31 October 2012

Deep Thought

Q: What is NYC going out as for Halloween?

A: New Orleans.

H/t Cthulhu.

Remember That 'Phant Mantra of Relying on Private Charities………

Well, not so much:
Looking to cut down on homeless services in Costa Mesa, [Republican] Mayor Eric Bever has asked the city to investigate some of the city's most prominent and long-running charities.

Bever singled out Share Our Selves and Someone Cares Soup Kitchen, two decades-old nonprofits that dispense food and medical care to the poor and homeless.

The mayor compared the charities to nightclubs that have become neighborhood nuisances.

It would go a long way to solving the problem of homeless people coming to Costa Mesa, the mayor said, "if we managed to put the soup kitchen out of business."

The homeless population in Costa Mesa has been a stubborn political issue over the years, with some residents complaining that vagrants take over public facilities like Lions Park and the library in the heart of the city's downtown.

But the assertion that the soup kitchen and outreach center are magnets strictly to homeless people is off base, said Shannon Santos, the executive director of Someone Cares.

Santos said a survey the soup kitchen conducted in 2011 found that 86% of its patrons said they were from Costa Mesa, and about 40% were low-income seniors, many from the nearby Bethel Towers apartments, which serves seniors with modest incomes
BTW, this joker is (thankfully) being termed out of office, and he's running for a seat on the water board so that he can keep his health insurance for his bad back:
Eric Bever is termed out and running for a seat on the Mesa Consolidated Water Board. He is running against the current incumbent President Fred Bockmiller. Bockmiller is the Facilities director at UCI and has overseen water and drainage projects that have resulted in billions of infrastructure upgrades. His knowledge and experience are unparalleled. Insiders from the Costa Mesa political machine have basically made a stand to have Bever take the place of Bockmiller on the Water board. Bever is an antique dealer. The reason stated in whispers is that Eric NEEDS the medical for a bad back and if he is termed out he will lose his medical insurance. The justification is that Bockmiller can get insurance through the College so he is expendable. Ironic, isn’t? The Mayor is running for another elected position for the government provided health insurance but before he leaves he attacks charities that provide health insurance for those that need it. Costa Mesa needs to drain this swamp…….
Seriously, C=MI.*

I am sure that there are some Republican politicians who aren't sociopaths, I just haven't seen them yet.

*Conservatism equals Mental Illness.

Pass the Popcorn

A court has ruled that the Montgomery County (PA) Recorder of Deeds can sue MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) and the banks over their evading recording fees:

The federal court has upheld the Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds’ right to sue an electronic mortgage registry company and banks doing business with that company for $15.7 million that she claims is owed to the county in recording fees.

The court Friday issued a 36-page memorandum and order denying a motion by MERS, also known as Mortgage Electronic Registry System, and its participating banks to dismiss the lawsuit filed last year by Recorder of Deeds Nancy J. Becker.

The court’s ruling, while not discussing the merits of the case, essentially states that Pennsylvania does have a law requiring that mortgage assignments be recorded with the recorder of deeds office and that the recorder of deeds has the right to bring legal action when he or she does not believe an entity is complying with the law.

“This is one major hurdle that we have now leaped,” Becker said Monday. “Now, we can move forward on the issues.”


Some 146,715 MERS mortgages have been recorded in her office from April 2004 through September 2011, according to Becker.

146,715 mortgages?  In one county?

Well Montgomery County has about 800K people, or about ¼% of the US population.

If you assume a lower number of multi-family residences, and double it, you have something in the neighborhood of 30 million mortgages, and fee evasion on the order of $3 billion.

With penalties, it might be north of $10 billion, and when you consider the potential liabilities that the banksters might have incurred because MERS did not work, and does not provide an accurate (or for that matter legal) record of who holds the note on the loan:
Becker has said that, when these mortgage loans are transferred electronically, sometimes multiple times, through MERS and not filed in the county recorder of deeds office, “it makes it difficult, almost impossible sometimes” for property owners to determine what institutions are holding their mortgages.
I would be very surprised if the liabilities incurred by this are not hundreds, if not thousands, of times more.

Now I Know How HP Employees Felt When Fiorina was Fired

Because George Lucas has sold LucasFilm and the Star Wars Franchise, meaning that he will no longer be able f%$# it up. (Ewoks, and the Star Wars Holiday Special, Jar Jar Binks, and midi-chlorians, anyone?)

Unfortunately, I also feel how HP employees felt when Meg F%$#ing Whitman was hired as CEO:

In the rare bit of news that could blow Hurricane Sandy off the map, Disney announced today that it had purchased Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion—and announced that the company will debut Star War Episode VII in 2015. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers,” George Lucas said in the official announcement of the transaction, in what is a substantial understatement, given the creative quality of the prequels. “I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”
Disney?  The f%$#ing mouse?

