Monday, October 20, 2014

A band from Norway that sings in English

With one funky bass and a lot of fun. Katzenjammer sings "Mother Superior"

Our National House of Horrors

Tom Tomorrow reports on the timely Republican scary, terrifying House of Lies. More frightening than any high school spook set up.

A correct diagnosis

From the pen of David Horsey

Want to keep the Homunculus out of the White House?

At this point, the easiest way is to do whatever you can to get Mary Burke elected governor of Wisconsin. According to all the political pundits, if Scott Walker can't win a second term it will blow the little Kochsucker's chances right out of the water.
In June 2012, the morning after Scott Walker became the first governor ever to survive a recall election, the talk of higher office began in earnest.

Some conservatives said his victory instantly placed him in the mix of potential Republican candidates for president in 2016. Then came a memoir, and then a trip with other potential candidates to a meeting widely understood to be an audition before Sheldon G. Adelson, the casino billionaire and top Republican donor.

But that was then.

Now Mr. Walker, 46, finds himself in a political corner, locked in a rough fight to hold on to his job. But as he battles Mary Burke — a Democrat who was once the state’s commerce secretary, appointed by former Gov. Jim Doyle, but barely known statewide until this campaign — Mr. Walker’s day job is not all that is at stake. His currency as a presidential contender will surely vanish if he cannot win a second term as the governor of Wisconsin.

Even as Republicans are buoyed by hopes of retaking the United States Senate, Mr. Walker has his back to the wall. So intense is the fight that the governor, who defined himself by clashing with labor unions, is pressing to get his political base to the polls. In a state that twice has picked Barack Obama, Mr. Walker might have pursued a more centrist strategy. Instead, he is talking tough, as he did the other day here in Green Bay, pacing around a truck garage, laying out his plan to drug test people seeking food stamps or unemployment benefits.
Will Wisconsin wake up from it's four year nightmare? We hope so because it is the best way to keep the nightmare from spreading to the nation.

Scared Cheap

Or maybe people are just using what funds they have to replace their soiled underwear and clothing. Whatever the cause, Ebola is not inspiring any charitable giving to help West Africa.
Charitable giving to address the Ebola tragedy is almost nonexistent, and the relief agencies that typically seek donations after a catastrophe are mostly silent. “Have you had any email solicitations?” asked Patrick M. Rooney, associate dean at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “If there had been an earthquake or tsunami, my question would be who had solicited you and how many times? Americans aren’t giving because they haven’t really been asked.”

Ever since terrorists took down the World Trade Center in 2001, Americans have generously supported the organizations that swing into action after earthquakes, floods, cyclones, mudslides and other disasters. Propelled by the Internet and cellphones, which make giving as easy as clicking a button, Americans have donated billions of dollars to help victims of the 2004 tsunami that devastated countries around the Indian Ocean, the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, and the 2010 Haitian earthquake, among other calamities.

But the Ebola crisis is different, charity officials and experts say, though it is hard to say exactly why. Perhaps it lacks the visual drama of a natural disaster. Or it is harder for people to understand what their money can do to fight a disease with such a high mortality rate and no sure treatment. It is not even clear that providing food, housing and protective equipment will have any impact — or how those things will get where they are most needed.

“It’s just been more difficult to raise money around this,” said David Whalen, chief development officer at Partners in Health, founded by the physician Paul Farmer to help bolster health care in poor regions.

For one thing, Mr. Whalen and others said, news media coverage of Ebola did not begin to ramp up until an American missionary and a doctor working for Samaritan’s Purse contracted the virus and were taken to Atlanta for treatment in early August. The Centers for Disease Control’s first notice about the current outbreak, noting 86 suspected cases in Guinea, drew little attention four months earlier.

In addition, charities initially had little or no operations in the stricken region for which to raise money, and there was hope that the outbreak would be contained.

Médecins Sans Frontières, known in the United States as Doctors Without Borders, was on the ground at that time, working to fight the disease. But the organization saw no uptick in fund-raising until late July, said Thomas Kurmann, director of development for the United States branch.
Maybe if we tell people that if we help them over there they will stay over there.

Having destroyed almost everything necessary

For a civilized existence,
the latest Gaza Redevelopment Plan relieves Israel from any responsibility for it and sets up a series of restrictive conditions that essentially allows Israel to maintain its illegal blockade of Gaza.
A massive U.N.-supervised project to rebuild Gaza got underway earlier last week, but officials in Gaza and Ramallah are already doubtful that it will bring immediate aid to residents of the battered strip. The reconstruction plan calls for a highly intricate monitoring system, with restrictive measures on the import and distribution of building materials.

