Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jimmy Dean died this day in 1955

Lindi Ortega sings "Jimmy Dean" from her album Little Red Boots

Parasites come in many forms

From the pen of Matt Bors

If she's going to lie she might as well cheat too

Carly Failorina, erstwhile Destroyer of Corporations, is a boldly dishonest woman. Having initially made her mark on the public attention with a whopping big lie about Planned Parenthood, she backed it up with some more lies when everyone pointed out she was lying. And taking that attitude one step further, she actively and openly coordinates her campaign with her SuperPAC.
The Federal Election Commission forbids direct coordination between campaigns and super PACs, lest candidates effectively rely almost entirely on the huge, unlimited donations of a small number of billionaires. But in 2016, the groups are aggressively exploiting gray areas and loopholes in the rules, few of which the commission – deadlocked with its three Republican and three Democratic members – has hastened to close.

One of the most important openings is the simplest: Candidates and super PACs are free to coordinate their plans if the information is shared in public view.

That exception has taken on extraordinary power in the post-Internet, post-Citizens United campaign world, where candidates can give super PACs B-roll for campaign ads by posting video on YouTube, and campaign managers can signal a preference for positive advertising by alerting their Twitter followers.

Mrs. Fiorina and other candidates, who have depended the most on unlimited money raised by allied super PACs, have taken it a step further: making available advance travel schedules, then letting the outside groups arrange and finance the events.

Under the rules, Mrs. Fiorina’s super PAC, whose name makes it sound anything but independent – Carly for America – could not even call her campaign staff members to see where and when she is headed next. But Mrs. Fiorina has cleverly sidestepped that prohibition: Her campaign has created a public Google calendar, which it updates weeks into the future, showing the events she has planned.

“Essentially, it inoculates a case of coordination by making it public,” explained Kenneth A. Gross, a lawyer who specializes in campaign finance. “As long as it’s not hidden in a ‘Where’s Waldo’ game and meets a reasonable definition of being public, it is a way to avoid running afoul of the coordination rules.”

Mrs. Fiorina, whose calendar already shows she plans to be in Iowa on Halloween, is not the only candidate to hit on this workaround. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky also have public calendars detailing their travels. A super PAC could pay for costly polling, then publish it where the campaign could review it free of charge, so long as anyone else could, too.
Failorina, Huckabooboo and Paul all use this trick. It seems like an easy way to finance candidates who can't rely on donations from their supporters because they have none. And it fits so well into their characters.

When you have to make your numbers

You will do what seems necessary to achieve those numbers. If you are ICE, the US immigration agency with an acronym that sounds like a bad '60s movie villain, that may include the use of fake documents to get the deportee out of the country toot sweet.
In a report released today, “Smuggled into Exile,” the New York-based advocacy group Families for Freedom raises concerns about other cases in which ICE officials deported people based on falsified identity documents. The group identified at least four individuals who were removed from the United States from 2012 to 2015 with travel papers of dubious validity or without any papers at all. It says the actual number may be much higher.

Abraham Paulos, executive director of Families for Freedom and the report’s editor, says this practice is not the only example of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, bending international norms and its own rules in order to expedite deportations. Meanwhile, the consequences for people who are removed without valid laissez-passers or other paperwork can be significant. People who arrive in their country of origin without proper identity documents may have difficulty working or accessing local services and can even be subject to arrest.

“To us, the travel document is much more than a piece of paper,” Paulos said. “It is the weight that hangs in the balance of our freedom or imprisonment.”...

Formed after the Sept. 11 attacks, ICE is responsible for enforcing immigration laws and deporting people deemed to be removable — those who lack legal status and have exhausted all immigration proceedings available to them. To ensure that individuals are deported to countries where they have recognized status, and that they have proof of citizenship upon arrival, deportation officers must obtain travel documents from the receiving country before removing anyone. Typically, the officers provide officials at the consulate or embassy of the destination country with information that attests to the deportee’s identity. The consular official uses that information to corroborate the deportee’s citizenship status, for example by checking against a national identity database. One form of temporary travel document issued for deportees to West Africa who lack passports is the laissez-passer like the one produced for Talbot.

According to investigations by The Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times, acquiring travel documents for deportees is a challenge. Governments with poorly functioning or underfunded consular services are often unable to respond to ICE requests. A 2007 report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, or OIG, found that due to problems securing travel documents, nearly half of African deportees remained in detention for more than 90 days after being issued a final order of removal, the highest of any region. People who have been issued a final order of removal, but have no travel documents, are generally supposed to be released from detention after 180 days.

Schram, who handled deportations to Cameroon, often had trouble getting travel documents for the country, according to testimony she gave in 2014 when Talbot was charged with resisting deportation. In the 2.5 years she had been working for ICE, Schram said, she had requested about 150 travel documents and received about 20. When Talbot’s case file came across her desk, she testified, she did not mail the usual package of documents to the embassy. Instead, she sent the papers to the ICE field office in Houston, whose employees then approached an honorary consul for Cameroon who lived in the area.
Honorary consuls have little, if any, consular authority but what the hell. If they can fake something to get rid of your problem they are just the people you need. Sometimes it does appear that ICE really is a bad '60s movie villain.

While the GOP jockey for leadership positions

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

When you let the sister folk sing

They will probably sing Sister Folk like the T Sisters do with "Sticks & Stones"

The morans never could spell

Having taken the cream off the mortgage fraud

The banks are now handing off the failing mortgages to the second tier thugs to keep them happy. Hedge funds are now buying up all the mortgages they can get at discount because there is still a lot of gold left in the old fraud.
Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago.

As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from which banks, stung by hefty penalties for bungling mortgage modifications and foreclosures, have retreated. Federal housing officials, for the most part, have welcomed the new financial players as being more nimble and creative than banks with terms for delinquent borrowers.

But the firms are now drawing fire. Housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers contend that the private equity firms and hedge funds are too quick to push homes into foreclosure and are even less helpful than the banks had been in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers. Federal and state lawmakers are taking up the issue, questioning why federal agencies are selling loans at a discount of as much as 30 percent to such firms...

Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago.

As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from which banks, stung by hefty penalties for bungling mortgage modifications and foreclosures, have retreated. Federal housing officials, for the most part, have welcomed the new financial players as being more nimble and creative than banks with terms for delinquent borrowers.

But the firms are now drawing fire. Housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers contend that the private equity firms and hedge funds are too quick to push homes into foreclosure and are even less helpful than the banks had been in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers. Federal and state lawmakers are taking up the issue, questioning why federal agencies are selling loans at a discount of as much as 30 percent to such firms...

Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago.

As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from which banks, stung by hefty penalties for bungling mortgage modifications and foreclosures, have retreated. Federal housing officials, for the most part, have welcomed the new financial players as being more nimble and creative than banks with terms for delinquent borrowers.

But the firms are now drawing fire. Housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers contend that the private equity firms and hedge funds are too quick to push homes into foreclosure and are even less helpful than the banks had been in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers. Federal and state lawmakers are taking up the issue, questioning why federal agencies are selling loans at a discount of as much as 30 percent to such firms.
At least this time they are upfront about the expectation of failure of the mortgages, even if they have to force them into foreclosure.

Interested in a life of crime?

The the career for you is that of a diplomat. The concept of diplomatic immunity, originally devised to protect diplomats when conflicts arose, has all to often allowed criminals to return to their home country safely after committing crimes up to and including murder.
The tradition of diplomatic immunity stretches back to ancient Rome. In the 12th century, during the Crusades, Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, and Richard Coeur de Lion, the King of England, could dispatch emissaries borne with messages for the enemy without fear that they would be harmed. In 1790, the U.S. passed a law that gave absolute immunity to diplomats, families, servants and lower ranking officials at foreign missions.

