Thursday Reads: They Shall Be Released

Bob Dylan reading3

Good Morning!!

President Obama is meeting with other NATO leaders in Newport, Wales today, and the focus of meetings will be Russia’s encroachment into Ukraine and how to deal with it. The Christian Science Monitor reports: NATO members gather in Wales with Russia at the top of the agenda.

Russia faced harsh criticism at the start of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Wales today with the 28 member state alliance reevaluating its security role in Europe amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance continues to witness “Russian involvement in destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine” even after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a seven-point peace plan. Russia maintains it has not armed rebels in eastern Ukraine or contributed to the conflict there.

Early reports from the summit suggest NATO leaders are set to agree to create “rapid reaction” forces that could be deployed in less than two days to regional crisis spots. Countries close to Russia, especially Poland, have called for NATO to permanently station troops on their territory, but Reuters reports this is unlikely to happen because it would break a 1997 agreement the alliance made with Russia.

As the Monitor reported, the creation of rapid response forces wouldthrust the United States into the center of any future conflict.

Terrific. Supposedly, Russian president Vladimir Putin in proposing a cease-fire, but he’s offering few specifics. From The New York Times: Putin Lays Out Proposal to End Ukraine Conflict.

Mr. Putin’s peace plan, jotted out during a plane ride over Siberia, muddied the diplomatic waters, leaving the West an excuse for delaying punitive sanctions that would also hurt European economies on the verge of a new recession. And it was expected to have some appeal to war-weary Ukrainians.

The ultimate effect, coming after Russian troops intervened in Ukraine last week to beat back a successful government offensive, may be to leave the country as a loose coalition that Moscow could still dominate, which critics of the Russian president say is his real aim.

It is being called a “seven-point plan,” but according to the Times,

Mr. Putin’s plan seemed to raise more questions than it answered. First, there was no mechanism for implementation. Second, just hours earlier, his own spokesman had repeated the Russian position, widely criticized as implausible, that Moscow could not negotiate a cease-fire because it was not a direct party to the conflict.

Analysts suggested that Mr. Putin’s strategy is to convince Kiev that it must negotiate, not fight, and to reinforce the idea that the overall outcome depended on Moscow.

“Russia wants to show that it is in command of what is happening,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of a prominent Russian foreign policy journal. “For Russia, it is important first to prevent the Ukrainians from thinking that they could win militarily, and to accept the separatist leaders as partners in negotiations.”

A few more headlines and opinions:

Al Jazeera: NATO summit to highlight unity against Russia.

Wall Street Journal: As Leaders Meet for NATO Summit, Alliance Says Russian Troops Still Active in Ukraine.

Foreign Policy: NATO’s Make or Break Moment (opinion).

Bloomberg: NATO Shifts Aim From Waterloo to East as Russia Menaces (opinion).


European Central Bank News

The European Central Bank’s Mario Draghi finally decided to try to do something about Europe’s horrible economic situation. From the NYT: European Central Bank to Start Asset Purchases After Further Rate Cut.

FRANKFURT — Bolstering a surprise interest rate cut on Thursday, the European Central Bank will soon begin buying packages of bank loans in an effort to stimulate lending in the faltering eurozone economy.

The move is unprecedented, but appears to fall short of the broad, large-scale asset purchases advocated by many economists to prevent stagnation in the eurozone.

The central bank said that in October it would begin buying asset-backed securities, bundles of loans issued by banks to businesses and households. The central bank will also buy covered bonds, Mario Draghi, the E.C.B. president said. Covered bonds are similar to asset-backed securities, in that they also are made up of bank loans.

Perhaps more significantly, Mr. Draghi said that the central bank’s governing council was ready to take further measures if needed — a clear reference to quantitative easing, or broad-based purchases of government bonds or other assets.

Mr. Draghi did not say how much the central bank would spend buying asset-backed securities and covered bonds, adding that there was not yet enough information on the size of the market. He said the central bank would buy existing and new assets including residential and corporate loans. He said the purchases would be “significant,” if still short of a level considered quantitative easing.

More headlines:

CTV News: European Central Bank trims key interest rate to record low.

Marketwatch: U.S. stocks open up after ECB rate cut.

Bob Dylan reads5

Ferguson Civil Rights Investigation

As we heard yesterday, the Justice Department will likely announce today that it is launching a civil rights investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department.

From The Washington Post: Justice Dept. to probe Ferguson police force.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. this week will launch a broad civil rights investigation into the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department, according to two federal law enforcement officials.

