Friday, October 31, 2014

From her second solo album.

Frazey Ford sings "September Fields". The album is called Indian Ocean.

Takei some advice from George

The Colbert Report
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Effective creep protection

From the pen of Pat Bagley

So what do you say to kids now?

With the advent of legal marijuana use in several fortunate states, how do parents talk to their kids about marijuana. After years of laughing at the egg in the fry pan will the kids respond to a separation of Mary Jane from coke, meth & smack? Do parents now compare it to alcohol?
The War on Drugs and “Just Say No” campaigns of the 1980s provided a national moral mandate and a singular template for parents: All drugs are bad. But many parents today believe that the reductionist catchphrase oversimplifies the complex landscape of the nation’s drug use.

Today, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 18- to 25-year-olds are the biggest abusers of opioid pain relievers, A.D.H.D. stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs. Prescription drugs account for more overdose deaths among this age group than all illegal drugs combined. Alcohol remains the No. 1 health hazard and date-rape drug on college campuses. And a new generation of pen-size, odorless vaporizers, with USB ports for easy recharging, allows students to get high virtually anywhere, even at school.

With these realities in mind, more parents seem to be accepting the probability that their teenagers will self-medicate at some point, and they see pot as having more manageable risks than other substances. Rather than adhere to a “just say no” theology, they are embracing a nuanced, harm-reduction approach. They are even, in some cases, revealing their own use to help create a dialogue with their children.

Honesty about drug use is encouraged by Dr. Donald A. Misch, medical director at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who oversees the health of nearly 30,000 students on a campus long considered marijuana-friendly. During an orientation session in August for parents entitled “Stress, Risk Taking, Alcohol/Drugs and Parents as Partners: What Every C.U. Parent Should Know,” Dr. Misch responded to a father’s question about whether to tell his son about his own prior usage. “What you should say depends on your family,” he advised. “As a general rule, I believe in being honest.”
Those who used in the past have some idea what is involved, but what about those who bought into the lies of the Drug War?

When Republicans panic

As anyone on the African plains can tell you, there are few things more frightening than an elephant stampede. And as we are finding out in the US, when the elephant party stampedes, spooked by their own vile propaganda, good people get hurt. And so it is with the unreasoning fear of Ebola causing unnecessary and disruptive quarantines in the US. The worst effect is on those working to stop Ebola at its source.
Mandatory quarantines imposed by some U.S. states on doctors and nurses returning from Ebola-ravaged countries have created a "chilling effect" on aid work in West Africa, the humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders (DWB) has warned.

The medical charity said restrictions imposed by several states have prompted it to discuss whether to shorten deployments.

It comes as one of its volunteer nurses, Kaci Hickox, continues to defy a quarantine imposed by Maine officials. She notes that keeping her isolated was unscientific, since she has been tested negative for Ebola and displays no signs of the disease. On Thursday she went on a bike ride with her boyfriend, directly challenging state officials to take her to court to impose restrictions, as officials have threatened they would.

The state of Maine responded Friday, asking a court to restrict Hickox's movements.

DWB has warned that such moves may deter other health care professionals from volunteering their services.

"There is rising anxiety and confusion among [DWB] staff members in the field over what they may face when they return home upon completion of their assignments in West Africa," Sophie Delaunay, the organization’s executive director in the United States, said in a statement.

DWB is one of the main aid groups working in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where the worst Ebola outbreak on record has killed nearly 5,000 people.

Some DWB workers have been delaying their returns to the U.S. and are staying in Europe for 21 days, Ebola's maximum incubation period, "in order to avoid facing rising stigmatization at home and possible quarantine," Delaunay said.

As a result, DWB is discussing whether to shorten some Ebola assignments from their current duration of four to six weeks. Its workers typically begin and end their assignments in Brussels, the Belgian capital, a DWB spokesman said.

"Some people are being discouraged by their families from returning to the field," Delaunay said.
Is there a better way to promote the spread of Ebola than by hindering the fight against it? If so you can be sure the REpublicans would be trumpeting it on Fux Nooz now.

The best course of action

Thursday, October 30, 2014

From Lubbock to the World

Amanda Shires has learned and played a lot of music and a few different instruments. And along the way she has written fine tunes. This one "Angels & Acrobats" was written by the guitar player Ron Picott.

Give them the beer after the election.

From the pen of Horsey

From the Dept. of Is Anyone Surprised

Like all too many repeat offenders, after years of being caught and let off lightly for even the most heinous of offenses, banks appear to have gone back to their evil ways.
A mixture of new issues and lingering problems could violate earlier settlements that imposed new practices and fines on the banks but stopped short of criminal charges, according to lawyers briefed on the cases. Prosecutors are exploring whether to strengthen the earlier deals, the lawyers said, or scrap them altogether and force the banks to plead guilty to a crime...

Prosecutors in Washington and Manhattan have reopened an investigation into Standard Chartered, the big British bank that reached a settlement in 2012 over accusations that it transferred billions of dollars for Iran and other nations blacklisted by the United States, according to the lawyers briefed on the cases. The prosecutors are questioning whether Standard Chartered, which has a large operation in New York, failed to disclose the extent of its wrongdoing to the government, imperiling the bank’s earlier settlement.

New York State’s banking regulator is also taking a fresh look at old cases, reopening a 2013 settlement with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ over accusations that the bank’s New York branch did business with Iran, according to the lawyers who were not authorized to speak publicly.

The regulator, Benjamin M. Lawsky, the lawyers said, is negotiating a new settlement deal with the bank that, if it goes through, would involve a penalty larger than the $250 million it paid last year. Mr. Lawsky suspects that the bank initially played down the scope of its wrongdoing.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the influential consulting firm that advised the Japanese bank on that case, is also under investigation, according to the lawyers briefed on the matter. The Manhattan district attorney’s office is examining whether the firm watered down a report about the bank’s dealings with Iran before it was sent to government investigators.

Those developments, not previously reported, are part of a broader revisiting of settlements with some of the world’s biggest banks, an effort that has focused on foreign banks but could eventually spread to American institutions.

As reported earlier by The New York Times, prosecutors are also threatening to tear up deals with banks like Barclays and UBS that were accused of manipulating interest rates, pointing to evidence that the same banks also manipulated foreign currencies, a violation of the interest rate settlements. The prosecutors and banks have agreed to extend probationary periods that would have otherwise expired this year.
We have given them enough rope, this time we should hang them. And that should include executive officers, they are well aware of what their organiztions are doing.

Fingerprints and mug shots and scars, oh my!

If you have ever had your picture or fingerprints or any other biometric recording of your person done by law enforcement or other government agency, it is all in the FBI's wonderful biometric database. And it is being shared with every qualifying official, be it the New York Police Department or Barney Fife in East Elephantbreath. And better still, it is being aggressively marketed to them.
But it took senior FBI consultant Peter Fagan just nine words this week to capture the ambitious scope of the agency’s aims with the new system, which is gradually replacing traditional fingerprint identification with facial recognition and other biometric identifier technology.

“What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore,” Fagan told a roomful of police executives at the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Orlando on Tuesday.

He said that reaching the FBI’s goal of better tracking criminal suspects from town to town depends on local cops’ ability to adopt increasingly sophisticated new technologies and to share their data with federal law enforcement. He urged police to begin to “pack the record[s]” by collecting as many high-quality biometric identifiers from arrested criminal suspects as possible.

“We’re not only talking mug shots,” he said. “We’re talking scars, marks, tattoos and other descriptors. You can take up to 25 images [per arrest]. It used to be 10, but now you can take up to 25,” he said. “The upside is that every mug shot you collect is going to be searched against an unsolved crime.”

