It’s getting really difficult to find anything upbeat these days out there on the news front. Usually,there are several areas with persistent messes. Today, things folks never thought we’d have to worry about are suddenly in play. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day nor did it fall in day. It seems like the US is on a downward spiral that rivals the speed of light or at least a hefty meteor. Bets on how long we last at this rate?
Suggestions on how can we stop this?
Much of the destruction is going on inside the federal government while Kremlin Caligula puts on a show. We’ve learned that Trump and cronies are planting lobbyists and ideologues to cripple agencies. The State Department appears to be one of the major functions of government that is in a death spiral. The Russian Connections between Trump and his cronies run deep. There’s no longer a need to connect the dots. It’s a four lane highway between Trump Tower with off ramps all over the place.
It appears that the Trump Syndicate may have been laundering money for Russian Oligarchs. Here are some links to get caught up on the Russia fiasco. Many of these are updates from stories that BB wrote about yesterday.
By the late 1990s the actual chaos that resulted from Yeltsin’s warped policies had laid the foundations for a strong counterrevolution, including the rise of ex-KGB officer Putin and a massive outpouring of oligarchic flight capital that has continued virtually up to the present. For ordinary Russians, as noted, this was disastrous. But for many banks, private bankers, hedge funds, law firms, and accounting firms, for leading oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP, as well as for needy borrowers like the Trump Organization, the opportunity to feed on post-Soviet spoils was a godsend. This was vulture capitalism at its worst.
The nine-lived Trump, in particular, had just suffered a string of six successive bankruptcies. So the massive illicit outflows from Russia and oil-rich FSU members like Kazahkstan and Azerbaijan from the mid-1990s provided precisely the kind of undiscriminating investors that he needed. These outflows arrived at just the right time to fund several of Trump’s post-2000 high-risk real estate and casino ventures—most of which failed, since people doesn’t go to casinos that much anymore, people prefer to play and gamble online in different sites, for example here is a List of Betfred’s bonus codes for all their products. As Donald Trump, Jr., executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, told the “Bridging U.S. and Emerging Markets Real Estate” conference in Manhattan in September 2008 (on the basis, he said, of his own “half dozen trips to Russia in 18 months”):
[I]n terms of high-end product influx into the United States, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.
All this helps to explain one of the most intriguing puzzles about Donald Trump’s long, turbulent business career: how he managed to keep financing it, despite a dismal track record of failed projects.4
According to the “official story,” this was simply due to a combination of brilliant deal-making, Trump’s gold-plated brand, and raw animal spirits—with $916 million of creative tax dodging as a kicker. But this official story is hokum. The truth is that, since the late 1990s, Trump was also greatly assisted by these abundant new sources of global finance, especially from “submerging markets” like Russia
Tillerson’s State Department has been in idle gear these past two months. He doesn’t have a deputy or other top aides. His spokesman can’t give guidance on key issues, because decisions haven’t yet been made. Tillerson didn’t attend important meetings with foreign leaders.
As a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, Tillerson is accustomed to a world where a visible display of power is unnecessary, corporate planning is meticulous and office politics are suppressed. But this is Washington
“I am an engineer by training. I seek to understand the facts,” Tillerson said at his confirmation hearing. That sounds reassuring, but it doesn’t fit the glitzy, backstabbing capital that spawned the television series “House of Cards.”
“He may pay some cost up front for not meeting Washington expectations,” notes Stephen Hadley, national security adviser for President George W. Bush and a Tillerson supporter. “The short-term buzz was that he’s out of the loop, but Tillerson is playing for the long game.”
Tillerson couldn’t even get his choice for a deputy pass President Bannon.
The Republicans in the House and Senate are using the chaos to cover up their end game. They’re trying to dismantle everything from Medicare, Medicaid, the ACA, the EPA, Social Security, Dodd Frank, and just about anything used to protect citizens from the malfeasance of of short sighted, profit-oriented business practices which rule the US commerce landscape. The GOP is planning a full scale assault on Federal Regulations.
There is a flurry of anti-regulatory legislation floating around Capitol Hill, but it is becoming clear that the key Republican vehicle to rein in rulemaking will be Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s Regulatory Accountability Act. A 16-page draft of the legislation obtained by POLITICO was significantly less radical than several aggressive bills recently passed by the House of Representatives, but industry groups have pinned their hopes on this one attracting support from enough moderate Democrats to overcome a Senate filibuster and make it to Trump’s desk. And even if the Portman bill won’t automatically ensure “the deconstruction of the administrative state” promised by White House adviser Steve Bannon, it could still dramatically curtail the power of government regulators in the long run.
Portman has not yet introduced the bill, but behind the scenes in Washington it is already the subject of furious lobbying by more than 150 public interest groups that oppose it as well as more than 600 business groups that support it. It is much narrower than a bill the House passed last month with the same name, but would still revamp and insert new bureaucratic hurdles into the federal regulatory process, which the Obama Administration used to enact tough new restrictions on coal plants, Wall Street banks, for-profit colleges and other corporate entities. The Portman bill would add new obstacles for agencies to overcome before enacting economically significant rules, require them to choose the most cost-effective alternative, and give judges more discretion to block regulations when the regulated interests object.
“When I visit a factory or small business in Ohio, one of the complaints I hear most from employers is that there are too many costly and unnecessary regulations that limit their ability to invest in their business,” Portman said. “We need a smarter regulatory process that promotes job creation, innovation, and economic growth.”
Portman and the Washington business community are portraying his reforms as a pragmatic approach to burdensome red tape, hoping to distinguish them from more extreme Republican bills that would give Congress a veto over all major rules, eliminate the deference that courts traditionally give to federal agencies, and even forbid those agencies from implementing rules until every lawsuit against them is resolved. House Republicans have passed five regulatory reform bills this year, and have introduced a dozen more, but insiders say most of them are doomed to die in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to overcome a filibuster. That’s why Portman is now negotiating over his more temperate language with Democratic senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who are both up for reelection in 2018 in states Trump won easily. Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bill Nelson of Florida and independent Angus King of Maine have supported similar bills in the past.
Trump has not outlived his usefulness to the Republican Agenda of installing a warped Christian Theocracy and a kleptocracy capable of ruining the environment and killing people. Portman obviously decided Trump was the way to sneak a lot of things through.
"it would be very meta of me to place one of my old Paul Ryan memes inside this new Paul Ryan meme" -me, ten minutes ago pic.twitter.com/BFuHjGsGTo
A growing number of conservative lawmakers on Thursday urged GOP leaders to push the limits of how much of the health law they can reshape under a powerful procedural maneuver known as budget reconciliation — and to overrule the Senate parliamentarian if she doesn’t decide in their favor.
Such a gambit would require the unlikely buy-in of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a noted institutionalist who earlier this year avoided talk of changing his chamber’s rules to kill the ability to filibuster Supreme Court nominees.
If the Senate changes precedent for what can be passed under reconciliation now, a future Senate — whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats — could enact a wide range of legislation with just a simple majority.
“There are limits to what we can do” on Obamacare while complying with the Senate rules, Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Senate Republican, said in a Thursday floor speech. Under reconciliation guidelines, bills can be passed in the Senate with a simple majority and cannot be filibustered, as long as their provisions have a direct impact on spending or tax levels.
I wake up every day in fear of what’s coming next. It seems that everything I’ve ever planned my old age around is now collapsing around me. The Republican Plan is a massive DumpsterFire. Paul Krugman has some great analysis.
