Saturday, October 31, 2015

Blimp Spring

Another blimp of sorts broke loose this week.
Halloween came early for drivers and pedestrians as a giant, inflatable [25-foot-tall, 350-pound orange jack-o'-lantern] emerged from a group of trees before bouncing through a Peoria intersection and down the roadway in video captured on Thursday.


Big AZ Promotions, the owners of the pumpkin, didn't know what to expect when they got the call that their pumpkin was on the loose.

"We showed up and it wasn't there and we spent the last 40 minutes driving around looking for it," Sparkes said.

After the pumpkin got free from the streetlight pole it traveled about a quarter of a mile by bouncing over a wall, rolling through a business parking lot and eventually getting stuck in a neighborhood park.


"This is so heavy, and the straps, it just like ripped the rings out, went rolling down the streets," Shayne Smith with Big AZ Promotions said.


Luckily, nobody was injured in the great pumpkin escape, but it did damage street lights in the intersection of 83rd and Grand avenues, but those have now been repaired.

I know you want to see the video. It's a riot. The photographer loses his shit when the mammoth jack-o-lantern heads toward him. (I do hate those videos where they place an in-focus video inside a larger blurry video of the same thing. Not artsy, folks. Just incredibly distracting. So stop it.) Click the article link - video embedded.

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

Church Arson Arrest

St Louis police have arrested an individual in connection with a spate of arson cases at predominantly black churches.

The suspect, a 35-year-old black male, was taken into custody on Thursday, said Schron Jackson, spokesperson for the St Louis police department.

A black man? That should get the honkies going.

October 31 Anniversary: American Hero Bill Binney Resigns

A Little More Varoufakis

Lecture on democracy (specifically in Europe) and global economy.

Why Can't WE Have Sane People in Government?

Okay, so Yanis Varoufakis is no longer the Greek fiance minister, but for a short time, Greece looked poised to do something remarkable - break free of the IMF -  and Varoufakis was instrumental in the attempt. I just came across this Russian interview (in English) that makes him even more impressive, in my mind, than I've already seen. Thought I'd share.

P.S.  the You Tube title is misleading.  He does indeed explain why he's no Putin fan, but that's only one question in the entire interview.

Since the audio is terrible, I spent a couple of hours transcribing it, in case you want to read instead of strain to hear.  (If you're interested at all.)  I'm posting it "below the fold".  (Click "read more")

Happy Halloweenie

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

Accident with the US Blimp Over Kabul

On Oct. 11, a British military helicopter was coming in for a landing at NATO headquarters, where the blimp is moored. According to an eyewitness who spoke to the BBC, the helicopter hit the tether, which then wrapped itself around the rotors. The helicopter crashed, killing five people — two U.S. service members, two British service members, and a French contract civilian — and injuring five more.


“Official military sources say only that somehow or other, during the course of that incident, the cable of the balloon was severed,” he said.

The blimp deflated and eventually crashed to the ground nearby.


The helicopter was a Puma Mk2, carrying members of NATO involved in training and mentoring Afghanistan’s air force.

The two American casualties were both from the Air Force: Maj. Phyllis J. Pelky, 45, an aide-de-camp to the Air Force Academy superintendent; and Master Sgt. Gregory T. Kuhse, 38, who was assigned to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

The British dead were identified as Flight Lieutenant Alan Scott and Flight Lieutenant Geraint “Roly” Roberts, both of the Royal Air Force.


Its deflation was captured on video. Afghan onlookers, used to seeing the blimp as impregnable and omniscient, cheered, and urged the person filming it to post the video on Facebook, which he did.

  The Inetrcept
What? They don't see it as a great sky guard for their protection?
The Oct. 11 accident was not the first time helicopters in Afghanistan have hit a blimp’s tether. Defense News reported in 2013 that at least three Army blimps in Afghanistan were lost due to a “helicopter tether strike” during the course of one year. That led the military to make the tethers more visible, placing “flags and visible light and infrared strobes at regular intervals on the tethers to help improve visibility.”
It took three time before they did something about it?
Defense News described an incident in 2011 where a blimp got loose, “speeding through the sky, out of control, carried by the furious wind. Suddenly, an F-16 fighter jet roared close and then opened fire, mangling the blimp-like dirigible, like blasting a football with a round of buckshot. Gradually, the aerostat slumped to the ground.”

And apparently, “that was just one of two aerostats lost to a storm that day,” Defense News reported.
Good lord! The people of Pennsylvania were very lucky. These things are a menace.
As for the runaway blimp that crashed in Pennsylvania, don’t expect to see it or its partner in the sky again anytime soon, if at all. They were the last remnants of a troubled $2.7 billion program called JLENS or “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System,” intended to spot aerial attacks that normal radar can’t see.
And good riddance. But I bet Kabul gets theirs back.

You can watch the haunting short documentary "The Above" about the blimp over Kabul embedded in the article cited, or directly at The Intercept's Field of Vision.

Politickin' Is Hard

The RNC has suspended plans to partner with NBC News for a February debate, citing a “bad faith” performance by CNBC in Wednesday night’s meeting of the candidates.
Oh my. What happened?
In his letter on Friday, [RNC Chair Reince] Priebus argued that CNBC assured the committee that the debate would focus on substantive policy issues like jobs and taxes, but he said the network failed on that count. He also said it failed to guarantee relatively equal speaking time for the candidates.


"CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of 'gotcha' questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates,” Priebus wrote in the letter to NBC.
Oh I see. The moderators asked embarrassing questions. Seriously, waaaaah.

But, wait. Maybe that's not the real reason.
In the middle of the CNBC-hosted GOP debate on Wednesday, RNC chief strategist and spokesman Sean Spicer and chief of staff Katie Walsh approached CNBC officials. According to a source familiar with the encounter, the two had a complaint: Jeb Bush wasn’t getting enough questions.
I guess we know who the RNC wants to nominate for the 2016 presidential run.  (Maybe they should be grateful that he didn't get more of those "gotcha" questions they were whining about. Eh?)
Immediately after the CNBC debate, Priebus issued a harsh statement calling CNBC’s handling “disappointing” and campaigns began organizing to meet up and plan a way to take control of future debates. The campaigns are aiming to agree on a list of demands that they will submit to the RNC, which plans to make those demands to the networks for future debates.