Oftentimes, Fagan told police, crime victims “remember tattoos but don’t remember anything else” about their assailants. Ultimately, “we should be working towards taking every biometric at every event,” he said, using an industry term for criminal processing.

The FBI’s database, known as Next Generation Identification (NGI), is just one of a dizzying array of investigative innovations being hawked to U.S. law enforcement agencies large and small, nationwide. While technology has transformed nearly every industry, few have changed as rapidly — or with as much federal and corporate encouragement — as local law enforcement.

That fact was evident last weekend in the main exhibit hall of the cavernous Orlando County Convention Center, where hundreds of vendors sold everything from ballistic underwear and high-powered weaponry to an 18-wheel mobile command center and analytic software that tracks gang members’ communications on social media.
Even though accuracy in targeting SWAT teams is no longer necessary, it does make a better image.

Early voting has begun

So, if you can, vote when it is convenient for you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Now that she has returned to the stage

Let's remind ourselves why we loved Kate Bush in the first place.

Must be watching Fux Nooz

From the pen of Jack Ohman

New to the game with few rules

Attorneys General across the various states
are finding themselves being courted by the same lobbyists who have so successfully suborned our elected representatives. And for the same purposes, to let their clients get away with all manner of illegal and unethical shit to make more money.
A robust industry of lobbyists and lawyers has blossomed as attorneys general have joined to conduct multistate investigations and pushed into areas as diverse as securities fraud and Internet crimes.

But unlike the lobbying rules covering other elected officials, there are few revolving-door restrictions or disclosure requirements governing state attorneys general, who serve as “the people’s lawyers” by protecting consumers and individual citizens.

A result is that the routine lobbying and deal-making occur largely out of view. But the extent of the cause and effect is laid bare in The Times’s review of more than 6,000 emails obtained through open records laws in more than two dozen states, interviews with dozens of participants in cases and attendance at several conferences where corporate representatives had easy access to attorneys general.

Often, the corporate representative is a former colleague. Four months after leaving office as chief deputy attorney general in Washington State, Brian T. Moran wrote to his replacement on behalf of a client, T-Mobile, which was pressing federal officials to prevent competitors from grabbing too much of the available wireless spectrum.
Continue reading the main story

“As promised when we met the A.G. last week, I am attaching a draft letter for Bob to consider circulating to the other states,” he wrote late last year, referring to the attorney general, Bob Ferguson.

A short while later, Mr. Moran wrote again to his replacement, David Horn. “Dave: Anything you can tell me about that letter?” he said.

“Working on it sir,” came the answer. “Stay tuned.” By January, the letter was issued by the attorney general largely as drafted by the industry lawyers.

The exchange was not unusual. Emails obtained from more than 20 states reveal a level of lobbying by representatives of private interests that had been more typical with lawmakers than with attorneys general.

“The current and increasing level of the lobbying of attorneys general creates, at the minimum, the appearance of undue influence, and is therefore unseemly,” said James E. Tierney, a former attorney general of Maine, who now runs a program at Columbia University that studies state attorneys general. “It is undermining the credibility of the office of attorney general.”
Now that they know they can sell their asses the same way as legislators and whores on the corner, we can expect the Office of Attorney General to become a stepping stone to great riches. After all, you can't eat integrity.

A definition of Compassion and Bravery and Humanity

Someone needs to make room in the dictionary for the efforts of health workers in West Africa to be included as a definition of compassion and bravery and humanity, among their other qualities.
Birte Abild soaked a diaper in chlorine to wash a 5-year-old boy dying of Ebola. Then she held him close.

“I wrapped him in a big towel, and for a short while I held him,” said the Swedish nurse, who has been working in Sierra Leone for just over a month. “I sang a children’s song for him, and I knew he would die, but I had to go out. The next time I saw him, he was dead. He was alone.”

Abild has been a nurse for 34 years. She traveled to Kenema, in eastern Sierra Leone, to work with the International Federation for the Red Cross (IFRC), which opened the Kenema facility in mid-September. She knew how difficult treating Ebola patients would be, but that doesn’t make her job any easier.

“It’s hard to see people dying alone and that you can’t give more,” she said....

While international staff members rotate through Sierra Leone’s clinics frequently, local health care workers are watching their country deteriorate in the face of the hemorrhagic fever.

As patients’ conditions worsen, they vomit, have diarrhea and sometimes bleed internally and externally, releasing contagious fluids. Amara Augustine, an infection prevention and control worker from Sierra Leone, has the grueling task of cleaning up bodily fluids.

He knew he was taking on a colossal risk but felt compelled to help anyway.

“People are dying every day, and I thought it fit I should save my people at this crucial moment,” he said...

Though he’s proud of his work, many people who are associated with Ebola — even health care workers — are stigmatized in Sierra Leone.

“My family has abandoned me — and my friends — because I’m doing this job. I’m alone,” Augustine said. “But I have decided to help my country, my people. I feel I am doing the right job. I was sad at first to their reactions, but at the same time, patients here are being discharged. Some are getting better, so it’s worth it.”...

Veronica Bull has been a nurse for three years and arrived from the country’s capital, Freetown, to work in Kenema. She admits she was scared at first to work with Ebola patients but has quickly grown comfortable and enjoys helping her country.

“I urge other nurses to come, she said. “You cannot sit with your arms folded when you’re a nurse and while people are dying from sickness.”
Compare these people to the assholes trying to scare the shit out of you and ask yourself, "Where the Fuck did we go wrong?"

They haven't eliminated all the voters, yet.

A common feature among right wing rulers

Disappearing people who oppose their regimes is a common tactic worldwide among the right wing rulers seeking to maintain their positions of power. While adopting the standard tactics in this country on any but the smallest scale would be " bridge too far" for Republicans, they have come up with a cute variation to it, voter suppression. So long as votes still have a meaning in this country, eliminating those votes against you is a viable alternative to eliminating the voter entirely.

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.

At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the Interstate Crosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

Until now, state elections officials have refused to turn over their Crosscheck lists, some on grounds that these voters are subject to criminal investigation. Now, for the first time, three states — Georgia, Virginia and Washington — have released their lists to Al Jazeera America, providing a total of just over 2 million names.

The Crosscheck list of suspected double voters has been compiled by matching names from roughly 110 million voter records from participating states. Interstate Crosscheck is the pet project of Kansas’ controversial Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, known for his crusade against voter fraud.

The three states’ lists are heavily weighted with names such as Jackson, Garcia, Patel and Kim — ones common among minorities, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, fully 1 in 7 African-Americans in those 27 states, plus the state of Washington (which enrolled in Crosscheck but has decided not to utilize the results), are listed as under suspicion of having voted twice. This also applies to 1 in 8 Asian-Americans and 1 in 8 Hispanic voters. White voters too — 1 in 11 — are at risk of having their names scrubbed from the voter rolls, though not as vulnerable as minorities.

If even a fraction of those names are blocked from voting or purged from voter rolls, it could alter the outcome of next week’s electoral battle for control of the U.S. Senate — and perhaps prove decisive in the 2016 presidential vote count.

“It’s Jim Crow all over again,” says the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr. Lowery, now 93, says he recognizes in the list of threatened voters a sophisticated new form of an old and tired tactic. “I think [the Republicans] would use anything they can find. Their desperation is rising.”

Though Kobach declined to be interviewed, Roger Bonds, the chairman of the Republican Party in Georgia’s Fulton County, responds, “This is how we have successfully prevented voter fraud.”

