Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Halloween video you can't refuse

By Swingrowers a 5 piece band from Palermo. "Midnight" is performed over various classic early animations. Trick or Treat.

Kids should avoid some houses

From the pen of Kevin Siers

Charter schools were a fraud from the beginning

But they at least had the virtue of classrooms where you might learn something. Online charter schools have no virtues whatsoever beyond the profit for their owners.
A new study on the effectiveness of online charter schools is nothing short of damning — even though it was at least partly funded by a private pro-charter foundation. It effectively says that the average student who attends might as well not enroll.

The study was done by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, known as CREDO, and located at Stanford University, in collaboration with the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington and Mathematica Policy Research. CREDO’s founding director, Margaret Raymond, served as project director. CREDO receives funding from the pro-charter Walton Family Foundation, which provided support for the new research.

CREDO has released a number of reports in recent years on the effectiveness of charters — using math and reading standardized test scores as the measure — which collectively conclude that some perform better than traditional public schools and some don’t. In its newest report, released this week, CREDO evaluated online K-12 charter schools. There are 17 states with online charter students: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.

The study sought to answer this question: “How did enrollment in an online charter school affect the academic growth of students?” Academic growth, as mentioned before, is measured by standardized test scores for the purpose of this study, which evaluated scores from online charter students between 2008 and 2013 and compared them to students in traditional public schools (not brick-and-mortar charters). Here are some of the findings:

Students in online charters lost an average of about 72 days of learning in reading.

Students in online charters lost 180 days of learning in math during the course of a 180-day school year. Yes, you read that right. As my colleague Lyndsey Layton wrote in this story about the study, it’s as if the students did not attend school at all when it comes to math.

The average student in an online charter had lower reading scores than students in traditional schools everywhere except Wisconsin and Georgia, and had lower math scores everywhere except in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Layton quoted Raymond as saying, “There’s still some possibility that there’s positive learning, but it’s so statistically significantly different from the average, it is literally as if the kid did not go to school for an entire year.”
Hey! No one said the kids had to learn. All they said was the management had to be paid.

R.I.P. Al Molinaro

The owner, chief cook and bottle washer of Arnold's, diner to the stars and a Potsie.

Bill Maher goes on an anti PC rant

And like your Halloween candy collection, it's a mixed bag, but he has his moments.

And this story just in...

Friday, October 30, 2015

A song for her niece

Rachel Davis sings "The Girl With The Pine River Eyes"

Just another gasbag

From the pen of Jack Ohman

Another Gitmo victim waits 8 years for the bus home

When a prisoner is cleared to be released, it really amounts to torture to delay that release for another 8 years. Even more so when the initial detention had no legitimate reason. Britains last national held in Guantanamo had just that done to him.
During Shaker Aamer’s near decade-and-a-half of incarceration at Guantanamo Bay — which has finally ended, some eight years after he was originally recommended for release — the British resident was never put on trial for any crime, nor was he ever charged.

As such, the 46-year-old — who arrived in the U.K. on Friday after being flown from the controversial detention center — should not feel compelled to clear his name; no evidence has even been presented against him in any court and experts Al Jazeera spoke to believe no such evidence ever existed to warrant his lengthy detention.

Instead, the daunting task in front of him will be to rebuild a life snatched away from him in 2001, and re-familiarize himself with his wife, and children who have had to grow up without him — including one he has never met.

But his release is unlikely to provide a final full stop to his case. Serious questions remain over the circumstances of his detention and why he was for so long denied repatriation to the U.K. despite — if taken at face value — the long protestations of the British government of his imprisonment.

Supporters of Aamer want an inquiry into his case and his release may throw a fresh spotlight on conditions at Guantanamo and CIA torture, in particular claims by Aamer that its use against a Libyan national — in the presence of U.K. secret service agents — resulted in the since discredited information linking Saddam Hussein with Al-Qaeda, used as justification for the Iraq war.

The U.K.’s Metropolitan Police told Al Jazeera that an investigation into allegations of torture is still open, but declined to give details. “There are ongoing inquiries,” a Scotland Yard spokesperson said, adding: “We are not going to confirm who we may or may not be speaking to as part of those inquiries.”

Lawyers for Aamer told Al Jazeera that police officers had visited Guantanamo and met with their client prior to his release. “He complied with a Met [Metropolitan Police] inquiry in Guantanamo and talked about British complicity in torture and he thinks that those involved were low down the chain — Shaker very much doesn’t want to see people go to jail,” said Clive Stafford Smith, Aamer’s lawyer and director of legal rights charity Reprieve.

“He does, however, want a truth and reconciliation inquiry and will push for that,” Stafford Smith added.
His and other detentions on trumped up charges that fail to hold up are an embarrassment to the governments involved. And when governments are embarrassed, people suffer greater harm than when they are merely evil.

Welcome to our new Imperial outpost

We will be inserting US troops into another country, hitherto only reached by our spy agencies in their efforts to find a safe place to torture high value prisoners. Syria will now be blessed with more than just our bombs and errant weapons drops.
A small number of U.S. special operations forces will be deployed to Syria to help efforts to counter the Islamic State, the White House said.

President Barack Obama has authorized fewer than 50 troops to be deployed to northern Syria, where they will help coordinate local ground forces and coalition efforts.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said opposition troops in the area have already had success pushing back Islamic State militants and said the addition of U.S. troops would “intensify” that effort. He said the U.S. troops would not be engaged in combat, but will advise and assist moderate Syrian opposition forces.

Additional steps include deploying A-10s and F-15s to Incirlik airbase in Turkey, consulting with Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi government on the establishment of a Special Operations Force task force to enhance the targeting of ISIS leaders and leaders and networks and stepping up counter-Islamic State military assistance to Jordan and Lebanon.
Another country notch on the gun. And how many more years before they are withdrawn?

EXTRA: It is most helpful when fighting evildoers if your allies have the same goals. It appears that the Kurds and Arabs in Northern Syria, don't share our zeal for going after DAESH.

The real life Red Zone

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I should post so much more of her

From her first hit "Seven Year Ache" to this, "World of Strange Design" from her most recent album The River & The Thread, Rosanne Cash has done a boatload of great music.

Will another strategery meeting help?

From the pen of Jack Ohman

Look no farther than the NRA

If you are looking for a cabal of thugs and gangbangers responsible for so many needless deaths in our country. And polls show that support for reasonable public safety laws to keep guns out of the hands of the unfit is increasing.
Americans’ appetite for more gun control has increased slightly over the past two years, according to poll results released Tuesday, and the National Rifle Association launched a campaign calling for the federal government to better enforce existing regulations and put, as the NRA’s chief put it, “thugs” and “gangbangers” in prison.

An Associated Press/GFK poll found that 58 percent of Americans support stronger gun laws, compared with 52 percent in December 2013. But the poll showed that Democrats and Republicans as well as rural and urban Americans remain sharply divided over what should be done to reduce the 30,000 gun deaths — 20,000 of them suicides — reported in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 80 percent of Democrats surveyed expressed support for stronger gun regulations, compared with 46 percent of moderate and liberal Republicans, the AP poll found. Among all surveyed Republicans, 20 percent thought existing gun laws should be less strict, and 41 percent said they favored no change.

