Monday Reads: Money can’t buy Class, Love, Intelligence or a Sense of Decency

Good Afternoon!16681545_10154458478078512_3319331744579545500_n

It’s hard to know where to get started on the utterly boorish behavior of our of so-called President over the weekend.  It’s only topped by his utter cluelessness when it comes to the decorum of the world stage.  Our country makes Banana Republics look perfectly democratic and functional at the moment.

All I can say, is get ready, there’s bound to be some war or major attack coming down the pipe.  What’s worse is that our allies and our own national intelligence assets are unlikely to share that information with our So-Called President because the assumption is that the current White House shares everything with the Kremlin. The breaches of security protocol are just unbelievable.

Today’s photos are of Saturday Night’s Krewe de Vieux Parade coming out of my neighborhood and heading into the French Quarter and downtown.  It’s a political satire parade and you can see where it went this year.  You can enjoy the fun while I write about extremely scary things.

BB sent me this extremely important article written by John R Schindler for The Observer. Among the horrifying conclusions is this: “Intelligence Community pushes back against a White House it considers leaky, untruthful and penetrated by the Kremlin.”

In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.

Since NSA provides something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government, what’s being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However, such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn’t appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears.

What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.

So, it’s hard to know where to start other than our foreign policy has turned into a complete dumpsterfire. Instead of the usual State Dinner at the White House with celebrities, cultural and intellectual folks, political leaders, artists and musicians, and just basically the cream of the US crop, Japanese Prime Minister Abe got treated to a tacky weekend in Florida. The Taxpayers undoubtedly footed the bill and wrote a huge check to that tacky “resort” owned by the Uber Tacky So-called President.  I’m pretty sure the Prime Minister wasn’t expecting he’d become a wedding crasher but I’m also pretty sure that every one knows that anything classy, dignified, and in keeping with decorum is off the table these days.

Then there was a phone call about North Korea taken on his cell phone in the middle of the public dining room.

And, folks were worried about Hillary’s private server?  

What was happening — as first reported by CNN — was an extraordinary moment, as Trump and Abe turned their dinner table into an open-air situation room. Aides and translators surrounded the two leaders as other diners chatted and gawked around them, with staffers using the flashlights on their cellphones to illuminate documents on the darkened outdoor terrace.

The scene of their discussion, Trump’s club, has been called “The Winter White House” by the president’s aides. But it is very different than the actual White House, where security is tight and people coming in are heavily screened. Trump’s club, by contrast, has hundreds of paying members who come and go, and it can be rented out for huge galas and other events open to non-members. On the night of the North Korea launch, for instance, there was a wedding reception underway: CNN reported that Trump dropped by, with Abe in tow.

As a Mar-a-Lago member, DeAgazio already had remarkable access to a president that day. He had earlier snapped pictures of Trump and Abe golfing and of the president and White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon schmoozing guests.

Now, as a national-security crisis broke out in front of him, DeAgazio continued snapping pictures — and posting them on Facebook.

“The President receiving the news about the Missile incident from North Korea on Japan with the Prime Minister sitting next to him,” DeAgazio wrote as the caption for a photo he posted on Facebook at 9:07 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

Later, he posted other photos of Trump and Abe’s discussion, including some that seemed to have been taken from just a few feet away. Those photos have now been seen around the world, providing photographic proof of this unusual moment.

16730375_10154458488688512_2817565483131739753_n This description came from Richard “DeAgazio — a retired investor who joined Mar-a-Lago three months ago … ” as described by David Farenholdt.

But DeAgazio, for one, said he was impressed that Trump had not gotten up from the table immediately, to seek a more private (and better-lit) place for his discussion with Abe.

“He chooses to be out on the terrace, with the members. It just shows that he’s a man of the people,” DeAgazio said.

Membership at the Mar-a-Lago Club now requires a $200,000 initiation fee — a fee that increased by $100,000 after Trump was elected.

DeAgazio also posted photos of himself with a man that he identified as the military member who carries the “football” that would allow Trump to launch a nuclear attack. In that Facebook post, DeAgazio described how “the football” functions, but said that the military member did not divulge that information to him.

“I looked it up” on Wikipedia, DeAgazio said. “He didn’t say anything to me.”

Yes. A real man of the people.  That initiation fee is about what my entire house is worth.

Oh, and the wedding crashing part came after the let’s broadcast stuff about North Korea around Florida thing and an embarrassing presser.

On Saturday, as President Donald Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, news broke that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. CNN was the first to report last night that Trump was joined at the dinner table by his embattled national security adviser, Mike Flynn, and chief strategist Stephen Bannon. As Mar-a-Lago members dining separately looked on, they reviewed classified documents with Bannon and Flynn using their cell-phone lights so Trump could see what he was reading.

After that awkward exchange, Trump and Abe held a hastily assembled joint press conference where Trump made a statement that was shorter than his awkward handshake with Abe at the White House on Friday.

What did Trump do after that? Bunker down with his National Security Council? Spend the evening on the phone with his Defense Secretary James Mattis? No. CNN reported that Trump dropped by a wedding that happened to be taking place at Mar-a-Lago, took the mic, and spoke to the guests.

crude-is-magicalI’ve seen movie frat boys with a better sense of gravitas than our So-called President.  So, first a guest gets a photo op with the nuclear football and then we get some twisted version of The Wedding Crashers.  WTF?  We’re going to owe Japan some big time apologies for insulting their PM.  Phillip Bump points out the absolute hypocrisy on running intelligence security breaches by Clinton and then governing like the entire world can listen in to our highest secrets and he’s got no issue with it.  Good Grief there must be Victory Dancing Putin over there in Moscow.

Earlier in the week, Trump had been criticized for leaving intelligence documents vulnerable to people without security clearance. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) noticed that the president kept the key in a secured bag while hosting people in the Oval Office, which is a bit like leaving your house keys in your front door while you’re having a party in your backyard. There’s no indication that anyone saw anything confidential in this incident, but this, Heinrich suggested, was “Classified 101.”

Compared to holding a national security conversation over dinner in the public dining room at his private club, though, the lockbag incident pales.

It’s not clear that anyone heard particulars of the conversation, but other diners certainly noticed. Richard DeAgazio was in the room and posted photos of the moment to Facebook.

 Shock and awe aside, there’s this:

Why is this important? Mobile phones have flashlights, yes — and cameras, microphones and Internet connectivity. When Edward Snowden was meeting with reporters in Hong Kong at the moment he was leaking the material he’d stolen from the NSA, he famously asked that they place their phones in the refrigerator — blocking any radio signals in the event that the visitors’ phones had been hacked. This was considered the most secure way of ensuring that the phones couldn’t be used as wiretaps, even more secure than removing the battery. Phones — especially phones with their flashes turned on for improved visibility — are portable television satellite trucks and, if compromised, can be used to get a great deal of information about what’s happening nearby, unless precautions are taken.

Plus, more news on Flynn and others with deep ties to the Kremlin.

orange-is-the-new-black

It’s just hard to know what to say about all!

President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had a pretty wretched week. The Post’s reporting revealed that Flynn, contrary to his and the White House’s earlier assertions, had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Moscow’s ambassador in Washington prior to Trump’s inauguration. Flynn, according to intelligence sources, likely signaled that the question of sanctions would be revisited by a more friendly Trump administration.

So, I’m just left smh and rather speechless.

How do you explain this kind’ve behavior? I mean, if I had a relative that did this sort’ve thing I would surely get them committed! I wouldn’t freaking elect them President.

The fun news today is that the White House cannot find a comedian to do Nerd Prom and the entire things seems to be falling apart. It’s the press’ big party and damn ya’ll cry if you want to!!

In recent years, the dinner has become a star-studded event attracting A-list celebrities ranging from George Clooney to Helen Mirren to Lindsay Lohan, with politics mainly an afterthought.

This year, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have canceled parties they traditionally host as part of the hoopla surrounding the dinner.

Also, many stars are avoiding the event this year and no “headliner” comedian has committed so far, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

– ‘Stick a fork in it’ –

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan said the glitzy party and related events around it no longer seem appropriate.

“Once merely embarrassing and ridiculous, the annual White House correspondents’ dinner is poised to tip over into journalistic self-abasement,” she wrote. “It’s time to stick a silver-plated fork in it.”

Slate correspondent Jacob Weisberg echoed those sentiments, saying in a tweet: “Please cancel the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Unseemly spectacle, totally at odds with the press holding administration accountable.”