The February forum -- scheduled for Feb. 26, at the University of Houston -- was the only Republican primary debate set to be co-hosted by a Hispanic news organization.
Maybe the campaigns can submit the questions they want asked.  Or maybe the RNC can moderate the debates.  Take the risk out of it.

What do you expect from that commie liberal NBC, anyway? They want Hillary to run against the nuttiest right-winger available. But don't they get that we can't have the Great Dynasty Contest if Jeb doesn't get enough air time - with easy and not-embarrassing questions?
Asked for comment, CNBC spokesperson Brian Steel gave the same statement CNBC gave as the criticism of the debate started pouring in on Wednesday: "People who want to be the leader of the free world should be able to answer tough questions," Steel said.
What? And break with tradition?

And, speaking of 2016 campaigns...
Hillary Clinton is now supporting a federal investigation of ExxonMobil following the latest disclosures that the giant oil company worked to hide the effects of climate change.

Good on Hillary, you say? Well, think again.
Her call for an investigation comes only months after the company decided to stop sponsoring her family’s foundation.
Yeah, that's more like it.
The Clinton Foundation has accepted at least $1 million from ExxonMobil, despite the company’s history of financing challenges to climate science. And Clinton's State Department touted ExxonMobil as an example of how America should look at Iraq as “a business opportunity.”

And The Rude Pundit sums it up for the RNC:  "At this point, Jeb is a hilariously pitiable figure, a vaudeville clown, a sad sack. It's time for someone to walk him into a field and tell him to look at the rabbits.  [...]  The problem, at the end of the day, is that Jeb Bush isn't the vicious motherfucker his brother was."

But Hillary could be.

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

American Boots on the Ground in Syria

The U.S. will send a small number of U.S. special operations forces into Syria as part of a shift in its strategy against ISIS, White House officials announced Friday.

President Barack Obama has authorized a contingent of less than 50 commandos to deploy into northern Syria and work with moderate opposition forces who are fighting the militants.

"Moderate opposition forces." Got any idea who those might be this time?
A senior U.S. official earlier told NBC News that the special operations forces will work alongside groups with a "proven track record" of fighting ISIS.

That could include working with Kurdish and allied actors who have come together under the umbrella of the "Syrian Democratic Forces," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity before the announcement was not yet public.
And who are these groups again?
While the White House has consistently said it would not put U.S. boots on the ground, spokesman Josh Earnest insisted that they will be there in a "train, advise and assist mission" — and not in a combat role.
Assist does not equal combat, you understand.
"It will not be their responsibility to lead the charge up the hill," he said.
Beginning to get the picture?
Earnest called the additional forces an "expansion" but not a "change" in U.S. strategy against ISIS. He was unable to detail what the special operators will do, citing security concerns.


Small signs of a sea change in strategy have been filtering out in recent weeks and gained steam in the wake of a U.S.-backed raid to free ISIS hostages that cost the life of a Delta Force commando.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned earlier this week that to expect more such raids when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon would be stepping up attacks against ISIS — including through "direct action on the ground" in Iraq and Syria.
Direct action, but not combat and not leading charges up the hills.

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

"So?" (Dick Cheney)

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

Faux News

Keeping up the tradition of seasonal scares, the New York Post (10/26/15) published a story about a potential “Halloween Revolt”: an attack by anarchists on police nationwide.

A group known as the National Liberation Militia, the Post reported, has been planning to dress up in masks like normal trick-or-treaters and use this disguise to sneak up on and assault cops in some coordinated fashion. The story was quickly picked up by CBS News, Fox News and NBC News, all of whom breathlessly alerted the public about this spooky-themed threat to police.


Is there an “anarchist revolt” scheduled for Halloween? Unlikely. But millions of Americans now think there is, and ultimately that’s all that matters.

Well, that's not ALL that matters. What else matters is that when Fox News reported the story to its millions of minions, it was reported, falsely, that the group was founded by ex-Black Panthers. The group is white.

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

UPDATE: November 1, 2015

The FBI kept you safe again!

Bacha Bazi

This is a whole aspect of the "War on Terror" that we didn't hear much about. I had seen reports that boys in Abu Ghraib were raped. Apparently, that was not only okay, but useful. But I was unaware the US military commanders told soldiers to ignore what was a fairly common occurrence amongst Afghan top police and military officers outside prison.
SEPT. 20, 2015

Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.


In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012.


Buckley [Sr.] believes the policy of looking away from sexual abuse was a factor in his son’s death, and he has filed a lawsuit to press the Marine Corps for more information about it.


Lance Corporal Buckley had noticed that a large entourage of “tea boys” — domestic servants who are sometimes pressed into sexual slavery — had arrived with [an Afghan police commander named Sarwar Jan] and moved into the same barracks, one floor below the Marines. He told his father about it during his final call home.

Word of Mr. Jan’s new position also reached the Marine officers who had gotten him arrested in 2010 [for a litany of abuses, including corruption, support for the Taliban and child abduction]. One of them, Maj. Jason Brezler, dashed out an email to Marine officers at F.O.B. Delhi, warning them about Mr. Jan and attaching a dossier about him.


The one American service member who was punished in the investigation that followed was Major Brezler [...]. In one of Major Brezler’s hearings, Marine Corps lawyers warned that information about the police commander’s penchant for abusing boys might be classified. The Marine Corps has initiated proceedings to discharge Major Brezler.

Mr. Jan appears to have moved on, to a higher-ranking police command in the same province.


“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”

The two U.S. soldiers say they used physical force to drive home their message to the Afghan police commander who had been sexually abusing a boy.

"I picked him up, threw him to the ground multiple times and Charles did the same thing," Dan Quinn, who was a U.S. Army captain at the time, told CNN. "We basically had to make sure that he fully understood that if he ever went near that boy or his mother again, there was going to be hell to pay."

