Daily Archive: 04/17/2013

Apr 17 2013

Springer Mountain to Mount Katahdin

Republicans pull plug on Mark Sanford

By ALEX ISENSTADT, Politico

4/17/13 1:47 PM EDT

Blindsided by news that Sanford’s ex-wife has accused him of trespassing and concluding he has no plausible path to victory, the National Republican Congressional Committee has decided not to spend more money on Sanford’s behalf ahead of the May 7 special election.



The NRCC’s move comes hours after Tuesday night’s report by the Associated Press that Sanford’s ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, filed a court complaint accusing him of trespassing at her home in early February – which would be a violation of the terms of their divorce agreement.



(T)he news of the alleged trespassing once again thrusts Sanford’s damaged family life to the forefront of the campaign. It threatens to undercut his already shaky support among women, who polls show are unenthusiastic about voting for an admitted adulterer.



And, most dangerous of all, it undermines what had been the driving theme of the ex-governor’s campaign: that he has learned from his personal mistakes and put them behind him.

“The reason this is bad is because it takes all of Sanford’s problems in the past and takes them right into the present,” said one GOP official. “Every dollar that he’s spent reforming his image has been wiped away.”



“It’s an unfortunate reality that divorced couples sometimes have disagreements that spill over into family court,” he said. “I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened.

“There is always another side to every story, and while I am particularly curious how records that were sealed to avoid the boys dealing with embarrassment are now somehow exposed less than three weeks before this election, I agree with Jenny that the media is no place to debate what is ultimately a family court matter, and out of respect for Jenny and the boys, I’m not going to have any further comment at this time,” Sanford said.

Apr 17 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Erin Niemela: We are Better Than This

Americans will remember Monday, April 15, 2013 as a day in which unspeakable violence took the lives of three people and wounded at least 153 after bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line. Thousands of miles away, Iraqis will remember this same Monday as a day in which violence claimed the lives of at least 31 people and over 200 injured after multiple car bombs detonated in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, and several other areas. Afghans will remember this Monday as a day in which a ghastly roadside bomb in the Zabul province killed seven and wounded four other human beings. These are the headlines, only for this particular Monday, and we can be sure some lost lives have yet to be reported.

We are better than this.

Humanity is better than this. We are a resilient, adaptable species with a propensity towards community and kindness. Yet, we continually find ourselves locked in a dangerous spiral of retaliation, fueled and fanned by the winds of “justice” that creep into every speech, every condemnation, every epitaph, and every time responsibility is taken. We have the capacity for unspeakable violence, yes, but we also have a profound capacity for love.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Don’t confuse truth-tellers with traitors

Next week marks the 10th anniversary of an event that celebrates truth telling in the public interest and honors the legacy of Ron Ridenhour, a man not often remembered, who irreversibly changed the course of history.

As a soldier in Vietnam, Ridenhour had started investigating troubling rumors of a terrible war crime committed by U.S. soldiers. In 1969, after returning home, he wrote a stunning letter to Congress and the Pentagon in which he described the horrific slaughter of innocent men, women and children. Ridenhour was a key source for the series on My Lai that Sy Hersh wrote for the Dispatch News Service, which later earned Hersh the Pulitzer Prize. The story of the massacre provoked widespread outrage and was a turning point in U.S. public opinion of the war. Ridenhour himself went on to become an award-winning investigative journalist before his sudden, tragic death at the age of 52.

At a moment when the government is aggressively clamping down on information, it’s worth remembering – and honoring – the importance of whistleblowers like Ridenhour, who tell us the hard truth even when nobody wants to hear it.

Maureen Dowd: The C.I.A.’s Angry Birds

Over the winter, I heard military commanders and White House officials murmur in hushed tones about how they would have to figure out a legal and moral framework for the flying killer robots executing targets around the globe.

They were starting to realize that, while the American public approves of remotely killing terrorists, it is a drain on the democratic soul to zap people with no due process and little regard for the loss of innocents.

