The first half of this post is bad, just a warning there…so as you drink your coffee, tea, chai, beer or Bourbon…we’ll just get through this tough stuff as quickly as possible.
As expected, the death toll from the Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda is in the thousands, from Voice of America: 10,000 Feared Dead in Philippines
Local officials say the death toll in a central province that took the brunt of Typhoon Haiyan could reach as high as 10,000.
Police and provincial officials provided the estimate on Sunday after assessing damage in Leyte province, where they say the destruction was overwhelming. The regional police chief said most of the deaths resulted from drowning and collapsed buildings
Philippine Interior Secretary Mar Roxas says it is difficult to describe the extent of damage in Leyte’s capital, Tacloban.
“The devastation is – I do not have the words for it. It is really horrific. It is a great human tragedy. There is no power. There is no light.”
AP is reporting 400 bodies have been recovered so far.
Reuters has a few images of the devastation at their link, however, there are very few pictures available as of now. Philippine super typhoon kills at least 10,000, official says | Reuters
Haiyan, a category 5 typhoon that churned through the Philippine archipelago in a straight line from east to west, packing wind gusts of around 275 kph (170 mph), weakened significantly before hitting northern Vietnam on Sunday.
Leyte province’s capital of Tacloban, with a population of 220,000, bore the brunt of Haiyan, which was possibly the strongest storm ever to make landfall.
The city and nearby villages as far as one kilometer from shore were flooded by the storm surge, leaving floating bodies and roads choked with debris from fallen trees, tangled power lines and flattened homes. TV footage showed children clinging to rooftops for their lives.
A man stands atop debris as residents salvage belongings from the ruins of their houses after Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines November 10, 2013.
“From a helicopter, you can see the extent of devastation. From the shore and moving a kilometer inland, there are no structures standing. It was like a tsunami,” said Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas, who had been in Tacloban since before the typhoon struck the city, about 580 km (360 miles) southeast of Manila.
Debris litter a damaged airport after super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines November 9, 2013.
City officials said they were struggling to retrieve bodies and send relief supplies to survivors. They also reported widespread looting as authorities struggled to restore order and repair shattered communications.
“There is looting in the malls and large supermarkets. They are taking everything even appliances like TV sets, these will be traded later on for food,” said Tecson John Lim, the Tacloban city administrator.
“We don’t have enough manpower. We have 2,000 employees but only about 100 are reporting for work. Everyone is attending to their families.”
“The dead are on the streets, they are in their houses, they are under the debris, they are everywhere,” he said.
International aid agencies said relief efforts in the Philippines are stretched thin after a 7.2 magnitude quake in central Bohol province last month and displacement caused by a conflict with Muslim rebels in southern Zamboanga province.
The World Food Programme said it was airlifting 40 tons of high energy biscuits, enough to feed 120,000 people for a day, as well as emergency supplies and telecommunications equipment.
Tacloban city airport was all but destroyed as seawaters swept through the city, shattering the glass of the airport tower, leveling the terminal and overturning nearby vehicles.
Huffington Post has a picture on the main page of their website that shows a single dead man, face down. He is blue. His skin is blue.
I saw that picture last night just before going to sleep and it haunted me…it really is an upsetting image.
More pictures here: AP PHOTOS: High death toll feared in typhoon
Meanwhile, the US has offered some aid: U.S. aid on the way to devastated areas of Philippines
Help is on the way to areas of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development and humanitarian relief groups.
The Obama administration made an initial $100,000 available Saturday to provide basic health care, clean water and sanitation following the Philippines government’s request for international assistance. That figure is likely to grow as damage and humanitarian needs are assessed.
And according to the BBC: UK commits aid for 500,000 in Philippines
Britain has committed £5m to help up to 500,000 people affected by the typhoon that swept through the Philippines.
The Department for International Development (DfID) said the money would be given to pre-approved organisations to provide “crucial humanitarian aid”.
That 5 million pounds is like 8 million US dollars. Makes that 100,000 bucks seem like a mere single ply, scratchy…dingleberry producing roll of toilet paper.
The organizations listed below are deploying urgent relief efforts on the islands. See how you can help:
The Philippine Red Cross said it has mobilized teams on the ground to help with rescue and relief operations. Click the link to learn more.
The American Red Cross has launched a family tracing service among other aid operations. If you are unable to reach a family member in the Philippines, you can contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross to initiate a tracing case. Click on the link for more.
UNICEF is taking donations to help provide children with shelter, clean water, nutrition and vaccines.
