Wednesday Reads: Have a pizza and a smile…or Ex Libris and the Sea.

08d39c20af4c7b7c1da9eb22e1c5047eGood Morning

This should be interesting, I am sitting here trying to write today’s post with a pounding sinus headache, while North by Northwest is on the telly.

68cb62a8eb3ed84d979a189400a62961If my brain is not fully functional because of the sinus…my fingers and my thoughts may be will be forced to wander off into the film as Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint travel by train across the country towards the monument carve out on the mountain, you know the one…with those big ugly men’s faces on it.

The thread will feature plenty of ex libris artwork from various time periods and artist and countries as found on Pinterest…so enjoy them.

eb2ea87b8f543e0636a920e0e41fe361I will start with this first link, a story that I found from a couple of weeks ago, perhaps you have seen it already: Barbara Bowman Speaks About Bill Cosby Sexual Abuse Allegations

Last week, Newsweek interviewed Tamara Green, one of 13 women who accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them in a civil lawsuit brought by Andrea Constand in 2004, and settled under undisclosed terms in 2006. Now, a second woman is speaking out: Barbara Bowman, a 46-year-old artist who says Cosby took her under his wing in the late ‘80s, when she was a teenager — and repeatedly emotionally and physically abused her.

6ae1625fa92c719cd6f424aaeb95e6e9Both Bowman and Green joined the 2004 lawsuit as witnesses after hearing about it on television; neither had anything to gain financially, as the statute of limitations had expired for both of them.

Read the interview at the link, it is something else…then take a few minutes to peek at the comments. Oh they are all the usual shits you would expect, but I thought it was a very believable story.

Next up, some fun…I must tell you, a lot of today’s links are not “trending” news items.  Y’all remember that article about how you say the word youse, you, you all, you guys and what was the other one?  What We Mean When We Say Hello – Deborah Fallows – The Atlantic

The curious geography of American greetings

Last week I wrote about conversation starters that follow “Hello” and “How do you do.” Many dozens of you have 52daba947cfd5c658de9b432ae155f73written in and generously included your comments and interpretations of what you think people actually mean when they say something like “Where do you live?” or “Where are you from?”

Here is what you’ve said so far:

Check it out, I would love to see what this article’s author would think of places like Tampa, that has an influx of different people…from all over.

With all the cold weather, it can suck ass…but look at what beautiful things it can bring: Ice caves in northern Wisconsin are dazzling winter phenomena

Mother Nature has become a  Chihuly-like sculptress in sea caves along Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Icicles hang by the thousands in caves at  Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. In warmer weather, the caves would be accessible only by water, but during this consistently cold winter, they are accessible by frozen lakeshore.
Explorers drawn to ice show
( Brian Peterson / Associated Press / February 2, 2014 )

Mother Nature has become a Chihuly-like sculptress in sea caves along Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Icicles hang by the thousands in caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. In warmer weather, the caves would be accessible only by water, but during this consistently cold winter, they are accessible by frozen lakeshore.

Lots more pictures at the link.

398dbc133effee7eb5c06975bd0dfc43More “neat” stuff to see: Geologists Glimpse a Heaven Below – NYTimes.com

Imagine the frustration faced for so many years by Eric W. Jordan and his colleagues. They could take a pretty good guess at what lay hundreds of feet beneath the macadam-sealed surface of New York City’s streets. They just had no way of knowing for sure.

But the last 10 years or so have been a boon to Mr. Jordan and his fellow geologists; mammoth subterranean excavations for the city’s Third Water Tunnel, the Second Avenue Subway and the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access Project have enabled them to see for themselves the rock formations and faults that they had only been able to imagine, undergirding Manhattan.

There is this amazing picture at that link, a massive space within one of the underground tunnels…shitfire! It does not look real but it is…

984408fec6f0fe9deece5270899f2f3aI’ve got another thing for you that is real, but seems surreal. Like a film that should have been directed by David Lynch, Inside the mind of a mass murderer, in drag – Amanpour – CNN.com Blogs

How do we know what is in the mind of a mass murderer? How about getting them to re-enact those crimes?

That is exactly what documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer did with several men who participated in mass killings in Indonesia decades ago.

d79ed463194db68bb51a2ff235427b76“It’s tempting to look at them through the lens of sort of fiction storytelling, where you have good guys and bad guys, good guys and then cackling villains,” Oppenheimer told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.

“When you’re a non-fiction filmmaker, you have to look at the real people you meet.”

Just look at this image from the movie:

To his surprise and horror, they were enthusiastic. They agreed to make a movie about how they killed and allowed him to film the process.

The result is a mind-bending movie within a documentary, by turns emotionally revolting, beautiful, and bizarre – one of the mass killers appears, as often as not, in drag. It is rarely entirely clear what is ‘acting’ and what is genuine.

Alright. Moving on.

19866f965bbdf137de654d938edb63e0While on the subject of film, here is a reminder. Watch Pygmalion (1939) – staring Leslie Howard on Sunday, February 23rd at 12:15 am EST. It is fantastic!

Decades before the 1964 musical My Fair Lady swept the Academy Awards®, the author of Pygmalion, the play on which it was based, became a most unlikely Oscar® winner for the original’s 1938 screen adaptation. Possibly the most intelligent person to win the award (he might have claimed to be the only intelligent man to do so), Shaw holds the distinction of being the only individual to win both an Academy Award® and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Given his disdain for the movies, particularly those adapted from his own plays, it’s a minor miracle the film even got made and turned out to be a brilliant adaptation.

