Tuesday Reads

fenway-park-richard-ramsey

Good Morning!!

Yesterday was opening day for baseball–a sure sign of spring! The Orioles beat the Red Sox 2-1. In past years this morning’s headlines would have jokingly read “Wait Until Next Year.” But that was the old 20th century Red Sox. Now they’ve won three World Series championships in the 21st century–including last year–Boston fans have calmed down a bit. We can wait a few weeks to see how the season develops.

On the day off today, the Read Sox are excited to be heading to the White House to meet President Obama and will also pay a visit to Walter Reed hospital.

As a reward for winning last year’s World Series, President Barack Obama cordially invited the defending champs for a ceremony to recognize their accomplishment, and the ceremony will air live on MLB.com starting at 11:30 a.m. ET.

“I think any time you have a chance to speak to the Commander in Chief, that’s a rare opportunity,” said manager John Farrell. “And for all of us that are going tomorrow, to meet him in person, to experience the White House, we know the reason why we’re there and it’s a fun day, it’s a unique day. I think it will be a good experience by all.”

Sox righty Jake Peavy has been to the White House before, but never as a World Series champion.

“Tomorrow, we will celebrate what happened,” said Peavy. “Pretty neat day when you experience what we’re going to experience tomorrow. I look forward to that.”

The Red Sox, as they did in conjunction with their White House visits in 2005 and ’08, will also pay a visit to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and visit with some of the heroes who served the country.

malaysia-airline-370-boeing-777

I haven’t watched CNN lately, but last night I accidentally turned it on and they were still talking about missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. This morning’s breaking news is that Malaysia either lied or made a big mistake about the “last words from the cockpit” before the plane disappeared.

Weeks ago, Malaysian authorities said the last message from the airplane cockpit was, “All right, good night.”

The sign-off to air traffic controllers, which investigators said was spoken by the plane’s copilot, was among the few concrete details officials released in a mystery that’s baffled investigators since the Boeing 777 disappeared with 239 people aboard on March 8.

There’s only one problem. It turns out, it wasn’t true.

On Tuesday, Malaysia’s Transport Ministry released the transcript of the conversations between the Flight 370’s cockpit and air traffic control. The final words from the plane: “Good night Malaysian three seven zero.”

Malaysian authorities gave no explanation for the discrepancy between the two quotes. And authorities are still trying to determine whether it was the plane’s pilot or copilot who said them.

You can read the full transcript at ABC News: Malaysia Airlines MH370: Full transcript of flight’s cockpit communication released. Searchers are still looking for the wreckage, but in just a week the plane’s black box will go silent.

Obamacare replacement

Today is April Fool’s Day; I can’t stand practical jokes, so I was planning to ignore it until I saw this headline at Roll Call: Cantor Says GOP Finishing Work on Obamacare Alternative, Details Agenda.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., reiterated on Friday that the House plans to bring up a bill to replace President Barack Obama’s health care law.

In a memo to members laying out the House agenda for the remainder of the winter, Cantor noted that the replacement is being finalized, and said that in the meantime, Republicans will work to target parts of the law with which they disagree.

“As we continue to work to finalize our Obamacare replacement plan, we will also act to highlight and address the serious consequences of the law,” he said.

That just has to be an April Fool’s joke, right? I guess not, because yesterday Fox News’ Jenna Lee badgered Sen. Lindsey Graham about when the Obamacare replacement would be ready. From Think Press:

During an interview with the network, Graham agreed that his party should introduce a unified health care proposal. But Lee persisted, pressing him for more details. “Why do you think Republicans can put together a better plan to get the trust back in government?” she asked. “What are Republicans putting out there that says to the American, people, ‘no, you can trust us. If you don’t trust what is happening now, trust us?’”

Some of Graham’s suggestions:

“I think it is good for the Republican party to have a plan of its own to insure Americans without losing your doctor and bankrupting the country,” Graham agreed. “Let’s start with the idea that pre-existing illnesses should not deny you coverage, that means you’re gonna have to have pools for the really sick, but why would you want to deny somebody insurance because they got sick? Allowing children to stay on the policies up to they’re 26 makes sense given this economy and buying policies across state lines makes a lot of sense to me.”

Ooops! Those proposals are already part of Obamacare. You can watch Graham ramble on about the horrors of Obamacare at The link.

Meanwhile ACA sign-ups surged yesterday, which was supposed to be the last day to enroll in a plan. Time Magazine: Obamacare Hits a Milestone With Enrollment Goal in Reach.

A last-minute push to insure millions of low-income Americans jammed phone lines and slowed down an enrollment websiteahead of a key deadline Monday, but the Obama Administration was close to declaring a tentative victory when it signaled early Tuesday that an enrollment goal, which had seemed almost impossible to reach just months ago, was now tantalizingly close.

