Monday Reads

Morning_News,_by_Ellen_Day_Hale

Good Morning!!

Don’t blame Dakinikat for the lateness of this post. I volunteered to fill in for her today and then I ended up oversleeping.

I stayed up too late watching the New England Patriots come from behind to beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football. I had pretty much given up on the Pats at halftime when they were down 24-0. But once again Patriots quarterback Tom Brady rallied his team and once again showed Peyton Manning who’s boss. 

Cindy Boren sums up what happened at The Washington Post:

For most of the country, Sunday night was cold. It’s the gateway to a big holiday week and, with the Denver Broncos blowing out the hapless New England Patriots on Sunday night, why not just turn in early?

Suckers.

Here’s the abbreviated version of what happened while you were sleeping: Trailing 24-0 at halftime, Tom Brady and the Patriots scored 31 points in the second half, the Broncos scored to tie it and, with Bill Belichick making another of his unusual coaching decisions, the Patriots won 34-31 on a field goal that came off a turnover on a muffed punt with time running out in overtime. But it was a decision by Belichick that set up the Patriots. After winning the OT coin toss, he chose to take the wind — a stiff, brutally cutting wind — in a move that even his captains questioned.

There was a fierce wind blowing in the Boston area all day yesterday. It was coach Bill Belichick’s decision to give the ball to the Broncos, forcing Manning to either throw into the wind or and the ball off. It worked, and the Pats ended up winning on a field goal. It was incredible–only the fifth time in history a team has come back from 24 down at the half to win a game.

So, that’s my excuse for being late with the morning post. I know you’re probably not impressed . . .

Of course the weather here in New England is just a minor annoyance compared to much of the rest of the country. CNN reports: Nasty weather wallops much of U.S. just before Thanksgiving.

The wicked wintry weather that pummeled the West Coast is now barreling across the country, threatening to wreck millions of holiday travel plans just before Thanksgiving.

The storm has already contributed to at least 10 traffic fatalities.

Nearly 400 flights have been canceled in the Dallas-Fort Worth area — not exactly a bastion for snowstorms. Sleet and freezing rain will keep blanketing parts of the Southern Plains and Southern Rockies on Monday.

New Mexico may be hit with 8 inches of snow!

And it’s headed our way next:

And after the storm deluges parts of the South with rain Monday evening, it’ll start zeroing in on the Northeast, the National Weather Service said. And that could spell more travel nightmares….

An Arctic air mass will probably keep temperatures 15 to 20 degrees below normal along the East Coast through Thursday. But even if the system fails to deliver heavy snow, fierce winds could still hamper air travel, forecasters said….

Heavy rain is expected to fall from Texas to Georgia on Monday and over the Carolinas on Monday night, with some sleet and snow mixed in for northern parts of that swath. The heaviest rain is expected across parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

So be careful out there–especially you Sky Dancers in the southern half of the country.

In political news, the big story is the deal that the Obama administration has struck with Iran. Israel doesn’t like it one bit, and that means there will be objections in Congress. From Bloomberg via the SF Chronicle:

Israel’s rejection of the accord reached in Geneva by Iran and six leading nations over the weekend was swift. The agreement is a “historic mistake” that leaves the world “a much more dangerous place, because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon,” Netanyahu said.

The first accord since the Iranian nuclear program came under international scrutiny in 2003 eases sanctions on Iran in return for concessions on its atomic work. Its six-month timetable is meant to give negotiators time to seek a comprehensive deal to halt Iranian nuclear work that they, like Israel, think is a cover to build weapons.

Israel will now focus on influencing the final deal as much as they possibly can.

“What Israel can do during this period is push the international community toward making the final deal as tough as it can, though it should do so far more quietly than it has in the past,” said Eilam, a retired brigadier-general.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS News in Geneva that the agreement doesn’t take the threat of force off the table and rejected Israel’s position, articulated yesterday by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, that the U.S. capitulated to Iranian deceit.

The agreement is “not based on trust. It’s based on verification,” with mechanisms in place to confirm whether Iran is in compliance, he said.

Kerry actually used many Congresspeople’s opposition to loosening sanctions on Iran to push the Iranians to make a deal. From Bloomberg Businessweek:

When Secretary of State John Kerry joined the nuclear negotiations at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva last Saturday, he employed the oldest negotiating trick in the book, evoking Congress as the bad cop to the Obama administration’s good cop. Kerry told Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that if they failed to reach an agreement that day, the Obama administration would be unable to prevent Congress from passing additional sanctions against Iran. Less than 24 hours later, Kerry and Zarif walked into the hotel lobby to announce that they had struck a deal to temporarily freeze Iran’s nuclear program.

In the face of criticism from members of Congress and the U.S.’s allies in the Middle East, Administration officials have insisted that the Geneva agreement is just the first step toward a more far-reaching disarmament deal. But such a deal will require that the Obama administration promise not just to forestall the imposition of new sanctions, but to dramatically reduce the sanctions already in place. And that depends on the cooperation of a Congress that has been singularly uninterested in assuming the role of good cop in the showdown with Iran.

