Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bird On The Wire

Judy Collins

Monday, June 29, 2015

Wings Of The Dawn

Sierra Hull

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I'll Be Seeing You

Billie Holiday, Lady Day

GOP poised to strike a blow for corporate mayhem

Many of the laws passed by Congress require federal rules and regulations to implement properly. That is if implementation was what you wanted to do in the first place. When these rules and regulations put restrictions on corporate mayhem or were never meant to be, it is time for the Republicans in Congress to rise to the defense of their corporate masters.
Effective public safeguards protect all of us from toxic chemicals, air pollution, water contamination, and unsafe food. Streamlining the process of strengthening and updating these standards would help us fight new and emerging dangers. But earlier this year, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) quietly introduced a resolution that would inject Congress into the federal regulatory review process and slam the brakes on a rulemaking system that is already fraught with delays that put people's lives and health at risk.

Rounds and his co-sponsors claim that the measure, the Regulation Sensibility Through Oversight Restoration (RESTORE) Resolution, would address issues raised in an industry-backed report on the cost of regulations. But that publication and its findings ignore the immense benefits of public protections and were debunked by the Washington Post Fact Checker as "misleading" and having "serious methodological problems."

Rounds' proposal would create a temporary Joint Select Committee that would "conduct a systematic review of rules enacted by federal agencies" and would hold potentially wide-ranging hearings on these rules. The committee would submit recommendations to Congress to sunset rules it doesn't like and would impose a process for federal agencies to submit rules to Congress for review before they are enacted.

RESTORE would also require Congress to consider creating a permanent "Joint Committee on Rules Review," which would further broaden the scope of standards and safeguards subject to unnecessary delay and possible repeal.

RESTORE is redundant, unnecessary, and a backdoor way to prevent the implementation of popular laws.

Our regulatory process is already overloaded with roadblocks that slow the enactment of crucial public safeguards. It already takes years for agencies to develop even uncontroversial and pressing standards. During these delays, people may die or suffer serious injuries and illnesses, and communities and our natural resources can be irreparably harmed.

The Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) currently reviews rules that agencies develop. Congress created OIRA through the Paperwork Reduction Act and tasked it with overseeing the federal regulatory process. The office focuses on evaluating the economic impacts of rules and avoiding inconsistent and duplicative policies among agencies. RESTORE essentially gives the Joint Select Committee some of the same functions as OIRA, rendering the resolution redundant and wasting staff time and resources of executive agencies and Congress.

RESTORE is a "solution" in search of a problem because Congress already has extensive oversight of the regulatory process. It may make recommendations to agencies, hold hearings and pose questions to agency heads, impose restrictions through funding bills that prevent agencies from enforcing specific rules, or enact legislation concerning a proposed rule. Should an agency issue a final regulation that Congress disagrees with, it can pass a joint resolution of disapproval by a simple majority under the Congressional Review Act. This can overturn a rule if the president signs it.

At a recent hearing, Senate Republicans tried to cite the shrinking capacity of OIRA to take on expansive regulatory review as a justification for the RESTORE resolution, but their own witness, former OIRA Administrator Susan Dudley, pointed to an easier fix: Congress could just provide the office with more resources.
The old 'a "solution" in search of a problem' scam that will allow Republicans to effectively stop the implementation of any laws they had to pass for show. And be properly rewarded by their corporate masters for their efforts.

Got your popcorn ready?

From the pen of Brian McFadden

And the next fatuously fraudulent campaign issue is......

Despite the howls of poutrage
from the usual troop of Republican howler monkeys at the recent Supreme Court decisions, those few Republicans who can think are now searching for new irrelevant issues to distract voters from their inability to govern or even imagine how it should be done.
“Every once in a while, we bring down the curtain on the politics of a prior era,” said David Frum, the conservative writer. “The stage is now cleared for the next generation of issues. And Republicans can say, ‘Whether you’re gay, black or a recent migrant to our country, we are going to welcome you as a fully cherished member of our coalition.’ ”

The critical question is whether the Republican Party will embrace such a message in order to seize what many party officials see as an opening to turn the election toward economic and national security issues.

It will not happen easily: Every major Republican presidential candidate criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday affirming same-sex marriage as the law of the land.

Of course, many of the Republicans running for president are keen to move on from the culture wars, but others, like Mike Huckabee and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, are already seizing on matters like same-sex marriage and what they call judicial overreach to distinguish themselves in a crowded primary field. And the conservative activists and interest groups that play an important role in the primary will not let any of the candidates simply move on.

“Our candidates running in a primary are put in a little bit of a box by the events of this week, but at the same time, it does change the landscape for the general election, which is a blessing,” said Carl Forti, a Republican strategist who has worked on presidential races. “I’m glad I’m not on a campaign and don’t have to advise my candidate on how to navigate those three issues this week, because the answers for the primary and the general are radically different.”

Privately, some of the strategists advising Republican hopefuls believe the last week has been nothing short of a gift from above — a great unburdening on issues of race and sexuality, and on health care a disaster averted. Rhetorical opposition to the Affordable Care Act will still be de rigueur in the primaries, but litigating the issue in theory is wholly different from doing so with more than six million people deprived of their health insurance.

Collectively, this optimistic thinking would have it, June will go down as the month that dulled some of the wedge issues Democrats were hoping to wield next year.

“Whether the presidential candidates agree or disagree with the results of all this, it allows them to say these issues have been settled and move on to things that offer more of a political home-field advantage,” said Tim Pawlenty, the former Republican governor of Minnesota.

While acknowledging that the country has become more tolerant and, in some ways, culturally liberal, many Republicans contend that America is still receptive to a more conservative approach on economics and national security. After all, the same week that highlighted the ascent of cultural liberalism also illustrated the limitations of economic populism, as organized labor was unable to block a measure giving President Obama expansive trade authority.
But the sad fact for Republicans is that in whichever area they choose, social, economic, national security, they have an abysmal record of failure. It is obvious that whatever their new issue is, they will have to cut it out of whole cloth and rely on the failing mouthpieces of the Vast Right Wing Noise Machine to get it out. And that is a recipe for failure.

Take the next step with Bernie

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Being related to a famous musician is no guarantee of success

But it probably made it a lot easier for Lilly Hiatt to show her stuff. She even wrote a song about it, "Somebody's Daughter"

A teachable moment

From the pen of David Horsey

Time to go after the dangerous ones.

Now that reality has intruded and law enforcement has acknowledged that domestic right wing white terrorists are a greater danger than the foreign variety, people are beginning to demand that federal law enforcement shift their focus that way.
Tracking homegrown extremist groups was an emphasis after the 1993 Waco siege and the Oklahoma City bombing two years later. But after Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI has shifted its focus to international terrorism.

“The allocation of resources across different forms of terrorism has been skewed towards jihadi terrorism,” said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks right-wing extremist groups. “The government has allowed the threat of other forms of terrorism to take a back seat.”

Like Ku Klux Klan lynchings of the past, the Charleston shooting appears designed to not just to kill individuals but to create terror among African-Americans.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., a longtime civil rights activist, said the federal government is going to have to do more to infiltrate extremist groups. Clyburn brought up the example of efforts against the Klan in the 1960s and 1970s.

“These groups cannot be allowed to continue to float around, they’re ratcheting things up. People have been ignoring this stuff and now all of a sudden nine people are dead,” Clyburn said.