He f%$#ing sold f%$#ing Star Wars to the f%$#ing mouse?


No Matter How Long I Live………

I will never Ever party as hard as this guy:

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS for the pic.

Best Halloween Costume of the Year

If you disagree, post your pix in the comments.

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Trick or Treating With the Kids

It's kind of cold out, but the hurricane had passed.

Posted via mobile.

Posted via mobile.

30 October 2012


Light posting.  It's my 18th (!) wedding anniversary.

Here is to women with poor taste in men everywhere.

Have some pooties, specifically Hummus using an antique desk as a lair:

29 October 2012

I Would Pay Money to Hear Robert Downey, Jr. Read the Phone Directory

I watched The Avengers last night.

Seeing as how it was written and directed by Joss Weadon, there are a lot of good one-liners, but I think that it (barely) remains on the right side of the action-movie/action-movie parody line.

As to my favorite line, it's Downey's, "Better Clench Up, Legolas."

Yeah, This is How "Balanced" Agreements With the RIAA and MPAA Work

The RIAA and the large ISPs have an agreement to implement a "six strikes" agreement in to limit "piracy".

At the core of this agreement is an “independent and impartial” expert to evaluate evidence against people, but now it appears that this "expert" is an RIAA lobbyist:
A month before the controversial “six strikes” anti-piracy plan goes live in the U.S., the responsible Center of Copyright Information (CCI) is dealing with a small crisis. As it turns out the RIAA failed to mention to its partners that the “impartial and independent” technology expert they retained previously lobbied for the music industry group. In a response to the controversy, CCI is now considering whether it should hire another expert to evaluate the anti-piracy monitoring technology.

Starting next month the MPAA, RIAA and five major Internet providers in the United States will start punishing persistent BitTorrent pirates,

The scheme is being coordinated by the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) who agreed to hire an impartial and independent expert to review the evidence that will be used to accuse suspected subscribers.

However, earlier this week the news broke that the touted independent technology expert, Stroz Friedberg, is not so neutral. In fact, the company is a former RIAA lobbying firm.

The lobbying job earned the company more than half a million dollars ($637,000), which makes it hard to view the company as “independent and impartial” as the agreement between the copyright holders and ISPs requires.
This is why you don't cut deals with the RIAA and the MPAA.

They are not, and have never been, good faith players in this debate.

Tweet of the Day


28 October 2012

I Would Be Remiss in Leaving the Greeks Blameless

Case in point, Christine Lagarde sent a list of Swiss bank accounts held by Greek politicians totaling billions of Euros.

Kostas Vaxevanis, editor and publisher of Hot Doc magazine, managed to get a copy of the list, and published it. The Greek authorities promptly arrested him:
The Greek police arrested and then quickly released the owner and editor of a respected investigative magazine on Sunday morning hours after he published a list of more than 2,000 Greeks who were said to have accounts at a bank in Switzerland, throwing new controversy into a scandal over whether the government is actively pursuing suspected tax cheats.

The dramatic moves, which tens of thousands of Greeks were following on the Internet, came days before Greece’s European partners were to meet to decide whether to grant tens of billions of euros in new aid to the financially struggling nation. Greece’s lenders have long said that the government must crack down on tax evasion to be eligible for more aid.

The police said they had been ordered to take the editor, Kostas Vaxevanis, who runs Hot Doc magazine and who is one of the nation’s most famous investigative journalists, into custody on misdemeanor charges. The Greek news media reported that the charges concerned the violation of the privacy of those on the list.

Mr. Vaxevanis posted a message to his Twitter account early Sunday saying that 15 officers had surrounded the home of a friend with whom he had been staying “like Greek storm troopers in German uniforms.”

Mr. Vaxevanis soon followed up with another Twitter message: “They’re entering my house with the prosecutor right now. They are arresting me. Spread the word.”

Hours later, he was released from Athens police headquarters to loud cheers from a crowd outside. He is to face a magistrate at noon on Monday, when his trial date is to be set.


George Papaconstantinou, the ex-finance minister who received the list from Ms. Lagarde, told a parliamentary panel last week that he had been advised that he could not use it because a former HSBC employee obtained the names illegally. Mr. Papaconstantinou said that after receiving the names, he had passed them on a memory stick to the chief of Greece’s financial crimes unit, Ioannis Diotis, who later gave it to Mr. Papaconstantinou’s successor, Evangelos Venizelos, the current leader of the Socialists. Mr. Diotis said that Mr. Venizelos had not instructed him to investigate it.
The Greek elites in general, and their ruling classes in particular, are deeply corrupt and dysfunctional.

