Monday, February 29, 2016

30 years in the music business

The first 15 spent writing songs for others to sing before she moved out front to perform for herself. Either way Jude Johnstone makes beautiful music. "On That Train"

Gop and The Donald get real

From the pen of John Cole

GOP devolves into mad power scramble

It could be called a civil war, but then most of those bastards would be bursting with pride over whatever part they might play. No, the Republican Party right now is more like a banana republic after the strongman dies without an heir or successor. Anyone rising above the level of the rest immediately draws the fire of everyone else.
The implosion over Donald Trump’s candidacy that Republicans had hoped to avoid arrived so virulently this weekend that many party leaders vowed never to back the billionaire and openly questioned whether the GOP could come together this election year.

At a moment when Republicans had hoped to begin taking on Hillary Clinton — who is seemingly on her way to wrapping up the Democratic nomination — the GOP has instead become consumed by a crisis over its identity and core values that is almost certain to last through the July party convention, if not the rest of the year.

A campaign full of racial overtones and petty, R-rated put-downs grew even uglier Sunday after Trump declined repeatedly in a CNN interview to repudiate the endorsement of him by David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Trump had disavowed Duke at a news conference on Friday, but he stammered when asked about Duke on Sunday.

Marco Rubio, who has been savaging Trump as a “con man” for three days, responded by saying that Trump’s defiance made him “unelectable.” The senator from Florida said at a rally in Northern Virginia, “We cannot be the party that nominates someone who refuses to condemn white supremacists.”

The fracas comes as the presidential race enters a potentially determinative month of balloting, beginning with primaries and caucuses in 11 states on Tuesday. As the campaign-trail rhetoric grew noxious over the weekend, a sense of fatalism fell over the Republican firmament, from elected officials and figureheads to major donors and strategists.

“This is an existential choice,” said former senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, who is backing Rubio. Asked how the party could unite, Coleman said: “It gets harder every day when you hear things like not disavowing the KKK and David Duke. It’s not getting easier; it’s getting more difficult. . . . I’m hopeful the party won’t destroy itself.”

The choice for voters is not simply one of preference but rather a fundamental one about the direction they want to take the country, with the insurgent Trump promising utter transformation.
The operative principle among the contenders has become, "If I can't have it, neither can you". And the rest are watching, waiting and occasionally making statements they hope will mark them as a worthwhile ally for the eventual winner loser.

Springtime for Donald

From Jimmy Kimmel with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick

With no one to kick his shins

When he cleared his throat in preparation to speaking, The Mute One Justice Clarence Thomas actually asked questions during Monday morning's oral arguments.
Justice Clarence Thomas broke 10 years of silence and provoked audible gasps at the Supreme Court on Monday when he posed questions from the bench during an oral argument.

In a case about a federal law that bans people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns, Thomas wanted to know of any other case where breaking a law suspends constitutional rights.

And it wasn’t just one question; it was a back-and-forth lasting a few minutes that stunned lawyers, reporters and others in the courtroom.

It was only the second week the court has heard arguments since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Thomas’ friend and fellow conservative.

Thomas for seven years sat next to Scalia, who was famous for aggressive and sometimes combative questions from the bench. Scalia’s chair is now draped in black in a tribute to his death on Feb. 13.

Thomas’ questions Monday came in case in which the court is considering placing new limits on the reach of the 1996 law. The court is considering an appeal from two Maine men who say their guilty pleas for hitting their partners should not disqualify them from gun ownership.

With about 10 minutes left in the hourlong session, Justice Department lawyer Ilana Eisenstein was about to sit down after asking the justices if there were no further questions. Thomas then caught her by surprise, asking whether a misdemeanor conviction of any other law “suspends a constitutional right.”

The sound of Thomas’ gravelly voice filling the courtroom prompted a few gasps among other lawyers attending the argument. None of the other justices visibly reacted to his remarks.

Thomas’s unusual silence has become a curiosity over the years. Thomas has previously said he relies on the written briefs and doesn’t need to ask questions of the lawyers appearing in court.

Thomas last asked a question in court on Feb. 22, 2006. He has come under criticism for his silence from some who say he is neglecting his duties as a justice. Every other justice regularly poses questions from the bench.

The 10-year milestone of his courtroom silence came just days after Scalia’s death. Thomas was one of only two people invited by Scalia’s family to read from Scripture during the funeral Mass on Feb. 20.
No doubt Ginny Thomas is pushing her husband to step up and fill Nino's shoes as the Conservative stone wall against justice on the court. Alito might havr something to say about that.

A brand named Trump

John Oliver explains the man once named Drumpf.

There is no real difference

Sunday, February 28, 2016

You can see her father in her face

But Elle Kings music comes from somewhere else much deeper. "Can't Be Loved"

The FBI wants to be your backdoor man

From the pen of Brian McFadden

click pic to big

Don't mess with our employees

As the Teabagger Georgia legislature eagerly pushes forward with it DOA legislation to allow business discrimination against anyone your imaginary invisible sky demon doesn't like, some 400 corporations across the state ar joining together in opposition.
A coalition of more than 400 companies is openly opposing a Georgia “religious liberty” bill that is rapidly heading toward passage, with at least one major company already leaving the state over the proposal.

The proposed law would allow both individuals and organizations to refuse to conduct business with or otherwise discriminate against anyone whose marriage they find counters their religious beliefs. It also protects individuals from existing nondiscrimination laws in Atlanta and elsewhere.

A similar bill was dismissed last year, but the speed at which this year’s version, the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA), is moving has raised serious concerns among state lawmakers, business owners, the faith community and activists.

The bill passed both the House and, in a different form, the Senate this month. The most recent version bars the government from taking “adverse action” against a person or faith-based organization that “believes, speaks, or acts in accordance” with the religious belief that “marriage should only be between a man and a woman”.

Telecom startup 373k announced it would to relocate from Decatur, Georgia, to Nevada immediately after the Georgia senate voted in favor of the measure last week.

“I don’t want to be in a state where it is hard to attract the best talent,” said founder Kelvin Williams, who is gay.

Mary Moore, a local business owner, said: “I think there’s been a lot of strong opposition to [FADA] ... I think the voices are a lot louder because everybody is now concerned that it’s actually going to pass.”

Based on the over 500 emails he’s received from members of his district and elsewhere, House Representative Taylor Bennett agrees there’s “overwhelming opposition” to the proposed law.

Just in the last week, roughly 100 businesses have joined a coalition of what is now over 400 companies opposing the religious freedom bill. The group Georgia Prospers, of which Moore is a member, includes a range of businesses – from Fortune 500 companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot to smaller ones across the state – in support of “treating all Georgians and visitors fairly”.
When you have corporations like Delta, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot in opposition, you have to be awful pig headed to keep pushing a bad idea for the greater glory of your imaginary invisible sky demon. And he must be a pretty weak sky demon if he needs your laws to deal with what he created.

Runaway horse

Is there any other way to describe the situation in the Republican Party whose establishment is feverishly planning ways to corral the front runner in their primary campaign?
The scenario Karl Rove outlined was bleak.

Addressing a luncheon of Republican governors and donors in Washington on Feb. 19, he warned that Donald J. Trump’s increasingly likely nomination would be catastrophic, dooming the party in November. But Mr. Rove, the master strategist of George W. Bush’s campaigns, insisted it was not too late for them to stop Mr. Trump, according to three people present.

At a meeting of Republican governors the next morning, Paul R. LePage of Maine called for action. Seated at a long boardroom table at the Willard Hotel, he erupted in frustration over the state of the 2016 race, saying Mr. Trump’s nomination would deeply wound the Republican Party. Mr. LePage urged the governors to draft an open letter “to the people,” disavowing Mr. Trump and his divisive brand of politics.

