Daily Archive: 02/12/2015

Feb 12 2015

How to build a Left Party

En Español-

Los Indignados to Podemos: The Making of a Party (1/2)

Los Indignados to Podemos, The Making of a Party (2/2)

Feb 12 2015

Well, good.

Loretta Lynch faces delayed vote over confirmation

By Seung Min Kim, Politico

2/12/15 12:20 PM EST

“There’s so many similarities between the Lynch nomination and the Carter nomination,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of Lynch’s biggest boosters. “And to move Carter so quickly and to slow down Lynch is very troublesome, and I think they ought to move her ASAP.”

One reason for the lag on Lynch is that after Obama nominated her in November, Senate Democrats agreed to postpone her confirmation into the new Republican-led chamber at the GOP’s request. Democrats meant it as a gesture of goodwill, and they also believed Lynch would be confirmed in either a Democratic- or GOP-controlled Senate.



Under the committee’s rules, any senator can ask for business, such as consideration of a nominee, to be held over for one week – a practice that doesn’t have to be deployed but has become routine. Lynch is officially on the agenda for Thursday, but Republicans have already said she’ll be held over, which means a vote will be delayed until after the recess. So the next opportunity for a committee vote will be Feb. 26.

Loretta Lynch is Condoleeza Rice With A Law Degree

by Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report

Wed, 02/11/2015 – 16:13

Media and political elites singled out Dr. Martin Luther King as the favored face of what they called the civil rights movement before his 30th birthday. They awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 36, but shunned and denounced him in the final year of his life when he condemned not just racism, but economic injustice at home and imperial war abroad. King’s death at only 39 enabled the US elite to construct their own useful tool, the Dreamer, who is the Martin Luther King we mostly hear about today.



Lynch did her undergrad and law school at Harvard. She went from there to the prestigious NY firm Cahill Gordon & Rendall, the folks who represent Bank of America, Merril Lynch, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and the like.

Lynch served her first term at the Justice Department co-chairing something called the White Collar Crime Subcommittee. But you won’t hear Lynch bragging about how many white collar criminals, fraudulent bankster, predatory speculators and greedy CEOs she’s locked up. Departments of Justice under both Democrats and Republicans simply don’t much go in for that kind of thing. It seems the only thing that qualified Lynch for a “White Collar Crime Subcommittee” was her expertise in advising and defending the few white collar criminals who got close to seeing the inside of a courtroom.



At the beginning of the Obama administration there was an urgent need for Lynch’s unique talents. Greedy speculators, banksters and hedge fund sharpies had crashed the US economy in 2007, leading to millions of foreclosures and the most catastrophic loss of black family wealth since the US began measuring it. But banking, insurance and finance had been the incoming administration’s biggest contributors. So Loretta, the “white collar crime specialist” answered the call to protect the pillagers and perps who made her career, and the Obama administration possible.



That’s her specialty, that’s who and what she is. Loretta Lynch is the lawyer who writes the fine print on the “get out of jail free” cards the Justice Department hands out to banksters, speculators and too-big-to-jail CEOs. She’s the vicious federal DA who prosecuted thousands of poor defendants on petty drug charges eacn month, but ignored the official crimes of NYPD excepting a single case that put tens of thousands of New Yorkers in the street. Lynch sees nothing wrong with the NSA harvesting everyone’s email, phone and other communications, she has no problem with the president ordering the drone murder of US citizens or foreigners, whoever, and is not interested in lowering the prison population, curbing asset forfeitures, or restraining and demilitarizing the police.

Those who imagine that there’s some virtue in having black faces in high legal places need to ask why black lawyers who file suits against corporate polluters, who defend the victims of police torture and abuse, who represent the evicted and afflicted, who expose the abuses and war crimes of the CIA, NSA and the Pentagon are never considered for leading roles at the Department of Justice. In his day, Thurgood Marshall defended scores of people accused of capital crimes. This alone would disqualify him from the federal bench nowadays. Like Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch has never represented anyone facing eviction or dispossession. She has never sued a polluter or a violator of human and civil rights. She’s pro-death penalty, anti-marijuana legalization, and as far as we know, has never defended a poor person accused of a crime.