This comes at the behest of the Israelis, who have long barred the entry of basic construction materials — including cement, metal pipes and steel — into Gaza, insisting that they are "dual use" items that Hamas could use to build underground tunnels for military purposes.

A new monitoring system will place security personnel and video cameras at distribution points for construction materials, and will vet both suppliers and buyers. And a central database, linked to the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs, but available to Israeli intelligence agencies, will track material entering the Gaza Strip.

The details of this deal were revealed in a document named the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, which outlined a U.N.-brokered agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Palestinian officials have said that Gaza will need almost $7.8 billion in aid to rebuild after the recent Israeli offensive, which lasted 51 days and left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead.

On Sunday Oct. 12, donors pledged $5.4 billion to rebuild the strip, but only $2.7 billion is slated for reconstruction; the rest will support the PA's budget over the next three years.

"It's not enough. Gaza has been destroyed many times since 2000, starting with the second Intifada," said Faisal Abu Shahleh, a senior Fatah member in Gaza. "Israel destroyed all of the infrastructure."

Throughout the war, more than 60,000 houses were destroyed or damaged, forcing one in four Palestinians in Gaza to flee. Around 110,000 people remain displaced.

Approximately 1,000 industrial enterprises, including factories, were also affected. Close to 2.5 million tons of rubble will need to be removed, according to a 72-page Gaza reconstruction plan presented to donors in Cairo.

The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism includes an Israeli-Palestinian-U.N. "high-level steering team" to oversee monitoring.

A spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry said the mechanism was designed to ensure reconstruction in Gaza is done without allowing Hamas to rebuild its military capabilities and "divert funds and products to violence."
There is no truth to the rumor that the IDF requested that bulls-eyes and GPS coordinates be painted on rooftops.

One raises our food...

The other just stinks.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Are you a 1 hit wonder if your song hits the charts twice?

This song made a small impression in 1977 when it was released but rose to #3 in 1982 when it found new listeners. Charlene sings "I've Never Been To Me".

Who do you belong to?

Not you personally, but your data as it is currently being collected in so many ways these days. Take for instance your whereabouts and driving patterns collected by police cameras along the roadways.
Monroe police have been using high-speed cameras to capture license plates in order to log vehicle whereabouts. As of July, the County’s database contained 3.7 million records, with the capability to add thousands more each day. The justification for cops having records of the whereabouts of law-abiding citizens is that the vehicles are driven in public and therefore drivers have no expectation of privacy. It’s an argument that’s at odds with the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in U.S. v. Jones. In Jones, a GPS tracking case, the court held that individuals do have an expectation of privacy when it comes to their long-term whereabouts, even when using public roads.

If cops are determined to violate this privacy, then at least they could behave more consistently. Last summer, Rochester, N.Y.’s Democrat & Chronicle filed a state open records request — more commonly called a FOIL (for Freedom Of Information Law) — for information on seven of its reporter’s license plates as well as two city and county government vehicles. After all, if such information is public when collected, why would it change merely because it’s sitting in a database?

Yet, the request was denied on the basis that releasing the data could be an invasion of personal privacy or could interfere with a law enforcement investigation. I’m skeptical of these arguments for a couple reasons. First, the reporters consented for the information to be released and the government cars belong to the public, so there is no privacy interest here. Second, the cameras are unrelated to any particular investigation. While it’s certainly possible to imagine a scenario where a criminal plots his entire movements to avoid the cameras, it feels a bit outlandish and it’s hard to see how that meaningfully compromises the cops’ ability to catch crooks.
What's mine is yours but now that it's yours, it's private.

Quote of the Day

If I get Ebola, I’m going to buy a lottery ticket.
Billy Willis, Carnival Magic passenger displaying refreshing understanding of the odds involved.

When you can't please any of those people at anytime.

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Lots of bodies, just not the right ones.

In the days since the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico a few things have changed. For the time being no new mass graves are being created, but the number of people murdered by whomever has greatly increased.
Five mass graves have already been discovered in the hunt for 43 students who disappeared last month after clashing with the local police — and another half dozen secret burial sites like this one are being tested to determine the origins of the remains inside.

Even with hundreds of soldiers, federal officers, state personnel and local residents on the trail, the search has still not confirmed what happened to the missing students. Instead, it has turned up something just as chilling: a multitude of clandestine graves with unknown occupants right on the outskirts of town, barely concealing the extensive toll organized crime has taken on this nation.

The students were reported missing after the local police, now accused of working with a local drug gang, shot to death six people on Sept. 26. Prosecutors say they believe that officers abducted a large number of the students and then turned them over to the gang. The students have not been seen since.

President Enrique Peña Nieto has declared the search for the missing students his administration’s top priority. But if anything, the hunt is confirming that the crisis of organized crime in Mexico, where tens of thousands are already known to have been killed in the drug war in recent years, may be worse than the authorities have acknowledged.