Well, Sky Dancers, have at it! I’m not sure I’m up to describing the many ways that all this is so very very very wrong.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: B-52 Bomber, Sean Penn and El Chapo

Hello and good afternoon.

 

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 01/09/2016 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

 

This post will be a combination of cartoons and links. On Friday night my mom and I had a bout of food poisoning…and I was in no condition for putting up a cartoon thread that evening.

So sit back and take it in, here are your Sunday Links:

It sounds like a Hollywood movie:

Sean Penn reveals interview with fugitive drug baron El Chapo | World news | The Guardian

Actor and activist Sean Penn turned gonzo journalist and got an interview with the world’s most wanted man, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, just after the Mexican drug baron escaped from a maximum-security prison, it has emerged.

At his hideouts in the impenetrable hills of western Mexico, Guzmán told the Hollywood star about his drugs business, rags-to-riches life story and how he hired European engineers to help him to slip out of the prison.

Mexican authorities claim they monitored Penn’s movements after they found out about his meeting with Guzmán in October and that helped lead them to a ranch where El Chapo was staying.

Guzmán, fresh from his escape through anexpertly engineered tunnel, told Penn in a seven-hour visit and follow-up video for an article published in Rolling Stone: “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world … I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”

There is plenty of articles on this story…

01/08/2016 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

The main thrust of the juicy tidbits comes from Rolling Stone, which broke the video interviews of Penn and El Chapo:

El Chapo Speaks | Rolling Stone

(By line is Sean Penn btw…)

Disclosure: Some names have had
 to be changed, locations not named, and an understanding was brokered with the subject that this piece would be submitted for the subject’s approval before publication. The subject did not ask for any changes.

“The laws of conscience, which we pretend to be derived from nature, proceed from custom.” —Montaigne

It’s September 28th, 2015. My head is swimming, labeling TracPhones (burners), one per contact, one per day, destroy, burn, buy, balancing levels of encryption, mirroring through Blackphones, anonymous e-mail addresses, unsent messages accessed in draft form. It’s a clandestine horror show for the single most technologically illiterate man left standing. At 55 years old, I’ve never learned to use a laptop. Do they still make laptops? No fucking idea! It’s 4:00 in the afternoon. Another gorgeous fall day in New York City. The streets are abuzz with the lights and sirens of diplomatic movement, heads of state, U.N. officials, Secret Service details, the NYPD. It’s the week of the U.N. General Assembly. Pope Francis blazed a trail and left town two days before. I’m sitting in my room at the St. Regis Hotel with my colleague and brother in arms, Espinoza.

 

It already reads like a pitch for a film…but please continue…

Espinoza and I have traveled many roads together, but none as unpredictable as the one we are now approaching. Espinoza is the owl who flies among falcons. Whether he’s standing in the midst of a slum, a jungle or a battlefield, his idiosyncratic elegance, mischievous smile and self-effacing charm have a way of defusing threat. His bald head demands your attention to his twinkling eyes. He’s a man fascinated and engaged. We whisper to each other in code. Finally a respite from the cyber technology that’s been sizzling my brain and soul. We sit within quietude of fortified walls that are old New York hotel construction, when walls were walls, and telephones were usable without a Ph.D. We quietly make our plans, sensitive to the paradox that also in our hotel is President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. Espinoza and I leave the room to get outside the hotel, breathe in the fall air and walk the five blocks to a Japanese restaurant, where we’ll meet up with our colleague El Alto Garcia. As we exit onto 55th Street, the sidewalk is lined with the armored SUVs that will transport the president of Mexico to the General Assembly. Paradoxical indeed, as one among his detail asks if I will take a selfie with him. Flash frame: myself and a six-foot, ear-pieced Mexican security operator.

Flash frame: Why is this a paradox? It’s paradoxical because today’s

 

Oh yeah…voice over commanding language like, “the owl who flies with falcons” and don’t forget the flash frame shot directions…definitely screenplay material.

Video tease here:

Watch Two Minutes of El Chapo’s Exclusive Interview | Rolling Stone

Sean Penn, who tracked down the fugitive kingpin, sent questions; Chapo videotaped his responses in his first-ever interview.

Okay, seriously though…the other links are interesting, I just can’t help laughing like hell at the Penn article.

(A note here, these articles are older, from 2011 and mid 2015)

A Timeline of El Chapo’s Close Calls and Narrow Escapes | Rolling Stone

Mexican drug kingpin once came so close to being caught that his coffee was reportedly still warm when authorities arrived

How the Cartels Work | Rolling Stone

Mexican drug lords have transformed the narcotics trade in America — and the DEA appears powerless to stop them

 

Obamacare Repeal Vote: 01/08/2016 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Obamacare Repeal Vote

‘El Chapo’: Sean Penn interview provokes scorn in US – BBC News

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told CNN: “One thing I will tell you is that this braggadocious action about how much heroin he sends around the world, including the United States, is maddening.

“We see a heroin epidemic, an opioid addiction epidemic, in this country… But El Chapo’s behind bars – that’s where he should stay.”

The Mexican authorities are reported to be considering whether to investigate Penn and a Mexican actress, Kate del Castillo, who apparently arranged the interview.

Mr McDonough declined to answer a question about whether the US would hand Penn over to Mexico for questioning.

“Well, it poses a lot of very interesting questions both for him and for others involved in this-so-called interview, so we’ll see what happens on that – I’m not going to get ahead of it,” he said.

Mr Rubio told ABC: “If one of these American actors who have benefited from the greatness of this country, who have made money from our free enterprise system, want to go fawn all over a criminal and a drug trafficker in their interviews, they have a constitutional right to do it. I find it grotesque.”

 

01/08/2016 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

 

This may be the best way to review the Sean Penn article:

5 craziest moments in Sean Penn’s El Chapo Rolling Stone story – Salon.com

“A secret visit with the most wanted man in the world” reads like an Elmore Leonard novel come to life

Saturday night, Rolling Stone published a story written by actor Sean Penn about his efforts to interview notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera — known as El Chapo — that apparently contributed to El Chapo’s arrest last week, following his tunneling-out escape from Altiplano prison last summer. It’s a wild tale of Hollywood connections, jungle hide-outs, military shoot-outs and BlackBerry messaging.

“Sean Penn interview led authorities to El Chapo” might already be the strangest headline of 2016 — but the story gets even stranger from there. This entire caper reads like a chapter from a lost Elmore Leonard novel.

 

Go check that out…

 

 

01/07/2016 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

 

Trump urged to apologise to Muslim protester ejected from rally – BBC News

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has urged Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump to apologise to a Muslim protester ejected from one of his rallies.

CAIR said Rose Hamid’s eviction from the rally in South Carolina sent a “chilling message to American Muslims”.

Ms Hamid was removed after making a silent protest on Friday.

Mr Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the US has been widely condemned.

During the rally in the town of Rock Hill, Ms Hamid stood up wearing a T-shirt bearing the words: “Salam, I come in peace” – “Salam” is the Arabic word for peace.

When she stood up, the crowd around her began chanting “Trump! Trump!” as they had reportedly been instructed to do in the event of any interruption, reports the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher from Rock Hill.

Ms Hamid, a 56-year-old flight attendant, was then told by a security officer that she had to leave. She was booed as she was escorted out.

CAIR said that as well as apologising to Ms Hamid, Mr Trump should “make a clear statement that American Muslims are welcome as fellow citizens and as participants in the nation’s political process”.

No response from Trump.

 

LIFE IS SACRED: 01/07/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - LIFE IS SACRED

The latest shit out of the mouth of a fuckwad: via cnsnews . com… Rep. Chris Smith: ‘Planned Parenthood Dismembers or Chemically Poisons a Baby to Death Every 2 Minutes’

Rep. Chris Smith, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Human Rights, said on the House floor on Wednesday that Planned Parenthood is “Child Abuse, Incorporated,” and that the group “dismembers or chemically poisons a baby to death every 2 minutes.”

What an embarrassment, he chairs the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Global Human Rights?

The crap spewed. That is a right-wing link so you can look up the title at the site if you must.

This is the actual quote:

Here is the transcript of Rep. Smith’s floor speech:

“Subsidized by over $500 million taxpayer dollars each year, Planned Parenthood dismembers or chemically poisons a baby to death every 2 minutes, killing over 7 million innocent children since 1973.

“Planned Parenthood is Child Abuse, Incorporated. Now undercover videos have exposed in numbing candor several high-level Planned Parenthood leaders gleefully talking about procuring children’s internal organs for a price, all while altering gruesome dismemberment procedures to preserve intact livers, hearts, and lungs from freshly killed babies.

