Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Must you be old to appreciate a whistling musician?


This Is The Kit, a folk rock band from Old Blighty, performs their first hit "Two Spoons". And lead singer Kate Stables does a nifty bit of whistling on it.


The Bootless John Boehner


From the pen of Tom Toles




Study Hard, Children


The profitability of the US government lies upon your shoulders. No, not taxes, but the interest (some say vigorish) of your student loans. You, our sweet children, are a major federal profit center.
Roshan Bliss owes nearly $80,000 for a degree he never received. A Master’s degree candidate at the University of Denver, he dropped out two-thirds of the way through.

“I already owed more than $70,000 in student loans,” he told MintPress News. “I did the math and figured out I would still have to take out another $30,000 for tuition and more for living expenses. It just wasn’t worth it.”

The interest rate for his loans is set at 6.8 percent and that goes directly to the federal government, which has administered student loans since 2010. Some — including Bliss — accuse the government of taking in billions of dollars in “profit” from students who much go into debt to finance their education.

In fiscal year 2013, the federal government cleared $41.3 billion in profit from its student loans. If the government were a private lender, it would be the third most profitable company in the world behind Exxon Mobil and Apple.

Bliss had managed to keep his loans in check during his undergraduate experience at Purdue University. He had received a full-tuition scholarship and worked part-time for the full four years to pay most of his other expenses. Yet he still graduated with $13,000 in debt.

That was in 2009, just a year into the Great Recession. Recent graduates like Bliss were entering a workforce without jobs for them.

“Everyone always told me study what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life,” Bliss said. However, “Starting my career at the height of job loss in the economy, no one was saying, ‘Wow, we really need someone with a philosophy degree.’”

Without work, he heeded advice to go to graduate school and wait out the recession. By the time he finished, the logic went, there would be more jobs. Getting a partial scholarship to University of Denver, he “saw all these zeroes” and came to the conclusion “I can’t afford not to go.”

So Bliss decided that he would get actual job skills and started a program in conflict negotiation. “I’m a trained mediator now,” he said with a mix of pride and pessimism.

It soon became clear he probably wouldn’t find a job, even with the new degree, so he dropped out to cut his losses and now blogs part-time and works as an organizer who advocates for eliminating college debt. His income is so low that he isn’t required to pay any of his loans back yet. In the meantime, however, the interest on his loans will continue to accrue — that’s already added several thousand dollars to what owes to the U.S. federal government since quitting the program.

Bliss is far from alone. He’s among around 40 million other Americans who have $1 trillion in unpaid aggregate student debt. The average student debt holder owes about $30,000.
And the federal government profits doubled this year thanks to the filibuster of the Republicans of Elizabeth Warren's bill to reduce the interest rate to the Fed Funds rate. Or to put it another way, the cost of money to the federal government.

A ray of sense in befuddled European economy


In a move contrary to all the bad economic ideas being forced on Europe by Germany and its economic allies, France has revealed a budget without austerity.
France intensified a showdown with its European Union partners on Wednesday by unveiling a “no austerity” budget that aims to bring its deficit within European guidelines two years later than previously promised. Moving any faster to satisfy the bloc’s budget rules, the government said, would weaken the country’s already feeble economy.

“No further effort will be demanded of the French, because the government — while taking the fiscal responsibility needed to put the country on the right track — rejects austerity,” the government said in a statement accompanying the budget.

The announcements amounted to a new challenge of Germany and the austerity movement at a time when France’s new economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, has admitted that the eurozone’s second-largest economy after Germany’s is “sick.”

The French budget detailed 50 billion euros, or about $63 billion, in spending cuts to be made over the next three years, which President François Hollande’s critics say does amount to an austerity plan. But as Mr. Hollande tries to walk a fine line between promoting economic growth and appeasing European officials who want countries to reduce deficits, less than half of those cuts will be unrolled in the next year.

France is demanding leniency from Brussels to meet European Union deficit targets in a bid to avoid slipping into an outright recession, after Paris already missed two deadlines in the last three years.

“We have taken the decision to adapt the pace of deficit reduction to the economic situation of the country,” Finance Minister Michel Sapin said.

Any additional stagnation or slowdown in the French economy could weigh on a European recovery, which has been alarmingly slow in the wake of the Continent’s lengthy debt crisis.