The actions of Quinn and the other soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, against the American-backed police commander displeased their superiors in the U.S. military.

Quinn says he and Martland were relieved of their duties shortly afterward.


[A]fter a decade of training with U.S. forces, it seems some Afghan commanders are continuing the abuse unchecked.


The Pentagon denies that telling soldiers to look the other way is official practice.

Just like torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib was not official practice.

“We were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did.”

From an October 2009 CNN report:
It is widely known among the population that, most of the time it is commanders, high-ranking officials and their friends who partake in the abuse of the boys.

Isn't it always?
"It continues because of the culture of impunity and lack of legal provision against this practice."
Doesn't it always?
Saturday, September 30, 2006

Six-term Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) resigned yesterday amid reports that he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to at least one underage male former page.


House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.

It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took.


At the Capitol Hill signing ceremony for the commissions bill, a GOP campaign priority, reporters asked Hastert only about Foley. "He's done the right thing," Hastert replied.

  WaPo 2006
Tue June 9, 2015

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was paying a former student to keep quiet about allegations of sexual abuse from the time when Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach in Illinois, two sources with knowledge of the federal government investigation told CNN on Friday afternoon.

Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach in Yorkville, Illinois between 1965 and 1981 before entering politics. Federal prosecutors indicted Hastert on Thursday for lying to the FBI about $3.5 million he agreed to pay to an undisclosed person to "cover up past misconduct."

October 28, 2015

Disgraced former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) is expected to walk into a federal courthouse Wednesday morning in downtown Chicago and plead guilty to charges that stemmed from an alleged agreement to pay out millions of dollars in hush money to a mysterious "Individual A."

And people who have watched the case told TPM on Tuesday that thanks to the plea deal with federal prosecutors, reports of sexual misconduct against one of Hastert's former students will remain vague—at least for now.


Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor and an adjunct law professor at George Washington University, told TPM that he believed the potential for more information about the alleged misconduct to come out at trial was a driving force behind Hastert's plea deal.

Care to go back to Reagan/Bush?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Say What?

Do you have a point?

I guess it's important to garner approval of virtually illiterate white crackers if you're a black man running for the presidency on the Republican ticket.  And perhaps the only way to do that is spout Biblical-referenced sound bytes, whether they mean anything or not.  Having grown up amidst virtually illiterate white crackers and living amongst them again, I imagine this will appeal to them very much.  They do so like to denigrate and guffaw at professionals, scientists and academics. Makes them feel better about their own ignorance, I suppose.

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

Obama Shut Out the AG on the Biggest Deal of His Term

Weeks before President Obama ordered the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011, four administration lawyers developed rationales intended to overcome any legal obstacles — and made it all but inevitable that Navy SEALs would kill the fugitive Qaeda leader, not capture him.


[T]he lawyers worked in intense secrecy. Fearing leaks, the White House would not let them consult aides or even the administration’s top lawyer, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.


On April 28, 2011, a week before the raid, Michael E. Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, proposed at least telling Mr. Holder. “I think the A.G. should be here, just to make sure,” Mr. Leiter told Ms. DeRosa.

But Mr. Donilon decided that there was no need for the attorney general to know. Mr. Holder was briefed the day before the raid, long after the legal questions had been resolved.

Can Eric Holder not keep a secret? Or did he know there really wasn't an honestly legal way to just go in and assassinate someone?
The legal analysis offered the administration wide flexibility to send ground forces onto Pakistani soil without the country’s consent, to explicitly authorize a lethal mission, to delay telling Congress until afterward, and to bury a wartime enemy at sea. By the end, one official said, the lawyers concluded that there was “clear and ample authority for the use of lethal force under U.S. and international law.”
And WH Attorney Alfredo Gonzalez also said torture is clearly legal.
Some legal scholars later raised objections, but criticism was muted after the successful operation.
Lost in celebration.

And hey, it could have been worse.
One proposal [to get rid of bin Laden] Mr. Obama considered, as previously reported, was to destroy the compound with bombs capable of taking out any tunnels beneath [and] the lawyers were prepared to deem significant collateral damage as lawful, given the circumstances.
Given the circumstances. But they didn't use that option, not because it would kill a lot of innocent people, but because it could be impossible to verify that bin Laden was actually killed.
“All it would have bought us was a propaganda fight.”
There was the small matter of international law prohibiting entering a sovereign country to carry out an assassination, but the lawyers signed off on an "exception" in this case, including the finding that the US president - at least in this particular case - was allowed to "violate international law when authorizing a 'covert' action."
The lawyers also grappled with whether it was lawful for the SEAL team to go in intending to kill Bin Laden as its default option. They agreed that it would be legal [arguing] The SEAL team expected to face resistance and would go in shooting, relying on the congressional authorization to use military force against perpetrators of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


They discussed possible situations in which it might still be lawful to shoot Bin Laden even if he appeared to be surrendering — for instance, if militants next to him were firing weapons, or if he could be concealing a suicide vest under his clothing, officials said.
If the vest were concealed, how would they know he had it on? Silly me. A SEAL would happen to notice a suspicious lump in his caftan, no doubt.

And, you know the rest of the story.

Presidential Material

I know I said I wouldn't post Donald Trump stuff.  Really.  He doesn't need my input.  But I couldn't resist this one.  Even W wouldn't be caught publicly taunting someone with "Losers", and he was extremely juvenile and "non-presidential".  Plus, I want this searchable for me to use if the man actually goes any further.

I don't know what the right-wing journal Politico said about him, but whatever it was, he could only insult them, not actually counter it.

And look at his high school bully face. Haha.

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

Exxon Knew?!

New investigation finds the oil company understood the dangers of climate change a full 11 years before the public .


This knowledge did not prevent the company (now ExxonMobil and the world’s largest oil and gas company) from spending decades refusing to publicly acknowledge climate change and even promoting climate misinformation.

