michael hastings

This Was The Week That Was In Doom July 29, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 29, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;

Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

 

  ~Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”

 

Like Whitman’s “learned astronomer,” we hear “experts” way in on both sides of the debate, wherever a  debate can be found or manufactured. Peak oil? Climate change? The age of the earth? Many of those unimpressed by modernism, and especially those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, urge their hirelings to “teach the controversy.” In other words, manufacture a controversy where none exists, in the face of a mountain of available evidence to the contrary. Thus do we have petroleum industry shills bleating mightily about subsidies for windmills at a time when carbon dioxide had reached 400 ppm in the atmosphere, a level said to herald a threshold of impending doom.  At a time when we’re burning everything we can get our hands on, we’re also destroying the last great aboriginal rain forest in Brazil, ripping out the earth’s lungs one forest at a time. All in the name of the only religion worth mentioning, certainly the only one  practiced in this nominally Christian country, the worship of money. In spite of the evidence, the proofs, the theorems, we are unable to rouse ourselves to do anything about getting off the petroleum crack pipe; about ending domestic spying; about economic justice; about saving a once great city, mostly because poor people live there.  Little wonder, then, that so many of us simply want to wander off by ourselves, and consider the perfect silence of the firmament. Perhaps the answer lies there? We doubt it: as another poet, William Shakespeare, once said, “the answer lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

______________________________________________

 

 

A onetime friend of mine Posted this on my Facebook wall. It purported to be from an organization called the Institute for energy research. A posted an article included the following:

 

One of the largest wind facilities in the world is benefiting from millions of dollars in state tax credits it is not qualified for and does not need, according to a recent series of investigative reports in The Oregonian.

The 845 megawatt Shepherds Flat wind facility that opened in 2012 received final approval last month from the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) for three separate tax credits totaling $30 million. Caithness Energy, owner of Shepherds Flat, was able to secure the credits by defining the project as three separate wind facilities. But as the new reports reveal, Shepherds Flat likely qualifies for just one out of three Business Energy Tax Credits under explicit ODOE rules that determine what constitutes a “separate and distinct” facility.

Now there may be merits in the report, as far as the operations of the business and the qualification for certain tax credits, especially as the story originated with a newspaper.  yet what interested me was this “Institute for energy research.” Wouldn’t an organization interested in energy research  be interested in alternative energy sources, including more efficient turbine generation for windmills? So I looked under the hood. It didn’t take long to find a dead cat on the engine. Here is what you need to know about IER:

The Institute for Energy Research (IER), is a Washington, DC-based non-profit corporation that conducts “research and analysis” on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.

[quote]The Institute’s CEO, Robert L. Bradley, Jr., was formerly a director of policy analysis at Enron, where he wrote speeches for Kenneth Lay. He has written seven books, including Capitalism at Work and Edison to Enron,[5] and he maintains the website Political Capitalism. He is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.

Robert L. Bradley, Jr., President of the Institute for Energy Research, wrote an article published by Competitive Enterprise Institute, entitled “Heated Debate”[8] to respond to a negative review by Harvard Professor John P. Holdren of the 2001 international best seller The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg. Lomberg was inspired to write his book after he read an article entitled “The Doomslayer”[9] profiling Julian L. Simon. Lomberg was honored in 2003 with the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Julian L. Simon award. The award was given to Robert L. Bradley in 2002 and more recently in 2012 to Matt Ridley, who is also skeptical about climate change.

Once again, we see the long arm of the Koch brothers at work.  Rust never sleeps.  It gets better:

The Institute for Energy Research has a political arm, the American Energy Alliance, which is responsible for multi-million dollar television advertising campaigns that have attacked energy policy, ideas and positions of the Obama Administration that are contrary to the those held by IER. The American Energy Alliance is run by Thomas (Tom) Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. According the its website, the Alliance engages in “grassroots public policy advocacy and debate” regarding energy.

Both IER and the American Energy Alliance are partly funded by the Koch Brothers and their donor network, according to Politico’s research, sources – and to reports by Koch-controlled charitable foundations themselves. The American Energy Alliance, as a matter of policy, does not disclose the names of its donors.

American Energy Alliance provide an online petition to U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the US federal government administration’s approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline extension. American Energy Alliance compare the extended time for the application approval to the time it took for the Allies “to win World War II.”[11]
Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC)

Benjamin Cole, a spokesman for American Energy Alliance told Politico in October 2012 that, “Our [American Energy Alliance] goal is to make the United States Wind Energy Policy#Wind Production Tax Credit so toxic that it makes it impossible for John Boehner to sit at a table with Harry Reid and say, ‘Yeah, I can bend on this one.’”

By their deeds shall we know them. Their work certainly speaks for itself.

______________________________________________

Congress affirms NSA spying

Or maybe this should be filed under, “You’re Shitting Me, Right?

A vote vote in the House this past week on an amendment to  curtail domestic spying failed, in a result that was much closer than either side realized. It also smoked out those members of the so-called “liberal” party that think it’s a really good idea that the NSA sniff your crotch.

“There is a real division within each party on this issue,” Norman J. Ornstein, a renowned expert on U.S. politics, said.

This was evident in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, when a vote to curtail domestic spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) sundered the Democratic and Republican parties alike.

The vote was the first of its kind to take place since the revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden which, when published by The Guardian newspaper, exposed a degree of domestic surveillance far greater in scale and scope than was previously understood by the public.

The 217-205 decision to reject an amendment blocking spending on NSA domestic spying was so close that one political commentator called it a “nail biter”. Of the 205 votes in favour, 111 were from Democrats and 94 from Republicans, and of the 217 votes opposed, 83 were from Democrats votes and 134 from Republicans.

“You’re not going to see many votes like this,” says Ornstein.

The divisions mirror popular opinion in the country. I myself am the wrong one to ask with the mood of the people is, as I was gobsmacked when Reagan beat Carter in 1979. So the fact that the Pew Research Center says that 57% of Democrats approve of government spying along with 44% of Republicans, all I can do is shake my head, go outside, and stare at the stars.

As noted above, the vote did result in “the outing of the shills.” As this vote illustrates, both sides of the aisle are equally corrupt and controlled.  One could be impressed by the fact that Debbie Wasserman Shultz voted the same way as John Boehner.  Strange bedfellows, indeed. Although perhaps not so strange, if you follow the money.

Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash. The numbers tell the story — in votes and dollars. On Wednesday, the house voted 217 to 205 not to rein in the NSA’s phone-spying dragnet. It turns out that those 217 “no” voters received twice as much campaign financing from the defense and intelligence industry as the 205 “yes” voters.

Overall, political action committees and employees from defense and intelligence firms such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Honeywell International, and others ponied up $12.97 million in donations for a two-year period ending December 31, 2012, according to the analysis, which MapLight performed with financing data from OpenSecrets. Lawmakers who voted to continue the NSA dragnet-surveillance program averaged $41,635 from the pot, whereas House members who voted to repeal authority averaged $18,765.

Res ipsa loquitor.

______________________________________________

The Snowden Effect

Not surprisingly, Charlie Pierce observed this entire trail of tears and had a few trenchant observations of his own:

With defunding stuff all the rage among Washington Republicans these days, you could have missed Rep. Justin Amash’s long-bomb attempt to defund the National Security Agency’s secret attempts to Hoover up cellphone records from millions of Americans.Some Democrats in the House have signed aboard, which apparently has given the administration sufficient agita as to cause a sudden lapse into illogic and incoherence. This is the argument that the White House is making to try and get Democrats not to support Amash’s Hail Mary.

“In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens… However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.”    
The hell you say.
A bill is being proposed and debated in a public session of the national legislature and that’s not an “informed, open, or deliberative process.” As opposed to what, a secret program, validated on the basis of secret evidence, by a secret court?  Hell, the Amash bill is the only informed, open and deliberative thing about this whole mess. If you’re welcoming a debate, then welcome the debate. If you don’t, then don’t. But don’t throw out laughable statements like this one. You sound like a bunch of East Germans.
And, once again, his mad international PR skillz aside, if Edward Snowden had not done what he did, the debate is not happening.
 Interestingly, Bill Maher  made very same point at the end of this program on Friday night. Clearly either Maher or his writers read Pierce.  No matter: it’s the truth.

______________________________________________

Woman Wants Possessions Back After Bank Tried To Repossess Wrong House

 

You think it would be straightforward. The bank tried to repossess the wrong house. The wrong woman would like her belongings back. No, this is the FSA, were banks can do no wrong, and if you’re a citizen and run afoul of one, well, it sucks to be you.

Katie Barnett says that the First National Bank in Wellston foreclosed on her house, even though it was not her bank.

“They repossessed my house on accident, thinking it was the house across the street,” Barnett said.

Barnett, who had been away from the house for about two weeks, said she had to crawl through the window of her own house in order to get in after she used her own key that did not work. 

Some of the items in her house had been hauled away, others were sold, given away and trashed.

It turns out the bank sent someone to repossess the house located across the street from Barnett’s house, but by mistake broke into hers instead.

“They told me that the GPS led them to my house,” Barnett said. “My grass hadn’t been mowed and they just assumed.”

She called the McArthur Police about the incident, but weeks later, the chief announced the case was closed.

Barnett said that according to the bank president, this was the first time something like this has happened.

She presented him with an $18,000 estimate to replace the losses, but the president refused to pay.

 “He got very firm with me and said, ‘We’re not paying you retail here, that’s just the way it is,’” Barnett said. “I did not tell them to come in my house and make me an offer. They took my stuff and I want it back.”

An update to this story shows the bank has responded in its most bankly way: they apologized on their website, while telling Ms. Barnett to go fuck herself.. They asked Ms. Barnett to produce receipts for her belongings, but any receipts that she may have had were probably with the belongings that the bank looted and confiscated, then disposed of. But don’t think that the First National Bank of Wellstone doesn’t have Barnett’s best interest at heart: they offered to replace her missing bow flex machine with a bow flex they found on the side of the road. In a just world the story would be getting serious play, and the bankers made to suffer the kind of public humiliation generally reserved for pederasts and men who have sex with livestock.  But the good bankers will probably show up at the next Chamber of Commerce breakfast, backslapping their buddies, and gloating over this quarter’s results.  And probably sitting next to the chief of police.  And Katie Barnett? All she wants is her stuff back. Her, and the rest of the country. . .

______________________________________________

No Singing Zone

The state rotunda in Madison Wisconsin is now declared a no singing zone.

Capital police last week arrested protesters of Gov. Scott Walker on the charges of violating state permanent rules by singing in the Statehouse rotunda. According to the Journal-Sentinel,

Twenty-two of the roughly 60 protesters — including a pair of Madison talk radio hosts — were led away in flex-tie restraints as dozens of legislative aides and journalists looked on from a few steps away and from higher floors.

Demonstrators have continued to gather in the Capitol for their near-dailysinging protest despite a recent federal judge’s ruling partially backing the Walker administration’s stance and repeated declarations by police that it was an “unlawful event.”

Police once again warned demonstrators early in Wednesday’s singalong, both by loudspeaker and by a handwritten sign in the Capitol rotunda, to leave or be “subject to arrest.” But many kept on singing.

 

 

The Capitol police  have already issued hundreds of citations over the past several years for the crime of assembling in the peoples’ House.  Not surprisingly, Pierce had a take on this.

 

Ever since Walker began his campaign to turn Wisconsin into a client state for various corporations, which is to say, practically since he was elected in 2010, and certainly since he was reaffirmed in office a year later, people who don’t necessarily enjoy being residents of a corporate client state have been gathering in the rotunda of the capitol building to sing various songs of opposition and resistance. They call themselves the Solidarity Singers, and they apparently have  into the Gulf of Mexico something of an annoyance to Scott Walker, probably because none of them own a mining company, so, this week, his pals in the legislature sic’ced his capitol police on the singers, busting the lot of them, including elderly men and women, and the odd journalist …

This being Wisconsin, where most of the progressive notions of the 20th century were born, which is why Walker and his various sugar-daddies are trying to roll them back in the 21st, there are old rules and traditions that were put in place to make sure the state capitol was not garrisoned against the people and their right, however musically they exercise it, to petition their government for a redress of grievances. The ACLU of Wisconsin, which won an injunction against the capitol police in response to an earlier spate of arrests, considers this latest action a question of fat men with clubs squeezing through a loophole.

Under the new permitting policy, groups as small as four were forced to obtain prior permission from the government before they engaged in expression “for the purpose of actively promoting any cause.” The new rules also prohibited people from gathering in the Capitol for any performance, ceremony, presentation, meeting or rally without a permit. In his 47-page decision, Judge Conley wrote that the Capitol’s “design was intended to embody… the pursuit of fair and open government informed by an educated, politically involved citizenry and the ‘Wisconsin idea.'”

This has nothing to do with public safety. I’ve been in that rotunda. It’s huge. You could bring in Up With People, and there’d still be room for the daily business of selling Wisconsin off wholesale to get done around them. This is about inconveniencing a guy who wants to run for president based on his record of selling Wisconsin off wholesale. This is about video he doesn’t like and people who harsh his mellow. Which happens to be what the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Article I of the constitution of what once was the state of Wisconsin, are all about, too.

______________________________________________

Halliburton: “What, Me Worry?”

Deepwater_horizon_platform_sinking

I know we are a people who have no memory, but does anybody else remember that BP fiasco? You know, the one where millions of gallons of crude oil went  gushing into the Gulf of Mexico? That deepwater Horizon thingy? You might think that if there were a functioning rule of law anywhere in this country,  that if the Corporation admitted destroying evidence that led to to spoil and a significant natural resource and fishery, they might face a fine greater than $200,000. But I answer myself. The rule of law functions just fine in this country thank you very much, in accordance with the operating principles of those who purchased the legislators:

Halliburton has admitted destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and will plead guilty to a criminal charge, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Under the plea agreement, which requires court approval, Houston-based Halliburton will also face three years’ probation, pay the maximum fine of $200,000 and continue to cooperate in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the April 2010 explosion and fire on the drilling platform, which killed 11 rig workers off Louisiana.

The Justice Department said it would not pursue further criminal charges against Halliburton or its subsidiaries.

Separately, Halliburton made a $55 million “voluntary contribution” to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

In a statement Thursday night, Halliburton noted that the Justice Department “acknowledged the company’s significant and valuable cooperation during the course of its investigation, and the company has agreed to continue to cooperate … in any ongoing investigation related to or arising from the incident.”

The spill was the largest in U.S. history: Nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil poured into the Gulf before the sea-floor gusher was capped three months later.

______________________________________________

Michael Hastings Watch: $25 gadget lets hackers seize control of a car

 

After journalist Michael Hastings’s death, there were rumours that his car had been hacked. Now two researchers say they can do it for real

IN THE early hours of 18 June, a Mercedes coupé travelling at extremely high speed along a Los Angeles street smashed into a palm tree. It exploded into flames, killing the driver; the impact ejected the engine 50 metres clear of the car. Was it an accident? Or was the car hacked, allowing it to be driven off the road by remote control?

The very idea might sound crazy – but it’s one that Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism adviser to the US National Security Council, has raised after the driver was identified as Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings. Known for his revealing articles on the US military and its intelligence agencies, Hastings had emailed colleagues the day before he died to say that he was going “off the radar for a bit” to chase down a “big story”.

“What evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyberattack,” says Clarke in a Huffington Post interview. Intelligence agencies, he says, can remotely seize control of a car to make it accelerate wildly or brake suddenly, for instance.

Clarke cited research, carried out for the US National Academy of Sciences, showing that “connected cars” – equipped with built-in cellular technologyused by dashboard apps and engine-monitoring software – can be hacked remotely. But proof that it could be done in practice has been lacking.

That looks set to change on 27 July, when Spanish engineers Javier Vázquez Vidal and Alberto Garcia Illera will give a demonstration at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. They have built a $25 device that lets them bypass security in a car’s electronic control unit.

The brains of a modern car, the ECU is a computer that controls engine power, transmission and braking. Mechanics can diagnose faults by plugging a laptop into it via standard wired connectors such as the CAN bus.

Alternatively, remote diagnostics and software updates can take place over a cellular network, as happens with services such as General Motors’ OnStarand Mercedes-Benz’s Mbrace.

