Iran would shut down roughly two-thirds of the 19,000 centrifuges producing uranium that could be used to fuel a bomb and agree not to enrich uranium over 3.67 percent (a much lower level than is required for a bomb) for at least 15 years. The core of the reactor at Arak, which officials feared could produce plutonium, another key ingredient for making a weapon, would be dismantled and replaced, with the spent fuel shipped out of Iran.
Mr. Obama, speaking at the White House, insisted he was not relying on trust to ensure Iran’s compliance but on “the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program.”
There is good reason for skepticism about Iran’s intentions. Although it pledged not to acquire nuclear weapons when it ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1970, it pursued a secret uranium enrichment program for two decades. By November 2013, when serious negotiations with the major powers began, Iran was enriching uranium at a level close to bomb-grade.
However, Iran has honored an interim agreement with the major powers, in place since January 2014, by curbing enrichment and other major activities.
By opening a dialogue between Iran and America, the negotiations have begun to ease more than 30 years of enmity. Over the long run, an agreement could make the Middle East safer and offer a path for Iran, the leading Shiite country, to rejoin the international community.
Still moving sick and slow, and so this morning’s post is barely going to seem coherent.
While you read the links enjoy the images, which are actual color photographs from the beginning of the medium.
Particularly photos by Gustave Gain. I’ve got a bit of information on him below…
French photographer Gustave Gain (1876-1945) was born in Cherbourg, France on June 27, 1876. As a chemist he keens on photography and related technical achievements. After the invention of the Autochrome by the Lumière brothers, Gustave is actively engaged in color photograph.
Gustave Gain loves beach. In the summer, he spent much time with his family on the coast of the English Channel in Brittany and Normandy, where he took a lot of stunning shots of his wife, Adeline and other women.
And here is a Pinterest section on Autochromes – People on Pinterest | 558 Pins
So, on with the links for the post:
Now this is one image that I am sure you will agree, should look a lot better in autochrome, because the present day image is just too much. Beware, once you see it you can’t unsee it. 18th century sex toy found in ‘toilet of sword fighting school’ in Poland – Europe – World – The Independent
An old leather sex toy dating back to the 18th century was found by surprised archaeologists during a dig in Poland.
The eight-inch dildo filled with rough bristles was discovered during an excavation that could have been the site of an old school of swordsmanship in the northern coastal city of Gdansk.
A spokesman for the Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments in Gdansk, which found the penis-shaped object in the Podwalu district, said: “It was found in the latrine and dates back to the second half of the 18th century.”“It is quite thick and rather large, made of leather and filled with bristles, and has a wooden tip that has preserved in excellent condition. It was probably dropped by someone in the toilet.
“Whether that was by accident or on purpose is anyone’s guess though,” they added.
Wooden swords found on the site by the archaeologists led them to conclude that the place was once a school of swordsmanship.
Wow, that leaves me almost speechless…
Lili Von Shtupp: Would you like another schnitzengruben?
Bart: No, thank you. Fifteen is my limit on schnitzengruben.
Dr. Frankenstein: For the experiment to be a success, all of the body parts must be enlarged.
Inga: His veins, his feet, his hands, his organs vould all have to be increased in size.
Dr. Frankenstein: Precisely.
Inga: [her eyes get wide] He vould have an enormous schwanzschtücker.
Dr. Frankenstein: [ponders this a moment] That goes without saying.
Igor: He’s going to be very popular.
That’ll do nicely.
Since you have seen something as horrid as that…how about this:
A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook, oof, talk about polar opposites.
‘When Hillary Clinton travels there’s going to need to be two planes, one for her and her entourage, one for her baggage,’ Rand Paul smacks around Democratic rival at New Hampshire summit
Those Hillary links are especially vile.
Next up, immigrants. Only this time in the Mediterranean.
The extreme danger faced by migrants crossing the Mediterranean in small, rickety vessels was highlighted earlier today when a boat carry as many as 700 capsized, resulting in possibly the largest mass drowning since the migrant crisis began several years ago.
Initial reports said that only 28 of the 700 migrants had been rescued, though one report put the figure at 50. The disaster happened about 60 kilometres off the Libyan coast and about 200 kilometres south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, which lies roughly half way between Sicily and northwest Libya.
The emergency was declared at about midnight, local time, with more than a dozen Italian and Maltese ships taking part in the rescue, plus three helicopters. At midday Sunday, the UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, said the rescue was ongoing. The vessel is believed to have capsized when the migrants shifted to one side of the vessel when a merchant ship approached. “At the moment, we fear that this is a tragedy of really vast proportions, UNHCR spokeswoman Carlotta Sami told SkyTG24 television.
In connection with this latest sinking:
Pope Francis has called on the European Union and the international community to do more to help Italy cope with unprecedented numbers of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean during journeys on smugglers’ boats to flee war, persecution or poverty.
With his popularity and deep concern for social issues, the pope gave Italy a boost in its lobbying for Brussels and northern EU countries to provide more assistance.
“I express my gratitude for the commitment that Italy is making to welcome the many migrants who, risking their life, ask to be taken in,” said Francis, flanked by Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president. “It’s evident that the proportions of the phenomenon require much broader involvement.”
On Saturday, towns in the southern island of Sicily were running out of places to shelter the migrants, including 11,000 arrivals in the past eight days. At least another 400 people are known to have drowned.
From to Pope to crazy ass Plubs, and their attacks on…everything.
This, read it in full: Why Gay Rights Trumps Women’s Rights – In These Times
Yet it’s not simply the fringe that’s the problem. I have a sneaking suspicion that while as a society we may use women’s sexuality to sell everything from cars to buffalo wings and beer, we really don’t like women actually engaging in sex on their own terms and having the ability to make certain to solely determine the results of those encounters.
I’m ready to have the NCAA, with their supposed commitment to Title IX, refuse to play in Indiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Dakota and Arizona because these states are openly hostile to women and our constitutional rights.
I’m ready to have gay rights organizations, the media and corporations, such as Walmart, Google, NASCAR and Angie’s List, be as moved to action by Purvi Patel’s 20-year incarceration as they—and I—are about the refusal of a baker to make a wedding cake for same-sex celebrations.
And most of all I’m waiting for the kind of Act Up outrage that the abuse of women surely deserves.
And yes, I do feel the writer has a HUGE point. Read the entire thing. That of course does not mean the fight for LGBT is over, not by a long shot:
That is so unacceptable, it is beyond comprehension, at least to me.
Jefferson County school board member Julie Williams said late Friday that she was “sincerely sorry” and that she would remove a link on her personal Facebook page that she shared that encouraged families to keep their students home Friday and “away from perverse indoctrination” of the“homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda.”
“To be honest with you, I didn’t read the article,” Williams said. “I just saw it and thought I was sharing information with parents.
Meanwhile in Europe:
An ugly vein of soccer fan excess — the chanting of anti-Semitic slurs — recently disgraced a Dutch soccer game, prompting officials of the home team, Utrecht, to apologize for shocking outcries from the stands like “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” and “Jews burn the best!”
It is scary.
An angry diner viciously grabbed an Upper East Side restaurant manager by the neck and hurled him into an elderly woman after waiting an hour and a half for his omelette during a case of brunch rage Saturday afternoon.
Can you believe it has been 20 years since the Bombing of Oaklahoma?
About 1,000 gathered at the former site of the Oklahoma City federal building to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist bombing there that killed 168 people and injured many others.
Former President Bill Clinton and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin were among those who spoke at Sunday’s service at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood.
The service started with a 168-second moment of silence and concluded with survivors and tearful relatives of the dead reading the names of those killed in the April 19, 1995, attack, which remains the worst U.S. act of domestic terrorism.
A surprise admission out of Washington.Dc: FBI overstated forensic hair matches in nearly all trials before 2000 – The Washington Post
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.
Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’slargest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.
The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.
A “mysterious” disease that kills patients within 24 hours has claimed at least 18 lives in a south-eastern Nigerian town, the government said.
“Twenty-three people were affected and 18 deaths were recorded,” the Ondo state health commissioner, Dayo Adeyanju, said on Saturday.
“Seventeen people have died of the mysterious disease since it broke out early this week in Ode-Irele town,” Akinmade told AFP by telephone.
The disease, whose symptoms include headache, weight loss, blurred vision and loss of consciousness, killed the victims within a day of falling ill, he said.
Laboratory tests have so far ruled out Ebola or any other virus, Akinmade said.
The World Health Organisation meanwhile said it had information on 14 cases with at least 12 dead.
