Wednesday Reads

The Striped Towel, Marie Fox

The Striped Towel, Marie Fox

Good Morning!!

I’m finally back home in Greater Boston. Last night at around 5PM, I almost teared up when I saw the sign reading “Massachusetts Welcomes You,” with the little chickadee on it. I’m so torn, because I love Indiana too; but I’ve lived in Boston since 1967–47 years–and I love it here too!

Here I am, 66 years old, and I have no idea what to do with the rest of my life. Should I move back to Indiana where my mother lives or should I stay here where I’ve lived for most of my life? And will I even have a choice? I can’t stay where I’m living indefinitely, and there’s no way I can afford an apartment in the Boston area unless I manage to get into subsidized elderly housing. It would be much cheaper to to live in Indiana.

I have no idea what will happen, and I’m not sure how much control I’ll have over it anyway. I guess I just have to keep on truckin’ and try not to agonize too much about the future.

Anyway, the new continues onward no matter where I am. Here are some stories that caught my attention today.

Hillary on The Daily Show

On last night’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart tried to cajole Hillary Clinton into saying whether or not she’ll run for president in 2016. According to The Week, 

At the beginning of Tuesday night’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart states (almost) unequivocally that his guest, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is declaring her candidacy for president in 2016 on his show. (Spoiler: She doesn’t.) But Clinton all but agrees with Stewart when he declares her candidacy for her, even knowingly answering all the right questions on his career aptitude test. If Clinton’s candidacy is supposed to be a long tease, maybe we’re approaching the denouement.

Clinton laughs a lot in the interview, and it’s clearly a friendly audience, but Stewart actually asks some interesting, tough questions. He also playfully tells her that nobody cares about her book, Tough Choices, and calls her out when she darts around his barbs. In fact, for somebody supposed to be a “terrible politician,” she fields the questions and turns around the criticism pretty skillfully.

Really? A “terrible politician?” That must be why she was elected to the Senate twice and why she won more primary votes than Barack Obama in 2008 (Yes, Virginian, Obama was nominated only with help from Superdelegate votes and Michigan Votes taken from Hillary and handed over to him by the Rules Committee.) In fact, she’s such a “terrible politician” than her former rival nominated her as his Secretary of State.

Sigh . . . Why don’t people actually watch and listen to Hillary herself instead of buying into the propaganda from her obsessed critics? Here is the Daily Show video from You Tube (I hope it doesn’t get taken down):

And BTW, “progressives,” getting Elizabeth Warren to run against Hillary for the nomination is a good recipe for electing Mitt Romney in 2016. From HuffPo: Ready For Warren Campaign Launches To Convince Elizabeth Warren To Run For President

WASHINGTON — An enthusiastic band of activists has launched a campaign to slow the momentum of Hillary Clinton and convince Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that she should run for president in 2016.

“I think there’s an opportunity for us to convince her if we’re really able to make the case as to why we think she’s the right person,” said Erica Sagrans, who has signed on as the Ready For Warren campaign manager.

The group already has a Facebook pageTwitter account and a new website with a petition encouraging Warren to run.

Sagrans, who worked on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, will be joined by political activist Billy Wimsatt, who previously founded the League of Young Voters and is going to be a senior adviser to the new group.

Reached for comment, Lacey Rose, Warren’s press secretary, told HuffPost, “No, Senator Warren does not support this effort.”

I love Liz, but she had no political experience before running for the Senate two years ago, she is approximately the same age as Hillary, and she doesn’t have the connections to raise the necessary money. Please grow up or shut the fuck up, assholes.

beach reading1

Old Fogies of the GOP

At Vox, Matthew Yglesias asks, “How long can the GOP last as the cranky oldster party?”

You can tell it’s the dog days of summer because some of Washington’s finest minds are spending their time debating the inherently unknowable question of whether today’s teenagers will grow up to be Republicans. Jon Chait says no way, but Harry Enten and John Sides and David Leonhardt say maybe….

More interesting than asking whether people born in the 1990s will be voting GOP in the 2020s, I think, is asking what kind of a GOP it would have to be for them to vote for it. As an older member of the left-leaning youth cohort, I was really struck by something John Boehner said four summers ago. He complained that the Democratic majority that existed that summer, paired with Barack Obama, was “snuffing out the America that I grew up in.”

Boehner was born in 1949 and presumably isn’t nostalgic for the sky-high income tax rates (or strong labor unions) of his youth. So what was so great about it? The racial and gender discrimination? In practice, he probably didn’t have anything at all in mind — he’s just mixing up disagreement with aspects of the Democratic agenda (the specific issue under discussion was the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill) with a generalized nostalgia for his youth. That probably resonates with a lot of older Americans, but while today’s teenagers might well turn against some of the failings of Obama-era liberalism, they’re unlikely to be pining for a return to Mad Men social norms….

There’s something very oldsterish about contemporary conservative politics. The constant bickering about Ronald Reagan is very odd to anyone too young to have any particular recollection of the Reagan years. Calling a group of people “Beyoncé Voters” as an insult is weird. Some of this oldsterism is just tics, but some of it has policy implications. The sort of budgetary priorities that call for huge cuts in all domestic spending, except no cuts at all for anyone born before 1959 is kind of weird. The huge freakout over New York City starting a bicycle program last summer was bizarre. It’s easy to imagine a political party that’s broadly favorable to low taxes and light regulation without sharing this particular set of tics. And then there was the time George Will wrote a column-length rant against blue jeans.

Not to mention Will’s wildly out-dated views on rape. Frankly, I think a lot of powerful Democrats are aging badly too. I’d like to see some of them move on and make room for some new blood. But let’s begin with the Republicans.

Beach Recliner, Candace Lovely

Beach Recliner, Candace Lovely

Speaking of cranky old folks, Dick Cheney has been all over the media lately, and I’ve had it up to here (point to neck).

From Politico: Cheney family sounds off after Iraq protests.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday defended the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq, calling it “absolutely the right thing to do.”