The investigation, which could be announced as early as Thursday afternoon, will be conducted by the Justice Department’s civil rights division and follow a process similar to that used to investigate complaints of profiling and the use of excessive force in other police departments across the country, the officials said.

The federal officials said the probe will look not only at Ferguson but also at other police departments in St. Louis County. Some, like Ferguson, are predominantly white departments serving majority-African-American communities, and at least one department invited the Justice Department to look at its practices. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the pending inquiry.

The investigation is in addition to a Justice Department probe into whether Officer Darren Wilson, who fired the fatal shots, violated Brown’s civil rights. The new probe will look more broadly at whether the department employed policies and practices that resulted in a pattern of civil rights violations.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that five current and one former member of the Ferguson police force face pending federal lawsuits claiming they used excessive force. The lawsuits, as well as more than a half-dozen internal investigations, include claims that individual officers separately hog-tied a 12-year-old boy who was checking his family mailbox, pistol-whipped children and used a stun gun on a mentally ill man who died as a result.

More from The New York Times: Justice Dept. Inquiry to Focus on Practices of Police in Ferguson.

Ferguson’s police chief, Thomas Jackson, said in an interview on Wednesday night that he would welcome the investigation.

“We’ve been doing everything we can to become a professional police department and a professional city,” he said. “We have no intentional policies or procedures which discriminated or violated civil rights. But if we have anything there which may unintentionally do that, we need to know about it.”

Chief Jackson said he met with Justice Department officials on Wednesday afternoon and discussed the broader investigation. “Obviously, we have gaps. And any help we can get to help fill those gaps and to make ourselves stronger, we welcome,” he said.

What a crock of sh&t that is! I’ll just bet Jackson is thrilled about the Justice Department probe into his joke of a police force. Wouldn’t you love to hear what he’s saying privately?

In the Ferguson case, the Justice Department will conduct what it calls a “pattern or practice” investigation, with officials looking for evidence that the police have repeatedly violated residents’ civil rights. Such inquiries have been one of the Justice Department’s preferred tactics in addressing accusations of police misconduct.

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Rabid Bobcat Attacks 

Here’s a strange story I came across yesterday in The Boston Globe: Rabid Bobcat Spent Labor Day Weekend in Conn. Attacking People.

What’s worse than stumbling upon an angry bobcat on your nightly walk with your newborn daughter? Stumbling upon an angry, rabid bobcat on your nightly walk with your newborn daughter.

That’s what happened to Summer and Tom Berube last Sunday. The Lebanon, CT, couple were taking their evening walk with their infant daughter, Neeve, when a bobcat approached them.

According to NECN, the bobcat hissed and ran towards Tom, who was carrying his baby. Tom yanked a mailbox out of the ground and used it to defend his family, knocking the animal down when it leapt at him. Summer, meanwhile, said she “was just screaming at the top of my lungs for help.”

That help soon came from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which had already been alerted to the presence of an aggressive bobcat in the area. On Saturday, a woman in the neighboring Connecticut town of Bozrah was attacked by a bobcat while feeding her chickens. She was scratched and bitten, but quickly taken to a local hospital for treatment. If caught early enough, a postexposure vaccination prevents the disease from spreading.

I had no idea there were bobcats running around in New England, but according The Hartford Courant,  although sightings are rare, “Bobcats are common in Connecticut and are found in every town. They can weigh as much as 40 pounds, but rarely interact with people and rarely have rabies, DEEP said.”


They Shall Be Released

Maybe you’re wondering why I’ve illustrated this post with photos of Bob Dylan. In 1968, I bought a two-record album in a plain white cover that was being sold by a street hawker in Harvard Square. I learned this morning from Wikipedia that it was known as “The Great White Wonder,” but either I didn’t know that then or I’ve forgotten. The recording was a bootleg of Bob Dylan’s so-called “basement tapes,” recorded in Woodstock, NY, with backup from The Band. Later, in 1975, a selection of the songs they had recorded was released as a studio album.

Anyway, the basement tapes are back in the news, because they are all going to be released as a 6-CD set.

The Guardian reports: Bob Dylan to share full Basement Tapes.

Bob Dylan is sharing the rest of his Basement Tapes. Four decades after the singer released 24 songs under that title – cuts he recorded with the Band in upstate New York – his label have agreed to unveil 114 more tracks from the same 1967 sessions.