World Food Programme, a United Nations organization, said it will be sending meals to those affected and working with local authorities on restoring communications. Click the link to donate or, if you are in the United States, text the word AID to 27722 to donate $10.
Save the Children is also mounting disaster relief efforts to help children and families in the region with emergency assistance.
World Vision said it will provide food and water to those in evacuation shelters. Click the link to make a donation.
Habitat for Humanity plans to offer shelter repair kits for families who need to re-build their damaged houses.
Operation USA said it will allocate donations directly to relief and recovery efforts.
Google has also launched a person finder.
The storm is now on its way to Vietnam:
More photos at that CNN link.
In other world news: Talks With Iran Fail to Produce a Nuclear Agreement
Marathon talks between major powers and Iran failed on Sunday to produce a deal to freeze its nuclear program, puncturing days of feverish anticipation and underscoring how hard it will be to forge a lasting solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Emerging from a last-ditch bargaining session that began Saturday and stretched past midnight, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said they had failed to overcome differences. They insisted they had made progress, however, and pledged to return to the table in 10 days to try again, albeit at a lower level.
“A lot of concrete progress has been made, but some differences remain,” Ms. Ashton said at a news conference early Sunday. She appeared alongside Mr. Zarif, who added, “I think it was natural that when we started dealing with the details, there would be differences.”
They agreed to meet in Geneva again in 10 days to try to make a deal happen.
Talks on a deal to temporarily curb Iran’s nuclear program ran into trouble Saturday when France questioned whether the proposal went far enough, casting doubt an agreement could be reached during the current round of negotiations.
Chances of bridging all differences diminished as the day went on.
A Western diplomat in Geneva said that the French were holding out for conditions on the Iranians tougher than those agreed to by the U.S. and France’s other negotiating partners, diminishing hopes of a done deal Saturday.
It really seems like the French are the ones voicing the most concern and skepticism.
Meeting without Iran
The foreign ministers of the seven delegations discussing Iran convened a meeting late Saturday night, and the Iranian officials were not included.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke of “several points that…we’re not satisfied with compared to the initial text,” telling France-InterRadio his nation does not want to be part of a “con game.”
He did not specify, but his comments suggested France thought a final draft of any first-step deal was too favorable to Iran, echoing concerns raised by Israel and several prominent U.S. legislators.
The French position was confirmed by another Western diplomat. Both gave no specifics and demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the diplomatic maneuvering.
Iranian state TV strongly criticized the French position, calling France “Israel’s representatives at the talks.”
Iran’s IRNA news agency cited Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as urging world powers to reach a deal.
“I hope the parties negotiating with Iran in the 5+1 group use the exceptional opportunity that the Iranian nation has provided to the West and the international community so that we achieve a positive result in a reasonable time,” IRNA quoted Rouhani as telling a Japanese foreign minister visiting Tehran Saturday evening.
Rouhani said sanctions and threats don’t benefit anyone.
Iran “has insisted that threats and sanctions have not resolved any problem and further complicate the path forward, and believes that the only solution is talks on the basis of respect and mutual confidence,” IRNA quoted him as saying.
Optimism about an interim agreement had been high when the talks were extended for a third day on Saturday and raised to a ministerial level.
There is a lot more at both the New York Times link above, and this Raw Story link…which goes on a bit more to say:
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal pointed to “rather large cohesion” among the negotiators and said France wanted “the international community to see a serious change in the climate” of talks with Iran.
“There have been years of talks that have led to nothing,” Nadal said, alluding to the need for tough terms on Iran.
Years of talks, yes…but this is the first time that the US is involved face to face with Iran in these talks. I think that gives this round of discussions a sense of urgency and more pressure on the matter with the international community coming together on one page. But then, it is late…and I am a little overwhelmed by the story out in the Philippines. I will just put a link to an update on Syria’s chemical weapons stash: Katrina vanden Heuvel: A surprising silence on success in Syria – The Washington Post
Last week, buried beneath banner headlines blaring about Obamacare hearings, National Security Agency surveillance revelations and the Boston Red Sox’ World Series win, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) quietly reported that Syria “has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable.”
On the heels of winning the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, the unglamorous but undeniably effective OPCW, using saws, sledgehammers and cutting torches in the middle of a war zone, defied predictions by meeting the Nov. 1 deadline to disable Syria’s chemical weapons program. The bombshell was that there was no bombshell — at least, not of the unconscionable chemical kind.
