Sunday, January 31, 2016

Terrible and Sad

Maybe you already knew this. I didn't.
Thirty years ago, as the nation mourned the loss of seven astronauts on the space shuttle Challenger, Bob Ebeling was steeped in his own deep grief.

The night before the launch, Ebeling and four other engineers at NASA contractor Morton Thiokol had tried to stop the launch. Their managers and NASA overruled them.

That night, he told his wife, Darlene, "It's going to blow up."

[...]

Three weeks later, Ebeling and another engineer separately and anonymously detailed to NPR the first account of that contentious pre-launch meeting. Both were despondent and in tears as they described hours of data review and arguments. The data showed that the rubber seals on the shuttle's booster rockets wouldn't seal properly in cold temperatures and this would be the coldest launch ever.

Ebeling, now 89, decided to let NPR identify him this time, on the 30th anniversary of the Challenger explosion.

[...]

The space shuttle program had an ambitious launch schedule that year and NASA wanted to show it could launch regularly and reliably. President Ronald Reagan was also set to deliver the State of the Union address that evening and reportedly planned to tout the Challenger launch.

Whatever the reason, Ebeling says it didn't justify the risk.

[...]

Ebeling retired soon after Challenger. He suffered deep depression and has never been able to lift the burden of guilt. In 1986, as he watched that haunting image again on a television screen, he said, "I could have done more. I should have done more."

He says the same thing today, sitting in a big easy chair in the same living room, his eyes watery and his face grave. The data he and his fellow engineers presented, and their persistent and sometimes angry arguments, weren't enough to sway Thiokol managers and NASA officials. Ebeling concludes he was inadequate. He didn't argue the data well enough.

[...]

"I think that was one of the mistakes that God made," Ebeling says softly. "He shouldn't have picked me for the job. But next time I talk to him, I'm gonna ask him, 'Why me. You picked a loser.' "

  NPR
NASA should have been paying this poor man's psych counseling bills and a huuuuuge pension for the past 30 years.



Is It Too Soon?

I may no believe there's an actual democratic process for electing a US president, but I'd still like to see a Sanders-Warren ticket.  Or Warren-Sanders.

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

And We Still Miss Molly Ivins

I don’t have an agenda, I don’t have a program. I’m not a communist or a socialist. I guess I’m a left-libertarian and a populist, and I believe in the Bill of Rights the way some folks believe in the Bible.

Friends, soulwise, these are trying times. Now is the time for all good citizens to come to the aid of our country, and it won’t help if you all cower in places like Madison and the Upper West Side, having hot fantods over the approach of fascism. To the barricades, team. And for Lord’s sake, don’t leave your sense of humor behind.

-- Molly Ivins
(contains some good quotes)
For a while there, I thought the main reason she wrote for The Progressive was because we let her swear. But there were others: She knew we needed humor to lighten up our pages, and that our readers needed humor to lighten up their lives.

She believed in the power of laughter. She knew it could keep you from getting depressed or burning out. And she knew it could deflate the abusers of power.

Of the Reagan Administration, she said, “Half of it was under average—the other half was under indictment.”

Of Pat Buchanan’s culture war speech at the 1992 Republican convention, she said, “It read better in the original German.”

  Progressive

"Wake me when impending egalitarianism is a problem. In the meantime, oligarchy is eating our ass, our dreams, our country, our heritage, our democracy, our justice, and our tax code.” -- Molly Ivins



August 30, 1944 – January 31, 2007

Clinton v. Sanders

A much-cheered Mashable article – headlined “The bros who love Bernie Sanders have become a sexist mob” – purported to describe the “Bernie Bro” phenomenon as Sanders supporters who are “often young, white and predominantly male” and whose messages are “oftentimes derogatory and misogynistic.” It cited a grand total of two examples, both from random, unknown internet users.

[...]

Hillary Clinton is the establishment candidate [...] why would devoted media cheerleaders of the Clinton campaign experience abuse from Clinton supporters? They wouldn’t, and they don’t. Therefore, venerating their self-centered experience as some generalized trend, they announce that Sanders supporters are uniquely abusive: because that’s what they, as die-hard Clinton media supporters, personally experience. This “Bernie Bro” narrative says a great deal about which candidate is supported by [...] journalists and says nothing unique about the character of the Sanders campaign or his supporters.

[...]

There are literally millions of women who support Sanders over Clinton. A new Iowa poll yesterday shows Sanders with a 15-point lead over Clinton among women under 45, while 1/3 of Iowa women over 45 support him. A USA Today/Rock-the-Vote poll from two weeks ago found Sanders nationally “with a 19-point lead over front-runner Hillary Clinton, 50% to 31%, among Democratic and independent women ages 18 to 34.”

  Glenn Greenwald
I have noticed some mention of polls that say Sanders is polling well in New Hampshire and Iowa against Hillary, but that she's polling much better than he nation-wide.

This has me wondering which, if any, of the polls showing Hillary doing better include Republicans. Because, if they do, and we subtract the Republicans, who won't be voting in Democratic primaries, where does that leave the contest?


Just a reminder to know what you're posting before you post it.

Makes me think of the time the White House Press hired Stephen Colbert to give the dinner speech for G.E. Bush's celebrity roast.  Classic case in point.
If you’re a Clinton media supporter, the last thing you want to do is talk about her record in helping to construct the supremely oppressive and racist U.S. penal state. [...] You most certainly don’t want to talk about how she’s drowning both personally and politically in Wall Street money. You sure don’t want to talk about what her bombing campaign did to Libya, or the military risks that her no-fly-zone in Syria would entail, or the great admiration and affection she proclaimed for Egyptian despot Hosni Mubarak, or revisit her steadfast advocacy of the greatest political crime of this generation, the invasion of Iraq. You don’t want to talk about her vile condemnation of “super-predators,” or her record on jobs-destroying trade agreements, or the fact that she changed her position from vehement opposition to support for marriage equality only after polls and most Democratic politicians switched sides.

Indeed, outside of a very small number of important issues where her record is actually good, you don’t want to talk much at all about her actual beliefs and actions.

[...]

But truth doesn’t matter here – at all. Instead, the goal is to inherently delegitimize all critics of Hillary Clinton by accusing them of, or at least associating them with, sexism, thus distracting attention away from Clinton’s policy views, funding, and political history.
In fact, I don't when when the last time was that the truth mattered, other than to Fox Mulder.