The EU and the IMF would have been far better served by starting with the exposure of the corrupt elites and the confiscation of their ill gotten gains.

Passing along a list, with the knowledge that it would almost certainly be ignored, is an inadequate response. It ill serves the Greek people, the EU, and world economy.

A Must Read

H/t Americablog for the vid
Matt Stoller has a very well thought argument given the progressive case against Obama:
So why oppose Obama? Simply, it is the shape of the society Obama is crafting that I oppose, and I intend to hold him responsible, such as I can, for his actions in creating it. Many Democrats are disappointed in Obama. Some feel he’s a good president with a bad Congress. Some feel he’s a good man, trying to do the right thing, but not bold enough. Others think it’s just the system, that anyone would do what he did. I will get to each of these sentiments, and pragmatic questions around the election, but I think it’s important to be grounded in policy outcomes. Not, what did Obama try to do, in his heart of hearts? But what kind of America has he actually delivered?
Obama had a number of things that he could do without the Consent of congress, holding torturers accountable, prosecuting corrupt bankers, etc.  In every case, his decisions have served to further empower, and to further immunize, powerful wrongdoers in our society.

I recommend that you read the whole article.

A counter argument by Joss Weadon(see vid) involves Zombies

Deep Thought

27 October 2012

Finland Gets Ducks in a Row to Leave Euro Zone

Finland, which is not in crisis, does not appear to have any immediate plans to leave the Euro, but they are seriously considering establishing a local parallel currency so that they will have the option of pulling the plug on the Euro if it becomes necessary:
In the past couple of years, as the eurozone woes have unfolded, international investors have been transfixed by one small country on the edge of the region: Greece.

They would do well to keep watching another tiddler: Finland. For while Finland has not created much drama, precisely because it is one of the strongest eurozone members, some fascinating discussions are under way. Most notably, as the eurozone crisis rumbles on, some Finnish business and government officials are quietly mulling the logistics of leaving the currency union.

Nobody in Finland expects this to happen soon, if ever; indeed, most policy makers are strongly opposed to the idea. Particularly since many also hope the crisis is dying down, but as Heikki Neimelaeinen, chief executive of the Municipal Guarantee Board says: “We have started openly discussing the mechanism of euro exiting, without indicating that we will initiate such a process.” And this, in turn, is sparking some curious economic debates.

Take a look, for example, at a recent research paper from Nordea, the Nordic bank. This paper looks at the question of what might happen if Finland ever decided to run a so-called “parallel currency” system. The idea behind this, as Nordea explains, is that at times of stress it can sometimes seem beneficial for countries to maintain more than one currency unit. Most notably, if a country is trying to leave one currency, keeping that as legal tender alongside a second currency for a period can ensure a country honours its old contracts – and thus avoids a technical default.
Finland is a net creditor in the EU, and it is highly unlikely that they would be forced out, so they have be planning to get out of Dodge if the sh%$ hits the fan.

This is significant, because it's showing a lack of confidence from one of the net beneficiaries of the Euro zone.

Our Special Relationship Now Includes the Words, "Piss off, Wanker"

The British just turned down a request of the US to use their bases for a strike on Iran:
Britain has rebuffed US pleas to use military bases in the UK to support the build-up of forces in the Gulf, citing secret legal advice which states that any pre-emptive strike on Iran could be in breach of international law.

The Guardian has been told that US diplomats have also lobbied for the use of British bases in Cyprus, and for permission to fly from US bases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, both of which are British territories.

The US approaches are part of contingency planning over the nuclear standoff with Tehran, but British ministers have so far reacted coolly. They have pointed US officials to legal advice drafted by the attorney general's office which has been circulated to Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

This makes clear that Iran, which has consistently denied it has plans to develop a nuclear weapon, does not currently represent "a clear and present threat". Providing assistance to forces that could be involved in a pre-emptive strike would be a clear breach of international law, it states.
If Tony Blur Blair were still PM, the only question that would have been asked would have been if they wanted their parking validated.

Credit where credit is due.  The Tories, probably because they were afraid of losing their Lib-Dem coalition partners, have made a remarkably sensible decision.

If there is anything that can add a few decades of the reign of the mullahs in Iran, it's another war.

Neat Tech

Cryogenic Machining:
As contractors make greater use of composites and high-strength metals in aircraft structures, attention is focusing on ways of improving manufacturing productivity and reducing per-part cost. One technique to emerge for the machining of parts is cryogenic cooling, which can increase machining speed, reduce cutting force, extend cutting tool life, and lower the time and cost required to finish components.