But the manner in which we arrived at this moment seems to obscure the legitimate success we ought to celebrate. There remains, of course, difficult work ahead. The OPCW must meet a Nov. 15 deadline to destroy more than 1,000 metric tons of weapons stockpiles, even as fierce fighting continues in many of the parts of Syria where the weapons are located. Syria’s foreign minister requested that some weapons factories be spared , calling into question the country’s genuine commitment to disarmament. And the country’s deadly civil war continues unabated.
Still, even with these caveats, what the OPCW accomplished is no small victory. It’s a meaningful step toward meeting what has long been a major U.S. foreign policy goal – eliminating weapons of mass destruction.
Yes, it’s an op/ed, so go ahead and take it for what it is….read the rest at the link.
Another updated news story for you this morning: Schools chief: Nothing in records indicates Nevada middle school shooter was bullied – The Washington Post
A northwestern Nevada superintendent said there’s no evidence a seventh-grader was bullied before he fatally shot a teacher and wounded two classmates at Sparks Middle School last month.
Jose Reyes, 12, killed math teacher Michael Landsberry with a semi-automatic handgun outside the school on Oct. 21 before taking his own life.
Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez told KTVN-TV (http://bit.ly/1eqRcfw) that “there was nothing in our official records about bullying for this child, whether at the elementary school or the middle school. Even the parents recently said there was no indication from what they saw.”
The parents, Jose and Liliana Reyes, earlier this week used the word “teased” to describe what their son faced about a speech problem but said he never showed signs of harboring anger or resentment that could help explain the schoolyard shooting.
Their attorney, Kent Robison, told KTVN that Reyes was teased at school and even saw a counselor.
Some students have said bullying played a role in the shooting, but police said they have no evidence of that and have refused to comment about anything that might have provoked the attack.
The parents of the two 12-year-olds recovering successfully from gunshot wounds have said they don’t believe their children were targeted in the attack on the asphalt basketball court 15 minutes before the morning bell.
I wonder if we will ever know why Reyes did what he did that day.
Remember that nugget of news outta Sanford Florida? Where the police chief was making all neighborhood watch volunteers “gun free” while on “duty.” Well, Sanford police backtrack on neighborhood watch gun restriction | Al Jazeera America
Police in the Florida city where George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin have backed off a plan to explicitly ban neighborhood watch volunteers from carrying guns while on duty.
Earlier this month, police in Sanford, Florida, announced new rules on how civilian patrols can operate in an attempt to revive the program’s reputation, and was expected to announce Tuesday that neighborhood watch volunteers shouldn’t carry guns or follow suspects.
But now the police department has backtracked on those rules, saying that while it recommends that neighborhood watch volunteers not carry weapons, it won’t formally prevent volunteers from doing so.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith refused repeated requests to explain the reversal.
“That was the choice of the chief. That was my decision,” Smith said. “What my thought is unimportant.”
Smith introduced the new rules and a new handbook for the town’s neighborhood watch program at a community meeting on Tuesday.
He said anyone who carries a gun can still participate in the neighborhood watch program, and no one will be asked if they have a concealed weapons permit. But block captains will be required to sign a waiver saying the city will relinquish liability if they decide to carry a weapon.
Last week, his spokesman told Reuters the new rules would explicitly state that residents acting under the authority of neighborhood watch may not carry a firearm or pursue someone they deem suspicious.
Smith says his change of rules was not influenced by the gun rights advocacy groups who were pissed off about his earlier decision to ban guns on neighborhood watch. (Bullshit.)
Want some more bullshit? Tom Cruise — My Job’s As Hard As Fighting in Afghanistan | TMZ.com
Tom Cruise not only thinks he trains harder than Olympic athletes, he believes his job as a professional actor is as grueling as fighting the war in Afghanistan — this according to legal docs obtained by TMZ.
As we reported, Cruise recently sat for a deposition in his $50 million libel suit against a magazine publisher that claimed he abandoned daughter Suri — and his quotes are GOLD.
First, the Middle East — Tom says his location shoots are just like serving a tour in Afghanistan, “That’s what it feels like. And certainly on this last movie, it was brutal. It was brutal.”
Oh, I see another South Park episode in Tom’s future.
