Thursday, August 28, 2014

What's Not To Like?

When The Like sing "Fair Game" from their 2010 album Release Me

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

If Ani DeFranco likes her

That's recommendation enough for me. Anais Mitchell sings "Dyin Day" with some help from The Young Man band.

Quote of the Day

Under no circumstances should girls be told that their clothing is responsible for boys’ bad behaviors. This kind of message lands itself squarely on a continuum that blames girls and women for assault by men… If the sight of a girl’s leg is too much for boys at Haven to handle, then your school has a much bigger problem to deal with.
Parents of Haven Middle Schoolers in Evanston, IL to the school administration regarding the dress code.

Watch out for that natural stuff.

From the pen of Jim Morin

Meanwhile over in Shitholeistan

There is still no answer to the age old question, which side cheated more in the presidential elections?
Afghanistan’s deadlocked presidential election was plunged into further turmoil Wednesday, as both run-off candidates pulled their observers from a U.N.-backed audit of votes.

The recount formed part of a U.S.-brokered deal to head off growing tension over the results of the national ballot between rivals Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, who have both claimed victory in the contest intended to mark the country's first democratic transfer of power.

Abdullah’s side said Thursday that the process was “full of fraud,” with the former foreign minister’s chief auditor adding: “We boycotted the audit process today because it is worthless for us.”

A few hours later, the United Nations asked former finance minister Ghani’s team to withdraw its observers in the interests of fairness.

Abdullah had earlier signaled his intention to pull out of the audit. He accuses those involved in the process of refusing to throw out fraudulent ballot papers and has demanded an independent investigation.

Allegations of vote fraud have long dogged the presidential election.

Liam McDowall, a spokesman for the United Nations in Kabul, confirmed that there had been a "temporary pause'' in the audit process but said monitors did not anticipate it would be a significant disruption.
In the meantime the country just keeps on plugging along and the Taliban keeps on attacking and Karzai of the Afghans is shifting as much money as he can to overseas banks. And hopefully we will have to pull everybody out at the end of the year.

Deep in the heart of Texas

Lies the archetypical Texas city, Houston. And in the heart of Houston exists a situation that must strike terror into the heart of Gov. Rick "Nuts of Steel" Perry and his Teabagger accomplices, diversity.
In the past 20 years, Houston — that most Texan of Texan cities — has come to look more and more like the taxi drivers. Between 1990 and 2010, Greater Houston added more than 2.2 million people (PDF) and now boasts a population of more than 6 million (the city proper has 2.2 million residents). The metropolitan area has eclipsed New York and Los Angeles to become the most racially and ethnically diverse in the United States.

A joint report published last year by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas (PDF) found that Greater Houston scores highest on the Entropy Index, which measures diversity according to the presence and relative proportions of the four major racial groups (white, black, Hispanic and Asian). All five Houston counties have become more diverse over the past two decades, with increased numbers of Hispanics (from 21 to 35 percent) and Asians (from 3.4 to 6.5 percent), a stable population of blacks (about 17 percent) and a decrease in whites or “Anglos” (from over 50 to under 40 percent), though rates of residential segregation remain high.

On July 12, Houston Mayor Annise Parker hosted her third annual Iftar dinner, symbolically breaking the Ramadan fast with 2,000 guests. “We have the largest refugee, expat and immigrant population in the U.S.,” she told the crowd, praising the city’s diversity and calling for a compassionate response to young Central Americans crossing the border. It was an un-Texan speech at an un-Texan meal delivered by an un-Texan politician: Parker is a three-term liberal and married lesbian. Her nuptials, however, took place in California, for her home state doesn’t recognize her wife.

On maps, Houston resembles a spider web. Its two concentric freeways — Interstate 610 and the Sam Houston Parkway — and radiating highway spokes form neighborhoods as likely to be populated by new immigrants as longtime white, black and Hispanic residents.