[...]

e7e6ea1caa0095cc4bb164461a1e5e9d by Jan Battermann for Eugene StrensThe story of a phonetics professor (modeled on real-life phonetician Henry Sweet) who turns a Cockney flower girl into a lady by teaching her to speak properly touched a chord with audiences, who viewed it as one of the writer’s most romantic plays. It had already been filmed twice, in Germany in 1935 and in the Netherlands in 1937. Shaw had disliked those versions so much that when producer Gabriel Pascal first approached him about filming an English version, the writer turned him down. Only when Pascal promised not to change a word and agreed to cast Wendy Hiller, whom Shaw had admired in stage productions of Pygmalion and St. Joan, did the great writer accede. Although she had already made one film, the low-budget 1937 comedy Lancashire Luck, Pascal gave her introductory billing in Pygmalion at Shaw’s request.

b78f9c96d1c0710899e2152527f8cb4d leboroniThe author did not get his way in casting the male lead, however. His first choice for Henry Higgins was Charles Laughton, but Pascal convinced him that Leslie Howard would make the film more marketable in the U.S. That choice may not have been based solely on the stars’ box-office appeal. In the mid-’30s, Laughton was riding high on a series of popular films, including Ruggles of Red Gap and Mutiny on the Bounty (both 1935). Rather, Pascal may have been appealing to the popular notion that the leading characters eventually married. Shaw had resisted the notion and even wrote a 1916 essay describing Eliza’s life after parting ways with Higgins and decrying the more sentimental interpretations as “lazy dependence on the ready-mades and reach-me-downs of the ragshop in which Romance keeps its stock of ‘happy endings’ to misfit all stories.” With the more romantic Howard cast as Higgins, however, Pascal may have hoped to weight the story towards a more romantic interpretation that would have sold more tickets.

fb24533f0fb9e9c151887ddd327e787fOne way Pascal got around Shaw’s insistence on a word-for-word filming of the play was by hiring him to write the screenplay. That gave the author a chance to incorporate scenes cut from most stage productions because they would have added too many sets (Shaw even had said such scenes were best suited to a film version). The writer also got to expand the scene at the Embassy Ball, where Higgins wins his bet to pass Eliza off as a lady. As a result, Shaw agreed to cut some of the play’s more philosophical speeches, including several of the longer speeches delivered by Eliza’s father. He also grudgingly agreed to include a final scene in which Eliza returns to Higgins, who, unable to express his love for her, demands “Where the devil are my slippers, Eliza?” Shaw would later disavow this ending, insisting that Eliza instead married her high society admirer, Freddie Eynsford-Hill.

Bottom line is Shaw loved this film version.

7fa59304b52c6ef4b87a2992aa906494 Rudolf Koch (1902-1985) Ex Libris Ursula Laut (1940)At year’s end, it was nominated for four Academy Awards® — including Best Picture, Best Actor (Howard) and Best Actress (Hiller) — years before foreign films were regularly honored at the Oscars®. It won for Shaw’s screenplay, but the author was hardly grateful. Instead, he announced, “It’s an insult for them to offer me any honor, as if they had never heard of me — and it’s very likely they never have. They might as well send an honor to George for being King of England.” His private views may have been more appreciative. Mary Pickford would later report that when she visited Shaw the award was prominently displayed on his mantelpiece.

When novelist Lloyd C. Douglas announced Pygmalion had won Best Screenplay, he quipped, “Mr. Shaw’s story now is as original as it was three 40def3de76e3f32652389ba1e75c3e83 Pavel Šimon Ex-libris Kniha Elisky Pihrtovéthousand years ago.” But though Shaw had, indeed, been inspired by the Greek myth about a sculptor who falls in love with his female statue, his version of the story became as much a part of popular culture as the original legend.

Please stay up and watch it, you will not be disappointed.

Okay, now a quick link to some eye-candy: Anna Sui Fall 2014 Collection | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

A sad farewell to actor Christopher Malcolm, Rocky Horror’s Brad, dies aged 67

Tributes are being paid to actor and theatre producer Christopher Malcolm, whose roles included the original Brad Majors in the Rocky Horror Show and Saffy’s gay dad in Absolutely Fabulous.

Christopher Malcolm
Christopher Malcolm starred in 1979 drama The Great Riviera Bank Robbery alongside Ian McShane

His death, aged 67, was confirmed by his daughter Morgan Lloyd Malcolm on Twitter, who wrote: “Today the world lost a beautiful, brilliant man.”

868ee92a6c3e45818072c2bbe5817c37She added he “left peacefully and with dignity. He will always be my hero.”

His starred in films such as The Empire Strikes Back, Labyrinth and Highlander.

Having played Brad Majors in the original production of The Rocky Horror Show in 1974 and co-produced the 1990 West End revival, he then took charge of producing all productions of Richard O’Brien’s much-loved musical around the world.

Since I have been sick, and totally out of the loop, I missed this nugget of news: President Obama Apologizes for Dissing Art History Degrees | Mediaite

1cc23b1ad1f95fb03bcd4632b7b7fb5aIf you got a degree in art history, your eye might have twitched a bit when President Obama said a few weeks ago that Americans would be more well off in the manufacturing industry as opposed to, say, having an art history degree. Well, there is literally nothing these days that doesn’t warrant an apology, and now Obama has apologized for that remark.

Well at least he has made an apology. I guess.

e821cd587ddb9da9bbe88ae9c293f546Then you have the other extreme, a president of a country who is completely off base. I am speaking of Putin of course, and his position on gays. Did y’all see this? Members of Pussy Riot released in Sochi – CNN.com (I thought that Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were no longer “band members.”)

