Monday, October 31, 2016

Donna, Donna, Donna

Democratic National Committee interim chairwoman and former CNN contributor Donna Brazile appears to have leaked more than one debate question to Hillary Clinton's campaign team during the primaries.

  Washington Examiner
Pathetic. Illegal.  Generally crummy.

How are Hillary diehards going to defend this?

Crooked Hillary.  Desperate Hillary.

CNN has severed ties with Donna Brazile, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, and a longtime contributor on the network, after hacked emails revealed the Brazile provided debate questions in advance to Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary debates on CNN.


We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor," said a network spokesperson in a statement.


Brazile actually resigned on Oct. 14, a CNN spokesperson confirmed. Her deal had been suspended in July when she took over for ousted DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Crooked Hillary and the Weiner Investigation

Trump may be a narcissistic asshole, but he's not wrong about everything.

New details show that senior law-enforcement officials repeatedly voiced skepticism of the strength of the evidence in a bureau investigation of the Clinton Foundation, sought to condense what was at times a sprawling cross-country effort, and, according to some people familiar with the matter, told agents to limit their pursuit of the case. The probe of the foundation began more than a year ago to determine whether financial crimes or influence peddling occurred related to the charity.


Early this year, four FBI field offices—New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Little Rock, Ark.—were collecting information about the Clinton Foundation


In February, FBI officials made a presentation to the Justice Department, according to these people. By all accounts, the meeting didn’t go well.

Some said that is because the FBI didn’t present compelling evidence to justify more aggressive pursuit of the Clinton Foundation, and that the career anticorruption prosecutors in the room simply believed it wasn’t a very strong case. Others said that from the start, the Justice Department officials were stern, icy and dismissive of the case.


It isn’t unusual for field agents to favor a more aggressive approach than supervisors and prosecutors think is merited. But the internal debates about the Clinton Foundation show the high stakes when such disagreements occur surrounding someone who is running for president.

According to this article, there is a volatile situation within the FBI regarding the propriety and logistics of both the Clinton Foundation and email probes. Comey's recent actions regarding the Weiner investigation has turned up the heat. Watch for explosions.

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

One Week Remaining

Either Donald Trump is letting me down or the media are. I haven't been seeing any mind-blowing or eye-popping news from His Wretchedness since the last debate.

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

Cult of Celebrity

Yes, we should, and I think we'd be safe betting he would have granted an interview without the petition.

Even without the campaign contribution.
Maher made a $1 million contribution to a super PAC supporting Obama in 2012.

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

But Go Ahead and Vote

The powerful web of interlocking corporate entities is beyond our control.


Government utilities and services, with the implementation of the Trade in Services Agreement, will see whole departments and services, from education to the Postal Service, dismantled and privatized. Our manufacturing jobs, sent overseas, are not coming back.


No vote we cast will alter the configurations of the corporate state. The wars will go on. Our national resources will continue to be diverted to militarism. The corporate fleecing of the country will get worse. Poor people of color will still be gunned down by militarized police in our streets. The eradication of our civil liberties will accelerate. The economic misery inflicted on over half the population will expand. Our environment will be ruthlessly exploited by fossil fuel and animal agriculture corporations and we will careen toward ecological collapse.

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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

American Election

"If the gods had intended for people to vote, they would have given us candidates."  -- Howard Zinn

It's Sunday

Catholics are forbidden from keeping the ashes of cremated loved ones at home, scattering them, dividing them between family members or turning them into mementoes, the Vatican has ruled.

Ashes must be stored in a sacred place, such as a cemetery, according to instructions disclosed at a press conference in Rome on Tuesday.

Acknowledging that an increasing number of Catholics were opting for cremation rather than burial, the church’s doctrinal and disciplinary body warned against “new ideas contrary to the church’s faith”.

  The Guardian
Ah, Frankie, and you were doing so well.
Ashes must be kept “in a holy place, that is a cemetery or a church or in a place that has been specifically dedicated to this purpose. The conservation of ashes in the home is not allowed."
No money to be made from that.

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

Saturday, October 29, 2016


First they have dogs sicced on them. Now this.
After a night of chaotic clashes with police on the front lines in a months-long protest, Native American activists complained about the force wielded to drive protesters from the path of a pipeline they contend will desecrate tribal lands and put their lone source of drinking water at risk.

Protesters said that those arrested in the confrontation had numbers written on their arms and were housed in what appeared to be dog kennels, without bedding or furniture. Others said advancing officers sprayed mace and pelted them with rubber bullets. [emphasis mine]


Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II called for a Justice Department investigation into the police tactics. Amnesty International announced Friday it was sending a human rights delegation to investigate and Sen. Bernie Sanders asked the White House to order the Army Corps of Engineers to temporarily halt construction of the pipeline.

  LA Times

How to Draw Donald Trump

Some cartoonists have interesting insights into the character of Donald Trump from studying his looks.

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

Go Pirates

The Pirate Party may sound like a novelty political outfit, but this former ragtag bunch of internet activists may be on the verge of winning Iceland's parliamentary elections Saturday.

The party was founded less than four years ago and promises a radical platform.


Its origins can be found in 2006, when a Julian Assange-style figure named Rick Falkvinge founded the Swedish Pirate Party with the radical agenda of tearing up internet copyright laws.

Falkvinge chose the name as an attempt to take ownership of the term "piracy," which he felt had become an unfair slur against people who shared music and movies online.