The city has the highest concentration of refugees in the country, thanks to its strong network of placement agencies, job opportunities and reasonable cost of living. Since the late 1970s, the city has welcomed 70,000 refugees: Bosnians and Cambodians fleeing genocide, the Lost Boys of Sudan and Vietnamese, Iraqis and Afghans escaping destructive U.S. interventions in their homelands. According to a State Department spokesman, Houston's diversity begets more diversity. Refugees are placed in part on the basis of existing friend and family networks, which "can make a big difference in helping a refugee family successfully settle in the United States, assisting with everything from finding work to teaching American cultural and social norms." And it's not just Houston. Texas receives more refugees than any other state — nearly 7,000 in 2013 — and more than 10 percent of the nation's total.
Allahu Akbar y'all!

Not really bipartisan

Some issues in Congress
enjoy the support of Republicans and Democrats because they are geocentric. Just like in the good old pre-ideology days, members vote the needs of their constituents rather than their paymasters.
In April, underscoring the role of politics in earthquake matters, 25 House Democrats from California, Oregon and Washington endorsed a proposal to provide $16.1 million for an earthquake early warning system. No Republican signed the letter requesting the funds.

But it was the White House, in turn, that proposed earlier this year to reduce funding for geodetic monitoring and seismic profiling. The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee restored funding; not coincidentally, the chairman of the relevant subcommittee, Rep. Ken Calvert, represents an earthquake-prone stretch of Southern California.

Fiscal 2015 Interior Department funding bills approved by both House and Senate appropriations committees currently include $5 million for earthquake early warning. The money would upgrade a West Coast demonstration project, the first time Congress has specifically allocated funds to such a warning system.

“I continue to be encouraged by the advancements in the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) earthquake early warning system,” Calvert said in a statement Tuesday, adding he will be collaborating with “colleagues, especially those from areas affected by the Napa earthquake, to ensure we implement the early warning system in an effective manner.”

The congressman who represents Napa, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., is currently “focused on recovery efforts” but has “always been supportive of research into early warning systems,” spokesman Austin Vevurka said Tuesday.

A separate Senate funding bill urges the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give grant priorities to projects for early warning systems.
Nobody likes to stand on shaky ground.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Will you vote to get rid of the stink?

According to research, the lower the approval of Congress, the more likely people are to vote in a mid term election. Like when the stink of the dead dog on the roadside finally moves someone to bury it.
Could voter disdain for Congress motivate more people to turn out this November? Could be.

A new Gallup study suggests that in recent elections, disapproval of Congress’ job performance meant higher turnout. Currently, Gallup’s congressional job approval is 13 percent, with 19 percent of registered voters saying members of Congress deserve re-election.

Voters may feel they can effect change, since in 1994, 2006 and 2010 control of the House of Representatives changed parties.

“There has been a clear pattern of turnout being on the higher end of the midterm year range when Americans were less approving of Congress,” said Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones in the Gallup study.

“Since 1994, voters may have a greater belief that they can change the federal government and its policies by their choices of members of Congress in midterm elections. That belief in turn may help drive up turnout when voters feel a change is needed.”
Higher turnouts traditionally favor the Democrats because all the crazies are already voting for their Teabagger darlings.

A curiously haunting video

Jill Barber sings "Oh My, My" from her 2008 album Chances.

Mission creep

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

Too much of a good thing is not good

And two of those things together are worse. With all that Bakken crude to move and no pipelines in place, the railroads have their hands full moving it in tank cars. Add to that record corn and soybean crops coming in that needs to move by rail and you have an overload of the system.
Railroads have long been the backbone of North Dakota’s transportation system and the most dependable way for farmers to move crops — to ports in Portland, Ore., Seattle and Vancouver, from which the bulk of the grain is shipped across the Pacific to Asia; and to East Coast ports like Albany, from which it is shipped to Europe.

