Saturday: An Autumn Potpourri of ReadsPosted: October 19, 2013 Filed under: Crime, morning reads, Republican politics, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: Affordable Care Act, anti-leak software, Ariel Castro, Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Boy Scouts, Cleveland Police Department, Dave Hall, Edward Snowden, Elias Acevedo, FBI, Fox News lies, Glenn Greenwald, Glenn Taylor, Goblin Valley State Park, guns, hunting, Laura Poitras, murder, NSA, Obamacare, political fund-raising, potpourri, rape, rock formations, Sean Hannity, Tea Party, Ted Cruz 29 Comments
Isn’t that a gorgeous photo? It was taken in New Hampshire near Mount Washington in October 2011.
A potpourri is “a combination of incongruous things.” Well that’s what I have for you this morning. We’ll begin at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle where Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, 79, was arrested by TSA police for having a loaded gun in his carry-on bag. He was held for about half-an-hour and then released. He has a permit for the gun. Russell was on his way to Boston where a statue of him will be unveiled on November 1.
Did you hear about the morons in Utah who destroyed a 170-million-year-old rock formation and made a video of themselves doing it? From the Deseret News:
Two men have come under scrutiny by the public and possibly by prosecutors after a video made the rounds online showing them pushing over an iconic rock formation.
The men were visiting Goblin Valley State Park last week when they said they noticed a precariously perched
boulder that was loose and worried it would fall on someone. The delicate “goblin” formation, also known as a “hoodoo,” is one of many that gives the park its name.
What followed was a video showing the men joking and laughing as Glenn Taylor, of Highland, topples the rock, narrated by cameraman Dave Hall, who says lives have been saved. A third man, identified as Taylor’s son, watches.
These two ignorant fools, who are Boy Scout leaders (!), thought the ancient rock formation was suddenly going to tip over and crush someone.
Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg called the video disturbing. Possible criminal charges are being screened by the Emery County Attorney’s Office and the Utah Attorney General’s Office, he said….
The goblins date back more than 170 million years to the Jurassic Period, Swalberg said. The park, which gets more than 85,000 visitors per year, was dedicated in 1974 to protect the fragile formations, he said.
“There are some established trails in the park, but there are also areas where you can have self discovery and wander amongst the goblins,” Swalberg said. “That’s the beauty of Goblin Valley. It’s not meant to have people push over the goblins. It’s meant to enjoy.”
Check out the idiotic quotes from these guys in this Fox News story:
“This is about saving lives,” Dave Hall, who shot the video, told The Associated Press on Friday. “One rock at a time.”
The rock formation is about 170 million years old, Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg said. The park in central Utah is dotted with thousands of the eerie, mushroom shaped sandstone formations.
In a video posted on Facebook, Glenn Taylor of Highland, Utah, can be seen last Friday wedging himself between one formation and a boulder to knock a large rock off the formation’s top. Taylor and his two companions can then be seen cheering, high-fiving and dancing….
“My conscience won’t let me walk away knowing that kids could die,” Hall said.
While safety was their motivation, Hall said, it was exciting to knock it over, and that’s why they reacted with high-fives and cheers in the video.
“You can’t have a rock the size of a car that you can push with one hand, and have it roll, and not have an adrenaline rush,” Hall said. “It was a crazy, exciting moment.”
What an asshole! If these fools don’t get criminally prosecuted, at least maybe the Boy Scouts will discipline them.
Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith confirmed the men are members of the organization, saying in a statement that the organization is “shocked and disappointed by this reprehensible behavior.”
Boy Scout troops spend countless hours in state and national parks, guided by the principle of leaving nature the way they find it, Smith said.
“The isolated actions of these individuals are absolutely counter to our beliefs and what we teach,” Smith said. “We are reviewing this matter and will take appropriate action.”
Moving on , , ,
NSA officials admit they put off installing the latest anti-leak software at the Hawaii facility where Edward Snowden stole thousands of top secret documents before fleeing the country and eventually accepting asylum in Russia.