Gasp! Who could have possibly guessed?
Experts, however, aren’t terribly surprised.
At last we've been acknowledged as the experts we are.
But as it turns out, Exxon didn’t just understand the science, the company actively engaged with it. In the 1970s and 1980s it employed top scientists to look into the issue and launched its own ambitious research program that empirically sampled carbon dioxide and built rigorous climate models.
Which only confirms the absurdity in our scientific safey system that the EPA has of allowing companies (I'm thinking specifically of pesticide companies, but it applies to others) to conduct their own safety data research rather than having an independent agency do it.
InsideClimate News [...] found that the company’s knowledge of climate change dates back to July 1977, when its senior scientist James Black delivered a sobering message on the topic. “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” Black told Exxon’s management committee. A year later he warned Exxon that doubling CO2 gases in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by two or three degrees—a number that is consistent with the scientific consensus today. He continued to warn that “present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”
Ten years from 1978.
Furthermore, experts agree that Exxon became a leader in campaigns of confusion. By 1989 the company had helped create the Global Climate Coalition (disbanded in 2002) to question the scientific basis for concern about climate change. It also helped to prevent the U.S. from signing the international treaty on climate known as the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 to control greenhouse gases. Exxon’s tactic not only worked on the U.S. but also stopped other countries, such as China and India, from signing the treaty.


Last summer the Union of Concerned Scientists released a complementary investigation to the one by InsideClimate News, known as the Climate Deception Dossiers (pdf). “We included a memo of a coalition of fossil-fuel companies where they pledge basically to launch a big communications effort to sow doubt,” says union president Kenneth Kimmel. “There’s even a quote in it that says something like ‘Victory will be achieved when the average person is uncertain about climate science.’ ”


Since then, Exxon has spent more than $30 million on think tanks that promote climate denial, according to Greenpeace. Although experts will never be able to quantify the damage Exxon’s misinformation has caused, “one thing for certain is we’ve lost a lot of ground.”
Literally, if you consider glaciers land.

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

Meanwhile in European Rights and Surveillance Issues

The EU Parliament declares mass surveillance a threat.
Parliament is concerned about "recent laws in some member states that extend surveillance capabilities of intelligence bodies", including in France, the UK and the Netherlands. It is also worried by revelations of mass surveillance of telecommunications and internet traffic inside the EU by the German foreign intelligence agency BND in cooperation with the US National Security Agency (NSA).


Too little has been done to safeguard citizens' fundamental rights following revelations of electronic mass surveillance, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. They urge the EU Commission to ensure that all data transfers to the US are subject to an "effective level of protection" and ask EU member states to grant protection to Edward Snowden, as a "human rights defender". Parliament also raises concerns about surveillance laws in several EU countries.


By 285 votes to 281, MEPs decided to call on EU member states to "drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender".

  European Parliamnent
Pretty narrow margin, leaving room, I would think, to deny the request. Still, encouraging.
In general, MEPs consider the Commission's response so far to Parliament's 2014 resolution "highly inadequate" given the extent of the revelations of mass surveillance. "EU citizens' fundamental rights remain in danger" and "too little has been done to ensure their full protection," they say.

Parliament calls on the Commission to “immediately take the necessary measures to ensure that all personal data transferred to the US are subject to an effective level of protection that is essentially equivalent to that guaranteed in the EU”.
Yeah, you definitely don't want the US to get hold of your info.

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


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The "Christians" Will Get Halloween Banned Yet

An anarchist group may be planning to use Halloween as cover for a plan to ambush police in cities across the country, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly said in a bulletin to local police departments.

The New York Post reported Monday that the National Liberation Militia has encouraged supporters to create a disturbance to attract law enforcement and then attack them, the paper reported, citing the FBI. The group calls the ambush a "Halloween Revolt."

The paper reported that the NYPD is monitoring the threat.

I'll believe it when I see it.

And who are these anarchists, anyway?
The “Halloween Revolt,” according to the federal law enforcement agency, is planned by the National Liberation Militia, a group reportedly from Eugene, Oregon, and said to be responsible for violence in Seattle during the World Trade Organization conference in 1999.

(If you haven't seen the movie Battle in Seattle starring Woody Harrelson, Charlize Theron and Ray Liotta, have a look at it.   Trailer)
In 2007 during the Security and Prosperity Partnership summit in Montebello, Canada, police were exposed acting as anarchists and caught trying to incite violence and rioting.
Denver cops were found to have used undercover detectives to instigate violence against police during the 2008 Democratic National Convention and during the G20 in Pittsburgh provocateurs were used to stir up trouble.

Black Bloc anarchists were also used to disrupt and discredit the Occupy movement.

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

Keystone Kops in the Air

One of the two military surveillance blimps that has been watching the East Coast from Maryland has broken free of its mooring at Aberdeen Proving Ground and is now drifting over Pennsylvania, authorities said.

Two F-16 fighter jets from an Air National Guard base in Atlantic City, N.J., are monitoring the unmanned aircraft, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command is working with the Federal Aviation Administration "to ensure air traffic safety," a spokesman said. The blimp is drifting at an altitude of 16,000 feet.


"Anyone who sees the aerostat is advised to contact 911 immediately," spokeswoman Heather Roelker said. "People are warned to keep a safe distance from the airship and tether as contact with them may present significant danger."

  Baltimore Sun

If you missed it, watch this Field of Vision short documentary on the surveillance blimp the US military is flying over Kabul. Damned creepy.

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


A Light Begins to Dawn

Can we continue to embrace a state that permanently denies basic rights to another people? Yet it also poses a problem from a Zionist perspective: Israel has embarked on a path that threatens its very existence.


Doesn’t boycotting Israel but not other rights-violating states constitute a double standard? It does. We love Israel, and we are deeply concerned for its survival. We do not feel equally invested in the fate of other states.

Unlike internationally isolated states such as North Korea and Syria, Israel could be significantly affected by a boycott. The Israeli government could not sustain its foolish course without massive U.S. aid, investment, commerce, and moral and diplomatic support.

We recognize that some boycott advocates are driven by opposition to (and even hatred of) Israel. Our motivation is precisely the opposite: love for Israel and a desire to save it.

