Monday, June 30, 2014

From their first EP "Southern Manners"

The Watson Twins sing the title cut "Southern Manners"

The Rank Smell Of Hypocrisy

As defined by The Rude Pundit as he tells us about SCOTUS decision regarding Hobby Lobby.
Substitute the word "Muslim" for "Christian" and see if it bugs you even a little, dear ignorant Jesus lovers. "The owners...have sincere Muslim beliefs" or "David and Barbara Green and their three children are Muslims who own and operate two family businesses." Or how about: "Hobby Lobby’s statement of purpose commits the Greens to '[h]onoring Allah in all [they] do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Quran-based principles'"? Maybe: "The businesses refuse to engage in profitable transactions that facilitate or promote alcohol use; they contribute profits to Muslim organizations; and they buy hundreds of full-page newspaper ads inviting people to say, 'Allahu akbar'"?

You're cool with that? Fuck you, you're lying.

The Joys of Being Safe

Droney is back and thanks to Tom Tomorrow, he explains to us the why and the wherefore of his mission for the well being of us all.

Just because it's illegal.....

From the pen of Nick Anderson

New York Supreme Court sides with its own communities

In a ruling that actually favors the local populace over big corporations, the New York Supreme Court has ruled that localities may choose to ban fracking within their boundaries even as it remains legal in the state.
In a defeat for the oil and gas industry, New York State’s highest court Monday ruled that towns can use zoning ordinances to ban hydraulic fracturing, the controversial extraction method known as fracking.

The immediate effect of the decision is limited, as there is currently a moratorium on fracking across New York State, ostensibly to allow the state to study fracking’s effects on the environment.

But some towns, worried that the state will eventually allow the practice, took matters into their own hands. The two towns at the center of the case – Dryden, in rural Tompkins County, and Middlefield, in Otsego County – amended their zoning laws in recent years to ban fracking, on the basis that it would threaten the health, the environment and, in Middlefield’s case, the “rural character” of the community.

Subsequently, two energy companies that had acquired leases in Dryden and Middlefield for the purpose of exploring gas extraction filed legal complaints, arguing that the town ordinances were preempted by state oil and gas law.

On Monday, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling rejecting that argument, and found that the towns did indeed have the authority to ban fracking through land use regulations.

The seven-judge panel was split 5 to 2 on the case. The majority, in its decision, made clear that it was not ruling on the benefits or risks of fracking, simply on a question of the division of power between state and local governments.

“These appeals are not about whether hydrofracking is beneficial or detrimental to the economy, environment or energy needs of New York, and we pass no judgment on its merits,” the ruling said. “These are major policy questions for the coordinate branches of government to resolve.”
Good thing this wasn't before the SCOTUS who would naturally rule that a corporation has a greater right to shit where you eat than you have to keep them out.

And now they decide your rights

Based upon the rules of their particular sky demon.

SCOTUS declares David Green's church the national faith

And despite its small membership, the rules of their particular sky demon shall be dominant across the land. And in doing so they have also conferred the ability to believe in any sky demon to corporations for their benefit. It a 5-4 ruling, Hobby Lobby does not need to provide insurance coverage for contraception for its employees.
The 5-to-4 decision, which applied to two companies owned by Christian families, opened the door to challenges from other corporations to many laws that may be said to violate their religious liberty.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the court’s five more conservative justices, said a federal religious-freedom law applied to for-profit corporations controlled by religious families. He added that the requirement that the companies provide contraception coverage imposed a substantial burden on the companies’ religious liberty. He said the government could provide the coverage in other ways.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court’s four-member liberal wing, said the contraception coverage requirement was vital to women’s health and reproductive freedom. Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan joined almost all of the dissent, but they said there was no need to take a position on whether corporations may bring claims under the religious liberty law.

On that point, Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, said the court’s decision “is bound to have untoward effects” in other settings.

“The court’s expansive notion of corporate personhood,” Justice Ginsburg wrote, “invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faiths.”
Continue reading the main story

The contraception coverage requirement was challenged by two corporations whose owners say they try to run their businesses on religious principles: Hobby Lobby, a chain of crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which makes wood cabinets

The health care law and related regulations require many employers to provide female workers with comprehensive insurance coverage for a variety of methods of contraception. The companies objected to some of the methods, saying they are tantamount to abortion because they can prevent embryos from implanting in the womb. Providing insurance coverage for those forms of contraception would, the companies said, make them complicit in the practice.
And so the constant conservative nibbling away at progress continues. This time they have chipped away another piece of the ACA and took a swipe at contraception as well. And they have promoted a minority religious view over the law of the land.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rupa and The April Fishes

Singing "Build" from their latest album of the same name

The Glorious Supreme Film Critic

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Imagine the cost if UPS of Fed-Ex did this

The Constitutionally mandated US Postal Service, as part of its mandate, reaches almost every citizen in the country. Despite some formidable obstacles in the way. One service in Alaska is indicative of their reach and their cost.
The U.S. Postal Service paid to ship the items on a turboprop bush plane to this small settlement of Yupik Indians on Alaska’s western edge. The Bells brought them home on the back of their all-terrain vehicle from Hooper Bay’s only grocery store. The 12-pack of Coke alone cost the Postal Service $21 to get here.

Under a federal program exclusive to Alaska, the Postal Service is responsible for shipping more than 100 million pounds a year of apples, frozen meat, dog food, diapers and countless other consumer items to off-road villages in the sparsely populated outposts known as the bush. Over three decades acting as freight forwarder, the agency has lost $2.5 billion.

In many ways, the Alaska Bypass, as it’s called, keeps Hooper Bay and 100 other isolated villages in rural Alaska afloat. But groceries do not come cheap for Royala Bell, 43, and her neighbors, most of whom, like her family, survive on food stamps and federal subsidies.

“I think the food is too, too high,” the slight Yupik woman said of the prices at the Alaska Commercial store here, stretching her hands wide like an accordion. “It takes about $200 for a little tiny amount of groceries.”

Rural Alaskans are not the only ones paying a steep price. The system cost the Postal Service $77.5 million last year, agency officials said, with ordinary stamp-buying customers covering the tab, while a long line of commercial interests here benefited, from the airline and shipping industries to rural grocery chains.

Retailers pay the Postal Service about half of what it would cost them to ship the goods commercially; the subsidy allows them to charge a hefty markup on a can of Coke, for example, in some cases 30 percent or more. The agency, by law, must pay private air carriers well above market rates in the only corner of the country where airline prices are still regulated.

In the name of families such as the Bells, the late senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) pushed an earmark through Congress 33 years ago aimed at helping his constituents back home. But today, the Postal Service is going broke. On Capitol Hill, this is the kind of federal spending lawmakers in Washington have said they will swear off in a time of austerity.
This is why the USPS should be a federally funded service and not a quasi-private company. No private organization would even think about bringing anything to these parts of Alaska.

28 years since the last chemical risk assessment

When the law was passed allowing the EPA to do risk assessments on commonly used chemicals, those in use at the time were all grandfathered from review unless proven to be harmful. Since then the EPA has just finished its first risk assessment in 28 years on the chemical solvent trichloroethylene (TCE).
At issue is the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the 38-year-old legislation that guides the EPA’s chemical review process. The EPA says the law is “badly in need of modernization,” and most lawmakers, chemical industry stakeholders and environmental experts agree.

The law essentially says that any chemical in use before the TSCA was passed is considered safe until proven otherwise and can be used without EPA oversight. That amounts to 62,000 chemicals, according to the EPA.

The EPA says the TSCA is the only major environmental law that has not been modernized.

The EPA and environmentalists contend that there are thousands of potentially dangerous chemicals in widespread use today. They can be found in everything from agricultural products like fertilizers to flame retardants that are used on things like airplane seats and kids’ toys.

The EPA could begin reviewing chemicals without a specific mandate to do so, and that’s exactly what it’s begun doing: TCE is one of 83 chemicals the agency has identified as posing possible risks to human health, and therefore in need of prompt risk assessments.

But without a legal mandate, the EPA says it doesn’t have enough staff or funding to carry out reviews in a timely manner, and doesn’t have the authority to require companies to hand over data on potentially harmful chemicals.

It picked TCE for its first risk assessment in nearly three decades essentially because it was low-hanging fruit.

