Feb 24

Sanders’ Warning On Russia

So the story as widely reported goes something like this-

Bernie Sanders claimed that he warned the Clinton Campaign about Russian interference and was ignored! This is a LIE!

Well, hold on a second bucko. What Bernie actually said on Meet The Press was, “It turns out that one of our social media guys in San Diego actually went to the Clinton campaign in September and said something weird is going on.”. Later (like last Wednesday) on Vermont Public Radio Sanders said, “a guy who was on my staff” had found something suspicious. “And he said, ‘You know what? I think these guys are Russians.’”

Hardly worth the alarming Politico headline- Bernie Sanders promoted false story on reporting Russian trolls! is it now?

Reporters are not responsible for headlines, their editors are, and if you take the time to read the article you’ll find it takes a much more measured view of the situation. I’ll note that all of my points are taken from that very same piece.

Not that it isn’t trying to make something out of pretty much nothing, but that’s how Fake News as practiced by the Corporatist Legacy Media Gatekeepers who are quick to claim that attacks on their Lazy, Biased, Rolodex Reporting are attacks ON THE TRUTH ITSELF! Because they want to keep their phony baloney jobs of course and that means toeing the company line and inflating their already unjustified sense of self importance.

The actual story goes something like this-

John Mattes of San Diego is a lawyer and was a volunteer for Sanders during the 2016 Primary. After the Convention when the Clinton Campaign started complaining about Russian interference he took it upon himself to do a little Facebook searching and found, probably to his surprise, that it was a credible theory. Since he knew “someone on [Barack] Obama’s national security staff” he had a chat with them and they purportedly said- ‘John, we are seeing Putin’s fingerprints, and Putin is paying for all of it’.


Anyway he knew another guy in American Bridge PAC which is run by David Brock and generally acknowledged to be very tight with the Clinton Campaign and told them.

And then… nothing happened.

Which is not surprising actually and by this time (late Septemberish, early October) the Clinton Campaign had been fairly directly warned by the FBI that something hinky was going on. Hey, at least his heart was in the right place.

There matters might have sat and we would never have heard about it except someone in the Media (probably at MSNBC but the article does not make it clear) picked up on Mattes’ story and put it on the radar. To be clear, Mattes’ only personal (if you can call it that) contact with Bernie Sanders was a group Skype chat in the spring of 2015.

Now you can argue that this makes it a bit of a reach to claim he was a “staffer”, but you have thousands of volunteers and his name was probably on several lists and one of the ways you reward volunteers is with cheap and meaningless titles so they feel special and important, done it hundreds of times myself. Is he a “Social Medial Guy”? Well, I’m actually an active (still) Admin of a very large single issue political Facebook page even though I haven’t even been on Facebook in like two years. I can tell because I still get notifications in the email account I set up to handle that. I feel kind of guilty but I hate Facebook and I’m much busier that you might think producing content for my two sites.

So am I a “Social Media Guy”? Well, I’d put it on my resume but everyone lies their asses off in those, I certainly am not familiar enough with Facebook to do the research Mattes claims but people who know better than I say it’s entirely possible.

What Bernie said is pretty close to the truth for a Politician and I don’t delude myself he’s a Saint, I’m a pragmatist though no one believes it.

This is a piece of Media criticism, not re-litigating the 2016 Primary though I supported Sanders all the way to the Convention. It’s about “Fake News”.

Were I talking about something else I’d be highlighting this piece in The Intercept, DCCC Goes Nuclear, Slams Democratic Candidate as Corrupt for Same Behavior It Engages in Regularly by Lee Fang, Ryan Grim, and David Dayen, three of my favorites.

Who knows? I still might.

Feb 24

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt


2,182 MPH


That’s how fast a bullet travels from the muzzle of an AR-15. It is the primary reason the weapon is so lethal. It is what sets it apart from a handgun.

What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns

Heather Sher, M.D.


As I opened the CT scan last week to read the next case, I was baffled. The history simply read “gunshot wound.” I have been a radiologist in one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation for 13 years, and have diagnosed thousands of handgun injuries to the brain, lung, liver, spleen, bowel, and other vital organs. I thought that I knew all that I needed to know about gunshot wounds, but the specific pattern of injury on my computer screen was one that I had seen only once before.

In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.

I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?

The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.