Dylann Roof, who is charged with killing nine African-Americans at a prayer meeting, cited the white supremacist group Council for Conservative Citizens in his purported online “manifesto.”

The Department of Homeland Security issued a report in 2009 warning of a growing threat from right-wing extremism. But the report drew criticism from conservatives and veterans groups who said it unfairly singled out returning military veterans as possible recruits.

The analyst who wrote the report, Daryl Johnson, said his domestic terrorism team was disbanded and he left the agency.

Johnson, who now does consulting work, said in an interview that he rates the DHS efforts on homegrown extremist groups as “poor, not serious.”
Time for DHS to actually look to providing some security from the real threat.

Eat Shit & Die

Because, as Bill Maher points out, you have no right to know what is in your food or how it got there.

Fighting all who rob and plunder

From the pen of Harry Bliss

It takes a woman to do what a man should do

And that woman was Bree Newsome who scaled the flagpole in front of the South Carolina capitol today and removed that ugly Confederate Rag of Rebellion.
Early Saturday morning a Carolina activist scaled a flagpole outside the statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina and removed the Confederate flag. After climbing down from the 30-foot pole, the woman, identified as Bree Newsome on Twitter, was arrested. Newsome is associated with the #KeepItDown campaign aimed at removing the Confederate flag.

The flag is protected by state law and was raised back up shortly thereafter. A pro-flag rally is planned at the site later this morning.

“We can’t wait any longer,” Newsome said in a statement regarding the motivation behind her decision to remove the flag herself. “We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”

The Confederate flag is at the center of a debate on racial justice that has emerged after the murder of nine black parishioners in Charleston’s Emmanuel A.M.E. Church by 21-year-old Dylann Roof on June 17.

Those involved in taking down the flag said it is “a symbol of white supremacy that inspired the massacre” and that it “flew in defiance of everyone working to actualize a more equitable Carolinian future.”
This was only a symbolic gesture, with the rag restored soon after and Ms Newsome under arrest. And today will also see a rally of the unregenerate losers who think there is some value in that rag.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Lily is now part of the band

And the erstwhile Lily & The Parlour Tricks are now known simply as Parlour Tricks. They are performing "Broken Hearts/Bones" at somebody's bungalow in Austin.

Somebody has to be in the trunk of the clown car

From the pen of Walt Handelsman

R.I.P. Patrick McNee

You were a fine actor, but who could ever forget the dapper John Steed?

Best Korea makes best porn

So they have put foreign residents on notice that they should not bring porn or other subversive materiel into the country and never share it with Best Koreans.
North Korea has warned foreigners living in Pyongyang not to share outside media on memory sticks with its citizens, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a note, cracking down on what the isolated country called "undesirable content".

The vast majority of North Koreans have no access to outside Internet or foreign media, but people regularly share films, music and literature on easily-concealed USB sticks that are passed from person to person.

The note, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, said foreigners in Pyongyang would not be allowed to import "all kinds of data media, including printed matter, mobile phones, and memory sticks" which contain "false propaganda" and "photos, movies, and literature regarding sexual relations".

Some foreigners entering the country had left printed materials and memory sticks containing "undesirable content" at tourist sites, or passed them to North Koreans, the note added.

"We regard these practices as a serious problem directly related to the security of the State," said the note, which was dated Thursday and addressed to diplomatic and international missions in Pyongyang.

"Accordingly concerned authorities of the DPRK are taking such measures as strict censorship over printed matters and memory media at every port of entry to the DPRK, including the airport."

DPRK is short for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official title.

The note warned that although those holding diplomatic passports were exempt from direct censorship, anyone found with offending material "must bear all the blame to themselves, entailing appropriate measures here".

Embassies in Pyongyang were looking into whether the note infringed the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomatic source in Pyongyang told Reuters. The 1961 convention forms the basis of diplomatic immunity.
Who would want to be a diplomat in Best Korea if they couldn't bring their own porn?

Poors are eating too much

So in an effort to further humiliate and hopefully starve them out of existence, several Republican controlled House committees are taking another look at SNAP. Under the banner of "reform" smug, self righteous bastards like Lyin' Paul Ryan will seek to further restrict the program that helps millions of Americans and boosts the economy.
The House Agriculture Committee has been staging hearings on the effectiveness of SNAP for months. On Thursday, the Ways and Means Committee — chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. — got involved. Subcommittees from Agriculture and Ways and Means held a joint hearing titled “Past, Present, and Future of SNAP: How Our Welfare System Can Discourage Work."

Ryan, a former vice presidential candidate and influential figure on economic policy, has made overhauling the federal safety net, including SNAP, one of his signature issues. Last year he took a very public tour of impoverished U.S. neighborhoods and followed it up with a comprehensive proposal for reforming the country’s welfare system. That proposal included a call to fund SNAP through block grants and institute tougher work requirements for SNAP recipients.

But over the past two years, the program has lost billions due to a series of legislative actions. First, Congress borrowed from SNAP’s coffers to finance a separate nutrition program, triggering an automatic $5 billion SNAP cut in November 2013. Three months later, President Barack Obama signed into law an agricultural spending bill that slashed billions more in SNAP benefits by targeting the relationship between food stamp benefits and low-income energy assistance subsidies.

At the same time, some governors have acted independently to shed food stamp beneficiaries from the rolls by reinstituting work requirements in their states.

Under federal law, able-bodied adults without dependents (or ABAWDs, as they’re known to the Department of Agriculture) must either work at least 20 hours per week or participate in a workfare program in order to access full SNAP benefits. Those who do neither are typically entitled to just three months’ worth of SNAP benefits every three years. However, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) may permit states to waive those requirements during periods of high unemployment.

As of last year, 36 states were eligible for such waivers according to the USDA. But more than a dozen of the governors who initially sought those waivers during the Great Recession have since asked for them to be rescinded.

Yet while the number of people served by SNAP and the average monthly benefits they receive have both dwindled, household food security — defined by the USDA as access to "enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members” — has never returned to pre-recession levels. The most recent USDA figures show that 14.3 percent of U.S. households suffered from food insecurity in 2013, a nearly 30 percent increase compared to 2007. Meanwhile, food pantries around the country continue to report record levels of demand for their services.
And all the Republicans will call themselves good Christian men and praise Jesus in church on Sunday. If God really existed, according to his rules he would fry their asses when they crossed the threshold.

It has been a bad week for Republican/Teabaggers

Losing out on Obamacare, Fair Housing and Marriage Equality.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A musical collective

The Dustbowl Revival is a bunch of millenial musicians who, having been wowed by their musical betters, in this case dixieland and bluegrass, think they can do better. They can't yet, but they make a damn good effort in "Doubling Down On You".

Pay as you go

From the pen of Ted Rall

Isn't that nice of them

In a sop to all the workers that have been and will be thrown out of work by various "trade" bills and treaties, the House passed the trade adjustment assistance program that is supposed to increase and improve benefits for those workers.
The trade adjustment assistance program was approved overwhelmingly, 286-138, as part of a broader trade bill assembled by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, the majority leader, to ensure that Mr. Obama has enhanced powers to complete major trade accords with Asia and Europe.

Beyond health care, education and retraining assistance to dislocated workers, the newly approved measure extends a popular trade agreement with much of sub-Saharan Africa and expands the government’s ability to confront trade partners that “dump” steel and other products in the United States at artificially low prices to drive American companies into bankruptcy...