“I believed in it then, I look back on it now, it was absolutely the right thing to do,” the Wyoming Republican said with regard to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Cheney made his comments at a POLITICO Playbook lunch conversation with his wife, Lynne, and daughter Liz at Washington’s Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, a lively event that featured jokes, a standing-room-only crowd and a few interruptions — protesters delayed the event twice, screaming at the former vice president for being a “war criminal.”

Notice the quotes around “war criminal,” as if that were hyperbole. I’m afraid not, Politico.

Mike Allen, POLITICO’s chief White House correspondent, began the event by asking Dick Cheney about his decision to lambaste the Obama administration over its foreign policy, particularly in contrast to former President George W. Bush, who has declined to criticize the president since he left office.

Citing a decades-long precedent of former presidents refusing to criticize their successors, Cheney said: “I’m not bound by those strictures.”

Of course not. Cheney has never been bound by any “strictures,” even as a young man when he managed to obtain five draft deferments while others his age were fight and dying in another pointless war he supported.

Solitude, Woman at the Beach, Rita C. Ford

Solitude, Woman at the Beach, Rita C. Ford

Fortunately, we have Charles Pierce: THINGS IN POLITICO THAT MAKE ME WANT TO MAINLINE ANTIFREEZE, PART THE INFINITY.

Its puerilty has finally crossed over into indecency. Its triviality has finally crossed over into obscenity. The comical political starfcking that is its primary raison d’erp has finally crossed over into $10 meth-whoring on the Singapore docks. Once a mere surface irritation, Tiger Beat On The Potomac has finally crossed over into being a thickly pustulating chancre on the craft of journalism. It has demonstrated its essential worthlessness. It has demonstrated that it has the moral character of a sea-slug and the professional conscience of theTreponema pallidum spirochete. Trust me. Stephen Glass never sunk this low. Mike (Payola) Allen has accomplished the impossible. He’s made Jayson Blair look like Ernie Pyle.

It’s not just that TBOTP invited the Manson Family of American geopolitics to come together for an exercise in ensemble prevarication. It’s not just that the account of said exercise is written in the kind of cacophonous cutesy-poo necessary to drown out the screams of the innocent dead, and to distract the assembled crowd from the blood that has dripped from the wallet of the celebrity war-criminal leading the public display. And it’s not as though this was a mere interview—a “get” that could help you “win the morning (!).” In that, it might have been marginally excusable. No, this was one of Mike Allen’s little grift-o-rama special events—a “Playbook lunch,” sponsored by that noted mortgage fraud concern Bank Of America. There’s an upcoming TBOTP “event” in L.A. that is sponsored by J.P. Morgan. I know what Mike Allen is, but I am so goddamn tired of haggling about the price. Here’s how TBOTP‘s own account of the event begins.

Sing it with us: “Here’s the story of a man named Cheney …” Dick, Lynne and Liz Cheney had a message they wanted to send with their appearance at POLITICO’s Playbook lunch on Monday: We’re a family, we’re happy together, we joke together, and we’re beating the drum for an aggressive foreign policy together. It’s almost as if the Cheneys were the Brady Bunch—if the Brady Bunch had started a hawkish think tank and were warning the country about the failures of President Barack Obama’s leadership around the world.

Yes, and if Mike were an authoritarian greed-monkey with a borrowed heart that he declined to employ in any meaningful sense, if Carol were a lifelong scold and nuisance pretending to be a historian, and if Marcia were a talentless clown who, if it weren’t for the largesse of Mike’s friends and their foundations, would be selling phony subprime packages to the blind from a strip-mall in Kannapolis. Also, whatever editor it was who passed on the tone of this account should be sent back to the oyster cannery where they found him.

Please go over to Esquire and read the whole thing. It’s highly therapeutic. And here’s another counterpoint from The New York Daily News: Dick Cheney interview drowned out by hecklers Monday in D.C.

Cheney also told Jake Tapper than he doesn’t think Republicans should try to impeach President Obama, even though he is “the worst president of my lifetime.” How magnanimous of dear old Dick!

 

 Other News . . .

MSNBC,  Obama admin to join voting rights cases in Ohio and Wisconsin.

Bob Cesca, Protesters Carrying Firearms March Against Immigrant Children in Michigan.

The Arizona Republic, Arizona politician mistakes ‘Y’ campers for migrant children.

Huffington Post,  Americans Are Too Stupid For GMO Labeling, Congressional Panel Says.

Jonthan Chait, Diane Ravitch: Campbell Brown Shouldn’t Worry Her Pretty Little Head About Education Policy.

 

What stories are you following today?


Sunday Reads: Israel-Palestine Conflict and Presidential Break-Out

woman-reading Childe Hassam 1885

Good Morning!!

Is it just me, or is there less exciting news this summer than usual? Today, the top stories are the Israel-Palestine conflict and President Obama’s supposed sudden freedom to be himself. Oh, and the so-called “super moon” that reached its peak last night.

I have to be honest; I don’t understand why Israel is stepping up its attacks on the Palestine territory; Israel-Palestine discussions always seem to lead to bitter fighting on blogs, so I tend to avoid the issue entirely. But I’ll try to pick out some helpful stories on the conflict this morning.

From USA Today: Thousands flee Gaza as Israel ramps up offensive.

GAZA CITY — Thousands fled northern Gaza on Sunday as the Israeli military notified residents of an impending attack and its ground troops briefly crossed the border on a mission to destroy a launching site.

“Civilians are requested to evacuate their residences immediately for their own safety,” the leaflets dropped by air said, before listing specific areas that would “prove to be most dangerous.”

Israeli airstrikes hit more than 200 homes and buildings across Gaza on Sunday, bringing the death toll in the sixth day of the Israeli offensive Operation Protective Edge to 166 with more than 1,000 injured, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Despite calls from the United Nations and world leaders, there are no signs the two sides will agree to a cease-fire anytime soon.

“We don’t know when the operation will end,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Cabinet meeting Sunday. “It might take a long time.”

From the UK Guardian: Israel calls on residents to leave northern Gaza as death toll continues to spiral.

