December 29, 2014 archive

The Christmas News Dump

The exceedingly long Christmas weekend had some notably sad and tragic news that dominated news cycle. Here are a couple of the important stories that were buried.

Cuomo, Christie Veto Bill To Reform Port Authority

By Dave Klepper and Michael Cantalini, source url Huffington Post

The governors of New York and New Jersey jointly vetoed legislation Saturday aimed at overhauling the Port Authority and proposed instead a series of reforms they said would go further in bringing accountability to the agency.

The bill was designed to clean up an agency long known for dysfunction and scandals, including most recently the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that ensnarled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration. It had the unanimous support of the New York and New Jersey legislatures.

The bill would have overhauled the troubled agency by requiring an independent annual audit, creating an inspector general’s office, restricting lobbying and creating a whistleblower protection program. It also would have required Port Authority board members to swear they’ll act in good faith. [..]

“It’s really just an awful thing for them to do. Neither of them can ever stand up and say they’re for effective reform,” said former New York Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Democrat, who had predicted the veto. “In a competition between effective reform and power, power won. Reform ends on Christmas, but scandals go on forever.”

New Jersey Sen. Loretta Weinberg said the decision was a “cop-out,” and Assemblyman John Wisniewski said he’s disappointed the bill didn’t become law.

“I find it very disappointing that both governors together decided to turn their backs on their respective legislators,” Weinberg said. [..]

In place of the legislation, Cuomo and Christie on Saturday recommended reforms and said they would ask authority board members for their resignations. They called for a single chief executive officer to oversee the authority in place of an executive director and deputy executive director under the current system.

Weinberg said those reforms would have been possible under the legislation, too.

“There is nothing in this legislation that prevents them from moving ahead with those reforms,” she said.

And for some unknown reason, neither state legislature will move to over ride the vetoes of Criminal One and Criminal Two. A bill, btw, that was passed nearly unanimously by both bodies. It’s too hard

Next up.

NSA Drops Christmas Eve Surprise

By Murtaza Hussain, http://e11even.ca/?search=hair-loss-women-free-propecia The Intercept

The National Security Agency on Christmas Eve day released twelve years of internal oversight reports documenting abusive and improper practices by agency employees. The heavily redacted reports to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board found that NSA employees repeatedly engaged in unauthorized surveillance of communications by American citizens, failed to follow legal guidelines regarding the retention of private information, and shared data with unauthorized recipients. [..]

The reports, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union, offer few revelations, but contain accounts of internal behavior embarrassing to the agency. In one instance an NSA employee “searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting”, a practice which previous reports have indicated was common enough to warrant the name “LOVEINT”.

Don’t start banging you head on the desk just yet

After Scrutiny, C.I.A. Mandate Is Untouched

Mark Mazzetti, getting pregnant after taking accutane New York Times

Senator Angus King, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said that Hollywood depictions of torture have distorted the public’s view of its efficacy.

“Every week, Jack Bauer saves civilization by torturing someone, and it works,” said Mr. King, the independent from Maine, referring to the lead character of the television show “24.”

Mr. King said that he was initially skeptical about the need to release the torture report, but when he spent five straight evenings reading it in a secure room on Capitol Hill he decided that the C.I.A. abuses needed a public airing.

“It went from interest, to a sick feeling, to disgust, and finally to anger,” he said.

But the Obama administration has made clear that it has no plans to make anyone legally accountable for the practices described by the C.I.A. as enhanced interrogation techniques and the Intelligence Committee as torture. The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. this week asking him to appoint a special prosecutor to examine the report’s allegations, but the request will almost certainly be rejected.

And while Senator King called the Intelligence Committee’s report “Church Committee II,” he, like many other Democrats on the Intelligence Committee, remains a broad supporter of the C.I.A.’s paramilitary mission that Mr. Obama has embraced during his time in the White House. [..]

And as America’s spying apparatus has grown larger, richer and more powerful than during any other time in its history, it has become ever harder for those keeping watch over it.

“We are 15 people overseeing a $50 billion enterprise,” said Senator King, speaking of his fellow members on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“I can’t tell you I know with certainty every intelligence program this enterprise is engaged in.”