Trade adjustment assistance programs have existed since the Kennedy administration, but pro-trade Democrats demanded a significant expansion as a price for their support for so-called trade promotion authority. The bill extends assistance through June 2022, with an expansion of the program through June 2021. That includes $2.7 billion for worker retraining and education, while making workers in service industries eligible for a program once reserved for out-of-work manufacturing workers.

The bill extends and expands a tax credit for the purchase of health insurance, and it includes subsidies for the wages of workers age 50 or who are older forced to take lower-paid jobs than the ones they lost to international competition.
All very nice but we all know the Republicans just love to leave any programs that don't profit their corporate master either grossly underfunded or totally unfunded if they can get away with it. No one really expects any workers to receive any benefits from this.

Up to their old tricks again

And the favorite is the old, Let's burn the black church. And only a week after the experimental, Let's shoot up the bible study group trick failed to get the proper response, it's back to that again.
A fire that engulfed a Baptist church with a primarily African-American congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday was arson and could be a hate crime, fire officials said.

"We're looking at every angle, and that [the arson was motivated by hate] is one of the angles we are examining at this point,” Charlotte Fire Department Senior Investigator David Williams told WCNC. “If we find information that leads us to go down that path, we will pursue it."

Damage to Briar Creek Road Baptist Church is estimated at more than $250,000, according to the Associated Press.

The sanctuary escaped damage, and services will resume Sunday, according to local NBC affiliate WCNC. But the part of the church reserved for a summer camp suffered severe impairment, according to the station.

A statement from the fire department said it took about an hour Wednesday morning to get the fire at the church under control. Firefighters received word of the fire and arrived about 1 a.m.

The alleged arson comes a week after a racially motivated mass shooting at an African-American church in South Carolina, where a white shooter gunned down nine black worshippers.
And there is the requisite denials, of course.
Sam Triantis, who lives across the street from the Charlotte church, told WCNC he doesn’t believe a hate crime is likely.

"Maybe some kids broke in, maybe a homeless person," he told the station.

“There’s no hate here,’ Triantis told WBTV in a separate interview. “There’s 200 nationalities in this neighborhood, and we get along just fine.”
Well, that settles it. "200 nationalities" just makes it impossible.

Bernie is a "family" man

Health insurance cos. have Chief Justice Roberts ear

And what they probably shouted into his shell like was something like You fuck with our gravy train and you are dead! And The Chief Justice responded loud and clear to their "plea".
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Obama’s health care law allows the government to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance, a sweeping vindication that endorsed the larger purpose of Mr. Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

The 6-to-3 ruling means that it is all but certain that the Affordable Care Act will survive after Mr. Obama leaves office in 2017, and will give it a greater chance of becoming an enduring part of America’s social safety net.

For the second time in three years, the law t survived an encounter with the Supreme Court. But the court’s tone was different this time. The first decision, in 2012, was fractured and grudging, while Thursday’s ruling was more assertive.

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority.
The three conservative stooges, Scalia, Thomas & Alito responded with their usual twisted legal logic and ad hominem slurs against the majority but they were just pissing into the wind.
Justice Scalia announced his dissent from the bench, a sign of bitter disagreement. His summary was laced with notes of incredulity and sarcasm, which sometimes drawing amused murmurs in the courtroom as he described the “interpretive somersaults” he said the majority had performed to reach the decision.

“We really should start calling this law SCOTUS-care,” Justice Scalia said, to laughter from the audience.
Old Tony was saddened to realize, as we all have before him, that record profits for the health insurance companies speak much louder than ideology when they don't agree.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Still all Shook up

The Shook Twins, Katelyn and Laurie, sing "Eyes To The Polls" from their album Window.

R.I.P. Don Featherstone

Thanks a lot for giving us all the bird.

The media finally notices

Long before the Department of Homeland Security report on right wing domestic terrorism was suppressed by the Vast Right Wing Noise Machine, people were increasingly becoming aware of the danger of over armed white assholes with a wild hair across their butts. Following the terror attack on the church in Charleston, some folks in the media are beginning to share that awareness.
In the 14 years since Al Qaeda carried out attacks on New York and the Pentagon, extremists have regularly executed smaller lethal assaults in the United States, explaining their motives in online manifestoes or social media rants.

But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center.

The slaying of nine African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church last week, with an avowed white supremacist charged with their murders, was a particularly savage case. But it is only the latest in a string of lethal attacks by people espousing racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the “sovereign citizen” movement, which denies the legitimacy of most statutory law. The assaults have taken the lives of police officers, members of racial or religious minorities and random civilians.

Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such attacks since Sept. 11, according to the latest count, compiled by David Sterman, a New America program associate, and overseen by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. By comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants have taken place in the same period.

If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University.

“Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists,” said Dr. Kurzman, whose study is to be published by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Police Executive Research Forum.

“There’s an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown,” Dr. Horgan said. “And there’s a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated.”
So the big question is, do we call it a duck or sweep it out of sight as soon as possible? Up to now, sweeping has been the accepted solution.

Eminent domain vs Indian Treaty Rights

There was a time when this would not have ever been discussed much less brought to the attention of the public at large. Unless, the public managed to notice a price hike and/or reduced supply of wild rice. But now we have an Indian nation hoping to use "rights" granted by treaty to stop Enbridge from trashing their wild rice lakes for a pipeline route.

But those ancient rice beds face an unsure future: The proposed $2.6 billion Sandpiper crude oil pipeline, if built, will carry petroleum from the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota through Minnesota to refineries in Wisconsin, cutting through the heart of the White Earth Nation’s wild rice beds.

To secure the route, Enbridge Inc., the company overseeing the pipeline, hopes to exercise the power of eminent domain, the right to take land from owners who refuse to sell to them — in this case, the White Earth Nation.

To stop the pipeline, the White Earth Nation is invoking its treaty rights. Building the Sandpiper pipeline, its members say, in addition to possible breaks and spills, would violate their rights to use the land for hunting, fishing or harvesting wild rice — rights established by treaty.

The fundamental divide between Enbridge and the White Earth Nation reflects the increasingly combative debate over oil pipelines and Indian Country, from the Keystone XL to the Prince Rupert in Canada. And on White Earth, the Sandpiper, in some circles, has become a surrogate for a broader fight to protect wild rice, the environment and the Anishinaabe way of life.

“It’s an iron spike through the heart of the wild rice beds,” said Bob Shimek, the executive director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project. “It is an iron spike through the heart of the Anishinaabe and the way of life that wild rice supports. That is what is at stake here.”

To understand White Earth’s treaty rights claim, we have to rewind 25 years.

In 1990 the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians filed suit against Minnesota after numerous tribal citizens were arrested for hunting and fishing off reservation. According to an 1837 treaty with the Chippewa, in exchange for the cession of land, tribal members retained usufructuary rights, entitling them to hunt, fish and gather wild rice on lands they gave up.

In 1990, Minnesota maintained that those rights were extinguished with the signing of an 1855 treaty. After years of court battles, the Supreme Court in 1999 concluded that the Chippewa, including the White Earth Nation, retained usufructuary rights and tribal members could hunt, fish and gather wild rice on lands they ceded.
White Earth, pipeline
Tribal attorney Joe Plumer and a map of the 1855 treaty boundaries.Jolene Yazzie

“Usufructuary rights, through Supreme Court case law, are property rights,” said Joe Plumer an attorney with the White Earth Nation. “They’re property rights that cannot be taken away without just compensation.”

