Lazy Caturday Reads

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Good Morning!!

It’s a winter Saturday, a good day to stay in a comfy bed for awhile, relax, and catch up on the latest news. So let’s see what’s happening out there today.

First up, the all-important weather forecast. I know you won’t be surprised to learn there are more winter storms on the way. From the Weather Channel: Winter Storm Maximus Brings Snow, Ice to Midwest, South, East, Rockies Through Monday.

Winter Storm Maximus, the 13th named storm of the winter season in the U.S., will have deposited a wintry mess from coast to coast by the time it is finally over Monday.

This storm will have multiple waves of snow, sleet and freezing rain sweeping west to east across the country.

First, snow will taper off over parts of the southern and central Rockies. A few additional inches of snow are expected over the mountains of Colorado and northern New Mexico. This storm will drop snow in the west, parts of the South and Midwest and then move into upstate New York and Northern New England. It’s not yet clear what we’ll be getting in the northeast, but right now we are expecting a warm weekend, and the storm shouldn’t interfere with the Super Bowl tomorrow.

another wave of wintry precipitation kicks off early Sunday in the Southern Plains, spreading to the Ozarks and the Mid-South region Sunday afternoon, then sweeping quickly through the Tennessee Valley, Appalachians and East Sunday night and Monday.

Snow accumulations look most likely in a stripe from northwest Texas into parts of Oklahoma, northern Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virgina, and Virginia with several inches of accumulation possible. Parts of northwest Texas and southern Oklahoma near the Red River could measure up to around six inches of snow.

“Maximus” will be closely followed by Winter Storm Nika, which will bring “widespread” snow and ice to the Plains, the Great Lakes, and the Northeast. Tomorrow is Ground Hog Day, but whether or not the sleepy rodent sees his shadow, it looks like winter is going to continue unabated.

In Georgia, where people are still trying to recover from their state government’s failure to prepare for a winter storm that had been predicted for two days beforehand, investigators are still trying assign blame for the massive f&ck-up.

cat taco

From the Atlanta Journal-Contitution: Storm debacle ‘case study’ of emergency management failure.

After two inches of snow turned Georgia into a national punch line, the state’s top disaster responder was cast as one of the debacle’s chief enablers. But the performance of state emergency management director Charley English is only part of larger-scale breakdown of the emergency management system, records and interviews reveal.

Records show there were failures up and down the line before and during Tuesday’s storm.

The performance of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency Tuesday is “a case study in how things can go badly,” said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

It’s also a case study in what can happen if you keep electing Republicans who hate government and don’t believe it has a role in public problem-solving. According to the article, Gov. Nathan Deal and other government officials had plenty of warning that the storm was going to hit Atlanta, yet they did next to nothing to prepare. Read all the gory details at the link.

At The National Memo, Joe Conason provides an example of how government has worked well in two blood-red states: Universal Pre-K? Ask Republicans In Georgia And Oklahoma — And Then Ask Grover Norquist.

Among the biggest policy mistakes of the past 50 years is our continuing failure to provide quality early childhood education to all of America’s kids. For children, families, and society as a whole, the benefits of “universal pre-K” are not only significant and well documented, but offset the financial cost many times over. Although we’ve been aware of these basic facts since the early Sixties, most politicians have preferred to squander billions of dollars on malfunctioning weaponry, catastrophic wars, and petroleum subsidies….

Even if there were no economic upside to starting the education of every child at three or four years of age, the obvious social benefits would vital for any country that aspires to cultivating a vibrant democratic republic. Citizens who can read and do math (and perhaps take an interest in science!) are more likely to succeed at self-government. They are also far more likely to succeed in life.

Enhancing personal opportunity is how universal pre-school generates universal public savings — estimated by a large cohort of studies to lie somewhere between 7 and 17 dollars for every single dollar spent.  Human brains mostly develop well before age five, so children who attend quality pre-school enter kindergarten with social skills, confidence, and knowledge that boosts achievement for many years.

cat-reading-a-book

So what happened in Georgia and Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, where every child has been entitled to free pre-school since 1998, a well-known study by Georgetown University educators found substantially improved cognitive skills and test scores among Tulsa students who had attended public pre-K. The program made the difference between falling below national norms and moving up to achieve them. In Georgia, first to implement universal state-funded pre-school almost 20 years ago, painstaking research has likewise showed gains in math and reading that lasted through eighth grade, especially among underprivileged rural and urban children.