The death toll passed 160 on Sunday on the Palestinian side, with no Israeli fatalities reported. The United Nations called on Israel and Hamas to end hostilities. Instead the violence escalated with more exchanges of rocket fire from Gaza and missiles from Israel….

The military said four Israeli navy commandos were lightly wounded in a shootout with Gaza-based Hamas fighters as they carried out a raid to destroy a rocket launching site on Sunday morning. It marks the first time the sides have directly clashed since Israel began a devastating bombardment in response to rocket fire. Hamas said its fighters had fired at the Israeli force offshore, preventing them from landing.

Both sides have dismissed calls for a truce and Israel has continued to build up troops along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground invasion.

So is this all-out war?

There has been little sign that either side is interested in an immediate end to the hostilities, which appeared to be ramping up over Saturday night….

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said on Friday that “no international pressure will prevent us from striking, with all force, against the terrorist organisation which calls for our destruction”.

Hamas’s Haniya sounded a similar tone, saying: “[Israel] is the one that started this aggression and it must stop, because we are [simply] defending ourselves.”

The latest conflict unfolded after last month’s kidnap and murder of three young Israelis in the occupied West Bank and the brutal revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.

What are we to think about this seemingly endless, unresolvable conflict? I gained a bit of insight from two posts at Tikkun by David Harris-Gershon.

From July 5, As a Jew living in America, the past week has changed me forever

Gershon writes that he was brought up by parents who were very liberal; at the same time he was taught to be loyal to the state of Israel and to believe that the Palestinians were evil.

As an adult, I’ve moved away from such naiveté while holding on to both my Zionist and progressive leanings, despite the growing struggle for coexistence between the two. And it’s not as though I’m mildly informed about the region or mildly invested in Israel and my Jewishness. The opposite, in fact, is the case. I’m a Jewish studies teacher at a day school, yeshiva-educated with a master’s degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I’ve authored a memoir about my experience with terror and reconciliation, and write extensively about the region, often critiquing Israel from a progressive perspective while maintaining my desire for a two-state solution to the conflict.

As an adult, I’ve learned about the cleansing of Arab villages which took place from 1947-1949 to make way for the Jewish state. I’ve learned about the ongoing settlement enterprise, the appropriation and bifurcation of Palestinian lands. I’ve learned the horrors of Israel’s decades-old occupation of the West Bank, about the suppression of basic human rights and the atrocities committed. I’ve studied Israel’s use of indefinite detentions, home demolitions, restrictions on goods and movement, and the violence visited upon those being occupied.

I’ve learned that – and this is just one example of many – a Palestinian child has tragically been killed every three days for the past 14 years. That bears repeating, since such deaths are rarely, if ever, given any attention in America: Palestinian parents have had to bury a child every three days for the past 14 years.

Knowing all this, I’ve still held fast to my ‘progressive Zionism,’ hoping Israel could become that beacon of liberalism I was presented as a child, a beacon which never truly existed in the first place, despite the country’s socialist roots. Why have I done so? For two reasons: 1) deep down, I still believe in the promise of Israel, and 2) I can’t shake the notion that a Jewish state is absolutely necessary for our security….

Gershon writes that he has worked with others to try to get Israel to change its warlike, even racist, policies, but with little success. he has come to the conclusion that the Israeli government has “little interest in peace.”

These realities have forced me to consider the incongruity between my American-borne progressivism and my Zionism. They have forced me to admit, like Peter Beinart, that in order to continue supporting Israel as a Jewish state, with everything it continues to do, I must compromise my progressivism.

However, the mind-numbingly horrific events of the past week have forced me, for the first time, to wonder whether such compromising can be sustained.

Smoke and fire rise above the skyline following an Israeli air strike on July 11 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli warplanes kept up deadly raids on Gaza Friday but failed to stop Palestinian militants firing rockets across the border (NBC News).

Smoke and fire rise above the skyline following an Israeli air strike on July 11 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli warplanes kept up deadly raids on Gaza Friday but failed to stop Palestinian militants firing rockets across the border (NBC News).

And from July 12, My Head Is Spinning as Gaza Burns: The Most Timely Book Review I’ve Ever Written

I was sitting in Philadelphia’s airport recently, awaiting a flight back home, the book I had been reading turned face down in my lap. Intentionally. I didn’t want anyone to see the cover. Didn’t want anyone to associate its cover with my views – these people I didn’t know, people I would never know.

I had just opened to the book’s second chapter – “Does Israel Have a Right to Exist as a Jewish State?” – and had closed it quickly. Shocked by the question. Shocked by my imagined (and false) notions of what a chapter with such a title might contain, by the prospect of a stranger seeing me reading it.

So I shut the book – Ali Abunimah’s The Battle for Justice in Palestine, which argues that only a bi-national state can justly end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and quickly hid it from those milling about.

Gershon goes on to discuss his recent epiphany about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

…recent, unspeakable events of the past two weeks have begun to make me question whether a two-state solution is even remotely possible anymore, particularly as Israeli officials begin embracing various one-state solutions.

Such internal questioning reached a climax on Friday, when Netanyahu explicitly stated that he wanted Israel to control the West Bank indefinitely, marking his first-ever public rejection of the two-state solution and Palestinian statehood.

My jaw dropped.

There’s much more at the link. I hope you’ll check it out.

 

The famous reluctant handshake in Texas

The famous reluctant handshake in Texas

Now for President Obama’s supposed break-out.

From The Washington Post: ‘The bear is loose’: Is Obama breaking free or running away?

Bears, beer and horse heads: What exactly is going on with the leader of the free world?

On a single day this week in Denver, President Obama scarfed down pizza and drinks with strangers, shot pool with Colorado’s governor and shook hands with a guy on the street wearing a horse mask. His top staffers are promoting these stops on Twitter with the hashtag#TheBearIsLoose — a term one of Obama’s aides coined in 2008 when the candidate would defy his schedule.

