June 8, 2013 archive

Jun 08

The Belmont Stakes

Are we through yet?

I’m sorry about my apparent lack of enthusiasm, but as I’ve mentioned it’s the busiest time of the year.  This third race of the Triple Crown is the longest even though it doesn’t get the hype or coverage the other two do and usually serves as a reminder that we aren’t going to have a Triple Crown winner, not that it’s important.

For one thing Thoroughbred race horses are as ridiculously inbred as any Hillbilly, Hapsburg, or Versailles Villager (yes, I’m talking about you Luke Russert).  For another it’s just stupid to judge them on the basis of 3 races when they are a mere 3 years old.

But we’ve indulged in Bullfighting and Bear Baiting for thousands of years and cock and dog fights are still popular with a certain sadistic mindset.  Horse racing, as cruel as it is, isn’t necessarily harmful to the ponies or those that watch them.  It is a spectacular display of wasted resources by our oligarch upper class.

The Belmont Stakes are perhaps the most democratic of the Triple Crown Races even though it is held in Queens.  Indications of that are they can’t settle on a song or a drink.  The song has ranged from Sidewalks of New York, a charming Tin Pan Alley tune better known as East Side, West Side, to the Theme from New York, New York (as performed by Frank Sinatra and appropriated as the Yankees anthem and not the original Liza Minelli rendition), to 2010’s Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z (I can’t believe that will last for long).

Likewise the drink has changed from the absolutely un-potable White Carnation to the refined trashcan punch that is the Belmont Breeze.

I suggest instead the classic Cosmopolitan.

Ingredients-

  • Ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces lemon vodka
  • 1 fluid ounce Cointreau
  • fluid ounce cranberry juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Long thin piece orange zest

Directions

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, Cointreau, and cranberry and lime juices. Cover and shake vigorously to combine and chill. Strain the cosmopolitan into a chilled martini glass. Twist the orange zest over the drink and serve.

Note: The drink can also be stirred in a pitcher.

This year is the 145th running and once again there is no Triple Crown at stake so the coverage is thin indeed even though there are several compelling storylines in the 14 horse field.

  • It might be an off track, though Stars Hollow is not so very far away and you’ve been able to see shadows since 10 am so conditions should be improving.
  • Orb and Oxbow face off again in the rubber game of the match.  Orb has a breeding advantage in that he has a past Belmont winner in his bloodline.  Will this give him the stamina he needs in the longest Triple Crown race?
  • We have a filly in the mix, Unlimited Budget.  Admittedly she starts from outside, but she has shown good form so if you want to root for the underdog (or horse) you now have a choice.

Racing Ambassadors is trying to make this a more ‘Turn Left’ type experience for the proles with the $10 tickets who arrive on the Subway.  I’m not altogether sure this is a good idea.

I’m not sure this is a good idea.

I have taught you well.

Jun 08

Hogwash From a Normally Reliable Source

Rich Entrepreneur: The Wealthy Aren’t Job Creators, Middle-Class Workers Are

http://thinkprogress.org/econo…

Wrongo, me buckos.  

Only in exceptional circumstances are the middle class even workers.  It is the working class, and only the working class, that creates wealth.

Think Progress is an exceptional site that I first got to because of the particular pained targeting of it by the rightist loons, e.g. Republicans, and it is not difficult to see why with a quick scan of very perceptive short essays.

But even Think Progress can’t divorce itself from the insidious effect of linguistic purposeful destruction of meaning like Alice’s Humpty Dumpty, this one by the DLC.

What a job you done on us, Clintons.  Are megacorporations still just people?

Best,  Terry

Jun 08

On This Day In History June 8

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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.

Click on image to enlarge

June 8 is the 159th day of the year (160th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 206 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, Canadian Governor Sir Guy Carleton defeats American Patriot forces under John Sullivan, who were already in retreat from Quebec toward Montreal.

After General Richard Montgomery’s early success in Montreal, he and Colonel Benedict Arnold attempted to take Quebec in the middle of the night between December 31, 1775 and January 1, 1776. Montgomery lost his life and Arnold was wounded in the action; half of their men were also lost to death, injury or capture and Quebec remained in British control. The colonists’ ill-conceived, pre-emptive attack on Canada ended in disaster. Instead of winning French Canadians to the Patriot cause, it led only to a huge loss of life among Patriot forces.