But reports the railroads filed with the federal government show that for the week that ended Aug. 22, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway — North Dakota’s largest railroad, owned by the billionaire Warren E. Buffett — had a backlog of 1,336 rail cars waiting to ship grain and other products. Another railroad, Canadian Pacific, had a backlog of nearly 1,000 cars.

For farmers, the delays often mean canceled orders from food giants that cannot wait weeks or months for the grain they need to make cereal, bread and an array of other products. “They need to get this problem fixed,” Mr. Hejl said. “I’m losing money, and my customers are turning to other sources as a result. I don’t know how much longer we can survive like this.”

This month, federal Agriculture Department officials said they were particularly concerned that Canadian Pacific would not be able to fulfill nearly 30,000 requests from farmers and others for rail cars before October. As a result, North Dakota’s congressional delegation and lawmakers in Minnesota and South Dakota have called on the Surface Transportation Board, which oversees the nation’s railroads, to step up pressure on the companies.

“This rail backlog is a national problem,” Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota, said in an interview. “The inability of farmers to get these grains to market is not only a problem for agriculture, but for companies that produce cereals, breads and other goods.”

A recent study conducted by North Dakota State University at Ms. Heitkamp’s request found that rail congestion could cost farmers in the state more than $160 million because a local oversupply of grain has lowered prices.

The study also found that farmers would lose $67 million in revenue from wheat, corn and soybeans from January to mid-April. Around $95 million more in losses are expected if farmers are unable to move their remaining inventory of crops.

The study was done before the current harvest, which is forecast at a record 273 million bushels of wheat, up from 235 million bushels in 2013. This year’s soybean harvest is also expected to be a record, and corn will be a near-record.

Food companies say they are feeling the effects of the delayed shipments. General Mills, the Minnesota-based maker of Cheerios, told investors in March that it had lost 62 days of production — as much as 4 percent of its output — in the quarter that ended in February because of winter logistics problems, including rail-car congestion. In its earnings report this month, Cargill, another Minnesota-based food giant, reported a drop in net earnings that it attributed in part to “higher costs related to rail-car shortages.”

Farmers and agriculture groups say rail operators are clearly favoring the more lucrative transport of oil. Rail shipments of crude oil in North Dakota have surged since 2008, and the state now produces about a million barrels a day. About 60 percent of that oil travels by train from the Bakken oil fields in the western part of the state to faraway oil refiners. There are few pipelines to ship it.
The oil won't spoil but since it pays better, it is hard to imagine that grain will get any favors in this mess.

Everyone wants the best for their children

And the latest research by the Girl Scout shows that if you want the best for your daughter, don't plan on living in the South.
If you want the best for your daughter, consider moving north. Where girls live in America matters to their overall comfort, health and prosperity, according to a report ranking every U.S. state and the District of Columbia.

The latest in a series of reports on girls’ health and well-being by the Girl Scouts Research Institute shows that girls generally fare better in the Midwest, Northeast and mid-Atlantic.

“It has to do partly with strong education,” said Mark Mather, the report’s lead researcher and a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a research organization in Washington, D.C.

New Hampshire ranked at the top, based on 23 indicators of education, extracurricular activities, economic well-being, emotional health and physical health and safety. The Dakotas, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New Jersey also ranked in the top 10.

The bottom states — including Mississippi (50th), Arkansas and Georgia — are mostly in the South. In all the low-ranking states, educational achievement and opportunities lagged.

States that offer preschool education and have lower high school dropout rates almost always ranked higher. “It tells the story of the importance of education for girls,” Mather said. “A lot of states are moving towards universal preschool. Getting a good start makes a difference for low-income families.”...

“Girls are thriving in some areas, but there are portions of our population really left behind,” said Kamla Modi, senior researcher with the Girl Scout Research Institute and a co-author of the report. “It’s the first we’ve really seen how different the data is geographically. There are real issues girls are facing in the South.”