Cryogenic cooling uses liquid nitrogen (LN2), an inert substance that is usually processed at -321F (-196C), in place of conventional liquid coolants, which are generally applied at ambient temperature. The idea is to apply LN2 to the interface of a cutting tool and workpiece, where it reduces heat generated by cutting, thus allowing a tool to run faster and—with less thermal degradation and other heat-related damage—last longer.

The heat can be extreme. The cutting temperature of carbon steel, for example, can easily reach 800F during machining.
Cryogenic cooling has been around for a while, but recent developments in system design make it more of an option for contractors working with advanced materials. One company in particular, MAG IAS of Erlanger, Ky., has engineered a line of 3-, 4- and 5-axis cryogenic machining centers and retrofit packages with patented technology that was developed in partnership with the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, Lockheed Martin and Bell Helicopter Textron, and others. Among its applications, the technology has been approved for use in roughing titanium components for the Lockheed F-35 . MAG is working with the original equipment manufacturer on finished-machining certification of the process.

I would also note that another benefit of cryogenic machining is shorter chips, which also makes machining easier, so machining stringy alloys, like titanium, and some aluminum alloys and stainless steels (13-8 shown) can be a royal PITA.

26 October 2012

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.

  1. NOVA Bank, Berwyn, PA

Just 1 this week.

Full FDIC list

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

Bunga Bunga, Silvio

Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to 4 years:
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in jail on Friday for tax fraud in connection with the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset television company.

The 76-year-old billionaire media magnate, who was convicted three times during the 1990s in the first degree before being cleared by higher courts, has the right to appeal the ruling two more times before the sentence becomes definitive.

That process is likely to be lengthy and he will not be jailed unless he loses the final appeal. Even then, because the crime was committed when an amnesty to prevent prison overcrowding was in place, the maximum possible jail time would be one year.

The ruling comes two days after Berlusconi confirmed he would not run in next year's elections as the leader of his People of Freedom (PDL) party, ending almost 19 years as the dominant politician of the centre-right.
I would suggest that as a part of this, authorities should break up his media empire.

His political power derived directly from his control of almost all the TV in Italy.

Once he packed the staff of Italian state run TV, there were no opposing voices voices

Plaster of Paris Bagel and Cream Cheese Paperweight

It's a reference to the Movie After Hours, and this link points to the McGuffin of that film.

Pay no attention, I'm checking out a new Google ad type, affiliate ads.

It's Friday

So have a silly video/movie trailer:

There are a couple of swear words.

GDP Meh.

A 2% annual rate in the 3rd quarter.

Better than a kick in the teeth, but not reat.



(on edit)
Right in the path.

25 October 2012

Jimmy Olson Endorses Women Being Carrying Rapists Babies to Term

My bad, it wasn't Jimmy Olson, it was Republican Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel who agreed with Richard Mourdock that rape victims should be forced to carry their children to term:

While national Republicans have done their best to shore up Indiana Senate nominee Richard Mourdock after his statements on rape, conception and God’s will, many Republicans in tight Senate races have backed away from Mourdock’s comments, trying to keep the negative headlines that have followed Mourdock’s statements out of their races.

But the Republican nominee for Senate in Ohio, Josh Mandel, has taken a very different approach. He’s given Mourdock a big ol’ bear hug. Ahead of Thursday’s debate between Mandel and incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown, Democrats say they plan to make Mourdock a big topic on stage.

“I would bet it will,” Brown spokesperson Sadie Weiner told TPM when asked whether Mandel’s handling of Mourdock will come up in the debate.

Mandel is unafraid to embrace Mourdock, despite the controversy surrounding him.
Seriously, he does look like my image of Jimmy Olson ……… or Ted Bundy.

It's Jobless Thursday

Initial claims down to 369,000, a slight blip up in the 4 week moving average, and continuing claims fell.

I rate it between "meh" and marginally positive.

The Poker Term for this a "Tell"

The fact that the Texas Attorney General is threatening to arrest international election monitors if they monitor elections would appear to indicate that he knows that his fellow Republicans are :
The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, has threatened to arrest international election monitors invited by liberal groups to observe the conduct of next month’s presidential vote in states accused of attempting to disenfranchise minorities.

Abbott has written to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe warning that its monitors have no right to monitor the vote even though they have observed previous US elections.

“The OSCE’s representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offence for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance,” he said. “Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE’s representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.”
They are trying to cover up their voter suppression efforts, though I'm sure that they there is a bit of anti-UN whack job paranoia in the mix.