In other words, the building of a pipeline through White Earth’s wild rice stands could have severe effects on tribal members’ ability to harvest — a right guaranteed under the 1837 treaty and upheld by the Supreme Court. The thing about treaties is that they’re the “supreme law of the land.” At least that’s what Article VI of the Constitution says, and without compensation for those rights, White Earth says, the Sandpiper is violating the treaty.

“Those treaties were consummated before Minnesota was a state. They are between the Ojibwe people and the federal government,” said Plumer. “In exchange for our ancestors ceding this territory to the United States, we retained these usufructuary rights.”
Wild ricing rights versus crude oil spillage rights. Looked at that way, it seems a no brainer, but Enbridge, despite a dismal history of pipeline spills, is able to continue getting permissions for news pipelines. One has to wonder what account is used to cover the cost of the "grease" to get those permissions.

As always the outrage follows the embarrassment

And today's particular embarrassment is the revelation by WikiLeaks that the NSA had been spying on the French president. The leaks are from a time prior to a French request, after initial WikiLeaks disclosures in 2013 & 2014 that the NSA not spy on the French president. Nevertheless, outrage is the protocol response to all such leaks, regardless of circumstannces.
France summoned the U.S. ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday after WikiLeaks published documents late Tuesday that it says show the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on the last three French presidents, releasing material which appeared to capture officials in Paris talking candidly about Greece's economy, relations with Germany — and, ironically, American espionage.

The release of the documents, in collaboration with French daily newspaper Libération and investigative website Mediapart, was serious enough to prompt an emergency meeting of President Francois Hollande's defense council, according to a presidential aide. The council, meeting Wednesday morning, includes France's top security officials.

“This involves unacceptable acts that have already given rise to discussions between the United States and France,” Hollande said in a statement after the emergency meeting.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday stressed the United States' commitment to end past practices that were considered 'unacceptable' by its allies during a phone call with Hollande, the French president’s office said.

“President Obama reiterated unequivocally his firm commitment ... to end the practices that may have happened in the past and that are considered unacceptable among allies,” a statement from Hollande's office said.

French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll also said that France is sending the country's top intelligence coordinator to the United States shortly, to ensure that promises not to spy on its leaders — made after earlier NSA spying revelations in 2013 and 2014 — have been kept.

At a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Le Foll said, “We reminded all the ministers to be vigilant in their conversations.”
Scare bleu! Merde de mon Dieu! And all that sort of stuff.

Ask a man who knows.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Everybody has a heritage, don't they?

From the pen of Rebecca Hendin

From Marblehead to Chile

By way of Notre Dame, Kat Quinn is now in New York, singing and writing. Songs like "The Door" from her Kind of Brave album.

When the Evil Koch Owned Homunculus Scott Walker is away

The rest of his party
will mutiny over his hairball budget designed to make him look presidential regardless of the damage to Wisconsin. The legislators who will have to remain in Wisconsin after EKOHSW has moved on don't like it one bit.
As Gov. Scott Walker prepares to announce his campaign for president next month, promising to bring what he calls “big bold leadership” to Washington, as he did in Wisconsin, he faces a cloud over that story line: Republicans back home are in revolt.

Leaders of Mr. Walker’s party, which controls the Legislature, are balking at his demands for the state’s budget. Critics say the governor’s spending blueprint is aimed more at appealing to conservatives in early-voting states like Iowa than doing what is best for Wisconsin.

Lawmakers are stymied over how to pay for road and bridge repairs without raising taxes or fees, which Mr. Walker has ruled out. The governor’s fellow Republicans rejected his proposal to borrow $1.3 billion for the roadwork, arguing that adding to the state’s debt is irresponsible.

“The governor rolled out $1.3 billion in bonding,” Scott Fitzgerald, the Senate majority leader, said in an interview. “It’s not been well received, is the best way to put it.”

The budget stalemate forced Mr. Walker late last week to move the goal posts on the announcement of his all-but-certain presidential candidacy. For months, he said it would come after he signed a new budget — timing meant to contrast his ability to get things done with Washington dysfunction.

But last Thursday, Mr. Walker said he would announce after “the end of the budget year.” That is, any time after June 30, the last day of the fiscal year. With lawmakers saying they might not finish their work before mid-July, he will not wait for a finished budget.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Walker, AshLee Strong, said the governor “is optimistic an agreement will be reached in the coming weeks.”

It is unclear if Mr. Walker’s family feud with his Legislature will ripple out to voter perceptions beyond Wisconsin.
And Little Scotty remains the clever little weasel, adjusting his announcement criteria to suit himself. We can only hope his minions give him a proper fuck-you.

R.I.P. Dick Van Patten

Richard Vincent Van Patten 1928-2015

There is still a remedy to Fast Track

Monday, June 22, 2015

She likes them flat and hairy

Because Lindsay Lou's Flatbellies all have beards. "Smooth & Groovy" is the title of a song from their new album Ionia.

Just as they were beginning to think she is white

That Hindoo governor of The Palmetto Bug State, Nikki Haley, has called for the removal of the Confederate rag of rebellion flying in front of the state capital.
Flanked by a bipartisan group that included both of her state’s United States senators, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina on Monday called for removal of a Confederate battle flag from the State Capitol grounds, taking sides on a symbol embraced by the white man accused of killing nine black people last week.

Some in the state will continue to fly the flag on private property, as they have every right to do, “but the State House is different, and the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way,” Ms. Haley said at the State Capitol. “We are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand.”

The governor spoke shortly after the White House announced that President Obama would travel to Charleston on Friday to memorialize the church shooting victims.

The last time South Carolina lawmakers waged a serious fight over the flag, in 2000, it was seen as a partisan and ideological issue, with conservatives and Republicans generally defending the flag as a symbol of the state’s history. Yet on Monday, the governor stood with a group of politicians and community leaders that included Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, and Representative Mark Sanford, the previous governor — all, like Ms. Haley, self-identified conservative Republicans.
The resolution that determines how it is being flown is quite detailed and requires a 2/3's vote in each house of the legislature to amend it. But it would only require a simple majority to repeal it. And if you are going to remove it permanently, repeal makes sense. If they don't go this route, you know they are not serious about its removal.

How long?

From the pen of Kevin Siers

Conservatives play 3 card Monte with words

That famous three card fast shuffle scam that has been around for hundreds of years is now being played with words by those who would cover their bigotry. Nowadays, however, they call it rebranding but it is still putting lipstick on a pig.
Conservatives want to make it clear: They’re for the right of everyone to practice their religion, period.

But they still want to be able to refuse to sell their products to gay couples or refuse to have same-sex marriages performed in their church. That’s our religious belief, they say, not intolerance.

Saying those things too loudly and too often, though, are usually political poison in general elections, so Republicans are rebranding by offering a different way of expressing such views. Just as tax increases became revenue enhancements and the lethal MX missile was “The Peacekeeper,” the social conservative message is now all about seeking true religious freedom and liberty.

That message achieves several goals. It sidesteps the notion that anyone would discriminate against gays or minorities, and helps Republicans overcome the image that the party is intolerant.

And it’s good politics. “The religious freedom message does blend into standard Republican attacks on the size of government,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia.

So in spreading this new, carefully-crafted message, Republicans remind voters:

–Your right to practice religion is under siege by an intrusive government. “Religious liberty has never been more threatened in America,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told a cheering audience last week at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Washington conference.