In 1978 a new law, the Diplomatic Relations Act, which accepted the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations, replaced it. There are two main conventions, one pertaining to diplomats and the other to consular officials. Diplomats cannot be arrested or made subject to the jurisdiction of the courts and other authorities, for both their official duties and personal activities. The convention on consular officials only covers their official activities.

Schona Jolly, a London-based international human rights lawyer, said of the case of the Saudi diplomat who fled India recently, “It is difficult to see how rape, forced servitude or other serious crimes contribute to the efficient and official performance of a diplomatic mission. The provisions are plainly antiquated and not fit for purpose in a modern era.”

The second convention has been the subject of two of the most dramatic diplomatic incidents in recent years, pitting the U.S. against India and Pakistan. In December, 2013, Devyani Khobragade was working at the Indian consulate in New York when she was arrested for employing a maid at below minimum wage, and in January2011, Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor, shot dead two men in Lahore he said were trying to rob him.

The Khobragade arrest came after her maid reported her to local authorities. Preet Bharara, the high-profile U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, pursued the case, charging her with visa fraud and making false statements. The Indian government, prodded on by a vocal local media and political opposition supportive of Khobragade, was locked in a month-long standoff against U.S. authorities. Bharara, who was born in India, was accused of betraying his origins, while communication between Delhi and Washington was put on pause.

Delhi first insisted that Khobragade was a diplomat and should be treated as such, but her status as an employee in the New York consulate, rather than the embassy, meant that only her official duties were covered. The same applied to Davis, who was listed as a member of the technical staff at the U.S. consulate in Lahore. “Killing people or not paying your maid doesn’t count as official activities,” a former ambassador to the U.S. said on condition of anonymity.

In both cases, there were unsuccessful attempts to retroactively grant diplomatic immunity. Pakistani authorities were notified only the day after Davis’ arrest. Controversially, President Barack Obama publicly claimed that Davis was “our diplomat.” Later, it emerged that he was neither a diplomat, nor covered by diplomatic immunity. He was charged with double homicide and possession of a firearm and tried in a Pakistani court, where he apologized to the victims’ families. The charges were dropped after a Pakistani businessman paid $2.3 million to the families to settle the dispute, U.S. and Pakistani officials said on condition of anonymity.

Ultimately, Khobragade and Davis were expelled from the countries where they were stationed. Diplomats can only serve abroad at the sufferance of the host government. Where diplomatic immunity applies, expulsion is one of the few levers at the disposal of the country’s ministry of foreign affairs. The only way to try a diplomat alleged to have broken the law is to ask their home country to waive diplomatic immunity — something that has occasionally happened where egregious crimes were committed. In 2002, two Colombian diplomats in London had their immunity waived to face charges related to a murder outside a supermarket.

When Khobragade returned to India, she was hailed as a national hero. Davis had no warm welcome, and, a few months later, was arrested in Denver for assault. He had been working as a “firearms instructor.” John Kerry, then a senator who mediated the deal with the Pakistanis, had promised that Davis would be subject to a criminal inquiry in the U.S. for killing the two men in Lahore, but he was never charged.
The one drawback is that in times of upheaval, the host country may not be able to honor diplomatic immunity.

Small comfort

Monday, September 28, 2015

A new anthem for us?

Diane Jones sings "Poverty" at a songwriters jam in Britain.

We have nothing to fear but

Whatever crap is coming out of the Vast Right Wing Noise Machine this week. Tom Tomorrow identifies what you should pee your pants about and what is safe.

This never turns out well

From the pen of Tom Toles

Perhaps better training methods are needed

Or a better choice of allies to train. Whichever is at fault, the Afghan Army has again shown itself incapable of perfoming the mission required of them.
Taliban insurgents seized control of key facilities across a major city in northern Afghanistan on Monday, driving back stunned security forces in a multi-pronged attack that also sent Afghan officials and U.N. personnel fleeing for safety.

The fall of Kunduz would be a huge blow to the Western-backed government in Kabul and give Taliban insurgents a critical base of operations beyond their traditional strongholds in Afghanistan’s south.

For the moment, much of the city was in Taliban hands, and Afghan authorities were left struggling over how to turn the tide.

Kunduz had “collapsed” into Taliban control, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told The Associated Press.

Afghan security officials said government forces had withdrawn in attempts to avoid civilian casualties and planned a counteroffensive seeking to regain Kunduz — a city that has already been the target of Taliban attacks twice this year.

“We are prepared and measures have been taken to recapture the city,” the deputy interior minister, Ayoub Salangi, told reporters.

Both Afghan government leaders and the U.S.-led coalition view the defense of Kunduz as a key test of whether security forces could prevent the Taliban from expanding its reach in the country.

One Afghan official said Taliban fighters had control of all major government buildings in the city and security forces had retrenched to try to defend the airport of the provincial capital, about 150 miles north of Kabul in a region that was once relatively stable.

“The defense line for government is now near the airport” on the outskirts of Kunduz, said Amruddin Wali, a member of the provincial council. “The Taliban have taken key government buildings such as the police and intelligence headquarters and burned down some of them.”

The assault appears to be the first time during the 14-year Taliban insurgency that large groups of fighters had managed to penetrate deep into a major Afghan city with significant ground forces rather than isolated strikes and suicide bombings.
It seems we have failed to teach the Afghans that it is easier to defend what you have than to retake what you have lost.

She loves "Days of Our Lives"

John Oliver examines the refugee crisis in Europe and finds a 16 year old girl who speaks better English than many Americans. Maybe we can set up a swap program.

When a 1 trick pony tries to do another trick

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Grass grows everywhere

Like in a Tennessee cavern 330 ft down where Alison Brown and her quartet play the jazzgrass "Under the Five Wire"

Where will this business model end?

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Best way to clean out your inventory

If you are talking about flying stuff, you give it to the Afghan Air Force. They will take anything. It doesn't matter if it appropriate for the job, just as long as it gets off the ground.
Col. Qalandar Shah Qalandari, Afghanistan’s most decorated pilot, recently took command of what was meant to be the building blocks of his country’s new air force: a squadron of shiny American-made attack helicopters, intended to solve the chronic lack of close air support for Afghan troops.

Sixteen of the armed MD-530 scout helicopters were rushed here this year to great fanfare, and a dozen more are to join them. But Colonel Qalandari was not impressed. “This plane is a total mess,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t know why we have this plane here.”

An Afghan public affairs officer tried to shush the colonel as he spoke to a journalist at the Afghan Air Force base at Kabul airport. A United States Air Force public affairs officer looked on aghast.

But Colonel Qalandari kept on: “I will tell the truth. This is my country, and these are my men, and they deserve the truth.”

He tossed a map on the table, showing the effective range of the helicopter from its Kabul airfield: It cannot even reach areas where the Taliban normally operate. In summertime, its maximum altitude with a full load of fuel and ammunition is only 7,000 to 8,000 feet, he said — meaning it cannot cross most of the mountain ranges that encircle Kabul, which is itself at an elevation of about 6,000 feet.

“It’s unsafe to fly, the engine is too weak, the tail rotor is defective and it’s not armored. If we go down after the enemy we’re going to have enemy return fire, which we can’t survive. If we go up higher, we can’t visually target the enemy,” Colonel Qalandari said. “Even the guns are no good.”