Americans living in urban areas, especially the Northeast, were more likely to favor restrictions, with 60 percent saying new laws would be a good idea. In rural areas, just 40 percent said they wanted new laws.
Needless to say, that bloodthirsty enabler of illegal guns and rampant shootings, Wayne LaPierre thought this is a bad idea. Of course Wayne is safe within the gun free zones enforced whenever around NRA management is around. What, you think they are a bunch of fools?

Six years after he was good to go

Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz finally got to go, back to Mauritania following his release from Guantanamo Concentration Camp. In what is becoming an American tradition, he was released six years after he was deemed innocent and fit for release.
A Mauritanian citizen held at Guantanamo Bay for 14 years despite never being accused of a crime and being cleared for release years ago by the U.S. government was finally repatriated to his home country, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz, 45, was told in 2009 by an inter-agency review task force created by the Obama administration that it no longer believed that that he needed to be detained in the U.S. prison camp. Yet there he remained, along with 53 other detainees who have also been cleared for release, out of a total 113 who remain at the controversial detention facility.

"While it's great that Ahmed is home with his family, it's 14 years late, and long after he was cleared," one of his lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith said. "His release was only delayed because he, an innocent man, routinely protested his mistreatment.”

The U.S. government has not said why, despite after being cleared for release in 2009, his repatriation has been repeatedly delayed. He is the 14th detainee to have been released this year by the Obama administration...

Mauritania, a sparsely populated West African country is one of the least developed nations in the Sahel region, but also a chief U.S. ally in the regional security issues. Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz ceased power in a military coup in 2008 and was elected president in 2009 and re-elected in 2014 — the majority of the opposition parties boycotted the later elections.

Mauritania under Abdel Aziz highly regards its relationship with the U.S., and it is virtually guaranteed “they will abide by the letter of the (prisoner) transfer agreement” with the U.S., said Nasser Weddady, a Mauritanian-American activist and expert on the African country. He believes the now former Guantanamo prisoner Aziz will be under mild surveillance and generally treated well as long as he keeps a relatively low profile.

Still, no one in Mauritania believes Aziz was or is Al-Qaeda, said Weddady. Meanwhile, civil society groups in Mauritania public have been supportive of the prisoners and there is “popular anger about Guantanamo,” Weddady said. “They believe these men have been unjustly lock upped” by the U.S. and successive Mauritanian governments “did zilch to help them.”
Six extra years of Uncle Sam's "hospitality" on top of the 8 years he never deserved in the first place. Damn! Are we great or what?

A new seat for Lyin' Paul Ryan

And it is a most dangerous one for the Republican Blunderkind. Much like during his failed run with Mitt Romney, he can no longer fade back into the shadows when he reaches the limits of his ability.
Rep. Paul Ryan was elected speaker of The House of Representatives Thursday, replacing John Boehner, who was nudged into retirement by a combative cadre of hardline Republican conservatives that he couldn’t control or satisfy.

That job now falls to Ryan, R-Wis., a blue-eyed, buffed, politically-savvy 45-year-old policy wonk from Janseville, Wis., who was Republican Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate in 2012.

"It’s not until you hold this gavel, stand in this spot, look out and see all 435 members of this House - as if all America is sitting right in front of you," Ryan said in his acceptance speech. "It’s not until then that you feel it: the weight of responsibility, the gravity of the moment."

Ryan received 236 votes to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s 184 votes. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., who had the endorsement of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus before Ryan entered the race, received nine votes while former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., each received one vote.

The 62nd House speaker in the nation’s history was a reluctant candidate for speaker. He initially told colleagues that he would be more than content to remain chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

But he heeded pleas from colleagues who argued that he was perhaps the only person who could repair a deeply-divided and dysfunctional House Republican conference.

"He did not seek the office," Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chair of the House Republican Conference, said in nominating Ryan on the House floor. "The office sought him."
Unless Lyin' Ryan has started to believe his own press clippings, the remarks of McMorris0Rogers may be true. Why would someone seek an office that will shine a harsh light that will reveal all his flaws in its glare.

Look what's floating in the punch bowl

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A maiden entry from an English band

Rose & The Howling North perform "Cuckoo"

This way to the exit

From the pen of Patrick Chappatte

Trailer Park trash

Sometimes that phrase refers to the management instead of the residents. A case in point is the North Lamar Mobile Home Park in Austin Texas.
Mobile home owners may own their trailers, but not the land beneath them. This year, a company called RV Horizons purchased the North Lamar Park. One of the first actions of new management was a rent hike, bringing that monthly cost from $380 per month up to $450. Residents were also told they had to pay for water and sewage separately, adding another $150 a month. Combined with new fees for stipulations like having more than two cars, or more than four people living in a home, residents in North Lamar say they were looking at a monthly housing cost of close to $800 per month.

The park is owned by Dave Reynolds and Frank Rolfe, who aren’t your average landlords; they’re a new breed of real estate mogul, among the largest mobile home park owners in the country. Since getting into the business in the 1990s, they've become multimillionaires and now own and operate about 170 parks nationwide.

Rolfe told America Tonight he raises rents on about 70 percent of newly purchased mobile home parks, and also adds utility fees. He says the money often goes to property improvements, with North Lamar being a typical example.

But besides raising the rents to what he says is market value and making improvements, Rolfe’s rules also include a new code of conduct for residents.

“We call it ‘no pay, no stay,’ so if you don’t play by the rules of the park and if you don’t pay your rent, then you have to go,” Rolfe said. “When you have no rules, they go crazy because they have no boundaries.”

Rolfe’s tactics and his choice of words have angered many. He once told Bloomberg News that owning a mobile home park is like owning “a Waffle House where everyone is chained to the booths.” As Rolfe explained, mobile homes aren’t actually all that mobile. It can cost as much as $5,000 to actually move a trailer.

With 20 million people across the country living in mobile homes, Rolfe called the model the most stable cash flow business there is. But when asked if he could sympathize with the residents who are fighting for rents to stay low, he didn’t hesitate to defend his business practices.

“I can sympathize with them, except for the fact that they were getting a phenomenal free ride for all that time,” he said. “That’s the way you have to look at it because that’s just the fact.”
Pharma Bro has analogs in the mobile home park business. And they are just as greedy. They care not about what they own beyond squeezing the assets for as much as they can.

Hard to ignore

The international community will be holding talks on what to do about Syria in Vienna. One of the parties invited to the talks is Iran in recognition of its support and involvement with the Assad regime.
Iran confirmed Wednesday that it will attend the international talks on Syria's future later this week in Vienna, following an invitation from the Russian envoy, for Tehran's first appearance at such a gathering.

The invitation came after the United States declared itself ready to engage Iran, the most committed backer of the Assad government, in search of an end to Syria's four-year civil war. Inviting Tehran to the table reflects a shift in Washington and a retreat by key allies such as Saudi Arabia, which had — in response to previous Russian efforts to include the Iranians in the talks — vehemently opposed any Iranian role in shaping events in Syria.

Tehran, which characterized the latest development as Washington accepting the “realities” on the ground in Syria, has provided the government of Bashar Al-Assad with military and political backing for years. Iran admits that its Revolutionary Guard officers are on the ground in Syria in an advisory role, but denies the presence of any combat troops in the country.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russia's Lavrov and several top European and Arab diplomats, including those from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, will be attending — a familiar cast that up to now has not included any Iranian representatives. Kerry departs for the Austrian capital on Wednesday.

