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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Daily Drift

Here's teapugicanese translated ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   

For those interested: In World Cup play Argentina eliminated Switzerland 1-0: Belgium eliminated the United States 2-1 in play on the twentieth day of the tourney.

Wings ... !
Today is  - International Chicken Wing Day
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Some of our reader today have been in:
The Americas
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L'ancienne-Lorette and Ottawa, Canada
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The Pacific
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Today in History

1298 An army under Albert of Austria defeats forces led by Adolf of Nassua.
1625 The Spanish army takes Breda, Spain, after nearly a year of siege.
1644 Oliver Cromwell crushes the Royalists at the Battle of Marston Moor.
1747 Marshall Saxe leads the French forces to victory over an Anglo-Dutch force under the Duke of Cumberland at the Battle of Lauffeld.
1776 The Continental Congress resolves that the American colonies "are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."
1822 Denmark Vesey is executed in Charleston, South Carolina, for planning a massive slave revolt.
1858 Czar Alexander II frees the serfs working on imperial lands.
1863 The Union left flank holds at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg.
1881 Charles J. Guiteau fatally wounds President James A. Garfield in Washington, D.C.
1926 Congress establishes the Army Air Corps.
1937 American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart disappears in the Central Pacific during an attempt to fly around the world.
1961 Novelist Ernest Hemingway commits suicide at his home in Ketchum, Idaho.
1964 President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law.
1967 The U.S. launches Operation Buffalo in Vietnam.
1976 North and South Vietnam are officially reunified.
1980 President Jimmy Carter reinstates draft registration for males 18 years of age.

Non Sequitur


July is National Grilling Month

So we will have grilling tips and recipes throughout the month.
To start off we have recipe for a butter to use as a grilling seasoning or a serving condiment
BBQ Chive Butter
 Makes about 1 cup
Combine 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) room-temperature unsalted butter, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper in a food processor; blend until smooth. Scrape mixture into a small bowl and stir in 2 Tbsp. finely chopped chives. Use butter immediately, or wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Serve on corn, fish, potatoes, grilled meat, or bread.

America's Sweetheart

Bettie Page in Irving Klaw’s Varietease (1954).
Bettie Page

Democrats Promise To Do What The Supreme Court Won’t – Stand Up for Women’s Rights

As repugicans celebrate, congressional Democrats are fighting back with a statement that said in part, “If the Supreme Court isn’t willing to protect women’s rights, House Democrats will.”
In a statement, the chairman of the DCCC, Rep. Steve Israel said, “This decision by the Supreme Court is both disappointing and disturbing and further reinforces that we need to put a Democratic majority in control of Congress. The repugicans in Congress have long made it clear that their ideological agendas come before a women’s right to access quality, affordable health care, and now the Supreme Court is only piling on even more. There is no question that this decision makes it harder for women across the country to access the care they need. Women’s health care decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor, not her boss. If the Supreme Court isn’t willing to protect women’s rights, House Democrats will.”
The five male wingnut justices on the Supreme Court did significant damage to the future of the repugican cabal. The Koch fueled majority dumped gasoline all over the inferno that swallowed up repugicans in 2012. The Supreme Court isn’t going to protect women’s rights. The repugican cabal is actively attempting to roll back women’s rights, so Democrats are standing alone when it comes to protecting the rights of women.
 “That noise you just heard was death rattle gasp of the repugican cabal tent. The repugican cabal now officially stands for taking access to birth control (life-saving) away from women, as well as regulating a woman’s eggs even before they are implanted. That’s a super interesting way of standing for “freedom”, but one that will not stand the test of time.”
The repugicans and wingnuts are celebrating a decision that is sowing the seeds of their own demise. This is similar to when repugicans celebrated the 2000 ruling that made the shrub president while being completely oblivious of the fact that the rise of the shrub marked the beginning of the repugican cabal’s grand decline.
Women and men aren’t just angry. They are going to do more than come out to vote. Women, and the men who support their rights are taking over. Today’s Supreme Court ruling was a victory only in the sense that it made it clear to the country where repugicans stand on the rights of women. The platform that women are not equal citizens who don’t deserve equal rights is not a winning formula in a nation that is a majority female.

