Tuesday Reads

deppbooks

Good Morning!!

We’ve had another mass-murder and I think I can safely predict it will have no effect on America’s gun culture. Now we’ll have the aftermath: the list of the dead and wounded; the background on the “ticking human time bomb” who “went off” after years of psychological problems and run-ins with law enforcement; the fruitless talk of change that won’t happen because of the right wing nut jobs who apparently run the country despite the Democrat in the White House.

Navy Yard Murders

So far. seven of the people Aaron Alexis killed at the Navy Yard have been named:

— 59-year-old Michael Arnold

— 53-year-old Sylvia Frasier

— 62-year-old Kathy Gaarde
— 73-year-old John Roger Johnson
— 50-year-old Frank Kohler
— 46-year-old Kenneth Bernard Proctor
— 61-year-old Vishnu Pandit

From The Boston Globe: Navy Yard shooting victims had long careers there. You can read some background on each of these shooting victims at the link.

In other news of the massacre, police have now established that Alexis was the only gunman. 

Fifth Anniversary of the 2008 Crash

I didn’t see much mention of it, but yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the Lehmann Brothers bankruptcy that precipitated the 2008 financial collapse. The White House released a report on the progress made since then, and President Obama warned Republicans that if the nutjobs in the House continue their efforts to shut down the government, they could easily reverse that progress. From The New York Times:

President Obama on Monday seized on the fifth anniversary of the 2008 financial collapse to warn that House Republicans would reverse the gains made and willfully cause “economic chaos” with the uncompromising stands they have staked out on looming budget deadlines.

“Budget battles and debates, those are as old as the republic,” Mr. Obama said before a friendly audience assembled in a White House annex. But, he added, “I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants.”

A bloc of conservative House Republicans have said that unless Mr. Obama’s signature health insurance law is delayed or repealed, they will not support financing for government operations in the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1 or an essential increase in the nation’s borrowing limit in mid-October.

Failure to act on federal funding would provoke a government shutdown; even worse, failing to increase the debt limit would leave the government unable to pay bills and creditors and ultimately threaten the nation’s default.

“The last time the same crew threatened this course of action back in 2011, even the mere suggestion of default slowed our economic growth,” Mr. Obama said, recalling that summer’s market-rattling showdown.

No doubt the warning fell on deaf ears…

johnny-depp-reading-il-manifesto

Fifth Anniversary of the 2008 Crash

I didn’t see much mention of it, but yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the Lehmann Brothers bankruptcy that precipitated the 2008 financial collapse. The White House released a report on the progress made since then, and President Obama warned Republicans that if the nutjobs in the House continue their efforts to shut down the government, they could easily reverse that progress. From The New York Times:

President Obama on Monday seized on the fifth anniversary of the 2008 financial collapse to warn that House Republicans would reverse the gains made and willfully cause “economic chaos” with the uncompromising stands they have staked out on looming budget deadlines.

“Budget battles and debates, those are as old as the republic,” Mr. Obama said before a friendly audience assembled in a White House annex. But, he added, “I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants.”

A bloc of conservative House Republicans have said that unless Mr. Obama’s signature health insurance law is delayed or repealed, they will not support financing for government operations in the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1 or an essential increase in the nation’s borrowing limit in mid-October.

Failure to act on federal funding would provoke a government shutdown; even worse, failing to increase the debt limit would leave the government unable to pay bills and creditors and ultimately threaten the nation’s default.

“The last time the same crew threatened this course of action back in 2011, even the mere suggestion of default slowed our economic growth,” Mr. Obama said, recalling that summer’s market-rattling showdown.

No doubt the warning fell on deaf ears…

Johnny Depp reads

UN Report on Chemical Weapons in Syria

Yesterday the UN released a report on its investigation of the chemical weapons attack in Syria. From the LA Times: U.N. report cites ‘clear’ use of chemical weapons in Syria.

United Nations report finding “clear and convincing evidence” of a deadly chemical attack built new momentum Monday for demands by the United States and allies to impose tough penalties on Syria if it fails to honor promises to surrender its arsenal.

Although the 38-page report from a U.N. scientific team does not assign blame, Western diplomats and independent experts said it offers undeniable evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s forces fired sarin-filled rockets with Russian markings into Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21. The United States says more than 1,400 people were killed.

Western diplomats said the weapons and sarin described by U.N. experts displayed sophisticated manufacturing techniques beyond the capabilities of rebel forces, and that U.N. data about the trajectory of the rockets indicated that they were fired from government-held territory.

“The technical details of the U.N. report make clear that only the regime could have carried out this large-scale chemical weapons attack,” said Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “It defies logic to think that the opposition would have infiltrated the regime-controlled area to fire on opposition-controlled areas.”

A little more from The New York Times:

The weapons inspectors, who visited Ghouta and left the country with large amounts of evidence on Aug. 31, said, “In particular, the environmental, chemical and medical samples we have collected provide clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used.”