The Battle of Trois-Rivières (Three Rivers in English) was fought on June 8, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. A British army under Quebec Governor Guy Carleton defeated an attempt by units from the Continental Army under the command of Brigadier General William Thompson to stop a British advance up the Saint Lawrence River valley. The battle occurred as a part of the American colonists’ invasion of Quebec, which had begun in September 1775 with the goal of “liberating” the province from British rule.

The crossing of the Saint Lawrence by the American troops was observed by Quebec militia, who alerted British troops at Trois-Rivières. A local farmer led the Americans into a swamp, enabling the British to land additional forces in the village, and to establish positions behind the American army. After a brief exchange between an established British line and American troops emerging from the swamp, the Americans broke into a somewhat disorganized retreat. As some avenues of retreat were cut off, the British took a sizable number of prisoners, including General Thompson and much of his staff.

This was the last major battle fought on Quebec soil. Following the defeat, the remainder of the American forces, under the command of John Sullivan, retreated, first to Fort Saint-Jean, and then to Fort Ticonderoga.

Jun 08

Cartnoon

Jun 08

Late Night Karaoke

Jun 08

Now They Tell Us They Didn’t Know Who They Were Killing

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

As if many of us didn’t know that the CIA didn’t always know who they were dropping hellfire missiles on from drones, NBC News’ Richard Engel and Robert Windrem revealed classified documents that confirmed it. The documents were from a 14 month period that began in 2010 listing 114 drone strikes that killed as many as 613 people. However, in some of those strikes, the CIA did not know the identity of the victims.

About one of every four of those killed by drones in Pakistan between Sept. 3, 2010, and Oct. 30, 2011, were classified as “other militants,” the documents detail. The “other militants” label was used when the CIA could not determine the affiliation of those killed, prompting questions about how the agency could conclude they were a threat to U.S. national security.

The uncertainty appears to arise from the use of so-called “signature” strikes to eliminate suspected terrorists — picking targets based in part on their behavior and associates. A former White House official said the U.S. sometimes executes people based on “circumstantial evidence.”

Three former senior Obama administration officials also told NBC News that some White House officials were worried that the CIA had painted too rosy a picture of its success and likely ignored or missed mistakes when tallying death totals.

Micah Zenko, a former State Department policy advisor who is now a drone expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, said it was “incredible” to state that only one non-combatant was killed. “It’s just not believable,” he said. “Anyone who knows anything about how airpower is used and deployed, civilians die, and individuals who are engaged in the operations know this.”

Ret. Adm. Dennis Blair, who was Director of National Intelligence from Jan. 2009 to May 2010, declined to discuss the specifics of signature strikes, but said “to use lethal force there has to be a high degree of knowledge of an individual tied to activities, tied to connections.”

This article in McClatchy News, found that fewer of than 2% of those killed were Al Qaeda leaders, which is who the U.S. government says it targets.

Obama’s drone war kills ‘others,’ not just al Qaida leaders

by Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers,  April 9, 2013

“It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”

Copies of the top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn’t adhere to those standards.

The intelligence reports list killings of alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn’t on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; of suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and of unidentified individuals described as “other militants” and “foreign fighters.” [..]

The documents also show that drone operators weren’t always certain who they were killing despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare.” [..]

McClatchy’s review found that:

– At least 265 of up to 482 people who the U.S. intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12-month period ending in September 2011 were not senior al Qaida leaders but instead were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists. Drones killed only six top al Qaida leaders in those months, according to news media accounts.

Forty-three of 95 drone strikes reviewed for that period hit groups other than al Qaida, including the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as “foreign fighters” and “other militants.”

Who’s the US Killing in Pakistan? Even the CIA Doesn’t Know

by Daphne Eviatar, Huffington Post, June 6, 2013

In his speech at the National Defense University in May, President Obama said that his administration “has worked vigorously to establish a framework that governs our use of force against terrorists — insisting upon clear guidelines, oversight and accountability that is now codified in Presidential Policy Guidance” that he had just signed.

Conveniently for the government, that policy guidance remains classified — which pretty much negates the claim about oversight and accountability.

The laws of war allow the United States to kill only members of declared enemy armed forces or civilians directly participating in hostilities. It’s hard to believe the U.S. government is actually following that law if it doesn’t even know who a quarter of the people it’s killing even are.