“Far too many politicians, Mr. Speaker, including our Nobel Peace Prizewinning president and much of the media, continue to ignore, trivialize, and even defend these gross human rights abuses.

“So know this: We will not be deterred in exposing this Planned Parenthood scandal no matter how aggressive and misleading the cover-up.

“End taxpayer funding to those who commit these cruel and inhumane acts in this subsidy for Planned Parenthood.

Fucking hell!

What about the real human rights violations that have gone on in this country, specifically in a town called Flint:

Flint’s Water Crisis Is a Human Rights Violation | Al Jazeera America

On Jan. 5, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint and Genesee County, where lead in the area’s drinking water has been showing up at toxic levels in the bloodstreams of children. The water became toxic because of a decision by the government Snyder runs.

In 2014 the city of Flint’s emergency manager, appointed by the state, ordered that the city stop drawing water from Lake Huron and start taking it from the Flint River. However, the river’s corrosive waters stripped lead from the water system’s pipes, contaminating the drinking water. Though the city has switched back to drawing water from Lake Huron, the local water still contains dangerous levels of lead, and local officials are handing out water filters as they try to come up with a solution.

This emergency goes beyond simply a public health problem. (Lead is a potent neurotoxin, which can cause irreversible brain damage in children.) It is something much worse: a human rights abuse in an American city. In 2010, the United Nations declared that “ … clean drinking water … [is] essential to the realization of all human rights.” Flint’s contaminated water will prevent children from realizing their human right to health, enumerated in Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Had these basic human rights factored into the decision to switch Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River, Flint’s children might never have been exposed to tainted water. What’s worse, new reports say Snyder’s office found out about the contaminated water and did nothing. For as little as $100 per day the state of Michigan could have treated the water and prevented the life-long suffering that the children of Flint are now going to experience, but instead it prioritized fiscal savings over the health and human rights of children.

Once again, Rep Smith illustrates the perfect example of PLUB….Pro-Life-Until-Birth mentally. GOP pro-life basturds only care for the precious “life” before it pops out of the mother. After that point when it is an actual living person, they don’t give a flying fuck.

 

01/07/2016 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

Case in point: LA-area residents implore officials to approve plan to mitigate gas leak | Reuters

 

At least it is starting to get more press…

 

01/06/2016 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

Did y’all see this?

Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof running for Nevada senate – NY Daily News

It really is becoming a world like Idiocracy.

 

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Kim Jong-un’s ally: 01/07/2016 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Kim Jong-un's ally

On the other side of the globe, a show of old cold war tactics has been making headlines overnight.

US deploys B-52 bomber after North Korea’s nuclear test – Al Jazeera English

US bomber flies over South Korea amid standoff over North Korea nuclear tests | World news | The Guardian

U.S. flies B-52 over South Korea after North’s nuclear test | Reuters

 

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (C) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (C) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (R) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (R) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Oregon Yeehawdists: 01/06/2016 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Oregon Yeehawdists

 

In Middle Eastern news:

US releases video of Iran firing unguided rockets close to aircraft carrier | US news | The Guardian

and finally:

Deal struck for aid to reach besieged Syrian towns – Al Jazeera English

And in Spain:

Catalan separatists to form regional government after president steps aside | World news | The Guardian

 

01/08/2016 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

 

This is a big story, Over 200 Members of German Choir Were Abused, Investigator Says – The New York Times

At least 231 children who sang in a boys’ choir led for 30 years by the brother of former Pope Benedict XVIwere abused over a period of almost four decades, a lawyer investigating reports of wrongdoing said Friday.

The lawyer, Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned by the choir to look into accusations of beatings, torture or sexual abuse, said he thought that the actual abuse was even more widespread.

At a news conference in Regensburg, Bavaria, where the choir traces its roots to the year 975, Mr. Weber estimated that from 1953 to 1992, every third member of the choir and an attached school suffered some kind of physical abuse.

He attributed the beatings and other mistreatment mostly to Johann Meier, director of a lower school attached to the choir from 1953 until his retirement in 1992. Mr. Meier died suddenly later that year, Mr. Weber said. A 1987 investigation of reported abuse did not prompt the choir’s leaders to remove Mr. Meier or take other action, the lawyer said.

Asked whether Benedict’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, who conducted the Regensburg choir from 1964 to 1994, had known of the abuse, Mr. Weber said, “After my research, I must assume so.”

Those Fuckers!

 

MILITIA SNACKS: 01/08/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - MILITIA SNACKS

 

For a few updates on the militia nuts:

Ranchers’ Cause, Not Tactics, Gains Support in GOP Circles – ABC News

Republicans have widely condemned the efforts by a group of armed ranchers to reclaim federal land in eastern Oregon, but the ranchers’ goal of taking back some of Washington’s vast holdings in the West has gained traction in the GOP.

The decades-old idea could garner even more momentum should the party recapture theWhite House this year.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has proposed preventing the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of the land in any state, which would require changes, for example, in Alaska, Nevada and other western states.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has backed legislation to give states the ability to develop energy resources on federal land and told the Des Moines Register editorial board that “the federal government owns far too much land” in the West.

Both senators backed an amendment offered by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski last year that would make it easier for federal land to be returned to state control.

Experts: ‘Militiamen’ Live Hand To Mouth On Gov’t Disability And Their Wives’ Hard Work «

Jon Ritzheimer, infamous right-wing terrorist and incredible douchebag, barely squeaks by on his government disability check and has said that he is “thankful to have a wife who works.” As it turns out, experts tell us that this guy who spends his days fighting imaginary battles and sucking up a good man’s oxygen isn’t the exception to the demographics that make up a right-wing terrorist militia, he’s the definition.

“These guys are broke,” said Mark Pitcavage, who has been researching far-right movements for 22 years and has studied the Harney County occupiers. “Right-wing extremists, generally speaking, have very little money.”

How a right-wing extremist occupation like the one in Oregon would pay for itself isn’t exactly an issue there’s been a lot of data on. By referencing the research of people like Pitcavage, we can deduce that right-wing extremists are for the most part freeloaders, likened to teenagers who think they can take care of themselves but overwhelmed the first time they have to pay a bill or do a load of laundry.

“It’s quite possible that a lot of them will get tired and feel the pressure to go back and care for their families,” Pitcavage explained. Those families, left behind to care for themselves, are probably better off without their “patriarch,” the almighty man who controls everything and can make the decision to just pack up and leave on a whim to occupy a forest a thousand miles away that they’ve never heard of before last week.

Daryl Johnson, a former DHS domestic terrorism analyst, says militia members have a warped sense of priority where their “duty” is concerned. A video released by Ritzheimer showed him crying that he would probably be killed and how much he would miss his family just before he held up a copy of the Constitution and declared “But…I took an oath.”

“They’ll think nothing about taking half their paycheck and using half of it to buy ammunition and guns,” Johnson told The Oregonian.

The gist here is that these idiots aren’t just the worst the American gene pool has to offer, they’re also incredible assholes who are neglecting their families to go play soldier in the Oregon wilderness. They’re holed up in a facility they didn’t pay to be at, squeezing the taxpayer for their utilities and costing tens if not hundreds of thousands more in wages paid to employees who can’t go to work.

01/10/2016 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

 

Zandar Versus The Stupid: Last Call For Here We Go Again, Day 7

The Bundy seditionists’ call for backup has been heeded by one of the more nasty armed insurrection/white supremacist groups out there, Idaho’s “Three Percent” movement.

Members of a group from outside Oregon arrived on Friday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to “secure a perimeter” around the compound and prevent “a Waco-style situation.”

The arrival of the “3% of Idaho” was the latest development in the situation outside Burns, where an armed occupation of the refuge by an Ammon Bundy-led militant group entered its seventh day.

“They just keep an eye on everything that is going on” to make sure “nothing stupid happens,” Bundy said Friday afternoon outside refuge headquarters.

“If they weren’t here,” Bundy said, referring to the Idaho group, “I’d worry” about a Waco-style siege by federal officials.

The group’s website says it stands for “freedom, liberty and the Constitution. We will combat all those who are corrupt.” The website displays the motto, “When Tyranny Becomes Law, Rebellion Becomes Duty!”

As Dave Neiwert reminds us, these assholes are pretty deep into Islamophobia and armed insurrection.  They marched against settling Syrian refugees in Twin Falls, Idaho in October and again in Boise in November and the real danger is of course these jagoffs are national.