Obamacare rests on three main pillars. Insurance companies are regulated, prevented from denying coverage or charging higher prices to Americans with pre-existing conditions. Families receive subsidies linked to both income and premiums, to help them buy insurance. And there is a penalty for those who don’t buy insurance, to induce people to sign up even if they’re currently healthy
Trumpcare — the White House insists that we not call it that, which means that we must — preserves some version of all three elements, but in drastically, probably fatally weakened form.
Insurers are still barred from excluding the sick, but they’re allowed to charge older Americans — who need insurance the most — much higher premiums.
Subsidies are still there, in the form of tax credits, but they’re no longer linked to either income (as long as it’s below $75,000) or the cost of insurance.
And the tax on those who don’t sign up becomes a small surcharge — paid to insurance companies, not the public — on people who sign up after previously letting coverage lapse.
Affluent young people might end up saving some money as a result of these changes. But the effect on those who are older and less affluent would be devastating. AARP has done the math: a 55-year-old making $25,000 a year would end up paying $3,600 a year more for coverage; that rises to $8,400 for a 64-year-old making $15,000 a year. And that’s before the death spiral.
For the combination of price hikes and weakened penalties would lead many healthy Americans to forgo insurance. This would worsen the risk pool, causing premiums to rise sharply — and remember, subsidies would no longer adjust to offset this rise. The result would be even more people dropping out. Republicans have been claiming that Obamacare is collapsing, which isn’t true. But Trumpcare, if implemented, would collapse in a Mar-a-Lago minute.
How could House Republicans under the leadership of Paul Ryan, who the media keeps assuring us is a smart, serious policy wonk, have produced such a monstrosity?
TC, a 19-year-old gay man who spoke to The Huffington Post anonymously for this article in order to protect his safety, is a survivor of conversion therapy practices.
TC was subjected to conversion therapy in 2012 when he was 15 years old after his parents discovered he was gay. The conversion therapy practices took place in the basement of a church after school hours, and were explained to TC and his parents as having two separate components. He told The Huffington Post:
The first step ― which usually lasted six months ― [is] where they “deconstruct us as a person.” Their tactics still haunt me. Aversion therapy, shock therapy, harassment and occasional physical abuse. Their goal was to get us to hate ourselves for being LGBTQ (most of us were gay, but the entire spectrum was represented), and they knew what they were doing…. The second step of the program, they “rebuilt us in their image.”They removed us of everything that made us a unique person, and instead made us a walking, talking, robot for Jesus. They retaught us everything we knew. How to eat, talk, walk, dress, believe, even breathe. We were no longer people at the end of the program.
TC said that the conversion therapy sessions would take place every weekday, with shock therapy treatments lasting approximately an hour, and aversion therapy lasting three.
This is torture. Pure and Simple.
So, this is what they’d fund while getting Insurance 101 wrong.
Paul Ryan actually said “The whole idea of Obamacare is…the people who are healthy pay for the…sick. It’s not working, & that’s why it’s in a death spiral.”
Everyone pays into the pot and draws on it when they’re sick. Younger people, who tend to be healthier than older people, pay for health insurance like everyone else. They’ll rely on it when when they need it, probably more when they’re older and there are younger, healthier people filing in behind them. It’s the same with car insurance
. Some people pay for decades and never get into an accident and never collect on their coverage (though the likelihood of anyone never using health insurance is unlikely).That’s what actuarial figures are all about, so an insurance system can assess the risks of segments of customers to determine what everyone needs to put into the pot so there’s enough to pay out when someone needs the money.
Ryan has perhaps been on taxpayer-paid health insurance for so long that he has forgotten how the concept works. He believes that’s only the way it works for Obamacare. “The conceit of Obamacare,” he said at his press conference on Trumpcare, is that “young and healthy people are going to go into the market and pay for the older, sicker people.” That’s why Obamacare is in a “death spiral,” he noted.
Twitter had a pretty predictable response to Ryan’s summary of health insurance: Duh.
Meanwhile, every one except the stupid, the greedy, the mean, and the crazy resist.
Demand James Comey immediately resign his position as director of the FBI. Immediately upon his departure launch an investigation of his public statements about the ongoing investigation relating to State Department handling of classified materials as blatant attempts to influence the election in violation of the Hatch Act.
It is currently at 684 signatures. Which is not very much, and that is rather surprising to me. what do you think?
Quick note, sorry this post is late. We went for a hike earlier today down the Appalachian Trail. It was beautiful, but man was it difficult for my fat ass to make it up those steep rocks. I will post some pictures at the end of the post…
The discovery of a trove of emails from one of Hillary Clinton’s top aides occurred weeks ago, law enforcement officials told CNN.
But the FBI didn’t disclose the discovery until Friday, raising questions about why the information was kept under wraps and then released only days before the election.
The emails from Clinton aide Huma Abedin were found on a computer belonging to her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.
CNN reported on September 22 that prosecutors in Manhattan had issued a subpoena for Weiner’s communications as part of an investigation into alleged sexting with an underage girl.
FBI criminal investigators soon after stumbled on the Abedin emails.
By early October, it was clear to investigators that the emails may relate to the Clinton email server investigation, law enforcement officials said.
But internal discussions at the FBI about how to proceed continued over the ensuing weeks.
The delay was first reported by the Washington Post.
In his Friday letter to Congress, FBI Director James Comey said he was briefed on the new findings a day earlier. He didn’t say when he first learned of the existence of the emails.
FBI officials moved to disclose the development then because they feared the information would leak otherwise, law enforcement officials said.
Comey’s notification to Congress of the review is rocking the final days of the presidential race. Democrats are furious that Comey would revive the explosive issue of Clinton’s email server so close to the election. Donald Trump, meanwhile, is seizing on the review after spending weeks on the defense, hoping it will be a potent issue he can ride until the end of the contest.
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta blasted Comey on Sunday for disclosing the review.
“He might have taken the first step of actually having looked at them before he did this in the middle of a presidential campaign, so close to the voting,” Podesta said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
It is also known that the FBI did not have a warrant for these emails.
Now we learn that Democratic lawmakers may not have even seen the letter before Chaffetz, eager to influence the outcome of the election, tweeted it.
A senior Democratic congressional aide provided the following statement to Shareblue:
Democratic Ranking Members on the relevant committees didn’t receive Comey’s letter until after the Republican Chairmen. In fact, the Democratic Ranking Members didn’t receive it until after the the Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Jason Chaffetz, tweeted it out and made it public.
This is disturbing, but not surprising. During the Benghazi hearings, it become abundantly clear that Republican members were not seeking the truth but were cynically playing politics with the lives of dead Americans to derail Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The strange events of October 29 are further confirmation that Republican politicians like Chaffetz are using their office not to do the people’s business, but to target a single Democrat for destruction, using any means necessary.
They will fail, because voters see through their dirty tricks.
24 hours after Chaffetz pulled his stunt and Trump’s campaign jumped on the bandwagon, it has backfired. Clinton’s supporters are outraged and energized, more eager than ever to defend Clinton against these scurrilous attacks.
I hope the editors of ShareBlue are correct about this latest attack backfiring. The thought of a Trump presidency is too much for me to bear.
The rest of today’s links are varied. I will post them in link dump fashion:
A strong earthquake that shook Italy on Sunday morning took a heavy toll on historic churches and other landmark buildings, some dating back to the Middle Ages.
No deaths were reported, and only “tens” of injuries, but the physical damage was extensive.
