Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Polish jazz singer performing a Canadian classic

Aga Zaryan sings Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne"

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The very first recording of this classic

Was by Danish jazz trombonist Kai Winding in 1963. "TIME IS ON MY SIDE" written by Jerry Ragovoy (under the pseudonym of Norman Meade).

Friday, August 29, 2014

I wish I remembered more French from high school.

"La Petite Mort" chante par Coeur de Pirate, the stage name of Canadian singer Beatrice Martin.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What's Not To Like?

When The Like sing "Fair Game" from their 2010 album Release Me

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

If Ani DeFranco likes her

That's recommendation enough for me. Anais Mitchell sings "Dyin Day" with some help from The Young Man band.

Quote of the Day

Under no circumstances should girls be told that their clothing is responsible for boys’ bad behaviors. This kind of message lands itself squarely on a continuum that blames girls and women for assault by men… If the sight of a girl’s leg is too much for boys at Haven to handle, then your school has a much bigger problem to deal with.
Parents of Haven Middle Schoolers in Evanston, IL to the school administration regarding the dress code.

Watch out for that natural stuff.

From the pen of Jim Morin

Meanwhile over in Shitholeistan

There is still no answer to the age old question, which side cheated more in the presidential elections?
Afghanistan’s deadlocked presidential election was plunged into further turmoil Wednesday, as both run-off candidates pulled their observers from a U.N.-backed audit of votes.

The recount formed part of a U.S.-brokered deal to head off growing tension over the results of the national ballot between rivals Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, who have both claimed victory in the contest intended to mark the country's first democratic transfer of power.

Abdullah’s side said Thursday that the process was “full of fraud,” with the former foreign minister’s chief auditor adding: “We boycotted the audit process today because it is worthless for us.”

A few hours later, the United Nations asked former finance minister Ghani’s team to withdraw its observers in the interests of fairness.

Abdullah had earlier signaled his intention to pull out of the audit. He accuses those involved in the process of refusing to throw out fraudulent ballot papers and has demanded an independent investigation.

Allegations of vote fraud have long dogged the presidential election.

Liam McDowall, a spokesman for the United Nations in Kabul, confirmed that there had been a "temporary pause'' in the audit process but said monitors did not anticipate it would be a significant disruption.
In the meantime the country just keeps on plugging along and the Taliban keeps on attacking and Karzai of the Afghans is shifting as much money as he can to overseas banks. And hopefully we will have to pull everybody out at the end of the year.

Deep in the heart of Texas

Lies the archetypical Texas city, Houston. And in the heart of Houston exists a situation that must strike terror into the heart of Gov. Rick "Nuts of Steel" Perry and his Teabagger accomplices, diversity.
In the past 20 years, Houston — that most Texan of Texan cities — has come to look more and more like the taxi drivers. Between 1990 and 2010, Greater Houston added more than 2.2 million people (PDF) and now boasts a population of more than 6 million (the city proper has 2.2 million residents). The metropolitan area has eclipsed New York and Los Angeles to become the most racially and ethnically diverse in the United States.

A joint report published last year by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas (PDF) found that Greater Houston scores highest on the Entropy Index, which measures diversity according to the presence and relative proportions of the four major racial groups (white, black, Hispanic and Asian). All five Houston counties have become more diverse over the past two decades, with increased numbers of Hispanics (from 21 to 35 percent) and Asians (from 3.4 to 6.5 percent), a stable population of blacks (about 17 percent) and a decrease in whites or “Anglos” (from over 50 to under 40 percent), though rates of residential segregation remain high.

On July 12, Houston Mayor Annise Parker hosted her third annual Iftar dinner, symbolically breaking the Ramadan fast with 2,000 guests. “We have the largest refugee, expat and immigrant population in the U.S.,” she told the crowd, praising the city’s diversity and calling for a compassionate response to young Central Americans crossing the border. It was an un-Texan speech at an un-Texan meal delivered by an un-Texan politician: Parker is a three-term liberal and married lesbian. Her nuptials, however, took place in California, for her home state doesn’t recognize her wife.

On maps, Houston resembles a spider web. Its two concentric freeways — Interstate 610 and the Sam Houston Parkway — and radiating highway spokes form neighborhoods as likely to be populated by new immigrants as longtime white, black and Hispanic residents.

The city has the highest concentration of refugees in the country, thanks to its strong network of placement agencies, job opportunities and reasonable cost of living. Since the late 1970s, the city has welcomed 70,000 refugees: Bosnians and Cambodians fleeing genocide, the Lost Boys of Sudan and Vietnamese, Iraqis and Afghans escaping destructive U.S. interventions in their homelands. According to a State Department spokesman, Houston's diversity begets more diversity. Refugees are placed in part on the basis of existing friend and family networks, which "can make a big difference in helping a refugee family successfully settle in the United States, assisting with everything from finding work to teaching American cultural and social norms." And it's not just Houston. Texas receives more refugees than any other state — nearly 7,000 in 2013 — and more than 10 percent of the nation's total.
Allahu Akbar y'all!

Not really bipartisan

Some issues in Congress
enjoy the support of Republicans and Democrats because they are geocentric. Just like in the good old pre-ideology days, members vote the needs of their constituents rather than their paymasters.
In April, underscoring the role of politics in earthquake matters, 25 House Democrats from California, Oregon and Washington endorsed a proposal to provide $16.1 million for an earthquake early warning system. No Republican signed the letter requesting the funds.

But it was the White House, in turn, that proposed earlier this year to reduce funding for geodetic monitoring and seismic profiling. The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee restored funding; not coincidentally, the chairman of the relevant subcommittee, Rep. Ken Calvert, represents an earthquake-prone stretch of Southern California.

Fiscal 2015 Interior Department funding bills approved by both House and Senate appropriations committees currently include $5 million for earthquake early warning. The money would upgrade a West Coast demonstration project, the first time Congress has specifically allocated funds to such a warning system.

“I continue to be encouraged by the advancements in the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) earthquake early warning system,” Calvert said in a statement Tuesday, adding he will be collaborating with “colleagues, especially those from areas affected by the Napa earthquake, to ensure we implement the early warning system in an effective manner.”

The congressman who represents Napa, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., is currently “focused on recovery efforts” but has “always been supportive of research into early warning systems,” spokesman Austin Vevurka said Tuesday.

A separate Senate funding bill urges the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give grant priorities to projects for early warning systems.
Nobody likes to stand on shaky ground.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Will you vote to get rid of the stink?

According to research, the lower the approval of Congress, the more likely people are to vote in a mid term election. Like when the stink of the dead dog on the roadside finally moves someone to bury it.
Could voter disdain for Congress motivate more people to turn out this November? Could be.

A new Gallup study suggests that in recent elections, disapproval of Congress’ job performance meant higher turnout. Currently, Gallup’s congressional job approval is 13 percent, with 19 percent of registered voters saying members of Congress deserve re-election.

Voters may feel they can effect change, since in 1994, 2006 and 2010 control of the House of Representatives changed parties.

“There has been a clear pattern of turnout being on the higher end of the midterm year range when Americans were less approving of Congress,” said Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones in the Gallup study.

“Since 1994, voters may have a greater belief that they can change the federal government and its policies by their choices of members of Congress in midterm elections. That belief in turn may help drive up turnout when voters feel a change is needed.”
Higher turnouts traditionally favor the Democrats because all the crazies are already voting for their Teabagger darlings.

A curiously haunting video

Jill Barber sings "Oh My, My" from her 2008 album Chances.