“Some of this stuff is mind-boggling,” Sid Griffin, author of the set’s liner notes,told Rolling Stone. Packaged under the title The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, the six-CD set incorporates alternate versions of Blowin’ In The Wind and It Ain’t Me Babe, covers of tunes by Johnny Cash and Curtis Mayfield, and at least 30 tracks that Rolling Stone claims “even fanatical Dylan fans never knew existed”. A shorter, two-disc compilation, The Basement Tapes Raw, will present 12 of the unreleased tracks alongside the original LP.

Almost all of this material was harvested from reel-to-reel tape: 20 tapes in all, which the Band’s Garth Hudson kept stored in his Woodstock home. Jan Haust, a Toronto-based collector, acquired the archive about 10 years ago; he worked with Dylan’s reps to find a way to put them out. Although a few tapes were allegedly missing, and a handful of recordings “just [sounded] like a distortion”, everything else is making its way to the public. “We usually curate these packages more, but we knew the fans would be disappointed if we didn’t put out absolutely everything,” an unnamed Dylan source told Rolling Stone.

Fans of The Basement Tapes have always known that there was unreleased material. There have been several expanded, bootleg editions over the years, and musicians have even turned their attention to Dylan’s unreleased Basement Tapes-era lyrics. Earlier this year, T Bone Burnett collaborated with Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello and others to record their own versions of his incomplete songs. “The stuff that people haven’t heard justifies, in every way, shape and form, all the hype, hubris and myth that surrounds these tapes,” Griffin promised.

USA Today has published a list of all the songs on the album to be released in November.

So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a tremendous Thursday!

48 Comments on “Thursday Reads: They Shall Be Released”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I read this fascinating story on Russia’s depopulation problem yesterday. It’s really interesting, and probably has relevance for us in the U.S. It’s about how economic inequality affects a country’s death and birth rates. It’s long but I highly recommend reading it if you can make time.

    The Dying Russians, by Masha Gessen (NY Review of Books)

    Gesson wrote a biography of Vladimir Putin, and supposedly is working on a book about Tamerlan and Dzhohar Tsarnaev, the Boston bombers.

    • dakinikat says:

      That’s extremely interesting. I really think that the rich are screwing themselves over in the long run because relying on speculation for income makes them fabulously rich if they win, but if they lose as poor as the rest of us. The key to making money is owning a business that produces something useful with extraordinary service and happy employees that work hard. If you have people that can’t afford what you sell, you’re as reliant on the government for being your customer as the poor are reliant on others if they can’t find decent jobs. It’s why they have to force disasters and wars.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    FBI investigating suspicious police-involved shootings in Chicago (Raw Story)

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Newsweek: The Political Backstory in Ferguson

    Four days before Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking nearly two weeks of protests, the black community there lost the most racially divisive election in recent memory.

    On August 5, Democrats in St. Louis County headed to the polls to choose their nominee in November’s county executive race. On the primary ballot was 10-year incumbent Charlie Dooley, who is black, and his challenger, white county Councilman Steve Stenger.

    When the votes were tallied, Stenger had won overwhelmingly, ousting the black incumbent by nearly the same margin (66 percent to 30 percent) that white residents in St. Louis County outnumber African-Americans (70 percent to 24 percent). As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted Aug. 28, a map of the precinct results looks “almost identical to census maps of county demographics.”

  4. janicen says:

    With all of the renewed interest in the Dylan Basement Tapes, I wonder what you could get on ebay for your rare lp? lol.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t know if I still have it, but if I do it’s probably not playable. My old records have been in a damp basement for years. I wish I had taken better care of them, because a lot of them would be collectors’ items now.

    • Fannie says:

      Depending on condition….starting out at $20.00, and probably more. Love me some Bob Dylan, went to my collection and have the following albums:
      Another side of Bob Dylan,1964, Planet Waves Moonglow, 1974; Bob Dylan Desire, 1975, and Bob Dylan’s greatest hits, and Bob Dylan and the Band, 1974.

      Didn’t have The Great White Wonder Album. Looks like the set is about $150, and not so sure I can swing it. He’s on tour, and tickets are on sale tomorrow. Never did see him in live concert, but love the man from Duluth.

  5. NW Luna says:

    The Basement Tapes! Now that brings back memories…

  6. janicen says:

    Breaking news: Jury has reached a verdict in the McDonnell corruption trial. No word on what it is yet.

  7. janicen says:

    Bob McDonnell GUILTY on 11 of 14 counts. Maureen GUILTY on 8 plus one obstruction of justice. From the news that’s trickling in.

    • dakinikat says:

      Good. Hope the judge throws the book at them.

      • janicen says:

        They won’t be sentenced until January 6 from what the local news said.

