July 6, 2013 archive

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Our regular featured content-

These weekly features-

This featured article-

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Write more and often.  This is an Open Thread.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

What We Now Know

Cross posted from The Stars hollow Gazette

On this week’s segment of “What We Now Know,” Up host Steve Kornacki discusses what they have learned with guests  Ann Lewis, former Senior Advisor to Hillary Clinton; Perry Bacon, Jr., MSNBC contributor, political editor, TheGrio.com; L. Joy Williams, political strategist & founder, LJW Community Strategies; and Evan McMorris-Santoro, White House reporter, BuzzFeed.com.

Terry Branstad’s Driver Gets Free Pass From Iowa State Trooper When Speeding On The Highway

by Ryan J. Foley, Huffington Post

A trooper pursued an SUV that was speeding at 90 mph with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad inside, but declined to pull the driver over after realizing he was transporting the state’s top elected official, audio recordings released Tuesday indicate.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said it has launched a review of its handling of the April incident in which dispatchers, according to the recordings released to The Associated Press, laughed after learning the vehicle in question was the governor’s.

Days later, the department placed the investigator who initiated the pursuit, Special Agent in Charge Larry Hedlund, on administrative leave. Hedlund’s attorney said Tuesday the personnel action was retaliation for the agent complaining to superiors that the trooper driving the governor was improperly given a pass after putting public safety at risk. A Branstad spokesman denied that allegation.

Have You Dated Anthony Weiner? Joe Lhota Wants to Hear From You

by Anna Merlan, The Village Voice

Have we heard enough, directly or indirectly, about Anthony Weiner’s penis? Yes? Enough to last many lifetimes, please stop? Too bad. Because now, as Weiner leads in the polls, Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota wants to hear from ladies who have seen and interacted with it, i.e. Weiner’s exes. This important campaign update comes to us via the New York Post, which naturally refers to Weiner upon second reference as “the penis tweeter.” In case we forgot.  [..]

The implication here, obviously, is that women vote male candidates into office based on who’d make the best boyfriend. (That’s obviously how charm-machine and possessor of overwhelming good looks Rudy Giuliani made it into office twice.) Weiner campaign spokeswoman Barbara Morgan didn’t respond to the open call for exes, telling the Post, “Anthony is too busy talking about the future of the middle class and those struggling to make it to respond to Mr. Lhota’s mud throwing.”

I would surmise that this is all Joe and Steve have got to counter Anthony’s rise in the polls for the NYC Mayoral Democratic Nomination.

Andrew Cuomo Channels His Inner John Hancock

by Jacob Fischler, BuzzFeed Staff

Seriously, this is all you’ve learned this week, Steve?

Cartnoon

Comey’s Torture Advocacy Questioned

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Try as President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder might to denounce torture their actions with the last round of nominees and appointments to crucial positions speak louder than their words. First is was John Brennan to head the CIA, whose dubious record during the Bush/Cheney regime on torture and covering up war crimes was glossed over by Obama. Then there is Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, an inveterate liar who has a memory problem as well, “I forgot the Patriot Act.” Really? Clapper also served as an executive for Booz Allen Hamilton, a private security company contracted to gather data for the NSA, who employed Edward Snowden.

Now, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Robert Mueller is retiring and who does Obama choose to replace him? Another Bush crony, James B. Comey, who served as deputy attorney general from 2003 to 2005. Comey, as has been hammered by the Obama administration supporters, blocked, along with Mueller, the Bush administration’s attempt to renew a still secret and illegal surveillance program on Americans’ electronic communications. That incident is only part of Comey’s record at DOJ which includes his support of torture, warrantless wiretapping, and indefinite detention. In her article at The Guardian, Laura Murphy reviews Comey stands on these issues and questions just what illegal surveillance program did Comey oppose so much he would resign over it?

On Torture

On 30 December 2004, a memo addressed to James Comey was issued that superseded the infamous memo that defined torture as pain “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure”. The memo to Comey seemed to renounce torture but did nothing of the sort. The key sentence in the opinion is tucked away in footnote 8. It concludes that the new Comey memo did not change the authorizations of interrogation tactics in any earlier memos.