“Common symptoms were sudden blurred vision, headache, loss of consciousness followed by death, occurring within 24 hours,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP by email, adding that an investigation was ongoing.
I will end this with a tweet from Stephen King that I think sums just about the entire 2016 GOP primary list so far:
Oh yeah, that man just said a fucking mouthful!!!!!!!!!
This is an open thread, I am falling asleep while trying to write it. lol
I’m not seeing any particular theme in today’s news, but there is quite a bit of good stuff to read; so I’ll just toss out a few items that interested me.
Poor Benjamin Netanyahu. It seems all his efforts to use the Republican Congress to squash President Obama’s negotiations is one big giant fail. He managed to get reelected with the help of John Boehner et al., but that’s about it. First Obama said that Iran recognizing Israel wouldn’t be part of any deal, and then yesterday the White House mocked Bibi on Twitter.
The Washington Post: Why Obama says Iran does not have to recognize Israel as part of a nuclear deal.
President Obama, who doesn’t get along with Netanyahu, seemed to dismiss the Israeli premier’s latest demand in an interview this week. When asked by NPR’s Steve Inskeep whether Iranian recognition of the state of Israel would be included in any final deal, Obama deemed such a move a “fundamental misjudgment.” Here’s an excerpt of his remarks:
Well, let me say this — it’s not that the idea of Iran recognizing Israel is unreasonable. It’s completely reasonable and that’s U.S. policy….
There’s still going to be a whole host of differences between us and Iran, and one of the most profound ones is the vile, anti-Semitic statements that have often come out of the highest levels of the Iranian regime. But the notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons, in a verifiable deal, on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.
The point here is one that diplomats would take for granted. When attempting to make a deal with your interlocutor, particularly one where there’s a considerable history of grievance and animosity, you can’t expect to win a total capitulation.
Duh. Poor Bibi, like today’s Republicans doesn’t comprehend the notion of compromise.
David Knowles at Bloomberg Politics on the Twitter gag: White House Trolls Netanyahu on Iran with Bomb Graphic.
The White House has employed a graphic first used by Benjamin Netanyahu to push its case for a nuclear deal with Iran that the Israeli Prime Minister opposes. On Wednesday, the president’s office posted a tweet that borrowed the graphic representation of a bomb that Netanyahu had held up during a speech to the United Nation’s General Assembly in which he warned of Iran’s growing nuclear capability.
The fuse on the original image was intact, and there was no sign of the metaphorical scissors or accompanying text that the White House saw fit to add.
And how about this op-ed from the Jerusalem Post: How Netanyahu is single-handedly hurting the US-Israel relationship.
Benjamin Netanyahu is singlehandedly hurting a relationship that has resulted in over $100 billion in military aid to Israel since 1962. The Prime Minister is hurting a relationship with a country that constantly defends Israel at the UN; resulting in over 30 U.S. vetoes of resolutions critical to Israel. Because of Netanyahu, some are wondering if the U.S. should continually give $3.1 billion in annual aid and professors like Harvard’s Steven Strauss have written about ending this perpetual assistance. Sadly, the Prime Minister’s supporters in Israel and abroad don’t seem moved by the magnitude of what could be lost if Netanyahu’s feud with Obama “gets even worse.” [….]
even those whose job it was to protect Israel from the threats trumpeted by Netanyahu feel that the Prime Minister has overstepped the boundaries of rationality.
According to The Jerusalem Post recently, “Former Mossad chief slams Netanyahu for insistence that Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist.” Efraim Halevy also predicted a“dramatic” improvement in Israeli relations with the U.S. if Netanyahu were to be defeated in the latest elections. Another former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, called Netanyahu’s speech to Congress “bull—t” and views the Prime Minister’s policies as dangerous to Israel’s future. A third former Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, stated that a nuclear Iran did notpost an existential threat to Israel; a viewpoint directly at odds with the hysteria (fueled by Netanyahu’s political ideology) surrounding Obama’s nuclear deal.
When three former Mossad chiefs are forced to speak out, an Israeli Prime Minister should tone down his paranoid rhetoric, not increase the tempo of his political exploits. Say what you will about Bibi’s critics, but former Mossad chiefs aren’t “leftist” and they know quite a bit about Israeli security threats. Their sober assessment of Netanyahu’s P. T. Barnum inspired diplomacy (regarding Israel’s U.S. relationship) is just cause to reassess the Prime Minister’s behavior; not champion his constant criticism of Obama’s nuclear deal.
The Economist writes that “RARELY have relations between an American president and an Israeli prime minister sunk so low.” The New Yorker published an article titled A Bad Day In American-Israeli Relations. Senator Dianne Feinstein recently stated she wished that Netanyahu “would contain himself” and I echoed the California Senator’s sentiment in a recent Congress Blog piece. Tzipi Livni has warned that Netanyahu is leading Israel into “crisis and diplomatic isolation.” Like Livni, Yair Lapid has lamented over the state of relations between the White House and Israel, stating, “This damage will take a long time to mend.” Everyone from former Mossad chiefs, U.S. Senators, Israeli politicians, and journalist have expressed dismay about the decline in a relationship that is essential to Israel’s future.
From The Washington Post, here’s more interesting news from the White House: White House condemns therapy to ‘cure’ gay youth.
The statement was issued in response to a White House petition signed by more than 120,000 people after the suicide of 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen from Ohio whose suicide note condemning the society’s treatment of transgender people went viral after her death. In the note, she indicated she had been subjected to such therapies.
“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights,” Alcorn wrote in her note.
The White House statement, issued by President Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, condemned “conversion” therapy, also known as “reparative” therapy, which she defined as any treatment aimed at changing a person’s sexual identity.
“The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm,” she wrote. “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”
Shortly before releasing the White House response to the petition on conversion therapy, according to a White House official, Jarrett spoke with organizers of the petition. “She listened to their personal stories about why this was important to them and thanked them for their efforts,” said the official, who asked for anonymity in order to describe a private conversation.
And from The Advocate: The White House’s Executive Office Now Has Gender-Neutral Bathroom.
An all-gender restroom is for the first time available in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, confirms a White House spokesman. Alternatively, guests are invited to use whichever bathroom fits with their gender identity.
“The White House allows staff and guests to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity,” said White House spokesman Jeff Tiller, “which is in keeping with the administration’s existing legal guidance on this issue and consistent with what is required by the executive order that took effect today for federal contractors.”
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, had mentioned the policy change in an op-ed today for The Advocate, saying the adminstration had “closely examined” its policies on “restroom access” to help “ensure that everyone who enters this building feels safe and fully respected.”
Gender neutral bathrooms, if single-stall, also often offer a safe space to differently abled users, parents with their children, and anyone else seeking privacy.
The push for gender-neutral restrooms in public buildings and workplaces has been one cause taken up by transgender rights activists — and one that’s found the most visible sucecss on university campuses — making Jarrett’s anouncement feel to many like a win for trans Americans.
“It is heartening to see that, even if legislators in some states are attacking the dignity and humanity of transgender and gender-nonconforming people, at least the White House is still moving in the direction of dignity and common sense,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told The Advocate.
Within the past several years, the Obama administration has been increasingly affirming of trans citizens, with Vice President Joe Biden referring in 2012 to transgender discrimination as the “civil rights issue of our time” and President Obama using the word “transgender” (in addition to “lesbian” and “bisexual”) in this year’s State of the Union Address for the first time ever for any president. Federal employees have had the right to use the bathroom that accords with their gender identiy since 2011.
Around the country, heads of Republican homophobes must be exploding. Read the whole article for more on LGBT-positive actions the Obama administration has taken.
Some not so good news: the Secret Service’s credibility continues to slide downhill rapidly.
The D.C. police’s sex-crimes unit and a government inspector general are investigating the female agent’s allegation that Xavier Morales, a manager in the security clearance division, made unwanted sexual advances and grabbed her on the night of March 31 after they returned to the office from a party at a downtown restaurant, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the probe.
The woman told police and agency investigators that Morales, her boss, told her during the party at Capitol City Brewing Company that he was in love with her and would like to have sex with her, according to two people briefed on her statements. In the office later, she alleged, Morales tried to kiss her and grabbed her arms when she resisted, according to the two people briefed on her complaint. The woman alleged that the two scuffled until Morales relented.
Through an agency spokesman, Morales declined to comment, and he did not respond to requests for comment left on his personal phone.