Vázquez Vidal and Garcia Illera will show how their device – which they claim uses a $1 chip to break encryption – can read from and write data to the flash memory of commonly used ECUs, made by Bosch of Germany.

Whatever the causes of Michael Hastings’s crash, the need to make cars secure against hacking will only become more acute. The next version of Vázquez Vidal and Garcia Illera’s device won’t even need plugging in to the target car. “I am already working on a wireless version,” Vázquez Vidal says.

______________________________________________

Add Hacking news:

Hacker Barnaby Jack dies in San Francisco aged 35


Barnaby Jack, who became famous after demonstrating an ATM hack, died on Thursday – but coroners did not give details. He was 36.A prominent professional hacker who discovered a way to have ATMs spit out cash, Mr. Jack died Thursday, authorities and his employer said. The cause of death is under investigation, San Francisco Deputy Coroner Kris Barbrich said.Craig Brophy, a spokesman for computer security firm IOActive, where Mr. Jack was director of embedded device security, confirmed his death and said the company would be issuing a statement.Mr. Jack was scheduled to speak Thursday at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. The title of his talk was “Implantable Medical Devices: Hacking Humans,” according to the Black Hat conference website.Mr. Jack planned to reveal software that uses a common transmitter to scan for and “interrogate” individual medical implants, the website said.
______________________________________________

Jackals circle Detroit

Department of first things first:

Even as the city of Detroit goes bankrupt, Michigan’s state legislature approved Wednesday a $450 million bond offering that would form the public backbone of a new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings.  The bonds will be floated by the Michigan Strategic Fund, which handles all of the state’s private development funds. The public, $283 million portion of the bonds will come from the Downtown Development Authority, which earmarks a slice of downtown Detroit property taxes for reinvestment there.

In the US of A, billionaire sports owners are not to be held responsible for building their own stadiums, that is the public’s job.  Their job is to rake in the profits.  Meanwhile, the city itself will not be allowed to collect these earmarked downtown property taxes for such things as schools, police, infrastructure rebuilding and the like, or for retirement obligations to its workers, who might just have to find a cheaper grade of cat food.

______________________________________________

Add Detroit

No need for annotation here. An inspired rant from Firedoglake:

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that one option not on the table is a federal bailout. “I think it’s very difficult right now to ask directly for support,” he said.

Well yeah. It is difficult to ask directly for support. It’s not like you’re a financial institution, after all.

It’s not like you spent the past 15 years putting the entire national economy on red in Vegas.

It’s not like you bet against your own customers and then sold them out without telling them.

It’s not like you took your federal bailouts and then backed a greedy fuck in the next election whose campaign did nothing but bash the entire CONCEPT of federal government.

It’s not like you reacted to the slightest attempt to regulate your business like someone who just watched his puppy gunned down in the street, and then demanded the rest of the world treat your feelings like a national emergency.

If you were one of those guys, hey, no problem. The free money pile is that way. Here’s a wheelbarrow. May we push it for you? Wouldn’t want you to strain your back.

Now come vulturous fucks Kevyn Orr and Rick Snyder to tell other people it’s time to get “real,” because apparently losing your house and a retirement income YOU WERE PROMISED and facing the possibility of living in your car as a reward for working your whole life for the public isn’t “real.”

Now come Kevyn Orr and Rick Snyder, scraping their beaks on the bones of the wounded, to explain how they have no choice but to take everything away from people who have nothing, because sometime in the past somebody had the stupid idea that we should take responsibility for the people who take responsibility for us.

Kevyn Orr, by the way, is getting paid $275,000 to tell people who made $35,000 a year their whole lives to get real. Just in case your irony meter wasn’t already buried in the red zone. The public has no choice but to pay him, I assume, the same way it has no choice but to act like people who retired because they had every expectation of being able to retire because they had done literally everything in their lives right at this point are the anchor dragging Detroit down.

If only they’d crashed the entire trading floor, left the housing market in ruins, and bitched to the WSJ’s editorial board about how mean everybody was. Then they could belly up to the federal bar and order a double of whatever the banks are having.

_________________________________________________

You’re Shitting Me, right?

Another installment of those stories that moved that you can’t even believe are true, as if writers for The Onion were generating headlines. We live in times that sorely test one’s capacity for satire, and herin is the proof:

Remember the geniuses that gave us this a couple of weeks ago?

KTVU, the Oakland Fox affiliate station that reported four fake, racially insensitive names for pilots of Asiana flight 214 on a July 12 broadcast, has responded to the embarrassing gaffe by firing three veteran producers after an in-house investigation.

Amid the fiasco, ousted producer Roland De Wolk attempted to defend his reputation to The Wrap when reached via email. Unfortunately for him, his defense was undermined by misspellings that TheWrap presumed “unintentional”:

“My hard-earned reputation is intack. There are lawyers, so eager as I am to anser all questions, I must refrain.”

More damaging for De Wolk, though, is a report from SF Weekly that challenged the supposed “intackness” of De Wolk’s reputation, instead calling it “somewhat checkered.”

___________________

#NoNeedToSatirize: McCain promises strippers that $1 coins means bigger tips

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he’s got a stimulus package for the strippers of America.

The former Republican presidential nominee is one of several senators supporting the COINS Act to replace the dollar bill with a dollar coin. They argue that the the move would save billions in printing costs.

But Daniel Harris, the owner of Archibald’s Gentleman’s Club in Washington, D.C., told The Hill in 2011 that he couldn’t sign on to the plan because his dancers relied on paper dollars.

“You can’t put a coin in a garter belt,” Harris said. “I think it would be very awkward for everyone involved. How much more would a coin weigh than a dollar bill? It would be very hard.”

On Thursday, The Hill asked McCain to think of the strippers.

“Then I hope that they could obtain larger denominations,” the senator quipped. “Fives, tens, one hundreds!”

__________________________

Open Season on Minorities, post-Martin verdict

#NoNeedToSatirize: National Review: Stay Away from Black Men (Again)

The National Review has warned its readers to stay away from black men.

In a column titled “Facing Facts About Race,” National Review writer and military historian Victor Davis Hanson explained how racism is passed from generation to generation of men in his family.

He begins by sharing his father’s warnings about “black youths” before claiming, “the advice was not about race per se, but instead about the tendency of males of one particular age and race to commit an inordinate amount of violent crime.”

Next, he let readers in on his own racist child rearing. “It was after some first-hand episodes with young African-American males that I offered a similar lecture to my own son. The advice was born out of experience rather than subjective stereotyping.”

Finally, Hanson laments, “I expect that my son already has his own warnings prepared to pass on to his own future children.”

***

#NoNeedToSatirize: GOP chairman: I don’t really care for the word tolerance 

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus assured social conservatives on Monday that the GOP was not going to embrace “tolerance” as part of its rebranding efforts.

“I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself,” he told theChristian Broadcasting Network. “I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction.”

Priebus said Republicans would continue to oppose same-sex marriage and seek to ban abortion in the United States. He described both as “foundational issues,” but said Republicans needed to adopted a more tolerant tone.

“If you’re looking at the evidence, what you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics,” Priebus explained. “What ultimately matters in our lives is that we’re salt and light in the world and that we’re honoring God in the things that we do every day. I get that. I think our party gets that and there’s never been a movement away from that.”

 

***

Add Tolerance

#NoNeedToSatirize: Gohmert likens minorities to prairie chickens and ‘various lizards’

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Wednesday mocked an effort by Democrats to protect the rights of African-Americans by saying their amendment was actually meant for “the snail darter, various lizards, the lesser prairie chicken, the greater sage grouse and so many other insects.”

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Sunshine for the Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, a Republican-sponsored bill that Democrats say is unnecessary and is written so broadly that it could block individual discrimination lawsuits brought forth by federal employees.

Think Progress obtained video of Gohmert objecting to an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) that would have stopped third parties from blocking regulatory actions that were intended to prevent discrimination based on sex, race or national origin.

The Texas Republican argued that the amendment was more about protecting wildlife than minorities and other groups.

“There is nobody in this chamber who is more appreciative than I am for the gentleman from Tennessee and my friend from Michigan standing up for the rights of race, religion, national religion of the Delta Smelt, the snail darter, various lizards, the lesser prairie chicken, the greater sage grouse and so many other insects who would want someone standing for their religion, their race, their national origin and I think that’s wonderful,” Gohmert quipped.

He added that the original Republican bill would actually “protect interests” of minorities because it provided for greater transparency.

“It will not allow for some conservative or radical right-wing administration or group in the fish and wildlife to cut a deal with some right-wing radical group and we never know about it so nobody can intervene and stop it,” Gohmert insisted. “So you don’t have some group that is directly aligned with somebody in the administration at that point coming together, cutting a sweetheart deal between themselves, to the determent of the race, religion and national religion of snail darters and other animals and fish and wildlife.”

“I’ve got to express umbrage at the idea that African-Americans and Jews are like snail darters,” Cohen replied.

“The gentlemen will take note what this bill is about!” Gohmert shouted. “It’s not about race, it’s about endangered species.”

“The amendment is about civil rights!” Cohen shot back.

“If the gentlemen can point to an endangered species in this country that is a human being, I am with him 100 percent!” Gohmert exclaimed

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told Think Progress that Gohmert’s claim that the amendment was about wildlife was ridiculous.

“This is not a snail darter’s amendment, it is not an environmental amendment, it is a civil rights amendment, and we’re talking about the civil rights of people — the civil rights of people that have been violated egregiously for generations in this country,” Nadler explained.

In the end, Cohen’s amendment was defeated along party lines in a 13 to 16 vote.

_______________________________

California Cop Who Pepper-Sprayed Students Claims Psychiatric Damage

John Pike became, through his brutality and stupidity, an iconic image. Now he is playing the well practiced victim card often employed by the right.

A former University of California, Davis police officer who was fired after pepper spraying a group of students staging a protest in 2011, and whose actions went viral on the internet, is seeking workers’ compensation settlement, claiming the incident left him psychologically injured.

John Pike was fired in July 2012, following an internal affairs investigation regarding his actions at a November protest on the campus.  In a video that spread across the Internet, Pike can be seen aiming pepper spray in the faces of students sitting passively protesting tuition increases and in solidarity with the Occupy movement.

Pike has a settlement hearing scheduled for Aug. 13, according to the Department of Industrial Relations website.

His claim pertains to a “nervous system – psychiatric” injury according to department documents published online.

UC Davis officials confirmed Pike had filed a claim. “The university is required to follow the worker’s compensation process. We are not in agreement with the benefits being claimed,” said Andy Fell, a university spokesman.

Also here: http://www.businessinsider.com#ixzz2aL7uCCfm

 

_____________________________________

And perhaps the piece-de-resistance for the week

Pennsylvania police chief: F*ck all you libtards out there, you take it in the a**

The mayor of Gilberton, Pennsylvania is standing by her city’s police chief despite a series of profanity-laced and threatening videos.

In a video that has received wide attention, police chief Mark Kessler repeatedly tells those upset by his use of profanity to “go f*ck yourself” as he fires various automatic weapons.

Mayor Mary Lou Hannon told The Morning Call that Kessler had the right to express himself. The city would “not take action to quash free speech, whether or not each member of council or any member of council agrees with it.”

Kessler has uploaded several profanity-laced videos to YouTube. In one video, Kessler berates “libtards” and warns of an armed rebellion against the government.

“F*ck all you libtards out there, as a matter of fact, read my shirt,” he says, turning around to show a message on his back which read, “Liberals take it in the a**.”

“You take it in the ass and I don’t give a f*ck what you say so you can all just go f*ck yourselves. Period. I wont be going to D.C. and I don’t give a f*ck. If you f*cking maniacs want to turn this into an armed revolt, knock yourselves out. I’m not about that, so see you on the other side.”

In a video on basic pistol defense, Kessler repeatedly shoots a picture of a scary clown, which he says is Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He calls Secretary of State John Kerry a “c*cksucker” in another video before firing off an automatic weapon.

Tuesday on his Facebook page, Kessler called for a massive rally to “show these tyrants we will not stand for any more violations on our constitution or our freedoms.”

____________________________________________

 

That’s it for this week’s lesson in lack of faith in humanity. We’ll try it again next week!

This Was The Week In Doom July 14, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 14, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

“The first change that takes place is in your mind.You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move. So when we said that ‘the revolution would not be televised,’ we were saying that the thing that’s going to change people is something that nobody will ever be able to capture on film.

It’ll just be something that you see, and then all of a sudden you realize ‘I’m on the wrong page.'”

  ~Gil Scott Heron

 

There comes a time in nearly everyone’s life when, either as the result of the catharsis or of a life-changing event, the idols you have erected for yourself fall: you realize that much that you have done, seen or own no longer serves you.  Suddenly you realize, “I’m on the wrong page.” Those of us old enough to remember a government that appeared, at least to advocate for the rights of ordinary people  in balance with those of corporate persons, that attempted to protect the public health and promote some level of general welfare, that even became an advocate for civil rights for the oppressed, who remember a republic that was at least functional,  able to enact policy via political compromise as opposed being captive to the economic terrorism of an entrenched and implacable minority, will know what I mean.  Much of the discussion in the pages of the Diner Forum centers around “fast collapse” versus “slow collapse.” Our current world of escalating cruelty and absurdity, in which the thoughtful are mocked while the basest and most ludicrous are elevated to celebrity status, shocks the senses. This week’s summary provides a luxury box with a panoramic view of what collapse looks like, with each detailed writ large– but when considered from a view high enough and far enough away, the pattern resolves a pointillist image of impending doom.

 

Zimmerman Acquitted

______________________________________________


Late Saturday evening, the Florida jury deliberating on the charges against George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin
acquitted  Zimmerman of charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter  in a case that alternately fascinated and appalled large segments of a spellbound nation. As the judge confirmed the verdict with jurors, one of the six women in the jury sat with a face flushed with emotion.

It did not take long for reaction to coalesce. as waiting demonstrators in Sanford Florida learned of the verdict, a chant arose that, “the system has failed!” As of this writing, it appears that people are even yet catching up with this verdict, and is difficult to know what will happen next. Needless to say, there is plenty of outrage to go around.

On July 10, Charlie Pierce uttered the stuff of prophecy:

‘A general consensus seems to be forming around the fact that George Zimmerman, who shot down an unarmed teenager for the crime of being in a place where Zimmerman thought the teenager did not belong, may well skate in his trial down in Florida. This will happen, it is said, for a variety of reasons. The state overcharged him. The jury will buy the notion that he was having a near-death experience. Florida’s preposterous stand-your-ground law was badly drawn and gave Zimmerman a loophole through which he was able to dive.  (An acquittal in this case is a virtual hunting license for every gun-totin’ wannabe in the state. The cops must be thrilled.)

But the simple fact underlying all of these explanation is that, if the races of the shooter and his victim were reversed, Trayvon Martin already would be on his way to Raiford. (We would like this other case marked as Exhibit A in support of our argument.) This has more than dawned on many people in Florida, and local law enforcement is already nervous.’

Anyone with any sense hopes this doesn’t happen. Which leaves out the nest of otherwise unemployables working at Breitbart’s Mausoleum, who are fairly slavering for a race war to break out after the verdict. Whatever you do, stay the hell out of the comments section. It will make you despair of being a human being. Said it before, will say it again. Nothing good will come of this case. Nothing.’

 

dexterrrrr

The lessons of history are pretty unmistakable about what happens when people are systematically denied justice.

Whatever the merits or faults of the prosecutions case against Zimmerman, the feeling on the street is that justice has been denied.  Even those who hung on every word of the proceedings, the thousands of de facto volunteer jurors in the case,  come to different conclusions based on what they heard.

And for those convinced that justice has been served, there is the story of how a Black woman fired a warning shot and gets 20 Years , whereas a white man shoots his wife’s lover and walks free.

Zimmerman’s adoptive godfather, Sean Hannity, was not available for comment.

______________________________________________

Radioactive Tritium At Record High Levels In Fukushima Ground- And Sea-Water

With the Western (and Japanese) media focused almost entirely on the actions of their central-planners-in-chief and how effective they are, it seems human’s omnipotence over complex systems is being greatly challenged by the ongoing Fukushima disaster.  Earlier this week, The Japan Times reported that TEPCO said that 600,000 becquerels per liter of tritium has been detected in groundwater at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant – 18% higher than levels a week earlier.

