Daily Archive: 02/12/2014

Feb 12 2014

Partisans and Their “Most Important Election of Our Lifetime” Crap

When partisans start in with the "most important election of our lifetime" nonsense, it shows how little they really care about your lifeline. The 2000 election qualifies, but it was stolen, and not by Ralph Nader. It was stolen by the Kangaroo SCOTUS, Katherine Harris, and the entire Bush family. What does that tell you? 

Feb 12 2014

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.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

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

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Allison Kilkenny: “Sky Raper”: US Drones as Tools of the Patriarchy

Journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald posted a disturbing report at their new site The Intercept on Monday about the NSA’s secret role in the U.S. assassination program. It’s a fascinating read, and I recommend you read it in its entirety, but I wanted to explore a very specific passage in the report-an interview with a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA.

The former drone operator explains that remotely piloted Reaper and Predator vehicles are often given cute little nicknames. For example, those used in Afghanistan were called “Lightning” and “Sky Raider.”

Badass!

But then the source candidly reveals there’s a subset of nicknames. The “Sky Raider” was also referred to as “Sky Raper” because “it killed a lot of people.” [..]

The act of rape is about power and violence-two favorite hobbies of the military, and the patriarchy that relies on the military to invade and conquer in order to acquire even more power in order to fuel future acts of violence.

Sky Raper. It’s sort of beautifully succinct in a really fucked up way.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: For Pussy Riot Members, No More Taking Freedom for Granted

IF an appearance on The Colbert Report is a measure of success, then Pussy Riot has arrived.

Fresh out of prison, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, two members of the Russian punk protest group, were in New York last week for a whirlwind tour. After winning over Colbert and his audience, the duo spoke at Wednesday’s all-star Amnesty International concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, where they were introduced by no less than Madonna. [..]

The real story, however, isn’t their vocal, vehement opposition to Putin. It’s what they’re doing with their freedom. The women have been on an international journey of sorts- not to “breathe fresh air and enjoy ourselves” but to visit prisons in other countries and bring what they learn back to Russia.

Crystal Wright: Black history has become a commodity traded by Republicans and corporations

Those who truly want to honor the spirit of Black History Month should focus on creating equal opportunity for African Americans

Why do we have a Black History Month in America? As many have said, black history should be part of our national conversation 365 days a year, not just jammed into a single month. While it may not have been intended this way, this annual February event only serves to further separate black people from mainstream America.

Martin Luther King Jr’s dream was to see black people treated as equals in this country, protected by the constitution and given the same opportunities to achieve as their white counterparts, yet black history month runs counter to King’s goals of inclusion. Since 1976, when it was officially recognized, it has become a tool used by black activists to shame businesses, schools and politicians into showing blacks they “care”.

And companies seem only too happy to oblige, even though I doubt if any of them really care about black history at all. As February rolls around, we see corporations from McDonald’s to Northrup Grumman advertizing Black History Month. The ads usually begin with “we salute” or “we celebrate”, but they simply don’t want to be called racist for not acknowledging it.

Ana Marie Cox: The real problem with US Common Core: it further outsources education

New York is the latest to revolt against Common Core. What’s especially scary is more business intrusion into the classroom

There’s a pretty good chance that up until last week, you’d never heard of the Common Core national standards and curriculum. That changed recently when New York State became the largest state thus far to see a sharp reversal in the adoption of the standards. A bipartisan group of legislators proposed suspending the use of the Common Core assessment tests, based largely on the rebellion of the state’s largest teacher’s union. After endorsing a plan three years ago that would link teacher evaluations to student test scores, the union has now seen the actual testing results – available for the first time last fall – and isn’t so sure. [..]

What’s the harm?, you might ask. The money has to come from somewhere, right? Marketing is designed to discourage critical thinking. Its purpose is to insinuate itself into your subconscious and keep you from making your own decisions. It invalidates the workings of the mind and the heart. You can know Shakespeare’s sonnets backwards and forwards, but if you spend your spare time chasing the next Shiny New Thing, what good will poetry do you?

Suzanne Goldberg: Why Global Water Shortages Pose Threat of Terror and War

From California to the Middle East, huge areas of the world are drying up and a billion people have no access to safe drinking water. US intelligence is warning of the dangers of shrinking resources and experts say the world is ‘standing on a precipice’

On 17 January, scientists downloaded fresh data from a pair of NASA satellites and distributed the findings among the small group of researchers who track the world’s water reserves. At the University of California, Irvine, hydrologist James Famiglietti looked over the data from the gravity-sensing Grace satellites with a rising sense of dread. [..]

How governments manage those water problems – and protect their groundwater reserves – will be critical. When California emerged from its last prolonged dry spell, in 2010, the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins were badly depleted. The two river basins lost 10km3 of freshwater each year in 2012 and 2013, dropping the total volume of snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater to the lowest levels in nearly a decade.