In Alabama (30th), where 30 percent of girls are African-American, the state was ranked 42nd in educational well-being and 34th in economic well-being. When Liz Brent, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, met recently with a state legislator to discuss the state’s poor ranking, “he thought it was a happy thing because we weren’t 48th,” she said. “This really did point [to] some issues we needed to focus on … It’s incumbent on us to be much more aggressive.”
On the other hand, if she lives in Texas she has the best chance of breaking into the porn business.

Key to threat identification

Rapid identification is important to safety.

No connection without a thank you note

Really, it would be the height of rudeness to not include a thank you note with their campaign contributions if there had been any connection with the tax break.
Less than a month after voting to give a Wisconsin furniture company a $6 million tax credit that allows it to lay off half its in-state workforce, Gov. Scott Walker (R) received $20,000 in campaign donations from the company’s leadership, a newspaper in the state reports.

Ashley Furniture won the credit from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) in January on a 9-2 vote. As WEDC Chairman, Walker was one of the 9 votes in favor. Then in February his campaign received four $5,000 donations from company founder Ronald Wanek, current CEO Todd Wanek, and their respective spouses, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

A Walker spokeswoman told the State Journal that there was no connection between the WEDC decision and the campaign contributions that followed. Neither the governor’s office nor his campaign nor Ashley Furniture responded to emails from ThinkProgress requesting comment on the story.

Walker is currently under scrutiny for allegedly soliciting far larger donations to the state arm of the Club for Growth. But while the dollar figures involved in that ongoing court case are attention-grabbing, the alleged misconduct there is less overtly tied to Walker’s ability to make decisions that help donors’ bottom line. The Club for Growth investigation suggests that Walker may have illegally coordinated with an outside electioneering group in violation of campaign finance law while soliciting contributions from vulture capitalist Paul Singer, Home Depot founder Ken Langone, and other billionaires who frequently open their checkbooks for right-wing causes.

The Ashley Furniture story features a more direct, localized use of Walker’s authority over state funds. The company says the deal, which is worth more than all its previous tax incentives from the state combined, will allow it to expand its headquarters in Arcadia, WI.

“But it wouldn’t require Ashley to create any new jobs, instead granting the company license to lay off half of its current 3,848 Wisconsin-based workers in exchange for an enterprise zone tax credit,” the State Journal reports, calling the credit “one of the most valuable and coveted state subsidies.” A WEDC spokesman told the State Journal that it “is committed to doing whatever it can to work with the company and preserve those jobs.” A former WEDC executive told the paper he didn’t think the group had ever handed out a tax subsidy that was conditioned on job cuts rather than job growth, but added that the the specific circumstances in this case could warrant such a move.
Just because the only people who benefit are the management and owners of Ashley Furniture, it is a stretch to imagine that Governor Homunculus was fishing for cash. It just looks that way so move along, nothing more to see here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Canadian covering Canadian

Jenn Grant does an excellent version of Leonard Cohen's "Lover, Lover, Lover"

Playing it safe in Ferguson

Tom Tomorrow
has all the proper responses to keep the Authorities happy in a handy printable flyer form.

Can't see the forest for the trees

From the pen of Matt Wuerker

Another country heard from

With all the fun and games going on in the Middle East, this latest development really shouldn't surprise anyone.
Twice in the last seven days, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have secretly teamed up to launch airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli, Libya, four senior American officials said, in a major escalation between the supporters and opponents of political Islam.

The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said.

The strikes are another high-risk and destabilizing salvo unleashed in a struggle for power that has broken out across the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolts, pitting old-line Arab autocrats against Islamists.

Since the military ouster of the Islamist president in Egypt one year ago, the new Egyptian government, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc exerting influence in countries around the region to rollback what they see as a competing threat from Islamists. Arrayed against them are the Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, backed by friendly governments in Turkey and Qatar, that sprang forward amid the Arab spring revolts.

Libya is the latest, and hottest, battleground. Several officials said that United States diplomats were fuming about the airstrikes, believing they could further inflame the Libyan conflict at a time when the United Nations and Western powers are seeking a peaceful resolution.