“TCE is a good first candidate, because unlike most chemicals, EPA has a significant amount of data on the substance,” Jones wrote.

Without data on other chemicals, and with new chemicals entering the marketplace at a rapid rate, experts warn that the EPA is bound to fall further and further behind on its workload.

“There are thousands of chemicals used widely that have never been studied or proven safe,” said Richard Denison, a lead scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. “We’ve dug ourselves in a very deep hole here.”

Denison said that, given the amount of chemicals out there, even if Congress passed a law mandating that the EPA start an extensive review process tomorrow, it would be decades before the agency worked through its backlog.
The makers and users of all those chemicals could be profitably poisoning us and we don't know it. And since any law has to pass a corporate controlled Congress, please be advised that holding your breath is not a good idea.

Another American industry is dying

And its one you have probably never heard of or thought about. Tennessee's pearl industry is losing markets and can't fight the competition for the ones that remain.Pearl diving is a vocation that has been shaped by the poor visibility and dirt that characterize the Tennessee River. “The river bottom can be sandy, rocky, or muddy,” another pearl-guide poster who calls himself “Mikeyy” reports on the forum. “The current may be stronger in some places than in others.” A diver named Bennie Woods told Alabama’s Times Daily that being a mussel diver “can get pretty scary at times. A lot of time when you are probing around a stump looking for shells, there will be a giant catfish hiding under the stump.… If you are diving near the barge channel you can hear the screws of the tow boats turning as they pass you by.” Unlike Japan’s Mikimoto Pearl Island, where white-clad ama divers — traditional free divers who are women — perform hourly for the visiting crowds, the life of the Tennessee River diver, always difficult and now increasingly without rewards, is not for tourists.

As Tennessee’s divers dwindle, China has, in recent years, become the leading exporter of cultured pearls, flooding the market with what many consider to be a lower-quality product and hastening the demise of the Tennessee shell industry. The key difference between Chinese pearl farms and those of other countries is the process by which they nucleate their pearls: The Chinese pearl farms have found a way to irritate their mussels without a shell nucleus, using instead only mussel tissue. Tissue nucleation, an effective cost-cutting measure, is now being imitated by farms in other countries, leading to an overall decline in American shell exportation.

The repercussions of the Chinese pearl farms’ self-sufficiency have begun to be felt in Camden. There is a distinct feeling that what was once a boomtown is now a bust: The city, which has experienced steady population growth since 1850, reported a decline between the 2000 and 2010 U.S. censuses.

A mural on the side of the United States Pearl Company, a pearl wholesaler headquartered in downtown Camden, welcomes visitors to “Benton County, Pearl Capitol [sic] of the U.S.A.” The building’s windows are tightly shuttered.

The U.S. Pearl Company (USPC) is owned by James Peach, a former member of the Tennessee House of Representatives who started out as a fisherman and pearl farmer, credits himself on Twitter as the “key person in blocking Gov. [Ned] McWerther from enacting a state income tax.” Peach confirmed via email that “the shell industry has been [in] decline since 1995, consequently, natural pearls have been on [the] same decline.… The increased production of tissue-pearl production in Asia has had a very big impact.”

Today the only freshwater pearl-culturing farm in the U.S. is owned by a man named Bob Keast and located on a resort 15 minutes from Camden proper.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

She has a voice you will remember

And plays a fine guitar so what's not to like about Suzanna Choffel singing "Raincloud" from her album Steady Eye, Shaky Bow.

Orange priorities

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

When you are the richest city in the country

You can expect to have poor people, after all, you work hard to make sure they don't get any of your money. But you should be able to feed them with your excess of leftovers.
The oranges were all gone. With a sigh, the woman held open her bag for the remaining ration at the mobile soup kitchen: a cup of warm turkey stew, a carton of low-fat milk, bagels and rolls.

The kitchen, parked on Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan, dispensed 130 free meals in less than 15 minutes on Tuesday night, one-third more than it did on a similar night a year ago. It is part of a nightly food run by the Coalition for the Homeless, a nonprofit group, that is drawing bigger crowds than ever before in some neighborhoods in Manhattan and the Bronx.

“It’s been steadily increasing,” said Juan De La Cruz, the food program director for the coalition. “There will be nights when we run short of food.”

The coalition is seeking to expand its feeding efforts amid growing concern among some government officials and advocates for the poor about what they see as a hunger crisis in a city known for its five-star dining and culinary excesses.

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger has estimated that one in six city residents are “food insecure,” or living in homes where there is not enough money to put enough food on the table. In a 2013 survey, the group reported that 254 food pantries and soup kitchens had seen demand increase 10 percent, on average, over the previous year.

“The hunger crisis in New York is the worst that it’s been in decades,” said Joel Berg, the group’s executive director, adding that people had already been struggling in a tough economy before their food stamps were reduced last fall, when federal cuts were made to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has characterized New York’s inequities as a “Tale of Two Cities,” and his administration have taken steps to get more food into the hands of the poor. The Human Resources Administration announced in May that it would seek to increase enrollment for food stamps — about 1.8 million residents currently receive them — by reaching out to older Medicare recipients and expanding online services, among other measures.

In a significant change, human resources officials also received a waiver last month of a federal work rule that cut off food stamps to thousands of New Yorkers a year. Under that rule, more than 46,000 so-called able-bodied adults — ages 18 to 49 with no dependents — had to work at least 20 hours a week or participate in job training to continue receiving an average of $35 a week in food stamps after three months, according to city officials.

“It made no sense to make New Yorkers go hungry as punishment for being underemployed — working less than 20 hours a week — or being unable to find employment in a continuing difficult economy,” said Steven Banks, commissioner of the agency.
No, it doesn't make sense, but it does give wood to a lot of mean spirited people. How dare these people try to survive!

Border Patrol or Internal Security

Thanks to the brave people of the Border Patrol, hundreds of American citizens are getting pissed off at their antics, allegedly in the name of border security.
Every time Jack Driscoll drives the 32 miles from this remote outpost in southeastern Arizona to the closest supermarket, or to doctor’s appointments, or to a pharmacy to fill his prescriptions, he must stop at a Border Patrol checkpoint and answer the same question: “Are you a U.S. citizen?”

Sometimes, Border Patrol agents ask where he is going or coming from, the type of car he is driving, what is in that bag on the back seat or what brings him to these parts, even though he has lived here for more than a year. Lately Mr. Driscoll, a 75-year-old retired highway construction engineer, has taken to opening his window just a crack and yelling, “I’m American,” as he stops at the checkpoint, one of the ways he has found to protest.

He is not the only one in this community of 800 whose anger is boiling over. Although checkpoints are a fact of life here — the tollbooth-like way stations are part of the routine for anyone driving the highways near the border — citizens like Mr. Driscoll are now starting to raise questions about whether the familiar but irritating routine violates their constitutional rights, which include protections against arbitrary stops and searches.

“I’m a mostly honest person,” Mr. Driscoll said in an interview at the library here, his arms crossed over his chest. “I worked hard all my life. I paid my taxes. I even stop at stop signs, and I feel like they treat me like a criminal.”

For several years, three checkpoints have surrounded Arivaca, an unincorporated community 11 miles north of the Mexican border that has a clinic, but no hospital; a library, but no schools; and a general store that sells basic provisions. There is no way in or out that does not take you through a checkpoint, an experience that bears some resemblance to going through airport security (albeit more briefly, and not everyone gets searched).
Will we be needing internal passports soon?

A preview of things to come

In Shitholeistan, the Taliban is not waiting for the exit of NATO combat troops and doesn't really care how many advisers President Obama plans to leave behind.
In one of the most significant coordinated assaults on the government in years, the Taliban have attacked police outposts and government facilities across several districts in northern Helmand Province, sending police and military officials scrambling to shore up defenses and heralding a troubling new chapter as coalition forces prepare to depart.

The attacks have focused on the district of Sangin, historically an insurgent stronghold and one of the deadliest districts in the country for the American and British forces who fought for years to secure it. The Taliban have mounted simultaneous attempts to conquer territory in the neighboring districts of Now Zad, Musa Qala and Kajaki. In the past week, more than 100 members of the Afghan forces and 50 civilians have been killed or wounded in fierce fighting, according to early estimates from local officials.