In Preci, the walls of a hillside cemetery came crashing down on top of the Abbey of Saint Euticius, founded in the 5th century by a group of Syrian monks and hermits and now crushed under the weight of its own burial ground.
The old town of Arquata del Tronto, in the central region of Le Marches, was virtually destroyed, along with its 13th century church dedicated to Saint Francis. Only the castle remains, still standing guard over the ruins below.
In Norcia, a city that considers itself the birthplace of pork sausages, three of the most important churches were heavily damaged.
Yes, you read that right…the birthplace of pork sausages.
Sunday’s quake was the strongest of a recent flurry of earthquakes. It registered 6.5 on the Richter scale, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, and was felt the entire length of the Italian boot. It struck at 7:40 a.m. local time. The strongest hit areas were Le Marche and Umbria.
Even in Rome, more than 110 miles to the east, the papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls was damaged. It shows some cracks on its facade, some cornices have crumbled, and a candelabra is at risk of dropping down from the ceiling.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed that Italy would rebuild the homes, churches and other damaged structures and that financial resources would be found to restore essential elements of the national identity and cultural heritage. “We will rebuild everything,” he said Sunday, “the houses, the churches, the shops. We are dealing with marvelous territories, territories of beauty.”
The number of human casualties could have been much greater, but residents of many of the historic town centers had been moved out when the tremors began last week.
This last bit is sad…look what happened to a rose window that was repaired just recently.
“In Italy we do not throw away the rubble,” said Fabio Carapezza-Guttuso, the Ministry of Culture’s national crisis management unit officer. “Even single stones are numbered and handpicked so that they can later be used in the reconstruction, along with pieces of wood, iron and beams. It’s a big effort, and that is why we employ archaeologists to sift through the ruins.”
Carapezza-Guttuso mentioned, as an example, the work done to restore the rose window of the church of Saint Augustine in Amatrice, which was badly damaged in a deadly earthquake in August. That window is now ready — but what remained of the church collapsed Sunday.
The latest in men’s birth control…halted, because the men can’t take the side effects.
Apparently women can have such ailments as depression and acne thrust upon them for the greater good of preventing an unwanted pregnancy, but the same level of discomfort cannot be expected of men
The finding that the latest version of the injected male contraceptive is now very effective is fantastic news. In a trial of 320 men, researchers found that, over a one-year period, it was 96 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy. A spokesperson for the World Health Organisation said: “The study found it is possible to have a hormonal contraceptive for men that reduces the risk of unplanned pregnancies in the partners of men who use it.”
But the trial of the drug has already been halted – because just 20 of the men (out of 320, don’t forget) found the side effects of the injection intolerable and it was decided that more research needed to be done to try and counteract them. Those side effects included depression, muscle pain, mood swings, acne and changes to the libido.
Do any of those side effects sound familiar? Oh yes, they’re the minor side effects of the combined pill, used by 48 per cent of women aged 16 to 19, 64 per cent of women aged between 20 and 24 and a majority (55 per cent) of those aged between 25 and 29.
How sad for these poor men – they couldn’t handle the side effects that so many women have to deal with every day just to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. Women have had to bear the responsibility of contraceptionsince the pill was first launched in 1962 – and all of the side effects that go along with it.
As most anyone with a uterus can attest to, hormonal contraception can have some serious side effects, including nausea, headaches, weight gain, decreased libido, depression, and yes, mood swings.
Broadly reports on new research from the University of Edinburgh which suggests that men might also be able to effectively take hormonal birth control, meaning women wouldn’t solely have to suffer than burden. But before you throw a parade/throw out your pills, you should know that the study was stopped because men were experiencing side effects that many women using hormonal contraception currently experience.
Men wait an average of 49 minutes before being treated for abdominal pain. For women, the wait is 65 minutes for the same symptoms. It’s thought that this is because women are seen as exaggerating pain and being ‘dramatic’ due to sexist stereotypes
John Guillebaud, professor of reproductive health at University College London, revealed this week that research shows period pain can be as “bad as having a heart attack”. He said: “Men don’t get it and it hasn’t been given the centrality it should have. I do believe it’s something that should be taken care of, like anything else in medicine.”
Dr Imogen Shaw, a GP specialising in women’s healthcare, welcomed his comments, saying: “I wouldn’t say [period pain] has been hugely investigated,” and when asked if the issue would be taken more seriously if men experienced it, said: “I suspect there would be, being very cynical.”
It is extraordinary how little the medical profession engages with menstruation. Although recent years have seen period taboos broken through social media campaigns, this has yet to permeate medical discourse – and periods are seldom given serious medical consideration in research. Scant research has been conducted on specific pain prevention or pain relief and devices such as tampons, moon-cups and sanitary towels remain rudimentary.
It’s not only women’s period pain which is taken less seriously, either – ignoring women’s pain is a concerning practise across medicine. Recent research has shown that women’s pain is taken much less seriously by doctors generally.
Stigma around menstruation in rural Nepal can result in poor-health and lack of education for women, but 7 girls from Sindhuli have fought back – with photography
“Being able to deal with periods in a hygienic and dignified way is crucial to women’s wellbeing. It helps women feel that they are able to play a full role in society, no matter what time of the month.”
Sushma Diyali,15: “This is the picture of mirror and comb that I use at my house. In our society, when girls experience their first menstruation we are not allowed to look into mirrors or comb our hair.Me and my family do not follow such practice. I think mirrors and combs are the means of cleanliness and as a human it’s very important that you should stay clean and healthy. Only if my friends just like me could grow in an environment where are no limitations regarding menstruation and receive more support from the families, they can set themselves free and explore greater potential and opportunities around them is what I think.” (WaterAid)
“Women’s Rights Are Human Rights,” the title of a poster exhibit at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, comes from a speech Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, then first lady of the United States, gave to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995.
“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference,” Clinton said, “it is that human rights are women’s rights. And women’s rights are human rights.”
For those of you who are not familiar with Myers-Briggs or the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), it is a personality profiling system based on Jung’s typological theory that was developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. In the Myers-Briggs typology system, there are sixteen personality types consisting of four letters: E for extrovert or I for introvert, S for sensor or N for intuitive, T for thinker or F for feeler, and P for perceiver or J for judger. Psychologist David Keirsey later sorted these types into four temperaments. You can read more about Myers-Briggs here and find books about it here. Myers-Briggs typology can offer a lot of insight into how someone thinks, and in the case of an author, how someone writes.
Liquid meal maker Soylent is stopping sales of its flagship powder, warning that a handful of customers reported stomach sickness after consuming it.
Soylent had already halted shipments of its months-old nutrition bar because of customer complaints of diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomachs. In an announcement late Thursday, the Los Angeles company said there appears to be a common ingredient that’s causing trouble in the latest version of its nutritional powder and its snack bar. The products share several common ingredients, Soylent said, but the investigation isn’t complete.
Backed by more than $20 million in venture capital, Soylent has emerged as one of several popular start-ups hoping to change what and how people eat. Meant to be mixed with water or other liquids, the powder has enough fats, carbohydrates and other nutrients to replace a traditional meal, according to the company. People looking for a quick fix, such as software programmers in Silicon Valley, have become devotees.
Leaves scream their final cries in color before dropping to the ground. Their shouts — in golden, crimson or scarlet — eventually fade to brown bellows, and their lifeless bodies dry up on the forest floor. It absorbs their crinkly corpses and that’s it — worm food. The fall of a leaf in autumn is an orchestrated death. A complex, brilliant, beautiful death.
