Sunday, May 31, 2015

She doesn't have a Wikipedia entry yet

But Liz Longley has worked hard on her songs and on the road and it shows in her latest eponymous album. She should get one soon. This song is "Memphis"

Cleaning up, one sport at a time

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Can the EPA squeeze more miles from Big Trucks

Not any puffed up pickups, but the real ones that haul goods all around this country. Having worked with industry to make new diesels cleaner than gasoline engines, the EPA wants to increase the mileage from a current average of 5/6 mpg to around 9 mpg, a huge jump for trucks.
This week, the E.P.A. is expected to propose regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks, requiring that their fuel economy increase up to 40 percent by 2027, compared with levels in 2010, according to people briefed on the proposal. A tractor-trailer now averages five to six miles a gallon of diesel. The new regulations would seek to raise that average to as much as nine miles a gallon. A truck’s emissions can vary greatly, depending on how much it is carrying.

The hotly debated rules, which cover almost any truck larger than a standard pickup, are the latest in a stack of sweeping climate change policy measures on which President Obama hopes to build his environmental legacy. Already, his administration has proposed rules to cut emissions from power plants and has imposed significantly higher fuel efficiency standards on passenger vehicles.

The truck proposals could cut millions of tons of carbon dioxide pollution while saving millions of barrels of oil. Trucks now account for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in the United States, even though they make up only 4 percent of traffic, the E.P.A. says.

But the rules will also impose significant burdens on America’s trucking industry — the beating heart of the nation’s economy, hauling food, raw goods and other freight across the country.

It is expected that the new rules will add $12,000 to $14,000 to the manufacturing cost of a new tractor-trailer, although E.P.A. studies estimate that cost will be recouped after 18 months by fuel savings.

Environmental advocates say that without regulation, the contribution of American trucks to global warming will soar.

“Trucking is set to be a bad actor if we don’t do something now,” Jason Mathers, head of the Green Freight program at the Environmental Defense Fund.

But some in the trucking industry are wary.

“I’ll put it this way: We told them what we can do, but they haven’t told us what they plan to do,” said Tony Greszler, vice president for government relations for Volvo Group North America, one of the largest manufacturers of big trucks. “We have concerns with how this will play out.”
All concerned have a long haul ahead of them.

Has Rand Paul got the nuts to pull it off?

Rand Paul has promised to stop the reauthorization of sections of the Patriot Act, including NSA's illegal phone spying on Americans. Because Mitch The Turtle has waited until the very last moment, this may be a lot easier than normal under Senate rules, which make obstruction very easy.
Sections of the Patriot Act governing the NSA’s mass surveillance program, including the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, are set to expire on June 1, at the stroke of midnight. The White House and its allies in the Senate are pushing to reauthorize the program before then, setting the stage for a major floor battle on Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a presidential candidate, vowed to force the bulk phone collection program to expire — and Senate rules allow him to do just that, at least temporarily.

"I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program," Paul said in a statement. "Sometimes when the problem is big enough, you just have to start over."

Senate members already made two unsuccessful attempts last week to reach a settlement: First by bringing to the floor a measure called the USA Freedom Act — which would have renewed the NSA’s authority while imposing some new limitations on its extent — and then by trying to push through a straight two-month extension of the agency’s statutory authority. Both those measures failed, causing Sunday’s last-ditch effort to pass some form of surveillance authorization.

The Obama administration is urging passage of the USA Freedom Act, which would eliminate NSA bulk collection and replace it with a system by which telecom companies hold onto their customers’ metadata, making it available to the government under particular, FISA court-approved circumstances. The House has already given its approval to the bill.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest emphasized “the need for the Senate to take decisive action to pass the USA Freedom Act” during a Tuesday press conference.

"They’re facing an important upcoming deadline, and the President is hopeful that for the sake of our country’s security and for the sake our citizens’ privacy that the Senate will meet that deadline,” said Earnest.

Independent studies of the NSA's data collection program have found little evidence that it has helped prevent attacks on the United States.
It has been found to be illegal by a federal judge and studies show it to be of little use. This can lead one to think the purpose of the law is no longer the stated one repeated by the authorities, ad nauseum. To which we must paraphrase Shakespeare from Macbeth and say Lay on Rand Paul and Damned be that first cries Hold! Enough!

Solar powered flight across the Pacific underway

In another first in the development of solar powered flight, the Solar Impulse has taken off from Nanjing, China to begin a 5+ day, 5000 mile flight to Hawaii.
It took longer than expected to find the right weather, but a Swiss pilot is now airborne attempting something never attempted before – flying a plane across the Pacific with no fuel, only solar power.

Andre Borschberg took off in the Solar Impulse Plane from Nanjing, China, at about 2:40 a.m. Sunday. If all goes well, he will land the slow-moving, solar-powered plane in Hawaii after five or six days, after traveling 5,000 miles across the Pacific.

After that, Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard is slated to fly the plane to Phoenix, once he finds a “weather window” that long eluded the team in China.

“Good flight to Hawaii, @andreborschberg my solar brother!,” Piccard tweeted soon after Borschberg departed. “Enjoy every moment of it!”

Swiss pilots Borschberg and Piccard are taking turns attempting to fly the one-seat plane around the world. The product of a decade of work and fundraising, the Solar Impulse plane gets its energy from 17,000 solar cells on its 236-foot wide wings.

In a previous interview, Borschberg described the challenges of the flying the plane, which has wings wider than those on a Boeing 747 but is lighter than a minivan.

“It is difficult to fly, especially at the beginning,” said Borschberg, 62, a former fighter pilot with the Swiss air reserve. With its lightness and wide wingspan, the plane reacts slowly to a change in controls, making it easy for a pilot to overcompensate, he said.

During his Pacific crossing, Borschberg will have to avoid cross-winds and any unexpected thunderstorms. He will also need to use techniques to maximize energy efficiency. To do that, the Solar Impulse pilots fly the plane high during the day and then slowly descend during part of the night, with the engines turned off.

The danger, however, is that if there are clouds in the morning, it can be difficult to recharge the plane’s batteries.

The pilots says they are prepared if, for whatever reason, they are forced to ditch the plane in the ocean. Each pilot carries a parachute and life raft and has been trained in ocean survival. The flight's progress can be tracked at
Good luck and good weather to them.

R.I.P. Joseph R. Biden III

The son of Vice President Biden loses his battle with cancer.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

A product of the Empire

And now living in the Home Island, Tanita Tikaram sang "Don't Let The Cold" on her 2005 album Sentimantal.

Soccer will never be as popular.

From the pen of Rob Rogers

Two more

When the Pentagon decides to send out anthrax surprises it uses people who can't count. Today the Pentagon announced that two more labs were blessed with active anthrax spores instead of the deceased variety.
The Pentagon said Friday that the Army’s mistaken shipments of live anthrax to research laboratories were more widespread than it initially reported, prompting the Defense Department’s second-ranking official to order a thorough review.

In a statement issued Friday evening, the department said 24 laboratories in 11 states and two foreign countries — South Korea and Australia — are believed to have received suspect anthrax samples.

The broadening scope of the problem suggests more extensive flaws in procedures used by the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah to ensure that anthrax samples were made fully inert before shipping them to labs. Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work on Friday ordered a comprehensive review of laboratory procedures associated with inactivating anthrax.

Dugway, in a desolate stretch of the Utah desert, has been testing chemical weapons since it opened in 1942.

Earlier Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said suspect samples from Dugway had been sent to 18 labs in nine U.S. states and a military base in South Korea. Later, the Pentagon said the Army may have mistakenly sent live anthrax to a laboratory in Australia in 2008.

CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said the agency is testing to see which anthrax samples were live. The results are coming in slowly, she said, and the first full set of findings isn’t expected until next week.
I guess this is better than killing some poor schmuck's sheep out there in Utah. But not by much.

Martin O'Malley is running for President

Before you say Who? or Why? read all about the newest Democrat in the race.
“Today, the American dream seems for so many of us to be hanging by a thread,” he said in formally announcing his candidacy before hundreds of supporters under a baking sun in Federal Hill Park in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, with the towers of the city’s downtown behind him.

“This is not the American dream,” he added. “It does not have to be this way. This generation of Americans still has time to become great. We must save our country now. And we will do that by rebuilding the dream.”

His aides say Mr. O’Malley is a true progressive, one who became involved early on the issue of same-sex marriage, and a scrappy underdog who takes to tough political fights. He staked out early ground on an immigration overhaul in 2014, accusing the Obama administration of heartlessness in deporting children who had crossed the border from Mexico.

But Mr. O’Malley was also a staunch supporter of Mrs. Clinton in her 2008 presidential campaign, and he rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime mayor in Baltimore, a city scarred by drugs and violence. In two years of travels to Iowa and New Hampshire, he has frequently been reluctant to discuss Mrs. Clinton or to draw a pointed contrast with her, doing so only obliquely — faulting unnamed politicians for “triangulation,” for example, a word associated with the Clintons’ up-the-middle political calculations since the 1990s.

It is also unclear whether Mr. O’Malley can aggressively raise funds without a devoted base of support, which Mr. Sanders can draw on, or a raft of major donors, which Mrs. Clinton enjoys. His aides have declined to say whether he has a single backer who would be willing to contribute millions of dollars to a “super PAC” to keep him afloat.

In his remarks on Saturday, Mr. O’Malley seemed to have made peace with that, as he portrayed the financial industry in harsh light.
With everybody jumping in so early, we may actually get a chance tolearn something about the candidates. We may also end up bored to tears, but we will just have to fight through that.

They put themselves under the gun

And some are questioning whether they have given themselves enough time to reach a workable agreement with dotted i's and crossed t's.
With only a month to go before a deadline for finalizing a nuclear accord with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry began a major push Saturday to conclude the agreement.

Mr. Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, met Saturday at a luxury hotel here for six hours of talks. It was the first high-level negotiating round since the two sides settled on the outline of an agreement on April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A State Department official described the session as “thorough and comprehensive” and said the negotiators were committed to staying on schedule “to get this done.”

But experts have begun to question the wisdom of negotiating against a deadline, especially because some major issues remain unresolved. Rushing an accord, they say, might work to Iran’s advantage by building pressure on the United States and its negotiating partners to make concessions.

“It is a tall order for them to finish by the end of June, especially to get the technical annexes done in sufficient detail to avoid implementation problems,” said Robert J. Einhorn, who served on the American delegation to the Iran talks until 2013. “The negotiators should take whatever time they need, even if it means working past June 30.”

Gary Samore, who was the senior National Security Council official on weapons of mass destruction during President Obama’s first term, said American officials should be prepared to negotiate through the summer.

“Tactically, it is better to extend the talks to demonstrate that we aren’t desperate for a deal at any cost,” said Mr. Samore, who is a member of the group United Against Nuclear Iran.
Our Secretary of State Old Horse Face Kerry believes that deadlines for negotiators to reach an agreement. Let's hope he doesn't stick to his beliefs to get any agreement rather than a good one.

Dead Nixon still the best GOP candidate.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Because The NIght

Patti Smith Group

Our Jesus is exceptional too

From the pen of Rebecca Hendin

Ready to roll out the Big Lie

After many, many GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare and sponsoring the most specious case the Supreme Court has ever entertained to try and kill it, the Republicans are facing the possibility of much of their base losing the health insurance they could finally afford. To deal with this potential disaster the Republicans are falling back on their tried and true response, lie like Hell and blame the Democrats. And they are grooming their media poodles to spread the lies.
The idea of Republicans blaming Democrats for millions losing subsidies would, in a way, be the perfect coda to the up-is-down, Conservative Entertainment Complex Hall of Mirrors saga that is King v. Burwell. Republicans cheered on this lawsuit explicitly as a way to accomplish what they failed to accomplish through the legislative and electoral process. The current plans for a temporary extension of subsidies that Republicans are floating would also repeal the individual mandate, and thus appear less designed as an actual fix, and more about drawing an Obama veto for the blame-game that will follow.

Meanwhile, Republicans have voted countless times to repeal all of Obamacare for all of its beneficiaries. Democrats will highlight this, and also draw attention to how easy it would be for Republicans to pass a simple one sentence fix that would make the subsidy problem disappear for millions of their own constituents — if they wanted to. Republicans themselves are saying they must come up with a temporary fix plan — or, at least, that they must appear to want to do that. Yet it’s not clear whether Republicans can pass even a fix packaged with a repeal of the mandate, let alone a clean temporary extension of subsidies.

That may ultimately compel Republicans to try for a Plan B. As I noted yesterday, the GOP default plan may be to pass nothing, and blame Obama for creating a law that resulted in the Court gutting health coverage for millions, after lulling all those people into a false sense of economic security that was then snatched away by his incompetence.

It’s possible we may see that in multiple Senate races as well. Are Democrats prepared for this?
How can one tell if the Democrats are prepared if the media will be buying the bullshit and running from the truth?

FIFA Mob Boss re-elected

In a move designed to minimize the bodies and keep the juice flowing, the member nations of FIFA re-elected long time FIFA Mob boss Sepp Blatter as president of the RICO enterprise.
With his leadership in the balance, the embattled chief of world soccer called for patience Friday to confront the “storm” touched off by American-led allegations of deep-rooted corruption among some of the sport’s top overseers.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has not been directly implicated in the probes by U.S. and Swiss authorities into accusations including bribes-for-votes for the right to host the sport’s grand prize, the World Cup.

But prosecutors have suggested that the investigations could dig deeper, and Blatter’s critics have called for a change at the top before a scheduled vote later Friday in Zurich on whether to keep the 79-year-old president, who has led the world’s most popular sport since 1998.

Blatter has rejected calls to step down, but pressure has spilled beyond the ranks of FIFA.

During a visit to Berlin, British Prime Minister David Cameron said it was “unthinkable” that Blatter should remain in charge amid the corruption allegations, and he urged Blatter to step aside. “The sooner that happens the better,” Cameron said.
Thanks to support from member countries in Asia and Africa, where business laws and ethics are nonexistent, Sepp had no trouble winning re-election.

It took long enough

But as the United States slowly recovers from its Cuban delusion, it has taken the next step by removing Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list.
The Obama administration on Friday removed Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, a crucial step in normalizing ties between Washington and Havana and the latest progress in President Obama’s push to thaw relations between the United States and the island nation.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry rescinded Cuba’s designation as a terrorism sponsor at the end of a 45-day congressional notification period, which began on April 14 when Mr. Obama announced his intention to remove Cuba from the list.

The move “reflects our assessment that Cuba meets the statutory criteria for rescission,” Jeff Rathke, the State Department spokesman, said in a statement.

“While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions,” Mr. Rathke said, “these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation.”

The action comes amid signs of difficulty in the negotiations between American and Cuban officials to bring about the historic reopening Mr. Obama announced in December. Despite widespread optimism, officials failed last week to reach an accord on re-establishing diplomatic relations and opening embassies.
The United States remains on that list.