What about Grover Norquist? According to Conason he sends his own kids to D.C.’s free public pre-school program, despise his avowed opposition to taxes of any kind. Maybe some of those right wing Congresspeople should have a talk with him about early childhood education.

It’s looking more and more like the Keystone XL Pipeline will be approved, according to the NYT:

The State Department released a report on Friday concluding that the Keystone XL pipeline would not substantially worsen carbon pollution, leaving an opening for President Obama to approve the politically divisive project.

The department’s long-awaited environmental impact statement appears to indicate that the project could pass the criteria Mr. Obama set forth in a speech last summer when he said he would approve the 1,700-mile pipeline if it would not “significantly exacerbate” the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. Although the pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to the Gulf Coast, the report appears to indicate that if it were not built, carbon-heavy oil would still be extracted at the same rate from pristine Alberta forest and transported to refineries by rail instead.

The report sets up a difficult decision for Secretary of State John Kerry, who now must make a recommendation on the international project to Mr. Obama. Mr. Kerry, who hopes to make action on climate change a key part of his legacy, has never publicly offered his personal views on the pipeline. Aides said Mr. Kerry was preparing to “dive into” the 11-volume report and would give high priority to the issue of global warming in making the decision. His aides offered no timetable.

If so, there will be pushback from indigenous Americans: Keystone XL ‘black snake’ pipeline to face ‘epic’ opposition from Native American alliance.

A Native American alliance is forming to block construction of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline which still needs final approval from U.S. President Barack Obama after the State Department released an environmental report indicating the project wouldn’t have a significant impact Alberta tar sands production.

Members from the seven tribes of the Lakota Nation, along with tribal members and tribes in Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, have been preparing to stop construction of the 1,400 kilometre pipeline which is slated to run, on the U.S. side, from Morgan, Mon., to Steel City, Neb., and pump 830,000 barrels per day from Alberta’s tar sands. The pipeline would originate in Hardisty, Alta.

“It poses a threat to our sacred water and the product is coming from the tar sands and our tribes oppose the tar sands mining,” said Deborah White Plume, of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which is part of the Lakota Nation in South Dakota. “All of our tribes have taken action to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Read the rest at the link.

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The Economist has an interesting article about the Winter Olympic games and Vladimir Putin’s Russia: Sochi or bust: The conspicuous dazzle of the games masks a country, and a president, in deepening trouble

FEBRUARY 7th sees the opening of the winter Olympics in Sochi on the Black Sea. The message of the games is simple: “Russia is back”. Sochi was planned as a celebration of Russia’s resurgence, a symbol of international recognition and a crowning moment for Vladimir Putin, its president, who for the present seems to have seen off all his challengers.

Appropriately, the opening ceremony will include the image of the Russian “troika-bird” from Nikolai Gogol’s “Dead Souls”. “Rus,” wrote Gogol, “aren’t you soaring like a spry troika that can’t be overtaken? The road is smoking under you, the bridges thunder, everything steps aside and is left behind!…Is this lightning thrown down from heaven? Other nations and states gaze askance, step off the road and give [you] right of way.”

The quote has long been used to justify Russian exceptionalism and moral superiority. Gogol describes Russia as a deeply flawed and corrupt country, but it is precisely its misery and sinfulness that entitles it to mystical regeneration. His troika carries a swindler, Chichikov, and his drunken coachman, but it is transformed into the symbol of a God-inspired country that gloriously surpasses all others.

So, too, with the Sochi Olympics. This grand enterprise, the largest construction project in Russia’s post-Soviet history, is also a microcosm of Russian corruption, inefficiencies, excesses of wealth and disregard for ordinary citizens. The Olympics are widely seen as an extravagant caprice of Russia’s rulers, especially its flamboyantly macho president, rather than a common national effort. The cost of the games has more than quadrupled since 2007, making them, at $50 billion, the most expensive in history. One member of the International Olympic Committee thinks about a third of that money has been stolen. Russia’s opposition leaders say the figure is much higher.

Check it out. It’s a long read, but worthwhile, IMO.

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There’s some good news out of New York City, now that neo-facist Mayor Mike Bloomberg is gone. It looks like the “stop and frisk” policy will end soon: Mayor Says New York City Will Settle Suits on Stop-and-Frisk Tactics.

New York City will settle its long-running legal battle over the Police Department’s practice of stopping, questioning and often frisking people on the street — a divisive issue at the heart of the mayoral race last year — by agreeing to reforms that a judge ordered in August, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday.

