Good Morning and Happy Easter
(Cute illustration eh? Little fucking rabbits…or should I say little rabbits fucking? Well, about to at least.) Oh my, that is a bit too sordid for an Easter Morn, is it not? I don’t know, everything is still a bit hazy since Bebe got back from Chicago. I have a couple of extra teenage “other people munchkins.” Friends of my son spending the entire long weekend with us…lets just say the big ham is already gone, and it is now 2 am Saturday night.
Quick links to headlines:
While CNN has the figure up two : Death toll from South Korean ferry sinking rises to 52
This next article from the Irish Times is big news: Third mate was steering ferry for first time ever before capsize
In the grocers corner, NY Times: General Mills Reverses Itself on Consumers’ Right to Sue
Enjoy your bacon and OJ now, because that stuff is going to get even more expensive: The 10 Fastest Rising Food Prices – 24/7 Wall St.
But that is okay, because you probably will not be able to afford the bacon anyway…since you have to deal with this shit: After foreclosure crisis, renters suffer under Wall Street landlords | Al Jazeera America
The poster child for the foreclosure crisis has been a middle-income suburban family. But low-income urban renters also saw their buildings over-mortgaged at the height of the crisis, and now faceless hedge funds and nameless investors are replacing their desperate landlords — sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Six years after the foreclosure crisis helped tank the world’s economy, investors are snatching up “distressed” properties — those that are in foreclosure or facing foreclosure — and seeking to turn a profit on them. Advocates for affordable housing worry that this profit comes at the expense of tenants.
Joanna Paulino knows this all too well. She lives in a lower-income neighborhood in the Bronx borough of New York City. Her home is a prewar building, a once attractive structure like many others in the city’s outer boroughs. But after years of neglect, it is crumbling; there are more than 140 violations registered against the premises.
Pathetic and disturbing.
Over the last several months, Wall Street firms have snapped up an estimated 200,000 single-family homes with the intention of renting them out. The New York–based hedge fund Blackstone Group is now America’s largest landlord of rental homes after purchasing over 40,000 foreclosed single-family homes in 14 metro areas around the country, from Atlanta to Phoenix, to convert into rental properties. But certain investors are also snatching up “distressed” urban rental buildings like the one where Paulino lives in the South Bronx. Unbeknownst to many low-income renters, their buildings were over-mortgaged during the bubble. In New York, many of those buildings are due for refinancing now — making them vulnerable to acquisition by hedge funds.
“Since these buildings are so over-mortgaged,” said Harold Shultz, an affordable-housing expert who works with the Citizens Housing Planning Council of New York, “the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to be refinanced.”
Desperate landlords and banks are looking for new owners and investors. And Wall Street is ready to step in and help out.
These groups often purchase buildings sight unseen, with little knowledge of the conditions a foreclosed building might be in. Sometimes, especially in the case of apartments, foreclosures can take years to resolve.
So while old owners, banks and new owners or investors sort out the debt, buildings languish in disrepair. And when an agreement is eventually reached, there is no guarantee for tenants that conditions will improve.
I will use those last few stories to tie into the post that Boston Boomer wrote Friday: Friday Reads: American Oligarchy, South Korean Tragedy, and Hillary Under the Microscope | Sky Dancing
Where she focused her post primarily on the study results of Martin Gilins and Benjamin I. Page of Princeton and Northwestern Universities, and a recent article by Larry Bartels, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University.
The word Oligarchy and its various forms were used heavily throughout. (I always have to sound out the word oligarchy in my head when I am reading that word to myself. Even then I am not confident my mind’s voice is pronouncing it correctly.) 😉
On Friday I found this op/ed while looking for cartoons and it struck a chord, but it did not give an answer: How Not to Talk About Wealth Inequality by Tina Dupuy
Have you heard we live in an oligarchy? Perhaps you’ve been told America is a plutocracy? Is that because of widespread demagogy?
Circumlocution: a big word meaning using unnecessarily lofty words to express an idea.
Welcome to the baffling world of liberal-speak.
Oligarchy, plutocracy and demagogy: The holy trinity of sesquipedalian polysyllable liberal loquaciousness.
This language liberals, in particular, have chosen to talk about elitism is, well, really snooty. When we talk about a tiny fraction of people having undue influence on our politics—we use words barely anyone understands.
Marinade in that irony. It’s like if we were broadcasting NASCAR only in Latin. Oligarchy? That sounds like a German cabbage dish. Demagoguery sounds like a flourish in square dancing. Plutocracy sounds like we should just be friends.
I write for a living and these words make my eyes glaze over. And they’re used all time, often by well-meaning liberal-types attempting to advocate for the have-less in this nation. Case in point: Paul Krugman. His columns “Oligarchs and Money,” “Oligarchy, American Style” and “Graduates Versus the Oligarchs”—do cover how economic policies favor a fraction of 1 percent of Americans but his go-to word is comprehended by even fewer.
Go see what else Tina has to say. One thing she does not mention is some examples of substitutes for Oligarchs, Oligarchy etc.
More on this after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »
And here we are, another Sunday morning…well, yesterday was the first time in weeks that I found myself suffering from a migraine. As I write this post, I still feel the after effects; that groggy disoriented unattached feeling that comes with a sense of exhaustion and overwhelming emotional blah…with all that being said, the links this morning will be quick and to the point. I just can’t muster up the energy to do anything more than that.