Officials hailed record traffic to the federal health-insurance-exchange website as vindication of the politically divisive law. HealthCare.gov, the site whose hobbled launch in October became a political punch line and threw the initiative’s viability into doubt, recorded more than 3 million visits on Monday, officials said, the last day of a closely watched sign-up period. More than 1 million calls were reportedly placed to an enrollment call center as of 8 p.m., and the Administration said early Tuesday morning that the site was briefly shutting down so engineers could refocus on providing relevant post-enrollment information. The Associated Press, citing unnamed government officials, said enrollment was on track to hit the Administration’s target of 7 million Americans newly insured. As many as 100,000 people have started but not yet finished the process, and last-minute exemptions paved the way for them to complete enrollment after the deadline.

cheney-cartoon-torture

Yesterday the WaPo published some leaked information from the Senate report on torture during the Bush administration. We knew this before, of course, but the report concludes that the CIA repeatedly lied to Congress about the effectiveness of the “enhanced interrogation” program.

A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.

The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.

“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”

The report also revealed internal disagreement within the CIA about the use of torture. Some employees were horrified while others pushed for more torture even after it was clear it wasn’t working. The report also revealed some new information:

The report describes previously undisclosed cases of abuse, including the alleged repeated dunking of a terrorism suspect in tanks of ice water at a detention site in Afghanistan — a method that bore similarities to waterboarding but never appeared on any Justice Department-approved list of techniques.

Much more to read at the link.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney continued to wholeheartedly defend the Bush administration’s use of torture. Dick Cheney Defends Waterboarding: ‘The Results Speak for Themselves’

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday dismissed accusations that he is a war criminal and defended the Bush administration’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding, stating that he would “do it all over again.”

“Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture,” Cheney said in an interview on American University’s television station, according to American’s student newspaper The Eagle. “If I would have to do it all over again, I would. The results speak for themselves.”

“More than two dozen” American University students protested Cheney’s appearance by walking out during his speech and yelling “walk out of war criminals.”

Ken Dilanian

At the LA Times, national security reporter Ken Dilanian reported on an interview with outgoing NSA director Keith Alexander, and cited some of NSA’s successes in saving lives of soldiers in Iraq.

In nearly nine years as head of the nation’s largest intelligence agency, Gen. Keith Alexander presided over a vast expansion of digital spying, acquiring information in a volume his predecessors would have found unimaginable.

In Iraq, for example, the National Security Agency went from intercepting only about half of enemy signals and taking hours to process them to being able to collect, sort and make available every Iraqi email, text message and phone-location signal in real time, said John “Chris” Inglis, who recently retired as the NSA’s top civilian.

The overhaul, which Alexander ordered shortly after taking leadership of the agency in August 2005, enabled U.S. ground commanders to find out when an insurgent leader had turned on his cellphone, where he was and whom he was calling.

“Absolutely invaluable,” retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former U.S. commander in Iraq, said in an interview as he described the NSA’s efforts, which led to the dismantling of networks devoted to burying roadside bombs.

Alexander “sped the place up,” Inglis said.

Dana Priest

Dana Priest

But Dilanian points out that Alexander is more likely to be remembered for the Snowden hack than anything positive NSA has done. Alexander was confused by the public reaction to Snowden’s revelations.

Ten months after the disclosures began, Alexander remains disturbed, and somewhat baffled, by the intensity of the public reaction.

“I think our nation has drifted into the wrong place,” he said in an interview last week. “We need to recognize that those who are working to protect our nation are not the bad people.”

Snowden’s PR man and protector Glenn Greenwald wasted no time before attacking Dilianian--a well respected reporter–as a propagandist and shill for the government. He also seemed to imply the same about the Washington Post’s Dana Priest when he linked to a July 2013 article she wrote on NSA’s efforts to identify terrorists. Greenwald writes:

[W]henever it suits the agency to do so–meaning when it wants to propagandize on its own behalf–the NSA casually discloses even its most top secret activities in the very countries where such retaliation is most likely. Anonymous ex-officials boasted to the Washington Post last July in detail about the role the agency plays in helping kill people by drones. The Post dutifully headlined its story: “NSA Growth Fueled by Need to Target Terrorists.”

And now, Keith Alexander’s long-time deputy just fed one of the most pro-NSA reporters in the country, the Los Angeles Times‘ Ken Dilanian, some extraordinarily sensitive, top secret information about NSA activities in Iraq, which the Times published in an article that reads exactly like an NSA commercial….

John “Chris” Inglis just revealed to the world that the NSA was–is?–intercepting every single email, text message, and phone-location signal in real time for the entire country of Iraq.