The Idaho group is only the local affiliate of a broader (though hardly numerous) national movement that takes its name from the notion that only 3 percent of the people living in the colonies took part in the American Revolution – thus, the name is intended to invoke the would-be combatants in a “second American Revolution,” as its proponents like to proclaim.

The movement is largely the brainchild of Michael Vanderboegh, the onetime militiaman who in recent years has been specializing in incendiary rhetoric supporting the notion that any attempts at federal gun control will spark a new civil war, or better yet, a new revolution.

As Boston Boomer noted yesterday, these dudes are using the internet and gaining access to federal employee records…when the hell is this going to end. Like the cartoon above, if the men were any color but white, you know it would have been over long ago.

0108mike luckovich: tears | Mike Luckovich

lk010816_color

 

From the freak department:

Idaho mountain lion deformity puzzles biologists – CBS News

This Dec. 30, 2015, photo released by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), shows a deformed mountain lion with teeth growing out of its forehead. Biologists are trying to determine what caused the strange growth on the animal, which was legally killed by a hunter in southeast Idaho near the Utah border.

IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME VIA AP

 

State wildlife biologists have been left puzzled over a mountain lion found with teeth growing out the side of its forehead in southeast Idaho near the Utah border.

CBS affiliate KBOI reports an unidentified hunter caught the yearling cougar last week near Weston. Idaho Fish and Game biologists say they’ve never seen such a “bizarre” abnormality before.

[…]

Biologist Zach Lockyer says the teeth were protruding from hard tissue on the left side of the mountain lion’s forehead.

Biologists speculate the animal’s deformity may possibly be the result of either a conjoined twin that died in the womb or a rare tumor. Another possibility is ateratoma tumor, which are tumors that allow teeth, hair, fingers and toes to grow, and are incredibly rare in humans and animals.

Could it be a sign…since those Idaho assholes have joined the Oregon dumbfarts in the “standoff”?

I don’t know. But if there ever was a symbol of a giant fucked up threat against peace…to me it sure would be some freakish deformed mountain lion from Idaho with nasty teeth protruding from the animals forehead.

Bad omen if you ask me.

 

 

 

 

Since the Thin Man was mentioned last week, I thought might as well give you all a Tired Old Queen video link….enjoy:

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies – THE THIN MAN & AFTER THE THIN MAN – YouTube

 

And a bonus too:

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies – THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL – YouTube

 

This is an open thread…


Friday Nite Lite: Quickly, yes?

Good Evening

Well, after spending a few hours in the ER…come to find out that the Girl has pleurisy. As usual, it has been a crappy week. So here are your cartoons for tonight.

Kim Award – Truthdig

Cable Merger – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 02/21/2014

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Cable Merger

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel – 02/21/2014

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Matt Wuerker, Politico.com – 02/21/2014

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

Military Coffin by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

144703 600 Military Coffin cartoons

Snowmo Ark by Political Cartoonist Steve Sack

144704 600 Snowmo Ark cartoons

The NFL by Political Cartoonist Jimmy Margulies

144648 600 The NFL cartoons

UN North Korea report by Political Cartoonist Jeff Darcy

144652 600 UN North Korea report cartoons

The Games of Russia by Political Cartoonist Graeme MacKay

144677 600 The Games of Russia cartoons

Stand Your Ground by Political Cartoonist Mike Luckovich

144686 600 Stand Your Ground cartoons

Ukraine is burning by Political Cartoonist Olle Johansson

144689 600 Ukraine is burning cartoons

Putin Torches Ukraine by Political Cartoonist Rick McKee

144695 600 Putin Torches Ukraine cartoons

Putin and Syria Ukraine by Political Cartoonist Jimmy Margulies

144699 600 Putin and Syria  Ukraine cartoons

Clay Bennett: Guns – Clay Bennett – Truthdig

Comcast Merger by Political Cartoonist Mike Keefe

144536 600 Comcast Merger cartoons

Bad Winter Driver – Political Cartoon by Don Landgren Jr., TelegramTowns – 02/20/2014

Cartoon by Don Landgren Jr. - Bad Winter Driver

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon – Political Cartoon by Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press – 02/21/2014

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader – 02/21/2014

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John Cole, Scranton Times/Tribune – 02/21/2014

Cartoon by John Cole -

This is an open thread…


Sunday Reads: Anti-Vaccine Hysteria brought to you by Jenny McCarthy, Pretty Illustrations by Hedvig Collin, and Medieval Dwarf Characterizations by Your Preconceived Ideas

BIBIGood Morning

Oh, I cannot wait to get to the link on Medieval Dwarfs…but until that time comes, here are some stories for you on this fucking* cold ass Sunday Morning!

(*Just FYI, we passed freaking cold ass on Friday night.)

Today’s post will feature artwork by illustrator Hedvig Collin. When I look at her work, I think of Jessie Wilcox…and other women artist/illustrators at the time.

Hedvig Collin was educated at the Drawing and Industrial Art School for Women in preparation for the Royal Academy School for Women , where she studied in 1903 – 1907 . She continued her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts decoration school in 1 909 – 1910 and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris . In 1915 she studied freskoteknik on Kunstgewerbeschule in Berlin . She had from 1904 repeated studies in France , she performed in the 1920s and 1930s, traveling to Italy , Greece , Poland , Germany , Czechoslovakia and England . In the period 1922 – 1925 and again during the second World War she was in the United States .

2377102Hedvig Collin painted most portraits and landscapes , but was also an illustrator of children’s books; 1 916 – 1922 she published several illustrated children’s song books, for example. Our Children’s Songs (1916), and the Children’s Picture Book (1922).

While looking for information about Collins, I could not find anything on an “English” website, so the only sources are in Dutch or German. This one here has lots of postcard images, which many of the images in the post are from: Google Translate-Hedvig Collin 1880-1964 by Per Sorensen

Parents: Photographer Alfred Collin and Ottilia f Bloch.

Hedvig Collin was unmarried.

She was a painter, illustrator, journalist and author.

Hedvig Collin was educated at drawing and industrial arts school for women and later graduated from the Academy of Arts, where she studied from 1903 to 1909. Later she took extra education in Paris.

Hedvig Collin traveled extensively throughout Europe and the U.S., and she drew a large number of illustrations – both Danish and foreign publications. However, it was illustrations for children’s books, which became her biggest mark – no one has she been able to put themselves in the children’s place and make illustrations for children. From 1916-1922, she published each year, along with colleagues, the very well known, illustrated children’s song books. She has also made ​​many children portraits.

Her postcard production also bear the imprint of children and fairy tales, and you can clearly see the French inspiration in her work. See for example the “Lady with the Little Dog,” which is very similar to Gerda Wegner line.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures…let’s get this show started!

Jeg_en_gaard_mig_bygge_vilSeems like Fukushima is well on its way to becoming another something more than a metaphor for the phrase “Fucked up.” When things are Fukushima’d up…it is beyond anything FUBAR could ever comprehend.  ‘Duct tape, wire nets’ were used to mend Fukushima water tanks – worker — RT News

The 48 year old Japanese man said that workers were sent to various places in Fukushima, including an area called H3 with high radiation levels.

In one of those cases in October 2012, Uechi was given a task to cover five or six storage tanks without lids in the “E” area close to H3 as it was raining, the Japanese paper reported. When he climbed to the top of the 10-meter-high tank Uechi found white adhesive tape covering an opening of about 30 centimeters. After using a blade to remove the tape he applied a sealing agent on the opening and fit a steel lid fastening it with bolts. According to instructions he was to use four bolts, though the lid had eight bolt holes.

According to the employee, his colleagues later told him that the use of adhesive tape was a usual practice to deal with the problem of sealing in radioactive water.

91jlFH8MfhL“I couldn’t believe that such slipshod work was being done, even if it was part of stopgap measures,” Uechi told The Asahi Shimbun.

Among other makeshift cost-cutting measures was the use of second-hand materials. Uechi also said that wire nets were used instead of reinforcing bars during the placement of concrete for storage tank foundations. In addition, waterproof sheets were applied along the joints inside flange-type cylindrical tanks to save on the sealing agent used to join metal sheets of the storage tanks. Rain and snow had washed away the anti-corrosive agent applied around clamping bolts, reducing the sealing effect, Uechi added. According to the Fukushima worker, many of the tanks were later found to be leaking contaminated water.

Now, granted…that is from RT.com, and it goes without saying that there could be some bias on the reporting of a Russian nuclear disaster compared to a foreign one…but read the rest of the “stopgap” measures at the link.