Based on the Crosscheck lists, officials have begun the process of removing names from the rolls — beginning with 41,637 in Virginia alone. Yet the criteria used for matching these double voters are disturbingly inadequate.
And somewhere the Department of Justice sleeps the sleep of the just.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Straight from the unholy grip of fiendish terrists, sort of,maybe.

Canadian singer-songwriter Shannon Rose her guitar playing husband and and some musical friends sing "Wild Wind" from her album Seasons.

If polls asked the right questions

From the pen of Joel Pett

Pope Frank tells creationists to piss off

Once again Pope Francis is proving to be the man the Catholic Church needs to set it on the road to redemption. His latest remarks are in support on evolution and the Big Bang Theory, the real one not the TV show.
I have previously discussed my admiration for Pope Francis, who strikes me as a truly holy man in every true sense of that term. Francis has pulled the Church into the Twenty-First Century with massive reforms and new approaches. This week saw one of the most remarkable such changes: Pope Francis announced that it is perfectly consistent to be a Catholic and an evolutionist. For many Catholics who cannot deny the evidence that the Earth is billions rather than thousands of years old, the announcement shows that it is possible to believe in both God and evolution.

Pope Francis declared that the Big Bang theory “doesn’t contradict the intervention of a divine Creator, but demands it.” The comment came at the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, gathered in the Vatican to discuss “Evolving Concepts of Nature.” Francis said that the creator “brought all things into being . . . from a supreme Principle of creative love.” He added that “[e]volution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
And I'll bet the conservative bishops are wailing about the Pope's decision not to sleep in the traditional bedroom, where the conservatives could give him the "Pillow Cure" as they did to Pope John Paul 1.

Not all it's fracked up to be

In the oil bidness, your well is always the biggest, the best, the most. And the current boom in fracking has not diminished that hyperbole one whit. In fact, if research is accurate, it may have taken it to new heights.
By calculating the production numbers on a well-by-well basis for shale gas and tight oil fields throughout the U.S., Post Carbon concludes that the future of fracking is not nearly as bright as industry cheerleaders suggest. The report, “Drilling Deeper: A Reality Check on U.S. Government Forecasts for a Lasting Tight Oil & Shale Gas Boom,” authored by Post Carbon fellow J. David Hughes, updates an earlier report he authored for Post Carbon in 2012.

Hughes analyzed the production stats for seven tight oil basins and seven gas basins, which account for 88-percent and 89-percent of current shale gas production.

Among the key findings:

-By 2040, production rates from the Bakken Shale and Eagle Ford Shale will be less than a tenth of that projected by the Energy Department. For the top three shale gas fields — the Marcellus Shale, Eagle Ford and Bakken — production rates from these plays will be about a third of the EIA forecast.

-The three year average well decline rates for the seven shale oil basins measured for the report range from an astounding 60-percent to 91-percent. That means over those three years, the amount of oil coming out of the wells decreases by that percentage. This translates to 43-percent to 64-percent of their estimated ultimate recovery dug out during the first three years of the well's existence.

-Four of the seven shale gas basins are already in terminal decline in terms of their well productivity: the Haynesville Shale, Fayetteville Shale, Woodford Shale and Barnett Shale.

-The three year average well decline rates for the seven shale gas basins measured for the report ranges between 74-percent to 82-percent.

-The average annual decline rates in the seven shale gas basins examined equals between 23-percent and 49-percent. Translation: between one-quarter and one-half of all production in each basin must be replaced annually just to keep running at the same pace on the drilling treadmill and keep getting the same amount of gas out of the earth.

The report’s findings differ vastly from the forward-looking projections published by the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), a statistical sub-unit of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Since their product only comes from the area fractured, this makes sense. Got to keep drilling & fracking to keep it flowing, a very expensive proposition.

The spooks are tracking your snail mail, too

It just takes a little longer. And they still need a warrant to get inside the envelope. But they can make use of all that who and where data just by using a mail cover.
In a rare public accounting of its mass surveillance program, the United States Postal Service reported that it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.

The number of requests, contained in a 2014 audit of the surveillance program by the Postal Service’s inspector general, shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed and that oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.

The audit, along with interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, offers one of the first detailed looks at the scope of the program, which has played an important role in the nation’s vast surveillance effort since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The audit, which was reported on earlier by Politico, found that in many cases the Postal Service approved requests to monitor an individual’s mail without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization.

In addition to raising privacy concerns, the audit questioned the efficiency and accuracy of the Postal Service in handling the requests. Many requests were not processed in time, the audit said, and computer errors caused the same tracking number to be assigned to different surveillance requests.

“Insufficient controls could hinder the Postal Inspection Service’s ability to conduct effective investigations, lead to public concerns over privacy of mail and harm the Postal Service’s brand,” the audit concluded.

The audit was posted in May without public announcement on the website of the Postal Service inspector general and got almost no attention.

The surveillance program, officially called mail covers, is more than a century old, but is still considered a powerful investigative tool. At the request of state or federal law enforcement agencies or the Postal Inspection Service, postal workers record names, return addresses and any other information from the outside of letters and packages before they are delivered to a person’s home.

Law enforcement officials say this deceptively old-fashioned method of collecting data provides a wealth of information about the businesses and associates of their targets, and can lead to bank and property records and even accomplices. (Opening the mail requires a warrant.)

Interviews and court records also show that the surveillance program was used by a county attorney and sheriff to investigate a political opponent in Arizona — the county attorney was later disbarred in part because of the investigation — and to monitor privileged communications between lawyers and their clients, a practice not allowed under postal regulations.
Given the misuse and the potential for much more, we can only hope the inefficiency and inaccuracy was from patriotic postal workers doing a little monkey wrenching. It's about the only hope left.

John Oliver sweetly tears Big Sugar a new one

How do you measure success?

Monday, October 27, 2014

An Aussie cover of a British hit

Tina Arena from Melbourne, sings "Nights In White Satin" from her Songs of Love & Loss 2 album. She even used a London Orchestra to record this.

The Many Threats to America

And Tom Tomorrow bravely exposes them to us that we may get over the ridiculous Ebola crap.

Still a chance to recall

From the pen of Tom Toles

In the spirit of Halloween, remember

Can we afford another Bush

Even if the entire family is convinced he is the smart one? Given the lunatic fringe status of the Republican Party can Jeb Bush ever be crazy enough for the base? These are questions that Jebby is now asking himself and his advisers.
For the elder Mr. Bush, Jeb was always the son expected to go far in politics, the serious one with drive to spare. After George W. gave up drinking and surpassed his brother, the elder Mr. Bush still harbored ambitions for the second son. Now 90 and in fading health, Mr. Bush has been animated about a possible Jeb campaign, according to friends.

“If it were up to his father, he would be a candidate,” said Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the former president. But the Bushes are wary of the presumption of a dynasty.
Continue reading the main story

“They’re very sensitive to the idea that anyone might think the family feels entitled to the nomination,” Mr. McGrath said. “First of all, it just wouldn’t be true. And second of all, they understand it would be poison to a candidacy if that perception were ever to get out there.”

As for George W., he has not been especially close to Jeb, who is seven years younger. By all accounts, the former president is closer to their younger brother, Marvin, who visited him in the White House or at Camp David regularly.

But George W. has become an outspoken advocate of a White House bid by Jeb. “The one person who is really, really trying to get Jeb to run is George W.,” said the family insider. “He’s talking it up all the time.”

The former president lobbied Jeb when the two saw each other in Dallas several weeks ago, but he acknowledged with a laugh that his pressure could backfire. “I don’t think he liked it that his older brother was pushing him,” Mr. Bush told Fox News afterward.