Right now across the United States, fall foliage season is peaking, and everyone’s out to get a peep at the fiery show. Hiking trails are crowded. Mountain roads are packed, andleaf cams are getting lots of love. When you think of it as watching the death of leaves, it sounds morbid, but it’s captivating nonetheless. Does the way some turn red in the process serve any purpose?
Leaves actually start out yellow. Chlorophyll, the chemical responsible for giving leaves their green appearance and converting light to energy during photosynthesis, just overpowers it in the spring and summer. But when temperature, daylight and weather events like rain or drought cause leaves to die in the fall, chlorophyll breaks down and reveals the yellow or orange helper chemicals known as carotenes or carotenoids that were there all along.
Red is another story, because it’s made on purpose. As some leaves die, they produce chemicals called anthocyanins (also found in the skin of grapes and apples) from built up sugars. These chemicals produce a red pigment that can combine with green pigments left from chlorophyll and display different shades of red.
How bright this red is depends on what species the leaf belongs to, its inherent genetics and the environment around it — including the forest, the tree, and individual leaves, said John Silander, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at The University of Connecticut.
Well, the leaves are not as brilliant as I have seen before here in Banjoville…but they sure are pretty. Take a look, this is at Cowrock Mountain on the Appalachian Trail.
This is an open thread.
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Once again we see the results of toxic religious zealotry and resentment whipped up to the point that some nutter feels compelled to kill in the case of the Orlando massacre. This occurs all too frequently in this country. You may recall the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting where we saw Robert Dear go on a shooting spree with the same deadly combination of anger whipped up by right wing politicians and preachers, mental illness, and easy access to weapons. One claimed ISIS inspiration and Islamofascism. The other was inspired by Christofascists in the US that bring you terror in the name of Fetus Fetishism.
Harassing and encouraging anger is just one political tool used regularly by Republicans these days. I have noticed that the silence is deafening right now on James Wesley Howell. The press can is clearly focused on the bloodbath and the sensational background of the Pulse Shooter rather than wondering why we manage to get bigger and badder displays of hatred and anger these days. I’m not sure that most people realize that any Abrahamic-based religion is going to beget violence in some folks. It goes with territory. A few of them take retribution and strict commandments from their angry sky fairy way too seriously. This is especially the case if they have some kind of severe emotional or mental disorder.
(Spoiler Alert) It’s the easy access to guns of all kinds in this country. The irresponsible and cynical use of anger and outrage to gain power and money is out of control. Religion is just another vehicle to whip up the anger and the outrage and it frequently turns deadly.
There were calls to ban the weapon after the Newtown shootings, which led to a spike in sales. Gun manufacturers have called the AR-15 one of the most popular weapons in the U.S., with more than 3 million estimated to be in circulation.
“It was designed for the United States military to do to enemies of war exactly what it did this morning: kill mass numbers of people with maximum efficiency and ease,” lawyer Josh Koskoff, who’s representing Newtown families in their lawsuit against the gun industry, said Sunday.
Regulations on magazine capacity for the weapon vary from state to state, but it can fire 45 rounds a minute.
Most forms of the gun had been prohibited under the 1994 federal assault weapons ban that was allowed to expire in 2004, following ferocious lobbying by the National Rifle Association.
The NRA has used its lobbying might in the years since to bury attempts to revive the ban.
“During the decade of the ban, there were half as many casualties in mass shootings as the decade before, and a third as many casualties in mass shootings as the decade after,” said Richard Aborn of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, a strategist involved in the original legislation.
Hillary Clinton has called for the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban in the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history that left 49 people and the gunman dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
In forthright comments a day after the massacre at the Pulse Club, the presumptive presidential nominee for the Democratic party issued a call for a return to “commonsense gun safety reform” and lambasted the Republican-controlled Congress for what she called a “totally incomprehensible” refusal to address the country’s lax gun laws.
“We can’t fall into the trap set up by the gun lobby that says if you cannot stop every shooting you shouldn’t try to stop any,” she said.
Clinton’s tough stance on gun control sets up a torrid fight with her Republican rival for the White House Donald Trump, who has positioned himself as a champion of the second amendment and dismissed any calls for greater gun controls as weakness. She insisted that while she did believe that law-abiding American citizens have the right to own guns, it was also possible to see that “reasonable, commonsense measures” could be taken that would make people more safe from guns.
A day after the deadliest mass shooting in US history, questions are mounting over why the shooter Omar Mateen was legally able to buy an assault rifle and handgun despite having been investigated twice by the FBI for suspected terrorist sympathies.
Mateen, 29, launched his attack on Pulse club, an LGBT venue in downtown Orlando celebrating its popular Latin dance night, at 2.02am on Sunday morning.
Twenty minutes into the spree he took the bizarre step of making a 911 call in which he reportedly referred both to Islamic State and the Tsarnaevs, the brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013.
Sunday’s attack – which left 49 clubgoers dead and 53 injured – was launched by Mateen using a .223-caliber assault rifle and 9mm semi-automatic pistol with multiple rounds of ammunition that had been purchased quite lawfully in the week before the rampage using Mateen’s firearms license. Mateen was shot dead by police.
He also held a permit to work as a security guard, which he did at a courthouse in Port St Lucie, Florida, even though he was interviewed three times by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 following separate reports of extremist behavior and connections to terrorism that were in the end deemed insubstantial.
Mateen was released because no evidence of wrongdoing was found by the FBI. He’s a natural born American so that provides him the usual protections. This is something that appears to have blown completely pass Donald Trump whose rhetoric and bragging were dialed up to 11 yesterday. He revisited his call to ban all Muslims from entering the country despite the fact that all three of the shooters claiming support for Islamofascim–Nidal Hassn (Fort Hood),Syed Rizwan Farook, (San Bernardino) , and Mateen (Orlando)–were American citizens. Only Farook’s wife–Tashfeen Malik–was foreign born.
The presumptive Republican nominee pulled no punches in a lengthy statement yesterday, going so far as to call for Barack Obama to resign and reiterating his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States (despite the fact that the shooter was born in New York).
“In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down,” Trump said in his press release. “If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency. If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.”
“We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year. Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States,” Trump added. “Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term – and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing.” (To be fair, this mischaracterizes Clinton’s position.)
The statement followed a stream of self-congratulatory tweets.
Hillary Clinton on Monday broke from President Barack Obama in referring to the terrorist attack as “radical Islamism,” countering Donald Trump’s accusations that both she and Obama are weak on tackling terrorist threats.
In an interview with NBC’s “Today” on Monday morning, Clinton said words matter less than actions, but that she didn’t have a problem using the term.
“And from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It matters that we got Bin Laden, not what name we called him,” Clinton said. “But if he is somehow suggesting I don’t call this for what it is, he hasn’t been listening. I have clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will.”
Both terms “mean the same thing,” Clinton continued, adding, “And to me, radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I’m happy to say either, but that’s not the point.”
“I have clearly said many, many times we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism or radical Islamism, whatever you call it,” Clinton said later on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” reiterating, “it’s the same.”
The U.S. cannot, on the other hand, she added, “demonize, demagogue and declare war on an entire religion.” Clinton also said she could assure Americans that she is equally committed to fighting Islamic extremism as well as protecting law-abiding Muslims.
President Obama said Monday that the Orlando mass murder was “inspired” by violent extremist propaganda on the internet and there’s no evidence the killing spree was ordered by ISIS.