Growth in the 18 countries that share the euro ground to a halt in the last quarter, and the region's unemployment rate remains stuck at 11.5 percent. By contrast, the American economy appears to be recovering from one of its worst downturns since the 1930s, and unemployment has declined to around 6 percent from about 10 percent at its recent peak.
German sponsored austerity continues to pillage the other members of the European Union and this move by France, while not enough to reverse the damage so far, is a glimmer of hope for the other economies as well as a symbol of resistance to economic stupidity.

Definitions you can use



Why is Ebola scary


Because if you do not have the doctors and other personnel trained to isolate it and the facilities to isolate them, it will continue to spread. And West Africa is a region where the conditions are excellent for the spread of Ebola.
Bombali, the district that includes this city, went from one confirmed case on Aug. 15 to more than 190 this weekend, with dozens more suspected. In a sign of how quickly the disease has spread, at least six dozen new cases have been confirmed in the district in the past few days alone, health officials said.

The government put this district, 120 miles northeast of the capital, Freetown, under quarantine late last week, making official what was already established on the ground. Ebola patients are dying under trees at holding centers or in foul-smelling hospital wards surrounded by pools of infectious waste, cared for as best they can by lightly trained and minimally protected nurses, some wearing merely bluejeans.

“There’s no training for the staff here,” said Dr. Mohammed Bah, the director of the government hospital here. “The training is just PowerPoint. It is very difficult to manage Ebola here.”

In recent weeks, the world has vowed to step up its response to the epidemic, which has been spreading for more than six months. The United States has sent a military team to neighboring Liberia with plans to build 18 treatment centers to prop up the broken health system. The British have promised to build field hospitals in four urban areas in Sierra Leone, including this one. The French are setting up a treatment center and a laboratory in Guinea. The Chinese have sent scores of medical personnel to the region and have converted a hospital they built outside Freetown into a holding center for Ebola patients. The Cubans have pledged to send more than 400 doctors to help battle the disease in the region.
Continue reading the main story

But little of that help has reached this city. The dead, the gravely ill, those who are vomiting or have diarrhea, are placed among patients who have not yet been confirmed as Ebola victims — there is not even a laboratory here to test them. At one of the three holding centers in Makeni, dazed Ebola patients linger outside, close to health workers and soldiers guarding them. The risk of infection is high, the precautions minimal.

“We encourage them not to have contact with body fluids,” said the district medical officer, Dr. Tom Sesay.


A 4-year-old girl thought to have Ebola lay on a floor covered with bodily fluids at the General Hospital in Makeni, Sierra Leone, last week. "The whole country has been hit by something for which it was not ready," said Dr. Amara Jambai, director of prevention and control at Sierra Leone’s health ministry. Credit Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

When your first recording is a huge success


Anything you follow up with will probably not impress the crowd. Throw in contract troubles with the music industry and it is a wonder that Eleanor McAvoy is still performing and writing. But she is and recorded "To Sweep Away A Fool" on her 2006 album Out There.


No misunderstanding here.


From the pen of Lee Judge



Another "Once Upon A Time" Tale


Once upon a time. Back in primitive times, when doctors relied on paper records for medical histories, sharing patient histories was a simple matter of making a paper copy and passing it on to another doctor, with the patients written permission. This was slow and required lots of file space. Nowadays, doctors use computerized records relying on whizbang software that moves at the speed of light around the globe, but only to doctors who use the same software.
As a practicing physician in Ahoskie, N.C., the ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Raghuvir B. Gelot says little has frustrated him more than the digital record system he installed a few years ago.

The problem: His system, made by one company, cannot share patient records with the local medical center, which uses a program made by another company.

The two companies are quick to deny responsibility, each blaming the other.

Regardless of who is at fault, doctors and hospital executives across the country say they are distressed that the pricey electronic health record systems they installed in the hopes of reducing costs and improving the coordination of patient care — a major goal of the Affordable Care Act — simply do not share information with competing systems.

The issue is especially critical now as many hospitals and physicians scramble to install the latest versions of their digital record systems to demonstrate to regulators starting Oct. 1 that they can share some patient data. Those who cannot will face reductions in Medicare reimbursements down the road.

On top of that, leading companies in the industry are preparing to bid on a Defense Department contract valued at an estimated $11 billion. A primary requirement is that the winning vendor must be able to share information, allowing the department to digitally track the medical care of 9.6 million active-duty military personnel around the globe.

The contract is the latest boon to an industry that has been heavily subsidized by taxpayers in recent years through more than $24 billion in incentive payments to help install electronic health records in hospitals and physicians’ offices.