A year ago, when a gunman opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun, hitting 11 people in 90 seconds, I was also on call. It was not until I had diagnosed the third of the six victims who were transported to the trauma center that I realized something out-of-the-ordinary must have happened. The gunshot wounds were the same low velocity handgun injuries as those I diagnose every day; only their rapid succession set them apart. And all six of the victims who arrived at the hospital that day survived.

Routine handgun injuries leave entry and exit wounds and linear tracks through the victim’s body that are roughly the size of the bullet. If the bullet does not directly hit something crucial like the heart or the aorta, and they do not bleed to death before being transported to our care at a trauma center, chances are, we can save the victim. The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different; they travel at higher velocity and are far more lethal. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than, and imparting more than three times the energy of, a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun. An AR-15 rifle outfitted with a magazine with 50 rounds allows many more lethal bullets to be delivered quickly without reloading.

I have seen a handful of AR-15 injuries in my career. I saw one from a man shot in the back by a SWAT team years ago. The injury along the path of the bullet from an AR-15 is vastly different from a low-velocity handgun injury. The bullet from an AR-15 passes through the body like a cigarette boat travelling at maximum speed through a tiny canal. The tissue next to the bullet is elastic—moving away from the bullet like waves of water displaced by the boat—and then returns and settles back. This process is called cavitation; it leaves the displaced tissue damaged or killed. The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.

With an AR-15, the shooter does not have to be particularly accurate. The victim does not have to be unlucky. If a victim takes a direct hit to the liver from an AR-15, the damage is far graver than that of a simple handgun shot injury. Handgun injuries to the liver are generally survivable unless the bullet hits the main blood supply to the liver. An AR-15 bullet wound to the middle of the liver would cause so much bleeding that the patient would likely never make it to a trauma center to receive our care. [..]

Banning the AR-15 should not be a partisan issue. While there may be no consensus on many questions of gun control, there seems to be broad support for removing high-velocity, lethal weaponry and high-capacity magazines from the market, which would drastically reduce the incidence of mass murders. Every constitutionally guaranteed right that we are blessed to enjoy comes with responsibilities. Even our right to free speech is not limitless. Second Amendment gun rights must respect the same boundaries.

The CDC is the appropriate agency to review the potential impact of banning AR-15 style rifles and high-capacity magazines on the incidence of mass shootings. The agency was effectively barred from studying gun violence as a public-health issue in 1996 by a statutory provision known as the Dickey amendment. This provision needs to be repealed so that the CDC can study this issue and make sensible gun-policy recommendations to Congress.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) of 1994 included language which prohibited semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, and also large-capacity magazines with the ability to hold more than 10 rounds. The ban was allowed to expire after 10 years on September 13, 2004. The mass murders that followed the ban’s lapse make clear that it must be reinstated.

On Wednesday night, Rubio said at a town-hall event hosted by CNN that it is impossible to create effective gun regulations because there are too many “loopholes” and that a “plastic grip” can make the difference between a gun that is legal and illegal. But if we can see the different impacts of high- and low-velocity rounds clinically, then the government can also draw such distinctions.



Feb 24

The Breakfast Club (Struggle)

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 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) 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.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

President Andrew Johnson impeached; The Nazi Party holds its first major meeting; Manila liberated during World War II; Britain’s Prince Charles, Lady Diana Spencer engaged; Lauryn Hill’s Grammy feat.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

Frederick Douglass

Continue reading

Feb 23

The Russian Connection: Two Jurisdictions

It was announced earlier today that former Trump advisor Rick Gates will plead guilty today and cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller III. The 32 new fraud charges that were brought against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Gates yesterday in Virginia may have been the tipping point for Gates. NBC News is reporting that Gates will plea to lying to the FBI and conspiracy against the US which each carry a five year prison term. If he had been found guilty to the original charges, Gates would be facing decades in prison.

The 32 new charges were filed by Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor looking into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and a Russian intelligence operation to skew the 2016 presidential election. [..]

The new charge sheet portrays the two men as resorting to increasingly desperate efforts to keep money flowing to finance extravagant lifestyles, when contracts from their main clients, pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, dried up after 2014, when the Moscow-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia.

Manafort and Gates are alleged to have used elaborate schemes, starting in 2006, to hide their Ukrainian income from US tax authorities, through offshore accounts, and describing cash transfers as loans.