–Republicans are the party that better understands why religion matters. “You can’t have strong families with a government that strong arms families and our faith,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

–Watch out for the cabal of Democrats, the media and even some Republicans who put business interests over religious liberty. “Big business made an unnatural alliance with the radical left,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

–The Supreme Court’s conservative bloc must be strengthened. “Why wasn’t that a 9 to 0 decision?” asked Jindal of the court case that rejected the policy that family businesses needed to provide birth control coverage. The vote was 5 to 4.
And so the ideas that wouyld be rejected by their Jesus are wrapped in the language of the cult he inspired to inspire its followers to hate as their leaders do. Rebranding! In the Old West it was a major part of cattle rustling.

John Oliver on the Rag of Rebellion

Obama loses his crown to the Pope

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Elmore Leonard's favorite band

Barbara Keith and Doug Tibbles gave up a promising career in the early 70's because they didn't like the direction the industry was going. They settled in MA to raise his son, who joined their band The Stone Coyotes when he turned 18. An excellent songwriter, Barbara writes most of their stuff and plays the guitar. Doug is the drummer and son John is the bass player. "Might Have Been Memphis" from their album A Rude Awakening.

The Scripts of Our Lives

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Between a rock and a hard place

Or, perhaps, more like those cartoon characters with their feet on two different halves of something that keep separating and coming back together, the Republican Party is trying to agree with the majority of Americans who want to see the Confederate rag of rebellion disposed of properly and its hard core racist base that wants to keep flying that piece of shit. And it is a very difficult position to find and not sound like some mealy mouthed weasel.
Jeb Bush issued a statement on Saturday indicating he was confident that South Carolina “will do the right thing.” As Florida’s governor, Mr. Bush in 2001 ordered the Confederate flag to be taken from its public display outside his state’s Capitol.

Senator Marco Rubio, also of Florida, told reporters he thought the state would “make the right choice for the people of South Carolina.”

But neither candidate would state explicitly whether they wanted South Carolina to remove from state-sanctioned display a flag that many African-Americans believe is a reminder of slavery.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin begged off entirely from questions about what to do with the flag in South Carolina or whether it represents racism, saying that he would not address any such matters until the victims of the mass shooting were buried.

The carefully calibrated answers were a vivid illustration of the challenge Republicans face in attempting, simultaneously, to broaden their party’s appeal to minorities while also energizing those white conservatives who are uneasy about what they see as bowing to political correctness...

Yet on the same day that photos emerged of the alleged killer, Dylann Roof, holding a Confederate flag in one hand and a gun in the other, none of the Republican candidates expressly said that the same banner that has been flying at full-staff outside South Carolina’s Capitol since the shootings should be furled.

Mr. Bush came the closest, recalling when he was governor of Florida, the state moved a Confederate flag “from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged.” But he went no further than predicting that South Carolina would “do the right thing.”

If the Republicans were reluctant to call directly for the flag to come down, they realized that they had to speak more plainly about the racial motivation behind the attack.

After Mr. Bush seemed initially reluctant on Friday whether to ascribe the killings to race, his rivals were blunt on that question.

“I want to make it abundantly clear that I think the act, the crime that was committed on Wednesday is an act of racism,” Mr. Walker told reporters after his address.

Mr. Rubio said it was “an act motivated by racial hatred.”

The one high-profile Republican who spoke unambiguously about the flag is not running for president any longer. Mitt Romney said in a Twitter message Saturday: “Remove it now to honor #Charleston victims.”
The only unequivocal Republican statement in favor of proper disposal was not running, which tell you all you need to know about the Republican candidates and their party.

In an extremely rare moment of lucidity

The Texas legislature, normally a cauldron of bubbling right wing insanity, passed a law rescinding criminal penalties for school truancy. After which they went back to their usual evil ways.

A long-standing Texas law that has sent about 100,000 students a year to adult criminal court for missing school is off the books, though a Justice Department investigation into one county's truancy courts continues.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to implement preventive measures, The Texas Tribune newspaper reported. The new law will take effect Sept. 1.

Reform advocates say the threat of a heavy fine – up to $500 plus court costs – and a criminal record wasn't keeping children in school and was sending those who couldn't pay into a criminal justice system spiral. Under the old law, students as young as 12 could be ordered to court for as few as three unexcused absences in four weeks. Schools were required to file a misdemeanor charge of "failure to attend school" against students with more than 10 unexcused absences in six months. And unpaid fines landed some students behind bars when they turned 17.

"Most of the truancy issues involve hardships," state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said. "To criminalize the hardships just doesn't solve anything. It costs largely low-income families. It doesn't address the root causes."...

Al Jazeera reported on the effects of truancy laws in Texas, and efforts to change it, in a three-part series published in May. The report found that in Fort Bend County, a Houston suburb, African-American children were the focus of more than half of all truancy cases, but comprise just 29 percent of the student population.

Texas Appleseed was among several groups that filed a U.S. Justice Department complaint about Dallas County's specialty truancy courts, which in 2012 prosecuted over 36,000 cases, more than any other Texas county. The Justice Department in March began looking into whether students had received due process, something spokeswoman Dena Iverson said will continue as the department evaluates the new legislation's impact.

All past truancy convictions will be expunged under the new law. But what will happen to students' pending fines will be up to the courts to decide, said David Slayton, executive director of the Texas Judicial Council.

Districts will still have the option of sending students with 10 unexcused absences over six months to court, but it will be civil court, with treatment and community service among the sentencing options.
Expunging the records is damned decent of them, let us hope they are not a bunch of assholes over the fines.

Sunday Sermonette

Saturday, June 20, 2015

From Ohio to The City

The Heartless Bastards perform "Hi-Line" at Rockwood Music Hall

Business as usual

From the pen of Jim Morin

ICE - Weren't they some movie bad guys?

Sometimes, when you look at the way Immigration and Customs Enforcement operates, they really look no better than some bunch of baddies in a second rate movie plot. Their latest brilliant move was to ship a mother and daughter to Guatemala after their lawyer requested the court block the deportation and ICE said they had no such plans.
In a rare move that will likely draw more attention to the controversial practice of family detention, Chief Judge Theodore A. McKee of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ordered U.S. officials to stop Ana and her daughter when they arrive in Guatemala City and immediately return them to the United States.

“If the government is unable to intercept Petitioners at the airport, they must locate Petitioners in Guatemala and return them to the United States as quickly as possible,” McKee wrote in his June 19 order.

Reached Friday night, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they were reviewing the court’s order.

“Right now the agency is working to prepare a way forward for all parties involved in the case,” said spokeswoman Gillian Christensen.

McClatchy isn’t sharing Ana’s last name because of concerns she and her lawyer have about possible reprisals from those she had fled in Guatemala.

Cambria had asked the court to block Ana’s deportation while her latest appeal was pending. In its opposition to that request, the U.S. attorney’s office told the court that, as of June 9, immigration officials had no plans to remove Ana and her daughter. She was then removed 10 days later at 9:55 a.m. Friday morning.

In his order, McKee said the court would have granted Cambria’s request to block the deportation had the court known Ana and her daughter were going to be deported.
While it is doubtful that anybody at ICE's secret headquarters is going "Bwah-hah-hah!" at things like this, it is obvious they follow the sort of plot line that usually allows it. And they are doing it all on our tax dollars.

