03/27/2015 archive

2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Regional Semifinals Day 2

No upsets.  No Cinderellas.

Last Night’s Results-

Score Seed Team Record Score Seed Team Record Region
81 3 Notre Dame 32-5 70 7 Wichita State 29-5 Mid-West
79 1 Wisconsin 33-3 72 4 North Carolina 26-12 West
78 1 Kentucky 36-0 39 5 West Virginia 24-9 Mid-West
68 2 Arizona 33-3 60 6 Xavier 23-13 West

This Evening’s Matchups-

Time Channel Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
7:15 CBS 2 Gonzaga 33-5 11 UCLA 22-13 South
7:37 TBS 4 Louisville 25-8 8 NC State 22-13 East
9:45 CBS 1 Duke 30-4 5 Utah 26-8 South
10:07 TBS 3 Oklahoma 25-10 7 Michigan State 25-11 East

2015 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: Regional Semifinals Day 1

Results from the 22nd-

Score Seed Team Record Score Seed Team Record Region
64 4 Duke 23-10 56 5 Mississippi St. 27-7 West
88 3 Iowa 26-7 70 11 Miami (Fla.) 20-13 Mid-West
94 2 Kentucky 24-10 99 7 * Dayton 27-6 East
73 2 Baylor 32-3 44 10 Arkansas 18-14 Mid-West
64 3 Oregon State 27-5 76 11 * Gonzaga 26-7 West
97 1 South Carolina 32-2 68 8 Syracuse 22-10 South
70 4 California 25-10 73 5 * Texas 24-10 East
79 1 Notre Dame 33-2 67 9 DePaul 27-8 Mid-West

Results from the 23rd-

Score Seed Team Record Score Seed Team Record Region
65 2 Florida St. 31-4 47 7 FGCU 31-3 South
86 4 Stanford 26-9 76 5 Oklahoma 21-12 Mid-West
85 1 Maryland 31-2 70 8 Princeton 30-1 West
77 2 Tennessee 29-5 67 10 Pittsburgh 20-12 West
86 4 North Carolina 26-8 84 5 Ohio State 24-11 South
57 3 Arizona State 29-5 54 11 UALR 29-5 South
60 3 Louisville 27-8 52 6 South Florida 27-8 East
91 1 UConn 33-1 55 8 Rutgers 23-10 East

Tonight’s Matchups-

Time Channel Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
7:00pm ESPN 1 South Carolina 32-2 4 North Carolina 26-8 South
7:30pm ESPN2 2 Baylor 32-3 3 Iowa 26-7 Mid-West
9:30pm ESPN2 2 Florida St. 31-4 3 Arizona State 29-5 South
10:00pm ESPN 1 Notre Dame 33-2 4 Stanford 26-9 Mid-West

Alternative Choices for 2016

The day after the 2012 elections, the Democratic and Republican Parties started gearing up for the 2016 presidential election. The Democrats seemed determined to anoint another corporatist, war hawk with Hillary Clinton while the Republicans, true to form, have loaded the bus with just about every extreme right wing clown who, so far, are battling for the position of who is the most unelectable. As is in 2012, there are alternatives to the parties of the same evils. One of them is the Green Party. Their nominee, Dr. Jill Stein scared the Democrats and Republicans so much that they had her and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, arrested to keep them out of the debate venue. They were disqualified by the Bipartisan Campaign Commission because, even though they were on 85% of the state ballots, the Green Party candidates had not garnered at least 15% in national polls in order to participate. Dr. Stein is currently thinking of running again in 2016 and has formed an exploratory committee and hired a communications director.

On Real News Network’s Reality Asserts Itself, Dr. Stein discussed building The Green Party with host Jay Paul

It’s good to have choices. Stay informed

Is Israel Spying on the US? Yes!

Netanyahu’s Spying Denials Contradicted by Secret NSA Documents

By Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman, The Intercept

25 Mar 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday vehemently denied a Wall Street Journal report, leaked by the Obama White House, that Israel spied on U.S. negotiations with Iran and then fed the intelligence to Congressional Republicans. His office’s denial was categorical and absolute, extending beyond this specific story to U.S.-targeted spying generally, claiming: “The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies.”

