non-profit experience that he brings to bear on our ongoing work to build a 21st century V.A. And I'm grateful that he is willing to take on this task."

The president said he met with Sloan after accepting Shinseki's resignation Friday morning and made it clear he needed to "proceed immediately" to fix the problems with improper scheduling practices and delayed care at VA.

"In the meantime, we're going to look diligently for a new permanent V.A. secretary, and we hope to confirm that successor and fill that post as soon as possible," he said.

Once a nominee has been found, they would need to be confirmed by the Senate.
We can only hope that Sloan Gibson is up to the job because the Republican/Teabaggers will do all they can to delay the appointment of Shinseki's successor. Fixing the problem is not on their agenda.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Barnsley Nightingale

Kate Rusby singing her song "Moon Shadow" from the album The Girl Who Couldn't Fly.

Is are childs lerning?

From the pen of Jim Morin

Our fate is being determined

The secretive Bilderberg Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Illuminati, is currently holding its annual meeting to determine what the marching orders for world leaders will be for the next year.
The secretive Bilderberg conference began Thursday in Copenhagen, where a diverse group of political leaders as well as experts from industry, finance, academia and media are meeting to discuss major issues facing the world.

The group’s annual meetings — which explicitly ban media coverage — have inspired conspiracy theories about the motives that bring together some of the richest and most powerful people in the world.

National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance and the Ukraine crisis are among the discussion topics this year, the Bilderberg group said in a brief press release.

The meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule — which means attendees are allowed to publicly discuss things that have been said during the conference without revealing the identity or affiliation of the speaker or any participant involved.

A spokesman for the 62nd Bilderberg conference — held from May 29 to June 1 — told Al Jazeera in an emailed statement that the secrecy is necessary to ensure that participants can “speak freely in an environment of trust.”

“The Bilderberg meetings are a forum for informal discussions. The conference neither has a desired outcome or closing statement, nor are resolutions proposed or votes taken,” the statement read.

Bilderberg was founded in 1954, according to its website, and was designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America.

Along with its extreme secrecy, Bilderberg also differs from other international business and political conferences — such as the annual World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland — in its small size. Many major conferences involve hundreds of participants, but the spokesman said only 120 to 150 are invited to attend Bilderberg.
Nice to know that it only takes about 150 people to rule the world.

Thinking about a new job?

Is your old one ending or maybe you are looking for something better, LinkedIn is the place to show what you have done. And if you work for the NSA on secret spy stuff, no big deal. Reports indicate that LinkedIn is almost as valuable source of spy info as Snowden.
NSA spies need jobs, too. And that is why many covert programs could be hiding in plain sight.

Job websites such as LinkedIn and contain hundreds of profiles that reference classified NSA efforts, posted by everyone from career government employees to low-level IT workers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. They offer a rare glimpse into the intelligence community's projects and how they operate. Now some researchers are using the same kinds of big-data tools employed by the NSA to scrape public LinkedIn profiles for classified programs. But the presence of so much classified information in public view raises serious concerns about security — and about the intelligence industry as a whole.

“I’ve spent the past couple of years searching LinkedIn profiles for NSA programs,” said Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project...

On Aug. 3, The Wall Street Journal published a story about the FBI’s growing use of hacking to monitor suspects, based on information Soghoian provided. The next day, Soghoian spoke at the Defcon hacking conference about how he uncovered the existence of the FBI’s hacking team, known as the Remote Operations Unit (ROU), using the LinkedIn profiles of two employees at James Bimen Associates, with which the FBI contracts for hacking operations.

“Had it not been for the sloppy actions of a few contractors updating their LinkedIn profiles, we would have never known about this,” Soghoian said in his Defcon talk. Those two contractors were not the only ones being sloppy.

The LinkedIn profile cited by Soghoian’s initial tweet mentions classified NSA programs like Nucleon, Dishfire, Octave, Pinwale, Mainway, Banyan and Marina. These were mentioned alongside one program that was revealed in the press only a month later: Trafficthief, a database for storing metadata from specific surveillance targets. Another profile, from, mentions Cultweave, XKeyscore and other previously unidentified programs.
The general public may not know what the names mean, but a proper spy agency, or even a determind individual can find out a shitload of information classified as secret and put it together with other information on hand. Just another example of why privatization is a disaster in government work.

Where have all the drone strikes gone?

Without any fanfare the CIA has gone 5 months without busting a Hellfire missile in anybody's ass in Pakistan. Does this mean the end of the strikes as we know it?
Earlier this year, January marked the first month since December 2011 where no missiles were launched from American unmanned vehicles at targets in Pakistan. That month has now turned into five, marking the longest period without strikes since the peak of the campaign to target leaders of Al Qaeda hiding in Pakistan’s western territory in 2010. Prior to this, according to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism (BIJ), the most recent gap in strikes was 42 days which “coincided with Pakistan’s general election, in which drones were a major campaigning point, and also with the run-up to President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University, in which he announced new policy guidelines around covert lethal actions.”

While U.S. officials would not confirm to the Associated Press directly that the drone strike program has ended, they gave several reasons as to why the slowdown is occurring. “Many of the senior al-Qaida figures in Pakistan have been killed,” the AP cited American officials as telling them. “Those who remain are much harder to target because they are avoiding mobile phones and traveling with children, benefiting from stricter targeting rules designed to prevent civilian casualties.”

Those new rules — which raised the standards for conducting a drone strike but remain classified — were put into place last year amid heavy criticism of the targeted killing campaign, of which drone strikes are just one part. The result has been a sharp decline in the number of confirmed civilian casualties from drone strikes, though the exact numbers remain uncertain. According to the BIJ, which tracks drone strikes, since 2004 there have been 383 CIA drone strikes into Pakistan. Of those, 332 have been under the Obama administration.