Mission creep

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

Too much of a good thing is not good

And two of those things together are worse. With all that Bakken crude to move and no pipelines in place, the railroads have their hands full moving it in tank cars. Add to that record corn and soybean crops coming in that needs to move by rail and you have an overload of the system.
Railroads have long been the backbone of North Dakota’s transportation system and the most dependable way for farmers to move crops — to ports in Portland, Ore., Seattle and Vancouver, from which the bulk of the grain is shipped across the Pacific to Asia; and to East Coast ports like Albany, from which it is shipped to Europe.

But reports the railroads filed with the federal government show that for the week that ended Aug. 22, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway — North Dakota’s largest railroad, owned by the billionaire Warren E. Buffett — had a backlog of 1,336 rail cars waiting to ship grain and other products. Another railroad, Canadian Pacific, had a backlog of nearly 1,000 cars.

For farmers, the delays often mean canceled orders from food giants that cannot wait weeks or months for the grain they need to make cereal, bread and an array of other products. “They need to get this problem fixed,” Mr. Hejl said. “I’m losing money, and my customers are turning to other sources as a result. I don’t know how much longer we can survive like this.”

This month, federal Agriculture Department officials said they were particularly concerned that Canadian Pacific would not be able to fulfill nearly 30,000 requests from farmers and others for rail cars before October. As a result, North Dakota’s congressional delegation and lawmakers in Minnesota and South Dakota have called on the Surface Transportation Board, which oversees the nation’s railroads, to step up pressure on the companies.

“This rail backlog is a national problem,” Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota, said in an interview. “The inability of farmers to get these grains to market is not only a problem for agriculture, but for companies that produce cereals, breads and other goods.”

A recent study conducted by North Dakota State University at Ms. Heitkamp’s request found that rail congestion could cost farmers in the state more than $160 million because a local oversupply of grain has lowered prices.

The study also found that farmers would lose $67 million in revenue from wheat, corn and soybeans from January to mid-April. Around $95 million more in losses are expected if farmers are unable to move their remaining inventory of crops.

The study was done before the current harvest, which is forecast at a record 273 million bushels of wheat, up from 235 million bushels in 2013. This year’s soybean harvest is also expected to be a record, and corn will be a near-record.

Food companies say they are feeling the effects of the delayed shipments. General Mills, the Minnesota-based maker of Cheerios, told investors in March that it had lost 62 days of production — as much as 4 percent of its output — in the quarter that ended in February because of winter logistics problems, including rail-car congestion. In its earnings report this month, Cargill, another Minnesota-based food giant, reported a drop in net earnings that it attributed in part to “higher costs related to rail-car shortages.”

Farmers and agriculture groups say rail operators are clearly favoring the more lucrative transport of oil. Rail shipments of crude oil in North Dakota have surged since 2008, and the state now produces about a million barrels a day. About 60 percent of that oil travels by train from the Bakken oil fields in the western part of the state to faraway oil refiners. There are few pipelines to ship it.
The oil won't spoil but since it pays better, it is hard to imagine that grain will get any favors in this mess.

Everyone wants the best for their children

And the latest research by the Girl Scout shows that if you want the best for your daughter, don't plan on living in the South.
If you want the best for your daughter, consider moving north. Where girls live in America matters to their overall comfort, health and prosperity, according to a report ranking every U.S. state and the District of Columbia.

The latest in a series of reports on girls’ health and well-being by the Girl Scouts Research Institute shows that girls generally fare better in the Midwest, Northeast and mid-Atlantic.

“It has to do partly with strong education,” said Mark Mather, the report’s lead researcher and a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a research organization in Washington, D.C.

New Hampshire ranked at the top, based on 23 indicators of education, extracurricular activities, economic well-being, emotional health and physical health and safety. The Dakotas, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New Jersey also ranked in the top 10.

The bottom states — including Mississippi (50th), Arkansas and Georgia — are mostly in the South. In all the low-ranking states, educational achievement and opportunities lagged.

States that offer preschool education and have lower high school dropout rates almost always ranked higher. “It tells the story of the importance of education for girls,” Mather said. “A lot of states are moving towards universal preschool. Getting a good start makes a difference for low-income families.”...

“Girls are thriving in some areas, but there are portions of our population really left behind,” said Kamla Modi, senior researcher with the Girl Scout Research Institute and a co-author of the report. “It’s the first we’ve really seen how different the data is geographically. There are real issues girls are facing in the South.”

In Alabama (30th), where 30 percent of girls are African-American, the state was ranked 42nd in educational well-being and 34th in economic well-being. When Liz Brent, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, met recently with a state legislator to discuss the state’s poor ranking, “he thought it was a happy thing because we weren’t 48th,” she said. “This really did point [to] some issues we needed to focus on … It’s incumbent on us to be much more aggressive.”
On the other hand, if she lives in Texas she has the best chance of breaking into the porn business.

Key to threat identification

Rapid identification is important to safety.

No connection without a thank you note

Really, it would be the height of rudeness to not include a thank you note with their campaign contributions if there had been any connection with the tax break.
Less than a month after voting to give a Wisconsin furniture company a $6 million tax credit that allows it to lay off half its in-state workforce, Gov. Scott Walker (R) received $20,000 in campaign donations from the company’s leadership, a newspaper in the state reports.

Ashley Furniture won the credit from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) in January on a 9-2 vote. As WEDC Chairman, Walker was one of the 9 votes in favor. Then in February his campaign received four $5,000 donations from company founder Ronald Wanek, current CEO Todd Wanek, and their respective spouses, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

A Walker spokeswoman told the State Journal that there was no connection between the WEDC decision and the campaign contributions that followed. Neither the governor’s office nor his campaign nor Ashley Furniture responded to emails from ThinkProgress requesting comment on the story.

Walker is currently under scrutiny for allegedly soliciting far larger donations to the state arm of the Club for Growth. But while the dollar figures involved in that ongoing court case are attention-grabbing, the alleged misconduct there is less overtly tied to Walker’s ability to make decisions that help donors’ bottom line. The Club for Growth investigation suggests that Walker may have illegally coordinated with an outside electioneering group in violation of campaign finance law while soliciting contributions from vulture capitalist Paul Singer, Home Depot founder Ken Langone, and other billionaires who frequently open their checkbooks for right-wing causes.

The Ashley Furniture story features a more direct, localized use of Walker’s authority over state funds. The company says the deal, which is worth more than all its previous tax incentives from the state combined, will allow it to expand its headquarters in Arcadia, WI.

“But it wouldn’t require Ashley to create any new jobs, instead granting the company license to lay off half of its current 3,848 Wisconsin-based workers in exchange for an enterprise zone tax credit,” the State Journal reports, calling the credit “one of the most valuable and coveted state subsidies.” A WEDC spokesman told the State Journal that it “is committed to doing whatever it can to work with the company and preserve those jobs.” A former WEDC executive told the paper he didn’t think the group had ever handed out a tax subsidy that was conditioned on job cuts rather than job growth, but added that the the specific circumstances in this case could warrant such a move.
Just because the only people who benefit are the management and owners of Ashley Furniture, it is a stretch to imagine that Governor Homunculus was fishing for cash. It just looks that way so move along, nothing more to see here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Canadian covering Canadian

Jenn Grant does an excellent version of Leonard Cohen's "Lover, Lover, Lover"

Playing it safe in Ferguson

Tom Tomorrow
has all the proper responses to keep the Authorities happy in a handy printable flyer form.

Can't see the forest for the trees

From the pen of Matt Wuerker

Another country heard from

With all the fun and games going on in the Middle East, this latest development really shouldn't surprise anyone.
Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation between the supporters and opponents of political Islam.

The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said.

The strikes are another high-risk and destabilizing salvo unleashed in a struggle for power that has broken out across the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolts, pitting old-line Arab autocrats against Islamists.

Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt one year ago, the new Egyptian government, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc exerting influence in countries around the region to rollback what they see as a competing threat from Islamists. Arrayed against them are the Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, backed by friendly governments in Turkey and Qatar, that sprang forward amid the Arab spring revolts.