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

Goldman Sachs Still Corrupt

What else can you expect when you bail out a corrupt player but more corruption?
Goldman Sachs (GS) received $5.55 billion from the government in fall of 2008 as payment for then-worthless securities it held in AIG. Goldman had already hedged its risk that the securities would go bad. It had entered into agreements to spread the risk with the 32 entities named in Friday's report.

Overall, Goldman Sachs received a $12.9 billion payout from the government's bailout of AIG, which was at one time the world's largest insurance company.

[...]

The initial $85 billion to bail out AIG was supplemented by an additional $49.1 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP, as well as additional funds from the Federal Reserve. AIG's debt to U.S. taxpayers totals $133.3 billion outstanding.

[...]

AIG received the bailout of $85 billion at the discretion of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which was led at the time by Timothy Geithner [who was thereafter appointed by the Obama administration as Secretary of the US Treasury].

  USA Today
Less than three years after receiving $10 billion in bailout money from American taxpayers, Goldman Sachs informed its employees [in 2011] that it [would] fire 1,000 workers in the United States and elsewhere, shifting their jobs to the cheaper Singaporean labor market.

[...]

Goldman is firing American workers at a time of record profits for the company, which raked in $2.7 billion in profits in the first three months of 2011 alone.

Goldman’s plan is helped by conservatives in Washington who have prevented Congress from discouraging corporations from outsourcing.

[...]

Many conservatives justify outsourcing by arguing that not only would companies be more profitable by shifting low-skilled work to developing countries, but laid-off American workers would be forced to re-educate themselves for new, high-paying industries.

  Think Progress
Tell me again; where are they getting the money to do that?

Fast forward to the present:
Tim Leissner, chairman of Goldman Sachs Southeast Asia’s operations, has taken a “personal leave” amidst corruption scandals associated with Malaysia’s state-owned 1MDB fund, with which Goldman worked closely.

President of Goldman’s Singapore operations since 2006 and chairman of its Southeast Asia operations since 2014, Leissner [...] was seen as a “key player” in cultivating the bank’s very profitable relationships with Kuala’ Lumpur’s banking and government elite, including Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak [who chairs the state-owned investment and development company, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB)].

[...]

Goldman orchestrated the $6.5 billion sale of three 1MDB bonds in 2012 and 2013, from which the bank earned $593 million in fees and expenses. The deal has raised questions, as such fees in Malaysia are usually much lower.

It has since emerged that Razak received a $681 million “donation” to his personal bank account.

[...]

It was discovered this week that Leissner has moved from Singapore to his Los Angeles home, calling it a “personal leave.”

  RT
Smart move. He's at much less risk of consequences in Los Angeles.

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

NOW You Can Disrespect France

Thousands of people marched in 70 French cities, including Paris, to demand immediate action to stop France's ongoing state of emergency and openly voice outrage over government plans to revoke the French citizenship of dual nationals, many of them Muslims, convicted of terrorism.

Up to 20,000 protesters – many of them members of human rights groups, political parties and trade unions – took part in a peaceful protest in Paris on Saturday.

[...]

Up to 3,000 people took part in a similar protest in Bordeaux, the organizers said; 1,800 in Toulouse (1,300 according to police); 1,000 in Nantes (800 according to police), AFP reported. Demonstrations also reportedly occurred in Strasbourg, Auxerre, Bayonne, Metz, Nancy, Nice, Nimes, Montpellier, Limoges, Grenoble, Saint-Etienne and Montauban.

[...]

"I am here to protest against the state of emergency and against the deprivation of nationality for dual nationals. That's important because we saw a lot of drifts during the state of emergency, some rallies were prohibited, some people were arrested just for protesting peacefully. That shocks me," one activist told RT's Ruptly video agency.

One woman at the Paris rally, referring to Islamic State, told RTL: “The state of emergency is until when? The end of Daesh? 10 years? Never?”

[...]

Meanwhile, according to the latest poll for Atlantico, as many as 79 percent of French people support the prolongation of the state of emergency for three more months.

  RT
Welcome to the New World Order.

Enjoy Your Uber While You Can

An obvious but rarely asked question is: whose cash is Uber burning? With investors like Google, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Goldman Sachs behind it, Uber is a perfect example of a company whose global expansion has been facilitated by the inability of governments to tax profits made by hi-tech and financial giants.

[...]

[T]his money is parked in the offshore accounts of Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms.

[...]

Some of these firms do choose to share their largesse with governments – both Apple and Google have agreed to pay tax bills far smaller than what they owe, in Italy and the UK respectively – but such moves aim at legitimising the questionable tax arrangements they have been using rather than paying their fair share.

[...]

While you might be tempted to ascribe the low costs of the service to its ingenuity and global scale – is it the Walmart of transport? – its affordability has a more banal provenance: sitting on tons of investor cash, Uber can afford to burn billions in order to knock out any competitors.

[...]

Uber’s game plan is simple: it wants to drive the rates so low as to increase demand – by luring some of the customers who would otherwise have used their own car or public transport. And to do that, it is willing to burn a lot of cash, while rapidly expanding into adjacent industries, from food to package delivery.

  Guardian
And once they have driven (literally) out the competition, the rates are going to rise, as sure as you're sitting here reading this.

I'm assuming they've addressed their drivers' grievances, but I could be wrong.  In France, they've generously offered to allow any taxi drivers who are being driven out of business a second job driving for Uber.  Once they've succeeded in driving them out of business, there may be no other work for them, and then...well, we call that 'over a barrel'.  I'm not sure why.  But I know that when you are 'over a barrel', you don't have any bargaining leverage.

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

No Surprise

The US defense secretary, Ash Carter, has decided not to impose further punishment on David Petraeus, a former US military commander and CIA director who admitted sharing classified information with his lover, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

[...]

Known as “black books,” the binders that Petraeus shared with Broadwell contained classified information including identities of covert officers, code word information, war strategy, intelligence capabilities, diplomatic talks and information from high-level White House National Security Council meetings, according to court records.

[...]

n April, the retired four-star general was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $100,000 but was spared prison time after pleading guilty to mishandling classified information.

  Guardian
Somehow I don't think that would work for you or me. Or Edward Snowden.

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

What Is Martin O'Malley? Chopped Liver?

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have agreed in principle to contest four more Democratic presidential primary debates.