BTW, if you missed this past weeks episode, you need to see it…Ginger Cow (Season 17, Episode 6) – Full Episode Player – South Park Studios
Okay, since I’ve segued into the Hollywood/movie section of the post, here is another movie oriented link for you: Hans Zimmer on the Classic Films He’s Scored Zimmer is one of those composers who has scored so many films…that it really boggles your mind when you see his list of credits: Hans Zimmer – IMDb The two films that really feature amazing soundtracks and original scores by Hans Zimmer are Thelma and Louise, Rain Man. I think the scores of those films really fit the mood of the story, especially the one he did for Thelma and Louise. But he also was part of the group that started the whole video revolution on MTV:
Hey, I thought this was kind of funny…at least thinking about the logistics of this thing: Obama’s Portable Zone of Secrecy (Some Assembly Required)
Pete Souza/White House
President Obama discussing Libya inside his security tent during a trip to Rio de Janeiro in 2011.
When President Obama travels abroad, his staff packs briefing books, gifts for foreign leaders and something more closely associated with camping than diplomacy: a tent.
Even when Mr. Obama travels to allied nations, aides quickly set up the security tent — which has opaque sides and noise-making devices inside — in a room near his hotel suite. When the president needs to read a classified document or have a sensitive conversation, he ducks into the tent to shield himself from secret video cameras and listening devices.
American security officials demand that their bosses — not just the president, but members of Congress, diplomats, policy makers and military officers — take such precautions when traveling abroad because it is widely acknowledged that their hosts often have no qualms about snooping on their guests.
Yeah, no shit…which makes that whole Merkel spy thing a, “duh?” realization doesn’t it?
The United States has come under withering criticism in recent weeks about revelations that the National Security Agency listened in on allied leaders like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. A panel created by Mr. Obama in August to review that practice, among other things, is scheduled to submit a preliminary report this week and a final report by the middle of next month. But American officials assume — and can cite evidence — that they get the same treatment when they travel abroad, even from European Union allies.
“No matter where you are, we are a target these days,” said R. James Woolsey Jr., the director of central intelligence during the Clinton administration. “No matter where we go, countries like China, Russia and much of the Arab world have assets and are trying to spy on us so you have to think about that and take as many precautions as possible.”
On a trip to Latin America in 2011, for example, a White House photo showed Mr. Obama talking from a security tent in a Rio de Janeiro hotel suite with Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, and Robert M. Gates, the defense secretary at the time, about the air war against Libya that had been launched the previous day. Another photo, taken three days later in San Salvador, showed him conferring from the tent with advisers about the attack.
I don’t think any of this matters. I am so sick of the media right now. I just want to see what 60 Minutes does tonight, and if there is any big news follow-up on that Benghazi story.
The rest of today’s links in dump fashion:
The Mormon church stands to own nearly 2 percent of Florida by completing a deal to buy most of the real estate of the St. Joe Co. for more than a half-billion dollars.
That is more than Disney! But seriously:
According to the announcement, a church entity, AgReserves Inc., will buy 382,834 acres – the majority of St. Joe’s timberlands – in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties for $565 million.
Completion of the deal will leave the Utah-based church with 678,000 acres, an area larger than any other private holding in Florida, according to widely shared but unconfirmed rankings of top landowners.
Kidney damage in first responders linked to 9/11– Science Daily
For the first time, researchers have linked high levels of inhaled particulate matter by first responders at Ground Zero to kidney damage. Researchers from the WTC-CHEST Program, a subset of the World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center for Excellence at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, presented their new findings at the 2013 American Society of Nephrology meeting on Nov. 9 during National Kidney Week.
Imagine listening to a foreign language you are not familiar with all day. It would be tiring and confusing. You would miss important information and you’d have to work very hard to understand what people were saying.
That’s what it’s like to have a specific language impairment in your own language, says Gina Conti-Ramsden, professor of child language and learning from the University of Manchester.
“These children aren’t mute. They can talk – but it’s a hidden disability,” she says.
“They can’t understand what is said all the time and they find it difficult to put words together, and to express themselves.”
Tutankhamun’s body may have spontaneously combusted due to a botched mummification, British scientists claim in a new programme to be broadcast Sunday.
Egyptologist Chris Naunton and a team of forensic scientists performed a “virtual autopsy” on the young pharaoh in the Channel 4 television documentary “Tutankhamun: The Mystery of The Burnt Mummy”.
I wish I could get to see that documentary.
Photos Of Victorian London Show Difficulties Of Life On The Streets -Huffpo Some wonderful pictures to look at…very sad to see.
Nazi anatomy history: The origins of conservatives’ anti-abortion claims that rape can’t cause pregnancy.- Slate That is one interesting article, its a long read but you will find it fascinating and disturbing.