Late last week, the Secret Service took the unusual step of placing Morales on indefinite administrative leave and adding his name to an internal “do not admit” list prohibiting entry to the office, a Secret Service official said. The Secret Service also took away his gun and badge after agency investigators launched a preliminary review of the complaint and conducted “subsequent corroborative interviews” Thursday afternoon, said agency spokesman Brian Leary.
More details at Heavy.com: Xavier Morales: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.
Ugh. Maybe we need more female Secret Service agents to quell the “boys will be boys” atmosphere in the agency.
More trouble may be coming for NJ governor and possible GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie.
NJ.com reports: Indictments may come very soon in Bridgegate, report says.
Indictments may be coming very soon in Bridgegate, the investigation into improper lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in late 2013 that has also led to questions about bribery and conflicts of interest possibly involving Gov. Christie and the Port Authority, sources told The New York Times.
New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman launched the probe a few months after three lanes were closed to the bridge in September 2013, causing gridlock in Fort Lee. The closures were initially attributed to a traffic study by a Port Authority executive, Bill Baroni, but emails unearthed during an investigation revealed that the lanes were shut down on the orders of a Christie aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, to a Port Authority official appointed by Christie, David Wildstein. Some believe the lane closures were retribution for the failure of Fort Lee’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, to endorse Christie’s bid for re-election at a time when the governor and likely Republican presidential candidate was trying to build bipartisan support.
The Times previously reported that Fishman’s office may bring indictments to the operators of the bridge under a little-used statute that makes it a crime to use the bridge for something other than its intended purpose. Fishman’s office declined to say what course the investigation is taking.
This could be very interesting.
I have more news links, but I’m running out of space and time. I’ll add them to the comments.
What stories are you following? I’d love to read your comments on this post and click on your links to your recommended reads for today.
I’m running late again! My schedule is just upside down now and DST just double whammed me on the same weekend I started my late night work. Still getting used to the weird hours. I also wanted to spend some time on the negotiations with Iran over its nuke program so I had to catch up with the news. I’m glad BB’s post was so good because I can see you’ve spent a lot of time commenting on what’s going on in Indiana with its so-called “religious freedom” bill.
Obviously, there are going to be several sides to the “deal” depending on your views and their connections to US/Israel policy. So, I thought I’d highlight a few. Max Fisher–writing for VOX–says the deal is “astonishingly good.”
When Aaron Stein was studying nuclear non-proliferation at Middlebury College’s Monterey graduate program, the students would sometimes construct what they thought would be the best possible nuclear inspection and monitoring regimes.
Years later, Stein is now a Middle East and nuclear proliferation expert with the Royal United Services Institute. And he says the Iran nuclear framework agreement, announced on Thursday, look an awful lot like those ideal hypotheticals he’d put together in grad school.
“When I was doing my non-proliferation training at Monterey, this is the type of inspection regime that we would dream up in our heads,” he said. “We would hope that this would be the way to actually verify all enrichment programs, but thought that would never be feasible.
“If these are the parameters by which the [final agreement] will be signed, then this is an excellent deal,” Stein concluded.
The framework nuclear deal establishes only the very basics; negotiators will continue to meet to try to turn them into a complete, detailed agreement by the end of June. Still, the terms in the framework, unveiled to the world after a series of late- and all-night sessions, are remarkably detailed and almost astoundingly favorable to the United States.
Like many observers, I doubted in recent months that Iran and world powers would ever reach this stage; the setbacks and delays had simply been too many. Now, here we are, and the terms are far better than expected. There are a number of details still to be worked out, including one very big unresolved issue that could potentially sink everything. This is not over. But if this framework does indeed become a full nuclear deal in July, it would be a huge success and a great deal.
According to Reuters, Iranians were celebrating in the street as the deal was announced yesterday. The country has been living under harsh embargoes which have obviously hurt ordinary people.
Iranians celebrated in the streets after negotiators reached a framework for a nuclear accord and U.S. President Barack Obama hailed an “historic understanding”, but senior global diplomats cautioned that hard work lies ahead to strike a final deal.
The tentative agreement, struck on Thursday after eight days of talks in Switzerland, clears the way for a settlement to allay Western fears that Iran could build an atomic bomb, with economic sanctions on Tehran being lifted in return.
It marks the most significant step toward rapprochement between Washington and Tehran since the 1979 Iranian revolution and could bring an end to decades of Iran’s international isolation.
But the deal still requires experts to work out difficult details before a self-imposed June deadline and diplomats said it could collapse at any time before then.
The backlash from likely Republican presidential contenders to thepotential nuclear deal with Iran trumpeted Thursday by President Barack Obama came swift and hard. A more optimistic response came from likely 2016 Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the deal — aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear capabilities — “will only legitimize those activities.”
“Nothing in the deal described by the administration this afternoon would justify lifting U.S. and international sanctions, which were the product of many years of bipartisan effort,” Bush said. “I cannot stand behind such a flawed agreement.”
Clinton, meanwhile, held up the tentative agreement as an “important step” in preventing a nuclear Iran.
“Getting the rest of the way to a final deal by June won’t be easy, but it is absolutely crucial. I know well that the devil is always in the details in this kind of negotiation,” Clinton said in a statement. “The onus is on Iran and the bar must be set high. It can never be permitted to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
But the former secretary of state allowed leeway for herself in case things go awry in the coming months, stating, “There is much to do and much more to say in the months ahead, but for now diplomacy deserves a chance to succeed.”
The rest of the Republican field, however, coalesced around rejecting the deal.
Making his first trek to Iowa as an announced presidential candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz contended the President must bring Congress into the process.
“The very first step for any deal, good or bad, should be submitting it to Congress, and the President making the case both to Congress and to the American people why this advances the national security interests of the United States,” Cruz told reporters after a town hall in Cedar Rapids. “Now everything President Obama has said up to this date has suggested that he is going to do everything he can to circumvent Congress.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described the early details of the agreement as “very troubling” and said “this attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success is just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran.”
Obama pushed to quiet skeptics of the framework during his remarks in the White House Rose Garden Thursday, asking, “Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?”
As Mr. Obama stepped into the Rose Garden to announce what he called a historic understanding, he seemed both relieved that it had come together and combative with those in Congress who would tear it apart. While its provisions must be translated into writing by June 30, he presented it as a breakthrough that would, if made final, make the world a safer place, the kind of legacy any president would like to leave. “This has been a long time coming,” he said.
Mr. Obama cited the same John F. Kennedy quote he referenced earlier in the week when visiting a new institute dedicated to the former president’s brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” The sense of celebration was captured by aides standing nearby in the Colonnade who exchanged fist bumps at the end of the president’s remarks.
But Mr. Obama will have a hard time convincing a skeptical Congress, where Republicans and many Democrats are deeply concerned that he has grown so desperate to reach a deal that he is trading away American and Israeli security. As he tries to reach finality with Iran, he will have to fend off legislative efforts, joined even by some of his friends, to force a tougher posture.
THE “KEY parameters” for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program released Thursday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration. None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed. Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be “reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years. When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.
That’s a long way from the standard set by President Obama in 2012 when he declared that “the deal we’ll accept” with Iran “is that they end their nuclear program” and “abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those resolutions call for Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium. Instead, under the agreement announced Thursday, enrichment will continue with 5,000 centrifuges for a decade, and all restraints on it will end in 15 years.
Mr. Obama argued forcefully — and sometimes combatively — Thursday that the United States and its partners had obtained “a good deal” and that it was preferable to the alternatives, which he described as a nearly inevitable slide toward war. He also said he welcomed a “robust debate.” We hope that, as that debate goes forward, the president and his aides will respond substantively to legitimate questions, rather than claim, as Mr. Obama did, that the “inevitable critics” who “sound off” prefer “the risk of another war in the Middle East.”
The proposed accord will provide Iran a huge economic boost that will allow it to wage more aggressively the wars it is already fighting or sponsoring across the region. Whether that concession is worthwhile will depend in part on details that have yet to be agreed upon, or at least publicly explained. For example, the guidance released by the White House is vague in saying that U.S. and European Union sanctions “will be suspended after” international inspectors have “verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear related steps.”
“I just came from a meeting of the Israeli cabinet. We discussed the proposed framework for a deal with Iran.
The cabinet is united in strongly opposing the proposed deal.
This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the State of Israel.
The deal would not shut down a single nuclear facility in Iran, would not destroy a single centrifuge in Iran and will not stop R&D on Iran’s advanced centrifuges.
On the contrary. The deal would legitimize Iran’s illegal nuclear program. It would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. A vast nuclear infrastructure remains in place.