Libya is the latest, and hottest, battleground. Several officials said that United States diplomats were fuming about the airstrikes, believing they could further inflame the Libyan conflict at a time when the United Nations and Western powers are seeking a peaceful resolution.

“We don’t see this as constructive at all,” said one senior American official.
What!? Dropping bombs on people you don't like is not constructive? Perhaps the senior American official should have noted that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and accepted it with good grace.

Nunn polls ahead in Georgia

Thanks in no small part to support from women voters.
Nunn has 47 percent in the new WSB-TV Channel 2/Landmark Communications poll, while Perdue has 40 percent. The poll was conducted Aug. 20-21. The big reason for Nunn’s lead: The gender gap.

The results differ from a finding Aug. 12-13 by InsiderAdvantage/Fox 5, which found Perdue ahead, 47-40.

In the WSB poll, Nunn is ahead, 52-34 percent, among women, while Perdue leads by 7 among men.

“There’s a widening or stagnant gender gap. Mr. Perdue does not seem to be moving or closing his number,” said Channel 2 analyst Bill Crane in a story posted on the WSB site. “He’s about 20 points behind Michelle Nunn in females.”
Any wonder why?

R.I.P. Richard Attenborough

A great talent on either side of the camera.

Mark this on your caledar

But you can register before then if you wish and help others do so as well.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Abbey Lincoln, jazz singer, songwriter and actress

"Throw It Away" is from a 1980 album Painted Lady featuring Archie Shepp on saxophone.

Rat's Civics Lesson

From the pen of Stephan Pastis

When the child molester is an ambassador

What do countries do?
Diplomats traditionally have immunity from criminal acts in the countries where they are posted. But when you are ambassador or nuncio for the Vatican and you have been sexing children in the Dominican Republic should you face the music at home or be shipped back to the scene of the crime?
The case is the first time that a top Vatican ambassador, or nuncio — who serves as a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors. It has sent shock waves through the Vatican and two predominantly Catholic countries that have only begun to grapple with clergy sexual abuse: the Dominican Republic and Poland, where Mr. Wesolowski was ordained by the Polish prelate who later became Pope John Paul II.

It has also created a test for Pope Francis, who has called child sexual abuse “such an ugly crime” and pledged to move the Roman Catholic Church into an era of “zero tolerance.” For priests and bishops who have violated children, he told reporters in May, “There are no privileges.”

Mr. Wesolowski has already faced the harshest penalty possible under the church’s canon law, short of excommunication: on June 27, he was defrocked by the Vatican, reducing him to the status of a layman. The Vatican, which as a city-state has its own judicial system, has also said it intends to try Mr. Wesolowski on criminal charges — the first time the Vatican has held a criminal trial for sexual abuse.

But far from settling the matter, the Vatican has stirred an outcry because it helped Mr. Wesolowski avoid criminal prosecution and a possible jail sentence in the Dominican Republic. Acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome last year before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Mr. Wesolowski so that he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic.

The Vatican’s handling of the case shows both the changes the church has made in dealing with sexual abuse, and what many critics call its failures. When it comes to removing pedophiles from the priesthood, the Vatican is moving more assertively and swiftly than before. But as Mr. Wesolowski’s case suggests, the church continues to be reluctant to report people suspected of abuse to the local authorities and allow them to face justice in secular courts.
Ambassadors have frequently committed crimes of all types in their host nations only to return to their home countries and face no consequences. But the Vatican's position on child molesters makes that an impossibility. And worse, too many believe the Vatican will not punish Mr. Wesolowski to the degree they feel he deserves. The Vatican can waive his immunity and return him to the DR. That would surely send a clear signal that Pope Francis means what he says about child molestation.

Where the dandelion hits the road

From a persistent weed
to a promising source of rubber, the image of dandelions may soon take a turn for the better thanks to research by a Dutch biologist.
Dutch biologist Ingrid van der Meer often meets with disbelief when she talks about her work on dandelions and how it could secure the future of road transport.

The reaction is understandable, given most people regard the yellow flowers as pesky intruders in their gardens rather than a promising source of rubber for tires.

"People just think of it as a horrible weed and ask how can you get enough material for tires from just a small root," she said.

Her research team is competing with others across the world to breed a type of dandelion native to Kazakhstan whose taproot yields a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it.

Global tire makers such as industry leader Bridgestone Corp and No.4 player Continental AG believe they are in for rich pickings and are backing such research to the tune of millions of dollars.

Early signs are good. A small-scale trial by a U.S. research team found the dandelions delivered per-hectare rubber yields on a par with the best rubber-tree plantations in tropical Asia.

So within a decade, rather than being a backyard bane like their wild cousins, the new flowers might be seen in neat rows in hundreds of thousands of acres across Europe and the United States, where they can grow even in poor soil.

And they could have some interesting modifications. For instance, German researchers have bred the plants to grow to up to a foot (30 cm) in height, dwarfing many of their backyard cousins. They are also developing the dandelions with upright rather than flat-growing leaves - just so harvesting machines have something to grab on to.
But what happens when your tires go to seed while your driving? And can you make wine from the discards?

The state of religion in America

From the pen of The Great Gahan Wilson

There's big money in those poors

That is why the hottest retail segment in America is the "Dollar" stores, Family Dollar, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and the like.
Mid-market retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Macy's Inc and J.C. Penney Company Inc have been struggling in recent years as consumers have been slow to return to their pre-recession, freer spending ways. On Wednesday, Target said it was cutting its full-year earnings and slashing prices.

But the popularity of so-called dollar stores is growing. Shopping by the 46.5 million Americans living below the poverty line poor helped boost the annual U.S. market for deep discount stores by 45.7 percent to $48.2 billion between 2008 and 2013, according to London-based market researcher Euromonitor International. The firm projects the sector to grow to $57 billion in 2018. The U.S. Census sets the poverty line at $24,000 a year or less for a family of four.

Such forecasts help explain the battle over Family Dollar, the number-two deep discount chain. Market leader Dollar General Corp on Monday made its $78.50 a share bid, which Family Dollar rejected on Thursday, citing antitrust concerns. In July, the third-ranked chain, Dollar Tree Inc, bid $74.50 a share. Family Dollar has said it prefers Dollar Tree's lower offer.

The deep discounters' reliance on poor Americans, who made up 15 percent of the U.S. population in 2012, compared with 12.5 percent in 2007, has been validated by investors. From 2000 to now, as the poverty rate rose 11.3 percent to 15 percent, Family Dollar's stock price rose by about 300 percent.

Against that backdrop, the bidding over Family Dollar, said Kurt Jetta, CEO of retail analyst Tabs Group, reflects an "acceptance that there will be a sizable and perhaps growing low-income population that makes dollar stores an ongoing opportunity."

Not all analysts agree that dollar stores are poised for continued growth. Roger Davidson, a former grocery executive at Wal-Mart, Whole Foods Market Inc and Supervalu, said dollar stores face increasing competition from other discounters, including Walmart itself, which is opening smaller neighborhood stores.

"Consolidation is now the only path to growth in sales and earnings," he said.
And unless corporate America keeps squeezing the working class, the "Dollars" may have already filled their niche and have only corporate cannibalism ahead.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The B-side of this was "Time Is On My Side"

Irma Thomas singing "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)" in 1964

R.I.P. Jean Redpath

Scots singer
and balladeer.

Canada's First Immigrants problem

The Indian owners of Prime Canadian land are getting upset with the failures of the Ottawa government to complete negotiations with the local Indian tribes. And they are promising to evict various paleface companies from their lands if nothing is settled.
A dispute over land now has Gitxsan hereditary chiefs threatening to grind trade along that route to a halt. If the British Columbia (B.C.) government doesn’t address the Gitxsan’s concerns by Sept. 16, the group’s leaders say they could begin service disruptions along the railway through their territory, escalating a longstanding feud with the province.