[...]

The Sanders campaign proposed adding the four events – one each in February, March, April and May – after criticizing the DNC for scheduling thus far low-rated debates on weekends and holidays.

  Guardian
Of course, the DNC still has to approve it. That would be a cute way for Hillary to look like she wants to debate Sanders. Agree to it with the assurance the DNC would say no.
The Clinton campaign’s chairman, John Podesta, said in a statement on Saturday one of the debates should be held in Flint.
The optics, guys. The optics.

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

It's Sunday


Okay, it was an American priest, but still.
The 71-year-old cleric Father John Micheal O’neal claims he went to heaven and met God, which he describes as a warm and comforting motherly figure.

[...]

He describes a strange out-of-body experience, experiencing an intense feeling of unconditional love and acceptance, as well as being surrounded by an overwhelming light.

He claims that at that point in his experience, he went to heaven and encountered God, which he describes as a feminine, mother-like “Being of Light”.

[...]

“She had a soft and soothing voice and her presence was as reassuring as a mother’s embrace. The fact that God is a Holy Mother instead of a Holy Father doesn’t disturb me, she is everything I hoped she would be and even more!"

[...]

Despite the disapproval of his superiors, Father O’neal says that he will continue dedicating his life to God and spread the word of the “Holy Mother”.

“I wish to continue preaching” says the elderly cleric.

  Starr
Yeah. I've got a feeling you're going to be benched.  But, you can always start your own church.
"God is great and almighty despite being a woman…”
Despite? Okay, I'll cut him a break, considering his age and background.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has not confirmed however, if they will allow Father O’neal to resume his preaching in his former parish in South Boston.
Yeah.  I think we can figure that one out ourselves.

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

It's Sunday

Marco Rubio preaches in his campaign stops.



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

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Meanwhile in European Anti-Immigrant News

Dozens of masked man went on an anti-immigrant rampage in Stockholm in an apparent retaliation for the stabbing death of a young Swedish woman at a refugee center earlier this week, local media reported.

The crowd of some 40 to 50 people went on a violent spree on Friday night at around 9 p.m. local time in and around the Swedish capital’s main railroad station, according to the Aftonbladet daily. They were beating up anyone who didn’t look like ethnic Swede. The attackers were wearing black balaclavas and armbands.

  RT
Is this terrorism? Oh, I forgot. It can't be. They are white.
Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission, doesn`t see any link between mass sex assaults on New Year's Eve in Cologne [Germany] and the ongoing refugee crisis, internal minutes has revealed. He also lamented the reintroduction of internal border checks within the Schengen zone.

[...]

Ralf Jager, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, confirmed the majority of the 52 suspects identified [in the Cologne assaults] were not German citizens. Twenty-five were from Morocco and Algeria, 15 arrived in Germany as asylum-seekers and 11 perpetrators were staying in the country illegally.

[...]

The Commission's members call for “unconditional rejection of false association between certain criminal acts such as the attacks on women in Cologne on New Year`s Eve, and the mass influx of refugees”, as the minutes of the body`s meeting from January 13, suggest.

  RT
Let's hope the commissioners don't live in Germany.
In a shift for the world body, [United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Anthony] Banbury said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will issue a report next month with details of all allegations [of child sexual abuse by UN peace-keeping troops] from 2015, including the names of countries whose troops are accused. The information, including the status of investigations, will be regularly updated online, he said.

[...]

The U.N. human rights office says it has turned up six more cases of alleged sexual abuse against children by European troops in Central African Republic (CAR), including a 7-year-old girl who said she had to perform sexual acts on soldiers in exchange for water and cookies.

  alJazeera

They Don't Forget and They Don't Forgive

The White House has denied a security clearance to a member of its technology team who previously helped report on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

Ashkan Soltani, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and recent staffer at the Federal Trade Commission, recently began working with the White House on privacy, data ethics and technical outreach.

[...]

In December, Megan Smith, White House chief technology officer and a former Google executive, welcomed him to her team with an effusive post on Twitter.

Soltani since then has been on loan from the FTC to the White House. He was in the process of getting approved for a clearance to work in one of America’s most secured office buildings.

[...]

A White House official said: “Ashkan Soltani was on a detail to the Office of Science and Technology Policy from the Federal Trade Commission, and his detail has ended.”

[...]

His departure raises questions about the US government’s ability to partner with the broader tech community, where people come from a more diverse background than traditional government staffers.

[...]

It remains unclear exactly why the White House parted ways with Soltani.

  Guardian
Really?

And We Thought W Was the Dumb One

[Jeb] Bush, once governor of Florida, has said he supports federal government support for “basic research” into low-carbon energy but, like Rubio, places his faith in the free market to deal with rising temperatures and the extreme weather events, drought and sea level rise they bring.

“What we shouldn’t try to do is pick winners and losers through the federal government,” he said at a gathering in New Hampshire on Saturday, in a newly emerged video.

“The market will work faster. There’s someone in a garage somewhere, parochially I hope it’s in Miami, that’s going to have a clue, to have an answer to this.

“There are people well-intended on climate change but they need to be careful to not paint the apocalypse. Because we are not there. But we should be adapting.”

  Guardian
Christ.
Bush said he doubted sea level predictions for south Florida but, if they did come true, he has told his wife that they should move house.
Or maybe a little before that, but what a great way to deal with the problem. Just move. Simple.

He also said that it was a local problem, and that people where he was speaking (Iowa) talk about a declining moose population, which I guess in his mind is as big an issue as a rising sea level in Florida, and which also needs to be dealt with "on a regional basis, rather than some kind of global basis."

Somebody applauded.  Perhaps his campaign crew.  Or maybe a few Iowans who didn't want their tax money being spent in Florida.

(Iowa has moose?)

At least Jeb! just looks and sounds stupid, like his father, and not smug and belligerent like W.  (Although I recognize that is probably what appealed to many voters.)
Florida is considered particularly vulnerable to sea level rises as it is low-lying and sits in parts on a base of limestone, which causes excess water to seep underground and inundate areas. Salt water intrusion is also a concern for the Everglades and the many species that rely upon the wetland ecosystem.
So what? Move.

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

No Bail for Bundy

A federal judge ordered Ammon Bundy and other leaders of the armed militia in Oregon to remain behind bars without bail at a hearing in Portland.