While the vast majority of providers have installed some kind of electronic record system, two recent studies have found that fewer than half of the nation’s hospitals can transmit a patient care document, while only 14 percent of physicians can exchange patient data with outside hospitals or other providers.

“We’ve spent half a million dollars on an electronic health record system about three years ago, and I’m faxing all day long. I can’t send anything electronically over it,” said Dr. William L. Rich III, a member of a nine-person ophthalmology practice in Northern Virginia and medical director of health policy for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The free hand of the marketplace has struck again and private enterprise has once again failed to do it better. Until some maker "Googles" the market and achieves total dominance, there will be no standard for universal communication.

The last man to die for a mistake


Is still waiting for his condemnation papers. Whoever the poor soul may be, we won't know for another 10 years, at least. The Colony of Shitholeistan and our Imperial envoy have signed the papers pushing that honor out to sometime in the future. Needless to say, high officials in the Imperial War Ministry are doing a happy dance for reasons that must be Top Secret because no public explanation makes any sense.
At a ceremony in the capital, Kabul, U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham and Afghanistan’s newly appointed national security adviser Mohmmad Hanif Atmar signed the document.

There are currently about 41,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 130,000 in 2012. Most will leave after the international military force formally ends its combat mission at the end of 2014.

Under the terms of the agreement, troops from Germany, Italy and other NATO members will join a remaining force of 9,800 U.S. soldiers, bringing numbers up to about 12,500. The foreign troops will be tasked with training and assisting Afghanistan's security forces maintain stability.

Observers express fears that, in the absence of stronger international forces, the Taliban will overpower Afghanistan’s new government. The group already claims responsibility for routine attacks and suicide bombings.

The timetable for the remaining soldiers’ full withdrawal remains unclear.
And anyone whi thinks there will be a full withdrawal probably still thinks Eisenhower will get us out of Korea.
Afghanistan, nicknamed the "graveyard of empires" for its history of resisting colonization, from Alexander the Great to the Soviet Union, has had U.S. troops on its soil since October 2001, in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Al-Qaeda had found refuge in the Taliban-ruled country. After U.S. and NATO forces managed to push Al-Qaeda's leadership into hiding or Pakistan, their job became one of battling back the Taliban, training Afghan troops and pouring money into the development of the country, one of the poorest in the world.
All of which failed miserably after 13 years of very expensive effort.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A little something from Haiti


A seductively catchy tune by Emeline Michel, "Moso Manman".




Whatever works to get it done


Necessity can give birth to some strange "inventions" as Tom Tomorrow points out.

It never really went away


From the pen of David Horsey



This would never happen to a Walton


Everyone knows you have to work hard to get ahead, if you weren't born with a silver spoon in your mouth. Some people work extra hard, extremely hard to do so. Some even give their all and in the end never do get ahead.
Maybe she poured you a cup of hot coffee, right before you rushed off to catch your afternoon train. Maybe you noticed her huddled over an empty table in the station, dozing in the lonesome hours between one shift and another.

Her name was Maria Fernandes. She was 32 years old. And long before her face flashed across the evening news, she worked amid the throngs of passengers in the heart of Newark’s Pennsylvania Station, serving pumpkin lattes and toasted bagels, and dreaming of life somewhere else.

She dreamed of the bustling streets of Los Angeles and the leafy towns of Pennsylvania. She dreamed of working two jobs, not three. She dreamed of sleeping, really sleeping, for six or seven hours at a stretch.

But dreams rarely pay the rent. So Ms. Fernandes worked three jobs, at three Dunkin’ Donuts stores in northern New Jersey, shuttling from Newark to Linden to Harrison and back. She often slept in her car — two hours here, three hours there — and usually kept the engine running, ready in an instant to start all over again.

The last day of her life was no different. She got off work at 6 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 25, and climbed into her 2001 Kia Sportage, officials from the Elizabeth Police Department said. She was dreaming again, this time about taking a break to celebrate a milestone with friends. But first, she told her boyfriend, Mr. Carter, during a brief cellphone conversation, she was going to take a nap.

She pulled into the parking lot of a Wawa convenience store, reclined in the driver’s seat and closed her eyes. The store’s surveillance camera videotaped her arrival at 6:27 a.m.

Detectives would pore over those tapes after her body was found later that day. It was the last image that anyone would see of her alive.

“She liked her jobs; she never complained.” — Jessenia Barra, 28.
She reached a milestone but no one is celebrating.