Some police are smarter than others

Thursday, May 28, 2015

She wasn't really born in South Florida

It just a lyric in Rebecca Loebe's song "The Chicago Kid" from her last album Circus Heart.

The Sanctity of Marriage

From the pen of David Horsey

Geezers are liking Bernie

Perhaps because they remember what was really good in the old days. Perhaps it is his stand for increasing Social Security and fixing Medicare. Or maybe both, but whichever it may be, it is striking a resonant note in older voters at his campaign stops.
Mr. Sanders, an independent from Vermont, is running an insurgent’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president, but to spend time with him on the trail is almost to travel back in time: He sprinkles his remarks with “50 years ago” or “40 years ago” as he reminds his audiences of the progress in the United States on race relations or gay rights.

At one point during his remarks in Epping, Mr. Sanders drew a “yes” from Nina Capra Jordan when he commented that back in the first half of the 20th century, the University of California campuses, the City College of New York and other elite institutions charged little or no tuition. (Mr. Sanders wants to eliminate tuition at public universities nationwide and pay for it largely with revenue from taxes on Wall Street stock trades.)

Older voters seem to be responding. Some, facing financial strains now, seem especially drawn to the senator’s evoking of an earlier era’s more generous government and strong safety net.

“He’s like F.D.R.,” Marlene Gilman, 80, whispered excitedly in Concord, N.H., as Mr. Sanders pledged to create more jobs through a trillion-dollar public works program — a plan that echoes President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

At a campaign rally in Vermont on Tuesday and at three events in New Hampshire, including a town-hall-style gathering in Portsmouth that drew roughly 600 people, older voters made up a sizable minority of the crowds.

Their visibility at his events has been striking because Mr. Sanders’s unabashedly progressive message, calling for a “political revolution” to tax the rich and redistribute income, often appeals to idealistic young Americans who do not pay much in the way of taxes. Even some of these older voters said they were a little surprised to be responding to the fiery, man-the-barricades exhortations of Mr. Sanders. But if young people and African-Americans identified with Barack Obama during his presidential run in 2008, older Americans said that Mr. Sanders had struck a deeply personal chord with them.

“I don’t think he’s too old — he’s articulate and on the ball,” said Leslie Dundon, a 71-year-old from Manchester, N.H. “And look, the older you get, the more you realize that life has actually taught you something, and you have something to contribute.”
With 16 months to go before the election, Bernie will continue to make a deep impression on people who have memories of when America was a real paradise.

Really? Who is a saint?

That is a question that the Catholic Church should examine closely as they consider sainthood for Father Junipero Serra. On the one hand, the good Father is celebrated for establishing the early missions in California and converting thousands of Native Americans. On the other hand he is reviled for the devastation he brought, with the help of Spanish soldiers, to those tribes.
Tribal chairwoman Louise Miranda Ramirez of the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation joined members of several Native American groups in a protest on Easter Sunday at the historic Carmel Mission in Northern California, once the headquarters of the mission system founded by Franciscan priest Junipero Serra, who is buried there.

The gathering sought to honor their ancestors buried at the landmark mission and protest plans to canonize Serra, the devout Franciscan priest who converted thousands of previously uncontacted Indians to Catholicism, forcibly stripping them of their kinship ties, culture and languages in the process.

“We lost everything” because of Serra, said Miranda Ramirez, who traces her ancestors directly to the Carmel Mission. “We were not allowed to be with our people. … We lost contact with cousins … We lost the family ties … Our language was gone.”

She is now among hundreds of tribal activists the length of California stepping up opposition to the decision by Pope Francis to canonize the Mallorca-born priest as the centerpiece of his first visit to the United States as pontiff in September.

Dubbed by Francis the “evangelizer of the West,” Serra arrived in what was then Alta California from Mexico (then New Spain) in 1769, and founded the first of 21 missions that would reach from San Diego to San Francisco.

The missions sought to spread the Catholic faith and played a key role in the push to colonize the territory for the Spanish crown. By the time of Serra’s death in 1784, the missions he founded had baptized about 6,000 Indians, rising to 80,000 for the mission system as a whole in the five decades before they were secularized in the 1830s.

In a homily earlier this month, Pope Francis hailed Serra as one of the “founding fathers of the United States” who “defended the indigenous peoples against abuses by the colonizers.” He plans to make Serra the first Hispanic U.S. saint during a September visit to Washington in a gesture that is seen by the Catholic Church as key to strengthening ties with U.S. Latinos...

But descendants of tribes converted by Serra and his Franciscan missionaries are crying foul. They charge that the Spanish friar decimated the population of the state's Indians, who were forced to live and work in disease-ridden missions. They were made to adopt Catholicism as well as the Spanish language and customs, while Serra himself condoned the whipping and shackling of those who resisted.

“Native people were a thriving people before Serra reached these shores. They had their own culture, their own life ways. They were able to produce food for themselves,” said Theresa Harlan, an independent curator of Native American art who took part in a recent protest at Mission Dolores in San Francisco. “The mission system dehumanized and destroyed those life ways.”
There is no question that he established the Church in California, but there is also no question that dogs were treated better that the indigenous population in Spanish California. So what really makes someone a saint? Is it just ecclesiastical politics?

And people say Bernie doesn't have a chance?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Almost Nanci

Kathy Mattea has done more than a few Nanci Griffith tunes and done them justice. "Going, Going, Gone"

Another new word

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

One more time!

What has to be the largest Pentagon procurement failure to date will make one more attempt to prove it can fly. The F-35 is making another debut as a flying vehicle for the Marines off the shores of North Carolina.
It has wound a tortured path to get here. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been derided as a trillion-dollar boondoggle, the “plane that ate the Pentagon,” a failed project billions over budget and years behind schedule that should be killed.

And yet here it was Tuesday, the sun glinting off its wings on a beautiful day as it approached this amphibious assault ship for a landing 100 miles off the North Carolina coast. It nestled in undaunted, touching down vertically like a helicopter onto the deck. Crews rushed around in a well-scripted choreography, getting ready to usher it off the ship again. And with the pilot’s salute from the cockpit, and a thunderous rush toward the horizon, it was off again over the deep blue water.

For the Marine Corps, the flights the F-35s have been taking around the USS Wasp for the past week have been as much a victory lap as they were training exercises. And in the days ahead, as the stealthy fighter jets begin their first operational tests from a ship — tactical exercises designed to simulate Top Gun-like engagements — the Marine Corps will move one step closer to declaring that the F-35 is ready for combat.

When exactly that day will come is still uncertain; the Marines are pushing to have an initial fleet of 10 planes ready to fight sometime in July. And there is still more testing, inspections and nit-picking to be done for the $400 billion program...

The F-35, built by Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, comes in three versions, for the Marine Corps, the Navy and the Air Force. The Air Force’s variant is expected to be declared ready for combat sometime late next year. The Navy’s variant is scheduled for that in late 2018 or early 2019.

While Pentagon officials say the program is largely back on track, there continue to be problems with the software of the plane, which is often referred to as a flying computer. Most recently, there were problems with the software that gathers information, such as targets, the location of the enemy, and then shares it among the F-35s flying together in formation.

If two jets are flying together, they can share the information without a problem. But when there are more flying together, the problems occur, which can “create an inaccurate picture for the pilot,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the joint program executive officer.

