Lazy Saturday Afternoon Reads: Pi Day Edition

7-art-of-π

Good Afternoon!!

I’m no mathematician, but when something happens only once in a lifetime, I figure could be worth paying attention to. From MassLive: Pi Day 2015: 3.141592653 comes around for 1st time in 100 years.

Pi Day is a holiday, not a federal one, mind you, that celebrates pi, the mathematical constant that’s calculated by dividing the circumference of a circle by its diameter.

This year, Pi Day (named for the first three numbers of the mathematical constant and first officially celebrated in 1988 in San Francisco) has special significance – at 53 seconds after 9:26 a.m. and p.m. (9:26:53), the date and the time will represent the first 10 digits of pi – 3.141592653 (some argue that 9:26:54 is a more accurate time, since the 11th digit is 5, so the 3 should be rounded up.)

So what is Pi anyway?

The concept of pi – essential in calculations ranging from classical geometry to the most advanced physics and cosmology – dates to Egyptian pyramid builders of the 26th century BC. The constant was first represented by the Greek letter in 1706.

Pi was calculated out to 2,576,980,377,524 decimal places on April 29, 2009 at theCenter for Computational Sciences at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. It took more than 29 hours and 13.5 terabytes of computer capacity.

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According to the article, lots of colleges mark the day, and M.I.T. even times their acceptance letters to go out on Pi Day. And get this: Albert Einstein was born on March 14.

I’ll let a real math whiz explain why Pi is important. From The New Yorker:

Why Pi Matters, by Steven Strogatz.

Why do mathematicians care so much about pi? Is it some kind of weird circle fixation? Hardly. The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity within reach. Even young children get this. The digits of pi never end and never show a pattern. They go on forever, seemingly at random—except that they can’t possibly be random, because they embody the order inherent in a perfect circle. This tension between order and randomness is one of the most tantalizing aspects of pi.

Pi touches infinity in other ways. For example, there are astonishing formulas in which an endless procession of smaller and smaller numbers adds up to pi. One of the earliest such infinite series to be discovered says that pi equals four times the sum 1 – + – + – + ⋯. The appearance of this formula alone is cause for celebration. It connects all odd numbers to pi, thereby also linking number theory to circles and geometry. In this way, pi joins two seemingly separate mathematical universes, like a cosmic wormhole.

But there’s still more to pi. After all, other famous irrational numbers, like e (the base of natural logarithms) and the square root of two, bridge different areas of mathematics, and they, too, have never-ending, seemingly random sequences of digits.

Infinite beauty of Pi

What distinguishes pi from all other numbers is its connection to cycles. For those of us interested in the applications of mathematics to the real world, this makes pi indispensable. Whenever we think about rhythms—processes that repeat periodically, with a fixed tempo, like a pulsing heart or a planet orbiting the sun—we inevitably encounter pi. There it is in the formula for a Fourier series:

Strogatz_Fourier_60H

That series is an all-encompassing representation of any process, x(t), that repeats every T units of time. The building blocks of the formula are pi and the sine and cosine functions from trigonometry. Through the Fourier series, pi appears in the math that describes the gentle breathing of a baby and the circadian rhythms of sleep and wakefulness that govern our bodies. When structural engineers need to design buildings to withstand earthquakes, pi always shows up in their calculations. Pi is inescapable because cycles are the temporal cousins of circles; they are to time as circles are to space. Pi is at the heart of both.

For this reason, pi is intimately associated with waves, from the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tides to the electromagnetic waves that let us communicate wirelessly. At a deeper level, pi appears in both the statement of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and the Schrödinger wave equation, which capture the fundamental behavior of atoms and subatomic particles. In short, pi is woven into our descriptions of the innermost workings of the universe.

Pi Day

From the Guardian: Pi Day 2015: meet the man who invented π, by Gareth Ffowc Roberts.

In 1706, William Jones – a self-taught mathematician and one of Anglesey’s most famous sons – published his seminal work, Synopsis palmariorum matheseos, roughly translated by Jonckers as A summary of achievements in mathematics.

It is a work of great historical interest because it is where the symbol π appears for the first time in scientific literature to denote the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

Jones realised that the decimal 3.141592 … never ends and that it cannot be expressed precisely. “The exact proportion between the diameter and the circumference can never be expressed in numbers,” he wrote. That was why he recognised that it needed its own symbol to represent it.

It is thought that he chose π either because it is first letter of the word for periphery (περιφέρεια) or because it is the first letter of the word for perimeter (περίμετρος). (Or because of both).

The symbol π was popularised in 1737 by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707–83), but it wasn’t until as late as 1934 that the symbol was adopted universally. By now, π is instantly recognised by school pupils worldwide, but few know that its history can be traced back to a small village in the heart of Anglesey.

Read more about Jones at the Guardian link.

And now, sadly, we must move on from the sublime to the ridiculous, our pathetic corporate media and their sick obsession with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Pi_pie2

We’re all sick and tired of being sick and tired of the media’s insane hatred of the Clintons, and Hillary isn’t even running yet. What is it that causes these pathetic excuses for reporters and editors to hate these two people so much? Under Bill Clinton the U.S. economy was strong and healthy, and times were good for the middle class.