Either way the gov't gets your data


But with the upcoming contract renewal for its routing services, the government that gets it may be in question.
An obscure federal contract for a company charged with routing millions of phone calls and text messages in the United States has prompted an unusual lobbying battle in which intelligence officials are arguing that the nation’s surveillance secrets could be at risk.

The contractor that wins the bid would essentially act as the air traffic controller for the nation’s phone system, which is run by private companies but is essentially overseen by the government.

And with a European-based company now favored for the job, some current and former intelligence officials — who normally stay out of the business of awarding federal contracts — say they are concerned that the government’s ability to trace reams of phone data used in terrorism and law enforcement investigations could be hindered...

The F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies said that while they had “no position” on who should get the contract, they did want to make sure that their professional needs were adequately addressed and that there would be no disruption in access to call-routing data “in real time or near real time.”

“Law enforcement cannot afford to have a lapse in this vital service,” the agencies told the F.C.C. in a letter.

The agencies expressed particular concern that a contractor with access to the phone system from outside the United States could mean “unwarranted, and potentially harmful” access to American surveillance methods and targets...

The phone-routing system grew out of a 1997 law that allowed cellphone and landline users to keep the same number even when they switched carriers. These so-called portability standards made things easier for consumers but created potential complications for intelligence and law enforcement officials in tracing phone calls and determining which numbers were tied to which carriers.

The routing network that was put in place, with Neustar as its administrator, was designed partly to allow the government nearly instant access to the data on where calls were being routed.
If a foreign company should take over this vital intelligence service, should we all learn another language to make it easier for them to listen?

Oh Dear! Whatever shall we do?


It seems that the US military has something it is not willing to leave behind in Afghanistan, an unknown number of unidentified prisoners being held for unspecified reason.
The fate of a group of prisoners held in near-total secrecy by U.S. forces at a prison in Afghanistan is hanging in limbo, the facility's commander said, as Washington gropes for options after its legal right to hold them there expires in December.

The inmates - all foreign nationals captured on battlefields around the world - could be transferred to the U.S. court system or, as a last resort, to the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, Brigadier General Patrick J. Reinert told Reuters.

The quandary over what to do with the detainees held in a prison near Bagram airfield, north of Kabul, has rekindled the outrage over the U.S. policy of rendition in the early phases of the Afghan war.

In the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, suspected militants were abducted and held in secret prisons worldwide without charge or evidence.

The United State abandoned that policy under President Barack Obama, but the detention of those being held near Bagram is a reminder that the issue has not been concluded.

"We've got to resolve their fate by either returning them to their home country or turning them over to the Afghans for prosecution or any other number of ways that the Department of Defense has to resolve," Reinert told Reuters.

Almost nothing is known of the detainees' identities. The United States has declined to disclose their nationalities, where they were captured and how many are still in its custody.

Their status is increasingly urgent because the United States will lose the right to hold prisoners in Afghanistan after the 2014 end of mission for the U.S.-led force there.

Most of the prisoners are Pakistani, according to the human rights group Justice Project Pakistan. Some are from Yemen, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The inmates remained in U.S. custody after the prison on the outskirts of the U.S. military's Bagram base handed its Afghan detainees over to Afghan control last year.
Gotta Love It! After neither prosecuting them nor keeping them in humane conditions, we won't release them to their home countries because we can't get assurances that they will not prosecuted at home or kept in humane conditions. That would seem to be a moot point at this time.

Just Asking





Sunday, September 28, 2014

Their summer single


Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers put out "Another Rolling Stone" as a single in July. And the "Official Video" of it was posted up earlier this month.


Denial flows like a river


From the pen of Brian McFadden



Why limit it to just one day


With a large population,
many working hours and in locations that make it difficult to get to a polling place on a Tuesday in November, early voting is being eagerly accepted by many voters.
In North Carolina, which has a pivotal U.S. Senate contest at the top of the ticket, voting began Sept. 5 when absentee ballots were mailed to voters. As of Friday about 15,000 voters — the majority of them Democrats — had requested ballots ahead of Nov. 4.

On Thursday, Iowans, who will choose between Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst in a competitive race for an open Senate seat, began to vote both in person and through early absentee ballots. Already, more than 145,000 voters have requested absentee ballots, with Democrats outpacing Republicans by about 38,000 requests, according to the Iowa secretary of state's office. In 2010, Democrats in the Hawkeye State cast 19,000 more early ballots than did Republicans.

In September, states including Georgia and Minnesota will allow voters to cast ballots early. California and Arizona offer similar voting options in early October.

From Maine and Florida to Wisconsin and Alaska, 35 states allow voters to fill out ballots at polling stations or mail them prior to election day.