In short, the memo Comey that approved gave a thumbs-up on waterboarding, wall slams, and other forms of torture – all violations of domestic and international law. [..]

On Warrantless Wiretapping

While, to his credit, (Comey) he immediately began raising concerns (pdf), the program was still in existence when the New York Times exposed it in December 2005. This was a year and a half after Comey’s hospital showdown with Gonzales and Card. In fact, the warrantless wiretapping program was supported by a May 2004 legal opinion (pdf) produced by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and signed off by Comey, which replaced the 2001 legal opinion Comey had problems with (pdf).

This, of course, raises the question: just what illegal surveillance program did Comey oppose so much he would resign over it? Last weekend, the Washington Post provided a new theory: the Marina program, which collects internet metadata. Now, the Senate has an opportunity to end the theorizing and find out what exactly Comey objected to.

On Indefinite Detention

The final stain on Comey’s record was his full-throated defense of the indefinite military detention of an American citizen arrested on American soil. In a June 2004 press conference, Comey told of Jose Padilla, an alleged al-Qaida member accused of plotting to detonate a dirty bomb as well as blow up apartment buildings in an American city. By working for al-Qaida, Padilla, Comey argued, could be deprived of a lawyer and indefinitely detained as an enemy combatant on a military brig off the South Carolina coast for the purpose of extracting intelligence out of him

In a letter to Comey, two Democratic senators, Senators Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, expressed concern on Wednesday about Mr. Comey’s views on waterboarding and his role in approving “enhanced interrogation techniques” while at the Justice Department in the George W. Bush administration. They are asking Comey to explain his e-mail of April, 2005, where he gave his approval of 13 interrogation techniques that included waterboarding.

. . Mr. Comey gave his assent to a Justice Department legal opinion that authorized the C.I.A. to use 13 interrogation methods, including waterboarding and up to 180 hours of sleep deprivation. The opinion “was ready to go out and I concurred,” Mr. Comey wrote to a colleague in an April 27, 2005, e-mail message obtained by The New York Times.

But he said in the e-mail that he disagreed with another legal opinion addressing the “combined effects” of the harsh methods, suggesting that their use in combination might be illegal. He recorded his views in e-mails to Chuck Rosenberg, then his chief of staff, as if deliberately creating a record in case his position might become relevant to his record in the future, as it has.

Appointing Comey to head the FBI is a another slap in the face to voters to whom Mr. Obama promised that he would end the Bush era abuses. Instead, Mr. Obama and his appointees not only continued these programs but covered up the wrong doing of the past, reinforcing and expanding the abuses.

This is what Barack believes.

More Jobs Than Expected But Don’t Get Optimistic

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The June employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the US added 195,000 jobs but the unemployment rate remained at 7.6%. This better than expected number, along with upward revisions of the April and May jobs numbers led to some speculation by Wall Street analysts to speculate that the Federal Reserve would start to back away from part of its stimulus program.

But hold your horses on the optimism. The reality is that this an anaemic recovery with flat growth and low productivity, as Dean Baker points out in his article:

First, it is important to remember the size of the hole the economy is in. We are down roughly 8.5 million jobs from our trend growth path. We also need close to 100,000 jobs a month to keep pace with the underlying growth rate of the labor market. This means that even with the relatively good growth of the last few months, we were only closing the gap at the rate of 96,000 a month. At this pace, it will take up more than seven years to fill the jobs gap.

It is easy to miss the size of the jobs gap since the current 7.6% unemployment rate doesn’t seem that high. However, the main reason that the unemployment rate has fallen from its peak of 10% in the fall of 2009 is that millions of people have dropped out of the labor force and stopped looking for jobs. These people are no longer counted as being unemployed. [..]

This gets to the type of jobs that have been created in the upturn. Over the last three months, three sectors – restaurants, retail trade, and temporary help – have accounted for more than half of the jobs created. These sectors offer the lowest-paying jobs, with few benefits and little job security. [..]

Workers take these jobs when there are no better alternatives available.