Without rain, those reservoirs are projected to drop even further during this drought. State officials are already preparing to drill additional wells to draw on groundwater. Famiglietti said that would be a mistake.

“We are standing on a cliff looking over the edge and we have to decide what we are going to do,” he said.

“Are we just going to plunge into this next epic drought and tremendous, never-before-seen rates of groundwater depletion, or are we going to buckle down and start thinking of managing critical reserve for the long term? We are standing on a precipice here.”

Leslie Savan: Chris Christie Bullies Again

Governor Chris Christie says he’s been humbled, that he’s been doing some “soul-searching” after his staff got caught arranging traffic jams to punish political enemies.

But bullies bully out of weakness, and Christie is now weaker than he’s ever been. He can’t possibly give up his only real political asset-a talent for intimidation that makes victims want to be on his side to win his protection-when he needs it most.[..]

The attempt to put the squeeze on New Jersey mayors does double duty by also intimidating other potential witnesses and officials receiving subpoenas (the New Jersey legislators investigating the bridge scandal issued eighteen new subpoenas yesterday).

It’s all part of the web of fear that Christie has established throughout New Jersey. It’s aimed as much, if not more, at Democrats than at Republicans, and until the GWB scandal broke, that fear was passed off as the Christie miracle of “bipartisanship.”

Even though the former front-runner in the GOP presidential race now looks like he’ll never make it to the primaries, even though Christie boosters like Joe Scarborough say he should resign as the head of the Republican Governors Association, anyone who the governor’s office can conceivably touch still lives in fear of his wrath.

The bully can still steal their lunch.

Feb 12 2014

On This Day In History February 12

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.

February 12 is the 43rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 322 days remaining until the end of the year (323 in leap years).

On this day in 1924, Rhapsody In Blue, by George Gershwin, performed for first time

Rhapsody in Blue premiered in an afternoon concert on February 12, 1924, held by Paul Whiteman and his band Palais Royal Orchestra, entitled An Experiment in Modern Music, which took place in Aeolian Hall in New York City. Many important and influential composers of the time such as John Phillip Sousa and Sergei Rachmaninoff were present. The event has since become historic specifically because of its premiere of the Rhapsody.

The purpose of the experiment, as told by Whiteman in a pre-concert lecture in front of many classical music critics and highbrows, was “to be purely educational.” It would “at least provide a stepping stone which will make it very simple for the masses to understand, and therefore, enjoy symphony and opera.” The program was long, including 26 separate musical movements, divided into 2 parts and 11 sections, bearing titles such as “True form of jazz” and “Contrast: legitimate scoring vs. jazzing”. Gershwin’s latest composition was the second to last piece (before Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1). Many of the numbers sounded similar and the ventilation system in the concert hall was broken. People in the audience were losing their patience, until the clarinet glissando that opened Rhapsody in Blue was heard. The piece was a huge success, and remains popular to this day.

The Rhapsody was performed by Whiteman’s band, with an added section of string players, and George Gershwin on piano. Gershwin decided to keep his options open as to when Whiteman would bring in the orchestra and he did not write out one of the pages for solo piano, with only the words “Wait for nod” scrawled by Grofe on the band score. Gershwin improvised some of what he was playing. As he did not write out the piano part until after the performance, we do not know exactly how the original Rhapsody sounded.

The opening clarinet glissando came into being during rehearsal when; “…as a joke on Gershwin, [Ross] Gorman (Whiteman’s virtuoso clarinettist) played the opening measure with a noticeable glissando, adding what he considered a humorous touch to the passage. Reacting favourably to Gorman’s whimsy, Gershwin asked him to perform the opening measure that way at the concert and to add as much of a ‘wail’ as possible.”

Feb 12 2014

Obama Targets Another American for Assassination by Drone

On September 30, 2011, President Barack Obama authorized the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen by virtue of his birth in New Mexico in 1971, by an American drone in Yemen along with another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, who grew up in New York City and Charlotte, North Carolina. Two weeks later, Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, was killed by another US strike in Yemen. Jude Kenan Mohammad, alleged to have at one stage been part of an eight-man terror cell in North Carolina, was killed by a US drone strike in Pakistan later in 2011. These assassinations made Barack Obama the first president known president to have authorized the assassination of a US citizen.

Now, as was reported by the Associated Press, Pres. Obama is trying to find a way to legally justify the assassination of another American citizen living in Pakistan. The target has been accused, without evidence, of plotting attacks against America with Al Qaeda:

The CIA drones watching him cannot strike, because he’s a US citizen and the Justice Department must build a case against him, a task it hasn’t completed.

Four US officials said the American suspected terrorist is in a country that refuses US military action on its soil and that has proved unable to go after him. And President Obama’s new policy says American suspected terrorists overseas can only be killed by the military, not the CIA, creating a policy conundrum for the White House. [..]