Iran's attendance could be a game-changer, though Syrian opposition groups are likely to balk at Tehran's inclusion in any discussions on what a post-Assad Syria should look like. Iran's attendance would also mean that traditional Iran-Saudi regional rivalries could surface at the negotiating table. The U.S. reportedly lobbied its regional ally Saudi Arabia to accept Tehran's place in Friday's meeting.
Given that its involvement is equal to, if not greater, than ours it would be hard to ignore them. But it runs up hard against the usual Saudi-Iran struggle for influence in the region. And everyone else is enjoying watching us in the middle of those two.

Some people don't mind women dying

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

When you write the song, you can sing it

Even if it is from a man's point of view like "High Heeled Woman" which Heather Masse sings when The Wailin' Jennys aren't active.

A Flock of DC Mountain Williams*

From the pen of David Horsey

*Just a bunch of jumped up hillbillies

R.I.P. William Bradford Keith

Bill Keith and his banjo wrought a seismic change on American music.

Ben Carson has new improved bad idea

His original idea to do away with Medicare was essentially to give everybody annual cash allowances to pay for medical care. This would have cost money and might have actually done some good. So Crazy Uncle Ben has redone his plan to reduce costs and eliminate benefits.
But last weekend, in a series of interviews, Mr. Carson, who is now narrowly leading in some national polls for the G.O.P. presidential nomination, said he had discarded that idea, and was now presenting a new health plan. It’s less politically toxic, but much less coherent. It is also less likely to lead to the big changes to the health care system he seeks.

Like the original plan, his new one would include health savings accounts, meant to encourage people to pay for their medical care directly. But it would also coexist with existing government health programs — and the degree to which the government would be involved is unclear. It’s very hard to determine who would benefit from the Carson plan or how much it would cost the federal government. It seems possible that it could actually cost more than the current system.
Possible? More like guaranteed. Let us not lose sight of its real purpose.
The new plan would still repeal Obamacare, but apparently not do away with Medicare and Medicaid, the big government health insurance programs that have been around since the 1960s. In previous statements, Mr. Carson has said he’d like to scrap them both as wasteful and inferior to his idea of a lifetime $2,000-per-year health care allowance for every American. On Thursday, Kyle Cheney and Jason Millman at Politico described that plan, including critical voices from Republican health policy analysts, who worried that ending the popular Medicaid and Medicare programs would be both politically and practically problematic.

“No, that — that’s the old plan. That’s been gone for several months now,” Mr. Carson told Mr. Wallace on Sunday, adding that he’d recently consulted with “a lot of economists and various people” who helped him shape his new plan.
Like all Conservative economic plans the financing of all the magic continues to go unexplained. This makes sense if you remember that the purpose is not to provide health care to any of the undeserving masses but to destroy Medicare/Medicaid forever. Now it all makes sense.

Freezing your ass off

Cryotherapy is a new wonder therapy that is supposed to work all manner of miracles on the human body.One employee at a cryotherapy center found out that it does do one thing very well. It will freeze you solid as a rock.
Chelsea Ake-Salvacion felt she was on health care’s cutting edge, working at a cryotherapy center in this Las Vegas suburb that promised to help clients burn calories, reduce pain, strengthen immune systems and halt aging by embedding them in freezing tanks for a few minutes at a time.

In her off hours, she engaged in the practice, and dreamed of opening her own cryotherapy center once she had learned the ropes.

But last week, Ms. Ake-Salvacion, 24, was found dead in one of the tanks, discovered by her colleague and friend Elise Iverson. After working an evening shift on Oct. 19 at the Rejuvenice spa here, which offers two forms of deep-freeze therapy, in tanks that can reach temperatures of minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit, she had stayed to give herself a cryotherapy session. She was found the next day.

A local coroner’s office said the cause of death had not yet been determined. But Ms. Ake-Salvacion’s uncle said the coroner had told him his niece’s body was found “rock-hard solid.”

“Something went wrong,” said the uncle, Albert Ake, 48. “What she told me is that there is nothing dangerous about doing this. That the only thing that could happen is you’re there a little too long and you get frost nip on your fingers.”
Another quack therapy that had a seductive lure for one young woman.

In our Game of Diplomatic Chicken

So far nobody has made any deliberate mistakes in response to our deliberate provocation. The Chinese government has made the requisite protests about our intrusion into what they now claim as territorial waters. So what next?
Tensions over the South China Sea grew on Tuesday after Beijing accused the United States of committing a “deliberate provocation” by sending a Navy destroyer into waters claimed by China.

“China will firmly react to this deliberate provocation,” Lu Kang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a regularly scheduled news conference. “China will not condone any action that undermines China’s security.”

The American ambassador, Max Baucus, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday evening and told that the United States should stop “threatening Chinese sovereignty and security interests,” the national broadcaster CCTV said.

The Defense Ministry said Tuesday night that two Chinese vessels — a missile destroyer, the Lanzhou, and a patrol boat, the Taizhou — had warned the American warship to leave the disputed waters. The Pentagon has said that the destroyer, accompanied by surveillance aircraft, completed its mission without incident.

Despite the strong language — and a vow that such actions could force China to speed up its building program in the South China Sea — Beijing’s response repeated standard language about its rights and sovereignty over the South China Sea.

The Chinese statements came after the Lassen, a guided missile destroyer, sailed late Monday within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, one of several artificial islands that China has built in the disputed Spratly Islands chain. The United States had signaled for weeks that it would undertake the mission, which it called an exercise of the right to freedom of navigation in international waters.

The Spratly archipelago is closer to the Philippines, an American ally, than to China. Satellite images show that China has built Subi Reef into an island, using huge dredging, and that it has started constructing a runway capable of accommodating military aircraft. It has completed another such runway in the Spratlys, on Fiery Cross Reef, and is working on a third.

The artificial islands built by China, and the broader issue of its claims over islands and small reefs in nearly 90 percent of the strategically important South China Sea, are among the most contentious issues between Washington and Beijing.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also dispute China’s claims to the Spratly Islands.
So far everything has gone according to the ritual, but the main problem still exists, what to do about new land created for the purpose of extending a claim?

Fight The Patriarchy

Monday, October 26, 2015

So new they left no tracks on the web, yet

But the Lemon Trees sing heavenly harmonies on songs like "When the Moon Fell In Love". And FWIW the blonde in the middle is Leslie Stevens.

A Never Ending Horror

As Halloween approaches, Tom Tomorrow examines the horror that came to stay, Eternal Election Campaigns Without End, Amen.

Boner plans one last poo fling

This one at the reactionary extremist caucus that forced his sorry ass out of the Speaker's Chair. If he succeeds, it would be the only success he can hang on the wall of his den when he gets home.
The White House and congressional Republican leaders are close to reaching a bipartisan two-year budget agreement, rolling back some of the impending sequester cuts that would affect defense and domestic programs, sources said Monday.

A deal, which might be announced as soon as Monday, could resolve the stalemate over reauthorizing government funding, which runs out Dec. 11. It would also shift the threat of another government shutdown until after the 2016 presidential election.

Progress toward a budget accord came as a surprise to many. It would be one of the final legislative actions of House Speaker John A. Boehner, who is preparing to step down later this week after being forced by GOP conservatives to retire early.

“We’re hopeful to have something to announce tonight,” said a senior congressional leadership aide, granted anonymity to discuss the private negotiations.

After announcing his retirement, Boehner had vowed to "clean up the barn" for his successor. Resolving the budget standoff would clear one of the most divisive issues from the agenda of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is expected to be elected as the next House speaker later this week.