Almost done

Off duty, black cops in New York feel threat from fellow police

By Michelle Conlin, hunger on 10mg of prednisone Reuters

From the dingy donut shops of Manhattan to the cloistered police watering holes in Brooklyn, a number of black NYPD officers say they have experienced the same racial profiling that cost Eric Garner his life. [..]

What’s emerging now is that, within the thin blue line of the NYPD, there is another divide – between black and white officers.

Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.

The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them. [..]

The black officers interviewed said they had been racially profiled by white officers exclusively, and about one third said they made some form of complaint to a supervisor.

All but one said their supervisors either dismissed the complaints or retaliated against them by denying them overtime, choice assignments, or promotions. The remaining officers who made no complaints said they refrained from doing so either because they feared retribution or because they saw racial profiling as part of the system.

Last, a little reminder of just how bad the nation’s largest police department really is.

Nine terrifying facts about America’s biggest police force

Tana Ganeva and Laura Gottesdiener, http://citiva.com/?search=using-propecia-tablets-along-with-minoxidol Alternet

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=when-to-use-lasix The NYPD has expanded into a massive global anti-terror operation with military capabilities

The NYPD is the biggest police force in the country, with over 34,000 uniformed officers patrolling New York’s streets, and 51,000 employees overall – more than the FBI. It has a proposed budget of $4.6 billion for 2013, a figure that represents almost 15 percent of the entire city’s budget (pdf).

NYC’s population is a little over 8 million. That means that there are 4.18 police officers per 1,000 people. By comparison, Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S. with 3.8 million people, has only 9,895 officers-a ratio of 2.6 police per 1,000 people.

What has the NYPD been doing with all that cash and manpower? In addition to ticketing minorities for standing outside of their homes, spying on Muslims who live in New Jersey, abusing protesters, and gunning down black teens over weed, the NYPD has expanded into a massive global anti-terror operation with surveillance and military capabilities unparalleled in the history of US law enforcement.

In an email published by WikiLeaks, an FBI official joked about how shocked Americans would be if they knew how egregiously the NYPD is stomping all over their civil liberties. But what we already know is bad enough. Here’s a round-up of what the department has been up to lately.

This lawlessness by NYPD has cost the tax payers of NYC nearly $1 billion in settlement over and above the bloated budget. Needless to say, the NYPD has gotten on my last nerve.

OK, start banging but please put a pillow on the desk.

Cartnoon

TBC: Morning Musing 12.29.14

I have 3 things for you this morning!

First, from Bill Moyers:

Most Underreported Stories of 2014

Which stories didn’t get the attention they deserved in 2014? Below editors, journalists and friends of BillMoyers.com provide answers.

Jump!

On This Day In History December 29

This is your morning http://community2community.info/?search=lowest-best-pricing-for-propecia-brand Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past http://cmcpediatrics.com/?search=cialis-on-line-purchase name brand cialis “On This Day in History” here.

December 29 is the 363rd day of the year (364th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are two days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1890, the Wounded Knee Massacre took place near Wounded Knee Creek (Lakota: Cankpe Opi Wakpala) on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

In the years prior to the Massacre, the U.S. Government continued to coerce the Lakota into signing away more of their lands. The large bison herds, as well as other staple species of the Sioux diet, had been driven nearly to extinction. Congress failed to keep its treaty promises to feed, house, clothe and protect reservation lands from encroachment by settlers and gold miners; as well as failing to properly oversee the Indian Agents. As a result there was unrest on the reservations.

On December 28, the day before the massacre, , a detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Major Samuel M. Whitside intercepted Spotted Elk’s (Big Foot) band of Miniconjou Lakota and 38 Hunkpapa Lakota near Porcupine Butte and escorted them 5 miles westward (8 km) to Wounded Knee Creek where they made camp.

The rest of the 7th Cavalry Regiment arrived led by Colonel James Forsyth and surrounded the encampment supported by four Hotchkiss guns.

On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle claiming he had paid a lot for it. A scuffle over Black Coyote’s rifle escalated and a shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry opening firing indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their own fellow troopers. Those few Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking troopers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but U.S. cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed.