Hedvig_Collin17Meanwhile: Dennis Rodman Names Team For North Korea Exhibition That Includes Former NBA All-Stars

NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker. Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles D. Smith are on the team, as well. They will play against a top North Korean Senior National team on Jan. 8, marking Kim Jong Un’s birthday.

I have no idea who these NBA stars are, but this is really a stupid move on their part.

And if we are talking stupid, I put a link to this yesterday in the comments, but it deserves front page status: New Report Says: Jenny McCarthy’s Son May Not Have Had Autism After All – Hollywood Life

After years of speaking out about her son’s autism — and against childhood immunizations — Jenny McCarthy is reversing her position.

After years of speaking publicly about her belief that MMR shots (immunization for measles, mumps, and rubella) caused her son to suffer from autism, Jenny McCarthy now faces the reality that her 7-year-old son Evan — who no longer shows any signs of autism — may likely have lived with completely different illness.

A new article in Time magazine — which Jenny was interviewed for — suggests Evan suffers from Landau-Kleffner syndrome, “a rare childhood neurological disorder that can also result in speech impairment and possible long-term neurological damage.”

Hedvig_Collin36All that shit spewed from Jenny’s lips…because of misdiagnosis? How many idiots have listened to that anti-immunization “Tits McCarthy” idiot and how many kids have paid the price?

Ugh!

I know I am jumping around today, but…check this out: Woman Attorney Launches Saudi Arabia’s First All-Lady Law Firm

Just a few months after Saudi Arabia allowed women to serve in court, the first licensed woman attorney Bayan Mahmoud Al-Zahran has just opened the first female law firm, dedicated to representing women and bringing women’s rights issues into the courts. YES.

Women have continually been neglected by the court system for a number of reasons, including simply not being taken seriously by male lawyers. Women’s issues concerning conflicts like inheritance, domestic violence, marriage, and you know, that whole driving thing are often simply dismissed. Also, while more women are joining the workforce, the country has yet to catch up in terms of legal support for working women.

Clearly Al-Zahran has her work cut out for her four-woman team, but as reported at Arab News, she’s ready for the challenge:

“I believe women lawyers can contribute a lot to the legal system. This law firm will make a difference in the history of court cases and female disputes in the Kingdom. I am very hopeful and thank everyone who supported me in taking this historical step.”

Hedvig_Collin27Just in time, because watch out, we know that some men in the U.S. are trying to take women backwards to a time a place very much like the one these Saudi women are working to pull themselves out of…

Did you see the latest on the men’s rights front? Men’s rights activists call for rape ‘accuse-a-thon’ to smear sex assault victims advocate | The Raw Story

A men’s rights group is encouraging its followers to falsely accuse a sexual assault victims advocate of rape in a stunt intended to undermine the veracity of all rape accusations.

Paul Elam, founder of the website A Voice For Men, hosted an online discussion Wednesday with his site’s editor-in-chief, John Hembling, and feminist critic Karen Straughn to discuss their plan to harass executive director of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton.

“I have looked at a number of cases where people have reported alien abductions were they were prodded and poked and had different orifices in their bodies explored by aliens in spaceships, and a common theme among these is that it turns out, in most of these cases, it was Karen Smith,” Elam said. “It wasn’t aliens.”

The men’s rights movement has been angry at Smith since at least this summer, when she helped promote the “Don’t Be That Guy” rape prevention campaign that inspired imitators in other cities and a counter campaign blaming women for their own sexual assaults.

Men’s rights activists also conspired to shut down a website that allowed the anonymous reporting of sexual assaults by flooding the system with false complaints.

Innit wonderful?

Assholes.

Hedvig_Collin4How about this, all this news about Colorado, and the amount of money the state will get from Marijuana sales tax…What about Vegas, ‘marriage capital of the world,’ left at the altar on gay weddings | Al Jazeera America

Because of a state constitutional ban, Nevada’s wedding industry loses untold millions while other states make it legal.

Here is two stories on commercial flying…

Customs officials explain why they destroyed musician’s prized flutes | The Raw Story

Yeah, they mention a plant pathogen. I don’t know…

Hedvig_Collin22CEO predictions for the next 100 years of flying – Yahoo Finance

Did you know that commercial flights began in my hometown of Tampa Florida?

Millions of people step aboard airplanes each day, complaining about the lack of legroom and overhead space but almost taking for granted that they can travel thousands of miles in just a few hours.

Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the first commercial flight: a 23-minute hop across Florida’s Tampa Bay. The St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line was subsidized by St. Petersburg officials who wanted more winter tourists in their city. The alternative: an 11-hour train ride from Tampa.

Pilot Tony Jannus had room for just one passenger, who sat next to him in the open cockpit. Three months later — when tourism season ended — so did the subsidy. The airline had carried 1,204 passengers but would never fly again.

Remember that Nazi salute I mentioned last week? Here is an update:  Concern Over an Increasingly Seen Gesture Grows in France – NYTimes.com

The rest of today’s links are fun stuff…or “special interest.”

There is a special coming up on PBS: ‘The Poisoner’s Handbook’ details birth of forensic science in US | Culture | McClatchy DC

Hedvig_Collin31I love the title of this Medieval guidebook: Advice Concerning Pregnancy and Health in Late Medieval Europe: Peasant Women’s Wisdom in The Distaff Gospels

This paper explores an area which has proven difficult for scholars to penetrate: women’s popular wisdom concerning medical matters in the later medieval period. Contextualized within an examination of medieval medical texts both by and about women, our discussion focuses on a later 15th-century French work, The Distaff Gospels. This text, published recently in English for the first time since 1510, consists of more than 200 pieces of advice or “gospels,” ostensibly conveyed to one another by a group of women who met together during the long winter evenings to spin. A significant portion of the advice might be considered “medical” in nature; it is grouped into two broad categories: pregnancy and health. We conclude that although our text is male mediated, it provides a reliable and valuable guide to peasant women’s medical lore during this period.

Another medieval paper for you: Anorexia and the Holiness of Saint Catherine of Siena

In the medieval period, the control, renunciation, and torture of the body were understood not so much as a rejection of the physical, but as a way of achieving the divine. Gradually, the manifestations of this renunciation of the body came to apply peculiarly to women, for whom this state may be defined as “holy anorexia,” identified by the following features.

0100151The Female Body as an Expression of Sexuality. The body of the woman was seen as an expression of sexuality, curvaceous with prominent breasts, and was thought to be the product of the woman herself, whereas the male body was formed by God. This supposition was confirmed by the extremely changeable nature of the female body, particularly in terms of control. Thus, the female easily slipped into a trance, into levitation, into catatonic states, leading rapidly to asceticism or anorexia. She displayed spontaneous lactation and bleeding, manifestations that sometimes were accompanied by stigmata. Indeed, at least fifteen medieval saints bled at the moment they received the Eucharist. In contrast, of saints in other periods of history, only Padre Pio and San Francesco displayed stigmata that were preserved on their bodies after death. If we are to consider specifically anorexia as a characteristic of sanctity, we must examine the periods of 1200 and the end of 1500 when Theresa of Avila (a Spanish saint who joined with a mystic force and spirit to reform Catholicism, resulting in the reinvigoration of all religious orders) began frequently to use twigs of olives to induce vomiting and completely empty her stomach. In this way she was able to truly take into herself the Host, which became her unique source of sustenance. From an investigation of the conduct of 170 Italian medieval saints by Rudolph Bell, fully one half of them exhibited symptoms of anorexia.

More at the link…lots more.

The next medieval link has a special place in my heart…The Hole: Problems in Medieval Dwarfology

Hedvig_Collin21When trying to understand Old Norse dwarfs, one problem is knowing too much. Almost everyone comes to the old texts with some preconceived idea of dwarfs, if not from The Lord of the Rings, then from romances, folktales and modern novels, all presenting their own consistent image of dwarfs. However, although later representations of dwarfs may have some relevance to medieval dwarfs, in this study I will try to limit myself to what can be discerned from medieval sources. That is not really possible: I, like everyone else, have known since childhood what a dwarf is. And yet I think the attempt may have some merit, in spite of being bound to fail in the most rigorous sense.

What I will attempt here is to pay close attention to the nature of the sources and what they reveal, or, as if often the case, do not reveal. Mythological scholarship is characterized by inclusiveness, a tendency to collect information en masse, sometimes with little discussion of the nature of the sources. When it comes to Old Norse dwarfs, it might be helpful to distinguish between three types of sources, in which their nature and function may take various forms. While there is perhaps not a case to be made for dramatically contrasting views in the Middle Ages, it is unwise to assume that all medieval sources agree on the nature, character and function of dwarfs.