Preparations for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Afghanistan also appears to be slowing the frequency of drone strikes into neighboring Pakistan. With only 9,800 troops planned to remain after this year, the need to launch “force protection” strikes against gathering militants plotting attacks is also falling. The CIA, which runs the program in Pakistan, is also accelerating its own withdrawal from Afghanistan according to reports. This in turn is spurred on by the closure of bases throughout Afghanistan as the military withdraws — and from which the armed drones are launched and maintained.
No more targets, eh? At least not up Pakistan way. We are still raining Hellfire on coloreds, mostly in Yemen and Somalia. We can't go cold turkey on a fun program like that.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

If Kris says so

It must be so. Martina McBride singing "Help Me Make It Through The Night" is great by anybody's standard.

And speaking of Big Oil

All that Iraqi oil that was supposed to pay for Bush's Marvelous Little War can not, 3 years after, yet provide much support for the Iraqi government.
The revival in Iraqi oil output has stalled. Again.

Production forecasts for 2014 are getting less optimistic. The Oil Ministry’s official target is 4 million barrels a day by the end of the year. More likely it will be 3.75 million, Thamir Ghadhban, an adviser to the prime minister, said in an interview May 14. Or perhaps 3.4 million, about the same as last month, according to the average of six analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg News.

Violence and conflict are pinching growth for OPEC’s second-biggest member. While Iraq added about 2 million barrels to daily production since 2003, the year of Saddam Hussein’s ouster, attacks on pipelines and an oil-revenue dispute with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region are diminishing the country’s dependability as a supplier. They’re also contributing to making oil more expensive, VTB Capital said.

“Iraq always seems to be the producer of the future,” Mike Wittner, head of oil market research at Societe Generale SA in New York, said by phone May 13. “The entire world has been upbeat on Iraq’s prospects for the last couple of years. But it’s not steady growth. They have to get the security situation sorted out, or that’s going to continue to hamper them.”

Iraq’s exports to Europe have been curbed since early March because of sabotage on its northern pipeline to Turkey. New supplies from the Kurdish region are mostly halted because of the dispute with the central government.
At this rate they may well end up the only nation with any oil left because they couldn't get it out of the ground fast enough to use it all up with the others.

Corporate welfare and a free pass on sanctions, too!

That would be like getting TANF, SNAP, Unlimited Unemployment benefits, a lifetime bus pass and the proverbial Cadillac too with congressional blessing. And that is what our All American Oil Giant Exxon is getting with Russia.
Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), which this month extended its partnership with Russia’s OAO Rosneft (ROSN), hasn’t had to change its business in the country amid Ukraine-related sanctions and said such steps are typically ineffective.

“We don’t find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented,” Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson said today during a shareholders meeting in Dallas. Authorities imposing the sanctions should consider “who are they really harming?”

Exxon is among American oil producers that ignored U.S. State Department recommendations to skip an energy forum in St. Petersburg last week as it extended a pact with Rosneft involving drilling for crude in the Arctic and Siberia. Exxon, through a 2011 deal with the state-run crude producer, owns drilling rights across 11.4 million acres of Russian land, including vast swaths of the Kara Sea...

The travel ban on Sechin has so far not affected collaboration with Exxon, which is currently working with Rosneft to drill an exploratory well in the Arctic this year, Tillerson said. The companies’ partnership gives Rosneft the ability to buy stakes in Exxon’s North American projects in exchange for Exxon’s access to the Russian Arctic.

“We have plenty of meetings with them in Russia,” Tillerson said. “It’s not impacted our ability to carry on the other business activities.”
As Mell Brooks once put it,

You betcha, Wayne's living the Good Life.

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

Still looking for a Bull Goose

The Pakistani Taliban has suffered another split within its organization.
A leading faction within the Pakistani Taliban split from the main organization on Wednesday, a top commander said, underscoring the difficulty the U.S.-allied Pakistani government faces in negotiating an end to a decade of violence with such groups as they become increasingly fragmented.

The Pakistani Taliban, which is separate from but allied to the Afghan Taliban, is an umbrella organization made up of loosely networked local groups. It has been fighting to overthrow the government and impose its own harsh brand of Islamic law.

The split within the movement caused by disagreements with its leadership, said Azam Tariq, a key commander of the faction that was earlier reported to have been toeing an independent line over the issue of peace talks with the government. The faction is based in South Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border, the birthplace of the Taliban.

In a statement, he said the South Waziristan branch had differences with the leadership operating under Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah.
Tribal groups fighting for parochial interests do not a stable organization make. However that very instability insures there will always be an element making trouble even if it is too small to move beyond the mountains. Maybe Pakistan would be better off giving the tribal territories to Afghanistan and letting them worry about it.

White House looking for JSPS

As in Just Some Poor Schmuck to hang for leaving the name of the CIA Station Chief on the list of officials in Afghanistan. Normally this name is a secret from the public, though the spook community usually knows who is who. The inclusion of his name on a public list was the same as Dick Cheney's outing of Valerie Plame, though it will probably have fewer consequences.
The White House is investigating how the name of its top CIA officer in Afghanistan was mistakenly divulged to the press during President Barack Obama's surprise visit to the troops over the weekend.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough has asked White House counsel Neil Eggleston to look into the matter -- and "to figure out what happened and to make sure it won't happen again," Obama's deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken told CNN.

Blinken wouldn't say whether the station chief would have to leave Afghanistan because his identity is now known, but said "you can rest assured that the security of this person is foremost in our minds and will be taken care of."
So now the lowest level dork possible will be pinpointed and publicly assailed and thrown aside and all the higher ups who vetted the list will be admonished and protected.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Writes, Plays and Sings

Sierra Hull, here singing "Daybreak" the title song of her third album from 2011. While she was studying on a scholarship at Berklee School of Music.

That must be Fat Timmy The Bagman asking.

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

R.I.P. Herb Jeffries

Adios to the Bronze Buckaroo. You sure did make some interesting choices in your life.

If you can't stop them,

The least that can be done is to let you see what they are taking. So says the FTC regarding consumer data pillaging by corporations. As a result, the FTC has proposed Congress pass new legislation to accommodate this.
Data brokers that collect, analyze and sell huge amounts of information on the activities of consumers for marketing purposes operate with “a fundamental lack of transparency,” the Federal Trade Commission said in a report on Tuesday.

The report is the result of a lengthy investigation of the data-broker industry, and it recommends that Congress enact legislation that requires the companies to disclose more information about themselves and the data they collect.