And last summer, an engine fire forced the Pentagon to temporarily ground the entire fleet while investigators figured out what went wrong.
So the Flying Brick can get off the ground or deck but as yet it is unable to perform its missionbecause it is totally dependent upon its computers and the software hasn't caught up to the promises yet. This magnificent and monstrously expensive piece of junk has been in development since 1996. Compare that to the 102 DAYS between contract and prototype for the P-51 Mustang which was good enough to take on multiple missions in WW II. It is probably safe to say the F-35 program has developed more rich Lockheed executives and Pentagon generals that usable examples.

DoJ brings indictments against Sepp Blatter Crime Family

To most people the organization is known as FIFA, the French abbreviation for the International Federation of Association Football, but as most soccer/football fans also know, it has for years been a monumental criminal enterprise run by Sepp Blatter and enriching its made members hugely. The DoJ in cooperation with Swiss and other European authorities has filed 14 indictments against FIFA officials and at least two associated companies.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch accused soccer’s world governing body Wednesday of deep-rooted corruption that allowed members and related firms to enrich themselves through bribery and kickbacks “year after year, tournament after tournament.”

Lynch outlined U.S. complaints against the sport’s powerful overseers, known as FIFA, hours after a stunning series of indictments and arrests, including a roundup in which Swiss authorities led top FIFA officials from a luxury hotel in Zurich.

At least one suspect was shielded from journalists by a white sheet as he boarded a waiting car.

Moments earlier in New York, the Justice Department had unsealed a 47-count indictment charging 14 world soccer figures, including officials of FIFA, with racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud totaling more than $150 million. FIFA is the French abbreviation for the International Federation of Association Football, the global governing body of soccer.

Four of those accused, including two sports marketing companies, have already pleaded guilty and are likely to be cooperating...

Attorney General Loretta Lynch accused soccer’s world governing body Wednesday of deep-rooted corruption that allowed members and related firms to enrich themselves through bribery and kickbacks “year after year, tournament after tournament.”

Lynch outlined U.S. complaints against the sport’s powerful overseers, known as FIFA, hours after a stunning series of indictments and arrests, including a roundup in which Swiss authorities led top FIFA officials from a luxury hotel in Zurich.

At least one suspect was shielded from journalists by a white sheet as he boarded a waiting car.

Moments earlier in New York, the Justice Department had unsealed a 47-count indictment charging 14 world soccer figures, including officials of FIFA, with racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud totaling more than $150 million. FIFA is the French abbreviation for the International Federation of Association Football, the global governing body of soccer.

Four of those accused, including two sports marketing companies, have already pleaded guilty and are likely to be cooperating...

Lynch and other U.S. officials, including FBI director James B. Comey, also suggested the indictment may not end the investigations into FIFA corruption – long rumored around the world, but rarely pursued by authorities on a major scale until now.

That keeps open speculation of probes reaching higher and wider into the organization, whose 79-year-old president, Swiss-born Sepp Blatter, wields influence on par with a head of state or top diplomat in some parts of the world.

Blatter, who is not implicated in the indictments, faces re-election Friday and is expected to win handily over a lone opponent despite the fallout from the charges.
That Blatter is expected to win re-election is an indication of how well he has spread the wealth. The hints at future investigations are a welcome sign to fans who want a clean sport.

GOP Uber Clown Car gets another rider

As with all the previous riders, this one was anticipated, it was just a matter of which day it would happen. Rick Santorum, who is as Charlie Pierce so often says, a real dick, has announced he wants to make another futile effort to win the White House.
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Christian conservative, will announce on Wednesday that he will make another run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 after a failed attempt in 2012, according to ABC News.

Santorum, a senator from 1995 to 2007, will make the announcement near his childhood home in Cabot, Pennsylvania, later in the day. ABC News said it had scheduled an interview with the candidate.

A representative for Santorum was not immediately available to comment on the report.

In the 2012 Republican race, Santorum won Iowa's kickoff contest and a string of later primaries with strong support from voters drawn to his social and religious conservatism and wary of the more business-oriented Mitt Romney.

Santorum outlasted other White House hopefuls to become the last remaining challenger to Romney, who ultimately captured the 2012 Republican nomination.

Santorum, whose support has languished in the low single digits in most polls ahead of the 2016 race, faces a stronger and potentially larger field of Republican hopefuls this time.

He is the seventh Republican to formally declare a bid for the nomination, joining a group that includes U.S. senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Other candidates expected to jump in the race in the coming months include former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
For the record, Rick Santorum, who gave his name to that frothy mix of fecal matter & lubricant that oozes out after anal sex, is neither the first dick nor will he be the last dick to enter the GOP ring.

True to his principles

Bernie gets it right to begin with.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

They have been around since 1979

And this Sicilian group has had enough members to now have two groups using the Agricantus name. I am not sure which group or album this is from but "Spunta Lu Suli" is the name of the tune.

Bad Intelligence isn't always what it seems

And Tom Tomorrow shows us how even the brightest minds of our times can be fooled.

R.I.P. Anne Meara

What a nice Catholic girl did with that Jewish lad was brilliant and so much more.

Duggar Family loses it after Josh revealed as serial incest rapist.

Their defense of the pervert is over the top. Here, Here, Here and Huckabooboo too

And in the end.

Extended Weekend session

Brandi Carlile

Monday, May 25, 2015

Extended weekend session


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Extended Weekend session

Ella Fitzgerald

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Extended Weekend session

Linda Ronstadt

Friday, May 22, 2015

Extended weekend session

Larkin Poe

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Going Out For The Extended Weekend

So enjoy an Extended Play Session with Amelia White, a mix of interview and good music.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When your hometown paper compares you to Emmylou

You got a tough row to hoe ahead of you. Whether she will match the hype remains to be seen but Barbara Jean is worth a listen to as she sings "Flesh And Bones" from her first album The Great Escape

It's just not the same

From the pen of Mike Lukovich

R.I.P. Happy Rockefeller

Your divorce and his divorce so you could marry kept Nelson from the White House in a time before Family Values Republicans let politicians flaunt their mistresses.

If only there was a way to punish them

Five major Banksters
are set to be fined $5.7 Billion for rigging currency rates among themselves and making profits far in excess of their fines.

A group of global banks will pay more than $5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to rigging the world's currency market — the first time in over two decades that major players in the financial industry have admitted to criminal wrongdoing.

JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Barclays and The Royal Bank of Scotland conspired with one another to fix rates on U.S. dollars and euros traded in the global market for currencies, according to a resolution announced Wednesday between the banks and the Department of Justice. A group of currency traders, who called themselves "The Cartel," allegedly shared customer orders through chat rooms and used that information to profit at the expense of their clients.

The resolution is complex and involves multiple regulators in the U.S. and overseas.

The four banks will pay a combined $2.5 billion in criminal penalties to the DOJ for criminal manipulation of currency rates between December 2007 and January 2013, according to the agreement. The Federal Reserve is slapping them with an additional $1.6 billion in fines, as the banks' chief regulator. Finally, British bank Barclays is paying an additional $1.3 billion to British and U.S. regulators for its role in the scheme.

Another bank, Switzerland's UBS, will pay a separate criminal penalty of $203 million for breaching a 2012 non-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.

The fines announced on Wednesday follow agreements in November with many of the same banks over currency trading.
The guilty plea is interesting, but useful only if they get caught again when they go back to their old ways. Then someone might add up their strikes and declare them out, in a perfect world.

Only 3?

After 13 years of pouring money down a rathole
, the US Watchdog in Afghanistan has found three, as in 3, Army officers that should be disciplined for wasteful spending over there.
The U.S. government’s Afghanistan spending watchdog has recommended that three senior Army officers – a lieutenant general, a major general and a colonel – be disciplined for their role in the construction of a $36 million sprawling command center at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan that has never been used.