You have to sign up on the site to download that article, or look for it here:  HoleArvMedDwa.

Hedvig_Collin39This one is for Dak: Skeletons ‘Embracing’ In Death May Represent Gruesome Ancient Siberian Custom (PHOTO)

Bill Nye is going to kick some Creationist ass: Bill Nye to visit Creation Museum for evolution debate | AccessNorthGa

A new exhibit in Brookyn: Susan Sontag was right: War photography can anesthetize – Salon.com

And lastly, one hot mama: The Tina Turner Blog On Twitter Is Pretty Much Everything

There are few things we love as much as Tina Turner, so you can imagine how ecstatic we were when we came across the Tina Turner Blog on Twitter. The account tweets up-to-the-minute news, videos and most importantly, awesome throwback photos of the singer. And we have to say, this lady has serious style.

https://twitter.com/tinaturnerblog/status/419477868675358720

Well, if that doesn’t get you…what about these legs?

Fabulous!

Hedvig_Collin28Have a wonderful day and stay warm!


Saturday Reads

reading the news

Good Morning!!

There’s a little breaking news this morning. The Guardian reports: China scrambles fighter jets towards US and Japan planes in disputed air zone.

China scrambled fighter jets to investigate US and Japanese aircraft flying through its new air defence zone over the East China Sea on Friday as the regional clamour over the disputed airspace escalated.

The ministry of defence announced the move, which is the first time China is known to have sent military aircraft into the zone alongside foreign flights, stepping up its response to the challenge after its unilateral establishment of the zone. It previously said it had monitored US, Japanese and South Korean aircraft and had flown routine patrols in the area on Thursday.

The ministry’s statement said two US reconnaissance aircraft and 10 Japanese early warning, reconnaissance and fighter planes had entered the zone.

The airforce “monitored throughout the entire flights, made timely identification and ascertained the types”, defence ministry spokesman Shen Jinke told the official China News Service.

Meanwhile, according to The New York Times,

Even as China scrambled fighter jets to enforce its newly declared air defense zone, the Obama administration said on Friday that it was advising American commercial airlines to comply with China’s demands to be notified in advance of flights through the area.

While the United States continued to defy China by sending military planes into the zone unannounced, administration officials said they had made the decision to urge civilian planes to adhere to Beijing’s new rules in part because they worried about an unintended confrontation.

Although the officials made clear that the administration rejects China’s unilateral declaration of control of the airspace over a large area of the East China Sea, the guidance to the airlines could be interpreted in the region as a concession in the battle of wills with China.

“The U.S. government generally expects that U.S. carriers operating internationally will operate consistent with” notice requirements “issued by foreign countries,” the State Department said in a statement, adding that that “does not indicate U.S. government acceptance of China’s requirements.”

Just what we need, a fight with China….

We may shoot first

Meanwhile North Korea is still holding Merrill Newman an 85-year old American who fought in Korea as a young man and had arranged a trip to visit the places he remembered. From Reuters, via the Times of India:

SEOUL: North Korea said on Saturday it had arrested US citizen Merrill E Newman for “hostile acts” against the state and accused him of being “a criminal” who was involved in the killing of civilians during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Newman “masterminded espionage and subversive activities against the DPRK and in this course he was involved in killings of service personnel of the Korean People’s Army and innocent civilians,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

North Korea apparently forced the elderly man to make a confession and apologize on video.

In a separate dispatch, KCNA carried what it said was a statement of apology by Newman, made after being detained.

“During the Korean War, I have been guilty of a long list of indelible crimes against DPRK government and Korean people as advisor of the Kuwol Unit of the U.N. Korea 6th Partisan Regiment part of the Intelligence Bureau of the Far East Command,” it said.

The unit appears to refer to one of the special operations units of partisan, or irregular, fighters acting against the North.

Newman, who had been visiting North Korea as a tourist, has been held in Pyongyang since officials took him off an Air Koryo plane that was scheduled to leave the country on October 26.

I really feel for Newman and his family. His wife must be frantic. The Daily Mail has photos and more details on the “apology.”

A video has been released by the North Korean government showing detained American veteran Merrill Newman, 85, admitting to being ‘guilty’ of crimes including killing innocent civilians when he was a soldier in the Korean War.

Newman, who has not been heard from since he was detained on October 26, is seen reading a four-page hand-scribbled letter on camera in an undisclosed location in the video released on Saturday.

The veteran from California looks uneasy in the video, and with shaking hands apologizes for what he supposedly did 60 years ago.

‘I realize that I cannot be forgiven for my offensives but I beg for pardon on my knees by apologizing for my offensives sincerely toward the DPRK government and the Korean people and I want not punish me,’ he reads.

There’s much much more on the public humiliation of this poor man. I hope he wasn’t tortured. Watch the video at the link if you want. I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. I just kept thinking of my Dad who was a WWII veteran. I would really like to know what the U.S. is doing to get Newman out of North Korea. It could be time for another rescue trip by Bill Clinton. 

woman-reading-newspaper

CNN is out with a new poll that found lots of Americans are unhappy with the way things are going in the U.S. these days.

[A] CNN/ORC International survey released Friday also indicates that less than a quarter of the public says that economic conditions are improving, while nearly four in ten say the nation’s economy is getting worse.

Forty-one percent of those questioned in the poll say things are going well in the country today, down nine percentage points from April, and the lowest that number has been in CNN polling since February 2012. Fifty-nine percent say things are going badly, up nine points from April.

Well, that isn’t too surprising, since the economy has been just awful for the vast majority of Americans for a very long time now. Good to know that more than half of the people polled have noticed something is off.

Besides an obvious partisan divide, which contributes to a urban-rural gap, the survey also indicates a difference of opinion between younger and older Americans.

“There’s a slight generational divide, with 46% of those under age 50 saying things are going well. That number drops to 36% for those 50 and older,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

So either older people are paying closer attention, or they can remember the pre-Reagan days when there was less income inequality; while younger people can’t recall a time when the economy was doing well.

It’s likely some of the negativity Americans are feeling is a reaction to the media’s constant trashing of the Affordable Care Act AKA “Obamacare.” This morning Reuters is reporting the the federal health care website–which was supposed to be fixed by today–is still experiencing problems and has been temporarily shut down.

Just hours before the Obama administration’s self-imposed deadline to get the insurance shopping website working for the “vast majority” of its users by Saturday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it was taking down the website for an 11-hour period that would end at 8 a.m. EST on Saturday.

It was unclear whether the extended shutdown of the website – about seven hours longer than on typical day – represented a major setback to the Obama administration’s high-stakes scramble to fix the portal that it hopes eventually will enroll about 7 million uninsured and under-insured Americans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

At the very least, the shutdown suggested that nine weeks after the website’s disastrous launch on October 1 prevented most applicants from enrolling in coverage and ignited one of the biggest crises of Obama’s administration, U.S. officials are nervous over whether Americans will see enough progress in the website to be satisfied….

After weeks of round-the-clock upgrades of software and hardware, Obama officials said they were poised to successfully double its capacity by this weekend, to be able to handle 50,000 insurance shoppers at one time.

Paul Krugman defends the program based on a “dramatic” reduction in health-care costs that no one else in the media can be bothered to report.

Much of the Beltway establishment scoffed at the promise of cost savings. The prevalent attitude in Washington is that reform isn’t real unless the little people suffer; serious savings are supposed to come from things like raising the Medicare age (which the Congressional Budget Office recently concluded would, in fact, hardly save any money) and throwing millions of Americans off Medicaid. True, a 2011 letter signed by hundreds of health and labor economists pointed out that “the Affordable Care Act contains essentially every cost-containment provision policy analysts have considered effective in reducing the rate of medical spending.” But such expert views were largely ignored.

So, how’s it going? The health exchanges are off to a famously rocky start, but many, though by no means all, of the cost-control measures have already kicked in. Has the curve been bent?

The answer, amazingly, is yes. In fact, the slowdown in health costs has been dramatic….

Since 2010, when the act was passed, real health spending per capita — that is, total spending adjusted for overall inflation and population growth — has risen less than a third as rapidly as its long-term average. Real spending per Medicare recipient hasn’t risen at all; real spending per Medicaid beneficiary has actually fallen slightly.