None of that means Jeb Bush will run. He has said he will decide by the end of the year, and could simply be keeping the possibility open to enhance his influence on the political stage. To some who have spoken with him in recent months, he has not exhibited the same fire that his father and brother did at this stage.

Advisers to Mr. Bush said he has not authorized anyone to line up money or people to work for him. Some of the positions he has taken on immigration, taxes and education are at odds with the prevailing orthodoxy of his party. He knows he would have to find a way to distance himself from some of the unpopular decisions of his father, and especially of his brother, while overcoming broader Bush fatigue.

And he has said publicly he does not want to run if it means getting caught in the “vortex of a mud fight,” acutely aware of the perils of bringing his family into the harsh light of modern politics. Columba was once stopped by customs agents for not declaring the full value of $19,000 in clothing and jewelry she bought in Paris, and their daughter Noelle was arrested on a prescription drug fraud charge a dozen years ago.

“He has certainly not given anyone I’m aware of the ability to have conversations with potential donors or staff to keep his powder dry,” said Sally Bradshaw, a longtime adviser. “That doesn’t mean people don’t call us and say we want Jeb to run. But he has not given a green light to that.”

Having said that, Mr. Bush has been active on the campaign trail, effectively building up chits. He has appeared at more than 35 campaign events for such figures as Governors Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Rick Snyder of Michigan and Senate candidates like Joni Ernst in Iowa, Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Cory Gardner in Colorado.

He has cultivated the family network as well, appearing at an anniversary of his father’s administration held in College Station, Tex., last spring and speaking to many other family supporters at his brother’s presidential library outside Dallas several weeks ago. The family believes the party’s money men have been waiting for Jeb and will give him an instant foundation if he runs, making him an establishment favorite against the insurgent conservative wing of the party.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

“The Bush network is definitely there, and a lot of good feelings about both 41 and 43 and what they stood for — a lot of that translates to Jeb,” said Mark Langdale, former president of the George W. Bush Foundation who saw him in Dallas. “He had a great record in Florida. He’s somebody who could bring a lot of different groups together. He’s a thoughtful guy.”
"A thoughtful guy", now there's a phrase that's anathema to the Republican base. Jeb's first priority as president would be to further enrich the Bush family hierarchy but to do so he would have to be howling at the moon mad to please the base, a pose he can't pull off. But at least he has the support of his son Pee.

Happy Birthday High Bird, Last of the Crow War Chiefs.

He turns 101 today
and has a pretty damn good resume.
Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow in English or High Bird, his traditional name, in Crow.

“I was fortunate when I was growing up,” he said, after a lunch of stew, frybread and pie at the trading post’s cafe. “The Crow Indians were still retaining the culture, and they felt it was their duty to teach me to carry on the tribal heritage.”

In turn, he’s made it his duty to document and share it.

On Monday, Medicine Crow — tribal historian, storyteller, decorated World War II veteran, first in his tribe to attain a master’s degree, last to achieve the status of traditional Crow war chief and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom — turns 101. As he described in a recent letter to a longtime friend and colleague, “On Oct. 27, I will have seen 101 snows.”

And yet he still feels “young and strong.” The eldest in a tribe of more than 10,000 members whose communities are scattered across nearly 3,600 square miles of plains and mountains, he is perhaps as much beloved for his hold on history as he is for his humor.

“I go to powwows — I’m a powwow man — and I go to rodeos too,” he said, asserting at one point that he is just a mere 91 years young before his son, Ronny Medicine Crow, corrected him.

“You’re 101, remember?” he shouted, so the old man could hear. “Not 91.”

That is when Medicine Crow paused, met the eyes of family members gathered around and released a moment of laughter. “I tried to cheat,” he said, smiling, and then he continued, speaking of his “many, many fond memories of growing up a Crow Indian.”

While brief, Medicine Crow’s service in the U.S. Army during World War II has emerged as among the most celebrated Native American military experiences of the past century.

In 2009 the White House identified him as both “a warrior and living legend” when he was awarded, along with 15 others, the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, saying “history flows through Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow–High Bird.”

Since the war, Medicine Crow has maintained that he did not realize while serving that he had carried out the four warrior deeds, which include seizing an enemy’s weapon, coming into contact with him in hand-to-hand combat without taking his life, stealing an enemy’s horses and leading a successful war party.

The revelation came only after he returned home, when men of his grandfather's generation asked him to tell his stories from the 103rd Infantry Division.

He told of how he disarmed a German soldier during a raid and how in hand-to-hand combat he had his foe by the throat but spared his life in a moment of empathy. He told how he led six men up a hill under mortar fire at the German Siegfried line to retrieve explosives for his unit and how he raided a farmhouse corral with permission from his commanding officer and made away with German horses, leaving the Nazis without their steeds for escape.

While on horseback, he spontaneously broke into a Crow praise song, he said in his memoir, “Counting Coup,” published by National Geographic in 2006.
Happy Birthday Doctor.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Written in french with a curious twist in translation

When Michel Legrand wrote this the title translated as The Windmills Of My Heart but the English translation that Dusty Springfield sings here is called "The Windmills Of Your Mind". Perhaps it has meaning.

1%ers giving up passports rather than pay taxes.

And the numbers, still relatively small has increased since last year.
The number of Americans renouncing U.S. citizenship increased 39 percent in the three months through September after rules that make it harder to hide assets from tax authorities came into force.

People giving up their nationality at U.S. embassies increased to 776 in the third quarter, from 560 in the year-earlier period, according to Federal Register data published yesterday.

Tougher asset-disclosure rules that started July 1 under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, prompted more of the estimated 6 million Americans living overseas to give up their passports. The appeal of U.S. citizenship for expatriates faded further as more than 100 Swiss banks began to turn over data on American clients to avoid prosecution for helping tax evaders.

The U.S., the only Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nation that taxes citizens wherever they reside, stepped up the search for tax dodgers after UBS AG (UBSN) paid a $780 million penalty in 2009 and handed over data on about 4,700 accounts. Shunned by Swiss and German banks and with Fatca starting, more than 9,000 Americans living overseas gave up their passports over the past five years...

So far, 2,353 Americans have renounced their citizenship this year, close to the all-time high of 2,369 in the first nine months of 2013.
There is a certain boorishness in those preferring to take the money and run rather than support the country that made them wealthy. May they find their kind of happiness in their new countries.

The Horrors of Election Time

From the pen of Brian McFadden

The sweet smell of someone else's cash

The Washington Post recently ran a series on the lure of large cash amounts carried by innocent citizens for law enforcement. Now the New York Times is showing us that uniformed law enforcement are the only ones to enjoy this type of unjust but sadly legal feasting. It turns out the IRS has a similar authority that depend on even less justification.
For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.

“How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

The federal government does.

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.

The practice has swept up dairy farmers in Maryland, an Army sergeant in Virginia saving for his children’s college education and Ms. Hinders, 67, who has borrowed money, strained her credit cards and taken out a second mortgage to keep her restaurant going.
Continue reading the main story

Their money was seized under an increasingly controversial area of law known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement agents to take property they suspect of being tied to crime even if no criminal charges are filed. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited.

Critics say this incentive has led to the creation of a law enforcement dragnet, with more than 100 multiagency task forces combing through bank reports, looking for accounts to seize. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks and other financial institutions must report cash deposits greater than $10,000. But since many criminals are aware of that requirement, banks also are supposed to report any suspicious transactions, including deposit patterns below $10,000. Last year, banks filed more than 700,000 suspicious activity reports. Owners who are caught up in structuring cases often cannot afford to fight. The median amount seized by the I.R.S. was $34,000, according to the Institute for Justice analysis, while legal costs can easily mount to $20,000 or more.
You may be innocent until proven guilty, but your cash is guilty as hell. You can tell just by looking at it.