Two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot were detained briefly Tuesday in central Sochi, after apparently being considered suspects in a theft at their hotel, and then released.

3036fb590140298455a7ab5b6debbf6e“A survey in connection with the theft at the Hotel Adler is completed, there is no claim against those questioned,” police said in a prepared statement.

Earlier in the day, band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were meeting with journalists when police detained them, according to Tolokonnikova’s husband, Petr Verzilov. Russian media corroborated the report.

“They were put to the floor and beaten and physical force was used to them when they refused to be questioned without the presence of their lawyer, who was on his way to the police department,” Verzilov told reporters.

44c53b4794e42536b91768eff9a5fda7The stories I have read about arrest out of Sochi are scary, what a disgusting display to the world.

Olympic police today re-arrested former Italian member of parliament Vladimir Luxuria for wearing an outfit that was deemed a bit too “gay” for the Sochi Olympics.

Luxuria was wearing rainbow-colored clothing, and a rainbow wig.  She was arrested while walking to her seat at an Olympic hockey game.

The rainbow is now legally suspect in Russia since the passage last year of a draconian anti-gay law that bans what the Russians call “gay propaganda.” In reality, the law bans anything – speech, clothing or actions – that might give the impression that being gay is okay.616078707e29af21c89b13e6bef47d49

For example, the flag of Russia’s autonomous Jewish region came under scrutiny from Moscow because it contains a rainbow. And a newspaper editor was recently fined three-month’s pay for quoting a gay person in a news story in which the gay person defended themselves for having been fired based on their sexual orientation. And under similar legislation in St. Petersburg, a man was arrested for wearing rainbow suspenders.

af88f7c8f87bd263e7800cfcd9597f1bDamn…better not be caught eating Skittles or Lucky Charms in Sochi eh?

This post is getting long so real quick like:

U.S. regulator on India visit calls for greater drug safety collaboration | Reuters

3 peace activists sentenced for breaking into nuclear site – The Washington Post

Official who raised safety concerns at Hanford nuclear site is fired – latimes.com

d2b7119e87dfa6dfc568111803737bbdAP sources: DOE to OK $6.5B for Georgia nuke plant | AccessNorthGa -That is for a new nuke plant south of Augusta, it was approved in 2010 under Obama’s watch. Doesn’t make me too happy considering there was an 4.1 earthquake not far from there just a few days ago.

A trunk to cry on? Elephants console distressed pals, study says – For such a smart and sympathetic animal to have as a “symbol” of the GOP party? Oh the irony.

The 5 most egregious antiabortion proposals of 2014 (so far) – Salon.com

ad9879804284d3406c8cb5c61c113102CHARLOTTE: After comment to Gov. McCrory, food store cook fired in Charlotte | State Politics | NewsObserver.com

One observation, isn’t the Gov a public servant and does he not work for the people aka the food clerk whom he got fired?

Unbelievable: Chevron apologizes for fracking well explosion with coupons for free pizza – Salon.com

Here’s a photo of the letter and coupon obtained by No Fracking Way. Unlike the long-term health and environment effects of fracking, this special offer expires soon:

All that shit makes this real estate look good, remember that Sky Dancing commune?

Medieval Castle and Hamlet for Sale in Italy: Castello Izzalini

Medieval Castle and Hamlet for Sale in Italy

This medieval hamlet for sale in Umbria, Italy, dates back to the 12th century, as witnessed by the Todi’s Liber Focolarium, da4752fd2eedb621c9525e353c3bf0a1that is the book of the local families. It was then inhabited by 32 families, more or less 150 people.

Somebody get me the phone!

Placed on a hilltop overlooking the Tiber River valley, Izzalini is surrounded by a large proprietary 16,000 sqm forest. You can find there ancient trees, witnessing the history of the place, olive groves, whose fruits’ nectar is the renowned exquisite Umbrian Extra Virgin Oil, pasture for herds, whose milk is used to make the delicious Umbrian cheeses on site and woodland, suitable for different purposes: activities, garden, cultivation (e.g.: vineyard, olives, truffles), etc.

Castle for Sale

Oh you got to go and check the place out. More at the link and since it is a history blog link, it will have plenty of historical background to go with it.  Yeah, history majors kick ass!

Finally, this is real cool: SEE IT: California scuba divers interact with octopus who tries to take camera  – NY Daily News

Innit nature wonderful!

f5dcf14f060722d82b14bb4c2f38e19f Alexandra Von Hellberg

That is all I’ve got today, share your thoughts and links below.


Thursday Reads: Edward Snowden Becomes a Refugee in Russia

Madame_Lebasque_Reading_in_the_Garden_by_Henri_Lebasque

Good Morning!!

The news is breaking as I write this (around 8:15AM ET) that NSA leaker Edward Snowden has received papers that grant him refugee status in Russia for one year. From Reuters:

Fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Thursday after Russiagranted him refugee status, ending more than a month in limbo in the transit area.

A lawyer who has been assisting Snowden said the young American, who is wanted in the United States for leaking details of secret government intelligence programs, had left the airport for a secure location which would remain secret….

His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told state television: “I have just seen him off. He has left for a secure location … Security is a very serious matter for him.”

Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena holds Edward Snowden's entry papers from Russian Immigration Service

Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena holds Edward Snowden’s entry papers from Russian Immigration Service

So what will life in Russia be like for Snowden? A number of knowledgeable writers have weighed in on this question.

