Daily Archive: 04/08/2012

Apr 08 2012

Sunday Train: Did Governor Brown Save California’s HSR?

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

As I mentioned in last week’s Sunday Train, the California HSR Authority came out with a revised draft Business Plan.

And why do you revise a draft Business Plan? Because some people suggested some modifications to your previous draft Business Plan might be in order … for instance, if there’s a possibility that you cannot get bonds authorized to start work on the part of the corridor where the Federal Government has already put some funding on the table.

The new, revised, draft Business Plan seems to mark the final passing of the baton from the Judge Kopp absolutist vision of the what an HSR “simply has to be” to the more grounded, realistic vision of Governor Brown …

… and in the process of dragging the HSR Authority back into touch with reality, it is quite possible that Governor Brown has saved the California HSR project.

There are two qualifiers here. The first is that without an account of someone privy to the details of the Governor’s intervention, we won’t know what changes were things the California HSR was on track to doing anyway, and what changes were pushed upon them. But even there, what “the HSR Authority wanted to do” was likely heavily influenced by the changing of the guard from Schwarzenegger appointees to Brown appointees at the Authority.

The second is that getting to work is not yet a done deal. Supporters of the project ~ whether ongoing supporters or those won over by the newly revised plan ~ still need to work to help see the project through to construction of the first construction segment.

The devil is in the details, so we go chasing the devil below the fold.

Apr 08 2012

Squat and Spread Your Cheeks

Thanks to five out of nine Supreme Court justices at the urging of the Obama administration that’s what 14 million Americans a year can expect to hear when they get arrested and sent to jail.  That includes several hundred thousand people per year arrested for minor infractions, everything from having unpaid traffic tickets to, oh, what is it that protesters get charged with… disorderly conduct, public nuisance or irritating an idiot that has mistakenly been issued a badge, a gun and a can of mace.

Supreme court justices allow for routine strip-searches of inmates in US jails

By a 5-4 vote and splitting along conservative-liberal ideological lines, the high court ruled that privacy rights involving the searches were outweighed by security concerns by jails about a suspect hiding drugs, weapons or other contraband.

The decision could have broad impact as nearly 14 million Americans spend time in jail or prison every year, including an estimated 700,000 people in jail for less serious misdemeanor offenses.

The justices upheld a ruling by a US appeals court based in Philadelphia that it was reasonable to search everyone entering a jail, even without suspicion of any criminal activity.

The decision was a victory for the jails and for the Obama administration, which argued for an across-the-board rule allowing strip-searches of all those entering the general jail population, even those arrested on minor offenses.

In Justice Breyer’s dissent in Florence vs Board of Chosen Freeholders he makes clear just what sort of searches that the Supreme Court at the urging of the Obama administration has given a blanket imprimatur to:

‘a visual inspection of the inmate’s naked body. This should include the inmate opening his mouth and moving his tongue up and down and from side to side, removing any dentures, running his hands through his hair, allowing his ears to be visually examined, lifting his arms to expose his arm pits, lifting his feet to examine the sole, spreading and/or lifting his testicles to expose the area behind them and bending over and/or spreading the cheeks of his buttocks to expose his anus. For females, the procedures are similar except females must in addition, squat to expose the vagina.’

Apr 08 2012

Rant of the Week: George Carlin

Now for a little irreligious relevance. I’m here for the chocolate and Peeps.

Between you and me, in any decent universe, this guy would have been out on his all powerful ass a long time ago. By the way, I say “guy” because I firmly believe. looking at these results, that if there is a god it has to be a man, no woman could, or would, ever fuck things up this bad. ~ George Carlin

Religion Is Bullshit

Apr 08 2012

On This Day In History April 8

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 8 is the 98th day of the year (99th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 267 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s legendary record of 714 homers. A crowd of 53,775 people, the largest in the history of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, was with Aaron that night to cheer when he hit a 4th inning pitch off the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Al Downing. However, as Aaron was an African American who had received death threats and racist hate mail during his pursuit of one of baseball’s most distinguished records, the achievement was bittersweet.

Breaking Ruth’s record

Although Aaron himself downplayed the “chase” to surpass Babe Ruth, baseball enthusiasts and the national media grew increasingly excited as he closed in on the home run record. During the summer of 1973 Aaron received thousands of letters every week; the Braves ended up hiring a secretary to help him sort through it.

At the age of 39, Aaron hit 40 home runs in 392 at-bats, ending the season one home run short of the record. He hit home run number 713 on September 29, 1973, and with one day remaining in the season, many expected him to tie the record. But in his final game that year, playing against the Houston Astros (led by manager Leo Durocher, who had once roomed with Babe Ruth), he was unable to achieve this. After the game, Aaron stated that his only fear was that he might not live to see the 1974 season.

Over the winter, Aaron was the recipient of death threats and a large assortment of hate mail from people who did not want to see a black man break Ruth’s nearly sacrosanct home run record. The threats extended to those providing positive press coverage of Aaron. Lewis Grizzard, then editor of the Atlanta Journal, reported receiving numerous phone calls calling them “nigger lovers” for covering Aaron’s chase. While preparing the massive coverage of the home run record, he quietly had an obituary written, scared that Aaron might be murdered.

Sports Illustrated pointedly summarized the racist vitriol that Aaron was forced to endure:

   “Is this to be the year in which Aaron, at the age of thirty-nine, takes a moon walk above one of the most hallowed individual records in American sport…? Or will it be remembered as the season in which Aaron, the most dignified of athletes, was besieged with hate mail and trapped by the cobwebs and goblins that lurk in baseball’s attic?”