I Bet Those Log Cabin Republicans Feel Stupid Now

Yesterday, I said that the Log Cabin Republicans were idiots for believing that Mitt Rmoney would sign ENDA, which would outlaw workplace discrimination against gays.

Well if you are a gay Republican and think that Romney is going to protect your job from bigots, the news that he actively prevented sane sex parents from being listed on their children's birth certificates:
It seemed like a minor adjustment. To comply with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in 2003, the state Registry of Vital Records and Statistics said it needed to revise its birth certificate forms for babies born to same-sex couples. The box for "father" would be relabeled "father or second parent," reflecting the new law.

But to then-Governor Mitt Romney, who opposed child-rearing by gay couples, the proposal symbolized unacceptable changes in traditional family structures.

He rejected the Registry of Vital Records plan and insisted that his top legal staff individually review the circumstances of every birth to same-sex parents. Only after winning approval from Romney’s lawyers could hospital officials and town clerks across the state be permitted to cross out by hand the word "father" on individual birth certificates, and then write in "second parent," in ink.


Romney expressed similar beliefs during a speech in 2005 to socially conservative voters in South Carolina, as he was beginning to be viewed as a serious candidate for president.

"Some gays are actually having children born to them," he declared."It’s not right on paper. It’s not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and father."
Why on earth do gay Republicans think that Rmoney will protect them in the workplace if he wants to deny them basic rights as parents?

Seriously, Mitt Romney just sold you the Brooklyn Bridge.

BTW, as a note, Murray Waas wrote this, and I've always been impressed by his journalism, and he got this story despite attempts to cover this up:
In a preliminary response this month, the Department of Public Health withheld most of the documents because they reflected conversations between lawyers working for the state and "are therefore exempt from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege." The Globe subsequently obtained many of the documents from a source who requested anonymity.
Here's a piece of advice if Murray comes calling about a story, tell him the truth, because he'll get it anyway.

Murray Waas is now officially on my list of "People I Do Not Want to Piss Off".

24 October 2012

I Think that I'll Vacation in Uraguay

It looks like Uruguay will legalize marijuana and sell it through state stores:
The president of Uruguay, José Mujica, has announced plans to legalise the production and sale of marijuana under a state monopoly, triggering a lively controversy in Montevideo. The relevant bill will soon be tabled in parliament, where the governing centre-left coalition led by the Broad Front (FA) enjoys a majority but is divided on this issue.

Possessing and consuming marijuana was decriminalised in 2000. "There is no question of Uruguay producing and distributing drugs, but the state will control and regulate the market," said interior minister Eduardo Bonomi.

"We have a progressive tradition," said Bonomi who, with Mujica, belonged to the Tupamaros urban guerrillas in the 1970s. "At the beginning of the 20th century our country ended the prohibition of alcohol, prostitution and gambling." Abortion is currently in the process ofbeing legalised. "Our approach to marijuana is equally pragmatic," Bonomi said. "The negative effects of consuming marijuana are far less harmful than the outbreak of violence associated with the black market."
Do they have ice cream sammiches in Uruguay?

So Glad that I LIve in Maryland, Part LXIX

Despicable beyond belief
How do you justify justify the targeting and killing of an American citizen for whom there have been no allegations of terrorism? Why You blame his father, of course:
How does Team Obama justify killing him?

The answer Gibbs gave is chilling:

ADAMSON: ...It's an American citizen that is being targeted without due process, without trial. And, he's underage. He's a minor.

GIBBS: I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don't think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.

Again, note that this kid wasn't killed in the same drone strike as his father. He was hit by a drone strike elsewhere, and by the time he was killed, his father had already been dead for two weeks. Gibbs nevertheless defends the strike, not by arguing that the kid was a threat, or that killing him was an accident, but by saying that his late father irresponsibly joined al Qaeda terrorists. Killing an American citizen without due process on that logic ought to be grounds for impeachment. Is that the real answer? Or would the Obama Administration like to clarify its reasoning? Any Congress that respected its oversight responsibilities would get to the bottom of this.
I'm so glad that the Electoral College means that my vote does not count.

My only question is who I write in.


This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.
We have another mass shooting.

They are happening about twice a week now.