The more Boehner can muscle through the testy GOP-led House in the days ahead, the smoother the transition will be for Ryan.

Boehner is also trying to wrap up an agreement on the debt ceiling, and House Republican leaders have said they expect a vote on raising the debt limit later this week. The debt ceiling bill remained on a separate track from the budget deal, the aide said, but both could come to a vote in a matter of days.
He will need a lot of Democrats, probably all of them to overcome the paucity of willing Republicans.

The difference between Old Blighty and US

From the pen of Lee Judge

Poor Water Boy Marco can't handle the Senate

But the dear little boy wants us to believe he can be president. Sadly for him, he has shown no aptitude for governing. But he does do greed and overweening ambition quite well.
Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator. And he just can’t stand it anymore.

“I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said in an interview. “I’m frustrated.”

This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate — the very place that cemented him as a national politician — as a place he’s given up on, after less than one term. It’s too slow. Too rule-bound. So Rubio, 44, has decided not to run for his seat again. It’s the White House or bust.

“That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection,” Rubio said in the last Republican debate, after Donald Trump had mocked him for his unusual number of absences during Senate votes.

Five years ago, Rubio arrived with a potential that thrilled Republicans. He was young, ambitious, charismatic, fluent in English and Spanish, and beloved by the establishment and the tea party.

But Rubio had arrived at one of the least ambitious moments in Senate history and saw many of his ideas fizzle. Democrats killed his debt-cutting plans. Republicans killed his immigration reform. The two parties actually came together to kill his AGREE Act, a small-bore, hands-across-the-aisle bill that Rubio had designed just to get a win on something.

Now, he’s done. “He hates it,” a longtime friend from Florida said, speaking anonymously to say what Rubio would not.

Which makes for an odd campaign message.
His big man wants us to believe that Water Boy isn't quitting even as Water Boy does exactly that. More of that slimy Republican logic. I am unable to understand how all these Republicans who want promotion to better things think that failing and quitting their current positions will bring them greater rewards. Maybe I just don't believe It Is OK If You Are A Republican.

Right out of the gate

A banker with Goldmine Sachs, who previously worked for the Fed, got his buddy at his old job to send him some confidential information on one of his new clients. Now he is facing criminal penalties.
Federal prosecutors are preparing to announce a criminal case against a former Goldman Sachs banker suspected of taking confidential documents from a source inside the government, a rare criminal action on Wall Street that comes as Goldman itself is facing an array of regulatory penalties over the leak.

The banker and his source, who at the time of the leak was an employee at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, one of Goldman’s regulators, might plead guilty to misdemeanor theft charges rather than fight the case at trial, according to lawyers briefed on the matter who were not authorized to discuss private deliberations. The men, who were both fired in
In a statement, a Goldman spokesman emphasized that the banker worked for the firm for less than three months, and that the bank “immediately began an investigation and notified the appropriate regulators” once it detected the leak. Nonetheless, the bank is expected to pay a significant price for the leak.

Under a tentative deal with New York State’s financial regulator, the lawyers said, Goldman would pay a fine of $50 million and face new restrictions on how it handled delicate regulatory information. The settlement with the Department of Financial Services would also force Goldman to take the rare step of acknowledging that it failed to adequately supervise the former banker — thrusting the bank back into the spotlight just as it was shedding a popular image as a firm willing to cut corners to turn a profit.
Curiously enough, Goldmine Sachs may have done the right thing according to its procedures when they discovered the leak. Still it is good to see them take a hit. The real fault is the revolving door between government and Wall St.

When your movie stream keeps buffering

If you live in New York State, the Attorney General is looking into broadband speeds and the pricing policies of the broadband suppliers to determine if they are delivering fairly and as promised.
New York state's attorney general is probing whether three major Internet providers could be shortchanging consumers by charging them for faster broadband speeds and failing to deliver the speeds being advertised, according to documents seen by Reuters.

The letters, sent on Friday to executives at Verizon Communications Inc, Cablevision Systems Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc, ask each company to provide copies of all disclosures they have made to customers, as well as copies of any testing they may have done of their Internet speeds.

"New Yorkers deserve the Internet speeds they pay for. But, it turns out, many of us may be paying for one thing, and getting another," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

In statements, spokesmen for the three companies expressed confidence in the speeds of their Internet services.

“We’re confident that we provide our customers the speeds and services we promise them and look forward to working with the AG to resolve this matter,” Time Warner Cable spokesman Bobby Amirshahi said.

Cablevision spokesman Charlie Schueler said the company's Optimum Online service "consistently surpasses advertised broadband speeds, including in FCC (Federal Communications Commission) and internal tests. We are happy to provide any necessary performance information to the Attorney General as we do to our customers.”

A Verizon spokesman said the company would cooperate with Schneiderman's office. "Verizon is confident in the robust and reliable Internet speeds it delivers to subscribers," the spokesman said.
And this is why the Internet should be classed as a utility. Customers should not be hostage to business "pissing matches" between connection nor abused by greedy policies of mediocre management.

A jobs proposal that might work

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A song of solidarity

Rupa And The April Fishes sing "Weeds" from their album Build

Are you Gullibileptic?

Berkeley Breathed explains political campaigning

Need a costume idea for Halloween?

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Louisiana politics maintains its reputation

In Louisiana there is very little you can do to keep from running and potentially being elected to public office. The latest first round of voting for Governor proved that yesterday. Senator "Diaper Dave" Vitter will be in the runoff despite all his moral failings, but he barely made it to second place in the voting.
In a race that made a late but convincing case for the enduring entertainment value of Louisiana politics, Senator David Vitter, a Republican, barely squeaked out a second-place finish in Saturday’s primary election for governor to make a runoff against John Bel Edwards, a Democratic state representative.

While Mr. Edwards, with roughly 40 percent of the vote, performed much more strongly than many expected, Mr. Vitter, with around 23 percent, just beat a late surge by one of the other Republicans running in the nonpartisan contest. If no one wins a majority in the primary, as in this case, the top two advance to a runoff, which is set for Nov 21...

The fundamentals still favor Mr. Vitter in the runoff; there is no Democrat left in Louisiana holding statewide office. But with most of the votes counted, Mr. Vitter was trailing Mr. Edwards by nearly 17 percentage points. This underperformance may be due in part to the re-emergence of the 2007 revelations that Mr. Vitter had been involved with prostitutes and to the bizarre developments in the final 48-hour stretch of the primary.

The political world was astonished Friday night when news emerged that a private investigator conducting opposition research for the Vitter campaign was arrested in the New Orleans suburbs. The arrest arose from an almost comical sequence of events beginning at a cafe in Jefferson Parish called the Royal Blend, where a group of older men routinely gather to talk local business. That morning the group included the parish sheriff, Newell Normand; a Republican state senator; a prominent attorney who supports Democratic causes; and a private investigator and former New Orleans police officer.