After the Ukrainian funds evaporated, the two men are alleged to have falsified profit and loss and asset statements so that Manafort could convince banks to make loans based on collateral that either did not exist or was grossly exaggerated. The new loans were used as spending money or to pay off older loans that had fallen due.

The charges against Gates and Manafort are not related to campaign work. Instead, the indictment says, they laundered tens of millions of dollars in lobbying payments through a web of U.S. companies and banks. Earlier this week, Alex van der Zwaan, a former attorney for the blue-chip firm Skadden Arps who is the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, pleaded guilty to lying to Mueller’s team about his contacts with Gates.

Gates had been expected to take a plea last week but backed away. The original indictment was filed in Washington DC. The new charges were filed in the Commonwealth of Virginia which would mean the defendants will face trials in two jurisdictions. That may be the reason Gates has decided to throw in the towel.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explains the new charges and why they were filed in Virginia and not DC and the connection to the Trump campaign

Former US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg joins Rachel to discuss the new indictment and why the indictment came from a different grand jury than the first indictment.

Gates will appear before a DC federal judge at 2 PM ET to enter his plea.

Feb 23

Show Me

So there are a lot of reasons to hate on Eric Greitens.

I suppose it’s ok to blindfold and manacle your sexual partner though I must say I don’t find it the least bit erotic because the regular boring kind is icky enough. I do think it speaks volumes about our cultural treatment of women that they are more often the recipients of this type of behavior that the purveyors of it. Fifty Shades of Gray mostly makes me sad, not aroused. It says something about your power relationships which is why the Adult Wednesday Addams sketches I highlighted Monday that deal with those practices are so funny. One of the cornerstones of comedy is to undercut audience expectations.

However something on which we might all agree is that taking pictures of your paramour and using them to coerce their silence about your relationship in order to conceal it from your significant other, your associates, and, if prominent, the general public is, in a word, reprehensible.

It is mildly entertaining that sexual scandal, while not unknown among Democrats, is so closely associated with Republicans who’s Victorian posturing as virtuous Christians and defenders of “family values” is so important to their political supporters. I’ll have to dust off that piece about “The Hypocrisy of Forgiveness” I’ve been working on.

You know, not everything is about the size of your penis surrogate big gun and if you pause to consider that a whole baby comes out you’ll realize that technique matters a lot more than volume.

Oh, his wife and kids.

Prepping for impeachment: Here’s what Greitens and lawmakers face in the coming days
By Kurt Erickson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The process of deciding whether to impeach scandal-plagued Gov. Eric Greitens will begin as early as Monday in the Missouri House of Representatives.

House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, spent Thursday and Friday reviewing which members of the Legislature’s lower chamber would be named to a special committee to investigate the charges against the embattled chief executive.

Among those expected to sit on the panel is Rep. Jay Barnes, a Jefferson City Republican who has experience as a litigator and is term-limited after this year. Others could include Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters.

Greitens was indicted and booked by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office on a felony invasion of privacy charge Thursday for allegedly transmitting a non-consensual photo of a partly nude lover in March 2015.

The revelations, which have been dogging the governor for over a month, have triggered a cascade of calls for him to resign. The governor, however, has vowed to fight the charges.

Greitens’ attorney, Edward Dowd, also expressed support for handling the matter through a special committee.

“We welcome reviewing this issue with the independent, bipartisan committee of the Missouri House of Representatives,” Dowd said. “We will work with the committee. We will be deposing witnesses and will be happy to share information with you with the Court’s permission.”

It remained unclear Friday whether Greitens would agree to appear before the panel.

Some members of the Legislature remain hopeful that Greitens will resign, allowing the House and Senate to return to the business of approving bills and working on the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Rep. Jean Evans, R-Manchester, said a group of lawmakers is circulating a petition calling on Greitens to step down. She said she had not decided whether she would add her name to the list, but said the saga is increasingly distracting.

“It’s not people gossiping in the hallways,” Evans said. “It’s legitimate time constraints.”

When the House does convene a committee to investigate Greitens — the first step in the impeachment process — that will take some of the Legislature’s best minds away from other state business, she said.

“There’s only so much bandwidth that we have,” Evans said.

As an example of the distraction, Evans said she was contacted by the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office Thursday, and that they were seeking to speak with her. She said she spent a good portion of her day thinking about the request, but ultimately did not meet with prosecutors because “by the time I hit St. Louis County, the governor had been arrested.”