The deal would lift sanctions almost immediately and this at the very time that Iran is stepping up its aggression and terror in the region and beyond the region.
In a few years, the deal would remove the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, enabling Iran to have a massive enrichment capacity that it could use to produce many nuclear bombs within a matter of months.
The deal would greatly bolster Iran’s economy. It would give Iran thereby tremendous means to propel its aggression and terrorism throughout the Middle East.
Such a deal does not block Iran’s path to the bomb.
Is he the little boy that has cried wolf too often?
Anyway, I hope you’ll read up on the situation since it stands to be one of the biggest foreign policy agreements for quite some time.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I can’t wait for spring flowers and warmer weather, can you tell? I have all the symptoms of Spring fever, including inability to concentrate on anything serious, like politics or plane crashes. But I’ll do my best to give you some interesting links on this lazy late March Saturday.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Amanda Knox has finally been freed to live her life without the bizarre Italian legal system breathing down her neck. From the Chicago Tribune: Amanda Knox conviction thrown out by Italian court, closing legal saga.
Amanda Knox, who maintained that she and her former Italian boyfriend were innocent in her British roommate’s murder through multiple trials and nearly four years in jail, was vindicated Friday when Italy’s highest court threw out their convictions once and for all.
“Finished!” Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted after the decision was read out late Friday. “It couldn’t be better than this.”
The surprise decision definitively ends the 7½-year legal battle waged by Knox, 27, and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, 31, to clear their names in the gruesome 2007 murder and sexual assault of British student Meredith Kercher.
The supreme Court of Cassation panel deliberated for 10 hours before declaring that the two did not commit the crime, a stronger exoneration than merely finding insufficient evidence to convict. Instead, had the court-of-resort upheld the pair’s convictions, Knox would have faced 28 ½ years in an Italian prison, assuming she would have been extradited, while Sollecito had faced 25 years.
“Right now I’m still absorbing what all this means and what comes to mind is my gratitude for the life that’s been given to me,” Knox said late Friday, speaking to reporters outside her mother’s Seattle home.
This case has made me grateful that in the U.S. Constitution contains a double jeopardy clause.
Things are getting really ugly in Yemen. From The Washington Post: How the Yemen conflict risks new chaos in the Middle East.
BEIRUT — The meltdown in Yemen is pushing the Middle East dangerously closer to the wider regional conflagration many long have feared would arise from the chaos unleashed by the Arab Spring revolts.
What began as a peaceful struggle to unseat a Yemeni strongman four years ago and then mutated into civil strife now risks spiraling into a full-blown war between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran over a country that lies at the choke point of one of the world’s major oil supply routes.
With negotiators chasing a Tuesday deadline for the framework of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, it seems unlikely that Iran would immediately respond militarily to this week’s Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, analysts say.
But the confrontation has added a new layer of unpredictability — and confusion — to the many, multidimensional conflicts that have turned large swaths of the Middle East into war zones over the past four years, analysts say.
The United States is aligned alongside Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and against them in Yemen. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, who have joined in the Saudi offensive in Yemen, are bombing factions in Libya backed by Turkey and Qatar, who also support the Saudi offensive in Yemen. The Syrian conflict has been fueled by competition among all regional powers to outmaneuver one another on battlefields far from home.
Scary. All this because George W. Bush lied us into two needless, unwinnable wars.
Ahramonline: Arab leaders pledge support to Yemen.
Although Saturday’s Arab League summit was due to cover a range of regional topics, the ongoing crisis in Yemen took the lead spot as the summit opened with speeches from Arab leaders.
A Saudi-led military offensive is underway against targets held by Houthi rebels in the turmoil-hit country, with the backing of a number of Arab states.
In his opening speech, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that military action was “inevitable” to restore legitimate rule in Yemen.
El-Sisi also said that Egypt has accepted a proposal by a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to form a joint Arab military force to counter the “unprecedented threats” facing the region’s stability.
Arab foreign ministers agreed on a draft resolution to form a joint Arab military force to counter growing security threats in the region. The proposal requires the endorsement of the Arab leaders during the two-day summit this weekend.
Saudi’s King Salman vowed in his opening speech that the military intervention will not stop until Yemen is stable and safe. The monarch said that Saudi Arabia supports the Hadi government’s legitimacy in Yemen and wants stability for the Yemeni population.
He further stated that the situation in the region necessitates an Arab coalition to fight terrorism.
More details from CNN: Arab League to discuss military operation in Yemen.
The Wall Street Journal on the incredibly selfish, suicidal co-pilot of that crashed Germanwings jet: Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz Concealed Depression From Airline.
BERLIN—Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who crashed an airliner into a French mountainside, was being treated for depression, a fact he concealed from his employer, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
Mr. Lubitz had been excused from work by his neuropsychologist for a period that included the day of the crash, this person told The Wall Street Journal, but he decided to ignore the advice and reported to work.
The Germanwings tragedy highlights a broader industry dilemma: reliance on pilots themselves to disclose serious physical or psychological ailments to their employer—and what can happen when secrecy urges or privacy considerations trump full disclosure, safety and medial experts say.
Despite mandatory, regular medical exams—supplemented by company-specific safeguards intended to periodically check on aviators’ skills and psychological state—airlines ultimately depend on employees to honestly assess and report when they shouldn’t be flying.
In return, Germanwings, a unit of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, and many other airlines around the globe promise to avoid punishing pilots who comply with that guiding principle.
Read more at the WSJ. As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, this guy could have just shot himself or jumped out of a high window, but instead he decided to take 149 other people–including babies and high school kids–with him when he committed suicide.
A few stories on the terrible explosion in NYC’s East Village:
An explosion in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday injured an estimated 25 people and destroyed a row of landmarked buildings that have held meaning for generations of New Yorkers. At one time the mayor’s residence was there, and another building housed an iconic vintage-clothing store made popular in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan.
“It’s a real tragedy. It was scary,” says Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council. “It’s shocking when this happens in an area that’s so close-knit. People really live on the streets here, in a good way. There’s a real community.”
City officials say the March 26 explosion happened at 121 Second Avenue and also damaged the neighboring buildings at 119, 123 and 125. The buildings all were awarded landmark status in October 2012 as part of a designation of an East Village/Lower East Side Historic District. The buildings in that district date mostly to the mid- to late 1800s, a time when wealthier New Yorkers started moving uptown and selling off their properties, which were often turned into tenement housing.
European immigrants began moving into the area in large numbers in the second half of the 19th century. An early influx consisted mostly of Germans, and the area became known as Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany. Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe moved there too and established a vibrant theater district.
“The East Village and the Lower East Side are remarkable in that they’ve seen successive waves of immigrants and new populations coming in and really shaping and affecting the physical environment, bringing with them their social clubs, their gathering places,” Bankoff says.
By the middle of the 20th century, the Village became an epicenter for artists and bohemians.
The historic district, one of 114 in the city, runs north-south from around East 7th Street to East Second Street and east-west from First and Second avenues to the Bowery.
Click on the above link to continue reading. More details on the fire at ABC News: NYC Building Fire: Restaurant Owner Smelled Gas Before Massive Explosion, Officials Say.
From The New Yorker, a thoughtful and interesting essay on living in the East Village by Sarah Larson: The East Village Fire: Love Saves the Day.
Finally, one of the passengers in the GOP Clown Car, faux libertarian Rand Paul, opens his big mouth and spews nonsense and hate.
From Charles Pierce’s “Stupid for Lunch” cafe: Rand Paul’s Take On Defense Spending. In which the cafe staff starts the five minute clock for Senator Rand Paul.
The staff at the Cafe has a small clock in one particular booth. The booth is reserved for Senator Rand Paul, whenever he stops by for a quick lunch, for which he invariably undertips, when he doesn’t try to beat itout the back door.
Time was when Senator Aqua Buddha entertained us all — five minutes at a time — about how the country was wasting its money on a whole mess of sophisticated boom-boom. The staff knows when to begin the countdown and they begin invariably to whisper again…
Continue reading at the link.
Atheist Ayn Rand must be spinning in her grave over this from TPM.
“Don’t always look to Washington to solve anything,” Paul said during a private prayer breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club.
“In fact, the moral crisis we have in our country — there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage — there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage.”
“The moral crisis we have in our country — there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage — there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think there would be some other sort of marriage, ” he explained. “I think the exhortation to try and change people’s thoughts has to come from the countryside.”
The libertarian lawmaker then took a slightly religious turn, saying “You know, I’ve said this before, we need a revival in the country.”