“We don’t see this as constructive at all,” said one senior American official.
What!? Dropping bombs on people you don't like is not constructive? Perhaps the senior American official should have noted that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and accepted it with good grace.

Nunn polls ahead in Georgia

Thanks in no small part to support from women voters.
Nunn has 47 percent in the new WSB-TV Channel 2/Landmark Communications poll, while Perdue has 40 percent. The poll was conducted Aug. 20-21. The big reason for Nunn’s lead: The gender gap.

The results differ from a finding Aug. 12-13 by InsiderAdvantage/Fox 5, which found Perdue ahead, 47-40.

In the WSB poll, Nunn is ahead, 52-34 percent, among women, while Perdue leads by 7 among men.

“There’s a widening or stagnant gender gap. Mr. Perdue does not seem to be moving or closing his number,” said Channel 2 analyst Bill Crane in a story posted on the WSB site. “He’s about 20 points behind Michelle Nunn in females.”
Any wonder why?

R.I.P. Richard Attenborough

A great talent on either side of the camera.

Mark this on your caledar

But you can register before then if you wish and help others do so as well.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Abbey Lincoln, jazz singer, songwriter and actress

"Throw It Away" is from a 1980 album Painted Lady featuring Archie Shepp on saxophone.

Rat's Civics Lesson

From the pen of Stephan Pastis

When the child molester is an ambassador

What do countries do?
Diplomats traditionally have immunity from criminal acts in the countries where they are posted. But when you are ambassador or nuncio for the Vatican and you have been sexing children in the Dominican Republic should you face the music at home or be shipped back to the scene of the crime?
The case is the first time that a top Vatican ambassador, or nuncio — who serves as a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors. It has sent shock waves through the Vatican and two predominantly Catholic countries that have only begun to grapple with clergy sexual abuse: the Dominican Republic and Poland, where Mr. Wesolowski was ordained by the Polish prelate who later became Pope John Paul II.

It has also created a test for Pope Francis, who has called child sexual abuse “such an ugly crime” and pledged to move the Roman Catholic Church into an era of “zero tolerance.” For priests and bishops who have violated children, he told reporters in May, “There are no privileges.”

Mr. Wesolowski has already faced the harshest penalty possible under the church’s canon law, short of excommunication: on June 27, he was defrocked by the Vatican, reducing him to the status of a layman. The Vatican, which as a city-state has its own judicial system, has also said it intends to try Mr. Wesolowski on criminal charges — the first time the Vatican has held a criminal trial for sexual abuse.

But far from settling the matter, the Vatican has stirred an outcry because it helped Mr. Wesolowski avoid criminal prosecution and a possible jail sentence in the Dominican Republic. Acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome last year before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Mr. Wesolowski so that he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic.

The Vatican’s handling of the case shows both the changes the church has made in dealing with sexual abuse, and what many critics call its failures. When it comes to removing pedophiles from the priesthood, the Vatican is moving more assertively and swiftly than before. But as Mr. Wesolowski’s case suggests, the church continues to be reluctant to report people suspected of abuse to the local authorities and allow them to face justice in secular courts.
Ambassadors have frequently committed crimes of all types in their host nations only to return to their home countries and face no consequences. But the Vatican's position on child molesters makes that an impossibility. And worse, too many believe the Vatican will not punish Mr. Wesolowski to the degree they feel he deserves. The Vatican can waive his immunity and return him to the DR. That would surely send a clear signal that Pope Francis means what he says about child molestation.

Where the dandelion hits the road

From a persistent weed
to a promising source of rubber, the image of dandelions may soon take a turn for the better thanks to research by a Dutch biologist.
Dutch biologist Ingrid van der Meer often meets with disbelief when she talks about her work on dandelions and how it could secure the future of road transport.