Last month, chiefs served what they called “eviction notices” to the national railway, logging companies and sportfishing operators, asking them to halt commercial activities in the aboriginal people’s sleepy territory. Additional police have been dispatched.

“Everything is on the table until we get our desired result,” said Beverley Clifton Percival, a negotiator for the Gitxsan who also goes by her First Nations name, Gwaans.

The Gitxsan say the province has included land inhabited by their people in treaties proposed for two neighboring Indian bands. Placing new pressure on the Gitxsan’s stalled land negotiations is the natural-gas boom spurred by hydraulic fracturing (fracking). In fact, the Gitxsan Treaty Society, a negotiating body composed of a small group of hereditary chiefs, has broken off discussions on two proposed pipelines that would transport liquefied natural gas, or LNG, through their territory. There’s also intense debate in the province about plans to construct two pipelines for the transport of heavy crude oil from the neighboring province of Alberta to Canada’s west coast. One, Enbridge Northern Gateway, would run near Gitsxan territory.

The Gitxsan and First Nations peoples across the country have been emboldened by a June Supreme Court of Canada decision they describe as a “game changer.” In that case, the court sided with the Tsilhqot’in First Nation, a band of roughly 3,000 people residing in British Columbia’s interior, in a dispute over commercial logging. The court ruled that because the Tsilhqot’in were found to hold “aboriginal title” over the territory in question, their permission was required before logging could proceed.

“Canada is witnessing something that I call the rise of native empowerment,” said Bill Gallagher, a lawyer and author who specializes in First Nations legal challenges. “The Supreme Court of Canada has declared, verbatim, that the doctrine of terra nullius — that nobody was here when flags were planted by colonizers — that that doctrine does not apply in Canada.”
Could be big trouble brewing. And the Mounties won't be much help with this one.

We did it before and we can do it again.

Because failing to provide any assistance to another minority group in northern Iraq threatened by IS would damage our street cred. This time it is a village of Shiite Turkmen that is in trouble.
Amerli, a Turkmen enclave, has resisted the Islamic State’s sweep into Iraq since June 20, when it was first attacked.

Now out of water and electricity, its residents are pleading for help from the Iraqi and U.S. militaries to end the siege with airstrikes and an assault.

They want the U.S. and Iraqi governments to intervene as forcefully to save them from the extremists as they did to protect thousands of Yazidis who were overrun by militants in the city of Sinjar on Aug. 3.

“All our suffering comes from politics,” bemoaned Abu Ali, questioning why the minority Shiite Turkmen in his city have been left mostly to fend for themselves while others have been rescued.

The Islamic State reached the gates of Amerli on June 20 as it pushed through Salahadin province after seizing the city of Mosul. The Islamic State displaced hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims, whom the extremists regard as infidels, throughout the region.

Amerli was the lone holdout among its neighboring Shiite communities. Residents say the Islamic State now has all of its exit roads blocked, meaning no one can escape the fighting.

Niyazi Mimaroglu, a Turkmen member of Iraq’s Parliament, this week demanded more direct intervention from Western governments. He called their inaction so far “astonishing.”

The city’s 12,000 residents are getting by amid the scorching summer heat with limited medical resources and twice-weekly resupply missions flown by the Iraqi military out of Baghdad.

Even those flights have been interrupted by the Islamic State’s ferocious recent attacks on Amerli, said Michael Knights, a fellow at The Washington Institute who has spent time with Amerli residents and remained in touch with them since the siege began.
One more step into the Big Muddy.

Your Saturday Bernie

Because he is always working for us.

Friday, August 22, 2014

From Brooklyn to Boston

And married to another folk singer has been Kris Delmhorst's lot in life. Along the way she has written and sung songs like "Yellow Brick Road".

The true cost of the war

From the pen of Joel Pett

It will never end.

Since World War II began we have found it well nigh impossible to completely end or wars. Euope and Japan? We still have enough bases to qualify as an occupier. Korea? Still a state of war held in abeyance by a truce. And we are still pushing to stay in our current failure, Afghanistan. So it is no surprise that the Pentagon types are pushing for a bigger piece of the action in Iraq. And Congress is being coy and shy so as not to be seen as the warmongering roundheels they really are.
For weeks, Capitol Hill has tried to keep America’s military engagement in Iraq at arm’s length: Democrats and Republicans warily backed President Obama’s limited airstrikes against Sunni militants, but nobody — aside from Senator John McCain and a few fellow hawks — demonstrated an appetite for deeper involvement.

Now, though, the gruesome execution of an American journalist, James Foley, has drawn an intensely emotional reaction from lawmakers in both parties, with many issuing statements condemning the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the group responsible for Mr. Foley’s killing, and some urging Mr. Obama to redouble the fight against it.

There were signs on Thursday that the Obama administration is weighing that, with the White House and the Pentagon refusing to rule out military action against the group in Syria. But far from satisfying Congress, a wider conflict could put lawmakers, particularly Democrats, in a difficult position, since most deeply oppose any new war in the Middle East.

“Most Democrats and Republicans are extraordinarily wary of being sucked into a large occupation, both because it will kill a lot of Americans and because we saw in Iraq the last time that it didn’t work,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
In an election year the M-I-C will be filling up the campaign coffers of their "friends" but will bide their time until after the election. Then it will be safe to go back and pick up where we left off. And some in the Pentagon are actually hoping for an expansion into Syria. Wat da hell! An Arab's an Arab.

Is one national nightmare finally over?

In a positive sign for the national news media, McClatchy has finally become aware of the simple truth, nobody really gives a damn about Caribou Barbie anymore.
Sarah Palin has lost the magic. The defeat of her choice Tuesday in a Republican Senate primary in her home state of Alaska capped a primary season in which her favored candidates have stumbled across the nation.

A referendum to restore Palin’s signature achievement from her time as Alaska governor, a state tax on oil companies, was also headed toward defeat following Tuesday’s voting, dealing a double whammy loss to Palin in her home state and highlighting her declining influence.

Only four of the 15 congressional candidates endorsed by Palin nationwide this year have won their primaries, a far worse record than the previous two elections, when Palin played a role as kingmaker and her approval was eagerly sought by candidates looking for an edge with Republican voters.
There are still a small number of nitwits with more money than sense that allow her to maintain some fundraising mojo. But even these people will realize they are throwing good money after bad and will go seek their next grizzly excuse for a human being.

Why again are we in Iraq?

The numbers don't really matter, it is the people we associate with that determine our actions and the results. With "friends" like this we should once again turn about and leave.
Gunmen allegedly associated with a pro-government Shiite militia slaughtered more than 70 worshipers at a Sunni mosque in Diyala Province Friday, heightening Iraq’s sectarian divide in a volatile part of the country where government forces are battling militants from the Islamic State.

The gunmen, reported to be members of one of the volunteer Shiite militias that have been working alongside the Iraqi army for two months, reportedly took 30 minutes to execute men attending Friday prayers at the Mosaib bin Omair mosque, according to witnesses on the scene.

“When we entered the mosque (after the killings) it looked like hell, like judgment day,” said Abu Abdullah, who lives near the mosque and heard the attack unfold. “Blood was everywhere.”

The massacre reportedly followed a failed attempt to attack the militias with a roadside bomb. After it exploded, witnesses saw two trucks full of machine gun-carrying men with covered faces enter the mosque.

“They killed all the people in the mosque,” Abu Abdullah said...