Feb 23


This particular selection is about Sexual Abuse and it’s an Adult Topic and they use Adult Language to discuss it, not necessarily a thing you want to blast at work or in front of the kids.

I’ll also note that I don’t completely agree with their positions on particular issues, they tolerate a lot more than I would, but it’s intelligent and presented with humor so I think it’s worth a look.

From Cracked-

How To Know If A Girl Is DTF

How To Know If A Girl Is REALLY DTF

How Society Can’t Help Treating Sexual Assault Victims Poorly

Why Weinstein Isn’t A Hollywood Problem, It’s A Men Problem

Feb 23

The Breakfast Club (Teaching Life)

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 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) 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.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Iconic photo captured in Iwo Jima; Persian Gulf War begins in Kuwait; Scottish scientists clone first mammal; Stan Laurel dies; Carlos Santana wins 8 Grammy awards.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Education must not simply teach work – it must teach Life.

W. E. B. Du Bois

Continue reading

Feb 22

Crisis Actors

For over 3 years I passed Sandy Hook Elementary School on my way to work. Exit 11 off of I-84 has a rather sharp right hand turn where Tractor Trailers tip over on a regular basis. Then you have the choice of going left up toward where Fairfield Hills Mental Hospital used to be or turning right past the back of the School to Rt. 34 which I did because my ultimate destination was on Church Hill Rd.

At the time there was a Deli and Convenience Store at the intersection that I’d go to every day and get a Pepperoni and Provolone with Sweet Onion and Brown Mustard on a Kaiser for lunch. It was a great sandwich, had about a third of a pound of Pepperoni in it. I did it so often they named it after me- the ek. Across Church Hill Rd. there was a little pocket Park next to the Pootatuck River (more a creek actually) and if the weather was nice I’d sit on a bench and eat it there.

I know this place. You could go today and find it exactly as I describe it except the Deli has been replaced by a restaurant.

You won’t find Sandy Hook Elementary School either. They bulldozed it after Adam Lanza killed 26 people there, mostly children 6 or 7 years old. That was in 2012, just 6 years ago.

I also know people in Emergency Services, EMTs and stuff, and I know the kind of training they participate in. Heck, I’ve had a fair dose of it myself. I was a professional Life Guard for like 8 years or so and I did what we just called Drills about once a month. Someone would pretend to hit the Diving Board and break their back or neck, or slip on the deck and break their leg, or have a Heart Attack, or Drown in various gruesome ways (those were always tough because the “victim” was usually the supervisor and they’d work out their frustrations by actually trying to kill you).

Sometimes I was the “victim” which was cool because you don’t have to do much other than memorize your symptoms and moan and groan.

I was a “Crisis Actor”.

Where the ‘Crisis Actor’ Conspiracy Theory Comes From
by Jason Koebler, Motherboard
Feb 22 2018, 2:30pm

The term ‘crisis actor’ has been in the news a lot lately, because conspiracy theorists have accused survivors of the Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, of being actors—people paid to pretend they witnessed a horrible tragedy that actually never happened and was instead staged by the government in order to garner the political will necessary to ban guns.

To be clear, there is no evidence this is actually the case. Conspiracy theorists have questioned the legitimacy of people who lived through a horrific shooting—watched their friends and classmates slaughtered—in an attempt to harass and silence their political activism. “Crisis acting” is now a term that’s constantly bandied about by the Alex Joneses of the world and has been used to explain away terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the Bataclan Nightclub shooting, as well as most mass shooting events in the United States. It has become just as important as “false flag” in the conspiracy theory lexicon.

It wasn’t until relatively recently that conspiracy theorists were audacious enough to suggest that terrorist attacks and mass shootings actually didn’t happen at all.

Wednesday, a video claiming that shooting survivor David Hogg was an “actor” briefly became the top trending video on YouTube before the company deleted it. The conspiracy is now so mainstream that Jimmy Kimmel addressed the stupidity of it on his show this week.

The resurgence of this conspiracy theory led me to attempt to track down the origins of the term “crisis actor.” I spoke to an emergency response trainer who has used “role players” to simulate crises for 40 years and went down the rabbit hole to find its origins as a completely unfounded conspiracy theory. It turns out that “crisis actor” is a relatively new phrase for a relatively new conspiracy.