Last week, when rumors circulated that Snowden had been granted asylum and would soon leave Sheremetyevo, Russian-American journalist Julia Ioffe wrote in The New Republic that Snowden would probably

be given an apartment somewhere in the endless, soulless highrises with filthy stairwells that spread like fields around Moscow’s periphery. He will live there for five years before he will be given citizenship. He’ll likely be getting constant visits from the SVR (the Russian NSA) to mine the knowledge he carries in his brain. Maybe, he will be given a show on Russia Today, alongside the guy who got him into this pickle to begin with, Julian Assange. Or he, like repatriated Russian spy Anna Chapman, might be given a fake job at a state-friendly bank where he will do nothing but draw a salary. (Chapman, by the way, recently tweeted this at Snowden: “Snowden, will you marry me?!”) Maybe he will marry a Russian woman, who will quickly shed her supple, feminine skin and become a tyrant, and every dark winter morning, Snowden will sit in his tiny Moscow kitchen, drinking Nescafe while Svetlana cooks something greasy and tasteless, and he will sit staring into his black instant coffee, hating her.

Was it worth it to trade Hawaii and a pole-dancer girlfriend for that? Snowden will have plenty of time on his hands to think about it. He certainly won’t get a job in Russian intelligence. The Russians, at least, know you can’t trust a leaker even though he may be a convenient source of information.

Mark Ames, who lived in Russia for years and published and wrote for an alternative newspaper in Moscow with partner Matt Taibbi, recently wrote a short piece on Snowden’s future prospects at NSFWCORP with quotes from some Russian sources that I can no longer find on-line. Ames writes:

The latest on Edward Snowden from Newsru.com: officials from the Federal Migration Service (FMS) say that Snowden could be transferred to a refugee center currently overflowing with Syrian war refugees, likely families tied to the Russian-backed regime of Bashir Assad. Or not.

Both Russian officials and Snowden’s Kremlin-tied lawyer are making a big show about how difficult the bureaucratic process is for anyone, even someone like Snowden, to get his temporary asylum papers. If you read the Russian press accounts, the surface statements about the Tsar’s alleged helplessness before the almighty bureaucracy are pure Gogol, without the ha-ha’s, a sort of no-laughter-through-tears. Beneath the surface, there’s something more menacing, a growing sense I get reading the Russian press that Snowden is a kind of Kremlin toy whom they’re intentionally fucking with, out of either contempt, or for the sheer fun of it…

Clearly, Russian President Vladimir Putin is having a blast sticking it to the US and soaking up praise from deluded Glenn Greenwald cultists (previously Obots) and Julian Assange fans who think Russia is a land of freedom and opportunity as in contrast to America, where jackbooted Obama administration thugs supposedly run a horrifying reign of terror.

crime_punishment

Ames has a fascinating take on Snowden’s attorney’s bringing him a copy of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment to read.

…the Kremlin gifting Snowden a copy of “Crime and Punishment” is itself a not-subtle mind-fuck on many levels. Dostoevsky’s book is a profoundly reactionary novel about a young foolish and desperate student full of second-hand radical ideas about his superiority against established morality. His name is Raskolnikov and he thinks he’s above ordinary human laws, so he kills his landlord according to these higher laws – and later goes crazy unable to believe in the radical ideas that led him to commit a crime, so he turns himself in to the authorities, and serves his time in Siberia as penance. The name of Dostoevsky’s hero, “Raskolnikov,” itself means “cracked” or “split” – as in his cracked conscience.

Last week Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told journalists…

“I bought [for Snowden] Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment,’ because I think that Raskolnikov, who murdered his old landlord — I think that he needs to read about this. Not necessarily because of their similarities in their internal contradictions, but nevertheless…”

I loved this quote from opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta (via Ames):

“Well, what can you say? If that infantile leftie Snowden really wanted to be a hero, he should return to the USA: crucify or not crucify, they’d probably give him 10 years, and he’d do five.”

“Snowden wanted to become a digital world’s Christ — without having to hang on the cross. Now Snowden’s going to spend not five years, but the rest of his life as a guest of the FSB.”

In another display of black humor, the Kremin website compared Snowden to British defectors and spies Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, and Don Maclean. In the posting the Kremlin notes that Philby and Burgess “drank themselves to death in their state-allocated flats, awaiting a world revolution that never came,” while Maclean got along better because he took the trouble to learn Russian. You can read more about Kim Philby at The Guardian. 

Russian refugee center

Russian refugee center

State supported newspaper Russia Today also speculated about Snowden’s future: Spook out of water: What Snowden can expect if Russia grants him asylum.

If the application is accepted and Snowden is given the 12-month temporary asylum that enables him to leave the transit area of Sheremetyevo airport, he will have to undergo a daunting medical assessment designed especially for immigrants. Along with a standard screening for HIV and tuberculosis, he will also be checked for leprosy and the rare sexually-transmitted disease chancroid. Russian Health Ministry officials have said that they are ready to administer the tests at a moment’s notice, but so far have not been asked to do so by Snowden.

After Snowden registers his whereabouts with the police – to avoid risking a $150 fine – he will be free to apply for placement in a processing facility for asylum seekers. There are no such facilities in Moscow, and ones in the vicinity have been flooded with refugees escaping the Syrian conflict. Elena Ryabinina, a human rights lawyer who works with asylum seekers, told Gazeta.ru newspaper that most of her clients get offered a bed in a center near Perm – a city by the Ural mountains, more than 1,000 km east of Moscow.