Not all of us can stand and stare at artwork and pretend to be impressed and then stare again and then focus in on how the brushstrokes add up to the emotion of what the artist was feeling during his struggle when his father did not approve of his calling. Some of us want more fun when it comes to art. This hilarious animation of famous paintings are that fun.
Cartoon Brew spotted this video made by animators Doug Bayne, Ben Baker and Trudy Cooper and it’s a good one. The short animations were featured in Austrlian sketch comedy show The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting. You can watch them all below, make sure you stay to the end for the epic finish.
Video is at the link above.
It is real late, and at this point I am not sure this post is making much sense. So I will leave it at that and ask you all, what’s up in your neck of the woods. What are you thinking about today?
Dakinkat is back on-line! Now if I can just get my internet back, we may have a full complement of writers by the beginning of the Democratic Convention. Now let’s see what’s in the news this morning.
I have to hand it to President Obama. He had to be angry about Clint Eastwood’s disrespectful performance at the RNC last Thursday, but he’s not going to give Mitt Romney the satisfaction of showing it.
“He is a great actor, and an even better director,” the president said in an interview with USA TODAY aboard Air Force One, on his way to campaign rallies in Iowa Saturday. “I think the last few movies that he’s made have been terrific.”
Was he offended?
“One thing about being president or running for president — if you’re easily offended, you should probably choose another profession.” Obama said with a smile. He said there would be no effort to counter with a similar stunt at the Democratic National Convention, which opens in Charlotte Tuesday.
“I think we’ll be playing this pretty straight,” he said.
The WaPo’s Jonathan Capehart asked DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard about if Eastwood presentation was “disrespectful.” Here’s the response:
“First, Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair and then Mitt Romney gave an empty speech,” Gaspard replied. “So, I’m going to focus on Mitt Romney [and] his lack of clearly delineated plans for middle-class Americans.” But Gaspard, who was Obama’s political director in the first half of the term, had more to say.
This was not Clint Eastwood’s convention. It was Mitt Romney’s. He hired these Hollywood consultants to reinvent himself and all I saw, yet again, was the same guy who was a private-sector outsourcer, a failed governor of Massachusetts and now an extreme right-wing candidate for the presidency. So, I’m going to focus on that.
I guess Romney wasn’t really all that proud of the Eastwood skit after all. According to ABC News Eastwood was left on the cutting room floor during production of the RNC promotional video.
A video mash-up of speakers from last week’s Republican National Convention does not include an appearance from the “mystery RNC speaker,” Clint Eastwood.
The two-and-a-half minute video posted today to the Romney campaign’s YouTube account features former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, VP nominee Paul Ryan and of course, Romney himself, but it leaves out Eastwood’s controversial speech.
Joe Biden went on the attack yesterday.
Campaigning in Pennsylvania, vice president Joe Biden attacked Mr Romney’s international agenda as laid out in last week’s convention address, suggesting that it put him out of step with the US’s priorities overseas.
“He said it was a mistake to end the war in Iraq and bring all of our warriors home. He said it was a mistake to set an end date for our warriors in Afghanistan and bring them home,” Biden told supporters.
He added: “He implies by the speech that he’s ready to go to war in Syria and Iran.”
Biden also ripped Paul Ryan’s speech.
He…noted Ryan had not told the complete story when he talked about a General Motors plant that closed in Janesville, Wis., his hometown.
“What he didn’t tell you was that plant in Janesville actually closed while President Bush was still president,” Biden said.
Later, in Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, Biden again challenged Ryan’s criticism of Obama.
“He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing,” Ryan said of Obama during his acceptance speech in Tampa.
Biden was having none of that telling.
“What he didn’t tell you is he sat on that commission,” Biden said to laughter.
“I love these guys. Oh, I love these guys, how they claim to care about the deficit,” Biden went on. “Ladies and gentlemen, the thing I most love about them is about how they discovered the middle class at their convention. Isn’t that amazing? All of a sudden their heart was bleeding for the middle class.”
Rahm Emmanuel was out defending his former boss. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, framed Mitt Romney Sunday as a backward-looking candidate, blistering his acceptance speech as laying “out the policies of Ground Hog Day.”
Emanuel discussed the upcoming Democratic National Convention with David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he was introduced as an “architect” of Obama’s first term policies.
“If people want to know about the first term? Very simple. General Motors is alive and well. And Osama Bin Laden is not. And that’s what got done,” Emanuel said.