Each helicopter carries two .50-caliber machine guns, mounted on pods on either side of the craft’s small bubble cockpit. “They keep jamming,” one of the colonel’s 10 newly American-trained pilots said...

They also have 25 C-208 transport planes, basically modified Cessna 12-seater prop planes, an aircraft the Americans praise for its simplicity and workhorse abilities.

The Afghan Air Force chief of staff disagreed. “The C-208 is not good for Afghan territory, it’s unacceptable to the geography of the country,” the senior officer, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Dawran, said in an interview. “We can’t keep them pressurized; they only have a 4,000- to 5,000-meter ceiling — no good in the hot weather. Only a single engine.”

General Dawran said that while he was grateful to the Americans for the help they had given, they had yet to accomplish nearly as much as the Russians did in creating an Afghan Air Force in the 1980s.
For the Russians, building the Afghan Air Force was an effort to help their ally. For the Americans,building the Afghan Air Force was just a business deal by the Pentagon to help some of its M-I-C partners unload some junk they had hanging around.

Lame Duck and Loving It

Not President Obama this time but The Orange Man, John Boehner. has discovered the joy of doing what he wants without pleasing the Madding Crowd.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner vowed on Sunday that Congress will avoid a government shutdown this week and he would push through as much unfinished legislation as possible before leaving at the end of October.

Speaking on CBS' Face the Nation two days after his surprise resignation, he said the House this week would pass a government funding bill now moving through the Senate, which does not meet conservatives' demands to cut off money for Planned Parenthood.

Asked if passage would require Democratic votes, he responded: "I'm sure it will, but I suspect my Democratic colleagues want to keep the government open as much as I do."...

Boehner also said he would try to clear as much of Congress' to-do-list as he could, but he did not specify which

Congress faces several important fiscal deadlines, including a transportation spending bill needed in October and a larger budget deal that would go beyond the 10-week extension to be passed next week.
One way to get it done.

Is Rand next to pop from the toaster?

With so many candidates from the beginning of the GOP Clown Show, it was obvious that some would be dropping early. So far the ones who are done were among the expected and we get the fun of trying to guess who is next. McClatchy has a look at the potential for Rand Paul to crash and burn soon.
Campaigning on Friday in New Hampshire, Paul continues to charge ahead with his struggling presidential campaign, but speculation is growing that he might be the next Republican candidate to drop out of the race.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have already folded, and Paul is one of the hot names in the parlor game of guessing who will exit next.

On Friday, the Washington Post and Politico devoted space to an early draft of Paul’s presidential campaign obituary.

“Walker’s departure from the race means that the senator from Kentucky is no longer the front-runner for the most disappointing campaign of 2016,” the Post wrote. “So, congrats on that. But Paul appears to have dropped entirely off the radar of most Republican voters.”

Politico’s weekly poll of political insiders from early-voting states put Paul right behind Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former New York Gov. George Pataki as the next to drop out, with 22 percent saying Paul would be next.

One unnamed New Hampshire Republican told the Beltway publication that Paul’s “campaign (reeks) of the same stench of death that surrounded the Perry and Walker efforts before their demise.”...

It has been death by a thousand cuts for Paul’s campaign: reports of staff infighting, the federal indictments of two longtime aides, lackluster fundraising, the improbable and unpredictable rise of Donald Trump, and a Republican Party that appears to be returning to its roots on foreign policy.

Next week, we might just learn how much longer Paul can keep going.

The third-quarter fundraising period ends Wednesday, and one of the biggest questions will be whether Paul has raised enough money to continue his quest.
Crazy Uncle Liberty's little boy is finding that appealing to people who approach the level of intelligent life forms is a lot more difficult than running for office in Kentucky. One might have thought he could outlast someone like Jindal or Santorum or Huckabee, but unlike serious Little Rand those guys are just in it for the money.

Even the Pope can get it right

Saturday, September 26, 2015

They work well together

Too bad Shawn Colvin and Alison Krauss didn't marry their talents together after this tribute to Paul Simon in 2007.

Truth is much stranger than fiction

From the pen of Matt Wuerker

Boy, can we pick them or what?

Having promised to vet the recruits carefully and indoctrinate them during training and then denying stories of Syrian "moderate" rebels turning their coats when set loose in the wild, the Pentagon has admitted that the stories are all too true.
In another embarrassing setback for one of President Barack Obama’s centerpiece strategies for defeating the Islamic State, the Pentagon said Friday that the commander of U.S.-trained Syrians appears to have turned over his pickup trucks and weapons to al Qaeda militants in exchange for protection within days of re-entering his homeland.

The Pentagon admission represented an abrupt reversal of its position as recently as Wednesday, when American military officials firmly denied social media reports that a U.S.-backed commander had defected to Nusra Front, Syria’s al Qaida affiliate, and provided trucks and weapons to the radical Islamic group.

“Unfortunately, we learned today that the New Syrian Force unit now says it did in fact provide six pick-up trucks and a portion of their ammunition to a suspected al-Nusra Front (representative),” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday evening.

Two days earlier, Davis had stated: “The folks that are part of the New Syrian Force are accounted for, as are their weapons.”

The new revelations angered American military leaders.

“If accurate, the report of New Syrian Force members providing equipment to al Nusra Front is very concerning and a violation of Syria train-and-equip program guidelines,” said Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, chief spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which runs American military operations in the Middle East.
Well, there you go, it was a violation of program guideline so when they return, they are looking at a court martial at the least. That should teach them.

The Republican Nut of the Month Club

Bill Maher takes aim at the GOP's failure to find All American heroes who aren't made of clay.

To help them understand snowballs

Friday, September 25, 2015

Her bio says she does all kinds of great things

All I know is Megan Burtt sings well and they like her in Denver. "Pay It Now" from the album It' Ain't Now.

You got that right.

From the pen of Jack Ohman

Still polluted

After enduring 3 million gallons of mine shit being spilled into it, The San Juan River is still showing pollution levels beyond what is safe. It appears that it did not all flush down stream, some still remains in detectable levels probably on the rocks and river bottom.
In August, an accident at the defunct Gold King Mine in southern Colorado released nearly 3 million gallons of wastewater that quickly made its way downstream to the Navajo Nation. Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency published testing data from the San Juan River showing that metal concentrations in the water and sediment had returned to pre-spill levels.

Now independent testing of the San Juan has concluded that claim may be untrue.

A new report provided to Al Jazeera by the nonprofit organization Water Defense shows that chromium, lead, beryllium, nickel and nearly a dozen other metals and chemicals have been detected in the river. The results come at a time when other institutions, such as Texas Tech University and New Mexico State University released similar claims.

“I would say at this point the water is unsafe to use until we have more testing completed,” said Scott Smith, the Chief Technology Officer and Investigator for Water Defense. “We are dealing with known chemicals that are toxic and cancer causing, and we don’t know what’s happening to those chemicals and what’s going on in the crops.”

The EPA declined a request for an interview but stated that it stood by its testing results. The agency also said that it would continue to share data.

Water Defense’s analysis showed two things: Metal levels remain elevated in the San Juan’s riverbed, compared with baseline tests, and water in the San Juan was likely contaminated before the Gold King Mine spill.

“The sediment showed levels of contamination before, but now it’s a hell of a lot worse after this spill,” said Smith.

For instance, testing showed chromium at 4.7 parts per million (ppm) in sediments affected by the spill. In baseline sediments, chromium was measured at 3.7 ppm. The maximum level set by the EPA for chromium in drinking water is 0.01 ppm.

