Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Appeal Denied - USG Ordered to Release Secret Memo

A federal appeals court has ordered the release of a secret government memo that authorized the killings of Americans overseas. The American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times had filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act seeking the legal basis for drone strikes. The lawsuit came after the United States killed the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, and Samir Khan in Yemen, despite having never charged any of them with a crime. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the release of the memo and other related documents. In a statement, the ACLU said the ruling marks a "resounding rejection of the government’s effort to use secrecy and selective disclosure to manipulate public opinion about the targeted killing program."

  Democracy Now
So, will the government pony up?  Or take the matter to the Supreme Court "activist" judges, where they always win.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Another Twitter Fail

Just before 2 pm EDT, the New York City Police Department called via Twitter for photos of citizens with its officers. Almost immediately the campaign #myNYPD seemed to backfire, as users flooded the hashtag with photos decrying alleged police brutality.


Do we have a photo?  Why, yes.  Yes, we do.

Really.  The department didn't think that one through, did they?
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's Not Getting Any Better

According to “Working for the Few,” a recent briefing paper from Oxfam, “In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.”


[E]conomic analyst Robert Reich reminded us that in addition to getting the largest percent of total national income in nearly a century, many in the one percent are paying a lower federal tax rate than a lot of people in the middle class. You may remember that an obliging Congress, of both parties, allows high rollers of finance the privilege of “carried interest,” a tax rate below that of their secretaries and clerks.

And at state and local levels, while the poorest fifth of Americans pay an average tax rate of over 11 percent, the richest one percent of the country pay — are you ready for this? — half that rate.


Inequality is what has turned Washington into a protection racket for the one percent. It buys all those goodies from government: Tax breaks. Tax havens (which allow corporations and the rich to park their money in a no-tax zone). Loopholes. Favors like carried interest. And so on.


Sad, that it’s come to this. The drift toward oligarchy that Thomas Piketty describes in his formidable new book on capital has become a mad dash.

  Bill Moyers

Oh, and THAT Picture's Not Going to Be Photoshopped Much

Obama reading "Where the Wild Things Are" to kids on Easter:

I was just wondering why the Christians don't get up in arms about a War on Easter?  "The reason for the season." 

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

There Ought to Be a Law

American combat dolphins and sea lions will undertake a lengthy plane flight in order to participate in NATO war games in the Black Sea, Tom LaPuzza, spokesman for the US Navy's marine mammals program, reportedly said.

20 dolphins and ten sea lions will take part in the drill, which will last from one to two weeks, LaPuzza is cited as saying by Izvestia newspaper.


Ye Gods

A short intensive laser pulse produces plasma in its path. This plasma can interact with charged particles in a storm cloud and change weather, starting rain on request and control lightning bolts. But making laser beams travel into the clouds uninterrupted was always a challenge, because beams powerful enough to control weather dissipate very quickly.

A team of optical researchers at the University of Arizona and the University of Central Florida have found a way around this obstacle.


The potential of the technology goes beyond our interaction with the planet’s atmosphere. It can be applied in areas like remote sensing for spectroscopy, allowing analyzing chemical compounds from long distances, or channeling of microwaves. The US Department of Defense, which green-lit the research with a $7.5 million grant, certainly thought it was worth the investment.

As for weather control, the team needs to find a way to send a laser beam hundreds of meters into the sky and sustain its energy, researchers say.


“When a laser beam becomes intense enough, it behaves differently than usual – it collapses inward on itself,” explained study co-author Matthew Mills, a graduate of the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) at University of Central Florida. “The collapse becomes so intense that electrons in the air's oxygen and nitrogen are ripped off creating plasma – basically a soup of electrons.”

And what could possibly go wrong?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

At This Rate, We'll Soon Have Yemen Depopulated

By noontime in Washington, DC on Monday, the Associated Press reported that 55 Al-Qaeda militants were among those that had been killed in an hours-long series of strikes that targeted a training camp operated by the group, according to Yemen's interior ministry. The United States is alleged to have carried out the strikes using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, but does not legally have to acknowledge any operations conducted by its Central Intelligence Agency and has not commented.


[An] anonymous Yemeni government official briefed on the strikes told CNN that the strikes had yet to cease and that at, by his count, at least 30 alleged militants had been killed.


On Sunday, US drones reportedly targeted an Al-Qaeda training camp in the nearby province of Abyan and killed another 30.

Let’s revisit the Obama administration’s definition of a militant: “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent. “ (source: New York Times)

And why is the CIA fighting a war, anyway? I thought we had a military for that.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's Sunday

And Easter Sunday at that, for all you Christians


I know, I know.  I'm going to Hell.  Yeah, yeah.

And, happy bunny day to you pagans:

Vintage creepy Easter bunny photos.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Snowden Responds to Criticism of His Putin Question

In answer to my speculation about whether Edward Snowden asked his security question of Russia’s President Putin merely to get an answer on the record, today, the Guardian has a post from Snowden himself.
The question was intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion.


[If] we are to test the truth of officials' claims, we must first give them an opportunity to make those claims.


In his response, Putin denied the first part of the question and dodged on the latter. There are serious inconsistencies in his denial – and we'll get to them soon – but it was not the president's suspiciously narrow answer that was criticised by many pundits. It was that I had chosen to ask a question at all.


[J]ournalists might ask for clarification as to how millions of individuals' communications are not being intercepted, analysed or stored, when, at least on a technical level, the systems that are in place must do precisely that in order to function. They might ask whether the social media companies reporting that they have received bulk collection requests from the Russian government are telling the truth.

Hopefully, Mr. Snowden will be receiving offers of asylum from and legal passage to other countries soon, because I have a feeling he won’t be getting an extension from Russia now.

Brave and/or foolhardy.

No Need to Curb Environmental Practices That Lead to Global Warming

Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that's similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it's not too hot or cold to sustain life.


The newfound object, dubbed Kepler-186f, circles a red dwarf star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. A light-year is almost 6 trillion miles.


The planet is about 10 percent larger than Earth and may very well have liquid water — a key ingredient for life — on its surface, scientists said. That is because it resides at the outer edge of the habitable temperature zone around its star — the sweet spot where lakes, rivers or oceans can exist without freezing solid or boiling away.

The planet probably basks in an orange-red glow from its star and is most likely cooler than Earth, with an average temperature slightly above freezing, "similar to dawn or dusk on a spring day," Marcy said.

Well, there you go. By the time global warming has ruined the earth, what’s left of mankind can head off to New Earth. Party on, Garth.