I am going to start with this kick ass photo from NASA. It is a billion, let me say that again….a biiiiiilllllion pixel photo of the planet Mars, and it is interactive! Seriously, take a look, there is a rock that is called “Toilet Seat Rock” and when you zoom in you can see little Marvin the Martian dude from Looney Tunes sitting there making his very own an “Earth shattering kaboom”….Mars Exploration Program: Interactive: Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover
- Original Caption Released with Image:
- This image is a scaled-down version of a full-circle view which combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. The Full-Res TIFF and Full-Res JPEG provided in the top right legend are smaller resolution versions of the 1.3 billion pixel version for easier browser viewing and downloading. Viewers can explore the full-circle image with pan and zoom controls at http://mars.nasa.gov/bp1/.The view is centered toward the south, with north at both ends. It shows Curiosity at the “Rocknest” site where the rover scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. Curiosity used three cameras to take the component images on several different days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012.This first NASA-produced gigapixel image from the surface of Mars is a mosaic using 850 frames from the telephoto camera of Curiosity’s Mast Camera instrument, supplemented with 21 frames from the Mastcam’s wider-angle camera and 25 black-and-white frames — mostly of the rover itself — from the Navigation Camera. It was produced by the Multiple-Mission Image Processing Laboratory (MIPL) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.This version of the panorama retains “raw” color, as seen by the camera on Mars under Mars lighting conditions. A white-balanced version is available at PIA16918. The view shows illumination effects from variations in the time of day for pieces of the mosaic. It also shows variations in the clarity of the atmosphere due to variable dustiness during the month while the images were acquired.NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity and the rover’s 10 science instruments to investigate the environmental history within Gale Crater, a location where the project has found that conditions were long ago favorable for microbial life.Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Curiosity’s Mastcam. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington and built the Navigation Camera and the rover.
- Image Credit:
- Image Addition Date:
That is the description of the image shown above, to get a better view of the picture you can click on the link and check it out yourself. It is freaking cool! And I bet you will spend some time getting lost in the red dust on the Martian surface.
You may have seen the next few links during the past few days, but I will put them here in link dump fashion just in case.
In 2011, the multibillion-dollar nonprofit Goodwill Industries paid Pennsylvania workers with disabilities wages as low as 22, 38 and 41 cents an hour, according to Labor Department records obtained by NBC News. In 2010, an Applebee’s in a tony New York suburb hired hearing- and visually impaired employees through a placement program with the Helen Keller National Center and paid them between $3.97 per hour and $5.96, well below the state minimum wage of $7.25.
And it’s perfectly legal due to a Depression-era loophole in federal labor law, as NBC reports:
Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was passed in 1938, allows employers to obtain special minimum wage certificates from the Department of Labor. The certificates give employers the right to pay disabled workers according to their abilities, with no bottom limit to the wage…
The non-profit certificate holders can also place employees in outside, for-profit workplaces including restaurants, retail stores, hospitals and even Internal Revenue Service centers.
While employers like Goodwill defend the practice as providing jobs to people who need and want them, disability and labor rights advocates have called the loophole exploitative, saying it traps workers in a “two-tiered” system that says “Americans who have disabilities aren’t as valuable as other people,” as Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, told NBC. “That’s wrong. These folks have value. We should recognize that value,” he added.
When we lived in Tampa, my brother worked for Marriott at Tampa International Airport, they paid minimum wage and with the exception of the last manager who did not want to work with the Downs students at Denny’s school, the experience was very good for both Marriott and my brother. But…this crap about below minimum wage…that is ridiculous. There is a bill proposed which could repeal Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act…but it is facing opposition. Guess we will just have to wait and see.
This next link from Digby:
This really is Big Brother: the leak nobody’s noticed
This McClatchy piece (written by some of the same people who got the Iraq war run-up story so right while everyone else got it wrong) is as chilling to me as anything we’ve heard over the past few weeks about the NSA spying. In fact, it may be worse…
She links to this article: Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S. | McClatchy
Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.
President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.
I know that this was linked to in the comments yesterday, but I thought it deserved to be on the front page. Creepy is what Boston Boomer thought about it. Yup…it sure is.
Well, in the finance news: SEC Wants Banks To Admit Wrongdoing – Business Insider
For decades, the SEC has let companies and individuals settle charges without actually admitting guilt, letting bigwigs more or less off the hook with only tacit — but not legal — acknowledgment of wrongdoing.
No longer. The Commission will begin to push for more accountability on a “case-by-case” basis, the Wall Street Journal reports:
From the Journal:
The new policy, which came out of a review [SEC Chairman] Ms. White began when she joined the agency in the spring, will be applied in “cases where…it’s very important to have that public acknowledgment [of wrongdoing] and accountability,” she told reporters at a Wall Street Journal CFO Network conference in Washington, D.C.
Decisions will be made on a “case-by-case” basis, Ms. White said. But she added the agency intends to target cases of egregious intentional conduct or widespread harm to investors.
Most cases still will be allowed to settle using the standard “neither admit nor deny” formula, Ms. White said.
Washington legislators like Elizabeth Warren have recently urged the SEC to take big banks to task for wrongdoing, the Journal reports.
I can’t even think straight to make sense of anything dealing with finance, numbers, math, numbers, but I will say that I sure liked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s signature when it was all loopy-loops. Treasury chief’s loopy signature evolves into something almost legible – U.S. News
The official signature of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on a $5 bill, top, and Lew’s signature on a 2011 memo.
The top finance official in the federal government was given the humiliating nickname Loopty Lew. Worse still, the treasury chief is one of two people whose signatures grace United States currency. President Barack Obama joked that he might devalue the dollar.
This next item is something that worries me, hopefully it does not give us a preview of what we are going to see here. Google Makes Google News In Germany Opt-In Only To Avoid Paying Fees Under New Copyright Law | TechCrunch
Google News in Germany will soon change. Starting August 1, it will only index sources that have decided to explicitly opt-in to being shown on the search giant’s news-aggregation service. Google News remains an opt-out service in the other 60 countries and languages it currently operates in, but since Germany passed a new copyright law earlier this year that takes effect on August 1, the company is in danger of having to pay newspapers, blogs and other publishers for the right to show even short snippets of news.