In a story Joe P. posted last night, a report by William Boardman pointed out even more grim news:

As with all nuclear reporting, precise and reliable details are hard to come by, but the current picture as of July 10 seems to be something like this: 

”   On July 5, radiation levels at Fukushima were what passes for “normal,” which means elevated and dangerous, but stable, according to measurements by the owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). 

”   On July 8, radiation levels had jumped about 90 times higher, as typically reported.  TEPCO had no explanation for the increase. 

”   On July 9, radiation levels were up again from the previous day, but at a slower rate, about 22 per cent.  TEPCO still had no explanation. 

”   On July 10, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) issued a statement saying that the NRA strongly suspects the radioactive water is coming from Fukushima’s Reactor #1 and is going into the Pacific. 

Furthermore, the utility also said it had measured a seawater tritium level of 2,300 becquerels per liter – the highest so far – near the water intakes of reactors 1 to 4. So it is that in a nation already suffering from a dreadfully declining demographic dilemma, the citizens are being exposed to highly cancerous substances still.

Let’s put this in perspective.  Here is a list of the purportedly “safe”  levels  of radiation in water.

”   10 becquerels per liter — The officially “safe” level for radioactivity in drinking water, as set by the NRA. 

A becquerel is a standard scientific measure of radioactivity, similar in some ways to a rad or a rem or a roentgen, but not equivalent to any of them.  But one need not understand the nuances of nuclear physics to get a layman’s idea of what’s going on in Fukushima.  Just keep the measure of that safe drinking water in mind, that liter of water, less than a quart, with 10 becquerels of radioactivity.

”  60 becquerels per liter — For nuclear power plants, the safety limit for drinking water is 60 becquerels, as set by the NRA, with less concern for nuclear plant workers than ordinary civilians. 

”   60-90 becquerels per liter — For waste water at nuclear power plants, the NRA sets a maximum standard of 90 becquerels per liter for Cesium-137 and 60 becquerels per liter of Cesium-134.

 so here is the current status what’s going on at Fukushima:

At some of Fukushima’s monitoring wells, radiation levels were in fractions of a becquerel on July 8 and 9. At the well (or wells) that are proving problematical, TEPCO has provided no baseline readings. 

”  9,000 becquerels per liter — On July 8, according to TEPCO, the company measured radioactive Cesium-134 at 9,000 becquerels per liter.  Since TEPCO characterized this as 90 times higher than on July 5, the implication is that the earlier reading (about 100) was less than twice as toxic as the allowable limit and only 10 times more toxic than drinking water for civilians. 

”   11,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO’s measurement of Cesium-134 on July 9.    

”    18,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO measurement of  Cesium-137 on July 8.

”    22,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO’s measurement of Cesium-137 on July 9. 

”    900,000 becquerels per liter — TEPCO’s measurement of the total radioactivity in the water leaking from Reactor #1.  This radiation load includes both Cesium isotopes, as well as Tritium, Strontium and other beta emitters.  There are more that 60 radioactive substances that have been identified at the Fukushima site. 

This may well be too much statistical argle-bargle (geez, I actually quoted Nino Scalia) for most readers,  but suffice it to say that a situation that was already bad is getting much, much worse. And nobody can or will say why.  Water continues to flow through the Fukushima  accident site, both from groundwater and water pumped in from the ocean to contain other potential meltdowns. It is unclear what can be done, which is troubling. Even more troubling is the fact that radiation, like the weather, moves from West to East.

______________________________________________

 Add Hastings: LAPD Gag Order on Hastings Death Indicates Murder Cover-Up?

We typically disregard stories published on this site as the work of rightist conspiracy types with a Bircher bent.  Yet evidence persists that the death of Michael Hastings was most unusual, and witnesses continue to emerge with stories that a reasonable person might think would warrant further investigation. That is, if one were really interested in finding out exactly what happened, which is to say, more reasonable than the LAPD. So forgive us if we smell a cover up.

Michael Hastings

 

The Michael Hastings Car Crash: No Skids Marks, a Flying Engine and “Boston Brakes”

In cases such as the highly suspicious and tragic car crash/explosion that killed celebrated investigative journalist Michael Hastings, I try to reserve commentary for a little bit to let facts emerge following the initial speculative flurry. Particularly when it involves a journalist with whom I am only slightly familiar.  I think we can all agree at this point that based on what has come forward in the past several weeks it is more than likely Mr. Hastings was murdered. The following report from San Diego News 6 provides an excellent summary of what we know, and what we don’t know.  The LAPD doesn’t seem to care much about the latter.  From San Diego 6:

An eyewitness at the scene, Jose, employed at nearby business ALSCO Inc said, the car was traveling very fast and he heard a couple explosions shortly before the car crashed. In fact, the explosion was so intense that it took the LA County assistant corner, Ed Winter, two days to identify the burned-beyond recognition body of Hastings.

As news of the journalist’s death reached family and work colleagues another story emerged, one that would seemingly contradict the LAPD’s verdict. It quickly surfaced that Hastings reached out to Wikileaks attorney Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before his death claiming the FBI was investigating him.

One particular passage in Hastings book, “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan,” revealed that a former McChrystal staff member made a death threat. “We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write,” the unnamed staffer said. Hastings coolly retorted: “Well, I get death threats like that about once a year, so no worries.”

He later wrote; “I wasn’t disturbed by the claim. Whenever I’d been reporting around groups of dudes whose job it was to kill people, one of them would usually mention that they were going to kill me.”

But the most significant missing evidence was the absence of any skid marks—even though the car made a 60-degree turn into a palm tree.

Research of this topic reveals a new angle to this story, namely —Boston Brakes.

This theory was explained by a former Marine Gordon Duff who refers to the “Boston Brakes” technique, in which “drive by wire” cars, specifically a Mercedes Benz, can be manipulated remotely to simulate an out-of-control accident, according to his Veterans Today story (The 2010 story is a must read). The story details are eerily similar to Hastings fiery accident scene as there were no skid marks.

Adding credence to the possible car-hacking scenario is former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke. After news broke on the Hastings car accident, he confirmed the “drive by wire” concept.

Clarke told The Huffington Post that a single-vehicle crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack. There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car.”

Another significant detail pointed out by some members of law enforcement, is the intensity of the fire inside the car. It’s highly unusual since gasoline generally doesn’t burn that hot. Reviewing video footage from the scene, the intensity of the fire resembles a “thermite” burn.

Despite the LAPD’s categorization of the Hasting fatal accident as a “no (evidence of) foul play” accident, LAPD refuses to release the accident and toxicology reports, or make the Mercedes available for inspection which only fuels speculation.

Until such time as that vehicle and the reports are available for public inspection, the speculation is likely to continue.

______________________________________________

Wisconsin Paramilitaries

Once upon a time this might have been made the “unbelieveable” file,  but comes to us from Wisconsin, that living laboratory for what the Koch brothers have in mind for the rest of us once they get to fill statehouses with governors of their choice. Their hand-picked suzerain in Madison, Scott Walker, who Pierce describes as “the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage its midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin,”  is in the process of selling off the state piece by piece. This latest datum represents what is happening as Walker transfers public land to a massive iron ore mining operation.

In response to the protestations of some who actually find this transfer objectionable and have demonstrated that point in public, the money concerned has now mounted a private army to patrol said public land to protect their purported interests.

Imagine walking through the Wisconsin woods with your children only to suddenly encounter the fellow pictured above? We’re talking here about land that is actually *open to the public*, and the Private Sector militarized mercenaries do not even have the legal right in Wisconsin to actually  employ the weaponry that they are openly carrying around for the purpose of protecting property.

A company proposing a $1.5 billion open pit iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin is drawing fire for hiring heavily armed security guards to protect the project site. State Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) and State Rep. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) Monday called on Gogebic Taconite to immediately remove the “masked commando security unit” hired to protect the company’s property in the Penokee Hills in Ashland and Iron counties. Gogebic Taconite spokesman Bob Seitz told the Duluth News Tribune on Monday that the company hired the Arizona-based Bulletproof Securities Force after teams of mining opponents “dressed in black and wearing masks violently attacked our drill site” in June.

More scathing commentary here, along with a VIDEO from a local NEWS station:

“MASKED, HEAVILY-ARMED PARAMILITARY RENT-A-COPS ARE FREAKING OUT WISCONSIN”
A brief taste:

But now Wisconsinites are getting a bite from a brand new flavor of shit sandwich that results from having a Republican-controlled legislature: Masked mercenaries with semi-automatic weapons are guarding the site of a controversial mining project that is being established near Lake Superior and understandably, people are freaking out about it.

Although there were serious environmental concerns about the mine, in March the GOP legislature pushed it through anyway. Since then there have been steady events protesting the mine, which will be owned and operated by a company called Gogebic Taconite. Over the July 4th weekend, however, masked security guards wearing camouflaged uniforms and carrying multiple semi-automatic weapons started patrolling the future mine’s site. Forget about the firepower for a moment, why do these dudes require masks to do their jobs???

Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall did a little digging into the background of Bulletproof Securities the rent-a-cop on steroids firm—or as they put it, the “No Compromise Security Force”—that is minding the mine:

Here’s the Bulletproof website which lists all sorts of security/paramilitary type services. They even have their own ‘border security force’, which is something I thought the federal government took care of. But apparently not without occasional help from Bulletproof.

Indeed, as the site notes, “BPS has at its disposal the latest cache of specialized equipment for border security operations, not typically found in the private sector. As example, BPS owns heavily armored Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV’s), Tactical All Terrain Vehicles (T-ATV’s), FLIR (mobile thermal systems), mast equipment (eye in the sky), and many other state-of-the-art assets … The presence of BPS will prevent criminal organizations from posing a threat to your personnel or your mission.”

If your needs are different, Bulletproof can also provide “a QRF (quick reaction force) tactical unit to secure a manufacturing plant during a heated worker strike.”

It turns out that the company providing the paramilitaries is an Arizona company, owned by a real estate developer. Said developer clearly is in the business of providing armed assurance to the 1% who clearly don’t feel that the federal government is doing a good enough job of protecting the AZ border. Also interesting to note is that in the rush to convey this public land to the iron mining concern, the Republicans who votes pushes through promised that they would be creating local jobs. The first thing the iron mine did was import their paramilitaries from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that the land is actually open to the public, and that Bulletproof’s armed mercenaries do not even have the legal right in Wisconsin to actually use the weaponry that they are carrying for the purposes of “protecting property.” And yeah, why the masks, anyhow?

The question answers itself. It’s not about “protection,” it’s about intimidation. If this doesn’t look like a symptom of “fast collapse” to you, I would submit you are not paying attention.

______________________________________________

Poison-proof mosquitoes might trigger a deadly crisis for thousands

And just when you thought it was safe to go outside comes this news from the World Health Organization.

 

Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) cited insecticide resistance as a growing threat to malaria control campaigns in Africa, saying “urgent action” is needed to stem the spread. Globally, malaria kills an estimated 650,000 people every year, most of whom are young children. In Africa alone, pesticide failure could result in an additional 259,000 child deaths every year, according to the WHO’s projections.

In its report, the WHO called upon governments to implement tighter monitoring policies and to report cases of insecticide resistance with more diligence, underscoring a critical problem: data remains sparse, inconsistent, and, until recently, scattered across disparate sources.

A DEADLY CRISIS MAY LOOM ON THE HORIZON

Globally, malaria kills an estimated 650,000 people every year, most ly young children. In Africa alone, pesticide failure could result in an additional 259,000 child deaths every year, according to the WHO’s projections.In response, they’re developing a tool called IR Mapper. The website, which launched in April, collects data on confirmed and possible insecticide resistance from more than 50 countries  and displays them on an interactive map. Users can filter the data by type of pesticide and mosquito species, and can trace the spread of resistance from 1950 to the present.Ir_mapper_2

IR Mapper collects data on insecticide resistance and displays them in a single map interface.

The idea is to bring country-level data from various studies and publications into a single platform, allowing policy makers and experts to see where pesticide resistance is most prevalent, and act accordingly.

 ______________________________________________

Virginia Follies

Grifters delight…
Virginia is self-described as the “cradle of presidents,” as a disproportionate number of US chief Executives have come from the Old Dominion. Not to be outdone in the news cycles by the newly-insane  state of North Carolina, Virginia has its own home grown crop o’ craziness coming in full. The first issue is the trail of slime left by the revelations of financial impropriety by our esteemed Governor,  who had previously made certain choices and bleatings  about wanting to be the NEXT President from Virginia, a prospect receding further with each passing day.

For a while, the revelations of Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound’s financial non-disclosures were like the constant drip of a leaking faucet. That spigot was opened full bore with the revelation of the $6,500 Rolex watch and a paid for Final Four trip. This past week’s bombshell Washington Post report, carried in both The Virginian-Pilot and The Richmond Times-Dispatch, blew the spigot completely up, along with the glass house occupied by the Guv and his family,  who, incidentally, stand revealed as a set of grifters rivaling Alaska’s Palin family. The trickle of revelations has become a flood, and buried somewhere in the mud are the tatters of  Gov. T.U.’s reputation and future political ambitions. On the other hand, they resuscitated Nixon….

A prominent political donor gave $70,000 to a corporation owned by Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his sister last year, and the governor did not disclose the money as a gift or loan, according to people with knowledge of the payments.

The donor, wealthy businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., also gave a previously unknown $50,000 check to the governor’s wife, Maureen, in 2011, the people said.

The money to the corporation and Maureen McDonnell brings to $145,000 the amount Williams gave to assist the McDonnell family in 2011 and 2012.

 

This interview of McDonnell was broadcast earlier in the week, before the Post article broke. One wonders what he knew in advance about it when one is not busy feeding his secret hunchback. Schaudenfreude, indeed.

McDonnell has asserted that he has complied with Virginia’s loose campaign disclosure laws. It appears now that  statement may be, in the famous words of one Patrick Buchanan, “inoperable.” Also, my hunchback wonders what other shoes are left to drop?  Our Guv has garnered the attention of the Feds, and if it were only Virginia laws in question, one wonders why?

This reflects poorly on Virginia,  But then so has the entirety of the  McDonnell administration. This is a governor who, one will recall, who ran neck and neck with Scotty Walker to transfer public assets into private hands at breakneck speed, and with scant regard for existing law.  And his execrable war on women, led by his personal Iago, Ken Cucinelli, leaves an enduring stain on the reputation of the Commonwealth.

 And speaking of that current blight upon the body politic in Virginia,  otherwise known as the current attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate, there is this.

WASHINGTON — Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP’s 2013 gubernatorial candidate, filed a petition Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to uphold Virginia’s anti-sodomy law.

Cuccinelli wants the court to reconsider a March 2013 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit striking down the state’s “crimes against nature” statute. The 4th Circuit ruled that the law did not pass muster in light of the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which struck down the latter state’s anti-sodomy law as an unconstitutional criminalization of Americans’ sexual conduct. The Virginia law, however, remained on the books.

in Virginia, the hits just keep on coming.  And nothing this week from EW Jackson, Virginia’s firebrand Republican Lieut. Gov. candidate. Rumors that the Cucinelli campaign had trussed Jackson securely in a straitjacket, gagged and secured him in the basement of the governor’s mansion in Richmond could not be confirmed at publication time.

______________________________________________

TV Is Americans’ Main Source of News

This next item will come as no surprise to anybody who said, transfixed or no, while CNN provided 24–7 coverage of the Zimmerman trial. Had Martians landed in Washington, or nuclear war broke out in the Middle East, you can be sure that CNN would’ve remained all trade bond all the time.

 

The ubiquity of the idiot box makes the result of this Gallup poll somewhat dispurposeful. But if you’re the sort of evidence-based literalist who likes to actually see the data before making wide, sweeping generalizations about it to prove a point (for example, the way we do things here at TWTWID), then here you are.

 

Preferred news source varies by age, education, and politics, among other factors

PRINCETON, NJ — Television is the main place Americans say they turn to for news about current events (55%), leading the Internet, at 21%. Nine percent say newspapers or other print publications are their main news source, followed by radio, at 6%..