But they never got around to it, leaving Rand Paul to take the moral high ground. [..]

digby: Chris Hayes passes an important test

I always watch a lot of cable news (or have it on in the background) but when a major story hits, I watch it more intently and tend to move around between the stations all day to see how they are covering it.  Yesterday, everyone was on pretty good behavior even Fox which one could tell was having to bite its collective tongue not to use the occasion to criticize the president and push the Islamic terrorist scenario. Considering how tough that obviously was for them, they did an admirable job. [..]

Mostly what I hate about this coverage is the maudlin and somewhat unctuous posing (at least it feels like posing) among the pundits and anchors. It makes me yearn for the days of Walter Cronkite. (I know, that makes me old — so shoot me.)

There were exceptions. I thought Scott Pelley on CBS was remarkably professional in reporting the minute to minute during the day yesterday. And among the evening anchors, I though Chris Hayes hit just the right notes. As an analyst as well as a reporter he asked probing questions with an appropriately serious mien, but he didn’t seem to be giving a performance like so many of the rest of them did.

Valerie Strauss: Study: School Reform in 3 Major Cities Didn’t Pass the Test

Many people paying attention to corporate-based school reform in recent years will not be surprised by this, but a new study on the effects of this movement in Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago concludes that little has been accomplished and some harm has been done to students, especially the underprivileged.

The report looks at the impact of reforms that have been championed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other well-known reformers, including Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, and, in New York City, Joel Klein, the former chancellor of New York City Public Schools and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It says:

   The reforms deliver few benefits and in some cases harm the students they purport to help, while drawing attention and resources away from policies with real promise to address poverty-related barriers to school success…

Deborah Weinstein: In Obama’s Budget, Poverty Initiatives Face an Uphill Battle

There are certain facts of life reflected by the FY 2014 Obama budget proposal: first, anything really worth having is going to be hard to get; and, the regrettable corollary – some things you don’t want are a lot closer to reality.

There are new and even historic anti-poverty proposals in this budget. But the better they are, the more they fall into the “hard to get” category. On the other hand, Social Security cuts in the form of smaller cost-of-living adjustments could far more easily become real. [..]

While the job creation and economic development proposals are well designed, the scope is not adequate to meet the needs of the current weak economy. The president stated that his budget shows it is possible to reduce the deficit and invest in economic growth at the same time. But the Senate budget, with more revenue and more Pentagon savings, demonstrates this possibility more clearly.

Apr 17 2013

On This Day In History April 17

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 17 is the 107th day of the year (108th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 258 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1961, The Bay of Pigs invasion begins when a CIA-financed and -trained group of Cuban refugees lands in Cuba and attempts to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was an utter failure.

Fidel Castro had been a concern to U.S. policymakers since he seized power in Cuba with a revolution in January 1959. Castro’s attacks on U.S. companies and interests in Cuba, his inflammatory anti-American rhetoric, and Cuba’s movement toward a closer relationship with the Soviet Union led U.S. officials to conclude that the Cuban leader was a threat to U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere. In March 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the CIA to train and arm a force of Cuban exiles for an armed attack on Cuba. John F. Kennedy inherited this program when he became president in 1961.

Political Background

On March 17, 1960, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a document prepared by the 5412 Committee (also known as the ‘Special Group’), at a meeting of the US National Security Council (NSC). The stated first objective of the plan began as follows:

   A PROGRAM OF COVERT ACTION AGAINST THE CASTRO REGIME

   1. Objective: The purpose of the program outlined herein is to bring about the replacement of the Castro regime with one more devoted to the true interests of the Cuban people and more acceptable to the U.S. in such a manner to avoid any appearance of U.S. intervention.