Aaron received an outpouring of public support in response to the bigotry. Newspaper cartoonist Charles Schulz satirized the anti-Aaron camp in a series of Peanuts strips printed in August 1973, in which Snoopy attempts to break the Ruth record, only to be besieged with hate mail. (As Lucy puts it in the August 11 strip, “Hank Aaron is a great player…but you! If you break Babe Ruth’s record, it’ll be a disgrace!”) Babe Ruth’s widow, Claire Hodgson, even denounced the racism and declared that her husband would have enthusiastically cheered Aaron’s attempt at the record. Ruth, who was unprejudiced, had himself been subjected to racial taunts during his youth, by those who fancied that he had Negroid features.

As the 1974 season began, Aaron’s pursuit of the record caused a small controversy. The Braves opened the season on the road in Cincinnati with a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. Braves management wanted him to break the record in Atlanta, and were therefore going to have Aaron sit out the first three games of the season. But Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ruled that he had to play two games in the first series. He played two out of three, tying Babe Ruth’s record in his very first at bat off Reds pitcher Jack Billingham, but did not hit another home run in the series.

The team returned to Atlanta, and on April 8, 1974, a crowd of 53,775 people showed up for the game-a Braves attendance record. In the fourth inning, Aaron hit career home run number 715 off Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Al Downing. Although Dodgers outfielder Bill Buckner nearly went over the outfield wall trying to catch it, the ball landed in the Braves’ bullpen, where relief pitcher Tom House caught it. While cannons were fired in celebration, two white college students, Cliff Courtney and Britt Gaston, sprinted onto the field and jogged alongside Aaron for part of his circuit around the bases, temporarily startling him. As the fans cheered wildly, Aaron’s parents ran onto the field as well.

Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully addressed the racial tension – or apparent lack thereof – in his call of the home run:

   “What a marvelous moment for baseball; what a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia; what a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron. … And for the first time in a long time, that poker face in Aaron shows the tremendous strain and relief of what it must have been like to live with for the past several months.”

A few months later, on October 5, 1974, Aaron hit his 733rd and final home run as a Brave, which stood as the National League’s home run record until it was broken in 2007. Thirty days later, the Braves traded Aaron to the Milwaukee Brewers for Roger Alexander and Dave May. On May 1, 1975, Aaron broke baseball’s all-time RBI record, previously held by Ruth with 2,217. That year, he also made the last of his 21 record-tying (with Musial and Mays) All-Star appearances; he lined out to Dave Concepcion as a pinch-hitter in the second inning. This All-Star game, like his first in 1955, was before a home crowd at Milwaukee County Stadium.

On July 20, 1976, Hank Aaron hit his 755th and final home run at Milwaukee County Stadium off Dick Drago of the California Angels.

Apr 08 2012

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Get Up with Chris and his guests Jonathan Alter (@jonathanalter), MSNBC contributor and Bloomberg View columnist; Richard Kim (@richardkimnyc), executive editor at TheNation.com; Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn), senior contributing writer at Newsweek/Daily Beast; Esther Armah (@estherarmah), host of WBAI-FM’s “Wake Up Call”; and Nan Aron (@nanaron), president of Alliance for Justice.

The Melissa Harris-Perry Show:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: Coming up on “This Week”, substitute host Jake Tapper interviews evangelical pastor Rick Warren and Warren’s wife, Kay Warren.

The roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with ABC News’ George Will, Yahoo News Washington bureau chief David Chalian, author and Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson, Thomson Reuters Digital editor Chrystia Freeland, and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guest is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.

Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Rabbi David Wolpe, of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, Rev. Luis Cortes of Esperanza USA, plus the Washington Post‘s Sally Quinn and Andrew Sullivan of Newsweek and The Dish talk about religion and politics in America

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests are Dan Rather, HDNet Global Correspondent; Pete Williams, NBC News Justice Correspondent; Nia-Malika Henderson, The Washington Post National Political Reporter; and Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post Columnist

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Todays’ guests are the Senator from President Obama’s home state, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Governor of the 2012 swing state, Ohio, John Kasich (R).

For a special Easter Sunday roundtable the guests are Archbishop-designate of Baltimore William Lori; daughter of Billy Graham, Anne Graham Lotz; United Methodist Pastor Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO); member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID); and Executive Editor at Random House, as well as author of “American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation,Jon Meacham.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms Crowley’s guests are DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); pollsters Mark Penn and Linda DiVall; Former Solicitor general Ken Starr and Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal; Ralph Reed, founder and Chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), a United Methodist Church pastor, and David Brody, Chief Political Correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network

Apr 08 2012

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

US defines opening move in new talks with Iran

Diplomats: Allies will seek dismantling of new nuclear facility deep in mountain    

By DAVID E. SANGER and STEVEN ERLANGER  

The Obama administration and its European allies plan to open new negotiations with Iran by demanding the immediate closing and ultimate dismantling of a recently completed nuclear facility deep under a mountain, according to American and European diplomats.

They are also calling for a halt in the production of uranium fuel that is considered just a few steps from bomb grade, and the shipment of existing stockpiles of that fuel out of the country, the diplomats said.




Sunday’s Headlines:

John Derbyshire fired for article urging children to avoid African Americans

Rebels: ‘Assad would kill a million people’

Former spymaster stirs up Egypt presidential race

New Malawi president sworn in, rejects ‘revenge’ on rivals  

In Sweden, a debate over whether gender equality has gone too far