Well before Snowden joined Booz Allen Hamilton last spring and was assigned to the NSA site as a systems administrator, other U.S. government facilities had begun to install software designed to spot attempts by unauthorized people to access or download data.
The purpose of the software, which in the NSA’s case is made by a division of Raytheon Co, is to block so-called “insider threats” – a response to an order by President Barack Obama to tighten up access controls for classified information in the wake of the leak of hundreds of thousands of Pentagon and State Department documents by an Army private to WikiLeaks website in 2010.
The main reason the software had not been installed at the NSA’s Hawaii facility by the time Snowden took up his assignment there was that it had insufficient bandwidth to comfortably install it and ensure its effective operation, according to one of the officials.
Due to the bandwidth issue, intelligence agencies in general moved more slowly than non-spy government units, including the Defence Department, to install anti-leak software, officials said.
In other related news,
Snowden told The New York Times in an interview that he turned all of his files over to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras when the three met in Hong Kong last spring; he said he didn’t keep any of the files and therefore China and Russia could not have gotten access to them. From HuffPo:
Snowden said he did not retain copies of the documents and did not take them to Russia “because it wouldn’t serve the public interest,” the Times reported. He said his familiarity with China’s intelligence abilities allowed him to protect the documents from Chinese spies while he was in Hong Kong.
“There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he said….
The Times reported that in the interview, which it said took place over several days in the last week and involved encrypted online communications, Snowden asserted that he believed he was a whistle-blower who was acting in the nation’s best interests by revealing information about the NSA’s surveillance dragnet and huge collections of communications data.
The only problem with these claims is that Snowden actually gave copies of some of the stolen files to the Chinese government-supported newspaper The South China Morning Post in August, long after he supposedly turned everything over to Greewald and Poitras. So where did that data come from?
Whatever the truth is, we do know the files are in the possession of Greenwald, Poitras, Wikileaks, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and several other news organizations as well as the British security services which confiscated the files from Greenwald’s live-in partner David Miranda when he was passing through Heathrow airport. So we can be sure there’s no danger of unauthorized release of secret information. Right?
That was sarcasm, by the way, in case you didn’t pick up on it . . .
Bob Cesca had a good post yesterday on Ted Cruz and his future plans. He apparently feels emboldened by his success in shutting down the government for two weeks, and plans more destructive behavior next time. Cesca writes:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the chief architect of the tea party shutdown and subsequent debt ceiling brinksmanship, might have lost an endorsement from his home town newspaper, but he managed to raise $1.19 million during the third quarter — nearly three times the haul of the second quarter total. That period of time didn’t include the shutdown, but it included his filibuster, which, it turns out, had a very important purpose: the make money for Ted Cruz. He also beefed up his email database with a petition that gathered over two million names and addresses.
When asked who “won” the shutdown battle, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) told Politico the winners were “the people that managed to raise a lot of money off this.” Now, I don’t know if that means the tea party necessarily “won,” but Cruz and the Heritage Action group, which pulled in $330,000, didn’t walk away empty-handed.
While Cruz and the others cashed-in, the shutdown ended up costing the federal government $24 billion. Via TIME, here’s a breakdown of just a few of the losses:
-About $3.1 billion in lost government services, according to the research firm IHS
-$152 million per day in lost travel spending, according to the U.S. Travel Association
-$76 million per day lost because of National Parks being shut down, according to the National Park Service
-$217 million per day in lost federal and contractor wages in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area alone
And we’re supposed to continue buying the line that the tea party cares about government spending and the national debt? That’s rich.
Obviously, Cesca writes, they are going to do a repeat performance early next year. Read all about it at the link.
More wingnut news . . .
Via Kevin Drum, Eric Stern wrote at Salon about how he “fact-checked” Sean Hannity’s claims about Obamacare. Stern writes:
I happened to turn on the Hannity show on Fox News last Friday evening. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity announced, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.” Three married couples were neatly arranged in his studio, the wives seated and the men standing behind them, like game show contestants.