In an audit released on Wednesday, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says that the officers pushed the construction project over objections of commanders in the field, failed to carry out a proper internal investigation, and were guilty of ethical, legal and professional lapses.

It’s the first time the U.S. government’s independent watchdog in Afghanistan has recommended disciplinary action against such high-ranking military officers.

“This is one of the most outrageous, deliberate, and wasteful misuses of taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan we’ve ever seen,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the top-ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

“When it was clear this building wouldn’t be used, and when three commanders requested its cancellation, the Army not only built it anyway but completely failed to hold any officials accountable after all the facts came to light — so I’ll now be fully expecting answers from the Army,” McCaskill said in a statement.
One building, 3 officers but not a word about the whole fucking war as a waste of money.

To those who indulge in Not Science.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

She's Not Singing About The Triple Crown

When Diana Jones sings "All My Money On You" from her album Remembrance Of You

Some species migrate all year round

From the pen of Matt Davies

Some people are just disgusting

And one category would be those who abuse the charitable nature of most Americans to enrich themselves. Four cancer charities have been accused of fraud for doing just that, asking for money for a good cause and living the high life from the proceeds. And the four charities are all connected to the same source.
The Federal Trade Commission and all 50 states on Tuesday accused four cancer charities of being “sham charities,” charging that the groups had deceived donors and spent more than $187 million in donations on personal expenses, in one of the largest charity fraud cases ever.

In soliciting donations through telemarketing calls and direct-mail, the F.T.C. complaint says, the charities described specific uses for the money they solicited, like transporting patients to and from chemotherapy or purchasing pain medication for children. “These were lies,” the complaint says, and the money went to the people running the charities for expenses like gym memberships, college tuition and dating website subscriptions. “Donations have enriched a small group of individuals.”

The charities — the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society — were created and controlled by the same network of people and led by James Reynolds Sr., the F.T.C. says.

Together with attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the F.T.C filed suit against those organizations on Monday in the United States District Court for Arizona, also naming Mr. Reynolds and some of his relatives and associates as defendants.

According to the complaint, Mr. Reynolds devised the fund-raising scheme in 1987 and recruited his son, friends and members of his church congregation to participate in the years that followed. The F.T.C.’s finding of $187 million in misspent donations reflects the charities’ activity from 2008 to 2012. In that time, the charities spent less than 3 percent of donations on cancer patients.
Raising $187MM and only passing on 3% of that to those supposed to benefits. Times like this make me wish we could bring back the whipping post. For the abuse of the good hearts of Americans, the perps of this could do with 12 lashes in each of the states they operated in.

Governor Perry is still the only one

At this time Governor Rick Perry, who is expected to announce his run for the White House on June 4, is still the only Republican candidate who is under actual indictment.
The former Texas governor has set June 4 in Dallas for an announcement about his intentions to run. But unlike the more than a dozen other Republicans who are either in the presidential race already or on the verge, he has another factor at play.

Hanging over his head is an indictment in Texas on charges of abuse of power when he was governor.

Perry, who says the charges are baseless and politically motivated, had expected to be able to kill the indictment by now. His high-powered legal team has been engaged in a frenetic effort to have the two-count indictment, handed down last August, thrown out.

The presiding judge, a Republican, has repeatedly refused to do so and lawyers are waiting on a recently empaneled Texas appellate court for a hearing. In addition, there’s speculation in legal circles on whether one of the three judges, a close Perry ally, might recuse himself.

In the latest filing, May 13, Perry’s attorneys urged the court to “speedily grant” relief. But it’s unlikely that a hearing or a decision will come anytime soon, certainly not before Perry’s presidential rollout next month, say legal experts.

“He’s been furiously trying to get this indictment dismissed,” said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a political watchdog group that filed the original complaint against Perry. “There’s no way in hell” any decision would be made by June, he said.

At issue is a threat Perry made as governor to veto funding for the state’s public integrity unit unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, resigned after being arrested for drunk driving. She pleaded guilty – the arrest and booking videotape shows her being belligerent to officers – but refused to resign, and Perry vetoed the funding.

He’s charged with two felonies, abusing his office and coercing a public servant. The special prosecutor charged in a February filing that Perry wanted “to stymie” the integrity unit, which was investigating some of the governor’s programs.
No doubt the indictment gives him cred with the hard core base of the party, but to real Americans, it makes a mockery of the electoral process. It's a good thing ol' Good Hair isn't smart enough to win outside of Texas.

Bernie on the Middle East

Monday, May 18, 2015

From the Heart of Downtown Minnesota

Davina & The Vagabonds "Lipstick and Chrome"

Is this the end of Sparky?

Tom Tomorrow loses a character while punching up. Proving that all critics can be serious even when they don't know what they are talking about.

What goes around, comes around

From the pen of Bill Day

Hey! I'm Over Here! Look At Me!

In an effort to make someone, anyone interested in him as a possible presidential candidate, Miss Lindsey Graham has announced that on June 1 he will declare whether he will throw his best Sunday bonnet in the ring or not.
"I will make an announcement on June 1st. You're all invited to come -- spend money when you do -- and I will tell you what I’m going to do about running for president," Graham said on CBS "This Morning."

Although Graham initially declined to say if he is running when asked by the CBS hosts, he nonetheless indicated he is pursuing the GOP nomination – potentially declaring his candidacy ahead of schedule.

"I'm running because of what you see on television. I'm running because I think the world is falling apart. I've been more right than wrong on foreign policy," Graham said. "It's not the fault of others, their lack of this or that that makes me want to run. It’s my ability in my own mind to be a good commander in chief and to make Washington work. “

Graham formed an exploratory committee, Security Through Strength, in January and has been staffing it as he prepares for what looks increasingly like it will become a full-fledged run for president. Graham told South Carolina state lawmakers last week that he's "99.9 percent sure" he's going to run.
Someone bring the smelling salts in case Miss Lindsey has the vapors from all the excitement.

In Texas a worker is worth $24,250

That is the per capita figure that OSHA fined the DuPont Corp for failing to provide the necessary safety equipment and training. When 4 workers died at one of DuPonts pesticide plants, OSHA, in its wisdom, decided to fine DuPont $99,000.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) blamed the chemical company DuPont for failing to maintain the safety of workers, a failure that it says led to the death of four workers in November.

The plant manufactures the pesticide Lannate in La Porte, Texas. On the day of the accident, a worker opened a vent line for the poisonous gas methyl mercaptan and unexpectedly released the gas into the air. She died, as did the three workers who tried to come to her aid. None of them were wearing protective respirators, OSHA says.

Those workers “would be alive today had their employer, DuPont, taken steps to protect them,” according to the release announcing the end of the investigation. “Four people lost their lives and their families lost loved ones because DuPont did not have proper safety procedures in place,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. “Had the company assessed the dangers involved, or trained their employees on what to do if the ventilation system stopped working, they might have had a chance.”

OSHA cited the company for 11 safety violates and fined it $99,000. The company has a market capitalization of $63.6 billion and made $34.7 billion in revenue last year. OSHA also identified “scores” of upgrades it has to undertake to prevent future accidents at the plant.