The federal government has celebrated official statistics suggesting a decline in homicides in recent months. But the proliferation of graves here in the restive state of Guerrero — including at least 28 charred human bodies that turned out not to be the missing students — has cast new doubt over the government’s tally, potentially pointing to a large number of uncounted dead.

Relatives of the students, who were training to be teachers and planning a protest against cuts to their college, agonize over the discovery of each mass grave. Some have given up searching on their own, convinced that a mafia of criminals and politicians knows where they are but are not saying.
Dead or alive their families want them back and someday maybe law and order in their society.

Just imagine this were in Utah

Or Texas or Florida or any of the unlimited gunhumper states. Now, if you live in one of those states, take a deep breath and think about how safe you would be if any the people found unqualified to own a gun in New York State because of mental instability moved to your town.
A newly created database of New Yorkers deemed too mentally unstable to carry firearms has grown to roughly 34,500 names, a previously undisclosed figure that has raised concerns among some mental health advocates that too many people have been categorized as dangerous.

The database, established in the aftermath of the mass shooting in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, is the result of the Safe Act. It is an expansive package of gun control measures pushed through by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The law, better known for its ban on assault weapons, compels licensed mental health professionals in New York to report to the authorities any patient “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”

But the number of entries in the database highlights the difficulty of America’s complicated balancing act between public safety and the right to bear arms when it comes to people with mental health issues. “That seems extraordinarily high to me,” said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people, now the chief executive of Pathways to Housing, which provides housing to the mentally ill. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”
Given the choice, I would prefer we err on the side of the angels rather than the NRA who would facilitate our meeting with angels.

Who should worry about Ebola

Stolen with thanks from Syrbal

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Don't know where the Crypt is

But Charlene Soraia, a British signer songwriter, sings "Wishing You Well" there.

A Surgeon General would obviate the need for an Ebola czar

This should be good for ratings

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

A real Bank robbery

It appears that the heirs supposed to benefit from an auction of Nazi looted art turned out not to be heirs after all.
When Christie’s auctioned off Edgar Degas’s “Danseuses” for nearly $11 million in 2009, the catalog noted that the masterpiece was being sold as part of a restitution agreement with the “heirs of Ludwig and Margret Kainer,” German Jews whose vast art collection was seized by the Nazis in the years leading up to World War II.

But now a dozen relatives of the Kainers are stepping forward to object. Not only did they fail to benefit from that sale, they say they were never even told about it, or any other auctions of works once owned by the couple, including pieces by Monet and Renoir.

It turns out that the Kainer “heir” that has for years collected proceeds from these sales and other restitutions, including war reparations from the German government, is not a family member but a foundation created by Swiss bank officials.

In lawsuits filed in New York and Switzerland, the Kainer relatives contend that officers of the bank — now part of the global banking giant UBS — never made a diligent effort to find them, and worse, used the family name to create a “sham” foundation ostensibly organized to support the health and education of Jewish youth but actually formed, they say, to cheat them out of their inheritance.

Both the foundation — named after Norbert Levy, Mrs. Kainer’s father — and UBS have said in court papers that they have done nothing wrong, but declined to comment. The lawsuits come as high-profile disputes over looted art focus attention on how courts and governments have handled assets stolen from Jews by the Nazis. Despite the scrutiny, this case shows just how difficult adjudicating such claims remains. The Kainer family lawsuits, for example, involve the legal systems of four countries and rest on the intentions and actions of people who have been dead for many decades. Like many families who survived the Holocaust, the Kainer descendants were not even aware that their relatives had lost or left behind valuables to which they might have a claim. As experts note, the ability to track family members has made great leaps over the years. This case only came to light when Mondex Corporation, which helps recover looted property, noticed in 2009 that hundreds of works once owned by the Kainers had been listed in an international database of art lost in the war years, and then tracked down their relatives.

Then there is the added drama that the New York lawsuit names UBS as a defendant, striking a sensitive chord. UBS, the result of a 1998 merger between Swiss Bank Corporation and the Union Bank of Switzerland, was one of several Swiss banks accused of trying to block attempts by Jewish war survivors and heirs to reclaim assets deposited in what they had thought were safe havens.
The Swiss never were as nice as their image. And the banks are probably the closest to a national criminal organization anywhere.

It will take time.

And when you are working with the 'poor clay' available, we may never end this particular mission.
While Army Gen. Lloyd Austin praised some “encouraging” signs, he cautioned patience on virtually every aspect of this open-ended battle, suggesting that it would take years to build viable Iraqi and Syrian partner forces, reclaim territory from the militants, and reform the oppressive governments whose policies fuel extremism.