Read the rest at the link.

debbie harry reads

Edward Snowden is still in the news, and there’s talk of making him “person of the year.”  That would mean lots more money and attention for Glenn Greenwald. The latest link doesn’t seem that exciting to me–but what do I know? From The National Post: NSA tracked online sex activities of suspected terrorists, latest Edward Snowden leaked documents reveal.

LONDON — The American spy agency NSA tracked the online sexual habits of suspected terrorists in an attempt to expose them as hypocrites.

Details of the exercise emerged Wednesday in the latest leak of classified documents by the leaker Edward Snowden.

The spy agency identified six targets, all of whom were Muslim, as examples of how electronic surveillance could be used to gather potentially embarrassing information on individuals, such as evidence of visits to pornography sites.

One of the six “globally resonating foreign radicalizers” is believed to be a U.S. resident while the others live outside America. None of the targets, whose names have been redacted, is accused of being involved in terrorist plots.

I guess I should be all upset about this, but for some reason I’m a lot more freaked out by breadlines in NYC, the ongoing war against women, and the possibility of Republicans taking over the Senate and/or the White House.

A little more worrying is the possibility that the Greenwald/Snowden cult might decide to release the names of U.S. and U.K. intelligence agents. The Daily Telegraph: NSA terror over ‘doomsday’ cache of secrets stashed in online cloud by Edward Snowden 

U.S. intelligence officials say they are worried about a ‘doomsday’ cache of highly classified, heavily encrypted material they believe former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has stored on a data cloud.

The cache contains documents generated by the NSA and other agencies and includes names of U.S. and allied intelligence personnel, seven current and former U.S. officials and other sources briefed on the matter said.

The data is protected with sophisticated encryption, and multiple passwords are needed to open it, said two of the sources, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters….

One source described the cache of still unpublished material as Snowden’s ‘insurance policy’ against arrest or physical harm.

U.S. officials and other sources said only a small proportion of the classified material Snowden downloaded during stints as a contract systems administrator for NSA has been made public.

Some Obama Administration officials have said privately that Snowden downloaded enough material to fuel two more years of news stories.

Ironically, Snowden himself is living under the thumb of Russian security services, according to a recent story at al Jazeera. 

After a dramatic arrival and a prolonged confinement at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who is wanted by the United States government on espionage charges, has quietly vanished into a life of seclusion.

Nobody seems to know exactly where one of the most wanted and famous men in the world lives, who protects him or how he spends his days — beyond learning Russian and reading Dostoyevsky. Such glimpses into his life have been offered to the public by his Russian lawyer and de facto spokesman, Anatoly Kucherena.

Kucherena is a on the board of the FSB, Russia’s powerful intelligence agency.

“We know at this point that he’s not free,” said Yuri Felshtinsky, a Russian scholar who has written extensively about the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Felshtinsky, who believes the FSB controls Snowden, called the American exile a “Christmas gift” for President Vladimir Putin’s “public relations war” with the United States….

“He’s always going to be monitored and watched,” said Peter Savodnik, a journalist and author of a recently published book about another famous American defector who grew tired of his Soviet exile: Lee Harvey Oswald. “If he doesn’t already want to leave, he’s going to want to leave very soon.”

Good luck with that.

Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you following? Even if you’re just lazing around enjoying the final hours of the long weekend, please leave a comment or two and let us know what’s happening where you are.


Friday Nite Lite: Doing a Solid, Don’t Give a Solid, or Damn…We’re Solid Out of Luck

Good Evening

Man, I can’t seem to get my solid together today…

Anyway, here are your cartoons for your Friday Funnies!

Doing a Solid by Political Cartoonist Michael McParlane

131535 600 Doing a Solid cartoons

War Drums by Political Cartoonist Cameron Cardow

131467 600 War Drums cartoons

Guns For Kids – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 05/07/2013

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Guns For Kids

5/10 Luckovich cartoon: The right to bear arms | Mike Luckovich

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Printable Gun by Political Cartoonist Chris Britt

131499 600 Printable Gun cartoons

Jodi Arias verdict by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

131555 600 Jodi Arias verdict cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by MStreeter, Savannah Morning News – 05/10/2013

Cartoon by MStreeter -

Gitmo and drones by Political Cartoonist John Cole

131558 600 Gitmo and drones cartoons

Whistleblowers Mother by Political Cartoonist Rick McKee

131554 600 Whistleblowers Mother cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 05/09/2013

Cartoon by David Horsey -

WAR ON WOMEN – Political Cartoon by Deb Milbrath, Cartoon Movement – 05/08/2013

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - WAR ON WOMEN

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 05/10/2013

Cartoon by David Horsey -

Benghazi by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

131528 600 Benghazi cartoons

Benghazi Hearing by Political Cartoonist Adam Zyglis

131557 600 Benghazi Hearing cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune – 05/10/2013

Cartoon by Pat Bagley -

Sexual assault by Political Cartoonist Luojie

131539 600 Sexual assault cartoons

5/12 Luckovich cartoon: Combat medal | Mike Luckovich

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Sexual Assault by Political Cartoonist Chris Britt

131501 600 Sexual Assault cartoons

Nick Anderson: Military Justice – Nick Anderson – Truthdig

Kidnapped Cleveland Women found alive by Political Cartoonist Jeff Darcy

131384 600 Kidnapped Cleveland Women found alive cartoons

What Would Charles Ramsey do, Bruh? – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Mobile Register – 05/09/2013

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - What Would Charles Ramsey do, Bruh?

A whole lotta cartoons tonight! Have a lovely evening, and of course this is an open thread….


Wednesday Reads: Beg, Borrow, Steal…Maybe Blackmail Will Do?

wake the hell upGood Morning

My fingers are tingling like they are being poked with hundreds of little pins, and since we have some rain coming towards Banjoville…my arthritis is acting up as well. So, this morning’s post will be more along the lines of a link dump.

In this morning’s Orlando Sentinel, there is an op/ed that is outright propaganda, check it out: Editorial calls on Congress to approve chained CPI

But the president’s proposal deserves bipartisan support, no matter what the polls say. It’s an incremental yet meaningful step that acknowledges the need to include Social Security — the biggest federal program at more than $800 billion a year, and growing — in any balanced deficit-reduction plan.

Obama and Congress have cut deficits, but not enough to keep the national debt from growing as a share of the U.S. economy. They’ve largely left entitlement programs, including Social Security, off the table.

More debt means higher interest payments, less money for investments that would grow the economy, and more vulnerability to foreign creditors.

The president’s proposal would tie increases in Social Security and other benefit programs to an inflation index known as the “chained CPI” — a name only a bureaucrat could love. Many economists say the chained CPI is more accurate than the government’s current index, which overstates inflation.

Tying Social Security to the slower-growing inflation rate would reduce total annual benefits for the average 65-year-old retiree by only $50, though the reduction would compound over time to $1,147 a year by the time the retiree hit 85.

But the president’s proposal would prop up benefits for the poorest and oldest retirees. Targeting help to seniors in most need beats sticking with a system for everyone that overstates inflation and adds billions to the government’s bottom line.

Switching to the chained CPI would save at least $130 billion in Social Security payments over 10 years. It also would improve the fiscal fitness of the program, which is now paying out more in benefits than it is collecting in payroll taxes. The money to close the gap gets borrowed, which means that — contrary to claims from some advocates — Social Security adds to the deficit.

The chained CPI could save another $200 billion or more over the next decade outside of Social Security. How? By slowing spending growth in other benefit programs. And by adding to revenues by gradually moving more Americans with increasing incomes into higher tax brackets.

Obama is taking flak within his party for his proposal. For liberal Democrats, Social Security cuts are as bad as tax hikes for conservative Republicans.

But the president says he won’t go through with the switch unless Republicans go along with more tax increases. The GOP should be willing to close loopholes for corporations and the wealthy — especially if it’s in return for the kind of entitlement reform that Republicans have demanded from Obama.

There are a few comments already pointing out how stupid the author of the editorial is, you know…since Social Security is not a “debt” and all that shit.

sorgfelt at 5:47 AM April 10, 2013Social Security is an independent fund supplied solely by our contributions, and does not add to our national debt in any way, shape or form.  The author of this piece is either grossly uninformed and/or a pawn of the corporate entities who want to cut the business owners’ part of the contributions to Social Security.  It is utterly despicable that this article could be written and anyone could be led to take it seriously.There is one connection to the national debt: Congress has seen fit to borrow money without interest from Social Security to pay for our stupid, illegal wars.  That in itself is a travesty.  And to use that as an excuse to raid Social Security is despicable.
Florence Perry at 5:42 AM April 10, 2013It infuriates me when people call Social Security “an entitlement”.  It is not.  We put our hard earned monies into it, and it is our monies.  The government decided to borrow that money and now has to pay it back and called it “an entitlement” so they can cheat us out of our money.  You should get your facts straight Sentitnal (sic).

