Saturday News Potpourri


Good Morning!!

I have quite a few articles to share this morning, a real Saturday potpourri! So let’s get started. First up, on Thursday Attorney General Eric Holder gave a wide-ranging interview to Ari Melber of MSNBC, and quite a bit of breaking news came out of it. Here are some of the resulting headlines: NY Daily News: Eric Holder: Could talk deal with NSA-leaker Edward Snowden, but no clemency

Holder told MSNBC that the Obama Administration “would engage in a conversation” about a resolution in the case, but said it would require Snowden acknowledge wrongdoing…. At a University of Virginia forum, where Holder was asked about Snowden, he  elaborated on his position, saying, “If Mr. Snowden wanted to come back to the United States and enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers. We would do the same with any defendant who wanted to enter a plea of guilty, so that is the context to what I said.” But he stressed that the NSA leaker would not walk. “We’ve always indicated that the notion of clemency isn’t something that we were willing to consider.”


Seattle PI: Holder: Marijuana banking regulations on the way

Attorney General Eric Holder says the Obama administration is planning to roll out regulations soon that would allow banks to do business with legal marijuana sellers. During an appearance Thursday at the University of Virginia, Holder said it is important from a law enforcement perspective to enable places that sell marijuana to have access to the banking system so they don’t have large amounts of cash lying around. Currently, processing money from marijuana sales puts federally insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges. Because of the threat of criminal prosecution, financial institutions often refuse to let marijuana-related businesses open accounts.

There’s a good piece about this at Forbes, but they won’t even let you copy their headlines anymore. Mediaite: Eric Holder: Voter ID Used to ‘Depress the Vote’ of People Who Don’t Support GOP

Attorney General Eric Holder sharply criticized state-level voter identification policies and said that he believes those policies are a “remedy in search of a problem.” He added that, while some may be arguing for voter ID in good faith, he believes that most are advocating for this policy in order to “depress the vote” of those who do not support the “party that is advancing” voter ID measures. “I think many are using it for partisan advantage,” Holder said of voter ID. “People have to understand that we are not opposed to photo identification in a vacuum,” he continued. “But when it is used in — certain ways to disenfranchise particular groups of people, whether by racial designation, ethnic origin, or for partisan reasons, that from my perspective is problematic.” He added that “all the studies” show that in-person voter fraud “simply does not exist” at a level that requires a legislative solution.

Politico: Eric Holder: Timing of Robert Gates book release ‘a mistake’

Attorney General Eric Holder waded into the controversy over former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s new book Thursday, calling it “a mistake” for Gates to have published his recollections before President Barack Obama left the White House. “It’s my view that it’s just not a good thing thing to write a book about a president that you served while that president is still in office,” Holder said during an appearance at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. “From my perspective I think the world of Bob Gates, but I think that the publication of that book — at least at this time — was a mistake.” [….] In the course of offering his critique of the timing of Gates’s book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” Holder twice praised the former defense secretary for his leadership. “I like Bob Gates a great deal. He was a good secretary of defense,” the attorney general said.

LA Times: Holder says no bank ‘too big to indict,’ more financial cases coming

“I think people just need to be a little patient,” Holder said, according to a transcript of an interview with MSNBC to air at noon Pacific time Friday. “I know it’s been a while. But we have other things that are in the pipeline.” [….] Holder has taken heat for telling a Senate hearing last year that some financial institutions were “so large that it becomes difficult to prosecute them” because criminal charges could hurt the U.S. and even world economies. Since then Holder has tried to emphasize that the Justice Department is not intimidated by the size of a financial institution and would bring any charges it believed it could prove.

As I said, quite a bit of news out of one interview. Good job by Ari Melber.

In other news . . .