The suggestion was not taken up. Since then, Mr. Trump has only gotten stronger, winning two more state contests and collecting the endorsement of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
Imagine that! Maine Governor Paul" Fat Bastard" LePage thinking that Donald Trump would damage the party.
In public, there were calls for the party to unite behind a single candidate. In dozens of interviews, elected officials, political strategists and donors described a frantic, last-ditch campaign to block Mr. Trump — and the agonizing reasons that many of them have become convinced it will fail. Behind the scenes, a desperate mission to save the party sputtered and stalled at every turn.

Efforts to unite warring candidates behind one failed spectacularly: An overture from Senator Marco Rubio to Mr. Christie angered and insulted the governor. An unsubtle appeal from Mitt Romney to John Kasich, about the party’s need to consolidate behind one rival to Mr. Trump, fell on deaf ears.

At least two campaigns have drafted plans to overtake Mr. Trump in a brokered convention, and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has laid out a plan that would have lawmakers break with Mr. Trump explicitly in a general election.

Despite all the forces arrayed against Mr. Trump, the interviews show, the party has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair, as he has won smashing victories in South Carolina and Nevada. Donors have dreaded the consequences of clashing with Mr. Trump directly. Elected officials have balked at attacking him out of concern that they might unintentionally fuel his populist revolt. And Republicans have lacked someone from outside the presidential race who could help set the terms of debate from afar.
Others can better explain how the GOP got its dick caught in the Trump bear trap. As for me, it reminds me of a story about a horse race I heard. It was at a low level track where the jockey was given instructions on what position he was expected to finish. In one particular race a jockey found himself on a horse that wanted to run and the poor little guy spent most of the race standing up in the stirrups pulling back on the reins for all he was worth to try and keep the horse from winning, to no avail. Rinse Prewash and the GOP are that jockey and Trump is that horse and no one will stop him from running.

The Stupid Flu has infected the land

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A reprise for TV

In 1960 Ella Mae Morse and Freddie Slack redo their biggest hit, "Cow, Cow Boogie"

Can they ever get off?

From the pen of David Horsey

The potential for irony is great

As pot use has become legal, medicinal or otherwise, the growing of it has grown into a fairly large business with yoooge power needs because it is all done indoors to insure quality control.
A study by scientist Evan Mills, with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, revealed that legalized indoor marijuana-growing operations account for 1% of total electricity use in the US, at a cost of $6bn per year. Annually, such consumption produces 15m tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2), equal to that of three million average cars.

In 2012, Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. Two years later, Denver’s 362 marijuana grow facilities consumed more than 2% of the city’s electricity usage. Statewide facilities are behind roughly half of Colorado’s new power demands.

Cannabis growers are moving slowly toward energy efficient practices, largely out of fear for how changes might affect the quality of their product.

“They approach these things with a great deal of caution, especially when you talk about things that have a crop-wide effect,” said Ron Flax, sustainability examiner for Boulder County, Colorado.

“Each crop cycle has a lot of dollars associated with it, so they’re really hesitant to try something new and hope it works.”

“But they’re also paying very high utility bills.

Flax said electricity represented roughly 20% of the total cost of a cannabis operation.

In Boulder County during the second quarter of 2015, a 5,000 square foot indoor cannabis facility was eating about 29,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity monthly. A local household in the county was consuming about 630kWh.

Given cannabis’ appetite for energy – coupled with Colorado’s mostly coal-fired power plants – Boulder County has required commercial cannabis growers to either offset their electricity use with renewable energy, or pay a 2c charge per kWh.
Wind and solar additions to the modern grow houses would certainly alleviate the strain on the power grid but there is some irony for you. Solar panels above and wind turbines beside a facility that uses artificial light and ventilation to grow plants. But at least we know it will be goood shit.

The highest peak is 8 ft above sea level

And for the Maldives, the bulk of the island nation is around 3 ft above sea level or at least it is now. And that puts The Maldives at the fore front of nations expected to disappear when the sea levels rise. And they need not rise the full 8 ft. Storms and tides become more destructive as the seas rise.
Most of the nation lies about 3 feet above sea level, with a high point of about 8 feet above the water. That makes the idea of rising sea levels no mere abstraction. Residents here say they don’t have the luxury, as GOP frontrunner Donald Trump put it, of not being “a believer” in global warming.

“Sea level rise is not merely scientific theory, and for us is not a matter of political debate,” said Abdulla Shahid, a member of the Maldives parliament and a former Foreign Affairs minister. “The threat of sea level rise, to us, is an existential issue. It is a very serious matter.”

There can be no dismissing the science, nor contending as GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz did in an interview with NPR that “The scientific evidence doesn’t support global warming.”

“If the projections are correct, it means the death of a nation,” Shahid said. “The Maldives could be completely inundated by 2085.”...

They are very aware of the water’s presence. Which makes them especially fearful when they hear predictions that sea level might rise 3 feet. If that happens, 80 percent of Maldives’ land would be at risk – more during storms and high seas.

Already, sea level rises threaten the country’s fresh-water wells in a nation heavily dependent on desalination for drinking water. Access to drinking water is one of the first things Maldives residents talk about. Last year, a fire at a desalinization plant in the capital of Malé forced the nation’s leaders to fly drinking water in from India.

Which leaves this country distraught over the continuing debate in the United States over whether climate change and human impact on it are real. The theory behind global warming is so simple that NASA even summarizes it on a website for kids: “Most scientists say it's very likely that most of the warming since the mid-1900s is due to the burning of coal, oil and gas.”
Rising sea levels would also mean the end of America's dick, Florida. But at least Florida is attached to higher ground that the people can easily move to when the floods come.

SOTU from Andrew Dice Trump

Bill Maher takes Donald Trumps mouth to a future State of the Union address

South Carolina chooses today

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dar Does Neil

And Dar Williams makes a fine example of "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere"

Mitch exposes himself

From the pen of Dan Wasserman

People enjoying themselves

Must be stopped, especially if it involves children who might get into the habit of it. So when the gnome homes of Little Buffalo State Park got a little more involved than expected, the full majesty of the Commonwealth came down upon the poor little boogers and drove them out.
When the gnomes moved into a Pennsylvania state park, the children in town begged their parents to take them there.

Hikers had begun spotting the whimsical dwellings along the footpaths of Little Buffalo State Park, northwest of Harrisburg, in early December. As word spread on social media and in a local news broadcast, more and more families came, some traveling two or three hours.

But the fun was to be short lived. The smurf-like village was dismantled this week after state officials, citing the surge of visitors, declared it a nuisance, in a move that has generated outrage well beyond the park’s small-town setting by the Juniata River.

“We don’t really think it’s a state park kind of thing,” Jason Baker, the park’s manager, said. “We like to have more visitors. We like having people come here. But the experience we’re trying to give is a natural, ecological experience.”

The gnome homes were the creation of Steve Hoke, 65, a former prison counselor and a grandfather of five who lives in nearby Newport. Restless in his retirement, Mr. Hoke said he was inspired by a video he saw about a similar project in Kansas.

He got permission from park officials to give it a try at Little Buffalo, where he walks daily, and set about building the wooden homes.

“The idea was to get kids out of the house, away from the electronics, and go for a walk,” Mr. Hoke said.

Altogether, he created 38 dwellings. Some sat atop wooden stumps, while others were little more than colorful doors affixed by hinges to holes in trees. They carried tiny signs that read “gnome headquarters,” “enjoy the forest” or “gnomes are nature’s work.” The creatures themselves showed up later, placed by an anonymous fellow traveler, Mr. Hoke said.

Mr. Baker, the park manager, said things got out of hand.

“It blew up a lot bigger than we ever expected it to be,” he said, citing worries about compacted soil and disruptions of wildlife habitat.

When he ran the issue up the state parks’ chain of command, it was decided that the gnome houses were a bad fit.

“We feel bad that people are disappointed,” Mr. Baker said. “However, part of our mission is to teach conservation and environmental ethics, and we don’t want to teach those kids that there are gnomes out here in the woods.”