Before Clinton, we went through eight years of “Reaganomics” that left us with huge economic problems and four years of Jimmy Carter malaise.  Since then the economy has been in a shambles. Since Clinton, the economy has only been good for the ultra-rich, and we’ve been mired in two wars in the Middle East, and Republicans are trying to get us involved in a third war with Iran.

What was so terrible about peace and prosperity that the media, the GOP, and the Emoprog libertarians just couldn’t tolerate and don’t want to repeat?

If you’re thinking there a huge double standard in the media coverage of the Clintons vs. Republicans who held the same positions, you’re not imagining things. Over at Media Matters, Eric Boehlert has published a series of great pieces on this disparity.

The Clintons And Another Media Guttural Roar

Offering up some advice to the political press corps as it prepares to cover the 2016 presidential campaign, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently stressed that reporters and pundits ought to take a deep breath when big stories broke; to not immediately promote stumbles and campaign missteps to be more urgent and damaging than they really are.

“We may wish certain snags were roadblocks and certain missteps collapses, because we think they should be or they’re sexier that way,” wrote Bruni.

That was in his February 28 column. Four days later Bruni abandoned his own advice.

Pouncing on the controversy surrounding which email account Hillary Clinton used while serving as secretary of state, Bruni tossed his counsel for caution to the wind and treated the email development as an instant game changer and even wondered if the revelation indicated Clinton had a political “death wish.”

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But that fits the long-running pattern of the D.C. media’s Clinton treatment: Over-eager journalists hungry for scandal can’t even abide by the advice they dispensed four days prior. Or maybe Bruni simply meant that his advice of caution was supposed to apply only to Republican candidates. Because it’s certainly not being applied to Hillary and the email kerfuffle coverage.

Instead, “The media and politicos and Twitterati immediately responded with all the measured cautious skepticism we’ve come to expect in response to any implication of a Clinton Scandal,” noted Wonkette. “That is to say, none.”

Just look how the very excitable Ron Fournier at National Journal rushed in after the email story broke and announced Clinton should probably just forget about the whole running-for-president thing. Why preemptively abandon an historic run? Because she may reveal herself to be “seedy,” “sanctimonious,” “self-important,” and “slick.” This, after Fournier denounced Bill and Hillary Clinton two weeks ago for their “stupid” and “sleazy” actions.

Why can’t these people see how ridiculously over-the-top they are when it comes to Hillary and Bill? How do they treat similar behavior by Republicans? Boehlert reported on March 10:

FLASHBACK: When Millions Of Lost Bush White House Emails (From Private Accounts) Triggered A Media Shrug.

Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush’s sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many asfive million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.

The emails had been run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee and were only supposed to be used for dealing with non-administration political campaign work to avoid violating ethics laws. Yet congressional investigators already had evidence private emails had been used for government business, including to discuss the firing of one of the U.S. attorneys. The RNC accounts were used by 22 White House staffers, including then-Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who reportedly used his RNC email for 95 percent of his communications.

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As the Washington Post reported, “Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision- making and deliberations.” But suddenly millions of the private RNC emails had gone missing; emails that were seen as potentially crucial evidence by Congressional investigators.

The White House email story broke on a Wednesday. Yet on that Sunday’s Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and Fox News Sunday, the topic of millions of missing White House emails did not come up. At all. (The story did get covered on ABC’s This Week.)

By comparison, not only did every network Sunday news show this week cover the story about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emails, but they were drowning in commentary. Between Meet the Press, Face The Nation, This Week, and Fox News Sunday, Clinton’s “email” or “emails” were referenced more than 100 times on the programs, according to Nexis transcripts. Talk about saturation coverage.

Indeed, the commentary for the last week truly has been relentless, with the Beltway press barely pausing to catch its breath before unloading yet another round of “analysis,” most of which provides little insight but does allow journalists to vent about the Clintons.

And what about Colin Powell? And what about announced presidential candidate Jeb Bush? Boehlert wrote on March 11:

Pi pie

Two Names The Press Omits From Email Coverage: Colin Powell And Jeb Bush.

As the press demands answers regarding which private emails Clinton handed over to the State Department and which ones she withheld because she deemed them to be personal in nature, many journalists fail to include relevant information about prominent Republicans who have engaged in similar use of private email accounts while in office, specifically former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

By omitting references to Powell and Bush and how they handled private emails while in office, the press robs news consumers of key information. It’s also material that deflates the overheated suspicions of a wide-ranging Clinton cover-up.

Appearing on ABCs This Week on Sunday, Powell was asked how he responded to the State Department request last year that all former secretaries hand over emails from their time in office. Powell confirmed that he had used private email while secretary but that he didn’t hand over any emails to the State Department because his private emails were all gone.

“I don’t have any to turn over,” he explained. “I did not keep a cache of them. I did not print them off. I do not have thousands of pages somewhere in my personal files.”  Powell’s revelation is important because it puts into perspective the email protocol of a former secretary of state. By his own account, Powell’s emails, unlike Clinton’s, include his regular communications with foreign dignitaries. What was he emailing them in the lead-up to the war in Iraq? We’ll never know.

To date however, both the New York Times and the Washington Post have largely downplayed references to the fact that Powell’s private, secretary of state emails are all gone.