The White House has some discretion to rescind the Iran sanctions without Congress’s approval. The method for removing any given set of sanctions depends on how those sanctions were passed in the first place. If they’re the product of an executive order, as many of the existing sanctions against Iran are, removing them requires only that the White House decide to stop enforcing them. That’s exactly how Obama will be making good on its promise to Iran, as part of last week’s interim agreement, to restore access to $7 billion held in foreign bank accounts….Removing sanctions that have been passed into law by Congress, however, is a much more difficult challenge. Despite the partisan gridlock in gridlock in Washington over the last several years, bipartisan majorities have managed to cooperate on three separate rounds of sanctions since 2010, including measures targeting Iran’s central bank, which Iran will undoubtedly want rescinded. Removing those laws from the books will force the White House to go through Congress all over again. That will require overcoming the partisanship and procedural hurdles that have consumed Congress in recent years.

I have to say, Obama is once again showing he has guts. If only he would use some of that to stand firm on domestic policies. The BBC reports that the Obama administration has been working toward this agreement for months through secret negotiations that SOS John Kerry was involved in while he was still chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I’m really curious to know what role Hillary Clinton played in these negotiations and whether she supports the deal, but I can’t find any information about that so far. Meanwhile, here’s a positive review from Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for strategic studies (IISS): The surprisingly good Geneva deal.

The deal reached in the early hours of the morning in Geneva on 24 November was better than I had expected, and better than would have been the case without France’s last-day intervention at the previous round two weeks earlier. I spent much of Sunday making the rounds of TV studios and fielding print-media interviews, explaining why opponents in Israel, the Gulf and US Congress should overcome their scepticism. The more I studied the deal, the more apparent it became to me that those who knock it probably did not want any agreement at all – at least not any deal that was within the realm of possibility.

The Geneva agreement is a good deal because Iran’s capabilities in every part of the nuclear programme of concern are capped, with strong verification measures. The terms require that for the next six months, no more centrifuges can be added, none of the advanced models that were previously installed can be turned on, the stockpiles of enriched uranium cannot increase, and work cannot progress on the research reactor at Arak, which is of concern because of the weapons-grade plutonium that would be produced there. Going well beyond normal verification rules, inspectors will be able to visit the key facilities on a daily basis and even have access to centrifuge production and assembly sites.

Moreover, the most worrisome part of the programme is being rolled back. Iran is suspending 20% enrichment, which is on the cusp of being weapons-usable, and neutralising the existing stockpile of 20% product, half through conversion to oxide form and half through blending down. Although the P5+1 had earlier asked for the stockpile to be exported, these measures will virtually accomplish the same purpose by eliminating the stockpile. Reversing these measures would take time.

Time is the essential variable of this deal. The net effect of the limits Iran has accepted is to double the time it would take for it to make a dash to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Without a deal, the break-out time might instead soon be halved.

Read the rest at the link.

Paul Krugman has a column up about some positives on the rollout of Obamacare and California as a “test case” for the program.

Now, California isn’t the only place where Obamacare is looking pretty good. A number of states that are running their own online health exchanges instead of relying on HealthCare.gov are doing well. Kentucky’s Kynect is a huge success; so is Access Health CT in Connecticut. New York is doing O.K. And we shouldn’t forget that Massachusetts has had an Obamacare-like program since 2006, put into effect by a guy named Mitt Romney.

California is, however, an especially useful test case. First of all, it’s huge: if a system can work for 38 million people, it can work for America as a whole. Also, it’s hard to argue that California has had any special advantages other than that of having a government that actually wants to help the uninsured. When Massachusetts put Romneycare into effect, it already had a relatively low number of uninsured residents. California, however, came into health reform with 22 percent of its nonelderly population uninsured, compared with a national average of 18 percent.

Finally, the California authorities have been especially forthcoming with data tracking the progress of enrollment. And the numbers are increasingly encouraging.

Krugman says that about 10,000 people are signing up per day, and the enrollment numbers show a balance between younger, healthier enrollees and those who are older and more likely to need health care.

So . . . it’s a somewhat slow news day as we head into the holiday season, but the Iran deal will give us something to talk about while the folks in Washington take their extra long vacations. I don’t even want to think about what will happen when they get back and start clashing over the debt ceiling again.

What interesting stories are you finding out there today? Please post your links in the comment thread and have a good day despite the weather!


Afternoon Open Thread: Steubenville Football Coach Gets Two-Year Contract Extension

Steubenville HS football coach Reno Saccoccia

Steubenville HS football coach Reno Saccoccia

Hey, no big deal right? All he did was cover up a couple of rapes committed by his players… /s

From The Atlantic Wire:

Despite allegations that he knew about a rape and tried to protect his players who committed it, despite widespread criticism that he didn’t punish his team enough and that he should be fired, and despite a grand jury that could charge him looming next week, the powerful Steubenville High football coach Reno Saccocia has been approved for a two-year administrative contract, the city superintendent confirmed to The Atlantic Wire Monday afternoon.

The Ohio Valley’s Herald Star newspaper reported on the Steubenville school board’s minutes over the weekend in an article that included a single phrase about the coach’s new deal:

Two-year administrative contracts for Charles Kokiko, administrator; Bryan Mills, assistant middle school principal; Reno Saccoccia, director of administrative services; Joseph Yanok, middle school principal; Melinda Young, director of programs; and Sara Elliot, school psychologist.