Emmanuel also criticized Romney’s acceptance speech as “weak.” From The Hill:
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said Mitt Romney’s convention speech was “devoid and vacuous” and allowed for Clint Eastwood’s appearance to claim the spotlight.
President Obama’s former chief of staff said Sunday on “Meet the Press” that there was “nothing memorable about Mitt Romney’s speech” in Tampa.
“Not a memorable line, not a memorable philosophy,” Emanuel said.” “There was nothing there.”
I strongly recommend this piece at HuffPo by Sherman Yellin: Why Mitt Romney IS NOT Like a Bad Haircut. I can’t do it justice with an excerpt. Please click on the link and read it. It’s not very long.
In other news, there’s a story coming out soon in Vanity Fair about how Scientology auditioned women to be Tom Cruise’s next wife–and Katie Holmes wasn’t their first choice.
In the October issue, Vanity Fair special correspondent Maureen Orth reports that in 2004 Scientology embarked on a top-secret project headed by Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology chief David Miscavige, which involved finding a girlfriend for Tom Cruise. According to several sources, the organization devised an elaborate auditioning process in which actresses who were already Scientology members were called in, told they were auditioning for a new training film, and then asked a series of curious questions including: “What do you think of Tom Cruise?” Marc Headley, a Scientologist from age seven, who says he watched a number of the audition videotapes when he was head of Scientology’s in-house studio, tells Orth, “It’s not like you only have to please your husband—you have to toe the line for Scientology.” Both Nicole Kidman and Penélope Cruz ran afoul of Scientology and David Miscavige, according to another former Scientologist. “You can’t do anything to displease Scientology, because Tom Cruise will freak out,” Headley says.
According to Orth, Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian-born, London-raised actress and Scientologist, was selected and dated Cruise from November 2004 until January 2005. Initially she was told only that she had been selected for a very important mission. In a month-long preparation in October 2004, she was audited every day, a process in which she told a high-ranking Scientology official her innermost secrets and every detail of her sex life. Boniadi allegedly was told to lose her braces, her red highlights, and her boyfriend. According to a knowledgeable source, she was shown confidential auditing files of her boyfriend to expedite a breakup. (Scientology denies any misuse of confidential material.) The source says Boniadi signed a confidentiality agreement and was told that if she “messed up” in any way she would be declared a Suppressive Person (a pariah and enemy of Scientology).
I’m looking forward to reading the entire gossipy article!
In other Scientology news, there’s a new movie out that is supposedly based on Scientology, The Master.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson acknowledges that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was the inspiration for the title character in `’The Master,” but says the focus of the film is the relationship between a charismatic spiritual leader and his troubled follower, not the movement itself.
The movie, set in the 1950s, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic cult leader who captivates a tortured but sympathetic World War II veteran portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix.
Anderson sought to quickly dispel any speculation about the film’s influence on his friendship with Tom Cruise, who starred in Anderson’s 1999 film `’Magnolia” and whose Scientology beliefs are well-documented.
`’We are still friends. I showed him the film, and the rest is between us,” Anderson said.
In other cult news, Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon has died.
The Universal Peace Federation said on its website that Moon died early Monday morning of complications related to pneumonia. He was 92.
“Our True Father passed into the spiritual world at 1:54 AM Monday, September 3rd, Korea time,” a message on a Unification Church English-language website said.
Ahn Ho-yeol, a church spokesman, said Moon’s funeral will be held Thursday, with “individual prayers” planned for the three days until then.
“Rev. Moon died from overwork, from frequent trips aboard, including to the U.S., and from morning prayers which caused respiratory disease,” Ahn said.
I posted this on yesterday’s morning thread, but I think it bears repeating: Private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney under investigation for tax strategy
New York’s attorney general is investigating whether executives at Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, improperly avoided paying $200 million in federal income taxes, according to a report by The New York Times.
More than a dozen firms are under investigation by the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, who has subpoenaed documents that would show whether some fund management fees were converted to fund investments. Profits on investments are taxed at a much lower rate than management fees, which count as earned income.
Hundreds of pages of leaked financial documents from Bain Capital that have been posted online indicate at least $1 billion in executives’ management fees were converted to investments, whose capital gains are taxed at 15 percent, instead of the 35 percent paid on earned income in the top tax bracket.
According to the documents, executives could take money that would have been paid to them for managing investment funds and put the money into the funds, instead. The executives could pick and choose which companies to invest in, within a given fund, and were not required to invest the value of their fees for the entire life of a fund. They could decide whether to convert fees to investments on a quarter-to-quarter basis.