Investigators found the lead concentration in the San Juan jumped from 7.8 to 9.9 ppm. The EPA says any lead contamination in drinking water is unsafe.

What appeared in sediments after the spill, according to Water Defense, were beryllium and nickel, which have been linked to increased risk of cancer and other health problems.

“The baseline sediment readings are cause for worry even before this spill,” said Smith. “With the impacted sediment, it has just raised this to a whole new level of concern that requires immediate action.”
So the new spill was just like the old days, adding more to an already troubled stream bottom. And any solution is going to be long term.

Suffering from the heat John Boehner bails out of kitchen

Most sane people, if they paid attention to what is going on, would wonder how John Boehner has put up with the shit from his lunatic fringe for so long. Maybe he really did think he could keep a lid on their volcanic insanity. Maybe he didn't really understand just how bug fuck crazy they were. Whatever his problem(s) may have been, he has given up and will resign his post and Speakership.
House Speaker John Boehner, under relentless fire from conservatives who complain he’s not confrontational enough with President Barack Obama, will resign from Congress at the end of October and end his turmoil-filled reign.

The stunning announcement Friday by Boehner, 65, came a day after one of the signature moments of his tenure. Boehner, a devout Catholic, hosted Pope Francis at the Capitol on Thursday. Boehner has been trying for years to get a pope to address Congress, and the visit moved the emotional Boehner to tears.

The departure will set off a scramble to move up in the party leadership in the House. The expected front runner to move to the Speaker’s job is Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., now the number two as House Majority Leader.

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has fought off challenges from the conservative wing of his party for years, and appeared poised to do again.

The latest flashpoint is over federal dollars for Planned Parenthood. A handful of conservative Republicans is insisting that unless Planned Parenthood loses its federal dollars, they won’t vote to keep the government running.

Eager to keep the government open lest a shutdown hurt his party in the eyes of voters, Boehner was fashioning an alternative that would keep financing the government as is but allow conservatives a separate vote to cut off money for Planned Parenthood. That separate measure would almost certainly fail, either in the Senate or under Obama’s certain veto.

This is the latest in a long series of challenges to the affable son of a tavern owner, one of 12 children.

He was first elected to Congress in 1990, and quickly became an ally of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. Boehner rose in the House Republican caucus because of his ability to get along with all factions, though as more conservative-minded lawmakers attained leadership positions, he was edged out of a top post.

He rebounded in 2006, winning an upset victory to .become the House Majority Leader after Tom Delay, R-Texas, resigned in the midst of a corruption scandal. Boehner beat then-Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a DeLay ally, as lawmakers wanted a clean break.

Boehner immediately drew the suspicion of conservatives. But he got things done, pushing through controversial measures to avoid the 2013 “fiscal cliff” and other initiatives, often with Democratic help.
This is an existential threat to the Republican caucus because there is no potential leader behind him that does not display serious symptoms of Bugfuckery. And we still have more than a year before we can get rid of the crazies.

Another lefty who couldn't be GOP today

Tricky Dick signed into law federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Heather Maloney from her April 2015 album Making Me Break

Republicans are always short of original ideas

From the pen of Dan Wasserman

If you are a coward who plays with gun

You should move to Pasco Washington and join the police force. You will be allowed to take counsel of your worst fears about people and shoot them to your heart's content. And it is all approved by police procedures.
The police department in Pasco, Washington, said Wednesday an internal investigation had found that officers involved in the fatal shooting of a mentally ill Mexican farmworker earlier this year did not violate the department's policy or procedures.

Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was shot dead by officers during a confrontation on Feb. 10 in the small city, which has a large Hispanic community and is an agricultural hub about 200 miles southeast of Seattle. Several people recorded the incident on their phone cameras.

“Deadly force was used consistent with policies in the Pasco Police Department Policy Manual. The investigation was conducted with a high degree of transparency and quality control,” the city’s police department determined.

A press release announcing the decision said that the department would try to expand its officers’ knowledge of crisis intervention, and would conduct more outreach within the community.

“We will also continue to work in partnership with the community to accomplish our mission of reducing the fear of crime while affording dignity and respect to every individual,” Pasco Police Chief Robert Metzger said in a statement.

Zambrano-Montes’ death comes amid wider national scrutiny of police practices following the deaths of multiple people, some of them mentally ill as well, at the hands of police officers. Police reform advocates have said officers need more training to know how to handle people committing crimes because of mental illness.

The announcement follows the county’s decision not to prosecute the officers involved.
Got an unarmed, mentally ill man chunking rocks? Obviously a real danger to the lives of all the officers involved so have some target practice instead.

Francis in the Lions Den

Well he went there and when he spoke he went there as well. Pope Francis called upon Congress, in his speech to Congress, to adopt a Christian attitude toward immigrants.
Pope Francis on Thursday urged U.S. lawmakers to reject a "mindset of hostility" on immigration and recognize that people who wish to move to the United States are trying to improve their lives and their families'.

"Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity," the 78-year-old Argentine-born pope said, referring to a central principle of progressive Catholic social teaching.

Addressing a Congress that is divided on immigration, he reminded members of both political parties that "most of us were once foreigners."

In a speech that was not afraid to take on some divisive issues — while eschewing other topics such as abortion and same-sex marriage — Francis also called for the abolition of the death penalty and drew attention to the great violence inflicted on Native Americans...

"Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility," Francis said in his opening remarks. "Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation."

"Legislative activity is always based on care for the people," he said. "To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you."
And sadly many of them have been called by those who elected them to be vicious misanthropic bigots.

Pope speaks, you listen

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

You have to Be Good Tanyas

If you are going to sing a Van Zandt. They do well with "Waiting Around to Die"

Could not choose the best

R.I.P. Lawrence Peter Berra

This time deja vu ain't happening all over again, it really is over and what a great trip it was.

Why we need corporate regulation

The latest corporate cheating scandal with Volkswagen is just the latest in a long line of efforts by corporations to weasel out of following government regulations. The auto mobile industry has been especially active in this field of endeavor.
Long before Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests for millions of cars worldwide, the automobile industry, Volkswagen included, had a well-known record of sidestepping regulation and even duping regulators.

For decades, car companies found ways to rig mileage and emissions testing data. In Europe, some automakers have taped up test cars’ doors and grilles to bolster their aerodynamics. Others have used “superlubricants” to reduce friction in the car’s engine to a degree that would be impossible in real-world driving conditions.

Automakers have even been known to make test vehicles lighter by removing the back seats.

Cheating in the United States started as soon as governments began regulating automotive emissions in the early 1970s. In 1972, certification of Ford Motor’s new cars was held up after the Environmental Protection Agency found that the company had violated rules by performing constant maintenance of its test cars, which reduced emissions but did not reflect driving conditions in the real world. Ford walked away with a $7 million fine.

The next year, the agency fined Volkswagen $120,000 after finding that the company had installed devices intended specifically to shut down a vehicle’s pollution control systems. In 1974, Chrysler had to recall more than 800,000 cars because similar devices were found in the radiators of its cars.

Such gadgets became known as “defeat devices,” and they have long been banned by the E.P.A. But their use continued to proliferate, and they became more sophisticated, as illustrated by Volkswagen’s admission this week that 11 million diesel cars worldwide were equipped with software used to cheat on emissions tests. The scandal played out on Wednesday with the resignation of the automaker’s chief executive, Martin Winterkorn.