More than five years into his presidency, Obama is trying to free himself from the constraints of office, whether by strolling on the Mall or hopscotching the country as part of a campaign-style tour. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer says the president “just wants to get out” and influence “our overall political conversation” by connecting with ordinary Americans.

But to some, breaking free can also look like running away.

Obama’s trip to Colorado and Texas this week took place against the backdrop of a burgeoning crisis on the Mexican border, where tens of thousands of children have been apprehended seeking entry into the United States. In Dallas, Obama dismissed the idea of heading farther south for a border visit as a “photo op” — not long after those photo ops showing him shooting pool and sipping beer in Denver.

Read more at the link. To me it looks like Obama is feeling freed up lately–mostly because he seems to be ignoring Republican nonsense and express his real opinions. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it feels that way to me.

fist bump

Obama’s latest photo-op came at an Austin, TX barbecue restaurant. From The Advocate: Texas Restaurant Worker Gets Gay-Supportive Fist Bump From Obama.

A gay employee at Franklin Barbecue in Austin had “a lucky day to be the register girl” Thursday, as he not only got to wait on President Obama but got a fist bump in support of LGBT rights.

Daniel Rugg Webb, a musician and comedian who works part-time at the restaurant, was on duty at the register as the president came up to pay for more than $300 worth of takeout, The Austin Chronicle reports. Webb slapped the counter and shouted, “Equal rights for gay people!” Obama asked, “Are you gay?” and Webb replied, “Only when I have sex.”

“That’s when he laughed and said, ‘Bump me,’” Webb told the Chronicle. Several onlookers photographed the fist bump and circulated the photo on Twitter. “It was just a lucky day to be the register girl,” Webb added.

From the Austin Chronicle via Buzzfeed:

Webb told the Chronicle:

“As a comedian, it was cool to have a moment where I was making a sitting president laugh — over something that might be considered inappropriate is a bonus,” Webb said of the experience.

He said he had been hoping to get in a joke about Texas Governor Rick Perry, who he described as “famously anti-gay.”

While Webb said he appreciates Obama’s social progressiveness, he expressed hope that the president will close the gap between his own relative forward-thinking on gay rights, and his general quietness on the anti-gay views of many state leaders before he leaves office.

“It would be interesting if he could call some people out for it. People can use a lot of things—religion, freedom of speech—to be anti-gay, but I need people to understand you can call people out for civil rights things,” Webb said.

“We are an anti-gay state. We are a state with a whole bunch of hungry children and sick old people, and [Rick Perry is] grandstanding on things that will get him a better election,” Webb said. “And it’s glaringly obvious. He’s kind of primitive in his social beliefs. I would like to see Rick Perry negatively influenced by any kind of attention. Even Obama laughing at something as, hopefully, acceptable as sexuality can show the difference.”

What do you think? Is Obama really changing?

What other stories are you following today? I have a few more news links, but I’ll post them in comments.

 


Lazy Saturday Reads

NYC-subway

Good Morning!!

I’m mostly going to stick with lightweight stories today, but I need to start out with some sad news.

Tommy Ramone, the last surviving member of the original Ramones, has died. He was either 62 or 65, depending on which source you read. From Variety: Tommy Ramone, Founding Member of Influential Punk Band, Dies at 62.

Born Erdelyi Tamas in Budapest, Hungary, and known professionally as Tom or T. Erdelyi, Ramone played on the first three epoch-making Ramones albums, “Ramones” (1976), “Leave Home” (1977) and “Rocket to Russia” (1977). He also co-produced the latter two albums with Tony Bongiovi and Ed Stasium, respectively. He appeared on and co-produced the 1979 live Ramones opus “It’s Alive.” ….

One of the first high-profile releases to emerge from New York’s punk underground of the mid-‘70s, “Ramones” – reportedly recorded in six days on a budget of $6,400 – brought a pared-down, hyperactive style to the stuffy rock scene of the day. Tommy’s driving, high-energy drum work was the turbine that powered the leather-clad foursome’s loud, antic sound….

The Ramones finally disbanded in 1996 after a show at the Palace in Hollywood. Joey Ramone died of lymphoma in 2001; Dee Dee succumbed to a drug overdose in 2002; and Johnny expired from prostate cancer in 2004.

(From left) Johnny Ramone (1948-2004), Tommy Ramone (1952-2014), Joey Ramone (1951-2001) and Dee Dee Ramone (1952-2002) of the American punk group The Ramones (NY Daily News).

(From left) Johnny Ramone (1948-2004), Tommy Ramone (1952-2014), Joey Ramone (1951-2001) and Dee Dee Ramone (1952-2002) of the American punk group The Ramones (NY Daily News).

 

A personal remembrance by Guardian music blogger Michael Hann: RIP Tommy Ramone: your band captured the sound in my head.

He played drums on just three Ramones studio albums. The ones everyone, but everyone, knows are the three best: Ramones, Leave Home and Rocket to Russia. He’s on the first live album, too, It’s Alive, and between those four records you get the complete summation of why the Ramones mattered, and why they continue to matter. Over the 42 tracks on the three studio albums, lasting barely an hour and half, rock’n’roll is reduced to its undiluted essence: a count-in, a riff, a verse, a chorus. Very occasionally there’s a middle eight. But anything unnecessary – anything that distracts from the rush of excitement – is excised. The aim of a Ramones song is not to make you admire the musicianship or the arrangement. It’s to take you from a standing start to fever pitch in 120 seconds or less. And at the back of it all, playing the unfussiest drum patterns you’ll ever hear – he made AC/DC’s Phil Rudd sound like Keith Moon – was Tommy Ramone.

He wasn’t meant to be the drummer. He was meant to be the manager. Joey was the drummer. “What happened was, they just kept playing faster and faster, and I couldn’t keep up on the drums,” Joey remembered in Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s Please Kill Me. “Tommy Ramone, who was managing us, finally had to sit down behind the drums, because nobody else wanted to,” Dee Dee told McNeil and McCain….

