Thursday, July 31, 2014

From a loose collection of New Orleans street musicians

To a polished ensemble playing traditional sound of jazz and blues from the early part of the century. Tuba Skinny doing "I'm So Blue"

Colbert discovers leprechaun penises

You call them bananas.

The Colbert Report
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GAO discovers the obvious

But with all those lawyers in Congress I guess it is only natural that they would want genuine, official proof of the tub of butter that the Fed provided for all those Bankster asses to land in after the 2008 financial crisis that they created.
The largest U.S. banks enjoyed lower funding costs than smaller rivals during the 2008 economic crisis although that advantage has declined or reversed in recent years, according to testimony from a government watchdog.

A study by the Government Accountability Office, to be released in full later today, comes after two years of congressional and industry debate over whether large banks continue to get what has come to be known as a too-big-to-fail subsidy despite regulatory changes. Senators Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, and David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, requested the report in January 2013 and have scheduled a Senate Banking subcommittee hearing on it today.

The GAO study found that the largest banks receive more of a market advantage during financial turmoil than during economic boom times.
The Big Banksters naturally declared there was no significant market advantage for them. This may be true as they had thoroughly trashed half their markets with the crash. But they were able to quickly find new ones without worry of failure or jail time.

Way to go, John!

From the pen of Jim Morin

Sorry about your chemical plant explosion

It sure is a shame how those wide area evacuations can disrupt your business. Don't you worry none, the good old Pelican State has your back.
A story published this week by The Daily Advertiser newspaper in Lafayette, Louisiana, revisited the explosion in the rural community of New Iberia. The paper revealed that the then-owners of the plant, Multi-Chem, paid no fine to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), which routinely fines chemical, oil and gas companies for environmental damage caused by accidents.

The plant, which still goes by the name Multi-Chem but is now owned by Halliburton Co., mixes various chemicals for oil and gas industry processes, including the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. The Advertiser also revealed that once the plant was owned by Halliburton, it was promised $1.8 million in tax incentives by Louisiana Economic Development (LED) to assist in its expansion and relocation in nearby Vermilion Parish...

The 2011 plant explosion initially forced people in a 5-mile radius of the plant to evacuate and released black smoke into the surrounding neighborhoods, with one resident telling The Associated Press he could taste the “bitter ... foul” taste of chemicals after the incident.

After the explosion, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company $49,000 for seven different violations, including a lack of safety equipment on the site and a lack of clear protocol for how to handle accidents.

Multi-Chem has also been accused of discharging contaminated water in Louisiana without a permit. The company has been sued several times elsewhere in the United States for various environmental issues, including one case that led to the closure of a Multi-Chem plant in Ventura, California, in 2012.

When reached by phone, a representative for Halliburton, Multi-Chem's parent company, said no one would be available to answer questions about activists' complaints.
And if you are worried about a fine well here you go. Everything is jes' fine, keep up the good work.

Israel vows to destroy all Hamas tunnels

One child at a time, apparently. The Israeli "Defense" Forces will continue to rubblize Gaza as their best means of discovering and eliminating all the tunnels. The civilian deaths will be noted as necessary collateral damage in their quest.

Israel vowed on Thursday to press ahead with its casualty-heavy offensive in Gaza irrespective of any cease-fire efforts, calling up thousands more reservists and signaling no let-up until all tunnels used by Palestinian fighters are destroyed.

Speaking ahead of a Cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was determined to “complete this important task for the sake of Israel’s security."

His comments come amid a soaring civilian death toll and international condemnation of shelling that on Wednesday hit a U.N. school sheltering Gazan refugees and later a marketplace during a temporary truce.

“We are determined to complete this mission with or without a cease-fire,” Netanyahu said Thursday. His comments followed that of Maj. Gen. Sami Tungeman, chief of Israeli forces in Gaza, who earlier suggested that his troops were “but a few days” from “destroying all tunnels” used by Hamas fighters to infiltrate Israel.

Underscoring the desire to push on with an offensive that has so far killed more than 1,300 people, the majority of them Palestinian civilians and many of them young, Israeli military sources said Thursday that a further 16,000 reservists were being called to relieve a similar number being stood down.

Meanwhile, the military push is being reinforced by a decision by Washington to allow Israel to tap a local U.S. arms stockpile to resupply it with 40 mm grenades and 120 mm mortar rounds. The defense sale is "consistent with" the objective of assisting Israel with developing its "self-defense capability," Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary, said Wednesday.

The munitions were located inside Israel as part of a program managed by the U.S. military and called War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel (WRSA-I), which stores munitions locally for U.S. use that Israel can also access in emergency situations to replenish stocks.

Israel, however, did not cite an emergency when it made its latest request about 10 days ago, a defense official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Additional requests for U.S.-manufactured ammunition were also being processed in the U.S., the defense official said.

Separately, the U.S. Congress is looking to provide millions of dollars in additional funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile shield. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee added $225 million for Iron Dome to a spending bill intended mainly to provide money to handle an influx of thousands of Central American children across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Nice to know that the US has provided conveniently located replacement munitions for those time when Israel must attack one or more of its neighbors.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Something for our brave militias on the Texican border.

Sorry about the New York Yankees cap. Los Cenzontles, David Hidalgo, Andre Thierry - Crei

She's hoping for an Oscar.

From the pen of Jack Ohman

Pentagon to try a novel new idea

The concept of the hideously expensive "Jack of All Trade and Master of None" weapons system no longer seems popular in the Pentagon.
A 20-year Air Force strategic forecast, spurred in part by looming budget constraints, also calls for a faster pace, with lower price tags, in developing both airmen and the technology they use, warning that the current way of acquiring warplanes and weapons is too plodding.

The report, labeled a “call to action” by the Air Force secretary, Deborah Lee James, limits itself to how the country’s most tech-heavy military service can adapt to looming threats and budget constraints. But it is also a warning to and an admission from the entire Defense Department that with military compensation and retirement costs rising sharply, the country may soon be unable to afford the military it has without making significant changes to the way it does business.

“To boil this down, we have to buy things very differently and develop and employ our people differently,” said Maj. Gen. David W. Allvin, the author of the report. “We have to behave more like an innovative 21st-century company.”

Between 1998 and 2014, annual compensation costs per active-duty service member increased by 76 percent, to $123,000, while the overall military budget increased by 42 percent — yet, since 2010, the base Defense Department budget has been declining, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. So far, the military has dealt with the sharp increase in personnel costs by cutting the number of service members, and has managed to keep expensive weapons acquisition and technology at the same percentage of the overall budget — around 30 percent — as personnel and maintenance and training.

But with the Army, the largest branch in the military, now headed to its lowest personnel numbers since before the World War II buildup, Defense Department officials, particularly in the Army, warn that more cuts could bring increased risks to deployed service members. While the Air Force and the Navy, with historic reliance on technology, are widely viewed as more willing to make personnel cuts than their Marine and Army counterparts, even officials in those services say there is a limit to how much more they are willing to cut personnel.

It remains unclear how serious the Air Force is about its call to move away from its focus on big, expensive weaponry, in particular advanced fighters and bombers.

Nowhere in the report is there a mention of scaling back on the trouble-plagued F-35 jet fighter — in development for 14 years so far — which was temporarily grounded last month after another in a series of problems.
In addition to the F-35, there is no mention of the other elephant in the room, all the Imperial military outposts in other countries. When you have more bases overseas than you have at home, you might be doing something wrong.