"In reality, the days of an actual election 'day' are long gone," said Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida who specializes in elections and voter turnout. "It's a solid election month, if not more in some places, and will continue to expand."

Indeed, McDonald, who oversees the United States Elections Project, which closely tracks voting statistics, has found that ballots cast before election day increased from 4% in 1972 to 25% in 2010.

In Colorado, a new law instituting all-mail elections will receive its first major statewide test as Democratic Sen. Mark Udall looks to stave off a challenge from Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in a marquee race. The Colorado governor's race is also the focus of intense attention, as Democrat John Hickenlooper faces Republican Bob Beauprez. And the Denver suburbs feature a tight congressional race.
Anything that allows more people to cast their vote is healthy to our way of governing. And, as is traditional, the Democrats support these measures and the Republicans do all they can to halt them. If we can't have a nationable holiday to vote, then a month of election days will do just nicely.

Music City is tearing down Music Row


The part of town where so much great music was written and recorded is now being sold off and demolished to make way for condominiums.
Today, booming Nashville is trying to decide whether the tone is appropriate for the crusade that Mr. Kopp and others are waging to save Studio A, a recording room that is steeped in music history and that is scheduled for demolition to make way for a luxury condominium project.

The potential loss of the 49-year-old studio has sparked a broader conversation here about whether the city’s sizzling real estate market is squeezing the music business out of Music Row, even as country has overtaken Top 40 as the nation’s most popular radio format.

The cluster of streets southwest of downtown Nashville has long been the spiritual and commercial center of the nation’s country music business — a concentration of record companies, small-time showbiz strivers and studios that Christine Kreyling, a local writer, once called “the Vatican City of country music.”

“If we let certain musical touchstones go, these centerpieces of collaboration between artists and engineers, then what’s left that makes Nashville’s music scene unique?” said Mr. Kopp, a manager of Ben Folds, the rock musician who is the studio’s current lessee.

In recent years, Nashville has leveraged its diverse economy and honky-tonk mystique to become one of the nation’s fastest growing cities. The 10-county metropolitan region of 1.7 million people is expected to grow to three million by 2040, and in the last fiscal year, the city bested its record for the total value of building permits issued.

But the growth has generated an undertone of worry among some in the music industry, particularly those who work on Music Row. Larry Sheridan, a real estate agent who runs a small studio on the Row, has counted five other studios that have been torn down in the area in the last year or so.

Music Row denizens point out that Fireside, a studio once owned by Porter Wagoner, Ms. Parton’s frequent duet partner, was torn down recently to make room for the Artisan, a 153-unit apartment complex with a yoga studio. This year, a number of buildings on a prominent Music Row corner, including a well-known 1836 Queen Anne home, were torn down to make way for a planned luxury hotel.

The project will reportedly include a recording studio. But for now, it is an empty lot.
What better way to cherish the musical history at the heart of Nashville's tourist trade than to tear it down and replace it with overpriced housing.

Values Voters have selected their presidential candidate


A straw man selected in their straw poll



Saturday, September 27, 2014

On any given Saturday Night


There are lots of people like the ones Gail Davies sings about in her first hit, "Someone Is Looking For Someone Like You"


Obedience training


From the pen of Mike Lukovich



New rules to protect soldiers


After passage of a law seven years ago protecting the military from predatory lenders, the administration is now taking steps to protect the military from predatory lending products designed to take advantage of loopholes left in the law.
The Obama administration is proposing sweeping changes to a seven-year-old federal law that was intended to shield service members and their families from high-cost loans tied to their paychecks, a move that reflects the Defense Department’s growing recognition that lenders have exploited loopholes in the law.

Those loopholes in the Military Lending Act have left hundreds of thousands of service members across the country vulnerable to potentially predatory loans, including high-cost credit from retailers to buy electronics, payday-style loans and loans tied to car titles.

The proposed updates to the law would extend a 36 percent interest rate cap on short-term loans to cover a much broader swath of products — from installment loans to credit cards — that have proliferated since the law was passed by Congress...

The changes, which are being proposed by the Defense Department, would strengthen protections for military members by vastly expanding the kinds of credit covered by the law’s interest rate cap. The proposal also requires that creditors enhance their disclosures to military members, mandating that the lenders tell military members that they should first try to find alternatives to the costly forms of credit.

Creditors could also no longer require service members to agree to arbitration, a concession that would strip borrowers of their rights to fight in court.