Entire families were killed in the mosque, said Sheikh Salman al Jabouri. He said 15 tribes announced their intent to battle the militias because of their outrage over the massacre, indicating a deterioration of support for the government from a Sunni community already fearful of Shiite oppression.
Apparently their god does not deal in hearts and minds.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

They say Belle Starr was one hell of a woman

Because it takes three modern woman to make today's Belle Starr singing "Burning Of Atlanta" from their debut album. Belle Starr are Stephanie Cadman, Kendel Carson and Miranda Mulholland

The best laid plans of mice and elephants

From the pen of Tom Toles

Bank of America agrees to $17B settlement, debits petty cash account

Because, after paying out over $80 Billion in previous fines and settlements, what's $17 Billion among friends? And in the end, the taxpayers, bank customers and shareholders will pay for whatever the insurance won't cover. And about those who committed the crimes that led to this settlement? They were richly rewarded for the profits generated by those crimes. None of their gains will be clawed back and you can bet your last dollar they will be rewarded for this settlement.
“We believe this settlement, which resolves significant remaining mortgage-related exposures, is in the best interests of our shareholders, and allows us to continue to focus on the future,” Bank of America’s chief executive, Brian T. Moynihan, said in a statement.
Willie Sutton, a noted bank robber of the '50s once was asked why he robbed banks and replied "Because that's where the money is". Poor Willie didn't think big, he robbed banks with a gun. Nowadays the smart crooks know that you use the whole bank as your weapon to steal from more people than anyone can imagine. And unlike Willie and other bank robbers, famous or not, when you use the bank as your weapon, you don't get shot at or go to jail.

What is colder than ice?

Most of the people taking the Ice Bucket Challenge would say nothing is, but some of them do know what is colder than ice. Like Lyin' Paul Ryan, for instance.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Learned this at the Lizard Lounge

Boston based Joy Kills Sorrow was performing "Such Great Heights" well before they recorded it on their album Wide Awake.

And they just get crazier

A look to the future of the Republican Party bodes ill for the current Speaker, John Boehner. More and more he can expect people who supported him to be replaced by stark raving lunatics, furiously embracing the anarchy of the Teabaggers.
Grothman, the expected winner in a tight Republican primary for the right to succeed 73-year-old Representative Thomas Petri in Wisconsin, is one of more than a dozen vocal conservatives gunning to replace more moderate or pragmatic retiring House Republicans in November's midterm elections.

Their arrival could mean even more headaches for Boehner, who has struggled in recent years to keep his fractious caucus together on critical battles over tax and spending bills, and most recently on legislation to secure border funding.

A further shift to the right in the House, continuing a trend that began with the Tea Party's surge in 2010, could signal another round of high-stakes political showdowns early in the new year and ultimately threaten Boehner's leadership.

One of the first votes the new House conservatives will face in March will be on raising the federal debt limit -- a topic that already has produced two grinding partisan battles that rattled financial markets and threatened U.S. credit ratings.

With Republicans now holding 234 House seats, it takes only 17 Republican "no" votes to sink legislation without Democratic support, giving the growing conservative bloc immense clout in legislative negotiations.

"It's going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for the next speaker to get to 218 without Democratic votes," said James Thurber, a political scientist at American University, referring to the majority needed to pass legislation in the House.

But turning to Democrats more often to pass critical budget, transportation or immigration bills next year is a path toward potential mutiny by conservatives, Thurber said.

"There's just nobody in the middle anymore and nobody that's willing to cross parties to vote because of this polarization," Thurber said.

Boehner could face a challenge to his speaker position when House members choose their leadership after the November elections. Boehner said this summer that he was "all in" to seek another term as speaker, apparently quashing speculation that he has grown weary of the job.
The Republican power structure chose to ride the Teabagger tiger. Now they can neither control it, nor get off its back without being destroyed by it.WASTF!

If they do well in November

The Teabaggers may have to expand their headquarters.

Combining two favorite pastimes

Many people in this country enjoy riding motorcycles. Probably just as many enjoy bacon. And some enterprising people at the Hormel Corp. have found a way to meld the two in a mutually advantageous union.
Hormel Foods Corporation, a company that has been making bacon for over 100 years, has now made the world’s first motorcycle fueled by bacon grease.

The Austin-based company has created a new marketing campaign in time for the International Bacon Film Festival in San Diego, California, which takes place August 29.

A team of 12 traveled with rider Eric Pierson, a Minneapolis actor. They filmed the journey for the film, “Driven By Bacon,” which will be shown at the film festival this year.Hormel and marketing firm BBDO Minneapolis sponsored a motorcycle that runs on organic biodiesel made of refined bacon grease, which traveled from Austin to California this month.

The “Driven By Bacon” team worked with Bio-Blend Fuels in Manitowoc, Wisconsin to refine bacon grease into 100 percent biodiesel, an environmentally-safer alternative to conventional diesel fuel.

Bio-Blend turned about 275 gallons of bacon grease into 250 gallons of B100 bacon biodiesel for the project.

Sadly, in January 2014 Bio-Blend Fuels, a small boutique biodiesel plant, permanently shut down all fuel production, citing uncertainty over the U.S. governments Renewable Fuel Standard requirements for 2014.

“Changes in industry regulations have made it increasingly more difficult for a small plant to compete with large scale commercial plants,” said owners Dan and Tracy Kaderabek.

But the bacon biodiesel they made for the “Driven By Bacon” campaign is nearly carbon-neutral, contributing almost no emissions to global warming.

And the exhaust emission smells like bacon!
During WWII civilians were encouraged to save their bacon grease for the glycerin in it that could be used for manufacturing explosives. Will we see a ressurrection of that call to power our local biker clubs?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

She has a new album out today

But this tune is from Catherine MacLellen's previous 2011 album, Silhouette. She sings "True Love".

Barney has no limits on his bullets these days

From the pen of Nick Anderson

This should make Steve King happy

About those kids that we returned to Honduras because of our great concern for their welfare. Well, the LA Times followed some of them down there to see how well they were thriving in their home environment. According to a local morgue operator, some of them aren't thriving at all.
After a second unsuccessful attempt to enter the U.S. last fall, he now spends most of his days cooped up at home, dreaming of returning yet again.

"Everywhere here is dangerous," he said. "There is no security. They kill people all the time."

"It's a sin to be young in Honduras."

Like thousands of other undocumented Honduran children deported after having journeyed unaccompanied to the U.S., Sosa faces perilous conditions in the violent neighborhood from which he sought to escape.

"There are many youngsters who only three days after they've been deported are killed, shot by a firearm," said Hector Hernandez, who runs the morgue in San Pedro Sula. "They return just to die."

At least five, perhaps as many as 10, of the 42 children slain here since February had been recently deported from the U.S., Hernandez said.

Immigrant aid groups and human rights organizers say the Honduran government is ill-equipped to assist children at high risk after they have been returned.

San Pedro Sula had 187 killings per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Honduras' overall homicide rate was 90 per 100,000 in 2012, the highest in the world, much of it fueled by gang and drug-trafficking violence.

Unaccompanied children from Honduras "come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the U.S. preferable to staying at home," the report said.

In one case, a teenage boy was shot to death hours after arriving in San Pedro Sula on a deportation flight, according to the boy's cousin, who refused to identify himself or the boy to The Times for fear of reprisal from neighborhood gangs.

To do so, he said, "I would be killing my entire family."

He said his cousin had left for Los Angeles after his family received several threats from the Barrio 18 gang. His mother and sister moved to a different neighborhood while the boy headed for the U.S. They simply abandoned their house in Chamelecon, one of the city's roughest areas.

Some neighborhoods feel like tropical ghost towns because scores of residents have fled the violence fomented by two of the country's most notorious gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18.
Two things are obvious to me. One is that if kids are willing to travel hundreds of dangerous miles to get away from their own 'hood it has to be bad. And two, Steve "The Dumbest Fucking" King "In Congress" must be creaming his jeans at the success of his solution.