Now there are pirate parties in more than 60 countries — although before this weekend none has threatened to take a seat in government.


Its main aim is to involve Icelanders far more in the country's democracy, shifting power away from what it sees as an unaccountable political elite. To do this, all of its policies are crowd-funded, with members suggesting, debating and voting on each manifesto pledge through an online forum.


Its members insist that all decisions should be based on evidence — rather than religious or cultural traditions — including their pledge to legalize all drugs. The party wants all government information to be readily available to the public, allowing "the powerless the power to monitor the powerful."


The majority of polls over the past 18 months have predicted the party will win the most votes on Saturday — a radical pirate victory in the land of the Vikings.

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

Russia Is Interfering with Our Election - Oh, the Scandal

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

WTF Is It with the Russia Fearmongering?

Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) suggested to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday that the Russians may have played a role in the FBI reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server after discovering new documents.

  Free Beacon
Really? Really?! So the Russians are now running interference in Anthony Weiner's sexting case?
“So the question is: Where did these come from? How did they get to the FBI? Is Russia involved in this? We don’t have a clue where this stuff is coming from,” Ryan said.
Yes. Yes, we do.  Maybe Representative Ryan doesn't have a clue, but the rest of us know for a fact.  It's coming from Anthony Weiner's computer, which was seized by the FBI.

Please. Ohio Democrats, get yourself a new representative. This one's an idiot.

If I wanted to give this guy the benefit of the doubt and say Blitzer questioned him after the Comey letter was made public and before it was clarified - less than an hour later - I would still have to call him an idiot.  The non-idiot answer would have been, "Let's wait until we get more information from the DOJ, Wolf."  Not, "Is Russia involved in this?"  And if he's simply carrying water for the Clinton campaign (marching orders for all Dems: play up the Russophobia angle), he's still an idiot, looking for a job in what is shaping up to be one of the worst administrations ever, and at least one of the most scandal-ridden.

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


Jesus, Joseph and Mary!

Friday, October 28, 2016


It Could Only Be Part of This Year's Circus

Weiner probe.

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

And There It Is

As the U.S. transitions to more sustainable forms of energy, the Obama administration has been steadily investing in retraining programs for people who used to work for the once-booming American coal industry, where states like West Virginia and Kentucky are losing thousands of jobs a year.

This week, the White House announced nearly $28 million in federal grants to fund 42 workforce and economic redevelopment projects in Appalachian states hit hardest, including $1.5 million to build a new education and technology training center in Tennessee and $2.2 million to train former coal workers to fly drones in southwest Virginia.

By including drone pilot training in federal workforce redevelopment programs, the Obama administration is sending a clear signal that it projects drones will soon become a key component of the American economy.

Plowshares to swords. Why not? Our economy's base is our "defense" industry.

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

Where They Stop, Nobody Knows

Huma Abedin told FBI agents in an April interview that she didn’t know how to consistently print documents or emails from her secure Dept. of State system. Instead, she would forward the sensitive emails to:

  • Her personal email address
  • Her personal address
  • Her email linked to husband Anthony Weiner

Abedin said, according to FBI documents, she would then access those email accounts via webmail from an unclassified computer system at the State Dept. and print the documents, many of which were classified and top secret, from the largely unprotected webmail portals.

Clinton did not have a computer in her office on Mahogany Row at the State Dept. so she was not able to read timely intelligence unless it was printed out for her, Abedin said. Abedin also said Clinton could not operate the secure State Dept. fax machine installed in her Chappaqua, NY home without assistance.

  True Pundit
This is the sloppy operation that you think of as one of the most (if not THE most) sensitive national security information agencies in the entire world.

Time to stop blaming leaks on the Russians.

Jesus wept.

/ This information was reported last month. I wonder why Donald Trump didn't use it in the debates.

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

Weiner Devices

Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, an aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner.

Do they include a picture of the Weiner?

Huma Abedin may be done with Anthony Weiner, but the feds are just getting started. Less than one month after Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide announced that she had separated from her husband, the Daily Mail reported this week that the disgraced congressman had once again been exchanging explicit text messages with a stranger—this time, a 15-year-old girl. Now, the F.B.I. and the New York Police Department have reportedly launched an investigation into Weiner’s relationship with the minor. On Thursday, prosecutors from the office of U.S. attorney Preet Bharara issued a subpoena for the former politician’s cell phone and other records, CNN reports, citing law-enforcement officials.


Weiner allegedly began messaging the girl in January, and the inappropriate relationship continued until July. According to the Daily Mail, the 52-year-old Weiner, who recently ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New York City, allegedly shared role-play and rape fantasies with the minor.


In a statement issued to the Daily Mail, Weiner said that he has “likely been the subject of a hoax,” but added, “I have repeatedly demonstrated terrible judgement about the people I have communicated with online and the things that I have sent. I am filled with regret and heartbroken for those I have hurt.”


The latest sexting scandal is Weiner’s fourth in the last five years.

  Vanity Fair
Jesus, get that man some help.  Or a cell.

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

A Late October Surprise?

Good advice.

And of course, we all want to know what this other case is.

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

UPDATE:  Oh, Jesus, it's Anthony Weiner again - this time with a 15-year-old.