Sounds like tons of fun. But according to the article Snowden could choose to try to find a place on his own–but he’d have to get a bodyguard since he’s a “wanted man.”

Even if Snowden does acquire a personal bodyguard and a high security flat at an undisclosed location – presumably courtesy of the Russian state – his future is hazy, and the reality of it likely different to what he imagined when he recorded his first revelations.

A temporary asylum seeker is allowed to work, but not to put further strain on the testy relationship between Moscow and Washington. Vladimir Putin said “no longer undermining the US” is a pre-condition for his asylum bid, and the former NSA contractor publicly promised to comply when he met Russian human rights activists a fortnight ago. One wonders who it is that Snowden’s bodyguards will be protecting from danger.

Who knows if we’ll even find out what happens to Snowden now? All we can do is watch and wait. Something tells me he may eventually wish he had just come back home to face the music.

Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald posted another “bombshell” about a “top secret program” called XKEYSCORE. According to Greenwald, this “NSA tool collects ‘nearly everything a user does on the internet.'” I googled and learned that hundreds of companies are publicly advertising job openings for people with experience on XKEYSCORE–so how can it be so secret? I guess Greenwald didn’t bother to do a google search. He didn’t bother to talk to Marc Ambinder either. Ambinder wrote a whole book on US intelligence methods in which he described XKEYSCORE in detail. Can Greenwald actually be writing about these intel programs without reading any of the literature on them?

Ambinder writes in The Week:

I quibble with the Guardian‘s description of the program as “TOP SECRET.” The word is not secret; its association with the NSA is not secret; that the NSA collects bulk data on foreign targets is, well, probably classified, but at the SECRET level. Certainly, work product associated with XKEYSCORE is Top Secret with several added caveats. Just as the Guardian might be accused of over-hyping the clear and present danger associated with this particular program, critics will reflexively overstate the harm that its disclosure would reasonably produce.

XKEYSCORE is not a thing that DOES collecting; it’s a series of user interfaces, backend databases, servers and software that selects certain types of metadata that the NSA has ALREADY collected using other methods. XKEYSCORE, as D.B. Grady and I reported in our book, is the worldwide base level database for such metadata. XKEYSCORE is useful because it gets the “front end full take feeds” from the various NSA collection points around the world and importantly, knows what to do with it to make it responsive to search queries. As the presentation says, the stuff itself is collected by some entity called F6 and something else called FORNSAT and then something with the acronym SSO.

But Greenwald insisted on Chris Hayes show last night that XKEYSCORE does collect data–all your data–and someone creepy is probably reading it right now!!

394651-xkeyscore-450

In his piece at The Guardian Greenwald had to admit that NSA analysts need to get a warrant to look at and individual’s data, but he claims the warrants are worthless. He also admits that analysts don’t have access to all your personal data, but he says they could hack into it illegally. But isn’t that true for employees of any company or government agency? They could look at personal data by criminally working around limitations and ignoring regulations.

Charles Johnson at LGF: Greenwald’s Latest Article Distorts the Truth Again

Greenwald’s purpose with this latest article is to try to shore up Edward Snowden’s absurd claim that he could “wiretap anyone, even the President,” without any oversight. Here’s how he frames this defense:

The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10.

“I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.

US officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden’s assertion: “He’s lying. It’s impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.”

But training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search. The request is not reviewed by a court or any NSA personnel before it is processed.

Read this section carefully — because what Greenwald is detailing does not support Snowden’s claim at all. Greenwald is describing searching a database for information on non-US citizens. How is this the same thing as “wiretapping the President?” Of course, it’s not. He’s not describing any kind of “wiretapping” at all.

On top of all that, it turns out that the Powerpoint presentation that Greenwald wrote about yesterday is from 2008! (See slide pictured above.) Presumably much has changed at NSA since then. Read more at Joshua Foust’s blog–it’s well worth the time to read the whole thing.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? Please share your links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a terrific Thursday!!


Don’t you love ‘em…Open Thread

Angel...on her 12th Christmas.

Angel…on her 12th Christmas.

Good Afternoon!

Ah! The holidays…a time for frantic shopping, decorating trees and emergency room visits. Well, that last one about the ER is something we celebrate on a regular basis in my family. My brother Denny fell down the step of the front porch this morning…and he is sitting in the Banjoville ER waiting on x-ray results. If he has a broken wrist/arm they will need to put a cast on him, and that is not going to sit too well with him.

I promised my daughter that we would get the Christmas tree today, something she has nagged about…I told her the tree will be au naturale this year, which means only white lights, strung popcorn and ribbon.

Anyway, since so much is going on today, I am posting this afternoon thread earlier than usual.

Apple has announced it is moving some of the manufacture jobs to the US…for a review check this post out by Emptywheel: The ameriMac

Presumably because of Apple’s rocky PR and financial results of late, Tim Cook gave two purportedly “Exclusive!” interviews, to NBC News and Businessweek. The big takeaway from both “Exclusives!” was the same, however: that Apple will move some production of the Mac back to the US next year.

You were instrumental in getting Apple out of the manufacturing business. What would it take to get Apple back to building things and, specifically, back to building things in the U.S.?
It’s not known well that the engine for the iPhone and iPad is made in the U.S., and many of these are also exported—the engine, the processor. The glass is made in Kentucky. And next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013. We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we’ll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people, and we’ll be investing our money.

Thus far, I have not seen any acknowledgment that this move comes just two months after Lenovo made a similar announcement, that it was going to bring production of formerly IBM products back to Tim Cook’s old stomping grounds in IBM’s former production hub of North Carolina.