The outline plan (code-named Operation Pluto) was organized by CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard Mervin Bissell, Jr., under CIA Director Allen Dulles. Having experience in actions such as the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’etat, Dulles was confident that the CIA was capable of overthrowing the Cuban government as led by prime minister Fidel Castro since February 1959. The first detailed CIA plan proposed a ship-borne invasion at the old colonial city of Trinidad, Cuba, about 270 km (170 mi) south-east of Havana, at the foothills of the Escambray Mountains in Sancti Spiritus province. Trinidad had good port facilities, it was closer to many existing counter-revolutionary activities, it had an easily defensible beachhead, and it offered an escape route into the Escambray Mountains. When that plan was rejected by the State Department, the CIA went on to propose an alternative plan. On April 4, 1961, President Kennedy then approved the Bay of Pigs plan (also known as Operation Zapata), because it had an airfield that would not need to be extended to handle bomber operations, it was further away from large groups of civilians than the Trinidad plan, and it was less “noisy” militarily, which would make any future denial of direct US involvement more plausible. The invasion landing area was changed to beaches bordering the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) in Las Villas Province, 150 km south-east of Havana, and east of the Zapata peninsula. The landings were to take place at Playa Giron (code-named Blue Beach), Playa Larga (code-named Red Beach), and Caleta Buena Inlet (code-named Green Beach).

In March 1961, the CIA helped Cuban exiles in Miami to create the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC), chaired by Jose Miro Cardona, former Prime Minister of Cuba in January 1959. Cardona became the de facto leader-in-waiting of the intended post-invasion Cuban government.

Bay of Pigs: The Invasion

The first part of the plan was to destroy Castro’s tiny air force, making it impossible for his military to resist the invaders. On April 15, 1961, a group of Cuban exiles took off from Nicaragua in a squadron of American B-26 bombers, painted to look like stolen Cuban planes, and conducted a strike against Cuban airfields. However, it turned out that Castro and his advisers knew about the raid and had moved his planes out of harm’s way. Frustrated, Kennedy began to suspect that the plan the CIA had promised would be “both clandestine and successful” might in fact be “too large to be clandestine and too small to be successful.”

But it was too late to apply the brakes. On April 17, the Cuban exile brigade began its invasion at an isolated spot on the island’s southern shore known as the Bay of Pigs. Almost immediately, the invasion was a disaster. The CIA had wanted to keep it a secret for as long as possible, but a radio station on the beach (which the agency’s reconnaissance team had failed to spot) broadcast every detail of the operation to listeners across Cuba. Unexpected coral reefs sank some of the exiles’ ships as they pulled into shore. Backup paratroopers landed in the wrong place. Before long, Castro’s troops had pinned the invaders on the beach, and the exiles surrendered after less than a day of fighting; 114 were killed and over 1,100 were taken prisoner.

Bay of Pigs: The Aftermath

According to many historians, the CIA and the Cuban exile brigade believed that President Kennedy would eventually allow the American military to intervene in Cuba on their behalf. However, the president was resolute: As much as he did not want to “abandon Cuba to the communists,” he said, he would not start a fight that might end in World War III. His efforts to overthrow Castro never flagged-in November 1961, he approved Operation Mongoose, an espionage and sabotage campaign-but never went so far as to provoke an outright war. In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis inflamed American-Cuban-Soviet tensions even further.

Fidel Castro is still Cuba’s symbolic leader today, although his younger brother Raul (1931-) has taken over the presidency and serves as commander in chief of the armed forces.

Apr 17 2013

52 hours left to stop CISPA

Stop CISPATime to take action. As I reported last week the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act(CISPA) was sent to the House for a vote.

From an e-mail that Joan McCarter at Daily Kos posted the e-mail from the White House issuing a veto threat of the bill as it currently stands:

The Administration recognizes and appreciates that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) adopted several amendments to H.R. 624 in an effort to incorporate the Administration’s important substantive concerns. However, the Administration still seeks additional improvements and if the bill, as currently crafted, were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill. The Administration seeks to build upon the continuing dialogue with the HPSCI and stands ready to work with members of Congress to incorporate our core priorities to produce cybersecurity information sharing legislation that addresses these critical issues.