____________________________________________

Don’t Drink The Water

FrackMapUS

A tip o’ the Surly crown of thorns to haniel for this next item: On this map you can retrieve two types of information:  US rivers in blue and the fracking areas superimposed in red, from the documentary Gasland.

There is just one thing to be said regarding this sobering and terrifying map: Be careful if you live in a red area, your tap water may be contaminated and poisoned by the chemicals and other toxic substances used for fracking and described in the following report: Chemicals Used In Hydraulic Fracturing.

An important point of clarification: NOT ALL OF THESE RED AREAS ARE CONTAMINATED, but they have a higher risk of contamination due to a substantial concentration of fracking activity. The impact that fracking has on water is already firmly established.

I remember, as a child, how the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire and burned, in those days before the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. After nearly 40 years of class war and industry capture of regulatory agencies (remember Anne Burford Gorsuch?) we have largely returned to those unregulated times.  By no means will all people who live in a red area on this map  jeopardize their health if they drink their tap water, but if I did, I would be concerned.  Test your water yourself.

  ______________________________________________

Which will do it for this week’s edition of TWTWID.  This space will be vacant next week due to previous travel commitments and,  judging from the near complete absence of comments in the Forum. will not be much missed. Rest assured that while the reportage may be absent, that doom, in its various factors, will keep marching on. Because doom, like rust, never sleeps.

Let’s close with our brand new franchise, “You’re Shitting Me, Right?”

______________________________________________

You’re Shitting Me, right?

Sometimes there are just no words.  Times like this.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson came to the conclusion on Sunday that low student loan rates were to blame for long-term joblessness.

In an interview on Sunday, conservative economics professor Peter Morici explained that President Barack Obama’s health care reform law had caused a “disaster” because only 47 percent of the population was employed.

“So here’s the part I can’t get past, 47 percent of the population works full time,” Carlson said. “That means the other 53 percent is being supported by that 47 percent. That’s not a good ratio.”

“Absolutely not,” Morici replied. “Look what’s happening with young people, my students, many of them are getting into these part-time jobs, some of them not very meaningful. You know, you got a guy with a masters degree working at Starbucks so he lives with his parents.”

“What’s going to happen to these young people and all their big student loans? The answer is very bad things,” he added. “The president has been buying lower unemployment rates by essentially providing very cheap student loans and keeping people out of the labor market.”

“Exactly,” Carlson agreed. “So, cheap student loans keep people out of the labor market. This is a dangerous spiral.”

 ______________________________________________

#NoNeedToSatirize: Gohmert repeatedly shouts ‘Objection!’ to silence critics 

Gohmert repeatedly shouts ‘Objection!’ to silence claims food stamp cuts hurt hungry families

By David Edwards

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Thursday objected over and over again in order to keep statements out of the congressional record that accused Republicans of hurting working families by taking food stamps out of the farm bill.

Before a vote could be taken on the Republican farm bill that drops the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — or food stamps — Democrats attempted to voice their unhappiness by inserting statements into the record.

“Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks in strong opposition to the farm bill rule and the underlying bill because it will increase hunger in America,” Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said.

Although requests to “revise and extend” remarks are routine, Gohmert immediate shouted, “Objection!”

Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-IL) next asked permission to “revise and extend” his remarks in opposition to the farm bill “because it takes food nutrition away from working families.”

“Objection!” Gohmert yelled.

“What he is doing is he is not even giving members on our side the courtesy inserting their statement in the record?” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) asked.

As several more Democratic representatives attempted to insert remarks that the bill “hurts the working poor” and “increases hunger and poverty,” Gohmert repeatedly objected.

“I think it is extremely unfortunate that that members on the other side of the aisle would deny members on this side of the aisle the ability to insert written materials in the record,” McGovern noted. “In all my years here, I’ve never seen such uncourteous gesture.”

 ______________________________________________

When you make a promise to your god, your late father, and your wife to quit smoking, you should actually quit this time.

Turkish man Ibrahim Yucel wanted to keep his promise so badly that he crafted a medieval-style cage to wear on his head so he couldn’t smoke. Every morning, he locks his head in the cage and gives the key to his wife so he won’t give in to his addiction at work.

 ______________________________________________

The sinkhole, discovered Aug. 3, resulted from a collapsed underground salt dome cavern about 40 miles south of Baton Rouge. After oil and natural gas came oozing up and acres of the swampland liquefied into muck, the community’s 350 residents were advised to evacuate.

Texas Brine Co., the operator of the salt dome, is negotiating buyouts of residents who have not joined lawsuits filed against the company. Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch said 92 buyout offers have been made, with 44 accepted so far.

______________________________________________
  And here is an article custom made for”You’re Shitting Me, Right?”I came across an article this week in which the Atlantic, God love them, investigated whether it is really possible to meet your maker by peeing on the 3rd rail.

Last night a man reportedly was killed while peeing on the third rail of the G train in Brooklyn, leading to a renewed debate over the myth that one can actually kill oneself by taking a leak on the super electrified subway track. The report from the New York Post suggests that the man indeed died because his pee came in contact with the deadly rail. “A drunken man was electrocuted and killed relieving himself on the third rail in Brooklyn this morning, sources said,” reads the report. But, both the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and law enforcement officials have denied a “whiz-3rd rail connection” to the Wall Street Journal’s transportation reporter Tedd Man. So, it sounds more like the man fell while peeing onto the third rail and then got electrocuted and died. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to die in such a manner. We investigate.

The idea behind the myth makes scientific sense: an electrical current could travel up the stream of urine through one’s penis, thus causing a jolt. Or, as a couple of New York City kids put it to a homeless man on the verge of peeing to his death: “Your dick will get blasted, bro.” A Yahoo answers commenter also insists the risk is serious, real, and terrifying: “Electricity can arc across gaps in your pee and zap you right in the nuts. Penile electrocution is very painful. And if the electrical current is sustained, your testicles will explode.”

 And it week of consummate weirdness, you can read the rest of the article here.
______________________________________________

That Was The Week That Was In Doom July 7, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 7, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

  ~H. L. Mencken

Another week goes by as the doomsday clock continues to tick… tick… tick. Mohammad Morsi leaves to spend more time with his family, while observers speculate about how many the role the IMF has actually played behind the scenes…  ice craters in the Antarctic, the do-nothing 113th left for vacation but not before setting the thumbscrews good and tight for the next generation of college students, Sy Hersh steps on SOMEONE’s last nerve, the immensity of the spy networks becomes even more apparent, more  musings on the death of Michael Hastings, and the Diner itself comes within a hair’s breadth of its own version of fast collapse, rescued by haniel and the “database cavalry.” Plus a brand new franchise lovingly entitled, “You’re shitting me, right?” All in a weeks work watching the intertubes. So ignore your doctor’s orders,  pour another cuppa java Diner style, sit back and shake your head in disbelief at what the gobshites are doing this week.

____________________________________________________________

Why The Muslim Brotherhood Failed In Egypt

There are as many reasons and interpretations of the fall of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood as there are observers. Causes and explanations sprout like dandelions. Morsi was too politically aggressive, too aggressively religious, he alienated too many Egyptians by signaling respect for secular laws then veering rightward,  his religiosity and sectarian Islamist rhetoric was getting on people’s nerves, he spat in the face of public opinion, and ultimately he lost the trust of the people.

Which is not to say that none of this is not true. But those of us who have grown up in a toxic political and media culture within the FSA are in the habit of looking for Root Causes. One such was conjured up Saturday in a fine little blog called The Excavator, in a link posted by Newshound Joe inside the Forum. An analysis by Webster Tarpley (yes, we know) reminds us that if you want the truth,as always, follow the money.

“As soon as they got into power last summer, they [Muslim Brotherhood] began negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. This is the main thing to understand. They threw away their chance to govern because they caved in to the IMF worse than any government in recent Egyptian history. The IMF has always targeted the system of subsidy going back to Nasser and Arab socialism. There is a bread subsidy, there is a cooking oil subsidy, there are other staples, there may be a rice subsidy, but it’s wheat in particular, and fuel, household fuel or gasoline.

And the demand of the IMF was we’ll give you a loan of four billion dollars if you sign a letter of intent that specifies conditionalities. What are the conditionalities? That you will immediately double the price of gasoline. That happened last November, and really it’s been a slide downhill for Morsi since that moment. In other words, he doubled the price of gasoline. Think of that. I think any country in the world you’ll get riots. And in Egypt there’s a tradition. In 1977 Sadat tried to tamper with the bread subsidy and the whole country exploded in his face and he backed off and he never tried that again.

One of the important factors in the entire color revolution-Arab Spring situation, be it Tunisia or Gaddafi or others, is these governments were weakened in advance. They were set up for destruction by years-long IMF offensive to try to attack the system of subsidies and other government interventions to maintain the standard of living. Always the character of these things is to put a floor under the very poor. So the IMF was attacking this.

And what Morsi accepted to do was to double the price of gasoline, to raise the sales tax, and to move towards the implementation of a value-added tax which would be 10, 15, or 20 percent. That was last November. That’s part of the conditionality. This is what destroyed him.” –  Webster G. Tarpley

Tarpley as a source may well be suspect, but even the stopped clock of axiom is right twice a day. Let’s just stop to consider the evidence.

 

187_max

“Should a regime fall without mass mobilization, it is defined as a victim of a coup d’état, usually by a military cabal.”

– Ronald A Francisco, “Collective Action Theory And Empirical Evidence.” Pg. 11.

On his blog,  continues to asser that painting Morsi as the victim of a coup is to miss the larger picture.

The military alone can’t get tens of millions Egyptians onto the streets to remove a president they don’t like. Military leaders were responding to events and the force of public opinion. Was the military happy to nudge the protests along and see the Muslim Brotherhood suffer a defeat? Yes, but the unpopularity of Morsi and the Muslim Broterhood was their own doing.

This is the bigger picture that many in the media are missing.Morsi was doing unpopular things and damaging the reputation of Egypt by calling for a holy war in Syria against Assad and threatening an unnecessary war against Ethiopia over a Dam Project. Many people believe the dispute over the Nile is resolvable through negotiations, including the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.   

If Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood had remained in power, Egypt might have been dragged into two wars. So the question that should be asked in this instance is not whether an action is good for democracy but whether it is good for the country. Keeping Morsi in power any longer would’ve hurt Egypt, and for many Egyptians their country is more valuable and sacred than the concept of democracy. 

A country should be led by its best men in a crisis and Morsi proved through his actions that he did not belong in high office. It took less than a year for the Egyptian people to recognize Morsi’s failings as a leader and they acted quickly to preserve their country. Morsi was not “ousted” by the military; he was overthrown by his people with the helpful aid of the military. I know it’s hard to believe in these cynical times but popular mass protests can lead to unforeseen political change.

And in a single observation to make the final point, one which warms the heart of this former Occupier…

Brazil’s leadership responded quickly to the massive protests by promising to dedicate the country’s oil wealth to education, health, and other government services.

The only action that changes anything is mass, collective action. Which is why the oligarchs of the FSA, via their hired thugs and rented congressmen, their instrumentations and armies of bankers all conspire to keep Americans at one another’s throats, to prevent that very thing from ever happening here. “Divide et impera,” motherfkers . . .

 

____________________________________________________________

Antarctic flood produces ‘ice crater’

The BBC moved a story this week that reported that satellite imagery revealed evidence for a colossal flood under Antarctica that drained six billion tons of water, quite possibly straight to the ocean.

The cause is thought to be a deeply buried lake that suddenly over-topped.

Satellites were used to map the crater that developed as the 2.7km-thick overlying ice sheet slumped to fill the void left by the escaping water.

The peak discharge would have been more than double the normal flow rate of London’s River Thames, researchers say.

The location of the flood was Cook Sub-Glacial Lake (SGL) in the east of the continent, and the event itself occurred over a period of about 18 months in 2007-2008.

It was detected and described using a combination of data gathered by the now-retired US Icesat mission and Europe’s new Cryosat platform.

The American spacecraft’s laser altimeter first noted a drop in the ice-surface height associated with the slumping.

The European satellite’s radar altimeter was then employed to map the shape of the crater that resulted.

 

Apparently Antarctica has a little understood series of “ghost lakes” which fill, drain and are replenished via mechanisms little understood. These “ghost lakes” are kept in a liquid state by heat rising from the rockbed below and from the pressure of the weight of the massive amount of the ice pushing down from above.

At present, Antarctica is losing mass at a rate of 50-100 billion tonnes a year, helping to raise global sea level. This study suggests that a not insignificant fraction of this mass loss could be due to flood events like that seen at Cook SGL. “This one lake on its own represents 5-10% of [Antarctica’s] annual mass imbalance,” said Leeds co-author Prof Andy Shepherd. “If there are nearly 400 of these sub-glacial lakes then there’s a chance a handful of them are draining each year, and that needs to be considered,” he told BBC News.

___________________________________________________________

Fk the kids… and go fk yourself!

Through inaction, which has become a vital part of this Congress’ skill set, the student loan rate doubled on July 1st. After all, why shouldn’t banksters pay half a point for the billions they borrow, while the next generation, upon which we pin our hopes and promise, start their lives with a mountain of non-dischargeable debt for student loans, which will now cost even more? Clearly, the government has recognized that education is indeed the great social equalizer which enables mobility among the classes, and the lesser classes will be getting none of it, not if the agents of the Owners can help it. The subtext is, equally clearly, to make it as difficult as possible for the children of the working classes to date their daughters in some collegiate future.

With the future of the children of the elites secured with trust funds and offshore accounts, the Koch-suckers of the 113th Congress bid America’s next generation, “Go fk yourselves!”

Bob Borosage explains in “Student Loans: Gouge The Kids,”

Interest rates on student loans will double to 6.8 percent on July 1 unless Congress acts. But it seems increasingly likely that the Congress will take off for the Fourth of July recess without addressing the problem. The major sticking point: Republicans in the House and Senate insist on gouging the kids to help reduce the deficit.

Mission accomplished. Republicans want student loan rates to double to “market rates” plus a bit more, much in the same way your credit card rates seem to never get below onerous no matter how cheap the money gets. The theory is that “the government can make a profit from the loans,”  because should government help students even a little on interest rates – never mind paying for college – it is “government spending” and is Therefore An Apostasy. The notion of “providing for the common welfare is a Capital Crime in Glennbeckistan  and Aynrandia.

What does the public want? Well, go fk yourselves.

Public Policy Polling has recently found:

83 percent of Americans want student loan rates to stay the same or be lowered.

41 percent want them to be lowered to 0.75 percent, the same rate big banks pay for overnight loans.

86 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of independents want action taken on this issue.

74 percent of voters would be less likely to vote for their representative if they let rates rise.

52 percent would be more likely to vote for them if they lowered rates.

60 percent of Democrats are more likely to vote for their representative if they lowered rates, 50 percent of Republicans.

2:1 in support of passing Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s bill to lower student interest rates to 0.75 percent; including 65 percent of Democrats and, 56 percent of Republicans.

Nothing will happen between this writing and when this article publishes, so with the best of holiday greetings in sight, remember students and parents, “Go Fk Youselves!”

This message made possible by the 113th Congress.

____________________________________________________________

Has Seymour Hersh grabbed the third rail?

 

In a speech in January, Seymour Hersh charged that U.S. foreign policy had been hijacked by a cabal of neoconservative “crusaders” in the former vice president’s office and now in the special operations community:

That’s the attitude,” he continued. “We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. That’s an attitude that pervades, I’m here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command.”

He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, “are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.”

Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic organization commited [sic] to “defence [sic] of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering,” according to its website.

“They do see what they’re doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it’s a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.”

“They have little insignias, these coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins,” he continued. “They have insignia that reflect the whole notion that this is a culture war. … Right now, there’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of anti-Muslim feeling in the military community.”

 

 

For his trouble, Hersh was called, essentially, batshit-crazy by writers in Foreign Policy. Indeed the vituperation of his critics leads a careful reader to wonder just which Establishment nerve has been struck here. Hersh reported a strange correlation and a surprising importance to a catholic religious order. An order whose past members have included William Casey, James Jesus angleton, Stanley McChrystal, William F. Buckley, Willian “Wild Bill” Donovan, and many others whose names may not be recognizable, but who have hands on the levels of foreign policy, intelligence and NGOs.

