Thursday Reads: Hot and Bothered Edition

HeatWave-8747

Good Morning!!

Today is day 5 of the latest heatwave, which isn’t scheduled to break here in southern New England until Sunday. I don’t think I’m capable of writing very much today–we’ll see how it goes.

From USA Today: Heat wave scorches central, eastern USA

A killer heat wave brought the hottest weather of the summer to much of the nation Wednesday, and at least two more days of broiling temperatures are forecast before cooler weather slides in over the weekend.

About 130 million people are sweltering through the heat wave in the Midwest and Northeast this week, reports AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

High daytime and nighttime temperatures, high humidity, intense sunshine and lack of wind will continue to make these areas “seem like the middle of the tropics,” he said.

High temperatures in the 90s are again likely Thursday and Friday all the way from the Plains to the Northeast. Heat advisories and warnings are in place from the Dakotas to New England.

Boston Bombing Aftermath

Quite a few people in New England are all hot and bothered about the August 1 cover of Rolling Stone–a glamorous photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The photo accompanies a long article by Janet Reitman, who has a reputation as a good investigative journalist.

The cover copy suggests that Reitman will reveal how sweet little Dzhokhar became “radicalized” into a “monster” who participated in the Boston Marathon bombing. I  read the article, and was disappointed to find that it is mostly a rehash of material that was covered long ago in The Boston Globe and The New York Times. Reitman appears to have interviewed some of Tsarnaev’s high school friends, but again they offered no new insights. Reitman had scheduled an appearance on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, who was born and raised in Boston. In the wake of the controversy, Reitman cancelled, which is also disappointing. Why not go on and defend her story?

I can’t say I’m all that bothered by the cover, since the photo was also featured long ago in The New York Times and other publications, but I can respect that for survivors of the bombings it seems pretty dismissive of their suffering to glamorize the perpetrator. Here are a few links on the topic–see what you think.

Erik Wemple at The Washington Post: To Rolling Stone detractors: Please

Slate: Rolling Stone’s Boston Bomber Cover Is Brilliant

The Boston Globe: Why Boston reacted right to Rolling Stone

Time: Drugstores, Supermarkets Boycott Rolling Stone Over Boston-Bomber Cover

In other news related to the Boston bombing suspects, friends of three men who were brutally murdered  in Waltham in September 2011 have been talking to the media. Susan Zalkind, a friend of Erik Weissman appeared on the Rachel Maddow show this week.

Susan Zalkind, a close friend of Eric Weissman who was found murdered with two of friends in a Harding Avenue home in September 2011, appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show on Tuesday to discuss her investigation and reactions to the case, which is officially under investigation. However, authorities reportedly believe accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his friend Ibragim Todashev committed the murders as a drug ripoff. Tsarnaev was killed during the April 19 shootout with police in Watertown. The Federal Bureau of Investigation shot and killed Todashev in his Florida home in May after allegedly attacking agents. Todashev had been in the process of writing a confession implicating himself and Tsarnaev in the murders.

Other friends of the three murdered men talked to CNN, and High Times Magazine has the video. Friends believe that police didn’t take the investigations of the murders very seriously once they concluded that the three men were drug dealers.

Meanwhile, the FBI is refusing to release the Todashev autopsy. From Russia Today:

The FBI has ordered a Florida medical examiner’s office not to release the autopsy report of a Chechen man who was killed during an FBI interview in May over his ties to one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers.

The autopsy report for Ibragim Todashev, 27, killed by an FBI agent during an interrogation which took place in his apartment on May 22 was ready for release on July 8. However, the FBI barred its publication, saying an internal probe into his death is ongoing.

The FBI has informed this office that the case is still under active investigation and thus not to release the document,” according to statement by Tony Miranda, forensic records coordinator for Orange and Osceola counties in Orlando.