According to Sheriff Normand, some in the group noticed a man who appeared to be filming their conversation with a small camera. When the man was confronted, he left the cafe and took off through the surrounding backyards. After a brief search, sheriff’s deputies found him hiding behind an air-conditioning unit. He was charged with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

As it turns out, the man, Robert J. Frenzel, was employed by a Dallas-based investigative firm that had been hired by the Vitter campaign for opposition research. The sheriff’s office obtained warrants to search Mr. Frenzel’s rental car, but officials noticed through the windshield that he had some research concerning Jason Berry, an investigative blogger who two weeks ago published video interviews with a woman who claimed to have had a multiyear affair with Mr. Vitter when she worked as an escort in New Orleans. The credibility of her account has been challenged in some significant ways, and the Vitter campaign has dismissed it as having “zero legitimacy.”
It had zero legitimacy until Diaper Dave was found snooping on the blogger who exposed his latest "family values" moment, including his former mistress and their love child. Now the voters seem to think they can do quite well without Diaper Dave. I just hope the love child doesn't end up looking like his father.

As Usual, when it is too late

Once again we have an important government official admitting he really, really screwed up long after he could have done anything about it. This time it is Bush's poodle Tony Blair apologizing for being a major fuck-up.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged the 2003 invasion of Iraq played a part in the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and apologized for some mistakes in planning the war, in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

Blair's decision to send troops to back the U.S.-led invasion is still a live political issue in Britain, where a six-year public inquiry into the conflict is yet to publish its findings.

Asked whether the offensive was the principal cause of the rise of ISIL, which now controls large areas of Iraq and neighboring Syria, Blair said there were "elements of truth" in that.

"Of course, you can't say that those of us who removed [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hussein] in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015," Blair told CNN.

Critics say the U.S. decision to disband Hussein’s army after the invasion created a huge security vacuum exploited by Al-Qaeda, which was eventually replaced by ISIL.
Thanks for nothing Tony. You should have said so when you could have done something about it, coward.

First lesson

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A lot of them flying around tonight

Made me think of this tune. "Autumn Leaves" performed by the Beegie Adair Trio.

Irony can be more dangerous than texting

From the pen of Drew Sheneman

R.I.P. Maureen O'Hara

From Ireland to Hollywood

Hey gang! Let's play Chicken!

In the language of gunboat diplomacy it is called by a different name, but the passage of military vessels as close as possible to the claimed territorial limit of another country is hard to call by any other name.
U.S. plans to send warships or military aircraft within 12 nautical miles of China's artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, possibly within days, could open a tense new front in Sino-U.S. rivalry.

A range of security experts said Washington's so-called freedom of navigation patrols would have to be regular to be effective, given Chinese ambitions to project power deep into maritime Southeast Asia and beyond.

But China would likely resist attempts to make such U.S. actions routine, some said, raising the political and military stakes. China's navy could for example try to block or attempt to surround U.S. vessels, they said, risking an escalation.

Given months of debate already in Washington over the first such patrol close to the Chinese outposts since 2012, several regional security experts and former naval officers said the U.S. government might be reluctant to do them often.

U.S. allies such as Japan and Australia are unlikely to follow with their own direct challenges to China, despite their concerns over freedom of navigation along vital trade routes, they added.

"This cannot be a one-off," said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

"The U.S. navy will have to conduct these kinds of patrols on a regular basis to reinforce their message."

The Obama administration has said it would test China's territorial claims to the area after months of pressure from Congress and the U.S. military. It has not given a timeframe.
We're gonna show them they can't do that, you betcha! Freedom of the seas and all that stuff.

Another Inigo Montoya moment

This week it is Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, fresh from being blooded for the job, who gives us another one of those wacky descriptions that just don't fit the situation described.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Friday promised that American forces would participate in more raids like the rescue mission that left an elite Delta Force commando dead. But Carter insisted that those plans will not violate President Barack Obama’s pledge of no American “boots-on-the-ground” in the campaign against the Islamic State.

When he ordered the first of 3,000 troops back to Iraq in June 2014, Obama maintained that the Americans’ assignment was only to train Iraqi soldiers, not to engage in ground combat.

Carter maintained that position while at the same time warning the Islamic State to expect more surprise attacks by U.S. commandos.

Saying “we’ll do more raids,” Carter explained: “It doesn’t represent us assuming a combat role. It represents a continuation of our advise-and-assist mission.”

One of Wheeler’s representatives in Congress, Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, wasn’t buying Carter’s parsing of meaning.

“While the (Obama) administration declared an official end to our combat mission in Iraq in 2011, Oklahomans and our nation are reminded today that combat is still a reality for our all-volunteer force in the Middle East,” Inhofe said.
When Crazy Uncle Jim Inhofe makes more sense than the SecDef it really is a moment for Inigo Montoya.

The World of Crazy Uncle Ben

Friday, October 23, 2015

BFFs since their school days

Dala, Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine, have made a lot of music together, including "Sunday Dress" from their 2007 album Who Do You Think You Are.

It didn't fit her

From the pen of Tom Toles

And then there were three

The erstwhile Republican/Independent Lincoln Chaffee has ended his quixotic pursuit of the Democratic Presidential nomination.
Democratic presidential hopeful Lincoln Chafee announced Friday that he is withdrawing from the race, ending a bid that had failed to gain any traction.

Chafee, a former governor and U.S. senator from Rhode Island, used an appearance in Washington at a Democratic National Committee forum on women’s leadership to make his announcement.

Chafee bowed out with a plea for “an end to the endless wars and the beginning of a new era for the United States and humanity.”

“Do we want to be remembered as a bomber of weddings and hospitals?” Chafee said. “Or do we want to be remembered as peacemakers, as pioneers of a more harmonious world?

Chafee’s exit further narrows a Democratic field led by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that also includes former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley.
To borrow from his namesakes Gettysburg Address, Lincoln Chaffee will be little noted nor long remembered.

History they forgot to teach us

Back in Iraq

As it usually does when a mission extends beyond a few months, our "mission" in Irag has creeped up to the level of troop involvement in combat. And the first such incident we find out about also includes the first US death by hostile action.
A U.S. special forces commando was killed in Iraq during a joint U.S.-Kurdish raid that freed about 70 hostages from an Islamic State prison, the Pentagon announced Thursday. He was the first American to die during combat there in almost four years.

The Pentagon and the White House confirmed the death but not some other details that were provided by Kurdish security officials. The United States said 22 of the rescued hostages were Iraqi soldiers and the rest were civilians, with no Americans in the group.

The assault on the Islamic State prison outside the town of Hawija, Iraq, 100 miles north of Baghdad, was the first time since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq that American and Kurdish forces have conducted a rescue operation together. It was also the first time that American combat troops have undertaken a ground mission in Iraq since President Barack Obama sent the first of 3,000 troops back there 16 months ago with orders that limited their activities to training, advising and equipping Iraqi soldiers...

Defense Secretary Ash Carter authorized the raid, and “the White House national security team was notified of this,” Cook said.
At last our new Secretary of Defense has been blooded. And it was done at the request of our friends the Kurds. Way to go, guys. I just wonder how many times this has happened without our knowing?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Here Come The Rain

Caroline Rose from her first EP America Religious

The odor of mendacity defeats the color of law

From the pen of Jim Morin

R.I.P. Cory Wells

Only two dogs left, global warming better get here soon.

Guns & pets have more rights

More than your basic abused woman. Down in the Palmetto Bug State it is possible to get a court order on your abusive husband/boyfriend to keep him from shooting your dog but not from shooting you.
In South Carolina, state lawmaker and victim advocate Gilda Cobb-Hunter has found it easier to get court-ordered protections for family pets than to take guns away from domestic abusers.