In a phone interview with the Wire, Steubenville schools superintendent Mike McVey described the administrative services position as a “board approved two-year-administrative contract in his current position” that was up for renewal. “Coaching contracts are different from teaching and administrative contracts,” McVey said, stressing that the teaching title was “supplemental” to Saccoccia’s coaching contract.

Nonetheless, the school board’s approval will keep Saccoccia at the school — and it signals a vote of confidence in perhaps the most influential man in the fading steel town that was consumed by the social media response to a case in which two of Saccoccia’s players were convicted in juvenile court of raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl at after parties for a pre-season game by the powerhouse Big Red football team. A grand jury hearing into possible additional charges relating to the parties and their aftermath is now scheduled to convene on April 30.

Why am I not surprised?


TGIF Late Nite Lite: It couldn’t get here fast enough!

Good Late Nite!

This has been such an exhausting week. I was so tired when I got home from the football game last night I could not even lift a finger to turn the laptop on. So this Friday night post is something I have waited for.  Tonight I have a bunch of different topics, so let’s get on with it.

First, I wanted to bring this news item to your attention. Not sure if you have seen this incident from earlier in the week, but since I have a brother with Downs, this news story was particularly upsetting. American Airlines boots family with Down child from flight

A California family that was not allowed to board a cross-country flight says they believe they were discriminated against because their son has Down syndrome.

Robert Vanderhorst, his wife Joan and 16-year-old son Bede, who is disabled, were booked to fly on an American Airlines flight from Newark to Los Angeles on Sunday when the boy and his parents were not allowed on the plane.

The family from Porterville had upgraded to first class tickets at an airport kiosk, and asked the airline to seat the boy and one of his parents together – a request the airline granted – Vanderhorst said Tuesday.

When the family was ready to board, they were stopped by airline personnel, told their son was a “security risk” and would not be allowed on the flight, he said. The parents protested, and later were rebooked to fly coach with another airline.

American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said the disabled boy was agitated and running around the gate area prior to boarding, which his parents dispute. The airplane’s pilot observed the boy, Miller said, and made the call based on his behavior.

“He was not ready to fly, that was our perspective,” Miller said. “We rebooked the family out of concern for the young man’s safety and that of other passengers as well.”

But Vanderhorst said his son did not run at any time, did not make any loud noises and didn’t display any other offensive behaviors. The boy walked around with him or sat quietly in the gate area, Vanderhorst said.

A cell phone video captured by the boy’s mother shows Bede sitting and quietly playing with a baseball cap.

Oh, but they will put him in coach…Teen denied boarding on American Airlines flight because he has Down syndrome, family says

Bede Vanderhorst, 16, and his family  were denied boarding on an American Airlines flight from Newark to Los Angeles because officials said he posed a ‘flight risk.’

KTLA

Bede Vanderhorst, 16, and his family were denied boarding on an American Airlines flight from Newark to Los Angeles because officials said he posed a ‘flight risk.’

Joan Vanderhorst pulled out her cell phone and started recording the incident on Sunday in which Bede is seen quietly playing with his hat and an American Airlines official warns that she was prohibited from filming “in a security-controlled area.”

At one point, Port Authority police were even called on the confused family.

“Nothing like this has ever happened to us before. That’s what’s so shocking. He’s usually our good luck charm. Good things usually happen when Bede is with us,” Vanderhorst said.

FLIGHT5N_4_WEB

KTLA

The airline said Bede couldn’t board because he was ‘agitated’ in the waiting area, but a video the family made shows Bede, above, quietly playing with his hat. The Vanderhorsts said the pilot and crew never spoke with them or their son and they believe the airline didn’t want a person with Down syndrome in first class.

Bede and his parents had been in Jackson, N.J., visiting family and were eager to make the long return flight home. On a “lark” they had even upgraded their seats to first class, shelling out an extra $625 dollars.

“My wife said, ‘oh Bede’s never flown first class,’ he’ll be so excited.”

Vanderhorst said Bede, a freshman in high school, has flown “at least 30 times” through his life and has never caused any trouble.

Nothing was different before Sunday’s flight, he said. Bede was sticking close to his parents and was not acting unruly, nor was he upset.

But as the family waited to board, an American Airlines official pulled them aside and said the pilot had observed Bede and didn’t feel safe allowing him on the plane.

Joan Vanderhorst quickly snapped on her video camera and can be heard sobbing. “We are being singled out,” she said.  Robert Vanderhorst, an attorney, calmly pleads with the airline official. “He’s behaving. He’s demonstrating he’s not a problem.”

See the footage taken by Vanderhorst when her family was denied boarding

The agitated American Airlines employee instead called Port Authority police to escort the family away from the gate.

This incident pissed me off, and I hope the family sues and gets some kind of relief from American Airlines. Fly the friendly skies, as long has you don’t have Downs Syndrome.

Alright, now for the cartoons…

9/7 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Ex-president speaks | Mike Luckovich

I love this one!

mike090712

Some of the cartoons I saw made the valid point about the RNC’s lack of bringing on past presidents.

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune – 09/07/2012

Cartoon by Scott Stantis -

You may need to click on that link to see the image full size.

And then we have more about Big Dawg…

Cagle Post » Brass Clinton

This one took me a few moments to get it…that Clinton is holding a branding iron, like I said, it was an exhausting week.