We simply have no “Fourth Estate” any longer. The media simply reports whatever fits their “narratives” from the 1980s and 2008 and ignores everything that doesn’t fit.

I know there is much more happening today. What Saturday reads would you recommend?


Monday Reads: If They Could Turn Back Time

soft-watchGood Morning!

Well, another Monday is here.  It’s my turn once again to offer up the reads for the day before starting my usual Monday “student time”.    Time sure stands still when you’re trying to come to terms with challenging stuff.

There’s an interview in Saturday’s NYT with the wonderful Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  I have no idea how this woman stays on at SCOTUS with all those nutty men, but she does and she says she is staying put. She doesn’t think its her time to retire.

In wide-ranging remarks in her chambers on Friday that touched on affirmative action, abortion and same-sex marriage, Justice Ginsburg said she had made a mistake in joining a 2009 opinion that laid the groundwork for the court’s decision in June effectively striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The recent decision, she said, was “stunning in terms of activism.”

Unless they have a book to sell, Supreme Court justices rarely give interviews. Justice Ginsburg has given several this summer, perhaps in reaction to calls from some liberals that she step down in time for President Obama to name her successor.

On Friday, she said repeatedly that the identity of the president who would appoint her replacement did not figure in her retirement planning.

“There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president,” she said.

Were Mr. Obama to name Justice Ginsburg’s successor, it would presumably be a one-for-one liberal swap that would not alter the court’s ideological balance. But if a Republican president is elected in 2016 and gets to name her successor, the court would be fundamentally reshaped.

Here’s some research on wormholes that is very weird and intriguing. It is all about spacetime.

Wormholes! I feel like we haven’t talked about them since the ’90s. Basically, wormholes are theoretical objects that connect two different points in space. They’re allowed as possible solutions to Einstein’s equations for general relativity—indeed, Einstein and his colleague Nathan Rosen first discovered wormholes, which is why they’re also called Einstein-Rosen bridges. Unfortunately, wormholes aren’t perfect—Einstein’s equations also imply that nothing with nonnegative energy (that is to say: nothing that we know of) can traverse a wormhole, so they’re not going to make for useful intergalactic portals anytime soon.

Maldacena and Susskind, following Van Raamsdonk, posit that any time two quantum particles are entangled, they’re connected by a wormhole. They then go on to say that the wormhole connection between particles inside a black hole (the infalling virtual particles) and the particles outside of a black hole (the Hawking radiation) soothes out the entanglement problems enough so that we can avoid the firewall at the event horizon.

Note that this requires a profound rethinking of the fundamental stuff of the universe. Entanglement, a deeply quantum phenomenon, is fundamentally wound into to the geometry of the universe. Or, to flip it around, quantum weirdness may be stuff that creates the substrate of spacetime.melting clock

The Sunday news programs continue to have discussions on what will happen to voting rights now that the Supreme Court decision has muddied the waters.  Cokie Roberts calls the changes “downright evil”. Can the Republicans turn back the clock on Civil Rights?

In a roundtable discussion on ‘This Week’, ABC News’ Cokie Roberts reflected on the progress in our country 50 years after the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech.

“Growing up in the Deep South in the era of Jim Crow, the difference is dramatic… It’s a great testament to the fact that when you do something like pass a voting rights bill. That makes a difference.”

Still, Robert’s expressed concern over recent legislation on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In June the Supreme Court invalidated key parts of this law, which spurred contentious debates on race and equal opportunity. Critics of the ruling call it a regression. Proponents argue that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is outdated.

Robert’s said, “What’s going on about voting rights is downright evil because it is something that really needs to keep going forward not backward.”

 Former SOS Colin Powell was also on air Sunday.  He continues to be one of the few reasonable Republicans left that finds his way to the airwaves even though his status has been greatly diminished by claims of WMDS in Iraq. Bet he wishes he coul go back in time and change that!!  Where’s the spacetime continuum when a General needs one?

“These kinds of procedures that are being put in place to slow the process down and make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African Americans might vote I think are going to backfire, because these people are going to come out and do what they have to to vote, and I encourage that,” Powell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Following the Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, Republicans in states like Texas and North Carolina are advancing legislation that would require voters to show photo ID at the polls.

“They claim that there’s widespread abuse and voter fraud, but nothing substantiates that,” Powell said. “There isn’t widespread abuse.”

A Republican who has been increasingly critical of his party in recent years, Powell endorsed President Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

He said the GOP’s moves on voting access would in particular damage the party’s effort to appeal to the growing minority populations it will need to win national elections in the future. “This is not the way to do it,” Powell said.

He said he disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act.

“I would have preferred that they did not reach such a conclusion, but they did, and I can see why they reached such a conclusion,” Powell said.

Meanwhile, Bobby JIndal continues to write some of the weirdest, disjointed op-eds around.  This one is ironic given the current challenge to his prized Louisiana School voucher program that appears to be enabling re-segregation of schools. Remember, this is an op ed on racism as you read this weird, theocratic screed.  He seems to yearn for a more simpler time.  Simple, say, as his mind.

 When I look at America, I see a country that increasingly has lost its way in terms of morality. As a Christian, as I look at American culture over the past half century, I don’t like a lot of what I see. Divorce is through the roof, pornography is everywhere, sexual predators are on the loose and on the Internet, our abortion rate is higher than almost every First World country, vulgarity and profanity are mainstream and commonplace. In general, our culture has become coarser, and I regret that.