Racism has an ally

Bernie Sanders on Real Time 6/19/15

Friday, June 19, 2015

Shelby Lynne released her 13th album

The name of it is I Can't Imagine and "Paper Van Gogh" is one of the tunes on it.

A Confederacy of Denial as practiced by Dunces

From the pen of Tom Tomorrow

Home Sweet Home

From the pen of David Horsey

What is wrong with white fathers these days?

We don't yet know how much of Dylann Roof's racism was learned at his father's knee, but he did learn a few bad habits.
At some point that changed, and Roof’s slow, aimless walk into adolescence veered off its lightly marked path. He dropped out of high school after ninth grade and didn’t return, drifting anonymously without the apparent moorings of common teenage interests.

By this year, under pressure from his parents to get a job, he was hanging around a local mall, asking shopkeepers what time their stores opened and closed in an unsettling ritual that eventually drew the attention of ­police. Then, a few months ago, Roof was arrested on drug charges as he slipped toward his alleged horrific Wednesday evening visit to Emanuel AME Church, about 100 miles southeast of here in Charleston...

Roof invoked his own country’s racial history with the emblems he chose to display. His car featured a license plate decorated with the Confederate flag, according to a law enforcement official and one of Roof’s friends.

Roof, who lived in Eastover, S.C., not far from Columbia, also had an apparent affinity for guns. Law enforcement officials said his father recently had either bought him a gun as a present or given him money that he used to buy one...

“The whole world is going to be looking at his family who raised this monster,” Roof’s ­uncle, Carson Cowles, said Thursday as he wiped away tears outside his mobile home here. While Roof was quiet and “did stay a lot to himself,” Cowles said, his mother “never raised him to be like this.”
Somebody did.

Larry Wilmore destroys Right Wing "Christian" Lie about racist killing

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

Bernie speaks for me

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Amelia White and The Blue Souvenirs

"Snakes And Pushers" from her album Black Doves.

A modern Civics lesson

From the pen of Wiley

Pope kicks climate deniers in the nuts

And those Republicans who so loudly proclaim their faith & morality as they deny climate science, are coming up against the most important moral leader of one of the world's largest faiths.
Pope Francis is expected to take a provocative stance on global climate change Thursday, releasing an encyclical — a teaching letter addressed to Catholic bishops — that not only affirms the reality of man-made warming but issues a moral call for changes in lifestyle, consumption and policy to stave off environmental disaster.

That puts Republican lawmakers in the United States, many of whom outright deny that human activity has contributed to the warming of the earth, in an awkward position. Many of those conservative politicians, after all, have often cited their deeply held religious convictions as informing their political beliefs.

“I think it’s easy for Republicans to dismiss Greenpeace and other people who they see as tree-hugging leftists,” said John Gehring, the Catholic program director of Faith in Public Life, a religious advocacy group in Washington, D.C. “It’s much harder for them to brush off one of the greatest moral leaders of the world.”
Thumbnail image for Religious climate activists energized by pope’s environment encyclical
Religious climate activists energized by pope’s environment encyclical

Gehring said it is no surprise that the pope’s encyclical, emphasizing that climate change has a disproportionate impact on the poor, has rubbed certain conservative politicians the wrong way already.

“The pope is doing something that will make a lot of people very uncomfortable because he’s challenging a status quo that the richest and most powerful benefit from,” he added. “The Exxons of the world are not going to love this encyclical. The Koch brothers are not going to be sending it out as Christmas card. While the pope is a bridge builder, this is a provocative document that is meant to wake us up.”
Pope Francis is not the sort of priest who will comfort the comfortable at the expense of the oppressed.

Time to call Congress today.

Find their contact information here.

The hospital needs a name change

Down on Long Island there is a clinic run by Good Samaritan Hospital. It has refused a patient with end stage renal disease a kidney transplant from her husband because she is an undocumented immigrant.
Ruth Villalta has end-stage renal disease. Her husband’s kidney could be a match for her — but the Long Island, New York clinic where she gets her dialysis treatment won’t allow her to receive a kidney transplant. That’s because both Villalta and her husband are undocumented immigrants.

As the New York Daily News reports, “doctors at her dialysis clinic in Lindenhurst, run by Good Samaritan Hospital, initially discussed a transplant with her, but stopped the process when she said she was here illegally.” A Good Samaritan Hospital spokeswoman told ThinkProgress that officials could not comment on the case because, as of January 2015, a different organization took over responsibility of the dialysis center.

Villalta came to the United States in 2009 with her husband and worked at a pharmaceutical factory before she became sick. When she had a miscarriage when she was five months pregnant in 2013, she discovered that she had renal failure in both kidneys. She’s been dependent on dialysis treatment ever since...

In New York State, emergency Medicaid and charity care is available for undocumented immigrants like Villalta. Emergency Medicaid coverage includes a twice-weekly dialysis treatment needed to flush out toxins and remove excess salt and water from the body. The treatment “may end up costing the state and federal government far more than the price of transplant surgery. Costs vary, but the federal government’s Medicare program spends about $106,000 for a kidney transplant per patient and $72,000 each year on someone getting dialysis,” New York Daily News stated, using data from the U.S. Renal Data System.
Good Samaritan Hospital can dodge responsibility now that they sold off the clinic. Nevertheless it might do those associated with the hospital to review the origin of the term "good samaritan".

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

An Ozzie singer based in London

Emily Barker alternates her playing time between solo gigs and working with The Red Clay Halo. In the tradition of great musical poets, she sings "In The Winter I Return"

Worth more than a brass ring - What they all reach for

From the pen of David Horsey

Oh, them? We don't really know them.

Now that the legal shitpile is sliding down on FIFA, Swiss banks are marvelling at the many instances of money laundering they are now able to see. With cries of "Merde, Mon Dieu" and "Scheiße, mein Gott" the criminal moves of FIFA are becoming apparent, now.
Swiss banks have noted 53 possible money-laundering incidents as part of an investigation of FIFA's 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests, the country's Attorney General Michael Lauber said Wednesday.

He said the “suspicious bank relations” were reported within the framework of Switzerland's anti-money-laundering regulations.

Lauber added that he “does not exclude” the possibility of interviewing FIFA’s outgoing President Sepp Blatter and Secretary General Jerome Valcke in the future, though neither are currently under suspicion.

Addressing the media for the first time since the Swiss investigation into world soccer’s governing body was announced three weeks ago, Lauber said the case is “huge and complex.”

He declined to discuss a timetable for the case, which targets “criminal mismanagement and money laundering” in the bidding contests which sent the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.
Damn those FIFA people! They were so clever hiding their crimes for all those years.

Crush their own people to get at Obama

The Republican Party has Obamacare just where it wants it, sort of. SCOTUS is currently considering a ludicrous suit that, once the Federalist Society termites on the bench get done with twisting and torturing the law involved, should cut the heart out of Obamacare. The problem for the Republicans is that to do so, they have to cut through the heart of their own voters who have finally gotten health insurance that they can afford, and will lose it if the Court decides the Republican way. And while many speak in grand generalities, who are the people getting screwed?
Terry Brewster’s years of construction work have begun to take their toll on his 5-foot, 4-inch, 118-pound body.

A torn rotator cuff that requires surgery and nagging rheumatoid arthritis have left Brewster, 56, of Little River, S.C., in near-constant pain.

Fortunately, his marketplace health coverage under the Affordable Care Act allows Brewster to get arthritis medication, pain pills and even his high blood pressure medicine for about $20 per month.

Federal subsidies, in the form of tax credits, pay roughly $400 toward his monthly premium, leaving Brewster with a payment of just $119 per month for coverage.

“It’s been a blessing to me,” he said of the financial assistance. “I’ve been able to go to specialists that I desperately need to go to. Other people can knock it, or whatever, but for $119, I’ve got coverage.”

At least for now.

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether the subsidies can continue for 6.4 million people in 34 states who use the federal insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov...

If the Supreme Court terminates the subsidies, and most of the 4.1 million Southern plan members drop their coverage as experts predict, it could reverse the largest net increase in Southern health coverage since enactment of Medicare and Medicaid some 50 years ago.

“The cruelest thing is to give someone something and then take it back,” said Dr. Gary Wiltz, CEO of the Teche Action Clinic, a community health center in rural Franklin, La. “You’re talking about people who now have the ease of mind of knowing that they have health coverage and they’re not one accident or illness away from bankruptcy or financial devastation, which happened to a lot of our (uninsured) patients. They got ill and had to go to the emergency room and they got stuck with $10,000 or $20,000 medical bills.”

Brewster didn’t know about the upcoming court decision that will determine whether he gets the shoulder surgery he needs. But he does know he can’t afford his insurance or the operation if the court strips him of his subsidies.

“My life will be ruined, wrecked, totally wrecked,” Brewster said of possibly losing coverage. “You go through all these procedures, you get what you need, you do what your doctor says, what the specialist says, everything like that. You get down to the bottom line of being able to get something done. And then this? It’s very scary.”
Some Republican politicians are scared of this, but most would happily walk on the dead bodies of those who would lose their insurance if the can strip that black guy in the White House if his greatest triumph. In this regard they re very much like their Middle Eastern counterparts, DAESH.

And now a word from The Man!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sometimes I post a song just because I like the sound of it

Even if the lyrics are in a language I do not understand. Natalia Lafourcade and Lila Downs and their musicians make just such a sound with "La Fugitiva"

That's about right

From the pen of Lee Judge

R.I.P. Blaze Starr

You stole the heart of a Louisiana Governor back when Louisiana Governors were worth seducing.

There goes another #2

Seems the guys were just flying a few drones around Yemen when the saw some bad looking dudes and decided to drop a Hellfire on them. Boom! There goes another al-Qaida #2 guy.
Al Qaida’s branch in war-torn Yemen confirmed Tuesday that its leader was killed in a U.S. drone strike.

In a video statement, Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninusla announced that Nasir al Wuhayshi, who carried a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head and once served as Osama bin Laden’s secretary, had been replaced by Qasm al Rimi, also known by his nom de guerre of Abu Hureira al Sanaani.

Wuhayshi’s death represents a setback to al Qaida, but one from which it would likely recover.

“He was very significant, but you don’t defeat an organization like this by killing its leader,” said Seth Jones, a terrorism expert with the RAND Corp., a policy institute. “It’s a blow, but not an irrecoverable blow.”

Wuhayshi’s death Friday was the second major counter-terrorism success for the United States over a three-day period.

U.S. jetfighters on Sunday dropped multiple 500-pound bombs on a compound near the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, killing Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian extremist linked to al Qaida, U.S. officials said. He was wanted for the 2013 seizure of a natural gas plant in Algeria in which 38 foreigners died, including three Americans.

According local news reports in Yemen and social media posts, Wuhayshi was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Friday in the southern port city of al Mukallah.
And the boys had an extra bit of good fortune, no wedding parties in the area.

GOP presidential clown car jumps the shark

Donald Trump
throws his hair into the ring.
“I am officially running for president of the United States,” he told a cheering audience at the Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, “and we are going to make our country great again.”

He positioned himself as an outsider who can get things done, unlike today’s politicians. “They will never make American great again,” he said of politicians. “They don’t even have a chance. They’re controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors and by the special interests.”
Comedians and joke writers everywhere rejoice!

God will have her little jokes

Monday, June 15, 2015

One of those people vital to the music industry

Ashley Cleveland has won a Grammy for her rock Gospel work, but more importantly has written songs for and sung backup on hundreds of of other albums. Without good people like her so many tunes you like would be sadly diminished. Here she belts out "You Gotta Move" with a few select sessions musicians.

The gentle art of blaming the victim

Outlined for us by that hard working reporter Tom Tomorrow.

To Amend and Serve

From the pen of Darrin Bell

WalMart has two dirty hands

On the one hand they try to wash away their horrible image as a minimum wage sweat shop with hosannas of joy at their new higher wages. And by doing so they hope you will ignore all their failures within their supply chain.
The company has a history of broken promises, but the disturbing findings of this report take the big-box retailer’s hypocrisy to whole new level.

According to Walmart’s “ethical sourcing” standards (PDF), all suppliers and their manufacturing facilities at a minimum “must fully comply with all applicable national and/or local laws and regulations, including but not limited to those related to labor, immigration, health and safety, and the environment.”

But the report finds that Walmart has failed to enforce supplier compliance with its code of ethics for labor practices, environmental sustainability and local sourcing of food. Workers in Walmart’s stores and in its food supply chain endure a slew of labor abuses, including gender and racial discrimination, unfair treatment of immigrants, low pay, violations of freedom of association and even workplace accidents and fatalities.

Walmart has set a rather low bar for the labor standards of its suppliers:

All labor must be voluntary. Slave, child, underage, forced, bonded or indentured labor will not be tolerated. Suppliers shall not engage in or support trafficking in human beings.

Yet the company has failed to meet it. Last year, for instance, a large seafood supplier to Walmart was exposed for its ties to slave labor. Thailand-based seafood exporter Charoen Pokphand Foods bought fishmeal for its farmed shrimp from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves. The Guardian reported that “large numbers of men [were] bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats.”

In addition, Rose Acre Farms, a major Walmart egg supplier was sued in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Justice for discriminatory practices against newly hired non-U.S. citizens, requiring additional or different security documents than what is legally required. In addition, in 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that another major egg producer, Cal-Maine Foods, violated federal law by “subjecting an African-American employee to racial and sexual harassment and retaliation.”

For years, labor advocates have challenged Walmart to pay its workers a living wage. To its credit, the corporation recently announced some small increases in base wages. But Walmart refuses to set a living wage as its standard, and for many of its suppliers’ workers, decent pay remains elusive.

The company has a history of broken promises, but the disturbing findings of this report take the big-box retailer’s hypocrisy to whole new level.

According to Walmart’s “ethical sourcing” standards (PDF), all suppliers and their manufacturing facilities at a minimum “must fully comply with all applicable national and/or local laws and regulations, including but not limited to those related to labor, immigration, health and safety, and the environment.”

But the report finds that Walmart has failed to enforce supplier compliance with its code of ethics for labor practices, environmental sustainability and local sourcing of food. Workers in Walmart’s stores and in its food supply chain endure a slew of labor abuses, including gender and racial discrimination, unfair treatment of immigrants, low pay, violations of freedom of association and even workplace accidents and fatalities.

Walmart has set a rather low bar for the labor standards of its suppliers:

All labor must be voluntary. Slave, child, underage, forced, bonded or indentured labor will not be tolerated. Suppliers shall not engage in or support trafficking in human beings.

Yet the company has failed to meet it. Last year, for instance, a large seafood supplier to Walmart was exposed for its ties to slave labor. Thailand-based seafood exporter Charoen Pokphand Foods bought fishmeal for its farmed shrimp from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves. The Guardian reported that “large numbers of men [were] bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats.”