President Obama’s speech sounded pretty good when he made it, but the more facts trickle out about the drone program the more reason we all have to be skeptical.

What can be done? Human Rights First has set out exactly what steps (pdf) the United States can take to make sure its drone program complies with international law and doesn’t undermine human rights.

The president should start by making public that Presidential Policy Guidance he announced with such pride. Otherwise, neither the American public nor foreign allies or enemies have any reason to believe the U.S. government has reined in its clandestine killing operations at all.

Meanwhile, the White House and the Justice Department says that the assassinations of Americans is constitutional because they said so. At Huffington Post, Ryan J. Reilly reports on the lawsuit,  Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of the estates of Anwwar Al-Aulaqi and his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, and Samir Khan. The lawsuit claims that their deaths were unconstitutional because they were denied due process.

The administration’s court filing also claimed that the government deserved qualified immunity because the plaintiffs “failed to allege the violation of any clearly established constitutional rights.” The government maintained that neither Attorney General Eric Holder’s letter to members of Congress nor Obama’s speech on national security had any effect on its legal posture in the case even though it was the first time the government formally acknowledged it had killed the American citizens. The previously classified information disclosed by Obama and Holder is “wholly consistent with Defendants’ showing that Anwar Al-Aulaqi’s due process rights were not violated,” the government said.

The judicial branch, the Obama administration argued, “is ill-suited” to evaluate the myriad “military, intelligence, and foreign policy considerations” that went into the decision to kill the American citizens. The government also argued that because Khan and Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi were not specifically targeted by the government, they cannot claim they were subjected to an unconstitutional process.

So the Executive Branch is claiming to be judge, jury and executioner because the courts couldn’t possibly understand their reasoning now matter how illegal, unlawful or criminal the actions were because, omg, they were terrorists, maybe. Never mind, that we still don’t know who was targeted that resulted in the killing of Abdulrahman. Maybe if was the cafe owner, one of the other customers or the cousins. No other explanations has been given. That is not acceptable.

So long as the legal arguments for these drone strikes and “targeted” killings remain classified, it makes it damned difficult, if not impossible, to have an open debate in public on the effectiveness and legality of this program and other counter-terrorism programs. The vague statements, filled with nebulous claims are not going to placate the critics of these not so clandestine programs. We need to know what the government is doing in our names.

Time to come clean, Barack.

Jun 08

Obama’s War on Journalists Yemeni Style

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Since he took office, President Barack Obama has prosecuted six whistleblowers using the Espionage Act of 1917, something no other president has done. In recent months, with total disregard for the First Amendment and freedom of the press, he has now gone after journalists with secret subpoenas and warrants, but this is nothing new. Huffington Post‘s Ryan Grim would like you to meet Abdulelah Haider Shaye:

James Rosen got off easy. After searching his email and tracking his whereabouts, the Department of Justice has not jailed or prosecuted the Fox News journalist, which the Obama administration says reflects its deep respect for the role of a free press. On Thursday, a DOJ spokesperson said in a statement that “the Department does not anticipate bringing any additional charges. During the Attorney General’s tenure, no reporter has ever been prosecuted.”

The Obama administration gave no such leniency to Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a Yemeni journalist who had access to top officials in the militant Islamist group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and reported on evidence that the United States had conducted a missile strike in al Majala for which the Yemeni government had claimed credit.

After Shaye was initially imprisoned for alleged involvement with AQAP in 2010, supporters pressed for his release, and word leaked that the Yemeni president was going to issue a pardon. In early 2011, Obama personally intervened. “President Obama expressed concern over the release of Abd-Ilah al-Shai, who had been sentenced to five years in prison for his association with AQAP,” reads a summary of the call posted on the White House website.

At his discussion of his new book and documentary, “Dirty Wars,” Jeremy Scahill spoke about about Shaye. In an article for The Nation in March 2012, he wrote about Shaye’s risks to interview Al Qaeda leaders, his interviews with the radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki and his reporting on the US bombing of al-Majalah, a impoverished Yemeni village killing 46 people mostly women and children.

Unlike most journalists covering Al Qaeda, Shaye risked his life to travel to areas controlled by Al Qaeda and to interview its leaders. He also conducted several interviews with the radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki. Shaye did the last known interview with Awlaki just before it was revealed that Awlaki, a US citizen, was on a CIA/JSOC hit list. “We were only exposed to Western media and Arab media funded by the West, which depicts only one image of Al Qaeda,” recalls his best friend Kamal Sharaf, a well-known dissident Yemeni political cartoonist. “But Abdulelah brought a different viewpoint.”