For more than a decade, her state has maintained one of the worst domestic violence records in the country. Just last month, the state was ranked as the deadliest in the U.S. for women killed by men, largely in murders that involved guns. The report, by the Violence Policy Center, comes in the wake of a domestic violence reform law passed by the state’s General Assembly this summer. Ushered in by intense public pressure, the new law beefs up criminal penalties and ensures graduated gun bans for people convicted domestic abusers.

While it was largely seen as a step forward in domestic violence cases, the law stops short of forcing those charged with domestic violence to surrender their guns.

It’s a critical detail that could mean the difference between life and death for abuse victims, according to victim advocates like Cobb-Hunter. For years she has tried to find new ways to expand protections for abuse victims. Last year she was able to get protections for pets, which are often left vulnerable to attacks by abusers seeking to manipulate victims. Her attempt to remove from the picture the weapons most often used to kill abuse victims, however, met fierce opposition.

In a state with about one concealed carry permit for every 19 citizens, the debate over Second Amendment gun rights for offenders quickly overshadows the fact that South Carolina women are being killed with guns at more than twice the national average.
It seems that in the Palmetto Bug State, the 2nd Amendment and your marriage vows combine to let him determine when "death do you part".

That agency that sounds like a bad movie villain

ICE has done it again. A new report has come out claiming that our favorite "movie villain" agency has been complicit in the many human rights violations its private contractors have perpetrated on detainees in their for-profit prison facilities.
Inspections of immigrant detention centers overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are ineffective and often facilitate favorable ratings at centers with reported human rights abuses, according to a report released Wednesday by rights advocacy groups.

Detention center inspections matter because they generate ratings that determine whether ICE continues using taxpayer dollars to fund public and private entities that detain immigrants, the report said.

“The failures of the inspection system ... really do make ICE complicit in obscuring human rights violations in detention facilities,” said Claudia Valenzuela, the director of detention at the National Immigrant Justice Center, which published the report with the Detention Watch Network (DWN).

The inspections are “laughable,” said Mary Small, the policy director at the DWN. She said reports contain “barely any relation between documented deficiencies and overall ratings a facility gets.” Despite these violations, public and private contractors continue to profit from these centers without adequate oversight, the report said.

According to the report, “Lives in Peril,” in 2014, Florida’s Baker County Detention Center had 14 deficiencies and received a rating of good from ICE inspectors, and the following year, the center registered five deficiencies but its rating fell to acceptable.

Some deficiencies were identified as administrative- or security-related violations, like the opening of immigrants’ mail without the appropriate protocols, the report said. But the DWN said it found more worrisome problems, including denial of visitation rights and exorbitant charges for making phone calls. It also said it found that certain facilities did not allow detainees access to fresh air and sunlight.

"We have to ask whether these ratings are based on anything at all," Small said.
Perhaps ICE's ratings are based on their ROI?

Book review

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The real Japanese culture is so adaptable

How else could you have Band-Maid in the courtyard of a Buddhist temple singing "Real Existence"

When missions get creepy

From the pen of Ted Rall

Too many people too deeply invested in the criminality

It is patently obvious to anyone who does not qualify as a rock outcropping that marijuana has no business being classed a Schedule 1 drug. Almost as obvious is that too many people make a good living based on that misclassification and will do all they can to prevent any change. One of the drawbacks to that determination is the blocking of valuable medical research and the stifling of any manner of industrial hemp business.
The U.S. government's classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug is impeding medical marijuana research, a leading think tank said Tuesday, in what it called a misstep that could impact advancements in health care.

“As medical marijuana becomes increasingly accessible in state-regulated, legal markets, and as others self-medicate in jurisdictions that do not allow the medical use of cannabis, it is increasingly important that the scientific community conduct research on this substance,” said the report by Brookings Institution public policy analysts John Hudak and Grace Wallack.

“However, statutory, regulatory, bureaucratic, and cultural barriers have paralyzed science and threatened the integrity of research freedom in this area.”

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 23 states and Washington, D.C. Researchers have said marijuana can, for example, help reduce appetite loss associated with cancer and AIDS and relieve anxiety and insomnia.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has repeatedly rejected calls to change marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, defined as a substance without accepted medical use that is likely to be abused. The report suggested that Congress amend the Controlled Substances Act to designate cannabis as a Schedule II drug — one with accepted medical use but high potential for abuse — “or to another schedule or off the lists altogether.”

The report argued that marijuana’s designation as a Schedule I drug may prevent medical institutions and professions from “staking their own reputations” on marijuana research.

“Moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II would signal to the medical community that FDA and NIH are ready to take medical marijuana research seriously, and help overcome a government-sponsored chilling effect on research that manifests in direct and indirect ways,” the report said, referring to the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.

Reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule II drug would still only slightly shift perceptions on research, the report said, because Schedule II drugs are defined as viable for medical purposes but as having a high potential to be abused.

Beyond shifting the culture surrounding medical marijuana research, changing marijuana’s designation would mean less legal restrictions on research.
Like climate deniers, marijuana deniers know the value of preventing research that proves them absolutely wrong. The fear of breaking their rice bowls is a powerful force.

Joe Says No

To the dismay of some and the joy of many more, Joe Biden has elected not to run for election as President.
Joseph Robinette Biden stepped away from a third run for the White House on Wednesday, acknowledging the vice presidency will be as close as he gets to sitting in the Oval Office.

Biden, who announced his decision in the Rose Garden with President Barack Obama and his wife, Jill, at his side, ended months of speculation that he’d heed the deathbed plea of his son, Beau, and run for the presidency amid concerns that the controversy over front runner Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server could become a serious political liability.

“As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I've said all along what I've said time and again to others, that it may very well be that the process by the time we get through it closes the window,” he said. “I’ve concluded it has closed.”

Still, Biden vowed that he won’t be a bystander to the 2016 election, calling on Democrats to embrace Obama’s record.
He can be an effective campaigner, I hope whoever does win the nomination welcomes him on the campaign trail.

A short history of socialism

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

In 1984 we could laugh at this

Julie Brown said that the Columbine High School Massacre led her to stop performing "Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun"

Now it makes sense

From the pen of Matt Wuerker

R.I.P. Pat Woodell

Bobbie Jo, now you are moving kinda slow, at the Junction.

Pharma will make you pay, one way or another

And because research has been pretty much eliminated by most pharmaceutical companies, they need to use tricks to get the big bucks. One way is to take the responsibility for fighting with the insurance company off the doctor's shoulders.
The pain reliever Duexis is a combination of two old drugs, the generic equivalents of Motrin and Pepcid.

If prescribed separately, the two drugs together would cost no more than $20 or $40 a month. By contrast, Duexis, which contains both in a single pill, costs about $1,500 a month.

Needless to say, many insurers do not want to pay for Duexis. Yet sales of the drug are growing rapidly, in large part because its manufacturer, Horizon Pharma, has figured out a way to circumvent efforts of insurers and pharmacists to switch patients to the generic components, or even to the over-the-counter versions.

It is called “Prescriptions Made Easy.” Instead of sending their patients to the drugstore with a prescription, doctors are urged by Horizon to submit prescriptions directly to a mail-order specialty pharmacy affiliated with the drug company. The pharmacy mails the drug to the patient and deals with the insurance companies, relieving the doctor of the reimbursement hassle that might otherwise discourage them from prescribing such an expensive drug.