With a deepening political crisis in Kabul already casting the presidential election and long-term political stability into doubt, the Taliban offensive presents a new worst-case situation for Western officials: an aggressive insurgent push that is seizing territory even before American troops have completed their withdrawal from Afghanistan...

Already, areas once heavily patrolled by American forces have grown more violent as the Afghan military and the police struggle to feed, fuel and equip themselves. The lackluster performance of the Afghan Army so far in Helmand has also evoked comparisons with Iraq, raising questions about whether the American-trained force can stand in the way of a Taliban resurgence.

Officials in Helmand say the answers may come soon enough.

“The Taliban are trying to overrun several districts of northern Helmand and find a permanent sanctuary for themselves,” said Hajji Mohammad Sharif, the district governor for Musa Qala. “From there, they pose threats to the southern parts of Helmand and also pose threats to Kandahar and Oruzgan Provinces.”
We can give the Afghan Army brand new uniforms and all kinds of leftover war materiel, but we can't remove the fear they have of an enemy that does care about who they fight for. The best move is for all of the US troops to leave now and let them get it over with as soon as possible.

Speculative trading main driver of gas price increases

The supplies are plentiful and there are no current kinks in the supply line, so there is no organic reason why prices should be rising. But if you are a Big Swinging Dick on Wall St with Ooodles of cash to throw around, why not gamble on a commodity that everyone expects will rise in price?
Prices tend to spike around Memorial Day, when increased demand cuts against a limited supply as refiners convert from winter fuels to summer blends. But by the middle of June, gasoline inventories are up and prices typically retreat.

This year, they haven’t.

The reason why refutes the commonly held view that deteriorating political conditions in Iraq haven’t had much effect on gasoline prices. They have.

Despite no apparent hit to Iraqi crude production, and near-record levels of U.S. oil production, fears about the Middle East conflict have allowed financial speculators to bid up oil prices _ another contributing factor to high gasoline prices.

The authoritative AAA Motor Club had projected in May a drop between 10 cents and 15 cents a gallon during June.

But Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA on gasoline prices, said Iraq’s troubles are affecting prices more than expected. “U.S. consumers are paying higher prices than what they would otherwise, due to the higher cost of oil,” he said.

Speculative trading on the violence in Iraq is keeping oil prices about $4 a barrel higher than they would be otherwise, said Andrew Lipow, president of the Houston consultancy Lipow Oil Associates.

And that’s affecting consumers. Gasoline prices on Wednesday averaged $3.68 for a gallon of regular unleaded, up slightly up from $3.66 a gallon a month ago and more than 13 cents a gallon higher than at the same time last year...

Here’s the explanation for the stubbornly high prices: Fear has gripped oil trading markets, after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, seized the Iraqi city of Mosul on June 10 and Fallujah soon afterward.

Financial traders fear a collapse of the Iraqi state that could suck Iran and Saudi Arabia into a regional conflict that threatens oil supplies. And those financial players far outnumber actual end users of oil in the markets where contracts for future barrels of oil are traded.
Futures trading was created to smooth out the ups and downs of normal business. With Wall St. awash in money, the BSD have turned futures trading into another big money gambling hell and we pay the price.

Friday, June 27, 2014

From their new album Stay Gold

First Aid Kit soothes your aches with "Cedar Lane"

He sucks, too.

From the pen of Tom Toles.

The new Water Wars

With drought ravaging once attractive business states, the Great Lakes states are touting their access to 1/5 of the world's fresh surface water.
The withering drought afflicting California and the southwest United States could spark economic warfare over water. Scarce rains have left large swaths of the country dry for, in some areas, several years. That’s happening as industries from beverages to semiconductors grow concerned about whether they will have adequate access to water in the future. For cities and states situated around the Great Lakes, as well as water technology firms, it presents a flood of opportunities.

Access to water may have been overlooked by the Risky Business report on environmental threats to the U.S. economy launched earlier this week by, among others, former Goldman Sachs and U.S. Treasury boss Hank Paulson and ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But executives at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos have ranked it one of the three biggest global risks for the past two years. The area encompassing Arizona, New Mexico and other states regularly tops surveys of regions at risk of water stress, along with sub-Saharan Africa and China.

Until recently, though, U.S. companies routinely relegated water scarcity to the fine print of risk factors in regulatory filings. Dealing with the issue has cost some companies $400 million, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Just last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosted a webinar on the topic, highlighting recent research by environmental research group Pacific Institute and Vox Communications. They surveyed more than 50 U.S. companies and found almost 60 percent reckon problems with water will affect both their business growth and profitability by 2018. Some 90 percent expect water to be a board-level issue by then. More than three-fifths of respondents already factor availability into where to locate their facilities; some 85 percent expect to do so within four years.

Great Lakes states including Ohio and Illinois are hoping that will bring business flowing in. The basin straddling the U.S.-Canadian border boasts one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water. Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario together hold about 22,000 cubic km of fresh water, enough to cover the entire lower 48 U.S. states to a depth of about 3 meters. And the region has industrial cities and an extensive port, rail and highway network.

Indiana, for example, is gearing up to market itself as a region “with abundant water supplies,” according to Vox Global’s Tony Calandro. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has aggressively been positioning itself as a world water hub for some time. America’s historical brewing capital wants to reinvent itself as a magnet for water technology startups. Its local universities have established freshwater research programs. The Water Council, a local umbrella group, runs a seed-funding competition and provides office space for water entrepreneurs.

Chicago is already a national center for water-intensive pharmaceuticals and food processing, which together account for tens of thousands of local jobs. The Windy City also shares its smaller northern neighbor’s ambitions, but is playing catchup.

There are challenges, though. High taxes in Chicago, for one, may act as a deterrent. Newcomers would have to show they could operate without draining or spoiling the watershed. Nestlé, the global food giant, spent years fighting local opposition to a Michigan bottled-water factory in the 2000s. Water-hogging refineries and paper mills may face political opposition from residents who use the lakes for drinking water and recreation.

The tech industry may be a better prospect. Microchip foundries and server farms require huge amounts of water. They don’t, though, come with the same public relations and environmental baggage, in part because they don’t contaminate the water they use and don’t remove all of it permanently. Intel, for example, returns 87 percent of it to the environment. Luring just a fraction of the global semiconductor industry’s roughly $300 billion of annual revenue could make a difference to a city like Chicago, which is forecast to run a budget deficit of almost $340 million this year.
Help yourself, as long as you can return it as clean as you found it.

About that food on you plate

If it is imported you might want to make sure it is properly and completely cooked. The FDA, which is empowered to inspect imported edibles for quality and wholesomeness, is all too often lacking in the ability to do so.
The FDA issued an “import alert” that barred Moon Fishery India Pvt. Ltd. from shipping fish to the United States. But the damage to public health had been done. By the time the FDA inspected the plant, a salmonella outbreak already had erupted around the U.S. Ultimately, 425 people in 28 states and the District of Columbia were sickened.

The fact that tons of bad fish had sailed into this country was not a surprise. The FDA has been outgunned and overmatched for years as a rising tide of imported food has found a place at the U.S. dinner table. For budget reasons, usually only 1 percent to 2 percent of food imports are physically inspected by the agency each year. Typically, operations such as the one in India are inspected only if something goes terribly wrong.

The violations that FDA inspectors are finding pose some serious health risks. According to the analysis by FairWarning and the Investigative News Network, some 16,700 shipments of imported foods were barred over the past decade because they included a “filthy, putrid or decomposed substance” or were “otherwise unfit for food.” According to FDA records, foods rejected last year included hard candy from Mexico deemed “filthy” or “poisonous,” salmonella-infected cumin and ginger from India, and fish from Vietnam with excessive levels of histamine, which can cause food intolerances in some people.

The FDA declined to make officials available to comment for this story. The agency also refused a request by FairWarning to accompany inspectors at a port of entry. In response to questions, an FDA spokeswoman provided publicly available links to the agency’s website, previously issued news releases and congressional testimony by agency officials.

“It is important to note that while FDA is not able to physically inspect a large percentage of food entries, all import entries are electronically screened using an automated system, which helps field inspectors determine which products pose the greatest risk and, therefore, should be physically examined,” the agency said in a report to Congress last year.