The reaction is understandable, given most people regard the yellow flowers as pesky intruders in their gardens rather than a promising source of rubber for tires.

"People just think of it as a horrible weed and ask how can you get enough material for tires from just a small root," she said.

Her research team is competing with others across the world to breed a type of dandelion native to Kazakhstan whose taproot yields a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it.

Global tire makers such as industry leader Bridgestone Corp and No.4 player Continental AG believe they are in for rich pickings and are backing such research to the tune of millions of dollars.

Early signs are good. A small-scale trial by a U.S. research team found the dandelions delivered per-hectare rubber yields on a par with the best rubber-tree plantations in tropical Asia.

So within a decade, rather than being a backyard bane like their wild cousins, the new flowers might be seen in neat rows in hundreds of thousands of acres across Europe and the United States, where they can grow even in poor soil.

And they could have some interesting modifications. For instance, German researchers have bred the plants to grow to up to a foot (30 cm) in height, dwarfing many of their backyard cousins. They are also developing the dandelions with upright rather than flat-growing leaves - just so harvesting machines have something to grab on to.
But what happens when your tires go to seed while your driving? And can you make wine from the discards?

The state of religion in America

From the pen of The Great Gahan Wilson

There's big money in those poors

That is why the hottest retail segment in America is the "Dollar" stores, Family Dollar, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and the like.
Mid-market retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Macy's Inc and J.C. Penney Company Inc have been struggling in recent years as consumers have been slow to return to their pre-recession, freer spending ways. On Wednesday, Target said it was cutting its full-year earnings and slashing prices.

But the popularity of so-called dollar stores is growing. Shopping by the 46.5 million Americans living below the poverty line poor helped boost the annual U.S. market for deep discount stores by 45.7 percent to $48.2 billion between 2008 and 2013, according to London-based market researcher Euromonitor International. The firm projects the sector to grow to $57 billion in 2018. The U.S. Census sets the poverty line at $24,000 a year or less for a family of four.

Such forecasts help explain the battle over Family Dollar, the number-two deep discount chain. Market leader Dollar General Corp on Monday made its $78.50 a share bid, which Family Dollar rejected on Thursday, citing antitrust concerns. In July, the third-ranked chain, Dollar Tree Inc, bid $74.50 a share. Family Dollar has said it prefers Dollar Tree's lower offer.

The deep discounters' reliance on poor Americans, who made up 15 percent of the U.S. population in 2012, compared with 12.5 percent in 2007, has been validated by investors. From 2000 to now, as the poverty rate rose 11.3 percent to 15 percent, Family Dollar's stock price rose by about 300 percent.

Against that backdrop, the bidding over Family Dollar, said Kurt Jetta, CEO of retail analyst Tabs Group, reflects an "acceptance that there will be a sizable and perhaps growing low-income population that makes dollar stores an ongoing opportunity."

Not all analysts agree that dollar stores are poised for continued growth. Roger Davidson, a former grocery executive at Wal-Mart, Whole Foods Market Inc and Supervalu, said dollar stores face increasing competition from other discounters, including Walmart itself, which is opening smaller neighborhood stores.

"Consolidation is now the only path to growth in sales and earnings," he said.
And unless corporate America keeps squeezing the working class, the "Dollars" may have already filled their niche and have only corporate cannibalism ahead.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The B-side of this was "Time Is On My Side"

Irma Thomas singing "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)" in 1964

R.I.P. Jean Redpath

Scots singer
and balladeer.

Canada's First Immigrants problem

The Indian owners of Prime Canadian land are getting upset with the failures of the Ottawa government to complete negotiations with the local Indian tribes. And they are promising to evict various paleface companies from their lands if nothing is settled.
A dispute over land now has Gitxsan hereditary chiefs threatening to grind trade along that route to a halt. If the British Columbia (B.C.) government doesn’t address the Gitxsan’s concerns by Sept. 16, the group’s leaders say they could begin service disruptions along the railway through their territory, escalating a longstanding feud with the province.