H.R. 624 appropriately requires the Federal Government to protect privacy when handling cybersecurity information. Importantly, the Committee removed the broad national security exemption, which significantly weakened the restrictions on how this information could be used by the government. The Administration, however, remains concerned that the bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities. Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable-and not granted immunity-for failing

to safeguard personal information adequately. [emphasis in original]

House Democrats are now rallying in opposition to the bill:

Four Democratic members say the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, as written “would undermine the interests of citizens and their privacy” despite the addition of five privacy-focused amendments adopted to the bill last week. They argue that the amendments do not go far enough to ease their concerns.

“Without further amendments to protect privacy and civil liberties, we cannot support the bill,” the House Democratic lawmakers write in the “Dear Colleague” letter.

“The bill has improved from earlier versions, but even with the amendments adopted, CISPA unacceptably and unnecessarily compromises the privacy interests of Americans online,” they add.

Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Rush Holt (D-N.J.) signed the letter.

The House Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday afternoon to approve the rule for the bill, which will determine what amendments will be voted on in the House later this week. House members have until Tuesday morning to file their proposed amendments to the bill.

There are twelve Democratic co-sponsors to the bill. We need to send tell them to withdraw their support:

Ruppersberger, A. Dutch [D-MD2]

Costa, Jim [D-CA16]

Cuellar, Henry [D-TX28]

Enyart, William [D-IL12]

Gutierrez, Luis [D-IL4]

Hastings, Alcee [D-FL20]

Kilmer, Derek [D-WA6]

Lipinski, Daniel [D-IL3]

Peters, Scott [D-CA52]

Sewell, Terri [D-AL7]

Sinema, Kyrsten [D-AZ9]

Vargas, Juan [D-CA51]

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EEF) is urging action:

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is supposed to promote cybersecurity- a goal EFF wholeheartedly supports – but it doesn’t address common-sense network security issues. Instead, it creates a new, dangerous exception to existing privacy laws. That’s why hundreds of thousands of concerned Internet users have joined EFF and other civil liberties groups in opposing the bill. This is our last chance to stop it in the House.

Despite recent amendments, CISPA still features vague language that could put your personal information in the hands of military organizations like the National Security Agency.

Can you call your representative and tell him or her to oppose this bill?  We’ll give you the phone number for your representative and a very brief suggested script. Click here to call Congress now.

Not in the United States? Click here to sign our petition.

We want to generate thousands of calls between now and the vote-likely on Thursday.  Please call now and then tell your friends to speak out on this important issue. It’s as easy as posting this on your social networking accounts:

   Congress is about to vote on CISPA. If you care about online privacy, you’ve got to speak out now:  https://eff.org/r.5bPw

You can also use Twitter tool to tell key members of Congress to stand up for your privacy and vote NO on CISPA.

The White House switchboard is 202-456-1414.

The comments line is 202-456-1111.

Numbers for the Senate are here.

Numbers for the House are here.

The late internet activist Aaron Swartz called CISPA the “The Patriot Act of the Internet”.

Call the White House and your representatives to protect your privacy rights.

Apr 17 2013

Carol the Heffalump is shot

Apparently it was a drive by shooting.

Ringling Bros circus elephant recuperates from Mississippi shooting

Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian

Monday 15 April 2013 13.59 EDT

The Asian elephant was touring with Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Tupelo, when she was shot near the shoulder while relaxing in her enclosure. A suspect was witnessed fleeing the scene, and multiple agencies have contributed money in a bid to track him or her down.



“It was surreal, I just couldn’t believe it,” Carden said of the moment she realised Carol had been wounded. “I saw a hole in my elephant, and a trickle of blood running down her leg, and she was just standing there like nothing had happened.”



The Asian elephant is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and there are believed to be fewer than 50,000 left in the wild.

Carol has entertained crowds across the US during her career, but Carden said the elephant had no known enemies. Although two other elephants in the enclosure escaped unharmed, Carden ruled out the possibility of the gunman having a grudge against Carol specifically.