Under new guidelines Obama addressed in a speech last year to calm anger overseas at the extent of the US drone campaign, lethal force must only be used “to prevent or stop attacks against US persons, and even then, only when capture is not feasible and no other reasonable alternatives exist to address the threat effectively.” The target must also pose “a continuing, imminent threat to US persons” – the legal definition of catching someone in the act of plotting a lethal attack.

Co-founders of the new digital magazine Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald discuss the issue of another American being targeted for assassination with [Democracy Now! ]’s Amy Goodman.

While the Associated Press had agreed to keep the name and location of Pres. Obama’s latest target, his location was disclosed by the Los Angeles Times.

Why should we, as Americans, accept that the Executive Branch can act as judge, jury and executioner without a trial in a duly recognized court of law? Where is any evidence that this person is a threat or even doing what the Obama administration charges are his alleged crimes? At FDL Dissenter, Kevin Gosztola asks why should a news organization should conceal the target’s identity and location for an administration that has touted greater transparency:

Knowing where he is currently located would help one understand this story appropriately. So, in what country would certain officials like to be able to launch an attack? [..]

It seems reasonable to question this decision by the AP to not publish. The decision bears a distinct similarity to refusing to print that a secret drone base is located in a certain country when covering the issue of drones, which US media organizations have previously done.

If it is illegal to add the person to a list and the government cannot come up with a legal way to launch a US military attack because the country opposes it, why should a media organization play the role of not “interrupting” this “ongoing counterterror operation”?

Just how many alleged American members of al Qaeda are there? This report disseminated on the Internet could now aid an “enemy” in figuring out some details on the extent to which he is being tracked and monitored for assassination in order to stop him from launching more attacks on Americans overseas. So, it would seem if AP really wants to protect counterterror operations from “interruption” they would simply not publish the story at all.

The story was given to Associated Press reporter Kimberly Dozier by four anonymous “US officials,” who were not authorized to speak, and a “senior administration official” possibly from the Department of Justice may have political undertones. Marcy Wheeler suggested that the sources may have been congressional staffers since Dozier mentioned Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who is upset because Obama’s new guidelines would impede the assassination of another American.

Whatever the allegations are against this person, it does not legally justify the use of a drone to target an American in a sovereign country that we are not at war with or without due process. Breaking the law under the guise of protecting America from terrorist attack is not justifiable. Regardless of who is in the Oval Office, the US should be a nation of laws and respect the constitutional rights of its citizens.

Feb 12 2014

Introducing priceman’s Rants: No Real Choices for the People

Democrats disgust me now more than Republicans or the tea party with very few exceptions. Republicans and the tea party (barring some agreements on civil liberties and ending the wars) stand for something truly awful, but it is something. You have to respect that.

Feb 12 2014

138th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Day 2

Sporting

Brittany Pointer Pointer (German Shorthaired)
Pointer (German Wirehaired) Retriever (Chesapeake Bay) Retriever (Curly-Coated)
Retriever (Flat-Coated) Retriever (Golden) Retriever (Labrador)
Retriever (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling) Setter (English) Setter (Gordon)
Setter (Irish) Setter (Irish Red and White) Spaniel (American Water)
Spaniel (Boykin) Spaniel (Clumber) Spaniel (Cocker) A.S.C.O.B.
Spaniel (Cocker) Black Spaniel (Cocker) Parti-Color Spaniel (English Cocker)
Spaniel (English Springer) Spaniel (Field) Spaniel (Irish Water)
Spaniel (Sussex) Spaniel (Welsh Springer) Spinone Italiano
Vizsla Weimaraner Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Working

Akita Alaskan Malamute Anatolian Shepherd Dog
Bernese Mountain Dog Black Russian Terrier Boxer
Bullmastiff Cane Corso Chinook (new for 2014)
Doberman Pinscher Dogue de Bordeaux German Pinscher
Giant Schnauzer Great Dane Great Pyrenees
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Komondor Kuvasz
Leonberger Mastiff Neapolitan Mastiff
Newfoundland Portuguese Water Dog Rottweiler
Samoyed Siberian Husky St Bernard
Standard Schnauzer Tibetan Mastiff

Terrier

Airedale Terrier American Staffordshire Terrier Australian Terrier
Bedlington Terrier Border Terrier Bull Terrier (Colored)
Bull Terrier (White) Cairn Terrier Cesky Terrier
Dandie Dinmont Terrier Fox Terrier (Smooth) Fox Terrier (Wire)
Glen of Imaal Terrier Irish Terrier Kerry Blue Terrier
Lakeland Terrier Manchester Terrier (Standard) Miniature Bull Terrier
Miniature Schnauzer Norfolk Terrier Norwich Terrier
Parson Russell Terrier Rat Terrier (new for 2014) Russell Terrier
Scottish Terrier Sealyham Terrier Skye Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Staffordshire Bull Terrier Welsh Terrier
West Highland White Terrier