Last month, chiefs served what they called “eviction notices” to the national railway, logging companies and sportfishing operators, asking them to halt commercial activities in the aboriginal people’s sleepy territory. Additional police have been dispatched.

“Everything is on the table until we get our desired result,” said Beverley Clifton Percival, a negotiator for the Gitxsan who also goes by her First Nations name, Gwaans.

The Gitxsan say the province has included land inhabited by their people in treaties proposed for two neighboring Indian bands. Placing new pressure on the Gitxsan’s stalled land negotiations is the natural-gas boom spurred by hydraulic fracturing (fracking). In fact, the Gitxsan Treaty Society, a negotiating body composed of a small group of hereditary chiefs, has broken off discussions on two proposed pipelines that would transport liquefied natural gas, or LNG, through their territory. There’s also intense debate in the province about plans to construct two pipelines for the transport of heavy crude oil from the neighboring province of Alberta to Canada’s west coast. One, Enbridge Northern Gateway, would run near Gitsxan territory.

The Gitxsan and First Nations peoples across the country have been emboldened by a June Supreme Court of Canada decision they describe as a “game changer.” In that case, the court sided with the Tsilhqot’in First Nation, a band of roughly 3,000 people residing in British Columbia’s interior, in a dispute over commercial logging. The court ruled that because the Tsilhqot’in were found to hold “aboriginal title” over the territory in question, their permission was required before logging could proceed.

“Canada is witnessing something that I call the rise of native empowerment,” said Bill Gallagher, a lawyer and author who specializes in First Nations legal challenges. “The Supreme Court of Canada has declared, verbatim, that the doctrine of terra nullius — that nobody was here when flags were planted by colonizers — that that doctrine does not apply in Canada.”
Could be big trouble brewing. And the Mounties won't be much help with this one.

We did it before and we can do it again.

Because failing to provide any assistance to another minority group in northern Iraq threatened by IS would damage our street cred. This time it is a village of Shiite Turkmen that is in trouble.
Amerli, a Turkmen enclave, has resisted the Islamic State’s sweep into Iraq since June 20, when it was first attacked.

Now out of water and electricity, its residents are pleading for help from the Iraqi and U.S. militaries to end the siege with airstrikes and an assault.

They want the U.S. and Iraqi governments to intervene as forcefully to save them from the extremists as they did to protect thousands of Yazidis who were overrun by militants in the city of Sinjar on Aug. 3.

“All our suffering comes from politics,” bemoaned Abu Ali, questioning why the minority Shiite Turkmen in his city have been left mostly to fend for themselves while others have been rescued.

The Islamic State reached the gates of Amerli on June 20 as it pushed through Salahadin province after seizing the city of Mosul. The Islamic State displaced hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims, whom the extremists regard as infidels, throughout the region.

Amerli was the lone holdout among its neighboring Shiite communities. Residents say the Islamic State now has all of its exit roads blocked, meaning no one can escape the fighting.

Niyazi Mimaroglu, a Turkmen member of Iraq’s Parliament, this week demanded more direct intervention from Western governments. He called their inaction so far “astonishing.”

The city’s 12,000 residents are getting by amid the scorching summer heat with limited medical resources and twice-weekly resupply missions flown by the Iraqi military out of Baghdad.

Even those flights have been interrupted by the Islamic State’s ferocious recent attacks on Amerli, said Michael Knights, a fellow at The Washington Institute who has spent time with Amerli residents and remained in touch with them since the siege began.
One more step into the Big Muddy.

Your Saturday Bernie

Because he is always working for us.

Friday, August 22, 2014

From Brooklyn to Boston

And married to another folk singer has been Kris Delmhorst's lot in life. Along the way she has written and sung songs like "Yellow Brick Road".

The true cost of the war

From the pen of Joel Pett

It will never end.