Brass Clinton © Milt Priggee,www.miltpriggee.com,Bill Clinton,brass,dnc,democrats,convention,politics,gop,republicans,trickle-down,democracy,better off,Obama,clinton speech

Cagle Post » The Big Dog can hunt

The Big Dog can hunt © John Cole,The Scranton Times-Tribune,bill clinton,barak obama,dnc,convention,nomination,clinton speech

And then there were the ones about Obama. This first one is from a foreign cartoonist, and I thought it was very clever:

Cagle Post » Obama and the Economy

Obama and the Economy © Patrick Chappatte,Le Temps, Switzerland,USA, Obama, Unemployment, Economy, Crisis, Presidential Election 2012

And this next cartoon really illustrates the Tea Party at home:

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 09/07/2012

Cartoon by David Horsey -

That woman has curly hair just like my aunt, you know the one who thinks Obama is a communist, specifically a black communist.

Cagle Post » The Empty Chair

The Empty Chair © Pat Bagley,Salt Lake Tribune,Chair, Clint, Eastwood, Barack, Obama, GOP, Republicans, RNC, DNC, Convention, Tampa, Charlotte, Tea Party, Muslim, Socialist, Kenyan, Birthers, Guns

Cagle Post » Gracias Arizona

Gracias Arizona © David Fitzsimmons,The Arizona Star,Obama, latinos, arizona, immigration, sb1070

Okay, just a couple more political ones…

Cagle Post » Fact Checking

Fact Checking © Joe Heller,Green Bay Press-Gazette,Fact Checking, lie, fibs, white lies, distortion, negative ads, speech, conventions, politics, mike rowe, dirty jobs

Cagle Post » Voters and Super PAC ads

Voters and Super PAC ads © Dave Granlund,Politicalcartoons.com,Voters, election 2012, Super PAC, Super Pacs, money, corporations, donors, attack ads, politics, political, campaign, november 6, election day, vote, ballots,

Keeping with the football theme:

Cagle Post » REPLACEMENTS

REPLACEMENTS © Randy Bish,Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,NFL, FOOTBALL, REFEREE, REFEREES, REPLACED, GAMES

Cagle Post » Michael Vick Eagles Injury

Michael Vick Eagles Injury © Rob Tornoe,Philadelphia Inquirer,NFL,sports,Philadelphia,Eagles,Andy Reid,Michael Vick

And finally this last one, and just in time, cause I have to get ready to head over to the high school and support my Banjoville panthers…

9/9 Mike Luckovich cartoon: NFL refs | Mike Luckovich

mike090912

This is an open thread!


Pat Robertson Calls SNL Sketch “Anti-Christian Bigotry”

Yesterday Tom Brady and the New England Patriots crushed Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 41-23 at Mile High Stadium. Denver had won its six previous games. Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow wears his “Christian” faith on his sleeve. In fact he appeared in an anti-abortion ad for Focus on the Family in the 2010 Superbowl.

In a piece in Esquire, Tom Junod calls Tebow a “religious figure” who seems to be winning games because of his faith rather than his athletic skills.

Tim Tebow does not — and, for now, cannot — complete 60 percent of his passes. He’s strong, so he can shot-put and corkscrew the ball all over the field, but he often looks like he’s throwing the ball away when he’s not, and he avoids interceptions by coming nowhere near his intended receiver. It would be tempting to say that none of this matters to the legions he has inspired, but of course it’s all that matters: Because Tim Tebow is a religious figure rather than an athletic one, the limitations of his talent wind up testifying to the potency of his faith. The fact that he’ll be almost comically inept for three quarters and then catch an updraft of mastery in the fourth serves to demonstrate not that he’s a winner but that Jesus is — and, above all, that Christianity works.

So why did the Broncos lose yesterday? The most recent SNL presented a skit in which Jesus himself provided the answer.

See? Christianity works! Devilish Brady and Belichick won because Jesus was otherwise occupied. But “The Rev.” Pat Robertson was outraged by the “anti-Christian bigotry” demonstrated by the SNL skit.

On the latest episode of The 700 Club, the televangelist thought the segment was brought on by “an anti-Christian bigotry that’s disgusting.”

“If this had been a Muslim country and they had done that, and had Muhammad doing that stuff, you would have found bombs being thrown off, and bodies on the street,” he said. “We need more religious faith in our society, we’re losing our moral compass in our nation.”

Robertson went on to praise Tebow for his faith.

“I think he is a wonderful human being,” he said. “And this man has been placed in a unique position and I applaud him, God bless him.”


Jerry Sandusky Arrested on New Sexual Abuse of Minors Charges

This time, keep him in jail.

MSNBC Reports:

Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky has been arrested at his home in State College, Pa. on new sexual abuse charges. Read the charges here (PDF).

Authorities showed up in four unmarked cars to detain Sandusky, an NBC staffer said. He was out on bail from his initial arrest on almost a month ago on charges of sexual abuse of young boys.

Pennsylvania authorities filed new criminal charges against Sandusky, 67, according to a release from the Attorney General’s criminal investigation bureau.
“Today’s criminal charges were recommended by a statewide investigating grand jury, based on evidence and testimony that was received following the initial arrest of Sandusky on November 5th,” Kelly said.