I guess God believes in climate change

In hearings held on the new proposed EPA rules
on carbon pollution, even Conservative god-botherers are stepping up in support. Apparently they have read the parts about being stewards of the earth and believe them.
The E.P.A. on Tuesday held the first of two days of public hearings on its proposed regulation to cut carbon pollution from power plants, and mixed in with the coal lobbyists and business executives were conservative religious leaders reasserting their support for President Obama’s environmental policies — at a time when Republican Party orthodoxy continues to question the science of climate change.

More than two dozen faith leaders, including evangelicals and conservative Christians, are expected to speak at the E.P.A. headquarters in Washington by the time the hearings conclude on Wednesday.

“The science is clear,” said Lisa Sharon Harper, the senior director of mobilizing for Sojourners, an evangelical organization with a social justice focus. “The calls of city governments — who are trying to create sustainable environments for 25, 50 years — that’s clear.”

Ms. Harper was one of about 20 interfaith activists who quietly sang “Hallelujah” and Jewish spirituals in a prayer circle outside the environmental agency’s 12th Street entrance here on Tuesday. Mr. Yearwood and three other faith leaders spoke at the hearings on Tuesday. Some 20 others are to make remarks on Wednesday.

Although many of the faith leaders come from traditionally progressive congregations, like black churches, synagogues and mainstream Protestant denominations, others were more conservative Christians who reflect a growing embrace of environmentalism by parts of the religious right. This week’s hearings on the new E.P.A. rule gives them an opportunity to make their argument that climate change hurts the world’s poor through natural disasters, droughts and rising sea levels, and that it is part of their faith to protect the planet.

“I have been called by God to speak out on these issues and believe it is my conviction as an evangelical Christian that we must be stewards of God’s creation,” the Rev. Richard Cizik, a former top lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals and now president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, plans to say Wednesday at the E.P.A. hearing in Washington, according to his prepared remarks.

The agency is also holding hearings this week on the regulation in Atlanta, Denver and Pittsburgh. About 1,600 people are scheduled to speak.
Nice to see that God is not always bent on destruction.

R.I.P. Theodore Van Kirk

You did your duty and followed your conscience.

One way to support the troops

In this world there are all manner of slime, much of it natural, and the worst forms tend to be man-made. The lowest of the low might well be Rome Finance also known as Colfax Capital Corp. and Culver Capital. Following a much too long history of preying on members of the military, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has brought them to bay.
At first glance, the loans advertised by Rome Finance looked like a good deal for service members who wanted to buy new video game consoles, laptops or flat-screen TVs but didn’t have the cash.

The Concord, Calif., company offered special “military financing” to troops: no money down and instant financing on pricey electronics and other goods sold at mall kiosks near military bases.

But a federal consumer watchdog agency says Rome Finance _ also known as Colfax Capital Corp. and Culver Capital _ was profiting from a predatory lending scheme at the expense of military personnel, thousands of whom ended up being hounded to repay debts they didn’t legally owe.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced Tuesday that more than 17,800 service members who were victimized by the scheme would receive a total of $92 million in debt relief from Rome Finance.

“Rome Finance’s business model was built on fleecing service members,” Richard Cordray, said director of the bureau, in a statement. “Today, their long run of picking the pockets of our military has come to an ignominious end.”

The company couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

The bureau reached a settlement with the company in coordination with 13 states’ attorneys general in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said in a statement Tuesday that the predatory actions by Rome Finance were unconscionable.

“I’m pleased that this resolution will provide military members here in Kentucky and across the country with the financial relief they are owed,” he said.

Conway said 228 Kentucky service members would receive a total of $1.2 million in debt relief through the settlement. In Florida, more than 800 service members will receive $4 million.

“Our military members sacrifice so much for us, and we will not allow predatory lenders to deceive them,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement Tuesday.

More than 1,300 North Carolina military service members _ many of whom took out loans from Rome Finance to buy electronics from Fayetteville-based retailer SmartBuy_will have their credit cleared and $6.8 million in debts forgiven, the state’s attorney general said Tuesday.
It remains to be seen which Republican/Teabagger will step forward as Rome Financial's champion.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Take 3 Canadian women who like to fiddle around

And get them to sing like angels together and you have Miranda Mulholland, Kendel Carson and Stephanie Cadman, collectively known as Belle Starr, here singing "Get Me Through December".

Once upon a time

If a politician admitted to hearing voices in his head, his career was finished.

There's just no getting around it

From the pen of Nick Anderson

Lacking papers and English

Some of the small farms have found a way to deal with rising expenses, exploiting undocumented immigrants.
Álvarez, 39, lived in Mexico City until April 2013. He was laid off from his job as a manager at a warehouse run by pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim after the company switched to a mechanical system to manage inventory, and he couldn’t find any work in his hometown.

Álvarez left his wife and two kids behind for the U.S., spending eight days crossing the desert — including three without food or water. He made his way to Tucson, Arizona, and over the next few weeks to upstate New York, where a friend helped him find a job corralling cows on a dairy farm in Chenango County.

In September, Álvarez was charged by a bull. The animal pushed him up against a metal railing, injuring his shoulder and ribs and giving him a deep cut just below his right eye. His boss, the owner of the farm, pulled the cow away from Álvarez but wouldn’t take him to the hospital for two hours, until after the owner finished milking his cows.

When Rebecca Fuentes, an organizer from the Workers’ Center of Central New York called the hospital to check on Álvarez, the owner’s sister answered the phone and pretended to be a nurse, according to Fuentes and Álvarez. Because his medical team did not speak Spanish and because his employers waited by the phone at the hospital, he wasn’t aware until weeks later that his employers had told authorities that he was just visiting the farm, not working on it, when the accident happened. His workers’ compensation case is now a lot more complicated.

About 15 days after the incident, when it became clear that Álvarez’s ability to perform strenuous manual labor was still impaired, his employer fired him. He searched for work for two months.

“I tried to get out of my head that I had this accident, because it meant I couldn’t provide for my family,” Álvarez said. “It took me three months to tell them because I was ashamed.”

He eventually found work on another dairy farm. He now lives with two other workers in a dilapidated farmhouse at the edge of his employer’s property. He makes $500 a week and sends home 80 percent of that to his wife and kids in Mexico. His son is still finishing college, and his daughter recently landed a job as a lawyer in the Mexican government.
He is not afraid of hard work and can deal with the exploitation, his main worry is La Migra.

John Oliver on things that go Big Boom

Why do we have all those warheads anyway?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Small Town Talk

From her most recent album, Shannon McNally sings the title cut, "Small Town Talk"

Giving the Devil His Due

From the pen of Tom Tomorrow

You can't rush things

From the pen of Jim Morin

Turnabout is fair play

And three cheers to the Satanists for coming up with a great turnabout.
In a statement, the Satanic Temple said that it will use the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision to exempt its believers from state-mandated informed consent laws that require women considering abortions to read pro-life material.
Informed consent or “right to know” laws state that women seeking elective abortions be provided with information about alternatives to the procedure, often couched in language that attempts to personify the fetus. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 35 states currently have informed consent laws, and of those, 33 require that the woman be told the gestational age of the fetus.
In some states, that information consists of pro-life propaganda that links abortion to a higher incidence of breast and ovarian cancers, or discusses “post-abortion syndrome,” a mental condition not recognized by any major medical or psychiatric organization.
Because the Satanic Temple bases its belief “regarding personal health…on the best scientific understanding of the world, regardless of the religious or political beliefs of others,” it claims that state-mandated information with no basis in scientific fact violates its “religious” beliefs.
Spokesperson Lucien Greaves said that the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision bolsters their case. “While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling,” he said, “the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when they allowed Hobby Lobby to claim certain contraceptives were abortifacients, which in fact they are not.”
The Satanic Temple set up a website where women seeking an abortion can print out a letter for her healthcare provider explaining why she is exempt from informed consent mandates.
Alright worms, time to get out of that can.