The evictions have exasperated many local residents, who have vented in an online petition signed by more than 500 people urging the parks administration to back off. The gnome supporters called the project “lovely,” “whimsical” and an expression of “magic” in the forest.

Eric Tressler summed up one of the petition’s themes: “Stop taking nice things away from families.”
So instead of re-ordering things to protect park areas and use them to teach children about nature in general, the fucking cementheads in charge just shut it down. And took one more bright spot out of the lives of park visitors. And no doubt imagine they did something splendid.

I'ma just travelin' here

The late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was a noted world traveler. And it should be noted he was fond of letting someone else pick up the tab. Nino usually traveled alone despite being married and he didn't know the meaning of "conflict of interest".
Antonin Scalia was the longest-tenured justice on the current Supreme Court and the country’s most prominent constitutionalist. But another quality also set him apart: Among the court’s members, he was the most frequent traveler, to spots around the globe, on trips paid for by private sponsors.

When Justice Scalia died two weeks ago, he was staying, again for free, at a West Texas hunting lodge owned by a businessman whose company had recently had a matter before the Supreme Court.

Though that trip has brought new attention to the justice’s penchant for travel, it was in addition to the 258 subsidized trips that he took from 2004 to 2014. Justice Scalia went on at least 23 privately funded trips in 2014 alone to places like Hawaii, Ireland and Switzerland, giving speeches, participating in moot court events or teaching classes. Just a few weeks before his death, he was in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Many of the justices are frequent expenses-paid travelers, a practice that some court scholars say is a minor matter, given that many of the trips involve public talks that help demystify the court. But others argue that the trips could potentially create the appearance of a conflict of interest, particularly when the organizations are known for their conservative or liberal views. Some groups at times use the presence of a Supreme Court justice as a way to pull in members or other paying guests.

“I am worried about the public perception of gratitude, even if there is no effect on your behavior,” said Stephen Gillers, a professor at the New York University School of Law who specializes in legal ethics. “And the greater the luxury, the greater the risk of public suspicion.”

Ethical standards prohibit judges from accepting gifts from anyone with a matter currently before the court. But those guidelines presented no barrier to John Poindexter, who invited Justice Scalia to stay at his West Texas ranch.

Mr. Poindexter is the owner of J. B. Poindexter & Co., a manufacturing firm based in Houston with more than 4,000 employees. One of his companies, the Mic Group, was a defendant in an age discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee who unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court for a review last year.
So his last trip was paid for by someone who had received a favorable ruling from the court. This may explain the unknown "guest" the Justice checked in with. An escort or rent-boy? You tell me.

Shooter served with protection order, shooter had guns

And so another "responsible" gun owner gets that last straw that sends him over the edge and picks up his weaponry and goes and shoots up his work place.
A gunman who killed three people and injured more than a dozen at a Kansas manufacturing plant worked at that factory, and had been served with a restraining order just 90 minutes before he began his shooting spree, the county sheriff said Friday.

Sheriff T. Walton of Harvey County said at a news conference that the protection from abuse order, usually intended to keep perpetrators of domestic violence away from their victims, might have set off the rampage on Thursday. He identified the gunman as Cedric Larry Ford, 38, who died inside the plant in shootout with a police officer.

Mr. Ford barged into Excel Industries in Hesston after 5 p.m. and opened fire with an assault rifle, apparently not targeting anyone in particular or speaking to anyone, the sheriff said.

“He was randomly shooting people,” he said. The death toll could have been much higher, the sheriff said, if not for the Hesston Police Department officer who confronted and killed Mr. Ford. The officer’s name is being withheld pending further investigation.
The order of protection was not for anyone of his co-workers and everyone says he was just shooting at random. Good thing he didn't know how to convert his gun to full auto.

How they do it

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The truth can be simple

As simple as The Wild Reeds singing "Where I'm Going"

The Apple-Feebee feud explained

From the pen of Tim Eagan

The Disposable People

Say you have some land next to a toxic waste site. Say you need a new prison. Where will you build that new prison,, why right next to that toxic waste site, even if politics makes you pay full price for the land.But watch out for the adverse health results.
The prison is located on an old strip-mining site in Western Pennsylvania’s coal fields adjacent to a dump for fly ash, the powdery residue left over from coal combustion. The property is owned by Matt Canestrale Contracting, but First Energy is one of the largest customers.

Since the prison’s opening adjacent to the long-time dump, cancers and other assorted illnesses that are rare among the general population have become statistically — and significantly — higher among inmates at SCI Fayette.

Watchdog group the Abolitionist Law Center conducted a 12-month investigation into the health impacts of fly ash on inmates at La Belle, a tiny town nestled at the bottom of a hill in a bend in the Monongahela River. Their findings showed that 81 percent of the inmates suffer from some sort of respiratory distress, including sores, cysts and tumors in the nose, mouth and throat.

Sixty-eight percent of responding prisoners experienced gastrointestinal problems, including heart burn, stomach pains, diarrhea, ulcers, ulcerative colitis, bloody stools, and vomiting. Fifty-two percent reported experiencing adverse skin conditions, including painful rashes, hives, cysts, and abscesses.

“Prisoners had no idea what was going on with the hill across the yard from them,” said Dustin McDaniel, the director of the Abolitionist Law Center. They were first notified by a prisoner’s letter alerting them to the deteriorating conditions inside SCI Fayette.

“Since my transfer to this facility on Feb. 14, 2012, I’ve had to endure numerous medical problems: rashes throughout my body that hurt and keep me up all night. Extreme swelling of various parts including my throat making it difficult to breathe. My face would swell, and pictures were taken showing the condition of my eyes. And my vision still has not returned fully to them. I have required emergency medical treatment eight times due to the swelling of my face and throat,” inmate Marcos Santos told the Center.

In many ways, McDaniel said, the inmate illnesses at La Belle are not surprising.

“The practice of putting a prison on brownfields or on otherwise environmentally poisonous lands is not unusual. The way the prison system and construction process works is that people that are being put in these prisons are considered ‘garbage.’ We are just going to put them in there and forget about them. That is something that happens all across the country,” he said.
Let's face it, the value of the prisoners lives ended when they were arrested, even if they are only in for a few years. And the prison staff aren't really worth any more so putting the prison on a deadly waste site eliminates the dregs quietly, if not quickly. And, of course, officially there is nothing harmful in the air or water in the prison.

Perennial Republican joke

Republicans are good for Defense and the military. And any time you want a laugh, just read up on the drivel these swivel chair Napoleons spout when they want to attack the Democrats. This years flavor is directed at the yoooge amount of damage done by President Obama.
Republican White House hopefuls are likely Thursday to sing what’s become a familiar dirge during every presidential debate so far: President Barack Obama has degraded the military.

Top defense analysts with combat experience, however, say that refrain is simplistic, and fails to include other parties they hold responsible for current military problems, including President George W. Bush and his predecessors, and the Pentagon itself. The missteps include failed occupations in the Middle East, super-expensive weapons systems such as the F-35 fighter jet that under-perform, and the centuries-old inability of major powers to counter insurgencies.

“Those were strategic catastrophes insofar as they squandered trillions of dollars and cost too much life and blood,” Douglas Macgregor, a retired Army colonel who helped lead the U.S. and allied victory in the first Gulf War, said of the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“That money was diverted from useful investments in military power,” Macgregor, whose book on military misadventures will be published in June, told McClatchy. “There has been a failure to understand that occupations always ruin armies.”

“Sequestration ended up causing a lot of work stoppages and work slowdowns in maintenance facilities,” said Bryan Clark, a retired Navy commander who spent much of the 1990s on a nuclear submarine chasing Russian subs. “It caused this backlog that’s never really been caught up to.”