As Hannity called on each of them, the guests recounted their “Obamacare” horror stories: canceled policies, premium hikes, restrictions on the freedom to see a doctor of their choice, financial burdens upon their small businesses and so on.
“These are the stories that the media refuses to cover,” Hannity interjected.
But none of it smelled right to me. Nothing these folks were saying jibed with the basic facts of the Affordable Care Act as I understand them. I understand them fairly well; I have worked as a senior adviser to a governor and helped him deal with the new federal rules.
So Stern actually contacted three of these folks and it turns out they all lied. As Drum summarizes:
One of them was apparently just lying, and the other two hadn’t even checked the exchanges, where they would have found that they could get better coverage for considerably less than they’re paying now.
Did you hear the latest in the Ariel Castro story?
One of Castro’s neighbors has now been charged with rapes and murders. From the Guardian:
Increased scrutiny of missing person cases in a Cleveland neighbourhood following the arrest of kidnapper Ariel Castro led to charges against a neighbour for the murders of two women in the 1990s, the FBI said on Friday.
Elias Acevedo, 49, was charged late on Thursday with the kidnapping, rape and murder of his 30-year-old neighbour, Pamela Pemberton, found strangled in 1994, and another woman believed to be Christina Adkins, a pregnant 18-year-old who disappeared in 1995. He also is charged with the rape of two young girls.
“Because the public became more aware and investigators were determined and relentless, people were re-interviewed and there was an increased interest in these missing person cases,” FBI spokeswoman Vicki Anderson said.
Acevedo, who lived on the same block as Castro, was arrested in June at his Seymour Avenue residence after police questioned Castro’s neighbours and discovered that Acevedo was a convicted sex offender who had failed to report his current address.
Acevedo became a suspect in the Adkins and Pemberton murders after the FBI re-examined the disappearance of other missing women from the Seymour Avenue neighbourhood after Castro’s arrest, according to a statement from the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office.
Imagine if the Cleveland police had actually done their job years ago?
I’ll end with this wacky story from CBS Atlanta.
Bear climbs tree stand to meet hunter.
A video of a showdown between a hunter and a bear in Canada posted in May of this year is making the rounds on social media as of late.
The video, posted by Jeffrey Moffatt, shows a hunter in a tree stand with a bear at the bottom of the tree.
Much to the surprise of the hunter, the bear climbs the tree in about three seconds and comes face-to-face with the hunter. No need for a hunting rangefinder when the damn thing is 3 feet away from you!
The bear sniffs around and eventually decides the hunter wasn’t a threat and climbs down the tree.
Moffatt said on YouTube that he only had a bow and arrow – no firearm – and did not have any cell service in case the situation would have gotten worse.
You have to watch the video!
OK, those are my contributions for today. What stories are you following? Please post your comments and links in the thread below.
Thursday ReadsPosted: June 7, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, court rulings, Crime, Foreign Affairs, Mitt Romney, morning reads, religion, Republican presidential politics, Syria, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: Boston Celtics, Brett Kimberlin, DOMA, Erick Erickson, George Zimmerman, impersonating a police officer, Joe Conason, Luka Rocco Magnotta, Michigan State Troopers, Patterico, Ray Bradbury, right wing bloggers, Salt Lake City gay pride march, Stanford University, SWAT-ting, uniform fetish, Vietnam War 24 Comments
Last night I wrote about Mitt Romney’s claim that he “longed” to serve in Vietnam, but instead sacrificed his fondest dream by living in France for the war years. But he wasn’t always averse to wearing a uniform. When he was in prep school at Cranbrook, he once played a “prank” in which he impersonated a police officer and stopped a car in which four of his “friends” were out on a double date.
But until I read this piece by Joe Conason, I had no idea that Romney had repeatedly dressed as a Michigan state trooper even when he was a student at Stanford.