The legislation, the F.T.C. recommends, should give consumers access to the information collected about them by data brokers, allow consumers to suppress information and inform consumers what inferences are being made about them.

The F.T.C. report adds momentum to the push in Washington to put new curbs on how information collected about people is used by companies. In May, the White House issued its own report that focused largely on how companies gather and use vast stores of data online about individuals, and that those practices could be used to discriminate against certain racial, ethnic or socioeconomic groups.

The White House report called for a renewed push to pass a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which President Obama first proposed in 2012. Several of the recommendations in the F.T.C. report are similar to those in the White House privacy proposal.
However, as this is something supported by that black guy in the White House, there is no way i Hell those old white guys in the Republican caucus will let this pass or even be discussed.

2014 wasn't good enough

Now, according to President Obama, we have to wait until 2016 to completely withdraw all troops from Shitholeistan.
President Obama said on Tuesday that he planned to withdraw the last combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, declaring that “it’s time to turn the page on a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Under the plan, outlined by Mr. Obama in the Rose Garden, the United States would leave 9,800 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, but cut that number by half in 2015. By the end of 2016, it would keep only a vestigial force to protect the embassy in Kabul and help the Afghans with military purchases and other security matters.

Mr. Obama said the withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan would free up military resources for the United States to focus on an emerging set of terrorism threats in the Middle East and North Africa — a strategy he plans to articulate in a commencement address on Wednesday at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

“Americans have learned that it’s harder to end wars than it is to begin them,” he said. “Yet this is how wars end in the 21st century.”
Two years is an awful long time to give a bunch of brass plated peckerwoods a new reason to stay beyond 2016. Too long, actually.

Start rhe week with some Finnish blues guitar

Erja Lyytinen and her band playing "Not a Good Girl"

Monday, May 26, 2014

"Who Knows Where The Time Goes"

Sandy Denny & The Strawbs

"Turn, Turn, Turn"

Judy Collins

It is the same in any language

Dalida chante "Que Sont Devenues les Fleurs?"

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Alynda Lee & Yosi of Hurray For The Riff Raff

Doing an acoustic tune, "Small Town Heroes"

"Walk Beside Me"

Red Molly

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Singing and writing songs isn't rocket science

But Jocie Adams has discovered that it is more interesting. With her group Arc Iris she does "Singing So Sweetly" from their first album titled Music.


Tori Amos

Friday, May 23, 2014

Just another Jersey Shore rocker

Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea doing "My Baby Don't Lie"

"The Green Green Grass Of Home"

Joan Baez

Thursday, May 22, 2014

For today a Welsh Rare Bit

Cerys Matthews began with the Welsh Band Catatonia and since done much more in Britain and this country. This is "Sweet Magnolia" from her solo album Explorer.

It's that time of the year.

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

No more kids in the "Hole"

One of these days that may be true in Ohio, but until then the poor suffering bastards will just have to accept a little polish on the correctional turd.
The Department of Justice on Monday announced it had reached an agreement with Ohio under which the state will dramatically reduce and eventually eliminate the use of solitary confinement for juveniles — with an emphasis on those with mental illness — in a move some advocates said would have "enormously important implications" for the rest of the country.

Under the deal, Ohio’s Department of Youth Services, which deals with offenders ages 10 to 21, will significantly reduce the duration of solitary confinement and the scenarios in which the punishment would be allowed, according to the DOJ. The state will also increase therapeutic, educational and recreational services for juveniles held in seclusion.

"Overreliance on solitary confinement for young people, particularly those with disabilities, is unsafe and counterproductive," Attorney General Eric Holder said. "The Justice Department will continue to evaluate the use of solitary confinement so that it does not become a new normal for incarcerated juveniles."

In essence, the agreement means Ohio would need to provide mental health treatment to young people in its facilities and not use solitary confinement, which involves placing an incarcerated person by themselves with no human contact other than prison staff — usually used as form of discipline, punishment or protection — as a replacement for treatment.

Some of the juveniles in the Ohio detention centers were allegedly held in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours per day, often with no human interaction at all, according to the DOJ.
Eventually can be a long time when you are being tortured for no good reason. It is truly appalling how comfortable we are with torture since that bastard garlic eater Yoo wrote his memo.

The House passes NSA bill

The original intention was for the bill to place some real restrictions on NSA spying upon Americans. Then it reached the House where the running dogs of the NSA made all meaningful changes meaningless.
The bill would now require the NSA and FBI to limit its collection to two links from a terror suspect and be based on a "specific selection term."

However, the definition in the original bill would have limited that selection term to a "person, entity, or account," which gave civil liberties organizations hope that the bill would prove effective in ending all bulk collection under one provision of the law.

But the bill voted on Thursday broadened the definition, leaving it open-ended and potentially allowing for very broad selection of records, such as all call records to or from a certain country. The change followed closed door negotiations with intelligence officials.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear how the bill would limit other programs that may conducted by the CIA under other authorities. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that the CIA is "building a vast database of international money transfers that includes millions of Americans’ financial and personal data" under a provision of the law.
A few adjustments and it is business as usual through loopholes as wide as the Mississippi. It would be a serious threat to the security of the nation if the NSA and others were required to uphold the Constitution.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Scenes from a road tour

By Paper Bird with musical accompaniment by Paper Bird singing "Blood And Bones" from their Rooms record.

How turf wars begin

From the pen of Ben Sargent

Homeland Security Fortress of Solitude behind schedule

And in fact, the construction of the new headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security has been so badly managed you might actually believe it is in the hands of one of the contractors hired for Iraq or Afghanistan.
The construction of a massive new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security, billed as critical for national security and the revitalization of Southeast Washington, is running more than $1.5 billion over budget, is 11 years behind schedule and may never be completed, according to planning documents and federal officials.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the George W. Bush administration called for a new, centralized headquarters to strengthen the department’s ability to coordinate the fight against terrorism and respond to natural disasters. More than 50 historic buildings would be renovated and new ones erected on the grounds of St. Elizabeths, a onetime insane asylum with a panoramic view of the District.