Well, personally I love Lenovo products….but this news that jobs are coming back the states is something good to hear about. I just hope that things don’t go the way of Toyota.  When they moved manufacture from Japan to Tennessee, the product quality went down…for reasons I don’t know. I guess we just have to see how it goes.

This week the Senate (GOP Ratfukkerz) voted against the UN Disability treaty, it seems that there is a buzz going on about something Inhofe said, via Little Green Footballs: Inhofe and Monckton Bring the Theocratic, Creationist Texas Eagle Forum to the UN to Deny Climate Change

Watch the full video (available later today) at:

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow: The future of climate and energy policy featuring Lord Christopher Monckton and US Senator James Inhofe

The current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, COP 18, is ongoing in Doha, Qatar and like all previous COPs there is an abundance of representation of global interests, not the least of which are foreign ministers (or their deputies) of many nations, and a swarm of international press.

And, as usual and like moths to a light, these COPs attract a very wide range of what most of us perceive as “fringe” organizations and individuals, as well as many serious foreign policy organizations.

Relatively few however hold press briefings in the main press conference room, yet somehow Senator Inhofe managed to get 30 minutes in front of the press to present a video by himself and a live brief by Christopher Monckton, as well as a spokesman for the “Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.”

And they brought one more person to speak: Cathie Adams, of the Texas Eagle Forum.

We all know of the long running connection between Inhofe and Monckton and various monied interests (especially fossil fuel companies), and Senator Inhofe’s fundamentalist Christian beliefs and his own theocratic tendencies are well documented.

Where the hell do they get these committee names from? Double speak? You bet your ass! Anyway, back to the idiots, and their constructive tomorrows:

But what of Cathie Adams? Fortunately for us TFN did a short backgrounder on her when earlier this year she resumed being head of the Texas Eagle Forum after even the Texas GOP party had quite enough of her as their leader:

Cathie Adams Is Back!

- Adams sees religious diversity as a threat to this country. From an October 1999 TEF letter:

‘(W)e must place our faith in the ONE true God, then humble ourselves, pray and seek Him and repent for our sins. Then God will forgive us and heal our land. Do you think that a jealous God will tolerate ‘religious pluralism’ and allow us to come to Him any way we please? Absolutely not!’

- Adams believes that the United Nations is paving the way for the ‘anti-Christ.’

From a 2000 TEF letter:

‘The Bible tells us that in the end times there will be a world government headed by a world leader, called the anti-Christ, who will profess a world religion, but did you ever think you would live in the day when these things would come into being? That is exactly what the United Nations is doing behind the backs of most Americans.’

From a January 1999 TEF newsletter:

‘In the future, the anti-Christ will use the pleas for human rights, economic equity and a promise to ‘end all wars’ to found global government… . God is not the author of global government, the anti-Christ is, and the UN conspicuously manifests his warmongering spirit.’

[…]

So, Inhofe arranges for someone who thinks the UN is a front for the Anti-Christ be his spokesman at a climate change conference, to convince us all that climate change is a hoax.

Please…it is beyond ridiculous and embarrassing. As LGF points out:

Oh, and of course:

Adams is an anti-science zealot.

Criticizing evolution in an October 2003 email to TEF activists during the Texas State Board of Education’s debate over proposed new science textbooks:

‘Did you evolve from an ape or were you created by God? This is NOT a rhetorical question. Your child or grandchild WILL be taught according to what you choose now.’

Yes, she’s a die hard literal creationist.

This is who Inhofe sends to put up in front of the world to argue climate change is a hoax.

The UNFCCC has many problems and (not uncommon with other forums that include most of the nations of the world) has proven to be rather ineffective at addressing climate change.

Yet to add to that ineffectiveness, Inhofe, Monckton, and Adams got prime speaking time in the UNFCCC press briefing room to spout conspiracy theories and wingnut fantasies.

This is a new low for the UNFCCC, and that is saying something.

I think it is more of a new low regarding the world’s opinion of United States Senators, and the dumb asses who elect them.

Alright, here’s the rest of today’s reads:

Handyman kidnapped ‘to do repair’ -From the Independent…and here I thought the crazy Inhofe/Adams thing was bad optics for our reputation in the global scheme of things. This couple kidnapped a dude to fix their dishwasher.

A man and a woman were arrested in San Jose, California after they abducted a local handyman and forced him to repair their dishwasher.

Jason DeJesus, 36, and Chanelle Troedsen, 33, invited the 50-year-old handyman to their home When he arrived, they beat him and threatened him with further violence if he failed to comply with their demands. During his eight-hour ordeal, the man dealt with the faulty kitchen appliance, as well as a broken door.

In Naples, Italy, things never change: Mafia hitmen kill rival in Naples nursery playground

Mafia hitmen chased a rival gangster into a nursery school in northern Naples and shot him dead while four-year-olds were singing Christmas carols just yards away, it has emerged.

Even battle-weary citizens of the area’s bloody Camorra drug wars were horrified by the latest killing. Within minutes of the hit on Tuesday morning, panic-stricken parents arrived at the school clamouring to see if their children were safe.

After the killers fled the children were led to safety by teachers. “We were practising songs for the Christmas recital,” said a teacher at the Eugenio Montale pre-school. “We took them out through a back door and they didn’t see the body.”