In making the announcement, which he said he hoped would end a turbulent chapter in the city’s racial history, Mr. de Blasio offered a sweeping repudiation of the aggressive policing practices that had been a hallmark of his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, but that had stoked anger and resentment in many black and Latino neighborhoods. He essentially reversed the course set by Mr. Bloomberg, whose administration had appealed the judge’s ruling.

“We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “We believe in ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk that has unfairly targeted young African-American and Latino men.”

That’s great news, but I wish he had noted that women have also been targeted, often in sexually abusive ways.

I’ll wrap this up and put my remaining links in the comment thread. I hope you’ll do the same. Please let us know what stories you’ve found interesting today.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

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40 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    US clashing with China again: U.S. ‘could change military posture’ if China sets up second ADIZ

    The United States has asked China not to set up another air defense identification zone in Asia, warning the move could lead the U.S. military to change its posture in the region, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.

    “We oppose China’s establishment of an ADIZ in other areas, including the South China Sea” where China is involved in territorial rows with Southeast Asian countries, Evan Medeiros, senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, said in an interview.

    “We have been very clear with the Chinese that we would see that (setting of another ADIZ) as a provocative and destabilizing development that would result in changes in our presence and military posture in the region,” Medeiros said.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Boston Globe: US cites enormity of attack in seeking death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

    The Department of Justice said Thursday that it will seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged Boston Marathon bomber, citing the “heinous, cruel and depraved manner” of the attack that killed three people, injured more than 260, and sent a wave of shock and fear into the region.

    Noting that Tsarnaev has shown no remorse, federal prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty because of his “betrayal of the United States’’ and his decision to target the Boston Marathon, “an iconic event that draws large crowds of men, women, and children to its final stretch, making it especially susceptible to the act and effects of terrorism.”

    US Attorney General Eric Holder authorized federal prosecutors to seek capital punishment if Tsarnaev is convicted, saying, “The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision.”

    The US attorney in Boston, Carmen M. Ortiz, whose office is prosecuting the case, said, “We support this decision, and the trial team is prepared to move forward with the prosecution.”

    • bostonboomer says:

      But most Bostonians are opposed to the death penalty. That may make the defense more likely to choose a trial in the Boston area rather than pressing for a change of venue.

      Strong opposition to the death penalty in Massachusetts could play a critical role in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as lawyers for the alleged Boston Marathon bomber consider whether to seek to relocate the trial outside of Boston, legal observers said Friday.

      With seemingly strong evidence against Tsarnaev, his defense lawyers may see the state’s opposition to the death penalty as an advantage if their end-game strategy is to simply save his life in the event of a conviction, the observers said.

      “Where else in the country is there such a strong, anti-death-penalty sentiment than in Boston?” said Daniel S. Medwed, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law.

      • NW Luna says:

        Yes it was a heinous crime, but killing a person to punish him for killing brings no one back to life. I expect we’ll see intense discussion in the Boston area about the death penalty during this trial.

  3. RalphB says:

    Good reads BB. Looks like we may largely escape the coming Icepocalypse, Weather forecasts are only showing a light wintry mix possible for next Friday morning. Climate change is a bummer since I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve had ice problems in the 15 years I’ve lived here and both times this year have been the worst.

    May have to move to Central America to stay warm. :-)

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s good news. It’s going to be in the 40s-50s here all weekend. I don’t know what we’ll get next week. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  4. RalphB says:

    Republicans deny this because “Hey, you can get a McJob” but it’s undeniably true.

    Texas Tribune Study: Half of Texas Households Financially Insecure

    Half of Texas households are one crisis away from poverty, according to a new report that ranks the state 37th in residents’ overall financial security.

    In Texas, 49.8 percent of households are liquid-asset poor, compared to 43.5 percent in the nation as a whole, the study says. Texas ranks 30th in the country for liquid-asset poverty.

    Many middle-class households are among those considered liquid-asset poor, according to the report, 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard. A majority of Texans who live below the federal poverty line of $23,550 for a family of four are considered financially insecure, as are nearly a third of households earning between $54,049 and $90,468 a year.

    The report also ranks Texas 42nd for its percentage of low-wage jobs: 27.8 percent.

    • NW Luna says:

      Not surprising, considering the middle class in the rest of the US isn’t too secure these days. All the more reason why we need to defend Social Security.