…for me (and for others, not lots of others, but enough of us) the Ramones were the best group rock’n’roll ever produced. Not the most inventive, or the most versatile, or the most skilful, or the most emotionally resonant, or the most lyrical – but the best, because every time I put on one of the Ramones’ best records, I was reminded of how I felt the first time I heard it. And the first time I heard it, I felt: this is the sound I’ve been hearing in my head and here it is on 12 inches of black vinyl; this is what I have been waiting for since the first single I ever bought. The Ramones were the sound of juvenile excitement, expressed with such breathtaking singlemindedness that nothing could kill the excitement.

And they were never as exciting without Tommy. Partly that was because those first three albums were such perfect statements of intent that there was very little left for the Ramones to say, and so each new album became another turn around the circuit rather than a manifesto.

Read more at the link.

In Other News . . .

CNN reports: HBO gives ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘True Detective’ updates.

HBO execs say they have nothing to worry about with “Game of Thrones” — and not just because it’s the most-nominated program at the Emmys this year.

The fantasy series is based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series, and as “Game of Thrones” approaches its fifth season, fans are concerned it’ll soon run out of source material.

But on Thursday, HBO CEO Richard Plepler and network Programming President Michael Lombardo assured reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour that “Game of Thrones” will get its fully story.

“George is an integral part of the creative team, so next season every move is being choreographed very closely with him,” Lombardo said. “Certainly after next year we’ll have to figure it out with George, but we’re not concerned about it.”

And for True Detective fans:

On Thursday, the freshman anthology series [True Detective] earned 12 Emmy nods, including nominations for best drama, best writing and two best actor nods for Season 1 stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

The show’s structure presents a new cast of characters and story each season, and while Lombardo didn’t have any casting news on Thursday he did drop a major tease for Season 2.

“The two scripts we have are — I hate to jinx it — but they are more exciting than the first season,” he promised.

Variety reports that Colin Farrell is “in talks for True Detective, Season 2.” I’m not a big Farrell fan, but I guess I’ll have to give him a chance.  Here’s a bit more on Season 2 from The Wrap: What We Know So Far.

Here’s a weird Game of Thrones tribute from Buzzfeed, A Couple Have Recreated “Game Of Thrones” With Their Pugs And It’s Magnificent: “The Pugs of Westeros” sees canine trio Roxy, Blue and Bono playing doggy versions of the show’s main characters.” Here a couple of the photos of the couple’s dogs in costume.

GAme of thrones 2

 

GAme of thrones1

The pugs don’t look very happy, but I guess pugs seldom do. See more photos at the link.

Here’s an even more bizarre story that caught my eye at ABC News: A Woman Found Out a Serial Killer Once Lived in Her Home From Watching TV.

A Missouri woman has finally been able to break her rental lease after learning that her home was used as a torture chamber by a suspected serial killer over a decade ago.

Maury Travis hanged himself while he was being held in jail in 2002 but police now believe that he killed between 12 and 20 women, many of whom died in the basement of his Ferguson, Missouri, home.

Catrina McGhaw had no idea about the home’s sinister past, however, when she signed a lease in March, she told St. Louis station KMOV-TV.

She says her landlord – Sandra Travis, the suspected killer’s mother – made no mention of the case or the bodies that her son allegedly kept in the basement before he was arrested in 2002.

It was only when a friend called her and told her to watch a documentary on serial killers that she realized that the home was connected to Travis’ case, McGhaw told KMOV.

Travis was never officially charged with the crimes, because he committed suicide.

What would a Saturday post be without a couple of “crazy Republican” stories? Make sure you’re sitting down and don’t have any liquids in your mouth for this one from TPM: Woman Finds Stack Of Anti-Hillary ‘Lewinsky’ Bumper Stickers At GOP Office.

Donoghue talked to TPM hours after a spokesperson for Republican Party of Virginia denied the state party had anything to do with the anti-Hillary bumper stickers. The spokesperson told the Washington Post that the stickers were “an amateur effort” and the state party’s strategy “does not involve that.”

Donoghue says she found the sticker in the GOP office when she gave a ride to a man was out campaigning and looked ill. He told her he was “diabetic and needed insulin,” so she drove him back to Republican headquarters.

It was there in the office, Donoghue said, where she found the Lewinsky bumper stickers.

“The man wanted to repay me for driving him, so I just took one of the stickers as a trophy,” she said. “There was a whole stack of them there.”

Here’s the sticker:

Hillary

 

That should really attract women voters, dontcha think?

Brian Beutler at The New Republic: John Boehner’s Lawsuit Against Obama Proves Obama Isn’t Lawless.

This is how Republicans destroy their own narrative of the lawless Obama presidency: with a faceplant.

When House Speaker John Boehner officially announced that he planned to sue President Obama, he was absolutely clear about one thing. He didn’t know what the bill of particulars would be, or really anything other than that he would take Obama to court. But he knew that the scope of Obama’s lawlessness was widespread enough that it merited significant legal action. This wasn’t a picayune disagreement with the executive, but a pattern of behavior that had upset the balance of Constitutional power at the expense of Congress….

But on Thursday evening, Boehner laid down his cards. All but one were blank. It turns out Obama’s vast and indisputable misconduct is limited to one act of enforcement discretion: his decision to delay implementation of an Affordable Care Act’s requirement (one Republicans despise) that businesses with more than 50 employees provide their workers health insurance or pay a penalty.

“Today we’re releasing a draft resolution that will authorize the House to file suit over the way President Obama unilaterally changed the employer mandate,” Boehner said in a statement. “In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”

It’s actually pretty likely that the provision in question will go into effect before Boehner’s legal challenge is resolved one way or another. At the end of the day, by his own reckoning, Boehner may ultimately have zero grounds upon which to sue the president, whose brazen lawlessness Republicans treat as self-evident.

Sigh . . .

I’ll end with the latest FIFA Cup news from NDTV Sports:

FIFA World Cup 2014: Latin America Reluctantly Rally Behind Argentina.