Texas hooter toters Bare all at gunhumpers rally

As one commenter said,"It's open carry. So where is the problem?"

Time for the public to weigh in on EPA power plant rules.

And if you have any thought on the desirability of breathing clean air, now is the time to let the EPA know how you feel. You can be sure that those who believe they have a right to shit where you breathe will do so.
Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are taking their controversial power plant rule to the people this week, with a series of public hearings that could generate 1,600 comments.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy – who testified before Congress on the rule last week – said that the hearings will give citizens a key opportunity to give their two cents on the proposal, which has generated strong pushback from the power industry and Republicans in Congress.

For McCarthy and the Obama administration, the rule is seen as a necessary step to help reduce the kind of carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. She also said the proposal was written with significant input and that it affords states flexibility to handle carbon pollution emissions within their borders.

“We don’t have to sacrifice a healthy economy for a healthy environment,” she said, seeking to rebut an argument she said is bound to come up in the hearings. “But you don’t have to take my word for it – look at the history.” She added that “we can do this in a way that keeps our energy affordable and reliable” and that “states have the smarts and the skills to pull this off.”

The hearings will be held in Atlanta, Washington, Denver and Pittsburgh, each over two 11-hour days. Speakers get five minutes. EPA officials will be on hand, although McCarthy is not attending any of the hearings.
If you aren't near one of those locations, and most of us are not, you can drop them a comment or two right here.

That Inigo Montoya Moment

Sunday, July 27, 2014

As is traditional for a Sunday

Here is a lovely tune sung by the Rankin Family

In Memory of Raylene Rankin who is featured on this song.

A Seasoned Traveller's tips for Middle East Trips

From the pen of Brian McFadden

What you gonna do after they came for you

And put you in prison for a year away from your Amish culture and fully exposed to the modern world? For one, you might consider getting a pool table, if you wife will let you.
Amish farmer Raymond Miller developed a taste for Mountain Dew soda, got his GED, and wonders if he should get a pool table after learning to play in prison.

His wife, Kathryn, who had never ridden a public bus before boarding one last year to go to prison for forcibly cutting the hair of her relatives, was introduced to yoga and step classes while behind bars.

The Millers, members of an Amish breakaway sect from eastern Ohio at the center of shocking 2011 hair-cutting attacks on other Amish followers, are trying to settle back into life at home after being exposed in prison to a world their religion is focused on locking out.

The Amish shun modern technology and regard beards for adult men and uncut hair for married women as sacred. In Bergholz, where the Millers live, they are Old Order, which means no electricity or telephone lines into the house.

Unless, like Raymond Miller, 29, you are on probation and must make daily phone calls to a probation officer and wear an electronic ankle monitor while harvesting hay.

"I’m ready to get rid of it," Raymond said of the telephone installed in his home. "We get salesman calls about electric bills and they don’t believe that we don’t have an electric bill."
Maybe he can upgrade to a Mennonite?

Ebola just keeps rolling on

And now the medical profession is being affected as the constant exposure to patients is wearing away their odds against catching the disease.
Dr. Samuel Brisbane is the first Liberian doctor to die in an outbreak that the World Health Organization (WHO) said has killed 129 people in the West African nation alone. A Ugandan doctor working in the country died earlier this month.

Health workers are at serious risk of contracting the virus, which spreads through contact with bodily fluids.

The WHO says the outbreak, which began in February and represents the largest ever recorded, has also killed 319 people in Guinea and 224 in Sierra Leone. There is no known cure for Ebola, which begins with symptoms including fever and sore throat before escalating to vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external bleeding.

Brisbane's death comes amid reports of another high-profile death, in Sierra Leone. Saudatu Koroma, 32, succumbed to the virus after her family stormed a hospital in Sierra Leone's capital of Freetown Thursday and forcibly removed her from quarantine.

Koroma, a resident of the densely populated Wellington neighborhood, had been admitted to an isolation ward while blood samples were tested for the virus, according to Health ministry spokesman Sidi Yahya Tunis.

The motives for removing Koroma from the hospital were not clear, but efforts to combat the disease have met difficulties in a population skeptical of modern medicine and more trusting of traditional remedies.

After authorities launched a brief and frantic search, Koroma showed up at a hospital Saturday, but she later died. Before returning to doctors, she had gone to a traditional healer, according to Amadu Sisi, senior doctor at King Harman hospital in Freetown...

After falling ill with Ebola, Brisbane was taken to a treatment center on the outskirts of the capital, where he died, said Tolbert Nyenswah, an assistant health minister.

Under the supervision of health workers, family members escorted the doctor's body to a burial location west of the city, Nyenswah said. He added that another doctor who had been working in Liberia's central Bong County was also being treated for Ebola at the same center where Brisbane died.

The situation "is getting more and more scary," Nyenswah said.
This is one thing that I am very afraid of since the first transmission to another country by plane occurred. Unlike Republicans, Pseudo-Christians and assholes of every stripe and color this is one thing that has no remedy. The only positive is that the current outbreak is showing a 60% mortality rate rather than the 90% of earlier ones.

Doctors Without Borders is one group fighting this outbreak that could surely use your help if you have any spare cash.

The New York Times Stuns The Nation

Is there any other reaction to the editorial, published as part of a series on marijuana, that calls for the national legalization of the blessed herb.
The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.

There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization. That will put decisions on whether to allow recreational or medicinal production and use where it belongs — at the state level.

We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.

But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.

There are legitimate concerns about marijuana on the development of adolescent brains. For that reason, we advocate the prohibition of sales to people under 21.
You can read the first part of the series here. And may their call to reason be swiftly followed by success.

A reminder to help you plan

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jazz up your Saturday night

With the talented Oleta Adams singing "New York State Of Mind"

Gov. "Nuts of Steel" Perry leads the way

From the pen of Ben Sargent

Well this could get Jeebus pissed at him

In a state that wears its Jeebusness on its sleeve, the act of one judge in Dallas could arouse the ire of a shitload of Sunday Christians and Republicans and ruin his career.
Images of protesters trying to stop buses loaded with illegal immigrants may dominate the news, but in the heart of Texas, one county judge is taking on friends and foes by trying to find shelter for child migrants flooding across the U.S. border.

Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins, 50, offered federal authorities empty buildings to house 2,000 children from Central America in a risky political move as he faces re-election in November for the top political office in Dallas County.

"These children need our help now. If I lose an election over this, so be it," said Jenkins, who has offered the use of two empty schools and a warehouse and has the unilateral power to do so under the way the county commission operates.

His proposal is in stark contrast to Texas governor Rick Perry's tough stance on the recent influx of tens of thousands of illegal migrants, many of them children, fleeing violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Perry has ordered the deployment of National Guard troops to the border with Mexico.

While Perry and fellow Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz have called for compassion for the children, Jenkins is one of the few politicians in the state to offer up a plan to help them.

In other parts of the United States, a few major Democrat-led cities such as Los Angeles and Syracuse, New York have raised their hand to help, but the plan from Dallas County stands out in a state that is a Republican stronghold.

Underscoring the divisiveness of the border issue in Texas, especially in an election year, Jenkins' proposal is opposed by a fellow Democrat, Eric Williams, who is running for Congress. Williams says the buildings earmarked for shelters are in poor communities with high unemployment rates.
It is either a brilliant political move or the death knell of his career. But either way it is something he can be proud of regardless of the outcome.

Big Business Is the New Big Government So Why Does GOP Love It ?

Bill Maher notes the lack of a free market.

How much is enough?

Well if you are dumping coal ash into your local river, cleaning up 6% will get you a pat on the back if you are a major corporation like Duke Energy.
Nearly six months after a pipe at a defunct Duke Energy coal plant in Eden, North Carolina, leaked at least 30,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, environmentalists say Duke is walking away from its responsibility to clean up the waterway.

Earlier this month, the company announced that it had finished cleaning out the river, saying workers had removed 2,500 tons of coal ash — the toxic byproduct from coal-burning that contains heavy metals and arsenic. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has been overseeing the cleanup, approved Duke’s determination that the river was indeed clean.

But, even as North Carolina authorities said that the river is safe to swim in, North Carolina’s environmentalists have warned that the remaining coal ash still poses a threat.

“You don’t have to be an environmental scientist to realize that taking out less than 6 percent of the coal ash means you don’t have a clean river,” said Tiffany Haworth, director of the Dan River Basin Association. “We know the coal ash remains at the bottom of the river. So it depends on how you define ‘clean.’”

Federal and state authorities don't dispute that there are still tons of coal ash left in the Dan River, but ideas differ over what to do about it.
So it has spread to thin along the river for a general cleanup but still poses a potential for local problems. Probably the first thing to do would be to secure the 14 other coal ash ponds Duke still has in the state before they get their chance to spill.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Thanks to that chick-buddy flick

Toni Childs may be best known for writing and singing "House of Hope"

Little Big Brother

From the pen of Pat Oliphant

Want to help someone get a drink

Of water, that is. A website at has been set up to allow people to help Detroit residents who have had their water shut off pay their bills. And best yet, they promise that no country clubs or sports arenas are on their lists.

A canny political move?

We hope so. President Obama has called for an end to inversion which allows US companies to move their corporate headquarters abroad to evade US taxes.
President Barack Obama urged Congress on Thursday to end a controversial practice that allows U.S. companies to relocate abroad to avoid paying billions of dollars in federal taxes.

The practice, called inversion, occurs when large U.S. corporations merge with smaller foreign companies, moving their headquarters to low-tax countries such as Ireland while making only minimal changes to their operations. The U.S. company, though, becomes a subsidiary and saves on taxes.

“They’re technically renouncing their U.S. citizenship. Some people are calling these companies corporate deserters,” Obama said at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, which helps the unemployed pursue health care professions. “I don’t care if it’s legal. It’s wrong.”

The White House estimates inversions could cost the government as much as $17 billion in lost tax revenue over the next decade. Obama wants the money to be spent on job training programs instead.

“You don’t get to pick the tax rate you pay, and neither should these companies,” the president said.

He initially called for closing the loophole in his budget, and he wants to make the fix retroactive to May to avoid incentives for companies to rush to take advantage of the “loophole.” Bills have been introduced in both the Republican-controlled House of Representative and the Democratic-led Senate to address the issue.

But while some Republicans have expressed support for limiting inversions, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made it clear Thursday he had little interest in a standalone fix for the problem.
Now it is up to the Democrats to tell the public how the Republicans are working to help large corporations, always everybodys favorites, to evade taxes that ordinary people have to pay.

Meat, its what you can't afford anymore

Beef have been hit by the drought
to the point that prices have been climbing at rates not seen for a long time. Pork producers have had their herds decimated by diarrhea, driving pork prices higher and higher.
Soaring meat prices are hitting producers, suppliers and consumers across the country. The price of beef and veal shot up more than 10 percent from June 2013 to June 2014, according to the most recent Consumer Price Index. Pork prices rose by 12 percent.

The largest price increases in three years are driven by one main thing: supply. Drought has thinned herds of cattle. Disease has struck pork.

While demand is high and technology allows more producers to get more meat than ever out of cattle, the domestic beef supply is at a 63-year low, according to beef industry experts and U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Meanwhile, pork farmers in over 40 states have reported cases of a pig virus called porcine epidemic diarrhea (PEDv), an illness most fatal to newborn pigs. The virus has hit many pork farmers in Midwest states and North Carolina harder than others. The nation’s pig population is at its lowest since 2006.

Although swine populations probably will rebound soon, experts said, the beef supply could be a problem for several years.

“We’re seeing unprecedented price levels,” said Derrell Peel, an agricultural economics professor at Oklahoma State University. He added: “Ultimately, everyone will pay part of that impact.”

The drought that started in 2011 in many major cattle-producing states, especially Texas, cut down the grazing space for cattle. That forced farmers to sell animals to feed lots to be slaughtered. The economic recession and price shocks in cattle feed also contributed to the beef supply problem, Peel said.
And chicken will rise as people switch to what looks to be affordable, until it isn't. Enjoy that barbecue while you can.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's hard to keep it real

With people who aren't real, as Morgan Frazier sings about in "Yellow Brick Road"

Hell, even Jesus is an immigrant here.

From the pen of Jim Morin

Lyin' Paul Ryan wants states to screw the poors for him

In a reshuffle of the usual worthless clap-trap Republicans pass off as financial savvy, self proclaimed economic whizz Lyin' Paul Ryan has come up with a new way to screw the poors and exalt his Goddess Ayn Rand.
Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, outlined a plan to combat poverty Thursday that would consolidate a dozen programs into a single “Opportunity Grant” that largely shifts anti-poverty efforts from the federal government to the states.

Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a leading voice in his party on fiscal matters, said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute that the federal government represents the “rear guard — it protects the supply lines. The people on the ground, they’re the vanguard. They fight poverty on the front lines.”

Mr. Ryan’s proposal gives new policy backbone to Republicans’ recent promises to address poverty and is part of a broader political strategy to increase the party’s appeal. This has given Mr. Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president in 2012, the opportunity to show that he and his party are as concerned about the poor as Democrats are while offering a dramatically different approach to addressing poverty.

His plan includes a mix of both traditional Republican tax proposals to expand the earned-income tax credit and reduce regulations and some new commitments to reducing criminal sentencing and recidivism.

Other Republicans, like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who, like Mr. Ryan are considering a 2016 presidential run, have echoed his broad call to broaden their party’s appeal. Mr. Rubio spoke about broken families at Catholic University in Washington yesterday, and Mr. Paul will address the National Urban League in Cincinnati tomorrow.

Mr. Ryan tumbled somewhat awkwardly into the anti-poverty discussion this year when he said a “tailspin of culture in our inner cities” perpetuated poverty, a comment that Democrats and some African-American groups called racist. But since then, Mr. Ryan has appeared to try to make amends, traveling the country to listen to Americans in poorer cities as he prepared to unveil this proposal.
The beauty of this plan lets Lyin' Paul make a big show of giving funds to the states like the good Christian he is and let's the states short change the needy and siphon off large amounts to favored supporters. He remains above all the sordid details and can appear Christ like in his "efforts" for the unfortunate.

1st National Bank and Post Office?

One of the ideas floated to "save" the Post Office
, other than repealing that destructive pension requirement, is to offer financial services through your local post office. None of the services suggested are major but the nationwide network of post offices would bring them to many financially underserved areas.
Perhaps the most high-profile proponent of the inspector general’s proposal is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, who laid out her case for “postal banking” last week at a conference hosted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a Washington research center.

Warren said the post office was an ideal venue to provide affordable financial products for families of moderate means whose needs weren’t met by the traditional banking system.