The forensic report was expected to clarify the circumstances of Todashev’s death.The Bureau’s statement issued on the day of the incident provided no details of what transpired, saying only that the person being interviewed was killed when a “violent confrontation was initiated by the individual.”

Back in May Ibragim Todashev’s father showed pictures of his dead son’s body at a press conference in Moscow, revealing he had been shot six times.

“I only saw things like that in movies: shooting a person, and then the kill shot. Six shots in the body, one of them in the head,” Abdulbaki Todashev said.

Student Loan Interest Rates

A group of Senators have made a deal on student loan interest rates, according to Politico.

Key bipartisan Senate negotiators met in Majority Whip Dick Durbin’s Office late Wednesday and emerged confident that they could finally put the vexing issue behind them.

“It would save students in 11 million families billions of dollars,” said Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “We’d like to be able to do this together and we hope that we can come to a decision right away because families need to make their plans.”

Alexander, the top Republican on education issues, said their proposal would apply retroactively to students who have already drawn federal loans at higher rates which went into effect on July 1.

A Senate aide familiar with the talks said the bill could go on the floor as soon as tomorrow. Leadership aides said that’s implausible but not impossible. Otherwise the bill would get a floor vote early next week.

Of course Republican members of the House will probably have different views on this. I have no idea if this is a good plan or not, and I’m too hot to care. I won’t live to see my student loans paid off, that’s all I know for sure.

Michael Hastings Fatal Crash

Russ Baker’s site Who What Why recently published an interesting (and not too wacky) article on the car crash that killed Michael Hastings. It’s written by Michael Krikorian, a former LA Times crime reporter base on footage from surveillance cameras that caught some of the accident. Krikorian doesn’t offer conspiracy theories–just reports of what he saw at the accident scene, his reactions to the videos caught on cameras a his girlfriend’s pizza restaurant nearby, and some reactions from experts to whom he showed the tapes. The  most mysterious questions seems to be why Hastings was driving so fast. And why didn’t he apply the brakes when he started to skid?

Four seconds into the start of the tape, a minivan or SUV goes by the front of restaurant. Three seconds later, another vehicle goes by, traveling from the restaurant front door to the crash site in about seven seconds. At 35 seconds into the tape, a car is seen driving northbound and appears to slow, probably for the light at Melrose.

Then at 79 seconds, the camera catches a very brief flash of light in the reflection of the glass of the pizzeria. Traveling at least twice as fast as the other cars on the tape, Hastings’s Mercedes C250 coupe suddenly whizzes by. (This is probably the “whoosh” that Gary, the Mozza employee, heard.)

The car swerves and then explodes in a brilliant flash as it hits a palm tree in the median. Viewed at normal speed, it is a shocking scene—reminiscent of fireballs from “Shock and Awe” images from Baghdad in 2003….I think it’s safe to say the car was doing at least 80….

Highland has a very slight rise and fall at its intersection with Melrose. It’s difficult to tell by the film, but based on tire marks—which were not brake skid marks, by the way—chalked by the traffic investigators, it seems that the Mercedes may have been airborne briefly as it crossed the intersection, then landed hard. Tire marks were left about 10 feet east of the restaurant’s valet stand….

About 100 feet after the car zooms by on the tape, it starts to swerve. At about 195 feet from the camera, the car jumps the curb of the center median, heading toward a palm tree 56 feet away.

About halfway between the curb and the tree, the car hits a metal protrusion—perhaps 30 inches tall and 2 feet wide—that gives access to city water mains below. This is where the first small flash occurs. This pipe may have damaged the undercarriage of the car, perhaps rupturing a fuel line.

Check the story out and see what you think. It appears the police have closed the book on the case except for waiting for tox screens on Hastings to come back.

Edward Snowden Updates

Glenn Greenwald continues to lecture all and sundry that Snowden isn’t the story–the focus should be on the NSA leaks. Meanwhile, he continues to publish about three times as many articles on himself and Snowden as on the leaks. Yesterday’s offering was about e-mails between Snowden and a retired ultra-conservative/libertarian Senator from New Hampshire, Gordon Humphrey. You can read the full e-mails at the link, but one thing Snowden wrote became the subject of much speculation yesterday.