And…check this out: Seeing in color at the nanoscale

A new microscopy tool promises to revolutionize nanoscale imaging. Left, a design schematic of the so-called “campanile” microscopy tip. Right, an electron micrograph of the tip and, inset, the UC Berkeley campanile bell-tower for which it is named. Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

If nanoscience were television, we’d be in the 1950s. Although scientists can make and manipulate nanoscale objects with increasingly awesome control, they are limited to black-and-white imagery for examining those objects. Information about nanoscale chemistry and interactions with light—the atomic-microscopy equivalent to color—is tantalizingly out of reach to all but the most persistent researchers.

Read more about nanoscience at the link.

Enjoy your Thursday evening, this is an open thread.


Evening Round-Up: BS and WTF?

Good falloutEvening…

My father is going off the deep end. I don’t know, he has become obsessed with the end of the world, the CDC’s stash of plastic coffins and Agenda 21. So tonight’s links will be a quick dose of reality…meaning, shit we should be concerned with.

Privacy…The Volokh Conspiracy » District Court Grants Motion to Suppress After Government Uses “The Shadow” to Locate Laptop Using Unsecured Wireless Network  (Fourth Amendment? Drawing the line or crossing it?)

Austerity…What Austerity Brings  (It sure doesn’t bring about anything good.)

Indefinite detention, and “unlawful pretrial punishment”…The Prosecution’s Argument for Why It Didn’t ‘Unlawfully Punish’ Bradley Manning  (And why is it that FDL’s coverage of the Manning trial uses images from Beavis and Butthead?)

Minorities…Black, Hispanic Teens Most Disconnected, New Report Says  (Nothing new here, carry on…)

Boehners…Obama Rejects Boehner Fiscal Cliff Plan  (Boehner = The tangerine ass clown.)

Boneheads…Rush Limbaugh: Planned Parenthood “Is All About The Elimination Of Black Families”  (My girlfriend who lives among the corn was going on about this a couple weeks ago.)

Protection of our precious bodily fluids…Tracy Bloom: GOP’s Doomsday Fiscal Cliff Plan, Cory Booker’s Food Stamp Challenge, and More  (Okay, that last one is an attempt to joke about Dr. Strangelove…we certainly don’t want a mineshaft gap!)

This is an open thread…


Evening Reads: Night Owls and Great Whites

Good Evening…

I can not believe that Thanksgiving is this week, it has been one of those crazy fast years. You would think that with all the campaign crap we have been through, it would have seen like it was an eternity since those first horrible GOP debates. Can you believe a year has passed us by?

First take a look at these two articles, I want to get these out-of-the-way…Christian attorney indicted on federal child pornography charges

I actually did not want to include it in today’s post, but I could not help and think of the irony that once again a monster hides behind their religion. You should see the comments at the local newspaper that broke the story, it is disgusting.

This other article is from some right-wing Rabbi, and I warn you, it is f’d up. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Jewish Values Are the Salvation of the Republican Party

A ‘malignant weapon.’ That was the phrase used by a friend of mine — a national TV host who inclines toward Republicans but this year voted Democrat — to describe how Republicans use religion. “Why has religion made Republicans harsh. Shouldn’t it give them a soft heart?”

The congressional campaign I ran was based on the idea that the economic malaise in America was due to a values erosion. So long as we obsess over abortion, gay marriage, and contraception to the exclusion of any other values, we cannot fix our problems. I ran to start the process of replacing the austerity of some of the Christian social values, which have defined the GOP for decades, with the positive and life-affirming values of Judaism.

So Rabbi goes on about the problem with the GOP obsession with sex. Fair enough, but then when he gets down to his advice it is the same sexist shit, only warmed over with a bit of kugel and a schmear of cream cheese.

Also, I have two articles on Walmart, one which argues for higher paying salaries and hourly wages for  Walmart and retail employees. Bob Herbert: Why Walmart and Big Retailers Should Pay Their Workers More

The other is from Cannonfire, who feels that we should have a Thanksgiving Day boycott of Walmart and other retail stores who are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. I agree, keep Black Friday on Black Friday.

Now for the fun stuff. Check this out….Great whites ‘not evolved from megashark’

A new fossil discovery has helped quell 150 years of debate over the origin of great white sharks.

Carcharodon hubbelli, which has been described by US scientists, shows intermediate features between the present-day predators and smaller, prehistoric mako sharks.

The find supports the theory that great white sharks did not evolve from huge megatooth sharks.

The research is published this week in the journal Palaeontology.

Look at these teeth:

Shark fossil

The new specimen (examined here by Dana Ehret) links Great Whites to the much smaller mako shark.

[...]

Modern day white sharks show similarities in the structure of their teeth with the extinct megatooth sharks.

As they both sport serrations on the cutting edges, early scientists working on the animals used this as evidence for the sharks being closely related.

Shark graphic

“But we actually see the evolution of serrations occurring many times in different lineages of sharks and if you look at the shape and size of the serrations in the two groups you see that they are actually very different from each other,” Professor Ehret told BBC News.

Are you all thinking what I am thinking? We need a bigger boat?

Megalodon
Megalodon had one of the most formidable bites known from the fossil record
[...]

“White sharks have very large, coarse serrations whereas megalodon had very fine serrations.”

Now, additional evidence from the newly described species shows both white shark-like teeth shape as well other features characteristic of broad-toothed mako sharks that feed on smaller fish rather than primarily seals and other large mammals.

“It looks like a gradation or a transition from broad-toothed makos to the modern white shark. It’s a transitional species, and you don’t see that a whole lot in the fossil record,” Professor Ehret said.