All signs point to Trump suffering a rout in two weeks, with Clinton’s chances of victory north of 80 or 90%, according to statistical analysis from both the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight. Donald Trump is the most unpopular candidate in modern history, and in elections past, he’d be dragging the rest of the party to a historic defeat in Congress as well.

But despite all this, there’s almost no chance the Republicans will lose control of the House of Representatives this election – or in the one after it – since Republicans in statehouses across the country have fixed the election process by redrawing the congressional district maps in several key states in 2010. They can retain a majority even when Democrats received far more total votes. (The Washington Post has a helpful graphic that explains exactly how gerrymandering works.)


You can see how gerrymandering can manipulate election results in the Guardian’s excellent look at “the nation’s most gerrymandered district” in North Carolina, which was so narrow at one point state representative Mickey Michaux, a Democrat from Durham, once said: “If you drove down the interstate with both car doors open, you’d kill most of the people in the district.”


Take Ohio, for example, which is generally a battleground state in presidential elections and is pretty evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Because of the radical redistricting Ohio Republicans implemented in 2010, they were able to carve up the map so that they have 75% of Ohio House seats. It’s so bad, a recent study showed you can predict the results of any race in Ohio with a virtual certainty just by knowing the political makeup of a particular district.


Gerrymandering has several effects beyond just making it easier for one party to control the majority of seats in the House. It drives down voter turnout, since so many elections are lopsided and unopposed. It increases polarization and deadlock in Congress since a lot of congressional members don’t have to worry about a serious challenger from the other party. It also deprives minority groups of political power.


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

Clinton Statement on Dakota Pipeline Protest

"All lives matter."

Yesterday I posted about the difference between the Bundy/Malheur protest and the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, giving two reasons why the Native American protesters are being assaulted and routed while the Oregon militia were allowed a lengthy, unmolested protest and eventually acquitted of the charges against them.  I should have added number three: corporate power was not involved in Oregon.

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

Anniversary of Averted US-Russia M.A.D.

At least until this next administration gets the reins.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Federal Protests Are Not All Equal

In Cannonball, North Dakota, over 100 police with military equipment are advancing on a resistance camp established by Native American water protectors in the path of the proposed $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. Photos and multiple videos posted to Facebook Live depict over 100 officers in riot gear lined up across North Dakota’s Highway 1806, flanked by multiple mine-resistant ambush protected military vehicles (MRAPs), a sound cannon, an armored truck and a bulldozer. There have also been reports from water protectors that the police presence includes multiple snipers. Police appear to be evicting the camp in order to clear the way for the Dakota Access pipeline company to continue construction

  Democracy Now!

Two reasons: 1) the Oregon Bundy crowd had guns, and 2) the Oregon Bundy crowd were white.

As soon as a federal jury in Portland returned not guilty verdicts Thursday for all seven defendants in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff, Internet reaction was swift.

The responses ranged from people who considered the verdicts a victory for citizens' rights to those who worried the outcome would empower people to occupy federal property using force.

  Oregon Live

A federal jury on Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The Bundy brothers and occupiers Jeff Banta and David Fry also were found not guilty of having guns in a federal facility. Kenneth Medenbach was found not guilty of stealing government property, and a hung jury was declared on Ryan Bundy's charge of theft of FBI surveillance cameras.

  Oregon Live


In a February 26 email chain, members of Clinton’s staff tinkered with remarks the Democratic candidate was set to deliver in Birmingham ahead of the Alabama Democratic primary. Luckily for Clinton and unluckily for political satirists everywhere, Clinton aide Amanda Renteria had one objection.

“Is everyone comfortable [with] her saying ‘Yo Mama’?” asked Renteria.

“No,” senior advisor Maya Harris responded. “[Please] let’s revise.”

“Yikes,” Clinton spokeswoman Karen Finney emailed Renteria separately.

So, a couple of months later, they had her saying she carries hot sauce in her purse. That's barely better.
When asked [by a black host on New York City radio show “The Breakfast Club,”] what item she always carried with her, she replied, “Hot sauce.”

“You getting in Formation right now?” asked one of the amazed hosts, citing the lyrics of the Beyoncé song about keeping hot sauce in her bag. He suggested African-Americans would likely see her comment as “pandering to black people.”

“O.K… Is it workin’?” she replied, laughing.

I'm cryin' here.  Satire is outdone.

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


To quote a line from A Man for All Seasons, "We must just pray that when your head's finished turning your face is to the front again."

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

Brave New World

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an "engagement pedometer." Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them -- and which fall flat.

The foundation has given $1.4 million in grants to several university researchers to begin testing the devices in middle-school classrooms this fall.

The biometric bracelets, produced by a Massachusetts startup company, Affectiva Inc, send a small current across the skin and then measure subtle changes in electrical charges as the sympathetic nervous system responds to stimuli. The wireless devices have been used in pilot tests to gauge consumers' emotional response to advertising.


Any device that helps a teacher identify and meet student needs "is a good thing," said Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, an advocacy group that receives funding from the Gates Foundation. "We have to be really open to what technology can bring."


In fact the sensors do not distinguish between fear and interest, between boredom and relaxation, so researchers plan to videotape each class that uses the biosensors. That way they can see what was happening in the classroom at moments of peak engagement.


Gates officials hope the devices, known as Q Sensors, can become a common classroom tool, enabling teachers to see, in real time, which kids are tuned in and which are zoned out.

This should make you uncomfortable.  Thought police.  Think about it.