According to the Washington Post:

Sandusky, 67, was removed from his State College, Pa., home in handcuffs and taken for arraignment to a Centre County courthouse. This arrest stems from allegations from two new victims who stepped forward after his Nov. 5 arrest and these new charges will be included in a preliminary hearing on the original charges that was set for Dec. 13….

The new charges include involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, and corruption of minors.

Let’s hope the authorities keep Sandusky locked up this time. He’s obviously a danger to children. Just check this story out from USA Today.

The victims met Sandusky through his charity The Second Mile.

A year and a half after an investigation began into Jerry Sandusky’s contact with young boys, the former Penn State assistant football coach applied for a volunteer coaching job at a central Pennsylvania college but was denied the job after a background check. Last year, Sandusky tried to get a volunteer coaching position at a small Pennsylvania college!

Officials at Juniata College said Wednesday that Sandusky applied for the volunteer football coaching job in May 2010 and rejected the following month after a background check showed a high school where Sandusky previously volunteered was investigating him.

Juniata spokesman John Wall said the college was not informed of the details of the investigation or the existence of a grand jury, but based on the report informed its coaches Sandusky was not to have contact with the program.

This man has been out of control for decades. Many people knew about it, and yet didn’t stop him. Even since he was forced out at Penn State, he apparently continued to try to gain access to children. Fortunately, at least one college did their due diligence are refused to let him work there.

This country needs to get serious about protecting children, and I’m not just talking about more law enforcement. I’m currently working on a post about this important issue, and hope to finish it today or tomorrow.


Tuesday Reads: Osamarama

Good Morning!! Grab your coffee and pull up a chair. I’ve got some interesting links for you this morning. It’s mostly Osama-related with a few non-Osama links thrown in.

I guess we need to brace ourselves for 24/7 Osama bin Laden news until further notice. The White House is leaking information in dribs and drabs, the corporate media is in hysteria mode, and the conspiracy theories are already spreading like wildfire.

The biggest problem for the Obama administration is going to be the supposed “burial at sea.” Let’s hope they have extensive photo and video evidence that that actually took place. Some 9/11 relatives are very upset about this. They wanted to see the body.

Rosaleen Tallon kissed her three children good night and went to sleep feeling at peace. The terrorist responsible for the death of her brother, New York firefighter Sean Patrick Tallon, was dead. Her two boys and her little girl had been assured that the “bad man” behind the attacks that claimed their uncle was gone.

But when Tallon awoke Monday to the news that Osama bin Laden had been buried at sea, she was stunned. That was one corpse she would like to have seen for herself, Tallon said, her fiery words underscoring the change this suburban science teacher has undergone in the last decade.

“I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I was a little dismayed — a lot dismayed,” Tallon said as her 20-month-old son, Paddy, nestled in her arms while savoring a red lollipop. “I think that was too hasty. I would’ve liked the American people to say without a shadow of a doubt, ‘Yes, that’s him.’ “

Hey, why didn’t they put bin Laden’s body in the Capital rotunda and let people view it until they had their fill? But seriously, the “burial at sea” thing is really problematic. At Corrente, Lambert isn’t buying it.

But how are we going to drag the body through the streets, if it’s floating in the Indian Ocean somewhere? Can’t anybody here play this game?

NOTE On the bright side, this does explain why the corpse wasn’t a festive centerpiece at the White House Correspondents Dinner. I’d been wondering about that.

Perhaps Lambert will be pleased to know that the folks over at Alex Jones’ Infowars agree with him. Here’s a sample of the posts going up over there.

Inside Sources: Bin Laden’s Corpse Has Been On Ice For Nearly a Decade

A multitude of different inside sources both publicly and privately, including one individual who personally worked with Bin Laden at one time, told us directly that Osama’s dead corpse has been on ice for nearly a decade and that his “death” would only be announced at the most politically expedient time.

That time has now come with a years-old fake picture being presented as the only evidence of his alleged killing yesterday, while Bin Laden’s body has been hastily dumped into the sea to prevent anyone from finding out when he actually died.

In April 2002, over nine years ago, Council on Foreign Relations member Steve R. Pieczenik, who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Henry Kissinger, Cyrus Vance, and James Baker, told the Alex Jones Show that Bin Laden had already been “dead for months”.

Pieczenik would be in a position to know such information, having worked directly with Bin Laden when the US was funding and arming the terror leader in an attempt to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan in the late 70′s and early 80′s (a documented historical fact that talking heads in the corporate media are actually denying today in light of developments).

“I found out through my sources that he had had kidney disease. And as a physician, I knew that he had to have two dialysis machines and he was dying,” Pieczenik told Jones during the April 24, 2002 interview.

Intel Chief: They Killed “Make Believe Osama”

Former Pakistani intelligence chief Hamid Gul went on the Alex Jones Show today and characterized the unverified assassination of Osama bin Laden as symbolic theater.

Gul said the event was a “make believe drama” designed to be used for Obama’s upcoming re-election campaign.

The supposed hit as described by the government and the corporate media is the “stuff of folk lore, for legend-making and the ballad,” Gull explained.

Hamid Gull went on to cite the late Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, who told David Frost in late 2007 that Osama bin Laden was murdered by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who is also one of the men convicted of kidnapping and killing journalist Daniel Pearl.