According to Robin Madden, one of Romney’s Stanford classmates, Romney once showed him a state trooper’s uniform and said he’d gotten it from his father George Romney, who was then Governor of Michigan. Madden told Conason:
“He told us that he had gotten the uniform from his father,” George Romney, then the Governor of Michigan, whose security detail was staffed by uniformed troopers. “He told us that he was using it to pull over drivers on the road. He also had a red flashing light that he would attach to the top of his white Rambler.”
In Madden’s recollection, confirmed by his wife Susan, who also attended Stanford during those years, “we thought it was all pretty weird. We all thought, ‘Wow, that’s pretty creepy.’ And after that, we didn’t have much interaction with him,” although both Madden and Romney were prep school boys living in the same dorm, called Rinconada.
Is there no end to this man’s weirdness? Just one more Romney story and then I’ll move on to something else. The New York Times has a front page story today on Romney’s neighbors in La Jolla and how annoyed they are by him.
ON Dunemere Drive, it seems as if just about everyone has a gripe against the owners of No. 311.
The elderly woman next door complains that her car is constantly boxed into her driveway. A few houses over, a gay couple grumbles that their beloved ocean views are in jeopardy. And down the street, a widow grouses that her children’s favorite dog-walking route has been disrupted.
Bellyaching over the arrival of an irritating new neighbor is a suburban cliché, as elemental to the life on America’s Wisteria Lanes as fastidiously edged lawns and Sunday afternoon barbecues.
But here in La Jolla, a wealthy coast-hugging enclave of San Diego, the ordinary resident at the end of the block is no ordinary neighbor.
He is Mitt Romney.
The biggest complaints seem to be about the Romney’s plans to turn their beachfront home into a giant “McMansion. The article says that the Romneys haven’t asked any of the neighbors over to their house, but Ann and Mitt do take walks and interact people they see along the way.
Mr. Romney and his wife take regular walks around La Jolla, exchanging pleasantries with fellow strollers and occasionally enforcing the law. A young man in town recalled that Mr. Romney confronted him as he smoked marijuana and drank on the beach last summer, demanding that he stop.
The issue appears to be a recurring nuisance for the Romneys. Mr. Quint, who lives on the waterfront near Mr. Romney, said that a police officer had asked him, on a weekend when the candidate was in town, to report any pot smoking on the beach. The officer explained to him that “your neighbors have complained,” Mr. Quint recalled. “He was pretty clear that it was the Romneys.”
I hope our libertarian readers are paying attention.
The Washington Post reports that there has been another massacre in Syria.
Two activists in Hama said Wednesday that at least 30 people, and possibly many more, had been killed in Qubair, northwest of Hama, after the militias known as the shabiha raided the village. Government forces had blocked roads leading to the village and prevented activists from gathering evidence of the killings, they said.
But one of the activists, Asem Abu Mohammed, said he had received frantic calls for help from people in the village starting in the late afternoon.
Another activist, Mousab al-Hamadi, said people in the village told him that many women and children were among those hacked to death with knives by the militiamen.
Also at the WaPo, there is an interesting graphic piece: Ray Bradbury: 10 of his most prescient predictions. Bradbury apparently foresaw earbuds, Facebook, ATM’s, and E-books!
This story is a couple of days old, but did you hear about the hundreds of mormons and ex-mormons who participated in Salt Lake City’s gay pride march?
They came in suits and skirts, and they drew tears and cheers.
More than 300 current and former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated in the Utah Gay Pride Parade on Sunday as part of a group called Mormons Building Bridges.
“I haven’t recognized them as equals,” one marcher, Emily Vandyke, 50, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “They have been invisible to me.”
She carried a sign with words from a Mormon children’s song: “I’ll walk with you, I’ll talk with you. That’s how I’ll show my love for you.”
It’s a start, anyway.
Another judge has ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.
The law was challenged by 83-year-old Edith “Edie” Windsor after the federal government failed to recognize her marriage to her partner Thea Spyer, after Spyer’s death in 2009. Her marriage was recognized by the state of New York.
The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996 and Section 3 of the law, which the case challenged, defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. It prohibited legally married same sex couples from receiving federal benefits.