Which reminds me,  Jindal thinks all this fuss about the Keystone Pipeline is “alarmist” and “anti-scientific”.  Here’s a local op-ed that gives him the what-for.

It is time to stop being mad at Gov. Bobby Jindal. He’s just too funny.

He was out of state again last week, but we are long past feeling neglected while he pursues his White House dream. He can forget that for sure; a politician is heading for the exit when his most earnest speeches are greeted with laughter.

If Jindal did not bring the house down when he denounced Democrats as “extremist and unscientific,” it can only have been because he was far from home and his audience was unaware of his own efforts to spread ignorance and superstition. When his remarks were reported in this country, we were in stitches.

Jindal was in Canada, promising to “fight like heck” for the Keystone XL pipeline, which will carry oil all the way to Texas if President Barack Obama, who has been considering it for five years, gives his approval. This was not exactly Daniel in the lions’ den; Jindal was speaking at the Oilmen’s Business Forum Luncheon in Alberta.

If the oilmen had reason to welcome Jindal’s views on the pipeline, however, it is a safe bet that they have been exposed to enough geology to conclude the earth has been around for quite a long time. They wouldn’t have much use for Louisiana high school graduates who had been told tales of Adam and Eve in science class.

Sitting there while Jindal claimed to be on the side of science in the pipeline row, the oilmen would have been incredulous if you told them he promoted new-earth indoctrination. Why, they would have said, next you’ll be telling us he believes in demonic possession. Well …

Jindal has also termed global warming “conjecture” and “alarmism,” a comforting view that is much less common among scientists.

Jindal’s speech was otherwise the same, hackneyed fare; the “blind” ideologues of the “radical left” are blocking the pipeline because they want energy to “remain expensive.” They want the government to “tell Americans to live in smaller houses, drive smaller cars, set their thermostats higher in the summer and lower in the winter.” They want “negative growth,” while Republicans stand for prosperity and jobs..

This simple dichotomy leaves only one question answered. Why would anyone, anywhere, ever vote Democrat?

The analysis, in truth, is so shabby that Jindal is clearly not cut out for the intellectual rigor required of, say, a scientist. Jindal’s blithe assumption that the pipeline would reduce energy prices in America is highly debatable, while he is flat wrong to deny that companies plan to re-export pipeline oil for a quick profit.

Really, nothing is safe from Republicans these days.  Hide your wives and daughters!  HIde your groceries too!

Which 14 cities are running out of time due to Global Warming?  The number one endangered city is Miami, Florida. Boston is number 3.  You don’t get to New Orleans until number 7.  Read on.

There is really no way around it: Thanks to climate changesea levels are rising. A huge question on the minds of many is, what does this mean for America? Will sea walls and city planning protect major metropolises, or are we bound to lose some national gems? Unfortunately, the latter is a significant possibility. Read on for 14 U.S. cities that could be devastated over the next century due to rising tides.

So, what’s on your reading and blogging list this morning?  Because, now it’s your time.


Sunday Reads: Long Weekend Links

a3a3e6f30133aeca10870f6e8c25cad0Good Morning

Plenty of links for you this morning, so let us just get down to it…

In the New York Times this weekend, more information was reported about the DOJ investigation into Fox News reporter James Rosen, as well as other DOJ press investigations during the Obama administration: Leaks Inquiries Show How Wide a Net Is Cast

Even before the F.B.I. conducted 550 interviews of officials and seized the phone records of Associated Press reporters in a leak investigation connected to a 2012 article about a Yemen bomb plot, agents had sought the same reporters’ sources for two other articles about terrorism.

[…]

The emerging details of these and other cases show just how wide a net the Obama administration has cast in its investigations into disclosures of government secrets, querying hundreds of officials across the federal government and even some of their foreign counterparts.

The result has been an unprecedented six prosecutions and many more inquiries using aggressive legal and technical tactics. A vast majority of those questioned were cleared of any leaking.

You can read the rest of the article at that link, it is rather a long read.

There is one thing about all this Rosen stuff I do find interesting, this little tidbit reported by Tommy Christopher at Mediaite: DOJ Document Reveals Fox News Reporter James Rosen Wanted To Impact U.S. Foreign Policy

The emails revealed in the government’s affidavit appear to show, however, that James Rosen’s solicitation of government secrets wasn’t nearly so narrow. The affadavit describes how Rosen assigned himself the codename “Alex,” and Mr. Kim the moniker “Leo,” and in their early contacts, explained the noble aims of their prospective relationship:

Thanks Leo. What I am interested in, as you might expect, is breaking new ahead of my competitors.

Sure, that sounds bad, as if James Rosen would jeopardize America’s contacts in a hostile foreign government just to get some eyeballs away from his competition, but surely, every reporter has this competitive urge. Although it was the first thing Rosen mentioned, there was another consideration. After outlining the kinds of secret information he hoped to get from “Leo,” Rosen summed up his intention to… report the news objectively? To serve the public?

Let’s break some new, and expose muddle-headed policy when we see it – or force the administration’s hand to go in the right direction, if possible.