Thought for the Day

Saturday, October 25, 2014

An East Coast singer

Whose tour circuit fairly encompasses the the stopping points of her childhood, Amy Black sings "That Old Hurt" from her This Is Home album.

Just saying

With the year end holidays approaching

If you are comfortable and well fed have you thought of contributing to your local food bank? Not only do they provide food directly to people in time of need, but they are a major support of various soup kitchens and other feeding programs in this hugely wealthy/needy country of ours. You can give through Feeding America or directly to your local organization. If you are tapped out, you can always volunteer, they always need help.

Feeding America also has various corporate partners to boost their efforts, like Bank of America which will match every dollar donated with 2 of its own.

The difference between Japan and the US

From the pen of Signe Wilkinson

R.I.P. Jack Bruce

The Cream of British bassists.

A look at the current lack of character in America

Franco Ordonez, writing for McClatchy, examines the fragile state of the AMerican character in the face of the latest "crisis", Ebola. The disease may be ugly and deadly but the American reaction runs a close second.
The death of Crowl’s neighbor, Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient identified with Ebola in the United States, set off a wave of anxiety and fear across the country and political knee-jerking that’s becoming more and more familiar in the United States...

What happened next was predictably American: The public was rocked with nightmares about spreading microscopic viruses and bioterrorism, like the scares that followed anthrax, avian flu and H1N1 swine flu. Politicians, both Republican and Democratic, sought to score political points or prove they were willing to do more than anyone else should another case arise.

Hundreds of microphone-wielding journalists and their television cameras flooded into Dallas to speak with neighbors of Duncan’s and give minute-by-minute updates of the nurses and those who’ve been quarantined. At least two students from Nigeria who applied to a small Texas college were told they wouldn’t be admitted because of Ebola.

Elsewhere, a teacher from a Maine elementary school was placed on leave after parents worried she might have been exposed to Ebola during a trip to Dallas for an educational conference. Syracuse University rescinded an invitation to a Washington Post photographer over fears about his reporting trip to Liberia. In Washington, D.C., a bus was quarantined at the Pentagon when a passenger vomited in the parking lot.

When caught unprepared in a crisis, Americans have a tendency to see things in apocalyptic terms, said Allan Lichtman, a distinguished professor of history at American University in Washington, D.C. It may not be a uniquely American trait, but it’s one that appears we’re particularly conditioned to and bound to repeat.
Consider the panic of 300 million people over 8 cases in a nation with quality healthcare to the situation of the populations in West Africa currently dealing with the outbreak.
More than 5,000 people have died across West Africa, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. With many cases going unreported and United Nations estimates that infections could be doubling every three to four weeks, the fears are that cases might reach into the hundreds of thousands by the end of the year.
Probably the fact that first person to bring Ebola to the US was black had nothing to do with our reaction, certainly much less than Fox News and the GOP brains trust but one fact is obvious to does who aren't buying into the scare. The only thing we are fearing is fear itself.

Sam Brownback fucked the entire state

Bill Maher uses New Rules to destroy Sam Brownback and rip the pandering media that supports him.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fifty Freaking Years Ago

Petula Clark, already well known in Europe, hit the big time in the United States with "Downtown".

And you thought W was bad

From the pen of Ben Sargent

Paladino shines spotlight on real purpose of charter schools

Carl Paladino, erstwhile Teabagger candidate for governor of New York, redirected himself to running and winning a seat on the Buffalo Board of Education. Having done so, Crazy Carl proceeded to use that public office for his own profit, as if it were just another building project.
Ever since developer Carl Paladino joined the Buffalo School Board more than a year ago, questions have swirled about his financial interests in charter schools. In fact, Paladino has interests in six different charter schools in Buffalo and, undeniably, makes money on them.

“If I didn’t, I’d be a frigging idiot,” he said.

But whether that means Paladino draws huge profits from charter schools or has a conflict of interest in promoting charter schools in the city is a different question altogether.

The Alliance for Quality Education, a statewide organization that advocates greater support for traditional public schools, released a nine-page report today on Paladino’s charter school interests. The report – titled “Good for Kids or Good for Carl?” – questions Paladino’s ethics and profit-taking related to charter schools. An anti-Paladino and anti-charter school rally is planned at City Hall prior to tonight’s regular board meeting.

“The profit motive is a powerful force,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the alliance, “and Paladino has a clear conflict of interest. He could abuse his power for personal gain.”

In response, Paladino spent several hours with The News answering questions and reviewing his financial files on the charter schools in which he has a partial or full-ownership stake: Tapestry, Applied Technologies, West Buffalo, Health Sciences, Aloma D. Johnson and Charter School of Inquiry, which is slated to open next year.

He said charter schools account for only 2 percent of Ellicott Development’s holdings and that no other developers have charter school holdings because they’re too risky an investment. Charter schools are only guaranteed a life span of up to five years before they must apply to the state for a charter extension.

By Paladino’s own accounting, he has invested well over $20 million in project costs for these schools over the past five years.

He said he has made deals with charter schools because he believes in them and only seeks a return on investment of 10 percent.

“No other developer would risk their money this way,” he said, “because I’m totally insane.”
he is quite correct on that last statement. According to the .pdf of the NY State Office of the Comptroller which oversees local government and accountability, Crazy Carl is probably in violation of the law so the question becomes what are we going to do about it?

It's unfair to bottom feeders

To call the people preying on the Ebola fears of the many by hawking fake cures and protections by that name. In Nature, bottom feeders serve the function of cleaning up the environment. In society, the scammers are what needs to be cleaned up.
Scammers are cashing in on Americans’ Ebola panic by offering bogus “cures” and treatments containing everything from herbal oils and dark chocolate to silver and snake venom, federal officials say.

Some websites offer personal protection kits that include full body “germ protection suits,” rubber gloves, face masks, disinfectant spray and “natural” dietary supplements that sellers claim can prevent infection.

One such site, Dr. Rima Truth Reports, at, sold personal protection packs and family protection packs that included products called “Nano Silver” and “CBD organic dark chocolate bars.” The site advertised these supposed nutrients as nontoxic treatments for Ebola, citing what it described as research funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission sent a letter last month to the New Jersey company that runs the Dr. Rima website, Natural Solutions Foundation, warning that promoting silver or chocolate as a cure for Ebola was a violation of federal law.

In response to the letter, the company posted a statement online, arguing that the agencies have no authority to regulate its products.

“FDA has been itching to ban silver and other natural remedies for decades because they are cheap, effective, compete successfully with antibiotics and are safe for everyone,” said the statement.

The company then directed readers how to donate to its legal defense fund.

The letter was one of at least three such warnings the FDA and FTC sent last month to companies for advertising products that supposedly treat or cure Ebola, the virus that’s devastated communities in parts of West Africa and killed one man in the United States.

The other two companies, Young Living and dōTERRA International LLC, allegedly claimed that essential oils of cinnamon bark and oregano could ward off Ebola and other diseases, according to the letters.

There are no FDA-approved vaccines or cures for Ebola, and experimental drugs to treat the disease are in very early stages of development, the agency said in a consumer alert.
If a fool and his money are soon parted, then we are a country of fools. And those that use the fear of others to make money are the worst of a bad lot.

UPDATE: And the latest twist is using Ebola themed e-mails to spread malware viruses to your computer.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's time for "Another Ride"

Which just happens to be the name of this tune from New York based band Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds from their Pound Of Dirt album.