Horizon is not alone. Use of specialty pharmacies seems to have become a new way of trying to keep the health system paying for high-priced drugs. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, which has attracted government and media scrutiny for its huge price increases, does much the same thing for its dermatology products with a specialty pharmacy called Philidor Rx Services.
Not as sleazy as that hedge fund shit because there is an alternative. But you have to be onyour toes to know that a couple of over the counter drugs will work as well. It doesn't help you that your doctor is probably getting some kind on appealing goodie from the drug company to prescribe their overpriced junk. It is a rare doctor that has the ethics to do the right thing nowadays.

When you have a war without end

One of the favorite propaganda stunts is to reunite families that were separated by the "truce line" that brought an end to the fighting, but not to the war. The reunions are all too brief and both sides take lots of pictures and record lots of tearful conversation.
Ms. Lee had been married to Oh In-se for only seven months and was five months pregnant when the Korean War erupted in 1950. Mr. Oh disappeared into the conflict, ending up in the North when the war was halted three years later by a truce that left the Korean Peninsula divided.

The spouses did not see each other again until Mr. Oh, now a deeply wrinkled 83-year-old, showed up wearing a black fedora as part of the first reunions of war-separated relatives the rival Koreas have arranged in nearly two years.

“I can’t tell how much I missed you,” said Ms. Lee, who never remarried and raised her son alone. “I have wept so much thinking of us that there are no tears left in me.”

Mr. Oh, holding her hand, said, “My dear, I didn’t know that the war would do this to us.”

Ms. Lee and the couple’s son, Oh Jang-gyun, 64, were among 389 South Koreans who crossed the heavily armed border into the North in buses and ambulances on Tuesday to meet with 96 elderly North Koreans who wanted to reunite with long-lost relatives for perhaps the only time. Ms. Lee said that after her husband appeared to her in a dream in 1978, she gave him up for dead and began holding an annual ritual for a deceased relative.
The biggest surprise in her life came after the Koreas agreed in September to hold a new round of family reunions and she heard from the South Korean Red Cross that her husband was alive in the North, looking for her. Since then, she had been busy preparing for their meeting, digging up an old wedding photograph and buying a wristwatch as a gift. The couple’s names were inscribed on the back.

Their time was to be painfully brief. They were granted permission to be together for only 12 hours, in group and private sessions, until Thursday, when they will have to part again. On Thursday, an additional 90 elderly South Koreans will cross the border for another round of three-day reunions with 188 relatives in the North.
Wow, 12 hours after 65 years! God damn, what a bunch of humanitarians those governments are! Can we get them a Nobel Prize?

Schrödinger's Cat inspired a great deal of thought

Schrödinger's Immigrant requires no thought at all.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Her father Levon would be proud

Amy Helm and Friends sing "Rescue Me" from her album Didn't It Rain

Droney flies to his own rescue

And, at peril of his life for being in the neighborhood, Tom Tomorrow gives us the details, again.

Before he busted a gut laughing?

From the pen of Jim Morin

Where will they put the tail number?

As the government prepares to require registration for private drones, one may wonder where you will hang the registration tag.
Federal regulators said Monday that they plan to require recreational drone users to register their aircraft with the government for the first time in an attempt to restore order to U.S. skies, which have been invaded by rogue flying robots.

U.S. officials said they still need to sort out the basic details of the registration system but concluded that they had to take swift action to cope with a surge in sales of inexpensive, simple-to-fly drones that are increasingly interfering with regular air traffic.

Pilots of passenger planes and other aircraft are reporting more than 100 sightings or close calls with rogue drones a month — a significant increase just in the past year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Under FAA guidelines, drone owners are not supposed fly their aircraft above 400 feet or within five miles of an airport without permission. But the rules are widely flouted, and officials have been largely powerless to hunt down rogue drone operators.

Requiring drones to be registered will be of limited use for investigators unless the remote-controlled aircraft crash and a registration number can be found. Most drones are too small to appear on radar and do not carry transponders to broadcast their locations.

But regulators hope that forcing owners — many of whom are aviation novices — to register their drones with the government will at least make them think twice about their responsibility to fly safely and the possibility that they could be held accountable for an accident.
Slow and with poor visibility and in the hands of people with poor critical thinking skills means that right now we are waiting to see if the FAA will get recreational drones under control before a mid air collision with a real plane occurs.

If you say he said it, get it right

John Oliver rips those pols who can't quite get that quote right.

Bernie is planning a speech on socialism

It is not at all hard to understand but after 35 years of Republican bullshit spread to grease the skids on our slide into the never-right wing pit, it has to be spelled out to many people.
Responding to a woman at a house party who asked him how he’d counter Republican attacks about calling himself a socialist, the Vermont senator seeking the Democratic presidential nomination said he plans a speech in “not too distant future” to define what he means.

“I think we have some explaining and work to do, but I think at the end of the day you’re going to find more and more people agreeing,” he said.

Sanders, whose summer surge in popularity has him leading Hillary Clinton in the early voting state, later told reporters that “a lot of people who when they hear the word ‘socialist,’ get very, very nervous.”

“They may not know that there are countries all over the world, whether its Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the UK, who on and off have had Democratic Socialist governments and they may not be familiar with some of the very positive policies those governments have developed for the middle class and working families,” he said.

Sanders argued that the U.S. already has some socialist policies, including Social Security and Medicare.

“To me, democratic socialism means democracy, it means creating a government that represents all of us, not just the wealthiest,” he said.

“When you go to your public library or you call your police or fire department ... these are socialist institutions,” he said.
He hopes to explain this to people who think the government should keep its hands off their Medicare.

Election Day in Canada

Something for all the good souls in the Land of the Laughing Beaver

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The most sung & recorded Mexican song ever

"Besame Mucho" performed by Monsieur Periné (En vivo)

W-S works to improve Dem debates

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Go ahead and cut, Doc

The good people of Munster, Indiana are finding out that maybe they shouldn't have said that to their cardiologist. Investigators have determined that Dr. Arvind Ghandi sold cardiological procedures to his patients like a car salesman selling options.
Mrs. Davidson is now one of 293 patients around Munster, Ind., who have filed lawsuits against Dr. Gandhi and two other doctors in his practice claiming that they performed needless procedures.

The Indiana state Medicaid program has started an investigation, and one doctor not named in the litigation said he had received a subpoena from the United States attorney’s office and provided the medical charts of several former patients of Dr. Gandhi and his colleagues that he has since treated. Lawyers for Dr. Gandhi and his practice, Cardiology Associates of Northwest Indiana, said they had not received any subpoenas, and the doctors denied any wrongdoing.

In recent years, federal officials have brought several prominent cases against cardiologists and hospitals, accusing them of performing unnecessary procedures like inserting stents into coronary arteries. While medical professionals say there is no indication that cardiology has more unnecessary procedures than, say, orthopedics, they do note that the specialty has come under increased scrutiny by regulators because the procedures tend to be reimbursed by Medicare and private insurance at significantly higher levels than those in many other specialties.

“Cardiology, whether we like it or not, is generally a big moneymaker for hospitals,” said Dr. Steven Nissen, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and the former president of the American College of Cardiology. “We are still a fee-for-service system, and that creates, in my view, misaligned incentives among some physicians to do more procedures and among some institutions, particularly in areas where there is not tight medical supervision, to turn a blind eye and enjoy the high revenue stream.”