Imports were supposed to face tighter scrutiny by now. In January 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law an overhaul of the way the FDA regulates imported and domestically produced foods, known as the Food Safety Modernization Act. But outsized hopes for the law have gone unfulfilled because of agency delays, flagging interest in public funding in Congress and food industry opposition to proposed new user fees to finance the overhaul.
Spending money for clean food is a waste of tax dollars to some of our solons. If you don't like it, tough shit, you got health insurance, don't you?


It's OK If You Are a Republican. The phrase that describes one political parties seeming invulnerability from the consequences of all manner of wrong doing by members. The apparently bottomless well of forgiveness by Republicans and their running dog media can be awesome. And the current poster boy for this is Mark Sanford, International Man of Adultery and Violator of Court Orders, all in the name of his own selfish ends.
“Marshal Sanford, you’ve bought yourself a new suit!”

The notoriously skinflint Sanford, a man of considerable means who wore a sports coat with an open-neck shirt to his own gubernatorial inauguration ball, couldn’t help himself.

“Paid $129 for it,” he said.

For Mulvaney and other Sanford friends, the new suit is a small but telling sign that he’s been, as he claims, humbled by the spectacular fall he took from the edge of national political power thanks to a sexy Argentine mistress, a tearful confession to the extramarital affair on national television, and a claim in subsequent days that he’d met his “soul mate.”

Sanford, who noted several times in a recent interview that he’s the only former governor in the House, no longer insists on doing everything his way and only his way. The onetime loner now watches college football games on Saturdays with other lawmakers. In his hometown of Charleston, S.C., and in the surrounding 1st Congressional District, he lingers with constituents, trades small talk and shows interest in their families and their lives.

All this might not be newsworthy, save for one bizarre interlude in Sanford’s past: Five years ago, while serving as governor, he abruptly disappeared...

In just a few days, the odd case of the missing governor became a huge news story.

Finally, on June 24, 2009, Sanford resurfaced. Political reporter Gina Smith, acting on a tip that The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., had received, was waiting for him at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport when he got off a flight from Buenos Aires.

Sanford told Smith that he’d been in Argentina and, at a nationally televised news conference later that day, he admitted to the affair.

He resigned as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association _ a post many assumed he’d use as a steppingstone to a White House run _ but served out his term as governor into January 2011, despite calls for his resignation.

Disgraced and discredited, Sanford disappeared again; this time, most observers thought, for good. But again Sanford surprised everyone, joining Congress in May 2013 via a special election.
Need I say that Mark Sanford blames his political success of God. As usual, he has been “saved by my God”.
“The American people are forgiving people,” Davis told McClatchy. “They want true contrition and true atonement.”
None of that should be mistaken for a belief in and practice of the teachings of that socialist Jesus.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

She did it so right the first time

That everybody since who does a Patsy Cline song sounds like they are trying too hard. Patsy singing "She's Got You"

Actually the Villagers would come to worship

It is the normal people who would flee.

From the pen of Tom Toles

It was a secret from somebody

American officials say that Iran is flying surveillance drones and shipping military supplies to Iraq on the QT. Well slap my ass and call me Sally!. Who could have imagined that happening?
Iran is directing surveillance drones over Iraq from an airfield in Baghdad and is supplying Iraqi forces with tons of military equipment and other supplies, according to American officials.

The secret Iranian programs are a rare instance in which Iran and the United States share a near-term goal: countering the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, the Sunni militants who have seized towns and cities in a blitzkrieg across western and northern Iraq. But even as the two nations provide military support to the embattled government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, they are watching each other’s actions warily as they jostle for influence in the region.

Senior American officials emphasized that the parallel efforts were not coordinated, and in an appearance at NATO headquarters here on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted some of the potential risks.
No, no way we could possibly be coordinating our shipments with those of Iran.

Afghanistan resumes opium production

Now that the NATO forces are leaving and the government in Kabul has the support of the major drug kingpins, opium production has increased immensely.
Illegal opium cultivation occupies more land worldwide than ever before, according to the United Nations, largely because of a surge over the last year in Afghanistan, the dominant opium producer.

The annual World Drug Report, released Thursday, found that nearly 741,000 acres worldwide were occupied by opium-producing poppy fields, the largest area devoted to the farming of the crop since 1998, when estimates were first available. Afghanistan’s poppy fields alone expanded by 36 percent from 2012 to 2013, taking up 516,000 acres. Myanmar, too, stepped up opium production; nearly 143,000 acres were devoted to poppy cultivation there.

The report, released on Thursday in Vienna, comes at a time of growing scrutiny of on the global treaties that prohibit the use and trade of opium, heroin, cocaine and the coca leaf and that underlie the militarized war on drugs. Bolivia briefly withdrew from the 1961 United Nations Convention on Narcotic Drugs to protest the ban on an indigenous tradition of chewing coca leaves, signing on to it again last year after winning an exception for leaf consumption. Last year, Uruguay also became the first country to establish a regulated legal market for marijuana.
So far the only known method of seriously curtailing opium production in Afghanistan is to let the Taliban run the country. We are not about to willingly let that happen.

Getting up in your grill is Constitutionally protected

If, while doing so, you happen to harass and bully a woman who has already had to make a most difficult choice, well that is just free speech.
Because the Massachusetts law encompasses public sidewalks, the court concluded the buffer zone makes it impossible to converse with women walking to abortion clinics.

“They impose serious burdens on petitioners’ speech, depriving them of their two primary methods of communicating with arriving patients: close, personal conversations and distribution of literature,” Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. wrote of the restrictions.

Writing for the court, Roberts stressed the difference between “petitioners” and “protesters.” The purpose of the former group, which includes Eleanor McCullen and the six others who filed the suit, is to speak with women en route to abortion clinics and not yell at them, Roberts wrote.

The court noted options that Massachusetts could use to keep women safe when they go to abortion clinics. Roberts suggested Massachusetts use traffic ordinances to keep protesters away from driveways adjoining abortion clinics and pass a state law similar to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 to keep women safe when they go to a clinic.

“Given the vital First Amendment interests at stake, it is not enough for Massachusetts simple to say that other approaches have not worked,” Roberts wrote.
So it is a vital 1st Amendment interest to impose your religious beliefs against abortion upon someone up close and personal. Can't have you yelling on a public street.

From the Onion

Humanity Surprised It Still Hasn’t Figured Out Better Alternative To Letting Power-Hungry Assholes Decide Everything
Noting that it has had thousands of years to develop a more agreeable option, humankind expressed bewilderment this week that it has yet to devise a better alternative to governing itself than always letting power-hungry assholes run everything, sources worldwide reported.

Individuals in every country on earth voiced their frustration that, in spite of generations of mistreatment, neglect, and abuse they have suffered at the hands of those in positions of authority, they continue to allow control over the world’s governments, businesses, and virtually every other type of organization and social group to fall to the most megalomaniacal pricks among them.

“We’ve all seen what this system leads to, so you’d think that by now, someone, somewhere would have sat down and thought up another way to keep our societies functioning without giving all the power to arrogant, amoral dicks whose only concern is improving their own status,” said Mumbai software designer Ankan Rao, one of 7.1 billion humans who conveyed continued surprise that their species has so far proven incapable of formulating a method of governance that was even slightly more tolerable. “Everybody dislikes the people in charge and everybody knows they’re only serving their own personal agendas at the expense of everyone else, but we just keep allowing these jerks to make our decisions time and time again. And it’s not just here—it’s everywhere in the world.”

“Boy, maybe we shouldn’t do that anymore,” Rao added. “Anyone have any better ideas?”

Speaking with reporters, citizens across the planet unanimously expressed their bafflement at the consistency with which they either formally or informally select corrupt and self-obsessed sacks of shit for leadership roles in all facets of life, including positions atop corporate boards, judicial and legislative bodies, religious institutions, parent-teacher associations, the military, intramural softball teams, and international and national professional associations, as well as groups of friends deciding where to eat.

In addition, sources offered countless examples of the counterproductive and perplexing practice of entrusting power to the world’s least scrupulous individuals, ranging in scale from a domineering dictator who plunges his country into civil war in order to consolidate his power, to a Foot Locker shift manager who forces his subordinates to close up without him so that he can go home early.