This opinion article in the Washington Post by Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl is worth the read, as it comes from self-proclaimed "lifelong Zionists" and lays out several logical reasons (if not moral and humanitarian) for removing American support and boycotting of Israel.

Luckily for them, these men are not French citizens.

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

Take Another Wild Guess

It takes a large amount of humility to do what Jimmy Carter chose to do. Exactly none of the other ex-presidents have done it. And I don't see an ounce of humility in Barack Obama, so I'll place my bet on the latter.

Cuba Libre

Moments before the vote took place, the U.S. representative to the U.N. declared that his country would vote against lifting the sanctions, saying that it was unfortunate that Cuba had presented a motion that was “almost identical” to the one the year before.

His speech followed that of Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who demanded that the U.S. end the “flagrant, massive and systematic violation of human rights of all Cubans” by terminating the half-century financial and economic blockade.

Rodriguez pointed out the company Electra refused to supply Cuban hospitals with cancer drugs.


Ecuador's NAM representative at the U.N. called on the United States to cease voting against the movement, “contrary to the will of the international community.”

Not on your life, pal. Not on your life.
The decision must be unanimous in order for the measure to be passed.
And, yes, the second insane, bullying, brutalizing country to vote against lifting the blockade is Israel.

CISA Follow Up

Roll Call Votes

The US Senate overwhelmingly passed a controversial cybersecurity bill critics say will allow the government to collect sensitive personal data unchecked, over the objections of civil liberties groups and many of the biggest names in the tech sector.


The data in question would come from private industry, which mines everything from credit card statements to prescription drug purchase records to target advertising and tweak product lines. Indeed, much of it is detailed financial and health information the government has never had access to in any form.


Cisa would create a program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through which corporations could share user data in bulk with several US government agencies. In exchange for participating, the companies would receive complete immunity from Freedom of Information Act requests and regulatory action relating to the data they share. DHS would then share the information throughout the government.


The vote on Tuesday was 74 to 21 in support of the legislation. Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders voted against the bill. None of the Republican presidential candidates (except Lindsey Graham, who voted in favor) were present to cast a vote, including Rand Paul, who has made privacy from surveillance a major plank of his campaign platform.


[T]he Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy, sent an open letter to the Senate, urging them not to pass the bill. The bill, they wrote, would fatally undermine the Freedom of Information Act (Foia).


Cisa would “allow ‘voluntary’ sharing of heretofore private information with the government, allowing secret and ad hoc privacy intrusions in place of meaningful consideration of the privacy concerns of all Americans,” the professors wrote.

“The Freedom of Information Act would be neutralized, while a cornucopia of federal agencies could have access to the public’s heretofore private-held information with little fear that such sharing would ever be known to those whose information was shared.”


The American Banking Association and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) applauded the passage of the bill. “The legislation passed by the Senate today bolsters our cyber defenses by providing the liability protections needed to encourage the voluntary sharing of cyber threat information,” the TIA said in a statement. “We applaud the Senate for moving this important bill and urge Congressional leaders to act quickly to send this bill to the president’s desk.”

Government of the people by the people for the people.
Cisa was negotiated and marked up in secret.
That, too.
The bill must next pass the House of Representatives, a procedure that will likely be much quicker and smoother than the opposition it faced in the Senate from Oregon senator Ron Wyden, among others. Then it must be negotiated by the House and the Senate and then likely passed in a package with two others.
Packaged for your protection.
Robyn Greene of the New America Foundation characterized the legislation as a “do-something” bill. “The Sony hack really changed the conversation,” Greene said. “You can see that in the way the administration approached cybersecurity – they stopped saying ‘This is is something that has to get done right’ and started saying ‘This is something that has to get done now.’”
Not to mention the corporatocratic advantages (dare I say 'fascist'*?) of the bill, it's easier for the government to pass restrictive legislation than it is to fix its fractured, outdated and vulnerable IT systems.

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

* "Fascism operated from a Social Darwinist view of human relations. The aim was to promote superior individuals and weed out the weak.[6] In terms of economic practice, this meant promoting the interests of successful businessmen while destroying trade unions and other organizations of the working class.[7] Fascist governments encouraged the pursuit of private profit and offered many benefits to large businesses, but they demanded in return that all economic activity should serve the national interest.[8] Historian Gaetano Salvemini argued in 1936 that fascism makes taxpayers responsible to private enterprise, because "the State pays for the blunders of private enterprise... Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social."[9]" - Economics of Fascism

UPDATE: 12/19/15 - CISA passed handily.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

CISA Update

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

UPDATE: 12/19/15 - CISA passed handily.


What's the plan here?

She Has a Point

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

Disillusioned in Syria

Since the start of the regime change operation in Syria Jenan Moussa, who works for the UAE based Al Aan TV, is an ardent fan of the "moderate rebels". Her embedded reports about them were more one sided anti-regime propaganda than journalism. She is quite prominent with over 100,000 followers on Twitter.

But her honeymoon with the FSA seems to be over. She finally recognizes that the FSA is a mere weapon courier service between the CIA and Saudis on one side and al-Qaeda and the Islamic State on the other.


That is, of course, not new. When the German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer, who traveled to ISIS-controlled Syria and Iraq last year, was asked about how the FSA is seen by the Jihadis he responded (vid):
They are laughing about the FSA. They don't take them for serious. They say: "The best arms sellers we have are the FSA. If they get a good weapon they sell it to us."

Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda in Syria, is meanwhile happy with all the attention the Islamic State gets. It helps Nusra to play the "moderates".


Another long term fan of regime change in Syria and a busy propagandists on Twitter with some 26,000 followers is The 47th. Yesterday he finally had this realization:
The 47th @THE_47th
There isn't a single credible, promising & uniting Syrian oppositions figure that could possibly run against Assad.
  Moon of Alabama
So we can't possibly agree to free elections in Syria.