Apparently the right wing blogs are also claiming the Navy Seal secret operation was a complete fake, except they think Osama is still alive. Here’s a report at Think Progress: Meet The Deathers: Andrew Brietbart Website Pushing Conspiracy Theory That Osama Might Not Be Dead

Mere hours after President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, supported by incontrovertible DNA evidence, the conspiracy theorists are hard at work. Andrew Breitbart, a prominent right-wing commentator with close ties to the Republican Party and the Tea Party, is pushing the theory on his website Big Peace.

On Breitbart’s website, J. Michael Waller, suggests Obama take a number of extraordinary steps so he can “make sure [Osama] is dead.” Pictures are apparently not enough. Walker asserts that he needs to be able to “walk right up to bin Laden’s corpse and view it.”

See? They needed to lay the corpse out in the Capital rotunda so that every American who wanted to feast his or her eyes on it. Hell, maybe Lambert’s right–they should have dragged it through the streets to satisfy the more bloodthirsty among us. {Sigh….} I have a feeling that pretty soon I’m going to get very tired of hearing about Osama bin Laden.

In case you believe that Osama was really killed by Navy Seals in the past few days, here is a fascinating article at Wired’s Danger Room blog on the advanced technology used by the folks who hunt terrorists. Apparently they carry around thumb and eye scanners to identify the culprits they are looking for. That’s in addition to taking DNA samples.

At the Wall Street Journal, Ralph Gardener asks, “Is fist-pumping the right reaction?” He never really answers the question, but I found myself disturbed by the reactions last night too. But hey, Americans are generally pretty tacky–just look at the TV shows they watch nowadays. Hoarders? American Idol? Geeze.

At CNN there is an article about the “spending spree” that followed the 9/11 attacks.

In the decade between Sept. 11, 2001, and the death of Osama bin Laden on Sunday, the U.S. government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars with the aim of making Americans safer.

Agencies were created, expanded or given new missions. The government hired thousands of new employees to analyze intelligence, track terror financing and support the nation’s rapidly expanding national security apparatus.

Gee, can I get a dispensation from paying for all that–like all the religious nuts who don’t want to pay for abortions or dispense birth control pills or provide medical care for women who get abortions?

I’ll end with a few non-Osama-related news stories. A former Chicago Bears player who committed suicide by shooting himself through the heart (to preserve his brain for study) has been found to have had severe brain damage.

On Monday, scientists at Boston University who examined Duerson’s brain tissue said he suffered from a “moderately advanced” case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head.

His brain showed pronounced changes in the frontal cortex amygdala and the hippocampus, which control judgment, inhibition, impulse, mood control and memory, said Dr. Ann McKee, a co-director of the Center for Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Bedford VA CSTE Brain Bank.

“When you look at it microscopically, it’s undisputable,” said McKee, who has detected CTE in approximately 40 of the 50 brains she has examined, a pool that includes athletes and military veterans.

Known for his aggressive and hard-hitting defense, Duerson is the 14th of 15 former NFL players studied at the brain bank to be diagnosed with CTE. Overall, the condition has been found in more than two dozen deceased professional football players.

Football should really be banned, at least for kids. It will never happen though.

Astronomers create 3D map of 3-Billion-Year-Old Universe

Using light from 14,000 distant yet powerful cosmic beacons, astronomers have pieced together the largest and most detailed 3-D map of the ancient universe.

Previous versions plotted the locations of galaxies within 7 billion light-years of Earth. The new version, however, charts clouds of hydrogen in a swath between 10 billion and 12 billion light-years away — farther in distance and deeper in time than any 3-D map before it.

The hydrogen clouds could help answer some of astronomers’ more profound questions about the universe, including the nature of dark energy.

“We’re looking for a bump in the data that may tell us how fast universe is expanding,” said cosmologist Anže Slosar of Brookhaven National Laboratory, one of the researchers who presented the map May 1 at the American Physical Society meeting in Anaheim, California. “We don’t have enough data to see the bump yet, but we expect to get there in a few years.”

Julian Assange says that Facebook is an “appalling spying machine.”

Asked about his thoughts on the role that social media has played in shaping the recent revolutions in the Middle East, the WikiLeaks founder went in another direction. “Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented,” he said. “Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo — all these major U.S. organizations have built-in interfaces for U.S. intelligence. It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena. They have an interface that they have developed for U.S. intelligence to use.”

He continued, still not answering the question: “Now, is it the case that Facebook is actually run by U.S. intelligence? No, it’s not like that. It’s simply that U.S. intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure on them. And it’s costly for them to hand out records one by one, so they have automated the process. Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them.”

If you like to look at the night sky, there will be a nice show this month when Venus and Jupiter appear very close to each other. May 11 is the day to check them out, I guess.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Well, we dodged a bullet yesterday when Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour announced that he won’t be running for president in 2012. Whew! I really didn’t want a president who would decorate the Oval Office with Confederate Civil War memorabilia, did you? Newsweek, January 2010:

The Republican governor of Mississippi keeps a large portrait of the University Greys, the Confederate rifle company that suffered 100 percent casualties at Gettysburg, on a wall not far from a Stars and Bars Confederate flag signed by Jefferson Davis.

Not to mention a guy who praised the segregationist Southern “citizens councils” in an interview with the Weekly Standard. And the fact that Barbour talks like he has a mouthful of marbles doesn’t help either.