Obviously, the fact that the NSA has this capability, and used it, is Top Secret. What authority did Chris Inglis have to disclose this?

Wait– Didn’t Snowden and Greenwald already reveal these NSA capabilities and methods? Yes, yes they did, and now new methods have to be developed. And besides, the executive branch has the authority to declassify information. The story even named Inglis as the source, and he didn’t reveal any specific methods.

But Greenwald thinks Inglis should be prosecuted instead of Snowden. Because, you know, spying to save lives in Iraq is evil. I get that Greenwald believes that any spying by the U.S. is wrong (although spying and human rights violations are OK for other countries such as China and Russia); but I have to say calling reporters Ken Dilanian and Dana Priest is a bit over the top, to put in mildly.

Those are my reading suggestions today. What stories are you following? Please share your links in the comment thread.

 

 

 


58 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. RalphB says:

    Too good. Now to go read today’s post.

  2. RalphB says:

    Cheney is a war criminal and Greenwald is still a pompous ass. Nice post BB!

  3. bostonboomer says:

    This is nuts: Kerry May Parole Israeli Spy Pollard, U.S. Officials Say

    Secretary of State John Kerry is discussing paroling convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to salvage U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace talks which are on the verge of collapse.

    The idea would be to give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu political cover to facilitate the release of Palestinian prisoners which was scheduled to take place last week as part of the peace process, according to U.S. officials involved in the talks.

    The delayed prisoner release is a big sticking point for the Palestinians, who are threatening to walk out of the negotiations unless the prisoners are freed. Releasing Pollard would be an extraordinary step underscoring the urgency of U.S. peace efforts.

    Why don’t we just give Putin Aldrich Ames too?

    • bostonboomer says:

      Pollard’s actions ‘exceeded only by Snowden,’ ex-U.S. says former director of intelligence.

      U.S. officials…contend that much the information Pollard took — a stack he said would have measured six by six feet and 10 feet high — was unrelated to Israel, Shane Harris of Foreign Policy reports.

      “Much of what he took, contrary to what he’d have you believe, had nothing to do with Arab countries or the security of Israel, but had everything to do with U.S. collection methods, to include most specifically against the Soviet Union,” Adm. Thomas Brooks (Ret.), a former director of naval intelligence who Pollard worked for in 1980, told Foreign Policy.

      “I think what [Pollard] did is exceeded only by Edward Snowden,” Brooks added, referring to the former NSA contractor who accessed an estimated 1.7 million documents dealing with U.S. surveillance and military capabilities as well as those of American adversaries. (It’s unclear how many files Snowden ended up taking.)

    • RalphB says:

      Pollard’s release would be a mistake AFAIK.

  4. RalphB says:

    St Petersburg Times: The bizarre double life of conservative congressional hopeful Jake Rush

    If this isn’t an April Fools gag, this may be the weirdest congressional candidate yet. Totally bizarre!

  5. bostonboomer says:

    This is scary:

    Apocalyptic prophecies drive both sides to Syrian battle for end of time

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/01/us-syria-crisis-prophecy-insight-idUSBREA3013420140401

    • dakinikat says:

      What is with these whacky end of times cults? It is like they are every where and hell bent on taking every one to oblivion with them?

      • NW Luna says:

        Yes. More glory to their god, so they think, if they take everyone else along into the afterworld with ’em.

  6. bostonboomer says:
  7. leefeller says:

    Nice synopsis of political going on’s, I have been trying to understand why the USA is the worlds police and why the ever widening inequality chasm is being ignored just like climate change? Since I find conservatism uncomfortable for many reasons, I am slowly gathering and learning why. Recently I have been reading “What is Conservatism and What is Wrong with it” by P. Agre. (warning it is very cerebral but interesting) link:http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/conservatism.html

    Nice Blog.

    • RalphB says:

      Welcome. That looks like a really good article. I’ll have to read it in pieces though. 🙂

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you come again.

      I think both the world police thing and inequality can be explained by super-rich people’s donations to politicians as well as the lobbying of powerful corporations that benefit from wars.

  8. RalphB says:

    Balloon-Juice: What’s next

    Now that open enrollment is winding down, the execution phase for 2014 is in full swing and the planning cycle for 2015 will be wrapping up soon. After that, insurance companies and their state regulators will build for 2015 implementation. So what should we be seeing in the next month or so.

    Nice post by Richard Mayhew, BJ’s healthcare guru, on what happens now with the ACA implementation.

  9. dakinikat says:

    Michele Bachmann’s PAC Is Running For Re-Election Without Her

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/michele-bachmann-pac-fundraising

  10. dakinikat says:

    Doctors at an Oklahoma Catholic Hospital Were Just Told They Can’t Prescribe Birth Control Anymore | The Nation http://www.thenation.com/blog/179102/doctors-oklahoma-hospital-were-just-told-they-cant-prescribe-birth-control-anymore

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Ted Cruz asks his Facebook friends about Obamacare, gets an earful

    “What’s more popular at your board meetings, the blood of workers or tears of homeless seniors? Asking for a friend.”