In 2012, the senator noted, a quarter of U.S. households _ 68 million people _ spent an average of 10 percent of their incomes on interest and fees for check cashing and payday lending, about the same amount they spent on food.

If post offices teamed up with nearby credit unions or community banks, Warren said, they could provide similar services for less, potentially funneling millions more people into the traditional banking system.

“That’s a win-win,” she said.
Opposition from banks and folks like Congressfelon Darrell Issa mark this as a positive idea for people. However, those same people mean that the idea has little to no chance of passage until we consign the Republican/Teabaggers to the garbage heap of History.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Well, they are Canadian

So it is not unusual for them to be Fairly Odd Folk, even Lauren Mann. What would you expect from someone who sings "Through Your Eyes"?

The true oppression of American Christians

Jesus & Mo nail another one.

Every once in a while

In this so-called Christian nation of ours, we actually hear of the efforts of people who do honestly believe in the teachings of Jesus.
America’s response to the arrival of tens of thousands of migrant children, many of them fleeing violence and exploitation in Central America, has been symbolized by an angry pushback from citizens and local officials who have channeled their outrage over illegal immigration into opposition to proposed shelter sites. But around the nation an array of religious leaders are trying to mobilize support for the children, saying the nation can and should welcome them...

“We’re talking about whether we’re going to stand at the border and tell children who are fleeing a burning building to go back inside,” said Rabbi Asher Knight, of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, who said leaders of more than 100 faith organizations in his city met last week to discuss how to help. He said that in his own congregation some are comparing the flow of immigrant children to the Kindertransport, a rescue mission in the late 1930s that sent Jewish children from Nazi Germany to Britain for safekeeping.

“The question for us is: how do we want to be remembered, as yelling and screaming to go back, or as using the teachings of our traditions to have compassion and love and grace for the lives of God’s children?” Rabbi Knight said.

The backlash to the backlash is broad — from Unitarian Universalists and Quakers to evangelical Protestants. Among the most agitated are Catholic bishops, who have long allied with Republican politicians against abortion and same-sex marriage, and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, whose adherents tend to lean right.

“This is a crisis, and not simply a political crisis, but a moral one,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. On Tuesday, Mr. Moore led a delegation of Southern Baptist officials to visit refugee children at detention centers in San Antonio and McAllen, Tex. In an interview after the visit, Mr. Moore said that “the anger directed toward vulnerable children is deplorable and disgusting” and added, “The first thing is to make sure we understand these are not issues, these are persons — these children are made in the image of God, and we ought to respond to them with compassion, not with fear.”
There are still too many people who get off on the smiting parts of the bible. And too many alleged leaders who incite them.

In effort not to offend anyone important

Navi Pillay, the international body’s high commissioner for human rights, pronounced that maybe, possibly the Israeli Army's continuing attacks on Palestinians may be war crimes.
The killing of Gazan civilians and children in Israeli airstrikes may amount to war crimes, the U.N.’s top human rights official warned Wednesday amid a backdrop of rising casualties and international efforts to forge a cease-fire.

Navi Pillay, the international body’s high commissioner for human rights, told an emergency debate on the crisis that there was “a strong possibility that international law had been violated” during the weeks-long conflict, citing the shelling of homes and hospitals in the coastal enclave. She also condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets and mortars into Israel by Palestinian fighters. The U.N. Human Rights Council later agreed to launch an independent inquiry into allegations that international law had been violated during the conflict.
Sometime after all the bodies are buried and the rest of the world is comfortably forgetting the Israeli crimes, there will be an inquiry. Exoneration is an odds on favorite.

Jon Stewart challenges John McCain

I think the wrongs should be weighted for damaging impact, as well.

The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,The Daily Show on Facebook,Daily Show Video Archive

DOT announces new rules for oil carrying railcars

A year past the deadly Quebec derailment, the Department of Transportation has come up with new rules covering the rail transport of crude oil.
The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a two-year phase-out of older tank cars used to transport crude oil by rail, among other measures to improve the safety of crude oil transportation by rail.

Secretary Anthony Foxx outlined the long-anticpated proposals Wednesday, more than a year after a deadly derailment in Quebec focused government and public scrutiny on the rising volumes of crude oil shipped in trains.

DOT will seek the phase-out or retrofit of older model DOT-111 tank cars, long known to be vulnerable to failure in derailments, from crude oil and ethanol service.

“We are proposing to phase out the DOT-111 tank car in its current form,” Foxx said.

The department proposed various options for upgraded tank cars, including thicker steel shells, electronic braking and rollover protections.

The department also proposed a maximum 40 mph speed in all areas for trains operating with older tank cars and for urban areas with more than 100,000 residents. Tank cars that met the new requirements would be permitted to travel at 50 mph outside urban areas.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed rules, and Foxx said the comment period would not be extended because of the urgency of the issue.
There will be pushback and some modification before the new rules are implemented, but the rail industry is itself in favor of improved tanker safety and should implement most of them. And three years from the deaths to new standards is almost drag strip fast for a government agency.

A dose of Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Always good for clearing the shit from your ears and eyes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Like what?

The Like was a pop group that could be very retro in look and sound while being quite current with their lyrics.

R.I.P. Thomas Berger

I guess it was a good day to die.

It is difficult to remember he is a comedian

Regardless of his mastery of satire, sometimes John Oliver just speaks unvarnished truth.

Archaic laws stifle progress

If Owell could see what has happend to the English language.

Languages always change and something new occurs that needs to be described and something old disappears and id=s forgotten. Nowadays, the words are remaining the same but the meanings are being twisted to cover up the success of TPTB to screw us and our failure to catch them doing it. One of thelatest efforts involves a government plan to reclassify corporations.
More than 26,000 people nationwide have submitted comments opposing Obama administration proposals that would severely distort U.S. job and trade data by reclassifying U.S. corporations that offshore American jobs as “factoryless goods” manufacturers. Under a broad data reclassification plan, much of the value of U.S. brand-name goods assembled by foreign workers and imported here for sale would no longer be counted as imported goods, but rather as manufacturing “services” imports. This would deceptively deflate the U.S. manufacturing trade deficit.

The “factoryless goods” proposal, designed by the administration’s Economic Classification Policy Committee (ECPC), also would, overnight, falsely increase the reported number of U.S. manufacturing jobs as white-collar employees in firms like Apple – now rebranded as “factoryless goods producers” – would suddenly be counted as “manufacturing” workers. This shift also would create a false increase in U.S. manufacturing wages and output.

“The only reason you would classify an iPhone made in China as a U.S. export is to hide the size of our massive trade deficit,” said James P. Hoffa, Teamsters general president.

“To revive American manufacturing jobs and production, we need to change our policies, not cook the data,” said Brad Markell, executive director of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council. “We need to reform the trade policies that have incentivized offshoring and resulted in decades of trade deficits and millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs offshored, not cover up the evidence that our current trade policy is not working.”

One element of the proposed economic data reclassification plan would rebrand U.S. imports of goods manufactured abroad, such as Apple’s iPhone (which is assembled in China by a firm called Foxconn) as “services” imports rather than imports of manufactured goods. And if Foxconn exported iPhones to other countries, the proposed reclassifications would count the iPhones manufactured in China as U.S. manufactured goods exports, further belying the real U.S. manufacturing trade deficit.