There are No Words for this Level of Stupid

It appears that Mitt made a secret promise to sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the Log Cabin Republicans:
Romney’s greatest asset as a politician is his total lack of integrity, honesty or consistency. He is perfectly willing to go before the religious right one day and pledge fealty to them, and the Log Cabin Republicans the next day to do the same. And, apparently, that is what he has done, in private. [ Log Cabin Republican executive director, R. Clarke] Cooper asserted repeatedly that, “With a President Romney we’re confident we can work with him [on ENDA].” But when asked why, Cooper offered only reasons that Romney should work with them: that discrimination is a form of economic inefficiency and impediment to job growth. But you could make the same argument to any president. The question is what Romney has said that gives them such confidence. Cooper says, “Romney been clear in his opposition to workplace discrimination.” He also seemed to conflate private conversations with LCR representatives and his public pronouncements, saying such things as, "[Romney] is acutely aware of the problem of the patchwork of discrimination," meaning that it creates problems for businesses that some states ban anti-gay discrimination and others do not. Later, clearly referencing private communications with the campaign, Cooper said, "Based on our work with the campaign and Gov. Romney, I'm confident [that he will support anti-discrimination legislation]." Cooper was coy and vague about what exactly Romney said to inspire such confidence; he says Romney "has been adamant" in opposition to discrimination. Romney is clearly quite a salesman.
Mr. Cooper is either deluded or a complete idiot.

Joke Line Is a Sociopath

Glenn Greenwald watches Morning Joe so we don't have to, and finds this lovely quote from Joe Klein (aka Joke Line):
"If it is misused, and there is a really major possibility of abuse if you have the wrong people running the government. But: the bottom line in the end is - whose 4-year-old get killed? What we're doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror."
(emphasis original)As Greenwald notes, this mimics the language used by the Times Square bomber and Osama bin Laden.

Germans Give the Gift of Malaria

Because of austerity and EU mandated depression, malaria is making a comeback in Greece:
Global health bodies have issued warnings to travellers to the worst hit region in the south of the country, with fears that Athens could soon be affected.

Austerity budgets have resulted in drastic cutbacks in municipal spraying schemes to combat mosquito borne diseases.

In what is believed to be a first for Western Europe, Greece has experienced the first domestic cases of malaria since 1974.

Other mosquito-borne diseases that have slipped back into Greece include West Nile virus.

Statistics show that there were 70 instances of mosquito borne diseases in Greece in the first nine months of the year.
Seriously, Germany is not just going to kill the Euro, it's going to kill the EU.

Fed Does Nothing

It left rates unchanged, which is rather unsurprising, they really don't want to be perceived as engaging in electioneering.

23 October 2012

Let Me Guess, Eric "Place" Holder Will Look Forward, and Not Backward

Shamiur Rahman, a 19 year old of Bangladeshi extraction, was hired by the police as an informant with specific instructions to bait people to get them to make intemperate statements:
A paid informant for the New York Police Department's intelligence unit was under orders to "bait" Muslims into saying inflammatory things as he lived a double life, snapping pictures inside mosques and collecting the names of innocent people attending study groups on Islam, he told The Associated Press.

Shamiur Rahman, a 19-year-old American of Bangladeshi descent who has now denounced his work as an informant, said police told him to embrace a strategy called "create and capture." He said it involved creating a conversation about jihad or terrorism, then capturing the response to send to the NYPD. For his work, he earned as much as $1,000 a month and goodwill from the police after a string of minor marijuana arrests.


Rahman said he now believes his work as an informant against Muslims in New York was "detrimental to the Constitution." After he disclosed to friends details about his work for the police — and after he told the police that he had been contacted by the AP — he stopped receiving text messages from his NYPD handler, "Steve," and his handler's NYPD phone number was disconnected.


The programs were built with unprecedented help from the CIA.
Two thoughts:
  • The US Attorneys whose jurisdiction covers the greater New York City area won't do a thing to look into this. 
  • Shamiur Rachman has announced his intention to move to the Caribbean.  He'd better move now, because he's going to get 12 years for jaywalking if he stays in the United States.

22 October 2012

Another Whistleblower Persecution

And this time, it's to ensure that absolutely no one will ever reveal who amongst us are the torturers:
Bmaz just wrote a long post talking about the dilemma John Kiriakou faces as the government and his defense lawyers attempt to get him to accept a plea deal rather than go to trial for leaking the names of people–Thomas Donahue Fletcher and Deuce Martinez–associated with the torture program.

I’d like to look at four more aspects of this case:
  • The timing of this plea deal–reflecting a realization on the part of DOJ that their efforts to shield Fletcher would fail
  • CIA’s demand for a head
  • The improper cession of a special counsel investigation to the US Attorney for Eastern Virginia
  • The ongoing efforts to cover-up torture


The CIA panicked because the subjects of CIA torture were learning the identities of their torturers. DOJ did an investigation to see whether any crime had been committed, and determined it hadn’t. CIA then started politicizing that decision, which led to Fitzgerald’s appointment.

Fitzgerald confirmed what DOJ originally determined: the defense attorneys committed no crime by researching who their clients’ torturers were.