Hersh’s opponents have leapt from skepticism to attack and derision. One wonders whether Hersh stumbled onto something deeper and more important than even he realizes? Given that the RCC has been involved in a variety of sordid intrigues for centuries, just how incredulous does it seem for a newly-assertive Church to wish to reassert its  stature and influence. It is reasonable to assume the Church would simply readjust tactics for a new day.

IN any event, who to believe?

Seymour Hersh is in the middle of researching and writing a lengthy book on America’s wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has something of a history of playing looser with his facts in speeches than in print—partially to preserve his scoops pre-publication—and his speech in Doha hewed close to that tradition. In addition to the Knights, for example, he also made claims regarding Opus Dei, another secretive far right Catholic group steeped in just as much rumor and conspiracy theory. However, Hersh is a five-time Polk winner and recipient of the 2004 George Orwell Award—a reporter with a record that is well-burnished and nearly sterling.

Given the late 20th Century history of the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta,” how strange would it really be to find members of the Order, in and out of the military, collaborating on a new silent crusade with their old Cold War allies?

It would certainly complement the Christian fundamentalist version of the war, as prosecuted by Erik Prince, the former CEO of the military’s most notorious civilian contractor Xe (formerly Blackwater). His views—as depicted in one affidavit from the court case against him—certainly echo much of what Hersh ascribes to the JSOC and the Knights of Malta:

To that end, Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar, the warriors who fought the Crusades.

Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince’s executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to “lay Hajiis out on cardboard.” Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince’s employees openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as “ragheads” or “hajiis.”

As for me, I’ll be waiting for Hersh’s next book.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Murky arrangements

A post by Hiroyuki Hamada. Here is an important article talking about a complexity of the massive NSA spying. It talks about how Western allies colluding with the US massive apparatus.

We won’t be hearing much about it in the mainstream media, but the topic of suppressing mass movements against corporate domination must be an important one among the corporate elites as the movements against austerity, GMO giants, wars, human rights violation and etc. are increasingly becoming global.
We should keep in mind as we hear about NSA revelations that it’s often “the people” who suffer from the collusion of the corporate power, government agencies and elected officials. Behind the scene, the global elites are working hard to keep “the people” under control.

Snowden is being roundly condemned by many who say he had no authority or right to provide the public with details of NSA snooping. But what right or authority did NSA director, General Keith Alexander, have to provide information on NSA surveillance at five meetings of the global Bilderberg Conference – two in Virginia and one meeting each in Greece, Spain and Switzerland?”

“Alexander claims he is protecting the American people from a constantly changing number of terrorist attacks. In fact, he is providing information to elites on the methods NSA uses to spy on labor, student, religious and progressive organizations.”

“When Alexander leaks to the elites, he’s thanked. When Snowden does it, he’s called a traitor and a coward.

____________________________________________________________

Add Michael Hastings

This man’s death continues to haunt. Circumstances indicate it was inexplicable, and quite possibly no accident.

“It doesn’t take much to extrapolate, as Richard  Clarke did, what might happen to a hacked car driven by a high-value target. Really, with the difficulty in tracing an attack after the car, computers and driver have been “compromised” by a raging inferno, even not-so-high value targets that previously might have escaped retribution are now, thanks to technology, easy prey that might be too tempting to pass up.

One simple OnStar feature, for example, is “Stolen Vehicle Slowdown” which allows a remote operator to decelerate a vehicle. (Imagine the opposite happening via a hack of some kind.)

Although Clarke eschewed the moniker of “conspiracy theorist” and also made clear he was not necessarily claiming that Hastings’ late model, Bluetooth-ready car had been victimized by such an attack, it is notable that he felt the need to make such a strong case for considering the possibility. This is, you will recall, a man who has had a front row seat on the 50 yard line in terms of understanding the means available to govermnent operatives and the motivations that drive them.

As someone well-versed both in cyberwarfare and the tendency of people in power to “shoot the messenger” when the message is dangerous to them, the timing and veracity of Clarke’s interview stand out as chilling reminders of the dangerous games currently being played with national security, whistleblowers and investigative journalism.”
Read more at: http://newsvandal.com/2013/06/richard-clarkes-dire-warning-to-journalists/
Clarke’s HuffPo interview: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/michael-hastings-car-hacked_n_3492339.html
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2013/05/james_rosen_named_a_co_conspirator_why_is_barack_obama_s_justice_department.html

____________________________________________________________

Diner Almost Buys the Farm

As most regulars and some guests know, this week was difficult for the Diner as the hosting service that houses this enterprise shut the forum down, supposedly in response to a reported 75,000 database queries per hour. RE, who lived through all of this, tells it best:

It appears more likely that the old Host simply wanted me to buy a Bigger Hosting Package, based on what appears to be a fraudulent number of Database queries, quoted at around 75,000/hour, which is just insane if it is Real People and not some kind of glitch in the system or some BOT attack.  Sure, the Diner has grown here and we have a pretty decent size readership now, but not anywhere NEAR enough to generate that kind of traffic number in legitimate queries.

Thanks to the intervention of haniel and the “database cavalry,” the entire database has been mirrored, copied and even features some new Features and Widgets already installed on the new Diner. The new URL is www.doomsteaddiner.net. RE again:

This is another very important aspect of running a Website, because the Hosting Server holds ALL your Data, and they can fuck with you at will. IF YOU OWN SUCH A WEBSITE, BACKUP YOUR DATABASES ON YOUR OWN HARD DRIVE!  I was not so backed up, but fortunately for me I had Haniel who could Spoof the Security on the old Host and pull it all down.  Flick of a Switch if you get in a dispute with the Host, your website is DOWN.  You cannot access your data.   So you have to host on a Server where you have decent faith in the people who run it to be Honest & Righteous.  You don’t get that on Corporate Hosts, once you pass a certain point of Popularity, they start to Blackmail you in insidious ways to cough up moreMONEY.  Buy Paid Technical Support, Buy Bigger Hosting Packages.

___________________________________________________________

The literal meanings of places in the world, mapped.

Sometimes, it’s just for fun. From Slate this week. A pair of cartographers has created a map in which the original place names have been translated to reflect their original meanings.

From the “Misty Mountains” to “Winterfell,” the names of places in fantasy do for us what most real-world names do not: They evoke something. With their primitive literalism, they conjure a sense of dread, as in “Mount Doom” or durability, as in “Storm’s End,” or peace, as in “Rivendell.” Of course, the names of most places in the real world have meanings too, but many have slipped from common knowledge long ago. The above map, designed bycartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust, labels countries, cities, and landmarks with the literal meanings of their official names. Some places, such as “Darkpool” (Dublin) or “Land of the South Wind” (Australia) or “Sea of Middle Earth” (Mediterranean Sea) seem torn straight from a Tolkien epic. Others, such as “I Don’t Understand You!” (Yucatan, Mexico), “Tax Haven for Pilgrims” (Astrakhan, Russia), and “We’re Coming From Cutting Leaves!” (Abidjan, Ivory Coast), are more perplexing. To see further details about the etymology of the names and other maps like this, or to order printed copies, see the cartographers’ website. For more detail on places in the U.S., check out the U.S. map of literal place names.

___________________________________________________________

Dept. of “You’re Shitting Me, Right?”

http://www.newslo.com/noneedtosatirize-jennifer-lopez-sings-happy-birthday-mr-president-to-brutal-dictator/

Pop singer Jennifer Lopez appeared in a special concert Saturday night for the dictator of Turkmenistan, who runs one of the world’s most brutal and oppressive regimes.

“It was our pleasure!” she cheered from the stage. “And we wish you the very happiest birthday… Happy birthday to you — happy birthday, Mr. President.”

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who last made waves in the western media for falling off his horse in front of a large crowd, has accumulated a sordid history since coming to power in 2006.

Reporters Without Borders says that under his rule, Turkmenistan has become “one of the world’s most absolute and brutal dictatorships.” Human Rights Watch similarly classifies the country as “virtually closed to independent scrutiny,” where “human rights defenders and other activists face the constant threat of government reprisal.”

The trip to the oil-rich former Soviet nation was organized by the state-run China National Petroleum Corporation, which Lopez reportedly “obliged” at the last moment, according to The Guardian. Her publicist told the paper that she would not have performed the show had she known about the country’s regime.

You know they LOVE this kind of talk. One wonders where are the women ready to Lysistrata on their asses.

Some women like being forced to have an ultrasound before receiving an abortion, according to former Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC).

Republicans in state legislatures across the country have pushed legislation that requires women to undergo an ultrasound procedure 24 hours before terminating their pregnancy. The so-called “informed consent” laws usually require women to be given a picture of the fetus and be shown a fetal heartbeat, along with general information about abortion.

“The more the ultrasounds have become part of the law, where a woman gets the opportunity to see that there’s a real child, it’s beginning to change minds, and I think that’s a good thing,” DeMint said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “It’s time that the 3,000 babies we lose every day have some people speaking up for them.”

Res ipsa loquitor.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Senior Vatican cleric’s arrest for smuggling stranger than fiction

In yet another blow to the Vatican’s image, a Senior Vatican Cleric has been arrested with two others in an international money smuggling case. Sixty-one-year-old Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who worked as a senior accountant in the Vatican’s financial administration, was arrested along with an Italian secret service agent and a financial intermediary. Scarano was already under investigation in a convoluted case that reads like a spy novel.

Arrested in a Rome parish and taken to Rome’s Queen of Heaven jail, Scarano had hatched a plot to bring up to $52 million into Italy for a family of shipbuilders in his hometown of Salerno in southern Italy, magistrate Nello Rossi says. Rossi is already investigating the Vatican bank for money laundering.

Scarano is under separate investigation in southern Italy in relation to his accounts in the Vatican bank.

Scarano engaged Giovanni Zito, a paramilitary Carabiniere policeman on loan to the secret services, to help him get the money last July, which was in a Swiss bank, into Italy without tax and customs controls, Rossi says.

The third person arrested was Giovanni Carenzio, a financial broker with offices in Switzerland and the Canary Islands and who was acting as the fiduciary for the owners of the money.

It’s not yet known how the money got to Switzerland in the first place.

A cleric tries to help some friends, and suddenly, everyone’s a detective . . .

_____________________________________________________________________________

Add Catholic Church: Still Terrible, Still Stacking Cash So Tall They Could Climb It

Wonkette moved a story detailing this particular flavor of horrible: moving assets around so that they could insulate themselves from legal claims from victims:

Files released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Monday reveal that in 2007, Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan, then the archbishop there, requested permission from the Vatican to move nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from victims of clergy sexual abuse who were demanding compensation….

[T]he files contain a 2007 letter to the Vatican in which he explains that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” The Vatican approved the request in five weeks, the files show.

Hiding your money in trust funds does indeed improve your protection of those delicious monies. Doing so to dick over victims is just what Jesus said to do in First Corinthians, right?! NOPE NOT RIGHT.

This latest bit of financial shenanigans is just one episode in the long-running series called Milwaukee Archdiocese, Why Do You Suck So Hard? Hence, our desire for a macro because Jeee-zus it gets depressing to write about this again and again. Longtime fans will remember that the Milwaukee Archdiocese filed bankruptcy back in 2011 because it was the best way to compensate victims. No really, they said that. They’ve also been whining like a baby without a bottle over the fact that they’ve spent $9 million in legal fees so far during the bankruptcy process and are therefore hobos now. Yr Wonkette is not all that money-savvy, as we have none, but even our rudimentary understanding of how money works leads us to believe that spending $9 million dollars does not make you bankrupt when you’ve already stashed a cool $57 million elsewhere. Milwaukee Archdiocese, you are like the Mitt Romney of churches and your crocodile tears are wasted on our hardened heart. Pay the victims any amount of monies they want because fuck you.

#NoNeedToSatirize: Fox News host: Not using God to sell beer means ‘the terrorists have won’

A Fox News guest host asserted on Friday that “the terrorists have won” because brewer Samuel Adams was not in invoking God in its television commercials to sell beer.

In the “Independence” television spot that began airing last month, an actor in a Samuel Adams Boston Lager commercial quotes from the Declaration of Independence.

“Why name a beer after Samuel Adams? Because Samuel Adams signed the Declaration of Independence,” the actor says. “He believed there was a better way to live: all men are created equal. They are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Smooth, flavorful, we bow to no kings. Samuel Adams Boston lager: declare your independence.”

On Friday, the three Fox & Friends guest hosts expressed outrage that the brewer had not included the phrase “endowed by their Creator” in the commercial.

“When political correctness takes over the beer advertising industry, the terrorists have won,” said Watters, who is better known for his job as a producer on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News show. “I mean, this is absolutely outrageous!”

“You know, maybe it’s because Sam Adams was the tea party guy — he started the Boston Tea Party — maybe the tea party’s being targeted here,” he added.

For its part, Sam Adams has reportedly explained that the Beer Institute Advertising Code advises against using “religion or religious themes” for marketing purposes.

But co-host Clayton Morris wasn’t buying that.

“If the beer code ethics code guideline, whatever bogus organization that is has more authority than our Declaration of Independence,” he argued, “why don’t you just pull out the Declaration of Independence and say, ‘I’ve got this document here, does this trump yours?’”

“Yeah, you can have a bikini cat fight in the pool with hair pulling and all that nonsense, but don’t put God,” Watters quipped.

___________________________________________________________

Yes, friends, you can no longer make this shit up.

Until next week, then, see you around the newly renovated Diner!

That Was The Week That Was In Doom June 30, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 30, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

surveillance

Reality is for people who can’t face drugs.~ Laurence Peter

“Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy then gives them the drugs to take away their unhappiness. . .  In effect antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable.”  ― Theodore Kaczynski

With every news cycle we  move into times more absurd and cruel then we could possibly imagine. The daily headlines have outstripped the creativity of satirists and humorists. The mainstream media lies, and reminiscent of the Soviet Union of bygone days, only comedians are able to tell the truth.  Brain-eating amoebas! Plot to execute Occupy leaders abetted by FBI!  This week we learned that an activist faces 13 years in prison for wielding sidewalk chalk, banksters caught dead to rights colluding in fraud face nothing,  we connect the dots on species extinction, and we are shocked… shocked to learn that the last people that the NSA wants to surveil are terrorists.  The president of Ecuador tweaks the New World Order,  Phyllis Schafly rises from her crypt, and Fukushima continues to tick away, glowing in the dark with malevolent certainty. There is a reason the proverb has it, “many a truth is told in jest.”  So, barkeep, for my friends here antidepressants all around with a Prestone chaser. Belly up to the Diner bar for yet another round.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

California Man Faces 13 Years In Prison For Offending Bank of America With Kiddie Chalk

Yes friends, in the wake of last week’s whistleblower story about Bank of America comes this story about the wheels of justice. And no, we are not making this up. Daily Kos reports:

Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial,” Olson must now stand trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.

In addition to possibly spending years in jail, Olson will also be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank slogans that were left using washable children’s chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in interest-free loans from the US government in 2008-2009 in a bid to keep it solvent after bad bets went south.

The Reader reports that Olson’s hearing had gone as poorly as his attorney might have expected, with Judge Howard Shore, who is presiding over the case, granting Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard’s motion to prohibit attorney Tom Tosdal from mentioning the United States’ fundamental First Amendment rights.

You read that correctly. By order of the judge,  the defendant’s attorney may not mention that pesky free-speech-first-amendment thingy during the trial. Seriously. Can you say, “mistrial?”

The backstory was thus: apparently, Darell Freeman, Bank of America’s Vice President for Global Corporate Security, confronted Olsen and a friend as they were protesting in front of a B of A branch.

A former police officer, Freeman accused Olson and Daniels of “running a business outside of the bank,” evidently in reference to the National Bank Transfer Day activities, which was a consumer activism initiative that sought to promote Americans to switch from commercial banks, like Bank of America, to not-for-profit credit unions.

At the time, Bank of America’s debit card fees were among one of the triggers that led Occupy Wall Street members to promote the transfer day.

“It was just an empty threat,” says Olson of Freeman’s accusations. “He was trying to scare me away. To be honest, it did at first.”