There is also the impact of sequestration that has yet to have its full impact on the economy and Congress seems content to leave in place with one side blaming the other. There is little chance that a budget or any significant legislation will get through this Congress:

Do you see the problem here? The president’s adversaries lament his lack of warmth and his remote intellectualism; his supporters see the same quality as an analytical and cool-headed virtue. This could be a cute “the president is from Mars, Republicans are from Venus” thing – if it weren’t for the fact that several important issues this summer, including the budget and food-stamp funding, hinge on whether these two crazy kids will ever figure it out. At the base of their problem is an absence of mutual respect and a lack of legislative sportsmanship.

Until the players figure this out – and there’s no sign they ever will – we’re going to be stuck in an endless loop of revisiting these unhelpful battles that drag on for years. This summer is the last chance for any legislation to get through. Starting in the fall, the campaigns for the 2014 midterm elections are going to start, and the window for serious legislative action will have closed – at which point you can kiss any progress on major bills goodbye. [..]

the sequestration cuts are not a question of “one side” winning or losing. They’re a question of the nation, the economy and the American people losing. They’re a question of poor people losing: Meals on Wheels will suffer, as will those living in federal housing.

No one, so far, is winning at all. Even more concerning, it’s not abundantly clear that anyone in Washington knows how to play the game anymore.

Voters need to start making greater demands on their congress critters and start threatening to throw them out for ones who will represent the people and not Wall Street and their own self-interests.

On This Day In History July 6

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 images to enlarge.

July 6 is the 187th day of the year (188th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 178 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1917, Arabian troops led by T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) and Auda ibu Tayi capture Aqaba from the Ottoman Empire during the Arab Revolt.

Background

Lawrence, sent by General Archibald Murray, commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, to act as a military advisor to Emir Faisal I, convinced the latter to attack Aqaba. Aqaba was a Turkish-garrisoned port in Jordan, which would threaten British forces operating in Palestine; the Turks had also used it as a base during their 1915 attack on the Suez Canal. It was also suggested by Faisal that the port be taken as a means for the British to supply his Arab forces as they moved further north. Though he did not take part in the attack itself (his cousin Sherif Nasir rode along as the leader of his forces), Faisal lent forty of his men to Lawrence. Lawrence also met with Auda ibu Tayi, leader of the northern Howeitat tribe of Bedouin, who agreed to lend himself and a large number of his men to the expedition. Lawrence informed his British colleagues of the planned expedition, but they apparently did not take him seriously, expecting it to fail.

Aqaba was not in and of itself a major military obstacle; a small village at the time, it was not actually garrisoned by the Turks, though the Turks did keep a small, 400-man garrison at the mouth of the Wadi Itm to protect from landward attack via the Sinai Peninsula. The British Royal Navy occasionally shelled Aqaba, and in late 1916 had briefly landed a party of Marines ashore there, though a lack of harbor or landing beaches made an amphibious assault impractical. The main obstacle to a successful landward attack on the town was the large Nefud Desert, believed by many to be impassable.

Prelude

The expedition started moving towards Aqaba in May. Despite the heat of the desert, the seasoned Bedouins encountered few obstacles aside from occasional harassment from small bands of Arabs paid off by the Turks; they lost more men to attacks by snakes and scorpions than to enemy action. During the expedition, Auda and Lawrence’s forces also did severe damage to the Hejaz Railway.

Auda and his men reached the Wadi Sirhan region, occupied by the Rualla tribe. Auda paid 6,000 pounds in gold to their leader to allow his men to use Wadi Sirhan as a base.

Abu el Lissal and Aqaba

The actual battle for Aqaba occurred for the most part at a Turkish blockhouse at Abu el Lissal, about halfway between Aqaba and the town of Ma’an. A group of separate Arab rebels, acting in conjunction with the expedition, had seized the blockhouse a few days before, but a Turkish infantry battalion arrived on the scene and recaptured it. The Turks then attacked a small, nearby encampment of Arabs and killed several of them.

After hearing of this, Auda personally led an attack on the Turkish troops there, attacking at mid-day on July 6. The charge was a wild success. Turkish resistance was slight; the Arabs brutally massacred hundreds of Turks as revenge before their leaders could restrain them. In all, three hundred Turks were killed and another 150 taken prisoner, in exchange for the loss of two Arabs killed and a handful of wounded. Lawrence was nearly killed in the action; he accidentally shot the camel he was riding in the head with his pistol, but was fortunately thrown out of harm’s way when he fell. Auda was grazed numerous times, with his favorite pair of field glasses being destroyed, but was otherwise unharmed.