[...]

n a packed courtroom hundreds of miles away from the wildlife refuge that rightwing protesters first seized on 2 January, prosecutors argued that the militia protesters were “flight risks” given their well-documented criminal activities and anti-government statements over the past month.

[...]

In a request that the judge deny the occupiers’ bail, prosecutors cited Ammon Bundy’s disdain for the federal criminal justice system in an August 2015 Facebook post in which he wrote: “There is no justice in a federal court. The feds have used the courts to take rights not protect them.”

  
Fine. Argue that they are criminals, but since they have a right to free speech, you shouldn't be allowed to use anti-government statements against them.
The suspects are all accused of impeding federal officers from discharging official duties through the use of force, intimidation or threats – facing a maximum sentence of six years in prison.
Is that all? If they're eligible for parole, shortening that time, I hardly think allowing them out on bail would be much of a risk. Except for LaVoy Finicum, who said he would never be taken to jail, and he's dead.
“It is not that we don’t respect the government,” Ammon Bundy said during the hearing. “In fact, it is just the opposite. I’m a federalist … My only desire is to protect freedom.” He also argued that the protest wasn’t violent: “There was never an armed standoff.”
Respect for the government should not be a requirement.  But, actually, there was an armed standoff from the beginning, and it's ongoing.
In the case of Shawna Cox, a 59-year-old occupier from Utah and the only woman who has been charged, Beckerman agreed to release her on bail – once the occupation ends.
I need more information. Is that solely because she's female? If so, that's an abuse of power.
At the refuge, one of the remaining occupiers, 27-year-old David Fry, posted another video update on Friday demanding that they be “pardoned” before they surrender.
Good luck with that.

This is the guy who was ranting in a post-arrest video, telling people to come and fight. "This is a free for all Armageddon! ... If they stop you from getting here, KILL THEM!"

Not helping the cause.

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

RIP Luke Kelly

Twice a year I have to officially remember Luke Kelly.


Luke Kelly Nov. 17 1940 - Jan. 30, 1984
sorely missed by so many



Tribute by Paddy Reilly:

Shutting off Niagra Falls?!

Sometime within the next five to seven years, a section of Niagara Falls will go dry. This isn’t a case of the great western drought creeping east, but rather New York’s plan to, for lack of a better term, turn off the famed waterfall. The most astonishing part of the whole idea is that it’s not nearly as crazy, difficult, expensive, or novel as it may sound.

  Wired
Maybe not, but it's still sad.
This round of dewatering needs to happen so engineers with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation can scrap two 115-year-old bridges that have reached—well, exceeded—the end of their useful lives. The bridges cross the Niagara River above the American Falls, and were built to carry cars, trolleys, and pedestrians between the town of Niagara Falls and Goat Island, one of the prime viewing spots for both the American and Horseshoe falls.

[...]

New York’s considering three options for their permanent replacements: a precast concrete arched design that closely resembles the current bridges, steel girder bridges that are simpler and more linear, and tied arch bridges with vertical cables supporting the surface from above.

[...]

Also TBD is how long the American Falls will be “off.” The State’s considering two options. It may demolish the current bridges and build the foundations for the new ones during a five-month dewatering, then complete the upper structures over the next year, after water flow has been restored, in an attempt to minimize disruption to the park. Or, it could dewater the falls for nine months, and build the bridges in their entirety in that time.
Okay. So it's not permanent.  Turns out they've done it before - for five months in 1969 - to study bedrock erosion.

I'm okay now. Not sad any more. You may resume whatever you were doing.

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

Friday, January 29, 2016

Typical American Selection System Shit

It gets harder and harder to figure out where the money is coming from.

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

Wall Street Reformer: Hillary Clinton

Not on your life.
I owe almost my entire Wall Street career to the Clintons. I am not alone; most bankers owe their careers, and their wealth, to them. Over the last 25 years they – with the Clintons it is never just Bill or Hillary – implemented policies that placed Wall Street at the center of the Democratic economic agenda, turning it from a party against Wall Street to a party of Wall Street.

[...]

More than 23 years following Bill Clinton’s election, Wall Street is very much intertwined with the Clintons: they helped fundamentally change Wall Street, and Wall Street fundamentally changed the Democratic party.

[...]

They championed free trade, pushing Nafta. They reformed welfare, buying into the conservative view that poverty was about dependency, not about situation. They threw the old left a few bones, repealing prior tax cuts on the rich, but used the increased revenues mostly on Wall Street’s favorite issue: cutting the debt.

Most importantly, when faced with their first financial crisis, they bailed out Wall Street.

[...]

The use of bailouts should have also been a reason to heavily regulate Wall Street, to prevent behavior that would require a bailout. But the [Clinton] administration didn’t do that; instead they went the opposite direction and continued to deregulate it, culminating in the repeal of Glass Steagall in 1999.

[...]

Wall Street now had both political parties working for them, and really nobody holding them accountable. Now, no trade was too aggressive, no risk too crazy, no behavior to unethical and no loss too painful.

[...]

Hillary Clinton continues to receive large donations from top bankers. Ask anyone who has spent the last two decades on Wall Street which politicians have worked for them the hardest and most will grudgingly admit it’s the Clintons. I doubt that will change anytime soon.

  Chris Arnade in The Guardian

No Surprise Here

Despite the fact that the Taliban government [in Afghanistan] fell after only eight days of the war, the US has inexplicably stayed in the country, ostensibly maintaining peace, eliminating a small force of al Qaeda and “training” Afghan defense forces to take over. During that time the US has expended an ungodly amount of money, lost thousands of US troops and been present for much larger losses of life throughout a country that also has seen unacceptable numbers of internally displaced people. All of this has taken place while Afghanistan has continuously been found at or near the top of the list of the most corrupt nations on the globe.

Now, nearly fifteen years into the misadventure, we see that conditions in Afghanistan are deteriorating at an ever increasing rate. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction today issued its 30th in its series of quarterly reports to Congress. Nothing in the report provides any hope that Afghanistan will emerge from the US war nightmare as a functional country any time soon.

[...]

A key aspect of what remains classified is most of the information on Afghan troop capabilities. However, the abject failure of these troops can be seen in the assessment of how much of the country has fallen back into Taliban hands.