The economic data reclassification initiative, if implemented, could further undermine efforts to bolster U.S. manufacturing by producing a fabricated reduction of the U.S. manufacturing trade deficit.
No doubt the important people inside the Beltway think this a marvelous idea which will make the US look like a First World country again. And they can use all manner of previously reclassified words to justify it. In the end it is just so much bullshit and we all get screwed again.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A song about ex-boyfriends and what they do best

Nikki Lane sings "Lies, Lies, Lies"

Network news has to choose what news is important

And Tom Tomorrow shows us how they cleverly lead into the really important stuff.

Who says the GOP doesn't do nuance?

From the pen of Horsey

Gov. "Nuts of Steel" Perry to display leadership

And deploy a bunch of National Guardsmen to the Mexican border because the Border Stasi are doing an excellent job of rounding up all the kids already.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was expected to announce on Monday the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the border with Mexico to bolster security as the Border Patrol faces an influx of Central American immigrants...

The governor’s office declined to comment. It comes after Mr. Perry spent the weekend in northern Iowa, his fourth visit in eight months to that key state for political primaries, as he contemplates a second run for president. Nearly two weeks ago, Mr. Perry, one of the most vocal critics of the Obama administration’s handling of the border crisis, met with President Obama in Dallas to discuss border security.
Gotta look preznitential for the Iowa Cornholers.

Where you going to go

When the Israeli Wehrmacht comes for you in Gaza there aren't a lot of places to go. And none of those are not safe from an Air Force that cut its teeth dropping bombs on Red Cross markings because they make good aiming points.
As civilian casualties mounted on Monday in the Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, Israel’s military reminded the world that it had warned people living in targeted areas to leave. The response from Palestinians here was unanimous: Where should we go?

United Nations shelters are already brimming, and some Palestinians fear they are not safe; one shelter was bombed by Israel in a previous conflict. Many Gaza residents have sought refuge with relatives, but with large extended families commonly consisting of dozens of relatives, many homes in the shrinking areas considered safe are already packed.

Perhaps most important, the vast majority of Gazans cannot leave Gaza. They live under restrictions that make this narrow coastal strip, which the United Nations considers occupied by Israel, unlike anywhere else.
Continue reading the main story

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain in 2010 called Gaza “an open-air prison,” drawing criticism from Israel. But in reality, the vast majority of Gazans are effectively trapped, unable to seek refugee status across an international border. (Most are already refugees, those who fled from what is now Israel and their descendants.)
Restrictions make it hard for Palestinians to find refuge during times of conflict. Credit Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters

A 25-mile-long rectangle just a few miles wide, and one of the most densely populated places in the world, Gaza is surrounded by concrete walls and fences along its northern and eastern boundaries with Israel and its southern border with Egypt.

Even in what pass for ordinary times here, Israel permits very few Gazans to enter its territory, citing security concerns because suicide bombers and other militants from Gaza have killed Israeli civilians. The restrictions over the years have cost Palestinians jobs, scholarships and travel.

Egypt has also severely curtailed Gazans’ ability to travel, opening its border crossing with the territory for only 17 days this year. During the current fighting between Israel and the Hamas militants who control Gaza, only those with Egyptian or foreign passports or special permission were allowed to exit.

Even the Mediterranean Sea to the west provides no escape. Israel restricts boats from Gaza to three nautical miles offshore. And Gaza, its airspace controlled by Israel, has no airport.

So while three million Syrians have fled their country during the war there, more and more of Gaza’s 1.7 million people have been moving away from the edges of the strip and crowding into the already-packed center of Gaza City.
Pack them into greater and greater concentrations so the bombs and shells become much more cost effective. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

Privacy is so-o last century

And the people gathered at the 10th Hackers on Planet Earth made that sadly and abundantly clear.
The latest tools for consumer countersurveillance and evasion technology were on display last weekend as thousands of tech experts, civil libertarians and whistleblowers gathered at the 10th Hackers on Planet Earth (Hope X) conference in Manhattan to reassess emerging threats to privacy and confidentiality in the digital and physical worlds.

The consensus among attendees was clear: Privacy is dead.

“You’d have to be naked in a steam room on top of a mountain if you want to have a truly confidential conversation,” said conference speaker Steve Rambam, a private investigator. “And it has to be your steam room.”...

Conference experts said that the broader and growing threats to privacy and confidentiality come from corporations and private defense contractors.

“Ten years ago, there were private-sector attacks on your privacy, and there were public-sector attacks on your privacy. Today they’re interchangeable,” said Rambam, in a custom-made Italian suit and tie, who then wandered off toward the lectern through a sea of black T-shirts and neon-colored hairstyles. He was famously arrested by the FBI at the 2006 Hope conference — on charges of interfering with a federal money-laundering prosecution — making him a legend among hackers.

Rambam, who was cleared of the charges but retains a healthy resentment of federal law enforcement, said that in recent years data collection by government agencies has been far outpaced by that by corporations, including Vigilant Solutions, which owns a 2.5 billion license plate database — the world’s largest and reportedly growing by 70 million new scans a month — that serves more than 2,000 intelligence and law enforcement agencies, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security down to local law enforcement.

With private-sector data collection, “there’s no need for a warrant,” said Rambam. “It’s a private business record. There’s no [Freedom of Information Act] for Microsoft. And they can do whatever they want with it.”
And don't expect them to friend you as they follow you.

It is never too soon to register to vote.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Right On, Sister!

From her latest album Build Me Up From Bones, Sarah Jarosz sings "Book of Right On"

The labs that handle deadly pathogens

All 1500 or so in this country alone, have no real oversight or plan for what they are doing.
Spurred by the anthrax attacks in the United States in 2001, an increase in “high-level containment” labs set up to work with risky microbes has raised the number to about 1,500 from a little more than 400 in 2004, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Yet there has never been a national plan for how many of them are needed, or how they should be built and operated. The more of these labs there are, the G.A.O. warned Congress last week, the greater the chances of dangerous blunders or sabotage, especially in a field where oversight is “fragmented and largely self-policing.”

As the labs have multiplied, so have mishaps. According to a 2012 article by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of reported accidents involving microbes that can cause severe illnesses grew rapidly — from just 16 in 2004 to 128 in 2008 and 269 in 2010, the last year reported. Many of the accidents involved leaks, spills or other releases of infectious material inside the laboratories, potentially infecting workers and often requiring extensive decontamination.

Another report, by the Department of Homeland Security in 2008, provided a rare glimpse into the types of accidents that have occurred at high-level labs around the country, often at universities.

Lab workers at different sites accidentally jabbed themselves with needles contaminated by anthrax or West Nile virus. An air-cleaning system meant to filter dangerous microbes out of a lab failed, but no one knew because the alarms had been turned off. A batch of West Nile virus, improperly packed in dry ice, burst open at a Federal Express shipping center. Mice infected with bubonic plague or Q fever went missing. And workers exposed to Q fever, brucellosis or tuberculosis did not realize it until they either became ill or blood tests detected the exposure.

The good news is that relatively few lab workers have become ill from accidental exposures: only 11 from 2004 to 2010, according to the C.D.C. report. None died, and none infected other people.
So far real life has not imitated the movies, yet. But the people involved have no confidence in that staying true forever or even much longer. But don't expect Congress to do anything. With the government infested with Teabaggers who believe your health and safety should be the responsibility of the free hand of the marketplace, you better hope one of those fools doesn't bring Ebola back from his African junket.

The Ideal Republican Infrastructure

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Without immigration, Miami would be nothing

Whether it is the snowbirds from up north or the Cubans or since then the various South Americans who have and continue to come to Miami, the city would be nothing without immigrants. Particularly those from the south.
Miami, which has gone from a place defined by Cuban-Americans to one increasingly turbocharged by a surge of well-educated, well-off South Americans in the last decade. Their growing numbers and influence, both as immigrants and as visitors, have transformed Miami’s once recession-dampened downtown, enriched its culture and magnified its allure for businesses around the world as a crossroads of the Spanish-speaking world.