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Evan McMullin in Utah

This is the guy to beat in Utah.  He's polling in a three-way virtual tie with Clinton and Trump.

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

You Still OK with Surveillance Because You Have Nothing to Hide?

Let me fix that for you.
The operators of the aerial mass-surveillance system that has been flying over Baltimore since January have apparently been indefinitely retaining all the images captured by the surveillance aircraft, despite promises that those images would be destroyed after 45 days.


This is a technology that promises to do for our physical movements what the NSA has aimed to do with our communications: collect it all.


From the time the existence of this massive surveillance program was revealed in August, the program’s operators have been touting the privacy protections that are supposedly in place, and assuring the public that they are sufficient. In particular, they have been claiming that the imagery is retained for 45 days unless it is part of an investigation.


But a new document indicates that’s not the truth. [...] As public defender Kelly Swanston put it in a Baltimore Sun op-ed,
Our office did not know the BPD was working with the Community Support Program to collect data on our clients' movements and then using the data to charge our clients with crimes without disclosing the source of the evidence. For our innocent clients, we missed opportunities to subpoena exonerating footage collected by the spy plane. For our clients who were mistreated by officers, or whose versions of the truth differed from an officer's report, we failed to corroborate the truth because we did not know that a plane had captured footage of the city. The BPD, and by extension the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office, had data that likely could have corroborated our clients' innocence in the face of an officer's inconsistent statement, but they decided to keep it a secret….

[T]he Baltimore Sun has reported that Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS), the company operating the program, is considering marketing the surveillance data that his company collects to insurance companies. This raises numerous new issues aside from those raised by government surveillance. After all, this is a system that could become capable of recording all manner of lifestyle data about people, including:

  • How often various drivers break the speed limit.
  • Who goes to the gym every day, and who goes once a month.
  • Who goes to bars once a month, and who goes every day.
  • Who eats fast food and who shops at health food stores.

"Marketing the surveillance data to insurance companies."  Still OK?
When I met with PSS president Ross McNutt, he assured me that the system would only be used for “major crimes.” He may have been perfectly sincere at the time, but this is a lesson: that the logic of data capitalism has a momentum of its own, and limits are unlikely to stand unless they’re written into the law.
And maybe not even then, depending upon how the law is written and how it is interpreted.

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Make America Win Again!

Stop being losers!

Donald Trump, who repeatedly says he's going to sue everyone who insults or displeases him, of all people should know the efficacy of a threat as deterrent.

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

Race Relations in 21st Century America

The Mississippi chapter of the NAACP is calling for a federal investigation of a possible hate crime after an African-American football player at a southern Mississippi high school allegedly had a noose placed around his neck and yanked backward by a teammate.


The alleged victim in the attack, a sophomore member of the football team, was not physically harmed but was "terrified" by the incident, [Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP] said.

Yes, that would be terrifying, and quite likely traumatizing.
John Feaster, the first-year head coach for the Stone Tomcats, told ESPN the incident happened inside the football locker room as players were getting ready for practice.


"The individual that was responsible hasn't been with our team since the incident. I just want it understood, it could have been the biggest superstar and he would have been gone. I don't care who it is -- if you do something like that, you can't be part of our team," Feaster added.


Johnson told ESPN that at least three students, all of them white, were involved in the incident but Feaster, the head coach, disputed those details.

"To my knowledge it was one individual. It was not a group," Feaster said.
Perhaps it was only one individual holding the rope. This kind of thing rarely (if ever?) involves just one individual. These kinds of overt acts of racism and attacks are more likely carried out by several individuals or a pack.
Stone County Sheriff’s Capt. Ray Boggs said officials believe something close to what the [family of the alleged victim] described did happen and he’s still investigating. He said all the students involved are younger than 17 and he expects any charges would be filed in youth court, where records are closed to the public.


Johnson said he wants the teenagers charged as adults, as Mississippi law allows in some cases for children older than 13 and younger than 18.


Johnson said Stacey Payton [mother of the alleged victim] was advised against filing a police report because the father of one of the alleged assailants is a former law enforcement officer. Boggs said he talked to Stacey Payton and that’s not true. He said he told her that pursuing criminal charges could result in hard feelings among students that could make her son’s life more difficult at school.

Same sentiment.

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

Too Stupid to Not Fail

Reporters posing as representatives of a Chinese tycoon approached Trump and Clinton PACs and offered them $2 million; only the Giuliani and Trump, Junior-backed Great America PAC agreed, and moreover, assured the fake Chinese benefactor that the origin of the contribution would be covered up and that he would have influence with Trump after the election.

The PAC is blaming it all on a rogue "consultant."

What happened to "all our jobs are going to China" and "China is winning the trade war"?

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

Libel Bully

Alarmed by Donald J. Trump’s record of filing lawsuits to punish and silence his critics, a committee of media lawyers at the American Bar Association commissioned a report on Mr. Trump’s litigation history. The report concluded that Mr. Trump was a “libel bully” who had filed many meritless suits attacking his opponents and had never won in court.


The report concluded that Mr. Trump had lost four suits, withdrawn two and obtained one default judgment in a private arbitration when a former Miss Pennsylvania failed to appear to contest the matter.

“Donald J. Trump is a libel bully,” the report concluded. “Like most bullies, he’s also a loser, to borrow from Trump’s vocabulary.”