My intention, which I outlined when this began, is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them. I remain committed to that. Though reporters and officials may never believe it, I have not provided any information that would harm our people – agent or not – and I have no intention to do so.

Further, no intelligence service – not even our own – has the capacity to compromise the secrets I continue to protect. While it has not been reported in the media, one of my specializations was to teach our people at DIA how to keep such information from being compromised even in the highest threat counter-intelligence environments (i.e. China).

You may rest easy knowing I cannot be coerced into revealing that information, even under torture.

Did this mean that Snowden believes himself to be impervious to torture? According to tech experts and hacker types, it means that he has encrypted the data in such a way that even he cannot get at it by himself. Here’s an article in the Christian Science Monitor that explains this in somewhat simple terms. Author Dan Murphy writes:

I think his good intentions, as he sees them, are fair to assume. But his certainty that it is impossible to compromise what he knows seems questionable. Presumably he has digital files that are encrypted in some fashion. But if the files are accessible at all, there has to be a key.

Or even imagine a Escherian progression of unbreakable locks containing the key to the next unbreakable lock in the progression, which in turn contains the next key. Layers of difficulty are just that – problems to be overcome. Assertions of insurmountably seem specious as long as a key or set of keys exists and someone hasn’t destroyed the first one in the sequence.

And if Snowden’s claims are to be believed, a key to whatever data he has does exist. Greenwald says Snowden’s NSA files have been set up for release in the event Snowden is killed by the US. Greenwald hasn’t said what the mechanism would be and what precisely would be released beyond, “if something does happen to [Snowden] all the information will be revealed and it could be [the US government's] worst nightmare.”

That implies that there is some process, known to some people or persons, that allows for access. And while state of the art encryption can foil technical efforts to break it, it’s hard to see how gaining access to the knowledge of others is impossible. Spy agencies use trickery, bribery, coercion, and sometimes worse to pry out others’ secrets. Yet Snowden was insistent in his letter to Senator Humphrey….

Greenwald implies today that what Snowden meant was that he doesn’t know how to get at the files himself. But then, who does?

If the answer is “no one,” then it’s hard to square with his claim of a release being made in the event of his death. If the answer is “someone” or “some group of people,” then his confidence that secrets can’t be compromised seems misplaced. (I asked a number of people who know more about encryption than I about this; the answer always circled back to “the key is the vulnerability.” Perhaps there’s something we’re all missing?)

Here’s another article from Wired that speculates on the so-called “dead man’s switch.”

I’ve got lots more on Snowden, but I’m running out of space and I think I may be the only one here who still cares what’s going on with him. I can post some more links in the comments if there’s any interest.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? Please post your links on any topic in the comments.

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41 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Hot and Bothered Edition”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Stay cool, everyone! I’ll be back after I take a cold shower and dry off in front of a fan.

    • I don’t know, I think I would need to also sit on a bag of ice as well…

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Since I’m obviously not going to convince you to get even a room air conditioner, you might want to try putting a wet hand towel in the freezer. Once frozen, you can put it around your neck. When I used to do protests I found something cold around my neck worked best to keep me a bit cooler.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks, but it’s not a question of convincing me. As I’ve explained previously:

        1. I don’t have any money for extras. I’m very poor right now.
        2. I already know that the wiring in my house can’t handle an air conditioner.
        3. I’m already an expert on dealing with the heat. I have fans and other methods.
        4. I’d just like to be permitted to talk about it sometimes. I don’t think I complain that much.

        • ecocatwoman says:

          Not scolding, I just worry about you. When these heat waves hit so many people end up in the hospital.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Thanks, Connie. I appreciate it. But I’m OK. I have more fans than I even need and I can go to my brother’s house if necessary. It’s actually not too bad right now–better than yesterday.