But along the way Fitzgerald gave the CIA a head–John Kiriakou’s–based partly on old investigations of him. And, surprise surprise, that head happens to belong to the only CIA officer who publicly broke the omerta about the torture program.

This entire case was an attempt to punish someone to restore the omerta on CIA’s illegal activities.
For a bigger picture, I would recommend Dan Froomkin's analysis of the Obama administration's war on whistle blower.

Our country desperately needs to enshrine the Swedish concept of Offentlighetsprincipen (openness) into our constitution, and soon, or our representative democracy is going to quickly turn into a sham.

Not Blogging the Debate

Helping my son with his homework, and finishing up a long form piece that I've been working on for months.

21 October 2012

I Think That My Dad Still Has Some McGovern 1972 Stationary Somewhere in Our House

He died today, at age 90.  (George McGovern died, not my dad)

He was a better man on every level than Richard Nixon, and would have made a better President.

As depressing as it sounds, I think that Nixon might very well have been a better President than all of those that proceeded him.

He was certainly better than the overwhelming majority of them.

That is a scary thought.

Is It Possible to Pull a Congressman's Security Clearance?

It's Darrell Issa, the gift that keeps on giving, who just released documents on Libya without redacting source names, putting them at risk:
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) compromised the identities of several Libyans working with the U.S. government and placed their lives in danger when he released reams of State Department communications Friday, according to Obama administration officials.

Issa posted 166 pages of sensitive but unclassified State Department communications related to Libya on the committee's website afternoon as part of his effort to investigate security failures and expose contradictions in the administration's statements regarding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that resulted in the death of Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

"The American people deserve nothing less than a full explanation from this administration about these events, including why the repeated warnings about a worsening security situation appear to have been ignored by this administration. Americans also deserve a complete explanation about your administration's decision to accelerate a normalized presence in Libya at what now appears to be at the cost of endangering American lives," Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) wrote today in a letter to President Barack Obama.

It appears that the entire Valarie Plame thing was not an aberration. Republicans are confronted with a conflict between politics and national security, they will go with politics, even if it only delays a document release by a couple of days.

Issa is a f%$#ing piece of work, but any examination of his life story would show that.

First, No Real Democracy, Then They are Allied with Iran, and Now………

Iraq is planning significant purchases of Russian weapons, including the possible purchase of a large number of MiG-29s:
Iraq has signed contracts to buy Russian arms worth $4.2bn (£2.6bn; 3.2bn euros) this year, Russian news agencies report.

Moscow, the main supplier of arms to Iraq under Saddam Hussein, thus becomes the country's second-biggest arms supplier after the US.

The new contracts were announced after talks between the two countries' prime ministers near Moscow on Tuesday.

Reports suggest attack helicopters and missiles are included in them.

Iraq has been rebuilding its armed forces since the end of US-led combat operations against insurgents.

Thirty Mi-28 attack helicopters and 42 Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems are said to be among items being sold.

Further discussions are said to be under way for Iraq eventually to buy MiG-29 jets, heavy armoured vehicles and other weaponry.
George W. Bush's little adventure just keeps on yielding dividends for us, doesn't it?

20 October 2012

For All You Medieval or Viking Fans

Nova has an episode on the rediscovery of the manufacturing techniques for the Ulfberht (an ultra high quality Viking Sword):

Yes, I Know, No Posts Yesterday

I came home, and was brweing a nasty cold.

I'm feeling better now, though I still have a bit of a cough.

19 October 2012

Why Hasn't Jon Corzine Been Indicted?

The Wall Street Journal notes that there were no effective capital controls or accounting standards at MF Global:

As MF Global Holdings Ltd. teetered last October, an accountant in its Chicago office got an urgent question from regulators: How much cash did the firm have left?

It is supposed to be an easy question for brokerage firms to answer, even in the middle of a crisis. U.S. rules set tight controls on the accounting, oversight and movement of money that belongs to customers or firms themselves.

This will require a significant effort," the MF Global accountant, Matthew Hughey, wrote in an email to seven colleagues at 4:24 a.m. on Oct. 27, 2011. A copy of the email was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The reason Mr. Hughey couldn't answer the question for regulators: Employees at MF Global couldn't keep track of exactly how much money it had at any given moment, even before the company began to wobble, according to Mr. Hughey's email. Officials had been trying to fix the problem for months.

As regulators and lawmakers plow ahead with investigations that began when MF Global tumbled into bankruptcy a year ago this week, yawning gaps in the New York company's procedures for moving and keeping track of money are getting new attention.

A private lawsuit expected to be updated early next month is expected to highlight such issues and how they are tied to the more than $1 billion that went missing from customer accounts as MF Global failed last October, according to people involved in the suit.