But those with eyes open know who Loretta Lynch is. She’s Condoleezza Rice with a law degree. She’s a corporate fixer and enabler. She’s a vicious prosecutor and a soulless corporate operative. She’s a black woman, and likely the next US Attorney General.

Feb 12 2015

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Trevor Timm: When would an anti-war activist back arms sales? When he’s secretary of state

Secretary of State John Kerry has to be the worst anti-war activist in recorded history. Is there a military action – save one – that he hasn’t supported since he came to national prominence as an anti-war activist in the early 1970s? In the the past decade and a half alone, he’s voted for the war in Iraq, strongly defended drone strikes, was the chief advocate for the bombing of Syria in 2013, and was by far the most hyperbolic cabinet member calling for a years-long, multi-country war against ISIS.

And now Kerry has been privately telling lawmakers that he supports the US entering into a proxy-war against Russia by sending lethal weaponry to the Ukrainian military, even though the Obama administration supposedly does not yet have an official position.

He’s hardly alone. The US conventional wisdom machine in the US government is now hurtling towards sending offensive weapons into another foreign conflict, without the slightest concern for the devastating consequences it might bring.

George Monbiot: The careless, astonishing cruelty of Barack Obama’s government

Let me introduce you to the world’s most powerful terrorist recruiting sergeant: a US federal agency called the office of the comptroller of the currency. Its decision to cause a humanitarian catastrophe in one of the poorest, most troubled places on Earth could resonate around the world for decades.

Last Friday, after the OCC had sent it a cease-and-desist order, the last bank in the United States still processing money transfers to Somalia closed its service. The agency, which reports to the US treasury, reasoned that some of this money might find its way into the hands of the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. It’s true that some of it might, just as some resources in any nation will find their way into the hands of criminals (ask HSBC). So why don’t we shut down the phone networks to hamper terrorism? Why don’t we ban agriculture in case fertiliser is used to make explosives? Why don’t we stop all the clocks to prevent armed gangs from planning their next atrocity?

Ridiculous? In fact it’s not far off. Remittances from the Somalian diaspora amount to $1.2bn-$1.6bn a year, which is roughly 50% of the country’s gross national income, and on which 40% of the population relies for survival. Over the past 10 years the money known to have been transferred to suspected terrorists in Somalia amounts to a few thousand dollars. Cutting off remittances is likely to kill more people than terrorists will ever manage.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The #RepublicanClassWar’s New Front: Social Security for the Disabled

Nine out of 10 Americans have fallen behind financially as the well-to-do — especially the ultra-wealthy — capture an ever-increasing chunk of our national income. This inequality threatens the entire economy’s future growth and stability. But whenever someone offers a solution to this growing problem, someone else on the right is likely to accuse them of “class war.”

Class war is precisely what we’ve been seeing for decades now — but it’s been waged for, not against, the wealthy. And Republicans have been its dutiful servants from the start.

It might make a good hashtag, come to think of it: #RepublicanClassWar.

The wreckage of this war can be seen all around us. Incomes for the top 1 percent of households have more than doubled since the 1980s. The top 0.1 percent has increased its share of this nation’s total wealth from 7 percent in 1978 to 22 percent in 2012, a level not seen since before the Great Depression. Ninety percent of American households saw no increase in their wealth after 1986.

There’s a war on — but the middle class didn’t start it.

Alexa Van Brunt: Prosecutors shouldn’t have immunity from their unethical – or unlawful – acts

It’s a tough thing to keep prosecutors accountable to the public, but some people are trying very hard to do just that in the aftermath of Ferguson. One of the grand jurors who failed to indict former police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, for example, wants to make public what happened in the grand jury room. But grand jury proceedings are secret, under both federal and state law, including in Missouri. So last month that juror took legal action seeking to break his silence. Meanwhile, an advocacy group filed a bar complaint against St Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch for alleged misconduct committed in that same process.

These attempts expose just how difficult it can be to hold prosecutors to any standard of conduct. Most misbehaving prosecutors are never brought to justice, thanks in large part to the law of prosecutorial immunity, which holds that prosecutors cannot be sued for violating citizens’ rights in the courtroom. Until we change that law, courts need to open grand jury records at the request of people like the Ferguson juror “John Doe”.