      • janicen says:

        According to the reporter who was in the courtroom when the verdict was read, both Bob and Mo burst into tears as the “guilties” were read off. Reporter says he’s never witnessed anything like this. He said the whole McDonnell side of the courtroom became hysterical. Apparently they were confident they were going to beat this. He had said that God was on his side.

        • bostonboomer says:

          God is on his side. He wants Bob to return to the straight and narrow, and to do that he must do penance for his sins.

    • RalphB says:

      Please let this be a harbinger of things to come in the cases of Rick Perry, Chris Christie, and Scott Walker!!!!! Bet those guys are more worried after these verdicts. 🙂

  8. janicen says:

    OMG. Joan Rivers died.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I expected that when I first heard about it. It’s just as well, because she must have had serious brain damage from lack of oxygen. I wouldn’t want to live like that.

      • dakinikat says:

        I wonder what led to the decision to have outpatient surgery at her age since she’s been under the knife so many times. Keep thinking it’s a lawsuit waiting for Melissa to file.

        • bostonboomer says:

          According to the NYT, the State Dept. is investigating what led up to the crisis. She was getting some kind of surgery on her vocal cords at an endoscopy clinic. I guess she had strained her voice in the previous few days.

          They discuss in detail how Rivers broke through as a female stand up comedian. At the time probably only Phillis Diller was successful as a woman in the craft. They say Rivers followed in the tradition of Lenny Bruce as a no-holds-barred insult comedian.

          She was one of America’s first successful female stand-up comics in an aggressive vein that had been almost exclusively the province of men, from Don Rickles to Lenny Bruce. And she was a role model and an inspiration for tough-talking comedians like Roseanne Barr, Sarah Silverman and countless others.

          She was as harsh toward herself as she was toward others.

          On herself, desperate for a man: “My parents had a sign, ‘Last girl before thruway.’ I’d get an obscene phone call. I’d say, ‘Hold on a minute, let me get a cigarette.’ ”

          She…raised millions for AIDS, Guide Dogs for the Blind, cystic fibrosis and other charities; and amassed a fortune estimated at $290 million.

          She lived in a triplex penthouse just off Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park that featured a ballroom with gilded columns and 23-foot-high ceilings. It was on the market for $29.5 million in 2011, when she told The New York Times: “Qaddafi wanted to rent it for that whole U.N. thing. People said it’s blood money. I said, ‘Oh, I can easily wash blood off dollar bills.’ But they didn’t like it. It was too close to a synagogue.”

    • Fannie says:

      R.I.P. Joan Rivers

      • dakinikat says:

        She was really cool when she first got started. I really hated her fashion police gig though. It was just plain making money off of mean.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I never followed her at E network. Her humor was always cruel and edgy. Interestingly, the NYT obit says she got better ratings than Johnny Carson when she replaced him. She toned down her act for the Tonight Show, though.

  9. janicen says:

    The entire McDonnell can of worms was opened up when the petty pieces of crap decided to throw the book at a former chef in the Gov mansion for stealing food. They went wide open with charges of embezzling (with the help of AG Ken Cuccinelli) and the former chef, Todd Schneider decided to save himself by revealing details of all of the goings on at the Gov mansion with Johnny Williams.

    The chef copped a plea on the food stealing charges and got a suspended sentence and the McDonnells, well they got a little taste of karma.

  10. Fannie says:

    Former Governor Ultrasound deserves to spend the rest of his life tossing and turning in a prison bed. The rat put Teresa Lewis to death in 2010, and she was below average in her mental capacity. I hope the inmates remind him on a daily basis. Let him see the red, white and blue from his prison cell, and look at all the pretty fences that surround him. Let’s see how he likes working for 25 cents a day and living on baloney sandwiches. He ought to lose his pension and military benefits too. So much for his thesis on the republican family.

  11. janicen says:

    BP was found “reckless” in the Gulf oil spill…

    On Thursday, a federal judge here for the first time bluntly rejected those arguments, finding that BP was indeed the primary culprit and that only it had acted with “conscious disregard of known risks.” He added that BP’s “conduct was reckless.”

  12. dakinikat says:

    Sexual Abuse Against Teens Is Not Pedophilia According To Catholic League President

    Donahue released a very creepy statement in which he said “The Times erred again by repeating the myth of a pedophilia scandal: 100 percent of the victimizers were male; 81 percent of the victims were male; and 78 percent were postpubescent. That would make it a homosexual scandal. Indeed, less than 5 percent of these cases involve pedophilia.” He finished by stating “The boys the archbishop abused were teenagers, meaning that homosexuality, not pedophilia, was in play. The distinction is important.”

    child rape apoliga