The Economist has a brief article that provides some background on the situation in Ukraine: On the march in Kiev –The protests turn nasty and violent, but the president is not giving ground. ukraine-protests-2

JANUARY 22nd was meant to mark Ukraine’s unity day, a celebration of its short-lived pre-Soviet independence. Instead, it was a day of civil unrest and perhaps the biggest test of Ukraine’s post-Soviet integrity. After two months of largely peaceful encampment on the Maidan in Kiev, the protests turned violent. Five people were reported killed and hundreds were injured. An armoured personnel carrier pushed through the streets. Clouds of black smoke and flames mottled the snow-covered ground. Never in its history as an independent state has Ukraine witnessed such violence. It was triggered by the passage of a series of repressive laws imposing tight controls on the media and criminalising the protests of the past two months. One law copied almost verbatim a Russian example, including stigmatising charities and human-rights groups financed from abroad as “foreign agents”. If Russian human-rights activists denounce their parliament as a “crazy printer” churning out repressive legislation, says Oleksandra Matviichuk of the Centre for Civil Liberties in Kiev, Ukraine has a “crazy photocopier”. The clashes show vividly the refusal of the protesters to heed such laws.

Brian Glyn Williams, the U. Mass Dartmouth professor who interacted with Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and recommended some sources of information on Chechnya for a report Tsarnaev was writing, has a post up at HuffPo on how the history of Chechya and Dagestan is coming back to haunt the Winter Olympics in Russia: The Dark Secret Behind the Sochi Olympics: Russia’s Efforts to Hide a Tsarist-Era Genocide. Here’s the conclusion:

The twin bombings in Volgograd in late December 2013 and an earlier one in October are clearly meant to show the Russians that the Chechen-Dagestani terrorists have reignited their terror jihad. They are also meant to remind the world of the tragedy that befell the Circassians of the Caucasus’s Black Sea shore exactly 150 years ago this winter. This is the dark secret that Russia’s authoritarian leader, Putin, does not want the world to know. Putin has thus far been very successful in conflating Russia’s neo-colonial war against Chechen separatists with America’s war on nihilist Al Qaeda Arab terrorists. Any attempt to remind the world of Imperial Russia/Post-Soviet Russia’s war crimes in the Caucasus is a threat to Putin’s pet project, the whitewashed Sochi Olympics. This of course not to excuse the brutal terroristic acts of the Caucasian Emirate or the Chechen rebels, but it certainly provides the one thing that Putin does not want the world to see as he constructs his “Potemkin village” in Sochi, and that is an honest account of the events that have made this the most terrorist fraught Olympic games since the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

erik prince Remember Erik Prince, the Michigan millionaire who founded Blackwater? Guess what he’s doing these days? The WSJ has the scoop: Erik Prince: Out of Blackwater and Into China. Erik Prince —ex-Navy SEAL, ex-CIA spy, ex-CEO of private-security firm Blackwater —calls himself an “accidental tourist” whose modest business boomed after 9/11, expanded into Iraq and Afghanistan, and then was “blowtorched by politics.” To critics and conspiracy theorists, he is a mercenary war-profiteer. To admirers, he’s a patriot who has repeatedly answered America’s call with bravery and creativity.

Now, sitting in a boardroom above Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, he explains his newest title, acquired this month: chairman of Frontier Services Group, an Africa-focused security and logistics company with intimate ties to China’s largest state-owned conglomerate, Citic Group. Beijing has titanic ambitions to tap Africa’s resources—including $1 trillion in planned spending on roads, railways and airports by 2025—and Mr. Prince wants in…. “I would rather deal with the vagaries of investing in Africa than in figuring out what the hell else Washington is going to do to the entrepreneur next,” says the crew-cut 44-year-old. Having launched Blackwater in 1997 as a rural North Carolina training facility for U.S. soldiers and police, Mr. Prince says he “kept saying ‘yes’ as the demand curve called—Columbine, the USS Cole and then 9/11.” In 100,000 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he says, Blackwater contractors never lost a U.S. official under their protection. But the company gained a trigger-happy reputation, especially after a September 2007 shootout that left 17 civilians dead in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. At that point, charges Mr. Prince, Blackwater was “completely thrown under the bus by a fickle customer”—the U.S. government, and especially the State Department. He says Washington opted to “churn up the entire federal bureaucracy” and sic it on Blackwater “like a bunch of rabid dogs.” According to Mr. Prince, IRS auditors told his colleagues that they had “never been under so much pressure to get someone as to get Erik Prince,” and congressional staffers promised, “We’re going to ride you till you’re out of business.”

