The Breakfast Club (Sit in the Lap of Baal)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgMussels.

I don’t know how you like them (steamed, melted herbed butter with fresh squeezed lemon juice) but for me the essential ingredient is the mussel which should be fresh and lightly cooked so that the fat orange flesh fills the shell.

Mmm… good eats.

Anyway TMC and I have been on kind of a serial mussel quest where at least one of us will order them as either a main course or an appetizer when we eat at a restaurant that serves them.  What?  It surprises you that living on the East Coast as we do we occasionally get together for a “working dinner” that we can write off against the vast profits our little bloggy empire generates?  Oh, it surprises you we have profits.  Well, I was lying about that.  I’m only interested in the art and I have the bloody earhole to prove it (I’ll need some more Orpiment Theo, the light is perfect).

You can’t take me anywhere though because outside of the vaguely disreputable and repellent air that I cultivate as seriously as any other poet, I like to play restaurant games.

 photo 1003141627_zpsc85f6252.jpgIn this particular case we were outside on the deck of our newly discovered mussel shack watching the summertime promenade of perfectly ordinary, unsuspecting individuals pass.  Besides the harbor we had a view of a pocket park the chief point of interest of which was an installation of unique chairs and benches that didn’t look like chairs and benches.  The statue of Baal being recently in the news I noted the chair pictured.

Soon enough the trap was set as a young mother and innocent child entered the park and the energetic not exasperated one started climbing around on the public art.

That was when I announced in my best (and loudest) ‘Joliet’ Jake impression-

“Come, come little girl.  Sit in the lap of Baal.”

So those were my favorite mussels this summer, served in the classic manner and done to perfection though if you insist on Haute cuisine we also had a perfectly acceptable dish served with a shallot, garlic, and wine broth.

Oh, you want Science and Tech with that whine.

Ancient Cult Complex Discovered In Israel Dates Back 3,300 Years, May Be Temple Of Baal

By Dominique Mosbergen, HuffPo

10/15/2014 12:59 pm EDT

Archaeologists working in Israel have discovered an “ancient cult complex,” where people who lived thousands of years ago might have worshipped a Canaanite “storm god” known as Baal.

The complex was unearthed at the archaeological site of Tel Burna, located near the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat. It’s believed to date back 3,300 years.

Researchers said the site has already yielded artifacts that seem to confirm the complex’s cultic past. These include enormous jars that may have been used to store tithes, masks that might have been used in ceremonial processions, and burnt animal bones that hint at sacrificial rituals.

Itzhaq Shai, director of the Tel Burna Excavation Project, told Live Science that it wasn’t entirely clear which god the complex was dedicated to. But he called Baal — which ancient Middle Eastern cultures worshipped as a fertility god — the “most likely candidate.”

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

-Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

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Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

This Day in History


Bombing of Kurds Shows Everything That’s Wrong with U.S. Foreign Policy

By Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept

10/14/14 6:25 PM

The militant Kurdish independence group, known formally as the Kurdistan Workers Party, suffered strikes from Turkish fighter jets against its positions in southeastern Turkey – even as PKK-linked forces battle Islamic State militants in and around the Syrian town of Kobani.

Turkey, whose conflict with the PKK stretches back three decades, was reportedly retaliating after shells struck a Turkish military base. Deadly riots have also broken out recently in Kurdish areas of Turkey, fueled by perceptions that the Turkish government has been colluding to undermine Kurdish factions fighting in Syria.

The PKK is officially designated as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) by the United States. As reported previously by The Intercept, the NSA under both the Bush and Obama Administrations actively aided the Turkish military in targeting this group and has provided intelligence used to kill its members.

However, in yet another ironic twist to U.S. foreign policy in the region, this ostensible terrorist organization is now an important American partner in halting the expansion of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. The PKK today in part represent the “boots on the ground” in Syria that many observers have said are necessary to any serious campaign to reverse the spread of this group. In other words, the Bush administration’s terrorist group has become the Obama administration’s freedom fighters.

Who benefits from U.S. war on Islamic State? Al Qaida, analysts fear

By Hannah Allam, McClatchy

October 14, 2014

There’s an unintended beneficiary emerging from the U.S.-led campaign to crush the Islamic State: the extremist group’s main rival, al Qaida.

Al Qaida is no friend of the Islamic State, whose rapid expansion in Iraq and Syria gave it the lead in the struggle for primacy in the global jihadist movement. But the international attacks on the Islamic State also have lent urgency to al Qaida’s appeals for fighters and cash to confront “the Crusaders,” even as air strikes ravage its primary rival, according to analysts of international jihadist groups.

As a militant Islamist group, al Qaida can’t cheer on Western military intervention in Muslim nations. But analysts predict that the U.S.-led coalition’s presence will result in more cash, recruits and operating space for al Qaida, particularly in Syria. The affiliate there, the Nusra Front, is the vanguard of a rebel movement that’s been steamrolled by the Islamic State, which also is known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.