“We can and will get the job done and done well,” Austin said. “But, again, it will take time.”

Austin, who has served as the Army’s vice chief of staff and as commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, is known to avoid the limelight. A profile on the niche website Foreign Policy this week described him as “one of the more silent generals” and noted that even President Barack Obama called him out for trying to sneak off the stage at an appearance last month at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., where Central Command is headquartered.

On Friday, however, Austin seemed at ease giving his first public assessment of the much-criticized, still-evolving military campaign he commands. He dwelt on the Obama administration mantra that air power alone won’t defeat the Islamic State, and he acknowledged that the entire effort hinged on the building of trusted, viable ground forces in Iraq and Syria – so far the most elusive part of the strategy.

“We’ll be able to put quality soldiers on the battlefield that can get the job done,” Austin vowed, but, when pressed, he couldn’t predict a time frame.

“It’ll take time,” he repeated.
If we just remember that valuable bit of Soviet wisdom, "Never give you clients your best equipment".

Ebola vaccine not just around the corner

Well, not as most people imagine that to mean. In the world of developing safe vaccines it is, metaphorically speaking. T make a safe and effective vaccine takes much more than a simple "Aha!" in a lab.
Dr. Ripley Ballou, head of Ebola research for Great Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline, told the BBC that full data on a vaccine’s safety and efficacy won’t be ready until late 2015, and full-scale production for general use won’t happen until well into 2016.

The World Health Organization had said a month ago that it hoped data from clinical trials on two vaccines would be available by next month, and the vaccines would be available for use by health care workers by January.

GlaxoSmithKline’s Ebola CAd3 vaccine was one of the two vaccines. The other was the VSV vaccine, made by NewLink Genetics Corp., which is headquartered in Ames, Iowa. The GlaxoSmithKline vaccine has been developed in collaboration with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Ballou’s assessment alarmed experts at the the medical charity Doctors without Borders, which has more than 3,000 staff members fighting the epidemic in the three most affected countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The organization, at least 16 of whose workers have contracted the disease, urged GlaxoSmithKline to step up its efforts.

“This is a disaster scenario,” the organization’s executive director for drug access, Manica Balasegaram, told McClatchy. “We want to see serious acceleration. We need to be more ambitious. It’s worrying to hear timelines into 2016. We have got to accelerate. The situation on the ground is a catastrophe.”

He said Doctors Without Borders has 60 centers in the affected countries, and so far it had treated more than 4,500 victims.

Catherine Hartley, a GlaxoSmithKline spokewoman, told McClatchy the drug company is working as fast as it can. She said the company already has begun manufacturing 10,000 doses of the vaccine so that it can move quickly to the second stage of clinical trials if the first ones are successful. Information on those first-phase trials will be available early next year.
First you have to make sure it doesn't give the recipient Ebola, then you have to make sure it prevents serious infection upon exposure. And each step requires time that can not begin until sufficient vaccine is created. And it may well not work perfectly so you need to see what didn't work. All of this usually takes years so a prediction of vaccine by 2016 is lightning fast for the pharmaceutical world. And for too many it will never be fast enough.

Friday, October 17, 2014

She sings about the South

And when she does Kate Campbell's songs don't make you want to puke. Her classic tune "Crazy In Alabama".

The only thing the Pentagon can't get funding for

From the pen of Lee Judge

The high cost of being poor

The only guarantee about being poor is that you will most likely remain poor. In part this is because you will have poor options that will direct you into making poor choices. Rent to Own is one area of guaranteed poor choices.
The poor today can shop online, paying in installments, or walk into traditional retailers such as Kmart that now offer in-store leasing. The most striking change in the world of low-income commerce has been the proliferation of rent-to-own stores such as Buddy’s Home Furnishings, which has been opening a new store every week, largely in the South.

In some ways, the business harkens back to the subprime boom of the early 2000s, when lenders handed out loans to low-income borrowers with little credit history. But while people in those days were charged perhaps an interest rate of 5 to 10 percent, at rental centers the poor find themselves paying effective annual interest rates of more than 100 percent. With business models such as “rent-to-own,” in which transactions are categorized as leases, stores like Buddy’s can avoid state usury laws and other regulations.

And yet low-income Americans increasingly have few other places to turn. “Congratulations, You are Pre-Approved,” Buddy’s says on its Web site, and the message plays to America’s bottom 40 percent. This is a group that makes less money than it did 20 years ago, a group increasingly likely to string together paychecks by holding multiple part-time jobs with variable hours.