Awwwwww…..Poor little rich boy. Where’s my tiny violin?


Speaking of entrepreneurs, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ plans for his latest acquisition–The Washington Post–are becoming clearer, as he hires more right wing libertarians for the op-ed page. Now Pando Daily reveals what Don Graham is up to now that he’s dumped the family business: The company formerly known as WaPo moves into tech apps.

Today, the company formerly known as WaPo — now called Graham Holdings – has announced a new business endeavor in journalism. Surprisingly, said endeavor doesn’t have much to do with actual journalism at all — it falls squarely in the tech camp. It’s a content discovery app called Trove. Trove fits in the now-torrential trend of such applications. Companies like Flipboard,Prismatic, Rockmelt, and N3twork have all tread this ground long before Trove. They’re all convinced that places like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS readers are not good enough for finding the best stories…. The two men behind Trove have rich and storied histories. Vijay Ravindran, the CEO of Trove, served as The Washington Post’s Chief Digital Officer before the sale, and ran ordering at Amazon for seven years before that. Reuters oped columnist Jack Shafer even divpredicted (incorrectly) that Ravindran would be named the new WaPo publisher after the sale. The other Trove heavyweight is product lead Rob Malda, who is also the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of Slashdot — the predecessor of every user-focused news aggregator since, from Digg to Reddit to Hacker News.

Read all about it at the above link.

A few short takes:

In other tech news, CSM’s Security Watch reports that Booz Allen, Snowden’s old firm, looking to help US government with ‘insider threats’. Author Dan Murphy asks, “Are defense and intelligence contractors the best choice to manage a threat they’ve contributed to?” Read it and weep.

According to Fox News, gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Ruger will no longer do business in California because they don’t want to comply with a new CA law that allows law enforcement to trace bullets to the individual gun they came from. After all, why would gun companies want to help police catch murderers? Unbelievable!

Did you know that this month is the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant satire, Dr. Strangelove? IMHO, it is one of the funniest movies of all time. Well, Eric Schlosser has a not-so-funny article about it at The New Yorker: ALMOST EVERYTHING IN “DR. STRANGELOVE” WAS TRUE. Don’t miss this one; it’s a must read!

Apparently the latest food craze to emerge from San Francisco is “artisanal toast.” How did toast become the latest artisanal food craze? Ask a trivial question, get a profound, heartbreaking answer. John Gravois writes about it at Pacific Standard: The Science of Society. Weird.

A silly test to take at Buzzfeed: Which Pop Diva Are You? I got Pink. I know nothing about her…but she looks kinda cool. PINK

Finally, I posted this link in the comments recently, but I don’t know if anyone looked at it. I’m posting it again, because I think it’s absolutely adorable. It’s some glamour shots of elderly people having fun dressing up and posing as various movie heroes and heroines. Here’s just one example:

"Easy Rider": Walter Loeser (l.), 98, & Kurt Neuhaus, 90

“Easy Rider”: Walter Loeser (l.), 98, & Kurt Neuhaus, 90

I hope you found something to tickle your fancy in this potpourri of articles. Now it’s your turn. Please post your recommended links in the comment thread, and have a wonderful weekend!

53 Comments on “Saturday News Potpourri”

  1. BB…

    According to Fox News, gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Ruger will no longer do business in California because they don’t want to comply with a new CA law that allows law enforcement to trace bullets to the individual gun they came from. After all, why would gun companies want to help police catch murderers? Unbelievable!

    My dad told me about this yesterday, only his version of the law said the gun had a chip that required a chip to be put into the hand of the owner so that only the owner of the gun could shoot the gun. I knew that his description sounded a little more like the gun nut version of the law…but that is what the stupid idiot asshole crazy fuckwits are peddling on the gun forums on yahoo.

    • bostonboomer says:


    • NW Luna says:

      It’s the same idea as their “slippery slope” handup about reasonable gun laws. Any restriction, no matter how sane, on their ability to have weapons of destruction, is an affront to their insecure sense of manhood, I guess.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Good column by Gail Collins on Mike Huckabee.

    Huckabee Spills the Beans

    • RalphB says:

      That was good. Kind of took him apart.