Israel’s claim is not only incredible on its face. It is also squarely contradicted by top-secret NSA documents, which state that Israel targets the U.S. government for invasive electronic surveillance, and does so more aggressively and threateningly than almost any other country in the world. Indeed, so concerted and aggressive are Israeli efforts against the U.S. that some key U.S. government documents – including the top secret 2013 intelligence budget – list Israel among the U.S.’s most threatening cyber-adversaries and as a “hostile” foreign intelligence service.

Previously reported stories on Israeli spying, by themselves, leave no doubt how false Netanyahu’s statement is. A Der Spiegel article from last fall revealed that “Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during Middle East peace negotiations.” A Le Monde article described how NSA documents strongly suggest that a massive computer hack of the French presidential palace in 2012 was likely carried about by the Israelis. A 2014 article from Newsweek’s Jeff Stein revealed that when it comes to surveillance, “the Jewish state’s primary target” is “America’s industrial and technical secrets” and that “Israel’s espionage activities in America are unrivaled and unseemly.”

All of these stories, along with these new documents, leave no doubt that, at least as the NSA and other parts of the U.S. National Security State see it, Netanyahu’s denials are entirely false: The Israelis engage in active and aggressive espionage against the U.S., even as the U.S. feeds the Israelis billions of dollars every year in U.S. taxpayer funds and protects every Israeli action at the U.N. Because of the U.S. perception of Israel as a “threat” and even a “hostile” foreign intelligence service – facts they discuss only privately, never publicly – the U.S. targets Israel for all sorts of espionage as well.

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

New York Times Editorial Board: [Reducing Risks After the Germanwings Crash Reducing Risks After the Germanwings Crash]

There is a lot we still don’t know about the tragic crash of the Germanwings plane in France. But what we do know suggests that airlines can take steps to reduce the risk of pilots deliberately or inadvertently crashing a plane.

French investigators believe the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, was conscious, but we may never know for sure. We do know that things might have turned out differently had there been another person in the cockpit. The chief executive of Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, said on Thursday that European regulators do not require two people to be in the cockpit at all times. [..]

No safety policy will ever anticipate every situation. But requiring two people to be in the cockpit during flight is a sensible step to reduce the risk that comes with leaving the lives of dozens or hundreds of people in the hands of just one pilot.

Sen Sheldon Whitehouse: The GOP Budget: Every Tax Loophole Is Sacred

Every tax loophole is sacred.

That’s the prime guiding principle of the budget Republicans are trying to push through the Senate. Republicans claim to be concerned with reducing the federal deficit, which their Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) described as a “dangerous financial crisis.” But are they willing to sacrifice a single tax loophole to solve the problem? No. And that’s telling about their real priorities. [..]

But for all its smashing and slashing of programs low- and middle-income families depend on, it would keep in place each and every tax deduction, exclusion, and credit that benefits wealthy individuals and big corporations. This Republican budget is a clear confession that the so-called “dangerous financial crisis” is actually less important to them than protecting special tax treatment for the rich and powerful.

John Nichols: This Is What a ‘People’s Budget’ Looks Like

A proper budget is a moral document, which well expresses the values and aspirations of a civil society.

As such, the measure of any budget is its combination of fiscal and social responsibility.

By this measure, there was only one proper budget proposal floated in the current Congress. And it did not get very far.

Only ninety-six House Democrats voted Wednesday for the People’s Budget, as it was proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The budget was opposed by 330 House members, including eighty-six shame-on-them Democrats and 244 Republicans.

The record of Wednesday’s roll call is worth reviewing, especially because it identifies the Democrats who got this most important vote wrong.

Of course, no one expected the People’s Budget to be enacted. But that is not a poor reflection on the CPC plan, which better met the tests of fiscal and social responsible than any of the other official or alternative proposals that are currently in play. It is a reflection on this Congress, which cannot get anything right, and on a political process that is now so flawed-because of gerrymandering, big money and failed media-that the United States ends up with, well, this Congress.