“We see no clear evidence that he was directed externally,” Obama said from the Oval Office, using another name from the Islamic State terror group. “It does appear that at the last minute he announced allegiance to ISIL.”
Obama said investigators are tracing Omar Mateen’s “pathway” to murder by reviewing his internet searches and other materials.
“It appears that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the internet,” Obama said.
“All those materials are currently being searched … so we will have a better sense of pathway that the killer took in the making a decision to launch this attack.”
Obama made the brief remarks after meeting with FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other security officials.
The Orlando shooting and the shooting that might have been in California both are rooted in hate and easy access to guns. Both shooter and potential shooter had histories of mental illness. The Orlando shooter had a history of Domestic violence which in many states would stop him from getting access to any gun. Clearly, we have a problem in this country with hate and guns turned on the hapless population. One of our political parties has weaponized hatred and bigotry then enabled shooters by catering to all the whims of the most radical elements of the NRA gun lobby.
Clinton is right. This has to end on all accounts.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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What a fabulous week it has been for those of us with GLBT family and friends. It does feel good to know that my uncle…my friends here on the blog, my good friends from high school…my daughter’s best buddies, my son’s friends too…can legally gain the rights, respect and dignity that they deserve…as human beings.
This is the point of all these rainbows innit? And here we are days after the ruling, and still people are posting hateful shit on social media. They don’t get it.
I want to share something with you, written by one of my daughter’s very good friends…Her name is Jemha, it was written last week but it still does make a huge point:
Smart cookie isn’t she.
And what about all the fuss doing with flags, black ones with dildos…confederate ones? This is another point that bothers me, as I look around at social media (Facebook) because this is where my “friends” are mostly found hanging out.
Again, I am amazed at how many people don’t “get it” but I will use Jemha again as an example…she is half-black, half-Haitian. When my daughter is enjoying a Blizzard in a Blue Ridge Dairy Queen with Jemha, and they actually feel so intimidated…they are all afraid, because of the racist assholes glares and scowls and threatening looks…with the confederate flag on display everywhere. This is Hate. And it is directed at both girls.
That is a reality, that is what so many don’t understand, and it is so frustrating for me that many of my friends who are very intelligent…don’t get it. Yes, freedom of speech is one thing. But there is a line that is crossed when freedom of speech becomes: hate motivated intimidation, terroristic threats, hate crimes, etc.
The actions and statements made by assclown right-wing religious racist bigots of late hurt my family and friends. And I do not like to see my people treated unfairly, unkindly or disrespected.
Am I going to stand up for my friends and family? You bet your fucking ass I will…
I am so sick of folks using religion as an excuse to discriminate and spread their hate and racist agenda against people of color (Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, Green, whatever.) And….when they plead religious freedom as an excuse to manipulate and control women and deny us reproductive healthcare, or scream religious liberty against GLBTs to avoid following the law of the land….this is not what the Constitution is all about.
They preach their righteousness and pass judgement when hypocrisy is the cornerstone of everything they stand for….This does not sit well with me. Whatever the religious folks want to do in their own private lives within their own house is their business….but do not come and force their version of religion liberty upon everyone else, by taking away the liberty of those they hate and despise.
Anyway, that isn’t anything new for you all to read. Boston Boomer said the same thing last week. Now, here are your links for today.
A Southern Black Church fire raged overnight, this makes 8 in the last 10 days.
Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, a prominent African-American church in Greeleyville, S.C., caught fire late Tuesday. It is the eighth black church in the southern U.S.A. to burn in 10 days.
Mount Zion was burned to the ground by the KKK in 1995, part of a string of 30 fires in black churches that spanned two years.
An investigation into the fire’s cause will begin after it is safely extinguished, chief of the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division Mark Keel told the Post and Courier. He noted that that the thunderstorm that pounded the town of 375 Tuesday evening could have ignited the church. Meteorologist Pete Mohlin of the National Weather Service told the paper there was a lot of lightning in the area around 7 p.m. but he could not say if it had caused the fire.
Parishioners across the south are surveying the damage a string of similar fires has caused this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports, starting in Knoxville, Tenn. on June 21 and moving to Macon, Ga and Gibson County, Tenn on June 23; Charlotte, N.C. on June 24; Elyria, Ohio on June 25; and Tallahassee, Fla. and Warrenville, S.C on June 26.
Three of those fires have been ruled arson, one was determined to be caused by a falling branch and faulty wiring, and the others remain under investigation. Several have been blamed preliminarily on lightning; weather in the south this week has been turbulent.
The Rev. Nelson Rivers said Tuesday night that he worked closely with ATF while they investigated a string of arsons at black churches in the 1990s.
“My prayer is that we’re not having a repeat,” Rivers told ABC News 4. “But we’re not going to take chances and we are plotting where the churches have burned so far, reaching out to the pastors and the congregations, and also talking to the authorities in those areas to see what they think.”
A federal law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said a Friday fire at a church in Aiken County does not appear to have been intentionally set. The official had direct knowledge of the investigations but spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the official was not authorized to discuss them publicly.
The official said another fire Wednesday at a Charlotte, North Carolina, church appeared to be set by vandals, and investigators have found no graffiti or other evidence that it was racially motivated.
In Georgia, FBI Special Agent in Charge Britt Johnson said Monday that authorities are also looking into whether a June 23 fire could be a hate crime, which is common practice for fires at houses of worship.
“Opening a preliminary inquiry doesn’t suggest that a hate crime has occurred, but rather ensures that it is getting additional scrutiny for hate crime potential,” Johnson said in a statement.
Another fire was reported at the College Hill Seventh Day Adventist church in Knoxville,Tennessee, a predominantly black congregation. Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk had said previously that the fire was not being investigated as a hate crime. Authorities have said bales of hay outside the church were set on fire, and a church van was damaged in the blaze.
Federal investigators are tracking the Knoxville blaze and several others in an arson database to determine whether there are any trends or similarities, but none of the fires appear to be related, said Michael Knight, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Tennessee.
In Elyria, Ohio, arson has been ruled out in the burning of the College Heights Baptist Church, fire Chief Richard Benton told The Chronicle Telegram newspaper.
Okay, when “vandals” are burning down black churches in the South, after the murders of 9 black people, inside a Southern black church…when the confederate flag is under threat of being banned…to say that there is no evidence of racial motivation. Or…that lightning is the cause of eight black churches burning down? Come on…seriously.
According to the FBI, there are hundreds of white supremacists in the US army or in the veteran community. Some analysts even estimate the number is in the thousands. In America, 203 white supremacist “extremist cases” investigated by the Bureau from 2001 to 2008 involved veterans. The problem hasn’t gone away. Neo-Nazi veteran Wade Michael Page attacked six worshippers at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012.
I spent a number of years investigating how neo-Nazis and white supremacists had infiltrated the US military, with very little push back from the Pentagon, which was desperate to keep the supply of troops flowing for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
As part of my research, I spoke to veterans who had become white supremacists before service and joined to gain access to weapons and training, as well as veterans who had been radicalized after returning from the war.
Charles Wilson, spokesman for the National Socialist Movement, one of the top neo-Nazi groups in America, was frank about his attempts to populate the US armed forces with extremists: “We do encourage [our members] to sign up for the military. We can use the training to secure the resistance to our government. Every one of them takes a pact of secrecy … Our military doesn’t agree with our political beliefs, they are not supposed to be in the military, but they’re there, in ever greater numbers.” He claimed to have 190 members serving.