    • Fannie says:

      Gail forgot to mention yesteryears plantation, and women as slaves in their own homes. I might add that he is a greedy shriveled old wrinkled ugly man. His message will never be one of encouragement and hope to women. He damn well knows that we have faith, in ourselves and in our futures. Employees have and will continue to benefit from the decisions that we make about our reproductive health care. We have the skills for the job, and we will
      succeed. (Run Hillary Run).

      There is a bit to think about, because he is trying to bury us alive. You can see that they are cutting back funds for health care, funds for child care, and cut the food stamps right from under our tables. His message is that women lie, and they steal from the government, from the employers, and we lie when we fill out the job application. The GOP party is tying to force us to accept underemployment, and cuts to unemployment benefits. They want to hurt us because we have a elected a black president, and will elect Hillary. We have faith, in ourselves, in our future.

      He is every woman’s NIGHTMARE. You can’t respect the RNC, when they don’t have any respect for themselves, and this is who they put forth. They continue to dehumanize women, the greedy bastards.

  3. Fannie says:

    Good morning – BB hope you are feeling better, and getting ready for the next snow or cold blast. JJ hope you and family are all moving around with ease too.

    I wanted to ask you what you thought about this case. If she was not the women (wife, mother), but the male/father, would they have locked him up? This is going back to the 1940’s when women were put in mental institutions 20 times then men. I just wonder what meds she was forced to take, and the effects of being “locked” up against her will. It sounds like Vermont has come up with another way to control women, and profit from it at the same time. Does it make them feel powerful to shut her up, and lock her up in cell.

    • bostonboomer says:

      OMG! I heard about the murder-suicide but didn’t know the wife/mother had been committed. How did they do that? It’s normally very difficult to force someone into psychiatric care. I wonder if this had anything to do with it?

      Schumacher had warned police that she feared for her son’s safety hours before the bodies were found, according to court papers. She told Essex police the night before the murder-suicide that she feared Ludwig Schumacher might try to take the teenager out of the country, according to court papers.

      Ludwig Schumacher was a former member of the Vermont National Guard and state Republican campaign official. Police said he left a typed suicide note in the apartment.

      The police ignored her warnings and she naturally was very angry and heartbroken. And her husband had lots of powerful friends.

      • Fannie says:

        My heads throbs reading this. The wife/mother had been have on going issues, with her husband, and he had a new girlfriend (it was she that found their bodies). According to a couple articles, he had planned this out, and left emails, messages, and phone calls to several people, and wanted his sister to manage his estate after his death. I wonder if he had been feeding Gunnar (the son a bunch of lies) and involved him with girlfriend.

        I think the wife/mother was living in fear, not just for her life, but her children. In this case she said so to family, and to police. The police didn’t believe her, which created a hell of load of “fear” in her mind. Happens to women all the time, rape, domestic abuse, etc. All representatives should be held accountable, police, social workers, the doctor and the management of the mental facility (Fletcher Allen Health Care). I can’t understand why they are not equipped to deal with this kind of case. I mean the one who committed the crimes was the husband/father, Ludwig Schumacher. Here was another case of a REPUBLICAN
        Family values man.

        After 5 1/2 weeks Judge Griffen disagreed with the doctor’s assessment. She was trapped by the various systems. Back in the 1940, many women with depression (due to postpartum, and other female issues), including those women who weren’t considered respectful because they weren’t at home and in the kitchen, doing their duties as wives should. Many of them were committed to mental institutions and never heard from again. Society, and lawyers seemed not to care. That is what this reminds me of, going back to a dangerous time for women, where SHE is denied rights. I hope I am wrong. Ludwig Schumacher was the enemy, the criminal. Maybe he went after the son because she couldn’t keep the boy quiet, maybe he knew a lot about the enemy.

  4. Delphyne49 says:

    Great post, BB, filled with lots of interesting links. My eye went immediately to Dr. Strangelove because it is one of my favorite movies, and although it was very funny, I always thought that it was “true” that those things could very well be happening. I thought the same thing with Apocalypse Now.

    I’m looking forward to reading the other articles you posted – last one about the elderly playing heroines/heroes doesn’t have a direct link to it and I missed it in the remarks. Would you post that for us? Thanks!