Ironically, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who was not in the Senate when the original sequestration measure was passed, but who threatened a government shutdown in 2013 if its spending limits were altered, has been the most forceful of the remaining Republican candidates in accusing Obama of having weakened the military.

“For seven years we’ve had a commander in chief who doesn’t believe in the mission of the military, who doesn’t stand by them, who has weakened and degraded the military in a way that has undermined readiness and made us far less able to defend ourselves,” Cruz told cheering South Carolina voters last week at a town hall in Greenville, S.C.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who voted against sequestration as a first-year senator, also has laid into Obama.

“Today, we are on pace to have the smallest Army since the end of World War II, the smallest Navy in 100 years, the smallest Air Force in our history,” Rubio said last month during a Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa. “You cannot destroy ISIS (the Islamic State) with a military that’s being diminished. When I’m president, we are rebuilding the U.S. military, because the world is a safer and a better place when America is the strongest military in the world.”

Experts agree that the number of sailors, soldiers, Marines and airmen has declined – to 1.3 million now from 1.4 million in 2002 – but they ascribe that decrease to what normally takes place when the U.S. ends a combat role, as happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, where almost 200,000 U.S. troops were deployed at peak levels in 2007 and 2008.
Big brave puffery about rebuilding the military usually means throwing more money at makers of junk like the Navy's Little Crappy Ships and the Air Force's F-35 Flying Brick. As for what the troops really need, fuhgeddaboutit!

People get ready

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

When your last name is longer than your first two

You will probably, Like Liza Anne, only use your first two when you and your band sing "Take It Back" from her second album called Two.

Time to clean the House

From the pen of Ted Rall

The Great Cuban Hope

Little Marco Rubio has had success being the one that the Republican establishment is pinning their hopes to stop Donald Trump on. Sadly for those folks, Marco Rubio holds no attraction for the actual voters.
Senator Marco Rubio has persuaded wealthy donors, Republican Party elders and his colleagues in Congress that he represents their best chance to overtake the seemingly invincible force that is Donald J. Trump.

He just can’t seem to convince the voters.

His distant second-place finish in Nevada on Tuesday night — 22 points behind Mr. Trump and just 2.5 ahead of Senator Ted Cruz — highlights how precarious his path forward is becoming and the profound difficulty Mr. Rubio faces as the candidate of the party’s pragmatic mainstream in a year of voter anger and rejection.

Mr. Rubio’s time — and opportunities for victory — are quickly running out, according to even his own supporters, who are offering increasingly candid assessments of his chances.

“It’s not going to be easy for Marco Rubio to do it.” said Representative Peter T. King of New York, who endorsed Mr. Rubio on Tuesday. “There is no doubt that right now Trump is the favorite.”

With four states having voted, Mr. Rubio has not won a single contest or managed to commandingly defeat Mr. Cruz, despite his formidable advantages. In South Carolina he campaigned with a popular governor who had endorsed him. In Nevada, he constantly reminded voters of the six years his family had lived in Las Vegas.

Even those who have sketched out possible paths for Mr. Rubio to win the nomination acknowledge that they are quirky and slender, dependent on forces mostly outside of his control.

And it is only going to get trickier. Mr. Rubio faces inhospitable territory next week in the Super Tuesday contests — states like Texas, Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma, where Mr. Trump could again eclipse him. What could be worse yet for Mr. Rubio is these are also states where Mr. Cruz is poised to do well.

Mr. Rubio, aides said, needs Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio to quit the campaign — which the Ohio governor has shown little inclination to do. He needs almost all the supporters of both Mr. Kasich and Jeb Bush, who dropped out on Saturday, to switch their allegiance to him.

And Mr. Rubio’s entire strategy could be in mortal danger if he fails to win Florida or Ohio, the two delegate-rich, winner-take-all primaries scheduled for March 15. Mr. Trump’s popularity in Florida and Mr. Kasich’s home-state advantage in Ohio could put both states out of his reach.
You don't need tea leaves to see Marco bears a close resemblance to the proverbial snowball in Hell. But he is everything the establishment wants, just not what the voters are looking for.

Editorial Quote of the Day

From the New York Times editorial on the Senate Republican obstruction.
These Republicans have stubbornly parked themselves so far to the right for so many years that it is hard to tell whether they can hear how deranged they sound.

When you pay more for lobbyists than for medical staff

Chances are, if you are a private prison corporation, you will get lucrative contracts for all the prisoners you can cram into your facilities. Those prisoners will be at increasing hazard of their lives because of inadequate or absent medical help when needed.
Private prisons cost less than federal prisons because they provide less. Immigrant prisoners — who are deported after serving time — don’t receive rehabilitation, education or job training, services considered essential for U.S. citizens held in government-operated prisons.

Even worse, these prisons fail to provide minimally adequate health care to inmates, leading to death for some and misery for many. Basic human rights standards require prisons to provide adequate medical care to inmates, regardless of their legal status.

Reports show a pervasive pattern of inadequate medical care at privately run immigrant prisons in the United States. A Jan. 28 report by Seth Freed Wessler, a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, analyzed medical records of 103 immigrant prisoners who died in private prisons from 1998 to 2014. It concluded that in at least 25 of those cases, subpar care “likely contributed to the premature deaths of the prisoners.”

Mexican immigrant Claudio Fagardo-Saucedo was one of the prisoners whose death was investigated by Wessler. Fagardo-Saucedo arrived at a private prison in Texas on Jan. 27, 2009, with a positive tuberculosis screen. Medical protocols call for an HIV test for anyone with a positive TB screen. But he wasn’t tested for HIV. Over the next two years, he went to the prison clinic numerous times in pain, but a doctor never saw him. Instead, the clinic’s licensed vocational nurses, who receive only one year of training, prescribed ibuprofen or Tylenol. Fagardo-Saucedo was hospitalized on New Year’s Day 2011 after he collapsed. He died four days later, shackled to his hospital bed. An autopsy showed an HIV-related infection in his brain.

Martin Acosta, a Salvadoran immigrant who served time at the Texas prison for illegal re-entry at the same time as Fagardo-Saucedo, “began complaining of abdominal pain late in the summer of 2010,” according to Wessler’s report. He went to the prison clinic more than 20 times in less than five months. Despite his complaints of vomiting blood and having blood in his stool, no lab tests were performed. In December 2010 he landed in a hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe metastatic stomach cancer. He died in January 2011.

Nestor Garay had a stroke during the night at another Texas immigrant prison. His cellmates called for help. Prison personnel refused to take him to the emergency room, instead isolating him in another cell. By morning, when he was finally taken to the hospital, it was too late for the clot-busting medication that could have saved his life.
Amateur night in life and death situations. It may cost less, but it's the prisoners who ultimately pay a high price. Their crime of illegal entry does not, in these pre-President Trump times, carry a death sentence though you might think that.

Nevada - The Canary in the Casino

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Willie Nelson likes her music

Lily Meola sings and Tom Conway plays "Royals"

The NRA does Dylan

From the pen of Tom Toles

President Obama wants to close Guantanamo Concentration camp

But the Republicans have sworn since his first day in office to keep that shit stain on our country's honor open and running for no good reason except it obstructs what that black president wants.
President Obama urged lawmakers on Tuesday to help him close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as he made the case for a White House road map for shuttering a detention facility he said symbolized the excesses that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“This is about closing a chapter in our history ,” said Obama, flanked by Vice President Biden and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, in remarks at the White House. “It reflects the lessons that we’ve learned since 9/11, lessons that need to guide our nation going forward.”

Obama’s blueprint, which provided some detail to earlier White House plans to move up to 60 prisoners to the United States for trial or continued detention, was met with immediate condemnation from Capitol Hill.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of the few senior Republicans who has expressed openness to closing the detention center, said the nine-page plan failed to address basic questions. He said Obama had “missed a major chance” to build support for closing the prison before he steps down in January.