A House financial services committee report, which will be released in the next few weeks, is expected to scrutinize how regulators handled MF Global. It is unclear how much focus will be given to the deficiencies in internal computer systems and procedures at the firm.


There are no signs that prosecutors are planning to bring criminal charges related to the firm's demise.

Jon S. Corzine and Henri J. Steenkamp, MF Global's chief executive and finance chief, respectively, have told lawmakers that they believed internal controls at the company were sound when they signed securities filings in 2011. Their signatures were required under the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate-governance law.

Mr. Corzine, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. chairman, strongly backed the 2002 law while he was a Democratic U.S. senator from New Jersey. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing related to MF Global. A spokesman for Mr. Corzine declined to comment Sunday. Mr. Steenkamp's lawyer and Mr. Hughey couldn't be reached for comment. A lawyer for Mr. Hughey declined to comment.
(emphasis mine)

Under Sarbanes Oxley, Jon Corzine personally certified that MF Global had established and was maintainied "internal controls" and "designed such internal controls to ensure that material information relating to the company and its consolidated subsidiaries is made known to such officers by others within those entities, particularly during the period in which the periodic reports are being prepared." (From the Wiki)

The didn't. It wasn't even close, and Jon Corzine was in violation of the law, and should be subject to criminal penalties.

What have we heard from the Department of Justice? **crickets**

It is a disgrace.

18 October 2012

Another Appeals Court Puts Another Nail in DOMA's Coffin

The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd circuit has ruled that DOMA was unconstitutional.

What's more they set a very high standard:
This is a really big deal. Jacobs is not simply saying that DOMA imposes unique and unconstitutional burdens on gay couples, he is saying that any attempt by government to discriminate against gay people must have an “exceedingly persuasive” justification. This is the same very skeptical standard afforded to laws that discriminate against women. If Jacobs’ reasoning is adopted by the Supreme Court, it will be a sweeping victory for gay rights, likely causing state discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to be virtually eliminated. And the fact that this decision came from such a conservative judge makes it all the more likely that DOMA will ultimately be struck down by the Supreme Court.
Of course, this won't make any difference to Scalia when it gets there. He's a corrupt hack.

Still, it's a, dare I say it, a fabulous bit of news.

It's Jobless Thursday

And the number sucks.

Why I am So Glad that I LIve in Maryland, Part XCIV

It ain't a swing state, so I don't have any qualms about not voting for the guy who appointed Eric "Place" Holder.

The title of Marcy Wheeler's post says it all, "Eric Holder Rewards the Teams that Gave Torturers and Mortgage Fraudsters Immunity".


What Makes Massachusetts 'Phants so Contemptible?

Blah, blah, blah!
So, Scott Brown accuses Elizabeth Warren of doing the Elizabeth Warren of working for the asbestos companies, and she responds with an ad with families of the victims of mesothelioma.

His response is to accuse her of using actors in the ad, which is completely untrue:
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown suggested Wednesday that his Democratic opponent Elizabeth Warren used actors in her advertisements defending the legal work she did on asbestos-related lawsuits.

But three of the people in the advertisements have said that's not the case.

Brown made the statement during a campaign stop at the Taunton Fire Department's central station on Wednesday morning.

During a question and answer session, one firefighter commented that both campaigns are publishing advertisements featuring family members of victims of asbestos-related illness. He asked Brown how Warren gets the victims' family members to go on her commercial.

"A lot of them are paid," Brown said. "We hear that maybe they pay actors. Listen, you can get surrogates and go out and say your thing. We have regular people in our commercials. No one is paid. They are regular folks that reach out to us and say she is full of it."

One of the ads, titled "Ashamed," features Kingston resident Ginny Jackson, whose husband died of mesothelioma after working at a Quincy shipyard that was filled with asbestos.

Reached through the Warren campaign, Jackson responded to Brown's comments, calling them offensive.

"What Scott Brown said today is so offensive to me and my family after what we went through," Jackson said. "He's sunk to a new low."
Nope, this is the nature of the Massachusetts Republican Party.

It's who they are.

You should not be shocked.

H/t Wonkette.

17 October 2012

How About Some Vacation Pix

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
Crater Lake Pix

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
The Ashland Shakespeare Festival's Elizabethan Stage

Click Pix for full size
We went to Ashland, Oregon for my step-mom's birthday, and sampled their Shakespeare festival and on the way back, we took a detour to Crater Lake.

A good time was had by all.

Here are my vacation pix.

There is a fair amount of duplication for Crater lake, I used continuous mode in an attempt to get panoramic shots that I could stitch together.

The photos really do not do justice to the beauty of Crater lake.