Let's face it. Trump is a straight-up bully, not just in relation to libel.
The bar association sought to eliminate that conclusion, which Ms. Seager said was the point of her report.


[Ultimately,] the bar association refused to publish the report, citing “the risk of the A.B.A. being sued by Mr. Trump.”


James Dimos, the association’s deputy executive director, objected to the term “libel bully” and other sharp language in the report, saying in an Oct. 19 email that the changes were needed to address “the legitimately held views of A.B.A. staff who are charged with managing the reputational and financial risk to the association.”

“While we do not believe that such a lawsuit has merit, it is certainly reasonable to attempt to reduce such a likelihood by removing inflammatory language that is unnecessary to further the article’s thesis,” Mr. Dimos wrote. “Honestly, it is the same advice members of the forum would provide to their own clients.”


The article was titled “Donald J. Trump Is a Libel Bully but Also a Libel Loser.” The bar association’s proposed title was “Presidential Election Demonstrates Need for Anti-Slapp Laws.”
So....bullying works.

Jesus, ya weenies.

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

Republicans May Be in Trouble

Coming soon to a polling station near you.

The GOP apparently doesn't seem so grand to millenials.

In other good news...
The International Energy Agency said today that it was significantly increasing its five-year growth forecast for renewables thanks to strong policy support in key countries and sharp cost reductions. Renewables have surpassed coal last year to become the largest source of installed power capacity in the world.


[In] the European Union, Japan and the United States [...] additional renewable generation will outpace electricity demand growth between 2015 and 2021.

  International Energy Agency
Assuming Donald or Hillary hasn't triggered a world-wide nuclear holocaust by 2020.

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

America Is Great Because America Is Good ™

March 3, 2015
The Pentagon has announced that depleted uranium (DU) munitions have not, and will not, be used by US aircraft in the conflict against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The policy U-turn contrasts with statements made over previous months, where Pentagon officials claimed that DU would be used if needed; the decision reflects a growing stigmatisation of the controversial weapons.

  International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons
21 October 2016
The US has finally confirmed that it has fired DU ammunition [in] Syria. [...] US Central Command (CENTCOM) has acknowledged that DU was fired on two dates - the 18 and 23 November 2015. Between the strikes on the two dates, 5,100 rounds of 30mm DU ammunition were used by A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. This equates to 1,524kg of DU.


The US has long been conscious of the stigmatisation of the use of DU weapons. As far back as 1991 the US military were advised that: “...fielding and combat activities [with DU] present the potential for adverse international reaction.” It was therefore predictable that Russian state media quickly highlighted news that DU had been used in Syria, with Russia’s embassies in Paris, Ottawa and London tweeting the news, as Russia sought to draw attention away from its own conduct in the conflict.

  International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons
Stigma. International disapproval. Is that all?
Fallujah, Iraq - Contamination from Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions and other military-related pollution is suspected of causing a sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases, and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq.


During 2004, the US military carried out two massive military sieges of the city of Fallujah, using large quantities of DU ammunition, as well as white phosphorous.


Many prominent doctors and scientists contend that DU contamination is also connected to the recent emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. DU contamination may also be connected to the steep rise in leukaemia, renal, and anaemia cases, especially among children, being reported throughout many Iraqi governorates.


Doctors in Fallujah are continuing to witness the aforementioned steep rise in severe congenital birth defects, including children being born with two heads, children born with only one eye, multiple tumours, disfiguring facial and body deformities, and complex nervous system problems.

Today in Fallujah, residents are reporting to Al Jazeera that many families are too scared to have children, as an alarming number of women are experiencing consecutive miscarriages and deaths with critically deformed and ill newborns.


And what does the US military say about health risks from DU? Let's have a look at its fact sheet.
Depleted uranium is a heavy metal that is also slightly radioactive. Heavy metals (uranium, lead, tungsten, etc.) have chemical toxicity properties that, in high doses, can cause adverse health effects. Depleted uranium that remains outside the body can not harm you.

A common misconception is that radiation is depleted uranium's primary hazard. This is not the case under most battlefield exposure scenarios. Depleted uranium is approximately 40 percent less radioactive than natural uranium. Depleted uranium emits alpha and beta particles, and gamma rays. Alpha particles, the primary radiation type produced by depleted uranium, are blocked by skin, while beta particles are blocked by the boots and battle dress utility uniform (BDUs) typically worn by service members. While gamma rays are a form of highly-penetrating energy , the amount of gamma radiation emitted by depleted uranium is very low.


Taken into the body via metal fragments or dust-like particles, depleted uranium may pose a long-term health hazard to personnel if the amount is large. However, the amount which remains in the body depends on a number of factors, including the amount inhaled or ingested, the particle size and the ability of the particles to dissolve in body fluids.


The health effects of uranium have been studied extensively for over 50 years. In September 1999 the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry published a Toxicological Profile for Uranium, an update to the original profile published in May 1989. While natural and depleted uranium are considered chemically toxic, they are not considered a radiation hazard.


The environmental effects of depleted uranium have been studied comprehensively by a wide range of governmental and non-governmental bodies both before and after the Gulf War. Burn tests and other evaluations performed under simulated battlefield conditions indicated that the health risks associated with the battlefield use of depleted uranium were minimal and even those could be reduced even more by simple, field-expedient measures, especially, avoidance of depleted uranium-contaminated vehicles and sites. During and after the Gulf War, personnel awareness of the hazards posed by battlefield depleted uranium contamination was generally low. As a result, many personnel did not practice field-expedient measures that would have prevented or mitigated possible exposures.