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

Saudi Rules

The BBC loves to boast about how “objective” and “neutral” it is. But a recent article, which it was forced to change, illustrates the lengths to which the British state-funded media outlet will go to protect one of the U.K. government’s closest allies, Saudi Arabia, which also happens to be one of the country’s largest arms purchasers (just this morning, the Saudi ambassador to the U.K. threatened in an op-ed that any further criticism of the Riyadh regime by Jeremy Corbyn could jeopardize the multi-layered U.K./Saudi alliance).


This was the key claim of the anonymous Saudi official (emphasis added):
[...]  He said those groups being supplied did not include either Islamic State (IS) or al-Nusra Front, both of which are proscribed terrorist organizations. Instead, he said the weapons would go to three rebel alliances — Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest), the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Southern Front.


[O]riginally, the BBC stated that the “Saudi official” announced that the regime was arming the Army of Conquest. Once it was brought to the BBC’s attention that the Army of Conquest includes the al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front — a direct contradiction of the Saudi official’s other claim that the Saudis are not arming Nusra — the BBC literally changed the Saudi official’s own statement, whitewashed it, to eliminate his admission that they were arming Army of Conquest. Instead, the BBC now states that the Saudis are arming “the Free Syrian Army and other small rebel groups.”

  Glenn Greenwald
But what this does highlight is just how ludicrous — how beyond parody — the 14-year-old war on terror has become, how little it has to do with its original ostensible justification. The regime with the greatest plausible proximity to the 9/11 attack — Saudi Arabia — is the closest U.S. ally in the region next to Israel. The country that had absolutely nothing to do with that attack, and which is at least as threatened as the U.S. by the religious ideology that spurred it — Iran — is the U.S.’s greatest war-on-terror adversary. Now we have a virtual admission from the Saudis that they are arming a group that centrally includes al Qaeda, while the U.S. itself has at least indirectly done the same (just as was true in Libya). And we’re actually at the point where western media outlets are vehemently denouncing Russia for bombing al Qaeda elements, which those outlets are manipulatively referring to as “non-ISIS groups.”

It’s not a stretch to say that the faction that provides the greatest material support to al Qaeda at this point is the U.S. and its closest allies. That is true even as al Qaeda continues to be paraded around as the prime need for the ongoing war. 

Don't worry if you feel confused.  You're meant to feel that way.

Sitting While Black

Video of a South Carolina sheriff’s deputy manhandling a student in a high school classroom has added to simmering racial tensions among parents.

The video shows a school monitor reported to be Ben Fields – who is also a Richland county sheriff’s deputy, confronting a black female student.

When she refuses to leave her seat in a classroom at Spring Valley High, he tells her: “I’ll make you.” He wraps his arm around her neck, flips her desk backward, then drags her across the floor. He arrested both the girl, and a male student.

The sheriff’s department has placed Fields on administrative leave while it investigates the case.


Fields has a history of alleged aggression during arrests. According to federal court papers a man named Carlos Martin sued Fields for pepper spraying him and roughing up his wife after he pulled his car into a parking lot playing loud music. The suit ended in Fields’s favor.

I can't help but think that the paucity of real consequences for police shootings and other brutality encourages more of the same.

It's quite a jarring video.

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

Surprise! Senate Vote Today

Because your government does not have enough control over you:
The Senate Intelligence Committee advanced a terrible cybersecurity bill called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) to the Senate floor last week. The new chair (and huge fan of transparency) Senator Richard Burr may have set a record as he kept the bill secret until Tuesday night.


This fatally flawed bill must be stopped. It's not a cybersecurity, but a surveillance bill.


CISA marks the fifth time in as many years that Congress has tried to pass "cybersecurity" legislation.


Last year, President Obama signed Executive Order 13636 (EO 13636) directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expand current information sharing programs. In February, he signed another Executive Order encouraging regional cybersecurity information sharing and creating yet another Cyber Threat Center.


Aside from its redundancy, the Senate Intelligence bill grants two new authorities to companies. First, the bill authorizes companies to launch countermeasures (now called "defensive measures" in the bill) for a "cybersecurity purpose" against a "cybersecurity threat." "Cybersecurity purpose" is so broadly defined that it means almost anything related to protecting (including physically protecting) an information system, which can be a computer or software. The same goes for a "cybersecurity threat," which includes anything that "may result" in an unauthorized effort to impact the availability of the information system.


Second, the bill adds a new authority for companies to monitor information systems to protect an entity's hardware or software. Here again, the broad definitions could be used in conjunction with the monitoring clause to spy on users engaged in potentially innocuous activity. Once collected, companies can then share the information, which is also called “cyber threat indicators,” freely with government agencies like the NSA.


Its new role in the bill mandates DHS send information to agencies—like the NSA—"in real-time." The bill also allows companies to bypass DHS and share the information immediately with other agencies, like the intelligence agencies, which ensures that DHS's current privacy protections won’t be applied to the information.


Once the information is sent to any government agency (including local law enforcement), it can use the information for reasons other than for cybersecurity purposes.

They wouldn't do that, would they?

I suspect this is one of those times when they need to make a law to cover something they're already doing. And I don't understand why they're so secretive about it. The majority of US citizens would surely scrap the constitution in order to give law enforcement agencies any powers they say they need to catch terrorists AND criminals. Well, certain KINDS of criminals.
The bill also retains near-blanket immunity for companies to monitor information systems and to share the information as long as it's conducted according to the act. Again, "cybersecurity purpose" rears its overly broad head since a wide range of actions conducted for a cybersecurity purpose are allowed by the bill. [...] It remains to be seen why such immunity is needed when just a few months ago, the FTC and DOJ noted they would not prosecute companies for sharing such information.
And with TPP, corporations would essentially be the supreme law.  All they need then is to have their own armies. Hmmm....come to think of it, during the Occupy protests, I do believe there were army-geared police standing guard in front of a bank or three.

Mission accomplished.

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

 UPDATE  6:00pm:

UPDATE: 12/19/15 - CISA passed the House handily.