Despite the fact that if it was not expected to prevail, the People’s Budget was serious.

Amy Goodman: The Costs of War, the Price of Peace

What price would you pay not to kill another human being? At what point would you commit the offenses allegedly perpetrated by Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was charged Wednesday with desertion and “misbehavior before an enemy?”

Bowe Bergdahl was a private when he left his post in Afghanistan, under circumstances that are still unknown to the public, and was captured by the Taliban. They imprisoned him for five years, until he was released in a controversial prisoner swap negotiated by the Obama administration. Five Taliban members who were held for years at Guantanamo Bay were released to house arrest in Qatar in exchange for Bergdahl. He now faces a court-martial and potentially life in prison. Meanwhile, the architects of the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan remain untried, while a new report asserts that up to 1.3 million people have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the first 10 years of the so-called war on terror.

The report is called “Body Count” and is published in the U.S. by Physicians for Social Responsibility. “It has been politically important to downplay Allied forces’ responsibility for the massive carnage and destruction in the region,” writes San Francisco doctor Robert M. Gould in the report’s foreword. He told me: “We need to take full responsibility for the true cost of war as we are preparing to continue our involvement in Afghanistan and deepen our involvement in Syria and Iraq. There’s great anger throughout the region about our involvement and the underplaying here of what the true costs are in terms of death and destruction.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Tell the Election Success Stories, Too

“I had a college degree, a decade of experience, and the only job I could get was making $8 an hour at the local convenience store in my neighborhood,” Maine state Representative Diane Russell (D) said in January, recalling her unlikely path to public office. “I have no business being in politics. I was not groomed for this. But thanks to public financing, I have a voice. And thanks to public financing, a gal who takes cash for the convenience store for selling sandwiches can actually talk about the stories that she’s learned from behind the counter.” Russell was speaking at an event on the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United ruling that set off an avalanche of money in politics. After her state’s “clean elections” system propelled Russell into office in 2008, she quickly became a force in Maine politics. Her progressive record of defending voting rights and workers, for example, led The Nation to recognize her as its “Most Valuable State Representative” in 2011. [..]

These stories are undeniably important, as are the long-term battles to overturn the Citizens United decision, pass a constitutional amendment on campaign finance reform and eliminate the corrosive influence of money in politics. But there is another story being written that deserves our attention, too, in which progressive activists and lawmakers are working to make our elections more democratic-a story less about containing the influence of billionaires and corporations than empowering small donors and unlikely candidates-candidates like Diane Russell.

Alastair Cooke: Why the Conflicts in Tikrit and Yemen Signal a New Middle Eastern War

With the Iranian involvement against the Islamic State in the assault on Tikrit, and the Saudi invasion of Yemen to stem the tide of Iranian influence, we have entered a new Middle Eastern war.

Tikrit has become something of an augury and symbol of ISIS’ prospective fate. The suggestion in much of the commentaries is that the Iranian-directed offensive in Tikrit has stalled. Indeed one can detect a certain pleasurable rubbing of hands at the very prospect of an Iranian setback.

“If this leads to the Iranians forced to concede defeat, that would be a satisfactory outcome,” one U.S. defense official told the The Daily Beast. An ISIS victory, then, is “satisfactory” to the U.S.? [..]

If Tikrit was the precursor, then the fall of Aden was the trigger.

“The Saudi default position on Yemen,” Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy writes, “can be best described as paranoia.” And thus we have a new Middle Eastern war — one which will complicate the region greatly.

The Breakfast Club (Livin in a Gangsta’s Paradise)

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.

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This Day in History

Martin Luther King’s son Dexter meets with James Earl Ray, in prison for assassinating the civil rights leader; Comedian Milton Berle dies; The FDA approves Viagra; Director Quentin Tarantino born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

A writer should have this little voice inside of you saying, Tell the truth. Reveal a few secrets here.

Quentin Tarantino

On This Day In History March 27

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.

March 27 is the 86th day of the year (87th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 279 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1939, March Madness is born.