Wait, what? Is that what a News reporter is supposed to do, force the administration’s hand to guide American foreign policy to the reporter’s whim? Separate and apart from the DOJ investigation, this email seems to indicate that James Rosen is not just a News reporter, but an activist intent on pushing his own agenda, with the stated goal of manipulating U.S. foreign policy.

Enough on that, check out the latest legislation getting passed in Dakinikat’s state: The Volokh Conspiracy » Louisiana Set to Criminalize Publishing That Someone Has a Concealed Carry Permit

The bill is HB8, though there’s a Senate amendment; apparently, the Legislature plans to enact the bill as amended. The bill bars the government from releasing information about who has applied for or gotten a concealed carry permit, and the Legislature certainly can impose such restrictions on the government itself. But then it also criminalizes speech by everyone else (I merge the House Bill and the adopted Senate amendment):

Absent a valid court order requiring the release of information or unless a recipient of a concealed handgun permit is charged with a felony offense involving the use of a handgun, it shall be [a misdemeanor] … to release, disseminate, or make public in any manner any information contained in an application for a concealed handgun permit or any information regarding the identity of any person who applied for or received a concealed handgun permit issued pursuant to this Section.

So blogging that you happen to know that a gun control advocate actually has a concealed carry permit himself would be a crime. Or say that you know someone has a concealed carry permit, and that person is sued for supposedly making death threats, or is criminally prosecuted for a felony offense involving a shotgun, or otherwise seems dangerous and unstable — mentioning the permit in publicly discussing the situation would be a crime. Mentioning applicants’ names in giving examples of cases where you think a concealed handgun permit was wrongly issued, or wrongly denied, would be a crime, too. So would talking about a person’s concealed carry permit in a biography of the person, or in a newspaper or magazine story that is trying to give a sense of the kind of person he is.

There is more analysis at the link.

That bridge collapse in Washington could have been a lot worse, at least there were no fatalities. Click here on this link for a infographic on bridges in the US: Bridge Collapses And Structurally Deficient Bridges Across The Country (INFOGRAPHIC)

In his State of the Union address this year, President Obama urged repairs of “the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.” He proposed a plan called “Fix it First,” which would have invested $50 billion in repairing transportation infrastructure, starting with the most urgent repairs.

Instead, Congress failed to avoid the sequester and transportation repair spending faces a $1.9 billion cut.

The collapse of the Interstate 5 Bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State on Thursday once again sounded alarms over our nation’s aging infrastructure. While this incident had no fatalities, there are hundreds of other bridges in Washington with worse sufficiency scores and more than 150,000 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges across the nation.

And when this bridge collapsed, there was another article that caught my attention as reported by a local Seattle news station: 911 Dispatcher Tells Woman About To Be Sexually Assaulted There Are No Cops To Help Her Due To Budget Cuts « CBS Seattle

An Oregon woman was told by a 911 dispatcher that authorities wouldn’t be able be able to help her as her ex-boyfriend broke into her place because of budget cuts.

Oregon Public Radio reports that an unidentified woman called 911 during a weekend in August 2012 while Michael Bellah was breaking into her place. Her call was forwarded to Oregon State Police because of lay-offs at the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office only allows the department to be open Monday through Friday.

“Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there,” the 911 dispatcher told the woman. “You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away? Do you know if he’s intoxicated or anything?”

The woman told the dispatcher that Bellah previously attacked her and left her hospitalized a few weeks prior to the latest incident. The dispatcher stayed on the phone with the woman for more than 10 minutes before the sexual assault took place.

“Once again it’s unfortunate you guys don’t have any law enforcement out there,” the dispatcher said, according to Oregon Public Radio.

The woman responded: “Yeah, it doesn’t matter, if he gets in the house I’m done.”

Police say Bellah choked the woman and sexually assaulted her. He was arrested by Oregon State Police following the incident.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t have another victim,” Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilberson told Oregon Public Radio. “If you don’t pay the bill, you don’t get the service.”

The sheriff’s department had to cut 23 deputies and the entire major crimes unit after it lost a multi-million dollar federal subsidy, according to Oregon Public Radio. There are now only six deputies left.

The sheriff’s department even put out a press release warning domestic violence victims to “consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services.”

Sickening. Disgusting.

You can read more about this and hear the 911 calls at the OPB report quoted by the CBS article:  Josephine County Tax Levy Would Add Deputies, Fund The Jail » News » OPB

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma…look what got defunded on the quiet:  Oklahoma Senate Votes To Defund Planned Parenthood Two Days After Tornado

In the wake of one of the most destructive tornadoes in history, Oklahoma state senators passed a bill on Wednesday that would effectively defund Planned Parenthood.

Senate Bill 900, which re-allocates family planning funds to public providers and hospitals instead of private providers like Planned Parenthood, passed by a vote of 33 to 8. The state Senate was able to pass the bill somewhat under the radar because it was not posted on Wednesday’s legislative agenda.

Planned Parenthood operates five clinics in Oklahoma and serves about 8,400 men and women there a year. The family planning provider has faced scrutiny from Republicans in recent years because it provides abortions, even though it cannot use public family planning funding to pay for abortion services.

State Rep. Doug Cox (R), a family physician, said he will vote against the legislation when the House takes it up on Thursday. “To defund a program like Planned Parenthood would be a mistake,” he told The Huffington Post in a phone interview. “They perform a valuable service as far as breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, parenting classes, many things that benefit our state that we’re sorely in need of.”