Moreover, everyone across the planet acknowledged that the tradition of allowing an exploitative asshole to take charge of a given situation has been the principal system for group decision-making from the earliest formation of tribal societies to the present day, an admission that caused each member of the human race to either emit an exasperated sigh, shake his or her head, or mutter a profanity.

“My old boss, my sorority president, my congressional representative, my current boss—they’ve all been soulless, backstabbing dickheads whose only concern is getting what they want,” said administrative assistant Sheryl Gittens of Forth Worth, TX, who went on to list the bully back in her seventh grade class, her homeowners association president, and the coordinator of her Bible study group among the legions of selfish jagoffs who have inexplicably been granted commanding roles by the acquiescent masses. “What’s even more annoying is that we essentially reward these people for only thinking of themselves and repeatedly screwing us over. If you stop and think about it, that’s pretty messed up.”

“Jesus,” she continued. “What the hell’s wrong with us?”

Given the prevalence throughout history of compassionless, two-faced leaders whose lust for control and inflated self-importance have led to disastrous results for society at large, many individuals questioned if, going forward, they should instead try giving power to someone other than a greedy, self-serving bastard.

“Maybe we should try letting a kind, responsible person run things for a change,” Cairo resident Nathifa Bakhoum told reporters. “I, for one, don’t want to be told what to do by another narcissist who’s drunk on power and who has absolutely no regard for my well-being. It’s just a thought, but perhaps we could go with a good, decent human next time, or at least someone who’s not a completely egotistical pile of dogshit. That seems like a good thing to try at least once, right? Could we even do that? It’s probably worth a shot.”

When pressed for further comment, however, every member of humanity agreed that the current system, though deeply flawed, remains far better than one in which they actually have to make decisions for themselves.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

From a whisper to a shout

Beth Hart can sing it and never leave you wondering about her emotions. Like when she sings "Over You" from the album 37 Days

A matter of priorities, n'est-ce pas?

From the pen of Jim Morin

R.I.P. Eli Wallach

How did a nice Jewish boy like you get remembered as a Mexican bandito? Great acting.

Good news all you M-I-C fans

The Pentagon thinks they may finally have figured out how to make the F-35 fly like a real jet plane.
A fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets is expected to return to regular flight operations at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida after being grounded because of a fire this week.

All F-35 flight operations for the Air Force at the base had been temporarily suspended as the military investigated the incident. A spokesman at the base said flight operations were expected to resume Wednesday.

Early Monday, one of the radar-evading, supersonic fighter jets caught fire before takeoff. The pilot left the aircraft uninjured, officials said.

The aircraft was preparing to take off on a training mission but aborted when flames appeared in the rear of the aircraft. Emergency responders then extinguished the fire with foam, according to an Air Force statement.

"The pilot followed the appropriate procedures which allowed for the safe abort of the mission, engine shutdown, and egress," Navy Capt. Paul Haas, 33rd Fighter Wing vice commander, said in a statement. "We take all ground emergencies seriously."

An Air Force safety board is expected to begin investigating the incident to determine the cause.

It's the latest setback for the F-35, a nearly $400 billion weapons program under development for more than a decade but billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule. The per-plane cost estimates have gone from $78 million in 2001 to $135 million today, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Testing the F-35 is key to the Pentagon's ultimate plan to build 2,457 of the planes. The Joint Strike Fighter program centered around a plan to develop one basic fighter plane that could - with a few manufacturing tweaks - be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

The idea is that it can take off and land on runways and aircraft carriers, as well as hover like a helicopter. No one stealthy fighter aircraft has had all these capabilities. From an engineering standpoint, it's a challenging task for plane maker Lockheed Martin Corp. because the requirements of the different services vary so much.
It still has no mission that it can perform half as well as existing aircraft, but when did they ever let that stop them.

One less secret to worry about

The various railroads have ended their efforts to keep information on shipments of crude oil a secret from the communities they pass through.
The nation’s largest haulers of crude oil by rail on Tuesday appeared to abandon their insistence that information about such shipments could not be shared publicly for security reasons.

Meanwhile, states, including some that had previously signed nondisclosure agreements, also reversed course and made the information public with no protest from the railroads.

Courtney Wallace, a spokeswoman for BNSF, the largest hauler of crude oil by rail in North America, said Tuesday that the railroad received guidance from U.S. Department of Transportation that the information wasn’t protected.

“Once it became clear from the federal government that crude oil was not considered sensitive, secure information, we continued on our path of simply complying” with the department’s emergency order, she said in an email.
When you can't get the Feds to buy in on a secret, it's just not worth trying.

Sour whine coming from Mississippi

The corporate establishment Republican Thad Cochran won his runoff election yesterday against Teabagger Chris McDaniel. According to most reports, Cochran did so with the help of a significant number of Democrats who took advantage of Mississippi election law that allows for party crossover voting in primary elections. Needless to say the Teabagger McDaniel is pissing and moaning about the result of democracy inaction. The nerve of those voters keeping him out of the office he deserved.
Mr. McDaniel, speaking in Hattiesburg, was angry, and he did not hesitate to say so. “There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats,” he said.

He accused Mr. Cochran of abandoning the conservative movement. “So much for principles,” he said.

Mr. McDaniel, an uncompromising conservative, relied on the muscle of outside groups and the enthusiasm of conservative voters who are weary of Mr. Cochran’s old-school Washington ways.

The 76-year-old senator ran a largely sleepy campaign until the primary on June 3, when he was edged out by Mr. McDaniel but won enough votes to keep his opponent from outright victory. Mr. Cochran, who is seeking his seventh term, used the past three weeks to turn out Democratic voters — especially African-Americans — to make up that deficit.

A surge of voters showed up on Tuesday in African-American precincts and in Mr. Cochran’s other strongholds to surprise Mr. McDaniel, 41, who just Monday night declared his campaign had gone from impossible to improbable to unstoppable. Early Wednesday, with all but one precinct reporting, Mr. Cochran’s lead over Mr. McDaniel was a little more than 6,000 votes. Recounts are not required under Mississippi law, although Mr. McDaniel could seek to challenge the results through the courts.
I suppose Mississippi won't be so easily rid of that Know-Nothing WATB McDaniel but it was nice to see him sandbagged by the very people he would try so hard to fuck over if he had won. Mind you, Cochran is no great shakes either but he is old school, he leaves his racism at home when he goes out in public.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

From their 2012 album Court The Storm

Y La Bamba sings "Bendito"

The Iraqi Monster lives in an oil can

From the pen of Jim Morin

Close encounters of a drone kind

If you thought the skies were crowded with commercial carriers and private aviation, you will love the new skies filled with drones.
In the first incident on May 29, the pilot of a commercial airliner descending toward LaGuardia Airport saw what appeared to be a black drone with a 10-to-15-foot wingspan about 5,500 feet above Lower Manhattan, according to a previously undisclosed report filed with the Federal Aviation Administration.

In the second, two airliners separately approaching Los Angeles International Airport soared past what they described as a drone or remote-controlled aircraft the size of a trash can at an altitude of 6,500 feet, FAA records show.

With drones set to become a widespread reality in American airspace, The Washington Post spent a year investigating the safety record of remotely controlled aircraft in the United States and overseas. This series is based on more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records from the U.S. military, the Federal Aviation Administration and other sources, as well as extensive interviews with government and industry officials.

The records do not name the airlines involved or say how close the aircraft came to the drones when they flew past. FAA officials said their inspectors could not track down the unregistered drones or determine who was flying them. “In many cases, radar data is not available and the operators cannot be identified,” the agency said in a statement.

The close calls were the latest in a rash of dangerous encounters between civilian airplanes and drones flown in contravention of FAA rules intended to safeguard U.S. airspace. Hazardous occurrences are becoming more frequent as more drones — legal and illegal — take to the skies, according to a year-long investigation by The Washington Post:

In 15 cases over the past two years, drones flew dangerously close to airports or passenger aircraft, including the incidents in New York and Los Angeles, according to reports submitted to the FAA. On May 3, the pilot of a commercial airliner preparing to land in Atlanta reported a small drone with four legs and bright lights “in close proximity” to his plane, according to the FAA records. The agency recently disclosed that the pilot of a US Airways plane reported a near-collision with a drone or remotely controlled model aircraft over Tallahassee Regional Airport on March 22 in Florida.
A different set of records suggests that risky midair encounters are even more common. A NASA database of confidential complaints filed by pilots and air-traffic controllers has recorded 50 other reports of close calls or improper flight operations involving drones over the past decade.
Civilian drones flown with the FAA’s permission and under its scrutiny are also susceptible to crashes. Since November 2009, law enforcement agencies, universities and other registered drone users have reported 23 accidents and 236 unsafe incidents, according to FAA records.