The final rules, expected to go into effect by next year, represent an acknowledgment that lenders, intent on offering loans regardless of the federal restrictions, devised loan products that fell squarely outside the loan’s restrictions.
The predators will probably find new loopholes to continue leeching on a particularly attractive segment of America's low income population. It's how they get rich.

Our Generals are determined


Mostly to show what they didn't learn the first time and probably will refuse to learn again. When you call yourself the best military in the world, you can't let any bunch of towelheads beat you.
The nation’s top military commander refused Friday to back off his controversial stance in Senate testimony that he would recommend committing U.S. troops to combat in Iraq if he believed they were needed to help defeat Islamic State militants.

The steadfastness of Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed a potential gap between President Barack Obama’s senior military and political advisers over whether there might once more be American “boots on the ground” in Iraq three years after the last American combat troops left.

In another sign of the expanding American mission in the region, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the first U.S. military personnel had arrived in Saudi Arabia to lay the groundwork for training 5,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State.

Congress last week authorized the training mission but still must consider an administration request for $500 million for the program. The authorization came after Obama said he would expand the U.S. air campaign against the Islamic State from Iraq into Syria, a step that occurred this week with air assaults on 22 locations in Syria.

“In Syria, there has been no coordination, nor will there be, with the Assad regime,” Hagel said Friday. “Nothing has changed about our position, (nothing) that has shifted our approach to Assad and his regime, because this regime, President Assad, has lost all legitimacy to govern.”
So Bombs Away! And send in the troops with sneakers so we can truly say there are no boots on the ground, amirite?

All politics is a numbers game


Which numbers do you want to talk about.



Friday, September 26, 2014

Another great band from that hotbed of music, Brooklyn, NY


Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds play neo Funk/Soul with a driving horn section. Rocking the joint at the 2-12 SXSW with " Make It Rain"


Need a reason to vote for Senate Democrats?


How about the response of Sens. Warren of MA and Brown of OH to the revelations by former Fed bank examiner Carmen Segarra of the cozy relationships between the Fed and the banks they are supposed to regulate.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren called for a congressional investigation into allegations that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York had been too deferential to the institutions it regulated.

“Congress must hold oversight hearings on the disturbing issues raised by today’s whistle-blower report when it returns in November -- because it’s our job to make sure our financial regulators are doing their jobs,” Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat and member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement today.

The radio program “This American Life” today released the transcript of a broadcast that includes excerpts of conversations it said were secretly recorded by Carmen Segarra, a former New York Fed bank examiner who was fired in 2012, with some of her colleagues and her supervisor.

In the transcript, Segarra described how she felt that her Fed colleagues were afraid of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and handled it with kid gloves.

“What I was sort of seeing and experiencing was this level of deference to the banks, this level of fear,” she said.

The New York Fed said it “categorically rejects” Segarra’s allegations.

“The New York Fed works diligently to execute its supervisory authority in a manner that is most effective in promoting the safety and soundness of the financial institutions it is charged with supervising,” it said in a statement posted on its website today.

Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat who’s also on the banking committee, backed Warren’s call for a probe.

“These allegations deserve a full and thorough investigation, and American taxpayers deserve regulators who will fight each day on their behalf,” he said in a statement.
And why vote Democratic you ask? Because if the Republican/Teabaggers win control of the Senate for their corporate masters, this issue will be buried so deep, some poor Chinese will wonder who dug a whole in their backyard.

The only time they are useful.


From the pen of  Nick Anderson



Good enough to fight for US


But when push comes to shove and they make a mistake, they are just another bunch of beaners to be sent "home".
Barajas and the veterans staying with him are establishing a new life in Tijuana — a life after deportation. Their stories are similar: Each was honorably discharged from the military, but was later charged with a deportable offense — for example, drug possession, discharge of a firearm or fraud. In some cases, the veterans say, their offenses were triggered by the post-traumatic stress they developed after serving in combat. Most have spent the vast majority of their lives in the United States and are now starting over in a country they barely know.

No agency tracks the number of deported vets, but some immigration advocates estimate there are hundreds, if not thousands. Barajas says he is aware of more than 300 in 19 countries, including Bosnia, Ghana and Ecuador. Most deported veterans were permanent residents (green-card holders) at the time they enlisted; according to Department of Defense spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, about 5,000 documented noncitizens sign up for the military every year.

A series of new laws and programs introduced after September 11, 2001, have relaxed the requirements and streamlined the process for service members wishing to become U.S. citizens. Today, most recruits can become citizens by the time they graduate from basic training.