Shaye had no reverence for Al Qaeda, but viewed the group as an important story, according to Sharaf. Shaye was able to get access to Al Qaeda figures in part due to his relationship, through marriage, to the radical Islamic cleric Abdul Majid al Zindani, the founder of Iman University and a US Treasury Department-designated terrorist. While Sharaf acknowledged that Shaye used his connections to gain access to Al Qaeda, he adds that Shaye also “boldly” criticized Zindani and his supporters: “He said the truth with no fear.”

While Shaye, 35, had long been known as a brave, independent-minded journalist in Yemen, his collision course with the US government appears to have been set in December 2009. On December 17, the Yemeni government announced that it had conducted a series of strikes against an Al Qaeda training camp in the village of al Majala in Yemen’s southern Abyan province, killing a number of Al Qaeda militants. As the story spread across the world, Shaye traveled to al Majala. What he discovered were the remnants of Tomahawk cruise missiles and cluster bombs, neither of which are in the Yemeni military’s arsenal. He photographed the missile parts, some of them bearing the label “Made in the USA,” and distributed the photos to international media outlets. He revealed that among the victims of the strike were women, children and the elderly. To be exact, fourteen women and twenty-one children were killed. Whether anyone actually active in Al Qaeda was killed remains hotly contested. After conducting his own investigation, Shaye determined that it was a US strike. The Pentagon would not comment on the strike and the Yemeni government repeatedly denied US involvement. But Shaye was later vindicated when Wikileaks released a US diplomatic cable that featured Yemeni officials joking about how they lied to their own parliament about the US role, while President Saleh assured Gen. David Petraeus that his government would continue to lie and say “the bombs are ours, not yours.”

Shortly after that article was published, Scahill and Mohamed Abdel Dayem, coordinator of the Middle East and North Africa Program at the Committee to Protect Journalists, appeared in this segment of Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, questioning Obama’s motives for keeping Shaye imprisoned.

Grim hopes that with the release of the documentary “Dirty Wars,” the start of PVT Bradley Manning’s trial and the Rosen issue, that Shaye’s case will get some attention.

Shaye’s trial in Yemen was widely considered a farce. Without the Obama administration presenting its own evidence, it’s difficult to know what President Obama meant by Shaye’s “association” with AQAP. Al Mawri said that Yemen’s former president was furious at Shaye for exposing the civilian deaths at al Majala and fed the United States false information to implicate him as a terrorist. Now, Yemen’s current president has reportedly promised to pardon Shaye, but the White House is still relying on what the past president told them. [..]

Shaye is not an obscure journalist. He contributed reporting to The Washington Post and other major media outlets regularly, including with regard to al-Awlaki. He was often critical of al Qaeda, the U.S. government and the Yemeni government.

Despite the reports of a possible pardon, Shaye’s family and supporters remain doubtful.

This is just some of what Wikileaks had exposed about our government and our so-called Democratic president.

Jun 08

The Death of the Fourth Amendment

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

“[America’s intelligence gathering] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left. Such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.”

~Sen. Frank Church (D-ID), Meet the Press, August 17, 1975~

Just like the CIA has no clue who they are killing with their “targeted” drone strikes, the NSA has no clue whose data they are mining in the massive collection of Verizon phone records that was authorized in a FISA warrant under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It was issued in early April shortly after the Boston Marathon Bombing.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

Thanks to Pres. Barack Obama and many Congressional Democrats, and as Alex Pareene at Salon points out, there is nothing we can do about it.

This order went through a FISA Court, according to the rules laid out explicitly by Congress (unlike the Bush administration’s abuses, which were only retroactively authorized). The order could’ve been isolated, or it could’ve been standard practice. We have no way of knowing. And it’s almost definitely not just Verizon. As Marc Ambinder says: “I would assume that these orders are typical and are issued by the FISC to other telephone companies, and possibly to companies that process e-mail as well.” (He also says the order is “at odds with statements from government officials who’ve insisted that the government does not collect all Americans’ phone records just because they can.”) An unnamed expert cited by the Washington Post says the order “appears to be a routine renewal of a similar order first issued by the same court in 2006.”