Beyond emissions, the industry has long been contemptuous of regulation. Henry Ford II called airbags “a lot of baloney,” and executives have bristled at rules requiring higher mileage per gallon. Robert A. Lutz, the former General Motors vice chairman and Chrysler president, often said the rules were like “trying to cure obesity by requiring clothing manufacturers to make smaller sizes.”
The story is pretty much the same every time, corporations complain about regulations, spend a fortune trying to evade them and ultimately follow them at a greatly increased cost than if they had not tried to cheat. But what do they care, it all gets passed to us as a cost of doing business.

Bernie isn't the only one saying this

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A blues mix of cartoon & live

This video is the official one for "New Spleen Blues" by Kat & Co. a blues band with Kathleen Pearson at the heart.

When religions clash

From the pen of Steve Greenberg

The Merry Martyr of Morehead wants to return to jail

It's not often that anyone gets institutionalized that quickly, but it looks like her weekend stay in the hoosegow gave Kim Davis a taste for the cell life. She is taking the appropriate steps to return.
The county clerk from Kentucky who went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to gay couples said the licenses being granted by her staff are invalid, according to an interview that aired on Tuesday.

"I can't put my name on a license that doesn't represent what God ordained what marriage to be," Davis said in a television interview with ABC News, taped on Monday.

"They're not valid in God's eyes, for one," she said of licenses her staff has begun issuing. "I have given no authority to write a marriage license. They did not have my permission, they did not have my authorization."

Davis, 50, has said her Christian beliefs prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She was released on the condition that she not interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses.

Davis added that she was prepared to return to jail over the controversy, according to ABC.

She returned to work on Sept. 14 after a five-day stint in jail for refusing to issue any marriage licenses following a Supreme Court ruling in June that made gay marriage legal across the United States.

On Monday, lawyers for couples suing Davis said that she made material changes to the forms since returning to work and is not in compliance with a federal court order.

Issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky and other U.S. states has become the latest flash point in the nation's long-running debate over gay marriage.

In the wide-ranging interview from Morehead, Kentucky, Davis said she should keep her post, saying: "I'm good at my job."

"My constituents elected me, but the main authority that rules my life is the Lord," Davis told ABC, speaking alongside one of her lawyers.

She defended her actions and rejected criticism that she is a hypocrite and a homophobe for her actions and for citing her religious beliefs to deny marriages even as she has been married four times and had some children out of wedlock.

"I'm forgiven. Washed clean," she said.
Washed clean, eh? Must have been someone she met in the shower room. And don't you just love her assumption of forgiveness? Now we just wait to see if The Arkansas Antichrist Mike Huckabooboo will show up to serve her sentence as he said he wants to do.

28 years for killing his customers

No one would blink if he got 28 years for pulling out a gun and shooting people. So even though he was not charged with killing anybody, Steward Parnell received a cumulative sentence of 28 years for 67 counts related to shipping contaminated peanut products that did kill nine people.
A former peanut company executive was sentenced Monday to 28 years in prison for his role in a deadly salmonella outbreak, the stiffest punishment ever handed out to a producer in a foodborne illness case.

The outbreak in 2008 and 2009 was blamed for nine deaths and sickened hundreds more, and triggered one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.

Experts say the trial of former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and two co-defendants a year ago marked the first time U.S. food producers stood trial on criminal charges in a food-poisoning case. The company went bankrupt following the salmonella outbreak.

U.S. Attorney Michael Moore of Georgia's Middle District, whose office prosecuted the case, called it "a landmark with implications that will resonate not just in the food industry but in corporate boardrooms across the country."

A federal jury convicted Parnell, 61, of knowingly shipping contaminated peanut butter and of faking results of lab tests intended to screen for salmonella.

During the seven-week trial last year, prosecutors said the Parnell brothers covered up the presence of salmonella in the company's peanut products for years, even creating fake certificates showing the products were uncontaminated despite laboratory results showing otherwise.

The Parnells have said they never knowingly endangered customers, and their supporters asked a judge on Monday to show mercy.

"No one thought that the products were unsafe or could harm someone," said Stewart Parnell's daughter, Grey Parnell. "Dad brought them home to us. We all ate it."

An official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified at the trial that the company's peanut products sickened 714 people in 46 states, including 166 of whom were hospitalized. Salmonella is estimated to cause 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. The symptoms usually include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.
The idea of shipping product that may contain lethal bacteria concentrations is not a great business model. It is not even a good movie plot. Whether it is for 9 deaths or 67 criminal counts including conspiracy, wire fraud and obstruction of justice, 28 years seems about right.

Bernie denounces hedge fund pharmaweasel

Monday, September 21, 2015

A wonderful band from the West

West Australia to be accurate, The Waifs have ended their hiatus of several years and released a new album and resumed touring. The Waifs singing "Falling"

Hey! I get to say I told you so.

Back on September 12, right after Governor Goodhair dropped out of the race I predicted that the Evil Koch Owned Homunculus Scott Walker would be the next to go. And today he announced his ending his candidacy for president. Who will be next? Let me consult the entrails of a Republican to find out.

Maybe it will work

Despite the appearance of being just political fun and games, Tom Tomorrow wonders if we will again misunderestimate the fool running. As we did in 2000.

Oh those wacky Secret Service code names

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

3 cheers for Oregon

As the beginning of legal marijuana sales approaches, the state of Oregon is going one step further and providing a way to seal minor marijuana criminal records.
Oregon was not the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, which happened through a state ballot vote last November, nor is it the largest. But in preparing to begin retail marijuana sales next month, it is nonetheless blazing a profoundly new trail, legal experts and marijuana business people said.

“Oregon is one of the first states to really grapple with the issue of what do you do with a record of something that used to be a crime and no longer is,” said Jenny M. Roberts, a professor of law at American University in Washington, D.C., who specializes in criminal law and sentencing.

Many states in the past few years have begun to rethink the implications of harsh drug or mandatory sentencing laws that led to high incarceration rates and costs, revising rules so people who have righted their lives can escape the stigma of a criminal record.

Ms. Walton used a state law, not restricted to drug offenses, that allows anyone with a lowest-level felony, misdemeanor or nontraffic violation to wipe the slate clean if 10 years or longer has gone by without another conviction. Starting next year, more serious felony marijuana convictions of the past, like manufacturing, will be eligible for record sealing as well.
Oregon has long had lenient laws regarding possession, but now they are making their people legal along with the weed. Good for them.

They do fuck little boys in Afghanistan

But it is not in any way voluntary or accepted. It is, however, tolerated by the US military command in that beknighted state if the perp is one of our chosen allies.
Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

The policy has endured as American forces have recruited and organized Afghan militias to help hold territory against the Taliban. But soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages — and doing little when they began abusing children.

“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”

The policy of instructing soldiers to ignore child sexual abuse by their Afghan allies is coming under new scrutiny, particularly as it emerges that service members like Captain Quinn have faced discipline, even career ruin, for disobeying it.

After the beating, the Army relieved Captain Quinn of his command and pulled him from Afghanistan. He has since left the military.

Four years later, the Army is also trying to forcibly retire Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a Special Forces member who joined Captain Quinn in beating up the commander.
How like the military mind to punish those who object to something so wrong. The Army has a lot of problems relating to the local culture, wherever they are but somehow they always manage to respect the worst aspects of those cultures.

One way to say Fuck You to Congress

The GOP Congress in particular which feels it is necessary to continue a failed embargo of Cuba. As the annual vote on a Cuban resolution to condemn the embargo, the US may abstain from voting rather than fight it.
For the first time, the United States may be willing to accept a United Nations condemnation of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba without a fight.