“We need another great awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, you know,’reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform’.”
In a recent interview with Brett Baier of Fox News, Paul admitted that the use of the term ‘marriage’ for same sex couples offends him.
Watch the video at Raw Story. Honestly, I think that cartoon JJ post last night is beginning to make sense. Someone must have put LSD in Rand’s grits when he was a kid. Why would anyone vote for this wacko?
I’d write about the latest “revelations” about Hillary’s emails, but I don’t want to completely depress myself. I have to believe this will all die down before the 2016 primaries.
What have you been hearing and reading? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of March. April is coming soon!
I just found out that JJ isn’t feeling well enough to do a post this morning, so I’m filling in. I have things to do this afternoon, so this will have to be a very quick link dump.
Personally, I have Spring Fever! It has been sunny and not so cold here for the past few days and I’m loving it. We still have piles of snow, but they are shrinking steadily. I think March is going to go out with like lamb here in Boston. AND . . . soon it will be staying light here until almost 7PM. Isn’t Spring great?
Latest Ted Cruz Reactions
The Week: Ted Cruz isn’t really running for president.
Ted Cruz is running for president. Or at least that’s officially what’s happening, according to his FEC filings. But if you actually listen to him, it seems like he is running for something else.
Cruz’s announcement speech at Liberty University was less like a first step toward the Oval Office, than the latest of many steps he has taken to becoming the political leader of the conservative movement. This is distinct from being the nominee of the Grand Old Party, of which that movement is just a devoted part.
There is nothing about Cruz that appeals to people beyond his political sect. The one rhetorical move independents and Democrats may relate to in Cruz’s speech was the tribute to his mother as a glass ceiling–smashing computer programmer. But otherwise his mode of speech is much like Mike Huckabee’s: sentimental, broadly evangelical, and reliant on personal charisma. Although it isn’t easy to pinpoint what about a candidate’s personality rubs a larger demographic cohort the wrong way, Huckabeefared terribly among non-rural, non-Evangelical voters in 2008. Cruz may be headed for the same fate.
Consider Cruz’s overt sense of personal destiny. He makes Mitt Romney seem positively shy. Cruz’s speech implicitly compared Ted Cruz to Patrick Henry, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.
“I may owe Mitt Romney an apology,” Jon Stewart said on Monday’s “Daily Show,” after learning that Cruz and his wife actually practiced waving and kissing before the announcement. “Even the Mitt Romneytron 3000 didn’t have to rehearse waving and kissing,” he continued.
If you were wondering why so many of the students in the audience looked bored out of their minds (and why one girl was even wearing a Rand t-shirt): It’s because the conservative Christian university required students to attend the Ted Cruz announcement as part of their weekly convocation. No word on whether the university also required students to text “constitution” to an undisclosed number, as per Cruz’s orders.
“Let me clarify this a little bit: Students at Liberty University were required to attend a partisan political speech where a small-government conservative who had just promised he would respect privacy rights, told them if they cared about freedom, text your information to a mysterious address that collects your cell phone number for undisclosed purposes,” Stewart said.
More good stuff in the video (see link). Can you believe Cruz and his wife practiced kissing before the event?
Washington Post: Ted Cruz’s phenomenally bad idea.
Sen. Ted Cruz says he wants to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service. This is a phenomenally bad idea, one so obviously wrongheaded it’s hard to believe he really means it….
This is not the first time Cruz has proposed this. He pitched it on Facebooktwo years ago and in multiple interviews since, even calling it the “single most important tax reform” and priority “No. 2” (after repealing Obamacare) in recent talks. The fact that he might make ending the IRS a centerpiece of a presidential campaign, though, is singularly scary, particularly given Republicans’ demonstrated appetite for cutting the agency’s funding to the bone and beyond….
Well, sorry to say it, but someone has to collect the money that keeps our government up and running, funding everything from Medicare to the military. The IRS is a cash-flow-positive agency, collecting an estimated$255 for every $1 appropriated to it, and dumping it would vastly widen existing government deficits. This is something fiscal conservatives, Cruz included, presumably already know. Yet the view that the IRS’s budget should be minimized, and perhaps zeroed out entirely, is peculiarly popular on the right.
Read more at the WaPo.
Some satire from Andy Borowitz at The New Yorker: President Signs Order Making Ted Cruz Ineligible for Obamacare.
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — Just hours after Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told CNN that he had no choice but to sign up for Obamacare, President Barack Obama signed an executive order making Cruz ineligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
“Clearly, the hardship of receiving Obamacare was causing Ted a great deal of pain,” the President said. “This should take care of that.”
Obama acknowledged that the executive order, which makes Cruz the only American expressly forbidden from signing up for Obamacare, was an extraordinary measure, but added, “I felt it was a necessary humanitarian gesture to protect Ted from the law he hates.”
Germanwings Plane Crash
New York Times: Details Emerging of Passengers Aboard Crashed Germanwings Jet.
According to the airline, at least 67 Germans, including two infants, were on the Airbus A320 that crashed on Tuesday on its way to Düsseldorf,Germany, from Barcelona, Spain. Many Spaniards were also aboard. The passengers included two opera singers, as well as a class of 16 German high school students returning from a study program near Barcelona, along with their two teachers.
Germanwings was working to notify families before releasing further information about the 144 passengers and six crew members who were on the plane. But some countries whose citizens were aboard began to confirm their identities, and details also emerged from other sources.
Also from the Times: Challenges Weigh Heavily on Recovery Efforts in Crash of Germanwings Jet.
Read all about it at the paper of record.
Iran and Israel News
Jerusalem Post: US Democrats say Israel’s efforts on Iran are backfiring.
Following months of intensified calls by Israel to block any deals with Iran, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress, members of the US senate say that theiropinions on a nuclear deal with Iran have not budged.
Read the responses from Senators at the link.
Speaker John Boehner said he was “shocked” by a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday morning that said the Israelis were spying on negotiations by the U.S. and other world powers to strike a nuclear deal with Iran.
“I read that story this morning, and frankly, I was a bit shocked because there’s no information revealed to me whatsoever,” Boehner, a Republican from Ohio told reporters Tuesday morning. He added, “I was shocked by the fact that there were reports in this press article that information was being passed on from the Israelis to members of Congress. I’m not aware of that at all.”
He probably had a few too many before the meeting at which the leaks were discussed.
If all goes according to plan, U.S. officials will return home from here next week declaring they have reached a historic agreement that will restrict Iran’s nuclear program forever.
Iranian officials will be in Tehran triumphantly explaining that they have secured a deal that will free Iran in a few years to pursue its nuclear program just like any other country.
Major international agreements usually require both sides to acknowledge they’ve given ground. Because of the brutal politics of the nuclear issue, however, neither side has much room to acknowledge compromise.
As a result, over the next few months, U.S. and Iranian officials are likely to be making starkly contradictory cases about the deal they have reached, both seeking to sell it at home.
Inside windowless negotiating rooms here, “we can talk about looking for a middle ground,” said a European diplomat said, who declined to be identified discussing the sensitive negotiations.
“Outside in the light, it’s harder.”
GOP Clown Car
Aren’t GOP presidential politics just great? You wake up one morning and suddenly Jeb Bush is the “anti-Israel candidate” in the Republican presidential primary field.How did this happen? Last we checked, Jeb Bush loved the dickens out of Israel. He’s been very clear about his deep affection for any and everything that (the right wing of) Israel does. “Governor Bush’s support for Israel and its Prime Minister is clear,” Bush’s spokesperson, Kristy Campbell said Monday night. This is perfectly in line with his support for the dumb Tom Cotton letter, and his insistence that the nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran is “bad” and should be rejected because Israel. Et cetera et cetera, SO ON, AND SO ON. Jeb Bush has no interest in straying from the prevailing party line on Israel, which is that American foreign policy should be conducted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But why, pray tell, was Kristy Campbell issuing this reassurance of Jeb Bush’s deep, unwavering, total love for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel late on a Monday night? Because James Baker, the former White House chief of staff, Treasury Secretary, and Secretary of State under Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr., had just addressed the annual J Street conference.
J Street is the advocacy group founded as a more liberal counterpart to AIPAC. It is critical of the Israeli right wing and does not see it as helping the prospects for peace in the Middle East. So naturally conservatives see J Street as a radical extremist left-wing terrorist organization in bed with the mullahs of Iran and hellbent on securing the total annihilation of Israel. (The views of American Jews at large, meanwhile, tend to align with J Street’s.)