While the fact that the NSA has the power to do this has been public for some time, we’ve never seen, until the Guardian obtained one, an actual Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant. They are very top secret. Someone will probably be prosecuted for leaking this one. That, in fact, is one of the primarily issues civil libertarians, like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been raising: If the way the administration interprets the law is secret, the law itself is effectively secret. Now we know more. But the recent history of the U.S. and domestic surveillance suggests that knowing more won’t lead to doing anything about it.

This one cannot be laid solely at the feet of the Republicans. In fact, one of the chief supporters and architect of this latest bill is the senior Democratic Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, who has criticized her fellow Democratic colleagues for not understanding the threat of terrorism. Today she has been all over the cable channels and traditional MSM defending this massive violation of the Fourth Amendment saying, “This is to ferret this out before it happens. It’s called protecting America.

She handed out letters she and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the committee, wrote to their colleagues in 2010 and 2011 explaining how the program worked, and urging that they support it. Congress did so.

“This is nothing particularly new,” Chambliss said. “Every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this, and to my knowledge we have not had any citizen who has registered a complaint relative to the gathering of this information.” [..]

“I’m a Verizon customer,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said during an appearance on Fox News. “I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States.”

How about protecting the Constitution, Senators?

Of course the White House is defending the warrant:

(T)he Obama administration, while declining to comment on the specific order, said the practice was “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States”. [..]

“As we have publicly stated before, all three branches of government are involved in reviewing and authorising intelligence collection under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Congress passed that act and is regularly and fully briefed on how it is used, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorises such collection. There is a robust legal regime in place governing all activities conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.”

The administration stressed that the court order obtained by the Guardian relates to call data, and does not allow the government to listen in to anyone’s calls.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-CO) and Bob Corker (R-TN), who have been a vocal opponents of FISA and the Patriot Act, spoke out earlier:

“I have had significant concerns about the intelligence community over-collecting information about Americans’ telephone calls, emails, and other records,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who has tried to change the law, along with Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)

“The administration owes the American public an explanation of what authorities it thinks it has,” said Udall. [..]

“The fact that all of our calls are being gathered in that way — ordinary citizens throughout America — to me is troubling and there may be some explanation, but certainly we all as citizens are owed that, and we’re going to be demanding that,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), noting that he, too, was a Verizon customer.

Even the chief architect of The Patriot Act, which many consider unconstitutional, Rep. Jim Sensengrenner (R-WI) considers this phone records grab troubling. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, he stated:

As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI’s interpretation of this legislation. While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses. The Bureau’s broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act.  I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.

Discussing The Guardian article by Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman on Democracy Now was joined by: William Binney, served in the National Security Agency almost 40 years, including a time as director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group; Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Thomas Drake, National Security Agency whistleblower who was charged with violating the Espionage Act by the Obama administration.

The domestic NSA-led Surveillance State which Frank Church so stridently warned about has obviously come to fruition.  

Jun 08

Around the Blogosphere

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

 photo Winter_solstice.gifThe main purpose our blogging is to communicate our ideas, opinions, and stories both fact and fiction. The best part about the the blogs is information that we might not find in our local news, even if we read it online. Sharing that information is important, especially if it educates, sparks conversation and new ideas. We have all found places that are our favorites that we read everyday, not everyone’s are the same. The Internet is a vast place. Unlike Punting the Pundits which focuses on opinion pieces mostly from the mainstream media and the larger news web sites, “Around the Blogosphere” will focus more on the medium to smaller blogs and articles written by some of the anonymous and not so anonymous writers and links to some of the smaller pieces that don’t make it to “Pundits” by Krugman, Baker, etc.

We encourage you to share your finds with us. It is important that we all stay as well informed as we can.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

This is an Open Thread.

It’s been a lively day on the tubes with most of the posting on the super secret leaked FISA Warrant by Glenn Greenwald and the national security crew at The Guardian. Nice work for your first week on the job, Spencer.

Our friends at Voices on the Square have some great posts on Bradley Manning and workers rights:

At Corrente, lambert gives “mad props” to Glenn and an opinion piece at Bloomberg by Noah Feldman.

Also from DCblogger:

and libbyliberal:

Over at Americablog, Our friend Gaius Publius tells us what’s is in the tar sands oil besides oil:

Gaius calls it “sludge,” I’d call it “toxic.”