Bartlett Naylor: Loretta Lynch fumbled on HSBC years ago. Now she can prove no bank is too big to jail

As US senators move towards confirming Loretta Lynch as the new attorney general, the big question is what she will do about HSBC, which is embroiled in a massive tax evasion scandal. The world’s second-largest bank allegedly enabled thousands of Americans and other nationals to escape taxes by concealing their assets in HSBC’s Swiss affiliate, a business HSBC acquired when it purchased the Republic National Bank of New York.

Lynch has investigated the bank in the past, but there are many questions about her record on taking Wall Street offenders to task. She became the chief attorney for an ongoing probe into HSBC’s money laundering crimes in 2010, during her assignment as the US attorney for the eastern district of New York. At roughly the same time, the US government received a damning trove of evidence from French officials against HSBC regarding tax evasion.

Yet it is not clear whether she investigated the tax fraud. The key questions senators must ask is: What did Lynch know about the tax fraud? If she wasn’t aware, why not?

Michael T. Klare: Keystone XL, Cold War 2.0, and the GOP Vision for 2016

It’s a ritual long familiar to observers of American politics: presidential hopefuls with limited international experience travel to foreign lands and deliver speeches designed to showcase their grasp of foreign affairs. Typically, such escapades involve trips to major European capitals or active war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, however, has broken this mold. Before his recent jaunt to London and into the thickets of American vaccination politics, he chose two surprising destinations for his first trips abroad as a potential Republican candidate.  No, not Kabul or Baghdad or even Paris, but Mexico City and Alberta, Canada.  And rather than launch into discussions of immigration, terrorism, or the other usual Republican foreign policy topics, he focused on his own top priority: integrating Canada and Mexico into a U.S.-led “North American energy renaissance.”

By accelerating the exploitation of fossil fuels across the continent, reducing governmental oversight of drilling operations in all three countries, and building more cross-border pipelines like the Keystone XL, Christie explained, all three countries would be guaranteed dramatic economic growth.  “In North America, we have resources waiting to be tapped,” he assured business leaders in Mexico City.  “What is required is the vision to maximize our growth, the political will to unlock our potential, and the understanding that working together on strategic priorities… is the path to a better life.”

Feb 12 2015

The Breakfast Club (Eclipse)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

All that you touch, all that you see, all that you taste

All you feel

All that you love, all that you hate, all you distrust

All you save

All that you give, all that you deal

All that you buy, beg, borrow or steal

All you create, all you destroy, all that you do

All that you say

All that you eat, everyone you meet, all that you slight

Everyone you fight

All that is now, all that is gone, all that’s to come

And everything under the sun is in tune

But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

There is no dark side of the moon really.

Matter of fact it’s all dark.

Hard for some people to wrap their minds around really (wait until we get to the quantum time machine simulator), but it is a fact that the Dark Side of the Moon gets exactly as much sunlight as the side facing Earth.

What prompts this musing is the new video from NASA showing the Dark Side-

Now no doubt you are familiar by this time with the ‘Big Squash’ theory of Lunar formation which contends that the Moon is the result of an oblique collision between the proto-Earth and a Mars sized planet.  Recent simulations suggest that two bodies formed out of that and their eventual consolidation is responsible for the difference in composition and appearance between the far and near side.

In other related news the next ‘Super Moon‘ (where the Moon is at its closest to Earth) will be Febuary 18th and be a ‘Black’ Moon, a New Moon (meaning all the light is hitting the far side) and the 3rd of 4 New Moons this winter.

Timey Whimey Stuff

On a quantum level there is no particular bias for time to proceed from cause to effect which makes some theoretical physicists (Stephen Hawkings) angry since it goes so much against our perceptions of reality on a macro scale and introduces paradoxes.  Scientists at the University of Queensland have recently simulated a quantum time machine and found that traveling backwards in time is indeed theoretically possible.

Much of their simulation revolved around investigating how Deutsch’s model deals with the “grandfather paradox,” a hypothetical scenario in which someone uses a CTC to travel back through time to murder her own grandfather, thus preventing her own later birth.