Publishers will have to go into Google’s News tools page to agree to be indexed by Google News. Publishers who don’t do this will simply be removed from the index come August 1.
Many of Germany’s publishers had hoped to force Google to pay a licensing fee for their content, but today’s announcement does not even mention this. Instead, Google notes that it is saddened by the fact that it has to make this change. On its German blog, Google argues that Google News currently gets 6 billion visits per month and that, if anything, it’s providing a free service for publishers that brings them more traffic.
One of the main issues with the “Leistungsschutzrecht” (how’s that for a good German word?) — the ancillary copyright law that the German government passed after large protests earlier this year — is that it’s not clear when a “snippet” becomes a snippet. The law doesn’t feature a clear definition of how long a snippet actually is (140 characters? 160? 250?).
Google always argued that the new law was neither necessary nor useful and that it wouldn’t pay for links and snippets. A number of major German publishers have already said that they will opt-in to being featured in Google News, but there is a good chance that quite a few will decide that they don’t need the traffic.
It then makes you wonder what will eventually happen here in the US, with more and more newspapers going to paywall subscription services…and what that means for bloggers and news-aggregate or RSS services.
Deep in the heart of Texas via Policy Mic: Texas Passed Abortion Laws In a Special Session, Because Trampling On Women’s Rights Can’t Wait
Late Tuesday night, the Texas Senate advanced anti-abortion legislation known as SB5, raising serious concerns for the future of abortion clinics in Texas. Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to discuss redistricting issues which arose from the 2011 court rulings that deemed Texas’ redistricting as discriminatory. SB5 passed 20-10 in the Texas Senate, leading way to a vote in the GOP-dominated House of Representatives in Texas.
The bill includes many provisions to limit women’s access to health care resources in Texas. The bill would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy with one or two exceptions. In addition, the bill also would require abortions to be conducted in ambulatory surgical centers by doctors with admitting privileges. These surgical centers have to be within a 30-mile radius of a hospital near the clinic. Furthermore, the bill would ban telemedicine, which would require doctors to only give abortion-pill prescriptions in person and not via telecommunications such as Skype or other means.
This provision would endanger all but five clinics in Texas, severely limiting women’s access to healthcare options and limting their right to choose. This is in line with what Governor Perry and some other Republican state sentors have said about reshaping a “Culture of Life” in Texas. Such provisions have been said to “reshape the landscape” in the state, as fewer clinics and longer distances to reach them will make it far more difficult for women in many parts of Texas to obtain abortion if they choose to.
And the latest on the Paula Deen mess:
[VIDEO] Paula Deen Apologizes but Food Network does not renew her contract.
They are lining up to stuff their mouths and support Deen In Savannah, Many Defend Paula Deen From Critics – NYTimes.com
This video explains the situation down in Brazil, give it a look see if you have some time.
The next few links revolve around one photo I saw yesterday on Reuters. Photos of the week | Reuters.com
The caption reads:
A submerged statue of the Hindu Lord Shiva stands amid the flooded waters of river Ganges at Rishikesh in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India, June 17, 2013.
When I saw this image, it immediately made me think of an image from an old movie…from 1939. I will show you the image shortly. The film was called The Rains Came, according to TCM:
The Rains Came (1939) A lavish and expensive prestige picture, budgeted at $2.5 million, and based on a critically acclaimed novel, The Rains Came (1939) stars Tyrone Power as an Indian doctor in the mythical city of Ranchipur, India. He begins an affair with a married British noblewoman (Myrna Loy) until a massive flood, earthquake and plague disrupt everyone’s lives. To complement its huge star Tyrone Power, Twentieth Century-Fox borrowed Myrna Loy and director Clarence Brown from MGM, and George Brent from Warner Brothers. Rounding out the cast is a splendid roster of supporting players including Maria Ouspenskaya, Henry Travers, Jane Darwell, H.B. Warner and Nigel Bruce (cast against type).
It’s Power’s show all the way, however, as he is costumed stunningly in outfits ranging from turbans and satins to military uniforms and hospital whites. Power’s most significant co-star here is probably the special effects, which won the first-ever Oscar® in that category. The picture was also nominated for five further Academy Awards: Art Direction, Black-and-White Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound, and Musical Score.
You can see the first scene in the film here at this link, in it you will see the statue that mimics the image in the Reuters photograph above.
From the opening scene, Brit artist Ransome (George Brent) and local doctor Major Safti (Tyrone Power) discuss the former’s inertia and the state of contemporary India, a missionary mother and daughter (Marjorie Rambeau, Brenda Joyce) visiting, in The Rains Came, 1939, co-starring Myrna Loy.
This statue of Queen Victoria later becomes one of the iconic images in a film that was loaded with advance special effects and cinematography…from the TCM link above:
Cinematographer Arthur Miller had plenty of fascinating recollections about The Rains Came, too. He was asked to replace Bert Glennon early in production because Glennon was not lighting the sets the way Brown wanted. For a grand dinner-party scene, for instance, Brown wanted the furniture and dcor to shine, “and Glennon had made it shadowy and soft.” Miller got the brilliant, shiny look Brown was after by spraying the tables and other furniture with oil, and having the silverware polished over and over until everything glistened. “When the old Maharajah died and the veil over the bed blew a little in the wind, I made the whole scene glow as vividly as possible, to suggest a spiritual, transcendent quality.”