Read the rest at the link, it is fucking scary.
And then think about how many former military are in the police force…
This map by Jody Sieradzki of Dadaviz shows which flag people in different states searched more on Google Shopping between January 2008 and June 2015: the U.S. flag or the Confederate flag. The states in black — most of them — shopped more for the American flag. The states in red — Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois and Texas — searched more often for the Confederate flag.
Hmmmmm, notice that one state there in the middle, near the one of the Great Lakes?
Yes? Yeah….and what would be in Illinois that would make confederate flags so fucking popular?
State officials confirmed that the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which calls itself the “largest Klan in America,” filed a permit saying they expected between 100 and 200 people to attend the event on the north side of the building, where the Confederate battle flag is currently being flown. If the permit is approved, the event would be held between 3 and 5 p.m. on July 18.
The South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved the application Monday, and spokesman Brian Gaines explained that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.
“This is our state, and they are not welcome,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement. Haley called for the flag to be removed from outside the building in the wake of the terrorist attack committed by 21-year-old Dylann Roof earlier this month. Lawmakers will discuss removing the flag on July 6.
While Roof faces nine counts of murder in connection with the attack, the group’s leader, Robert Jones, expressed support for him.
“He was heading in the right direction; wrong target,” Jones told the Post and Courier.“He should have actually aimed at the African-American gang-bangers, the ones who are selling the drugs to white youth, the ones who are robbing and raping every chance they get.”
You can see more about how the history books are mistreating the KKK and Confederacy at the link…if you like.
But according to the newspaper, the South Carolina Budget and Control Board approved an application filed by the “Loyal White Knights” chapter of the Ku Klux Klan for a July 18 rally in favor of the flag.
Budget and Control Board spokesman Brian Gaines told the newspaper that space to demonstrate was provided at the site when not already reserved.
The World Health Organization on Tuesday declared Cuba the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child.
The WHO said in a statement that an international delegation that it and the Pan American Health Organization sent to Cuba in March determined the country met the criteria for the designation. In 2013, only two children in Cuba were born with HIV and five with syphilis, the statement said.
“Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against challenges as daunting as HIV,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in the statement.
Misty Copeland made history Tuesday, becoming the first African-American woman to reach the top rank of principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.
Her promotion, announced by Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, marks a significant milestone for diversity in ballet.
“So many young dancers of color stop dancing at an early age because they don’t think there will be a path for them,” Ms. Copeland said at a news conference following the announcement. “I hope this will change that.”
She had said this was a dream for her…to become a principal dancer.
Copeland, the author of a best-selling memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina” and the subject of a documentary film, “A Ballerina’s Tale,” has been a supporter of diversity in ballet. She had also been open about her goal to be lead dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT).
“My dream has been ABT since I was 13,” she said fighting back tears. “I’m excited to continue to grow as an artist and hopefully see more brown dancers come into the company in my lifetime.”
Copeland has already been credited for being an inspiration for younger dancers and for bringing in more diverse audiences to ballet. In her best-selling memoir, she recounted how weird it was for minorities just to buy tickets to the ballet.
Copeland has also appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Earlier this year she took on the lead role in the American Ballet Theatre production of “Swan Lake.”
“It’s been a long journey but it is just the beginning,” she added.
Misty Copeland was fast becoming the most famous ballerina in the United States — making the cover of Time magazine, being profiled by “60 Minutes,” growing into a social media sensation and dancing ballet’s biggest roles on some of its grandest stages. But another role eluded her: She was still not a principal dancer.
Until Tuesday, when Ms. Copeland became the first African-American woman to be named a principal in the 75-year history of American Ballet Theater.
“I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level,” Ms. Copeland said at a news conference at the Metropolitan Opera House on Tuesday afternoon. “At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here — and I’m constantly saying that — it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.”
Fittingly, the moment of her promotion was captured on video andshared on Instagram. “Misty, take a bow,” Kevin McKenzie, Ballet Theater’s artistic director, could be seen saying, before colleagues congratulated Ms. Copeland, who seemed to be fighting back tears. Her promotion was lauded on social media by, among others, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Prince, who had featured her in a video.
Over the past year, whenever Ms. Copeland, 32, danced leading roles with Ballet Theater, her performances became events, drawing large, diverse, enthusiastic crowds to cheer her on at the Metropolitan Opera House, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. After she starred in “Swan Lake” with Ballet Theater last week — becoming the first African-American to do so with the company at the Met — the crowd of autograph-seekers was so large that it had to be moved away from the cramped area outside the stage door.
Read more at the links, there are videos too…she is an amazing artist…and now Principal Dancer of ABT! I think it is about damn time!
Have a great Wednesday, and share your thoughts with us. What are you finding interesting today?
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The couple’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, has given birth to her first child, a daughter named Charlotte.
Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the former president and ex-secretary of state, announced the baby’s birth on Twitter and Facebook early Saturday, saying she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are ‘‘full of love, awe and gratitude as we celebrate the birth of our daughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.’’
Clinton spokesman Kamyl Bazbaz said the child was born on Friday but did not immediately provide additional details. The couple lives in New York City. The Clintons quickly retweeted their daughter’s message on Twitter but did not immediately comment on the baby’s arrival.
Now that the announcement is out of the way, the media demands to know if Hillary will now announce she’s running for president.
The baby has been eagerly anticipated as Hillary Clinton considers her political future — she has called the prospect of becoming a grandmother her ‘‘most exciting title yet.’’ She even has picked out the first book she intends to read to her grandchild, the classic ‘‘Goodnight Moon.’’
She has said she didn’t want to make any decisions about another campaign until the baby’s arrival, pointing to her interest in enjoying becoming a grandmother for the first time. If Clinton decides to run for president, her campaign would coincide with the baby’s first two years.
Sigh . . . Yes, I’m sure Hillary is planning to ruin their daughter’s and son-in-law’s celebration by rushing out and the media’s wish come true. Why don’t they hound Mitt Romney instead? He already has so many grandkids he probably can’t keep their names straight; and Ann Romney has been out and about in the past week.
Ann told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that if only Mitt had been elected in 2012, there wouldn’t have been so many problems in Iraq and Syria. According to Ann,
I think he would have had a status of forces agreement on — in Iraq. I don`t believe ISIS would have had the invasion that they have — they’ve had. They wouldn’t have had the ability to — I think he would have tried to arm the moderates in Syria. I think there`s other things that would have happened that would have made the equation a little bit tilted in our favor.
Those people are not going to go away. This is a generational problem. And the sooner we realize, I think, as Americans, that it`s not an easy solution and it`s not going to go away, but to be really aware of how dangerous the situation is — I think Mitt was very aware how — how precarious it was.
As for Mitt giving running for president a third try, Ann hinted that it will depend on what Jeb Bush decides to do.
One scenario out there, Mrs. Romney, is that Jeb Bush doesn`t run after all, and your husband has sized up the landscape and that a lot of his supporters, past and present, said, you have the name recognition, you have the Reagan example of the third time was the charm for him, and that it`s been done before.
[ANN] ROMNEY: Mm-hmm.
CAVUTO: And — and that would be appealing.
ROMNEY: Well, we will see, won`t we, Neil?
I think Jeb probably will end up running, myself. I think, you know, he — people probably are looking at it, that he`s probably looking at it very carefully right now.
CAVUTO: But why would his entrance in the race matter to — to your supporters or not?
ROMNEY: Well, I think, you know, he would draw on a very similar base that we would draw on.