“What we received today is a vague menu of options, not a credible plan for closing Guantanamo, let alone a coherent policy to deal with future terrorist detainees,” McCain said in statement.

At the heart of the debate is whether the U.S. government can securely house or try on American soil some of the 91 prisoners remaining at the prison.

Whether Obama can make good on his long-standing promise to close Guantanamo will also shape his national security legacy and provide an important measure of how far he was able to go in distinguishing his presidency from that of George W. Bush, who opened the prison in 2002 and filled it with nearly 800 suspected militants.

Obama argued Tuesday that the facility remained a rallying call for terrorists.

“I don’t want to pass this problem on to the next president, whoever it is,” Obama said. “If, as a nation, we don’t deal with this now, when will we deal with it?”
There has never been any question of whether the prisoners in Cuba could ever be safely held and tried in the US. We are the best incarcerating country in the world, there is no one we can't hold. The Republican Congress simply was not ever going to give that nigger a win if they could help it.

About that ocean front property in Arizona

It may not be so far away as the crook who sold it to you imagined at the time. The rise of sea levels has picked up its pace and is now running at the fastest yet.
An international team of scientists dug into two dozen locations across the globe to chart gently rising and falling seas over centuries and millennia. Until the 1880s and the world's industrialization, the fastest seas rose was about 1 to 1.5 inches a century, plus or minus a bit. During that time global sea level really didn't get much higher or lower than 3 inches above or below the 2,000-year average.

But in the 20th century the world's seas rose 5.5 inches. Since 1993 the rate has soared to a foot per century. And two different studies published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said by 2100 that the world's oceans will rise between 11 to 52 inches, depending on how much heat-trapping gas Earth's industries and vehicles expel.

“There's no question that the 20th century is the fastest,” said Rutgers earth and planetary sciences professor Bob Kopp, lead author of the study that looked back at sea levels over the past three millennia. “It's because of the temperature increase in the 20th century which has been driven by fossil fuel use.”

To figure out past sea levels and rates of rise and fall, scientists engaged in a “geological detective story,” said study co-author Ben Horton, a Rutgers marine scientist. They went around the world looking at salt marshes and other coastal locations and used different clues to figure out what the sea level was at different times. They used single cell organisms that are sensitive to salinity, mangroves, coral, sediments and other clues in cores, Horton said. On top of that they checked their figures by easy markers such as the rise of lead with the start of the industrial age and isotopes only seen in the atomic age.

When Kopp and colleagues charted the sea level rise over the centuries — they went back 3,000 years, but aren't confident in the most distant 200 years — they saw Earth's sea level was on a downward trend until the industrial age.

Sea level rise in the 20th century is mostly man-made, the study authors said. A separate, not-yet-published study by Kopp and others found since 1950, about two-thirds of the U.S. nuisance coastal floods in 27 locales have the fingerprints of man-made warming.

And if seas continue to rise, as projected, another 18 inches of sea level rise is going to cause lots of problems and expense, especially with surge during storms, said study co-author Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

“There is such a tight relationship between sea level and temperature,” Horton said. “I wish there wasn't, then we wouldn't be as worried.”

The link to temperature is basic science, the study's authors said. Warm water expands. Cold water contracts. The scientists pointed to specific past eras when temperatures and sea rose and fell together.
Arizona already has the sand and sunshine, it should make the perfect beachfront state.

You can't keep a good fish down

The Atlantic salmon has returned to the Connecticut River and its tributaries. This despite W's efforts to cut funding for a restoration program that saw very modest success.
In 2001, only 40 Atlantic salmon returned to the Connecticut River. The next year there were 44. The George W. Bush administration cut the budget of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and some Atlantic salmon restoration proponents began to question whether the anemic returns justified the annual cost of around $2 million — tens of thousands per fish. Meanwhile, the general public mostly ignored the program, because the salmon had not yet returned in large enough numbers to be seen or caught.

What happened next, Gephard said, was “a perfect storm.”

Hurricane Irene, its gale winds pulling extra energy from the warmed waters of the mid-Atlantic, wrecked the White River National Fish Hatchery in Vermont in August 2011. The damage to the facility, where 65 percent of all Connecticut River Atlantic salmon eggs were raised, was estimated at as much as $14 million.

As only 54 salmon returned to the Connecticut River in 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pulled out of the restoration program. New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts followed. Connecticut opted to continue stocking a small number of salmon, but it lacks the resources to continue the breeding program, which had made such progress.

While the restoration program failed for salmon, it boosted a suite of other species. American shad, gizzard shad, sea lamprey, striped bass, sea-run brown trout, white perch, alewives, yellow lamp mussels and endangered American eels in the Connecticut River all jumped in population.

Then in the fall of 2015, biologists found five adult Atlantic salmon swimming past the Rainbow Dam on the lower Farmington River. On a hunch, they searched likely upstream spawning habitat and there found the three nests full of eggs. In the spring of 2016 they will hatch the first wild salmon into that river in two centuries. (In 1991 a few salmon spawned for the first time in centuries in Connecticut’s nearby Salmon River.)

The phenomenon was so extraordinary that the nest’s location was kept a tight secret. Some local fishermen refuse to even speak about them for fear attention might do them harm, and some state officials even opted for plausible deniability.

“I don’t know where they are, and I really don’t want to know,” said Neal Hagstrom, inland fisheries biologist for the state of Connecticut. “Sometimes it’s better that way.”

A tight-cropped photo of one of the nests posted in December to a state Facebook page triggered a storm of its own. The photo went viral and became the most shared piece of news in the history of the wildlife department, Gephard said. Email listserves for scientists and message boards for fishermen lit up, said Kocik, who works in Maine. Soon Gephard was fielding questions about the salmon from local, regional and national media.

The attention suggests there might yet be another effort to restore wild Atlantic salmon to the Connecticut River, despite the odds.
We wish the best to all the young salmon fry, may they return safely and horny.

Identify the threat

Monday, February 22, 2016

Successful model, actress, singer

And ex-wife of Jack White for good luck, Karen Elson should stay busy for a long time. " The Ghost That Walks"

Exploring the future

One Sparky at a time as presented by Tom Tomorrow

He got more than 2 seconds with his toy gun

From the pen of Clay Bennett

Not if the governor doesn't like you

Equality of access and opportunity, supposedly enshrined in our founding documents and reaffirmed in legislative and court battles since then, no longer apply in the Shitheel State of North Carolina. And the raging asshole Teabagger Governor Pat McCrory has made it clear that any cities or towns that may choose to legislate equality for those the governor doesn't like will feel the full force of the state legislature coming down on them to insure they retain proper levels of bigotry & discrimination.
Gov. Pat McCrory warned two Charlotte City Council members Sunday that if the city approves new legal protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people on Monday, the vote would “most likely cause immediate state legislative intervention.”

McCrory is concerned about a provision in the proposed expanded ordinance that would allow transgender residents to use either a men’s or a women’s bathroom. That part of the ordinance has also caused a furor in Charlotte and led to the ordinance being defeated 6-5 last year.

“It is not only the citizens of Charlotte that will be impacted by changing basic restroom and locker room norms but also citizens from across our state and nation who visit and work in Charlotte,” McCrory said in an email to the council’s two Republicans, Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith. “This shift in policy could also create major public safety issues by putting citizens in possible danger from deviant actions by individuals taking improper advantage of a bad policy.”

McCrory, a Republican, continued: “Also, this action of allowing a person with male anatomy, for example, to use a female restroom or locker room will most likely cause immediate State legislative intervention which I would support as governor.”
This issue has brought out a strangely powerful Republican interest in public restrooms, especially those of children and the opposite sex. I don't really care what their personal kinks and issues are but I do wish they could keep them out of public policy.

John Oliver on Abortion TRAPs

Can you hear him now?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A hard soul collective?

Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds perform "Catch Me If You Can"

Mitch McConnell's Dream Team

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Pockets of sanity in Texas

The state of Texas where the legislature has delusions of it still being a part of the Wild West, has passed a law requiring state colleges and universities to allow concealed carry of firearms on campus. Private institutions were not required to do so and none have chosen to follow suit.
More than 20 private schools have said they won’t lift their gun bans when the law takes effect this August, including the state’s largest private universities that have religious affiliations and often align with the type of conservative values espoused by the politicians behind the law.

The opposition has not surprised top Texas Republicans who championed the law as a matter of constitutional rights and self-defense. But it reflects a widespread belief even among conservative university leaders that guns have no place in the classroom.

Baylor, Texas Christian and Southern Methodist universities have all declined to allow guns on their campuses.

“My own view is that it is a very unwise public policy,” Baylor President Ken Starr, a former prosecutor and judge best known for his work on the Whitewater investigation involving President Bill Clinton, said late last year. The Baptist school announced this month that guns would not be allowed on campus.

Previous law generally banned concealed handguns from Texas’ public and private universities. That changed last year, when lawmakers passed the so-called “campus carry” law that requires public universities to allow concealed handgun license holders to bring their weapons into campus buildings and classrooms.

Texas will be one of at least 20 states that allow some form of campus carry. But only a few make it a defined right in state law like Texas does.

The law faced strong objections from public higher education officials, law enforcement, students and faculty across the state. Opponents included University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, the former head of U.S. Special Operations Command who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. A notable exception was Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, who said guns on campus didn’t trouble him.
Pity that the small minds of the Texas legislature don't remember the largest campus massacre in Texas history would not have been altered in any way by the alleged safety of concealed carry. Charlie Whitman knew he wanted to kill, the "penis on the hip" crowd would have been surprised at every turn. So if you wreally want to go to school in Texas, make sure it is a privately run institution.

Don't mind all those other bodies

If we are to believe a man whose entire career has revolved around not telling the truth to those who don't need to know, drones are the greatest thing since sliced bread and will insure the American Empire endures around the globe on the cheap.
TARGETED killing using drones has become part of the American way of war. To do it legally and effectively requires detailed and accurate intelligence. It also requires some excruciatingly difficult decisions. The dialogue above, representative of many such missions, shows how hard the commanders and analysts work to get it right.

The longer they have gone on, however, the more controversial drone strikes have become. Critics assert that a high percentage of the people killed in drone strikes are civilians — a claim totally at odds with the intelligence I have reviewed — and that the strikes have turned the Muslim world against the United States, fueling terrorist recruitment. Political elites have joined in, complaining that intelligence agencies have gone too far — until they have felt in danger, when they have complained that the agencies did not go far enough.

The program is not perfect. No military program is. But here is the bottom line: It works. I think it fair to say that the targeted killing program has been the most precise and effective application of firepower in the history of armed conflict. It disrupted terrorist plots and reduced the original Qaeda organization along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to a shell of its former self. And that was well before Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Not many years before, the targeted killings were fairly limited. But by 2008, we knew that the terrorist threat had increased to intolerable levels, both to American forces in South Asia and to the United States itself. From our surveillance platforms, we could observe training camps where men leapt off motorbikes and fired on simulated targets. Early that year, the C.I.A. and I began recommending more aggressive action.

We were confident that the intelligence was good enough to sustain a campaign of very precise attacks. To be sure, it was not, is not, always error-free. In late 2006, for instance, a strike killed a one-legged man we believed was a chieftain in the Haqqani network, a violent and highly effective group allied with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It turned out that the man was indeed affiliated with the Haqqanis, but he wasn’t the leader we wanted. With all the land mines in the region, there were many one-legged terrorists in South Asia.

I demanded a full explanation for the misidentification. There were no excuses. People were thoroughly, maybe even excessively, contrite.
And the one legged man was still dead. Hayden chose an example that ernestly implies that we would have gotten him later anyway. And the ones who did not deserve to be struck down from above but were anyway? Well, we are only human and must live with our imperfections. When we make mistakes, we save them from that burden, don't we?

The Republican Establishment is dead

Having poured big money into support of the latest Bush only to have him fail before he is elected, the Republican Establishment is now turning to the least objectionable of the viable candidates left over.
Within minutes of Jeb Bush dropping out of the presidential race Saturday night, some of his donors were preparing to throw their financial support behind Marco Rubio, who has emerged as the strongest candidate among the establishment wing of the party.

"Jeb's network is already naturally migrating to Marco," said Gaylord Hughey, a top Bush fundraiser from Texas, echoing what four other top donors told Reuters. "It's the clear path."

"It's a stampede," added another donor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wanted to give Bush some time after dropping out before he went public with his support of Rubio, the U.S. senator from Florida.

Three other Bush donors, who declined to be named, also said they now planned to support Rubio.

Although he has failed to win any of the first three nominating contests, Rubio is considered by many political strategists as the best positioned to challenge frontrunner Donald Trump, a billionaire political outsider, and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who has campaigned on an anti-Washington message.

The likelihood that some of Bush's deep-pocketed donors will back Rubio comes at an opportune time for his candidacy, as he heads into a series of contests in March that will be crucial for building momentum.

Brian Ballard, who raised money for Bush last year but switched allegiances last summer to Rubio, said: "It's flooding tonight. Ninety-five percent of Jeb's money is going to end up with Marco."

Rubio had only $5 million in cash on hand at the end of January, federal campaign finance reports released Saturday night show, a slim buffer by modern campaign standards.
Marco 'Mr Roboto' Rubio may be the least objectionable one left but he is still a loser who, while showing himself a capable puppet, also shows he is totally unfit for the White House. Just as all the other Republican candidates do. The chimera of an attractive candidate will be the end of the Establishment.

So true

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Egg and We

We being the Shook Twins with their egg and friends doing "What We Do"

Everybody wants a piece of the action

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

Help wanted, college provided

Unlike Mars which needs women, Germany needs skilled workers. With its low birth rate, it has found an excellent way to attract foreign workers, free college education.
Tuition to U.S. universities has surged 500 percent since 1985 and continues to rise. But German universities offer free education to everyone -- including Americans.

The number of American students enrolled in German universities has risen steadily in recent years. Currently, an estimated 10,000 U.S. citizens are studying at German colleges -- nearly all of them for free, according to NBC News.

German universities in most federal states have traditionally been free for German citizens as well as many foreigners, including many American, Chinese and British students. One reason German taxpayers foot the bill is to help attract more skilled workers to the country.

In recent years, German companies have been unable to fill thousands of jobs because of a lack of qualified applicants. Although Germany has one of the world's most generous welfare systems, its resources are increasingly strained as more workers retire. The central European economic powerhouse also has one of the world's lowest fertility rates -- making the problem even worse.

Back in 2012, Lars Funk, a representative for the Association of German Engineers (VDI), explained that "the current labor shortage in Germany could inflict lasting damage." According to Funk, foreign students could help fill that gap. Since then, the problem has increased.

To attract talent from abroad, many Germany universities have started to offer courses on an undergraduate as well as postgraduate level in English. According to a data analysis by the website -- which collects information on available college courses all over the world -- there are at least about 900 entirely English-language courses in Germany. The subjects include social sciences, politics and engineering -- a particular strength of the country's education system. Getting into those courses is easier than one might assume: In some cases, a potential student doesn't even have to submit a formal application.

There are other countries that offer even more such courses, including the Netherlands, as well as English-speaking Ireland and the United Kingdom. However, Germany is the only country without any tuition fees.
In addition to free college andpotentially a job, Germany has great beer and they don't have small glasses.