We won't have him to kick around anymore

Politico has an analysis of why Barbour “pulled the plug,” which basically boils down to he really didn’t want to go through the aggravation. The story ends this way:

There were also nagging concerns among GOP insiders about the prospect of nominating a deep-South governor with an accent matching his Delta roots to take on the country’s first black president.

Barry Wynn, a former South Carolina Republican chairman, put it politely after hearing Barbour speak in the state earlier this month: “There’s a perception that he might be more of a regional candidate.”

Gee, no kidding. Like I said, we dodged a bullet. But there are plenty of other creepy Republicans out there to take his place. In fact Ron Paul is getting ready to announce another campaign for president.

Speaking of creepy Republicans, Donald Trump claimed today that President Obama’s birth certificate is “missing.”

When asked from whom he received the information, Trump said he didn’t want to say and that he feels bad about the situation.

“I’d love for him to produce his birth certificate so that you can fight one-on-one,” Trump said in an interview set to air Monday. “If you look at what he’s doing to fuel prices, you can do a great fight one-on-one, you don’t need this issue.”

CNN’s Gary Tuchman also interviewed the former director of the Hawaii Department of Health, who said she has seen the original birth certificate in the vault at the Department of Health.

Trump supporter Franklin Graham, son of Billy, is also on the birther bandwagon.

{sigh….}

Meanwhile, multiple media outlets are talking about Trump’s generous campaign contributions–to Democrats. In fact, Trump recently donated $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel’s campaign for Chicago Mayor. From CNN:

Shortly before announcing interest in pursuing the GOP presidential bid, Republican Donald Trump gave $50,000, his largest campaign contribution in Illinois, to Democrat Rahm Emanuel, who was running for mayor, in December 2010….

Rahm’s brother Ari, who is co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, represents a majority of Hollywood’s celebrity elite, including Trump….

Records from the Illinois State Board of Elections show that Trump has made various sizable donations to Democratic causes in Illinois.

From Salon’s War Room:

When [Ed] Rendell entered Pennsylvania’s 2002 gubernatorial race, Trump committed himself to the former Democratic National Committee chairman’s cause. Between December 2001 and Election Day ’02, Trump personally gave $27,000 to Ed Rendell’s gubernatorial campaign. He also chipped in $5,000 more at the end of 2003, when Rendell was finishing up his first year in office.

Mind you, Rendell’s victory in 2002 was by no means a foregone conclusion. He faced a serious threat in the May Democratic primary from Robert Casey, then the state’s treasurer and the son of a former governor. The sharpest ideological difference between the two men may have been on abortion: Rendell was pro-choice, while Casey was pro-life (like his father, who was denied a speaking slot at the 1992 Democratic convention in part because of it). During the primary campaign, Trump provided Rendell with $6,000. Rendell ended up beating Casey by 13 points.

Trump is supposedly the one of the biggest contributors to Charlie Rangel ever, yet he is supposedly running as a Republican.

And then we have our current president, who is a Republican who ran as a Democrat in 2008. I posted this in comments on the morning thread yesterday, but I can resist doing it again. It’s so funny to see former Obama supporter (why?) Eric Alterman comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter.

Stylistically speaking, Barack Obama could hardly be further from Jimmy Carter if he really had been born in Kenya. Carter was a born-again Baptist who was raised on his father’s peanut plantation and supported George Wallace on the road to the Georgia state house. Barack Obama—well, you know the story. But the two men have a great deal in common in their approach to the presidency, and not one of these similarities is good news for the Democrats or even for America. Both men rule without regard to the concerns of the base of their party. Both held themselves to be above politics when it came to making tough decisions. Both were possessed with superhuman self-confidence when it came to their own political judgment mixed with contempt for what they understood to be the petty concerns of pundits and party leaders. And worst of all, one fears, neither one appeared willing to change course no matter how many storm clouds loomed on the horizon.

Ask yourself if the following story does not sound like another president we could name The gregarious Massachusetts pol, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, could hardly have been more eager to work with a Democratic president after eight years of Nixon and Ford. But when they first met, and O’Neill attempted to advise Carter about which members of Congress might need some special pleading, or even the assorted political favor or two with regard to certain issues, to O’Neill’s open-jawed amazement, Carter replied, “No, I’ll describe the problem in a rational way to the American people. I’m sure they’ll realize I’m right.” The red-nosed Irishman later said he “could have slugged” Carter over this lethal combination of arrogance and naivety, but it would soon become Carter’s calling card.

In some bad news for the radical right, the Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to Obamacare before it wends its way through the federal courts.

And in some good news for football fans, a district court has decided that

The NFL’s lockout is harming players and fans and is not in the public interest, District Judge Susan Nelson said in a ruling on Monday that granted the players’ request for an injunction to halt the work stoppage.

Nelson’s order to end the six-week lockout, imposed last month after a breakdown in talks over a new collective deal, is to be appealed by the NFL.

In an 89-page statement, the judge also accepted that the players dissolution of their union was valid and allowed them to act as individuals rather than be constricted by labor bargaining rules.

The Minnesota judge said in the absence of a collective bargaining process, which ended on March 11, antitrust policies come to the fore.