“Romney is said to believe that, other than himself, [Jeb] Bush is the only one of the current Republican field who could beat Hillary Clinton in a general election,” York writes. So there seems to be at least one candidate who would definitively win Romney’s support.
But while there have been several trial balloons for a Jeb Bush candidacy floated recently, there are reasons to be skeptical he’ll actually pull the trigger. First of all, he’s been out of politics for years and focused on making money. For now, Bush has every reason to encourage speculation that he’s running. It gives him increased media attention, perceived clout, and it makes him more valuable as a speaker and rainmaker. But he’s at odds with the GOP base on issues like immigration and Common Core, and he’s suggested that concerns from his family could be an issue. So Bush might well opt against a run, and Romney could feel that he’s the party’s only hope.
After all, writes Prokop, Romney is a known quantity and he’s popular with GOP donors. On top of that, Chris Christie has lost his luster as a candidate.
Ann Romney on Tuesday skewered Democrats’ claim that there’s a GOP “war on women,” calling the accusation “offensive” and saying it won’t work as a campaign tactic.
“It’s ridiculous, honestly, I mean I don’t think they’re getting very far with that, by the way. It’s not going to work. I think women are a lot smarter than that, and that’s kind of offensive to me, to tell you the truth,” Romney said in an interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News in response to a question about both the so-called “war on women” and DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s recent comments about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
“Scott Walker’s a good guy, and he’s got a wonderful wife, and he values women and that just doesn’t fly,” Romney added.
She was responding to Wasserman Schultz’s remarks earlier this month, when the Florida Democrat said Walker “has given women the back of his hand.”
Well that’s the end of that then. Scott Walker’s wife (does she have a name) is “wonderful,” so women should just shut up and deal with having limited access to birth control, abortion, and child care, and lower pay than their male colleagues.
How many times does Her Royal Horse-Riding Majesty Ann Romney have to explain this to YOU PEOPLE? Sheesh! This so-called “war on women” claptrap Democrats can’t stop blah blahing about is so dumb and so 2012 and so not even real anyway, so why are women — who are so much smarter than Democrats think they are — so stupid as to keep falling for it?
Obviously, talking non-stop about the Republican Party’s non-stop assault on women will never work. Ann knows. She’s an elections expert. That’s why the gender gap in 2012 was only 18 points. Practically a draw! No wonder the whole Romney clan was so very shocked and awed that Ann’s 2012 pitch failed to sway the lady voters:
“Women, you need to wake up,” she urged them. “Women have to ask themselves who’s going to have and be there for you. I can promise you, I know, that Mitt will be there for you. He will stand up for you, he will hear your voices.”
Maybe it had something to do with how some of the things that spilled out of her face hole were kind of … oh, what’s the word? Offensive? Like when she said, “I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids.” Those hard-working women out there were such an inspiration to her because she also had suffered and struggled and worked really hard at never having a job, scraping by on nothing but her husband’s daddy’s stock portfolio.
How the heck did that not work with voters?!? Especially after she told YOU PEOPLE to stop being so dumb already, jeez, and vote for her hubby. And some of YOU PEOPLE even whispered in her ear that you totally agreed with her (and yet did not vote for Mitt anyway, weird!), and even ladies who usually don’t worry their pretty little heads about important issues — that’s Man’s Work, after all — were finally, for the first time ever, thinking about really important stuff, like the economy and “their husbands’ jobs.”
For heaven’s sake, ladies. Mitt had all those binders full of women, remember? Now get over it and go vote Republican!
Of course Mitt wasn’t included in the Values Voters Summit this weekend. That could mean he’s not running or maybe that he thinks the Tea Party vote won’t matter. The usual suspects were there though.
Despite Ann’s claims that the Democrats are getting nowhere with the “war on women” talk, the “values voters” speakers appeared to tone down the anti-abortion and anti-same sex marriage rhetoric, according to ABC News: Republicans Rallying Behind Religious Liberty.
Fighting to improve their brand, leading Republicans rallied behind religious liberty at a Friday gathering of evangelical conservatives, rebuking an unpopular President Barack Obama while skirting divisive social issues.
Speakers did not ignore abortion and gay marriage altogether on the opening day of the annual Values Voter Summit, but a slate of prospective presidential candidates focused on the persecution of Christians and their values at home and abroad — a message GOP officials hope will help unify a divided party and appeal to new voters ahead of November’s midterm elections and the 2016 presidential contest.
“Oh, the vacuum of American leadership we see in the world,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declared Friday in a Washington hotel ballroom packed with religious conservatives. “We need a president who will speak out for people of faith, prisoners of conscience.”
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul echoed the theme in a speech describing America as a nation in “spiritual crisis.”
“Not a penny should go to any nation that persecutes or kills Christians,” said Paul, who like Cruz is openly considering a 2016 presidential bid.
The speaking program included such potential 2016 candidates as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Several possible Republican candidates — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush among them — did not attend. The group has positions on social issues across the spectrum — from the libertarian-leaning Paul, who favors less emphasis on abortion and gay marriage, to Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor whose conservative social values define his brand.
Here’s a lovely little homily from Bobby Jindal:
Jindal, who is also weighing a White House bid, seized on what he called Obama’s “silent war” on religious freedom.
“The United States of America did not create religious liberty,” Jindal said. “Religious liberty created the United States of America.”
Anyone know what he means by a “silent war?” I have no clue. What a charlatan Jindal is!
The ABC article didn’t mention Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, but they were there too.
I stole the above Dave Granlund cartoon from JJ’s Friday night post, because it perfectly expresses my viewpoint on who and what Edward Snowden is. I’ll have the latest Snowden news for you in a minute, but first a personal update and some breaking Boston bombing news.
I’m in Indiana visiting my mom for a couple of weeks. The weather is gorgeous here, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s great to be out of the drizzly cold weather the Boston area has been having. I’m looking forward to doing quite a bit of yard work, helping my mom buy a new bed, celebrating her 89th birthday with her, and just generally enjoying her company.
As usual, I drove my car out here, and I made great time. The speed limits have been increased to 70 mph in Ohio and Indiana, and everyone in Massachusetts and New York routinely drives at least 10-15 miles over the 65 mph limit. So I probably averaged around 70-75 mph on the trip.
My mechanic told me that I need to start using premium gas in my car. I hated to do it, but to my surprise I got much better mileage with the expensive gas. I used 2-1/2 tanks of gas to go more than 900 miles. Usually it takes 3 full tanks and a little more to make the trip!
A cab driver from Quincy who was close to the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers was arrested Friday on charges of lying to investigators and destroying evidence, allegedly obstructing the ongoing investigation of the 2013 attack that shocked the city and the nation.
Khairullozhon Matanov, a 23-year-old Kyrgyzstan national, allegedly contacted Tamerlan Tsarnaev 42 minutes after the April 15, 2013, bombings, and he bought him and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, dinner at a restaurant that night. Matanov visited Tamerlan, whom he knew from playing soccer and from places of worship, at the suspected bomber’s Cambridge home two days later.
Over several days after the bombings, he also called the brothers repeatedly.
Authorities alleged in a sweeping indictment unsealed Friday that Matanov realized the FBI would want to interview him about his relationship with the suspected bombers, but that he deleted files from his computer and tried to get rid of his cellphones. They also allege that he lied to investigators about his encounters with the brothers in the days after the bombings.