“It’s now the indisputable capital of Latin America,” said Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian millionaire who founded Brightstar, a global wireless distribution company based here. “The Latin economic boom in the last 10 years has led to the creation of a huge middle class in countries like Brazil, Peru and Colombia, and they look at Miami as the aspirational place to be.” The transformation, the latest chapter in the city’s decades-long evolution, is especially apparent amid the building cranes, street life and nightclubs downtown. But it is seen across Miami-Dade County, where highly educated South American immigrants and second-home owners have increasingly put down roots and played a major role in jump-starting a region that not long ago was ravaged by recession.

Their relative wealth has allowed them to ramp up businesses like import-export companies and banks, and to open restaurants that dish out arepas from Venezuela, coxinhas from Brazil and alfajores from Argentina. Partly as a result of that influx, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region eclipsed Los Angeles in 2012 as the major metropolitan area with the largest share — 45 percent — of immigrant business owners, according to a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a research group.

The South American presence has also reshaped politics and radio here. More moderate than traditional Cuban-Americans, South Americans have nudged local politics toward the center. Radio stations no longer cater exclusively to Cuban audiences; they feature more news about Latin America and less anti-Castro fulminating.
Strange how some immigration is OK but I imagine most white people have written off Miami since the Cubans first invaded.

R.I.P. James Garner

You and Mariette Hartley were a great couple.

About that chicken you are eating...

If you are seeking something more than the standard antibiotic bloated chicken in your local supermarket, you might want to understand the various labels the sellers use and what they really mean. You might be in for a real Inigo Montoya moment.
Beyond the label "organic," chicken packages that purport to be more natural than ordinary chicken could carry any of the following terms: natural, antibiotic-free, farm-raised, fresh, cage-free, hormone-free and free-range. The U.S. Department of Agriculture imposed some rules on the use of these terms.

However, the range of possibilities is broad, and the various distinctions can be "bastardized," says Ariane Daguin, founder of D'Artagnan, a high-end meat company.

It's one thing to have "free-range" chickens living in a crowded pen with a small, open gate, and quite another to have a spacious environment with considerable outdoor access for the birds, she says.

That's because some of the label terms are of little value to consumers.

* "Natural" means there are no artificial ingredients or preservatives. That claim can be made for most chicken sold at grocery stores.

* "Hormone-free" has even less meaning since hormones are not legally allowed in poultry. Same goes for "farm-raised," since just about every chicken sold is raised on a farm.

* "Antibiotic-free" has significance to those who are concerned about consuming an animal treated with antibiotics. An organic chicken cannot be treated with antibiotics.

* "Fresh" means the chicken has never been cooled below 26 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 degrees Celsius).

* "Free-range" is taken by many to mean that the chickens roam free in a pasture, but legally it just means they have access to the outside.

While some consumers say organic chicken is healthier and tastes better, that's not necessarily true.

The taste issue, in particular, can be hard to discern. It's easy to distinguish organic milk from non-organic milk. Grass-fed beef stands out in particular among connoisseurs. Chicken, however, is harder to be snooty about.

"You have to have one outrageous palate to distinguish between an organic bird and another bird," says Dallas-based chef Otto Borsich.
"Antibiotic-free" is probably the most important thing to look for. While it may be too late, any diminution of the flood of antibiotics in our food and environment is good. As for the rest, it's your choice.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chances are if you heard her on the radio

She was probably playing some one else's songs on her show. Laura Cantrell singing " Two Seconds"

Still using temporary cold patch

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

I'm scared of the cops and I'm white

Bill Maher speaks out about the new police militarism. And wonders where the Teabagger outrage is.

Strange bedfellows

ISIS, the offshoot of al-Qaeda, in its efforts to establish a Sunni caliphate, has worked out a modus vivendi with the Alawite regime of Bashir Assad. The Alawites are a sect of the Shia.
Extremist fighters of the Islamic State, already in control of a third of Iraqi territory, are on the attack in Syria, where they’ve seized more oil fields, facilitated the Assad regime’s advance in Aleppo and started a new offensive against Kurds, Syrian opposition figures say.

The Islamic State now controls more than 35 percent of Syrian territory, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based pro-rebel group, reported Friday. Its holdings include nearly all of Syria’s oil and gas fields.

The latest gain of the self-proclaimed “caliphate” was the seizure Thursday of the oil field in the desert at Palmyra, after the takeover of the country’s biggest oil fields, in Deir el Zour in eastern Syria, earlier in the week.

The Assad regime still controls the military airport and parts of Deir el Zour, but there are no signs that it’s challenging the Islamic State or vice versa, a kind of coexistence seen in many parts of northern and eastern Syria.

It’s in Aleppo that the regime owes a major debt to the Islamic State, according to senior aides in the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition. President Bashar Assad’s forces captured the industrial zone in the northeast of the city earlier this month by “carpet bombing” with air-to-ground missiles, bombs and artillery, according to Monzer Akbik, the senior aide to Ahmad Jarba, the outgoing president of the anti-government coalition.

The advance was facilitated by Islamic State forces, which allowed it to proceed unopposed. “No one fired a bullet at the advancing forces as they moved through villages” held by the group, said Hussam al Marie, a spokesman for Free Syrian Army rebel troops in northern Syria. “And the regime did not fire a bullet at IS.”

“We lost the industrial zone for a lack of weapons,” Marie said. “The FSA is fighting on two fronts, IS in the east and the regime in the north.”

Both fronts “are very active now, putting the rebels in a very difficult situation,” said Akbik.
When three are fighting, it is not uncommon for two to assist in the elimination of the third. That only lasts until they can clobber each other without interference. Until then you can't tell the players without a scorecard.

How to get your mug on a Sunday Gasbag Show

Just make sure that, like John McCain, the nonsense you spout covers all sides of the issue.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kirsten Jones is really good

Which is why it pissed me off to find a bunch of videos of her music without her name or any other information except the title. So remember the name, Kirsten Jones and she is singing "You Ain't Coming By" with some unknown friends in a secret location.

Kyrgyzstan, we hardly knew ye

And now with our marriage to Afghanistan on the rocks, our affair with lovely Kyrgyzstan has come to an end.
A mountainous, landlocked country in central Asia, Kyrgyzstan largely lacks industry, natural resources, and energy reserves. But for years, the country has boasted one foreign credential that all other nations lacked, hosting both a Russian and US military base.

Now, that's changed. On July 11, the US officially vacated its lease at the Manas Transit Centre - formerly the Manas Air Base - and rerouted personnel and materiel to a base in Romania. Nearly 13 years after the US first began using Manas for fuelling and transit missions through Afghanistan, management of the facilities was officially handed over to Kyrgyz authorities on June 3, with some $30m worth of equipment and facilities remaining.

While Washington continues to seek potential new bases in the region, the US is, in effect, vacating Central Asia.

But the US decision did not come of its own volition. Rather, the eviction stems from a fraught history and external pressures, which in 2013 convinced the Kyrgyz parliament to demand US withdrawal.

Manas has been one of the more troubled American bases of the post-9/11 world. The US opened the base in late 2001, seeking a toehold to shuttle troops and run refuelling missions for the war in Afghanistan. By some metrics, the base proved successful. Some 98 percent of service personnel involved in Afghanistan passed through Manas, and more than one billion litres of fuel were offloaded to coalition aircraft. The base grew in significance following the expulsion of the US from Uzbekistan in 2005, caused in part by Washington's criticism of a massacre of hundreds of civilians carried out by the Uzbek government.