   Emptywheel

From My Cold Dead Hands

Well, not exactly. It seems the four people sill at the Malheur refuge in Oregon are saying they'll come out when they get a guarantee they won't be arrested. As if any "guarantee" is ever bankable with the Feds, but, if they should get that, they will probably never sleep another night without an agent on their tails.
After a series of arrests and voluntary departures, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was left in the hands of just four people Thursday night. The live-streams that had colorfully documented the earlier days of the nearly monthlong occupation petered out. As occupiers stopped answering calls from the outside, they apparently kept up negotiations over the terms of their departure. Talks with the FBI were continuing "around the clock," said Greg Bretzing, the special agent in charge in Portland.

[...]

After spending two nights in a Portland jail, Ammon Bundy, through his lawyers, again urged the handful of holdouts at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to go home and pledged to continue to expose federal injustices through the court system. "Turn yourselves in and do not use physical force."

  Oregon Live
Yeah, I can just hear the offer: "Mr. Bundy, we'll take it into consideration and tell the prosecutor that you cooperated if you tell those others to go home." Those others are smart enough to know the FBI cannot be trusted, which is why they're still there. How they're going to be satisfied with any negotiated offer is anybody's guess.
Only a handful of occupiers remained at the bird sanctuary Thursday morning when the Pacific Patriot Network issued its call for support.

The group's members had helped persuade Patrick to leave the refuge, said Joseph Rice, a founding member from Grants Pass.

The FBI had assured them that Patrick would be given safe passage out of the area, Rice said Wednesday night.

He described the FBI taking Patrick into custody at a nearby checkpoint as a betrayal.

  Oregon Live
Your fault for believing them. You need to watch more documentaries.
On Thursday morning, BJ Soper, a founding member of the group from Redmond, echoed the sentiment on Facebook and called for a dramatic response.

"The events of the last few days in burns have culminated into a lot of massive frustration and anger," Soper wrote.

"The lies and mistrust used to arrest Jason Patrick last night were dirty and caused any trust left in the tank with the fbi to be lost," he said.

Soper called for thousands of people to converge on Burns peacefully to tell the FBI to leave.

"We need not hundreds, but thousands to come here," he wrote. "I am asking for any and all to come."

Soper told The Oregonian/OregonLive that his group is planning a Saturday protest.
So, the remaining holdouts at Malheur should have more info to weigh in the decision to surrender or not after tomorrow.

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

The Missing Trump

The debate without Trump last night - I really don't want to think about it, but by the few accounts I've read, everybody else on stage actually seemed to be enlivened, if still bizarre.
Another odd moment came when Ohio Governor John Kasich refused to answer a question because of national security concerns. Asked if he still supported a “backdoor” to encryption, a technology considered unfeasible by the tech industry, Kasich declined to elaborate on his previous statements.

“It’s best not to talk about it,” Kasich said, adding, “It’ll be solved in the situation room of the White House.”

  RT
That's more than odd. Everything is going to be a matter of national security if Mr. Kasich has his way, I guess.
The next Republican primary debate is scheduled for February 6, the birthday of former President Ronald Reagan.
Oh, Jesus. But at least the Trump will be there since Megan Kelly will not.
It will be [...] hosted by ABC News and IJ Review.
After being bumped from the main debates in early January due to low polling numbers, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took full advantage of his primetime slot at Thursday night’s Republican debate.

  Time
What happened? Fox already had the plans drawn up for Donald Trump's presence, and when he dropped out they didn't want to redesign the stage?
Paul signaled Thursday he’s not ready to give up the fight. But in the end, he used his final pitch to the public to explain to voters his personal views on entering the race, rather than taking an opportunity to appeal to voters in Iowa. While other candidates brought up Sept. 11, blasted Hillary Clinton, and the Bible, Paul stuck to what he knows.

“I’ve gotten to do some incredible things. Got to be on the floor of the Senate. And it has been amazing to me,” Paul said. “But the thing that is most important to me and caused me to run for office is I’m worried about the country and how much debt we’re adding.”
Well, on that point, good for Rand. I guess he say he might do something about that by drawing down "defense" spending.

(P.S.  That's oddly worded.  I'm pretty sure nobody "blasted" the Bible.)

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

It's a Start

The Department of Justice announced today that it reached its final non-prosecution agreement under Category 2 of the Swiss Bank Program, with HSZH Verwaltungs AG (HSZH). The department has executed agreements with 80 banks since March 30, 2015, when it announced the first Swiss Bank Program non-prosecution agreement with BSI SA. The department has imposed a total of more than $1.36 billion in Swiss Bank penalties, including more than $49 million in penalties from HSZH.

[...]

“As we have seen over the last year, Swiss banks are paying an appropriate penalty for their misconduct," [said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery]

  US DOJ
Fifty million to a Swiss bank. What's the equivalent to my finances? Fifty cents?
In accordance with the terms of the Swiss Bank Program, HSZH mitigated its penalty by encouraging U.S. accountholders to come into compliance with their U.S. tax and disclosure obligations. While U.S. accountholders at HSZH who have not yet declared their accounts to the IRS may still be eligible to participate in the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, the price of such disclosure has increased.

Most U.S. taxpayers who enter the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program to resolve undeclared offshore accounts will pay a penalty equal to 27.5 percent of the high value of the accounts.
Oh, wow! As a matter of course, historically, the tax rate for millionaires who didn't try to hide their holdings was higher than that (at some points up to 50% or more). It's been lower than that since the late 90s, and still they don't want to pay.
On Aug. 4, 2014, the IRS increased the penalty to 50 percent if, at the time the taxpayer initiated their disclosure, either a foreign financial institution at which the taxpayer had an account or a facilitator who helped the taxpayer establish or maintain an offshore arrangement had been publicly identified as being under investigation. With today’s announcement of this non-prosecution agreement, noncompliant U.S. accountholders at HSZH must now pay that 50 percent penalty to the IRS if they wish to enter the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.[...]
No penalty on all the years they've held those accounts in hiding? Gee. What a deterrent.
“The comprehensive success of this program sends a powerful message to those who might think they can evade their tax obligations by going offshore. A whole sector of financial institutions, 80 banks in all, has been held accountable for aiding the use of secret accounts and circumventing U.S. law. In addition to the more than $1.3 billion in penalties from these resolutions, more than 54,000 taxpayers have come forward to the IRS to pay more than $8 billion in taxes, interest and penalties.”
Wow! Big number! Only, that's just $150,000 per taxpayer. And I use the term "taxpayer" loosely, since these are people who put their millions - even billions - in Swiss banks to avoid paying taxes. All the years they didn't pay any taxes will more than cover $150,000. Way more.