Bogota: With a reputation for arrogance and illusions of European-styled grandeur, Argentines have long been the objects of scorn and the butt of jokes across Latin America

But for at least 90 minutes on Sunday, when Argentina takes on Germany in the World Cup final, most Latin Americans will put aside their irritation with their proud neighbors as they look to Lionel Messi and his teammates to salvage what’s left of the region’s soccer pride. (Related: Argentina fined for flouting FIFA rules ahead of final)

A defeat for Argentina would be historic: Never has a European team been crowned champion on this side of the Atlantic.

But in the wake of Germany’s 7-1 thrashing of host Brazil even the most-devoted believers in the spontaneous and stylish Latin American brand of soccer are wondering if the region is outmatched. (Rio braces for Argentina fan frenzy)

FIFA World Cup 2014: Germany’s Secret Plan to Stop Lionel Messi.

Santo Andre, Brazil: Germany have a secret plan to shut Argentina superstar Lionel Messi out of Sunday’s World Cup final at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana Stadium.

Assistant coach Hansi Flick said Thursday there is a “special plan” to cope with the four-time Ballon d’Or winner but refused to give details. (Argentina vs Germany: A ‘battle’ of two popes?)

Messi had a relatively quiet match against the Netherlands as Wednesday’s semi-final was settled by penalties.

The 27-year-old was often greeted by two Oranje shirts in Sao Paulo and the Germans are also getting organized. (Five warnings for rampaging Germany)

“We saw how the Dutch managed to keep Messi out, but we too have a special plan for him — although I won’t give that away,” said Flick.

We’ll find out who the best team is tomorrow.

Now, what stories are you following today? Please share your links in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!

 


Friday Nite Lite: Brown Babies Attack Border, Right Wing Brings Out Hazmat Suits

Good Evening

This will be the last post for me for a little while. Things here at home are stressful to say the least and I need some time to work through it…

Hope to be back in a week or so with a better attitude, or at least a better grip on the situation at hand. So…with that said, let’s get to the funnies for tonight. First an op/ed that makes a valid point about the tack these right wing assholes are using against the South of the Border crisis involving children from Central America.

Immigrants and the Cootie Offense

 by Tina Dupuy

In September of 2011, a franchise of the Occupy Wall Street movement, set up camp on the steps of Los Angeles’ iconic City Hall. The encampment was lauded by celebrities like Bill Maher and Tom Morello and embraced by politicians like Congresswoman Maxine Waters and then City Council President, Eric Garcetti. Garcetti, who’d later become mayor of Los Angeles, was quoted by the LA Times as telling the protesters, “This is your City Hall! Stay as long as you need,” And, “We’re here to support you.”

145990 600 Immigrants and the Cootie Offense

 cartoons

Mike Keefe / Cagle Cartoons

By the end of November, the campers had overstayed their welcome and were given an eviction notice by the City. I was there to cover the raid. The City brought out all their War on Terror-funded accoutrements: tanks; armored vehicles; detainment busses; 1,400 police officers in riot gear—all to arrest 200 undernourished activists. As I watched a thousand helmeted policemen clad in black, standing in formation, suddenly a unit of people in Hazmat suits paraded past the television cameras. The first thing I thought was, “Brilliant optics.”

You don’t have to say anything if the police don hazardous materials suits—the message is clear: the protesters are gross.

Dangerously gross.

And if they’re posing a public health threat, it trumps all other matters and the contagion can be scrubbed away.

That the hazmat suits were required in the first place is like she says, brilliant optics, but Tina notices how the Right Wing is using the same tactics for the children here in this immigration dispute shit….

…on U.S./Mexican border: Right wing claptraps use cockroach imagery to discuss immigrants; an infestation of a filthy swarm. Radio host Neil Boortz suggested renaming H1N1, the “fajita flu.” Columnist Brian Frederick wrote, “Boortz stirred up fears that the virus was some sort of ‘bioterrorist’ plot, asking, ‘What better way to sneak a virus into this country than to give it to Mexicans?’” Radio host Michael Savage claimed the terrorists might have known that Mexicans, “are the perfect mules for bringing this virus into America.”

Now there’s an overfill of unaccompanied minors at the border and right wing radio parrots are holding up signs telling these children to get out along with their diseases.

You know where the Ground Zero of our whooping cough epidemic is in this country? In affluent, helicopter-parent neighborhoods where lefty science deniers refused to get their 

spawn vaccinated. You know where it’s not? At the border.

Right wing radio has convinced their flock they’re in Act II of every zombie movie ever made. This is not World War Z, Brad Pitt isn’t going to guess the perfect treatment and building a wall won’t stop a virus from spreading.

How am I so sure? Because I live in Manhattan: a small island of 1.8 million residents, 2 million daily commuters and 1 million weekly tourists. Every day millions from all over the world shove into subway cars sneezing on communal poles while coughing on passersby. If having strange people from foreign places—an open border—was a way to spread a pandemic, New York City would collapse under the weight of used Kleenexes.

What the charge of being a contagion does is effectively dehumanize immigrants and vilify refugees. It makes them no longer a humanitarian crisis, but a public health risk. It gives us license to treat newcomers to this country as rabid animals instead of fellow human beings. They become a threat. And a threat that needs to be neutralized.

It’s sick.

I am so fucking tired of this shit. Like the GOP pushing trans-vag ultrasounds for women who are getting abortions, or making planned parenthood clinics require hospital care standards under the guise of “better care for the woman”. It is all bullshit!  Using health risk as a justification to spread their own disease of hate and intolerance. Fuck them.