So, are you going to vote or not?

From the pen of Wiley

Republicans counting their chickens

And if you are not wealthy, oil & gas tycoon who can pay for his own health insurance but not his fair share of taxes you won't benefit from their control of Congress. As they anticipate that cursed event, the Republican/Teabaggers are reheating the same old tired proposals to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. And along the way they hope to rape the resouces of this country for a big and fast profit, but none for you.
The proposals would mainly benefit energy industries, reduce taxes and regulations for businesses generally, and continue the attack on the Affordable Care Act. It is a mix that leaves many economists, including several conservatives, underwhelmed.

“Some of those things will help,” Matthew J. Slaughter, an economics professor at Dartmouth College, said after reviewing nearly four dozen measures that House Republicans have labeled “jobs bills.” He cited some business tax cuts, for example, even as he cautioned about the cost of such actions.

“But,” added Mr. Slaughter, who served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, “it just struck me as sort of a compendium of modest expectations. If you ask me, ‘What’s your ballpark guess for how many jobs are going to be created?,’ it’s just not many.”

With the prospect of Republicans’ winning control of the Senate and maintaining control of the House in the midterm elections, interest is rising over what they would do to address what polls show is voters’ top concern: economic growth and jobs.

Speaker John A. Boehner has been promoting a roster of 46 House-passed jobs bills that Republicans say could finally make it to Mr. Obama’s desk if voters put them in charge of the Senate for the first time in the president’s tenure. On Twitter, Mr. Boehner’s hashtag for the initiatives is #StuckInTheSenate.

The list includes measures to approve the Keystone XL pipeline; expand offshore oil drilling; block federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”; and open national forests to timber companies. Also making the cut were more parochial measures, like water projects in central Oregon and in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and rules allowing business owners to record phone calls or meetings with federal regulators.
What the hell! This planet will be too far gone to support your kids and grandkids so we might as well get what we can now. Amirite?

So Ottawa was attacked by one gunman

Now consider that Canadian cities were attacked by several US armies, colonial and national, and never conquered. One soldier was killed in the initial attack and the gunman was stopped by one policeman doing his job. And now the Conservative Prime Minister, in a US style over-reaction, want to enact TOUGH surveillance and detention laws.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged more surveillance and detention powers for security forces in Canada on Thursday after a gunman killed a soldier and raced through parliament before being shot dead.

Addressing the House of Commons just meters from the spot where the gunman, a reported convert to Islam, was shot dead on Wednesday, Harper said lawmakers would expedite new powers to counter the threat of radicals.

"The objective of these attacks was to instill fear and panic in our country," Harper said. "Canadians will not be intimidated. We will be vigilant, but we will not run scared. We will be prudent but we will not panic."

Harper pledged to speed up a plan already under way to bolster Canadian laws and police powers in the areas of "surveillance, detention and arrest."
By and large, the laws planned serve mainly to re-enforce a sense of fear and panic on the populace, that are useful to Conservatives for electoral purposes but generally serve no public safety function. And Canada is achieving this without the benefit of Fux Nooz spew, which has been banned in Canada for its lies, on their TV's. Brilliant!!

The act of voting needs no reason

But if you must have one, try this.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

She wrote it, she sings it

With some help from her friend and erstwhile boss Mary Black. Eleanor McAvoy sings "Only A Woman;s Heart"

They never get tired of putting it on

From the pen of Tom Toles

Latest efforts to squeeze the poors

And perhaps, replace the many traditional industries by replacing them with a reborn usury industry, many states are making it easier to fuck over low income borrowers.
Over the last two years, lawmakers in at least eight states have voted to increase the fees or the interest rates that lenders can charge on certain personal loans used by millions of borrowers with subpar credit.

The overhaul of the state lending laws comes after a lobbying push by the consumer loan industry and a wave of campaign donations to state lawmakers. In North Carolina, for example, lenders and their lobbyists overcame unusually dogged opposition from military commanders, who two years earlier had warned that raising rates on loans could harm their troops.

The lenders argued that interest rate caps had not kept pace with the increased costs of doing business, including running branches and hiring employees. Unless they can make an acceptable profit, the industry says, lenders will not be able to offer loans allowing people with damaged credit to pay for car repairs or medical bills.

But a recent regulatory filing by one of the nation’s largest subprime consumer lenders, Citigroup’s OneMain Financial unit, shows that making personal loans to people on the financial margins can be a highly profitable business — even before state lending laws were changed. Last year, OneMain’s profit increased 31 percent from 2012.

“There was simply no need to change the law,” said Rick Glazier, a North Carolina lawmaker, who opposed the industry’s effort to change the rate structure in his state. “It was one of the most brazen efforts by a special interest group to increase its own profits that I have ever seen.”
Brazen is the new definition of commonplace it seems. And the poors get to take another one on the chin because every one knows they don't have a SuperPAC to buy legislators or even lobbyists to put in a good word for them. So goes another day in Paradise.

Why you should vote

Given that most Republicans wear this warning with a misplaced pride

This is a question you have to ask yourself


Four of the Blackwater mercenaries on trial for the Mansour Sq. killings in Iraq have been found guilty on most of the charges.
Four former Blackwater Worldwide security contractors were convicted Wednesday on charges stemming from a deadly 2007 shooting in Iraq.

Federal court jurors found one defendant guilty of murder and three others of manslaughter and weapons charges, roundly asserting that the shooting was criminal. The defendants showed little emotion as the lengthy verdict was read.

Seventeen Iraqis died when gunfire erupted on Sept. 16, 2007 in the crowded Nisour Square in Baghdad. The shooting inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad and helped solidify the notion that Blackwater, America’s largest security contractor in Iraq, was reckless and unaccountable.

The former contractors said that they were ambushed by insurgents and that civilian deaths were the unfortunate, unintended consequences of urban warfare.

The defendants were Blackwater guards. One of them, Nicholas A. Slatten, who the government said fired the first shots, was convicted of murder. The others — Dustin L. Heard, Evan S. Liberty and Paul A. Slough — were convicted on manslaughter and firearms charges.

The three men avoided murder charges after prosecutors missed a deadline and let the statute of limitations expire for all other charges.

Jurors in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia began deliberating on Sept. 2. They faced a complicated verdict form that ran 16 pages and required them to consider charges against each contractor for every victim. They asked few questions and offered no hints about their discussions.
Seven years later a verdict and we wait to see what the sentence will be. And those that profited mightily from these and other mercenaries are still enjoying their gains.

Record opium crop in Afghanistan

Before we invaded Afghanistan,
the Taliban had essentially eliminated opium production in all the areas they controlled. And if President Cheney and his W had not been so keen on war, we could have had bin-Laden given to us without a war. And now 13 years and too many deaths later, opium production is rising to new heights for the benefit of the Taliban.

Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has hit a record-high, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) wrote in a letter on Tuesday, calling into question the efficacy of the $7.6 billion U.S. counter-narcotics effort aimed at curbing the illicit trade – an important source of funding for the Taliban insurgency, and a major contributor to the country’s rampant corruption.

Afghan farmers grew a record 209,000 hectares of opium poppy in 2013, up from the prior record in 2007 of 193,000 hectares, according to the latest statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The country’s opium poppy cultivation was valued at $3 billion in 2013 – a 50 percent increase from the previous year – as Afghanistan continues to produce nearly 90 percent of the world’s supply.

Even worse, these figures are projected to climb as security deteriorates in rural Afghanistan and eradication efforts lose steam.