But the report’s annexes, detailing what the authors found, were what caught the attention of nonproliferation experts.

In two chilling pieces of information, the inspectors said that the remnants of a warhead they had found showed its capacity of sarin to be about 56 liters — far higher than initially thought. They also said that falling temperatures at the time of the attack ensured that the poison gas, heavier than air, would hug the ground, penetrating lower levels of buildings “where many people were seeking shelter.”

The investigators were unable to examine all of the munitions used, but they were able to find and measure several rockets or their components. Using standard field techniques for ordnance identification and crater analysis, they established that at least two types of rockets had been used, including an M14 artillery rocket bearing Cyrillic markings and a 330-millimeter rocket of unidentified provenance.

These findings, though not presented as evidence of responsibility, were likely to strengthen the argument of those who claim that the Syrian government bears the blame, because the weapons in question had not been previously documented or reported to be in possession of the insurgency.

johnnydepp

“Greenwald Derangement Sydrome”

After months of wading through Glenn Greenwald’s turgid, error-filled Guardian articles on his NSA “bombshells” and his defenses of his ticket to the bigtime Edward Snowden, and reading his self righteous and self-promoting tweets detailing praise for his “scoops” and his irrational hatred of President Obama and Democrats in general, I’ve reached the point where my dislike of this man is so intense that I can’t stand to look at his smarmy, smirking visage or listen ot his grating, whiny voice. My GDS is so strong that I feel instant empathy for anyone he attacks–even if it’s the Devil incarnate. This brings me to one of the silliest pieces Greenwald has written yet: Inside the mind of NSA chief Gen Keith Alexander. See Alexander had the temerity to have his NSA office designed too look like the deck of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek. Greenwald intones:

The article describes how even his NSA peers see him as a “cowboy” willing to play fast and loose with legal limits in order to construct a system of ubiquitous surveillance. But the personality driving all of this – not just Alexander’s but much of Washington’s – is perhaps best captured by this one passage, highlighted by PBS’ News Hour in a post entitled: “NSA director modeled war room after Star Trek’s Enterprise”. The room was christened as part of the “Information Dominance Center”:

“When he was running the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, Alexander brought many of his future allies down to Fort Belvoir for a tour of his base of operations, a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a ‘whoosh’ sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather ‘captain’s chair’ in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen.

“‘Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard,’ says a retired officer in charge of VIP visits.”

Next, the obligatory attack on Obama:

Numerous commentators remarked yesterday on the meaning of all that (note, too, how “Total Information Awareness” was a major scandal in the Bush years, but “Information Dominance Center” – along with things like “Boundless Informant” – are treated as benign or even noble programs in the age of Obama).

Which “numerous commentators?” Greenwald doesn’t name them, because they probably consist of Greenwald, his boyfriend who is young enough to be his son, and a couple of other Guardian writers.

Okay, Alexander’s office is kind of dumb, but is it really symbolic of some deep evil intent? The interesting thing about Greenwald’s recent Guardian articles is that he is no long writing “substantive” pieces on the NSA leaks. Those have been turned over to writers at the Washington Post, The New York Times, and other media outlets. Perhaps the Guardian got tired of defending Greenwald’s lies and exaggerations.

Along similar lines, I want to call attention to this article at ZD Net that Ralph posted last night. NSA cryptanalyst: We, too, are Americans. It’s an important reminder that not all government employees are evil, despite the claims of Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, and their gang of resentful libertarian white men. Please read it if you haven’t already.

Homeless Man Honored by Boston Police Department

I’ll end with a feel-good story about a Boston man named Glen James who found a backpack containing “$2,400 in cash, $39,500 in traveler’s checks, passports, and various personal papers.” The Boston Globe reports:

A humble homeless man who returned a backpack full of cash and traveler’s checks to police said he felt “very, very good” to do it and used a ceremony honoring him at police headquarters to thank all the people who have ever given him money on the street.

Glen James said, “I don’t talk too much because I stutter.” But he handed out a handwritten statement in which he said, “Even if I were desperate for money, I would not have kept even a … penny of the money I found. I am extremely religious — God has always very well looked after me.”

The statement also said, “I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone — every pedestrian stranger — who has given me spare change. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said that James’s actions were “really a remarkable tribute to him and his honesty.”

“He’s an honest guy and realized the property belonged to someone else,” Davis said.

The middle-aged man, balding, bespectacled, and thin, appeared friendly but shy and slightly overwhelmed by the attention from the media drawn to a feel-good story.

On his way out of the building after the news conference, the police department clerks gave him an ovation.

Now someone please find this man a job and a place to live and maybe send him for FUE hair transplant in Sydney if you are a rich philanthropist.

So….what’s on your reading menu today? Please post your links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!

 what’s on your reading menu today? Please post your links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!

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