Hang on.  There are 54,000 super wealthy people avoiding taxes??! And that's only the ones who came forward.
“The bank agreement with HSZH announced today may bring an end to one phase of the Swiss Bank Program, but more importantly it brings us closer to our overall goal of compliance and accountability for financial institutions and U.S. taxpayers,” said Chief Richard Weber of IRS-Criminal Investigation.
Yeah. About a quarter of an inch closer.
“The Department of Justice is committed to aggressively pursuing tax evasion, and the Swiss Bank Program has been a central component of that effort,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Through this initiative, we have uncovered those who help facilitate evasion schemes and those who hide funds in secret offshore accounts. We have improved our ability to return tax dollars to the United States. And we have pursued investigations into banks and individuals. I would like to thank the Swiss government for their cooperation in this effort, and I look forward to continuing our work together to root out fraud and corruption wherever it is found.”
I don't suppose you'll be looking at corporate taxation loopholes any time soon. They're legal. Legal rip-off is ok.

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

2016 Blizzard: Who Didn't Show Up for Work in the Senate?

The men.
Back at work after last weekend's snowstorm shuttered the federal government, the Republican senator from Alaska noted that she shared something in common with every single person in the room.

No, Republicans and Democrats didn't magically come together during the weather break and agree on something. Every single person in the room was a woman.

  CNN
The Washington Post and Snopes want you to know the men had an excuse.
The Washington Post reported that Senate votes scheduled for Monday were postponed until Wednesday due to the snowstorm, and while the floor was open on Tuesday for senators who wanted to speak, there were no roll call votes that day.

[...]

While Sen. Murkowski's observations were true, it isn't completely accurate to say that male senators didn't show up for work, as the primary focus of Tuesday's session was to postpone business until Wednesday.

[...]

While Murkowski and Collins were the only senators in the chamber, there were males present, including Senate Chaplain Rear Adm. Barry Black. Several other men can be seen in the chamber, although their names and positions are not known

  Snopes
Damn feminist.

What she may have been pointing out was that there could have been work done.  The women got there.

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

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Last Hurrah

For all their big talk, the Oregon militia is dwindling.
"I would like to confirm that as of this morning one more person left the refuge through a checkpoint," [Greg Bretzing, special agent in charge of the FBI in Portland] said in a statement. "We believe there are four others who currently remain on the refuge. Since the establishment of checkpoints, a total of nine people have left the refuge. Of those, the FBI released six and arrested three."

[...]

On Wednesday, one of the last leaders of the occupation, Jason Patrick, 43, of Bonaire, Georgia, was arrested after he hiked about six miles from the refuge to a police checkpoint.

[...]

Two other occupiers were arrested Wednesday. Duane L. Ehmer, 45, of Irrigon, and Dylan W. Anderson, 34, of Provo, Utah, were arrested at a police checkpoint. Each was charged with federal conspiracy.

  Oregon Live
So, I guess the FBI was lying when they told them they could leave freely as long as they passed through the checkpoint.

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

Social Democracy

Check out this article on the socio-political differences between the US and Nordic countries.  It gets very interesting by the time you get half way through.

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

First It Was Christians. Now It's White People.

Because Donald Trump may not appeal to people who really are Christians, he apparently appeals to the persecution complexes of white people in general.  Expanding the tent.

Almost half of whites -- 47% -- said in a November CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation survey that there is discrimination against whites

  CNN

Here.  Let these folks help...







In case you want to read why people are supporting Trump, that CNN quote comes from this article.  I suspect you already have a pretty good idea why people support Trump, and it includes ignorance and bigotry.

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

Is He Still Around?



And did he rip this off from Churchill?



Clever.



Ha.



Oh, clever.



Brilliant.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Speaking of Occupations

Under a provision of a larger piece of legislation, popularly known as the Customs Bill, that has been approved by the House and is expected to soon pass the Senate, American officials will be obligated to treat the settlements as part of Israel in future trade negotiations.

The ostensible reason this provision was added to a bill on international trade is to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a grass-roots campaign that seeks to pressure Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinians. But under existing law, Washington already forbids American companies to cooperate with state-led boycotts of Israel. Under the guise of an antiboycott provision, the Customs Bill extends similar protections to “Israeli-controlled territories” — meaning settlements.

[...]

The Obama administration has made it clear that it does not accept the conflation of the settlements and Israel. When the Customs Bill reaches his desk, Mr. Obama may take the rare step of issuing a signing statement objecting to its pro-settlement language. But if this provision becomes law, it will be a major victory for the Israeli right, albeit one that it may come to regret. The more the line between Israel and the occupied territories is blurred, the more likely the rest of the world will be to question the legitimacy of not just the settlements but Israel itself.

  NYT

On Standby

Amid concerns that Finicum's killing could escalate into further violence, the Pacific Patriots Network, Oath Keepers and the Idaho III% - all self-styled militia groups sympathetic to the occupiers - said in a joint statement they were issuing an immediate “stand by” order to followers.

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

UPDATE:   It ain't over yet...




The Charges

UPDATE: Have a look at, but more importantly, a listen to, the "militia" left behind.  (I can't believe they're going to let this guy just go home.)
 


Probably the most charged federal crime is conspiracy. Prosecutors love to charge this crime because it lets them sweep in a broader set of evidence to trial than they otherwise would be able to.

[...]

Basically for most federal crimes a federal conspiracy is an agreement between two and more people to commit a federal crime.

  Matt Kaiser, Atty
It seems that the remaining occupiers of the refuge are free to go. That hardly seems fair.  It's unclear, and even so to the occupiers.
He described the arrests a day earlier as authorities taking “the first steps to bring this occupation to a conclusion,” and said authorities were still working to “empty the refuge of those who continue to illegally occupy” the land. Anyone who wanted to leave could do so, but only after traveling through a checkpoint where they would be identified, Bretzing said.

  WaPo
They somehow have maintained enough Internet bandwidth to continue streaming video from inside the 187,000-acre refuge, located 30 miles south of Burns, Oregon in remote Harney County.

In one segment of a live broadcast that clearly appears to have been made within the refuge Tuesday morning, at least three armed occupiers kept watch for law enforcement.