The two main areas that were not adequately addressed before the Gulf War were:

The medical implications of embedded fragments and
Exposure estimates for friendly fire incidents, recovery activities, and incidental contact scenarios.


Because of gaps in data pertaining to uranium oxide dust levels inside DU-struck vehicles, exposure estimates for personnel inside DU-struck vehicles at the time of impact, or immediately afterwards, were based on conservative assumptions. These estimates for this highest exposed group indicated that medical follow-up was warranted. [...] Aside from the problems associated with their traumatic injuries, to date, this follow-up program has attributed no illness or other harmful effects in the evaluated veterans to DU.


Civilians and soldiers are strongly discouraged from recovering souvenirs from the battlefield or climbing on or around damaged equipment.


Depleted uranium emits alpha and beta particles, and gamma rays. Alpha particles, the primary radiation type produced by depleted uranium, are blocked by skin, while beta particles are blocked by the boots and battle dress utility uniform (BDUs) typically worn by service members.

  US Military Fact Sheet on Depleted Uranium
Iraqi children and pregnant women should be wearing battle dress utility uniforms. Their own fault.

That one sentence about civilians and soldiers being "strongly discouraged" from messing with anything that's been hit with DU munitions is the only reference to civilians in the entire fact sheet.

We have weapons of mass destruction, and we're not afraid to use them.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Will There Be Any Lasting Damage from the Podesta Email Leaks?

If polls hold and Clinton wins the presidency, she will need the support of the professional left to offset what’s expected to be vociferous Republican opposition to her legislative proposals and appointments.

But among progressive operatives, goodwill for Clinton — and confidence in key advisers featured in the emails including John Podesta, Neera Tanden and Jake Sullivan — is eroding as WikiLeaks continues to release a daily stream of thousands of emails hacked from Podesta’s Gmail account that is expected to continue until Election Day.


The emails, which also show Clinton praising Wall Street in a manner that’s discordant with her tough campaign rhetoric, have made many progressives less inclined to give Clinton the benefit of the doubt on nominees with more centrist backgrounds or ties to Wall Street, said the operative.

Yes, but how many actual progressives are there in Congress? Two? Three?
The WikiLeaks revelations have not influenced the hierarchy around Clinton or her feelings about trusted advisers like Podesta, Sullivan and Tanden, according to a source close to the campaign. Podesta and Sullivan helped Clinton prep for Wednesday’s debate here and traveled aboard the campaign plane with her to the debate, while Tanden is still listed as a co-chair of Clinton’s transition team.
I wouldn't expect her to drop anyone before the election. The optics on that would be bad. But November 9 is another story.
Tanden declined to comment for this story, while the campaign would not make Podesta or Sullivan available for interviews.
No doubt. ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

University of Missouri

Trump is fanning ongoing racial tensions everywhere. Here's a snapshot of MU this year:

Maybe you remember MU at homecoming from last year.

There It Is

Speaking in Gettysburg, Trump [threatened] to sue all of his now 11 female accusers for defamation.

  Washington Examiner
Of course he did.
[L.A. Attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing [three] women who [claim] he assaulted them, says she] could marshal "an army of lawyers" to support them and Trump will "have to prove that their allegations are not true" and open himself up to counter suits in the process.


Allred held a press conference with [porn star stage named Jessica Drake] who said that GOP nominee Donald Trump had offered her $10,000 [...] for sex.


"This is not acceptable behavior for anyone, much less a presidential candidate,"  Drake told assembled reporters. She said that she is "not looking for monetary compensation" but rather to "stand in solidarity" with other Trump accusers.

It's Sunday

For nearly a decade, a white stone statue of Mary and baby Jesus has stood outside Ste Anne des Pins Catholic church in downtown Sudbury. At times vandals had targeted the statue, leaving the head of baby Jesus rolling on the ground nearby.

About a year ago, the head of baby Jesus was knocked off again. This time, it seemed, the vandals had taken it with them.

The statue stood headless for months as the church’s priest, Gérard Lajeunesse, asked local businesses about crafting a new head. It would have to be custom-made, he was told, and could cost as much as C$10,000 ($7,500).

It was around then that he received a knock on his door from a local artist.


[Heather Wise]had learned how to sculpt at a local college, but had never worked with stone. Still, she felt compelled to help.


Wise spent hours crafting the bright orange clay head. “To do a statue of baby Jesus for a church is like an honour of my entire art career,” she said, explaining that she would aim to sculpt a permanent head out of stone by next year.


The head sparked bemusement on social media, with some pointing out the striking resemblance between baby Jesus and Maggie Simpson.


[Father Lejeunesse] stressed that the new head – whose features are rapidly eroding in the rain – is just temporary. “It’s a first try. It’s a first go. And hopefully what is done at the end will please everyone,” he said. “She did this out of the goodness of her heart.”


“No wonder Mary has her eyes closed,” wrote one commenter on the CBC website, while another pointed out: “Since nobody knows what Jesus looked like, what difference does it make?”