Cox said he believes that some of his Republican colleagues in the House also support Planned Parenthood, but they still feel pressured to vote for bills that would defund it. “I have people who tell me they feel the way I do, but are afraid to vote the way I do,” he said.

That is a real shame, too bad those GOP Reps don’t have the cahones to stand up to the PLUBs who got them into office.

On with the rest of the morning’s post after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

Is there such thing as the dog days of spring?  Sheesh, it’s getting hot out there!

So, I’ve found a few interesting things for you this morning.  It seems Colin Powell is the one on the American Apologia tour.

Colin Powell says his erroneous address to the United Nations about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction provides a lesson to business leaders on the importance of staying skeptical and following their intuition.

“Yes, a blot, a failure will always be attached to me and my UN presentation,” the former U.S. secretary of state writes in a new book of leadership parables that draws frequently on his Iraq war experience. “I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem. My instincts failed me.”

Powell, 75, laments that no intelligence officials had the “courage” to warn that he was given false information that Iraq had such weapons during preparations for his February 2003 speech before the U.S. invasion the following month. Regrets are sprinkled through “It Worked For Me,” along with lessons gleaned from a career that carried him from foxholes in Vietnam to senior positions at the Pentagon and the State Department.

Wow.   I thought there were plenty of warnings about that.  I guess it just didn’t come from the right people.

Billionaire Energy Investor and professional Gadfly–T Boone Pickens–blames the Koch  Brothers for a lack of a cogent US energy policy.

Pickens’ biggest concern right now centers on what he sees as the Obama administration’s lack of an energy policy. He says special interests are blocking real energy reform, and he singles out Koch Industries, a chemical, fertilizer and refining juggernaut run by brothers David and Charles Koch, as the main culprit.

“The biggest deterrent to an energy plan in America is Koch Industries,” he says. “They do not want an energy plan for America because they have the cheapest natural gas price they’ve ever had, and they’re in the fertilizer business and they’re in the chemical business. So their margins are huge. And they do not want you to have an energy plan, because if you had a plan, then natural gas prices would come up.”

The Obama administration may be lacking a cohesive, straightforward approach to America’s energy independence, but fossil fuel production has greatly expanded since Obama took office. The president has approved drilling permits in federal lands and waters that were previously off limits to oil and gas companies, much to the chagrin of environmentalists. From 2005 to 2011 the amount of foreign energy sources imported by the U.S. fell by 15%. Obama rejected the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in January, but he has recently expressed support for building the southern portion of the pipeline that would extend from Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico.

“It’s very hard to get an energy plan,” Pickens laments. “It isn’t a failure of the Democrats. It’s not a failure of the Republicans. It’s a bipartisan failure. Over the years neither party could provide the leadership to have an energy plan.”

You can listen to a video where Pickens explains the current falling gas prices.  He also believes that Israel will attack Iran sometime in the fall.  So, has Wall Street quit driving up gas prices for the moment?

The oil markets have become just another profitable Wall Street casino. Why? Because, as the infamous outlaw Willie Sutton said, “That’s where the money is.” Oil markets as well as other commodity markets require a certain number of speculators. Oil producers and end users go to these markets in order to lock in prices for the products they use or sell. From refiners to shippers to airlines, oil markets provide a way to obtain price certainty for a specified period of time. To make these markets function, speculators are needed to take the other side of those trades. For more than a century about 30 percent of these commodity markets involved speculators and 70 percent of the participants in terms of volume were real producers, distributors and users. That’s what a healthy commodities market looks like.

But once financialization metastasized, the proportions flipped. Now 70 percent of the action comes from speculators, while only 30 percent comes from those who really produce, distribute and use the actual commodities. The casino has taken over.

CNN is being replaced by MSNBC as the number two cable news network.  I guess its dishwater dull, People Magazine approach to the news just isn’t selling.  There’s some speculation it could be that folks only watch CNN if there’s a disaster afoot.  Other than that, they have better things to do.

CNN long ago ceded the No. 1 position among cable news channels to Fox News. But now CNN seems to be ceding the No. 2 position to MSNBC. In prime time, the most lucrative part of the day, CNN has had fewer viewers than MSNBC for 22 of the last 24 months. (CNN usually has more viewers than MSNBC during the day, however.)

“They were first in, and established the genre,” said a cable news executive who insisted on anonymity to speak candidly about the competition. “But they got too comfortable. They just made so much money that they didn’t have to change.”

MSNBC, on the other hand, did change. Like Fox News, MSNBC now has hosts with clear political points of view at key times of the day. CNN promotes itself as the top source for nonpartisan news on television.

“CNN appears committed to a business model that doesn’t work,” said Robert Seidman, an editor of the ratings Web site TV by the Numbers. The site posted a chart on Tuesday that showed all but one of CNN’s programs down by double digits in April. (One program, “Anderson Cooper 360,” was down by single digits.)

In response, CNN executives pointed out that Fox News and MSNBC were experiencing ratings slumps, too — attributable, perhaps, to a pause in the presidential election season.

A cache of Bin Laden documents have been released to the Public.  How’s that for some light summer beach reading?