The problem is worsening just as the federal government is preparing to lift barriers that could flood the country’s already congested skies with thousands of remotely controlled aircraft. Under a law passed two years ago, Congress ordered the FAA to issue rules legalizing drones for commercial purposes by September 2015 — the first step in a new era of aviation that will eventually allow drones of all sizes to fly freely in the national airspace, sharing the same airports as regular planes.

Congress imposed dual mandates on the FAA that the agency has struggled to reconcile. Under the law, the agency must draft rules for drones as soon as possible so businesses can exploit their economic potential. The FAA must also ensure that safety standards are not compromised and passenger aircraft are not imperiled.

The FAA is facing pressure to move faster from drone manufacturers, the military, members of Congress and many companies that see remotely controlled airplanes as a breakthrough technology. The drone industry complains that it is losing $27 million in economic benefits a day while the FAA prepares regulations for certifying drones and licensing pilots.
So with lots of pressure the FAA will likely approve a set of half baked rules with plenty of loopholes until enough people are killed by drone caused accidents. Because the FAA is at its best with tombstone regulation.

More Trouble For The Big Guy & Team Fatso

New Jersey Governor Christie is discovering the joys of investigations, when you play fast and loose with the rules beforehand, you can't have just one. And so Bridgegate has morphed into a look into the Gov and the Port Authority and that is spreading to the Pulaski Skyway, which is not owned by the Port Authority.
Investigations into the Christie administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have zeroed in on possible securities law violations stemming from a $1.8 billion road repair agreement in 2011, according to people briefed on the matter.

While the inquiries were prompted by the apparently politically motivated lane closings at the George Washington Bridge last year, these investigations center on another crossing: the Pulaski Skyway, the crumbling elevated roadway connecting Newark and Jersey City. They are being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The inquiries into securities law violations focus on a period of 2010 and 2011 when Gov. Chris Christie’s administration pressed the Port Authority to pay for extensive repairs to the Skyway and related road projects, diverting money that was to be used on a new Hudson River rail tunnel that Mr. Christie canceled in October 2010.

Again and again, Port Authority lawyers warned against the move: The Pulaski Skyway, they noted, is owned and operated by the state, putting it outside the agency’s purview, according to dozens of memos and emails reviewed by investigators and obtained by The New York Times.

But the Christie administration relentlessly lobbied to use the money for the Skyway, with Mr. Christie announcing publicly that the state planned to rely on Port Authority funds even before an agreement was reached. Eventually, the authority justified the Skyway repairs by casting the bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel, even though they are not directly connected.

In bond documents describing the Skyway reconstruction and other repairs, the Port Authority has called the projects “Lincoln Tunnel Access Infrastructure Improvements.”

The accuracy of this characterization is now a major focus of the investigations, according to several people briefed on the matter. Under a New York State law known as the Martin Act, prosecutors can bring felony charges for intentionally deceiving bond holders, without having to prove any intent to defraud or even establish that any fraud occurred.

Two veteran prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office public corruption unit are working with two S.E.C. lawyers who are experts in such bond issues, one person briefed on the matter said, and another noted that while the agencies were each conducting separate parallel inquiries, they were working together.

In addition to criminal charges under the Martin Act, the investigations could result in civil action under the Martin Act or by the S.E.C., under federal securities laws.
The Big Guy set himself up for a big fall that he can't bully and bluster himself out of. And it couldn't happen to a more deserving fellow.

The Center For Disease Control needs better disease control

Their procedures for handling anthrax have allowed as many as 84 people to be exposed to the disease.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of lab workers who may have been exposed rose from the 75 people first disclosed on Thursday. As of early Friday, 32 staff were taking the powerful antibiotic ciprofloxacin, or Cipro, and 20 were taking another antibiotic called doxycycline, CDC press officer Benjamin Haynes said in a statement.

In addition, as many as 27 people were getting the anthrax vaccine to prevent infection. No illnesses have been reported, but the agency expects more people to step forward now that news of the anthrax scare is public. The agency did not give reasons why other workers were not taking medication.

The safety breach, which originated in the CDC's bioterror lab, raised new concerns about the way laboratories around the world conduct research into the deadliest known pathogens, from anthrax to Ebola and avian flu. CDC has already faced repeated scrutiny over security lapses and mechanical malfunctions at some of its labs dating back to at least 2007...

According to Meechan, researchers in the CDC's high-security Bioterror Rapid Response and Advanced Technology laboratory realized they had sent live anthrax bacteria, instead of what they thought were harmless samples, to fellow scientists in two lower-security labs at the agency.

The initial safety lapse occurred as scientists in the bioterror lab were trying out a new protocol for inactivating anthrax, using chemicals instead of radiation.

Scientists in the Bioterror Rapid Response unit had been preparing an especially dangerous Ames strain of the bacteria for use at the two lower-security CDC labs, the Biotechnology Core Facility and the Special Bacteriology Reference Laboratory, Meechan said. The strain had been used in a bioterror attack in the United States in 2001.

Those teams were experimenting with methods to more quickly identify anthrax in substances and powders sent to CDC from authorities across the country.
It took them a week just to realize their known samples were still live. We should feel glad that they were not handling Ebola at the time.

98% white and 25% on food stamps

And Laurel County Kentucky is an example of the people that Republicans are hurting the most when they cut SNAP benefits.
“Coming in here helps me a lot because then I got enough food to do me till the 8th,” she said, referring to the date each month when her food stamp benefits (through SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) are renewed. “I have to have the food. I’m just too low.”

With the new provisions, McCoy will make peanut butter crackers to eat each night before bed to help control her diabetes. The produce and the meat, so expensive these days at the supermarket, she said, is a godsend. She will give the oatmeal to the family that lives next door in her apartment building.

“They’ve got four itty-bitty, little kids, the oldest one in the first grade,” she said. “Where I live, we take care of each other. And you know when someone don’t have no groceries. When you hear so-and-so don’t have nothing, well, you send something over there.”

In southeastern Kentucky, hardship and need seem to spring forth from the cracks and crevices of the lush green rolling hills; they line the dulcet tones of the people who matter-of-factly recount their struggles to stay afloat. For the last half-century, the conundrum of calcified, generational poverty has stumped policymakers, with the luckless denizens of Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains one of its most enduring symbols.

Unlike urban areas that have also come to typify entrenched poverty, Kentucky’s 5th District is overwhelmingly white (98 percent). And unlike many of the other districts where constituents are heavily reliant on government programs like SNAP, it is represented by conservative politicians who have voted to dial back those programs, alleging fraud and individuals addicted to handouts.

It’s hard to imagine they are talking about McCoy, 62, who is among those who could not survive without federal help yet has seen a dramatic reduction in her benefits, from $200 to $82 a month.

McCoy's life followed the same contours of many living here in rural Appalachia. After she turned 18, she started working — 17 years on the assembly line at Ford Motor Co., six years in a hospital-supply factory, seven more at a plant where she sewed men’s underwear. By the time she was in her late 40s, McCoy’s body had begun to break.

In addition to diabetes, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and declared legally blind; she suffers from neuropathy, a nerve disorder that causes a burning sensation in her feet. Her last job was as a waitress working for $2 an hour under the table and scraping together tips, but that was more than 10 years ago, when she was able to drive.

With disability payments and SNAP, McCoy can just get by.
And all things considered, they will likely still vote for Teabagger Hall Rogers and that Jackass Mitch McConnell who will try and cut more from SNAP and any other safety net benefits they receive.

Monday, June 23, 2014

When you play American folk music

You absolutely have to play Caffe Lena along the way. When The Stray Birds did, they took the time to make this video of "I'll Be Your San Antone Rose"

If there were justice in this world

Tom Tomorrow's latest report on the state of the media would be accurate and we would be watching it on YouTube.