“A new group of actors is now available nationwide for active shooter drills and mall shooting full-scale exercises,” a press release from October 31, 2012 published by a Colorado-based professional acting studio called Visionbox reads. “Visionbox Crisis Actors are trained in criminal and victim behavior, and bring intense realism to simulated mass casualty incidents in public places.”

The release, which is the first instance of the term “crisis actor” that I could find, says that the actors’ experience in performing Shakespeare and other plays allows them to “improvise scenes of extreme stress while strictly following official exercise scenarios.” For a mall shooting simulation, “the actors can play the part of the shooters, mall employees, shoppers in the mall, shoppers who continue to arrive at the mall, media reporters and others rushing to the mall, and persons in motor vehicles around the mall.”

I know actors too. Lots of them. And they all have day jobs and they’re always looking for gigs.

Though the term “crisis actor” wasn’t coined by conspiracy theorists, it was almost instantly co-opted by them. Less than two months after Visionbox’s press release was published, Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 26 people, many of them children.

“After such a harrowing event why are select would-be family members and students lingering in the area and repeatedly offering themselves for interviews? A possible reason is that they are trained actors working under the direction of state and federal authorities and in coordination with cable and broadcast network talent to provide tailor-made crisis acting that realistically drives home the event’s tragic features,” he wrote.

Crucially, Tracy (James Tracy, former professor of communications at Florida Atlantic University and publisher of Memory Hole Blog) specifically cites VisionBox’s Crisis Actors press release and suggests that maybe a government agency hired the company for the job. The group—and its “Crisis Actors” have become patient zero for the larger crisis acting conspiracy. Its old website, www.crisisactors.org and the photos posted there are often used by conspiracy theorists in memes created to “prove” a theory.

While Tracy popularized the Sandy Hook crisis actors narrative, he did not invent it. On Christmas, someone calling themselves Travis J. Walker published a post called “The Newest Reality TV Hit Show: Sandy Hook” on a WordPress blog called The R.A.W.W. Scoop. The post notes that “the families seemed to be acting out of character for people who were supposed to be grieving a lost loved one. They seemed to be reciting a rehearsed script in these interviews.” The post goes on to outline the broad script that Tracy would later popularize, and also cites VisionBox’s Crisis Actors: “If an agency like this exists that almost guarantees realism, is it that far out of the realm of possibility to think that this could be staged?”

The plot was further suggested in a truly bizarre post December 29 called “Sandy Hook: AI, Sleeper Activations and Time Stream Manipulations” on a site called OffPlanetRadio (now OffPlanetMedia), which suggests both time manipulation at Aurora, Colorado massacre and Sandy Hook and a “triangulation of Sandy Hook in three separate, seemingly unrelated high profile events:” Aurora, Sandy Hook, and Hurricane Sandy. The post said that Sandy Hook was a drill alongside the suggestion that “the time stream aspect is more compelling given the interval of 7 days prior to the December 21, 2012 solstice. Ritual blood-letting is the cabal’s method of intoning power prior to key time events, especially when coordinated to lunar and solar-based events.” The post ends with the suggestion that conspiracies are mapped using artificial intelligence and “time stream manipulations … such events are holographic in their execution, compartmentalized in commission, and thematically woven into dream time neuropathy.”

A follow up post on December 31 called “Behind the Scenes (literally) at Sandy Hook: Crisis Actors,” drops the time and hologram stuff to focus on VisionBox.

What Tracy did, then, was signal boost a theory being espoused alongside those of mind control and time manipulation. Because Tracy was a university professor and not a random person on the internet, his theories were discussed by Alex Jones on InfoWars and gained traction in conspiracy circles. Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel was the first mainstream outlet to cover Tracy’s posts, forever enshrining “crisis actors” in our mainstream national lexicon; Tracy’s posts ultimately became a national controversy that was discussed by Anderson Cooper on CNN.

Ok, the link above leads to a Neo Nazi/KKK Conspiracy Theory Mashup, so- don’t bother. The link to Anderson Cooper’s AC360 Blog goes here, but I can’t get the video to embed or even see it for that matter. This video is one I dug up on YouTube myself at the last minute and great expense and also appears to be from some Neo Nazi/KKK Conspiracy Theory Gun Nut but at least has the virtue of being all CNN.