Miller had photographed Myrna Loy once before, on The Truth About Youth (1930), and he knew some of her tics. He described one exchange which says much about how stars of the time tried to control the technical aspects of their on-screen appearance: “She asked me before we did the test to have a matchbox light with a red gelatin on it shine in her eyes with fifteen candle power. I thought, ‘What the hell was the use of that when I already had hundreds of watts shining on her anyway?’ And I asked her what she wanted it for. And she said, ‘It makes my eyes dark.’ Crazy, of course, but I jiggled it around for her and whether she had the light and the gelatin on it or not didn’t make any difference! It was all hokum; stars get that way. Luckily, she accepted my point that the light she wanted had no sense, and from then on we got along O.K.
“But oddly enough, I did use the red gelatin once. It’s when she takes a drink in the hospital and you know she’s become infected with a disease and her face fills with shadows. I just wanted a special kind of look in her face, as though death is coming over her and she doesn’t know it. And the gelatin was wonderful for that.”
Miller continued: “I became obsessed with rain on that picture; I was always amazed when I left the studio that it wasn’t raining. I hate movie rain that falls straight down, and I know that rain never does; it always falls at an angle. I made the prop department adjust the spouts accordingly. I even shot the raindrops so they seemed much larger. You never saw such water in your life! Brent and the others took a hell of a beating on the picture. There was one scene when Nigel Bruce and his manservant were on the landing of their house and the water rushed in and ‘drowned’ them in one shot, without a cut. And in fact the actors actually took the full force of that, and even had bits of the set flying on to them! They risked their lives, even though the material was balsawood; if it had hit them the wrong way it would have killed them instantly…
“One trouble with the way they handle rain today…is that they don’t backlight it. You have to backlight rain or you don’t see it; it’s just a blur. And all the way in my picture the rain shines; it was the theme of the film.”
Beautiful, that is what the film is.
There is another post, from the blogMatte Shot that looks at how the film makers actually shot some of the sequences in this movie: Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Era special fx: December 2010 Fred Sersen burns Chicago and floods Ranchipur – the effects shots from IN OLD CHICAGO and THE RAINS CAME I will give you a quote from the section that deals with The Rains Came:
And here is that same matte being painted by Hector Serbaroli. I’d like to compliment the effects cameraman for this shot too as the composite is flawless and at no time would one suspect a trick is being played on us the viewer. *Photo from the collection of Joseph Serbaroli
You need to go to the blog Matte Shot and read that post to fully understand the work behind these “old school” special effects, which I think looks way better than some of the CG shit coming out today.
Anyway, I want to show you the two photos side by side, so you can see why I thought of that specific shot from this old 1939 movie…
Anyway, here are the rest of the links….after the jump and yes, I am sticking with the movies for a little longer.
Bank regulators got a sense Thursday of how their lives will be slightly different now that Elizabeth Warren sits on a Senate committee overseeing their agencies.
At her first Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing, Warren questioned top regulators from the alphabet soup that is the nation’s financial regulatory structure: the FDIC, SEC, OCC, CFPB, CFTC, Fed and Treasury.
The Democratic senator from Massachusetts had a straightforward question for them: When was the last time you took a Wall Street bank to trial? It was a harder question than it seemed.
“We do not have to bring people to trial,” Thomas Curry, head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, assured Warren, declaring that his agency had secured a large number of “consent orders,” or settlements.
“I appreciate that you say you don’t have to bring them to trial. My question is, when did you bring them to trial?” she responded.
“We have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals,” Curry offered.
Warren turned to Elisse Walter, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who said that the agency weighs how much it can extract from a bank without taking it to court against the cost of going to trial.
“I appreciate that. That’s what everybody does,” said Warren, a former Harvard law professor. “Can you identify the last time when you took the Wall Street banks to trial?”
“I will have to get back to you with specific information,” Walter said as the audience tittered.
“There are district attorneys and United States attorneys out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. I’m really concerned that ‘too big to fail’ has become ‘too big for trial,'” Warren said.
Just some links to get us started this morning, I am sure that there will be more information about the mass murders in Newtown, Connecticut. Check the comment section below for updates.
I have to share these two links with you however, first is this one…from Susie Madrak…thank you for posting this link Susie! We need to talk about mental illness.
This is also very sad. And infuriating. Hey, let’s cut some more mental health funding!
Friday’s horrific national tragedy—the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Town, Connecticut—has ignited a new discussion on violence in America. In kitchens and coffee shops across the country, we tearfully debate the many faces of violence in America: gun culture, media violence, lack of mental health services, overt and covert wars abroad, religion, politics and the way we raise our children. Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.
I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.
Please read that post and share it!
Then there is this shit: Westboro Baptist Church Members Say They Will Protest In Sandy Hook
It is 3:33am, and I lay in bed…unable to breathe. I thought if I added these two stories to my post I could somehow fall asleep. I am sick with all this, it is horrifying…. Please…make it stop.
Now for some stories that caught my eye this past week.
Glenn Greenwald looks at HSBC, too big to jail, is the new poster child for US two-tiered justice system
The US is the world’s largest prison state, imprisoning more of its citizens than any nation on earth, both in absolute numbers and proportionally. It imprisons people for longer periods of time, more mercilessly, and for more trivial transgressions than any nation in the west. This sprawling penal state has been constructed over decades, by both political parties, and it punishes the poor and racial minorities at overwhelmingly disproportionate rates.Assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer said taking away HSBC’s US banking licence could have cost thousands of jobs. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP
But not everyone is subjected to that system of penal harshness. It all changes radically when the nation’s most powerful actors are caught breaking the law. With few exceptions, they are gifted not merely with leniency, but full-scale immunity from criminal punishment. Thus have the most egregious crimes of the last decade been fully shielded from prosecution when committed by those with the greatest political and economic power: the construction of a worldwide torture regime, spying on Americans’ communications without the warrants required by criminal law by government agencies and the telecom industry, an aggressive war launched on false pretenses, and massive, systemic financial fraud in the banking and credit industry that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.