U.S. officials told the Associated Press that the Obama administration is weighing abstaining from the annual U.N. General Assembly vote on a Cuban-backed resolution demanding that the embargo be lifted. The vote could come next month.

No decision has yet been made, said four administration officials who weren't authorized to speak publicly on sensitive internal deliberations and demanded anonymity. But merely considering an abstention is unprecedented. Following through on the idea would send shock waves through both the United Nations and Congress.

It is unheard of for a U.N. member state not to oppose resolutions critical of its own laws. And by not actively opposing the resolution, the administration would be effectively siding with the world body against Congress, which has refused to repeal the embargo despite calls from President Barack Obama to do so.

Obama has been urging Congress to scrap the 54-year-old embargo since December, when he announced that Washington and Havana would normalize diplomatic relations. The two countries re-opened embassies last month, and Obama has chipped away at U.S. restrictions on trade and travel to Cuba, using executive authorities. But the embargo stands.

The latest U.S. easing of sanctions occurred Friday and was followed by a rare phone call between Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. Pope Francis, who played a key role in the rapprochement between Havana and Washington, arrived in Havana a day later. He travels to the U.S. this week.

The White House said Obama and Castro discussed “steps that the United States and Cuba can take, together and individually, to advance bilateral cooperation.” The Cuban government said Castro “emphasized the need to expand their scope and abrogate, once and for all, the blockade policy for the benefit of both peoples.”
It would definitely be a benefit to both people and something we should work for. Abstention would be a fine step to take.

You just need to look in the right place

Sunday, September 20, 2015

From her last album in 2012

Beth Orton sings "Something More Beautiful", the album Sugaring Season.

They did so well last time

We just had to train up and send another group of fighters into Syria. And to show what a wonderful job we are doing, it has been announced in the press.
A group of 75 fighters, recently trained by U.S. and coalition forces in Turkey, have entered northern Syria to join the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a monitoring group reported on Sunday.

The fighters entered Syria in a convoy of a dozen cars with light weapons and ammunition, under air cover from the coalition that has been carrying out strikes against ISIL in Syria and Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British human rights group, said on Sunday.

"Seventy-five new fighters trained in a camp near the Turkish capital entered Aleppo province between Friday night and Saturday morning," Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory, told Al Jazeera.

U.S. officials on Sunday did not issue an immediate response to the report. On Wednesday, Gen. Austin Lloyd, who oversees the U.S. campaign against ISIL, told Congress that four or five U.S.-trained rebels were fighting in Syria. On Friday his spokesman, Col. Patrick Ryder, told reporters that four more had re-entered Syria since Austin spoke.

Abdel Rahman said the new group of U.S.-trained fighters crossed through the Bab al-Salama border point, the main gateway for fighters and supplies heading into Aleppo province.

That supply route has been increasingly targeted by ISIL fighters seeking to cut off support to rival rebel groups who are also fighting against the Syrian regime.

Abdel Rahman said the group was deployed to support two other U.S.-backed units, with most assigned to Division 30, the main unit for US-trained fighters, and others to a group called Suqur al-Jabal (Falcons of the Mountain).

Before this new batch of fighters, the U.S.-led “train-and-equip” program had only managed to vet and train about 60 rebels to fight ISIL.

The $500 million program, based in Turkey, has been fraught with problems. More than a dozen of those already deployed with Division 30 have been killed or detained by the Nusra Front, an armed group affiliate with Al-Qaeda.
So that makes 135 fighters left. Just about enough to be a pain in the ass for someone.

The current state of edjumacation in the US

From the pen of Brian McFadden

R.I.P. Jackie Collins

Farewell to the Queen of the Trash Novel. How many would still be reading books without you?

Exploiting human misery for profit

Make that enormous profit. It appears that the latest get-rich-quick scheme involves the pharmaceutical industry and the limited production of certain drugs.
Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection.

The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?” said Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.”
Jacking up the price 55 times wahtr it was before for no reason except that he can. Or to put it more baldly, an ex hedge fund manager has gone from screwing investors with the old 2 and 20 has now gone to screwing sick people and the government to the tune of at least $740 pure profit on each tab.
The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association sent a joint letter to Turing earlier this month calling the price increase on Daraprim “unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population” and “unsustainable for the health care system.” An organization representing the directors of state AIDS programs has also been looking into the price increase, according to doctors and patient advocates.

Daraprim, known generically as pyrimethamine, is used mainly to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasite infection that can cause serious or even life-threatening problems for babies born to women who become infected during pregnancy, and also for those with compromised immune systems, like AIDS patients and certain cancer patients.

Martin Shkreli, the founder and chief executive of Turing, said that the drug is so rarely used that the impact on the health system would be minuscule and that Turing would use the money it earns to develop better treatments for toxoplasmosis, with fewer side effects.

“This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business,” Mr. Shkreli said. He said that many patients use the drug for far less than a year and that the price was now more in line with those of other rare disease drugs.

“This is still one of the smallest pharmaceutical products in the world,” he said. “It really doesn’t make sense to get any criticism for this.”
Sure he's going to work on a better treatment and give up all that sweet profit for the sake of suffering humanity. And the moon is made of green cheese.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Everybody loves kids

And they are perfect for this song, "Five Dollar Bill" by Anna Tivel who performs around the Northwest when not playing with the Shook Twins.


From the pen of Tom Toles

Never right and never ending

Bill Maher takes on the zombie lies of the Republican Party

Has anybody warned Pearl?

After a hard fought battle in the Japanese Parliament, the government of Japan has been given permission to engage in military missions beyond the borders of Japan.
n a middle-of-the night vote that capped a tumultuous struggle with opposition parties in Parliament, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan secured final passage of legislation on Saturday authorizing overseas combat missions for his country’s military, overturning a decades-old policy of reserving the use of force for self-defense.

The legislation had been expected to pass; Mr. Abe’s governing coalition controls a formidable majority in the legislature. But analysts said the grinding political battle and days of demonstrations that accompanied the effort could hurt his standing with a public already skeptical of his hawkish vision for Japan’s national security.

The debate often doubled as a forum for airing views about Japan’s most important ally, the United States. Many were hostile.

“If this legislation passes, we will absolutely be caught up in illegal American wars,” Taro Yamamoto, a leader of a small left-leaning opposition party, said in a committee debate on Thursday. The debate ended with lawmakers piled on top of one another in a melee for control of the chairman’s microphone.
That's nice. Remember this is a countrythat has never acknowledged the brutal crimes committed by its military in WWII as the Germans have. And now the supporters of this change to the Japanese constitution also harbor hostile thoughts about the US. Time to bring our boys home and then Pearl their Harbor.

One more GOP chance to display gaybashing skills

Just in case you didn't already know what a bunch of ignorant puerile dipshits the Senate Republicans are, President Obama has nominated a gay man to be Secretary of the Army. If they give him the courtesy of a confirmation hearing, you can expect that his "gayness" will be the only 'qualification' the GOP will talk about.
President Obama took the historic step Friday of naming an openly gay man to head the Army, a nomination that, if confirmed, would be a first for the nation’s military services.

In light of past controversies over gay military service and President Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Obama’s promotion of Army Acting Undersecretary Eric Fanning to the largest service’s top post could face hurdles in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Several GOP presidential candidates have criticized the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling, in a 5-4 decision, that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, and homosexuality remains a divisive topic within the largely conservative military.