There are several others, all Neo Nazi/KKK Conspiracy Theory Gun Nuts as near as I can determine and I did watch as much as I could stomach. As always I claim no particular expertise, you can duplicate my experimental results if you want but I warn you you’ll junk up your YouTube feed with this crap for months (still trying to get rid of World of Warships videos). To continue-

Since then, anytime there is a shooting, terrorist event, or other mass casualty event, conspiracy theorists suggest that crisis actors are part of a government false flag operation, which more or less brings us to today, where YouTubers, InfoWars, and many on the far right doubting whether or not the Douglas High School shooting actually happened. A search on Google Trends aligns with this timeline; searches for “crisis actor” only register on the site after Tracy’s blog post, and regularly spike after any tragedy post-Newtown.

Like any conspiracy theory, this all started with at least a shred of truth that was stretched way too far. There are people who act out moments of crisis for training purposes, but they weren’t called “crisis actors” until VisionBox posted its press release and Tracy did his blog post. And real crisis actors—called “role players” in the emergency training industry—are an integral part of disaster response training.

“Until the last three or four days, I hadn’t heard the term ‘crisis actors,’” Michael Fagel, who has spent much of the last 40 years using actors to help simulate mass casualty events and other emergencies, told me. “We call them ‘role players.’ A well-trained role player is an integral part of a well-thought-out training system.”

There is a well-established body of research on the use of role players during emergency training exercises. A 2004 paper published in the Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management found that using “citizen volunteers” during emergency exercises “enhanced perceptions of response knowledge and teamwork” for police officers, firefighters, and even the volunteers themselves.

He leads Aurora Safety, a company that designs training exercises for first responders, designs trainings for the Department of Homeland Security, and teaches homeland security at Louisiana State University. He says that the use of role players was one of the first things he was taught when he got into emergency response in the 1970s: “It wasn’t new then, either.”

According to Fagel, role players are often hired from drama troupes or are played by paramedics, med school students, or first responders.

“We’re not grabbing a person off the street and throwing them under a bus, literally,” he said. “We usually brief you the day before, and we use people who are trained.”

Fagel’s role players hold 3.5-inch index cards that list their symptoms and they are given scripts to respond to paramedics and first responders in a realistic fashion. Often, they are put in “moulage,” or makeup: “torn clothes, bone fragments … a more realistic training exercise gives you better training,” he said.

“If someone is simulating a heart attack, we can’t actually make you have one. So when the paramedic comes to you, you’ll say ‘Wow, my left arm hurts, I have a tingling feeling,” Fagel said. “Maybe you don’t make eye contact, or if you squeeze their hands, you don’t have full grip, suggesting a neurodeficit. If I’m doing a good job training you as a role player, you become more of a realistic tool for the people in the training.”

As you might expect, Fagel says that conspiracy theorists are severely misguided and put his type of work at risk.

“I had a student tell me she thought FEMA had blown up the [New Orleans] levees and that the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks were inside jobs,” he said. “I was at those missions. We were doing our best to do rescue and recovery. These are not Hollywood setups. I’m a realist, I guess.”

And so a legitimate safety training tool has been co-opted by conspiracy theorists with no evidence, and no proof. People who have suffered great tragedy are harassed and doubted because a couple conspiracy theory bloggers went off the deep end after Sandy Hook, and now here we are.

Now we didn’t have the budget for make-up or other methods to increase the realism of the training experience (though the drowning part got real enough) so it was all pretty fake and the truth of the matter is that in all my years of Life Guarding I never had to do anything more than slap on a bandage and some ointment for a scrape even though I Life Guarded in some really scary places where you could seriously injure youself quite easily.

And I’ll mention that even though the Deli is gone (I have no idea what the restaurant is like that replaced it) if you go further up Church Hill Rd. to Exit 10 (I don’t like getting off there, it’s ugly and commercial) or you’re coming down from Newtown proper you can eat at the Blue Colony which is a typical Greek Diner that boasts they have the best Pancakes and Waffles in Connecticut but really doesn’t (although they are open 24/7 and have a full Bar) or across the street at Newtown Pizza Palace which has a genuinely good Pan Crust pie.

I know this place. You could go today and find it exactly as I describe it.

Feb 22

Saying Vs Doing

After this last horrific massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland FL that took the lives of 17 students and teachers, the debate over gun control has taken on a new fervor. The students have taken the lead in calling BS on state and federal politicians and the NRA. They are impassioned, eloquent and armed with facts and logic. In Tallahassee, many GOP state legislators refused to face them.