Now for the cartoons:

 

Mike Luckovich: Refocused Efforts – Mike Luckovich – Truthdig

 

Shifting Demographics by Political Cartoonist Adam Zyglis

150814 600 Shifting Demographics cartoons

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Joe Heller, Green Bay Press-Gazette – 07/11/2014

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Bruce Plante, Tulsa World – 07/11/2014

Cartoon by Bruce Plante -

Israel vs Palestine – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 07/11/2014

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Israel vs Palestine

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 07/11/2014

Cartoon by David Horsey -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News – 07/11/2014

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John Cole, Scranton Times/Tribune – 07/11/2014

Cartoon by John Cole -

 

Ray Nagin Disaster – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Alabama Media Group – 07/10/2014

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Ray Nagin Disaster

Mike Luckovich: Impeaching Liberty – Mike Luckovich – Truthdig

 

We Don’t Need No Stinking Photo Op by Political Cartoonist John Darkow

150778 600 We Dont Need No Stinking Photo Op cartoons

Great White sharks multiply by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

150775 600 Great White sharks multiply cartoons

 

Supreme Court Hobby Lobby.tif – Political Cartoon by Dan Nott, The Gabbler – 07/10/2014

Cartoon by Dan Nott - Supreme Court Hobby Lobby.tif

BORDER CHILDREN – Political Cartoon by Deb Milbrath, Cartoon Movement – 07/10/2014

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - BORDER CHILDREN

 

Boehners Frivolous Lawsuit by Political Cartoonist Mike Luckovich

150756 600 Boehners Frivolous Lawsuit cartoons

 

Executive Orders – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 07/10/2014

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Executive Orders

 

Strip Club in Amish Country – Political Cartoon by Bruce Plante, Tulsa World – 07/10/2014

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Strip Club in Amish Country

 

Who would Jesus deport? – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Alabama Media Group – 07/10/2014

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Who would Jesus deport?

 

This is an open thread.


Thursday Reads: Obama KOs Perry, and Other News

22cambridge_span

Good Morning!!

Yesterday President Obama met with Texas Governor Rick Perry to discuss the so-called “immigration crisis.” Perry had initially refused to shake hands with the President as Obama disembarked from Airforce One, but Perry ended up doing it anyway.

From Mediaite: Rick Perry Admits Defeat, Shakes President Obama’s Hand.

Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) was determined not to shake President Barack Obama’s hand when he arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth airport on Wednesday. But in the end, it appears he just couldn’t help himself.

As CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said while Obama was descending the steps of Air Force One, “I’m anxious to see if the governor Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is there at the bottom of the stairs to receive the president of the United States.”

The anchor betrayed some surprise when Perry walked across the tarmac to greet Obama, shaking his hand and walking side by side to Marine One, where they would have a private meeting about the current crisis at the border.

It’s been ages since I’ve watched CNN, but it sounds like Wolf and his network are practically outdoing Fox News. Do they not see the racial implications of a Republican Governor resisting shaking hands with an African-American President?

On Monday, the Austin American-Statesman reported: Rick Perry declines Obama offer for ‘quick handshake’ at Austin airport.

Gov. Rick Perry Monday turned down what he characterized as President Barack Obama’s offer for a “quick handshake on the tarmac” at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Wednesday, but said he would juggle his schedule to accommodate a “substantive meeting” with the president on the border crisis any time during his two-day visit to Texas.

In a letter to the president, Perry wrote, “I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, but a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. I would instead offer to meet with you at any time during your visit to Texas for a substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue. With the appropriate notice, I am willing to change my schedule to facilitate this request.”

“At any point while you are here, I am available to sit down privately so we can talk and you may directly gain my state’s perspective on the effects of an unsecured border and what is necessary to make it secure,” Perry wrote the president.

In addition, Perry actually said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday:

“I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” Perry said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” charging the president was either “inept” or had an “ulterior motive” in failing to secure the border.

Perry Obama

Back to the Mediaite story:

Following Perry’s letter, the Obama administration decided to invite the governor to join Obama at a previously scheduled meeting with faith leaders and elected officials in Dallas. Following that concession, Perry decided he would be comfortable greeting Obama on the tarmac, though he did not indicate whether he would deign to shake the president’s hand.

If Perry was wary of the type of photo-op that has haunted Republicans like Governor Chris Christie(R-NJ), and former Republicans like Charlie Crist, he can at least be thankful that the president did not try to hug him. Though, he did give him a few friendly pats on the back.

Mediaite thinks the photos will doom Perry’s chances for the 2016 Republican nomination; but after his performance in 2012, it seems pretty obvious that Perry himself will destroy his presidential hopes all by himself.

So what happened when the two men met? The New York Times reports: Obama Presses Perry to Rally Support for Border Funds. According to the authors, Jackie Calmes and Ashley Parker, Obama “directly challenged” Perry to convince Congressional Republicans to support $3.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with what Perry has called “a humanitarian crisis” — “thousands of Central American children who have crossed the Mexican border.”

Perry frown

And from The Wire: Rick Perry’s Immigration Meeting With Obama Produces Photo for the Ages.

So, how did President Obama’s meeting with Republican Governor Rick Perry go today? In a statement on Wednesday, Obama described the meeting as “constructive,” but, well, this photo also exists. It’s not immediately clear what the context of this photo was — Is Perry sad? Uncomfortable? Telling a funny story? Happy, but trying to look serious? Hmm. Perhaps someone made a joke at Perry’s expense? Or maybe Perry just makes the Robert De Niro shrug face a lot for no reason.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter right now. Until we know more about the context, the photo will be a Rorschach test. In the future, there will be Midrash about this photo.

A couple more links on the border crisis:

The Washington Post: Dana Milbank: In border crisis, Obama is accused of ‘lawlessness’ for following law.

A querulous quartet of conservatives took to the Senate floor Wednesday….to criticize the president for failing to visit the border during his visit to Texas this week, was coordinated by Sen. John McCain and included fellow Arizonan Jeff Flake and both of the chamber’s Texans, Sen. John Cornyn and the man McCain once dubbed a “wacko bird,” Sen. Ted Cruz.

“President Obama today is down in the state of Texas, but sadly he’s not visiting the border,” said Cruz, in a rare collaboration with McCain. “. . . He’s visiting Democratic fat cats to collect checks, and apparently there’s no time to look at the disaster, at the devastation that’s being caused by his policies. . . . It is a disaster that is the direct consequence of President Obama’s lawlessness.” ….

But this border crisis, sowed years ago and building for months, is neither a high crime nor a misdemeanor. It’s a humanitarian nightmare in which children, some as young as 4, can face physical and sexual abuse, injury and death in their lonely journeys. What’s upside-down about the Cruz-Palin argument is that this crisis has actually been brought about by Obama following the law.