  2. Fannie says:

    The cover photo reminds me of Richie Havens…………here comes the sun. Just glad we aren’t burning up here. T.V. was showing some sort of nursing facility or elderly care program that doesn’t have power, and the patients were being escorted out, to where they didn’t say.

    Our little town here had a water parade, everybody had squirt guns, and buckets of water, had fun getting everyone wet……………..adults later had cold beer.

    Did you see the cost of sequestering the jury of six? $33,000 dollars, fine dinning and couple fun trips, and even pedicures……surprised they didn’t make it to Disneyland.

    Heard an ungodly amount was spent by the Sanford Police Dept. preparing for the case. At somepoint, you gotta go WHOA……….

    I don’t think Snowden will blend in, no matter where he goes. Glenn keeps on the same path as Snowden, no regrets about the leaks. Maybe he’ll end up in some refugee camp……………..don’t they have those in the Soviet Union?

    Thanks BB – stay cool.

  3. janicen says:

    The student loan “deal” still pisses me off.

    The new Senate proposal would peg rates on new loans to 10-year Treasury notes plus 2.05 percent for undergraduates with a cap of 8.25 percent. Graduates would pay the 10-year Treasury rate plus 3.6 percent with a cap of 9.5 percent and 4.6 percent for PLUS loans with a cap of 10.5 percent.

    Why should the rate be higher for grad school than undergrad? What market factor is at play here other than, “Because They Can”. The banks are assuming zero risk on these loans since they are exempt from bankruptcy so it seems the interest rates should be much lower than what is stated in this deal and charging higher interest for grad school than for undergrad is just piracy.

    Thank you for reading my rant. Now I’m back to reading the rest of the post.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Janicen, the above seemed more a logical review of the continued buttfkng Americans get from our elected officials. I think the reason grad school is taxed at a higher rate is because Repugs loathe highly educated Americans – they are the elite, in their ivory towers, who are crazy Liberals. At least that’s how they characterize those with Masters or Ph. D’s.

  4. janicen says:

    You’re not the only one who cares about the Snowden story. Thanks to your brilliant writing and following the case you have piqued the interest of quite of few of us laggards. Please keep informing us.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks. I have a couple of links about how the Russians are very likely in control of Snowden’s movements, and how Russian media has been writing about him. I’ll put them up soon.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Moscow Times: The Kremlin’s cunning Snowden plan

      On Friday, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden invited about a dozen Russian rights activists to the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport, where he’s been holed up for three weeks. The announcement took about 200 journalists on a wild goose chase, and a weekend later, there’s still a lot of head-scratching going on.

      “It was a very strange event,” Human Rights Watch director Tatyana Lokshina told me on Monday. “I don’t even know whether it was [Snowden's] idea or not. It was like a press conference, but there were no journalists.”

      The meeting was clearly planned by the Russian government and FSB. Snowden now has an FSB affiliated attorney.

      According to Olga Kostina, a member of Russia’s Public Chamber advisory body who was also at the meeting, the main purpose of the meeting was getting Snowden’s position across to the international community by utilizing rights activists who would then talk to the media….

      Snowden, it appears, wasn’t so much asking rights activists for specific help as using them as his spokespeople. Whatever the Kremlin does or doesn’t have up its sleeve, whether it facilitated this meeting or not (and if it did, then probably not directly), this is an incredibly convenient development.

      Russian rights activists, often pictured criticizing abuses back home, were standing up in the defense of an American whistleblower.

      Now, if the Kremlin does give Snowden asylum, it has a foolproof excuse: the human rights community asked it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Quote from opinion column in Nova Gazeta (Russian newspaper) (Google translation)

      If infantile leftist Snowden really wanted to be a hero, he should have come back to the U.S. would not have crucified crucify him, but would give the top ten. The top five would be served.