While there are various industry and federal guidelines describing when it is appropriate for a patient to undergo certain procedures — Medicare, for instance, says a patient’s arteries must be 70 percent blocked to justify the use of a stent — in the real world, interpretations vary. In extreme cases, physicians have been accused of falsifying medical records, saying arteries were more blocked than they really were.
Looks like Ol' Doc Gupta was more interested in getting rich than getting his patients healthy. And even if he had kept it above board he would have done so.

How long do we wait before he walks?

Down in Florida at the Zombiecon somebody tried their hand at making some zombies.
A shooting at a Florida Zombicon event killed one person and injured four others, the Fort Myers Police Department said on Sunday in a social media post.

Police asked attendees to share smartphone video from the incident at an event expected to draw more than 20,000 people.

The shots were fired shortly before midnight on Saturday at the festival in downtown Fort Myers on the state's west coast, according to the News-Press newspaper.

The shooter remained at large on Sunday morning, the newspaper reported, noting that crowds of people were seen running through the area immediately after the shooting.

The four who were injured sustained non-life threatening injuries, the News-Press said, citing police.
One out of five is not too good but surely someone at that convention can get him back on his feet again. Finding enough brains to eat is another problem.

Another way to work with Bernie

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Something quite fine from Arizona

Phoenix born musician Courtney Marie Andrews singing "Not The End"

How to Influence Congress

From the pen of Jim Morin

When is a child born in the US not a citizen

When the Lone Brain Cell State of Texas says so and a federal judge has ruled that there is no need for an emergency injunction against the bigoted bastards of the Texas Department of State Health Services who have declared they will not recognize the parents nor issue a birth certificate.
A federal judge has chosen not to force Texas health officials to change their stance in denying birth certificates to immigrant families with U.S.-born children, saying that the families raised "grave concerns" but more evidence is needed, according to a ruling issued Friday.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin denied an emergency injunction on behalf of immigrant families seeking birth certificates for their children after the Department of State Health Services refused to recognize as valid certain forms of identification.

The families' lawyers had asked for the judge to intervene, saying that the children's right to health care, travel and schooling — along with parental rights — are being harmed.

Pitman called the arguments of the families "heartfelt, compelling and persuasive," but said that this was "not enough without substantiating evidence to carry the burden necessary to grant relief," according to the ruling.

At issue is the acceptance of identification cards — known as matriculas consulares — issued by Mexican consulates to citizens living and working in the United States. Lawyers for the families contend that prior to 2013 they were able to present these document, as well as foreign passports without U.S. visas in them, and obtain birth certificates in Texas.

The judge said in his ruling that attorneys had not shown that health officials had improperly "focused on and excluded" these documents. The judge also questioned the integrity of the information behind the consulate identification cards and passports.

"A birth certificate is a vital and important document," he said. "As such, Texas has a clear interest in protecting access to that document."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement that the ruling "is an important first step in ensuring the integrity of birth certificates" and that the agency will continue to defend the health officials. The case will continue.

The immigrant rights lawyers, who now represent 28 adults and their 32 children, first sued officials with the Department of State Health Services' Vital Statistics Unit last May.

The parents in the lawsuit entered the country illegally from Mexico and Central America, but the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment guarantees the right of citizenship to children born here.
It is curious that AG Ken Paxton is worried about the integrity of birth certificates as he many soon be wearing an orange jumpsuit for his lack of integrity in his stock dealings. Texas, a land that normal forgot.

What does it take to stop Arctic drilling?

The one thing that decent people everywhere are unable to marshal in their efforts to stop the drilling, dwindling industry interest. If the oil companies still wanted to drill, they would be showered with leases but since they aren't interested, President Obama has canceled plans to auction drilling leases.
The Obama administration is abandoning plans to open the Arctic Ocean to more drilling in the face of dwindling industry interest and massive environmental opposition.

The Interior Department said Friday it is canceling a pair of scheduled Arctic Ocean lease sales. One was planned for next year to auction rights to drill for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea off the northern coast of Alaska, and the other was for 2017 in the neighboring Beaufort Sea.

At the same time, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected the requests of Shell and Statoil for more time to consider drilling under their current leases. Those leases start expiring in 2017.

The moves come just weeks after Shell announced its pioneering $7 billion Arctic Ocean oil exploration program was a failure. The company said it didn’t find enough oil to justify the cost and was abandoning the offshore Arctic drilling effort “for the foreseeable future.”

“In light of Shell’s announcement, the amount of acreage already under lease and current market conditions, it does not make sense to prepare for lease sales in the Arctic in the next year and a half,” said Jewell.

The Arctic Ocean is believed to hold huge oil and gas deposits. But low energy prices and high costs have dampened the enthusiasm of oil companies for exploring the Arctic Ocean and the lease sales were expected to draw little interest – especially after Shell’s costly failure.
True the article did mention "massive environmental opposition" but this didn't stop anything before. Nothing comes between Big Oil and their crude except their own lack of interest.

Is Blue Balls the cause

Bill Maher posits sexual frustration as the impetus behind gun massacres.

The Empire always comes first

Friday, October 16, 2015

Singing about your replacement

In the affections of Bob Dylan, back when anybody cared about Bob Dylan. Joan Baez sings "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands" from her Any Day Now: Songs of Bob Dylan album.

When you go Imperial.....

From the pen of Kevin Siers

It is worth the effort to tax the rich

It is something that rational people have been saying all along and now some of the more knowledgeable people have looked at the possibilities that would accrue for making the rich pay their fair share.
“Right now, the wealthy pay too little,” Hillary Rodham Clinton said at this week’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas, “and the middle class pays too much.”

But what could a tax-the-rich plan actually achieve? As it turns out, quite a lot, experts say. Given the gains that have flowed to those at the tip of the income pyramid in recent decades, several economists have been making the case that the government could raise large amounts of revenue exclusively from this small group, while still allowing them to take home a majority of their income.

It is “absurd” to argue that most wealth at the top is already highly taxed or that there isn’t much more revenue to be had by raising taxes on the 1 percent, says the economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel in economic science, who has written extensively about inequality. “The only upside of the concentration of the wealth at the top is that they have more money to pay in taxes,” he said.

Sidestepping for the moment the messy question of just which taxes would be increased, how much more revenue could be generated by asking the rich to pay a larger share of their income in taxes?

To get the most accurate picture possible, throw in all the scraps of income, from the most obvious (like wages, interest and dividends) to the least (like employer contributions to health plans, overseas earnings and growth in retirement accounts). According to that measure — used by the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution — the top 1 percent includes about 1.13 million households earning an average income of $2.1 million.

Raising their total tax burden to, say, 40 percent would generate about $157 billion in revenue the first year. Increasing it to 45 percent brings in a whopping $276 billion. Even taking account of state and local taxes, the average household in this group would still take home at least $1 million a year.

If the tax increase were limited to just the 115,000 households in the top 0.1 percent, with an average income of $9.4 million, a 40 percent tax rate would produce $55 billion in extra revenue in its first year.

That would more than cover, for example, the estimated $47 billion cost of eliminating undergraduate tuition at all the country’s four-year public colleges and universities, as Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed, or Mrs. Clinton’s cheaper plan for a debt-free college degree, with money left over to help fund universal prekindergarten.

A tax rate of 45 percent on this select group raises $109 billion, more than enough to pay for the first year of a new $2,500 child tax credit introduced by Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida.
The result is definately worth the effort and the effect of that money on the economy, because it would be spent on necessary items, would be yooge I tell you, yooge!

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