The plaintiffs in the case, led quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, argued they were suffering harm as a result of a lockout that stops them from reporting to work.

Here’s some more analysis of the decision at USA Today. I realize that I’m one of the few sports fans here at Sky Dancing, so I won’t burden you unduly. But I just want to say that the Red Sox have won five games in a row and are now only one game under .500–after starting the season with a string of pathetic losses. I know at least Pat Johnson will join me in cheering that news.

Daknikat wrote yesterday about the terrible flooding that was expected in Missouri. Well, it’s happening.

Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard on Monday in response to the flooding of the Black River near Poplar Bluff, Mo. The executive order came just three days after the governor declared a state of emergency from the tornado that tore through St. Louis last Friday.

“Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner has mobilized 200 citizen soldiers and airmen to report initially to the Poplar Bluff area to assist with flood relief there,” said Maj. Tammy Spicer, public affairs officer for the Missouri National Guard.

More from the Houston Chronicle: Residents flee as river overflows Missouri levee.

Thunder roared and tornado warning sirens blared, and all emergency workers in the southeast Missouri town of Poplar Bluff could do Monday was hope the saturated levee holding back the Black River would survive yet another downpour.

Murky water flowed over the levee at more than three dozen spots and crept toward homes in the flood plain. Some had already flooded. If the levee broke — and forecasters said it was in imminent danger of doing so — some 7,000 residents in and around Poplar Bluff would be displaced.

One thousand homes were evacuated earlier in the day. Sandbagging wasn’t an option, Police Chief Danny Whitely said. There were too many trouble spots, and it was too dangerous to put people on the levee. Police went door-to-door encouraging people to get out. Some scurried to collect belongings, others chose to stay. Two men had to be rescued by boat.

“Basically all we can do now is wait, just wait,” Whitely said.

A Roosevelt would probably have created jobs by having people repair the nation’s rotting infrastructure. But, instead we got Barack “Hoover” Obama and the levees keep on failing.

Things are getting worse and worse in Syria, where there has been a brutal crackdown on protesters over the past several days. From CNN: Deadly attack on protesters raises questions about Syria’s stability

With reports emerging Monday that at least one high-ranking Syrian military commander refused to participate in a bloody, predawn raid that left dozens dead in the southern border city of Daraa — the heart of Syria’s weekslong civil unrest, questions are being raised about possible cracks in President Bashar al-Assad’s hold over the military.

The crackdown on anti-government protesters by Syrian forces escalated in recent days as demonstrators, emboldened by weeks of protests, called for the ouster of al-Assad. The crackdown culminated with the raid in Daraa where thousands of troops reportedly stormed the city and opened fire on demonstrators. It was an attack reminiscent of the brutal rule of al-Assad’s father, who once ordered the military to crush a revolt that resulted in the deaths of thousands.

“I think he’s clearly going toward the security solution, which is where he could be following in the steps of his father,” said Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

I’ve been hearing all day that Yemen’s president Saleh was renigging on his promise to step down soon, but Al Jazeera reports that there is an agreement between the government and opposition forces.

Yemen’s opposition has agreed to take part in a transitional government under a Gulf-negotiated peace plan for embattled leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to step aside in a month in exchange for immunity for him and his family.

A spokesman for an opposition coalition said on Monday that his group had received assurances in order to accept the deal.

“We have given our final accord to the [Gulf] initiative after having received assurances from our brothers and American and European friends on our objections to certain clauses in the plan,” Mohammed Qahtan said.

But not all protesters are going along.

many pro-democracy protesters, who are not members of the coalition that agreed to the peace talks, appear to be unconvinced by the Gulf-proposed deal and have called for fresh demonstrations, as security forces continued their crackdown.

In Libya, the fighting continues to be centered in the city of Misurata.

The battle for Misurata, which has claimed hundreds of lives in the past two months, has become the focal point of the armed rebellion against Gaddafi since fighting elsewhere is deadlocked.

Images of civilians being killed and wounded by Gaddafi’s heavy weapons, have spurred calls for more forceful international intervention to stop the bloodshed.

NATO’s mandate from the UN is to try to protect civilians in Libya, split into a rebel-run east and a western area that remains largely under Gaddafi’s control.

While the international coalition’s air attacks have delivered heavy blows to his army, they have not halted attacks on Misurata, Libya’s third largest city, with a population of 300,000.

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by insects. I loved to read books about ants, spiders, and other such creepy-crawly critters. Truthfully, I still find them interesting. Here’s a story about fire ants and how they cooperate to protect the group in an emergency.

When flood waters threaten their underground nests, fire ants order an immediate evacuation. They make their way to the surface and grab hold of one another, making a living raft that can sail for months.

The extraordinary survival tactic, which can involve entire colonies of more than a hundred thousand ants, has been captured on film by US engineers who used the footage to help unravel how the insects co-operate to overcome nature’s dangers.

Time-lapse film of the ants in action reveals that pockets of air get trapped between them and around their bodies, helping them breathe if the raft is pushed under the water.

In normal circumstances the ants lock legs, and sometimes mandibles, to form a floating mat that sits on top of the water through a combination of surface tension and buoyancy.

“Even the ones at the bottom remain dry and able to breath because they are not actually under the water,” said Nathan Mlot, a PhD student at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

If only we humans would get together and cooperate like that!


That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?