Deutsch’s quantum solution to the grandfather paradox works something like this:

Instead of a human being traversing a CTC to kill her ancestor, imagine that a fundamental particle goes back in time to flip a switch on the particle-generating machine that created it. If the particle flips the switch, the machine emits a particle-the particle-back into the CTC; if the switch isn’t flipped, the machine emits nothing. In this scenario there is no a priori deterministic certainty to the particle’s emission, only a distribution of probabilities. Deutsch’s insight was to postulate self-consistency in the quantum realm, to insist that any particle entering one end of a CTC must emerge at the other end with identical properties. Therefore, a particle emitted by the machine with a probability of one half would enter the CTC and come out the other end to flip the switch with a probability of one half, imbuing itself at birth with a probability of one half of going back to flip the switch. If the particle were a person, she would be born with a one-half probability of killing her grandfather, giving her grandfather a one-half probability of escaping death at her hands-good enough in probabilistic terms to close the causative loop and escape the paradox. Strange though it may be, this solution is in keeping with the known laws of quantum mechanics.

In their new simulation Ralph, Ringbauer and their colleagues studied Deutsch’s model using interactions between pairs of polarized photons within a quantum system that they argue is mathematically equivalent to a single photon traversing a CTC. “We encode their polarization so that the second one acts as kind of a past incarnation of the first,” Ringbauer says. So instead of sending a person through a time loop, they created a stunt double of the person and ran him through a time-loop simulator to see if the doppelganger emerging from a CTC exactly resembled the original person as he was in that moment in the past.

By measuring the polarization states of the second photon after its interaction with the first, across multiple trials the team successfully demonstrated Deutsch’s self-consistency in action. “The state we got at our output, the second photon at the simulated exit of the CTC, was the same as that of our input, the first encoded photon at the CTC entrance,” Ralph says. “Of course, we’re not really sending anything back in time but [the simulation] allows us to study weird evolutions normally not allowed in quantum mechanics.”

In essence the paradox is resolved by changing the future to fit the facts of the past.  Once the cat is dead (or alive) the only way forward is the probabilities based on the dead (or live) cat.  No return to a state of quantum uncertainty (in that respect) is possible so if you did indeed succeed in killing your grandfather the only future you could return to is one in which your grandfather is dead.

Nor would you disappear.  Your past self represents the resolution of quantum states that can no longer have any values other than the ones that have been measured.

Tricky eh?

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)

Science News and Blogs

Three.

Science Oriented Video

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Feb 12 2015

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 2015

The Daily/Nightly Show (Transitions, Transitions. TRAN-SI-TIONS!)

You know, in case you’ve forgotten how to sing.

Sigh.  It’s just too hard to process at the moment and as TMC says the reaction is still pouring in.  There are the tributes and arguments over what The Daily Show really means in the context of contemporary news and politics, there are the justified criticisms of Jon’s failure to really hold people to account and slipping off into the safe buffoonery of Faux Noise and penis jokes, and of course speculation about the future direction of the show and who will host it.

I’ll try to organize some of that material tomorrow or better yet Friday as a companion piece to what TMC has already written.  Tonight I’m still trying to integrate The Nightly Show into what I produce as is Larry Wilmore trying to find out what has worked and what hasn’t in his three weeks at the helm.

Now last night was actually pretty funny I thought-

The discussion I liked best was this one from the first episode-

The best comedy bit was from Mike Yard-

Larry sometimes seems like he’s going to go yard (hit a Home Run for you non-Baseball types) in his own ‘Keeping it 100’ but most often ends up ‘Weak Tea’ in part because of the lameness of the submissions (at least the ones the writers select).

‘Keeping it 100’ with the panel is rarely completely successful because he’s still including weasels on them, it works better with unique questions for each member than it does without because then it just seems like the writers are lazy or out of ideas.

Keeping it 100?

Umm… this is eventually going to get funnier, right?

Continuity

I can’t not play this-

Sigh.  I’m not going anywhere tomorrow.  For one thing it’s supposed to snow.

This week’s guests-

The Daily Show

Colin Firth will be on to promote Kingsmen which looks like a rolicking good yarn if you’re not the type who snooted The Avengers remake, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or The Lone Ranger.  You know, movies don’t always have to have a message, sometimes they can be just for fun.

Fortunately David Axelrod didn’t get extended beyond his two show segments so I don’t have to pimp him again.  The real news below.