“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” Obama said in nominating Fanning to be secretary of the Army. “I am grateful for his commitment to our men and women in uniform, and I am confident he will lead America’s soldiers with distinction. I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.”

Fanning, 47, who has held a handful of lower Pentagon posts, would replace current Army Secretary John McHugh, a former New York state congressman who has held the job for six years.

Praising Fanning’s “sound judgment and insight,” McHugh said: “Our soldiers, civilians and their families will benefit greatly from his leadership.”

While the Senate confirmed McHugh, who had been the senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, by unanimous voice vote in September 2009, Fanning is unlikely to enjoy such a smooth confirmation path.

A native of Kalamazo, Mich. and a Dartmouth College graduate, Fanning served as chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ash Carter from mid-February through June, when Carter named him acting undersecretary of the Army.

In congratulating Fanning for his nomination to the top post, Carter put the Senate on notice against any political opposition.

“President Obama has made an excellent choice, and I hope for a quick Senate confirmation,” Carter said.

Because he was in an acting, or temporary, role as Army undersecretary, Fanning did not face a Senate confirmation vote before assuming that post on June 30. He also served as acting secretary of the Air Force for six months in 2013.
He did receive a voice vote approval of his term as acting Secretary of the Air Force but the flyboys are a little weird anyway so it didn't really matter.

Good question

Arrr! maties. Time for a pirate sing along

And a Merry Talk Like A Pirate Day to all ye scurvy rascals.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Back when she was a folk singer

Jill Barber sang "When I'm Making Love to You" and played guitar in a sinister fashion. But she still had a style all her own.

Why Rep Gosar won't go

From the pen of David Horsey

Ed Koch asked "How am I doing?"

But nowadays, after the latest Republican debates, the multitude of candidates has spread out across the land to tell you how wonderful their performance was, even when it was an abject failure.
Negotiating a debate’s aftereffect is a delicate art — a multipronged scramble to assuage supporters, call attention to highlights and prove that a campaign’s immediate boasts of victory were more credible than wishful.

The candidates are likely to cross paths again soon, at least offstage: Nearly all the Republican contenders will make the pilgrimage to South Carolina on Friday for a forum hosted by the conservative group Heritage Action for America. (They are not expected to appear together.)

But first, several candidates strove on Thursday to influence how their debate showings would be rated, crisscrossing the country for public events and appearing on television to trumpet their performances.

Donald J. Trump followed an uneven debate with an event here in New Hampshire, where he bragged that he had won the debate and noted that he was ahead of rivals like Carly Fiorina — and smiled as his crowd booed her name.

Mr. Trump, taking questions from the audience later, failed to correct a man who asserted that President Obama was a Muslim — a break from the practice of Senator John McCain and some other Republicans who have pointedly told voters that, no, Mr. Obama is a Christian.

“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” the man said, leading off the question-and-answer session with Mr. Trump. “We know our current president is one — you know he’s not even an American.”

Mr. Trump chuckled and said, “We need this question — this is the first question.” He went on to commiserate with the man about the possible existence of training camps in the United States to prepare Muslims to attack the West. “We’ll be looking at that and a lot of other things,” Mr. Trump said, sidestepping whether such camps existed.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was quiet on the campaign trail on Thursday, but he did tell Fox News in an interview that the debate had been framed like “a pay-per-view boxing match,” and he defended his Senate attendance record after Mr. Trump poked him over it Wednesday night.

Besides Mr. Walker, perhaps no candidate faced more pressure for a breakout debate than Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, who stopped in Las Vegas for a rally on Thursday.

But Mr. Bush drew an anemic turnout, with fewer than 150 supporters (and 40 journalists). He reminded the crowd that Nevada was a caucus state and, alluding to Mr. Trump’s critique of his vitality as a candidate, expressed hope that “I will be so brilliant and so eloquent and so high-energy that you sign up.”
What a bunch of losers!!

A slow motion ecological disaster

Way back in WWII uranium processing for the atomic bombs was done in St Louis. It made a pile of radioactive waste that has been kicking around the area ever since. In 1973 some of it was illegally dumped in a landfill and has remained there ever since. Since 2010 there has been an underground fire in an adjacent landfill that is spreading in the direction of the radioactive waste.
The underground fire was discovered in an adjacent landfill in 2010 and has continued to move toward the known radioactive waste, according to the state reports. The landfill’s owner, Arizona-based Republic Services, maintains that the fire is not spreading. A representative for the company told The Missouri Times that the state’s reports were scientifically inaccurate, overstated and irresponsible.

One of the reports released by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster concluded that the underground fire could reach the West Lake Landfill’s known radioactive waste in three to six months — the consequences of which remain largely unknown.

“I don’t understand why we’re just sitting back, as a city and as a nation, just letting this happen,” said Dawn Chapman, a resident who has been organizing to raise awareness about the situation.

More than 3 million people live in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

“Not only does the landfill emit a foul odor, it appears that it has poisoned its neighbors’ groundwater and vegetation,” Koster wrote in a statement released with the reports on Sept. 3. “The people of Missouri can’t afford to wait any longer — Republic needs to get this site cleaned up.”

He is taking Republic Services to court over the landfill, with the trial set to begin in March 2016, near the end of the state’s predicted three to six month window when the fire could reach the radioactive waste.

Nearby residents want to see the waste located, excavated and shipped out of the area before the smoldering fire hits it, while Republic Services and the Environmental Protection Agency have, so far, opted for containing the waste where it is.

“If you removed the radioactive waste from at least that portion of the landfill,” Chapman said, “it makes this site less complicated, and it also makes it so they can deal with this fire in an appropriate way. Everything is complicated with that radioactive waste. You take that off the site, and suddenly you just have a landfill fire."...

In a statement emailed to Al Jazeera in May, a representative for the EPA wrote, “There is no credible scientific data indicating off-site human exposure to radiological contaminants from the West Lake Landfill” and “if off-site contamination of the groundwater exists, there is currently no documented evidence of exposure to that groundwater nor definitive confirmation of the radium source.”

There is no lining between the waste and the groundwater or any cover on the surface of the landfill’s contaminated areas, which are feet from an artery road and a quarter-mile from the nearest residential area.

The EPA dismissed results of a 2014 test at a neighborhood ballfield, commissioned by residents, which found a radioactive form of lead that can result from decaying uranium particles.

However, the new state reports, which will be used as expert testimony in the state’s lawsuit against Republic Services, found that trees on neighboring properties contain radioactive materials and that chemicals, including carcinogens, were found at elevated levels in groundwater beyond the perimeter of the complex and can be traced to the landfill’s leachate.
The EPA has assumed a See No Evil attitude toward this site despite efforts in the region to clean up radioactive contamination. We can only wonder if this is a black neighborhood.

It was a humanitarian gesture

But our ever reliable Republican Party has turned the acceptance of 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US as an opportunity to gin up another shit-ton of fear and hate. It's what they do so well.
Since President Barack Obama announced his plan to accept 10,000 vetted Syrian refugees into the country, critics have rehashed a perennial anti-resettlement argument: that enemies of the United States will exploit American hospitality to sneak in operatives and attack the country from within.

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson aired that line over the weekend, calling Obama’s plan “a splendid opportunity for the global jihadists to infiltrate those numbers with members of their own organization,” suggesting that groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Al-Qaeda had plans to sneak “clean skin,” or undercover, members onto U.S. soil. Carson is hardly alone; in January, a group of Republican lawmakers warned any such program could turn into a “federally funded jihadi pipeline” and urged Obama to keep refugees out.