But as the US presence in Kyrgyzstan dragged on, relations grew worse. In 2006, a US serviceman shot and killed a local petrol driver, claiming self-defence. While the details of the killing remain murky, the US government's initial offer of a mere $2,000 in restitution to the victim's wife smacked of tone-deaf condescension.

Meanwhile, the largely peaceful 2005 Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the final in a series of pro-democracy "Colour Revolutions" in post-Soviet states, replaced a corrupt coterie with the new network of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. The US managed to maintain its presence at Manas, but the revolutionary euphoria in Kyrgyzstan soon gave way to the realisation that Bakiyev's regime in many ways represented a continuation of the previous regime. Political murders, kidnapped journalists, media clampdowns - all expanded under Bakiyev's regime. Robert Gates, the former US secretary of defence, termed Bakiyev as someone willing to use "extortion", adding that he "was, without question, the most unpleasant foreign leader I had to deal with in my years as secretary".
Kyrgyzstan put the tin in tin pot dictator and with the need going away so shall we, even if he is our kind if tyrant.

Like a well oiled machine

And with little or nothing to base their screeds upon, the Republican/Teabagger Howling Monkeys are already criticizing President Obama's response to the shoot down of MH17.
That was fast.

Less than 24 hours after the downing of Malaysia Airlines passenger jet, Republicans were quck to attack President Barack Obama’s initial response.

Obama spoke about incident Thursday for less than a minute -- about 38 seconds, actually -- at the start of his speech promoting spending on infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, while in Delaware.

He spoke to world leaders throughout the day and was updated by his national security staff, but continued with his same schedule, which included two political events in New York.

In an email from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Republicans note Obama’s pattern of behavior in which he continues with much of his original schedule, even if he is fundraising.
And all through his fundraising, he was more in touch with what was happening than all the Republicans ever will be.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Always go with sisters

When you are trying to find good music to post. Larkin Poe sing "Mad As A Hatter"

What do Ebola & Stupid have in common?

Both can kill you and neither has a cure. And that duo is showing its deadly prowess in West Africa right now. Thanks to Stupid, buttressed by ignorance, Ebola is spreading there, including urban areas with access to international airports.
The social stigma attached to Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever that kills as many as 90 percent of its victims, is complicating efforts to contain the worst-ever outbreak of the virus. The disease has claimed more than 600 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since March, and will continue to spread for another four months, according to the World Health Organization.

Widespread misconceptions, denial and hostility to medical workers are slowing efforts to stop the virus from spreading, the United Nations Children’s Fund said this month. Some people hide when they fall sick, while others believe the disease isn’t real or that white researchers have introduced it to experiment on Africans. Those who survive are often treated as outcasts, Jamila said.

Once a female patient has recovered, she’s no longer infectious, while men can still spread the virus through sex up to seven weeks after recovering, according to the WHO.

The outbreak has exposed weaknesses in the health systems of the affected countries, which are among the poorest in the world and whose crowded capitals lack tap water or sewage systems in all but the wealthy neighborhoods.

“Health systems, particularly on a rural level, aren’t working well,” said Guido Borghese, an adviser on child survival for Unicef in West and Central Africa. “They need to be strengthened, and not just to deal with an epidemic.”

The illness spreads through contact with bodily fluids of infected people, according to the WHO. It causes fever, diarrhea and vomiting, and can lead to bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose. There is no specific treatment or vaccine for the virus, which was first identified in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.
Hygiene Guidelines

The latest outbreak began five months ago in small towns surrounded by dense forests in southeastern Guinea, near the border with Liberia. Since then, it has jumped across two borders and reached the three countries’ capitals. In Guinea, it was able to spread because medical staff ignored basic hygiene guidelines, Minister of Health Remy Lamah said in an interview. Some of the doctors and nurses who died in the first wave of the outbreak didn’t make a habit of washing their hands, he said.

“We paid a high price by not respecting basic standards of hygiene,” Lamah said.

At least 32 health workers have died in the current outbreak, according to the WHO. Medical staff in West Africa often ignore basic precautions, like using gloves for blood tests, Marie-Christine Ferir, emergency program coordinator for Medecins Sans Frontieres, said in an interview. Clinics in rural areas may lack running water or basic equipment like gloves and face masks, she said...

In Liberia, denial and fear are hindering the government’s efforts to contain the outbreak.

“There is high level of denial and there’s the stigma that goes with the disease,” Bernice Dahn, the country’s chief medical officer, told reporters last week. “They go to churches, they go to traditional healers, before they will go to a health facility.”

It’s been difficult to persuade relatives of Ebola victims that they can’t hold a traditional funeral, she said.

“Relatives do not want to see their loved ones buried in a thermic plastic bag,” Dahn said. “They want to touch the body, wash it, dress it.”

Persuading Sierra Leoneans that the disease exists has been difficult, Abubakar Fofanah, deputy minister of health and sanitation, said in an interview. Relatives have broken in to clinics to take patients diagnosed with Ebola home. Last month, youth in a village set fire to drugs they said were meant to kill Ebola patients.

“It’s worrying as more and more people are testing positive and more and more people are dying,” Fofanah said.
When medical personnel ignore basic precautions when dealing with this deadly disease, how can one blame ordinary people who cling to long standing traditions in time of crisis and let their fears lead them further into disaster.

Doctors Without Borders

It's really not a hard puzzle

From the pen of Tom Toles

R.I.P. John Dawson Winter III

Johnny Winter it is absolutely amazing that you made it to 70.

Posturing for re-election

The House held a hearing on the President's request for money to fight old and new wars in places we don't really give a shit about. Because this is an election year, members from both parties are puffing up and expressing outrage and dismay at this.
Pentagon leaders faced a bipartisan barrage of skeptical questions Wednesday from lawmakers over President Barack Obama’s request for $58.6 billion in emergency funds for conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine and beyond.

Republican and Democratic members of the House Armed Services Committee said Americans are war-weary after almost 13 years of conflict in South Asia and the Middle East, fearful of being drawn into new wars and mistrustful of the Obama administration.

Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, said he opposed giving Afghanistan tens of billions in new money because so much U.S. aid over the last decade has been lost to corruption.

“I look at the absolute waste of life first and money second, and here you are asking for more money,” Jones told Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and other senior Pentagon officials. “American taxpayers are absolutely frustrated and broke because of these overseas activities. I do not understand how you can sit here today and ask for this money with such waste, fraud and abuse going on across Afghanistan.”

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat who lost both legs in November 2004 during combat in Iraq, criticized the funding proposal, called the Overseas Contingency Operations request, for coming to Congress just months after the Pentagon’s basic budget package and for having too few spending controls.

“It seems like this has become just another slush fund where you can just transfer money between accounts,” Duckworth said...

Even some Obama allies on the committee said the president needs to do a better job of explaining to Congress and their constituents why the extra money for all the overseas missions is needed, especially his controversial request for $500 million to train moderate Syrian rebels.

“You need to do better than (saying), ‘It’s classified, so we really can’t talk about it,’” said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the armed services panel’s senior Democrat. “For the United States Congress to vote to train and equip rebel forces is a big damn deal. This is more for the White House (than the Pentagon), but sell it, because if you don’t, we can’t pass it.”
So now they are on record showing concern for the amount and the uses and in the end they will all vote yes for this further waste of money.

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