But regulators also let the plant and its safety failures slip through the cracks. It hadn’t been inspected by OSHA since 2007, when it was issued two serious violations for safely managing highly hazardous chemicals and fined $1,700 for one and $1,800 for the other, although the latter was later reduced. It was also out of compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s hazardous waste management and air emissions standards, and the agency brought enforcement actions for violations in 2012 and 2014, which resulted in $117,375 in penalties. And the plant was cited for violating state law at least two dozen times over the last five years for failures related to safety inspections, keeping equipment in working order, and preventing pollution leaks, some of which resulted in fines of a few thousand dollars.
As long as the fines make it cheaper, or as management likes to say "cost effective", to ignore safety equipment and training than to implement it, these accidents will continue to occur and we will continue to see how little value our Masters put on our lives.

White Anglo-Saxon Privilege

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Another one who missed the gold ring

Maria McKee has a degree of success with the cowpunk band Lone Justice and when she made her solo debut but never as much as her fans think she deserved. From her solo debut album one of the many songs she has written, "Panic Beach"

When old faiths die, new ones are born.

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Enjoy those berries

They come to a store near you at low prices thanks to the miracle of underpaying Mexican laborers for their work. But those same Mexican workers are now saying, No Mas!
Since March, thousands of day laborers have blocked roads, staged marches and held meetings with lawmakers to protest the grind of picking strawberries, raspberries and blackberries in the Baja California peninsula for what they say is as little as $1 an hour.

Perfecto is part of a growing underclass whose frustration over pay and conditions is pressuring companies that supply U.S. markets to make improvements.

At least one company told Reuters it would reexamine its suppliers' treatment of workers.

Kevin Murphy, CEO of U.S. fruit company Driscoll's, said his company was reevaluating standards in the wake of the fruit picker protests, and was going to audit living conditions.

"We're going to go back and look at them again and reevaluate them and put in some improvements," Murphy said...

"If you're ill, or cut yourself in the fields, they don't pay the day (if you are out for treatment)," he said, flanked by plastic bags dangling from the low roof that serve as storage for their belongings, a few threadbare clothes and blankets.

"You keep quiet, and keep working covered in blood," added Perfecto, a 38-year-old whose main diet consists of refried beans or flour tortillas sprinkled with salt.

In the last few months, laborers have expressed increasing anger over conditions that even some conservative Mexican media have characterized as "near slavery"...

The boom in sales, meanwhile, has enabled fruit companies to pay above the minimum wage, which in Mexico is 70.1 pesos ($4.57) a day.

On average, Perfecto picks around 110 kg (243 lbs) of strawberries a day, and up to 200 kg (440 lbs) in high season, he said. Across the border in the United States, a kilo of strawberries fetched $5.19 on average in 2013, according to U.S. government data.

But Perfecto said he earns between 850 and 1,200 pesos ($56-$79) in a week that regularly exceeds 50 hours, roughly between $1 and $2 an hour.

Five of some three dozen workers interviewed by Reuters showed payslips reflecting earnings of between 782 pesos ($51.10) and 1,210 pesos ($78.80) per week. The slips did not provide a clear breakdown of the hourly compensation.

When asked how much it paid per kilo, a representative for BerryMex, one of Driscoll's suppliers, stated only that workers had an "average earning opportunity" of $5 to $9 an hour with top workers making up to $10 per hour.

This, BerryMex added, resulted in average weekly earnings of 3,600-7,200 pesos ($238-$476) in a 48-hour week.
No doubt the difference is in the many deductions, like healthcare and retirement and such. Ya think!

They just don't think it through

With the result that many of the failed ideas of the RWNJ's that they so eagerly put into law run smack into a superior statute designed to prevent idiots from doing what they so enjoy doing, being stupid. Take this example from the Failed State of Kansas.
A first-of-its-kind provision that prevents welfare recipients in Kansas from withdrawing more than $25 a day from an ATM might violate federal law, and could jeopardize the state’s federal funding if not amended.

The Social Security Act requires states to ensure that recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, “have adequate access to their cash assistance” and can withdraw money “with minimal fees or charges.”

At stake is about $102 million in TANF block grant funds that Kansas receives every year from the federal government.

The state’s controversial ATM limit was added as an amendment to a welfare overhaul bill signed in April by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican. The new law also bars welfare recipients from spending their benefit money at certain places, including movie theaters, massage parlors, cruise ships and swimming pools. It also sets stricter eligibility requirements and shortened the amount of time people can receive assistance.

Brownback said in an interview on Friday that he is aware of the possible conflict with federal statutes and that the affected state agencies in his administration are working to fix it.

The governor said he’s open to raising the limit if necessary to comply with federal policies.

“We’ll work with them; it’s a joint program,” Brownback said. “We’ll do what we have to do to work with the federal partnership.”
Well, uh, Whoopsie! A capable lawmaker would have been aware of the potential problem. A raging wingnut just goes ahead and does it. Which is why no one under wingnut control can have anything nice.

Which side are you on?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Love needs only to be true

And Eleanor McAvoy says it in the truest way with "You'll Hear Better Songs Than This"

A Hamm handed effort to suppress the truth

So you have made $Billions in the oil & gas business and as a loyal alumni of Oklahoma U you have given large sums to your alma mater. And somewhere along the way you have become convinced that your shit doesn't stink. So what do you do when part of your old school has determined that fracking and waste water injection have made your state Number 1 in earthquakes in the US. A reasonable person might seek a solution to the problem. Someone whose shit doesn't stink would do this.
Oil tycoon Harold Hamm told a University of Oklahoma dean last year that he wanted certain scientists there dismissed who were studying links between oil and gas activity and the state's nearly 400-fold increase in earthquakes, according to the dean's e-mail recounting the conversation.

Hamm, the billionaire founder and chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources, is a major donor to the university, which is the home of the Oklahoma Geological Survey. He has vigorously disputed the notion that he tried to pressure the survey's scientists. "I'm very approachable, and don't think I'm intimidating," Hamm was quoted as saying in an interview with EnergyWire, an industry publication, that was published on May 11. "I don't try to push anybody around."

Yet an e-mail obtained from the university by Bloomberg News via a public records request says Hamm used a blunt approach during a 90-minute meeting last year with the dean whose department includes the geological survey.

"Mr. Hamm is very upset at some of the earthquake reporting to the point that he would like to see select OGS staff dismissed," wrote Larry Grillot, the dean of the university's Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, in a July 16, 2014, e-mail to colleagues at the university. Hamm also expressed an interest in joining a search committee charged with finding a new director for the geological survey, according to Grillot's e-mail. And, the dean wrote, Hamm indicated that he would be "visiting with Governor [Mary] Fallin on the topic of moving the OGS out of the University of Oklahoma."
On a positive note, neither the University nor the Governor seems to have given in to the Hamm handed efforts of Big Daddy Oilbucks. Hopefully the light of day on his efforts will restrain any further efforts until he does us the favor of dying.

Bad Habit - Blaming The Victim

From the pen of Jeff Danziger

Even the Boss needs important friends

As the New York Times presents its annual review of the greediest CEO's walking among us, there is the revelation that one key factor is your business relationship with cable mogul John Malone.
It pays to work for John C. Malone.

The billionaire who built a cable and communications empire is 74, and no longer a chief executive himself. But Mr. Malone still exerts sway from various boardrooms, and the C.E.O.s at the companies he oversees are routinely among the best compensated managers on the planet. Last year, the largess was particularly notable.

Take Discovery Communications, the cable group behind Shark Week and shows like “Cake Boss.” Mr. Malone spun Discovery out of his media group and still sits on the board. His choice for chief executive, David M. Zaslav, received total compensation worth $156 million last year, making him the highest-paid chief of an American public company, according to the Equilar 200 Highest-Paid CEO Rankings, conducted for The New York Times.