This is ridiculous, more at the link, in fact Greenwald has updated the post since it originally was published on 12/12/12.
From ProPublica, a report on the US water supply. Poisoning the Well: How the Feds Let Industry Pollute the Nation’s Underground Water Supply
Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that help supply more than half of the nation’s drinking water.
In many cases, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted these so-called aquifer exemptions in Western states now stricken by drought and increasingly desperate for water.
EPA records show that portions of at least 100 drinking water aquifers have been written off because exemptions have allowed them to be used as dumping grounds.
“You are sacrificing these aquifers,” said Mark Williams, a hydrologist at the University of Colorado and a member of a National Science Foundation team studying the effects of energy development on the environment. “By definition, you are putting pollution into them. … If you are looking 50 to 100 years down the road, this is not a good way to go.”
As part of an investigation into the threat to water supplies from underground injection of waste, ProPublica set out to identify which aquifers have been polluted.
That is just the beginning, go read the rest when you have time.
Okay, we’ve had links to outrages regarding the Fed and DoJ, and the EPA. Now on to the latest news about Obamacare…and Walmart. Walmart Workers At Risk In States Rejecting Obamacare Medicaid Expansion
If state governors follow through on plans to oppose the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, one substantial group of low-wage workers appears vulnerable to going without medical coverage: people who work at Walmart.
The world’s largest retailer recently outlined a new policy that will exclude from health coverage newly hired employees who work fewer than 30 hours per week, as The Huffington Post reported this month. Experts described that move as an attempt by Walmart to shift the burden of providing health coverage to the government — specifically, to Medicaid, the insurance program for the poor.
Isn’t it wonderful? /snark.
I’ve got another article to share with you, this time it is on various Federal District Courts: Help Wanted On The Federal Bench – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast
Robert Kuttner points out that there “are now more than 100 vacancies on the federal bench, out of some 856 federal district and appellate judges, far more than on the day Obama took office”
Y’all know what this means. Why are there so many vacancies left open by the Obama Administration?
The rest of today’s links are listed below…
Finally, later in the week, TCM will be showing one of the best movies of film noir, Double Indemnity staring Babara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, and directed by Billy Wilder. So in connection to this film, check out the two videos below. From the Carol Burnette Show:
See you all in the comments later on today.
It’s a new season, by that I mean basketball. So tonight I am off to watch my daughter cheer for her b-ball team here in Banjoville.
Tonight’s reads have a mixture of stories for you, and I hope that you find them interesting.
I’ve got a couple of stories on dinosaurs, one real and one metaphorical…I start the post with one…and finish with one, you know how I have to have some sort of method to my madness.
On that dinosaur they call the GOP, this op/ed from Alex Jakubowski at the Daily Caller caught my eye, of all the shit spewing from the mouths of the right, this was the one voice that had any sort of genuine reason and thought. Give it a read in full, and then take a peek at the comments…of course it will never reach through those right-wing nut’s thick skulls, but it is nice to think so…anyway, here it is: My father’s party
We lost. We lost in 2008. We lost in 2012. We can say we won in 2010, but why bother? What gains did we achieve? How did we really help everyday Americans by replacing the Democratic-controlled House with a Republican one? The answer: We didn’t. We didn’t pass a single piece of important legislation and we did nothing to improve the quality of life for the American people.[…]
I have been a Republican for as long as I can remember. As far back as fourth grade I remember listening to my father talk about capitalism, individualism, and the pursuit of the dream that makes America different from every other place on Earth. Though I didn’t quite understand why at the time, my father instilled these ideas in me in order to teach me why I should always be proud of my country, the only country willing to take my family in after the terrible atrocities we faced in the Holocaust. My father has always been a Republican, and in many ways I inherited my beliefs from him.
But the party my father raised me in was never a party of absolutes: our party was one of progress, one of thought, and most of all one that believed that compromise was a trait to be honored, not despised. My father’s party, and the one I have claimed to be a part of for years, was never ashamed to work with others to do what was right, and what would move the American people forward.
Every day I have conversations with liberal friends who have vastly different beliefs than I do about the ideal way to solve the problems our great country faces. We talk about welfare and government dependence; we talk about taxes and shared sacrifice; we talk about immigration and national security; yet never once has any of my countless conversations with friends resulted in anything but an honest, open conversation about ways we can put aside our ideological differences to find a middle ground — one on which we can move forward for the benefit of all.
But in the end we always realize that our grand conversations, our amazing ideas of compromise and political altruism are all for naught. With both parties as they are now, none of our grand ideas have any chance of becoming a political reality. In a world where simply working with the other side is seen as a political liability, how can we hope to move forward as a generation?
As a life-long Republican, and after enduring two straight embarrassing losses, I can no longer sit by and wait for things to change. The party in which I was raised did not dictate to others how they must set policies on immigration, marriage, and abortion; the party in which I was raised thought sensibly about how to work with the other side and compromise, achieving at least in part the goals of all for the sake of the nation. As a dear friend and fellow moderate Republican recently said in an argument I have become far too familiar with, “Disagreement is not a threat to your own views.” In fact, disagreement is what can propel us forward, what can drive us to discover what policies can truly change our society for the better.
If our party is to truly change, as it is now clear it must, our focus needs to change as well. No longer can we count on a conservative, Evangelical base to provide the necessary votes to sweep a candidate into office. The party must abandon its hardline positions on abortion, immigration, gay marriage, and many other issues — many of which alienate those who are supposed to make up the future of our movement. Perhaps none said it better than moderate Republican Representative Cory Gardner of Colorado: “After tonight, the GOP had better figure out that a big tent sounds good but if there aren’t any seats in it, what good is it?” We must learn to embrace the fact that no matter our disagreements, those on the other side of any issue are not our opponents — they are our friends. No matter the difference, no matter the issue, we can and have to work together.