“In past years, surges in opium poppy cultivation have been met by a coordinated response from the U.S. government and coalition partners, which has led to a temporary decline in levels of opium production,” Special Inspector General John Sopko said in the letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry and other Obama administration officials.

“The recent record-high level of poppy cultivation calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of those prior efforts,” he wrote.

The record-setting year was hardly surprising. Since the U.S. forced the Taliban out of power in 2001, opium cultivation in Afghanistan has generally been on the upswing.

“All efforts at counter-narcotics in Afghanistan have failed,” said Jonah Blank, an Afghanistan expert at the RAND Corporation in Washington, D.C. “You can’t wage a counterinsurgency and conduct serious opium eradication at the same time. What you’re doing is impoverishing farmers, you’re saying, ‘Trust us, and by the way we’re going to destroy your crops and leave you with nothing.’”

Until 2009, Washington favored a more aggressive eradication approach that frequently had the exact opposite effect as intended, fuelling corruption at the local level. Since Afghanistan's central government is so weak, eradication programs were typically enforced or administered by the country’s powerful warlords, with the tiny fraction of crops that were eradicated usually belonging to their political enemies.

“So the U.S. military was in the business of enriching warlords at the expense of others and always at the expense of poor farmers,” said Blank.
We went from a dicey situation to the worst of all possible worlds thanks to the incompetence, stupidity and malice of a handful of conservatives who should all now be in Leavenworth, but they aren't. At least the heroin will be cheap.

John Oliver does it again

On his Sunday show he found and illuminated another of our country's Thousand Points of Shame. This one about the translators for our military that we are leaving behind for the Taliban to do with what they will.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Have I told you about Della Mae?

Just in case I haven't here is a recent video from the 2014 Pickathon Pumphouse Sessions in Portland, Oregon. The song is "Paper Prince" from their This World Oft Can Be album.

The Supreme Court gives value for money.

From the pen of Ben Sargent

Hitting .120 is bad in baseball

But not so bad if you are a drone in the Pakistan Target Zone. It seems that some people did the actual on the ground leg work necessary to identify in some way the victims of Droney and his friends.
KARACHI: A recent research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that only 12% of drone victims in Pakistan have been identified as militants. Moreover, the research also stated that fewer than 4% of the people killed have been identified as members of al Qaeda.

The research contradicts US Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim last year that only “confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level” were fired at.

The number of US drone strikes in Pakistan has hit 400 between June 2004 and October 2013.

Of the 2,370 people killed in these strikes, 704 have been identified, of which only 295 were reported to be members of some kind of armed group.

More than a third of them were not designated a rank, and almost 30% are not even linked to a specific group.

The Bureau has a project titled Naming the Dead, which has gathered the names and details of people killed by CIA drones in Pakistan since June 2004.

According to Mustafa Qadri, a Pakistani researcher for Amnesty International, the findings “demonstrate the continuing complete lack of transparency surrounding US drone operations.”

Responding to the Bureau’s investigation, US National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said that the strikes were only carried out when there was “near-certainty” that no civilians would be killed.

“The death of innocent civilians is something that the US Government seeks to avoid if at all possible. In those rare instances in which it appears non-combatants may have been killed or injured, after-action reviews have been conducted to determine why, and to ensure that we are taking the most effective steps to minimise such risk to non-combatants in the future,” said Hayden.
Looks like what we seek and what we get aren't in the same ball park.

Is sovereignty for nations or corporations

There is gold in El Salvador
and El Salvador is perfectly happy to leave it there. There is a mining company in Australia that believes it should be allowed to dig up and poison any part of the earth that contains gold and no one can stop them. They want to dig up El Salvador or get paid for their troubles, including 4 murders of the opposition.
Those who share Pineda’s views don’t care if El Salvador remains the proverbial beggar seated on a bench of gold. They say their densely populated nation cannot absorb environmental distress from mining.

Yet the choice is not theirs.

The fate of the El Dorado gold mine won’t be resolved anywhere near this tiny Central American country. Rather, it’s being weighed by a three-judge tribunal on the fourth floor of the World Bank headquarters in Washington.

Last month, the obscure court heard eight days of arguments over whether an Australian firm, OceanaGold Corp., will get a green light for the El Dorado project, or in its lieu receive $301 million in compensation. Sometime early in 2015, the tribunal, known formally as the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, will issue its ruling.

The unusual jurisdiction is a sign of how international investment laws are empowering corporations to act against foreign governments that curtail their future profits, sometimes through policy flip-flops. Critics say it’s giving trade tribunals leverage over sovereign nations and elected leaders who presumably reflect the will of their people.

The lawsuit could put El Salvador in a dilemma: Either allow OceanaGold to mine or pay the $301 million the company says it would’ve earned from the gold.

“For us, it is very tough that three judges will be deciding this case. They’ve never been here. They’ve never asked us what we want. It is really ugly that someone is deciding our future without asking our opinion,” Pineda said.

Suspicions run deep over the project, which has spawned violence. Four mining opponents were killed from 2009 to 2011. None of the homicides has been fully resolved.
El Salvador's loss of sovereignty is the result of one of those trade treatys that are all the rage these days. And the Hobson's Choice it faces is a small preview of what we can expect from future treaties of this kind.

The Glorious R.B.G does The Texas Poll Tax

Monday, October 20, 2014

A band from Norway that sings in English

With one funky bass and a lot of fun. Katzenjammer sings "Mother Superior"

Our National House of Horrors

Tom Tomorrow reports on the timely Republican scary, terrifying House of Lies. More frightening than any high school spook set up.

A correct diagnosis

From the pen of David Horsey

Want to keep the Homunculus out of the White House?

At this point, the easiest way is to do whatever you can to get Mary Burke elected governor of Wisconsin. According to all the political pundits, if Scott Walker can't win a second term it will blow the little Kochsucker's chances right out of the water.
In June 2012, the morning after Scott Walker became the first governor ever to survive a recall election, the talk of higher office began in earnest.

Some conservatives said his victory instantly placed him in the mix of potential Republican candidates for president in 2016. Then came a memoir, and then a trip with other potential candidates to a meeting widely understood to be an audition before Sheldon G. Adelson, the casino billionaire and top Republican donor.

But that was then.

Now Mr. Walker, 46, finds himself in a political corner, locked in a rough fight to hold on to his job. But as he battles Mary Burke — a Democrat who was once the state’s commerce secretary, appointed by former Gov. Jim Doyle, but barely known statewide until this campaign — Mr. Walker’s day job is not all that is at stake. His currency as a presidential contender will surely vanish if he cannot win a second term as the governor of Wisconsin.

Even as Republicans are buoyed by hopes of retaking the United States Senate, Mr. Walker has his back to the wall. So intense is the fight that the governor, who defined himself by clashing with labor unions, is pressing to get his political base to the polls. In a state that twice has picked Barack Obama, Mr. Walker might have pursued a more centrist strategy. Instead, he is talking tough, as he did the other day here in Green Bay, pacing around a truck garage, laying out his plan to drug test people seeking food stamps or unemployment benefits.
Will Wisconsin wake up from it's four year nightmare? We hope so because it is the best way to keep the nightmare from spreading to the nation.

Scared Cheap

Or maybe people are just using what funds they have to replace their soiled underwear and clothing. Whatever the cause, Ebola is not inspiring any charitable giving to help West Africa.
Charitable giving to address the Ebola tragedy is almost nonexistent, and the relief agencies that typically seek donations after a catastrophe are mostly silent. “Have you had any email solicitations?” asked Patrick M. Rooney, associate dean at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “If there had been an earthquake or tsunami, my question would be who had solicited you and how many times? Americans aren’t giving because they haven’t really been asked.”