“Thea and I shared our lives together for 44 years, and I miss her each and every day,” said Windsor. “It’s thrilling to have a court finally recognize how unfair it is for the government to have treated us as though we were strangers.”
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara S. Jones of the Southern District of New York ruled the statue violated the constitution’s guarantee of equal protection because it discriminated against married same sex couples.
This next one is pretty funny: Senator Asks DOJ to Investigate SWAT-ting Attacks on Conservative Bloggers
A number of conservative bloggers allege they have been targeted through the use of harassment tactics such as SWAT-ting (fooling 911 operators into sending emergency teams to their homes), in retaliation for posts they have written, and now Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., has stepped into the matter. He has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to investigate the SWAT-ting cases to see if federal laws have been violated.
Who are these bloggers and when were that “SWAT-ted?” Are there videos? Inquiring minds want to see them.
ABC News spoke with two prominent conservative bloggers who were victims of SWAT-ting, a hoax tactic used by some hackers to infiltrate a victim’s phone system, often through voice over IP (VOIP) technology to make calls appear as if they are coming from a residence. The perpetrators call police to report a violent crime at that home to which the police respond, sometimes with SWAT teams.
And ABC names names! Victim 1: Patrick Frey AKA Patterico. Victim 2: Erick Erickson of Red State and CNN fame. Victim 3: Robert Stacy McCain of “The Other McCain.” Victim 4: Ali Akbar, whoever that is. Other victims are referred to but not named. And the culprit? The mysterious Brett Kimberlin, whom the wingers think is a prominent “progressive.”
Brett Kimberlin, a man who was convicted of a series of bombings in Speedway, Indiana in the 1980s and made headlines in 1988 when he claimed to have once sold marijuana to then-vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle….
Kimberlin, who is now the director of a non-profit organization called Justice Through Music, told ABC News that he did not commit or ask anyone to conduct the SWAT-ting hoaxes that were perpetrated against Erickson and Frey.
“Of course not, it’s ridiculous. It’s totally irresponsible for them to even say this,” Kimberlin told ABC News. “There is no truth to anything about the SWAT-ting.”
This is so bizarre. I read all about it at Cannonfire ages ago. I can’t believe ABC News bought into this nonsense.
In crime news, someone mailed body parts to two schools in Vancouver. Naturally, the prime suspect is Luka Rocco Magnotta.
St. George’s senior school student Trevor Leung was working on his computer Tuesday afternoon when he saw the Yahoo news alert: a package of human remains had been discovered in the mail room at the nearby St. George’s junior school.
Leung didn’t know then that it was a human foot. Or that earlier, at about
1 p.m., a package containing a hand had been opened by a staff member at another Vancouver school, False Creek elementary.
By then, investigators in Montreal and Vancouver were on the phone, trying to establish whether the body parts were linked to the murder case involving former Canadian porn actor Luka Rocco Magnotta.
Ugh! Thank goodness that monster is behind bars for now.
George Zimmerman won’t have a second bail hearing until June 29, so he’ll be behind bars for awhile also. The article says that Attorney Mark O’Mara claims that Zimmerman “has learned his lesson.” I guess that will be up to the judge to determine.
Finally, a bit of provincial sports news: The aging Boston Celtics have LeBron James and the Miami Heat on the ropes in the NBA Playoffs.
Boston is the first road team in the series to win just as the Oklahoma City Thunder did in taking a 3-2 Western series lead. Both are trying to to rally from 2-0 deficits, never done in the same conference finals round.
No two teams have ever come back from 2-0 deficits in the same year in the conference finals. The only time it has happened twice during the same stage was 2005, when the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks topped the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets in the first round.
“We’re just hanging in there and I tell (them), ‘Hang in, hang in there, don’t overreact,’ ” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
Game 6 in the East finals is Thursday in Boston (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Le Bron is such a choker. He’s loaded with talent but just doesn’t have the necessary fire in the belly.
Now what are you reading and blogging about today?