But those who did not apply for and gain citizenship are subject to deportation if accused of certain offenses. While some deportable acts still allow a veteran to apply for citizenship and avoid deportation, a subset of those actions — called “aggravated felonies” — guarantees deportation and prevents the person from ever applying for citizenship.

Such actions have grown to a “laundry list of random offenses,” including misdemeanors that don’t require jail time, says Margaret Stock, an immigration attorney with Cascadia Cross-Border Law and retired lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve who has worked with deported veterans.

While a 2011 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memo requires the agency’s officers, agents and attorneys to give veterans special consideration in deportation hearings, in practice, the guidelines are applied inconsistently.
They were useful in their time, but now they are just another bunch of foreigners who ran afoul of the law, one way or another.

We have a new ally in the fight against Daesh


Now that the Prime Minister of England knows his Scottish behind is safe, he has rallied the Parliament to join in the coalition against Daesh.
British lawmakers voted on Friday to join the U.S.-led coalition of nations launching airstrikes on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq, committing warplanes to the struggle against the armed group.

Prime Minister David Cameron described the moves as critical to national security, arguing that facing down the Al-Qaeda splinter group has become a matter of urgency.

He made a passionate plea that spelled out the consequences of inaction in drastic terms — noting that the group had beheaded their victims, gouged out eyes and carried out crucifixions to promote goals from the "Dark Ages."

The vote was 524-43.

Earlier in the day, Belgium and Denmark also voted to join the coalition.
With all these friends, Daesh will be trampled, sooner or later.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Before the success of Lake Street Dive


Rachael Price had impressive efforts singing jazz and gospel music. Here she sings the old standard "You Go To My Head" from her 2008 album The Good Hours.


Definetly getting up on the wrong side of bed


From the pen of Kevin Siers



When laws collide


Alaska is a strange and unique place. Not only did the majority believe that the Wasilla Mauler, Snooki Palin was fit to be governor, something even she knew was wrong, but they believe there is a right to privacy sufficient to allow people to possess small amounts of pot.
In 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in Ravin v. State that the right to possess, cultivate and consume small amounts of marijuana in the home was protected under the state Constitution's right to privacy.

As you might imagine, that ruling has faced some opposition over the years, and has been placed into legal limbo from time to time due to various ballot and legislative challenges. But Alaska courts have repeatedly and consistently upheld the notion that Constitutional privacy protections cover the personal possession, cultivation and use of marijuana in Alaska.

"Alaskans can currently lawfully possess up to four ounces of marijuana in their homes for personal use [and cultivate up to 25 plants], but still risk prosecution under existing state and federal statutes," concludes University of Alaska law professor Jason Brandeis in an exhaustive history of Alaska marijuana law (which makes for a pretty interesting read if you're into such things). You could still technically be charged with marijuana possession if caught with less than four ounces in your home, but a court would essentially have to throw the charge out.

This puts Alaska in a unique position: in some respects its marijuana laws are more liberal than those in the Netherlands, which outlaw personal cultivation completely. While all eyes are on Colorado and Washington to see how those experiments with legal marijuana turn out, Alaska, with 39 years of (admittedly complicated) legalization history is largely overlooked: you'd think that forces on both sides of the national marijuana debate would be looking to Alaska for answers and arguments. Why aren't they?
A good question as the state presents a nice model for social advantages to the Holy Herb. Whatever gets you through the night up there.

If he is the epitome of evil


Why does he make so much sense when he speaks. Iran's President Rouhani spoke at the UN yesterday and he doesn't sound at all like the horrid monster that the Likud, AIPAC and their running dogs in this country paint him to be.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran delivered a searing indictment of Western and Arab states on Thursday in his annual speech to the United Nations, blaming them for sowing the seeds of extremism in the Middle East with “strategic blunders” that have given rise to the Islamic State and other violent jihadist groups.

“Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hands of madmen, who now spare no one,” Mr. Rouhani said, adding that “all those who have played a role in founding and supporting these terror groups must acknowledge their errors” and apologize.

He also used the occasion to denounce the Western-led sanctions imposed on Iran’s nuclear program and reiterated his government’s desire to resolve Iran’s protracted dispute with the United States and other nations over the program.

He implied that the nuclear negotiations were linked to Iran’s cooperation in combating the Islamic State and its affiliates, saying that no security cooperation was possible until the sanctions were lifted. “The people of Iran, who have been subjected to pressures especially in the last three years as a result of continued sanctions, cannot place trust in any security cooperation between their government with those who have imposed sanctions and created obstacles in the way of satisfying even their primary needs, such as food and medicine,” he said.