Ever since terrorists took down the World Trade Center in 2001, Americans have generously supported the organizations that swing into action after earthquakes, floods, cyclones, mudslides and other disasters. Propelled by the Internet and cellphones, which make giving as easy as clicking a button, Americans have donated billions of dollars to help victims of the 2004 tsunami that devastated countries around the Indian Ocean, the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, and the 2010 Haitian earthquake, among other calamities.

But the Ebola crisis is different, charity officials and experts say, though it is hard to say exactly why. Perhaps it lacks the visual drama of a natural disaster. Or it is harder for people to understand what their money can do to fight a disease with such a high mortality rate and no sure treatment. It is not even clear that providing food, housing and protective equipment will have any impact — or how those things will get where they are most needed.

“It’s just been more difficult to raise money around this,” said David Whalen, chief development officer at Partners in Health, founded by the physician Paul Farmer to help bolster health care in poor regions.

For one thing, Mr. Whalen and others said, news media coverage of Ebola did not begin to ramp up until an American missionary and a doctor working for Samaritan’s Purse contracted the virus and were taken to Atlanta for treatment in early August. The Centers for Disease Control’s first notice about the current outbreak, noting 86 suspected cases in Guinea, drew little attention four months earlier.

In addition, charities initially had little or no operations in the stricken region for which to raise money, and there was hope that the outbreak would be contained.

Médecins Sans Frontières, known in the United States as Doctors Without Borders, was on the ground at that time, working to fight the disease. But the organization saw no uptick in fund-raising until late July, said Thomas Kurmann, director of development for the United States branch.
Maybe if we tell people that if we help them over there they will stay over there.

Having destroyed almost everything necessary

For a civilized existence,
the latest Gaza Redevelopment Plan relieves Israel from any responsibility for it and sets up a series of restrictive conditions that essentially allows Israel to maintain its illegal blockade of Gaza.
A massive U.N.-supervised project to rebuild Gaza got underway earlier last week, but officials in Gaza and Ramallah are already doubtful that it will bring immediate aid to residents of the battered strip. The reconstruction plan calls for a highly intricate monitoring system, with restrictive measures on the import and distribution of building materials.

This comes at the behest of the Israelis, who have long barred the entry of basic construction materials — including cement, metal pipes and steel — into Gaza, insisting that they are "dual use" items that Hamas could use to build underground tunnels for military purposes.

A new monitoring system will place security personnel and video cameras at distribution points for construction materials, and will vet both suppliers and buyers. And a central database, linked to the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs, but available to Israeli intelligence agencies, will track material entering the Gaza Strip.

The details of this deal were revealed in a document named the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, which outlined a U.N.-brokered agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Palestinian officials have said that Gaza will need almost $7.8 billion in aid to rebuild after the recent Israeli offensive, which lasted 51 days and left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead.

On Sunday Oct. 12, donors pledged $5.4 billion to rebuild the strip, but only $2.7 billion is slated for reconstruction; the rest will support the PA's budget over the next three years.

"It's not enough. Gaza has been destroyed many times since 2000, starting with the second Intifada," said Faisal Abu Shahleh, a senior Fatah member in Gaza. "Israel destroyed all of the infrastructure."

Throughout the war, more than 60,000 houses were destroyed or damaged, forcing one in four Palestinians in Gaza to flee. Around 110,000 people remain displaced.

Approximately 1,000 industrial enterprises, including factories, were also affected. Close to 2.5 million tons of rubble will need to be removed, according to a 72-page Gaza reconstruction plan presented to donors in Cairo.

The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism includes an Israeli-Palestinian-U.N. "high-level steering team" to oversee monitoring.

A spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry said the mechanism was designed to ensure reconstruction in Gaza is done without allowing Hamas to rebuild its military capabilities and "divert funds and products to violence."
There is no truth to the rumor that the IDF requested that bulls-eyes and GPS coordinates be painted on rooftops.

One raises our food...

The other just stinks.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Are you a 1 hit wonder if your song hits the charts twice?

This song made a small impression in 1977 when it was released but rose to #3 in 1982 when it found new listeners. Charlene sings "I've Never Been To Me".

Who do you belong to?

Not you personally, but your data as it is currently being collected in so many ways these days. Take for instance your whereabouts and driving patterns collected by police cameras along the roadways.
Monroe police have been using high-speed cameras to capture license plates in order to log vehicle whereabouts. As of July, the County’s database contained 3.7 million records, with the capability to add thousands more each day. The justification for cops having records of the whereabouts of law-abiding citizens is that the vehicles are driven in public and therefore drivers have no expectation of privacy. It’s an argument that’s at odds with the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in U.S. v. Jones. In Jones, a GPS tracking case, the court held that individuals do have an expectation of privacy when it comes to their long-term whereabouts, even when using public roads.

If cops are determined to violate this privacy, then at least they could behave more consistently. Last summer, Rochester, N.Y.’s Democrat & Chronicle filed a state open records request — more commonly called a FOIL (for Freedom Of Information Law) — for information on seven of its reporter’s license plates as well as two city and county government vehicles. After all, if such information is public when collected, why would it change merely because it’s sitting in a database?

Yet, the request was denied on the basis that releasing the data could be an invasion of personal privacy or could interfere with a law enforcement investigation. I’m skeptical of these arguments for a couple reasons. First, the reporters consented for the information to be released and the government cars belong to the public, so there is no privacy interest here. Second, the cameras are unrelated to any particular investigation. While it’s certainly possible to imagine a scenario where a criminal plots his entire movements to avoid the cameras, it feels a bit outlandish and it’s hard to see how that meaningfully compromises the cops’ ability to catch crooks.
What's mine is yours but now that it's yours, it's private.

Quote of the Day

If I get Ebola, I’m going to buy a lottery ticket.
Billy Willis, Carnival Magic passenger displaying refreshing understanding of the odds involved.

When you can't please any of those people at anytime.

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Lots of bodies, just not the right ones.

In the days since the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico a few things have changed. For the time being no new mass graves are being created, but the number of people murdered by whomever has greatly increased.
Five mass graves have already been discovered in the hunt for 43 students who disappeared last month after clashing with the local police — and another half dozen secret burial sites like this one are being tested to determine the origins of the remains inside.

Even with hundreds of soldiers, federal officers, state personnel and local residents on the trail, the search has still not confirmed what happened to the missing students. Instead, it has turned up something just as chilling: a multitude of clandestine graves with unknown occupants right on the outskirts of town, barely concealing the extensive toll organized crime has taken on this nation.

The students were reported missing after the local police, now accused of working with a local drug gang, shot to death six people on Sept. 26. Prosecutors say they believe that officers abducted a large number of the students and then turned them over to the gang. The students have not been seen since.

President Enrique Peña Nieto has declared the search for the missing students his administration’s top priority. But if anything, the hunt is confirming that the crisis of organized crime in Mexico, where tens of thousands are already known to have been killed in the drug war in recent years, may be worse than the authorities have acknowledged.

The federal government has celebrated official statistics suggesting a decline in homicides in recent months. But the proliferation of graves here in the restive state of Guerrero — including at least 28 charred human bodies that turned out not to be the missing students — has cast new doubt over the government’s tally, potentially pointing to a large number of uncounted dead.

Relatives of the students, who were training to be teachers and planning a protest against cuts to their college, agonize over the discovery of each mass grave. Some have given up searching on their own, convinced that a mafia of criminals and politicians knows where they are but are not saying.
Dead or alive their families want them back and someday maybe law and order in their society.

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