The United States has always moved forward on the premise that we can do better; I know now that we can, and I hope that together, we will.
Hey, that kind of talk will get you run out on a rail in the Fox News world, but I do think the possibilities of a “better tomorrow, tomorrow” are a reasonable hope some of us can have. Even if it is only a pipe dream.
More on the dinosaur party and it’s fanatics:
California to reform a law on Tuesday, one I think is very good. California Voters Scrap Draconian “Three Strikes” Law
After nearly 20 years and over $20 billion spent, California voters have voted overwhelmingly to reform our state’s draconian “three strikes” law. The statewide ballot measure, Proposition 36 , delivered a two-to-one mandate (68.6%-31.4%) to close a controversial loophole in the law so that life sentences can only be imposed when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent.”
Three strikes laws, often known as habitual offender laws, grew out of the “tough on crime” era of the 1980s and 90s. Between 1993 and 1995, 24 states passed some kind of three strikes law, but California’s 1994 three strikes ballot measure was especially harsh.
While the 1994 law required the first and second strike to be either violent or serious, any infraction could trigger a third strike and the life sentence that went with it. Therefore, petty offenses – such as stealing a piece of pizza – have led to life imprisonment for thousands of people.
Read more at the link, the best thing is that people who have been given life for petty crimes are able to request a lesser sentence, that is very fair in my opinion and in the end will help with prison overcrowding. So this should be good for many all around.
Many New York hospitals are still without power: New York’s Ongoing Blackout: Hospitals in Lower Manhattan
And there is new documents released in connection with HARP: Read the Documents Treasury Has Been Keeping Secret
This next post from the Grio made me smile…Sasha Obama’s Election Night advice to president caught on tape: ‘Behind you!’
President Barack Obama walks on stage with daughter Sasha to deliver his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
It was a quick but instantly memorable moment on Election Night.
When President Barack Obama and the first family greeted an enormous crowd of supporters after being re-elected, his 11-year-old daughter Sasha got his famous enlarged ear and said “Behind you!”
The president quickly turned and acknowledged a big group of supporters he had previously ignored and waved to them, eliciting big cheers.
On a historical note, check out this abstract from Medieval.net: Of Kings and Popes and Law
Abstract: During the latter half of the 11th century through to the end of the 13th century, Europe was experiencing what is considered by some historians as “the” medieval renaissance, otherwise referred to as the European Renaissance of the Twelfth Century. The time appears to have been ripe for an explosion of cultural and intellectual advancement and change. Two fields that experienced significant development during that period were law and governance, both secular and ecclesiastical.
In England, the period which most legal historians consider to be the key formative years of the common law was the reign of King Henry II. Indeed, Sir William Holdsworth credits Henry II for “substituting one common law for that confused mass of local customs of which the law of England had formerly consisted”. But as R.H. Helmholz said, “legal history, like any other, is a history of winners, and the history of the losing side is often overlooked. That we only hint of the history of the canon law by reference to the common law is a fact of life and not to be lamented”. However, he admonishes us not to ignore the intrinsic importance of the jurisdiction once exercised by the courts of the Church in the development of the law of England.
I take up Helmholz’ challenge in this thesis and examine the relationship that developed between the English royal authorities and the Latin (Western) Christian Church from the beginning of the reign of Edward the Confessor to the end of the reign of King John. Through a review of cases reported by the Selden Society from the royal courts of Henry II, Richard I and John, I then focus my research on the 62 year period between the beginning of the reign of Henry II and the death of John, and consider the influence of the Church and State relationship on the structure and processes of the developing English royal law and its scope.
Henry Plantagenet has always fascinated me…maybe it was my interest in his wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine that caused me to admire Henry, but there it is.
And finally, that other dinosaur: New Dinosaur Xenoceratops Discovered In Canada
Everybody, meet Xenoceratops foremostensis, a brand new species of ceratopsid, or horned dinosaur, discovered in the plentiful fossil beds of Canada. Weighing in at 2 tons and about 20 feet long, Xenoceratops — meaning “alien-horned face” — lived about 80 million years ago, making it one of the oldest big-bodied horned dinosaurs known to paleontologists.
Though it has only recently been identified as a separate species, xenoceratops was identified from fossils discovered in 1958, only to be misidentified for several decades before taking its rightful place as a separate species.
Well, that is all I have time for, catch ya later in the comments!
This is an open thread.
Wow, what a busy 24 hours it has been. I don’t know about you all, but my PAD (Political Affected Disorder) has been kicked into high gear. I mean, in a Ryan world, that WPA poster would say, Lack of Funds…Fuck off…you’re on your own, no need for medical care, just die already!
The thought of a Romney/Ryan presidency scares the bejebees out of me! It is frightening though, all that talk of Obama, the Socialist Kenyan Fascist Dictator, bringing on the end of the world…and this is what these nuts are pushing on us? A lying unlikable jerk robot and his Munster asshole “intellectual” cough…cough…
Well, since we don’t know what taxes Romney has paid the last few years…plus, according to Roll Call, Paul Ryan’s Tax Plan Would Slash Mitt Romney’s Tax Rate to 1 Percent : Roll Call Politics
The tax plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the newly minted GOP vice presidential candidate, would have slashed Mitt Romney’s effective tax rate to about 1 percent in 2010, based on Romney’s tax return that year, according to a Roll Call analysis.