“Bin Ladin’s frustration with regional jihadi groups and his seeming inability to exercise control over their actions and public statements is the most compelling story to be told on the basis of the 17 de-classified documents,” the center’s release states.

There were many more documents taken from the raid that ended in the killing of bin Laden, but they have yet to be released.

Among the more interesting revelations is bin Laden’s criticism of regional groups affiliated with Al Qaeda for carrying out attacks on Muslim targets. According to the Guardian, “in one [document], he exhorts leaders of the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to stop attacking local security forces and focus on the main enemy, the US.” One letter-writer to bin Laden said that “the terrorist group was losing support in the Muslim world.”

Another document has Adam Gadahn, an American-born spokesman for Al Qaeda, advising bin Laden on how to best use the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks for propaganda purposes.

Okay, so I will end with some fun summer reading:  The Right-Wing’s 20 Biggest Sex Hypocrites.  I’m so proud that one of my senators made number 4 on the hit parade.  Hey, and Number One–Jimmy Swaggert–is still preaching on in Baton Rouge!  Party on Dudes!!

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana is infamous for his extreme social conservatism and for pandering to the Christian Right. Vitter has supported a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage nationwide (although he claims to support “states rights,” Vitter makes an exception when it comes to gay marriage), promoted abstinence-only sex education, called for school board meetings in Louisiana to open with prayers, and repeatedly preached against abortion. Vitter loves to play the red state/blue state card, saying that he represents socially conservative “Louisiana values” rather than secular “Massachusetts values.” But in 2007, it was revealed that Vitter had been a client of the Washington, DC escort service operated by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, a.k.a. the DC Madam; Vitter admitted he had cheated on his wife with a prostitute, but no criminal charges were filed because of the statute of limitations. Despite his blatant hypocrisy, Vitter was re-elected to the Senate in 2010.

Gingrich, Dr. Laura and Rush made the list too! Read about all the pervs who are so family values oriented!!!  It’ll make you shake your head and laugh it off at the same time!!

So, there’s a little newsy news for you.  What’s on you reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Paul Krugman has a great piece in the NYT on how Republicans are against science.  They do appear to ignore it in favor of myth, conspiracy theories and wishful thinking.  However, it does us no good to send Democrats into office that won’t fight for science and rational thought, either.  How much more nonsense do you think will come out during the 2012 political season?

Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as “just a theory,” one that has “got some gaps in it” — an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got peoples’ attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

That’s a remarkable statement — or maybe the right adjective is “vile.”

The second part of Mr. Perry’s statement is, as it happens, just false: the scientific consensus about man-made global warming — which includes 97 percent to 98 percent of researchers in the field, according to the National Academy of Sciences — is getting stronger, not weaker, as the evidence for climate change just keeps mounting.

In fact, if you follow climate science at all you know that the main development over the past few years has been growing concern that projections of future climate are underestimating the likely amount of warming. Warnings that we may face civilization-threatening temperature change by the end of the century, once considered outlandish, are now coming out of mainstream research groups.

But never mind that, Mr. Perry suggests; those scientists are just in it for the money, “manipulating data” to create a fake threat. In his book “Fed Up,” he dismissed climate science as a “contrived phony mess that is falling apart.”

I could point out that Mr. Perry is buying into a truly crazy conspiracy theory, which asserts that thousands of scientists all around the world are on the take, with not one willing to break the code of silence. I could also point out that multiple investigations into charges of intellectual malpractice on the part of climate scientists have ended up exonerating the accused researchers of all accusations. But never mind: Mr. Perry and those who think like him know what they want to believe, and their response to anyone who contradicts them is to start a witch hunt.

All the candidates are pushing bad economics as well.

I’ve been kind’ve “blown away” by the news coverage of the remnants of Irene today.  It seems like most of the TV coverage has been 24 hours now worth of people saying we dodged a bullet and trying to find people impacted by the storm.  You’re beginning to see headlines like this now: Get Real: Hurricane Irene Should Be Renamed “Hurricane Hype”.  Last night Geraldo looked like he’d just re-opened that silly empty vault again.

Irene has put on a remarkably similar show. Within the limits of forecasting error, Irene’s projected path makes it was impossible to rule out a major disaster. But, as a dangerous Category 3 storm within two days of land, something similar to what happened to Gloria occurred. Instead of going slightly off course, the power of her winds dropped markedly, at least as measured by hurricane hunter aircraft. Because it is prudent to not respond to every little tropical cyclone twitch (such as Gloria’s jog or Thursday’s wind drop), the Thursday evening forecast was virtually unchanged, the Internet went thermonuclear, and the Weather Channel’s advertising rates skyrocketed. From that point on, it became all Irene, all the time. With this level of noise, the political process has to respond with full mobilization. Hype begets hype.

A day later, the smart money is still riding a very Gloria-like track, but with a cyclone that will be weaker than projected. It is doubtful that Irene will even cough up eight bodies (the number killed by Gloria), though power outages east of where the center makes landfall (probably on Long Island) may be extensive.

I think the body count’s at 21 now which kind’ve makes this hype on all the hype look like hype.  Well, at least all the governors of the mid Atlantic states got some air time praising civil servants instead of demonizing them for a change.  Is it just me or does Chris Christine remind you of those big boy statues in front of those 1960s hamburger joints?  That man looks like a heart attack about to happen.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell–who cross party lines last year to hype Obama–is having second thoughts about hyping an Obama second term. Powell was on Face the Nation yesterday.

