Monday Reads: Pork Puller Edition

Good Morning!

col-9991.1LOne of the most appalling things I’ve been witnessing the last few years is how costly it is for the taxpayers to fund Republican witch hunts, theocratic laws pandering to christianists that wind up being declared unconstitutional over and over again, lawsuits defending crooked Republican governors or prosecuting crooked Republican politicians, and then the tax breaks they immediately give to their donors and cronies that don’t do anything except cost everyone money and jobs.  So, welcome to socializing Republican graft, crime, and cronyism in the USA!

First, let’s see what NJ Taxpayers have to pay for Chris Christie’s defense in his bridge scandal.

New Jersey taxpayers are on the hook for more than $6.5 million to the law firm Gov. Chris Christie hired to represent his office in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

The state attorney general’s office released recent bills from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher on Friday.

The law firm represents Christie’s office in the state and federal investigations into last September’s lane closures. It published a 350-page report in March that found Christie and his top staffers were not involved in the lane closures ordered by a former Christie aide, apparently as political retribution.

The report has been criticized by some as a whitewash.

Gibson Dunn earlier this year agreed to reduce its rate from the original agreement of $650 per hour to $350.

Wisconsin is another state where the Governor has instituted every possible failed Republican economic policy offered up by the Koch Brothers.  Get a load of col-10443.1Lthese huge tax cuts that went to a business for being a job creator while they laid off 1900 people.  Ashley Furniture got a $6 million dollar tax cut for that lovely set of job creation.

The board overseeing the state’s flagship job-creation agency has quietly approved a $6 million tax credit for Ashley Furniture Industries with a condition allowing the company to eliminate half of its state workforce.

As approved by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board, the award would allow the Arcadia-based global furniture maker to move ahead with a $35 million expansion of its headquarters and keep 1,924 jobs in the state.

But it wouldn’t require Ashley to create any new jobs, instead granting the company license to lay off half of its current 3,848 Wisconsin-based workers in exchange for an enterprise zone tax credit, one of the most valuable and coveted state subsidies.

The board’s decision has not been made public because a contract with the company has not been finalized. But in a statement Friday, in response to questions from the State Journal, Ashley Furniture confirmed it is seeking state subsidies that include terms allowing for job reductions.

The company said it injected $394 million into the Wisconsin economy in 2013, including supporting 610 Wisconsin businesses.

“It is more expensive for Ashley to manufacture in Arcadia than it is to do so closer to its major markets,” the company said. “The loss of Ashley’s contributions to the regional economy of west-central Wisconsin would be catastrophic.”

WEDC spokesman Mark Maley said the agency doesn’t comment on pending or possible WEDC awards.

“Obviously, WEDC is very interested in working with one of the largest employers in northwestern Wisconsin to find ways to help ensure that the company can continue to flourish here in our state,” Maley said. “WEDC is committed to doing whatever it can to work with the company and preserve those jobs.”

Maley declined comment on whether WEDC had provided any other awards conditioned on retaining a percentage of jobs, as opposed to creating jobs.

2522042When Bobby Jindal isn’t busy trying to prove his pet laws aren’t really unconstitutional or campaigning for President, his appointees are busy ripping off the state by taking advantage of retiree early payoffs.  The deal is, however, they retire from one job, take a huge cash bonus, then get another job with another agency.  So far, we’ve had two of his top folks double dip and slice a bonus from us.  So, that’s one way to get away from Jindal’s hiring freeze and salary freeze and spending freeze on everything except his campaign travel. How can this be legal let alone moral?

On April 23 of that year, DPS Deputy Undersecretary Jill Boudreaux sent an email to all personnel informing them that the Department of Civil Service and the Louisiana State Police Commission had approved the retirement incentive as a “Layoff Avoidance Plan.”

In legal-speak, under the incentive eligible applicants would receive a payment of 50 percent of the savings realized by DPS for one year from the effective date of the employee’s retirement.

In simpler language, the incentive was simply 50 percent of the employee’s annual salary. If an employee making $50,000 per year, for example, was approved for the incentive, he or she would walk away with $25,000 in up-front payments, plus his or her regular retirement and the agency would save $25,000 over the course of the next year. The higher the salary, the higher the potential savings.

The program, offered to the first 20 DPS employees to sign up via an internet link on a specific date, was designed to save the state many times that amount over the long haul. If, for example, 20 employees, each making $50,000 a year, took advantage of the incentive, DPS theoretically would realize a savings of $500,000 the first year and $1 million per year thereafter.

That formula, repeated in multiple agencies, could produce a savings of several million—not that much in terms of a $25 billion state budget, but a savings nonetheless.

The policy did come with one major caveat from the Department of Civil Service, however. Agencies were cautioned not to circumvent the program through the state’s obscure retire-rehire policy whereby several administrative personnel, the most notable being former Secretary of Higher Education Sally Clausen, have “retired,” only to be “rehired” a day or so later in order to reap a monetary windfall.

“We strongly recommend that agencies exercise caution in re-hiring an employee who has received a retirement incentive payment within the same budget unit until it can be clearly demonstrated that the projected savings have been realized,” the Civil Service communique said.

And, to again quote our favorite redneck playwright from Denham on Amite, Billy Wayne Shakespeare from his greatest play, Hamlet Bob, “Aye, that’s the rub.” (often misquoted as “Therein lies the rub.”)

Basically, to realize a savings under the early retirement incentive payout, an agency would have had to wait at least a year before rehiring an employee who had retired under the program.

Boudreaux, by what many in DPS feel was more than mere happenstance, managed to be the first person to sign up on the date the internet link opened up for applications.

In Boudreaux’s case, her incentive payment was based on an annual salary of about $92,000 so her incentive payment was around $46,000. In addition, she was also entitled to payment of up to 300 hours of unused annual leave which came to another $13,000 or so for a total of about $59,000 in walk-around money.

Her retirement date was April 28 but the day before, on April 27, she double encumbered herself into the classified (Civil Service) Deputy Undersecretary position because another employee was promoted into her old position on April 26.

A double incumbency is when an employee is appointed to a position that is already occupied by an incumbent, in this case, Boudreaux’s successor. Double incumbencies are mostly used for smooth succession planning initiatives when the incumbent of a position (Boudreaux, in this case) is planning to retire, according to the Louisiana Department of Civil Service.

brown-pigHere’s an example of how much the state is paying for one bad law after another.  Jindal’s voucher experience is not only sending students to segregated and underperforming schools with no accountability, but attorneys are racking up fees trying to defend it.  Imagine spending this kind of money to have a court throw out these failed laws?

The price tag for defending Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education policies against legal challenges is growing.

The Department of Education is boosting its contracts for outside lawyers by $750,000, to represent the department in lawsuits against Jindal’s voucher program that uses tax dollars to send children to private schools.

A majority of members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education agreed Tuesday to the legal spending.

The education department’s contract with Washington-based law firm Cooper & Kirk is growing from $150,000 to $650,000. The agency’s contract with the Louisiana-based Faircloth Law Group – the law firm of Jindal’s former executive counsel, Jimmy Faircloth – is rising from $20,000 to as much as $270,000.

“I regret that there is this litigation,” said Superintendent of Education John White. But he added, “We have to defend our priorities in court.”

Lee Barrios, a retired St. Tammany Parish teacher and critic of the voucher program, told BESE that the legal expense was a waste of taxpayer money.

Lawsuits were filed by two teacher unions and the state’s school board association objecting to the voucher program’s financing and by the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the program’s compliance with federal desegregation orders.

The unions and school boards association won their lawsuit, with the Louisiana Supreme Court declaring the use of the public school formula to pay for vouchers unconstitutional. Jindal and lawmakers continue to fund vouchers, now outside of the public school formula.

The Justice Department lawsuit still is pending in federal court in New Orleans.

It’s unclear how much the education department has spent defending itself and the Jindal administration against lawsuits since the governor pushed through the Legislature a series of sweeping education law changes in 2012. The department didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to a request for a full tally of its legal costs.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office also has a separate contract with Faircloth’s law firm worth up to $410,000 to represent the state in lawsuits seeking to throw out Jindal’s education policies, including the governor’s revamp of teacher tenure law.

Here’s a 2012 Jezebel article outlining how much it’s costing red states to defend those horrible anti-abortion and birth control trap laws.  This is fiscal Pigs Driving, Toastingconservatism?  Perhaps the only thing the do nothing US House is doing at all is throwing millions of federal dollars into the witch hunt that is Benghazi.

The House could spend up to $3.3 million in taxpayer dollars over seven months on a special committee to investigate the Sep. 2011 attacks against the American diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, more than lawmakers have appropriated for committees dedicated to investigating ethics and helping American veterans over an entire 12 month period.

A ThinkProgress analysis of House spending on its 20 permanent committees from Jan. 3, 2013 to Jan. 3, 2014 finds that since Benghazi committee’s full-year equivalent budget would be an estimated $5,657,142, its investigation will cost more than the budgets of nine other House committees:

Committee on Rules: $2,857,408
Committee on Small Business: $2,992,688
Committee on Ethics: $3,020,459
Committee on Veterans’ Affairs: $3,048,546
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: $4,389,758
Committee on House Administration: $4,600,560
Committee on Agriculture: $5,036,187
Committee on the Budget: $5,138,824
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology: $5,282,755
House Benghazi Panel: $5,657,142
Committee on Natural Resources: $6,555,829
Committee on Armed Services: $6,563,535
Committee on Education and the Workforce: $6,952,763
Committee on Homeland Security: $7,033,588
Committee on the Judiciary: $7,077,016
Committee on Foreign Affairs: $7,388,112
Committee on Financial Services: $7,394,482
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: $8,182,307
Committee on Ways and Means: $8,423,411
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: $8,940,437
Committee on Energy and Commerce: $9,520,516

The seven House Republicans will receive a bigger share of the committee budget, $2.2 million, more than the five Democrats, who will see “just over $1 million.” Funding for the committee “comes from already-appropriated legislative branch funds” a GOP spokesperson told USA Today, and does not represent a new expenditure. The spokesperson also claimed that the $3.3 million figure represents “the high end estimate,” though the investigation is likely to bleed into 2015.

Both Louisiana and Sam Brownback’s Kansas are experiencing lower than average growth in their economies and their employment due to the bad policies they mACxgFB6dL8vFHL4ULviM9wenacted to keep donors like Club for Growth and the Kochs happy.  Brownback’s economic policies have been a complete disaster for the state.

On Friday, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest employment figures for all 50 states — the same ones the Brownback administration uses repeatedly for its “we’re getting better” press releases.

Overall, the number of private sector jobs added since 2011 in Kansas crept up to 55,100. However, that statistic loses a lot of shine once you factor in the 8,300 jobs lost in local and state government ranks since 2011. Those are people who may no longer have steady income to pay the rent, buy food, pay taxes and contribute to the Kansas economy.

Fact is, Kansas has actually gained only 46,800 total jobs since early 2011.

So how does that more realistic figure — which the Brownback team does not promote — compare to the rest of the country?

Using the federal agency’s data, The Star compiled percentages of seasonally adjusted, nonfarm total job growth for Kansas, its four bordering states, a few other Midwestern states, Texas (no income tax), New York (extremely high income tax), and the U.S. average from January 2011 through June 30, 2014.

Texas, 10.5 percent

Colorado, 9.2 percent

Oklahoma, 6.5 percent

U.S. average, 6.1 percent

Iowa, 5.0 percent

New York, 4.8 percent

Missouri, 4.1 percent

Nebraska, 3.8 percent

Kansas, 3.5 percent

Arkansas, 1.9 percent

Kansas has had one of the nation’s poorest rates of employment growth during Brownback’s time in office, including since the first tax cuts took effect in 2013.

It just amazes me that Republicans can cobble together enough voters anywhere who don’t see these porkfests and poor economies as a sham.  The only voters they are holding together are the number of whacko churches and businesses that are benefiting from being the sole enterprises to get government dollars these days.  The other seems to be very frightened white people who believe every bad thing they’ve ever been sold on any kind of minority. It seems if you want the Republicans to throw money at you, you should start and equip a war, spout some crazy religious belief and sell votes for subsidies, or be a lawyer that has to sort it all out.

What a shit load of  pricey #FAIL.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Lysol Disinfectant…Still “the girl he married”

offending_lysol4Good Morning

Oh, I am really trying to stay awake here, but just not making it work at all!  This sinus crap has its grip on me dammit. So…this is going to be a link dump…with a huge image gallery to boot!

It looks like there is some wingnut asshole planning a revolution? I guess you can call it that, I don’t know what else to call this shit: Operation American Spring promises to drive Obama from office this Friday

Self-styled revolutionary patriots plan to converge on Washington, D.C., this week to drive President Barack Obama and disloyal lawmakers out of office.

“We are calling for the removal of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, and Eric Holder as a start toward constitutional restoration,” said retired Army Col. Harry Riley, leader of the Operation American Spring protest group. “They have all abandoned the US Constitution, are unworthy to be retained in a position that calls for servant status.”

Lysol AdOperation American Spring aims to pressure those lawmakers who remain – or are replaced by officials of their own choosing – “to sponsor and pass very Constitutionally crafted State legislation to dissolve the size, powers, scope and spending of the U.S. Government by 2/3rds.”

Yes, that is no mere coincidence that my first link of this morning’s news reads is about a douchebag… and all the images you will see on the thread today deal with douches. I am very literal when I feel like shit.

The activists say they expect 10 million to 30 million like-minded Americans to join them Friday in the nation’s capital for a rally patterned after Occupy Wall Street and “Arab Spring” protests.

They also plan a sister event the same day in Bunkerville, Nevada, where militia groups have gathered to support scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy in his dispute with the federal government.

Organizers also anticipate “incremental nullification” by state legislatures of “all withholding taxes, employment taxes, employer taxes, and income taxes.”

“This will effectively DOUBLE the size of ALL American Middle Class family weekly paychecks and cause our local city and town economies to boom,” the group promises on its Facebook page.

Tea Party Nation promoted Operation American Spring last month in an email to its members from founder Judson Phillips, who hinted at a violent response from the federal government, and sent invitations in January to the protest.

“There is no way a militia with small arms can defeat the kind of arms the U.S. government can bring to bear on such a battle, but one has to admire the courage of those people who showed up to confront them,” Phillips said, comparing the protest to the American Revolution. “That’s quintessentially American!”

000kpcseGawd, can’t these assholes be arrested for treason or something? (I know that they can’t.)  You really need to read the rest of that Raw Story article, it is beyond belief…well, no it is not. We all know what these batshit crazy bastards are capable of…Case in point: Ron Paul fanboys think those Sandy Hook truthers are on to something, so hmmm…

After the post went about about the dick who stole the sign from Grace McDonnell playground and then called the girl’s mother to tell her her daughter never existed, I was alerted to a little somethin’ somethin’ at The Daily Paul.

What is the Daily Paul, you might rightly ask?  It’s just a hub for Ron Paul lovin’ and also ‘Peace … Gold …Love,’ just like Jesus and Ron Paul preached when they were talkin’ ’bout rEVOLution.  Over at the Daily Paul you can get your fill of guvmint being wrong stuff, sovereign citizen updates, and some truly sweet Ron Paul swag, ownership of which will come in handy if you wear it to your interview for an ambassadorship in Rand Paul Administration.

Providing, of course, President Rand doesn’t cut off wasteful communication with foreigners because they are not Americans.

And you can also find out that the whole Sandy Hook massacre thing that left 27 people dead seems a little hinky and is probably not true and here is just the guy to ‘splain it all to you from this man-castle in Florida.

Meet Wolfgang W. Halbig.

This dude is not your average douche of the truthers…he has credentials. The former law enforcement kind…and he has been “inside” the public school system…as the Raw Story article continues,

He’s worked in public education as a teacher, dean, assistant principal, principal of an alternative school and as the Director for School Safety and Security for the Seminole County Public Schools, a school district of approximately 65,000 students.”

He has also been a Florida State Trooper, which gives him law enforcement cred, because Florida is the crazy crime center of the universe.

[…]

6a011168ca5559970c014e86b0b15c970d-800wiWhat set Wolfgang’s conspiracy gears ratcheting up into overdrive was a couple of Florida homicide detectives stopping by his home and telling him to quit sending harassing letters to Connecticut officials and school board members and even the Sandy Hook nurse who hid in a closet with some kids. You can read a few of his increasingly shrill letters here.

My favorite is to Sandy Hook Elementary nurse

To: Sally Cox <xxxx@newtown.k12.ct.us>
Subject: SHS Parent Contact

I am a trainer for the US Justice Department COPS IN SCHOOL PROGRAM.

Are you a registered Nurse?

Why in the closet for four hours?

Why close your eyes when you have seen blood before you are a nurse?

Wolfgang W halbig

Seems like a reasonable request of a woman who was on-site when a crazy person strolled around and murdered twenty elementary children and six of her friends and colleagues. WHY SO QUIET LADY! WHAT ARE YOU HIDING!??!

6a011168ca5559970c014e89bc7cd1970dAnd lest you think that Halbig is just a lone crank in the wilderness, he set up an account at gofundme to raise money to complete his ‘investigation,’ because he needs the money to hire lawyers to depose employees of the school and the officials who investigated the massacre and, hey, maybe a few of those fake grieving parents.

Who wouldn’t want to relive those days to satisfy the curiosity of some guy who lives a thousand miles away?

Total raised so far: $20,370.00, with the page shared 1.5K times on Facebook.

What the fuck is it with these people?

423410746_715b406ed7They are so willing to donate money to the cause of shit like this, but will not consider a slight tax for assistance to feed hungry kids in their own states?

Go and read the whole article, I picked through it, there is more audacity to shake your head at…also Alex Jones.

Since I am on the douchebag crazy kick now: Tea Party Scores Wins in Tuesday primaries | Washington Watch | McClatchy DC

That should make you cringe.

What about this for a turn: Not Crazy Enough | BobCesca.com | News and Politics Blog and Podcast | We Cover the World

Why did Charleston Republicans censure South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham? Was he caught wearing diapers with a hooker?

No, of course not. Republicans don’t censure for that anyway. Lindsey Graham was censured for not being crazy enough.

37387729_0109ba28d2_o_edited-1The censure document against Graham included more than two dozen points, such as Graham supporting President Barack Obama’s nominees for the Supreme Court and also working with Democrats, according to the Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina.

The vote to censure Graham was 39-32. It was conducted by secret ballot.

Graham is charged with committing the most unholy of sins; working with Democrats for a very brief moment before going back to bleating about Benghazi.

Seriously, I feel like we beat a dead horse here. It just amazes me, these right wingers are like the EverReady bunny…they never quit.

Now that it is prom season, Teen Girl Kicked Out Of Prom So Her Dress Wouldn’t Lead Boys To ‘Think Impure Thoughts’ | ThinkProgress

The dress was not bad either, I have seen way worse:

clare-e1400003181333-638x711A 17-year-old high schooler from Virginia says she was kicked out of her prom because the parental chaperones were worried she was inspiring “impure thoughts” among the boys in attendance. Even though her dress adhered to the “fingertip length” dress code requirement, she was asked to leave.

Clare recounts her experience in a guest post on her sister’s blog. After Clare and her boyfriend bought tickets to the Richmond Homeschool Prom, she bought a new dress that she made sure was long enough according to the event’s “fingertip length” rule. But Clare is 5’9″, and even though the hem of her dress was within the guidelines, she says her long legs led some chaperones to assume she was breaking the dress code.

After Clare and her friends hung out a little bit on the dance floor — she writes that they weren’t even dancing, just “swaying with the music and talking and enjoying ourselves” — Clare was pulled away by one of the dance’s organizers, who told her that some of the fathers chaperoning the event had complained about her. They reportedly said that her dancing was too “provocative” and she was going to “cause the young men at the prom to think impure thoughts.”

When Clare protested that she wasn’t even doing anything, she was told that her dress was too short and she needed to leave. She says she demanded to speak with the woman who was in charge of the prom, but the other chaperones refused to let her.

article-0-14AA3A80000005DC-298_306x688“I was told that the way I dressed and moved my body was causing men to think inappropriately about me, implying that it is my responsibility to control other people’s thoughts and drives,” Clare writes in her blog post. “I’m not responsible for some perverted 45 year old dad lusting after me because I have a sparkly dress on and a big ass for a teenager. And if you think I am, then maybe you’re part of the problem.”

The so-called “fingertip rule” is a common dress code requirement in public schools to monitor girls’ hemlines. But Clare isn’t the first student to complain that it doesn’t accurately reflect different body types. Last week, an eighth grader in California wrote a letter to the editor of the Merced Sun-Star arguing that it’s a bad way for schools to regulate shorts. “Some girls have longer arms, almost to their knees, and others have arms that end about quarter of the way down their thighs. How is enforcing this rule equal and fair if fingertip-length varies?” she pointed out.

douche37I love what she wrote about her ass…and about the men being part of the problem. Kudos to you Clare!

And one thing honey, your ass is nowhere near big babe!

In a surprising ruling: Texas judges halt execution over mental health appeal | Al Jazeera America

Go figure, I was certain that execution was a go for launch.

The US is on a special list, according to the UN: GENEVA: U.S. alone among Western countries on lack of paid maternity leave, UN finds | Now that, is not a surprise.

So, big news in underwater archeology:Exclusive: Found after 500 years, the wreck of Christopher Columbus’s flagship the Santa Maria – Archaeology – Science – The Independent

More than five centuries after Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked in the Caribbean, archaeological investigators think they may have discovered the vessel’s long-lost remains – lying at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti. It’s likely to be one of the world’s most important underwater archaeological discoveries.

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” said the leader of a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site, one of America’s top underwater archaeological investigators, Barry Clifford.

june-13-1941-lysol“The Haitian government has been extremely helpful – and we now need to continue working  with them to carry out a detailed archaeological excavation of the wreck,” he said.

If that does not tickle your fancy, perhaps this will? Video: Dumbo octopus | Earth | EarthSky

If you have never thought of an octopus as being cute, here’s your chance.

This dumbo octopus was spotted during the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2014 expedition and identified as the highlight of the cruise by many of the scientists and viewers alike.

Scientists say it displays a body posture that has never before been observed in a cirrate octopod (Cirrata is one of the two main divisions of octopuses.) And non-scientists say it displays a cuteness never before observed in an octopus!

And, if a dumbo swimming octopus doesn’t do it for ya, maybe this? Most detailed view yet of Milky Way’s magnetic fields | Science Wire | EarthSky

The Milky Way's magnetic field as seen by ESA's Planck telescope. Image redit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration

A new map of the entire sky offers a remarkably detailed picture of the magnetic fields that shape the Milky Way, including field lines that run parallel to the plane of the galaxy and great loops and whorls associated with nearby clouds of gas and dust.

Researchers created the map using data from the Planck Space Telescope, which since 2009 has charted the light from the universe shortly after the Big Bang known as the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

But Planck also observes light from much closer than the farthest reaches of time and space. With an instrument called the high frequency instrument (HFI), Planck detects light from microscopic dust particles within our galaxy. The density of the dust is incredibly low; a volume of space equal to a large sports stadium or arena would contain one grain.

But then, you may be the sentimental type, so something like twins being born holding hands is syrupy enough for you: These Rare Newborn “Mono Mono” Twins Held Hands Just After Birth

These Rare Newborn "Mono Mono" Twins Held Hands Just After Birth

Identical twins are rare, but monoamniotic identical twins, who share the same amniotic sac and placenta, are even more so—they make up just 1% of all twin pregnancies. That’s why everyone is so excited that a lucky Ohio mom gave birth Friday to a pair of “mono mono” twins who clutched each other’s hands as doctors held them up.

“They’re already best friends,” said Akron, Ohio, mom Sarah Thistlethwaite, 32.

offending_lysol3-2-e1389382456610Then again, nothing makes me feel feisty like reading about old people in wheelchairs and walkers kicking ass and taking names.

Silver Patrol: Crime-fighting seniors on the beat look out for one another | Al Jazeera America

ean Smoak, a 70-year-old great-grandmother, made her way across the parking lot of her senior housing complex on a recent Friday night with her cane in hand, looking out for drug dealers and prostitutes.

The dealers, she said, cruise down Black Rock Avenue from Park Avenue in their “fancy sports cars” and stop by the lot’s entrance, where they reach out their car windows and exchange drugs for cash.

Smoak, a retired health care worker, said she’s fed up. She’s been jotting down license plate numbers, which the leader of her senior crime watch group plans to pass along to police.

“When they come and do that, other dangerous things can happen,” she said of the dealers. “The person that is waiting for it can come and steal money from people coming into the building.”

Smoak has also been taking notes on the dates and times she sees prostitutes on the corner, suspecting that some stray from a nearby homeless shelter.

“They come out with their Daisy Dukes and short skirts and tights,” she said, “and they’re standing there like they’re talking to themselves and they wait for a car to drive by.”

Smoak is one of 10 members on the Silver Crime Patrol at the Eleanor, a 63-unit, low-income senior housing complex on Park Avenue on Bridgeport’s west end.

See, birth and old age…a cycle of life…if you will.  Pictures at the link, you won’t be disappointed.

On another fight, this one for life too: Henna Crowns Help Cancer Patients Bring Beauty to a Difficult Time

Henna Crowns Help Cancer Patients Bring Beauty to a Difficult Time

Henna Heals, which boasts 150 henna artists around the world, offers a substitute to the traditional hats, scarves, and wigs that many use (my mother swore by the entire line of Raquel Welch wigs when she lost her hair) to cover their heads. Artists create intricate temporary crowns on the bare head with homemade henna paste. The designs last for about two weeks and, according to the organization’s founder, Frances Darwin, are both empowering and healing:

This is all about them reclaiming a part of themselves that would normally be perceived as ill or damaged or not nice to look at and making it more feminine and beautiful.

Nice.

And finally, an explanation of the douche advertisements: Early contraceptive ads, for your viewing pleasure

.Early contraceptive ads, for your viewing pleasure…Lysol advertising in the 1920s and 30s – specifically, on the use of Lysol as a contraceptive douching agent. Needless to say, it didn’t work so well, and lots of women ended up with vaginal burns and lots of other medical problems from applying Lysol to their lady bits.Early contraceptive ads, for your viewing pleasure

 

 

 

1

ETA: these are 4 of the 8 ads I looked at personally, from 1926-1934, but Lysol contraceptive advertising continued through the 1950s.

 

 

 

 

More vintage advertisements I found myself below, hope you enjoy them.

If you have any links you want to share please do, and….

Y’all have a “Lysol” clean day!


Wednesday: What if they were only secondary players…what if it was all stagelike.

622c77a3b5b91289034f0c4e2016a1ceWhat if it was all just various scenes from old plays…good plays. I mean isn’t it only kabuki, smoke in mirrors (or is it smoke and mirrors.)

What if the players were switched out, and the real life newsmakers found themselves as characters in the theater’s best productions.

Hey yeah.

Good Morning!

It has been a long night.

So l will just tread through this thread and put some links up and connect them to plays as we go…

Here Are All the People Who Think Putin Has Straight Up Lost His Mind | Mediaite

Then there’s the growing theory that Putin has simply gone round the bend. We might as well call this The Merkel Theory, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel first gave voice to it during a phone call with President Barack Obama last weekend. Via the New York Times:

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power expanded this diagnosis to Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin during an emergency meeting of the UN security council on Monday, accusing Churkin and his boss of chasing at shadows:

“So many of the assertions made this afternoon are without basis in reality. Is Russia justified in invading parts of Ukraine? The answer of course is no. Russian mobilisation is a response to an imaginary threat.”

Geez, that is a lot of powerful people there…

And on Tuesday morning, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright re-upped Merkel’s theory to CNN’s New Day:

“I agree with what Angela Merkel said after she spoke to him, which is that he is in another world. I think that either he does not have the facts, he is being fed propaganda, or his own propaganda. It doesn’t make any sense. There are no calls for assistance…There is not this kind of a crisis in terms of the way that the Russian-speaking people are in some way being harmed. So this is all made up. And I think it’s part of a much longer term plan that Putin has had which is to try to recreate some form of relationship between Ukraine and Moscow. I think that is the tragedy that’s going on. Putin is in many ways delusional about this.”