At FDL News Desk, DSWright has this news:

Jon Walker at FDL Action tells about these developments:

At FDL’s The Dissenter, Kevin Gosztola gives an the inevitable news:

Glenn, Spencer, here come the secret subpoenas for your phone and e-mails.

At Salon, lapsed blogger David Dayen tell you the truth about your student loan, it’s not really a loan. h/t Yves Smith at naked capitalism

Well, this is a really good question from digby at Hullabaloo:

Atrios wants to know what 20,000 NSA employees do all day.

The last words today go to Mike Masnick at Techdirt, just in case you weren’t disgusted or paranoid enough about the US government:

  • Oh, And One More Thing: NSA Directly Accessing Information From Google, Facebook, Skype, Apple And More

    This program, like the constant surveillance of phone records, began in 2007, though other programs predated it. They claim that they’re not collecting all data, but it’s not clear that makes a real difference:

       The PRISM program is not a dragnet, exactly. From inside a company’s data stream the NSA is capable of pulling out anything it likes, but under current rules the agency does not try to collect it all.

       Analysts who use the system from a Web portal at Fort Meade key in “selectors,” or search terms, that are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s “foreignness.” That is not a very stringent test. Training materials obtained by the Post instruct new analysts to submit accidentally collected U.S. content for a quarterly report, “but it’s nothing to worry about.”

       Even when the system works just as advertised, with no American singled out for targeting, the NSA routinely collects a great deal of American content.

    I now need a couple of vodka martinis and just leave the jar of olives on the bar.

Jun 08

Random Japan

 photo future5_zps4bb6d9e3.jpg

PUBLIC ENEMIES

The Consumer Affairs Agency upbraided Coca-Cola Japan for using the word tokuhou (“news flash”) in ads for a new fiber drink. The agency said consumers might confuse the term with tokuho, a word used to describe healthy food.

The MPD received 14,104 entries in a contest to name a new type of bank scam where fraudsters pretend to be the victim’s son over the phone. The official name is now “Kaasan, tasukete sagi,” or “Mom, help me scam.”

The newest hire at the justice ministry’s clerical department is… a juvenile delinquent on probation. Officials hope to foster understanding about criminal rehabilitation.

The MPD has asked NTT Docomo to be more careful with cellphone-rental companies, some of which are apparently fronts for crime groups.

Jun 08

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is 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 and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

New Ways to Use ‘Ancient’ Grains

Yogurt Soup with Wheat Berries photo 31recipehealth-articleLarge_zpsd2e21c23.jpg

Some of these have fed people in far-flung parts of the world for a very long time but have been of little interest as a food on the American market. Grains like sorghum have been grown here but fed primarily to animals, whereas sorghum has been a staple for centuries in Africa and India. [..]

These are chewy, hearty grains. They’re good with vegetables and with beans. Barley is wonderful in soups, and all of the chewy grains lend themselves to salads and to being stirred into cold yogurt soups along with other vegetables and herbs.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Yogurt or Buttermilk Soup With Wheat Berries

On a hot day, a soup like this one is both refreshing and substantial.

Sorghum Bowl With Black Beans, Amaranth and Avocado

The firm, round grains of sorghum stand up against the soft, brothy beans in this stew.

Sorghum Salad With Cucumbers, Avocado and Cherry Tomatoes

Cooking the grains until they splay helps them absorb the dressing.

Barley and Spring Onion Soup With Fava Beans

A light, sweet soup that makes good use of spring’s tender vegetables.

Wheat Berries With Spinach and Spring Onion

Any of the ancient wheat varieties work well here, and you can use any greens you like.

Jun 08

To Paul

Every once in awhile an occasion arises that I feel requires me to re-introduce myself to some people, so that I can introduce myself to a few new readers.

In this case, I sense that introducing myself to my FISA reader is warranted.  I’m going to refer to you as Paul.  I know that is unlikely to be your name, but I like the name Paul, and it was the name of one of my more subversive friends back in my hippie days.  I think that it was likely also not his real name, times being what they were.

This diary can also be viewed as me taking a break from reporting on news stories from the transgender community and being a lot more personal.

So what you will find on the inside was compiled 17 years ago…and contains writings from before that.  It also may be viewed as the introduction to the book I may write after I retire.  But then, by now I’ve probably written a good half dozen introductions to that non-existent book, so who knows?  We’ll have to see if I ever really finish writing my life.