Since World War II began we have found it well nigh impossible to completely end or wars. Euope and Japan? We still have enough bases to qualify as an occupier. Korea? Still a state of war held in abeyance by a truce. And we are still pushing to stay in our current failure, Afghanistan. So it is no surprise that the Pentagon types are pushing for a bigger piece of the action in Iraq. And Congress is being coy and shy so as not to be seen as the warmongering roundheels they really are.
For weeks, Capitol Hill has tried to keep America’s military engagement in Iraq at arm’s length: Democrats and Republicans warily backed President Obama’s limited airstrikes against Sunni militants, but nobody — aside from Senator John McCain and a few fellow hawks — demonstrated an appetite for deeper involvement.

Now, though, the gruesome execution of an American journalist, James Foley, has drawn an intensely emotional reaction from lawmakers in both parties, with many issuing statements condemning the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the group responsible for Mr. Foley’s killing, and some urging Mr. Obama to redouble the fight against it.

There were signs on Thursday that the Obama administration is weighing that, with the White House and the Pentagon refusing to rule out military action against the group in Syria. But far from satisfying Congress, a wider conflict could put lawmakers, particularly Democrats, in a difficult position, since most deeply oppose any new war in the Middle East.

“Most Democrats and Republicans are extraordinarily wary of being sucked into a large occupation, both because it will kill a lot of Americans and because we saw in Iraq the last time that it didn’t work,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
In an election year the M-I-C will be filling up the campaign coffers of their "friends" but will bide their time until after the election. Then it will be safe to go back and pick up where we left off. And some in the Pentagon are actually hoping for an expansion into Syria. Wat da hell! An Arab's an Arab.

Is one national nightmare finally over?

In a positive sign for the national news media, McClatchy has finally become aware of the simple truth, nobody really gives a damn about Caribou Barbie anymore.
Sarah Palin has lost the magic. The defeat of her choice Tuesday in a Republican Senate primary in her home state of Alaska capped a primary season in which her favored candidates have stumbled across the nation.

A referendum to restore Palin’s signature achievement from her time as Alaska governor, a state tax on oil companies, was also headed toward defeat following Tuesday’s voting, dealing a double whammy loss to Palin in her home state and highlighting her declining influence.

Only four of the 15 congressional candidates endorsed by Palin nationwide this year have won their primaries, a far worse record than the previous two elections, when Palin played a role as kingmaker and her approval was eagerly sought by candidates looking for an edge with Republican voters.
There are still a small number of nitwits with more money than sense that allow her to maintain some fundraising mojo. But even these people will realize they are throwing good money after bad and will go seek their next grizzly excuse for a human being.

Why again are we in Iraq?

The numbers don't really matter, it is the people we associate with that determine our actions and the results. With "friends" like this we should once again turn about and leave.
Gunmen allegedly associated with a pro-government Shiite militia slaughtered more than 70 worshipers at a Sunni mosque in Diyala Province Friday, heightening Iraq’s sectarian divide in a volatile part of the country where government forces are battling militants from the Islamic State.

The gunmen, reported to be members of one of the volunteer Shiite militias that have been working alongside the Iraqi army for two months, reportedly took 30 minutes to execute men attending Friday prayers at the Mosaib bin Omair mosque, according to witnesses on the scene.

“When we entered the mosque (after the killings) it looked like hell, like judgment day,” said Abu Abdullah, who lives near the mosque and heard the attack unfold. “Blood was everywhere.”

The massacre reportedly followed a failed attempt to attack the militias with a roadside bomb. After it exploded, witnesses saw two trucks full of machine gun-carrying men with covered faces enter the mosque.

“They killed all the people in the mosque,” Abu Abdullah said...

Entire families were killed in the mosque, said Sheikh Salman al Jabouri. He said 15 tribes announced their intent to battle the militias because of their outrage over the massacre, indicating a deterioration of support for the government from a Sunni community already fearful of Shiite oppression.
Apparently their god does not deal in hearts and minds.

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