Shit…what I think this brings to mind is Putin sitting in the chair during the Caine Mutiny Court Martial, shirtless of course.

Queeg is a psychopath in crisis and commanded the ship and its crew to destruction. Naval tradition is against him, but testimony eventually reveals a devastating picture of Queeg’s mental disintegration.

All the pundits talk back and forth wondering if Crimea is Putin’s “The Strawberry Incident.”

Then you have the rest of the war mongers pushing to convict…Twelve Angry Men. (Fox News and basically every body else.) But there isn’t a Juror Number 8 to turn the tide away from sending us into WW3/ColdWar2.

On to Ted Cruz steering Texas Republicans further right in primary fights | Reuters

The longest shadow in Tuesday’s primary election in Texas is being cast by a politician not even in the running, freshman U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican.

Cruz, just two years into his first major elected office, has arguably become the most loved politician among Republicans in Texas, an incubator for national conservative policies where the party dominates the statehouse and has not lost a statewide race since 1994.

A host of Republican hopefuls are trying to ride his coattails, turning campaigns into raucous affairs about how much they despise Obamacare, embrace the constitutional right to bear arms and see a need to raise alarms about illegal immigration.

Cruz has turned an already right-leaning Texas Republican Party even further to the right, analysts said.

“Cruz scared the daylights out of center and center-right conservatives to the extent that they do not feel comfortable enough to run on their true positions and feel compelled to cater to the most conservative elements of the Texas Republican primary electorate,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.

Oh, what horrors this man has brought to our nation. The Failure to Zig Zag, is the play I bring to you…

Neither the captain of the USS Indianapolis, McVay, nor his crew were told the cargo they had delivered in Tinian contained the essential components for the atomic bomb to be dropped in Hiroshima. Having completed its top secret mission, the ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine. The crew languished in shark infested waters while Naval authorities logged the ship safe in port. The navy’s coverup and attempt to make McVay a scapegoat lead to a national scandal.

I present…Cruz as the sharks…in that scenario.

Maybe Boehner and the rest of the GOP are the naval authorities who are allowing the crew (voters) to be fed to the shark(s) Tea Party basturds?

(Who am I kidding they all are the sharks.)

Let’s switch gears to another topic: Angry people ‘risking heart attacks’

And another play where an angry man has a heart attack…Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys

Hey, you want a couple of Sunshine Boys? An Odd Couple? (Bet you can guess who is the neat one.)

Yes…according to Senator Lindsey Graham: Putin invaded Ukraine because (wait for it) Benghazi!

Here’s Graham via Twitter yesterday:

graham-benghazi-1st

Yes, we know why your eyes roll.  But back to the matter at hand, Graham still left the matter somewhat vague, until today:

graham-benghazi-2nd

Benghazi!

Then some more three hours ago:

graham-benghazi-3rd

Hell, Benghazi? That subject has been: Done to Death

As for the Lady’s other partner: McCain’s Mind-Boggling Hypocrisy on Crimea at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference | Informed Comment

They both are like a couple of salesmen from Glengarry Glen Ross, who will not give up pushing their crap to the American public.

I’m going to move faster now, it is again one of those all-niter post writing marathons and I have to make the kids lunches soon. Ugh.

Relax Everybody, Nobody Is A ‘2016 Frontrunner’ Yet

…this past weekend was a looney-tune time for Washington’s professional 2016 Speculasturbators. Did you know that we already have “frontrunners” for 2016? As in more than one?

See that link for the tweets…the play I am connecting to this? And Then There Were None

Y’all hear that George P. Bush Begins Political Career With Win – ABC News

George P. Bush took the first step toward continuing his family’s political dynasty Tuesday, shaking off an under-funded primary challenger and securing the Republican nomination for the little-known but powerful post of Texas land commissioner.

The 37-year-old Fort Worth attorney is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, nephew of former President and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and son of ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is frequently mentioned as a possible GOP White House hopeful in 2016.

He’s also a Spanish speaker whose mother Columba was born in Mexico and who Republican leaders statewide long have toasted as key to wooing voters among Texas’ booming Hispanic population.

“We don’t have to change our conservative principles to win, we just need to change our tactics,” said Bush, who spoke English and Spanish to the crowd at his victory party at a Fort Worth Mexican restaurant.

For some reason, The Little Foxes is what came to mind:

The Little Foxes is a 1939 play by Lillian Hellman. Its title comes from Chapter 2, Verse 15 in the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible, which reads, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Set in a small town in Alabama in 1900, it focuses on the struggle for control of the family business.

You know this one, Barbara Bush as Regina? Oh yes…

Edward Snowden set for video ‘appearance’ at South By Southwest festival | The Raw Story

I think some make Snowden out to be: An Enemy of the People

But I sometimes can’t help think he is a The Harder They Fall character…an idiot asshole used by other more connected powerful assholes, who make money off him.. then leave him with nothing in a foreign country unable to speak. (Don’t get me wrong, I feel no pity for Snowden what so ever!)

The next play is here for the title only: Smelling a Rat

and it follows the next three links…

Rand Paul is Running for President | BobCesca.com

How Steve Stockman Pioneered the Art of Not Campaigning | Mother Jones

Good Riddance to Steve Stockman, the Grifter Congressman Who Ran for Senate – The Daily Beast

On to the ladies…

Palin: Obama ‘Wears Mom Jeans’ and ‘Equivocates’ on Russia to the play: Edith Can Shoot Things And Hit Them (Title only)

Bachmann: American Jews ‘Sold Out Israel’ To Help Obama; Bible Predicts US Will Turn Against Israel In End Times | Right Wing Watch relates to the play: Psycho Beach Party

Imagine ‘Gidget’ crossed with ‘The Three Faces of Eve’ and ‘Mommie Dearest’.

Chicklet Forrest, a teenage tomboy, desperately wants to be part of the surf crowd on Malibu Beach in 1962. One thing getting in her way is her unfortunate tendency towards split personalities. Among them is a black check out girl, an elderly radio talk show hostess, a male model named Steve and the accounting firm of Edelman and Edelman. Her most dangerous alter ego is a sexually voracious vixen named Ann Bowman who has nothing less than world domination on her mind.

This link was interesting, South Koreans View Kim Jong-Un More Favorably Than Shinzo Abe – Business Insider

But the plays here for Kim Jong-Un:

Bad Seed- Rhoda…can you see Kim Jong-Un in a little dress, white patent leather mary jane shoes and braids?

Then you can take Kim’s nukes, A Rocket In His Pocket. As for the two family members that met with death…Reserve Two for Murder  or Appointment With Death .

In Georgia, remember that work program Obama liked so much? Disabled Georgians waiting months for job training | AccessNorthGa

Budget and staffing issues have left unemployed and disabled Georgians looking for job training waiting months for help from a state agency tasked with providing vocational assistance.

After the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency was carved out of the state Department of Labor two years ago, lawmakers reduced its funding, which prompted the federal government to do the same.

GVRA Director Greg Schmieg told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/1knRW8o ) that he’s aware of case backlogs and is disappointed with the wait times clients are faced with.

Schmieg said the state isn’t providing enough funding for the agency to get the maximum amount of federal money. He says the federal government spends about $4 on the program for every $1 the state does.

I wonder who is running that Georgia program? Will Stockdale and Ben Whitledge in No Time for Sergeants (Remember both were from Georgia.)

Almost done.

One in Five US Soldiers Had Mental Illness Before Joining Army , and this is not meant as much of a joke, but maybe irony? For the play I thought of, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Finally: The Seven Most Common Lies About Abortion | Politics News | Rolling Stone

Chances are, you know someone who has had an abortion. Statistically, it’s a near-certainty: In the U.S., one in three women will have an abortion by the age of 45. But despite how incredibly common abortion is, it remains mired in stigma and misinformation. Much of what we may think we know about this subject is actually outright lies told by abortion opponents to dissuade women out of seeking safe and legal abortion care.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), which are fake clinics run by opponents of abortion, are well-known for lying to clients in order to convince them not to seek abortion care. But the lies told within the walls of CPCs aren’t just contained there; they are part and parcel of the anti-abortion movement in the U.S. For a movement that so fervently claims that “truth is on our side,” they seem perfectly willing to proliferate blatant lies about abortion. Here are a select few of the most common and pervasive of those lies.

Without a doubt, this last link connects with the play Gaslight…those GOP PLUB assholes gaslighting women who are vulnerable…

Gas Light (known in the USA as Angel Street) is a 1938 play by the British dramatist Patrick Hamilton. The play (and its film adaptations) gave rise to the term gaslighting with the meaning “a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making him/her doubt his/her own memory and perception”. Although it was never explicitly confirmed, many critics and scholars see the play and its adaptations as subtle retellings of the Bluebeard folk tale.

After all this I am off to get the kids up and out the door for school. I hope there are no typos or other mistakes.

Enjoy your day, and drop a thought or two or three in the comments below!


Wednesday Reads: Mambo Italiano Muthafukkerz…

1091f45df98358d48611af8ac49be2dbGood Morning

Well, another storm is hitting here in Banjoville. The weather people are saying we should get a total of 6 to 12 inches of snow when it is all said and done.