Fascinating. I actually don’t think Jeb has a serious chance for the nomination. For one thing, he has zero charisma. He comes across as stuffy and boring.
“Have you ever fibbed on the air?” Letterman asked the Factor host.
“Fibbed? Not that I know of,” O’Reilly responded. “What I do is analysis — different from what other people do. So I bioviate and give my opinion, as you well know. But it’s not worth it for me to do that.”
Letterman countered that there was a common factor linking O’Reilly’s editorializing and NBC’s Brian Williams’ position as a network anchor.
“Trust is the residue of both positions,” the Late Showhost said. “People must trust you to the same degree. They might disagree with you, but they must trust you, the same way they trust Brian Williams.”
Fibbed? No, but he’s told hundreds of bald faced lies; and Fox viewers trust him because they can’t tell the difference between reality and propaganda.
Sarah Palin is using recent scandals to apparently push for the dismantling of the Veterans Administration.
The federal agency has been rocked in recent months by scandals – including the deaths of at least 40 veterans awaiting care at facilities in Arizona — that resulted in a shakeup of its top leadership.
New VA Secretary Robert McDonald was recently forced to apologize after misstating his military service record while speaking to a veteran during a photo opportunity, which Palin said called his character into question.
Palin cited these and other incidents in a Facebook video posted Tuesday evening as justification to “clean house” at the VA and “fire bad employees like we do out in the private sector.”
“It’s time to reform the VA so thoroughly that vets don’t have to depend on it for their basic needs,” Palin said.
That’s about as good an idea as Ted Cruz’s proposal to abolish the IRS.
So . . . . What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your early Spring Wednesday.
And…the news of the world…Loch Ness Monster shows herself to tourist…is “captured on film.”
(Hey, after days of Hillary Hate, I will take a story about the shy lost creature of the deep any day.)
A mother and daughter visiting Scotland for the first time believe they may have caught a glimpse of the elusive Loch Ness monster.
Consuela Ross and her daughter Reyshell Avellanoza were visiting from the Philippines when they visited the scenic body of water.
They were enjoying the view when something appeared to raise itself out of the water in front of them.
The object sank out of sight…
… leaving a “whirlpool” behind itRoss told the Scottish Daily Record they were taking pictures when someone pointed out a disturbance on the lake.
She said: “She said it looked like a big black belly. We looked and could see this big disturbance quite a way out and this big black object in the middle of it.
I was a little disappointed when I saw the pictures. I thought for sure that with a head line like: “captured on film” the beastie would have showed a lot more skin, scale, or whatever it is covered in.
Reyshell Avellanoza and her daughter were visiting Scotland last week from the Philippines, touring Loch Ness while they were in the country, according to the Aberdeen Press and Journal. While on the shores of the loch, they claim to have observed a large object rising from the waves, which they are convinced was the Loch Ness Monster. Unfortunately, they were so transfixed by what they were observing that they neglected to photograph it in time, instead capturing the monster’s wake after it dove once again.
Video at that link, you can see just how big the whirlpool gets after the thing goes under.
However, Nessie was not the only thing at Lock Ness making a big show…check this out: Stunning image shows meteor streaking across sky above Loch Ness | Fox News
It’s an incredible image – the bright tail of a meteor streaking across the clear night sky above Scotland’s Loch Ness. The image, which has been trending online, was an “absolute fluke,” according to John Alasdair Macdonald, a tour guide based in the Scottish Highlands, who captured the rare shot.
Macdonald told the Independent that he headed outside Monday night with his Sony RX100 compact camera to take shots of what he described as a beautiful evening. While walking, he noticed the meteor shooting across the sky.
“As my wife said, it was just sheer dumb luck,” he said. “It was a complete fluke, an absolute fluke.”
Could it be a sign that the alien apocalypse is shortly upon us?
I mean, the being’s from another world certainly would not be coming to earth looking for intelligent life, right?
More than four decades after an accident at a sawmill sent a piece of wood into Cecil Clayton’s skull, costing him a portion of his brain, the state of Missouri executed him Tuesday night for shooting and killing a police officer.
Clayton, 74, had petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to delay his lethal injection. His attorneys argued that because of the sawmill accident, he had an intellectual disability and therefore cannot be put to death. However, the Supreme Court denied his stay requests on Tuesday evening, rejecting all of his petitions for the justices to intervene and prevent his execution.
Clayton was sentenced to death for shooting and killing Christopher Castetter, a sheriff’s deputy in Purdy, Mo., in 1996. Attorneys for Clayton are not arguing that he is innocent, but instead point to his brain injury in asking the justices to act.
Clayton’s attorneys outlined the crime that resulted in his death sentence. They wrote that the police were called about Clayton trespassing around the home of his girlfriend’s mother. When Castetter was dispatched, they say, Clayton shot him and later said that Castetter “probably should have just stayed home” and “shouldn’t have smarted off to me.” But they note that Clayton also said he “wasn’t out there,” before going on to outline issues involving his intelligence and memory.
This argument has its origins in an accident that occurred in 1972. Clayton, who was a logger and sawmill operator, was working at his sawmill when a piece of wood broke off and stabbed into his skull. He was taken to a hospital, where he stayed for nine days, and he ultimately lost 7.7 percent of his brain and 20 percent of his frontal lobe, according to his attorneys.
As his attorneys describe it, Clayton “changed drastically and immediately” after the injury. Before the injury, they write that he was a married father who stopped drinking, became a preacher and traveled the country with his family, singing gospel and playing his guitar; afterward, he began drinking again, became depressed and violent, suffered memory loss and experienced hallucinations.
Penn State is in the news and it is because of some possible sex abuse, but it does not involve little boys this time. It does involve a fraternity and some secret Facebook pictures: Penn State Fraternity’s Secret Facebook Photos May Lead to Criminal Charges – NYTimes.com
Within the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Pennsylvania State University, the Facebook page and its photographs — of drugs, hazing and nude, unconscious women — were supposed to be among its brotherhood’s secrets.
But the clandestine website, known as 2.0 after a previous manifestation was discovered and shut down, has, since mid-January, been the subject of a police inquiry that this month led to the suspension of the fraternity’s Penn State chapter and could result in criminal charges.
“The evidence offered by the Facebook postings is appalling, offensive and inconsistent with the university community’s values and expectations,” Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs, said Tuesday in a statement. “We are confident that the various investigative and review processes, both internal and external to the university, will determine responsibility in this case. The university will hold accountable any groups and individuals found responsible.”
This is disgusting.
The Police Department here learned about the website in January when a former member of the fraternity walked into a police station and asked to meet with the authorities about what he thought might be criminal conduct. The man, who has since been declared a “cooperating informant,” eventually showed investigators printed copies of some of the photographs that appeared online.
“Some of the postings were of nude females that appeared to be passed out and nude or in other sexual or embarrassing positions,” a detective wrote in an affidavit included with a January search warrant application. “It appears from the photos provided that the individuals in the photos are not aware that the photos had been taken.”
Last night Boston Boomer linked to a news alert: White House is mailed package with cyanide – CNN.com
The White House received an envelope this week containing a substance that testing revealed to be cyanide, the Secret Service confirmed Tuesday.
“On Monday 3/16/15, an envelope was received at the White House Mail Screening Facility. Initial Biological testing was negative; however, on 03/17/15, the chemical testing returned a presumptive positive for cyanide,” said Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary in a statement. “The sample was transported to another facility to confirm the results.”
The envelope was initially reported by the Intercept, which received an internal law enforcement document that alerted staff to the incident.
“An envelope containing an unknown milky substance, in a container wrapped in a plastic bag, received at the White House Mail Screening Facility, tested positive for cyanide,” the alert read.
According to the Intercept, the alert identified the man listed as the return address on the envelope as having a long history with the Secret Service, dating back to 1995. That history includes an incident in which the man sent a package covered in urine and feces.
Nice. So does this mean the possible suspect doesn’t like the Clintons either?
How many of you think the address led to this guy’s house:
Surely, you think I say that in jest?
I mean, they are traitors in my opinion…at least those 47.
Hey, the GOP is willing to get further along in the covert area of special ops:
In other gut wrenching news: Racist dad doesn’t allow daughter at black girl’s birthday – NY Daily News
You just can’t make this shit up:
A 10-year-old girl was trying to have a birthday party and a race relations discussion broke out.
African-American child Harmony Jones invited a friend to her party on Friday night in Memphis, Tenn., but the young girl got a stunning magic marker note in return: her friend’s dad wouldn’t let her attend due to the birthday girl’s race, WREG-TV reported.