"They're coming to kill us," one said into the camera as hundreds watched and commented on the YouTube stream.

FBI agent in charge Greg Bretzing said in a news conference Wednesday morning that they "continue to work to empty the refuge of those who continue to illegally occupy...in safest way possible."

  Oregon Live

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

There Will Be No More Coming and Going*


I'm okay with these guys drawing attention to their cause, but if they'd really wanted to focus, they should have taken over the BLM federal offices in DC.

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

*Unless you want to go by horseback.

Joseph Fiennes???

September 2001 was allegedly witness to one of the strangest road trips in history: Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando driving from New York to Ohio in an attempt to get home following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Marlon Brando '

The saga is now being dramatised in a one-off special for Sky Arts, starring Joseph Fiennes as Jackson, Stockard Channing as Taylor and Brian Cox as Brando.

[...]

After being originally announced in December, Fiennes has now described the script as “a challenge”, adding: “It’s a fun, lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek road trip of what celebrity of that kind is like. But also it’s rather beautiful and poignant about their relationships.”

  Guardian
And you're going to need a nose bob, dude.

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

Thar She Blows

I was just wondering what was going on up in Oregon...

[Amon] Bundy and several fellow occupiers were pulled over Tuesday on Highway 395, a law enforcement official said. According to The Oregonian, they were headed to the city of John Day, where they were set to participate in a community meeting set up by local residents.

Everyone obeyed orders to surrender except two people: LaVoy Finicum and Bundy's brother, Ryan Bundy, the official told CNN.

Shots were fired, but it's unclear who fired first, the source said. Ryan Bundy was injured, and Finicum died.

[...]

Finicum was one of the most outspoken occupiers who took over the refuge near Burns on January 2 to protest federal land policies.

Earlier this month, the father of 11 told CNN he doesn't want to die -- but would never go behind bars.

"I'm just not going to prison," Finicum said. "Look at the stars. There's no way I'm going to sit in a concrete cell where I can't see the stars and roll out my bedroll on the ground. That's just not going to happen. I want to be able to get up in the morning and throw my saddle on my horse and go check on my cows. It's OK. I've lived a good life. God's been gracious to me."

[...]

"It appears that America was fired upon by our government," the occupiers said on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page. "One of liberty's finest patriots is fallen. He will not go silent into eternity."

The occupiers also claimed Finicum had his hands in the air when he was shot.

  KTVZ
UPDATE:  One of the militia's members who was actually there says Finicum "charged" officers.

LaVoy Foster-Kids-Are-My-Main-Source-of-Income (One Cowboy's Stand for freedom) Finnicum is now a hero to many. Perhaps the FBI should have followed the SEAL's lead and dumped the body in the sea. (Or did they?)

FBI officials said they arrested Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy, Bryan Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan Payne on Tuesday afternoon after they stopped them along the highway.

[...]

The man who died was identified by his daughter as Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, one of the main spokesmen for the group. Police did not confirm his identity, but said the person killed was “a subject of a federal probable cause arrest”.

[...]

Reached by phone Tuesday night, Cliven Bundy, Ammon’s father, who led a standoff with the federal government in 2014, said he was devastated by the reports.

[...]

He added, “We’re not going to put up with this … This is a pretty big deal for America. This is the way they treat people who try to help? We are tired of the abuse.”

[...]

At 6.30pm PST, FBI officials also arrested Pete Santilli, a conservative Ohio radio host who has been a vocal supporter of the Bundys and was earlier live-streaming the chaos outside of a hospital in Burns.

[...]

[All those arrested are] facing federal felony charges of conspiracy to impede officers through the use of force, intimidation or threats.

  Guardian
Surely Santilli wasn't arrested simply for live-streaming. Then again...this IS America.  It's not clear, but it looks to me like he might have been arrested to be silenced.
Jon Ritzheimer, another prominent occupation leader who often helped run the militia’s “security” team, was also arrested late Tuesday night. Officials say Ritzheimer turned himself in at a police department in Peoria, Arizona, and that he was arrested without incident. He is also facing a federal felony charge.
No! The guy who videotaped a farewell to his family saying he was willing to die for the cause gave himself up?*
[Harney County Judge Steve] Grasty said he couldn’t say yet whether the standoff was over. “I don’t know that it’s over. I have no idea what is happening at the refuge.” He added: “I’m glad to see this winding down, but we wanted this to come to a peaceful end and it didn’t.”
Are we sure it's winding down and not winding up?
BI officials told those still at the compound, about 30 miles southeast of Burns, that they were free to leave and should do so. By midnight, few people appeared to have taken up the offer and the lights were still on.

Authorities provided no information about the roadblocks, but have scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Burns.

Only a few people had left, said Gary Hunt, who arrived Sunday from California to support the occupation. "The rest have decided they're going to hold their ground," he said.

  Oregon Live
In the meantime, Operation Mutual Defense, a network of militias and patriot sympathizers, issued a call on its website for help at the refuge. The post was written by Gary Hunt, a board member from California who has expressed support for Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City and had ties to the patriot movement.

"You have an obligation to proceed to the Harney County Resource Center (the wildlife refuge) immediately," Hunt wrote. "If you fail to arrive, you will demonstrate by your own actions that your previous statements to defend life, liberty, and property were false."

  Oregon Live
I wonder why they were arrested this time and not earlier. They've been to other meetings.

*
Jon Ritzheimer, one of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupiers, posted a video to his Facebook page Tuesday that was prefaced with the following message: "I came home to visit my family. The Feds know I am here and are asking me to turn myself in. I need an attorney so I can get back to my girls. Please help my family. Donations can be made at www.rogueinfidel.com to help with legal fees. Thank you all in advance. I just want the country to live by the Constitution and I just want the government to abide by it."

  Oregon Live
From "I'm here to die" to "Please help me." Wuss.  You got yourself into this mess, bud.  don't be whinging about it now.

And, in case that didn't do it for you, he's videotaped himself "saying goodbye" to his daughters.  ("The video had been viewed 14,000 times, as of 9:05 p.m."  -- Oregon Live)

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

Pot to Kettle

A string of incidents, including abductions from Thailand and Hong Kong, forced repatriations and the televised “confessions” of two Swedish citizens, has crossed a new red line, according to diplomats in Beijing. Yet many foreign governments seem unwilling or unable to intervene, their public response limited to mild protests.