Today’s WaPo also has a story on Bain Capital and Romney’s taxes: Mitt Romney exited Bain Capital with rare tax benefits in retirement
Before Mitt Romney retired from Bain Capital, the enormously profitable investment firm he founded, he made sure to lock in his gains, both realized and expected, for years to come.
He did so, in part, the way millions of other Americans do — with the tax benefits of an individual retirement account. But he was able to turbocharge the impact of those advantages and other tax breaks in his severance package from Bain in a way that few but the country’s super-rich can ever hope to do.
As a result, his IRA could be worth as much as $87 million, according to his estimates, and he can continue to earn tax-advantaged income from Bain more than a decade after he formally left the firm.
If Romney wants to demonstrate his honesty, he can always release those secret tax returns.
That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
I have some excellent reads to share with you today.
Tomorrow is a big day for Mitt Romney. He’ll be in the Hamptons attending a series of fund raisers hosted by members of the top 1% of the top 1%, and he’s expected to collect $3 million by the time it’s all over.
Mr. Romney is expected to pull in $3 million from an event at the Creeks, the estate of Ronald O. Perelman, the billionaire financier and Revlon chairman, where tickets range from $5,000 for lunch to $25,000 for a V.I.P. photo reception. Another will be held at the home of Clifford M. Sobel, an ambassador to Brazil under President George W. Bush, and a final dinner will take place at the Southampton estate of the billionaire industrialist David H. Koch, where the going rate for entry is $75,000 a couple and $50,000 a person….
At Mr. Koch’s estate, the guests will be treated to one-of-a-kind scenery as they wait for face time with a possible president. Tucked into the Southampton dunes, Mr. Koch’s home is valued at about $18 million by the real estate Web site Zillow, which reports that it has seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms. Its backyard is the sea.
But the jewel of the day is Mr. Perelman’s. With 9 fireplaces, 40 rooms and an expansive wine cellar, his estate makes the Koch spread look modest by comparison. Sitting on 57 acres, it was built for the painter Albert Herter in 1899, and when it last went up for sale in 1991 (for $25 million), The New York Times described it as “the largest and most spectacular estate in the Village of East Hampton, with more than a mile of frontage on Georgica Pond and a view of the Atlantic Ocean beyond.” That article also said that an American Conifer Society Bulletin — for tree enthusiasts — had called its grounds “the eighth wonder of the horticultural world” and “the most outstanding private conifer collection in the United States, a living work of art.”
I wonder how that will go over in Ohio? The article says that Obama is skipping the ostentatious Hamptons fund raisers this year, but it provides descriptions previous ones hosted by Democrats. The Dems definitely attract better musical artists. But Republicans say they don’t need entertainment–they’re already excited by the prospect of throwing Obama out of the White House.
Justin Rubin of MoveOn.org has a piece at HuffPo about the Koch fundraiser. Some “progressives” plan to crash the party.
Mitt Romney may want to hide his Koch problem with the help of his super PACs, but all the cash in the world won’t be enough to stop our people power from exposing the truth. More than 7 million MoveOn members will be working hard every day between now and November to pull back the curtain and expose Romney’s 1% habit.
This Sunday, we’re staging our latest intervention. As Romney’s limo pulls up in front of David Koch’s Hamptons estate — where each $50,000 ticket will cost more than most people make in a year — our members will be there to greet him. We’ll band together with organizers and allies from a diverse array of groups united by our concern about the pernicious effects Koch cash is inflicting on our democracy.
No intervention is complete without a banner, and MoveOn’s 99airlines plane will be at the Hamptons fundraiser too, flying a banner overhead that points out the simple truth: “Mitt Romney has a Koch problem.” As more Americans find out, Romney’s Koch problem will just get worse.
At the Atlantic, Derek Thompson explains How the Richest 400 People in America Got So Rich. As you might have guessed already, they didn’t do it by actually, you know, working hard.
The New York Daily News has learned that Romney is already practicing for the first presidential debate, which is still 13 weeks away.
Romney sources told the Daily News that during a three-day retreat he hosted late last month for big-time Republican contributors and party mandarins at Park City, Utah, the candidate also found time to squeeze in the first two rounds of what staffers call “debate prep.”
Romney convened six to eight campaign aides around a conference table at the elegant Chateaux at Silver Lake. They sorted through a variety of topics sure to come up in the three Presidential debates, like the state of the economy and the war in Afghanistan, and kicked around the best “test responses” to questions they expect Obama and debate moderators will toss at the ex-Massachusetts governor.
More such encounters are expected over the summer, but what one source called “podium practices” with an Obama surrogate won’t happen for awhile — mainly because Romney doesn’t care for them all that much.
“There will be some role-playing but not as much as other Presidential candidates,” a Romney adviser said. “The traditional model doesn’t fit his style.”
Why doesn’t he just keep repeating that same non-response he used yesterday? That way he wouldn’t have to take a stand on anything.
If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, please go check out Joseph Cannon’s post on Romney’s ties to “Spooks and Death Squads.” I don’t know how else to express my reaction: I was gobsmacked by it!
If you’re fascinated by cults, as I am, you should read this lengthy article from the Hollywood Reporter on Katie Holmes’ breakup with Tom Cruise and her desire to keep her daughter away from Scientology. Here’s just a teensy taste:
Unlike [Nicole] Kidman, who kept quiet during her divorce from Cruise and has rarely commented publicly about it since, Holmes already has made a statement of sorts by filing her petition in New York and saying she wants full legal custody and primary residential custody of their Suri.
“Katie could blow Scientology wide open,” says [Marty] Rathbun, who was in the church for 22 years before leaving in late 2004. Rathbun, who calls himself an “independent Scientologist” and writes a candid blog popular with former members, was Cruise’s auditor and handled Cruise’s divorce from Kidman.
“If Tom’s smart, he won’t fight her on anything, even custody. He should just try to settle his way out of it,” says Rathbun. “She could press this sole-custody issue and litigate it, and that would be the biggest nightmare in the Church of Scientology’s history. It would be a circus they couldn’t survive.”
And speaking of cults, Alternet explains Mormon underwear–who isn’t curious about that? Are Mormon Underwear Magic Between the Sheets?
It’s hard to get a balanced sample from active Mormons, because the Garments, as I said, are sacred, and catering to the curiosity of prurient outsiders would violate a covenant sworn during the same temple ceremony in which a Mormon gets authorized to wear the Garment. Unfortunately those who have been fantasizing about a romp in which layers of white cotton create the perfect sense of mystery (or bondage), exMormons offer few words of encouragement. Discomfort seems to be the predominant theme.
I was continuously battling wedgies–often in public; how the people would stare as I would try to wrestle crumpled material out of my crack. Lady DB
If you have ever worn the modern ones you should appreciate the distance these have come. When I first got married they came in a one piece get up with a wide neck so you could step into them. The back had a split crotch (not the kind in kinky panties) but this huge wide sloppy split that would separate under your clothes, leaving a draft in your nether region much of the time. The little panel they sew into the ladies special part was so poorly designed that it would roll and twist till you felt like you were skewered by a roll of old toilet paper. Insanad
Of all of the things about Mo-dom, the thing I miss the least is the underwear. Zapotec
Theologically, Mormon undergarments are said to be symbols of a covenant between God and the believer. Initiates pantomime their own death should they violate this sacred trust. The underwear have sacred symbols drawn from the Masonic Order into which Joseph Smith was initiated shortly before he proclaimed God’s desire that people wear the Garment. True believing Mormons avoid allowing Garments to touch the ground. They may cut off and burn the symbols when a Garment itself is worn out.
There’s much much more info at the link.
At Truthdig, Robert Scheer writes about the LIBOR scandal: The Crime of the Century.
Forget Bernie Madoff and Enron’s Ken Lay—they were mere amateurs in financial crime. The current Libor interest rate scandal, involving hundreds of trillions in international derivatives trade, shows how the really big boys play. And these guys will most likely not do the time because their kind rewrites the law before committing the crime.
Modern international bankers form a class of thieves the likes of which the world has never before seen. Or, indeed, imagined. The scandal over Libor—short for London interbank offered rate—has resulted in a huge fine for Barclays Bank and threatens to ensnare some of the world’s top financers. It reveals that behind the world’s financial edifice lies a reeking cesspool of unprecedented corruption. The modern-day robber barons pillage with a destructive abandon totally unfettered by law or conscience and on a scale that is almost impossible to comprehend.
How to explain a $450 million settlement for one bank whose defense, in a plea bargain worked out with regulators in London and Washington, is that every institution in their elite financial circle was doing it? Not just Barclays but JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and others are now being investigated on suspicion of manipulating the Libor rate, so critical to a $700 trillion derivatives market.
Read the rest at the Truthdig.