The Ryan tax cut, which would shave about 90 percent off of Romney’s tax bill, would result from the Wisconsin Republican’s “Roadmap for America’s Future” proposal to eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest. Since about 95 percent of Romney’s $21.6 million income came from those sources in 2010, he would pay no taxes on the vast majority of his earnings. It’s not certain exactly how low Romney’s tax bill would go, but his income from other sources amounts to about $1 million, and Ryan’s plan would set a new top rate of 25 percent. Romney’s total tax bill would have dropped from the $3 million that he paid to a few hundred thousand dollars if Ryan’s plan had been in effect.
Ryan also proposes eliminating the estate tax, which would benefit Romney’s heirs by tens of millions of dollars.
Ryan’s “Roadmap” plan on his website says eliminating taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends would promote savings.
And speaking of Ryan Budget, take a few minutes to check out Nuns on the Bus…because I am sure they are going to be one of the groups to watch now that the coward, who refused to meet with these Nuns on a Mission, has been picked as Romney’s VP.
I still can’t stand Obama, and I still feel he intends to mess with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid: Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid « naked capitalism
This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s. As an experienced political hand told me, the two candidates are speaking not to the voters, but to the big money. They hold the same views, pursue the same policies, and are backed by similar interests. Mitt Romney implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts, or Obama implemented Romneycare nationally. Both are pro-choice or anti-choice as political needs change, both tend to be hawkish on foreign policy, both favor tax cuts for businesses, and both believe deeply in a corrupt technocratic establishment.
So while the election lumbers on like the death rattles of the wounded animal known American democracy, no one on either side is asking what the plan is for the next term. For Obama, his team is going into rooms of donors and shouting “Supreme Court”, while mumbling something about bipartisanship and $4 trillion, or Simpson-Bowles. What this means is that term two of the Obama White House will be organized around cutting entitlements.
The White House already tried cutting all three main entitlement programs, last year (cuts to Medicaid are actually cuts to Obamacare, for what it’s worth, since an expansion of Medicaid was a key plank of the new health care law).
Read the rest…it is quite upsetting.
In fact, I am going to move away from Romney and Obama, and bring you some stories you may have missed during all the hubbub.
It is beyond ridiculous, and this next link shows just how f’d up this DOJ decision is: AZ Woman Imprisoned — After Producing Her Birth Certificate | Crooks and Liars
Guilt has nothing to do with punishment — that is, as long as you’re not a Wall Street banker. In Arizona, if you “look” foreign, that’s enough to put you in jail indefinitely, without bail – even after you produce your birth certificate:
Recently, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office alleged Briseira Torres, a shy, 31-year-old single mom from Glendale, was here illegally and that Briseira Torres was not her real name.
She was accused of three counts of forgery, in part because her driver’s license had her real name on it, which the MCAO thought was bogus. Following her arrest, she was held without bond in Estrella Jail for 4 1/2 months.
Torres lost her home and car because she couldn’t make the payments as she endured Estrella’s harsh conditions, lousy food, and detention officers.
Bold emphasis is Susie Madrak’s not mine,
In the pile of paperwork they provided to the court, to the prosecutor, and to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was a silver bullet: a sworn statement from Arizona’s Office of Vital Records attesting to the legitimacy of documents on file for Torres.
Among these docs is Torres’ birth certificate, showing she was born August 14, 1981, in Avondale.
Salvatierra asked the court to remand the case back to the grand jury.
Judge Carolyn Passamonte did just this, noting in her minute entry that Torres’ long-form birth certificate was “clearly exculpatory evidence that should have been presented to the grand jury.”
The judge remarked that the documents on file with Vital Records had been “available to the state,” and in oral arguments, the prosecutor had to admit that he’d never bothered to pull the file and inspect it.
Can you believe this crap? As Susie says,
…her legal birth certificate was right there, the whole time of her incarceration. A cop with a bug up his butt decided to act as if it didn’t exist. If only her name was Goldman Sachs!
Now that your blood pressure is up, check this out: Mississippi county accused of running ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ | The Raw Story
The U.S. Department of Justice has accused officials in Lauderdale County, Mississippi of running ‘a school-to-prison’ pipeline that jails juveniles for even minor school disciplinary problems.
A letter sent by the civil rights division on Friday charges that the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the Meridian Police Department, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services have been violating the constitutional rights of children in Lauderdale County and the City of Meridian.
According to the letter, an investigation launched last December revealed that “the agencies have helped to operate a school-to-prison pipeline whereby children arrested in local schools become entangled in a cycle of incarceration without substantive and procedural protections required by the U.S. Constitution. The department’s findings show that children in Lauderdale County have been routinely and repeatedly incarcerated for allegedly committing school disciplinary infractions and are punished disproportionately, without constitutionally required procedural safeguards. Children have also been arrested at school for offenses as minor as defiance.”
“Furthermore,” it continues, “children on probation are routinely arrested and incarcerated for allegedly violating their probation by committing minor school infractions, such as dress code violations, which result in suspensions. The department’s investigation showed that students most affected by this system are African-American children and children with disabilities.”
Meridian is known for the murders of three civil rights workers, back in 1964, aka “the Mississippi Burning” case.
In 2009 the Southern Poverty Law Center brought a class-action lawsuit against the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Facility, accusing it of keeping youths “crammed into small, filthy cells and tormented with the arbitrary use of Mace as a punishment for even the most minor infractions — such as ‘talking too much’ or failing to sit in the ‘back of their cells.’”
An agreement was reached at that time to reform the jail system and consider alternative methods of handling school disciplinary issues, but problems have continued in what an SPLC representative now calls “a broken system.”
The Justice Department letter cites a pattern of unconstitutional conduct that includes both failure to assess probable cause before arresting school children and failure to provide proper due process with regard to alleged probation violations.
A few weeks after the Justice Department investigation began last winter, Lauderdale County took steps to shut down its juvenile detention center and send youthful offenders instead to a neighboring county. That action was apparently considered inadequate, and officials are now being told they must enter into “meaningful negotiations” to end the violations within sixty days or face a federal lawsuit.