Donald Trump had a “listening session” with survivors and family members of mass shooting at the White House. He came armed with a cheat sheet to remind himself to say “I hear you” and be empathetic. he mostly sat there stone faced, and unmoved by the pain in that room. Back in the 90’s Bill Clinton took heat for saying “I feel your pain.” But no one can ever say that he wasn’t empathetic. Trump’s obvious lack of empathy was quite palpable during that hour when all he proposed were NRA talking points, such as, arming teachers. Heaven forbid, he should propose reinstating the Clinton era ban on assault rifles that George W. Bush and the GOP allowed to expire.

It is total BS for Republicans try to blame Democrats for the lack of sensible gun control when they pull stunts like the Florida legislature did the other day, refusing to even debate banning AR-15’s but immediately passing a bill declaring pornography a “public health crisis.” Or Trump calling for better screening when he signed legislation that cut funding for background checks and made it easier for the mentally ill and fugitives from justice to get a gun.

Last night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow contrasted words and deeds reminding us to watch what they do, not what they say.

“After a year or so of covering this new president and this new administration, I have found, in general, that it is always a safer bet to report on what they’re doing, rather than what they’re saying,” Maddow explained. “On this show, we sort of have a staff mantra about this, a silent movie. that’s the rule, treat them as a silent movie, just watch what they do, not what they say.”

“All good rules have their exceptions, but I think what we’re seeing right now in the wake of what happened in Parkland, Florida is an example of why that rule has some weight,” the host continued. “After the massacre in Parkland, you may have seen that this is part of what the president said should be done in response.” [..]

“Since President Trump took office, his administration has moved aggressively on multiple fronts to weaken the background check section for guns,” Maddow reported. [..]

“Those are their actions, which it is important to know when that same president is saying what he really wants to do is strengthen the background check system. That narrative from him and those actions don’t tell two conflicting stories, they tell one story, the story of what he’s doing while he wants to convince you otherwise,” Maddow concluded.

Actions speak louder than words and we need to be watchful.

Feb 22


Gilmore Girls Hate

I really think people are too tough on Rory. You don’t have to make all your life choices before you’re 32 and some things that seem to be huge mistakes eventually lead you to a place that’s better than you could ever have imagined.

Oh, and lots of spoilers if you haven’t watched A Year In The Life yet.

Critique from a guy who only watched Episode 1 of A Year In The Life

10 Things We Hated- #9, Not Enough Lane

10 Things We Loved- #9, More Kirk

Seasons 1 – 7 is the Book from Year In The Life and it’s just like the the Roseanne finale.

Ok, my cousin who is a New York Times best selling author (it’s true enough)? All of her books are thinly disguised Autobiographies, you write what you know. I do think it rather shallow that all modern “serious” fiction is a thinly disguised Autobiography set in New York though.

Oh, and Sean Gunn is Kraglin and On-Set Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy 1 & 2. Told you there were spoilers.

Feb 22

The Breakfast Club (Illegal To Deceive)

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 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) 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.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

George Washington, America’s first president, is born; Iraqi insurgents destroy a Shiite shrine’s golden dome; the ‘Miracle on Ice’ during the 1980 Winter Olympics; Pop artist Andy Warhol dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. Harriet Tubman

Continue reading

Feb 21


Follow the money. Yeah, Javanka’s going down.

In the fight that he will probably win, because John Kelly is not the daughter Trump wants to boink, Kelly is moving to tighten up on temporary security clearances and include Jared Kushner in the process.

Objectively there’s no excuse for it have gone this far. You don’t get those for a reason and I’m sure I’d be disqualified because of things and stuff. Kelly despises Jared and kept Rob Porter around so long because he was an ally in that fight.

But he won’t win that battle, Kelly is more likely to leave than Kushner is, Trump doesn’t like him personally either and considers him a wet blanket cramping his style.

But Jared is going down anyway, in the maw of 666 Fifth Av. at the hand of Mueller (also in the Library, with the Candlestick, by Professor Plum).

Jared Kushner-Qatar Redux: Robert Mueller Enters the Fray
by Ryan Grim and Clayton Swisher, The Intercept

The property that is now tied up in Mueller’s probe, as well as linked to a diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, sits at 666 Fifth Ave., and was bought by Kushner at the height of the housing bubble for what was even then considered an inflated price of $1.8 billion.