The unidentified child wrote in blue, green and pink, “Maby [SIC] I will not be able to come to your birthday sleepover, because my dad will not let me go because you are black.”
The girl added, “Not trying to be races [SIC], but my mom let me go. Happy birthday!”
Despite the shocking illustration of one parent’s prejudice, the episode shouldn’t be viewed as either a reflection on the children’s school, Highland Oaks Elementary School, or the community that’s changed around it in the Hickory Hill area, Highland Oaks PTA president Barbara Davis told the Daily News.
“We have a lot wider variety of populations at the school, but, in saying that, we’ve been a very close group,” said Davis, who has three children attending the school and denounced the letter as a regrettable isolated incident. “I’m calling them ignorant, but it’s their choice to feel that way, right or wrong.”
Davis declined to state the racial breakdown of the elementary school, noting that the birthday party was not a school-sanctioned event. But she acknowledged that the area had changed in recent years, a story told vividly by census data for the zip code occupied by the school.
How the hell do these assholes sleep with themselves.
I don’t know, it makes me think that we are all chasing windmills…
Cervantes, who died in 1616, is known as the father of the modern novel. He wrote Don Quixote, a tale of an errant knight and his loyal sidekick, Sancho Panza. Originally written in Spanish, this two volume epic has been translated into more than 60 languages.
Now it seems that his remains, along with those of his wife and several others, were found by a team of researchers in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid. Cervantes had asked to be buried in the convent after the order of nuns helped free him when he was captured by pirates in 1575, but the exact location was forgotten when the convent was rebuilt in the 17th century.
“He’s there,” historian Fernando de Prado told the Guardian, referencing fragmented bones found in the floor of the crypt. “We know that some of these bones belong to Cervantes.”
Take a look at the link to learn more about the legend of Cervantes grave…they are hoping to have the crypt open to the public in time for the 400 year anniversary of Cervantes death which comes around next year.
I will end with this clip from the film The Milagro Beanfield War.
The Coyote Angel says, “Don Amarante de Cordoba, I see windmills…on your horizon.”
See what I mean…Windmills indeed.
More links to come in the comments below.
Hey, what do you know?
They use other animals to sniff out land mines, including dogs and rats…which seems like a more logical answer to me. I mean, if a rat missteps on a landmine and bang….little mess.
But an elephant?
What will you see when you see an elephant step on a landmine?
I’ll tell you one thing, it sure a shit won’t be a small showing.
But back to the elephants….Elephants can also smell water a kabillion miles away as well…so perhaps California could make use of them as well?
Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California’s winter was as well.
As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.
Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.
As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.
Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.
Well, that is a scary last paragraph there. More of that op/ed at the link.
I know that the beginning of the post was lighthearted, however now I need to touch on some of the destruction set in motion over the last 48 hours in the South Pacific.
Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu as the UN was hosting its third world conference on disaster risk reduction in Sendai, Japan.
That meeting heard that over the past 45 years the Asia Pacific region has suffered cumulative economic losses of $A1.49 trillion from natural disasters, and had lost more than 2 million lives. And Vanuatu, according to a key report presented to delegates, was the country most at risk in the entire world, followed by Tonga, The Philippines, Japan and Costa Rica.
Today, as the island nation begins to count its dead and the economic cost of the weekend destruction, it will need all its traditional resilience to live up to its name. Vanuatu means “Our Land Forever,” a phrase that has always struck an appropriately defiant note in the face of the many threats it faces.
In this latest challenge, winds of up to 270km per hour ripped through the island group, after building speed as the cyclone passed first over Kiribati and then Solomon Islands immediately to Vanuatu’s north west. Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, who was in Port Vila, told Reuters that as the cyclone hit the city, “it felt like the world was coming to an end”.
Be sure to read that article, it has a lot of information, about the island nation…it’s people and what they will be going through after the clean up.
Cyclone Pam hit the island as a Category 5. First aid teams reach Vanuatu, find widespread devastation after cyclone | Reuters
The first aid teams to reach Vanuatu reported widespread devastation on Sunday as authorities declared a state of emergency after a “monster” cyclone tore through the Pacific island nation.
With winds of more than 300 kph (185 mph), Cyclone Pam razed homes, smashed boats and washed away roads and bridges as it struck late on Friday and into Saturday. Aid workers described the situation as catastrophic.
Aid workers were particularly worried about the southern island of Tanna. An official with the Australian Red Cross told Reuters an aircraft had managed to land there and aid workers confirmed there was “widespread destruction”.
“Virtually every building that is not concrete has been flattened,” said the official, adding two deaths had been confirmed on the island which has a population of about 29,000 and is about 200 km (125 miles) south of the capital, Port Vila.
Witnesses in Port Vila described sea surges of up to eight metres (26 feet) and widespread flooding as the category 5 cyclone hit. Residents said the storm sounded like a freight train. Port Vila was strewn with debris and looked as if a bomb had gone off.
Pacific nation devastated by historic Cyclone Pam – Video at that link.
And then, on the other side of the world, a tragic bus accident: Brazil bus crash: at least 40 dead after plunge off cliff | World news | The Guardian
At least 40 people died on Saturday when a passenger bus drove off a cliff in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, police said.
The bus, en route from the neighbouring state of Parana, swerved off a curve and fell dozens of metres before crashing in a wooded area. Rescue crews were bringing up dozens of bodies as well as survivors.
The bus was about six miles (10km) from its destination in the city of Joinville when it crashed. Highway and weather conditions at the time were good, a police spokesman said.
Though no immediate cause for the crash had been determined, police said it appeared the brakes on the bus failed.
Brazil has some of Latin America’s deadliest roads. Despite nearly a decade of sustained economic growth that only slowed in recent years, the country has done little to improve or expand its creaky infrastructure.
Alright, back to the other links:
Likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush used his personal email while governor of Florida to discuss troop deployments, nuclear plant protection and other such matters, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The report followed revelations that Democrat Hillary Clinton, also seen as a likely presidential candidate, used a personal email account exclusively during her time as secretary of state, raising questions about security and transparency.
On his personal account, firstname.lastname@example.org, Bush discussed the Florida National Guard’s movements and training activities as well as his decision to provide less security to nuclear power plants in the state, the newspaper reported.
Bush aides told the Post that none of the emails contained sensitive or classified information, and many of the events mentioned in them were documented in press accounts. But security experts say private email systems such as the one used by Bush are more vulnerable to hackers.
Democrats have attempted to divert the focus on Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct work as U.S. secretary of state by saying that Bush used the same practice in Florida, where he was governor from 1999 to 2007.
Then you have this, Hillary Clinton’s Over-Played Woman Card | RealClearPolitics
Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured “A Better World, Run By Women,” a rather hilarious essay penned by Emory anthropology professor Melvin Konner. As more women gain power around the world, Konner argued, the better our lives will be. “Research has found,” he wrote, “that women are superior to men in most ways that will count in the future.”
Konner was just warming up. “There is every reason to think that a future national hierarchy staffed and led by women who no longer have to imitate men, dealing with other nations similarly transformed, would be less likely to go to war,” he added. “But that’s not all. Sex scandals, financial corruption and violence are all overwhelmingly male.”
I assume he wrote this with a straight face. I also assume that he has never watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey, attempted to score half-price designer shoes at the Barney’s Warehouse Sale, or patronized a crowded Chuck E. Cheese’s that serves liberal amounts of alcohol in an over-the-hill and questionably located strip mall. (Hint: There are often fights.)
That shitty piece is written by a woman by the way…I won’t quote any more from it, you can go and read the rest of the bait at the link if you really want to. That is if you feel like getting in a pissy mood.
So after a link to an article like that, how about a link to someone good…that cares about her fellow women: Feminists don’t hate men. But it wouldn’t matter if we did | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | The Guardian
One of the most common derisive taunts thrown at feminists – and one of the oldest – is “manhater”. It’s been around since the days of suffrage, and still gets used today, though its a pretty anodyne insult. Most feminists, like me, shun the label and work to convince people that despite the stereotypes feminists absolutely, without a doubt, do not hate men.
But so what if we did?
It’s not that I recommend hating men or think it a particularly wise use of one’s time, but to each her own. Straight white men still hold the majority of political, economic and social power in the world, and everyone else struggles to make their lives work with less. So if the worst thing that happens to a man is that a woman doesn’t like him …well, he has it pretty damn good. It’s not as if we’re living in some sort of Wicker Man-inspired dystopia, after all.