Down south things are a lot worse…if you have not seen the big headlines over at Huffington Post or Drudge, take a look at this:

Via Drudge

HISTORIC ICE STORM UNFOLDS IN SOUTH...
GEORGIA WARNED: 'CATASTROPHIC'...
SEEN FROM SPACE...
Hundreds of flights cancelled...
Roads deserted...
Panicked Shoppers Fight Over Food...
Nor'easter Could Be 'Biggest Of Season'...
'Snow Rage' Afflicts Storm-Weary Locals...

And HuffPo

SOUTH BRACES FOR ‘CATASTROPHIC’ STORM

Deadly ice and snow storm bears down on U.S. South | Reuters

The storm could be “a catastrophic event” of “historical proportions,” the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City, Georgia, said of the latest blast of wintry weather to hit the region.232ee103789d0f5b43c9f78b0272a458

Conditions were expected to worsen overnight, with up to an inch of ice predicted in parts of Georgia and central South Carolina.

Two to 6 inches of snow fell in north Georgia on Tuesday, with another 5 to 9 inches expected by Thursday morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Darbe.

But Darbe said ice was the bigger worry, with a quarter to three-quarters of an inch expected in the area that includes metropolitan Atlanta.

[…]

Officials were quick to make plans for dealing with the weather after being criticized for inadequate preparation before a storm two weeks ago. That storm paralyzed Atlanta area roads and forced more than 11,000 students in Alabama to spend the night at their schools.

Oh you bet your ass they were ready this time…

0211 Luckovich cartoon: Drift away | Mike Luckovich

021114-toon-luckovich-ed

In other news, House Approves Higher Debt Limit Without Condition – NYTimes.com

f827bc9e35771965e33b76c555d00cdcEnding three years of brinkmanship in which the threat of a devastating default on the nation’s debt was used to wring conservative concessions from President Obama, the House on Tuesday voted to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015, without any conditions.

The vote — 221 to 201 — relied almost entirely on Democrats in the Republican-controlled House to carry the measure and represented the first debt ceiling increase since 2009 that was not attached to other legislation. Only 28 Republicans voted yes, and only two Democrats voted no.

I guess you could say hell froze over?

2440946b7e4be9ef6ce9a7a6cd0d3a66Simply by holding the vote, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio effectively ended a three-year Tea Party-inspired era of budget showdowns that had raised the threat of default and government shutdowns, rattled economic confidence and brought serious scrutiny from other nations questioning Washington’s ability to govern. In the process, though, Mr. Boehner also set off a series of reprisals from fellow Republican congressmen and outside groups that showcased the party’s deep internal divisions.

“He gave the president exactly what he wanted, which is exactly what the Republican Party said we did not want,” said a Republican representative, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who last year unsuccessfully tried to rally enough support to derail Mr. Boehner’s re-election as speaker. “It’s going to really demoralize the base.”

e6cca4e1507cba937018309733ea71a1The NYT article goes on to say it was a victory for the President and the Dems…but considering the shit we have dealt with the last few years, and those poor people who will be dealing with lower food stamp funds, how can that be a victory?

Meanwhile in West Virginia, another spill is causing the citizens grief: ‘Significant’ slurry spill blackens Kanawha creek

More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry poured into an eastern Kanawha County stream Tuesday in what officials were calling a “significant spill” from a Patriot Coal processing facility.

Emergency officials and environmental inspectors said roughly six miles of Fields Creek had been blackened and that a smaller amount of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.

83a0b790e2e248e98e6d1edde44bf60a“This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River,” said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state Department of Environmental Protection. “This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill.”

“When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out.”

That is disgusting. I don’t think the people of West Virginia will ever be able to drink the water again.

For a little laugh, here is my favorite actor of today…I know the reason for the video is not funny, it is disgusting, but of all the other “black actors doing commercials” it is good to see Sammy call the asshole out:

Samuel Jackson goes nuclear on reporter for confusing him with Laurence Fishburne – Salon.com

Local TV stations have a reputation for goofy unprofessionalism and quirky hiccups.  This segment at KTLA in Los Angeles is something so much worse. Veteran entertainment reporter Sam Rubin begins his interview by asking about Jackson’s Super Bowl commercial, and things get real ugly real quick.

Samuel Jackson goes nuclear on reporter for confusing him with Laurence Fishburne

“What Super Bowl commercial?” responds a flabbergasted Jackson.  ”See, you’re as crazy as the people on Twitter. I’m not Laurence Fishburne!” (Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus in “The Matrix” for a Kia spot.) “We don’t all look alike!”

He then goes on to list other black actors in commercials, who he is not.

8c717a1dd36b6aae4951ef50a11320b6Of course, the news reporter is not the only one who was tacky as hell, as you can “hear” from the video at the link:

Just as uncomfortable as Rubin’s attempts to brush off the blunder by saying, “Really my big mistake … let’t talk about ‘Robocop,’” are the hoots and howls coming from Rubin’s peers who clearly don’t get how terribly offensive this “mistake” is.  Rubin later apologized and claimed he was referring to a commercial for Jackson’s upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”  Regardless, the incident (and Jackson’s blunt response) is a reminder of Hollywood’s serious race problem that was starkly evident at the Golden Globes.

You can see the look on Jackson’s face at the end, it really does show how tired he is of all the shit.

I noticed yesterday y’all were talking in the comments about books you were reading, I just started to read this one about cuss words as discussed in this link here:  Here’s the first recorded instance of the F-word in Englishec888f05da4ae0857ec3302f256c8421

And it’s a monk expressing his displeasure at an abbot. In the margins of a guide to moral conduct. Because of course.

Technically, “fuck” appeared two times before this. In 1500, it was used in a satirical poem to describe some friars. In that case, nothing like “fuck” was actually written out. Instead, the word was hidden in a code. And in 1513, it appeared in a Scottish poem as “fukkit.”

Here's the first recorded instance of the F-word in English

But for English’s first use, we’ve got a dissatisfied 1528 monk. He’s written “O D fuckin abbot.” Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, says this “fuck” could be either literal or metaphorical:

a35537fa19bb5c218d174c664d71b9a6It is difficult to know whether the annotator intended “fucking” to mean “having sex,” as in “that guy is doing too much fucking for someone who is supposed to be celibate,” or whether he used it as an intensifier, to convey his extreme dismay; if the latter, it anticipates the first recorded use by more than three hundred years. Either is possible, really—John Burton, the abbot in question, was a man of questionable monastic morals.

So, either this monk was recording his abbot’s sex life or he was the first person to be so angry that only “fuck” could convey it’s scope.

Did you all see the big joint news out of New York and Italy?  I’ve got a few articles on this mass arrest from both Italian and US sources:

1cdfa6e0951abf54ce7b61e71e1a944dNdrangheta ‘snatching U.S. Cosa Nostra drug trade’ – GazzettaDelSud

Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia, once a poor relation of the Sicilian Mafia, has grown in heft and reach thanks to its dominance of the European cocaine trade and is even muscling in on the drug operations of one of Cosa Nostra’s historic five families in New York, investigators said after a major Italian-FBI bust Tuesday. “This was an important operation because we proved that the power of the ‘Ndrangheta now far surpasses that of Cosa Nostra”, Reggio Calabria prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told ANSA from New York after 26 arrests in a probe into a new drug route from Guyana to Europe via the ‘Ndrangheta-infiltrated Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro.

According to the Gazzetta Del Sud, this ‘Ndrangheta Mafia even used Mexican cartels in a joint venture in their set-up to traffic cocaine.

32d48f11ed5ab3975b8c39d2b2614db6As for the US side of the take down: Arrests in New York and Italy Thwart Mob Drug Scheme, Authorities Say – NYTimes.com

“They put a hundred grams, two hundred grams in each fish” and “it takes a day to defrost and then it takes a day to take out,” Franco Lupoi said, according to prosecutors who say the conversation was recorded by investigators.

On Tuesday, federal authorities announced the arrests of Mr. Lupoi, the owner of a Brooklyn bakery, and six other people in New York on charges that included narcotics trafficking and money laundering and that were the culmination of a two-year undercover F.B.I. investigation. In Italy, the police announced the arrests of 17 people in connection with the investigation.

8e67a16549cf6808c98b6d9a565c7a8bWhat made the case remarkable were not the charges but the defendants’ links to the ’Ndrangheta, the organized crime group based in Calabria that is notorious for kidnappings and for its success importing cocaine into Europe.

More from the LA Times: Italian-U.S. Mafia drug trafficking ring busted, FBI and police say

The FBI and Italian police said they had broken up a global heroin and cocaine trafficking ring Tuesday after stumbling upon a fledgling alliance between a Calabrian Mafia group and associates of New York’s notorious

Twenty-four arrests were made in Italy and the United States after a two-year operation that relied on both wiretaps and an American undercover agent named by investigators as “Jimmy,” who is said to have infiltrated the Gambinos and fooled Italians into believing he was a heroin dealer. Seventeen of the arrests were made in Italy and seven in the United States.

8c0b6ff431fc394939ef5694f77cf6c4Those arrested in the U.S. were arraigned before a federal magistrate in Brooklyn. The men, some of them suspected of being members of the Gambino and Bonanno “families,” were listed as using various street aliases such as “Lello,” “Freddy,” and “Charlie Pepsi.”

I am sure more information will be coming forward, but…

The coordinated sting halted the planned shipment of more than a ton of cocaine from Latin America to Italy in liquid form, smuggled with help from Mexican cartels in coconut and pineapple cans, law enforcement officials said. They put the street value at $1 billion.