The entire complex was to be finished as early as this year, at a cost of less than $3 billion, according to the initial plan.

Instead, with the exception of a Coast Guard building that opened last year, the grounds remain entirely undeveloped, with the occasional deer grazing amid the vacant Gothic Revival-style structures. The budget has ballooned to $4.5 billion, with completion pushed back to 2026. Even now, as Obama administration officials make the best of their limited funding, they have started design work for a second building that congressional aides and others familiar with the project say may never open.
Somehow I can't believe the Gestapo or the KGB ever had this much trouble getting a new headquarters. We can be thankful for small favors.

Any day now

We should find out on what basis the government feels it is entitled to kill American citizens without trial.
The Obama administration intends to publicly reveal a secret memo outlining its legal justification for using drones to kill U.S. citizens it accuses of terrorism overseas, it emerged Tuesday.

An official told Al Jazeera that the Department of Justice has decided not to appeal a court order requiring disclosure of a redacted version of the document under the Freedom of Information Act.

The decision to release the document came a day before the Senate is to vote on advancing President Barack Obama's nomination of the memo's author, Harvard professor and former Justice Department official David Barron, to sit on the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had vowed to attempt to block Barron's confirmation with a filibuster if the document was not made public. Paul issued a statement Tuesday saying he still opposes Barron's nomination.

Wednesday's expected vote would allow the Senate to move ahead with a final vote on Barron on Thursday. "I think we'll be OK," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said earlier Tuesday.

Anwar al-Awlaki, an Al-Qaeda leader born in the United States, was killed after being targeted by a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. Some legal scholars and human rights activists complained that it was illegal for the U.S. to kill American citizens away from the battlefield without a trial.
If al-Awlaki had a more familiar name, we might have been upset by his murder, but having the right name for a bad guy helped that go down easy. And now we will put the author of the drone memo on the federal bench as a reward, something W never did for "Torture" Yoo.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sarah Jarosz on the Late Late Show

Singing "Build Me Up From Bones" from her album of the same name.

Note Craig's remarks at the end, he is not one for false praise.

To the Border Patrol every plane is a smuggler

And more than a few pilots living and flying near the border are getting pissed off at the Gestapo tactics that the Border Patrol has adopted.
“We’re opposed to drugs and drug runners and illegal uses of aircraft, but we do feel very strongly that when you do a police action like your plane comes to a stop on a runway and its surrounded by eight SUVs, police get out, guns drawn, body armor, dogs, that you need to have a reasonable suspicion that illegal activity has occurred or is about to occur,” said Ken Mead, general counsel for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

It can also be a financial hardship. Professional pilot Dean Holiday lost about $1,600 a month in income when he stopped flying one of his best clients after more than a half-dozen officers, guns pulled, stopped them in Marana, Ariz. He didn’t want to repeat the experience, thinking his client was likely involved in shady dealings even though nothing was found on the plane.

Arturo Caballero has been stopped by agents twice after flying with his wife, son and pet chihuahua. On one family trip home to Bay City, Texas, Caballero was separated from his wife and son, who at the time was a student at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., for questioning while agents searched the plane.

“Seems to me they’re just throwing a big, huge net into the sky in hopes of catching something,” Caballero said. “What? They don’t know. But something will come up.”

The pilots’ association, which represents more than 350,000 pilots and plane owners, says it has collected more than 50 cases in which members _ despite never crossing a U.S. border _ were searched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents or local law enforcement “without probable cause or reasonable suspicion of illegal activity.”

The association met last month with Border Patrol officials in Washington to discuss pilots’ concerns. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske assured them the agency would conduct a comprehensive review of the searches, the association said.

None of the flights in which planes were searched crossed any borders, Mead said. He said that much like drivers on the nation’s highways, pilots should not have to worry about having gun-toting agents tapping on their plane windows asking to search their plane.

The complaints that border agents are conducting egregious and intimidating searches of U.S. citizen pilots and plane owners come at a time when the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is under increased scrutiny. McClatchy and other news organizations have chronicled the deaths of at least 21 people, a trend that has led to criticism that the Border Patrol has expanded too quickly to ensure proper training of new agents.
Too much Authorita! And too little training are a bad mix.

Should we have a new Darwin award?

In addition to the current one
for removing oneself from the gene pool, there should be one for those who would willfully remove their progeny from the pool for worship of some principled stupidity like no new taxes or ammosexuality. In Oklahoma of late they have seen an increase in the ferocity of tornadoes with increased death tolls. one reason for the death tolls was the lack of adequate storm shelters in their schools.
In 2013, deadly tornadoes and storms May 19, 20 and 31 in Oklahoma killed 50, injured hundreds and left swaths of destruction that were among the worst that locals had ever seen in a state long accustomed to weather-related disasters.

The children who died at Plaza Towers were terrified and separated from their parents when the tornado hit the school. The blunt force of debris that fell on one boy killed him. The autopsy reports of six others listed asphyxia as a cause of death. They suffocated when their small chests couldn’t expand after the wall fell on top of them.

Like many parents, Mikki Davis thought her children would be safest from severe weather at school. In a horrifying handful of minutes on May 20, she and others realized that long-held belief was far from true. Her son, Kyle, 8, a boy who loved playing defense in soccer matches and riding on four-wheelers, also died in the hallway at Plaza Towers.

“My son and his six friends paid the ultimate price that day because there was no shelter in the school and because all of us parents thought they were safer there,” Davis said. “I think it has opened people’s eyes. I think these seven children have changed everybody’s outlook.”...

In 2013, deadly tornadoes and storms May 19, 20 and 31 in Oklahoma killed 50, injured hundreds and left swaths of destruction that were among the worst that locals had ever seen in a state long accustomed to weather-related disasters.

The children who died at Plaza Towers were terrified and separated from their parents when the tornado hit the school. The blunt force of debris that fell on one boy killed him. The autopsy reports of six others listed asphyxia as a cause of death. They suffocated when their small chests couldn’t expand after the wall fell on top of them.