Madamab has a post up this morning that ties into this so be sure to stop over at Widdershins: Activist/Feminist Wednesday: Obama Goes After Social Security (And Women) | The Widdershins

Perhaps you don’t need math to be a politician these days? But there is some discussion as to whether you need it to be a scientist: Do you need to know math for doing great science? | The Curious Wavefunction, Scientific American Blog Network

There was a bit of a scare this morning, when an official tweet was sent accidentally by a town in Japan: Yokohama mistakenly tweets North Korean missile launch

Officials in the Japanese city of Yokohama were left red-faced on Wednesday after mistakenly announcing the launch of a North Korean missile to 40,000 followers on Twitter.

The city, south of Tokyo, prematurely fired its Tweet just before noon (0300 GMT), announcing “North Korea has launched a missile” with blank spaces to indicate the exact time.

“We received a call from one of our followers who had noticed the mistake. We had the Tweet ready and waiting, but for an unknown reason it was dispatched erroneously,” said a city official.

The city retracted the Tweet about 20 minutes later and apologised to followers of @yokohama_saigai, the official said.

Japan is on full alert ahead of an expected mid-range missile launch by North Korea, with Patriot missiles stationed in its capital to protect the 30 million people who live there.

Twitter is a big deal over in Japan, so this tweet was taken very seriously.

Meanwhile, over in Great Britain, History is getting an overhaul in their school systems, and it is not a good one, per the BBC:  Draft history curriculum ‘list-like and too narrow’

A draft history curriculum for England is “list-like”, “prescriptive” and omits “the histories of Britons who are not white Anglo-Saxons”, says a report.

The group, Curriculum for Cohesion, of teachers, academics and employers calls the draft “unteachable, unlearnable and un-British”.

They warn that if adopted the curriculum may alienate pupils from ethnic and religious minority groups.

I guess these people realize that History…will teach us nothing…/snark.

Makes me think of our very own GOP:

Clay Bennett: Intellecticide – Clay Bennett – Truthdig

Remember that event during the Occupy Wall Street protest, when the NYPD destroyed the Occupy Library? Well, they now have to pay damages. City To Pay $365,000 For Occupy Library – Business Insider

A New York City court has ruled that the city shall pay $366,700 for a destructive raid on Occupy Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park encampment.

Around 1 a.m. on Nov. 15, 2011, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ordered the NYPD to evict protestors — some of whom had camped there for almost two months — from Zuccotti Park in New York City’s Financial District.

The police threw away 5,554 books from the Occupy library and destroyed media equipment in addition to removing tents, tarps, and belongings.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York decided that the NYPD’s actions violated the protestors’ rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

The city will pay:

  • $47,000 in damages and $186,350 in legal fees for The People’s Library.
  • $75,000 and $49,850 in legal fees to Global Revolutions TV for damaging their “computers, wifi hotspots and similarly related live-streaming equipment.”
  • $8,500 for trashing the bicycle-powered generators that protestors built to light up the park after police held their other generators.

Wonderful to see that justice prevailed in this case.

I have some movie links for you now. This coming week the movie Camille will air on TCM: Wednesday, April 17 @ 09:00 AM (ET)

Set photograph, George Cukor directing Robert Taylor and Greta Garbor. 1936

Behind-the-scenes photograph taken while shooting the film Camille, George Cukor directing Robert Taylor and Greta Garbor. 1936

I love this film, it is beautiful.

Mike Luckovich had a very sweet tribute to Roger Ebert:

Mike Luckovich: RIP Roger Ebert – Mike Luckovich – Truthdig

This next link is just about some interesting movie trivia:

8 Pseudonyms Famous Writers and Directors Used in Movie Credits | Mental Floss

However, one pseudonym that is missing is a favorite of mine, from the movie The Bank Dick:

The Bank Dick (released as The Bank Detective in the United Kingdom) is a 1940 comedy film. W. C. Fields plays a character named Egbert Sousé who trips a bank robber and ends up a security guard as a result. The character is a drunk who must repeatedly remind people in exasperation that his name is pronounced “Sousé – accent grave [sic] over the ‘e’!”, because people keep calling him “Souse” (slang for drunkard). In addition to bank and family scenes, it features Fields pretending to be a film director and ends in a chaotic car chase. The Bank Dick is considered a classic of his work, incorporating his usual persona as a drunken henpecked husband with a shrewish wife, disapproving mother-in-law, and savage children.

The film was written by Fields, using the alias Mahatma Kane Jeeves (derived from the Broadway drawing-room comedy cliche, “My hat, my cane, Jeeves!”), and directed by Edward F. Cline. Shemp Howard, one of the Three Stooges, plays a bartender.

In 1992, The Bank Dick was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Mahatma Kane Jeeves….what a riot!

Boston Boomer sent me this link last week:

Meet the Tarantula as Big as Your Face : Discovery News

It’s big, it’s hairy, and it’s venomous.

The newest spider to give arachnophobes the willies, a tarantula named Poecilotheria rajaei has been discovered on the island nation of Sri Lanka.

With a leg span of 8 inches (20 centimeters) and enough venom to kill mice, lizards, small birds and snakes, according to Sky News, the crawler is covered in subtle markings of gray, pink and daffodil yellow.

Here is a picture of this monster:

Oh boy!

In another link BB sent me, related to spiders….this one is so damn cool: A Golden Spider-Silk Textile | The Art Institute of Chicago

Strands of silk from over one million of Madagascar’s golden orb spiders (Nephila madagascariensis) were woven together to make this dazzling textile, the only one of its kind in the world. Completed in 2008, the panel’s story underscores the globalism that is characteristic of many textile genres in Africa. Created by Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley, the loan of this rare textile celebrates the opening of the Art Institute’s redesigned galleries of African art and Indian art of the Americas.

The idea of harnessing spider silk for weaving is an age-old dream that was first attempted in a methodical way in France in the early 18th century. In the 1880s, Father Paul Camboué, a French Jesuit priest, brought the dream to Madagascar. Intrigued by the strength and beauty of the silk produced by the island’s golden orb spider, he began to collect and experiment with it. In 1900 a set of bed hangings was woven from spider silk at Madagascar’s Ecole Professionelle and exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris (today the whereabouts of those hangings are unknown). But the idea of creating an industry that could compete with Chinese silk (produced from silkworms) proved unrealistic.

Please go read the rest of this fascinating story at the link…and look at some of the photographs below:

SpiderSilk_lg

Colour of the Moment – Spider Silk Yellow Gold | Significant Colour

http://significantcolour.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/untitled-3-copy.jpg?w=370&h=

Spider silk cape goes on show at V&A | Art and design | guardian.co.uk

Golden spider silk cape

A model wearing the golden spider silk cape. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

It has taken eight years and more than a million Madagascar Golden Orb spiders to create a work of art “with the quality of a fairy story”. And it goes on display at London’s V&A museum this week.

Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley, a textile artist and a designer-entrepreneur respectively, have created a shimmering golden cape from spider silk, a fabric not woven in more than a century.

Golden spider silk cape at the V and A | Yes I Like That

Isn’t that spectacular?

I will end this post with a funny nature story…Scheming chicks blackmail doting parents for more food

Fledglings of a southern African bird species threaten suicide to blackmail their parents into bringing them more food, scientists said Wednesday. When hungry, pied babbler fledglings flutter from the nest to the ground, where predators roam, and start screeching to highlight their plight, said a study published in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “This stimulates adults to increase their provisioning rates,” the science team wrote. “Once satiated, fledglings return to the safety of cover.” The strategy is dangerous, as the birds are not good flyers at this tender age and at particular risk of predators on the ground. But the short-term risk of being caught is probably lower than the long-term costs of being small and weak, said the paper. Pied babblers have high reproductive rates and competition for mates is high. Weaker birds are often kicked out of the nest by siblings, putting them at a huge disadvantage in the race for survival and procreation.

More information: The influence of fledgling location on adult provisioning: a test of the blackmail hypothesis, rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/lookup/doi/10.1098/rspb.2013.0558

Now that is one ballsy move if you ask me!

So what are you reading about this morning?