Former cop Freeman repeatedly pressured the San Diego police to attack Olson’s chalk-based activism with the same legal force used to prosecute violent gang members. And, this being the America we no longer recognize from our youth, he got want he wanted.

More experiments in the laboratory of democracy.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

Bankers Caught On Tape, Joking About Bailout, And How They’d Never Pay It Back

Earlier this week, a story moved that went to prove everything you thought about the behavior of bankers but were unable to produce a smoking gun.

The Irish Independent, a Dublin-based newspaper, has uncovered tapes of an internal phone conversation from September 2008 between two executives at Anglo Irish Bank during its bailout deal and they sound pretty scandalous.  The Irish Independent points out that the recordings show they misled the Central Bank.

The executives from the recording have been identified as John Bowe (head of the bank’s capital markets) and Peter Fitzgerald (director of retail banking).

However, Bowe “categorically denied” that he misled the Central Bank and Fitzgerald, who wasn’t involved in discussions with regulators, said he was unaware of any intention to mislead, the report said.

In this regard, we are reminded of Bill Clinton’s repeated denials about his serial infidelities and one notorious intern. But there’s more.

Bowe tells Fitzgerald that they met with the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA) the previous day about getting €7 billion.  They laugh how they will never be able to pay it back. 

Bowe:  “So we went down … and we basically said. In Central, yeah. And I mean, to cut a long story short we sort of said. ‘Look, what we need is seven billion euros…and we’re going to give you and we’re going to give you, what we’re going to give you is our loan collateral so we’re not giving you ECB, we’re giving you the loan clause. 

“We gave him a term sheet and we put a pro not facility together and we said that’s what we need. And that kind of sobered up everybody pretty quickly, you know.” 

Fitzgerald: “Yeah.”

Fitzgerald: “And is that €7 billion a term?”

Bowe: “This is €7 billion bridging.” 

Fitzgerald: “Yeah.”

Bowe: “So … so it is bridged until we can pay you back … which is never.” (Both laugh)

And we know you’re laughing, too.  even though these fiduciaries are intent on committing a fraud, one would assume that they had at least done the math to compute the amount of their losses that the resulting fraud with sponge up, correct? Uhhh …

Fitzgerald asks Bowe how he came up with the 7 billion figure.  Bowe responds that like then-CEO David Drumm, he picked it out of his “arse.”

Fitzgerald: “Ah we are, yeah, yeah and, em, what, how did you arrive at the seven? 

Bowe: “Just, as Drummer would say, ‘picked it out of my arse’, you know. Em … I mean, look, what we did was we basically said: ‘What is the amount we can securitize over the next six months?’ And basically say to them: ‘Look our problem is time, it’s not our ability to create the liquidity, the enemy is time here.'” 

Fitzgerald: “Yeah.” 

Bowe: “So we can rebuild, in other words, we can rebuild the liquidity off our loan book, but what we can’t do, we can’t do it now and the balance sheet’s leaking now.” 

So we will essentially torture Bradley Manning and subject him to a political show trial, and hunt Edward Snowden to the ends of the earth. We will prosecute those who reports wrongdoing though official channels to demonstrate the futility of using those channels, and to send a message to other potential whistleblowers. We will foment wars all over the earth in order to enrich a handful of arms manufacturers. And if American boys need to die in pursuit of that particular pocket of profit, so be it. But this scum, and their ilk on this side of the water, walk free, and proud knowing they’re doing “God’s work.”

As noted above, the Independent also has a media-filled story about how these two deceived the Irish government and cost Ireland sovereignty.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Humans ARE directly to blame for a rise in the number of endangered species

Researchers from Ohio State University discovered that as human numbers rise, the number of animals and species in the same region decrease with the study predicting that 11% of animals will be endangered by 2050. Increasing numbers of animals are moving from endangered to extinct lists, like the Western Black Rhino of Africa, pictured

It might seem to be CFS, or “common fucking sense,” as re: would’ve her, to find a direct link between increase in population size and the number of life forms on planet Earth threatened with extinction. Yet in every gathering of sub-literates, whether it be the corner bar or Congress, there are those will argue otherwise. No more.  Research findings just in from Ohio State University demonstrate that there is a direct link between human activity and the extinction and endangerment of certain animals.

Researchers from Ohio State University discovered that as human numbers rise, the number of animals and species in the same region decrease with the study predicting that 11% of animals will be endangered by 2050.

Previous studies have suspected that the number of threatened species could be linked to the size, density and growth of the human population yet research from Ohio State University is the first to have confirmed the theory.

. . .

They found that changes in human population density had ‘measurable consequences’ on changes in the number of threatened species by nation.

The average nation with a growing population can expect a 3.3 per cent increase in the number of threatened mammals and birds over the 10 years and a 10.8 per cent increase by 2050, based on human population growth alone.

Another animal edging up the endangered species list towards extinction is the Philippine Tarsier. The Tarsier feeds on tiny insects and is believed to be the world’s smallest primate

The implications of the study are quite clear:  human population density is at the very heart of extinction threats to both mammals and birds. The report does not directly suggest conservation efforts, but the future conservation efforts and certainly consider the impact of human population.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Surveillance not for terrorists

surveillanceA Bloomberg article  thankfully reminded us of the real issue at the heart of the NSA surveillance/Edward Snowden drama.  As some of us have seen, to our horror, ordinary Americans seem to not mind the government’s digital monitoring of their communications as long as it seems to be genuinely targeted terrorists. That’s really not the case. The government’s monitoring of our communications and days of our digital privacy is really targeted at ordinary, law-abiding citizens.

The infrastructure set up by the National Security Agency, however, may only be good for gathering information on the stupidest, lowest-ranking of terrorists. The Prism surveillance program focuses on access to the servers of America’s largest Internet companies, which support such popular services as Skype, Gmail and iCloud. These are not the services that truly dangerous elements typically use.

In a January 2012 report titled “Jihadism on the Web: A Breeding Ground for Jihad in the Modern Age,” the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service drew a convincing picture of an Islamist Web underground centered around “core forums.” These websites are part of the Deep Web, or Undernet, the multitude of online resources not indexed by commonly used search engines.

The Netherlands’ security service, which couldn’t find recent data on the size of the Undernet, cited a 2003 study from the University of California at Berkeley as the “latest available scientific assessment.” The study found that just 0.2 percent of the Internet could be searched. The rest remained inscrutable and has probably grown since. In 2010, Google Inc. said it had indexed just 0.004 percent of the information on the Internet.

Websites aimed at attracting traffic do their best to get noticed, paying to tailor their content to the real or perceived requirements of search engines such as Google. Terrorists have no such ambitions. They prefer to lurk in the dark recesses of the Undernet.

 Undernet?  Really? I’m not sure most Americans, including this writer, could find the undernet if provided a map and a Chilton’s Guide.  Given the fact that no self-respecting terrorist would use the open Internet for communications of any sort, one is left to consider the implications of just why the government is hoovering up all manner of personal communications of law-abiding citizens. Perhaps it’s to create the “surveillance effect” of demoralizing an already cowed populace now used to serial fingering and probing by uniformed TSA goons?

…Monitoring phone calls is hardly the way to catch terrorists. They’re generally not dumb enough to use Verizon. Granted, Russia’s special services managed to kill Chechen separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev with a missile that homed in on his satellite-phone signal. That was in 1996. Modern-day terrorists are generally more aware of the available technology.

At best, the recent revelations concerning Prism and telephone surveillance might deter potential recruits to terrorist causes from using the most visible parts of the Internet. Beyond that, the government’s efforts are much more dangerous to civil liberties than they are to al-Qaeda and other organizations like it.

Surveillance societies exist to disrupt and prevent change to the status quo. Here’s a theory: having successfully prosecuted a 35 year class war to extract the  accumulated wealth of the American middle class, the elites now have a militarized police force and a state surveillance apparatus  in place to prevent social movements that will lead to change. Especially political movements, like Occupy. All the better for the 1% to keep their ill–accumulated gains off the table and  safely in their Cayman Islands accounts.

A related story:

None Dare Call it FASCISM: How the NSA has (already) privatized tyranny

_____________________________________________________________________________

Add Michael Hastings

HuffPo moved an article last Monday about Michael Hastings’ last communications. Speculation continues about the circumstances of his death.

Hours before dying in a fiery car crash, award-winning journalist Michael Hastings sent an email to his colleagues, warning that federal authorities were interviewing his friends and that he needed to go “off the rada[r]” for a bit.

The email was sent around 1 p.m. on Monday, June 17. At 4:20 a.m. the following morning, Hastings died when his Mercedes, traveling at high speeds, smashed into a tree and caught on fire. He was 33.

Hastings sent the email to staff at BuzzFeed, where he was employed, but also blind-copied a friend, Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs, on the message. Biggs, who Hastings met in 2008 when he was embedded in his unit in Afghanistan, forwarded the email to KTLA, who posted it online on Saturday.

Here’s the email, with the recipients’ names redacted.

Subject: FBI Investigation, re: NSA

Hey (redacted names) — the Feds are interviewing my “close friends and associates.” Perhaps if the authorities arrive “BuzzFeed GQ,” er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.

Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.

All the best, and hope to see you all soon.

Michael

Rumors that the FBI was investigating Hastings began the day after his death, with a couple of mysterious WikiLeaks tweets.

In a rare move, the FBI issued a statement denying that Hastings was under investigation. The Los Angeles Police Department also said it had found no evidence of any foul play in his death.

Hastings, an accomplished war correspondent and sharp political reporter, was best known for writing a critical Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McChrystal that led to his resignation.

It’s unclear what “big story” Hastings was working on prior to his death, but it might have to do with yet another military bigwig, this time retired general David Petraeus.

The LA Times reported that Hastings was researching a story about a privacy lawsuit brought by Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite who took center stage in the Petraeus cheating scandal, against the Department of Defense and the FBI. According to a person close to Kelley, the paper said, Hastings had plans to meet a representative of hers to discuss the case next week.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Ecuador offers U.S. rights aid, waives trade benefits

 

For those of us following the Edward Snowden/NSA story with the avidity of a drama, the statements made this week by Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa certainly compelled our attention.  Correa rejected trade benefits and courted the risk of sanctions, plus tolerated threats from a number of American politicians  as a result of considering asylum for Edward Snowden.

(Reuters) – Ecuador’s leftist government thumbed its nose at Washington on Thursday by renouncing U.S. trade benefits and offering to pay for human rights training in America in response to pressure over asylum for former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

The angry response threatens a showdown between the two nations over Snowden, and may burnish President Rafael Correa’s credentials to be the continent’s principal challenger of U.S. power after the death of Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

“Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests,” government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference.

In a cheeky jab at the U.S. spying program that Snowden unveiled through leaks to the media, the South American nation offered $23 million per year to finance human rights training.

The funding would be destined to help “avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity,” Alvarado said. He said the amount was the equivalent of what Ecuador gained each year from the trade benefits.

Ironies abound.  Yet the fact that the president of a small, Latin American country can give voice to the many of us still inside the FSA who reject the Washington consensus  is a thing of beauty.  The wholly-owned corporate media simply gives no play to domestic critics of the new world order or any of its instrumentalities.

“They’ve managed to focus attention on Snowden and on the ‘wicked’ countries that ‘support’ him, making us forget the terrible things against the U.S. people and the whole world that he denounced. The world order isn’t only unjust, it’s immoral,” Correa continued, taking an aggressive new rhetorical tack on the case.

A sentiment now forgotten in most quarters within the FSA.

____________________________________________________________________________

Deregulation Makes Things Blow Up

Charlie Pierce of Esquire made note of the fact that, when there is no oversight and regulation, owners won’t spend any money on safety or their people in pursuit of maximum profit.

 

Meanwhile, Congress seems to be getting interested in what happened in Geismar. Today, the Senate Committee On The Environment And Public Works held a hearing into what happened in both Texas and Louisiana. The committee’s chair, Barbara Boxer of California, said that, “This should be a wakeup call for all of us, and we must take steps to ensure that such a disaster never happens again. Here’s the good news: under existing law, EPA can strengthen safety at facilities that handle dangerous chemicals.”

If only the EPA had, you know, a director right now.

Meanwhile, Kim Nibarger, an environmental specialist for the United Steelworkers minced no words about what’s really going on here. Decades of deregulation and removing the dead hand of government from American corporations have turned far too many American factories and storage facilities into mini-Bhopals in waiting.

This is Rick Perry, Governor Of Texas, including the city of West,on the EPA and environmental regulations:

“… tell the EPA that we don’t don’t need you monkeyin’ around and fiddlin’ around and gettin’ in our business on every kind of regulation that you can dream up. You’re doin’ nothin’ more than killin’ jobs. It is a cemetery for jobs at the EPA.”

This is “Bobby” Jindal, governor of Louisiana, including the city of Geismar, on government regulations:

“We believe in planting the seeds of growth in the fertile soil of your economy, where you live, where you work, invest, and dream, not in the barren concrete of Washington. If it’s worth doing, block grant it to the states.”

This is Mike Pence, governor of Indiana, including the city of Union Mills, on the same topic:

“Over several decades the proliferation of administrative rules and regulations at all levels of government has increased the complexity and expense of economic life. Reducing this regulatory burden will promote citizens’ freedom to engage in individual, family and business pursuits.”    

Yeah, that’ll work.

Self-reporting is a joke. Leaving it to the states is an open invitation to the wild kingdom, Right now, the occasional death of a worker or three is cheaper than installing sprinklers or something. When your state’s governor starts spouting off about creating a “business-friendly environment” in your state, this is what he’s talking about.

____________________________________________________________________________

 Schlafly: Latino voters “don’t understand” the Bill of Rights “at all”

The blogging gods are good this week…

Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly is still telling anyone who will listen that the Republican party should only pay attention to white voters (something that it is already pretty good at doing, according to recent data).

This is a popular refrain for Schlafy, even though, as Jordan Fabian at ABC News notes, this is precisely the strategy that lost Republicans the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, to say nothing of how offensive it is to suggest the GOP disregard entire segments of the voting population based on race and ethnicity.

Schlafly was a guest on a conservative California radio show when she fired off her latest proclamation about the future of the GOP, announcing that courting Latino voters is a waste of the grand ol’ party’s time because they “don’t have any Republican inclinations at all,” and are “running an illegitimacy rate that’s just about the same as the blacks are.”

As Hunter S. Thompson would undoubtedly observed, Res ipsa loquitor.

____________________________________________________________________________

Radiation Levels Skyrocket at Fukushima

The Accident Is NOT Contained

What better way to execute a “Great Culling” than to poison groundwater?  Washington’s Blog moved this story. Record high levels of radioactive tritium have been observed in the harbor at Fukushima.

Japan Times notes:

The density of radioactive tritium in samples of seawater from near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant doubled over 10 days to hit a record 1,100 becquerels per liter, possibly indicating contaminated groundwater is seeping into the Pacific, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

***

Tepco said late Monday it was still analyzing the water for strontium-90, which would pose a greater danger than tritium to human health if absorbed via the food chain. The level of cesium did not show any significant change between the two sample dates, according to the embattled utility.

On June 19, Tepco revealed that a groundwater sample taken from a nearby monitoring well was contaminated with both tritium and strontium-90.

***

During a news conference Monday in Tokyo, Masayuki Ono, a Tepco executive and spokesman, this time did not deny the possibility of leakage into the sea, while he said Tepco is still trying to determine the cause of the spike.

Kyoto reports:

A sample collected Friday contained around 1,100 becquerels of tritium per liter, the highest level detected in seawater since the nuclear crisis at the plant started in March 2011, the utility said Monday.

***

The latest announcement was made after Tepco detected high levels of radioactive tritium and strontium in groundwater from an observation well at the plant.

Indeed, the amount of radioactive strontium has skyrocketed over the last couple of months at Fukushima.

The New York Times writes:

Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the stricken nuclear power plant at Fukushima, said Wednesday that it had detected high levels of radioactive strontium in groundwater at the plant, raising concerns that its storage tanks are leaking contaminated water, possibly into the ocean.

***

The company has struggled to store growing amounts of contaminated runoff at the plant, but had previously denied that the site’s groundwater was highly toxic….

Xinhua reports:

Very high radioactivity levels were detected in groundwater from an observation well at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) Wednesday.