It’s a group whose jobs, not so long ago, were more secure and better-paying; they could pay cash at Wal-Mart and had access to more affordable credit. But today, with the excesses of the subprime boom leading conventional banks to stay away from low-income borrowers, it can be their only option. Compared with pre-recession highs, the riskiest borrowers have been all but cut off from access to big loans, like mortgages, experts say.

“Basically, the market pulled back from all low-income borrowers instead of trying to figure out how to serve them,” said Michael Barr, a University of Michigan law professor and author of “No Slack: The Financial Lives of Low-Income Americans.”

Nobody wants to buy items for amounts two or three times what they’d cost at a retail store. But when Abbott did her shopping in February, she didn’t have the money to make even a small lump-sum payment for anything of decent quality, even on Craigslist. She couldn’t buy via a layaway plan; Wal-Mart offers that option only during the holiday season. Perhaps she could have saved up the money on her own, but whenever she has tried to do so, her stash has been wiped out to handle daily needs.

“Rent-to-own was basically all we could do,” Abbott, 33, said.
Her one choice was a bad choice and she will pay for it unless the payday lender gets all her money first.

When wealthy corporations strike

Their victims are ruthlessly devoured and the rest of us pigeons look the other way until it is our turn. For New York pigeons it might be their turn to be devoured. The vastly wealthy and profitable JP Morgan Chase bank mob is looking to build a new headquarters in Brooklyn and want to use public funding for a portion of the cost.
City and state officials are negotiating with JPMorgan Chase over a potential deal in which the nation’s largest bank would build a vast $6.5 billion corporate campus with two high-rise towers in the new commercial district on the Far West Side of Manhattan.

The talks, which involve one of the largest real estate complexes for a single company in New York City history and a large package of incentives for Chase, have reached a feverish state after nearly falling apart this week.

The negotiations are so delicate that few people are willing to discuss them publicly for fear of alienating one side or another.

But a deal with the bank poses political risks for both the state and the city. Chase had initially sought, by one account, more than $1 billion in concessions from the city and the state while it continues to pare its payroll in the city. According to executives and officials, Chase wants to build the two towers — whose total space would be the equivalent of about two Empire State Buildings — at Hudson Yards on the north side of 33rd Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. They would become home to 16,000 employees.

The bank’s move to the West Side would accelerate the transformation of a neighborhood once dominated by warehouses, factories and tenements into a gleaming forest of glass towers.

For Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, offering generous subsidies and special incentives would provide more fodder to critics who say he has been too eager to please corporate and real estate interests that represent important sources of financial support for his re-election campaign.

And for Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat, who has railed against corporate subsidies, supporting the project would represent a significant departure that could be difficult to justify to his supporters on the left. At the same time, if the mayor opposes the project, it could leave him open to criticism that he is indifferent to the needs of the city’s largest employers.

The bank, however, has insisted that the benefits from the proposed deal would outweigh the value of any concessions or subsidies, especially since Chase would have to buy development rights from the city and make certain annual payments in order to erect the towers.

The bank’s “wish list” of concessions, however, has shrunk significantly in recent days. And the talks have picked up momentum, although a deal is far from assured. State officials are creating a counteroffer.

“There’s no way that the city would entertain a demand for a billion dollars in additional incentives at Hudson Yards,” said Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for economic development. “We have always been willing to engage with them in a dialogue about how we could be helpful in making a move more feasible.”
So no matter how you slice it, they will get something, they are just arguing over how much will be shelled out.

The greatness of George W Bush

Good Old W & His Evil Vizier

Have managed to dodge another bullet and, in grand Republican fashion, evade any responsibility for bringing the ugly stain of torture upon the US.
A soon-to-be released Senate report on the CIA doesn’t assess the responsibility of former President George W. Bush or his top aides for any of the abuses of the agency’s detention and interrogation program, avoiding a full public accounting of one of the darkest chapters of the war on terror.

“This report is not about the White House. It’s not about the president. It’s not about criminal liability. It’s about the CIA’s actions or inactions,” said a person familiar with the document, who asked not to be further identified because the executive summary – the only part to that will be made public – still is in the final stages of declassification.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report also didn’t examine the responsibility of top Bush administration lawyers in crafting the legal framework that permitted the CIA to use simulated drowning called waterboarding and other interrogation methods widely described as torture, McClatchy has learned.

“It does not look at the Bush administration’s lawyers to see if they were trying to literally do an end run around justice and the law,” the person said.

As a result, the $40 million, five-year inquiry passed up what may be the final opportunity to render an official verdict on the culpability of Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and other senior officials for the program, in which suspected terrorists were abducted, sent to secret overseas prisons, and subjected to the harsh interrogation techniques.
And so the Unequivocally Evil Duo gets to live out their lives in peace, unlike the many, many people whose lives were lost or otherwise ruined by their hairball ideas. Grand Guignol as CYA.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Who are you, Doctor?