C.I.A. Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels

By MARK MAZZETTI, The New York Times

OCT. 14, 2014

The still-classified review, one of several C.I.A. studies commissioned in 2012 and 2013 in the midst of the Obama administration’s protracted debate about whether to wade into the Syrian civil war, concluded that many past attempts by the agency to arm foreign forces covertly had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict. They were even less effective, the report found, when the militias fought without any direct American support on the ground.

The findings of the study, described in recent weeks by current and former American government officials, were presented in the White House Situation Room and led to deep skepticism among some senior Obama administration officials about the wisdom of arming and training members of a fractured Syrian opposition.

One exception, the report found, was when the C.I.A. helped arm and train mujahedeen rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan during the 1980s, an operation that slowly bled the Soviet war effort and led to a full military withdrawal in 1989. That covert war was successful without C.I.A. officers in Afghanistan, the report found, largely because there were Pakistani intelligence officers working with the rebels in Afghanistan.

But the Afghan-Soviet war was also seen as a cautionary tale. Some of the battle-hardened mujahedeen fighters later formed the core of Al Qaeda and used Afghanistan as a base to plan the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. This only fed concerns that no matter how much care was taken to give arms only to so-called moderate rebels in Syria, the weapons could ultimately end up with groups linked to Al Qaeda, like the Nusra Front.

Legacy of Chemical Weapons in Iraq Compounds Lies and Failures of US Invasion

by Jon Queally, Common Dreams

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New reporting from the New York Times, published online late Tuesday, reveals that although the administration of George W. Bush employed false claims of an active chemical weapons program to justify its 2003 invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (no such program existed) – the reality is that some degraded stockpiles of weapons did exist inside the country.*

However, according to the Times, because those “abandoned” weapons dated back to the 1980’s-when the U.S. and other western nations were acting as an ally to Iraq and supplying weapons and chemical agents to Hussein during his war against Iran-U.S. troops who ultimately came across these weapons and were ordered to destroy them were told to remain quiet about what they’d encountered, even as it put their own health and those of others in grave danger.

As the newspaper reports, former U.S. soldiers who participated in the disposal of such weapons during the long occupation of Iraq said the Bush administration, including the Pentagon, suppressed the existence of them for several reasons, “including that the government bristled at further acknowledgment it had been wrong.”

UN Report Finds Mass Surveillance Violates International Treaties and Privacy Rights

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept


The United Nations’ top official for counter-terrorism and human rights (known as the “Special Rapporteur”) issued a formal report to the U.N. General Assembly today that condemns mass electronic surveillance as a clear violation of core privacy rights guaranteed by multiple treaties and conventions. “The hard truth is that the use of mass surveillance technology effectively does away with the right to privacy of communications on the Internet altogether,” the report concluded.

Central to the Rapporteur’s findings is the distinction between “targeted surveillance” – which “depend[s] upon the existence of prior suspicion of the targeted individual or organization” – and “mass surveillance,” whereby “states with high levels of Internet penetration can [] gain access to the telephone and e-mail content of an effectively unlimited number of users and maintain an overview of Internet activity associated with particular websites.” In a system of “mass surveillance,” the report explained, “all of this is possible without any prior suspicion related to a specific individual or organization. The communications of literally every Internet user are potentially open for inspection by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the States concerned.”

Mass surveillance thus “amounts to a systematic interference with the right to respect for the privacy of communications,” it declared. As a result, “it is incompatible with existing concepts of privacy for States to collect all communications or metadata all the time indiscriminately.”

Global markets tumble on new fears of economic slowdown

by Nick Fletcher, The Guardian

Wednesday 15 October 2014 09.52 EDT

This is its lowest level and biggest one day fall since June last year. It is also close to the 10% decline from its recent peak on 4 September which would mark an official correction.

The latest catalyst was figures indicating the US economy could be the latest to be hit by a global fall in demand. US retail sales fell 0.3% in September, the first decline since January, and worse than the 0.1% decline expected., while producer prices fell by 0.1%, the first decline since August 2013. Meanwhile the Empire manufacturing report for New York fell to 6.17 this month, from 20.5 in September.

Meanwhile the flood of cheap money supplied by central banks, notably the US Federal Reserve, which has been propping up the market for a number of years is beginning to be turned off.

Arkansas Supreme Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law, Saying It Exceeds State Constitution

By EMMA G. FITZSIMMONS, The New York Times

OCT. 15, 2014

The ruling came less than three weeks before the Nov. 4 election in a state where there are several close contests this year, including for governor and the United States Senate. A day earlier, a federal appeals court ruled that Texas could enforce its voter identification requirements in the November election.

The Arkansas ruling found that the law went beyond the four qualifications for voting in the state Constitution. The Constitution says that a voter must be a United States citizen, a resident of the state, at least 18 years old and lawfully registered to vote in the election. “These four qualifications set forth in our state’s Constitution simply do not include any proof-of-identity requirement,” the ruling said.

Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, vetoed the voter identification law last year, but state lawmakers overrode the veto. Earlier this year, a judge found that the state’s law was unconstitutional but said he would not block its enforcement because there was not enough time to do so before the primary election in May.


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