Just behind Mr. Zaslav on the list of the highest-paid chief executives is Michael T. Fries of Liberty Global, an international cable and wireless group that Mr. Malone presides over as chairman. And while Mr. Fries made considerably less than Mr. Zaslav — $44 million less — he still got a package worth $112 million.

Gregory B. Maffei, one of Mr. Malone’s closest lieutenants, was paid twice in 2014. As chief of Liberty Media, which owns the Atlanta Braves baseball team and a big stake in the satellite radio provider SiriusXM, Mr. Maffei received compensation of $41.3 million. As chief of Liberty Interactive, a related company that owns stakes in home shopping networks, he received $32.4 million. Mr. Malone, the chairman of both companies, awarded his friend a total of $74 million last year, placing him sixth on the list.

Thomas M. Rutledge, another Malone confidant who oversees the regional cable operator Charter Communications, where Mr. Malone and Mr. Maffei are board members, was given a $16 million package last year, an increase of 259 percent over 2013. Though Mr. Malone is not on the compensation committee that sets executive pay, Mr. Maffei is.

Taken together, the four C.E.O.s were awarded more than $350 million last year, occupying three of the top six spots of the study conducted by Equilar, an executive compensation data firm.
Daddy Cablebucks is good to his minions. The review also provides data on all the most overpaid CEO's. Even a slavishly positive look at their companies can not justify the gross overpayment most of these people have had their boards give them.

From the goodness of their hearts??

Friday, May 15, 2015

Awesome band, they can play in a swimming pool

On dry land the Heartless Bastards sound just as good when they play "Only For You".

Should be titled "A Pig In A Poke"

From the pen of Jim Morin

In keeping with Republican values

In the same week that the Republican members of the House gleefully slashed the Amtrak budget immediately after a fatal demonstration of what happens when Congress does not fund the mandates it self-righteously imposes, the self same Republicans passed a military budget after jumping through hoops to cram $Billions in excess funding that was not requested by the Pentagon.
The National Defense Authorization Act passed 269 to 151 in a largely party line vote.

“Whatever our troops need to get the job done, they should get it, and the House has acted to provide just that,” said the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio. “With all the threats our troops face and the sacrifices they make, Democrats’ opposition to this defense bill is in fact indefensible.”

Democrats were particularly upset over Republican attempts to circumvent the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration that began in 2013, saying they could not accept any increases in military spending without equivalent increases for other programs.

But in a maneuver intended to skirt the military spending caps, the legislation includes roughly $39 billion in an Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which is reserved for emergency military operations and exempt from sequestration.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, said that he did not mind the increases in military spending, but that Congress needs “to be taking care of domestic things, too.”

“There’s too many things we need to deal with — the things that help people who aspire to get into the middle class and stay in the middle class,” Mr. Cummings said. “My concerns are more those kinds of issues, you know, some kind of balance here. I believe in a strong military, but I also believe that we need to have a strong country.”

In a letter to her colleagues Thursday evening, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, urged her party’s lawmakers to vote against the military spending bill.

“The Republican defense authorization bill before the House is both bad budgeting and harmful to military planning — perpetuating uncertainty and instability in the defense budget, and damaging the military’s ability to plan and prepare for the future,” Ms. Pelosi wrote. “Republicans should come together with Democrats in a fiscally responsible way to protect our national security and grow our economy.”

President Obama has threatened to veto the legislation, which Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter last week described as “clearly a road to nowhere.”
While Mr Boehner was piously talking about the troops,very little of the funding was targeted for their needs, the bulk going to useless "weapons systems" like the F-35 and other M-I-C feasts upon the Treasury. And just because that is the way they are, the Republicans also took a swipe at the Hispanic community by removing an amendment that would have assisted Hispanic enlistment. But they are all for National Security.

A look ahead

R.I.P. Riley B King

Boy, oh, boy you sure could play the blues.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

12 bar acid blues

Siobhan Donaghy from her second album Ghosts.

Read carefully then think about it

From the pen of David Horsey

First it was your bacon, now your eggs

And the health in this instance is that of the animals providing the popular breakfast items, not of those consuming them. However you might want to consider the joys of cereal for breakfast as the avian flu epidemic is following on the heels of the porcine diarrhea epidemic in decimating the animals of production.
Deadly avian flu viruses have now affected more than 33 million turkeys, chickens and ducks in more than a dozen states since December. The toll at Center Fresh farms alone accounts for nearly 17 percent of the nation’s poultry that has either been killed by bird flu or is being euthanized to prevent its spread.

While farmers in Asia and elsewhere have had to grapple with avian flu epidemics, no farmers in the United States have ever confronted a health crisis among livestock like this one, which seemed to travel along migratory bird pathways from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwestern states. Almost every day brings confirmation by the Agriculture Department that at least another hundred thousand or so birds must be destroyed; some days, the number exceeds several million.

Mounds and mounds of carcasses have piled up in vast barns here in the northwestern corner of the state, where farmers and officials have been appealing for help to deal with disposal of such a vast number of flocks. Workers wearing masks and protective gear have scrambled to clear the barns, but it is a painstaking process. In these close-knit towns that include many descendants of the area’s original Dutch settlers, some farmers have resorted to burying dead birds in hurriedly dug trenches on their own land, while officials weighed using landfills and mobile incinerators.

Iowa, where one in every five eggs consumed in the country is laid, has been the hardest hit: More than 40 percent of its egg-laying hens are dead or dying. Many are in this region, where barns house up to half a million birds in cages stacked to the rafters. The high density of these egg farms helps to explain why the flu, which can kill 90 percent or more of a flock within 48 hours, is decimating more birds in Iowa than in other states.

And the numbers are also staggeringly high because farmers like Mr. Dean are required to euthanize (with carbon monoxide gas or foam) all the flocks on a farm even if only a few barns are infected. Center Fresh, for example, was able to contain the infection to just two of its barns, but all of its hens must be destroyed as a precautionary measure.
Can't even make McNuggets out of the sacrificed.

One of those unfunded mandates the GOP loves

In the wake of the tragic Amtrak accident in Philadelphia, Republican mouthpieces in Congress have been ballyhooing their passage of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required Positive Train Control technology on all of the nation’s rails by Dec. 15, 2015. They have been quiet as church mice about their failure to provide adequate funding to install it.
After a 2008 collision between a commuter train and a freight train in Chatsworth, California, left 25 dead, Congress moved quickly to include a safety system known as positive train control (PTC) in legislation mandating transportation upgrades. Signed into law in October of that year, the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required PTC technology on all of the nation’s rails by Dec. 15, 2015.

But the remarkable (and bipartisan) momentum seen in the wake of the Chatsworth accident proved difficult to sustain. Almost seven years after passage of the safety law, and five years since the federal transportation rules were finalized, PTC is not in place and implementation is behind schedule across large parts of the United States rail network.

Amtrak — which was created by the federal government in 1970 as a for-profit entity, but, like all major passenger railways worldwide, requires supplemental government funding — has traditionally been the target of budget hawks and anti-government crusaders. The railroad regularly faces calls for cost cutting and self-sufficiency.

And fatal passenger train accidents in 2013, 2104 and this week have so far failed to significantly alter that dynamic.

Less than a day after an Amtrak passenger train derailed in North Philadelphia, killing eight, the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would cut Amtrak’s budget for capital improvements.

As reported yesterday by Al Jazeera — and later confirmed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) — Tuesday night’s accident happened on a stretch of track that still had not been outfitted with a working PTC system.
See what good boys we are, we required you to have a necessary safety feature. Just don't ask for enough money to put it in place because you ain't gonna get it.