The building is now severely underwater and if Kushner can’t find refinancing sometime in 2018, the property risks blowing a hole in the family balance sheet. Kushner has worked doggedly to fend off that reckoning, talking with prospective investors around the globe.

As The Intercept reported last July, Charles Kushner solicited funds from Qatar’s former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, known as HBJ, who now runs the investment firm Al Mirqab Capital. The Qatari businessman pledged to provide Charles Kushner, then heading Kushner Companies in Jared’s place, with $500 million in capital provided Kushner was able to raise the rest of the multibillion-dollar refinancing elsewhere. Charles Kushner reportedly turned to China’s Anbang Insurance Group for an additional $400 million, but the holding company pulled out of the deal in March 2017 following conflict of interest claims. Left in the lurch, we now know that Jared Kushner just weeks later devised a plan with Saudi Arabia to form a coalition with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain to jump Qatar, an unexpected move given the Qatari emir had joined Trump in Riyadh just weeks before the blockade started, where no issues were raised with Qatar about any of its policies or relationships.

Trump publicly took credit for the diplomatic attack on Qatar, and when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to walk it back, Trump doubled down, issuing an additional aggressive statement that Tillerson would later say he suspected was the work of Kushner and his regional ally, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States.

CNN reported that the special counsel has not requested documents or records related to the hunt for cash for 666 Fifth Ave., a claim repeated to The Intercept by a source at Kushner Companies. Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Kushner, dismissed the CNN report. “Another anonymous source with questionable motives now contradicts the facts — in all of Mr Kushner’s extensive cooperation with all inquiries, there has not been a single question asked nor document sought on the 666 building or Kushner Co deals. Nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions,” Lowell said in a statement.

But that could hardly be evidence that Mueller is not taking action, given he would be unlikely to telegraph his pivot toward the company’s activities in the open. As indicated by last week’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals accused of sowing information warfare to help get Trump elected shows, the special counsel is carrying out his investigation discreetly and is making surprise moves.

Kushner’s hand in Middle Eastern affairs hasn’t worked out well for the United States or for the countries that took on Qatar by severing diplomatic ties in June. Saudi Arabia and its allies relied on a website hack and a smear campaign about Qatar’s warming relationship to regional foe Iran to justify the escalation. The Washington Post reported that the hack had been carried out at the direction of the United Arab Emirates, citing U.S. intelligence officials. Isolated by its neighbors, Qatar turned to Iran and Turkey to survive a monthslong air, land, and sea blockade. The kingdom’s claim that Qatar was fomenting extremism was roundly mocked in Washington. Now, the United States — ironically, the very country that enabled the fracas — appears to be re-aligning itself with the isolated Gulf nation. Just weeks ago, Trump praised Qatar for fighting terror, while Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis kicked off the inaugural United States-Qatar Strategic Dialogue.

Bannon reportedly met Mueller and FBI agents several times last week. It is widely known that Bannon had a particular hatred of “Javanka,” the portmanteau for Jared Kushner and Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump. If Bannon has any information that would incriminate Kushner’s or Trump’s families, some of whom he described as “treasonous” in “Fire and Fury,” there’s little reason to think he’d sit on it.

That could plainly be of worry for Trump, but Kushner too. Given the failure of the siege against Qatar and the bizarre moves by its Gulf Arab protagonists — including Saudi’s hostage taking of Lebanon’s prime minister — well-placed sources said Trump has largely sidelined his son-in-law, who conducted most of his disastrous diplomacy in secret with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Wolff’s recent tell-all disclosed that it was Trump’s innermost circle, including Bannon and Kushner, who devised the early summer 2017 foreign policy coup in the Arab Gulf to “change the conversation” away from Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Since last June, MBS has brutally kneecapped internal opposition to consolidate power, while encouraging the prolonged travel and trade isolation of Qatar.

Not all is falling apart for Kushner, however. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly recently sent a memo signaling that anybody working in the building without a permanent security clearance needed to get one soon or move on. But that, he has since clarified, doesn’t apply to Kushner.

“I will not comment on anybody’s specific security clearance situation or go beyond the memo released last week,” Kelly said in a statement first reported by The Intercept. “As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico. Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the President’s agenda. There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise.”

Load more