Well, it looks like mud.

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

Teabag Tommy Tancredo at it again

And his run for governor is sending shivers through the Republican Party who were hoping for someone who could, at least pretend to be normal before Election Day.
Tom Tancredo, the firebrand former congressman, Harley-Davidson biker and perennial headache for Colorado’s Republican leaders, was taking fire from all sides last week in the final days of his primary campaign for governor. His rivals were slamming him on the airwaves. Moderate Republicans were warning that Mr. Tancredo’s name on the ballot could doom their chances in crucial races across this swing state.

But for the moment, Mr. Tancredo’s big peeve was an online commenter who had smeared him on his campaign’s Facebook page, falsely attributing racist language to the candidate. Mr. Tancredo’s people had pulled the remark, but he still was piqued. “We’re going to sue his ass from here to Omaha,” Mr. Tancredo said, scrolling through his phone.

Fifteen years after he built a national reputation as an inflammatory foe of illegal immigration, Tom Tancredo, 68, is still campaigning, without apology, as Tom Tancredo. He skipped the debates ahead of Tuesday’s four-way Republican primary. He defied calls to drop out of the race. He embraces marijuana legalization. He says President Obama should be impeached, but notes that “you can’t criticize him because he’s black and if you do, you’re a racist.”

To Mr. Tancredo’s thinking, if one is going to go through all the rigors of a political campaign, “You should do it for a reason and be unwilling to modify your positions, just because you fear that some people out there will be turned off by it,” he said. “That’s not a reason to soft-pedal certain things.”
Crazier than a shithouse rat, unmellowed by ag and raising more money than the other candidates, Teabag Tommy is the Colorado Republican Party's worst nightmare.

Kerry asked the question 40 years ago

And now he wants to do it.
Asking the last man to die in Iraq for a mistake, that is. With all the knowledgeable people declaring it won't do a damn bit of good, our brave Secretary of State is ready and willing to start dropping bombs again in Iraq.
Winding up a day of crisis talks with Iraqi leaders, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that the Sunni militants seizing territory in Iraq had become such a threat that the United States might not wait for Iraqi politicians to form a new government before taking military action.

“They do pose a threat,” Mr. Kerry said, referring to the fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “They cannot be given safe haven anywhere.”

“That’s why, again, I reiterate the president will not be hampered if he deems it necessary if the formation is not complete,” he added, referring to the Iraqi efforts to establish a new multisectarian government that bridges the deep divisions among the majority Shiites and minority Sunnis, Kurds and other smaller groups.

American officials, drawn increasingly back into a struggle that President Obama had sought to end, do not want to be seen as taking sides in a sectarian conflict. They have stressed in recent days that the establishment of an cross-sectarian Iraqi government would make it easier for the United States to provide military support for Iraq, including airstrikes.
Don't you just hate it when the military is all gung-ho to start blowing up shit and begs someone to give them "plausible cover" to let us say we didn't start it?

SCOTUS confused about clean air

In a pair of decisions, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 allowed the EPA to regulate pollution from large stationary sources. In a second 5-4 ruling it denied the EPA had the power to define regulatory requirements based on less than clear statutory terms.
The Supreme Court on Monday handed President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency a victory in its efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources like power plants, even as it criticized what it called the agency’s overreaching.

“E.P.A. is getting almost everything it wanted in this case,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in summarizing the decision from the bench. “It sought to regulate sources it said were responsible for 86 percent of all the greenhouse gases emitted from stationary sources nationwide. Under our holdings, E.P.A. will be able to regulate sources responsible for 83 percent of those emissions.”

Justice Scalia said the agency was free to do so as long as the sources in question “would need permits based on their emissions of more conventional pollutants.”

That part of the decision, which effectively sustained regulation of nearly all the sources the agency had sought to regulate, was decided by a 7-to-2 vote. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined that part of the decision...

Another part of the decision rejected, in harsh terms, the agency’s primary rationale for the regulations. The agency had contended it would interpret the Clean Air Act to require regulation of far fewer stationary sources of pollution than the law seemed to require.

“An agency has no power to ‘tailor’ legislation to bureaucratic policy goals by rewriting unambiguous statutory terms,” Justice Scalia wrote. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined that part of the decision, which was decided by a 5-to-4 vote.

The National Federation of Independent Business welcomed what is said was the Supreme Court’s refusal to allow the agency to rewrite the statute.

“If this rule had been allowed to stand, small business owners such as ranchers, farmers, manufacturers, restaurant owners and others would have seen more paperwork, more oversight and fines,” the group said in a statement.

The decision did not seem to directly affect the administration’s recently announced plans to cut carbon pollution under a different set of regulations.
And the purpose of the second decision is to set the table for a future overturning of the Clean Air Act and other efforts to maintain a supply of breathable air. There is no ruch, the Dread Chief Justice Roberts has plenty of time to get the right case.

Jesus turned the water into wine

The Free Hand of the Marketplace turns water into shit.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Brooklyn based honky tonk

The Sweetback Sisters from their appearence at The Shrewsbury Festival in 2011 they sing "Feelin' Bad".

Sports do reflect reality

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Who didn't see this coming?

From Reuters:
The party of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah broadcast audio on Sunday that it said showed mass fraud had been committed in an election that aims to transfer power democratically in the country for the first time.

The audio purports to show that Independent Election Commission (IEC) Secretariat head Zia-ul-Haq Amarkhil made phone calls to officials in several provinces ordering them to stuff ballot boxes using code words.

While Amarkhil denies the allegations and the Independent Election Complaints Commission is investigating, the broadcast could stoke further protests across the country supporting Abdullah's decision to withdraw from the vote.

Abdullah, former leader of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, last week recalled his observers monitoring the ongoing count and said the outcome of the run-off with former finance minister Ashraf Ghani on June 14 would be illegal.
Time to let them go their own way, whatever that may be.

What to ask when you go shopping.

Piyush channels his inner Huey Long

Those who are familiar with the history of the US, know that there was a real fear in Washington during the Depression that "The Kingfish" Huey Long, a clever politician and spellbinding orator was preparing a populist uprising to take over the government. Nowadays, Louisiana gives us the Mud Skipper, Piyush Jindal, who wants to rekindle those fears and ride them to the White House.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Saturday night accused President Barack Obama and other Democrats of waging wars against religious liberty and education and said that a rebellion is brewing in the U.S. with people ready for "a hostile takeover" of the nation's capital.

Jindal spoke at the annual conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group led by longtime Christian activist Ralph Reed. Organizers said more than 1,000 evangelical leaders attended the three-day gathering. Republican officials across the political spectrum concede that evangelical voters continue to play a critical role in GOP politics.

"I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States," Jindal said, "where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren."

The governor said there was a "silent war" on religious liberty being fought in the U.S. — a country that he said was built on that liberty.

"I am tired of the left. They say they're for tolerance, they say they respect diversity. The reality is this: They respect everybody unless you happen to disagree with them," he said. "The left is trying to silence us and I'm tired of it, I won't take it anymore."

Earlier this week, Jindal signed an executive order to block the use of tests tied to Common Core education standards in his state, a position favored by tea party supporters and conservatives. He said he would continue to fight against the administration's attempts to implement Common Core.

"The federal government has no role, no right and no place dictating standards in our local schools across these 50 states of the United States of America," Jindal said.
There is a big difference between The Kingfish and The Mud Skipper. Huey Long was a smart man who used genuine populist politics, caring for people damaged by the Depression, to build a power base. Piyush is a small desperate man trying to climb aboard any train that passes him by. And he has yet to realize he has gone as high as he ever will.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dr. Lucy Kaplansky

Who, thanks to friends like Shawn Colvin, Susanne Vega and Nancy Griffith, found music more compelling than psychology. From her 2004 album The Red Thread, she sings "I Had Something".

But private enterprise always does it better

As we get ready for the age of the commercial drone flight, the Washington Post is taking time to tell us all about the drones that got lost, fell from the sky and otherwise failed the flying part of their mission.

Commercial drone flights are set to become a widespread reality in the United States, starting next year, under a 2012 law passed by Congress. Drone flights by law enforcement agencies and the military, which already occur on a limited basis, are projected to surge.

The documents obtained by The Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenging the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and in the same airspace as passenger planes.