Mr. Rouhani’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly, his second as Iran’s president, began by striking some of the same notes that his counterparts from the United States and Europe struck on Wednesday regarding the rise of the Islamic State, the militant group that now controls parts of Syria and Iraq. President Obama, in his speech on Wednesday, called on all nations to unite in a concerted effort to destroy the group, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Mr. Rouhani denied that Iran sought to control other nations in the region, calling that belief “delusional Iranophobia,” and reminded the world that Iran was among the first countries to assist Iraq in June, when Islamic State fighters invaded from neighboring Syria.

He said the extremist group and its affiliates, which have drawn recruits from around the world, do not represent the true teachings of Islam.

“I am struck that these murderous groups call themselves Islamic,” he said.
Time for a reassessment of Iran because Rouhani sounds like a better ally that Israel.

Forgiveness and a second chance


One of the better aspects of Christianity, sadly in the case of Father Augustus Cortez it led to the wrong kind of second chance.
New York priest who has been on probation for nearly six years for child sex abuse has disappeared after another family accused him of molesting a 6-year-old girl.

Father Augustus Cortez was previously convicted of groping a 12-year-old girl, but he had been allowed to continue serving as a priest for the Vincentian religious order in Brooklyn.

Police arrested the 50-year-old Cortez and questioned him in the latest case but allowed him to leave in his own car, and he hasn’t been seen since, reported Newsday.

A warrant was issued for his arrest on first-degree sexual abuse charges.

Family members said Cortez molested the girl in June during a high school graduation party for her older sister.

“I heard him jump up and get startled,” the girl’s mother told WLNY-TV. “He was very scared and afraid and when I walked around the other side he approached the window and in the reflection, I saw him I saw him pull up his zipper. That’s when I first knew that he was doing something wrong. I was very shocked.”

The victim contracted a sexually transmitted disease from the priest, relatives said.

Cortez pleaded guilty in 2008 to forcible touching after admitting to reaching inside a preteen girl’s shirt to feel her breast, the newspaper reported, and was sentenced to six years on probation.

The Rev. Michael Carroll, provincial of the Vincentian order, wrote a letter to the court insisting that Cortez would not be permitted to present himself as a priest but would instead be given a non-clerical role such as bookkeeper or gardener.

The church official said Cortez would be supervised and given no contact with children, but Newsday reported family photos show the clergyman with both daughters over a period of several years.

He also continued to say Mass, the family said, although the Vincentians said in a statement that Cortez was not authorized to engage in public ministry or to be alone with children.
So he got his second chance and failed that as well, and is on the lam because he knows with the current Pope, even Cardinal Timmy "The Bagman" Doyle won't try to save his ass. The question remaining is, where did he get the STD?

Don't punish us for your screwup


Thanks to an amazing failure to perform their jobs properly, the Secret Service is responding to last weeks intruder with suggestions for "expanding" the White House security perimeter. And the public response has been entirely negative.
Washingtonians are pushing back against suggestions that the U.S. Secret Service might make it harder for the public to get close to the White House.

Reports in recent days suggested the service might respond to a security breach at the White House by increasing the security perimeter around the White House.

But locals and tourists alike, including Washington’s nonvoting member of Congress and a prominent architecture critic, say the service charged with guarding the president shouldn’t punish the public for its own lapse.

“Under no circumstances should the Secret Service be allowed to encroach further on the public space of Washington,” wrote Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post’s art and architecture critic. “This is an institutional, organizational problem,” he wrote. “It does not require an architectural solution.”

Officials already have gone too far in pushing back the public in the name of security throughout the nation’s capital, he said. “Ill-considered, unnecessary and undemocratic security measures” already block the public from the west terrace at the U.S. Capitol and from the front doors of the Supreme Court, he said.

The service on Monday imposed what it called a “temporary buffer zone” along the public sidewalk on the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the White House. The waist-high barriers – like those used for crowd control at parades – prevent the public from getting close to the fence.

A spokesman for the Secret Service said Wednesday that the temporary closure would be in effect while the service conducted a “comprehensive review” of the fence-jumping incident last Friday, in which a man with a small knife climbed over the permanent fence, bolted across the lawn and made it into the White House before being detained.
The SS is so slow to respond that they must increase the distance to give themselves a fighting chance. So much for those steely eyed lightning responses they are supposedly trained for.

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