Meanwhile, a small group of British naval vessels appeared offshore of Aqaba itself and began shelling it. At this point, Lawrence, Auda, and Nasir had rallied their troops; their total force had been quadrupled to 2,000 men by a local Bedouin who, with the defeat of the Turks at Lissal, now openly joined Lawrence’s expedition. This force maneuvered themselves past the outer works of Aqaba’s defensive lines, approached the gates of Aqaba, and its garrison surrendered without further struggle.

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan

 photo DSC00220.jpg

BARBARIANS AT THE GATE

Officials at the justice ministry are proposing a simplified immigration system for foreigners who are “deemed unlikely to be a terrorist or criminal.”

A survey by a Tokyo-based cram-school operator found that 55 percent of college students would like to study abroad but feel that it’s “too late… to deal with a globalizing world.”

A newspaper poll suggests that 41 percent of Japanese people approve of making it easier for politicians to change the Constitution.

Authorities at the justice ministry have proposed serving prison meals to elderly people who are living alone.

Bill Moyers: The Face of Hunger in America

The Faces of America’s Hungry



The full transcript can be read here

The story of American families facing food insecurity is as frustrating as it is heartbreaking, because the truth is as avoidable as it is tragic. Here in the richest country on earth, 50 million of us – one in six Americans – go hungry. More than a third of them are children. And yet Congress can’t pass a Farm Bill because our representatives continue to fight over how many billions to slash from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. The debate is filled with tired clich├ęs about freeloaders undeserving of government help, living large at the expense of honest, hardworking taxpayers. But a new documentary, A Place at the Table, paints a truer picture of America’s poor.

“The cost of food insecurity, obesity and malnutrition is way larger than it is to feed kids nutritious food,” Kristi Jacobson, one of the film’s directors and producers, tells Bill. She and Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, explain to Bill how hunger hits hard at people from every walk of life. [..]

Later, Greg Kaufmann – poverty correspondent for The Nation – talks about how the poor have been stereotyped and demonized in an effort to justify huge cuts in food stamps and other crucial programs for low-income Americans.

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.

A Cherry Jubilee

Arugula Cherry and Goat Cheese Salad photo sub24recipehealth-articleLarge_zps1abdb1c6.jpg

Fresh cherries, particularly the ubiquitous Bing variety as well as Hartlands and Early Black, which are sold at many farmers’ markets, are very high in anthocyanins, those inflammation-reducing nutrients that are present in many red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables. It’s always a good idea to let cherries dominate our fruit purchases at this time of year, because this is the only time of year when we can get locally grown cherries. And this phytonutrient-rich fruit begins to lose its antioxidant potential soon after it is picked, reports Jo Robinson in the recently published “Eating on the Wild Side.”

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Arugula, Cherry and Goat Cheese Salad

This was inspired by a dish billed as “Cherries and Goat Cheese” on the menu at Westside Tavern in Los Angeles.

Farro Pilaf With Balsamic Cherries

The tart cherries in this grain dish would also be a nice accompaniment to meats.

Purslane Salad With Cherries and Feta

Cherries add a nice contrast to this salad’s Greek flavors.

Cherry and Apricot Clafoutis

Two peak-season fruits collaborate in this classic dessert.

Yogurt Parfaits With Cherries and Pistachios

Yogurt parfaits are easy to make, and they make great desserts and snacks.

How very un-Christian

Francisco Alvarado at Banana Republic nails it:  The Christian Family Coalition Hates Transgender People Too.  Not surprisingly, the CFC opposes legal protections and the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for gender-variant people.

The Miami-Dade County Commission is considering an amendment to the county’s human rights ordinance that would protect transfolk from discrimination. In response CFC executive director Anthony Vedrugo is rallying his unholy band to show up at the Commission’s July 8 meeting to oppose the measure.  You can see the message Vedrugo fired off to his gang of ruffians followers on the inside.