Military drones have slammed into homes, farms, runways, highways, waterways and, in one case, an Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane in midair. No one has died in a drone accident, but the documents show that many catastrophes have been narrowly averted, often by a few feet, or a few seconds, or pure luck.

“All I saw were tents, and I was afraid that I had killed someone,” Air Force Maj. Richard Wageman told investigators after an accident in November 2008, when he lost control of a Predator that plowed into a U.S. base in Afghanistan. “I felt numb, and I am certain that a few cuss words came out of my mouth.”

Air Force Maj. Richard Wageman operates a Predator from a ground-control station in Afghanistan on Oct. 25, 2008. A week later, he was the pilot of a Predator that crashed into a U.S. military base. The precise cause of the crash was undetermined. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Investigators were unable to pinpoint a definitive cause for the accident but said wind and an aggressive turn by the pilot were factors. Wageman did not respond to a request for comment through an Air Force spokeswoman.

Several military drones have simply disappeared while at cruising altitudes, never to be seen again. In September 2009, an armed Reaper drone, with a 66-foot wingspan, flew on the loose across Afghanistan after its handlers lost control of the aircraft. U.S. fighter jets shot it down as it neared Tajikistan.

The documents describe a multitude of costly mistakes by remote-control pilots. A $3.8 million Predator carrying a Hellfire missile cratered near Kandahar in January 2010 because the pilot did not realize she had been flying the aircraft upside-down. Later that year, another armed Predator crashed nearby after the pilot did not notice he had squeezed the wrong red button on his joystick, putting the plane into a spin.

While most of the malfunctioning aircraft have perished in combat zones, dozens have been destroyed in the United States during test and training flights that have gone awry.

In April, a 375-pound Army drone crashed next to an elementary-school playground in Pennsylvania, just a few minutes after students went home for the day. In Upstate New York, the Air Force still cannot find a Reaper that has been missing since November, when it plunged into Lake Ontario. In June 2012, a Navy RQ-4 surveillance drone with a wingspan as wide as a Boeing 757′s nose-dived into Maryland’s Eastern Shore, igniting a wildfire.

Defense Department officials said they are confident in the reliability of their drones. Most of the crashes occurred in war, they emphasized, under harsh conditions unlikely to be replicated in the United States.
And since we can rely on private enterprise to provide better training and maintenance and operating procedures than the military or the CIA, what could possibly go wrong?

R.I.P. Charles Barsotti

You got the right of it.

When you have a deployed defense system

That has not yet proved it could hit the ground if it fell over, maybe re-negotiating the contract is not the best idea. How about canceling it?
The Pentagon is restructuring a $3.48 billion contract with Boeing Co for management of the troubled U.S. homeland missile defense program, said two sources familiar with the situation.

The system, which faces a critical test on Sunday, has failed to hit a dummy missile in five of eight tests since the Bush administration rushed to deploy the system in 2004 to counter growing threats by North Korea. It has not hit a target since 2008.

Another miss could put the brakes on plans by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to spend billions of dollars to improve the Boeing-led Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD), and add 14 more interceptors to the 30 already in the ground in Alaska and California.

The Pentagon is restructuring a $3.48 billion contract with Boeing Co for management of the troubled U.S. homeland missile defense program, said two sources familiar with the situation.

The system, which faces a critical test on Sunday, has failed to hit a dummy missile in five of eight tests since the Bush administration rushed to deploy the system in 2004 to counter growing threats by North Korea. It has not hit a target since 2008.

Another miss could put the brakes on plans by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to spend billions of dollars to improve the Boeing-led Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD), and add 14 more interceptors to the 30 already in the ground in Alaska and California.
So even with a target calling to the missile like a street corner hooker, the military is concerned that the test, done under optimum conditions, may once again fail. And even if it fails, Boeing will get a contract that will have no goals and no penalties for failure, just a guarantee the Pentagon will spend more $Billions on a worthless, but expensive, piece of shit.

Eating the seed corn

Never a good idea.

How's that nation building going?

Bill Maher gets to the heart of the problem with Iraq.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

There have been numerous stories lately about the failure of the Border Patrol to police itself, including its prediliction for using border jumpers, and sometimes Mexicans inside Mexico, for target practice. The latest investigation of the Border Patrol is of the internal affairs division, which is supposed to conduct this kind of investigation.
The internal affairs division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is being investigated for falsifying documents, intentionally misplacing employee complaints and bungling misconduct reports as part of a coverup to mask its failure to curb employee wrongdoing, a McClatchy investigation has found.

The inquiry of the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency also involves a much broader array of allegations, including an inner-office sexual relationship between two high-ranking officials, who themselves sometimes oversee investigations of similar illicit affairs. According to three Customs and Border Protection officials, investigators quietly interviewed witnesses this spring as part of a potential criminal case that reflected badly on the leadership of former division chief James Tomsheck and at least two of his deputies.

The investigation already was under way when the Obama administration earlier this month removed Tomsheck, who had run the internal affairs division since 2006.

The allegations taint a unit that must grapple with recurring accusations that Customs and Border Protection personnel have abused migrants, including children, taken bribes and conspired with drug cartels.

“There were so many allegations of wrongdoing involving the internal affairs division you’d need a flow chart to sort them all out,” said one of the agency officials, who asked to remain unnamed because the inquiry is ongoing. “It’s insane because this division is supposed to be looking into employee misconduct, yet it is being accused of the very same corruption it is supposed to be investigating.”

The internal affairs division has been further shaken by two suicides of internal affairs officers in less than a year, including one retired veteran Secret Service agent who had overseen the division’s Houston office.
History is a teacher few people listen to. If they did they would recognize that a bloated bureaucracy is more interested in continuing itself than performing its function. And the rot in the Border Patrol is just one more example of that.

Sumer is Icumen In

Began at 6:51 this morning

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing, cuccu;
Groweth sed
and bloweth med,
And springth the wode nu;
Sing, cuccu!

Awe bleteth after lomb,
Lhouth after calue cu;
Bulluc sterteth,
Bucke uerteth,

Murie sing, cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu,
Wel singes thu, cuccu;
Ne swic thu naver nu.

Sing, cuccu, nu; sing, cuccu;
Sing, cuccu; sing, cuccu, nu![

Friday, June 20, 2014

She chose to go by her first and middle names

After leaving the group Bearfoot, Odessa Rose Jorgensen dropped her last name when she recorded a solo album. This tune is "My Match"

You have to see the Big Picture

From the pen of Jack Ohman

Chickens ask the fox for help

It seems there is a town in Louisiana that has been suffering under a dreadful smell and worse from its local gas and petrochemical facility. The poor dears have appealed to the state government for help.
A noxious smell began blanketing the St. Rose area area 12 days ago, residents said. The smell has reportedly caused several dozen people to feel ill with breathing problems, eye irritation, vomiting and diarrhea, according to environmental group Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

Several St. Rose residents traveled on Thursday to the state capital, Baton Rouge, to voice their frustration over an alleged lack of state action on the issue, calling on Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, to do more to protect people in the area.

Residents and activists say the state has shown a pattern of ignoring the concerns of residents who live near oil and gas facilities.

"The health impacts of this are being brushed under the rug," Anne Rolfes, the head of Bucket Brigade, said in a statement. "We are appealing to health professionals from around the state to come to St. Rose. We need medical missions to come to St. Charles Parish and help.”

The smell is reportedly coming from either the International Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT), a sprawling gas and chemical storage and shipping facility, or a co-located Shell asphalt production plant.

IMTT said continued monitoring shows no elevated levels of toxic substances in the air. Shell said it was working with the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to improve a chemical release warning system to let residents know as soon as possible when noxious gases are in the air. But Shell said all emissions in the last two weeks have been “well within permit limits.”

But that has not reassured some residents, who say they have been getting sick for nearly two weeks.

“The smell is unbearable, strong,” resident Sabrina Jordan told TV news station WDSU. “Nobody has been telling us anything. They know there is a smell but don't know the problem.”
Why bother finding out what the problem is when nobody is going to do anything about it. Can't have dangerous government regulation interfering with sacrosanct profits. And appealing to the government could be dangerous. With his record, Piyush Jindal might just relocate everyone to some unused swampland to get them out of the way.

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

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]