From fins to wings…well metaphorically speaking…Gene distinguishes early birds from night owls and helps predict time of death

Many of the body’s processes follow a natural daily rhythm or so-called circadian clock. There are certain times of the day when a person is most alert, when blood pressure is highest, and when the heart is most efficient. Several rare gene mutations have been found that can adjust this clock in humans, responsible for entire families in which people wake up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and cannot stay up much after 8 at night. Now new research has, for the first time, identified a common gene variant that affects virtually the entire population, and which is responsible for up to an hour a day of your tendency to be an early riser or night owl.

Back in my first year of college I did a thing for my biology class, where I took my temp and blood pressure/pulse rate every hour for 48 hours and what do you think, I had higher temps and heart rates later at night, between 9:30pm and 4am. (But I didn’t need to do that to know that I am a night owl.) I function way better in the evening hours.

Furthermore, this new discovery not only demonstrates this common polymorphism influences the rhythms of people’s day-to-day lives — it also finds this genetic variant helps determine the time of day a person is most likely to die.

The surprising findings, which appear in the November 2012 issue of the Annals of Neurology, could help with scheduling shift work and planning medical treatments, as well as in monitoring the conditions of vulnerable patients.

“The internal ‘biological clock’ regulates many aspects of human biology and behavior, such as preferred sleep times, times of peak cognitive performance, and the timing of many physiological processes. It also influences the timing of acute medical events like stroke and heart attack,” says first author Andrew Lim, MD, who conducted the work as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

Give the rest of that article a read, and have a thought filled night. Me? Well, I am just getting started…this is an open thread.


Job Number Truthers

I guess today is Tinfoil Friday.  Allen West and Jack Welch think the BLS is manipulating unemployment number in response to some Chicago Mafia move to make Obama and the economy look better.  Huhn?  I would think if that was possible they would’ve been doing it all along instead of just suddenly producing a better but still anemic result at the last moment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released an unexpectedly strong monthly jobs report on Friday, finding a dramatic drop in unemployment to 7.8 percent and revised the number of jobs added in July and August up from initial estimates. While for most Americans, the growing economy is good news, conservatives immediately expressed their skepticism in the jobs report’s credibility.

1) Minutes after the report was released, Jack Welch, who famously cooked General Electric’s accounting books when he was CEO, accused President Obama of manipulating the numbers to distract from his debate performance.

This is pretty weird. The jobs report was  straightforward this month.

The controversy, if it’s worth using that word, is over the unemployment rate, which dropped from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent. That’s three-tenths of one percent. That’s what all the fuss is about.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: The data was not, as Jack Welch suggested in a now-infamous tweet, manipulated. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is set up to ensure the White House has no ability to influence it. As labor economist Betsey Stevenson wrote, “anyone who thinks that political folks can manipulate the unemployment data are completely ignorant of how the BLS works and how the data are compiled.” Plus, if the White House somehow was manipulating the data, don’t you think they would have made the payroll number look a bit better than 114,000? No one would have batted an eye at 160,000.

The fact is that there’s not much that needs to be explained here. We’ve seen drops like this — and even drops bigger than this — before. Between July and August the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent — two-tenths of one percent. November-December of 2011 also saw a .2 percent drop. November-December of 2010 saw a .4 percent drop. This isn’t some incredible aberration. The fact that the unemployment rate broke under the psychologically important 8 percent line is making this number feel bigger to people than it really is.

What’s even odder is that Romney said the report wasn’t “realistic” and actually misstated the reasons for the change in numbers.

Mitt Romney challenged the significance of the drop in the unemployment rate today, arguing that the “real reality” is that the figure declined because “more and more people have just stopped looking for work.”

“There was a report that just came out this morning on job creation this last month,” said Romney at a rally in the battleground state of Virginia. “There were fewer new jobs created this month than last month. And the unemployment rate as you noted this year has come down very, very slowly, but it’s come down nonetheless.”

“The reason it’s come down this year is primarily due to the fact that more and more people have just stopped looking for work,” Romney said. “And if you just dropped out of the work force, if you just give up and say look I can’t go back to work I’m just going to stay home, if you just drop out all together why you’re not longer part of the employment statistics.”

“So it looks like unemployment is getting better, but the truth is, if the same share of people were participating in the workforce today as on the day the president got elected, our unemployment rate would be around 11 percent,” said Romney. “That’s the real reality of what’s happening out there.”

This morning’s jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the nation’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent, the first time it’s been below 8 percent in four years. September saw the addition of 114,000 jobs, according to the report, a decrease from the 142,000 that were added in August, and  statistic that Romney emphasized on the trail today.

Yes, random variation is quite suspicious and unrealistic.  Here’s the labor force numbers straight from the report. Romney told an audience the exact opposite had happened.  There is no way he actually read the report.  Well, that or he was lying again.

The civilian labor force rose by 418,000 to 155.1 million in September, while the labor force participation rate was little changed at 63.6 percent. (See table A-1

The best article I’ve seen today explaining the job situation and the Welch Tin Foil hat theory is here at The Atlantic.

A number of conservatives have suggested the 873,000 household figure is wildly implausible, if not an outright conspiracy to help Obama on the part of the BLS. This is nonsense. As Greg Ip of The Economist points out, the employer and household numbers often diverge over the short-term, but they mostly match up over the long-term. And they still do if we look at the past three months. The employer survey showed job gains of 181,000 in July, 141,000 in August and 114,00 in September, for an average gain of 146,000. The household survey showed job losses of 195,000 in July, 119,000 in August, and job gains of 873,000 in September, for an average gain of 186,000. If you can’t see the conspiracy there, well, you just might be mathematically literate.

Wow. Is this the silly season or what?