Like many parents, Mikki Davis thought her children would be safest from severe weather at school. In a horrifying handful of minutes on May 20, she and others realized that long-held belief was far from true. Her son, Kyle, 8, a boy who loved playing defense in soccer matches and riding on four-wheelers, also died in the hallway at Plaza Towers.

“My son and his six friends paid the ultimate price that day because there was no shelter in the school and because all of us parents thought they were safer there,” Davis said. “I think it has opened people’s eyes. I think these seven children have changed everybody’s outlook.”
One thing it certain, there will be no help from the many profitable businesses in Oklahoma, that would upset them. And there will be no pre-emptive funding from the federal government because that is just another form of mooching by people with school children. So for all those Sooners who voted for Sens. Tom "Dr No" Coburn and James "Junior Birdman" Inhofe I nominate you for this proposed award. If you win it soon enough, you may still be young enough to have more children.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

From the pen of Lee Judge.

Elizabeth Warren

With an intro like this

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

You know Stephen will have a difficult interview. :-)

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

Sox, drugs and rock and roll.

Bill Clinton had a cat named Socks and to day I received an e-mail from George W Bush declaring his fetish for socks and offering to sell me a pair for $35.
I don’t know what your guilty pleasures are in life, but one of mine is socks.

I’m a self-proclaimed sock man. The louder, the brighter, the crazier the pattern -- the better! It’s usually the first thing people notice I’m wearing whenever I’m out in public and that’s the way I like it.

So when Chairman Reince Priebus asked me to write to you on behalf of the Republican National Committee (RNC), I told him I’d be happy to do it. But on one condition: my letter to you had to involve socks.

I’m proud to say the RNC has commissioned a limited-edition pair of socks in my honor. Embroidered with the Republican elephant and my signature on them, they’re sure to get you noticed...

I am deeply touched the RNC has chosen to make a limited-edition pair of socks with the Republican elephant in my honor. I hope you will get a pair for yourself or as a gift for a friend by sending a special campaign donation of $35 or more to the RNC today.
I am not about to send any money to Rinse Prewash and his thugs to support their efforts to tear down our country. And despite all the evil he has done, I am saddened to see a former president of the United States reduced to peddling socks for such a crew and telling us how moved he is by these socks. There is no question that George had too much drugs and rock and roll in his younger days. It's a shame we couldn't see the effects before now.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Before there was Linda there was Wanda

Wanda Jackson with the first recording of "Silver Threads & Golden Needles" from 1956. With an extra verse most other recordings have left out of their takes.

When everyone has guns

Then the only way to be safe from bad guys with guns will be, well I think I should let Tom Tomorrow answer that one for you.

One way to support the troops.

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

R.I.P. Genaro Louis Vitaliano

You could change your name to Jerry Vale but you never lost the Italian in your heart.

If you work for someone you need to vote in November

Corey Robin has an op-ed in today's New York Times that lays out in clear and understandable language why yo need to register and vote this November.
Midterm elections are like fancy software: Experts love them, end-users couldn’t care less. But if the 2010 elections are any indication, we might not want to doze off as we head into the summer months before November. Midterm elections at the state level can have tremendous consequences, especially for low-wage workers. What you don’t know can hurt you — or them.

In 2010, the Republicans won control of the executive and legislative branches in 11 states (there are now more than 20 such states). Inspired by business groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, they proceeded to rewrite the rules of work, passing legislation designed to enhance the position of employers at the expense of employees.

The University of Oregon political scientist Gordon Lafer, who wrote an eye-opening report on this topic last October for the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank in Washington, looked at dozens of bills affecting workers. The legislation involved unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, child labor, collective bargaining, sick days, even meal breaks. Despite frequent Republican claims to be defending local customs and individual liberty, Mr. Lafer found a “cookie-cutter” pattern to their legislation. Not only did it consistently favor employers over workers, it also tilted toward big government over local government. And it often abridged the economic rights of individuals.
And Professor Robin provides some excellent examples of how the Republican/Teabaggers are working their ways. Worth reading and passing around to other working people while they can still afford to learn to read.

Eric Holder & His Amazing Can of Worms

It appears that the Attorney General has opened another front in the Great Sino-American War of Water Passing. The latest round of the pissing match involves cyberspying.
The United States announced first-of-their-kind cyber-espionage charges Monday against five Chinese military officials accused of hacking into U.S. companies to gain trade secrets.

Attorney General Eric Holder says the companies affected are Alcoa World Alumina, Westinghouse Electric Company, Allegheny Technologies, U.S. Steel Corporation, United Steelworkers Union and SolarWorld.

According to the indictment, the hackers are accused of stealing trade secrets and economic espionage.

The charges have been described as unprecedented and dramatize a long-time Obama administration goal to prosecute state-sponsored cyber threats. It is the first time the U.S. Justice Department has publicly accused China of cyber spying.

Holder said the U.S. will not tolerate foreign government efforts to sabotage American companies.

"It is our hope that the Chinese government will respect our criminal justice system," Holder said.

The indictment will put a greater strain on the U.S.-China relationship.
O-o-o! They are gonna get such a slap on the wrist, like you never seen before!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Her music has inspired many fancy and overblown comparisons

Because the musical styling of Suzanna Choffel can be hard to pin down. But don't think for a moment that you can't enjoy it and give it your own description. Here she performs "Stumble" in 2008, which didn't get on an album until Archer in 2013.

Maybe something was lost in the translation

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

To destroy a democracy takes money & long term planning

And the Evil Koch Brothers learned that lesson back in the days of Jimmy Carter and St Ronnie, both of whom they despise. The New York Times today takes a stab at showing how they have planned for their ascendency for a long time. They got their money from dad who made his fortune working with Joe Stalin, only to turn on him with the zeal of a late convert when he returned to the US. At first the boys thought they could just buy their way into the game.
Politics was a dangerous game for those in business, Charles Koch argued in a 1974 speech to libertarian thinkers and business leaders in Dallas. Subsidies and special treatment demanded by corporations had helped turn Americans against free enterprise. Business had colluded with the Nixon administration to design price controls and other “socialistic measures.”

The most effective response was not political action, Mr. Koch argued, but investment in pro-capitalist research and educational programs.