One more link…on the additional discovery of ‘Ndrangheta connections with the Far East heroin trade: Gambino, Bonanno family members held in joint US-Italy anti-mafia raid – CNN.com

Raffaele Grassi, head of the Criminal Unit of the Italian State Police, told reporters that the operation demonstrated 8729a9e910772d09d68639720e66b252that the “‘Ndrangheta is one of the strongest organizations in the world in illegal drug trade.”

He cited its sophisticated network of contacts and its ability to adapt and find new markets, including “expanding beyond Italian borders.”

Grassi said that historically, the Gambino family had had ties with the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra. But their involvement in the illegal traffic of heroin, known as the “Pizza Connection,” was dismantled or severely curtailed in the 1980s, he said, and they are now trading mainly cocaine.

36ffef735f803acdb7b518b6a6be3800The latest operation, according to Grassi and FBI officials, shows that the mafia families of the “new continent” are still seeking and relying on “old country” connections — which is why investigators dubbed the operation “New Bridge.”

According to Grassi, the Italian-American mafia families “need this new bridge to connect and support the traffic of cocaine.”

While the existence of a connection between the Calabrian mafia and U.S. mafia families has been well known, Tuesday’s operation shows its great strength and reach, investigators said.

One of the more alarming discoveries to emerge from the operation was evidence that ‘Ndrangheta has also reached out to the Far East in the heroin trade, another investigator said.

While on the subject of the Mafia, 10 Real-Life Inspirations For Characters In The Godfather – Listverse

It’s one of the immutable laws of nature: You’re channel surfing, and there, between some cooking show and an infomercial, you come upon The Godfather. Even though you own the deluxe Blu-Ray DVD box set with three weeks’ worth of special features, you are glued to that station until the credits roll. And if it’s the first in a Godfather marathon, your day is shot. f3f4d36dad5c94c3549ef3e8bd4f06b6You’re not moving, except to warm up some frozen lasagna between Godfather 2 and Godfather 3.

The Godfather is a classic of American cinema, and Godfather Part 2 is considered by some an even better movie. This story of the patriarch of a New York crime family, and his son who takes over the “family business,” is largely based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, with director Francis Ford Coppola and Puzo producing new material for the films.

Puzo based many of the characters on the real underworld players he heard about growing up and working in New York City.

That thing about getting stuck watching the trilogy on TV, it is so true…it just happened to my mom and me last week, and it was on one of those channels with the commercials.e75c78c0ba7781f147ec6225ad95e9cb (So you know how annoying that can be, and how “glued” we were to stick it out for the three full movies.)

In wrapping this post up, I will end with this tune…a perfect finale to a mob focused post. I know that I have used this song before, but what can I say…

If you gonna be a square
You ain’t a gonna go nowhere
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!

Rosemary Clooney – Mambo Italiano Lyrics

Have a wonderful day, and if you are in the storm’s wake, please stay safe and warm.

And be sure to share with us, what is on your reading list today?


Sunday Reads: Let them drink tap water…

Good Morning

76c7d10c3f207359ba1ad1a52277554f

I used to think of Twitter as a stream of consciousness thing, where

you type out a thought that comes to you…abstract, free-form and unassuming.

It just floated out there in the mass twit universe.

Facebook was more like a personal thought because it was “friends” or “family” that would see the shit you typed out into your little space on the wall.

More like a statement made out-loud…right?

I make statements out-loud at home all the time. Hell, don’t we all. I mean, sometimes I do it when no one is listening. (And lots of those times they include the words asshole and shithead preceded of course by the key adverb “fucking”) But when someone is listening in my home…they usually know what my thought process is and can complete the fragment of a statement I make even if I don’t state my case in a full and intelligent manner.

I realized the other day that I do the same exact thing here…in the comments. And it is funny because the same people who pick up on my cues here…are the ones who pick up on the shit I type out on my Facebook wall.

The was a little item in the news over the weekend, Rep. Steve King was talking out of his ass again…and of course it pissed me off. I mentioned it here and on my Facebook page. I think I called King a fucking asshole and posted a link to his comment:

Susan Wood, a George Washington University professor and former FDA official, told the all-male judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution that HR7 – which would make the Hyde Amendment permanentban federal subsidies for private insurance plans that cover abortion and would permanently block the District of Columbia from spending local tax money on abortion services – could “virtually eliminate abortion coverage from the private insurance market” and would especially hurt low-income women, threatening to push them “deeper into poverty.”

“While it may not seem like a big expense to a Member of Congress, in these tough financial times, for many people, abortion care costs more than their monthly rent, putting it out of reach for their family’s pocketbook,” Wood said.

When it came time to ask questions, Rep. King mocked Wood’s comparison of the cost of abortion to a month’s rent, wondering, “I wonder how many abortions a month does she need to keep up with the monthly rent check.”

Antikamnia calendar 1897 ebayMy mind was working on his comical statement, considering his PLUBic stance on providing that woman and her fetus with funding for food stamps and other “welfare” assistance once that fetus pops out of the incubation hole and becomes a living breathing tax burden.

That is what I was thinking..but I didn’t write it all down. Do you all do that? I don’t know. Is it cause I am lazy. Or cause I just tend to write stuff here like you are my family and this is my way of talking to you all? It is a ridiculous observation…but there it is.

BTW, images are from The Antikamnia Chemical Company via BibliOdyssey:

After beginning his working life as a printer’s apprentice, Louis Crucius (or Crusius) completed the necessary requirements to graduate as a pharmacist in 1882 and a doctor in 1890 in St Louis, Missouri. While he was studying he worked in a pharmacy and made humorous sketches that were placed in the window of the store. A collection of these drawings was published in 1893 (‘Funny Bones’). He lectured in histology and anatomy and eventually came to be a Professor of Anatomy but died in 1898 from kidney tumours.

3f74509875adde36355821a9b9bf19a5Although he gave most of his drawings away, Crucius sold a number of them to the Antikamnia (‘opposed to pain’) Chemical Company which had been established in St Louis in 1890. They produced antikamnia medicines containing the coal tar derivative, acetanilid, an anti-fever drug with pain relieving properties somewhat related to paracetamol, but which would be later shown to be a toxic compound not to mention addictive. Antikamnia was mixed with substances like codeine and quinine to enhance the pain relieving effects.

30 of the Crucius ‘dance of death’-inspired drawings were used to make 5 years worth of Antikamnia Chemical Company calendars – between 1897 and 1901. They had a fairly aggressive marketing campaign in which the calendars (aimed at the medical fraternity) as well as postcards and sample packs were distributed to doctors in the United States and overseas.

Now for the morning’s reads, starting with a series of links on the chemical spill in West Virginia.

Antikamnia calendar 1900 jan.feb francaisThe Wait Continues for Safe Tap Water in West Virginia – NYTimes.com

As hundreds of thousands of residents faced a third day without water because of a chemical spill in a local river, a water company executive said on Saturday that it could be days before it was safe for them to drink tap water again.

Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, said that officials had set up four labs to test the amount of chemical in the water, but that it might take days to provide enough samples to determine whether the water was safe.

A state official also said that thousands of gallons more of the chemical had leaked into the river than was initially believed.

b3207cde6c4bbfd534d17a42ef2990d6Not only that…but it turns out the company was not the one who notified authorities of the leak. It was the EPA. The amount of chemicals spilled was under-reported at first, and it sounds like the company Freedom Industries…fucking ironic isn’t it, is starting to cooperate a little more.

About 7,500 gallons of chemical was spilled into the river, about 2,500 more than previously estimated, said Mr. Dorsey, the state environmental official.

After local officials complained of problems communicating with Freedom Industries, Mr. Dorsey said on Saturday that the company had been more cooperative. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to communicate well,” he said.

State officials said the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, used in coal processing, seeped from the ruptured storage tank on Thursday into the Elk River, just upstream from the intake pipes for the regional water company. Exposure to the chemical, which smells like licorice, can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation and difficulty breathing, according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

This story is only going to get more disturbing as the investigation starts to delve deeper into the spill and the companies involved. For that I turn to the local newspaper, The Charleston Gazzette. Check these articles out, they are excellent and you need to read them in full:

b90be3d5b21e135e560f746f18366d72This one details the discovery of the leak…Freedom Industries cited for Elk chemical spill  by Ken Ward-  The Charleston Gazette

When West Virginia inspectors arrived at Freedom Industries late Thursday morning, they discovered that the company had taken “no spill containment measures” to combat the chemical spill that has put drinking water supplies off-limits for hundreds of thousands of residents.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said Freedom Industries violated the West Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Act and the Water Pollution Control Act by allowing the chemical “Crude MCHM,” consisting mostly of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, to escape from its facility, just upstream from West Virginia American Water’s regional intake in the Elk River.

[…]

“It’s a bad situation,” said Mike Dorsey, chief of the DEP’s homeland security and emergency response division.

Dorsey said the tank contained about 30,000 gallons of material at the time of the leak, and that the company had pumped the rest of the material out and shipped it to another of its operations.

Dorsey has said DEP officials began an investigation after receiving odor complaints from nearby residents starting at about 8:15 a.m. The DEP and Kanawha County emergency officials traced the odors to Freedom Industries, which had not self-reported any sort of leak or accident, officials said.

48f2b6c2785da61fb771d518cfd47cd4So the company did not notify EPA…it was residents in the area that started to smell this shit who called the local DEP…and they were the ones who contacted Freedom Industries and told them they had a spill on company property. WTF? This is where you want to pay attention to the matter:

In an air-quality enforcement order, the DEP said air-quality officials who arrived at the site at 11:10 a.m. “discovered that no spill containment measures had been initiated and that an accumulating MCHM leak pool was seeping thru a dike wall adjacent to the Elk River and a downstream oil sheen was observed.”

DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said more information needs to be gathered, but that it seems possible the spill into the river might not have been as bad if Freedom Industries had acted more quickly.

“Depending on when they knew [about the leak], had they put containment measures in place the instant they knew, it’s logical to deduce that there wouldn’t have been as much product in the stream,” Huffman said.

e40bafcc09badbd0d8276c631335e864Oh yeah and you want more ridiculous ways Freedom Industries handled the situation?

Smells from the spill were reported early Thursday morning, but Freedom mostly stonewalled media inquiries — releasing only a bland news release through a public relations firm — until a 10-minute news conference Friday evening.

At the news conference, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern gave few details about the company, made several statements seemingly in conflict with what government officials have said, and was whisked away by a public relations handler with reporters still shouting questions.

Prior to the news conference, the most extensive public statement from anyone connected with the company came Friday afternoon from Kathy Stover-Kennedy, the girlfriend of Freedom Industries executive Dennis P. Farrell.

Stover-Kennedy stressed that the spill was an accident and said that Farrell has received threatening and frightening messages from people around the world.

“I’m not asking for anyone’s sympathy but a little empathy wouldn’t hurt. And just so you know, the boys at the plant made and drank coffee this morning! I showered and brushed my teeth this morning and I am just fine!” Stover-Kennedy wrote on her personal Facebook page.

5dacfaf261a33961e3624575c89a56cdYeah…Let them drink tap water!!!!!

“There has been criticism from many about how Freedom Industries is handling this,” she continued. “Denny is not a spokesperson and has no desire to be. His expertise was much needed elsewhere. If he had taken the time to talk to the numerous media networks, giving statements, he would not have been able to react to the situation and perform his job accordingly. It wasn’t his decision to hire a spokesperson and it isn’t his job to be one.”

Well, if you look at these links I am giving you here, it seems Denny did not do much…in the way of working his expertise. The Charleston Gazette is examining this leak, and the company, Freedom Industries, rather well…I wish there were reporters like these out there doing the same in other towns where industrial environmental disasters have devastated more than the water supply. (But then perhaps there is a reason for the silence too…)  (And really, I could go further and add political governmental disasters as well but that would get me off on another tangent.)

Anyway, take a look at this…regarding the leak and what actions took place after it was discovered…and prior to? Why wasn’t there a plan?  Key players knew of potential for Elk River spill By Ken Ward Jr. – The Charleston Gazette

7fab6c1c0717cc9b7b640f1ec3c9abeaA few specific points:

Freedom Industries filed its “Tier 2″ form under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. State emergency response officials got a copy. So did emergency planners and responders from Kanawha County.

Under the law, government officials are supposed to use chemical inventory information on Tier 2 forms, like Freedom Industries’, to prepare for potential accidents.

Armed with the forms, they know what facilities could explode, where large quantities of dangerous substances are stockpiled, and what industries could pose threats to things such as drinking water supplies. They can plan how to evacuate residents, fight fires or contain toxic leaks.

Sounds like that diagram from the movie Office Space, “Planning to Plan”

Those same agencies and public officials, though, have said they know little about the chemical involved. They’re all acting a bit surprised that this mystery substance was being stockpiled so close to a crucial water intake, and shocked that something like this could have happened.Water company officials are equally puzzled. For example, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre told reporters on Friday that his company didn’t know much about the chemical’s possible dangers, wasn’t aware of an effective treatment process, and wasn’t even sure exactly how much 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol is too much.

“We’re still trying to work through the [material safety data sheet] to try to understand the risk assessment of this product,” McIntyre said during a Friday-morning news conference. “We don’t know that the water is not safe. But I can’t say that it is safe.”

8f42e52c3854bfd3029ca566071b45a3It only gets better. /snark

McIntyre said his company hadn’t at that point had any contact directly with Freedom Industries, and he wasn’t able to identify any previous efforts by the two firms to work together on emergency response planning.

“I can’t answer that question,” McIntyre said when asked about such planning. “I don’t have that information.”

Fred Millar, a longtime chemical industry watchdog in Washington, D.C., said the lack of better planning was an example of how the landmark emergency response law hasn’t been properly enforced around the country.

“Obviously, the whole idea of the chemical inventory reports is to properly inform local emergency officials about the sorts of materials they might have to deal with,” Millar said Friday. “It’s just head-in-the-sand to be ignoring this type of threat.”

No shit.

7611aeb45bd1056859790bac0e8ec809But this next article is one that starts to peel at the toxic layer of protections “corporations” can muster when it comes to being people…Freedom Industries execs are longtime colleagues- by Dave Gutman   The Charleston Gazette

Freedom Industries, the company whose chemical spill is responsible for the contamination of much of the Kanawha Valley’s water, has existed in its current form for less than two weeks.

On the last day of 2013, Freedom Industries, which distributes chemicals used in coal mining, merged with three other companies: Etowah River Terminal, Poca Blending and Crete Technologies, a Delaware company.

Poca Blending, in Nitro, and Etowah River Terminal, in Charleston, now comprise the two branches of Freedom Industries.

The company’s website says the Charleston branch, which spilled the chemical, “can process large volumes of chemical rapidly, and cost effectively.”

They can leak the shit rapidly too.040b20741beeaa72604faa1e72bb5f52

And what exactly is ‘Crude MCHM’? Few know  – by Ken Ward Jr – The Charleston Gazette

That should really get you all up to speed on the spill in West Virginia. The rest of the links will be quick, in dump format after the jump.

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Creating a Shadow Reality

1q84-twomoonsThere is a rich history of Orwellian realities in fiction.  One of my recent favorite reads is 1Q84 which borrows heavily from Orwell–including the title–to create an alternate Tokyo. You figure out that you’re in the alternate universe when a character looks into the sky and sees a second moon. Haruki Murakami’s book is based on the idea that you can step through some kind of portal and wind up in the world with the second moon by making one fateful decision.  In the modern US, you enter the world of two moons by consuming anything come from the Murdoch Empire or the Koch endowments or any other number of billionaires that can afford to place a small green moon in the sky next to the usual one. It’s amazing to me how many politicians see that second moon. Bill Moyers and and Michael Winship see these as The Lies that will Kill America.

Here in Manhattan the other day, you couldn’t miss it — the big bold headline across the front page of the tabloid New York Post, screaming one of those sick, slick lies that are a trademark of Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing media empire. There was Uncle Sam, brandishing a revolver and wearing a burglar’s mask. “UNCLE SCAM,” the headline shouted. “US robs bank of $13 billion.”

Say what? Pure whitewash, and Murdoch’s minions know it. That $13 billion dollars is the settlement JPMorgan Chase, the country’s biggest bank, is negotiating with the government to settle its own rip-off of American homeowners and investors — those shady practices that five years ago helped trigger the financial meltdown, including manipulating mortgages and sending millions of Americans into bankruptcy or foreclosure. If anybody’s been robbed it’s not JPMorgan Chase, which can absorb the loss and probably take a tax write-off for at least part of it. No, it’s the American public. In addition to financial heartache we still have been denied the satisfaction of seeing jail time for any of the banksters who put our feet in cement and pushed us off the cliff.

Moyers details the number of Murdoch outlets that echo and repeat the lies.

Over the last few days, The Wall Street Journal, both Bible and supplicant of high finance as well as one of Murdoch’s more reputable publications — at least in its reporting — echoed the “UNCLE SCAM” indignation of the more lowbrow Post. The government just wants “to appease their left-wing populist allies,” its editorial writers raged, with a “political shakedown and wealth-redistribution scheme.” Perhaps, the paper suggested, the White House will distribute some of the JPMorgan Chase penalty to consumers and advocacy groups and “have the checks arrive in swing congressional districts right before the 2014 election.” We can hear the closet Bolsheviks panting for their handouts now and getting ready to use their phony ID’s to stuff the box on Election Day with multiple illegal ballots.

Such fantasies are all part of the Murdoch News Corp. pattern, an unending flow of falsehood and phony populism that in reality serves only the wealthy elite. Fox News is its ministry of misinformation, the fake jewel of the News Corp. crown, a 24/7 purveyor of flimflam and the occasional selective truth. Look at the pounding they’ve given Obama’s healthcare reform right from the very start, whether the non-existent death panels or claims that it would cause the highest tax increase in history.

The Murdoch media empire is perhaps the most obvious example of billionaires buying their own reality.  However, it’s not the sole example.  There are a number of billionaires each with their addition to the alternative reality of the world with the second, small, green moon. Other than George Soros, there have been very few taking up the science and fact based reality where there is only one moon, climate change, and a financial oligarchy run wild.  That may be changing.

There is no shortage of billionaires — the Koch brothers, Carl IcahnDan Loeb and, yes, Mike Bloomberg, to name a handful — who are willing to use their vast wealth to push a particular political agenda or to advocate for a specific social reform. That’s hardly a revelation.

Then there’s Tom Steyer, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. arbitrager who was mentored by Robert Rubin and eventually formed the San Francisco hedge fund Farallon Capital Management. Since then, Steyer has made a bloody fortune. He has never spoken publicly about how he raked it in at Farallon. Nor has he talked on the record about his years at Goldman. (He didn’t respond to my interview requests when I was writing a book about Goldman in 2011.)