The most obvious and direct cause of the flood of children from Central America is the 2008 human trafficking law that ended the rapid deportation of unaccompanied minors who come illegally from countries other than Mexico and Canada. The law essentially guarantees long stays for these immigrants by promising them a deportation process that can take 18 months, during which time they are often placed with family members who have little incentive to have the kids show up for hearings.

Lindsay Graham disagrees with his good buddy McCain, according to The Hill:

Republicans will take the political fall if they don’t provide emergency funds to address the immigrant crisis at the southern border, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Wednesday.

A number of conservatives on Capitol Hill are pushing back hard against President Obama’s request for almost $4 billion to manage the spike of immigrants — thousands of them unaccompanied minors — that’s hit the Texas-Mexico border in recent months.

But Graham, a long-time supporter of an immigration system overhaul, said a failure to provide the funds will exacerbate the crisis while handing Obama and the Democrats a political victory ahead of November’s midterm elections.

“If we do that, then we’re going to get blamed for perpetuating the problem,” Graham told reporters on Wednesday.

Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that right wing Republicans acted against their political best interest.

In other news,

Mike Pence

Mike Pence

Another Republican Governor has made an ass of himself  (not for the first time). Indiana Governor Mike Pence has told state agencies to not to honor the hundreds of gay marriages that took place after a federal court in Indianapolis invalidated as unconstitutional Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s office is telling state agencies act as if no gay marriages had been performed during three days following a federal court order.

The memo from the governor’s chief counsel tells executive branch agencies to execute their functions as though the June 25 court order had not been issued.

Pence defended the memo Wednesday and the sentiment expressed in it Wednesday afternoon. He said it was his job as governor to carry out the laws of the State of Indiana.

“The State of Indiana must operate in a manner with the laws of Indiana. So we have directed our state agencies earlier this week to conduct themselves in a way that respects current Indiana law, pending this matter’s process through the courts,” Pence said.

A “disappointed” Beth White responded to Pence’s order:

“As Clerk of Marion County, I was proud our office was able to issue these licenses and officiate over 450 weddings for couples, many of whom have been in loving committed relationships for decades. Governor Pence owes these couples an explanation on why he continues to deem them as second class citizens. They legally obtained their license, paid the requisite fee and should be entitled to the same rights and privileges the rest of us enjoy.

It is time for our state leaders to put the issue behind us so that we can focus on strengthening the middle-class, investing in quality education and rebuilding Indiana’s economy. Hoosier businesses depend on the best and brightest employees to compete in the global economy. Indiana is rolling up the welcome mat with this regressive stance on this issue. Although my opponent has a long history of opposing marriage equality, I call on Mrs. Lawson to reject Governor Pence’s ruling today. The Office of the Secretary of State should be welcoming to all employers choosing to invest or reinvest in Indiana. And that includes their prospective employees and their families. Hoosiers deserve common sense leadership that is focused on moving Indiana forward.”

Greenwald

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released an official statement in response to the latest article and statements by Glenn Greenwald that suggest without any supporting evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies are essentially duplicating the illegal actions of COINTELPRO from 1956-1971.

Joint Statement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice on Court-ordered Legal Surveillance of U.S. Persons.

It is entirely false that U.S. intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance of political, religious or activist figures solely because they disagree with public policies or criticize the government, or for exercising constitutional rights.

Unlike some other nations, the United States does not monitor anyone’s communications in order to suppress criticism or to put people at a disadvantage based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

Our intelligence agencies help protect America by collecting communications when they have a legitimate foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose.

With limited exceptions (for example, in an emergency), our intelligence agencies must have a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to target any U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident for electronic surveillance.

These court orders are issued by an independent federal judge only if probable cause, based on specific facts, are established that the person is an agent of a foreign power, a terrorist, a spy, or someone who takes orders from a foreign power.

No U.S. person can be the subject of surveillance based solely on First Amendment activities, such as staging public rallies, organizing campaigns, writing critical essays, or expressing personal beliefs.

On the other hand, a person who the court finds is an agent of a foreign power under this rigorous standard is not exempted just because of his or her occupation.

The United States is as committed to protecting privacy rights and individual freedom as we are to defending our national security.

Take from that what you will. The Greenwald cultists simply dismiss statements coming that from the Government as lies, and assume the worst. My tendency is to base my opinions on evidence. So far I haven’t seen evidence in anything coming from the Snowden leaks that NSA is specifically targeting people because of their political and/or religious beliefs. In my opinion the FBI has done this, but Greenwald’s latest article doesn’t even present valid evidence against the FBI.

On the other hand, I’d like to see Congress do a serious investigation of what NSA and other intelligence agencies are actually doing, and particularly I’d like the government to address the issue of whether the five Americans named in Greenwald’s article were actually targeted and why. The supposed targeting happened before 2008, so perhaps it wouldn’t hurt if more information were released about the reasons.

For further reactions to the latest claims from The Intercept and The Washington Post–and to the DNI/DOJ statement, check out  to the following links.

Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter, Greenwald’s Latest NSA Bombshell is an Incomplete Mess, Lacking Any Evidence of Wrongdoing. Here’s the lede:

Glenn Greenwald’s “grand finale fireworks display” finally appeared online early Wednesday and, indeed, there were fireworks but not the “spectacular multicolored hues” he predicted. The fireworks instead came in the form of a bombshell that exploded in a mushroom cloud of shoddy reporting and the usual hyperbolic, misleading accusations that have been the centerpiece of his brand of journalism for more than a year.

You need to read the entire article to understand Cesca’s article, so please go over there if you’re interested in this issue.

Driftglass,  Beware the Tingler: Glenn Greenwald, The Phantom Menace, and The Present Progressive Tense.

Marc Ambinder at The Week analyzes the IC official statement, What you need to know about the latest NSA revelations.

Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare: On Glenn Greenwald’s Latest.

That’s all the news I have room for today. What stories are you following? Please post your links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Thursday!