Republicans may be stupid, but Corps aren't

While Republican politicians are running around getting their panties in a twist about President Obama's Clean Air rules, the corporations generating the electricity have long seen the writing on the wall and are pushing forward with recyclable clean air projects.In Kansas, a state saddled with Republicans so stupid they will gleefully destroy their state to implement their heinous agenda, the electric companies are expanding wind power regardless of the outcome of the political court battles.
Kansas’ abundant wind power was poised to help the Sunflower State and several surrounding neighbors comply with new federal requirements to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, however, those federal rules are on hold until the legal issues surrounding them are resolved. And the uncertainty following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia has scrambled calculations on how the court would ultimately decide the case.

Kansas was at once suing the Obama administration over the rules and developing a plan to comply with them, and now some state lawmakers are pushing to freeze that work.

Meanwhile, utility companies and electric power grid operators serving the state continue to expand wind power, thanks to the extension of a federal tax credit, regardless of what happens to the rules.

Kansas has the second-biggest wind power potential in the country, behind Texas. It ranks sixth among states in wind-power capacity.

“Wind energy remains quite strong,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, an industry organization. “It makes sense for states to move forward.”

Kansas was among nearly 30 states that sued the Environmental Protection Agency to challenge the Clean Power Plan, which would require the states reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions one-third by 2030.

Although Kansas is one of only a few states to generate more than 20 percent of its electricity from wind, it remains a heavy user of coal, which generates about 60 percent of the state’s power. The state imports virtually all of that coal from Wyoming.

Kansas generates about a third of the wind power in the Southwest Power Pool, which oversees an electricity transmission grid that covers 14 states. And there’s room for more.

“Going forward, we expect to continue to see growth in wind resources,” said Lanny Nickell, vice president of engineering at Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization.

With an expanded network of transmission lines in the region, other states, including Missouri, can plug into Kansas’ wind energy resources to meet their own needs as well.

“We haven’t fully tapped into the potential that our region provides in terms of renewable energy,” Nickell said.
Politicians are usually a day late and a dollar short when it comes to what the people want.

Ask the RIGHT Question

Friday, February 19, 2016

I like the one eyed singer

But it takes all of the musicians to make the sound of Daphne & The Mystery Machines performing "Learn To Fall"

Send snacks, they have enough dildos already

From the pen of Matt Wuerker

Universal Single Payer Healthcare is Possible

And it is easily affordable if you take off your Pentagon colored spectacles and seriously look at how much money is wasted on our Imperial war machine.
Much of our tax money, on both the federal and state levels, is funneled toward activities that are literally killing people. Instead of dismissing "health care for all" as an appealing-but-unachievable dream, we need to talk about how we can shift our overall funding priorities from a framework of death and destruction to one of life and healing.

In mid-February, the Obama administration released its 2017 budget proposal, in which almost $623 billion is allocated to the Pentagon and related spending. The Pentagon alone snags $583 billion, receiving a $2 billion raise over last year, according to a National Priorities Project analysis.

Less than 2 percent of Pentagon funds would go toward "fighting ISIS." (The idea that ISIS can be effectively "fought" is, of course, a highly problematic prospect - but even if you think it can, that's not where your taxes are flowing.)

Plus, the 2017 budget proposal includes a $59 billion Pentagon slush fund, which allows the military to break congressionally set caps on its spending over the course of the year.

These aren't new developments: The Pentagon has long eaten up the majority of our federal discretionary budget - and those funds don't even include treatment for the veterans whose lives have been harmed by this system.

Of course, all this Pentagon money isn't simply sitting idly in government coffers. According to a 2015 Physicians for Social Responsibility report, the "global war on terror" has left 1.3 million dead in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan alone - and that's a conservative estimate.

Beyond Pentagon funding, the administration's 2017 budget calls for $19 billion for nuclear weapons and related expenses. In fact, President Obama recently proposed launching a vast nuclear "modernization" process, which would expand the US's arsenal, spending $1 trillion over 30 years. According to an analysis by Stephen Kinzer at The Boston Globe, the proposal would include the development and purchase of "1,000 new missiles with adjustable nuclear capacity, 100 new long-range bombers, and a new fleet of nuclear-armed submarines." Kinzer cites former Secretary of Defense William Perry, who warns that if the expansion plan goes through, international disputes would be "more likely to erupt in nuclear conflict than during the Cold War."
Our military can kill those others 50 ways before Sunday. But those of us being protected by our military better not get sick, or hungry or have trouble with our water systems, there just ain't no money to pay for those problems.

Twenty four years at the current rate

That is about how long it would take to fix the 59,000 deficient bridges at the current rate of about 2,500 a year. Of course in that time we could reasonably expect that another 59,000 bridges would develop deficiencies. Now 59,000 are not about to fall down the next time you try to drive over them, but they have serious problems that need to be addressed including increasing costs of repair the longer we wait.
58,600 bridges that made the new list are in need of repair, and there are consequences that come with their decayed state. One of them is the need to impose weight restrictions. That doesn’t directly affect the average driver, but it can have an impact on the routes of tractor-trailers and, perhaps, buses and delivery trucks. That can cause delays and those delays, ultimately, may cost the average consumer money.

The ARTBA did some calculations and said that if placed end-to-end, the nation’s structurally deficient bridges would stretch from New York City to Miami (1,340 miles). The trade group said that while less than 10 percent of the country’s approximately 612,000 bridges are structurally deficient, nearly 204 million cars, trucks, schoolbuses and emergency vehicles cross them each day.

The ARTBA said that almost all of the 250 most heavily crossed deficient bridges are on urban highways, particularly in California. The analysis found the most deficient bridges in Iowa (5,025), Pennsylvania (4,783), Oklahoma (3,776), Missouri (3,222), Nebraska (2,474), Kansas (2,303), Illinois (2,244), Mississippi (2,184), North Carolina (2,085) and California (2,009). The District of Columbia (10), Nevada (35), Delaware (48), Hawaii (60) and Utah (95) had the least. (The report listed 1,063 deficient bridges in Virginia and 306 in Maryland.)

Alison Premo Black, ARTBA’s chief economist, said the five-year federal highway and transit law enacted last year provides a modest increase in funding for bridge repairs. But “the funding made available won’t come close to making an accelerated national bridge repair program possible,” she said. “It’s going to take major new investments by all levels of government to move toward eliminating the huge backlog of bridge work in the United States.”
The tragedy of all this is the Republican lust for obstruction kept so much of this work from being done at a time when the Federal government could have borrowed the money to fix the bridges a near 0% rates with the costs being more than covered by the boost in the economy. But the Republican/Teabagger drive to anarchy well kept that from ever happening.

No, not the people working for Christie

When you hear talk about a problem with turkeys in New Jersey, it is not just about the politicians anymore. The big ones with feathers and spurs are wild turkeys that have taken nicely to the environment since they were re-introduced to the state. A little too nicely for some.
In some neighborhoods of this placid New Jersey borough in Bergen County, they are seemingly everywhere — waddling by the dozen in the road, perched on car roofs, pecking at the tires of delivery trucks.

But wild turkeys, which were wiped out in the state by the mid-1800s, put on their most brazen display on Tuesday, when a letter carrier felt trapped in his truck and telephoned his boss for help.

“Hey sarge,” the postmaster said in a 911 call to the Hillsdale Police Department. “You’re not going to believe this, but I got a carrier that’s being attacked by wild turkeys and won’t let him deliver the mail.”

It was just one of the latest skirmishes in suburbia’s wildlife wars. Turkeys have now joined the ranks of raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bears and deer, all of which have both fans and detractors and seem to make headlines with growing frequency.

While New Jersey environmental officials say they are unaware of anyone’s being physically harmed by a turkey, the large birds are intimidating. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection, which reintroduced turkeys to the state in the 1970s, says that there are now about 25,000 statewide. “It’s a success story,” said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the environmental agency.

There are two hunting seasons, and while officials respond to 20 to 30 turkey complaints a year, the biggest problems seem to involve traffic tie-ups. “They will go out in the roads and if they get onto a major highway, they can be a traffic and safety hazard,” Mr. Hajna said.