The European Union is divided and appears uncertain about what to do.

  WaPo
It might help to have a look at your own support of US policies doing pretty much the same thing.
Hong Kong is in an uproar, with free speech under attack, activists looking over their shoulders and many people saying they feel betrayed by a lack of support from Britain.
Britain isn't all that crazy about free speech these days.
The U.S. State Department expressed “concern” about the confessions and the use of “extra-legal means” to bring foreign nationals to China. And the German Foreign Ministry voiced “really serious” concern that Britain and Sweden had either not been granted access to their citizens or were granted access only after an “unacceptable delay.”

“This is clearly and undoubtedly not in accordance with the international obligations of the People’s Republic of China with regard to the Vienna Conventions.”

[...]

“China seems bent upon broadcasting to the world its disdain for the rule of law,” said Jerome A. Cohen, a China legal scholar and professor at New York University.
Worked for us.
With Secretary of State John F. Kerry in Beijing, where he landed late Tuesday, the leaders of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, an independent U.S. government agency, have voiced alarm. The body’s chairman, Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), said Friday that President Xi Jinping’s push toward “hard authoritarianism” threatens U.S.-China ties, a view echoed by his co-chairman, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
They prefer soft authoritarianism.
When the European Union issued a statement calling on Chinese authorities to “review their decision” to expel a French journalist at the end of last year, many European embassies in Beijing declined to even publish the comment on their websites.
Considered either a waste of space or so hypocritical as to be laughable, perhaps.
“The international reaction, from the E.U. in particular, should be a lot stronger than this — otherwise they will get more cases,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia director for Amnesty International.
Funny how that works.
“China has seen through the hypocrisy of Western countries with respect to human rights.”
Wasn't very hard to do.

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

Never Forget Howard Zinn

August 24, 1922 - January 27, 2010

Pick any YouTube video and watch it.

This documentary is currently streaming on Netflix.  If you miss it there and you have $3,  you can get it here.  At any rate, definitely watch:


(If you miss it on Netflix and you don't have $3, you can still watch it in parts on YouTube.  I can't seem to find part 1, but  I can start you off at part 2 of 9 here.)

Woody Harrelson's hero.

And, as of this posting, you can still read A People's History of the United States online.

Such an amazing person.

We need more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Is Trump's Campaign Run by a High School Debate Team?



I hope this doesn't cause any Trump supporters' heads to explode:  how can they support Trump and shun Fox at the same time?


Yes.  That's what I'm saying.

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

UPDATE:


Hillary Clinton Is First and Last a Politician

Source: Corey Robin

Wow! They're Really Good Guys!

Nope.  Not the Onion.

The New York Times.

“At one point there were six or eight people under my car looking to save this cat,” she said. “As much as some people were honking and looking to get where they were going in a timely manner, it was kind of beautiful to see.”

The kitten jumped from one spot to another beneath the Toyota, eluding its rescuers.

Ms. Cassone flagged down a police car.

Fortunately for the kitten, the officers were from the Police Department’s Strategic Response Group, trained, the police said, in counterterrorism tactics and “advanced disorder control.”

  NYT

Counterterrorism and advanced disorder control. Very specialized (and no doubt costly) training. "Fortunately for the kitten."
After supervising the relocation of the car — it ended up in Ms. Cassone’s driveway around the corner on Sherman Street, the kitten still stowed away — Officers Christopher Rinelli and Kenia Marte strategically tried to locate the kitten.

“I got on the ground and put my hand under the car behind the wheel and started feeling around,” said Officer Rinelli, 28, a five-year veteran of the force. “I figured the closer I got to where the cat was, it would start meowing louder.”

Periodically, Officer Marte would honk the car’s horn or activate its alarm, hoping to flush the kitten out. No luck.

The officers determined that the kitten was behind the left rear wheel.
I would have just waited it out instead of scaring the bejesus out of it, ensuring it would stay out of reach.   Maybe offered some cat treats as a lure. Obviously I have not had advanced disorder training.

That was some serious strategic cat locating they did there. Fortunately for the kitten.
“I can’t reach the cat without taking the wheel off,” Officer Rinelli said.

He and a neighbor jacked up the car and took off the rear driver’s-side wheel. The kitten was perched near the gas tank.

Officer Rinelli grabbed the kitten, a 2-month-old female, by the scruff of the neck and pulled her out. “She was kind of agitated,” he said, “cold and wet and scared.”

[...]

The care displayed by the officers, Ms. Cassone said, “made me proud to be a New Yorker.”

Officer Rinelli said: “This is exactly what I signed up for the department for, to help people that need help. And animals, of course.”
Fortunately for the kitten.


I won't.  Perhaps it was a very special cat.


Hmmmmmm.


But a very cute kitten was rescued from behind the wheel of a car.

Here We Go Again

The Pentagon is ramping up intelligence-gathering in Libya as the Obama administration draws up plans to open a third front in the war against the Islamic State.

  NYT
Third? I thought we were at 14 or something.
Administration officials say the campaign in Libya could begin in a matter of weeks.

[...]

This significant escalation is being planned without a meaningful debate in Congress about the merits and risks of a military campaign that is expected to include airstrikes and raids by elite American troops.
Oh, hell yeah. We did away with that fifteen years ago.
The White House has said it would be nice, but not necessary, for Congress to pass a new authorization for the use of military force.

[...]

A new military intervention in Libya would represent a significant progression of a war that could easily spread to other countries on the continent.
Bingo! All in. What's not to like about that?
Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Friday that military officials were “looking to take decisive military action” against the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Libya, where Western officials estimate the terrorist group has roughly 3,000 fighters.
Piece of cake.
The political strife and infighting among rival militias created an opening for the Islamic State in Libya in 2014. The extremist group now controls the coastal city of Surt, which lies between the country’s two largest cities, Tripoli and Benghazi.

[...]

The planning is unfolding amid political chaos in Libya, which continues to reel from the aftermath of the 2011 civil war that ended with the killing of the country’s longtime dictator, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.
What better time?
On the same day General Dunford discussed the plans for Libya, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said the Pentagon was redoubling efforts to assist local forces in Iraq and Syria. “We’re looking for opportunities to do more, and there will be boots on the ground — I want to be clear about that — but it’s a strategic question."
...hey, do what you want...you will anyway.