But now that he has departed Farallon to become a political activist — some say he is considering a run for the U.S. Senate or the governorship of California — he is everywhere. Last month, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizzawrote a lengthy profile of Steyer. This month, Bloomberg Markets magazine explained why Steyer has teamed up with Henry Paulson, like Rubin a former Treasury secretary and Goldman chairman, as well as with Bloomberg, the outgoing New York City mayor and the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, to commission a study about the economic consequences of failing to curb carbon emissions.

On Oct. 1, at a benefit for the North Country School and Camp Treetops in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, Steyer and Bill McKibben, his fellow environmental activist, led a paneldiscussion on their efforts to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline.

You may recall recently that the CEO of Starbucks decided that his outlets were not going to be places open to concealed weapon carrying.

In the end, the Seattle-based coffee giant says all it wants to do is sell coffee.

But increasingly, it has been dragged into the fracas between open-carry gun activists who want to be able to keep taking their firearms with them when they buy their morning lattes and gun-control advocates who’d rather the company banned such behavior.

Starbucks struck a compromise when itannounced this week that guns were no longer welcome in its stores, but stopped short of an outright ban.

The company will run an ad in some major newspapers Thursday, an open letter from CEO Howard Schultz, explaining that his company is being used as a political stage and that guns in his stores make his customers uneasy.

There has also been a number of CEOs that are standing firm in the face of anti-GLBT crusaders.  However, none of this is quite the same as owning news and media outlets and funding think tanks that come up with conclusions at odds with academic studies.  It’s also not the same as buying tons of air time to run ads made to creep young people out of looking into Health Care Insurance via the ACA exchanges.  There’s also targeted campaigns aimed at various states.

Conservative advocates funded by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch have launched a massive campaign pressuring states to deny health care coverage to lower income Americans through the Medicaid expansion contained in the Affordable Care Act.

The effort, orchestrated by the group Americans for Prosperity, is targeting lawmakers in Virginia tasked with deciding whether the state should accept federal dollars to provide insurance to individuals and families below 133 percent of the federal poverty line ($31,321 in income for a family of four). Volunteers with the organization are distributing flyers through door-to-door canvassing, attending committee hearings, and according to one lawmaker who has become a target of the campaign, intimidating constituents.

As many as 400,000 Virginians could qualify for coverage if the state expands the Medicaid program, but AFP is warning Virginians that the system “will cost Virginia taxpayers billions,” require “future tax hikes and budget cuts to vital services like schools, police and fire departments,” undermine the “doctor-patient relationship,” increase wait times and even endanger lives. “Medicaid patients are almost twice as likely to die during surgery than individuals with private insurance,” the group writes on its website.

It’s difficult to imagine that this could get worse, but there is a possibility it will even if a few billionaires on the other side of the political spectrum try to provide an offset.  A new SCOTUS case that could remove limits to campaign contributions might create even more havoc.

At issue in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (12-536) are aggregate contribution limits that restrict the total amount of money an individual can give a candidate and committees during a two-year election cycle.

Supporters of the limits say they are necessary to prevent crafty contributors from circumventing other campaign finance restrictions to funnel huge amounts of money from one donor to one candidate.

Opponents of the limits say they are unnecessary and lack any constitutional justification in the wake of the high court’s Citizens United decision.

The 5-4 opinion in Citizens United v. FEC declared that corporations and unions have a First Amendment rightto spend unlimited amounts of money on independent issue advertisements during election season.

Certainly, we have seen some push back recently to billionaire activists who are funding alternative realities.  The blow back to “Fix the Debt” and Pete Peterson who seeks to end Social Security and Medicare as we know it comes to mind.  But, it’s hard to keep up with all of them. We need to keep a keen eye out for the second green moon if we are to protect our democracy, our country, our economy, and our hard-earned entitlement programs.

 


Sunday Reads: Falling Stars… Special Stars… Stars and Death

6685e9eb12abfab6b9c28d0da315c1f8Good Morning

August is a special month on TCM, it is when they have their Summer Under The Stars programming…where every 24 hour day is devoted to one special classic movie star.

We lost a few movie stars this past month, Dennis Farina and Eileen Brennan to name a couple…and in just the last two days…gone are a former Munchkin from the movie The Wizard of Oz, a 70’s actress that helped define the cultural changes facing women, sex, drugs and dysfunctional relationships in film…and a woman who blamed it all on the Bossa Nova.

54ef768a40c255242e9d32fb0cd4b90bAugust is also the time of year for meteor showers…of the Perseid kind.

Before we get to the stories of these fallen stars, let us take a look at some of the news making headlines this morning.

And I guess I should give you a heads up, this is one very long post…so get your coffee/tea/orange juice/prune juice/beer/champagne mimosa, or whatever it is you drink when you get up in the morning/ afternoon, because you will be sitting here a while reading this.

The man who kidnapped Hannah Anderson has been killed, but at least the Missing teen found safe in Idaho wilderness – The Washington Post

From the BBC News – Indonesia volcano eruption: Six dead on Palue from hot ash covering the beaches near the volcano.

The volcano had rumbled the past year…and it finally erupted.

Earlier Saturday at UCLA, UN Ambassador Samantha Power Gives First Public Speech – ABC News

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power used her first public speech Saturday night to urge young activists to demand results and criticized the UN and red tape-mired bureaucracies that don’t always prioritize progress.

Power told the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit at UCLA that ideology and entrenched methods sometimes get in the way of the work of the UN, but praised those who get results and focus on problem-solving.

“Bureaucracies are built. Positions become entrenched. And while the United Nations has done tremendous good in the world, there are times when the organization has lost its way, when politics and ideology get in the way of impact,” she said.

7645dc51e4efe05da24daa360c90dabbThis next story is ironic, in a twisted religious right-wing nut kind of way. Religious family abandons U.S., gets lost at sea

A northern Arizona family that was lost at sea for weeks in an ill-fated attempt to leave the U.S. over what they consider government interference in religion will fly back home Sunday.

Hannah Gastonguay, 26, said Saturday that she and her husband “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us” when they took their two small children and her father-in-law and set sail from San Diego for the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May.

But just weeks into their journey, the Gastonguays hit a series of storms that damaged their small boat, leaving them adrift for weeks, unable to make progress. They were eventually picked up by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile where they are resting in a hotel in the port city of San Antonio.

Their flights home were arranged by U.S. Embassy officials, Gastonguay said. The U.S. State Department was not immediately available for comment.

The island Gastonguay picked out is a small place in the middle of nowhere, it is out in the Pacific Ocean halfway between Hawaii and Australia….and they just took a small boat out for this major trek across the largest body of water in the world? What in the hell would make a person do such a thing? Could it be Satan? Nope…Could it be Jeeeeezuz? Maybe….but I tend to think it was, the stupid.

Hannah Gastonguay said her family was fed up with government control in the U.S. As Christians they don’t believe in “abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church,” she said.

U.S. “churches aren’t their own,” Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence.

Among other differences, she said they had a problem with being “forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with.”

The Gastonguays weren’t members of any church, and Hannah Gastonguay said their faith came from reading the Bible and through prayer.

“The Bible is pretty clear,” she said.

Well, seems pretty clear to me that sailing off across the Pacific in a small boat can be dangerous.

In May, Hannah, her 30-year-old husband Sean, his father Mike, and the couple’s daughters, 3-year-old Ardith and (8 month old) baby Rahab set off. They wouldn’t touch land again for 91 days, she said.

[…]

At one point a fishing ship came into contact with them but left without providing assistance. A Canadian cargo ship came along and offered supplies, but when they pulled up alongside it, the vessels bumped and the smaller ship sustained even more damage.

Do you think the first fishing boat saw that the small boat was full of stupid, anti-woman, geezuz praying, gay-hating, religious tea-bag nuts and got the hell out of there? The prefect of police in Chile says that the Gastonguays did not have the knowledge, ability or expertise to navigate to Kiribati….(no shit) and what will the family do when they finally do get back to the states?

Hannah Gastonguay said the family will now “go back to Arizona” and “come up with a new plan.”

I suggest next time they try a country that does not require them to cross the world via ocean voyage to get there.

Bebe Daniels

Bebe Daniels

And since I touched on the abortion subject…let’s take a look at a few links on that chestnut.

Georgia Officials Are Forcing Through Abortion Restrictions That Lawmakers Didn’t Approve | ThinkProgress

STUDY: Even When Abortion Inspires Mixed Emotions, Women Say It Was The Right Decision For Them | ThinkProgress

This link to a post by Amanda Marcotte is something you may have missed,and I think it is an interesting point…but there hast to be much more to it than this:  Abortion in Europe and America: To understand the difference, you can’t ignore religion.

Please give this article a full read…US abortion ban should not be foisted on Central African Republic: The UK and other donors must ensure US aid restrictions do not deny vital support to women raped in conflict

In his May 2013 report to the security council, the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, noted the conflict’s devastating impact on women and girls, highlighting continuous reports of sexual violence including rape, gang rape and sexual slavery.

Mass sexual violence is not new to CAR. After failed coup attempts in 2001, widespread sexual violence was documented in the country from 2001 to 2003. Some of those crimes are being prosecuted by the international criminal court. The ICC prosecutor noted that “[t]his is the first time the prosecutor is opening an investigation in which allegations of sexual crimes far outnumber alleged killings”.

I will just put this link here, with a warning…if you want to get angry, read it. It is about our special star out of the Lonesome Star State: On Abortion, Wendy Davis Doesn’t Know What She’s Talking About – The Daily Beast by Kristen Powers

Just a few more links before we get to the Hollywood good times stories, after the jump.

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