But some local officials and residents say face-to-face turkey encounters are increasing and can be scary. The postmaster who placed the 911 call in Hillsdale told the police that the turkey situation was “crazy.” “I mean, they’re actually attacking, biting,” he said. “They chase the trucks — everything.” The police sergeant simply said, “Wow.”
The unattached young males, known as 'jakes' are the main problem, but any bird that size with the spurs they carry can be a hazard if they don't want you around.

R.I.P. Nelle Harper Lee

You wrote "To Kill A Mockingbird" and the book that killed the mockingbird.

It must be nice.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Country music and whiskey

Mixed together nicely by Margo Price in her new tune "Hurtin'(On The Bottle)"

The truth will out

From the pen of Tom Toles

My father always said

That some people just need a good swift kick in the ass. In these modern times, I sometimes wonder if we need to line up behind some of the people who have determined to their own satisfaction (and wrongly so) that their shit doesn't stink. PharmaBro was one and now there is this asshole from San Francisco.
Move over Martin Shkreli. You now have competition for the title of America’s most reviled millennial.

The Internet once again exploded in outrage Wednesday after a San Francisco tech entrepreneur wrote an open letter complaining that homeless “riff raff” were turning the city into an “unsafe” and filthy “shanty town.”

In a Feb. 15 letter addressed to the city’s mayor and police chief, software developer Justin Keller wrote bitterly about how his Presidents Day weekend had been ruined by homeless people.

“I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society,” Keller wrote, saying that he arrived in San Francisco only three years ago. “The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.”

Keller’s comments drew sharp rebukes, especially within San Francisco, where tech workers have been blamed for skyrocketing rents and gentrification. On social media, a flood of critics accused Keller of arrogance and insensitivity, not to mention ignoring his own industry’s reputed role in the city’s homelessness crisis.

The Guardian called Keller a “tech bro” whose letter demonstrated a “total lack of sympathy for the plight of those in difficult circumstances, focusing instead on the discomfort of the ‘wealthy.'”

And in a particularly blistering rebuttal, a woman who sarcastically identified herself as one of Keller’s “servants in San Francisco” told him that if he didn’t like the city, he should leave.
People are entitled to their own opinion about whatever. Nevertheless, the people of San Francisco should be allowed to give trash like Justin Keller a damn good smack whenever they see him. Unless he moves to someplace where they mandate deodorizing all assholes.

When Cliven Bundy lost it

From the pen of Max Cannon

click pic to big

Take care of your friends

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Some Wednesday Blues

Samantha Fish makes her guitar earn its keep on "Black Wind Howlin'"

Republicans never could count good

From the pen of Jim Morin

What is real here?

Big tech story about Apple, Inc. making a "principled" stand against a court order to crack the encryption on the San Bernadino shooter's I-Phone.
Apple said on Wednesday that it would oppose and challenge a federal court order to help the F.B.I. unlock an iPhone used by one of the two attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., in December.

On Tuesday, in a significant victory for the government, Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the Federal District Court for the District of Central California ordered Apple to bypass security functions on an iPhone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who was killed by the police along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, after they attacked Mr. Farook’s co-workers at a holiday gathering.

Judge Pym ordered Apple to build special software that would essentially act as a skeleton key capable of unlocking the phone.

But hours later, in a statement by its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, Apple announced its refusal to comply. The move sets up a legal showdown between the company, which says it is eager to protect the privacy of its customers, and the law enforcement authorities, who say that new encryption technologies hamper their ability to prevent and solve crime.
I can't help but think that the real issue is rather different. Either all of our overpriced spook organizations can't crack Apple so why are we paying for all of them? Or the encryption was cracked long ago and this is misinformation until what was found can be acted on and Apple is going along because it is great promo for their alleged phone privacy. Pick your favorite then lets wait and see.

A refreshing sign of normal times

Trade between countries is heart of a proper functioning world. And one sign that one aspect of this function is returning to normal took place at the US Chamber of Commerce. A lobbying and trade group all too often associated with distorting politics in favor of their corporate sponsors, this time they were on the right side of history as they welcomed Cuban Foreign Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca.
Cuba’s top official for foreign investment used a historic speech before American business leaders on Tuesday to urge them to pressure lawmakers to end U.S. economic sanctions against his country, warning that their firms are losing ground to foreign competitors.

In the first address by a senior Cuban official to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in more than a half century, Foreign Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca said dozens of American companies have finalized negotiations with Cuban authorities and firms to export goods there or even build products on the communist-run island, but can’t move forward because of U.S. red tape.

Malmierca praised President Barack Obama for moving in December 2014 to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, which the United States broke off Jan. 3, 1961, but added that normal economic ties must follow.

“It is important that the U.S. government has recognized the failure of the policy of trying to make change in Cuba based on economic problems created by the blockade,” Malmierca said...

Malmierca received a standing ovation from the audience of business executives after he was introduced by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez, the son of a Cuban pineapple plantation owner who fled with his family in 1960 and settled in Miami.

Gutiérrez, who headed the U.S. Commerce Department under President George W. Bush, recalled his emotional return to Cuba six months ago, his first since he left at age 6, to participate in ceremonies marking the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on Aug. 14 last year.

“As a proud U.S. citizen born in Cuba, it became very evident to me that the love of the people, the love of the land of my birth – of my parents’ birth, of my grandparents’ birth, the land of my ancestors – that love was greater than any political differences that we could have between the two countries,” Gutiérrez said.

Gutiérrez, chairman of the recently formed U.S.-Cuba Business Council, echoed calls from the visiting Cuban officials to lift the American embargo, which would require an act of Congress.
It is long past time to end the embargo and the best way to do it is to rid the Congress of useless Republicans.

The Killer Bee Speaks

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Maid In Japan

Band-Maid has a new video, "Alone". The lyrics may be in Japanese, but the rocking music is a universal language.

The Elephant Weeps Crocodile Tears

From the pen of Kevin Siers

13 wasted years in Shitholeistan

Beyond getting Bin Laden, crushing al-Qaeda and making George W Bush feel like a proper warlord, our military presence in Afghanistan appears to have been geared towards restoring the opium trade. Prior to our invasion, the Taliban had essentially eliminated the trade in that country. After 13 years of chasing our tails, the opium business is thriving and some of our Afghan allies are profiting handsomely.
The United States spent more than $7 billion in the past 14 years to fight the runaway poppy production that has made Afghan opium the world’s biggest brand. Tens of billions more went to governance programs to stem corruption and train a credible police force. Countless more dollars and thousands of lives were lost on the main thrust of the war: to put the Afghan government in charge of district centers and to instill rule of law.

But here in one of the few corners of Helmand Province that is peaceful and in firm government control, the green stalks and swollen bulbs of opium were growing thick and high within eyeshot of official buildings during the past poppy season — signs of a local narco-state administered directly by government officials.

In the district of Garmsir, poppy cultivation not only is tolerated, but is a source of money that the local government depends on. Officials have imposed a tax on farmers practically identical to the one the Taliban use in places they control.

Some of the revenue is kicked up the chain, all the way to officials in Kabul, the capital, ensuring that the local authorities maintain support from higher-ups and keeping the opium growing. And Garmsir is just one example of official involvement in the drug trade...

More than ever, Afghan government officials have become directly involved in the opium trade, expanding their competition with the Taliban beyond politics and into a struggle for control of the drug traffic and revenue. At the local level, the fight itself can often look like a turf war between drug gangs, even as American troops are being pulled back into the battle on the government’s behalf, particularly in Helmand, in southern Afghanistan.

“There are phases of government complicity, starting with accommodation of the farmers and then on to cooperation with them,” said David Mansfield, a researcher who conducted more than 15 years of fieldwork on Afghan opium. “The last is predation, where the government essentially takes over the business entirely.”
It sure is great to be part of an Empire based on high moral principles.

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