“The development of a well-financed cadre of sound proponents of the free enterprise philosophy is the most critical need facing us today,” he said, according to a copy of his speech in a Libertarian Party archive at the University of Virginia, one of thousands of documents reviewed by The New York Times for this article. The Times was alerted to the archive by American Bridge, a liberal political organization that has been critical of the Kochs...

The Supreme Court handed the Kochs an important weapon in a 1976 decision in Buckley v. Valeo. The court opened two loopholes in a two-year-old campaign finance law that had placed tight controls on what candidates, parties, and private individuals could spend on campaigns: A candidate could spend an unlimited amount of his or her money running for office, and an individual was free to spend an unlimited amount of money promoting candidates so long as the spending was not coordinated with them.

The next three years witnessed the birth of the Koch political apparatus. Charles Koch sought to recruit like-minded businessmen who would invest in the libertarian cause, an embryonic version of the Koch-supervised donor club that poured $400 million into the 2012 campaign.
The early days did not always go as planned. When David ran for VP to self finance his campaign, he found that it was a harder row to hoe than he thought. And he committed that worst of sins for inherited money,
“Charles was horrified that David had actually had to spend capital instead of just some of the interest on some of his money,” said Ms. Pillsbury-Foster, who became a critic of the brothers’ involvement in the libertarian movement.
Sadly he survived that indecency and with the benefit of corporate welfare and ignored regulations, went on to become. with his brother Charles, the evil financial viziers of those who wish to destroy the US, much as Osama bin Laden was for the Taliban against Russia.

Here they go again

Vietnam and China have never been natural friends. Throughout their history they have done more fighting than handshaking. And now, as China pushes into shared ocean areas the Vietnamese, like the Japanese and the Filipinos find them selves in a fighting mood.
China has evacuated more than 3,000 of its citizens from Vietnam because of anti-China rioting there and is sending five ships to evacuate more, state-run Xinhua news service reported Sunday.

It was not immediately clear if Vietnam would allow the Chinese rescue ships to dock, given continuing skirmishes between the two countries over a disputed Chinese oil platform that ignited riots in Vietnam.

The first ship set off from Haikou in China’s southern-most province of Hainan at 8 a.m. Sunday (8 p.m. Saturday EDT), China’s Transport Ministry said in statement. It was expected to reach Vietnam within 18 hours.

China’s Foreign Ministry said that more than 3,000 Chinese nationals had been evacuated as of Saturday afternoon. They returned to China with the assistance of the Chinese Embassy in Vietnam, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement...

Crowds in Vietnam started protesting and rioting after it was reported last week that China was moving an oil drilling platform, the Haiyang Shiyou 981, into contested waters in the South China Sea, about 140 miles from Vietnam. China and Vietnamese boats rammed each other, with the Chinese reportedly firing water canons. The skirmishes continued through Saturday, according to reports in Vietnamese news media.

Thanh Nien News reported Saturday that the Chinese fleet guarding the oil rig had grown to 130 vessels, and were continuing to launch “attacks” on Vietnamese ships. These included ramming fishing boats and Vietnamese surveillance vessels, according to Thanh Nien...

China and Vietnam fought a three-week war in 1979, after more than 200,000 Chinese troops invaded Vietnam as punishment for Hanoi’s invasion and ouster of Chinese ally Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge. Tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians died on both sides in the fighting, which now rarely is mentioned officially in either country.

Since then, relations between the two communist countries have improved, despite tensions over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Now, however, there are fears the oil rig skirmishes could escalate into another war.
So when do we start running arms and supplies into Vietnam along the Barack Hussein Obama Trail?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Her father was a drummer and she married her bass player

So writing a song about a stalker is no far fetch for Lydia Loveless, even if she says he does look like "Steve Earle".

And then he was flame broiled and eaten...

From the pen of Adam Zyglis

Is there a drone in your future?

I am not suggesting that you deserve to have Uncle Sam bust a Hellfire on your ass. According to the latest report, the drone industry has been exploring many peaceful uses for their little and some not so little boogers.
Spend a few minutes on the gigantic exhibition floor at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) 2014 convention and it becomes clear that the military drone business is alive and well. Uniformed men and women from all over the world stroll among the 600 or so displays while representatives show off everything from quadcopters that can fit in the palm of your hand to hulking high-altitude drones capable of carrying wingloads of high-precision missiles.

But the future of the drone industry is not just military; it’s civilian. “The commercial industry is going to be taking over,” said Bill Powers, a research fellow at the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. “It’s going to become a huge market.”

According to Michael Toscano, president of the AUVSI, the commercial market will outstrip military demand within the next decade. “Most people understand that the growth is going to be in the commercial world,” he said. Despite the very visible presence of military representatives (who attend the convention for free) 76 percent of the AUVSI’s 8,000 attendees registered as having affiliations with the commercial sector.

But the large defense companies that have been producing military drones — in some cases for more than two decades — have no intention of forgoing the commercial market. They plan to follow demand, bringing drones from the skies over conflict hot spots to the civilian world.
The key is how do you maintain order in the skies to prevent the soon to be plethora of unmanned flying hazards from hitting obstacles and other units in the sky? Even at low altitudes, the FAA needs to find a way to put order into their flights. Probably we will have to wait until enough of the boogers have smashed up and dropped onto innocent people.

So he can kick your ass a third time

Bill Maher challenges the Republican/Teabaggers to go ahead and impeach the President, even if they don't have a crime, because we know how the public will react.

The oil must flow

And the proud new owners of the Central Maine & Quebec Railway, formerly the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic of Lac Megantic fame say they will be shipping oil again.
The Wall Street firm that owns the railroad through Lac-Megantic, Quebec, is making plans to ship crude oil again through the lakside town devastated last summer by a fiery train derailment.

John Giles, the CEO of the newly created Central Maine & Quebec Railway, told the Associated Press on Friday that the company plans to spend $10 million upgrading the tracks during the next two years and hopes to resume crude oil shipments within 18 months.

“We have chosen not to handle crude oil and dangerous goods through the city until we’ve got the railroad infrastructure improved, and made more reliable,” Giles told the AP.