The Demise of Officer Friendly

Drawn in carefully neutral tones by Tom Tomorrow.

R.I.P. Don Pardo

The announcer of a lifetime.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Both Sides Now

Mary Fahl sings an eloquent cover of the Joni Mitchell classic.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Who writes a harpsichord into a swing tune?

Artie Shaw, that's who. And the tune is "Special Delivery Stomp"

And every time I hear it I think of the barroom band in Star Wars.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Time for some bagrock

The Red Hot Chili Pipers cover "Smoke On The Water & Thunderstruck"

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cover Dylan with some Leftover Cuties

"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" from the Departures EP.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Not many folksingers have a festival named after them

Sadly it is a posthumous honor but well deserved when singers like Emmylou and Nanci sing your songs. Kate Wolf singing "Across The Great Divide"

Just like that famous ad for potato chips

The one that says you can't eat just one. Seems that same compulsion applies to bombing missions in Iraq.
President Obama on Thursday claimed victory in the effort to rescue Yazidi refugees from a mountaintop in Iraq, but said that airstrikes in that country would continue in order to protect Americans and offer assistance to other Iraqis threatened by Sunni militants.

Speaking to reporters during his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Mr. Obama declared the siege of Mount Sinjar over, crediting American drops of food and airstrikes.

“I could not be prouder of the men and women of our military who carried out this humanitarian mission almost flawlessly,” the president said.

Mr. Obama did not address the quickly shifting assessments of the situation on the mountain. For more than a week, American officials had described a grim situation involving thousands of refugees who would not be easily moved to safety.

That changed suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, when a small team of American special forces personnel landed on the mountain and found that many of the refugees had already left.

Mr. Obama acknowledged that initial determinations by the United States government had been that “many thousands” of Iraqi Yazidis were on the mountaintop. But he said that Wednesday’s assessment had found that “thousands of people had been evacuating safely each and every night.”

Still, he said the situation remained “dire” for many Iraqis who are threatened by Sunni militants in the northern part of the country, and he said American airstrikes would continue indefinitely.
Who knew that airstrikes were so tasty we couldn't resist having more.

Jeb Bush Threatens Entire Country

Says he may yet decide to run for the Presidency. In light of the results of two previous Bush boys in the White House, this is a serious threat to the stability of the nation.
Looking fit, relaxed and in prime condition for a possible presidential run, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday he has not yet decided what he will do.

"I'm not going to make a decision until later this year," Bush said.

He ranks among the top tier of frequently discussed potential Republican candidates.

Bush, 61, was in Punta Gorda for a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the day that Hurricane Charley devastated the town. But he could not escape the inevitable questions about his political future.

When told people were wondering about his plans, Bush attempted to deflect the question with humor.

"They are, are they?" Bush responded.

At one point, Bush said he will be deliberate in making his decision.

Laughing off the abundance of advice he is receiving regarding that stance, Bush said, "I don't even read my Twitter feed."
The only real question is whether the Teabaggers have made old Jebber irrelevant in national politics.

Forty five years on, what has changed?

I was watching one of the episodes of Laugh-In currently available on YouTube last night. The comedy was alternately dated and funny as hell. But one joke has managed to stay relevant through all these years. In the Party section of the show, Chelsea Brown, a black comedienne, had a joke about growing up. When she was a kid, they played a game in her neighborhood. It was called "What Do You Want To Be If You Grow Up". In light of recent events, I wonder if black kids still play that game?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

All dressed up and made up

Just doesn't seem right for Nanci Griffith, not even singing a song like "Late Night Grande Hotel". But any bad video of Nanci is redeemed by her music.

Quote of the Day

When your town is two-thirds black, your police force is almost exclusively white, and you’ve taken to the streets in tanks like it’s fucking Fallujah, you need to hush your cracker mouth about “respect."
Rebecca Schoenkopf, writing about the Ferguson PD request for "respectful" demonstrations.

Your visual Inigo Montoya moment

From the pen of Tom Toles

Because it worked so well before

Because we are such nice people and the various sides in Iraq are all so rational, the White House is considering buying into Pentagon malarky that US troops can work humanitarian miracles and not get stuck in another Iraqnam ground war.
A senior White House official said on Wednesday that the United States would consider using American ground troops to assist Iraqis in rescuing Yazidi refugees if recommended by military advisers assessing the situation.

Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Martha’s Vineyard that President Obama would probably receive recommendations in the next several days about how to mount a rescue operation to help the refugees, who are stranded on a mountaintop surrounded by Sunni militants. He said those recommendations could include the use of American ground troops.

But he drew a distinction between the use of American forces to help a humanitarian mission and the use of troops in the battle against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, something he said the president had rejected before and continued to oppose.

“What he’s ruled out is reintroducing U.S. forces into combat on the ground in Iraq,” Mr. Rhodes said. He added, using an alternative name for the militant group, that the deployment of ground troops to assist a rescue was “different than reintroducing U.S. forces in a combat role to take the fight to ISIL.”

He acknowledged that any ground troops in Iraq would face dangers, even if they were there to help the refugees find a safe way off the mountain. He said that like American forces anywhere, the troops would have the ability to defend themselves if they came under fire.
Just waiting to hear what the advance team has to say.

Do you say homicides are bothering you, bunky?

If you live in one of the states that have enacted one of the NRA's brilliantly witless "Stand Your Ground" laws you should ask them to repeal it. As the Republicans have made it illegal for the medical profession to compile statistics on homicides among the states, the legal profession stepped up to fill the need.
States that desire to combat violent crime or reduce overall homicide rates should either repeal or refuse to enact so-called “stand your ground” legislation, according to a recent report issued by a taskforce commissioned by the American Bar Association [PDF].

The National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws, convened in 2013, conducted a comprehensive and multidisciplinary review of the impact of “stand your ground” legislation on public safety, individual liberties, and the criminal justice system.

The 62-page report, issued on Friday, found that “stand your ground” laws, which vary from state to state, obstruct law enforcement, confuse law enforcement personnel, and disproportionately affect minorities.

“Stand your ground” legislation has failed to deter crime, and, in fact, has led to an increase in homicides, the report said. States with “stand your ground” laws experienced an 8 percent increase in the number of homicides compared to states without such laws.

Dr. Jerry Ratcliffe, Professor and Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, Temple University, saw the report’s conclusions as unequivocal. “If our aim is to increase criminal justice system costs, increase medical costs, increase racial tension, maintain our high adolescent death rate and put police officers at greater risk, then this is good legislation,” Ratcliffe said. “There is no reliable and credible evidence to support laws that encourage ‘stand your ground.’”...

A former military officer cited in the report pointed to the absurdity of encouraging deadly force in public spaces. “Stand your ground” laws, he said, provide a more lenient rule for a civilians’ use of a firearm than is available to a police officer or even a soldier at war.

“It is troubling that under Stand Your Ground, there are less restrictions imposed on U.S. service members using deadly force when they return to the United States, than when they are deployed in a combat environment,” Christopher Jenks, an assistant professor of law at Southern Methodist University and director of the school’s Criminal Justice Clinic, said in the report.
No wonder the NRA and their running dogs in the legislatures sought to stifle research about this law. Sadly, the Stupid is so strong with this law, there is no way to hide it.

War can be profitable

And it is not just the arms dealers and other merchants of death that profit from it. The Tunisians along the Libyan border have show a good deal of entrepreneurial skill during Libya's troubles.
Business is going well for El Amen Co. The family-run business makes two or three lucrative corpse deliveries every day, always in one direction: from Tunisia to Libya. The recent eruption of full-scale fighting in Tripoli and beyond means even more patients are traveling across the border with Tunisia for treatment. For those who can't be saved, El Amen stands ready to take them home. Lately, it's been as many as five a day.