That is disturbing, I know, and I don’t want to end on a bad note, I mean it is Sunday…and since we started out mentioning the Nuns on the Bus, let’s end with a story about another activist nun.
Shawn Poynter for The New York Times
Sister Megan Rice, 82, is one of three people arrested in a break-in at a nuclear complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
She has been arrested 40 or 50 times for acts of civil disobedience and once served six months in prison. In the Nevada desert, she and other peace activists knelt down to block a truck rumbling across the government’s nuclear test site, prompting the authorities to take her into custody.
She gained so much attention that the Energy Department, which maintains the nation’s nuclear arsenal, helped pay for an oral history in which she described her upbringing and the development of her antinuclear views.
Now, Sister Megan Rice, 82, a Roman Catholic nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and two male accomplices have carried out what nuclear experts call the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex, making their way to the inner sanctum of the site where the United States keeps crucial nuclear bomb parts and fuel.
“Deadly force is authorized,” signs there read. “Halt!” Images of skulls emphasize the lethal danger.
I’ll tell you one thing…I see an Michael Bay action film in this story.
With flashlights and bolt cutters, the three pacifists defied barbed wire as well as armed guards, video cameras and motion sensors at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation in Tennessee early on July 28, a Saturday. They splashed blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility — a new windowless, half-billion-dollar plant encircled by enormous guard towers — and hung banners outside its walls.
“Swords into plowshares,” read one, quoting the Book of Isaiah. “Spears into pruning hooks.” The plant holds the nation’s main supply of highly enriched uranium, enough for thousands of nuclear weapons.
The actions of Sister Rice, a New York native who grew up on a prosperous block in Morningside Heights, and her companions, ages 57 and 63, are a huge embarrassment for President Obama. Since 2010, he has led a campaign to eliminate or lock down nuclear materials as a way to fight atomic terrorism. Now, the three — two of whom, including Sister Rice, are free and are awaiting trial in October — have made nuclear theft seem only a little more challenging than a romp in the Tennessee woods.
In interviews this week, Sister Rice discussed her life — somewhat reluctantly at times — and kept emphasizing what she called “the issue.”
You need to read the rest of the story…but isn’t she wonderful?
Can you imagine who would play Sister Rice and her two male accomplices? I see Diana Rigg as Sister Rice, of course with her Avengers background, it will be a spectacular performance. As for the men, one of them has to be Bruce Willis and the other must be Samuel L Jackson. I can just hear the catch phrase as it trickles off of Jackson’s tongue, “Bless this, muthafukkaz…”
Have a wonderful day and please share what are you all reading about this fine Sunday morning?
One of the weirdest memes I’ve heard recently is that no economist or person with a finance background could have seen the global financial crisis coming. That’s quickly followed by no one knew it would be so deep and so hard to escape. Then, there’s the entire weirdness surrounding the tropes that just cutting taxes and balancing budgets will solve all the problems.
I read this Galbraith article over at Truthdig and wanted to share it because it just says all that many of us economists saw coming, see happening, and shake our heads at now. I personally expected the subprime credit markets to blow up sometime in 2005. I was watching the subprime contagion spread into the major banks by 2006. I heard from Social Workers what kinds of crap was being pushed on to their clients. You can ask my colleagues. I was vocal about it. The only people that seem flummoxed are those that were taken in by Fama and his Chicago acolytes. They are also the ones spreading the worst nastiness now. It does not surprise me that Paul Ryan is one of their groupies. They’ve been perpetually wrong on things.
I don’t have a lot of time to do a big analysis of this. I also think that Saturday is the last day you want to read it. Anyway, go read the article. It’s excellent.
The most important common ground was over the depth and severity of the financial crisis. We placed it in a different league from all other financial events since the early thirties, including the debt crises of the eighties and the Asian and Russian crises of the late nineties. One of us called it “epochal” and “history-making.” And so it has turned out. What distinguishes this crisis from the others are three facts taken together: (a) it emerges from the United States, that is, from the center, and not the periphery, of the global system; (b) it reflects the collapse of a bubble in an economy driven by repetitive bubbles; and (c) the bubble has been vectored into the financial structure in a uniquely complex and intractable way, via securitization.
Bubbles are endemic to capitalism, but in most of history they are not the major story. In the nineteenth century, agricultural price deflation was a larger problem. In the twentieth, industrialization and technology set the direction. It was only in the information technology bubble of the late nineties that financial considerations including the rise of venture capital and the influx of capital to the United States following the Asian and Russian crises—came to dominate the direction of the economy as a whole. The result was capricious and unstable—vast investments in (for instance) dark broadband, followed by a financial collapse—but it was not without redeeming social merits. The economy prospered, achieving full employment without inflation. And much of the broadband survived for later use.
The same will not be said for the sequential bubbles of the Bush years, in housing and now commodities. The housing bubble—deliberately fostered by the authorities that should have been regulating it, including Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke—pushed the long-standing American model of support for homeownership beyond its breaking point. It involved a vast victimization of a vulnerable population. The unraveling will have social effects extending far beyond that population, to the large class of Americans with good credit and standard mortgages, whose home values are nevertheless being wiped out. Meanwhile, abandoned houses quickly become uninhabitable, so that, unlike broadband, the capital created in the bubble is actually destroyed, to a considerable degree, in the slump.
We’re still seeing overheated securitized assets. We’re seeing more canaries in the mine again. Think JP Morgan’s big hedge. We never have the right minds in the District dealing with the problem. This has been the case for all of this century. There’s a lot of bad thing bubbling in the financial markets right now. Now is the time to bring in the people that knew better. Not the same old suspects.