On July 6, 2013, 47 people were killed and much of the town’s center was destroyed when a 72-car train loaded with crude oil ran away unattended and derailed, igniting a massive inferno.

The rail carrier operating the train, the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, filed for bankruptcy after the derailment. In December, Fortress Investment Group, a New York buyout firm, bought the railroad’s assets in an auction for about $15 million.

The crude oil in the derailed train originated in North Dakota’s booming Bakken shale region and was heading to a refinery in New Brunswick.
The won't do it until they have upgraded their trackage and such, which I am sure will reassure all the remaining residents of that poor town. And the big swinging dicks of Wall St will continue to prosper.

Friday, May 16, 2014

She is almost old enough to be properly appreciated

But until that day comes, you can listen to Dianne Reeves singing a favorite jazz classic, "Straighten Up & Fly Right"

Some people can't grow weeds if they try

From the pen of Ben Sargent

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Is the album title cut always the best?

You have to listen to all the rest of the cuts to decide that. Until then Lera Lynn will be happy to sing you "Lying In The Sun" from her latest album of the same name.

We couldn't take their oil

But at least some of America's economy will benefit from Iraq. Indeed the way things have been going, we could say the Heart of the American Economy will benefit.
The United States plans to sell nearly $1 billion worth of warplanes, armored vehicles and surveillance aerostats to Iraq.

The deal includes 24 AT-6C Texan II light-attack aircraft, a turboprop plane manufactured by Beechcraft that has .50 caliber machine guns, advanced avionics and can carry precision-guided bombs, the Pentagon said.

The aircraft and related equipment and services are valued at $790 million.

The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency informed Congress on Tuesday of the planned sale, which will go ahead unless lawmakers block the deal.

"The proposed sale of these aircraft, equipment and support will enhance the ability of the Iraqi forces to sustain themselves in their efforts to bring stability to Iraq and to prevent overflow of unrest into neighboring countries," the agency said in a notice.

The sale is the latest in a series of US weapons deals with Iraq as Baghdad seeks to bolster its armed forces amid rising violence linked to Al-Qaeda militants and sectarian divisions between the Shiite-led government and disgruntled Sunnis.

Iraq has previously agreed to purchase 36 US F-16 fighter jets.

This week's deal also included 200 "up-armored" Humvee vehicles with machine gun mounts, worth $101 million.
It warms the cockles of the hearts of the Merchants of Death to have a new high value client. Just about the only warmth in those shriveled little suckers.

An examination of "Bush's Brain"

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

California fire season off to a good start

For the fires, not for those who have to battle them. The drought conditions have only made the season worse.
More than 10,000 acres have burned in the last 24 hours as more than three dozen fires have been sparked up and down the state, Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said.

Most of the fires are in the San Diego area, where thousands of residents are still under evacuation orders. In Carlsbad, about 30 miles north of San Diego, television images showed thick black smoke and homes surrounded by flames. Officials there said nearly two dozen structures were destroyed, including four single family homes, an apartment building and two commercial buildings. The losses were estimated at $22.5 million.

In San Marcos, a community about 15 miles inland from Carlsbad, evacuations remained in place and the California State University campus there had also been evacuated as the fire continued to grow Thursday. Nearly 30 school districts in the San Diego area closed on Thursday.

State officials said they had already battled 1,400 wildfires this year — twice the number of fires they would respond to over the same period in a normal year. Other states across the South and Southwest have also reported wildfires in recent days, including one earlier this week in the Texas Panhandle that destroyed more than 100 homes.

And while many of the fires had been contained Thursday morning, officials said they were most concerned that they could be a harbinger of a brutal fire season to come.

“We are used to very windy, very hot and dry conditions, but not in May,” Mr. Berlant said. “It is really unprecedented to have these conditions this early. We cannot remember a year where we have had this many fires this early. And everything is just going to get drier and hotter – even more of a tinderbox.”
Good luck to those in the affected areas and don't forget to keep the car gassed up for a quick getaway.

Nothing up my sleeves...

The upcoming NSA reform bills really are nothing but a lot of prestidigitation, leading the eyes of the beholder one way while the reality of the bill goes off another way.
The top Republican and Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee even issued a joint statement praising the bipartisan cooperation, a rarely seen trait around Congress these days.

But peek just past all the good will and there’s serious concern that Congress has much more to do. Not only are loopholes easy to find but also the government has other ways of collecting the data.

The House bill would bar the NSA from relying on one part _ Section 215 _ of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to conduct bulk data collection.

Under the bill, the NSA would no longer be allowed to collect records of data such as phone numbers or the duration of all Americans’ calls. Phone companies would retain that data, but only for the same length of time they usually keep the material.

The Justice Department, though, could get such material in an emergency _ an important political concession, since many lawmakers were concerned that the government wouldn’t be able to react quickly if needed.

The legislation also would do nothing to restrict NSA analysts’ access to a pool of telephone data called the “corporate store,” which advocates say is the repository of millions of Americans’ calling records.

Further, collection under the so-called “215 program” represents only one part of intelligence agencies’ mission.

An unknown but significant portion of the collection of communications data occurs under Executive Order 12333, which gives intelligence agencies sweeping surveillance authority outside the United States, experts said. Under the order, the NSA or other intelligence agency cannot target an American _ even overseas _ unless the FISA court clears it.

“But when the government just scoops up vast amounts of data under Executive Order 12333, it can say it’s not targeting Americans, even though it collects a huge amount of information that may pertain to Americans as well as foreigners,” said Patrick Toomey, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

“FISA only addresses one piece of the collection that NSA is actually engaged in,” Toomey said. “The bill doesn’t even make an effort to try to undertake the kind of comprehensive harmonization of surveillance authorities that one would hope at this point.”
Like smashing up your car then worrying about whether you turn signal is working.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

If somebody calls you "Seattle's Emmylou"

You got a lot of duets and harmonies in your future. It also presents you with a high mountain to climb. All of which should not be a problem for Zoe Muth and Her Lost High Rollers. Here they perform "Hey Little Darlin"

Aboard the Benghazi party boat

From the pen of

Of the 24 states that prefer people die

An amazing thing has occurred, 17 of the states have shown a sizable increase in Medicaid enrollment.
More than 550,000 people in these 17 states signed up for Medicaid coverage between October and March, even though they were already eligible for the program but were not previously enrolled.