Foxes, fresh from her appearance before the last of the Time Lords, sings 'Don't Stop Me Now' with a few clips of some galoot from Gallifrey.

If my Sitemeter is correct

Somebody connected with the US Senate looked up one of my posts from earlier this year. The post was of one Catherine MacLellen singing "Everything'll Be Alright". I take this as proof that at least one person connected with the Senate is not a total idiot, shitheel or douchebag.

It must be faith based

From the pen of Ben Sargent

Is it better to shit your pants or admit ignorance

To judge by the reactions in Texas and Ohio, there are a lot of public officials in need of clean underwear.
Officials at school districts in Texas and Ohio shut schools on Thursday after they learned that two students traveled on the Cleveland-to-Dallas flight with Amber Joy Vinson, a nurse infected with Ebola, and that an employee may have later flown on the same plane.

The superintendent of the Belton Independent School District, south of Waco, said that a student at Sparta Elementary School and a student at North Belton Middle School were on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 on Monday.

The superintendent, Susan Kincannon, said in a statement that officials had decided to shut the two schools plus a third, the Belton Early Childhood School, so they could thoroughly clean and disinfect the schools and the buses that served them this week.

The two students were on the flight on Monday and then attended classes on Tuesday and Wednesday, the statement said. Though state and local health officials had cleared the children to return to school, their parents decided to keep them home for 21 days, the maximum incubation period of the virus...

In Solon, a Cleveland suburb of about 23,000, two schools were closed on Thursday because a district employee returned to Ohio “on a different flight, but perhaps the same aircraft, as the Texas nurse with Ebola,” the district said in an email to parents.

And officials of two major health systems in Cleveland — the Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth — said that a group of nurses had been placed on leave because they were aboard Ms. Vinson’s first flight, from Dallas to Ohio, on Friday.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

“The decision to put those nurses on paid leave really has to do with decreasing anxiety,” Dr. Jennifer Hanrahan, the chairwoman of MetroHealth’s infectious disease control committee, said at a news conference. “It’s not because of any perceived risk to them or to anyone.”
Good God! How many people on that flight were 'swapping spit' with Amber Vinson? And will those two kids re-adapt to school after 21 days of playing video games with no Mall breaks in between? Will we ever survive?

If you thought the money was well spent

Just consider the resulting "professional" Iraqi Army response when US aircover is diverted to another target.
With the U.S. seemingly focused on helping Kurdish militias fight off an Islamic State advance at Kobani on the Turkey-Syria border, Islamist militants this week have seized one key military base in Iraq’s Anbar province and have laid siege to another, with no major increase in U.S. air support for the beleaguered Iraqi security forces.

Reports from Kobani indicate that intense U.S. airstrikes there have driven back Islamic State fighters, while in Anbar the militants’ advance has been unrelenting. On Tuesday, the Islamic State captured heavy artillery and an unknown number of weapons including machine guns and ammunition when it overran an Iraqi base outside the city of Hit. Now the group has surrounded the Ain Asad air base, northwest of Hit, the country’s third largest military facility.

Yet the number of U.S. strikes in Anbar over the past week has plummeted compared with the previous week and have been far fewer than those launched near Kobani, a Kurdish city whose strategic importance is in dispute but where the fighting can be viewed easily from hillsides inside Turkey.

The U.S. Central Command has announced just five airstrikes in Anbar in the past week, compared with 16 last week, while the number of air assaults near Kobani in the same period totals 70 – 39 of them in the last two days.

Iraqi troops at the Ain Asad base in Anbar say they are desperate for U.S. air support.

“It’s not possible to get in any supplies by land,” explained a member of Iraq’s security forces inside the base reached by phone. Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to a reporter, he said the base is surrounded, and while the Iraqi military has delivered some supplies by air, the forces holed up there are not hopeful.

“Forces in the base are almost collapsed psychologically and scared,” he said. “I cannot say for how long we can hold the base.”

What his men need now, he said, is air cover.

“If air cover is provided,” he said, “we will attack the militants in the nearby villages and stop their advance.”
DAESH has achieved total air superiority over the Iraqi army without having a single airplane. And all that equipment and years of training for the Iraqis pays off, for DAESH.

Who says the GOP has no policy to run on?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Barbara Dane sings a working womans blues

She has sung all kinds of music in her life, folk, blues, jazz. Starting in the '60s her social activism came to the fore in her music as she worked wit the civil rights and anti-war movements. This is "Working Class Woman" from her album I Hate the Capitalist System.

Colbert says Yes to the Campaign Ad

This should attract the wimmens.

The Colbert Report
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Oh rats!