  5. bostonboomer says:

    House Republicans Make Their Regularly Scheduled Threat To Destroy The Global Economy

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Incredible photos from Ukraine

  7. RalphB says:

    This butthead needs a swift kick in the ass! Shockingly stupid butthurt.

    Venture Capitalist Compares Liberal Fight Against Gross Inequality To Kristallnacht

    Venture capitalist Tom Perkins compared liberals’ push to reduce inequality in the United States to Nazi Germany’s war on Jews.

    In a letter to the editor published in The Wall Street Journal Perkins, a founding member of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, asks whether a “progressive Kristallnacht” is coming. Perkins’s letter is in response to an editorial on speech codes at American colleges.

    “Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich,” Perkins wrote in the letter to the editor. …

  8. RalphB says:

    This may not be a completely thought out plan 🙂

    booman: Okie-Dokey Plan to Ban Marriage

    A federal judge ruled last week that Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. But that doesn’t mean that Okie Republicans are taking the news lying down. They have a brilliant idea.

    This is near-perfect example of taking-your-ball-and-going-home. If the courts rule that gay people can be married, then the only thing to do is to ban marriage altogether. Or, more precisely, the idea is to prevent the state from issuing marriage licenses. Don’t let straight people have legally-recognized marriages if it means that gay people can have them, too.

    This is petulance defined.

  9. What the fuck is there to consider? And there is more info on the condition of Munoz body:

    Hospital Considers Judge’s Order on Pregnant Woman – ABC News

    • RalphB says:

      The DA’s office was defending the hospital. It seems they want to determine if they have to, or want to, appeal the judge’s ruling. A truly soulless and hateful position on the part of the hospital but the DA’s office is just as bad if this goes to appeal. Someone needs to put the DA’s fingerprints on this case and it would disappear.

    • RalphB says:

      I hope that Erick Muñoz has good insurance to pay for two months in intensive care, not to mention the procedures (including a tracheotomy) for which he refused consent but were performed anyway.

    • RalphB says:

      A crucial issue is whether the law applies to pregnant patients who are brain-dead as opposed to those in a coma or a vegetative state. The law, first passed by the Texas Legislature in 1989 and amended in 1999, states that a person may not withdraw or withhold “life-sustaining treatment” from a pregnant patient.

      The hospital is in clear contravention of the law’s intent since it is not possible to sustain the life of a dead person and a non-viable fetus is not legislatively a person in any case.

      • NW Luna says:

        Agreed. And since the mother was without oxygen long enough to cause brain death, almost certainly the fetal brain also died. Plus it wouldn’t develop probably anyway within a dead body. Ghouls. I hope they get slapped with huge fines for the family’s suffering.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Did anyone else take the “pop diva test?” I was hoping to find out what other people got on on it.

  11. RalphB says:

    Welcome to Australia Day or Invasion Day if you’re an Aborigine.

    Sydney Morning Herald: A national day of shame

    Australia Day stands as a reminder of massacres. Why should Aborigines celebrate it?

    Washing the blood away doesn’t wash away the stain.

  12. NW Luna says:

    Tourniquet makes a comeback as a trauma tool

    As far back as Alexander the Great’s campaigns, tourniquets were wartime staples, used to stanch the bleeding of wounded soldiers. But they became a last resort for both military and civilian emergency personnel after World War II, when medical experts blamed the prolonged cutoff of blood for frequent amputations. ….

    But now law-enforcement agencies across the country, responding to an increase in mass shootings over the last decade and to new guidelines from the federal government, have placed a new emphasis on training and equipping officers to treat serious wounds by reviving the use of tourniquets.

    As part of a broader effort to encourage the public to help treat victims, the committee has been developing plans to put tourniquets in public places, such as malls and schools, and to train teachers and others how to use them. ….

    Jacobs said that “when they began putting $15,000 defibrillators in public places 15 to 20 years ago, there was no concept” that terrorist attacks or mass shootings might one day be more common.

    • RalphB says:

      Or we could pass responsible gun laws to cut down on the need for tourniquets at mass shooting? Somehow we can’t do the right thing in spite of public opinion. Politicians are such cowards!