***

The observation well was set up on the Pacific side of the plant’s No. 2 reactor turbine building last December to find out the reasons why radioactivity levels in seawater near the plant remained high. The company said the sampled water could be from the contaminated water that seeped into the ground.

Just a reminder that weather patterns move West to East.

____________________________________________________________________________

Brain-eating amoebas thrive in US lakes as global warming heats waterways

 

These deadly invaders from the deep are showing up in surprising locations

For some people, a fatal infection without any obvious treatment strikes the sufferer down. After a swim on a hot summers day, the swimmer inadvertently inhales and me big organism which travels through the nasal passage into the brain where it multiplies devours cerebral fluid and gray matter and causes death.

And if you live in the North, it’s coming to a theater near you.

These “brain-eating amoebas” — known to doctors and scientists as Naegleria fowleri, or N. fowleri — aren’t believed to kill often. In the US, researchers estimate that between three and eight people die from N. fowleri disease, commonly referred to as PAM (primary amebic meningoencephalitis) each year. But that might not be the case for long. In recent years, N. fowleri has popped up in unexpected locations, which some experts suggest is a sign that warmer waters — caused by brutal summer heat waves and rising temperatures across the country — are catalyzing their spread.

 “The climate is changing, and let me tell you, so is this,” says Travis Heggie, an associate professor at Bowling Green State University who’s tracked the amoebas for several years. “If warm weather keeps up, I think we’ll see N. fowleri popping up farther and farther north.”

That speculation seems to be reinforced by recent cases of PAM, once a health woe confined to fresh water in southern states like Texas and Arizona. In Minnesota, public health officials were stunned to see two fatalities caused by N. fowleri — both young children — in 2010 and 2012. 

 

 

And this from an earlier article:

Here’s a ghastly thing that has been making headlines lately: Naegleria fowleri, a.k.a. brain-eating amoebas. So far this summer, this microscopic mind-muncher has claimed the lives of three people in three different states: Virginia, Florida and Louisiana. According to MSNBC:

“Naegleria fowleri moves into the body through the nose and destroys brain tissue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bug causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a nearly always fatal disease of the central nervous system, the CDC reported. … Naegleria fowleri is usually found warm, stagnant water in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers. It can also be found in wells.”

The good news is that brain-eating amoeba infections are very rare, and there’s no sign of any sort of outbreak at this time. Nevertheless, the Naegleria fowleri is one of nature’s many ghoulish, nightmarish creepy-crawlies, ranking alongside flesh-eating bacteria, which destroys skin and muscle tissue by releasing toxins, and the human bot fly, and insect that implants its larvae into human skin. Parasite rex, indeed.

____________________________________________________________________________

FBI Document—“[DELETED]” Plots to Kill Occupy Leaders “If Deemed Necessary”

In a story that would strain credulity even in these credulity-straining times when the daily headlines outstrip The Onion for absurdity, comes this piece of journalism from Dave Lindorff.

 

 

 

 

 

“Would you be shocked to learn that the FBI apparently knew that some organization, perhaps even a law enforcement agency or private security outfit, had contingency plans to assassinate peaceful protestors in a major American city — and did nothing to intervene?

“Would you be surprised to learn that this intelligence comes not from a shadowy whistle-blower but from the FBI itself – specifically, from a document obtained from Houston FBI office last December, as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Washington, DC-based Partnership for Civil Justice Fund?

“To repeat: this comes from the FBI itself. The question, then, is: What did the FBI do about it?”

Many will recall that the Occupy movement swept the US beginning in mid-September 2011, taking root in a number of urban areas. It was rare for a city of any note not to have a couple of bedraggled activists in residence, many of whom had visited the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park to see how Occupy was done. In October of that year the movement came to Houston. Given the prevailing, uh, local political temperature, the local powers-that-be, including law enforcement, banking and oil execs reacted even more strongly than in some other places.

The push-back took the form of violent assaults by police on Occupy activists, federal and local surveillance of people seen as organizers, infiltration by police provocateurs—and, as crazy as it sounds, some kind of plot to assassinate the “leaders” of this non-violent and leaderless movement.

Here’s what the document obtained from the Houston FBI, said:

An identified [DELETED] as of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protestors (sic) in Houston, Texas if deemed necessary. An identified [DELETED] had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. [DELETED] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles. (Note: protests continued throughout the weekend with approximately 6000 persons in NYC. ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests have spread to about half of all states in the US, over a dozen European and Asian cities, including protests in Cleveland (10/6-8/11) at Willard Park which was initially attended by hundreds of protesters.)

Occupiers Astounded—But Not Entirely

Paul Kennedy, the National Lawyers Guild attorney in Houston who represented a number of Occupy Houston activists arrested during the protests, had not heard of the sniper plot, but said, “I find it hard to believe that such information would have been known to the FBI and that we would not have been told about it.”  He then added darkly, “If it had been some right-wing group plotting such an action, something would have been done. But if it is something law enforcement was planning, then nothing would have been done. It might seem hard to believe that a law enforcement agency would do such a thing, but I wouldn’t put it past them.”

Seeking confirmation, the reporters and asked the FBI about this document—which, despite its stunning revelation and despite  press releases, was, per usual, generally ignored by mainstream and “alternative” press alike.

The FBI confirmed the authenticity of the document and that it originated in the Houston FBI office. (The plot is also referenced in a second document obtained in PCJF’s FOIA response, in this case from the FBI’s Gainesville, Fla., office, which cites the Houston FBI as the source.)  That second document actually suggests that the assassination plot, which never was activated, might still be operative should Occupy decisively re-emerge in the area. It states:

On 13 October 20111, writer sent via email an excerpt from the daily [DELETED] regarding FBI Houston’s [DELETED] to all IAs, SSRAs and SSA [DELETED] This [DELETED] identified the exploitation of the Occupy Movement by [LENGTHY DELETION] interested in developing a long-term plan to kill local Occupy leaders via sniper fire.

Remington Alessi, an Occupy Houston activist, was one of the seven defendants whose felony charge was dropped because of police entrapment. He speculates that the plot could have been the work of a police or a private security group.

Alessi, who hails from a law-enforcement family and who ran last year for sheriff of Houston’s Harris County on the Texas Green Party ticket, garnering 22,000 votes, agrees with attorney Kennedy that the plotters were not from some right-wing organization. “If it had been that, the FBI would have acted on it,” he agrees. “I believe the sniper attack was one strategy being discussed for dealing with the occupation.” He adds:

I assume I would have been one of the targets, because I led a few of the protest actions, and I hosted an Occupy show on KPFT.  I wish I could say I’m surprised that this was seriously discussed, but remember, this is the same federal government that murdered (Black Panther Party leader) Fred Hampton. We have a government that traditionally murders people who are threats. I guess being a target is sort of an honor.

This simply cannot go on.

____________________________________________________________________________

Quick hits

This is a number of odd bits collected throughout the week. Some of these stories received national play, and need no attention here. As for the others, after you get past 5000 words, you simply need to quit.

New hero in Texas
http://site.pfaw.org/site/MessageViewer?dlv_id=52542&em_id=38761.0

Texas Abortion Bill Filibustered By State Senator Wendy Davis Is Dead
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/texas-abortion-bill_n_3501005.html

____________________________________________________________________________

Who they are.

Yeah____________________________________________________________________________

Renewables projected to overtake natural gas as world’s second-largest power source

http://www.theverge.com/2013/6/28/4473694/iea-says-renewable-energy-overtakes-natural-gas-nuclear-by-2016
____________________________________________________________________________
Mixed week for SCROTUS

http://mariopiperni.com/conservative-media/scotus-rules-jesus-weeps.php

That Was The Week That Was in Doom June 23, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 23, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

This edition caps a week full of nonsense, proving nothing so much as that rust never sleeps. We were shocked… shocked to learn that Bank of America issued performance bonus for employees managing to force homeowners into foreclosure.  Negotiators firmly set upon enacting a treason against the American people continued busily negotiating the Trans-Pacfic Partnership under circumstances so secret they may well as be hermetically sealed,  lest the proles get wind of the scale of the planned sellout. In other surprises, Congress' poll rating is the lowest EVAH, Klansmen attempted to build a radiation weapon to use on Muslims, Louie Gohmert sees king crab legs in the shopping carts of SNAP card recipients, reporter Michael Hastings perished in a vehicle fire in a vehicle that, being among the safest on the planet, should never have caught fire, and an entrepreneur is planning a megadoomstead in underground limestone caves, in a facility formerly used for government storage. I know there is meaning in these entrails, so grab a stick and let's start rooting around for signs, shall we?

______________________________________________________________

Bank of America Lied to Homeowners and Rewarded Foreclosures, Former Employees Say

As an Occupier, special opprobrium was reserved for the Bank of America. Located close enough to the Occupy Norfolk encampment to cast a shadow in late afternoon, B of A seemed to embody the very incarnation of everything wrong with banking.

The popular "Move Your Money" campaign shifted around a few millions, and quoted bank execs shrugged it off, but one sensed they were at least a bit concerned.

Then we find out this, courtesy of ProPublica:

Bank of America employees regularly lied to homeowners seeking loan modifications, denied their applications for made-up reasons, and were rewarded for sending homeowners to foreclosure, according to sworn statements by former bank employees.

The employee statements were filed late last week in federal court in Boston as part of a multi-state class action suit brought on behalf of homeowners who sought to avoid foreclosure through the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) but say they had their cases botched by Bank of America.

In a statement, a Bank of America spokesman said that each of the former employees’ statements is “rife with factual inaccuracies” and that the bank will respond more fully in court next month. He said that Bank of America had modified more loans than any other bank and continues to “demonstrate our commitment to assisting customers who are at risk of foreclosure.”

Six of the former employees worked for the bank, while one worked for a contractor. They range from former managers to front-line employees, and all dealt with homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure through the government’s program.

 

And Paul Kiel's reporting even gets better. The Squid itself is involved, through a subsidiary:

Sometimes, homeowners were simply denied en masse in a procedure called a “blitz,” said William Wilson, Jr., who worked as an underwriter and manager from 2010 until 2012. As part of the modification applications, homeowners were required to send in documents with their financial information. About twice a month, Wilson said, the bank ordered that all files with documentation 60 or more days old simply be denied. “During a blitz, a single team would decline between 600 and 1,500 modification files at a time,” he said in the sworn declaration. To justify the denials, employees produced fictitious reasons, for instance saying the homeowner had not sent in the required documents, when in actuality, they had.

Such mass denials may have occurred at other mortgage servicers. Chris Wyatt, a former employee of Goldman Sachs subsidiary Litton Loan Servicing, told ProPublica in 2012 that the company periodically conducted “denial sweeps” to reduce the backlog of homeowners. A spokesman for Goldman Sachs said at the time that the company disagreed with Wyatt's account but offered no specifics.

Five of the former Bank of America employees stated that they were encouraged to mislead customers. “We were told to lie to customers and claim that Bank of America had not received documents it had requested,” said Simone Gordon, who worked at the bank from 2007 until early 2012 as a senior collector. “We were told that admitting that the Bank received documents ‘would open a can of worms,’” she said, since the bank was required to underwrite applications within 30 days of receiving documents and didn’t have adequate staff.

Your refinance dollars at work. The HAMP program was an apparent clusterfk for banks from inception, as they never had any intention of hiring sufficient staff in order to process the paperwork needed to fully implement it. ProPublica began detailing its failures  from its inception in 2009. HAMP turned out to be a perfect storm created by banks that refused to adequately fund their mortgage servicing operations and lax government oversight.

Bank of America was far slower to modify loans than other servicers, as other analyses ProPublica has cited have shown. A study last year found that about 800,000 homeowners would have qualified for HAMP had Bank of America, Wells and the other largest servicers  done an adequate job of handling applications and paperwork. And we'll not event mention the outright fraud of robosigning. Yet.

Add B of A

This in, from firedoglake.

 

The latest story is courtesy of one of those much maligned whistle-blowers who saw something and said something. In this case the whistle-blower disclosed that the Too Big To Fail/Jail bank had a bonus system setup encouraging foreclosure on desperate homeowners.

Bank of America (BAC) rewarded staff with cash bonuses and gift cards for meeting quotas tied to sending distressed homeowners into foreclosure, former employees said in court documents.

Mortgage workers falsified records and were told to delay U.S. loan-assistance applications by requesting paperwork that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank had already received, according to statements from ex-employees filed last week in federal court in Boston.

 

The affidavit details a litany of abuse including widespread fraud.

I witnessed employees and managers change and falsify information in the systems of record, and remove documents from homeowners’ files to make the account appear ineligible for a loan modification,” said Terrelonge, a loan servicing representative. This allowed managers to meet quotas for closed cases, she said.

Bank of America instructed employees to delay applications and mislead customers “as part of a deliberate practice of stringing homeowners along,” lawyers said in a June 7 filing.

 

Salon published a very fine article by David Dayen that included this morsel:

And they would have very specific targets: the ex-employees listed specific executives by name who authorized and directed the fraudulent process. “The delay and rejection programs were methodically carried out under the overall direction of Patrick Kerry, a Vice President who oversaw the entire eastern region’s loan modification process,” wrote William Wilson. Other executives mentioned by name include John Berens, Patricia Feltch and Rebecca Mairone (now at JPMorgan Chase, and already named in a separate financial fraud case). These are senior executives who, if this alleged conduct is true, should face criminal liability.

Bankers facing criminal liability. Here in the FSA. That's pretty funny.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________


More on the "Trans-Pacific Partnership"

Last week we kicked the tires of the Trans-Pacific partnership, a piece of secret legislation being secretly negotiated by the White House, with the help of more than 600 corporate advisers and representative from Pacific Rim nations. Described as a "trade agreement," the US already has trade agreements covering 90 percent of the GDP of the countries involved in the talks. Instead, the TPP is a major power grab by large corporations, conducted under cover in much the same way that NAFTA was foisted upon the American middle class. The deal will reportedly give multinational corporations a favorable economic and legal status vis a vis sovereign nations, and the ability to challenge legislation in each nation unfavorable to the corporation's interests.

Why so secretive?

As Margaret Flowers reports in an article, if people knew what was in the bill, the groundswell of opposition would be such as to make it impossible to sign.

The text of the TPP includes 29 chapters, only five of which are about trade. The remaining chapters are focused on changes that multinational corporations have not been able to pass in Congress such as restrictions on internet privacy, increased patent protections, greater access to litigation and further financial deregulation.

So far, all that is known about the contents of the TPP is from documents that have been leaked and reports from NGOs and industry meetings. Unlike other trade deals, the White House refuses to make the text available to the public. In fact, the negotiators refuse to publish the text until four years after it is signed into law. Why are they being so secretive? Former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said he opposed making the text public because doing so would raise such opposition that it could make the deal impossible to sign.

From the information available, one thing is clear about the impacts of the TPP on health care: the intention of the TPP is to enhance and protect the profits of medical and pharmaceutical corporations without considering the harmful effects their policies will have on human health.

recession-2

No reader will be surprised to learn that the net impact of this pernicious bit of treason is to maximize corporate profits. The TPP agreement takes particular loving care of Big Pharma, and attempts to limit the capacities of state owned public health enterprises to care for its own citizenry.

Text from a section of the TPP called "Annex on Transparency and Procedural Fairness for Healthcare Technologies" was leaked in June 2011. It reveals this conflict between medical industries that have strictly commercial interests and public health systems that are concerned about the health of the population. Medical industries are pushing on all fronts to keep their prices high while public health systems must negotiate to keep prices affordable and maximise what they can cover within their budgets.

To the medical industries, such price negotiation is one of the "unfair advantages" of public health systems. When a public health system negotiates a lower price, it is said to be exerting its market power. On the flip side, when a government extends patent protections to medical industries to keep prices high, this is not considered to be an unfair advantage granted by the government.

Medical industries are pushing for other concessions within the TPP to "level the playing field", also known as forcing public entities to operate as market-based entities, such as factoring the cost of not just research, development and production of drugs and medical devices, but also the cost of marketing them into what is considered to be a fair market price. And they only view prices negotiated without any government influence as fair.