From the pen of Stephen Pastis

Oh goody! Another country heard from

And if you thought the problems in Libya were over beyond the braying GOP jackasses about Benghazi, you would be quite wrong. Neighboring Egypt, probably with our quiet agreement, is now bombing Islamic militias in Libya.
Egypt is deepening its involvement in the fight against Islamist militias who have taken over key parts of Libya, with officials saying Egyptian warplanes have bombed their positions in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The two officials, who have firsthand knowledge of the operation, said the use of the aircraft was part of an Egyptian-led campaign against the militiamen that will eventually involve Libyan ground troops recently trained by Egyptian forces.

The operation, they said, was requested by the internationally recognized Libyan administration based in the eastern city of Tobruk. That elected administration was thrown out of the capital, Tripoli, by rival militias allied with Islamic political factions.

The officials said the operation also involves the use of an Egyptian navy vessel as a command center off the Mediterranean shore of Tobruk. Renegade Libyan general, Khalifa Hiftar, is not leading the operation, with Cairo dealing directly with a newly appointed Libyan chief of staff who has visited Egypt several times in recent weeks.

The operation was expected to last three to six months, said the officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Libyan lawmaker Tareq al-Jorushi confirmed to the AP that Egyptian warplanes were taking part in the ongoing operation in Benghazi, but said that they were being flown by Libyan pilots. He says the planes were “rented” by the Libyan administration from Egypt. Al-Jorushi is also a member of the national security committee in the Tobruk-based parliament.
Phew! It's just a short term 'rental'. Now, does anybody want to buy a bridge?

Another chemical cover up from the military

Once again the sharp minds running the Pentagon have covered up problems arising from the unholy use of chemicals in war. This time is was the problems that arose from the disposal of Saddam's chemical weapons in Iraq. And once again the troops involved are kept from the treatment they deserve.
The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.

The New York Times found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003. American officials said that the actual tally of exposed troops was slightly higher, but that the government’s official count was classified.

The secrecy fit a pattern. Since the outset of the war, the scale of the United States’ encounters with chemical weapons in Iraq was neither publicly shared nor widely circulated within the military. These encounters carry worrisome implications now that the Islamic State, a Qaeda splinter group, controls much of the territory where the weapons were found.

The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors. The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.

“I felt more like a guinea pig than a wounded soldier,” said a former Army sergeant who suffered mustard burns in 2007 and was denied hospital treatment and medical evacuation to the United States despite requests from his commander.

Congress, too, was only partly informed, while troops and officers were instructed to be silent or give deceptive accounts of what they had found. “ 'Nothing of significance’ is what I was ordered to say,” said Jarrod Lampier, a recently retired Army major who was present for the largest chemical weapons discovery of the war: more than 2,400 nerve-agent rockets unearthed in 2006 at a former Republican Guard compound.

Jarrod L. Taylor, a former Army sergeant on hand for the destruction of mustard shells that burned two soldiers in his infantry company, joked of “wounds that never happened” from “that stuff that didn’t exist.” The public, he said, was misled for a decade. “I love it when I hear, ‘Oh there weren’t any chemical weapons in Iraq,’ ” he said. “There were plenty.”
The secrecy may have some value, but the failure to track the soldiers involved and insure proper medical treatment is just another example of the failure of the military to deal with the mess it causes.

Just because they are enemies

There is no reason why al-Qaeda shouldn't benefit from the US attacks on DAESH. When you have been on the skids for as long as AQ has, you take whatever you get.
Al Qaida is no friend of the Islamic State, whose rapid expansion in Iraq and Syria gave it the lead in the struggle for primacy in the global jihadist movement. But the international attacks on the Islamic State also have lent urgency to al Qaida’s appeals for fighters and cash to confront “the Crusaders,” even as air strikes ravage its primary rival, according to analysts of international jihadist groups.

As a militant Islamist group, al Qaida can’t cheer on Western military intervention in Muslim nations. But analysts predict that the U.S.-led coalition’s presence will result in more cash, recruits and operating space for al Qaida, particularly in Syria. The affiliate there, the Nusra Front, is the vanguard of a rebel movement that’s been steamrolled by the Islamic State, which also is known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.

While al Qaida loyalists must condemn the strikes in public, analysts say, they also recognize that the operations against the Islamic State offer the chance for a renaissance.

“Their preferred outcome is that it chews up the leadership (of the Islamic State), leaves the foot soldiers and they can get the foot soldiers to come back,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, who researches al Qaida as a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Gartenstein-Ross warned in a Foreign Policy article last month that the U.S.-led bombing campaign risks giving al Qaida “a new lease on life.”