By the time it was over, at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota Sioux had been killed and 51 wounded (4 men, 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300. Twenty-five troopers also died, and thirty-nine were wounded (6 of the wounded would also die). It is believed that many were the victims of friendly fire, as the shooting took place at close range in chaotic conditions.

More than 80 years after the massacre, beginning on February 27, 1973, Wounded Knee was the site of the Wounded Knee incident, a 71-day standoff between federal authorities and militants of the American Indian Movement.

The site has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Late Night Karaoke

The Grimm Affair

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In a predictable fashion, convicted felon and admitted liar, Representative Michael Grimm refused to resign from his seat representing Staten Island and part of Brooklyn in New York’s Congressional District 11.

Representative Grimm said he had no intention of stepping down. “Absolutely not,” he said.

He sounded equally resolute when he declared himself “guilty” to Judge Pamela K. Chen of United States District Court in Brooklyn, who accepted his plea and noted that it included his signing of a “statement of facts” in which he acknowledged committing perjury, hiring illegal immigrants and committing wire fraud.

Judge Chen then commanded Mr. Grimm to return to court for sentencing on June 8. Federal prosecutors, who along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service have investigated Mr. Grimm for years, are seeking a penalty of at least two years in prison. His lawyers, some of whom joined the proceedings via conference call from Florida, are asking for a more lenient sentence and will almost certainly recommend probation.

However, Judge Chen didn’t sound like she would be considering probation:

“Do you understand all of the possible consequences of your guilty plea?” she asked.

“I do, Your Honor,” he said.

Judge Chen purchase lasix without prescription warned that she could “depart upward or downward” from sentencing guidelines. Mr. Grimm said he understood, and also acknowledged that he had forfeited his right to appeal any sentence less than 33 months in jail.

Mr. Grimm still doesn’t have the decency to resign. Nor did 54% of Staten Island voters have the decency to reject him, even though it was clear in November that Mr. Grimm would at least be convicted of the tax evasion charge. The IRS rarely loses. Now, not only was he guilty of tax evasion but admitted that he lied and that the other charges were fact. How fitting that the red district of NYC should be represented by a Crook and a liar.

It took MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow two segments to highlight just how embarrassing this will be for the GOP to have a felon serving in congress and Sadly, the few options to pressure Mr. Grimm to resign.

Tuesday’s Rachel Maddow Show started off with a brief review of crimers in Congress. It’s not as long a list as you might think! She focuses on California Republican Jay Kim, who was convicted of campaign fraud in 1998 and became the first – and so far, only – member of Congress who walked its hallowed halls wearing a monitoring bracelet attached to his ankle. Kim’s estranged wife said he was “the most crime-committing person I know.” He lost his primary that year and soon became the footnote he was destined to be.

Actual felons in Congress are something of a rarity, Maddow notes, because of a reassuring human tendency to eventually do the right thing – either the convicted Congressturds resign or the voters pick someone else.

In a laughable editorial, the conservative Staten Island Advance Editorial Board, with its usual right wing slant that this was a political witch hunt, has suggested that Mr. Grimm to step down:

Just two months ago, the Staten Island Advance urged voters to elect Michael Grimm to a third term in the Congress.

That while he faced a 20-count federal indictment in connection with a health food restaurant he owned prior to entering political life.

Voters overwhelmingly agreed.

Today, we think Mr. Grimm would be right to step down from his position in the United States Congress. [..]

We have little doubt that legions of Mr. Grimm’s supporters will stand by him, and defend him.

But we also have little doubt that many on Staten Island are feeling their trust was misplaced and they were betrayed.

Over almost half a century, three different Staten Island representatives to the United States Congress have surrendered their better judgment, squandering their own significant talents that, in each instance, could have brought pride to our borough.

Instead, they brought embarrassment.

There are certain people who must be held to high standards in America. In recent months, we have seen so many examples of that. Police immediately come to mind. So does the mayor of New York.

People with whom we place our trust.

A United States congressman must be at, or certainly near, the top of that list.

Mr. Grimm the restaurateur didn’t let us down when he played fast and loose with the books. Mr. Grimm the Staten Island congressman did, when he played fast and loose with the truth.

This isn’t going away until Mr. Grimm goes away, hopefully, to prison where perhaps he’ll learn a little humility.