A needed reform

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Hair, New Music

Laura Marling sings "False Hope" from her new album, Short Movies.

A man is known by the company he keeps

From the pen of Jack Ohman

When you piss off Kim Jong Pudge

You will probably die. And now that the young Great Leader of Best Korea is feeling his oats, you may die in a very creative fashion. We remember Young Pudge's uncle who was allegedly set upon by the royal loyal hounds. Now it is being said that the Number 2 guy in the Best Korea military managed to piss off the Pudge.
The second-highest officer in North Korea’s military was recently executed as a traitor for showing disrespect for the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, South Korean intelligence officials told lawmakers here Wednesday.

Gen. Hyon Yong-chol, the minister of the People’s Armed Forces, was believed to have been executed with an antiaircraft gun in Pyongyang, the North’s capital, around April 30, National Intelligence Service officials told South Korean lawmakers during a closed parliamentary session.

Mr. Kim deemed General Hyon disloyal after he dozed off during military events and second-guessed Mr. Kim’s orders, the intelligence officials were quoted as saying by two lawmakers, who attended the session. With hundreds of North Korea’s elite watching, General Hyon was executed on charges of being a traitor, the officials said. General Hyon, who is considered second in the military hierarchy only to Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong-so, has disappeared from North Korea’s state-run news media since late April.
No caliber was given, but I imagine, for effect, they blew his shit from Pyongyang to Panmunjom. The snoozing was bad, but you never, ever, second guess Number 1.

GOP Congressional Death Panel Claims 7 Lives

As the Republican Party has been notoriously hostile to Amtrak, it has repeatedly over the years reduced funding for the rail service to the point that needed maintenance and capital improvements have not been made because the money wasn't there. The cause of the Amtrak derailment is not yet known, but the likelihood of tracing it back to a lack of funds for something needed for safety is quite likely.
The Northeast Corridor, which runs between Boston and Washington, is one of the railroad’s busiest and most profitable lines. But officials have long complained that the agency needs more subsidies from Congress to improve the railroad’s deteriorating infrastructure and replace aging equipment.

Amtrak canceled service between New York and Philadelphia, and modified three other routes. Mr. Nutter said Amtrak service through Philadelphia would most likely be suspended for the rest of the week.

“It is completely wiped out down there,” he said.

The derailment prompted a large response from several federal, state and local agencies. More than 200 police officers and 120 firefighters went to the crash site, as did dozens of officials from the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.
All in all far more expensive than providing the necessary funding. And another example of GOP economies of fools.

Your Wednesday Bernie

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

So many familiar songs came from Broadway shows

But when you take the song out of the show, you lose the rest of the package it came in. Take this number from The Drowsy Chaperone. As good a singer as Sutton Foster is, the production makes "Show Off" all that it is. There is a short set-up before the song begins.

Waxing the Fast Track

A damaged jewel

Andrew Carnegie new the value of knowledge which is why, after raping and pillaging his way to a huge fortune, he repented his ways and used much of his money to set up libraries across the land that made him rich. The City of New York, being one of the richest cities in the world set up a magnificent library system of its own, a real source of civic pride. And then along came another very rich man who, after raping and pillaging his way to $Billions, spent his money buying the Mayor's Office in New York and then starved the New York City library system of funding.
The New York Public Library and its two sister library systems, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Public Library, say that New York City owes them the mother of all overdue fines: more than $1 billion to repair buildings and infrastructure which have fallen into disrepair. A March report from the three library systems said many of their combined 217 branch locations suffer from overcrowding, water damage, faulty air conditioning, and a host of other maladies.

On top of a $1.4 billion capital investment, the three library systems are also requesting an additional $65 million per year for operational expenses — just enough to get them back up to their funding levels from before the Great Recession hit, said New York Public Library vice president of government affairs George Milhatses.

“We’re down about 1,000 workers and we’ve had to squeeze out efficiencies over the past few years to keep our doors open,” due to a series of budget cuts since 2008, said Milhatses. Last year, New York put $323 million into library coffers, but Milhatses said that’s still $65 million short of their pre-recession draw.

The scope of New York City’s library infrastructure may be well beyond that of most other U.S. cities, but libraries across the nation have been feeling a budget crunch for years, American Library Association president-elect Sari Feldman told Al Jazeera.

“I think libraries across the country are really struggling to find the money that they need at a time when they’re busier than ever,” said Feldman.

The onset of the Great Recession devastated tax revenue hauls across the country, causing city and state governments to cut funding to libraries. The most recent Public Libraries Survey from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), published in 2014, found that funding for U.S. public libraries decreased in real dollars by 7.2 percent between 2002 and 2012.

There was not a commensurate drop in demand for library services. There were 20.7 percent more in-person visits to public libraries in 2012 than in 2002, the ILMS survey found; all told, there were 1.5 billion in-person visits to public libraries in fiscal year 2012, or 4.1 million per day.

That’s because more people are coming to rely on the library for Internet services, said Feldman. Even those who have Internet access at home may visit the local library to use the computers because they have faster broadband and trained staff on hand to assist them with tasks like applying for a job.

“Some of the activities are less transactional than circulation of material and require more support, so the demand is increasing,” said Feldman.
In a fair and just world, the second rich man would be taxed for the funding he withheld from the libraries. But then Little Bloomie would just throw a hissy fit and move elsewhere.

The Power of The Kool-Aid

It has the power to make a man throw away his life and all he has worked for just for one more sip.
A South Carolina conservative who refused to sign up for Obamacare is going broke and blind – and he blames Obama.

Luis Lang learned in late February that he had suffered a series of mini-strokes that left him with bleeding in his eyes and a partially detached retina caused by diabetes, reported the Charlotte Observer.

The 49-year-old Lang, a self-employed handyman and Republican who works with banks and the federal government to maintain foreclosed properties, has never purchased insurance and always prided himself on paying his own medical bills.

That never posed much of a problem when Lang and his wife – who does not work – were healthy, but he has already exhausted his savings paying for medical bills related to his eyes.

His vision has worsened so much that hasn’t worked since December, which could put the couple’s $300,000 Fort Hill home in jeopardy along with his health.

“He will lose his eyesight if he doesn’t get care — he will go blind,” said Dr. Malcolm Edwards, an ophthalmologist who has given Lang injections at a discounted rate to control the bleeding.

Lang, a smoker who admits he has been inconsistent in controlling his diabetes, said he has sought help from charities but found he was either too young or too old for most agencies.

So he turned to the Affordable Health Care exchange – which he had previously chosen not to do in violation of the law, believing help would be available in an emergency.

“(My husband) should be at the front of the line because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues,” said his wife, Mary Lang. “We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.”

Lang found he was a month too late to enroll for 2015, and he now earns too little to get a federal subsidy to buy a private policy.

Lang and his wife blame President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats for passing a flawed law – although not even private insurers allow people to forgo payments when they’re healthy and cash in benefits after they’re sick.

Obamacare was designed to cover those whose income falls below the poverty line through Medicaid, but South Carolina is among 21 Republican-led states that declined the federal government’s offer to pay 100 percent of the costs to expand coverage to low-income, able-bodied adults.
So he has to blame the President because the people he voted for forced a less than perfect bill through Congress and refused to participate in the Medicaid expansion. All of which would not be a problem if he had not refused to sign up for insurance when he had the chance. And now he has to hope his fellow citizens in the Palmetto Bug State will help him. In the meantime he will probably go from wilfully blind to actually blind. Poor dumb bastard.

A Real Fracking Problem In Pennsylvania and Elsewhere

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