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Trump's Book Reports

There are some very clever offerings at #trumpbookreport inspired by a Tweet from St. Louis Alderman Antonio French (heavily involved in the Ferguson/Michael Brown killing) comparing Trump's debate performance on foreign policy to a teenager's book report written by someone who never read the book. Here are a few:

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

h/t Jean

Going Down

Amidst reports that occupancy rates at Trump Hotels have slipped this election season, the company has announced that new brand hotels will no longer bear the Trump name.


Although Trump Hotels has said the new name has nothing to do with the eponymous businessman’s presidential campaign, empty rooms at the hotels have caused officials “to reduce rates during the peak season," according to New York Magazine.

  Travel and Leisure
Nothing to do with his campaign. Purely coincidental.
Nightly rates at the newly-opened Trump International Hotel in D.C. plummeted below $500 while practically every other five-star property was sold out for the International Monetary Fund conference two weeks ago. And after his remarks about Mexican immigrants, two celebrity chefs backed out of their contracts to open a restaurant in the hotel.


“Our business at Trump Hotels is stronger than ever and we are incredibly excited about the future of Scion, the newest brand in our hotel portfolio,” Ivanka Trump, who is the executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the brand, said in a statement.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

The "international" Court Affair

The United States expressed concern on Friday over South Africa’s decision to withdraw its support from the International Criminal Court.

The ICC, set up in 2002, has often struggled with a lack of international cooperation, including from the United States, which has signed the court’s treaty but never ratified it.


While not itself a member of the court, the United States likes other countries to accept its jurisdiction, seeing it as an arm against the impunity sometimes enjoyed by rogue leaders.

How rich.
“We’re concerned about this decision,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“We do think that the ICC has made valuable contributions in the service of accountability in a number of situations and we hope that other governments would share that.”
Simply amazing.

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

Friday, October 21, 2016

Hillary and the Catholics

I didn't get that "joke" Trump made about Hillary pretending not to hate Catholics. I had to do a little research.
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan called for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to disassociate herself from anti-Catholic statements made by her campaign chairman and said the remarks were “extraordinarily patronizing and insulting to Catholics.”


Emails released last week by WikiLeaks showed Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta and Director of Communications Jennifer Palmieri, both Catholics, in conversations with activists from two left-wing organizations. In the emails, Catholics were debased, with their beliefs being called “severely backwards.” Conservative Catholics also were accused of “an amazing bastardization of the faith,” and Rupert Murdoch was mocked for baptizing his children as Catholics in the River Jordan.

The U.S. Church’s bishops were slammed in the emails as well, referred to as “a middle ages dictatorship.”


The statements "are just extraordinarily patronizing and insulting to Catholics,” Cardinal Dolan told ABC affiliate News Channel 13 on Monday.


Podesta admitted to helping launch a “progressive” infiltration of the Church in another email, and he took an active role in attempting to incite a liberal Catholic revolt against the U.S. bishops.

  Life Site
Podesta is going to get buried, isn't he? And he's not alone. Neera Tanden, now Jennifer Palmieri.
“If it had been said about the Jewish community, if it had been said about the Islamic community, within 10 minutes there would have been an apology and a complete distancing from those remarks,”[said Dolan].
I'm sure he's right about that.

To be fair, however, when it comes to Cardinal Dolan, I don't think he's got a lot of indignation capital.

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

Trump Supporter Runs Twitter Poll

I would suggest that's a better use of his time than poll watching.  And less "inethical".

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

Russia Offers to Aid the Philippines

After the president of the Philippines announced a separation from the US – a statement which his government has since walked back – Russia’s ambassador to the country said Moscow is ready to provide assistance to and fully cooperate with Manila.

“Formulate your wish list. What kind of assistance do you expect from Russia and we will be ready to sit down with you and discuss what can and should be done,” Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev told GMA News on Friday.

He went on to state that Russia is open to working with the Philippines in “any area, any field of possible cooperation.”

I'm sure we only lost the alliance of the Philippines because their president is a bad man, and not for anything we've done.

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

Stupid Tagline

I've scowled every time I've heard Hillary say that, implying that not-so-great countries are bad. But I know why. It's an appeal to our arrogance and our need to feel like we're not actually entitled warmongering, murdering sons of bitches. Americans want to hear how wonderful we are. It could sway some Republicans voters.

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

Missed Opportunities

Ana Navarro reminds me of something I noted during the debate.  Hillary missed a golden opportunity.

"International" Court

And certainly we and the UK, to name two, have war criminals that will never see an indictment.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Another Wikileaks Denial - Dem Again

[DNC chair Donna] Brazile, [...] is denying that she notified the Clinton campaign of a proposed question. “As a longtime political activist with deep ties to our party, I supported all of our candidates for president. I often shared my thoughts with each and every campaign, and any suggestions that indicate otherwise are simply untrue. As it pertains to the CNN Debates, I never had access to questions and would never have shared them with the candidates if I did," Brazile said in a statement.

Somehow, I missed this:

Two top Democratic strategists have exited the presidential campaign after explosive undercover videos showed them discussing voter fraud and their roles in planting paid agitators at campaign events for Republican candidate Donald Trump. Robert Creamer, founder of Democracy Advocates and the husband of Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky, Illinois Democrat, stepped down from the campaign Tuesday, a day after Scott Foval was fired from his post as national field director of Americans United for Change.


Brad Woodhouse, Americans United for Change president, said in a late-Monday statement that Mr. Foval “is no longer associated with Americans United for Change.”

He insisted that the Democratic political consulting firm has “always operated according to the highest ethical and legal standards.”