      But Snowden wanted to become a digital Christ, and do not hang on the cross. Now, Mr. Snowden will not five years, and a lifetime away from the FSB.

      I have no doubt that over the last month Snowden learned what real control. Total control. When you sit on a summer residence of the FSB and have no right to say where you’re sitting. When you have no power either over their movements or their behavior. When your supervisors dictate your stupidity that you have to say, and bring you to a meeting with psevdopravozaschitnikami. And Mr. Snowden was not in a hurry, as we can see, this control this story. Instead, he clearly voiced what they want to hear curators.

      In my opinion, Vladimir Putin accidentally made the U.S. the best gift. He finally discredited Snowden. He showed the world how to behave infantile leftist who dreams of the laurels of the whistleblower – not when he opposed the U.S. non-vegetarian, and when he was truly scary.

  5. peej says:

    bostonboomer,

    Sending you some cooling vibes to cool the mind. Perhaps will help to cool the sweating skin as well. A renku of summer by Kikusha-ni, ‘Tis hot here too, though cooling… so I empathize with your plight. “Cooling” being the idea-designation of the summer season – assuming we are in incessant seasonal motion. We are inexorably moving toward coolness.

    Tsuki to ware to
    barkari nokorinu
    hashi-suzumi

    the moon and I
    alone are left here
    cooling on the bridge

    From the Haiku Seasons by William J. Higgionson

    There are other translations, but I’m rather fond of this one . :)

    As to another chiller SNOWden — please don’t stop posting your findings. Many, many of us do care and do reject the blind acceptance of Greenwald’s narrow frame.

    I’m thrilled the media is starting to pick up on the implications and omissions from Greenwald’s shoddy analysis. Who Snowden is has been the job of other reporters to glean, and it should have been Greenwald’s. I think it’s all too glaring the realization that Greenwald was massively dishonest about who Snowden is. Greenwald led the world to believe Snowden was a low-level analyst (for which Greenwald was called out on, an outing he simply dismissed – he dismissed his own dishonesty implying it was the media’s fault for drawing that conclusion); now Snowden is Super-Hacker capable of outwitting not just the U.S. government, but all governments worldwide. Greenwald has yet to weigh in on Snowden’s status as “spy” – he’s alluded to/suggested that NSA spies operate with diplomatic cover in Brazil, but somehow he found it relevant to clarify Snowden’s diplomatic cover in Switzerland.

    Now in this email Snowden seeks to boost his credibility to engender trustworthiness by casually mentioning that one of his “specializations was to teach our people at DIA how to keep such information from being compromised even in the highest threat counter-intelligence enviromments (i.e.) China – yes, and so, that’s nice, but he neglects to mention that it was NSA who trained him to do this. The entire email was more more martyrdom spectacle – inanity.

    I’m glad the media is also taking stock of the “dead man’s switch” – it’s about time. A few points on that matter, including Snowden’s “responsible” control of what gets leaked: First, neither Greenwald nor Snowden qualify as vetters for what is or what is not damaging to U.S. interests. Snowden’s new super-hacker status is nothing more than a downplay to alleviate fears that what he carries can be stolen by yet another rogue party . I don’t have any level of confidence in Snowden – unless perhaps Greenwald and Snowden devote themselves to complete transparency and divulge precisely what his security level was for starters.
    The other concern is just who these are these people who have the potential to obtain classified data belonging to the American people which will be illegally gotten should they receive/release it. So, Snowden vetted these people? We are to trust that these un-named people are as appropriate as Snowden and Greenwald to receive and release? More asinine-inanity. Assumedly, some of the unreleased material is in the “cloud” – so no one in the world is smarter or more clever than Snowden and just might be able to locate it and use if for some unknown purpose? I mean, really, if it can be found by those with ill-intent, why release it and let the world know you know? If you obtain the blueprint for the NSA + who knows what other specified intel, gee, might it not make sense to keep it all a-hush?