"We do whatever is necessary to get the body back to Libya," said Fouad Trabolsi, the firm's director. "We offer a same-day service."

Until 2012 he was an ambulance driver. His entrepreneurial streak emerged when he saw a newspaper advertisement placed by the Libyan consulate in Tunisia. It was looking for someone willing to transport an unusual cargo, the corpses of Libyans who died on Tunisian soil, back to their families.

His company has the contract for southern Tunisia, while another company deals with any deaths in the north. He employs six drivers, three men to carry out Islamic religious rites to prepare the bodies and four others to help with administration. The Libyan embassy confirmed the arrangement, saying Trabolsi charges a pretty penny for his services: $875 per repatriation.

El Amen is just one of dozens of companies that have popped up since 2011 as part of the blossoming ecosystem of Tunisian businesses catering to Libyan patients. With many hospitals and clinics in Libya suffering from staffing and supply shortages, hundreds of Libyans travel to their much more stable neighbor every week for all kinds of health care — whether in times of peace or war. There are more than half a dozen private clinics in Sfax alone...

"All Libyans come here from both conflicting sides, but they never speak about Libya fighting or politics," said Mohamed, a Libyan from Benghazi who recently moved to Sfax. "They just come for treatment, and I hope that all Libyans come here in order not to fight again. Tunisia is a country of law and order."
True, the really big bucks come from the various munitions needed for a fight, but it is nice to see a decent profit being made by decent people in Tunisia.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

R.I.P. Lauren Bacall

Thanks to your inspiration, this young one learned how to whistle.

Dedicated to the Illustrious Aqua Buddha

Blame Sally "Pass The Buddha" from their 2009 Night of 1000 Stars album

Quote of the Day

Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone’s benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings.
Ayn Rand

Robin Williams was a man ahead of his times

That fat junkie Rush dropped some shit on Robin Williams after his death. Robin had already answered Rush 8 years ago.

Choose your weapons

From the pen of Ben Sargent

Who are you, really?

This is a question that the family and friends of publicized black shooting victims often ask when they see the person they know shown as someone entirely and negatively different in news reports. This has come to a head with the murder of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO policeman. And blacks are now taking to Twitter in an angry rebuke of this white media habit.
When Tyler Atkins heard about the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., he posted on Twitter a picture of himself in a tuxedo, with a saxophone around his neck, next to a photograph of himself dressed in a black T-shirt with a blue bandanna tied around his head and his finger pointed at the camera.

Like hundreds of young African-Americans, he placed his pictures under the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, protesting Mr. Brown’s killing by a police officer and the way young black men are depicted in the news media. He said Mr. Brown’s identity was distorted and filtered through negative stereotypes, and that the same would have been done to him with the bandanna image if he found himself the victim of a similar tragedy. The first picture was taken after a jazz concert at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Tex., where Mr. Atkins, a senior, studies music. The other was taken during a recording for a rap video he made with friends for a school math project.

“Had the media gained a hold of this picture, I feel I it would be used to portray that I was in a gang, which is not true at all,” Mr. Atkins, 17, wrote in an email.

The speed with which the shooting of Mr. Brown has resonated on social media has helped propel and transform a local shooting into a national cause, as African-American commenters draw attention to continued incidents of blacks being shot by police and the media portrayals of young black men.

“This affects me deeply because the stories of Mike Brown, Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo and many more could have been me,” Mr. Atkins wrote, referring to the shooting deaths of blacks, some at the hands of police.
When cops, or anybody else for that matter,shoot someone for being black they do need to make it look like they had a real reason. And imitation thuggery is a great way to scare the shit out of Fux Nooz viewers and many others as well. Scared people will believe any sort of crap you feed them. Voila, problem solved.

ZMapp wins 2 out of 3

The new serum that is believed to be effective against Ebola has lost one of the patients it was used on. Nevertheless Liberia has requested and the US has agreed to ship ZMapp to Liberia.

Liberia has announced that it will receive doses of an experimental Ebola drug to treat infected doctors.

The news came amid growing anger over the fact that the only people to receive the experimental treatment so far had been Westerners. Two Americans were treated with several doses of ZMapp, and it was also sent to a Spaniard, Miguel Pajares, who has since died. All three were evacuated to their home countries from Liberia.

Pajares, a priest, died on Tuesday in a hospital in Madrid. He was the first European infected by the strain of Ebola that has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa. He was airlifted from Liberia on Aug. 7 after contracting the disease while working for a nongovernmental organization in the West African country. It wasn't clear if he was treated with ZMapp before dying.

A statement published on Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's website on Monday said the United States approved her request to ship ZMapp to the Liberia after a direct appeal to U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday.

A representative for the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department said U.S. authorities simply assisted in connecting the Liberian government with the drug's manufacturer.

"Since the drug was shipped for use outside the U.S., appropriate export procedures had to be followed," the HHS representative said, adding that the drug company worked directly with the Liberian government.

The Liberian statement said the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, authorized the dispatch of additional doses of the experimental drug to Liberia to support the treatment of affected doctors. Those doses will be delivered by a WHO expert this week.

A panel of medical experts from the WHO ruled Tuesday that it is ethical to offer unproven drugs or vaccines to people affected by the Ebola outbreak but cautioned that supplies would be limited.

"It is … likely that the number of doses available for further study and/or development from end 2014 onwards will remain insufficient to meet demand," the WHO said in a statement.
With a limited supply, who gets what is available? And with the disease present in several countries what kind of friction will this create? Time will tell.

Maliki of Iraq changes his mind

After getting word from his Iranian supervisors that it would be good for him to do so. No longer will he attempt to cling to power using the military.
Tensions eased in Iraq’s capital Tuesday as Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki gave his first signals that he’s preparing to step down from his post as Prime Minister-designate Haider al Abadi began forming a new government.

In a statement, Maliki urged the nation’s military “to stay away from the political crisis,” indicating that he won’t use the armed forces to hold on to his office.

It was a significant reversal in tone for Maliki, who on Monday held a press conference in which he and political allies accused Abadi of a power grab and said they would fight his appointment.

At the same time, Maliki lost one of his most important allies when top officials in the Iranian government publicly embraced Abadi’s nomination.

The word came from Ali Shamkani, a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni. Iranian state news reported that Shamkani voiced Iran’s support for Iraq’s constitutional process and urged Iraqis to unite behind their national government.

Those signals gave a sense of palpable relief to Iraqi leaders who feared that Maliki would refuse to give up his office.
Just another indication of the value of a mutually acceptable modus vivendi with Iran.

Monday, August 11, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

Dead at 63 and way too soon.

No, she's not singing about a big box store

But Sierra Hull & Highway 111, here shown on a 2011 radio appearance singing "Best Buy", could make that sound just as good as this.

We expect politicians to torture words

But the torturing of words can itself be a torture to one's soul, as Tom Tomorrow illustrates.

College sports comes out of the closet.

From the pen of Kevin Siers

Payday lenders, legal loan sharks.

John Oliver on payday lenders

Iraq has a new Prime Minister...or not

It depends on which political party you listen to. And just when the country needs some sort of unifying event, Maliki of Iraq says the selection of Haider al Abadi is not legitimate.
Iraq’s political crisis deepened Monday, with Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki entrenching himself in the capital’s International Zone while the coalition his political party belongs to nominated a rival to succeed him as head of the government.

Iraqi President Fouad Massoum named former Maliki ally Haider al Abadi as the country’s next prime minister after the National Iraqi Alliance, the country’s largest Shiite political bloc, nominated him.

The announcement that Abadi had been selected prime minister came after the country’s highest court reportedly rejected a demand by Maliki that his State of Law party, and not the National Iraqi Alliance coalition, be given the task of choosing the prime minister.