Monday, October 26, 2015


[May 10, 2007] Humanitarian International Services Group, or HISG, won special praise from [President GW Bush] for having demonstrated how a private charity could step in quickly in response to a crisis. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” read Hiramine’s citation, “HISG’s team launched a private sector operation center in Houston that mobilized over 1,500 volunteers into the disaster zone within one month after the hurricane.”

But as the evangelical Christian Hiramine crossed the stage to shake hands with President Bush and receive his award, he was hiding a key fact from those in attendance: He was a Pentagon spy whose NGO was funded through a highly classified Defense Department program.


The secret Pentagon program, which dates back to December 2004, continued well into the Obama presidency. It was the brainchild of a senior Defense Department intelligence official of the Bush administration, Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin.

  The Intercept
You remember Jerry Boykin.
[October 16, 2003 -- Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin,]13-year veteran of the Army's top-secret Delta Force is also an outspoken evangelical Christian who appeared in dress uniform and polished jump boots before a religious group in Oregon in June to declare that radical Islamists hated the United States "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian ... and the enemy is a guy named Satan."

Discussing the battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia, Boykin told another audience, "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."

  LA Times
Back to The Intercept article:
Hiramine’s NGO, by offering humanitarian aid to the country’s desperate population, was able to go where others could not.


Few, if any, of the rest of the organization’s staff and volunteers had any knowledge about its role as a Pentagon front, according to former HISG employees and former military officials.


Before it was finally dismantled in 2013, Hiramine’s organization received millions in funding from the Pentagon through a complex web of organizations designed to mask the origin of the cash.


The use of HISG for espionage was “beyond the pale” of what the U.S. government should be allowed to do, said Sam Worthington, president of InterAction, an association of nearly 200 American NGOs. The practice of using humanitarian workers as spies “violates international principles” and puts legitimate aid and development workers at risk, he argued.
Not only that, but it can undermine and create a backlash that harms legitimate aid benefits to the people they are supposed to be helping.

Just before reading this article, I had been listening to an NPR segment about how polio has been virtually eradicated from the planet. The remaining area where it still exists, they told me, is the "restive" border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They informed me that the evil Taliban had been preventing vaccination efforts and even killed medical personnel who were there to carry out the program. The NPR reporters did not, however, inform me why the Taliban in that region did so. Why did they leave that part out?
July 9, 2012   In Pakistan, where polio has never been eliminated, the C.I.A.’s decision to send a vaccination team into the Bin Laden compound to gather information and DNA samples clearly hurt the national polio drive. The question is: How badly?

After the ruse by Dr. Shakil Afridi was revealed by a British newspaper a year ago, angry villagers, especially in the lawless tribal areas on the Afghan border, chased off legitimate vaccinators, accusing them of being spies.

And then, late last month, Taliban commanders in two districts banned polio vaccination teams, saying they could not operate until the United States ended its drone strikes. One cited Dr. Afridi, who is serving a 33-year sentence imposed by a tribal court, as an example of how the C.I.A. could use the campaign to cover espionage.

Back to The Intercept:
The Taliban claimed the vaccination program was part of a Western intelligence plot. Cases of polio, which has been eradicated in almost every country in the world, have spiked in Pakistan in recent years.
ASIDE FROM HIRAMINE and possibly other top executives, those who worked for HISG were never aware they were involved in a Pentagon intelligence program, or that Hiramine was working for the U.S. government, according to two former military officials.

“They were never witting,” said the former senior Pentagon official. “That was the point.”

  The Inercept
Government dupes. Hated for their freedoms, no doubt.
In 2012, now-retired Adm. William McRaven, the commander of the Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida, who oversaw the Osama bin Laden raid, shut down the North Korea spying program.

“McRaven told us he shut it down because he was nervous about the flap if it ever got out that the Pentagon had used a bunch of evangelicals and missionaries as spies,” said one former military officer, adding that if the program had produced better intelligence McRaven would have considered keeping it up and running. McRaven did not respond to a request for comment.


“If these people had been caught and tried and executed in downtown Pyongyang you’d really understand the risk,” said Robert Baer, a retired CIA officer who spent more than 20 years conducting espionage operations.
And they'd have been really surprised themselves. And honestly claiming not to be spies. See how that works?
“The reward is almost zero given the risk because using NGOs — especially unwitting [ones] — produces very weak intelligence,” said [...] Baer.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.


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


On Thursday, as leaked secrets about U.S. drone warfare attracted global news coverage, LanAnn Bryant was warned the Islamic State group may have her personal information and she should be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

The public school teacher’s son Brandon – a former drone operator turned whistleblower – was in Germany to testify before a parliamentary committee, and she became suspicious as two men from the Air Force's investigative arm warned her about the jihadi group.

She was told not to share their vague warning with anyone outside her family.

This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Why would IS be after someone who was blowing the whistle on US drones? I know it's not true, but why would the US government/military think this is how to intimidate the whistleblowers?
[The soldier's lawye,r Jesselyn Radack, says] it’s not the first time authorities have given such a notice to her drone whistleblower clients. In late March, she says, the stepparent of another client, who she declined to publicly identify, was given a similar warning, as was Brandon Bryant himself.


Brandon Bryant, a Predator drone operator who left the Air Force in 2011 and subsequently slammed the program's leaders for the amount of collateral damage they impose, was contacted by the FBI.


“It’s no coincidence at all that this happened on the same day as The Intercept’s series on the ‘drone papers’ and on the same day Brandon was testifying before the Bundestag,” she says of the most recent visit.


Radack might be right that the timing of the warning LanAnn Bryant received was no coincidence, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations says.


But the spokeswoman insists the warnings are not being cooked up to spook dissidents.

“[T]his had absolutely NOTHING to do with whistleblower intimidation!!!” the spokeswoman, Linda Card, said in an email.
Of course not.
She says “this investigation was to protect her, to let her know her son was treading on some dangerous ground and it’s gotten ISIS's interest and she needs to be aware of her surroundings, that’s it.”
Because she can exert pressure on her son to shut up? No. Because a threat to a person's family often serves to shut the person up. But, from IS?

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

Are We That Obvious?