Besides, when women hate men, we hurt their feelings. When men hate women, they kill us: mass shootings have been attributed to misogyny, and sexual and domestic violence against women is often fuelled by a hatred for women.
That’s why it’s so hard to take seriously any claims that “misandry” is a tremendous problem – they’re based on the idea that merely insulting men is similar to the life-threatening misogyny women face worldwide. (Most recently, Newsday writer Cathy Young argued that men being called “mansplainers” or rape apologists is akin to the rape and death threats that women get online.)
But a younger generation of feminists has embraced what Slate writer Amanda Hess calls “ironic misandry”. Hess wrote last year that the rise in popularity of “male tears” mugs and man-hating inspired shirts and crafts serves as a sort of fuck-you to the constant barrage of harassment that feminists often face: “On its most basic level, ironic misandry functions like a stuck-out tongue pointed at a playground bully.”
Finish it up at the link.
Hey, check this out: Republican Votes for Loretta Lynch May Be at Historic Low
The most amazing thing about the Loretta Lynch story is that the congressional community no longer views it as amazing.
Lynch is on course to be confirmed this month after the longest wait ever for a nominee to be attorney general — and very likely by the closest vote ever to put a new person in charge of the Justice Department.
When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate debate on the nomination would begin next week, it marked 17 weeks and three days since President Barack Obama announced his choice for one of the most prestigious and pivotal positions in his Cabinet. At the time, Lynch was assured the bare minimum level of public support required for victory. Only four Republicans have announced they’ll join the 46 members of the Democratic Caucus in voting for her, meaning that at least for the time being Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had best keep his March travel schedule a bit flexible.
Still, her sluggishly contentious path toward becoming the nation’s top law enforcement official has garnered relatively little public attention. That’s in large part because Lynch hasn’t become a focus of the daily partisan histrionics on the Hill or on cable news. And a big reason for that is because neither side views the fundamental dispute over her — extraordinary as it is by historical standards — to be remarkable at all in the context of today.
One more feminist article: TripAdvisor removes ‘feminist’ review | UK news | The Guardian
A review in which a customer described seeing a manager biting a waitress and slapping her on the bottom has been removed by TripAdvisor for contravening its guidelines.
And lastly…Cuba is coming into the 20th Century: Free Wi-Fi in Havana Shows Cuba’s Telecommunications Future — The Atlantic
It’s an image that’s familiar around the world: A group of young people, glued to their laptops or smart phones, lounging around a public space and taking advantage of free, wireless Internet. But in Cuba, this scene is far from ordinary. When the famed artist Kcho provided wi-fi at his cultural center some weeks ago, he established the first such venue in the country’s history. Now, in a rapidly changing Cuba, milestones like this have become more commonplace.
To its beneficiaries, free wi-fi is about more than gaining access to computer games and social media. It also involves establishing contact with the outside world. One 20-year-old at the cultural center was using wi-fi to chat with his father, who lives in the United States.
“Thanks to this service I can talk to him,” the man, Adonis Ortiz, told theWashington Post.
This is something amazing indeed…
At least I think so. Not on the political front, but just in terms of a cultural standpoint. We are talking about a country driven by the car wheels of the 50’s…literally.
Three months after President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba would normalize relations, the island’s long period of isolation appears to be coming to an end—and telecommunications is just one dimension of the change. On Saturday, a group of 80 civic and business leaders will travel from New Orleans to Havana to attend a conference, marking the first direct flight between the two cities in 57 years. And next week, a New York-based tour operator will launch a weekly charter flight between the Cuban capital and New York’s JFK airport.
Still, Cuba’s antiquated communications infrastructure presents an obstacle to economic development. In anticipation of restored U.S-Cuban ties, Havana is seeking billions of dollars in foreign direct investment across a range of sectors, but the lack of IT resources hampers these relationships. Nine out of 10 Cubans lack access to a mobile phone, and Internet connections are slow and subject to government censorship. State-run Internet cafes in the country charge $4.50 an hour for online access, a huge sum where the average monthly salary is about $20. Broadband Internet connections in Cuban homes are virtually unheard of.
The transition to a modern, Internet-driven economy won’t happen overnight. Nor is it certain to force political change. In the U.S., critics of normalization have argued that establishing closer economic ties to Cuba will only empower the Castro regime. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and probable presidential candidate, has cited evidence that engagement with other Communist countries did not compel them to liberalize.
“We have those policies of normalization toward Vietnam, for example, toward China,” Rubio said in December. “They’re not any more politically free today than they were when that normalization happened.”
Kcho’s cultural center offering free wi-fi in Havana, too, offers little promise of political liberalization—the center even hosted Fidel Castro last year. But for Cubans long deprived of the quality Internet service the developed world takes for granted, getting online has less to do with politics than with daily conveniences such as communicating with friends and buying things off the web. Belkis Baisal, a bed and breakfast operator in Havana, told AFP that regular Internet access will allow her to advertise her rooms. Normalization, she said, is a positive sign.
“It’s better to have friends than enemies.”
In an October (2014) survey, 40 percent of more than 1,000 teens said they had been hit or nearly hit by a car while walking, the organization Safe Kids Worldwide reported. And 85 percent of those said they were listening to music, talking on their phones or texting when it happened.
Researcher Jack Nasar at the University of Ohio calculated that more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries suffered while using their cellphones.
That was almost six times as many as five years earlier.
And Nasar said the number was probably much higher since it isn’t strictly tracked. He hasn’t followed up since, although he and others are working on a study of just how prevalent cellphone use is on the street.
Several hospitals in the Lower Hudson Valley said they don’t ask people if they were texting when they got hurt. And patients may be too embarrassed to volunteer the information.
“They may not want to admit they were an idiot,” Nasar said.
Most of us are no stranger to this scenario: A group of friends sits down to a meal together, laughing, swapping stories, and catching up on the news – but not necessarily with the people in front of them! Nowadays, it’s not unusual to have one’s phone handy on the table, easily within reach for looking up movie times, checking e-mails, showing off photos, or taking a call or two. It’s a rare person who doesn’t give in to a quick glance at the phone every now and then. Today’smultifunctional phones have become anindispensable lifeline to the rest of the world.
We might expect that the widespread availability of mobile phones boosts interpersonal connections, by allowing people to stay in touch constantly. But a recent set of studies by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex showed that our phones can hurt our close relationships. Amazingly, they found that simply having a phone nearby, without even checking it, can be detrimental to our attempts at interpersonal connection.
It’s been a long, terrible day. As you recount your struggles, you suddenly notice your partner is furiously typing on his phone. Your anger boils (you’ve forgotten that you did the same thing to him just yesterday). It’s time to step away from the smartphone, put down the tablet, shut the laptop and turn off the TV. A slew of recent researchsuggests that if people want happy relationships, they need to stop clinging to technology.
In a new study, Coyne asked 143 married or cohabitating women to answer questions about technology use and relationships. She wanted to understand how technology encroaches on our lives and relationships, what she calls “technoference.” The vast majority of respondents, 70 percent, said using a cell phone interrupted interactions between them and their partners sometimes, often, very often or all the time. Even more, 74 percent, said that computers sometimes, often, very often or all the time disturbed their interactions with partners.
The women who reported technoference also said they fought more with their partners, which made them feel badly about their relationships. On top of this, they felt more depressed and less satisfied with life.
“What I think the most important finding is, the more you let the technology interfere, the more conflict you have with your spouse or partner and that leads to not feeling great about the relationship,” she says.
Still there’s other research showing that cell phone dependence can be unhealthy.
“Cell phone attachment is positively related to an increase in stress and anxiety and even depression,” says James A. Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business.
In a 2012 paper, Roberts coined the word “phub,” a mash-up of phone and snub. Phubbing occurs when someone chooses to play with an app, text or take a phone call instead of paying attention to a person.
“Essentially, what we are saying is that you don’t matter,” he says. “It touches at our core.”
Oh boy…the horror…..Cubans are a hot-blooded people, believe me I know from my experience. But we are also a passionate emotionally connected people with a strong culture of close associations. We are not a cold group of people either…we hug…human contact is big with us. So I hope that those kinds of cultural values don’t change as technology seeps into Cuba. I can’t say if it has changed within out own communities here in the US…as I have been stuck in Hicktown Banjoville for so dang long, but I can at least hope and pretend things are still the same back home in West Tampa. It’s all I got sometimes, when all around me is fried chicken and racist ignorance. I do miss the days when there were more colors in my world….all types of colors.
You all have a great day.