    • janicen says:

      Great post, bb. I love that you continue to hold Greenwald’s feet to the fire.

      Funny O-care story. My M.I.L. has always been “suspicious” of President Obama. She can’t put her finger on it (closet racism) but she just has a “bad feeling” about him. So of course, everything he does comes under her watchful scrutiny. Once we were having dinner with her and she made some crack about “Obama giving away cell phones to poor people…” and my husband chimed in and said, “Oh, you mean that program started during the Bush administration?” So, as you might imagine, O-care is the epitome of evil. She has been with the same man for 25 years, but they have never married. He has a job but it’s not even full time and he earns minimum wage or slightly above it. He had been buying an individual health insurance policy for several hundred dollars a month and it had huge deductibles. At the urging of my husband, he finally decided to check out what was available under the ACA. You guessed it, his coverage is now much much better, and his premium is $18.00 a month!!!!! But M.I.L. is still wary and said about the new policy, “I told him to be careful because, I’ve heard some things…” LOL! Even when the detractors benefit themselves, they just can’t admit they were wrong.

    • RalphB says:

      JPMorgan Chase plainly failed to learn from Fix the Debt’s experience when it scheduled a Twitter Q&A with one of its investment banking chiefs a month later. As sample questions rolled in during the run-up to the chat (“Did you always want to be part of a vast, corrupt criminal enterprise or did you ‘break bad’?”), the bank hastily canceled the event.

      ROFLMAO!

      • NW Luna says:

        Bwahahaha! Just goes to show you money doesn’t make you smart!

        • bostonboomer says:

          Every day that goes by, the greedy 1% create more of us “little people” who aren’t buying their lies anymore.

  12. RalphB says:

    ACA architect Jonathan Gruber at TPM…

    Obamacare Enrollment Is Far From Over

    With the recent closure of the initial enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is enormous jockeying around interpreting the number of enrollees in state and federal exchanges. Proponents and opponents of the law are interpreting the preliminary numbers in the way that best makes their case. But what neither side is emphasizing enough is that enrollment in the ACA is far from over now that March 31st has passed. This is because millions of individuals will lose their insurance during 2014 – and Obamacare will be there to catch them. ….

    Best case for Obamacare yet.

  13. RalphB says:

    The Pentagon says there were no U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan in March — the first zero-fatality month there since January 2007.

    To put that into further context: this is the first month without U.S. combat deaths since March, 2003 — roughly eleven years.

    • NW Luna says:

      Good. A moment of silence for all the lives lost — including Afghani civilians. What will we see in the future?

  14. bostonboomer says:

    There was an 8.0 earthquake in Chile.

    Tsunami evacuations ordered after Chile quake

    http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-evacuations-ordered-chile-quake-20140401,0,982979.story#ixzz2xgj5HXXN

    • Just saw some video of damage looks bad…

      Oh BB, did you see that part on CNN when they shut off the lights to show the people what it looks like in the dark?

      http://www.mediaite.com/tv/cnn-goes-dark-to-show-what-its-like-at-the-bottom-of-the-ocean/

      I saw you mentioned some of the shit they are doing on the coverage of the plane.

    • Fannie says:

      Yikes, it’s a big one. I have been recording the big ones for 10 years now:

      26 Dec 2004 9.0 Sumatra Islands Southeast Asia Tsunami………….early reports of that were 22,000 dead, 10,000 Sri Lanka, India………..No warning system in Place, 29 Dec 2004, 80,000 confirmed dead

      15 Aug 2009 8.0 magnitude, Peru, centered 90 miles southeast of Peru

      9 Jan 2010 6.5 29 miles w. Eureka – No injuries, later one death, photographer……this nearby my homestead

      12 Jan 2010, 7.0 Port Au Prince, Haiti, 200,000 plus fatalities

      27 Feb 2010 8.8 off coast of Concepcion, Chile Pacific wide Tsunami, minor (Avg. 3′ fewer than 1,000 fatalities

      4 Apr 2010 7.2 South of Mexicali – very few casualities

      6 Apr 2010 7.7 off west coast of Sumatra

      11 Mar 2011 8.9 Japan “Monster” tsunami, later changed to 9.0 magnitude, castshropic, nuclear power leaks, Fukushima and Daiichi areas, the most expensive disaster of our time.

      1 Apr 2014, 8.0 Chile…….

      Chile is a dangerous place to live.

  15. Beata says:

    Great post, BB. I hope everyone has a good April.

  16. RalphB says: