Lazy Saturday Reads: “Impeach the Motherf***er!”

Cartoon by Mike Thompson

Good Afternoon!!

Republicans and some journalists have taken to their fainting couches over a profanity used by a newly sworn-in Congresswoman, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). In case you missed it somehow, Tlaib said in a speech that she was going to Congress to “impeach the motherfucker.”

Although she only used one swear word, the NYT headline writer characterized her speech as “profanity laden.” Even Trump weighed in during his rambling word salad in the rose garden yesterday, claiming that Tlaib “dishonored” herself, her family, and disrespected the U.S. by using the same word that Trump allowed Kanye West to use in the oval office.

Here’s The New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos’ take:

Impeachment was always going to hang heavily over a divided Washington. But it took little more than 24 hours this week for a freshman House Democrat’s exuberant, expletive-laden impeachment promise to upend the bonhomie of a new Congress and prompt President Trump, by his own telling, to ask the newly elected speaker if Democrats planned to impeach him.

The episode began Thursday night, just hours after the 116th Congress was sworn in, when a camera captured Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan promising profanely to impeach Mr. Trump as she drew cheers from liberal activists at a celebration at a bar near the Capitol. By the time Mr. Trump discussed the matter directly in a news conference in the Rose Garden on Friday afternoon, weeks of speculation about his potential peril had burst into the open.

Republicans, eager to portray Democrats as out to destroy Mr. Trump’s presidency, piled on criticism of Ms. Tlaib — some of it racially tinged. (Ms. Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, is one of the first Muslims in Congress. The Christian Broadcasting Network referred to her as a “foul-mouthed Islamic congresswoman.”) Democratic leaders, who view discussion of impeachment as politically dangerous and premature, offered worried words meant to tamp down speculation about their intentions.

Fandos’ concern is duly noted. Now he can fuck off.

Rep. Tlaib responded to the uproar in an op-ed at The Detroit Free Press: Now is the time to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

President Donald Trump is a direct and serious threat to our country. On an almost daily basis, he attacks our Constitution, our democracy, the rule of law and the people who are in this country. His conduct has created a constitutional crisis that we must confront now.

Rashida tlaib

The Framers of the Constitution designed a remedy to address such a constitutional crisis: impeachment. Through the impeachment clause, they sought to ensure that we would have the power, through our elected representatives in Congress, to protect the country by removing a lawless president from the Oval Office.

We already have overwhelming evidence that the president has committed impeachable offenses, including, just to name a few: obstructing justice; violating the emoluments clause; abusing the pardon power; directing or seeking to direct law enforcement to prosecute political adversaries for improper purposes; advocating illegal violence and undermining equal protection of the laws; ordering the cruel and unconstitutional imprisonment of children and their families at the southern border; and conspiring to illegally influence the 2016 election through a series of hush money payments.

Whether the president was directly involved in a conspiracy with the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 election remains the subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But we do not need to wait on the outcome of that criminal investigation before moving forward now with an inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives on whether the president has committed impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors” against the state: abuse of power and abuse of the public trust.

Click on the link the read the rest.

Meanwhile, Trump used the F-word liberally during his meeting with Democratic leaders yesterday. The Daily Beast: Trump Referred to Shutdown as ‘Strike’ in Profanity-Laced Meeting With Democratic Leaders.

During Friday’s meeting at the White House over the ongoing shutdown standoff, President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made little substantive progress as Pelosi and Schumer urged Trump to reopen the government by Tuesday, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

One of these knowledgeable sources told The Daily Beast President Trump kicked off the meeting with a rant lasting roughly 15 minutes that included his $5.6 billion demand for a border wall, and threatened that he was willing to keep the government closed for “years” if that’s what it took to get his wall. He also, unprompted, brought up the Democrats who want him impeached, and even blamed Pelosi for new Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib saying at a party earlier this week that Democrats would impeach the “motherfucker” Trump. (It is unclear why Trump would think Pelosi was responsible for this.)

Trump proceeded to tell the room he was too popular to impeach.

Along with saying the word “fuck” at least three times throughout the meeting, the president bizarrely stated that he did not want to call the partial government shutdown a “shutdown,” according to the source. Instead, he referred to it as a “strike.” (Many of the federal employees affected by the weeks-long shutdown have been working without pay. That is essentially the opposite of a strike.)

During the course of this meeting, the Democrats in the room were visibly shaking their heads in exasperation.

Back in the real world, Americans are suffering from Trump’s latest temper tantrum.

The Washington Post: Millions face delayed tax refunds, cuts to food stamps as White House scrambles to deal with shutdown’s consequences.

Food stamps for 38 million low-income Americans would face severe reductions and more than $140 billion in tax refunds are at risk of being frozen or delayed if the government shutdown stretches into February, widespread disruptions that threaten to hurt the economy.

The Trump administration, which had not anticipated a long-term shutdown, recognized only this week the breadth of the potential impact, several senior administration officials said. The officials said they were focused now on understanding the scope of the consequences and determining whether there is anything they can do to intervene.

trash piles up in dc as the trump shutdown continues.

Thousands of federal programs are affected by the shutdown, but few intersect with the public as much as the tax system and the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the current version of food stamps.

The partial shutdown has cut off new funding to the Treasury Department and the USDA, leaving them largely unstaffed and crippling both departments’ ability to fulfill core functions.

The potential cuts to food stamps and suspension of tax refunds illustrate the compounding consequences of leaving large parts of the federal govern­ment unfunded indefinitely — a ­scenario that became more likely Friday when President Trump said he would leave the government shut down for months or even years unless Democrats gave him money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Read more at the WaPo.

The Washington Post: Three dead in national parks as shutdown wears on.

Three days after most of the federal workforce was furloughed on Dec. 21, a 14-year-old girl fell 700 feet to her death at the Horseshoe Bend Overlook, part of the Glen Canyon Recreation Area in Arizona. The following day, Christmas, a man died at Yosemite National Park in California after suffering a head injury in a fall. On Dec. 27, a woman was killed by a falling tree at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee.

The deaths follow a decision by Trump administration officials to leave the scenic — but sometimes deadly — parks open even as the Interior Department has halted most of its operations. During previous extended shutdowns, the National Park Service barred public access to many of its sites across the nation to substantially decrease the risk of park damage and visitor injury.

The National Parks have a poop crisis on their hands.

National Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum said in an email that an average of six people die each week in the park system, a figure that includes “accidents like drownings, falls, and motor vehicle crashes and medical related incidents such as heart attacks.” Drowning, automobile accidents and falls are among the top causes of death at national parks….

In 1995 and 2013, respectively, the Clinton and Obama administrations made the decision to close the parks altogether. Officials concluded that keeping the parks open would jeopardize public safety and the parks’ integrity, but the closures also became a political cudgel for Democrats because they exemplified one of the most popular aspects of federal operations that had ground to a halt.

CNN: Hundreds of TSA screeners, working without pay, calling out sick at major airports.

Hundreds of Transportation Security Administration officers, who are required to work without paychecks through the partial government shutdown, have called out from work this week from at least four major airports, according to two senior agency officials and three TSA employee union officials.

The mass call outs could inevitably mean air travel is less secure, especially as the shutdown enters its second week with no clear end to the political stalemate in sight.
“This will definitely affect the flying public who we (are) sworn to protect,” Hydrick Thomas, president of the national TSA employee union, told CNN.

TSA spokesman Michael Bilello said the agency is “closely monitoring the situation” and that “screening wait times remain well within TSA standards,” although that could change if the number of call outs increases.

At New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, as many as 170 TSA employees have called out each day this week, Thomas tells CNN. Officers from a morning shift were required to work extra hours to cover the gaps.

Call outs have increased by 200%-300% at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where typically 25 to 30 TSA employees call out from an average shift according to a local TSA official familiar with the situation.

Union officials stress that the absences are not part of an organized action, but believe the number of people calling out will likely increase.

One more from The New York Times: Shutdown Leaves Food, Medicine and Pay in Doubt in Indian Country.

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — For one tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the government shutdown comes with a price tag: about $100,000, every day, of federal money that does not arrive to keep health clinics staffed, food pantry shelves full and employees paid.

Chippawa Indian food bank in Michigan

The tribe is using its own funds to cover the shortfalls for now. But if the standoff in Washington continues much longer, that stopgap money will be depleted. Later this month, workers could be furloughed and health services could be pared back. “Everything,” said Aaron Payment, the chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe, “is on the table.”

For many Americans who are not federal workers or contractors, a shutdown is a minor inconvenience. A trip to a national park may be canceled. A call to a government office may go unanswered. But for Native American tribes, which rely heavily on federal money to operate, a shutdown can cripple their most basic functions.

All across Indian Country, the federal shutdown slices deep. Generations ago, tribes negotiated treaties with the United States government guaranteeing funds for services like health care and education in exchange for huge swaths of territory.

Read the rest at the NYT.

So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Saturday Reads: American Gun Culture and Snowden in Russia

gun-culture

Good Morning!!

Another day, another senseless shooting. Yesterday morning–All Souls Day–a young New Jersey man named Paul Ciancia took an assault rifle into the Los Angeles International Airport and managed injure several people, including three TSA agent. One of the TSA agents, Gerardo I. Hernandez, was killed.

From ABC News: 

The shooting began around 9:20 a.m. PST on Friday at LAX’s usually crowded Terminal 3, and sent hundreds of passengers streaming out of the terminal, with many fleeing onto the airport runway. Dozens of flights to and from the airport were delayed or cancelled as a “tactical alert” was triggered for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene, as many ducked for cover inside bathroom stalls or dropped to the floor upon officers’ commands….

Authorities said Ciancia was able to make it all the way to the back of the terminal, near the departure gate, before he was shot down by officers and taken into custody, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti.

It sounds like Ciancia may be an Alex Jones fan, because

a note found at the scene that indicated Ciancia’s anti-government sentiments and suggested that he expected to die in the airport shootout.

The note found at the scene ended with the letters “NWO,” according to law enforcement sources, which is believed to stand for “New World Order.” The note also specifically mentioned anger and frustration targeted toward the TSA.

Paul Anthony Ciancia

Paul Anthony Ciancia

The story also says that Cianca’s family was afraid he had plans to commit suicide, and they had contacted LAPD and requested they check on him. Police went to his apartment, but apparently he was already headed for LAX.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

According to officials examining information found on Ciancia after his capture, apparently he was upset about government in general and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in particular.

Passengers in the area of the shooting said he asked some people, “Hey, are you TSA?” When they answered “no,” the young man wearing fatigues passed them by, targeting TSA officers (who are unarmed) with a military-style semi-automatic rifle and extra clips of ammunition holding more than 100 rounds.

As pieced together by law enforcement officials and eye witnesses, Ciancia had parked his car at the airport, ran up an escalator into Terminal 3, pulled his weapon from a bag, and began firing as he approached the area where passengers must first show their ticket and government-issued identification before having their luggage and themselves checked by TSA. Witnesses say they heard 8-10 shots.

A high school classmate of Ciancia said that

the suspected gunman was a loner who had been bullied at their private high school.

“In four years, I never heard a word out of his mouth,” said David Hamilton, who graduated with Ciancia from Salesianum School in Wilmington, Del., in 2008. “He kept to himself and ate lunch alone a lot. I really don’t remember any one person who was close to him.”

us-gun-culture-cartoon

Yesterday, Dakinikat linked to an outstanding post by Charles Pierce, who was at LAX at the time of the shooting: There Is Nothing Random About The LAX Shooting.

There already is some talk about this event being a “random” one. But it is not. These things are becoming as regular as rain, as predictable as the summer heat. The only thing “random” about it is the shooter. He could be anyone, and that’s the point. There are people who spend money making sure that he could be anyone, and there’s nothing “random” about how they do that. There is nothing “random” about this country’s ludicrous disinclination to regulate its firearms. There is nothing “random” about the millions of dollars that the NRA spends to convince people that they should have the right to carry their assault weapon anywhere they want to carry it, including into an airport terminal, if they so desire. There is nothing “random” about the politicians who truckle and bow to this lucrative monetization of bloody mayhem. These are all deliberate acts with predictable consequences. There is nothing “random” about how we have armed ourselves, and there is nothing “random” about the filigree of high-flown rhetoric with which we justify arming ourselves, and there is nothing “random” about how we learn nothing every time someone who could be anyone decides to exercise his Second Amendment rights by opening fire.

Pierce’s rant continues in one very long paragraph–read the rest at his blog.

From the National Journal, here’s some evidence of how not-random this latest shooting is: The TSA Found 29 Firearms at Airports This Week, Before the LAX Shooting.

All of this of course happened before an armed suspect made it into LAX on Friday. And the last week wasn’t an outlier. The week before, 39 firearms were discovered. Between Sept. 27 and Oct. 15, the TSA collected 84 loaded arms.

Oh, and in 2012 as a whole, airport screeners found more than 1,500 guns at checkpoints. That was up from a total of 1,320 guns in 2011. Of course, not everyone who brought a gun to an airport intended to do harm. But the sheer number of firearms points to a potential for violence far greater than most people may think.

Mashable-NSA-Comic

Meanwhile, over in Russia, another young man who is angry at the U.S. government has been making news again. Edward Snowden reportedly has taken “a website maintenance job” with “one of Russia’s largest websites.” The name of the site is supposedly secret, but

Technology news website Digit.ru speculated that Snowden may have joined social networking site VKontakte.ru, Russia’s equivalent of Facebook.

The website, an affiliate of RIA Novosti, said other major Russian online companies, including Yandex and  Mail.ru, had categorically denied they had hired Snowden.

VKontakte spokesman Georgy Lobushkin said he could not comment on the issue, but would not rule out his company had recruited Snowden.

Lobushkin said at a corporate event in August that he could see Snowden assisting VKontakte in maintaining the security of its online chat program.

Apparently Russia’s “facebook” isn’t worried about Snowden stealing secrets. But at least they can’t help knowing his history of doing so in other jobs.

In other Snowden news, the angry young man wrote a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel volunteering to help in a German investigation of U.S. spying on the country.

“Speaking the truth is not a crime,” read the letter from the former U.S. spy agency contractor, who has taken refuge in Russia. He gave the letter to German lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele, who presented it to the media in Berlin on Friday.

“I am confident that with the support of the international community, the government of the United States will abandon this harmful behaviour,” wrote Snowden to Chancellor Angela Merkel, the German parliament and federal prosecutors.

“In the course of my service to this organisation, I believe I witnessed systemic violations of law by my government that created a moral duty to act,” Snowden added.

spies_0

Actually, in this case what Snowden did was a crime, because he swore an oath not to reveal secrets he had access to; but Snowden doesn’t seem to be fully in touch with the reality of what he has done as yet. He seems to believe that the U.S. will decide to give him clemency so he can travel to Germany and that Russia will allow him to leave the country. Neither of those beliefs is even close to being rational. According to CNN:

Snowden’s attorney [AKA FSB minder], Anatoly Kucherena, told reporters in Moscow that his client would not be leaving Russia to testify on the U.S. spying allegations.

Kucherena said he would advise Snowden not to testify at all if it is not in his client’s best interest.

German legislator Hans-Christian Stroebele admitted that Snowden probably couldn’t speak freely from Moscow if he had to testify by video:

Snowden “is an important witness for Germany,” said Stroebele.

But asked if Snowden could testify to German authorities via video link from Moscow, Stroebele said that could be problematic for several reasons.

He suggested Snowden would be more limited in what he could say if he were in Moscow than if he were in Germany.

So long as Snowden has asylum in Russia, he needs to avoid doing anything that would negatively affect his status there, the lawmaker said.

From First Post, a little more double-talk and fantasy:

Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is free to cooperate with Germany on reports of the alleged US tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s telephone conversations, the Kremlin said Saturday.

Snowden has to obey Russian laws since he is on Russian territory after being granted temporary asylum, but still “he is free to meet with anybody,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Xinhua reports.

So it’s OK with the Kremlin if Snowden travels to Germany to testify? No. Not really…

Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told Russian media that it is impossible for Snowden to leave Russia to be questioned by German prosecutors but he can provide testimony inside Russia.

Interestingly, at Business Insider, Geoffrey Ingersoll pointed out that Snowden’s letter to Merkel didn’t refer to the supposed tapping of her personal cell phone.

Oddly, Snowden’s letter seems more like a self-congratulatory protest against the NSA itself, rather than concern over the tapping of diplomats’ phones, which was ostensibly the inspiration for the letter itself.

Surely Snowden, who Ray McGovern described as “thoroughly informed,”  knows that Merkel imported the NSA’s services.

An article in the Berlin daily Die Welt described German intelligence as “technically backward and helpless” and “helplessly dependent” on U.S. intelligence.

Facilities of the National Security Agency and other intelligence services have boosted their presence on German soil since 9/11, which makes sense, as former NSA officer John Schindler points out, because the attacks were planned on German soil.

Certainly Edward Snowden knows this as well.

Nonetheless, his letter seems focused on American surveillance in general, rather that on surveillance of world leaders.

Perhaps Snowden isn’t keeping up with the news, as his supporters claim. Does he even have access to a computer?

FSB logo

At least The New York Times seems to have accepted the fact that Snowden is no longer an independent agent in any meaningful way. At least they published a recent article by Steven Lee Myers that makes it clear that Snowden is fully controlled by the Russian FSB.

On very rare occasions, almost always at night, Edward J. Snowden leaves his secret, guarded residence here, somewhere, in Russia. He is always under close protection. He spends his days learning the language and reading. He recently finished “Crime and Punishment.”

Accompanying him is Sarah Harrison, a British activist working with WikiLeaks. With far less attention, she appears to have found herself trapped in the same furtive limbo of temporary asylum that the Russian government granted Mr. Snowden three months ago: safe from prosecution, perhaps, but far from living freely, or at least openly.

Andrei Soldatov, a journalist who has written extensively about the security services, said that the F.S.B., the domestic successor to the Soviet-era intelligence service, clearly controlled the circumstances of Mr. Snowden’s life now, protecting him and also circumscribing his activities, even if not directly controlling him.

“He’s actually surrounded by these people,” said Mr. Soldatov, who, with Irina Borogan, wrote a history of the new Russian security services, “The New Nobility.”

Even former CIA agent and Snowden supporter Ray McGovern admits Snowden has no personal liberty in Russia.

“He’s free, but he’s not completely free,” said Ray McGovern, a former C.I.A. official and a member of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, which met with Mr. Snowden three weeks ago in his only verified public appearance since he received asylum on July 31. Even those who attended were not exactly sure where the meeting took place, having been driven in a van with darkened windows.

Because for Snowden’s supporters Russian secrecy is presumably acceptable, but the U.S. should reveal every secret to the world and stop making efforts to defend its national security in any way.

The biggest mystery is what is Sarah Harrison’s role in all this. Is she living with Snowden? Does her presence mean that Wikileaks is cooperating with the FSB in keeping Snowden under control?

That’s all I have for you today–sorry this post is going up so late. Now what stories are you following today? Please share your links in the comment thread.


Thursday Reads: A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That

Boris Karloff reads with friend

Boris Karloff reads with friend

Good Morning!!

Now that Congressional Republicans have successfully shot down President Obama’s rumored first choice for Secretary of State–Susan Rice–they are working on nixing the president’s possible pick for Secretary of Defense, Republican Chuck Hagel. Aaron Blake at The Fix:

Former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) potential/likely nomination as Secretary of Defense looms this week amid a growing chorus of criticism over his past comments about Israel and his policy positions on issues including the defense budget.

It seems some are bent on defeating Hagel’s nomination before it can even become official — much as Republican senators did with potential Secretary of State pick Susan Rice just last week. In fact, the same GOP senators who scuttled the Rice pick are now expressing doubts about Hagel.

A battle over Hagel would be highly unusual — both because we just had one over Rice and because both senators nominated to Cabinet posts and Secretary of Defense nominees generally sail to confirmation.

Obama should have stuck with Rice and fought it out. Senate Republicans smell blood now. The only reason John Kerry may be approved for State is that Republicans fantasize that Massachusetts voters will repeat their past mistake of electing Scott Brown to fill an open Senate seat. This president is the worst negotiator ever. He really needs to get someone else to make deals for him. He just can’t accept the reality that Republicans hate his guts and will never give him a break, ever.

Meanwhile Rep. Darrell Issa must be drooling over the “scathing report” on the Benghazi attacks

Four State Department officials were removed from their posts on Wednesday after an independent panel criticized the “grossly inadequate” security at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi that was attacked on Sept. 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, resigned. Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, and another official in the diplomatic security office whom officials would not identify were relieved of their duties. So was Raymond Maxwell, a deputy assistant secretary who had responsibility for the North Africa region. The four officials, a State Department spokeswoman said, “have been placed on administrative leave pending further action.”

The report by the independent panel has criticized officials in State’s bureau for Diplomatic Security displaying a “lack of proactive leadership.” It also said that some in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs “showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues.”

The report did not criticize more senior officials, including Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary for management, who has vigorously defended the State Department’s decision-making on Benghazi to the Congress and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

At a news conference at the State Department on Wednesday, Thomas R. Pickering, a former ambassador who led the independent review, said that most of the blame should fall on officials in the two bureaus.

But that isn’t going to stop Republicans from trying to hang the blame around Hillary Clinton’s neck.

Sen. Bob Corker, R- Tenn., slated to be the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee in 2013, told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Wednesday that Clinton “has to come before us. I think it’s imperative.” ‘

Corker and other members of Congress were given a classified briefing on the report and afterwards he insisted that Clinton must testify before she leaves her post and the Senate votes on confirmation of her successor.

The secretary was slated to attend briefings on the Hill this week but has been recovering from the flu and a concussion she suffered in a recent fainting episode.

Of course the right wing conspiracy nuts are accusing Clinton of faking her illness. And in the House:

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the unclassified version of the report “omits important information the public has a right to know. This includes details about the perpetrators of the attack in Libya as well as the less-than-noble reasons contributing to State Department decisions to deny security resources.”

He also said, “In light of the report, I am concerned that the carefully vetted testimony of senior State Department officials at the October hearing was part of an intentional effort to mislead the American people.”

Hey Darrell, have you hot-wired any cars or burned down any businesses lately?

While Pentagon officials struggle to figure out how to protect foreign outposts without using Blackwater-type hired guns, they are dealing with a worldwide Military day care abuse scandal.

The Defense Department has launched a worldwide investigation into hiring practices at military child-care centers after a criminal probe of employees at an Army base near the Pentagon sparked a review that found more than 30 staffers who officials say should have been barred from contact with children.

Two civilian employees at the Child Development Center at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall appeared in federal court Wednesday in Alexandria to face charges of assaulting 2-year-olds in their care.

The president immediately urged a thorough investigation and a “zero tolerance policy when it comes to protecting the children of service members from abuse.”

Two workers at the day-care center at the base known as Fort Myer were recorded by surveillance cameras dragging, pinching, kneeing and taunting toddlers, according to federal court records. The center is the military’s largest day-care center, with more than 400 children ranging from 6 weeks to 12 years old. It is used by Pentagon employees and other service members in the Washington area.

A personnel review at Fort Myer began in the fall after a parent complained about an allegedly abusive caregiver.

The inquiry turned up evidence that at least 31 staffers had potentially disqualifying factors in their records, including history of drug use and past allegations of assault, a U.S. official familiar with the investigation said. The staffers have been suspended.

“This is not just one or two or three people,” the official said Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of an ongoing inquiry. “This is a severe lapse in the background checks system.”

In police state news, two women in Texas are suing the Texas State Police for subjecting them to an “illegal roadside cavity search.”

A federal lawsuit filed by two Irving women claims that Texas State Troopers humiliated them by performing illegal cavity searches on the side of the road after a cigarette butt was thrown out of their car window.

State Trooper David Farrell called in a female trooper to perform cavity searches of Angel Dobbs, 38, and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley Dobbs, because he said that he smelled marijuana and the women were “acting weird,” attorney Scott Palmer told KTVT on Tuesday.

Angel Dobbs recalled that the female trooper, Kelley Helleson, asked for her permission to perform the search and then told her to “shut up and just listen.”

Unbelievable.

Dashcam video shows Helleson searching the anuses and vaginas of both women with the same latex gloves in full view of other passing cars.

“At this point, I’m in clear shock. I can’t even believe this is happening,” Angel Dobbs explained. Turns me around goes down into the front of my pants into my inner thigh and at which point she goes up with two fingers. I just look at her and say ‘oh my God, I’ve just been violated.’”

And then the trooper performed the same procedure on Ashley Dobbs without changing her gloves.

“She went down, then turned me around, and went down my front and then she actually dug,” Ashley Dobbs said. “I didn’t know what I could say, what I could do. I felt hopeless.”

Is it time for Texas to secede from the union and become part of Mexico (except for Austin, Ralph)? Nah, Mexico probably wouldn’t want to get involved.

The TSA is “Finally Investigating Cancer Risk of X-Ray Body Scanners” now that millions of Americans have been used as guinea pigs in the nation’s airports.

Following months of congressional pressure, the Transportation Security Administration has agreed to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to study the health effects of the agency’s X-ray body scanners. But it is unclear if the academy will conduct its own tests of the scanners or merely review previous studies.

The machines, known as backscatters, were installed in airports nationwide after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009 to screen passengers for explosives and other nonmetallic weapons. But they have been criticized by some prominent scientists because they expose the public to a small amount of ionizing radiation, a form of energy that can cause cancer.

The scanners were the subject of a 2011 ProPublica series, which found that the TSA had glossed over the small cancer risk posed by even low doses of radiation. The stories also showed that the United States was almost alone in the world in X-raying passengers and that the Food and Drug Administration had gone against its own advisory panel, which recommended the agency set a federal safety standard for security X-rays.

The TSA maintains that the backscatters are safe and that they emit a low dose of X-rays equivalent to the radiation a passenger would receive in two minutes of flying at typical cruising altitude.

Winter has arrived in the Midwest: Outages in Iowa as season’s first blizzard starts journey in the Plains.

(CNN) — Tens of thousands of people lost power in Iowa on Thursday as the first major storm of the season swept in, bringing blizzards, high winds and severe thunderstorms to the central United States.

The storm prompted the National Weather Service to issue a blizzard warning for a huge swath of the Midwest stretching from eastern Colorado to Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shoreline, including virtually all of Iowa.

The declaration warned of snow accumulations of up to 12 inches, complemented by 25- to 35-mph winds that will occasionally gust to 45 to 50 mph.

Oh goody.

The storm will race into western Illinois, the weather service said. Rain will quickly change to snow as the storm advances northeast, with the heaviest snow occurring overnight.

“Snow drifts several feet deep will be possible given the strong winds,” the blizzard warning states.
Wrapping around the blizzard warning on the north, south and east is a winter storm warning, which will be no picnic either. The winds won’t be quite as strong, but residents should expect a strong dose of rain, sleet and snow, with a few hail-packing thunderstorms thrown in for good measure.

Hmmm…what about my neck of the woods?

The “intense cyclone” will crawl across the Great Lakes region Thursday and slog into northern New England by Friday evening, the National Weather Service predicted.

Ugh…just what I needed.

I have three longer reads for you on the possible motivations behind mass shootings. I haven’t read any of these carefully yet, so I’m not sure if I’ll agree with the conclusions.

Scientific American is highlighting an article from 2007: Deadly Dreams: What Motivates School Shootings? The article focuses on the revenge fantasies of young shooters.

A Time article from July (written after the Aurora theater shootings) asks about “The Overwhelming Maleness of Mass Homicide.”

At Alternet: “What Is it About Men That They’re Committing These Horrible Massacres?”

I’ll be reading these articles after I publish this post. Let me know what you think.

Finally, Senators Diane Feinstein and John McCain are “condemning” the new movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty for falsely suggesting that torture led investigators to bin Laden’s hideout.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Has the FBI Ever Foiled a Real Terrorist Plot?

Amine El Khalifi, the latest victim of an FBI sting

Yesterday, the FBI arrested another fake terrorist, just one in a long line of potential “terrorists” who have been given training and equipment by the government and then busted as they try to carry out their “plots”–plots that seem to have been designed by–or at least strongly encouraged by–FBI agents. From The Washington Post:

Federal authorities on Friday arrested a 29-year-old Moroccan man in an alleged plot to carry out a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol, the latest in a series of terrorism-related arrests resulting from undercover sting operations.

For more than a year, Amine El Khalifi, of Alexandria, considered attacking targets including a synagogue, an Alexandria building with military offices and a Washington restaurant frequented by military officials, authorities said. When arrested a few blocks from the Capitol around lunchtime on Friday, he was carrying what he believed to be a loaded automatic weapon and a suicide vest ready for detonation.

The gun and vest were provided not by al-Qaeda, as Khalifi had been told, but by undercover FBI agents who rendered them inoperable, authorities said.

They said Khalifi had been the subject of a lengthy investigation and never posed a threat to the public….

Khalifi “allegedly believed he was working with al-Qaeda,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Khalifi “devised the plot, the targets and the methods on his own.”

The Washington Post must think Americans are stupid. Emptywheel, who has done a great deal of research on these FBI sting operations, doesn’t seem to think Khalifi planned the “attack” by himself.

As is usual with most of FBI’s terrorist arrests of late, the FBI provided the suspect with the weapons he would have used to attack the target–in this case, the Capitol. As is usual, this appears to be an instance where the FBI found someone talking about violence–usually online–and then cultivated that violent desire over time.

So it seems like this is a now-familiar story.

Later in the post, she writes:

The FBI says his own plan was to be dropped off at the Capitol building.

But what happened instead is he did a Deep Throat in a parking garage to get his empty suicide vest.

So whose plan was he implementing, again?

I’m mentioning this arrest yesterday, because we’ve seen this repeated again and again. The FBI announces a big arrest and then later we learn that the whole plan was hatched by FBI agents who sucked in some angry kid and convinced him to commit some “terrorist act.”

On Thursday, just one day before the latest big FBI “terrorism” bust in DC, the so-called Underwear Bomber was sentenced to life in prison. ABC News (which also seems to think we’re stupid):

Umar Farouk Abulmatallab

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was the same remorseless man who four months ago pleaded guilty to all charges related to Northwest Airlines Flight 253. He seemed to relish the mandatory sentence and defended his actions as rooted in the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

“Mujahideen are proud to kill in the name of God,” he said. “Today is a day of victory.”

Had the bomb not fizzled, nearly 300 people aboard the flight would probably have been killed.

The case stirred renewed fears that terrorists could still bring down an American jetliner more than eight years after 9/11, and it accelerated installation of body scanners at the nation’s airports.

Please note that Abdulmutallab “was subdued by fellow passengers,” not anyone from law enforcement. Before the sentencing, four passengers and a member of the crew from Flight 253 were allowed to give victim impact statements. One of those statements came from Detroit attorney Kurt Haskell, whom the ABC “news” story characterizes as follows:

Because he was a passenger, Detroit-area lawyer Kurt Haskell was allowed to publicly repeat his wild claim that the U.S. government outfitted Abdulmutallab with a defective bomb partly to force the rollout of body-imaging machines at airports.

Kurt and Lori Haskell, who were on Flight 253

Is Haskell really making a “wild claim?” Here is his statement to the court:

I wish to thank the Court for allowing me these 5 minutes to make my statement. My references to the government in this statement refer to the Federal Government excluding this Court and the prosecution. On Christmas Day 2009, my wife and I were returning from an African safari and had a connecting flight through Amsterdam. As we waited for our flight, we sat on the floor next to the boarding gate. What I witnessed while sitting there and subsequent events have changed my life forever. While I sat there, I witnessed Umar dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt, being escorted around security by a man in a tan suit who spoke perfect American English and who aided Umar in boarding without a passport. The airline gate worker initially refused Umar boarding until the man in the tan suit intervened. The event meant nothing to me at the time. Little did I know that Umar would try to kill me a few hours later as our flight approached Detroit. The final 10 minutes of our flight after the attack were the worst minutes of my life. During those 10 minutes I sat paralyzed in fear. Unfortunately, what happened next has had an even greater impact on my life and has saddened me further.

When we landed, I was shocked that our plane taxied up to the gate. I was further shocked that we were forced to sit on the plane for 20 minutes with powder from the so called bomb all over the cabin. The officers that boarded the plane did nothing to ensure our safety and did not check for accomplices or other explosive devices. Several passengers trampled through parts of the bomb as they exited the plane. We were then taken into the terminal with our unchecked carry on bags. Again, there was no concern for our safety even though Umar told the officers that there was another bomb on board as he exited the plane. I wondered why nobody was concerned about our safety, accomplices or other bombs and the lack of concern worried me greatly. I immediately told the FBI my story in order to help catch the accomplice I had seen in Amsterdam. It soon became obvious that the FBI wasn’t interested in what I had to say, which upset me further. For one month the government refused to admit the existence of the man in the tan suit before changing course and admitting his existence in an ABC News article on January 22, 2010. That was the last time the government talked about this man. The video that would prove the truth of my account has never been released. I continue to be emotional upset that the video has not been released. The Dutch police, meanwhile, in this article (show article), also confirmed that Umar did not show his passport in Amsterdam which also meant that he didn’t go through security as both are in the same line in Amsterdam. It upsets me that the government refuses to admit this fact.

I became further saddened from this case, when Patrick Kennedy of the State Department during Congressional hearings, admitted that Umar was a known terrorist, was being followed, and the U.S. allowed him into the U.S. so that it could catch Umar’s accomplices. I was once again shocked and saddened when Michael Leiter of the National Counter terrorism Center admitted during these same hearings that intentionally letting terrorists into the U.S. was a frequent practice of the U.S. Government. I cannot fully explain my sadness, disappointment and fear when I realized that my government allowed an attack on me intentionally.

During this time, I questioned if my country intentionally put a known terrorist onto my flight with a live bomb. I had many sleepless nights over this issue. My answer came shortly thereafter. In late 2010, the FBI admitted to giving out intentionally defective bombs to the Portland Christmas Tree Bomber,the Wrigley Field Bomber and several others. Further, Mr. Chambers was quoted in the Free Press on January 11, 2011 when he indicated that the government’s own explosives experts had indicated that Umar’s bomb was impossibly defective. I wondered how that could be. Certainly, I thought, Al Qaeda wouldn’t go through all of the trouble to plan such an attack only to provide the terrorist with an impossibly defective bomb.

I attended nearly all of the pretrial hearings. At the hearing on January 28, 2011, I was greatly disappointed by the prosecution’s request to block evidence from Mr. Chambers “as it could then be able to be obtained by third parties, who could use it in a civil suit against the government”. It really bothered me that the government apparently was admitting to wrongdoing of some kind as it admitted that it was concerned it would be sued. It further upset me to know that the government was putting its own interests ahead of those of the passengers.

When I attended the jury selection hearings, I questioned why versions of the same two questions kept coming up, those being:

1. Do you think whether you’ll be able to tell whether something is actually a bomb? and
2. Do you realize that sometimes the media doesn’t always tell the truth?

I continued to be greatly saddened at this point as I felt the truth continued to be hidden.

When Umar listed me as his only witness, I was happy to testify, not on his behalf, but on behalf of the truth. I never expected to testify, as my eyewitness account would have been too damaging to the myth that the government and media are putting forward. A mere 5 days after I was announced as a witness, there was an inexplicable guilty plea which exasperated me as I no longer would be testifying.

In closing I will just say that regardless of how the media and government try to shape the public perception of this case, I am convinced that Umar was given an intentionally defective bomb by a U.S. Government agent and placed on our flight without showing a passport or going through security, to stage a false terrorist attack to be used to implement various government policies.

The effect this matter has had on my life has been astounding and due to this case, I will never trust the government in any matter, ever.

In regards to sentencing, nothing I’ve said excuses the fact that Umar tried to kill me. He has waived his valid claim to the entrapment defense. Umar, you are not a great Muslim martyr, you are merely a “Patsy”. I ask the court to impose the mandatory sentence.

Haskell’s wife Lori says that she was treated pretty badly by the judge in the case. No one really wanted her or her husband to tell about what they saw and experienced on Christmas Day 2009.

I imagine Joseph Cannon and/or Emptywheel will write about this case again soon. They are both much better at this kind of thing than I am, so I thought I would just lay the facts out for you as I see them. If you are interested in more information, you can read Cannon’s previous posts on the underwear bomber here and Emptywheel’s here.

What do you think? (Keeping in mind that former DHS head Michael Chertoff made big bucks from the naked body scanners now being used by the TSA.)


Wednesday Evening Round-up: What a difference a bandana makes…

Good Evening!

Still in limbo about my husband’s promotion…at least the migraine is gone…but today I got a little something in the mail, and it made me feel very bright and colorful.  I used to wear these bandanas all the time when my hair was falling out because of all the health problems I had experience. (For a couple of years it was shaved like a crew cut…and the bandanas became a sort of signature for me.)

Anyway, it just is nice to be able to slap a piece of cloth on your head and make a change…of changing my mood…I guess that is about all I can do at this point…adjust my mood and my attitude. I don’t know, maybe it had more to do with the loving kindness my brother Denny showed me today.  He saw me bringing down another basket of dirty clothes from upstairs and said to me “I can take those down to the basement.” Denny is overweight too and more prone to falling than I am, I told him no thanks I can do it, and he said…”I don’t want you break your neck.” Of course, with his Downs, it is sometimes hard to understand what he says…but it was clear to me that he would have rather his own neck get broke…yes, like my mother observed, he does love me, like I love him…even though we fight and argue with each other. Just wanted to share that bit of tenderness and caring…we need more of that in this world.

Well, here is what’s going on in the world today.

I want to start with Syria, and this link from Amnesty International.  Particularly pay attention to the item the tank is about to run over…in the picture below:

Syria: Death toll rises as bombardment of civilian areas escalates in Homs | Amnesty International

The Syrian security forces’ assault on Homs has grown increasingly deadly.

© AFP/Getty Images

At least 377 civilians have been killed in Homs in recent days as Syrian security forces escalated their shelling of civilian neighbourhoods in the besieged city, according to information received by Amnesty International.

On Wednesday, reports also emerged of a military build-up in the city of Hama, 50 km to the north.

The latest surge in casualties chimes with remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that the international community’s failure to act had “emboldened” the Syrian military assault.

“The international community must not stand idly by while Homs and other Syrian cities come under fire and civilians are dying in droves,” said Ann Harrison, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“As the debate over how the UN should react to Syria’s brutal crackdown has moved from the Security Council – where Russia and China continue to shield the Syrian government – to the General Assembly, the security forces have only stepped up their attacks.”

Yes, that is a child’s soccer ball…and just a bit further to the right you can see another child’s basketball. The power and ruthlessness of Assad’s regime is literally squashing the young people’s hopes for Syria’s future.

I have some more links for you on Syria below:

Assad offer of Syrian multi-party elections branded laughable by US | World news | The Guardian

Syria troops hit Hama; Homs oil line attacked – CBS News

The UN is having another vote tomorrow…UN General Assembly schedules on Syria – CBS News

The U.N. General Assembly scheduled a Thursday vote on an Arab-sponsored resolution strongly condemning human rights violations by the Syrian regime and backing an Arab League plan aimed at ending the 11-month conflict.

Assembly spokeswoman Nihal Saad said Wednesday that the vote will take place Thursday afternoon. There are no vetoes in the 193-member world body and U.N. diplomats said the resolution, which already has 60 co-sponsors, is virtually certain to be approved.

While General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, they do reflect world opinion on major issues and supporters are hoping for a high “yes” vote to deliver a strong message to President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private, said Arab countries on Tuesday rejected amendments to the nonbinding resolution proposed by Russia, which has been one of Syria’s strongest backers.

The amendments, obtained by The Associated Press, are similar to the last-minute amendments Moscow proposed to a Security Council resolution aimed at stopping the brutal crackdown in Syria. When the resolution’s sponsors rejected those amendments, Russia and China vetoed the resolution on Feb. 4.

The amendments Russia has stipulated are as follows:

One called on “all sections of the Syrian opposition to dissociate themselves from armed groups engaged in acts of violence” and urged countries with influence to prevent continued violence by such groups. The other demanded that the withdrawal of all Syrian armed forces from cities and towns — which is called for in the Arab League plan — take place “in conjunction with the end of attacks by armed groups against state institutions and quarters of cities and towns.”

Sticking with world news a bit more, I finished reading the book Banality of Evil, by Hannah Arendt. So naturally this article from the Guardian popped out at me. Adolf Eichmann’s capture, as told by the Mossad, in Israel exhibition | World news | The Guardian

Exhibition in Tel Aviv on capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann

A German-made Leica camera, a briefcase with a small hole in it and a strip of film at an exhibition on the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann in the Beit Hafutsot Museum in Tel Aviv. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

There is the comb, the cigarette holder and the house keys he had on him when he was captured; the needle used to sedate him during his abduction from Argentina to Israel; and the booth in which he sat during his trial.

Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, has lifted a veil of secrecy to display publicly for the first time documents, equipment, artefacts and personal testimonies relating to the capture, abduction and trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi war criminal who was hanged in Israel almost 50 years ago.

Operation Finale, an exhibition at the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, is curated by a serving Mossad officer, who can only be named as Avner A. Ninety per cent of the material on display comes from the Mossad archives, the first time in the agency’s history that it has opened its vaults.

A little background…

Eichmann was in charge of implementing Hitler’s Final Solution for the Jewish people, in which six million people died. After the war he was captured by Allied forces but escaped and fled to Argentina. There, a Holocaust survivor whose daughter was dating Eichmann’s son became suspicious about the identity of the boy’s father, and Israeli intelligence was alerted.

A complicated operation, involving about a dozen agents, most now dead, was prepared and executed in May 1960. Eichmann, who was living in Buenos Aires under the alias Ricardo Klement, was surreptitiously photographed and the images compared to those from his SS file. From the shape of his ears it was concluded that Eichmann and Klement were the same person.

The curator says he is still getting bits and pieces of the story from those who come to see the exhibit:

The exhibition has had an unbelievable response since opening last week, Armoni said. After it ends in April, the organisers hope to take it abroad.

Avner A, the curator with 25 years service as a Mossad agent, says the story is still incomplete. “Every day I find something new, often from small stories of people coming to see the exhibition,” he said. “My role is to find all these small pieces and put them together. I am still investigating. We still don’t have the whole story. But this is as close as we can get.”

This is one exhibit I would love to see.

Now for a story out of North Carolina: Deported Dad Begs North Carolina To Give Him Back His Children – COLORLINES

Every morning since the first of his three boys was born in 2007, Felipe Montes would wake early and prepare breakfast for his wife and children, get his boys ready for their day, change them, feed them and when he could not arrange a ride with another family member, drive them to daycare. Then he’d go to work at a landscaping company for the next 9 hours and return home in time to cook his children dinner. “I love my kids to death,” Montes said recently. “When they were born, it’s something so wonderful you can’t explain.” Now, Montes may never see them again.

In late 2010, Montes was deported to Mexico after nine years in the United States—cuffed and loaded into a van by federal immigration officials who drove him from his hometown of Sparta in the rural North Carolina mountains to an immigration detention center.

Read the rest of the story at the link, it tells of Montes wife…

…fell on hard times. She was pregnant with their third child and was surviving on disability payments that she received each month due to illness. Without Felipe’s income and support she could not keep her family afloat. Less than two months after their baby was born, just two weeks after Felipe was loaded onto a plane and deported to Mexico, the Allegheny County child welfare department took the children from Marie and put them in foster care.

It is so sad to read stories like this. Maybe Atrios has a point here: Eschaton: Other People Need To Suffer

Repeating myself for the millionth time here, but I really wasn’t being hyperbolic when I wrote that the people who run the world are sadists. They apparently truly believe that only through the mass suffering of people other than themselves can paradise be achieved. Then the question becomes, of course, whose paradise?

I have a few more articles about the GOP’s hand in dealing out the “suffering” to share with you. (I won’t quote some of the articles,  but you can read them if you have the time.)

Does the GOP care about Latino voters? – Dana Milbank -The Washington Post

Santorum: Birth control ‘harmful to women’ – Right Turn – The Washington Post

Why birth control is a good wedge issue against the GOP – The Plum Line – The Washington Post

Glenn Beck Launches ‘We Are All Catholics Now’ Movement | Mediaite

Little Green Footballs – The Republican Party’s Deranged War on Women’s Rights

Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins on Birth Control – Ladies Of Maine, We Adore You – Esquire

Well, here’s something of a shock. Those noted pillars of Jell-O, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, the two women who always hold the key to the golden stables wherein are kept the snow-white unicorns of bipartisanship, are getting all Serious And Thoughtful again about the accommodation that the president has proposed between the legitimate funding of women’s health-care and the obsessive fantasies about ladies and their ladyparts that plague various clerical busybodies and their public enablers. I am paraphrasing there a bit…

[…]

Both Snowe and Collins are co-sponsors of the bill proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Phenom) that would allow any employer to deny contraceptive coverage if he were too cheap to provide it… er… had religious objections to it.

[…]

Who will be the first mainstream pundit to use their wavering to demonstrate that the president’s accommodation is “losing bipartisan support” because of the “ongoing controversy” ginned up by a group of people whose moral outrage should be roundly ignored until a few more of them are in the hoosegow? (My money’s on E. J. Dionne.) Said it before, will say it again: This doesn’t become a winning issue for the president unless he goes out and sells it, hard.

Here is some more on the Health Care Reform Act, from Maddow. We all know the GOP is against the Health Care Reform Act, and yes…it isn’t what we wanted, with the no single payor thing…and had Obama not followed the big Insurance companies wishes to the T when the bill was drafted, things sure as hell would have been better…however, there is some good that will come out of it.  The Maddow Blog – Who benefits from health care reform?

Kaiser Family Foundation

Just about every American stands to get new benefits from the Affordable Care Act, if and when it’s fully implemented. Even those who like their current coverage will get some additional piece of mind from consumer safeguards.

[…]

As Sarah Kliff explained, the above image breaks down the nation by zip code, looking for households earning less than 400% of the federal poverty rate. “That’s an important number: Anyone earning below it will either qualify for subsidized health insurance, and anyone earning less than 133 percent of the poverty line becomes eligible for Medicaid.”

And yet another article on the latest GOP question for the masses: What Is Sex For?

What is the purpose of sex? Who should be able to have it, and at what cost?

Apparently, that was on many minds on Valentine’s Day. That’s when the Prospect‘s indefatigable Abby Rapoport told us that the Virginia House just voted to go full steam ahead on a personhood bill, which will define life as beginning from the very second that a sperm bashes its head into an ovum.

And don’t forget the latest from Christie…refusing to sign the marriage equality bill. And the opposition from the conservatives in the State of Washington…

What unites all these actions? The idea that we all should be punished someone for having sex for any purpose other than making babies. (See also: Catholic Bishops’ opposition to offering insurance—even to non-religious employees of its secular operations like hospitals and universities—that might cover contraception.)

Yesterday, too, Rick Santorum helpfully clarified that intellectual connection. (I know, you didn’t expect ever to see “Santorum” and “intellectual” in the same sentence.) Mr. Rick helpfully picked Valentine’s Day to tell us that, as president, he will use the bully pulpit to say that sex should be “special.”

Just a couple more links tonight. Female Passengers Say They Were Targeted for TSA Body Scanners | Threat Level | Wired.com

TSA agents in Dallas singled out female passengers to undergo screening in a body scanner, according to complaints filed by several women who said they felt the screeners intentionally targeted them to view their bodies.

One woman who flew out of Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport several months ago said a female agent sent her through a body scanner three times after the agent commented on her “cute” body.

“She says to me, ‘Do you play tennis?’ And I said, ‘Why?’‘You just have such a cute figure,’” Ellen Terrell recalled to CBS News in Dallas.

Terrell said the female agent appeared to be acting on a request from male agents who were in a separate room viewing the scans and who apparently asked the agent to send Terrell back through the scanner twice because the scan was blurry.

After the third scan, Terrell said the agent seemed frustrated with her co-workers in the screening room. “She’s talking into her microphone and she says, ‘Guys, it is not blurry, I’m letting her go,’” Terrell said.

Terrell, who was traveling with her husband at the time, told the TV station, “I feel like I was totally exposed. They wanted a nice good look.”

Ugh…from this kind of exposure to being subjected to a trans-vaginal sonograms, these people are interfering and taking way to much liberty from a woman’s personal space… It is sickening.

Lastly, an update on all the debris from Japan’s tsunami…it is heading to California, and what a mess it will be. 25 million tons of tsunami debris floating toward US shores | Fox News

Wrecked cars, portions of homes, boats, furniture and more — all swept up by the destructive, magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan 11 months ago — are on a slow-motion collision course with California.

But no one’s tracking the debris, Jim Churnside, a physicist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, told FoxNews.com.

“It would be really nice, but it’s really difficult,” Churnside expained.

The wreckage from the March 11, 2011, disaster could include virtually anything that floats, according to oceanographer and beachcomber Curtis Ebbesmeyer — and that includes portions of houses, boats, ships, furniture, cars and even human remains.

Independent models constructed by the NOAA and the University of Hawaii show a vast, loose debris field drifting inexorably toward Hawaii, California and Washington — the first fishing buoys reached the West Coast in mid December, Ebbesmeyer wrote in his “Beachcombers Alert” newsletter. The flotsam is expected to increase, with the bulk of the debris hitting some time in 2014.

“I would not be surprised to see some fishing vessels by April, and the main mass of debris start arriving a year from this March,” Ebbesmeyer told FoxNews.com.

There is a graphic that depicts the area of debris as it moves across the Pacific. It is huge…take a look.

That is all for now. We have a nice afternoon today in Banjoland, so I am going out to enjoy it. Catch y’all later tonight.


Late Night Open Thread: TSA and the Holiday Grope Fest!

Hey, just a quick late night open thread…let’s get ready to enjoy a new Holiday Tradition!

h/t to Susie Madrak, this little diddy is just the thing we need, think of it as an appetizer.

Now for the main course, what is it with the TSA and old women?

85-year-old woman may sue TSA after being strip searched at JFK Airport – NY Daily News

	Lenore Zimmerman, 85, shows injury she says came during strip search by security at JFK Airport.

ROTHSTEIN, Gary I/ ROTHSTEIN , GARY I FOR THE NEW

Lenore Zimmerman, 85, shows injury she says came during strip search by security at JFK Airport.

An 85-year-old Long Island grandmother says she plans to sue the TSA after a humiliating strip search on Tuesday by agents at JFK Airport.

Lenore Zimmerman, who lives in Long Beach, says she was on her way to a 1 p.m. flight to Fort Lauderdale when security whisked her to a private room and took off her clothes. “I walk with a walker — I really look like a terrorist,” she said sarcastically. “I’m tiny. I weigh 110 pounds, 107 without clothes, and I was strip-searched.”

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said a review of closed circuit TV footage from the airport shows “proper procedures were followed.”

But Zimmerman, whose hunched back puts her at 4-foot-11, said her ordeal began after her son, Bruce, drove her to the JetBlue terminal for the Florida flight. She lives in warm Coconut Creek during the winter. She checked her bags, waited for a wheelchair and parted ways with her doting son — her only immediate relative.

When Zimmerman reached a security checkpoint, she asked if she could forgo the advanced image technology screening equipment, fearing it might interfere with her defibrillator. She said she normally gets patted down. But this time, she says that two female agents escorted her to a private room and began to remove her clothes.

“I was outraged,” said Zimmerman, a retired receptionist.

As she tried to lift a lightweight walker off her lap, she says, the metal bars banged against her leg and blood trickled from a gash. “My sock was soaked with blood,” she said. “I was bleeding like a pig.” She says the TSA agents showed no sympathy, instead pulling down her pants and asking her to raise her arms. “Why are you doing this?” she said she asked the agents, who did not respond.

The TSA claims the footage does not show any sign of the injury.

“Our screening procedures are conducted in a manner designed to treat all passengers with dignity, respect and courtesy,” Farbstein said.

Zimmerman says a medic arrived to treat her injury. The process took so long that she missed her 1 p.m. flight and had to catch a later one.

I have nothing to add to this post, what can you say about something as crazy and abusive as this?

Okay, now I will leave the desert up to you…this is an open thread, have at it!


Woman Air Passenger Gropes Breast of TSA Agent

Yukari Mihamae

I’m not surprised that it was a 61-year-old woman who finally gave a TSA agent a taste of her own medicine. The older I get, the less willing I am to put up with sh&t from other people. I’m guessing Yukari Mihamae has experienced the same kind growing inability to suffer indignities that I have. Not that I’m defending what she did…but I can understand where she was coming from when she did it.

Phoenix police say 61-year-old Yukari Mihamae is accused of grabbing the left breast of the unidentified TSA agent Thursday at an airport checkpoint.

TSA spokesperson Kawika Riley confirmed the altercation to msnbc.com in a statement: “On July 14 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, local law enforcement arrested a passenger for assaulting a TSA officer during the screening process.”

TSA staff say Mihamae refused to be go through passenger screening and became argumentative before she squeezed and twisted the agent’s breast with both hands.

When police showed up, the woman readily admitted grabbing and twisting the TSA agent’s left breast. Mihamae was arrested and charged with felony sexual abuse. She has since been released.

The Daily Mail has lots more. It seems Mihamae was on her way back home to Longmont, Colorado when the unfortunate incident took place. I’m guessing she had already experienced a number of indignities on her way to Phoenix, and she just got fed up and lost it. As reported in the Daily Mail article, one of Mihamae’s neighbors told a local TV station:

‘For her to be arrested for anything is totally shocking to me.

‘I am 100 per cent shocked,’ he told local station Fox 31.

He said that his neighbour travels about three days a week. Court records show that she is self-employed.

Wow! If she travels that much by air, no wonder she couldn’t take the TSA groping anymore! The TSA spokeperson had no idea why Mihamae would choose to do such thing. But supportive fans responded by setting up Facebook pages in her honor.

‘You go girl,’ ‘Fight the power’, and ‘My new hero’ were comments posted on Facebook groups set up calling for Mihamae to be acquitted.

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