The wave of signups occurred during the inaugural enrollment period for marketplace health coverage when the Obama administration and supporters were engaged in a massive public outreach and education campaign that resulted in 8 million Americans purchasing a marketplace health plan.

New Medicaid signups were expected in the 26 states that implemented the so-called "Medicaid expansion" that extended program coverage to working-age adults who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

But in 17 of the 24 states that didn't expand their Medicaid coverage, program enrollment also increased thanks to the "woodwork effect," created by heightened public awareness of the health law.

The woodwork effect refers to Medicaid-eligible residents who weren't enrolled, but came "out of the woodwork" to do so amid national efforts to get newly-eligible Medicaid residents to sign up.

Georgia led all non-expansion states with nearly 99,000 new Medicaid enrollees, a 5.8 percent increase. North Carolina added 58,000 new enrollees, while South Carolina and Tennessee added nearly 54,000 new Medicaid beneficiaries apiece.

“Though expansion states saw larger total enrollment increases, enrollment of these previously eligible individuals is significant in many non-expanding states,” said Matt Eyles, Avalere's executive vice president.

Under the health law, the federal government pays all medical costs for newly-eligible program beneficiaries in expansion states for the next three years and no less than 90 percent of their costs thereafter.

Non-expansion states, however, "only receive their standard matching rate for these previously eligible beneficiaries,” said Avalere vice president Caroline Pearson.

“As a result, many of these non-expansion states that politically oppose the ACA are now facing unexpected financial and operational pressure due to woodwork enrollment.”
Once again the "fiscally responsible" Republicans have shown their ignorance of finance as the cut of their noses to spite Obama and ended up spiting their faces. It is truly mind boggling that anyone could vote for people so unutterably stupid.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Folk rock has always been noted for its potential.

Delta Rae is two brothers and a sister with several friends who may realize their potential and after singing "If I Loved You" they may even Immanentize the Eschaton.

Got to have some there to begin with.

From the pen of Tom Toles

Once upon a time

The US was a strong supporter of treaties and laws against torture. We jailed and even executed those who used torture. We proudly codified treaty provisions as US law. Sadly, those times are no more and now we are a nation that believes torture porn like "24" is the greatest reality show ever.

Three decades after the U.N. Convention Against Torture imposed measures to eradicate the practice, torture still happens in 141 countries — many of which are signatories to that convention — according to Amnesty International’s annual report on torture released Tuesday.

According to the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” That agreement, as well as the various Geneva Conventions and the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights, have all dictated an absolute ban on torture for any purpose — even in times of war.

And yet, in police headquarters, secret prisons and CIA black sites, detainees across the globe report being subjected to torture as a means of extracting information or confessions, silencing dissent or simply as punishment. The Amnesty report details 27 categories of torture reported in the past year, including electric shocks, mock executions, water torture, rape and sexual violence and the pulling of teeth.

Despite overwhelming opposition to torture in most of the world’s countries and the litany of international conventions expressly forbidding the practice, an Amnesty poll found that 44 percent of people worldwide still are not confident they would be safe from torture if taken into custody by authorities in their country.

That number was 32 percent in the United States, where details of the CIA’s now-terminated “enhanced interrogation” practices and rendition programs are soon to be revealed in a Senate Intelligence report.

Manfred Nowak, the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, told Al Jazeera that the U.S. — once viewed as a vanguard in the fight for human rights worldwide — has opened the door for other countries to engage in torture under the auspices of fighting terrorism. In the post-9/11 world, Nowak and others say many countries have followed the U.S.' lead and cited national security interests and the “ticking time bomb” rationale to justify the use of any means necessary to extract information from suspected terror suspects.

Former CIA director George Tenet said in 2007 that the agency's rendition program had prevented terror plots against the U.S. and saved countless lives, concluding that the "enhanced interrogation" of suspects at secret CIA facilities was "worth more than the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us."
The saddest part about the introduction of torture by the Bush administration is that it never saved any lives. Any useful information was obtained from skilled interrogators using non coercive techniques. The torture amounted to nothing more than kicking the dog as they left.

Gimme a break !

If only I were friendly enough with an influential Congressman or Senator, then I could get lovely tax breaks designed solely to put more money in my pockets. In Congress it is now renewal season for tax breaks worth about $85 Billion over the next 2 years to various businesses and industries that really have no need of them.
Horse racing may be thought of as the sport of kings, but the National Thoroughbred Racing Association says breeders and stable owners need a tax break just like everybody else.

Stock car racing has a regal status among its followers, but NASCAR has its hands out, too, as do taxpayers in seven states with no income tax who pay state sales taxes and are able to deduct them from Uncle Sam’s tax bill.

The three are among the strange bedfellows who benefit from targeted tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013 and that the Senate and House of Representatives are now looking to restore.

“I especially appreciate that (Congress) understands the continued importance of our industry and the contribution of the equine economy to job creation and added investment,” said Alex Waldrop, the president of the thoroughbred racing association

The Senate legislation, which is expected to be voted on on the floor this week, combines more than 50 of the so-called tax extenders Congress awarded at different times for different constituencies, everything from helping families to pay for college, homeowners to deduct mortgage expenses, business to benefit by giving away food inventory, and to hire veterans. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., included that provision with a bill called “Hire a Hero.”

The tax extenders bill would reinstate them for two years at a cost to the treasury of $85 billion. Supporters are facing some stiff opposition from the right and the left, who say they create favorites in the tax code.

“Congress is able to hide the true cost of these tax breaks by renewing them every two years,” Steve Wamhoff, the legislative director for Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal research center, said in a newspaper opinion piece. “But the truth is, if allowed to continue indefinitely, these corporate tax breaks will balloon the deficit by $700 billion over the next decade.”
The tax breaks are like earmarks except that the earmarks often did the public some good, the tax breaks are much more focused.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]