“I haven’t decided who I’m going to vote for,” Powell said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Just as was the case in 2008, I am going to watch the campaign unfold. In the course of my life I have voted for Democrats, I have voted for Republicans, I have changed from one four-year cycle to another.

“I’ve always felt it my responsibility as a citizen to take a look at the issues, examine the candidates, and pick the person that I think is best qualified for the office of the president in that year. And not just solely on the basis of party affiliation,” he said.

Asked about the Republican field, Powell said there are some “interesting candidates,” but no one who has “emerged into the leading position.”

“So let’s see if anybody else is going to join, and we’ve got a long way to go,” he added.

Powell, the nation’s first African-American secretary of state, praised Obama’s leadership style in 2008 in endorsing him, saying shortly before the election that Obama “has a definite way of doing business that will serve us well.” He also said at the time that he didn’t think the GOP vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, was “ready” to be president.

The really, really bad thing about the political system these days is that PACs are getting bigger and more powerful.  They also seem more closely aligned with candidates.  Here’s an interesting story from the NYT.  The Supreme Court decision on corporations and first amendment rights has definitely impacted the political money machine.

But some advocates for tighter campaign regulation say existing rules on independent groups did not anticipate the emergence of Super PACs so closely tied to a single candidate, leaving so much room to maneuver that the independent groups are able to act as surrogates for the candidates.

“There’s not a big difference between these candidate-specific Super PACs and candidate campaign committees,” said Paul S. Ryan, associate legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. “I think it’s a joke. What they are doing is abiding by the very meager restrictions on coordinations on expenditures and solicitations. But that leaves a wide swath of activities that can be fully coordinated under present law.”

Increasingly, the new Super PACs are taking on tasks that in previous years were handled by — and paid for — the candidates themselves. But instead of using money raised in the $2,500 increments that federal law imposes on candidates, the Super PACs can accept donations of unlimited amounts. (The groups must disclose their donors, though some Super PACs, including Priorities USA and the Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads, have affiliated nonprofit arms that do not have to disclose donors.)

Just in case you haven’t read Rick Perry’s outrageous lies about Social Security, here’s some more information.  Perry calls the popular government program unconstitutional and refers to it as a Ponzi Scheme.  I want to hear him say this in Florida.

But Perry returned to the “Ponzi scheme” description on the campaign trail in Iowa last night:

“It is a Ponzi scheme for these young people. The idea that they’re working and paying into Social Security today, that the current program is going to be there for them, is a lie,” Perry said. “It is a monstrous lie on this generation, and we can’t do that to them.”

Later, in Des Moines, when a reporter asked about the suggestion that his campaign was backing off some positions in the staunch states-rights book, Perry said, “I haven’t backed off anything in my book. So read the book again and get it right.”

Kay Henderson has more on this:

Another reporter pressed the issue, asking if Perry believes Medicare is “unconstitutional” as well.

“I never said it was unconstitutional,” Perry said. “I look at Medicare just like I look at Social Security. They’re programs that aren’t working and we ought to have a national conversation about it. You know, those that have said I’ve said they’re unconstitutional — I’m going to have them read the book. That’s not what I said.”

In his book, Perry called Social Security something akin to a “bad disease” that was created “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.”

This is going to be one weird, strange, political season. I’ve never seen so many people pushing so many unpopular positions.

Women may have hit the glass ceiling in the US, but women in emerging market countries are winding up in board rooms more and more all the time.  Remember, many of these countries have already had women presidents and prime ministers.

Seven of the 14 women identified on Forbes magazine’s list of self-made billionaires are Chinese. Many firms in emerging markets do a better job of promoting women than their Western rivals, some surveys suggest. In China, 32% of senior managers are female, compared with 23% in America and 19% in Britain. In India, 11% of chief executives of large companies are female, compared with 3% of Fortune 500 bosses in America and 3% of FTSE 100 bosses in Britain. Turkey and Brazil come third and joint fourth (behind Finland and Norway) in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of countries by the proportion of CEOs who are women. In Brazil, 11% of chief executives and 30% of senior executives are women.

Young, middle-class women are overtaking their male peers when it comes to education. In the United Arab Emirates 65% of university graduates are female. In Brazil and China the figures are 60% and 47% respectively. In Russia 57% of college-age women are enrolled in tertiary education; only 43% of men are. Business schools, those hothouses of capitalism, are feminising fast. Some 33% of students at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai and 26% at the Indian School of Business are female, a figure comparable with those of Western schools such as the Harvard Business School and INSEAD.

In “Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets: Why Women are the Solution”, Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Ripa Rashid point out that businesswomen face steep obstacles in emerging markets. How can they stay on the fast track if, as in the UAE, they cannot travel without a male chaperone? And how can they be taken seriously if, as in Russia, the term “businesswoman” is synonymous with prostitute? In every emerging market women bear the lioness’s share of family responsibilities. In many places, deals are sealed with booze and male bonding.

So, there’s some things to get us started on this Monday.  Hopefully, those of you on the east coast are getting back to normal after the storm.  Let us know how you’re doing!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?