      Makes me think of one of JJ’s cartoons from Friday’s post — the one about Medicaid and food stamps as benefits. Ouch.

  5. RalphB says:

    Public safety is one of the costs of an oil boom. Production in the Eagle Ford Shale is estimated to drive 90 percent of all 911 calls.

    Texas Tribune: Fire Department Bolstered as Boom Presents Hazards

    COTULLA — Richard Prado has learned a number of rules in his six years as a firefighter. Among the most important, he says, is to know your equipment.

    If only he had some.

    Taking inventory at La Salle County’s only fire station, an easy-to-miss garage on this South Texas town’s cracked-up Main Street, would not take long: a small, 12-year-old fire engine, two brush fire trucks and a closet with mismatched protective gear — all of it donated over the years, and much of it secondhand. …

  6. Fannie says:

    Luv taco the cat photo…………

    Another nut from the chuch has suggested a law that single mothers should give their children up for adoption. He sounds like anti woman, and abuser of children.

    http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/11/27/single-moms-surrender-kids-land/

  7. Hey, I am looking forward to reading that stuff on Sochi, this is good:

    You’re Not Going To Be Able To Have Any Fun In The Sochi Bathrooms

    Canadian snowboarder Sebastien Toutant is in Sochi for the Olympics and tweeted an image of what appears to be the meddlesome arm of Big Red Brother reaching all the way into the john. No fishing for poop? No self-administering opiates on the bathroom floor because you have a gruesome broken leg? No, thank you.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Here’s the one ad you should watch and remember during the superbowl

  9. RalphB says:

    Something worth considering, but we may already have one of them.

  10. dakinikat says:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/why-do-the-super-rich-keep-comparing-obama-to-hitler/283404/

    First, they came for the bailed-out bankers’ bonuses, and I did not speak out, because I wasn’t a banker.

    Then they came for the hedge fund managers’ tax loophole, and I did not speak out, because I wasn’t a hedge fund manager.

    Then they came for novelist Danielle Steel’s hedges, and finally I did speak out, because I know her, and I’m a knight—a literal knight of the Kingdom of Norway—so I thought I’d get on my high horse and charge forth in her defense.

  11. dakinikat says:

    Okay, I’ve been putting my republican asshat of the day up on my facebook page since the beginning of the year and my resolution to broadcast right wing nonsense where ever I find it … Here’s today’s entry.

    http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/08/20/gop-lawmaker-blames-his-multiple-dwi-charges-on-gay-marriage/

    The real doozy comes when we examine the supposed reasoning or the drunken boating. Dwyer was interviewed by the Capital Gazette, in which he attributed his behavior on the boat to his own marriage falling apart, and to his feeling “betrayed” by fellow lawmakers who backed marriage equality legislation in Maryland. Dwyer said to the Gazette:

    Wow, this is like one of the worst excuses for excessive drinking that I have EVER heard from an alcoholic

  12. RalphB says:

    This is ALEC legislation so everyone should watch out for it in your state. This could leave rural areas with no internet access, including cell service in some areas.

    DKos: Kansas moves to Stop Broadband Internet to residents

    The State of Kansas could often be said to be one of those places where torturing your residents just makes sense. While the work against women, children, the disabled, schools and others continues, the state of Kansas Legislatures took on a new target: Stop Google Fiber. And not just google fiber, make sure that cities cannot invest in any broadband network technologies. …

    • NW Luna says:

      Access to the intertubez is dangerous!

      They must like shooting their own constituents in the feet.

      • RalphB says:

        Google Fibers first buildout is in Kansas CIty and they’re going to build out here in Austin. Lots of people and organizations will get free Wi-Fi all over the city and 10mb internet will be free after a one time installation charge into a home.

        Google estimated pricing for gigabit internet with HD-TV and the works is cheaper than Cable or U-verse now. This ALEC legislation is to protect the Cable and phone companies monopolistic pricing. A pure ripoff of their constituents.

        • RalphB says:

          Just for giggles, think what a free 10mb service does to AT&T’s DSL business, which in a lot of places is still 6 to 12 mb for $30 to $50 per month or so. It goes buh-bye.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s the childish e-mail Chris Christie sent out to supporters to defend against the latest charges.

    http://images.politico.com/global/2014/02/01/christie.html

  14. RalphB says:

    Sometimes the “nutpicking” is just too easy.

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Conspiracy theorists think government planted ‘fake snow’