    In no universe can Greenwald or Snowden validly claim that what they are doing is “responsible transparency.” I reiterate – neither are in possession of the complete picture so neither of them can properly assess what they reveal. Also, their barometer for damage is rather low, and in my estimation, improperly skewed.

    I’ll conclude with a few winter haiku by Issa, translated by Lucien Stryk (from The Dumpling Field)…

    Cool breeze,
    twisting, winding –
    here at last.

    Just by being,
    I’m here –
    in snow-fall.

    Ambrosial snow,
    softly, whitely,
    flake on flake.

    Through biting winter
    rain, smoke
    of baking clams.

    • bostonboomer says:

      One catch is that if someone other than the U.S. kills Snowden, presumably the info will also be released–The U.S. wouldn’t kill him, but some other country might.

      • peej says:

        Exactly. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I read about Snowden’s brilliant plan for keeping himself safe. I think it reveals his attenuated mindset and worldview, calling into question his reliability to vet the information he’s revealing for one, and raises questions about his motivations for two. Even without his “safeguard” he’s set himself up as one heck of a target for entities of ill-intent hostile to the U.S.

        He’s also put an unconscionable number of people at risk given the scope of what he says he’s stolen. By that I mean media personnel, their associates, family members, any one who could be a possible “in” to where this free-floating info. may be found. The arrogance of his “unhackablity” with respect to his own encryption methods is monumentally staggering.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Thanks for the good vibes!

          • peej says:

            You’re very welcome. I’ll send some more along as energy permits – sweltering drains the energy so. Thank you for your perseverance during the unseemly heat.

          • bostonboomer says:

            For some reason the temperature went down to the mid-80s this afternoon, so I’ve been pretty comfortable. Tomorrow supposed to be 97.

  6. peej says:

    ooh typo – meant to write that Greenwald found it irrelevant to clarify Snowden’s diplomatic cover in Switzerland, yet makes it quite clear that diplomatic cover is status quo for the NSA spy in Brazil. Probably many more typos – I detest them – please forgive if you spot more.

  7. peej says:

    Oh and another thing I forgot to mention. I wouldn’t think any shades of Cold War in Snowden-isms should be any surprise given Libertarianism really is accelerated magnitude Cold-War thinking. But, I also think it’s a mistake to assume the Cold War ended. For the most part, I’d argue, it really hasn’t. It just looks different than it once did.

  8. Holy shit: Stephen Rakes, man who accused Whitey Bulger of stealing his South Boston liquor store, has died; cause of death under investigation – Metro – The Boston Globe

    Stephen “Stippo” Rakes, a former South Boston man who had waited decades for a chance to testify against James “Whitey” Bulger, was found dead in Lincoln on Wednesday, authorities said today.

    The cause of death is being determined by the state medical examiner’s office. There were no obvious signs of trauma to the body, which was found at about 1:30 p.m. in the Mill Street area, authorities said.

    The case is being investigated by State and Lincoln police, according to a statement released by Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan.

    Steve Davis, the brother of alleged Bulger murder victim Debra Davis, said he became close friends with Rakes. He said Rakes was physically fit, swimming year-round in the bay outside the L Street annex in South Boston.

    Davis said Rakes introduced him to cycling and the two of them frequently took long rides from Milton and Quincy to Castle Island in South Boston.

    “He was in good shape,” said Davis.

    He said Rakes, who lived in Quincy, had talked about buying property in Lincoln and suggested that Rakes may have been in the town to look at property.

    Rakes, 59, was one of the most determined of Bulger’s alleged victims, still furious at the notorious South Boston gangster and his allies, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi and Kevin Weeks, for allegedly extorting his South Boston liquor store from him at gunpoint in 1984 — while Rakes’s daughters were in the same room.

    Potential witness in Bulger gangster trial found dead

    A body found near Lincoln, Mass., has been identified as Stephen “Stippo” Rakes, once thought to be a prosecution witness in the ongoing racketeering trial of notorious South Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger.