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

We've Had a Lot of Jokers in the Job Ourselves

Television comic and self-styled outsider Jimmy Morales has been elected as Guatemala’s next president, riding a wave of popular anger against the political class after huge anti-corruption protests helped oust the last government.


Those Rooskies Are Tryin'a Take Over the World!

Dude.  That's why we're kickin' their asses.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wasn't That Great?!

We killed Gaddafi.  Yippee!

President Barack Obama stated ( in a speech to the nation on March 28, 2011, "The task that I assigned our forces [is] to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone," adding explicitly, "Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake."


At the eleven-hour United States House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing yesterday, Sec. Hillary Clinton said something in passing that has received no attention by the committee members or the media. When asked by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) about a video clip that read, “We came, we saw, he died [meaning former Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi]. Is that the Clinton doctrine?” Clinton replied, “No, that was an expression of relief that the military mission undertaken by NATO and our other partners had achieved its end.”


[A] committee member could have pressed Clinton to explain why U.S. objectives shifted so markedly from protecting civilians to killing Qaddafi. Or, if regime change was the intended policy objective from the very beginning, why didn’t President Obama say so to the American public?

  Micah Zenko
And honestly, the American public would have been okay with that.

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

"Subjective Fear of Surveillance"

A federal district court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the National Security Agency.

Of course it has.
The plaintiffs included Wikipedia, the Nation magazine, Amnesty International and six other organizations, who alleged that the interception and storage of their communications by the NSA violated their constitutional protections against unwarranted search and seizure.
"Constitutional protections." (See * below.)
The judge in the case, TS Ellis III, said the suit relied on “the subjective fear of surveillance”, because the NSA did not admit to having collected any of the information it was alleged to have collected by the ACLU.
Seroiusly. W.T.F.???  If they don't admit it, they're clean?  Is that why we use torture and trickery to extract admissions of guilt?  Actually, that's what a convicted bank robber once told me:  "Whatever the police accuse you of on the stand - deny, deny, deny."
Ellis is a former navy aviator who in 2006 dismissed a suit against the CIA brought by a German man who accused the agency of abducting and torturing him as part of the US “extraordinary rendition” program. Notably, Ellis dismissed the case not on merit, but on the grounds that a trial would risk national security.
And this guy is NOT called an "activist judge."

Doug Thompson, publisher of Capitol Hill Blue, says he’s talked to three people present last month when Republican Congressional leaders met with President Bush in the Oval Office to talk about renewing the Patriot Act.[...] All three GOP politicians quote their president as saying: "Stop throwing the Constitution in my face! It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!"  Source

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

Taxes Schmaxes

Surely we don't care if a corporation doesn't pay its taxes!  Why should Uber be held to a different standard than, say General Motors or Merck Pharmaceuticals?

How Uber plays the tax shell game (Brian O'Keefe, Marty Jones @ Fortune)

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

Friday, October 23, 2015


AIN ISSA, Syria — In this abandoned desert town on the front line of the war against the Islamic State in Raqqa, local fighters are fired up by announcements in Washington that the militants’ self-proclaimed capital is to be the next focus of the war.

But there is still no sign of the help the United States has delivered ostensibly for the use of the Arab groups fighting the Islamic State, nor is there any indication it will imminently arrive, calling into question whether there can be an offensive to capture Raqqa anytime soon.

Fifty tons of ammunition air­dropped by the U.S. military last week and intended for Arab groups has instead been claimed by the overall command of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units [YPG].


U.S. officials insist that the ammunition was received by Arab fighters .


The question of whether Arab or Kurdish fighters get the weapons is crucial, in part because of Turkish sensitivities surrounding the United States’ burgeoning relationship with the Syrian Kurds. Turkey accuses the YPG of affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, designated a terrorist organization by Ankara and Washington, and has already lodged a complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Ankara that the YPG received the weapons intended for Arabs.


The dispute surrounding the destination of this first supply of U.S. arms under the new Pentagon strategy is just one of several latent tensions over the future shape of the battle in northeastern Syria, where the Kurdish YPG has proclaimed a self-governing Kurdish enclave called Rojava.

Among them is the question of whether Raqqa should be a target at all.


The shift toward a Raqqa-focused strategy comes after the highly publicized collapse of the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and equip a new Syrian army that would be dedicated to fighting the Islamic State. Syrian rebels balked at requirements that they abandon the fight against President Bashar al-Assad, and all but a dozen or so of the 130 who did receive the training were kidnapped by al-Qaeda, defected or deserted.



They've used up all the superlatives hyping lesser storms, so now, when they actually have a storm that requires superlatives to talk about, they're reduced to doubling down.

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


A sucker born every minute, right?
A 3D-printed bathing suit allows swimmers to actually clean bodies of water while they swim. Engineers from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) created a reusable material derived from sucrose that has since been used to make a "Spongesuit." The bikini repels water while it absorbs harmful contaminants.

  Nature World

Swimsuits of the future could turn swimmers into eco-warriors. Why? Thanks to a smart material that absorbs pollutants from the ocean as you swim.


According to Reshape’s website, the material is so absorbent that it is can suck up to 25 times its own weight depending on the density of what it’s absorbing. It also doesn’t release the contaminants that it has absorbed unless it’s heated to temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius—meaning that the swimsuit is also reusable. You can absorb pollutants, heat it up to release the chemicals, then reshape the bikini again (up to 20 times) and you’re good to go.

Dude. It's a bikini. The oceans are huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge.

What a scam. What are you charging airheads and gullible "eco-warriors" for this miracle fashion?

And, seriously, do you want contaminants trapped against your (most sensitive) skin?
It is important to note that storing the contaminants does not harm the swimmer. In fact, they are specifically trapped in the inner pores of the sponge material so they don't touch the skin.
Oh.  Well, okay then.

It's a fucking bikini.  That leaves a hell of a lot of skin exposed to the fucking contaminants you're swimming around in, for fuck's sake!

Get out there and swim the seas for the future of the planet ladies. Swim!  Swim!

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

Sorry for that spate of f-bombs. I got a little exercised there.