As always, Mammon remains hungry.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Americans' Confidence in Congress Falls to Lowest on Record

Congress ranks last on list of 16 institutions; military earns top spot again

To the surprise of almost nobody, the results are in: virtually no one trusts the scripted mainstream media and even fewer trust Congress. We’ve known it for years, but a new Gallup poll shows that a whopping 77% of Americans distrust mainstream media television and nobody likes Congress who is willing to give their name to an interviewer. . .

Only a bit more ‘trustworthy’ than Congress, which scored in at a record low of 90% saying they do not trust the government body, the Gallup poll details that only 23% of viewers actually trust the mainstream media television news. A reality that has been clear as day in light of blatant mainstream media blackouts on key events like the outrageous DHS Fourth Amendment free zones that stretch up to 100 miles out from every single border of the US, to the blackout over eyewitness reports at the Boston Marathon.

Gallup sez:

Americans' confidence in Congress is not only at its lowest point on record, but also is the worst Gallup has ever found for any institution it has measured since 1973. This low level of confidence is in line with Americans' low job approval of Congress, which has also been stuck below 30% for years.

 

___________________________________________________________

 

 

Gohmert: Cutting food stamps not evil because poor people buy king crab legs

 

Going out on a limb here, but just perhaps– perhaps– the low approval rating of Congress stems in large measure from antics like these. Raw Story moved this item in the wake of the defeated Farm Bill this week, which illustrated a new level of political incompetence in Washington unseen in at least one observer's lifetime.

Congressional comedian Louis Gohmert

complained that Democrats had portrayed Republicans as evil because they supported a measure to cut nearly 2 million low-income people off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which would mainly impact working families with children.

On the other hand, Gohmert said, poor people were using food stamps to buy food that other Americans could not afford. He claimed his “broken-hearted” constituents had repeatedly told him they had seen people use food stamps to buy king crab legs.

“Because he does pay income tax, he doesn’t get more back than he pays in, he is actually helping pay for king crab legs when he can’t pay for them for himself,” Gohmert explained.

“How can you begrudge somebody who feels that way,” he added. “How can you begrudge anyone who steps up on behalf of constituents who feel that way. We don’t want anyone to go hungry, and from the amount of obesity in this country by people who we’re told do not have enough to eat, it does seem like we could have a debate about this issue without allegations about wanting to slap down or starve children.”

The average monthly SNAP benefit for one person is $133.44.

Reports have circulated that the king crab leg purchaser was wearing purple wings and riding an ebony unicorn when sighted making the crab leg purchase.

___________________________________________________________

Klansman and accomplice charged for building radiation gun

The men allegedly intended for their "Hiroshima on a light switch" to be used on the Muslim community

We are all familiar with elements of the ignorant , violent nativist right in this country, which is much like the ignorant violent and nativist right in every country. But these folks have set a new by attempting to apply technology with a lethal, deadly twist.

 

Two men, one of them a member of the Ku Klux Klan, were arraigned today in Albany, N.Y., on federal charges of plotting to build a mobile radiation gun intended to kill Muslims – or “medical waste,” as the plotters called their intended targets.

Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, a Klan member from Galway, N.Y., and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, are both charged with conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism in the use of a weapon of mass destruction.

The case has been under investigation by a Joint Terrorism Task Force since at least April 2012, when Crawford allegedly reached out to Jewish organizations, asking if Israel would be interested in such a weapon to kill its enemies.

“The essence of Crawford’s scheme is the creation of a mobile, remotely operated, radiation emitting device capable of killing human targets silently and from a distance with lethal doses of radiation,” says a 67-page criminal complaint filed by the FBI.

It might sound far-fetched, but experts told investigators that the design would work, producing a “a lethal, and functioning, remotely controlled radiation-emitting device,” the complaint says

A “central feature of the weaponized radiation device is that the target(s) and those around them would not immediately be aware they had absorbed lethal doses of radiation and the harmful effects of that radiation would not become apparent until days after the exposure,” the complaint says.

At one point, Crawford described his planned device as “Hiroshima on a light switch,” the complaint says.

The case against this pair appears built around extensive recordings of their conversations and e-mails. Within six weeks of Crawford’s attempts to solicit financing from two Jewish organizations, the FBI was monitoring and recording much of his activity and had recruited an snitch In.

Last August, Crawford traveled by car from his home in Albany to North Carolina to meet and solicit funding from an unidentified  “ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan,” who cooperated when contacted by FBI agents. In early October, he traveled to Greensboro, N.C., to meet with a cooperating witness and two undercover FBI agents who posed as “Southern businessmen of means who were associated with the KKK.”

Reminds me of the descriptions we often hear about serial killers. “He was a nice boy. Quiet. Shy. He didn't have much to say.”  Keep this in mind when you're tricorn hat-wearing neighbor seems to be spending the too many late nights in his garage, tinkering on his neighborhood death ray.

___________________________________________________________

Michael Hastings, RIP.

As you know, reporter Michael Hastings died in a fiery car crash earlier this week. There's a great deal loves that chelation about the causes of the crash, and especially the resultant fireball that supposedly consumed is vehicle. Reader Supported News moved an article earlier in the week, and I can do no better than to run it in toto:

The death of reporter Michael Hastings, best remembered for taking on General Stanley McChrystal and other powerful people, has been met with shock and grief in the journalistic community, especially from those fortunate enough to work alongside him. But one layer below the fond remembrances are a host of vague questions and inferences about the circumstances surrounding the 33-year-old BuzzFeed reporter's fiery solo car crash early Tuesday in Los Angeles. Bringing those suspicions to the forefront last night was WikiLeaks, never reticent to insert itself into a story, which teased, "Michael Hastings death has a very serious non-public complication. We will have more details later." And after three hours tweeted: "Michael Hastings contacted WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson just a few hours before he died, saying that the FBI was investigating him."

"Yeah," BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith confirmed to Daily Intelligencer. "Before his death, Michael told a number of his friends and colleagues that he was concerned that he was under investigation."

But other, less reputable sources have taken the speculation much further. "Vince Foster-like murder plot emerging in Los Angeles? Did the Obama administration knock off a star reporter?" asked one blog early on Wednesday, adding to existing conspiratorialTwitterchatter. Another wrote, "Admit it, Michael Hastings' Death is Weird and Scary." Hours before revelations about a potential FBI investigation, InfoWars, the Alex Jones website that serves as a catch-all conspiracy-theory clearing house, mentioned Hastings's death with an editor's note: "Journalists who mess with government and military power often die under mysterious circumstances." None had more than conjecture.

The circumstances are these: "Police said a vehicle was southbound on Highland about 4:20 a.m. when it lost control south of Melrose and smashed into a tree," the L.A. Times reported. Videopurports to show Hastings's Mercedes-Benz running a red light at a high speed minutes before the crash. "It sounded like a bomb went off in the middle of the night," a witness told the local news. "I couldn't have written a scene like this for a movie, where the engine flies from the car." Photos and video from the aftermath show extreme wreckage, and as of yesterday, the coroner had not officially identified the body because it was too badly burned.

But an automotive writer also fed the doubters:

I'm here to state that I've seen dozens of cars hit walls and stuff at high speeds and the number of them that I have observed to eject their powertrains and immediately catch massive fire is, um, ah, zero. Modern cars are very good at not catching fire in accidents. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is an evolutionary design from a company known for sweating the safety details over and above the Euro NCAP requirements, should be leading the pack in the not-catching-on-fire category. Nor is the C-Class known for sudden veering out of control into trees and whatnot.The crash is under investigation and there will be an official accident report (a toxicology report could take weeks). Whatever its findings, they can likely coexist with Hastings's mind-set at the time and a potential government investigation without representing something more sinister.

"He was incredibly tense and very worried and was concerned that the government was looking in on his material," said Hastings's friend and Current TV host Cenk Uygur. "I don't know what his state of mind was at 4:30 in the morning, but I do know what his state of mind was in general, and it was a nervous wreck." But Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffery put it plainly: "Ugh, the people posting Vince Foster style comments re Hastings death do a disservice to his no BS truth telling." Let's wait for the facts.

Update: The L.A. Times reports that Hastings, prior to his death, "was researching a story about a privacy lawsuit brought by the Florida socialite Jill Kelley against the Department of Defense and the FBI." The paper also notes, "Since Hastings's death early Tuesday, wild conspiracy theories have bloomed on the Internet implying that he was murdered by powerful forces wanting to silence him."

 ___________________________________________________________

Limestone Doomstead

 We've entertained a lot of discussion about doomsteads on the Doomsday Diner, and discussed many of the preparations and planning that would be necessary to create such a place. It appears that one man is planning on an extinction level event, and is acquired a former government facility in which to plan a doomstead with a few of his friends.
 

After most of the world's population is wiped off the map by a wayward meteorite or hail of nuclear missiles, the survival of the human race might just depend on a few thousand people huddled in recreational vehicles deep in the bowels of an eastern Kansas mine. 

That's the vision of a California man who is creating what he calls the world's largest private underground survivor shelter, using a complex of limestone caves dug more than 100 years ago beneath gently rolling hills overlooking the Missouri River.

'I do believe I am on a mission and doing a spiritual thing,' said Robert Vicino, who has purchased a large portion of the former U.S. Army storage facility on the southeast edge of Atchison, about 50 miles northwest of Kansas City. 'We will certainly be part of the genesis.'


 

Before it comes time to ride out Armageddon or a deadly global pandemic, though, Vicino says the Vivos Survival Shelter and Resort will be a fun place for members to take vacations and learn assorted survival skills to prepare them for whatever world-changing catastrophe awaits.

Jacque Pregont, president of the Atchison Chamber of Commerce, said some people think the shelter plan sounds creepy or that Vicino has 'lost his mind,' while others are excited because they will finally get a chance to tour the property.

Atchison is known as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart and one of the most haunted towns in Kansas, Pregont said, so the survival shelter is likely to add to the town's tourism draw.

 

Here is a scale model of the facility:
 
Apparently according to the current pricing structure, a person who plans to park a 30-foot vehicle in the shelter with four people inside will pay $30,000 for the space and $6,000 for food.  Actual sales won't begin until a 'critical mass' of reservations are received and processed, Vicino said, which hasn't happened yet at the Kansas shelter. Vivos also owns a shelter in Indiana with room for 80 people to live comfortably for up to a year.There, members pay $50,000 per adult and $35,000 per child, so a family with two adults and two children would have to come up with $170,000 to be part of the "new beginnings" generation. So it appears that the 1% will at least be safe in their year-round, 70°, temperature regulated chambers.
 
In closing, I am moved to wonder why the government sold this facility. Where have they moved whatever was stored here? Why did they sell it, and so cheaply?
 
Just wondering.
 
I'm sure the answer lies in the entrails of the next sheep.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

https://image.freepik.com/free-icon/musical-notes-symbols_318-29778.jpg

Support the Diner

Search the Diner

Surveys & Podcasts

NEW SURVEY

Renewable Energy

VISIT AND FOLLOW US ON DINER SOUNDCLOUD

" As a daily reader of all of the doomsday blogs, e.g. the Diner, Nature Bats Last, Zerohedge, Scribbler, etc… I must say that I most look forward to your “off the microphone” rants. Your analysis, insights, and conclusions are always logical, well supported, and clearly articulated – a trifecta not frequently achieved."- Joe D

Archives

Global Diners

View Full Diner Stats

Global Population Stats

Enter a Country Name for full Population & Demographic Statistics

Lake Mead Watch

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BX686_LakeMe_G_20130816175615.jpg

loading

Inside the Diner

Quote from: Surly1 on November 21, 2019, 03:58:40 PMQuote from: azozeo on November 21, 2019, 02:55:27 PMQuote from: Surly1 on November 21, 2019, 01:40:43 PM[quote author=azozeo link=t...

EVERYBODY KNOWS who the "Whistleblower" is/was!  He's been Outted by a variety of Right-Wing websites and radio shows.Trumpovetsky is a Pathological Liar. If he opens his mouth or hits his keyboard,you can be sure he is lying.  Ar...

Is there anywhere in SA that is NOT rioting?     RE[embed=960,540]

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/11/democratic-candidates-supreme-court-trump-judiciary.htmlDemocratic Candidates Are Utterly Delusional About the Looming Judicial CrisisEven their more moderate policy proposals will ...

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/21/yellen-good-reason-to-worry-about-us-economy-sliding-into-recession.htmlJanet Yellen says...

Recent Facebook Posts

No recent Facebook posts to show

Diner Twitter feed

Knarf’s Knewz

Defying growing perceptions in Western countries o [...]

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Navy warships twice sa [...]

Diner Newz Feeds

  • Surly
  • Agelbert
  • Knarf
  • Golden Oxen
  • Frostbite Falls

Doomstead Diner Daily November 22The Diner Daily i [...]

Quote from: azozeo on November 21, 2019, 03:24:12 [...]

I have a question about your post regarding the fa [...]

Doomstead Diner Daily November 21The Diner Daily i [...]

Perhaps your story with Contrary is why my son got [...]

Quote from: UnhingedBecauseLucid on March 18, 2019 [...]

CleanTechnicaSupport CleanTechnica’s work via dona [...]

QuoteThe FACT that the current incredibly STUPID e [...]

Defying growing perceptions in Western countries o [...]

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Navy warships twice sa [...]

Scientists have unlocked the power of gold atoms b [...]

Quote from: azozeo on August 14, 2019, 10:41:33 AM [...]

Wisconsin Bill Would Remove Barrier to Using Gold, [...]

Under extreme conditions, gold rearranges its atom [...]

The cost of gold futures on the Comex exchange inc [...]

Time for another Bloody Mary!   RE [...]

Kicking off with the death of the Marlboro Man.RE[ [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

Politicians’ Privilege By Cognitive Dissonance     Imagine for a moment you work for a small or medi [...]

Shaking the August Stick By Cognitive Dissonance     Sometime towards the end of the third or fourth [...]

Empire in Decline - Propaganda and the American Myth By Cognitive Dissonance     “Oh, what a tangled [...]

Meanderings By Cognitive Dissonance     Tis the Season Silly season is upon us. And I, for one, welc [...]

The Brainwashing of a Nation by Daniel Greenfield via Sultan Knish blog Image by ElisaRiva from Pixa [...]

Event Update For 2019-11-20http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-11-19http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-11-18http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-11-17http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-11-16http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

With fusion energy perpetually 20 years away we now also perpetually have [fill in the blank] years [...]

My mea culpa for having inadvertently neglected FF2F for so long, and an update on the upcoming post [...]

NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

Waterboarding Flounder"Serious oxygen loss between 100 and 600-meter depths is expected to cover 59–80% of the ocean [...]

Of Warnings and their Ripple Effects"We need wooden ships, char-crete buildings, bamboo bicycles, moringa furniture, and hemp cloth [...]

"Restoring normal whale activity to the oceans would capture the CO2 equivalent of 2 billion tr [...]

Ukrainian Rhapsody"Our future will be more about artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and non-state actors tha [...]

LeBron’s Chinese Troll Mobs"In the 36 hours after James’ delete, a troll mob with bot support sent a flame tsunami at the [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

What extinction crisis? Believe it or not, there are still climate science deniers out there. And th [...]

My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

a ''burden on the state'' means all your bodily functions becoming the responsib [...]

Or maybe we do live in fire prone forests, but we live as hunter-gatherers. We pick up and move to a [...]

The "state" in the UK has found a solution to this problem. It is called the "Liverpo [...]

FWIW, the overarching narrative in the mainstream news this week is that the global economy may have [...]

I think of 1999 as the year that inflation-adjusted oil prices hit a bottom. It is also the year tha [...]

Living around 5300' elevation, the only flood we'll likely see is refugees. Although, that [...]

For those safe from the rising seas, the ocean acidification will fcuk you up instead [...]

Here's an article: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-imo-shipping-factbox/factbox-imo-2020-a-m [...]

What is the shift away from bunker fuels? [...]

Yeah, when the water heater goes out the day after you just put new tires on one of the cars, etc... [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Simplifying the Final Countdown

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

Off the Keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Merry Doomy Christmas

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

The effect of urbanization on microclimatic conditions is known as “urban heat islands”. [...]

Forecasting extreme precipitations is one of the main priorities of hydrology in Latin America and t [...]

The objective of this work is the development of an automated and objective identification scheme of [...]