Matanov discussed his friendship with the Tsarnaev brothers with others in the days following the bombing, but he claims that they didn’t confess their involvement to him. Apparently, the FBI knew about all this a year ago; it’s not clear why they waited until now to charge Matanov. I’ll be keeping my eye on this story.
Now the latest on the Snowden Operation.
Edward Snowden has been dominating the news for the past few days because of the interview he gave to NBC’s Brian Williams and the recent release of Glenn Greenwald’s book on his collaboration with Snowden in releasing classified NSA files. I have to admit up front that I haven’t yet been able to force myself to watch the interview. Frankly, I doubt if Williams asked any of the questions that I think Snowden should be asked; but I promise I’ll watch the thing today to find out for sure. Meanwhile, I’ve gathered some reactions from people who have watched it.
Frankly, I admit up front that I think Edward Snowden is a defector as well as an arrogant, grandiose, narcissistic jerk. But I think you all knew that already. With that said, here are the latest Snowden (and Greenwald) stories from my very biased point of view.
Last week there were a couple of high-profile negative reviews of Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide, one by George Packer and the other by Michael Kinsley. As you know, Greenwald doesn’t take criticism well, and he and his fans were not happy with either review. Packer’s review was the most scathing and carefully argued, but Kinsley is taking most of the heat from the Greenwald fan base, probably because the review was quite snarky. For example:
Greenwald was the go-between for Edward Snowden and some of the
newspapers that reported on Snowden’s collection of classified documents
exposing huge eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, among
other scandals. His story is full of journalistic derring-do, mostly set in
exotic Hong Kong. It’s a great yarn, which might be more entertaining if
Greenwald himself didn’t come across as so unpleasant. Maybe he’s
charming and generous in real life. But in “No Place to Hide,” Greenwald
seems like a self-righteous sourpuss, convinced that every issue is
“straightforward,” and if you don’t agree with him, you’re part of
something he calls “the authorities,” who control everything for their own
nefarious but never explained purposes….
Throughout “No Place to Hide,” Greenwald quotes any person or
publication taking his side in any argument. If an article or editorial in
The Washington Post or The New York Times (which he says “takes
direction from the U.S. government about what it should and shouldn’t
publish”) endorses his view on some issue, he is sure to cite it as evidence that he is right. If Margaret Sullivan, the public editor (ombudsman, or
reader representative) of The Times, agrees with him on some controversy,
he is in heaven. He cites at length the results of a poll showing that more
people are coming around to his notion that the government’s response to
terrorism after 9/11 is more dangerous than the threat it is designed to
Greenwald doesn’t seem to realize that every piece of evidence he
musters demonstrating that people agree with him undermines his own
argument that “the authorities” brook no dissent. No one is stopping
people from criticizing the government or supporting Greenwald in any
way. Nobody is preventing the nation’s leading newspaper from publishing
a regular column in its own pages dissenting from company or government
orthodoxy. If a majority of citizens now agree with Greenwald that dissent
is being crushed in this country, and will say so openly to a stranger who
rings their doorbell or their phone and says she’s a pollster, how can
anyone say that dissent is being crushed? What kind of poor excuse for an
authoritarian society are we building in which a Glenn Greenwald, proud
enemy of conformity and government oppression, can freely promote this
book in all media and sell thousands of copies at airport bookstores
surrounded by Homeland Security officers?
And so on . . . After Kinsley’s piece was published the Snowden cult, of which NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan is a charter member, reacted as usual with an over-the-top firestorm of rage. I’ll let Sullivan speak for the cult. She questioned the choice of Kinsley as reviewer and accused the long-time book-reviewer of arguing the only the government should decide whether classified government materials should be published. She apparently also felt that Kinsley showed insufficient deference to her idol Glenn Greenwald. I’d like to quote from Sullivan’s piece, but for some reason I can’t copy and paste from it. But here’s a reaction to the kerfluffle from Jonathan Chait: Times vs. Sullivan vs. Kinsley vs. Greenwald. Chait agrees with me that the Packer review is “more devastating.” Chait thoroughly skewers Margaret Sullivan, and she can’t attack him because he didn’t do it at the NYT.
It’s certainly true that Kinsley is more effective [than Packer] at poking a hole in Greenwald’s argument than in making the case for his own (obviously problematic) alternative. That would seem to be fair enough given that he’s writing a review of Greenwald’s book. Not to Sullivan, who sprung into action, using her public editor’s column to scold Kinsley. His review “expressed a belief that many journalists find appalling,” she wrote, aghast. Also, “there’s a lot about this piece that is unworthy of the Book Review’s high standards, the sneering tone about Mr. Greenwald, for example.” No sneering in the book review!
Paul writes back to Sullivan — in a rebuttal posted at the bottom of Sullivan’s item — to say, more or less, “let me explain to you what what a book review is”:
It seems there is a lot of confusion on the Internet, especially among those who do not work in the media but even — disturbingly — within the media, about the differences between an editorial and a book review, between what “The New York Times” says and what a reviewer for The New York Times Book Review says. …
For a reviewer to address how a writer comes across, particularly in a memoir or first-hand account, is entirely fair game for a book review, and by no means an ad hominem attack.
The notion that it’s wrong for the book review to print abhorrent reviews, let alone to poke fun at no less a hero than Glenn Greenwald, is an artifact of the culture of smugness that Kinsley is writing about here. If there’s one thing objective journalists are allowed — indeed, expected — to hold extremely strong opinions about, other than the importance of reducing the budget deficit, it’s the importance of journalists themselves. How dare a newspaper publish a review expressing skepticism about special rights for journalists?
Since I haven’t yet watched the Snowden interview with Brian Williams, I’ll give you what I think is the best response I’ve seen so far from Kurt Eichenbaum at Newsweek: 16 Questions Edward Snowden Wasn’t Asked. This article is must-read–if only I could quote the whole thing! Here’s a small sample:
1. Most of the information that has been revealed from the documents you obtained dealt with the abilities, rather than the actions, of the NSA. Did you see or do you have any evidence that the agency was, in fact, spying on Americans who were not linked to terrorist organizations through what is known as the “three-hop” standard? (Under this rule, one of 22 NSA officials must give approval to an analyst who believes a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” exists that a number is directly linked to terrorists. Then the analyst is allowed to determine through searches of metadata which phone numbers were called by the first number. The NSA can then determine the numbers called by the second phone, and the numbers called by the third. The intent is to see if numbers called in the United States by phones directly connected to terrorists will reveal terrorist operatives inside the country.)
5. Did you see or do you have evidence of the NSA reading content of emails sent by Americans or listening to phone calls of Americans without meeting the standards required by the national security courts known as FISA courts?
10. Do you believe that surveillance in foreign nations is intrinsically wrong?
11. You say that you do not believe your actions damaged United States security and that the government has failed to reveal instances where it did. Two questions: What kind of analysis did you conduct to be sure that the information you were taking did not compromise security? And, secondly, given that journalists do not have security clearances, why did you think they were the best placed to determine what would compromise national security and what didn’t?
Please go read the rest. It sounds like Brian Williams pretty much avoided asking Snowden any hard questions at all.
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.
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.
Ending 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?
Simply 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.”
The 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?
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.
“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:
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.
“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.
Of 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.
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.”
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:
It 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:
‘Ndrangheta ‘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.
“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.
What 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.
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.
Those 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.
Raffaele Grassi, head of the Criminal Unit of the Italian State Police, told reporters that the operation demonstrated that 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.
The 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.
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. You’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. (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!
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.