That fear, which many would dismiss as alarmist, is a major reason why the U.S. has until now resettled such a miniscule share of those fleeing Syria — just over 1,600 — of the over 4 million refugees who have fled their country’s war. To those like Carson, incidents like the Boston Marathon bombings, which were carried out by a pair of Chechen immigrant brothers, are evidence that the U.S. security vetting apparatus is ill-prepared to handle what Obama is planning.

“How does it, you know, let people like the Tsarnaev brothers in here?” Carson asked during an ABC interview Sunday.

Separate the example of the Tsarnaevs, who had no known ties to banned groups when they were vetted 11 years before their attack, most experts say Washington’s intensive, post-9/11 security vetting regimen is more than capable of mitigating the security risks inherent in taking in people from chaotic and murky conflicts like Syria’s.

“The short answer is that the issue is overblown,” said Daryl Grisgraber, senior advocate for Refugees International. “The detailed answer is that the U.S. has been resettling refugees for over 50 years now, and ever since 9/11, there’s been an even more rigorous vetting process. It is slow and thorough, and, frankly, for the refugees, it can be quite painful.”
"It can be quite painful". That phrase highlights the Republican dilemma. Do they keep the refugees out, as the base wants. Or do they subject them to a painful process and get their rocks off thinking and dreaming about it? What's a Republican to do?!?

Who says they have no health plan?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Another song of regret

The Leftover Cuties

Just like the debate

It must be in their genes

From the pen of Nick Anderson

OMG there is a school for everything

For those who like their camping a little more 'authentic' Norway has established a school for those who wish to learn the Viking way of life.
Jeppe Nordmann Garly has for years been a “recreational Viking,” a keen member of a fringe fraternity of would-be Norse warriors who dress up in 10th-century clothing, attend weekend craft fairs and trade tips over the Internet on where to pick up an authentic helmet or sword.

He has now become a full-time Viking. Formerly a teacher and jewelry maker in Denmark, Mr. Garly last month began a new job on a hillside campus in central Norway as the director of Scandinavia’s first government-funded training course on how to live like a Viking.

Or, that is, a politically correct one, purged of the bloodthirsty aggression that made the Viking Age a byword for macho violence.

“I am a very peaceful man. I have never plundered anything,” said Mr. Garly, a 36-year-old Dane whose modest stature, jocular manner and portly figure belie his enthusiasm for ancient warriors. He does, at least, have a beard.

“Rape and pillage are not part of the curriculum,” Mr. Garly added.

Also banished from the campus here in Seljord, a pretty lakeside town 115 miles west of Oslo, are Viking symbols like the swastika, which Nazi Germany and a puppet fascist government set up in Norway during World War II promoted as emblems of their racist creed...

Mr. Husby said the college has laid down strict rules that the Viking students would not engage in “inappropriate” activities. Animal sacrifices, violent sword play, hallucinogenic mushrooms — which some believe the Vikings used to pep themselves up for battle — are all off limits.
Taking out the rape and pillage may make it less attractive to some but you can get training in various crafts as practiced by those jolly Norsemen. And unfortunately, shipbuilding does not appear to be on the syllabus.

After 15 years of civil war

It only took Mozambique 23 years to get rid of all the land mines leftover from the 'festivities'. Along the way over 10,000 Mozambicans became mine detectors to their detriment.
Mozambique will be declared “mine free” on Thursday, a charity dedicated to mine clearance said, ending two decades of work to rid one of the world's poorest countries of explosives left over from a civil war.

HALO Trust said it had destroyed the last known mine on the territory of the gas- and coal-rich southern African country, which was devastated by a 15-year civil war that ended in 1992.

The British charity said it had cleared more than 171,000 land mines from 1,100 mine fields since 1993.

Mozambique’s government estimates that 10,900 Mozambicans have been killed or injured by land mines, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which cited government figures.

“The government of Mozambique will officially declare the country free of land mines today,” HALO Trust said in a statement on its web site.

A former Portuguese colony, Mozambique is still one of the world's least developed nations, but it is starting to tap huge coal and natural gas deposits with help from foreign investors.
Despite all the efforts of well intentioned people to make the land safe, I can't help but think the coal and gas potential was the driving force in making the elimination of mines happen so quickly.

It only takes 6 years

So he was picked up in Afghanistan, never charged with anything and cleared for release in 2009. He was finally sent home this week.
The Obama administration sent home a long-cleared Moroccan captive from Guantánamo Bay on Wednesday, a rare release from the U.S. military prison in Cuba at a time when Congress is considering expanding restrictions on such transfers.

Younis Chekkouri, 47, was taken to Guantánamo 13 years ago as a suspected militant from the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group in Afghanistan. He was approved for release in 2009 and never charged with a crime.

U.S. forces delivered Detainee 197, as Chekkouri was called, to the North African nation on Wednesday, but didn’t announce it until Thursday after his London-based legal firm, Reprieve, issued a statement of concern about his welfare. Reprieve said it was unaware of Chekkouri’s exact whereabouts but believed he had not seen a local lawyer “in apparent violation of Moroccan law.”

At the Pentagon, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross expressed gratitude on behalf of the United States to Morocco “for its willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.”

“The United States coordinated with the government of Morocco to ensure this transfer took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures,” Ross said in a statement.

It was the first release since the U.S. sent six Yemenis to Oman in June, demonstrating Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s go-slow approach to transfers while the administration scouts U.S. sites that could hold Guantánamo captives for indefinite detention and war crimes court trials.
Nobody has ever accused any government of moving quickly, but this is ridiculous. And whatever other qualities Defense Secretary Ass Carter may have, his go-slow policy is an embarassment and PBO needs to end it now.

Can I get a witness?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2 sisters, 1 song

Listen in to why you should love The Hello Strangers singing "What You Don't Know" with a little help from Jim Lauderdale who also helped with the writing.

Expanding their horizons

From the pen of Rob Rogers

A day late and a dollar short

If you were thinking that railroad safety improvements would be in place by the end of the year, as mandated by law, think again.
Congress should extend the deadline for freight and passenger railroads to install technology that could prevent deadly train accidents, like the Amtrak derailment in May that killed eight people and injured more than 200, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Congress set a deadline of Dec. 31 for freight and commuter rail companies to install the technology, which is known as positive train control, after a California passenger train accident in 2008 killed 25 people. But the new report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found that the vast majority of railroads will not meet that deadline.

Amtrak has said it will be able to install and activate the safety systems in the busy Northeast Corridor — which extends from Washington to Boston — by that date, but the new report says that is not the case because parts of that line are owned and operated by different entities.

The report said a number of issues had contributed to delays installing the system, including that the technology is new and that there are a limited number of suppliers. The report said the government had also contributed to delays in installation. For example, railroads had to stop construction along tracks on radio poles — which make the GPS technology work — because they had not gone through an environmental evaluation process.

The report also found that the Federal Railroad Administration had not provided adequate oversight; it took the agency seven months to review the first safety plan it received from a railroad.

Railroads across the country that have not installed and activated the necessary equipment could face federal fines and other mandates if they continue operating without it past Dec. 31, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

The Government Accountability Office report bolsters assertions by some lawmakers that an extension is needed. A Senate bill that was passed in July would push the deadline to 2018. The bill would add money to the Department of Transportation’s budget to help the industry with installation of the technology because the equipment is expensive and time-consuming to install across thousands of miles of track.
The deadline will probably be extended, but with no extra funding, it is not likely to do a whole lot of good. Republicans may talk a mean game, but they never fund what is necessary.

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