    Rakes had been scheduled to testify that Bulger and members of his Winter Hill gang forced him at gunpoint to sell his liquor store to Bulger in 1984. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office told Rakes Tuesday that they did not plan to call him to testify, according to Rakes’ family.

    Rakes’ body was found at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. There were no signs of trauma to Rakes’ body. The medical examiner’s office is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.

    ABC News reported that police told Rakes’ family that the death appeared to be a suicide. No phone or wallet was found on the body. Local and state authorities are investigating.

  9. RalphB says:

    Borowitz: Texas Weighs Ban on Women

    AUSTIN (The Borowitz Report)—Republican lawmakers in the Texas State Senate are proposing a precedent-setting new bill that would make it illegal for women to live in the state.

    Senator Harland Dorrinson, one of the many pro-life lawmakers backing the woman ban, crafted his bill after witnessing Senator Wendy Davis filibuster an anti-abortion bill last month.

    “That was our moment to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” he said. “This comes down to a choice between life and women, and we choose life.”

    Senator Dorrinson said his bill would call for a twenty-foot woman-proof fence to be constructed along the borders of the state.

    “Women are great at talking, but not at climbing,” he observed.

    But another G.O.P. state senator, Cal Jamson, believes that the total ban on women goes “too far” and is proposing a less draconian bill that would allow some women to remain in the state as guest workers.

    “Texas needs women to cook, clean, and cheerlead,” he said. “If they show that they can do those things and stay out of politics, there could be a pathway to citizenship.”

    Too close for comfort :-)

    • NW Luna says:

      They should go ahead with that plan! I’d love to see all the Texan Repug males fall to pieces when there’s no one to take care of them.

  10. RalphB says:

    In North Carolina, where the public is souring on Republican extremism in the state legislature, Sen. Kay Hagan(D) appears to be the beneficiary of shifting attitudes. PPP shows the Democratic incumbent leading each of her likely GOP challengers by double digits.

    She’s a big target of the GOP. This should b helpful in 2014 to hold a Dem majority.

    • RalphB says:

      Most accurate, and funniest, pollster in 2012…

      PPP: North Carolina Miscellany

      Finally we polled on some lighter topics. Miley Cyrus is no match for the Star Spangled Banner- just 3% of voters support changing the national anthem to ‘Party in the USA,’ compared to 92% who are opposed.

      Despite the novel storm fighting techniques proposed by #Sharknado, only 13% of voters would support 50 million dollars in federal money to research the effectiveness of dissipating tornadoes by throwing bombs into them, compared to 66% opposed.

      And there’s little sympathy for Los Angeles’ plight from the movie- just 11% of voters support federal aid to California for #Sharknado recovery with 55% opposed.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    How Russia treats it’s own wistleblowers: Russian court convicts anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny

    MOSCOW — Russia’s most effective anti-corruption campaigner and opposition leader was found guilty of embezzlement Thursday and sentenced to five years in prison in a verdict that sent shock waves throughout the country.

    The conviction of Alexei Navalny, 37, a leading critic of President Vladi­mir Putin with a penchant for exposés and cutting jibes, brought sharp criticism from those who believed it to be a politically driven case.

    U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul posted on Twitter: “We are deeply disappointed in the conviction of Navalny and the apparent political motivations in this trial.”

    Big demonstrations going on too.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    And then there was Sergei Magnitzky–tortured and killed in prison for whistleblowing. Now convicted three years after his death.

  13. cygnus says:

    Virginia wants even further into your private life:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/07/18/ken_cuccinelli_the_republican_candidate_for_governor_in_virginia_wants_to.html

    “Ken Cuccinelli wants to keep kids safe from sexual predators by banning oral and anal sex—between consenting adults. On a website his campaign just launched, Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia, paints himself as the only real protector of children, because of his efforts as Virginia attorney general to reinstate a law banning all naked fun-time acts besides vaginal intercourse. “