Maliki supporters remained defiant.

“Haider al Abadi was not nominated by State of Law and nominating him has no legal value,” Maryam al Ries, Maliki’s political adviser, told al Sumaria TV.

Another Shiite political leader, Hadi al Amiri, distanced himself from Abadi’s nomination. Amiri, whose bloc belongs to the alliance, said he did not sign on to Abadi’s nomination.

In a late night speech Sunday, Maliki announced that he would file a legal complaint against Massoum for failing to appoint a prime minister from Maliki’s party by an earlier constitutional deadline.

At the same time, Maliki called on elite special forces to reinforce the sprawling government complex known as the International Zone, which houses parliament and Maliki’s home.

Main roads in the city were closed and troops were out in force both on foot and in trucks mounted with machine guns. Nicholay Mladenov, the United Nations special envoy to Iraq, released a statement Monday urging Iraq’s military to stay out of the political dispute.

Maliki’s moves drew a sharp rebuke from Secretary of State John Kerry, who is traveling in Australia. U.S. officials have lobbied for weeks for Maliki to step down, contending the country needs a new leader to unite Iraq against the threat posed by militants in the Islamic State.

“We stand absolutely squarely behind President Massoum (who) has the responsibility for upholding the constitution of Iraq,” Kerry said.

Kerry said Maliki’s actions could lead the U.S. to withhold further military assistance just days after American jets and drones began launching air strikes against Islamic State positions in northern Iraq.

“One thing all Iraqis need to know, that there will be little international support of any kind whatsoever for anything that deviates from the legitimate constitution process that is in place and being worked on now,” he said.
Yup! This should be just what the doctor ordered.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A child of the potato fields of PEI

Ashley Condon sings about coming home from "Toronto"

Has The Onion given up satire?

Under a disturbing and not at all funny headline:
Report: Middle Class Running Dangerously Low On Things To Be Squeezed Out Of
The Onion posted the following
An alarming report released Thursday by researchers at the Economic Policy Institute confirmed that, following a generation of dwindling economic opportunities and stagnant wages, the American middle class is now running dangerously low on things it can be squeezed out of. “Based on our findings, the nation is heading toward a disastrous point in the next decade at which there will no longer be a single facet of our economy from which middle- class families can be further squeezed,” said lead researcher Bryan Shale, adding that having already squeezed middle-income Americans out of job security, access to bank loans, high-quality education, retirement investing, and home ownership, the U.S. had nearly exhausted its already limited supply of squeezable sectors. “Perhaps most distressing is that given how rapidly the middle class has been driven from upward mobility and reliable healthcare, the few areas left to squeeze them out of are negligible at best. We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here if the ability to shop at premium supermarkets, have museum memberships, or take weekend getaways is all that remains. Unless lawmakers take immediate action, we’re talking about the real possibility of a world in which the middle-class squeeze as we know it is complete, and the majority of Americans can be squeezed no further.” The researchers confirmed, however, that the U.S. middle class is still reliably being hit from all sides
Except for the last three sentences, there is nothing that wouldn't fit a straight economic report. Will reality soon doom The Onion?

Ebola is the least of our worries

From the pen of Brian McFadden

It may be legal in some states

But to anyone researching the medical uses of marijuana faces a wall of federal law the equal of that in Game of Thrones. And the positioning of it in Schedule 1 of Controlled Drugs puts it on a par with ISIS in the pharmaceutical world.
Dr. Sisley’s case is an extreme example of the obstacles and frustrations scientists face in trying to study the medical uses of marijuana. Dating back to 1999, the Department of Health and Human Services has indicated it does not see much potential for developing marijuana in smoked form into an approved prescription drug. In guidelines issued that year for research on medical marijuana, the agency quoted from an accompanying report that stated, “If there is any future for marijuana as a medicine, it lies in its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives.”

Scientists say this position has had a chilling effect on marijuana research.

Though more than one million people are thought to use the drug to treat ailments ranging from cancer to seizures to hepatitis C and chronic pain, there are few rigorous studies showing whether the drug is a fruitful treatment for those or any other conditions.

A major reason is this: The federal government categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, the most restrictive of five groups established by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Drugs in this category — including heroin, LSD, peyote and Ecstasy — are considered to have no accepted medical use in the United States and a high potential for abuse, and are subject to tight restrictions on scientific study.

In the case of marijuana, those restrictions are even greater than for other controlled substances. (Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, though nearly half the states and the District of Columbia allow its medical use and two, Colorado and Washington, have legalized its recreational use.)

To obtain the drug legally, researchers like Dr. Sisley must apply to the Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse — which, citing a 1961 treaty obligation, administers the only legal source of the drug for federally sanctioned research, at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Sisley’s proposed study also had to undergo an additional layer of review from the Public Health Service that is not required for other controlled substances in such research.
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The process is so cumbersome that a growing number of elected state officials, medical experts and members of Congress have started calling for loosening the restrictions. In June, a letter signed by 30 members of Congress, including four Republicans, called the extra scrutiny of marijuana projects “unnecessary,” saying that research “has often been hampered by federal barriers.”

“It defies logic in this day and age that marijuana is still in Schedule 1 alongside heroin and LSD when there is so much testimony to what relief medical marijuana can bring,” Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island said in an interview. In late 2011, he and the governor of Washington at the time, Christine O. Gregoire, filed a petition asking the federal government to place the drug in a lower category. The petition is still pending with the D.E.A.

Despite the mounting push, there is little evidence that either Congress or the Obama administration will change marijuana’s status soon. In public statements, D.E.A. officials have made their displeasure known about states’ legalizing medical and recreational marijuana.
Of course the DEA is displeased, legalization threatens their War On Drugs gravy train. And that displeasure has them lobbying and pulling every string they can to maintain the status quo.

Pondering the answer to cruel questions

Is there an effective treatment for Ebola that would be worth fast tracking the production? Given that the human trials so far amount to three people who received top level standard treatments, did the serum actually work as expected? Would production of this or any other new treatment be experimenting of helpless African patients? While the medical community hashes out these questions, three emergency labs designed to quickly create vaccines and other drugs are ready and waiting if needed.
All three U.S. facilities established to quickly make vaccines and therapeutics in the event of a major public health threat say they are standing by to support any U.S. government effort to scale up a treatment for Ebola.

The facilities, called Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (ADM), were set up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with private industry, to respond to pandemics or chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threats.

They have the expertise to quickly switch production lines to manufacture, for example, a smallpox vaccine if that scourge were to re-emerge, or an anthrax vaccine, and other life-saving compounds against both natural outbreaks and bioterrorism.

"They know our number and they can call us 24 hours a day," said Brett Giroir, chief executive of Texas A&M Health Science Center, site of one of the facilities. "We are prepared."

Global health agencies are only starting to consider whether to make experimental drugs, most of which have only been tested on monkeys, available to patients in West Africa, which is suffering the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

The World Health Organization is convening a group of bioethicists to consider such as issues as who decides which patients would receive the treatments or vaccines. U.S. officials have repeatedly emphasized the importance of public health measures such as quarantines to stop the spread of the disease.

Among the Ebola treatments that have shown promising results in lab animals is an antibody cocktail from Mapp Biopharmaceutical, a tiny biotechnology company in San Diego; a vaccine from Profectus in Tarrytown, New York; and an RNA-interference drug being developed by Vancouver-based, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, which late last week got approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to resume safety trials in human volunteers.

The decision to order any of the three advanced labs to begin making Ebola treatments would be made at the highest levels of the Obama administration.
If it works, fantastic! And if it fails the recriminations will be horrendous. And if nothing is done, the accusations will be bitter. And in the meantime, the disease waits for no man.

It's all very simple

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