Mr. Creamer, a four-decade Democratic strategist who pleaded guilty in 2005 to charges of bank fraud and tax violations, said in a statement that he was “unwilling to become a distraction to the important task of electing Hillary Clinton.”


The first video shows Democratic strategists discussing how they hire agitators — including union members, homeless people and the mentally ill — to incite violence by provoking Trump supporters on camera at campaign stops.

Project Veritas released a second video Tuesday showing Mr. Foval brainstorming over ways to commit voter fraud, such as by busing people from one state to another, while appearing to indicate that it had already been done in Iowa.


The same video shows Mr. Creamer discussing a proposal by a Project Veritas investigator to register people to vote illegally by setting up a shell corporation.


Mr. Foval, who has worked for the George Soros-funded People for the American Way, said his paid agitators fueled a Chicago protest in March that forced the Trump campaign to cancel its event.


The only public criticism of the videos has come from foes of Mr. O’Keefe’s past work such as Salon’s Brendan Gauthier, who said Project Veritas has been criticized for “strategically editing footage to make false accusations.”

In the video, Mr. Foval made clear his connections to the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

“We are contracted directly with the DNC and the campaign both."


He goes on to say, “The campaign pays DNC, DNC pays Democracy Partners, Democracy Partners pays the Foval Group, the Foval Group goes and executes the sh— on the ground.”

  Washington Times
How did I miss that?

Pretty shabby defense, Donna.  I guess it doesn't matter that nobody is going to believe it.

If the GOP had a half-way sane nominee, Hillary would be toast at this point.

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

Doublespeak Much?

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

Meanwhile in Iraq & Syria

U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq yesterday, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.


Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted six strikes in Syria.


Attack, bomber, fighter, remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted eight strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government.

  US Dept of Defense
Fourteen strikes in two countries in one day.

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

Leaking, Stand By

The whole of DC is going to be implicated before these emails leaks are finished. I bet the GOP elites have about shat themselves wondering when someone is going to leak their emails.

To be fair, if you read the Wikipedia bio of David Brock, you might find that you agree with either assessment.

As an aside: what email program are these people using? Those carat marks for replying are dinosaur stuff, aren't they?

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

Trump Part National Anthem

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

I Got This One


1) There are things you say in public and things you say in private.

2) I said it to win an election.  -- or --

3) Here's a reset button. (She now knows the correct word.)

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

P.S. Assange at Ecuadorean Embassy

There it is.
Quiet pressure from the U.S. government played a role in Ecuador's decision to block WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from using the internet at Ecuador's London embassy, U.S. officials told NBC News.

"It was a bit of an eviction notice," said a senior intelligence official.

In a statement, Ecuador said the decision was its own.

"Ecuador, exercising its sovereign right, has temporarily restricted access to part of its communications systems in its UK Embassy," the statement said.


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

No Russians!

The US has rejected a Russian proposal to send diplomats to monitor the upcoming presidential elections and some states have even threatened to bring criminal charges against any that appear at ballot stations, Russian election officials report.

Are they just egging us on? Can you imagine if people realized there were Russians at the polls?

We don't want Russians, but Trump bullies are okay.

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

Whoomp, There It Is

Perhaps what it was all about in the first place.

The broadcast quickly ballooned to around 200,000 concurrent viewers but quickly fell off to around 120,000. As of the middle of the debate, the feed was holding steady at around 170,000, trailing only the ABC News debate feed on the platform.


The production infrastructure looks to be provided by Right Side Broadcasting, a conservative video streaming network based out of Auburn, Alabama.


The livestream featured punditry from retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn and former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and in place of commercials, the feed was interspersed with pro-Trump ads and a special message from Ivanka Trump. Looking more like public access than a glitzy cable news offering, the broadcast moved slowly between guests with at least one or two hot mic off moments where the hosts discussed where the next segment was headed.

This should keep "the base" riled up for years. As if Fox and "conservative" radio weren't doing a good enough job.

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

3rd Debate P.S.

At the end, when Trump refused to say he'd accept the results if Hillary wins (he'll keep us "in suspense" - *eyeroll emoticon*), was the first time I've seen Hillary look shaken.  And she didn't seem to recover.  The personal jabs, the Wikileaks questions and hits didn't even throw her, but that did it.

I don't think there's any doubt Trump will cede the election, but that angry mob he's riled up could be a real problem.

And P.S., Mike Wallace must be disappointed beyond the grave.  Chris did nothing for the debate.  He wasted time on questions that had been asked and answered in the previous debates, and didn't go anywhere near climate change, domestic surveillance, Yemen and the expansion of  US wars, or racism. I understand he didn't want to bring up anything they agreed on, like US imperialism and domestic spying, because that would trigger the idea that there are third parties in this race and wouldn't get any fight (which, let's be honest, is one of the reasons these have been the most watched debates in television history), but climate change and racism could have been substituted for Russia/Putin, taxes and terrorism rehashing.  I give Chris a D-.  The fact that he couldn't control their bickering and talking over him doesn't count against him - that was a Herculean task - but he could have asked much better questions.


Oh, yeah.  I forgot about that.  And he kept chiding the crowd all evening about keeping quiet.

I didn't get that far.


That, too.  That's exactly what his framing of the question on "entitlements" implied he wanted to hear.


And, no media moderator wants them to talk about Israel.  Why is that do you think?