In addition, Rose Acre Farms, a major Walmart egg supplier was sued in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Justice for discriminatory practices against newly hired non-U.S. citizens, requiring additional or different security documents than what is legally required. In addition, in 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that another major egg producer, Cal-Maine Foods, violated federal law by “subjecting an African-American employee to racial and sexual harassment and retaliation.”

For years, labor advocates have challenged Walmart to pay its workers a living wage. To its credit, the corporation recently announced some small increases in base wages. But Walmart refuses to set a living wage as its standard, and for many of its suppliers’ workers, decent pay remains elusive.
WalMart is the 800 lb gorrilla in the grocery business as well as every other retail line. If they had any interest in maintaining ethical standards, they would be maintained, but then the profits might not meet Wall St expectations and the poor Walton family might see a decrease in their net worth. Nothing in their eyes is worth that.

Torture doesn't work

And Helen Mirren and John Oliver do their best to explain that to you.

Corporate taxes are good for America

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Barely in her 20's

Hayley Reardon writes and plays with a maturity unexpected in one so young, despite a career that already spans 5 years. "Paper Mache" is a song she wrote about growing up.

A turd by any other name would still stink

From the pen of Brian McFadden

US to make heavy weapons available to Russia

Not directly, mind you, but in storage right next door and under the control of "safe and reliable" allies. They are to be stored in the Baltic and Eastern European countries in amounts sufficient to equip a brigade.
In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, American and allied officials say.

The proposal, if approved, would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine have caused alarm and prompted new military planning in NATO capitals.

It would be the most prominent of a series of moves the United States and NATO have taken to bolster forces in the region and send a clear message of resolve to allies and to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, that the United States would defend the alliance’s members closest to the Russian frontier.
Pooty-Poot is not stupid. If it ever comes down to it, he will have control of those weapons before NATO finishes breakfast. But unlike DAESH, Pooty does not need us to arm his troops.

Obstinate Pope insists on pissing off Republicans

No one can be sure why, but despite clear and cogent warnings that it will annoy them from people like that colossal dick Rick Santorum and that senile old sparrowfart Jim Inhofe, the Pope will go ahead with his efforts to address climate change.
The agenda was poverty, and Francis inveighed against the “economy of exclusion” as he addressed Mr. Ban’s delegation at the Apostolic Palace. But in an informal meeting with Mr. Ban and his advisers, Francis shifted the discussion to the environment and how environmental degradation weighed heaviest on the poor.

“This is the pope of the poor,” said Robert Orr, who attended the May 2014 meeting as Mr. Ban’s special adviser on climate change and described the informal conversation with Francis. “The fact that he is making the link to the planet is really significant.”

On Thursday, Francis will release his first major teaching letter, known as an encyclical, on the theme of the environment and the poor. Given the pope’s widespread popularity, and his penchant for speaking out on major global issues, the encyclical is being treated as a milestone that could place the Roman Catholic Church at the forefront of a new coalition of religion and science.

Francis, the first pope from the developing world, clearly wants the document to have an impact: Its release comes during a year with three major international policy meetings, most notably a United Nations climate change conference in Paris in December. This month, the Vatican sent notifications to bishops around the world with instructions for spreading the pope’s environmental message to the more than one billion Catholics worldwide.

By wading into the environment debate, Francis is seeking to redefine a secular topic, one usually framed by scientific data, using theology and faith. And based on Francis’ prior comments, and those of influential cardinals, the encyclical is also likely to include an economic critique of how global capitalism, while helping lift millions out of poverty, has also exploited nature and created vast inequities.

“We clearly need a fundamental change of course, to protect the earth and its people — which in turn will allow us to dignify humanity,” Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who oversaw the drafting of the encyclical, said at a conference on climate change this spring at the Vatican.
Conservative Catholics are expected to be outraged by the Pope's effrontery in trying to protect God's work from their depradations. To which I say, tough shit! You had your turn with JP!! and Ratzo, now its our turn.

Family pride loses out to political ambition

John Ellis Bush a/k/a Jeb Bush want to be president like his father and brother before him. He wants to be president in the worst way, which so far seems to be the way he is going about is. But maybe he has finally made a good move.
Jeb Bush rolled out a logo -- “Jeb! 2016” -- for the presidential bid he’s expected to unveil Monday in his adopted hometown of Miami.

The red-lettered brand is devoid of the famous Bush family name he is hoping to distance himself from, and hews close to similar signs he used in his three races for governor in Florida.

Bush also released a three-minute video, featuring Floridians touting his tenure as the state’s chief executive.
Maybe the logo will fool people that he is not a Bush. The video, unfortunately, won't help.

Just like it says in the Bible

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Three more sisters from the Northwest

Singing sweet harmonies and being a little bit spiritual. Here Joseph are Jammin' In The Van with "Cloudline"

Just waiting for the meteor

From the pen of Jack Ohman

Almost makes prison look better

The two escaped convicts from Dannamora, unless they managed to find an unknown vehicle to flee the area, are probably still in what can only be called an inhospitable area. And that is not referring to the massive police effort to recapture them. Mother Nature is not kind at this time and place, even to the experienced campers.
These rolling woods, just miles from the New York State prison where two convicted killers escaped a week ago, can be brutally unforgiving to the unacquainted. It is easy to get disoriented, local residents say, and between the bugs and the wet weather, it might be the second worst time of year for anyone to try seek refuge there. Winter, of course, would be far worse.

“I’m sure if they’re out in the elements, they’re not having a good time,” said Dan Ladd, an outdoors columnist for a local newspaper, The Press-Republican, in Plattsburgh. “It can’t be fun.”

For days, hundreds of searchers have been working around the clock, pushing deeper into an area of homes and dense woodlands, trying to find Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, who turns 35 on Sunday, after their escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y. If the men have been stuck in this muddy thicket of pine and spruce since their escape, they have been confronted by inhospitable conditions that could make finding food, water and shelter a challenge but would also complicate the efforts to track them down.

“You’ve got to assume they’re cold, wet, tired and hungry,” Major Charles E. Guess of the New York State Police said in a news conference on Friday. Even experienced campers and hikers would be challenged by conditions in the woods, and there is no evidence that the two men had any extensive outdoor skills...

Those who know the terrain have made jokes that, if the men are in these woods, they are surprised the pair have not turned themselves over to the authorities by now, beaten up by nature and begging for a break. The rain has fallen regularly and hard. The woods are filled with skunks, porcupines and black bears. Then there are the bugs that swarm the forest this time of year: black flies, ticks and deer flies.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if when they get them, they’re going to be severely bug bitten,” said Brandon Minogue, 25, an emergency medical technician from Plattsburgh who was waiting for calls at the firehouse in Cadyville...

Survival experts say sustenance is available: The woods are crowded with deer during these months, so they could kill one and eat the meat. Wild strawberries, or the inner bark of some trees, such as birch and white pine, can also be eaten. But there are still plenty of hardships. If they wanted to start a fire for warmth or cooking, they would have to be careful because the smoke could give away their location. They may not have the necessary tools to hunt. “And unless they know their edible plants, which I highly doubt these guys do, they’re in trouble,” Mr. Hobel said.
The rains mean they should have water, not necessarily clean, but food and shelter are probably beyond their means. We will know for certain if they survive.

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