Counterterrorism specialists note that al Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahiri, the Egyptian-born doctor who succeeded Osama bin Laden, has issued no public remarks on the U.S.-led campaign to dismantle the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

“He’s been neutral and above the fray,” Gartenstein-Ross said.
The fools signing up and sending money are more focused on the "enemy" than which group they support. And AQ gets to watch two groups they don't like beat each other bloody. How can they lose?

Remember those Andy Rooney Minutes?

Here's one for you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

While she is touring in Europe

We could all do with a splash of Carrie Rodriguez to get us together. This is "Big Love" from her 2011 album Love And Circumstance.

Business as usual

From the pen of Nick Anderson

Another way to suppress the vote

Sign them up but don't get around to enrolling them
on the permanent voter lists. In the face of very successful voter registration drives in Georgia, this has become the tactic du jour.
The story starts simply enough: African-Americans and Hispanics across Georgia were registered to vote at levels lower than their white state-mates, so the New Georgia Project was started by the non-profit Third Sector Development to register new voters, concentrating on minority communities.

And that is exactly what the New Georgia Project did.

Over the last few months, the group submitted some 80,000 voter registration forms to the Georgia secretary of state's office — but as of last week, about half those new registrants, more than 40,000 Georgians, were still not listed on preliminary voter rolls. And there is no public record of those 40,000-plus applications, according to State Representative Stacey Adams, a Democrat.

Oh, yeah, did we mention: Georgia's Secretary of State Brain Kemp is a Republican.

The secretary's office says they are not doing anything different than usual in processing the voter applications. These things take time, they say. (Apparently months and months of time — as that is how long some of those forms have been sitting with the state without being processed.)

That's Kemp's story, and he's sticking to it … except this is also Kemp's story:

In closing I just wanted to tell you real quick, after we get through this runoff, you know the Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November. But we’ve got to do the exact same thing. I would encourage all of you, if you have an Android or an Apple device, to download that app, and maybe your goal is to register one new Republican voter.

Kemp said that in July, and in September, Kemp announced he was launching a fraud investigation into the registration drive, though the secretary's office has not produced a reason as to why the state suspects fraud.
Polls in Georgia show very tight races for Governor, Senate and one or more House races. The voting fate of these 40,000 may well decide whether Georgia enjoys Democratic victories or more years of Republican bondage. In a perfect world, all those Democrats sitting on the sidelines would step up and vote for their currently deprived fellow citizens.

The definition of a kept man

Is now Mitch McConnell. Last night, during their debate, the Old Turtle responded to charges that he had made millions from his tenure in the Senate by stating that his wealth was an inheritance from his wife's family.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) doesn't deny that he's rich. But what stuck in his craw Monday night was his Democratic opponent's insinuation that he had earned his wealth using his position as senator. An outraged McConnell clarified for debate viewers how he became a millionaire: He and his wife inherited the money.
Well, his wife inherited it and he lives off it. It helps him stretch his meager $193,400 salary while he fights the dreaded minimum wage increase.

Will the market do what politicians won't?

And that is to stop the spread of fracking. To frack costs money, lots of money and that makes it worthwhile only while the price of oil is above a certain level. And the current price of oil has been dropping to that level and soon below.
Oil prices continued to collapse Monday and are getting closer to levels that could dampen the U.S. energy boom.

West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, traded below $85 a barrel on Monday and has plummeted by more than 20 percent from this summer.

Raymond James energy analyst Pavel Molchanov said he thinks a drop into the $70 to $80 range could start triggering meaningful cutbacks in investment in U.S. production.

“I think there will be some spending reductions even now simply because companies are going to generate less cash flow at $85 a barrel than they did at $105,” Molchanov said. “But as far as a significant amount of more meaningful curtailment in activity, we’re not there yet.”

The U.S. is producing more crude oil than it has in nearly 30 years. Production is forecast to reach 9.5 million barrels a day next year, which would be the most since 1970, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The boom is a result of drilling shale rocks through the techniques of fracking and horizontal drilling, and the question is how high oil prices need to be in order to make it profitable.

The surging U.S. production is one of the reasons behind the worldwide oil price drop. Other factors include a weakening global demand for oil and the increase in Libyan oil drilling over the summer (the troubled nation managed to boost its output from 200,000 barrels a day to 900,000 by the end of September), according to EIA analyst Michael Leahy.

Leahy attributed weakening oil demand to lower than expected economic growth in Asia, especially China, and declines and stagnation in European countries.

Jamie Webster, senior director at the global energy consulting firm IHS, said he thinks that American oil producers can sustain a price drop to $80 a barrel for six months or so before making substantial cuts.

But no one is sure how companies will react, he said, because the shale boom is fairly new and the U.S. producers haven’t been tested in a sustained time of lower prices.
That leaves them with a curious choice, when the more oil they recover, the less they can afford it. Which way will they go?

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