The University of Oregon defeats The Ohio State University 46-33 on this day in 1939 to win the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Final Four, as the tournament became known, has grown exponentially in size and popularity since 1939. By 2005, college basketball had become the most popular sporting event among gamblers, after the Super Bowl. The majority of that betting takes place at tournament time, when Las Vegas, the internet and office pools around the country see action from sports enthusiasts and once-a-year gamblers alike.

For the first 12 years of the men’s tournament, only eight teams were invited to participate. That number grew steadily until a 65-team tournament format was unveiled in 2001. After a “play-in” game between the 64th and 65th seeds, the tournament breaks into four regions of 16 teams. The winning teams from those regions comprise the Final Four, who meet in that year’s host city to decide the championship.

March Madness is a popular term for season-ending basketball tournaments played in March, especially those conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and various state high school associations. Fans began connecting the term to the NCAA tournament in the early 1980s. Evidence suggests that CBS sportscaster Brent Musburger, who had worked for many years in Chicago before joining CBS, popularized the term during the annual tournament broadcasts. The phrase had not already become associated with the college tournament when an Illinois official wrote in 1939 that “A little March Madness [may] contribute to sanity.” March Madness is also a registered trademark, held jointly by the NCAA and the Illinois High School Association. It was also the title of a book about the Illinois high school tournament written in 1977 by Jim Enright.

H. V. Porter, an official with the Illinois High School Association (and later a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame) was the first person to use March Madness to describe a basketball tournament. Porter published an essay named March Madness in 1939 and in 1942 used the phrase in a poem, “Basketball Ides of March.” Through the years the use of March Madness picked up steam, especially in Illinois, Indiana, and other parts of the Midwest. During this period the term was used almost exclusively in reference to state high school tournaments. In 1977 the IHSA published a book about its tournament titled March Madness.

Only in the 1990s did either the IHSA or NCAA think about trademarking the term, and by that time a small television production company named Intersport, Inc., had beaten them both to the punch. IHSA eventually bought the trademark rights from Intersport and then went after big game, suing GTE Vantage, Inc., an NCAA licensee that used the name March Madness for a computer game based on the college tournament. In a historic ruling, “Illinois High School Association v. GTE Vantage, Inc.” (1996), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit created the concept of a “dual-use trademark,” granting both the IHSA and NCAA the right to trademark the term for their own purposes.

Following the ruling, the NCAA and IHSA joined forces and created the March Madness Athletic Association to coordinate the licensing of the trademark and investigate possible trademark infringement. One such case involved a company that had obtained the Internet domain name marchmadness.com and was using it to post information about the NCAA tournament. After protracted litigation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held in March Madness Athletic Association v. Netfire, Inc. (2003) that March Madness was not a generic term and ordered Netfire to relinquish the domain name. (This domain name is currently being used to redirect into the main NCAA.com web site.)

In recent years, the term “March Madness” has been expanded to include all conference tournaments in college basketball, with the term “The Big Dance” being used more frequently when specifically referring to the NCAA Tournament. March Madness has also has been used generally to describe all basketball tournaments across the country that occur in the month of March – high school and college, male and female.

The coverage and live blogging of all the 2014 Men’s and Women’s NCAA Championship are happening here at The Stars Hollow Gazette.

The Daily/Nightly Show (He tasks me)

Word Blerd & Knowledge College

Keep it Sleem-Glorp

The Twitter machine is singularly unhelpful tonight so your guess is as good as mine.


Deer Munchies

We are, alas, off next week.

Well, it will give me a chance to rest up and concentrate on Basketball.  Also this weekend, Sepang between 2 and 1 am starting tonight.  It’s been busy for me as I’ve had a lot of appointments and guests and have written more than a few diaries these last few weeks.

As Sam Kinison said, “It never stops.  It just never stops.”

John Hargrove is a former Orca trainer who left the profession in 2012 and was memorably interviewed just a week after his resignation fot the documentary Blackfish.  He thinks Killer Whales are not suitable for captivity.

He’ll be on to talk about his new book, Beneath the Surface.

The real news below.