The Supreme Court Just Made A Huge Mistake by Making Women Really Mad

Binders Full of Women will get out the vote this fall. They will keep voting until this travesty is put to rest. Thanks, SCOTUS, for waking up the sleeping giant…
woman scorned
Until today, many women would argue that feminism was unnecessary because that fight had been won. Even showing them the last several years of repugican attempts to steal their freedom from them legislatively didn’t move them. But Monday’s Supreme Court ruling is something that will impact a majority of women in America.
The Supreme Court just gave repugicans their dream decision in the Hobby Lobby case, so now women who want birth control will have to go ask their Big Daddy boss for it. In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, this very wingnut court voted to give corporations the right to refuse to cover contraception. (The way repugicans have argued this is totally not slut shaming at all, it’s just that if you sluts want sex, you’ll have to pay for it on your own, Lazy Lucys.)
Of course, women know that birth control is used for more than just birth control. Women use it for all kinds of medical reasons that the boys in the repugican cabal don’t seem to understand, but then, they believe in legitimate rape and shutting that whole thing down so who can blame them.
Here’s the question via SCOTUS blog:
Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.
The answer is, of course, yes. This court loves them some corporations and so a corporation’s right to impose their religion is more important than a woman’s access to life saving birth control under a medical insurance plan. Let’s just say that somewhere in America right now there is a group of women coming up with a religion that is against pacemakers and Viagra and they are very much looking forward to proving their point.
But before that happens, there is an election this year. And nothing motivates people to get out the vote like being spat on collectively and publicly, so thanks SCOTUS!
GAME ON. Women are already fighting back:
Terry O’Neill, the President of the National Organization for Women, quickly sent out an email calling for donations, “NOW is going all out this year to educate and mobilize voters, tell them where the candidates stand, and make sure these voters get to the polls on Election Day. But we can’t do it without your help!”
Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families, issued a statement calling the ruling shocking, “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. cases are deeply troubling – even shocking, in that the Court is allowing some bosses to deny women coverage for something as basic as birth control. Whether it affects 500 or 5,000,000 women, this is a dangerous and appalling intrusion that takes the country backward and undermines women’s health…
Women who thought, in 2014, that their birth control coverage was secure now have to stop and consider the views of their bosses. That is truly outrageous.
As Justice Ginsberg said in her dissent: ‘Working for Hobby Lobby or Conestoga, in other words, should not deprive employees of the preventive care available to workers at the shop next door …’ We could not agree more.
Birth control is basic, essential health care for women. It is dangerous for everyone that the Court allowed bosses control over our health care.
This is as troubling as any Supreme Court ruling in recent years. We will not rest until every woman in this country has coverage for the birth control she needs.”
Amanda Metskas, President of the Secular Coalition for America, said today’s decision by the court will allow employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees and interfere with the employees’ personal health care decisions.
“This is a sad day for anyone who believes in true religious freedom. With this decision the Supreme Court set a terrible precedent for religious interference in individual choice,” Metskas said. “This decision allows for-profit business owners to impose their religious preferences and practices on their employees, leaving the religious freedom of millions of Americans at the mercy of their individual employers.”
Yeah, women are not pleased and they are just getting warmed up. And as anyone on the receiving end of a woman’s justified anger can tell you, an angry woman is an opponent who should not be underestimated.
I’d wager that all of the men who enjoyed sex without babies are also not impressed. That’s kind of a big tent.
That noise you just heard was death rattle gasp of the repugican cabal tent. The repugican cabal now officially stands for taking access to birth control (life-saving) away from women, as well as regulating a woman’s eggs even before they are fertilized or implanted. That’s a super interesting way of standing for “freedom”, but one that will not stand the test of time.
Binders Full of Women will get out the vote this fall. They will keep voting until this travesty is put to rest. Thanks, SCOTUS, for waking up the women of America.

Wendy Davis Blasts SCOTUS, Says We Need to Trust Women To Make Their Own Healthcare Decisions

Wendy Davis 03312014 Texas tribuneWomen are on fire Monday after the Supreme Court gave corporations the power to make medical decisions for women at the behest of wingnut repugicans, because repugican cabal “freedom” and “liberty” don’t include women.
Thus, Democratic State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis (D-TX) issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Hobby Lobby case, “Today’s disappointing decision to restrict access to birth control puts employers between women and their doctors. We need to trust women to make their own healthcare decisions — not corporations, the Supreme Court, or Greg Abbott.”
The repugicans are crowing about their “victory” right now, but what they don’t understand is they just gave Democratic candidates, and especially women like Wendy Davis, a new pathway to independent voters. Standing against birth control is an extreme position.
As the repugican tent grows smaller, smart women like Wendy Davis are there to own their reasonable, rational position of trusting citizens with their own medical decision. No sane person wants to hand the state power over their medical care. It’s ironic that the cabal of death panels has now become…
The cabal creating corporate death panels for women.

In Hobby Lobby Case Supreme Court Replaces First Amendment With Corporate Theocracy

Hobby Lobby rulingIn Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Inc. the Supreme Court ended its flirtation with unanimity and ruled 5-4 in favor of corporate theocracy.
This lawsuit involved 71 for profit corporations, that challenged the birth control mandate based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993)  which precludes laws from imposing a substantial burden on an individual’s ability to practice their religion.
While deciding that the contraception mandate didn’t meet RFRA requirements for closely held companies, the all-male majority dodged the question of whether the Government has a compelling interest in providing women with FDA-approved contraceptives.
Conventional wisdom suggested this case would split 5-4 along party lines with Justice Kennedy tilting the balance.  It was difficult to speculate which way Kennedy would rule. During argument, he asked about the implications for employees’ religious freedoms should the Court rule in Hobby Lobby’s favor.  He also asked (erroneously) if a ruling against Hobby Lobby means employers would be “forced” to pay for abortions.
Now we know.  Kennedy placed a higher priority on giving corporations the right to impose their religious beliefs on employees than on the rights of those employees.  In his separate, but concurring opinion, Kennedy went so far as to suggest no real harm done to women because the government could provide women with birth control under the “existing program.”
In her dissent, Justice Ginsberg called the majority opinion a “decision of startling breadth” – a point disputed by Justice Kennedy.  In fact, this ruling opens the door for corporations to impose their religious dogma on employees not only with respect to their access to healthcare, but potentially anti-discrimination laws, be it prohibitions against discrimination in the work place, or prohibitions against gender based pay discrimination.
In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Shenna Bellows, Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate for Maine, pointed out just how critical voting in this year’s election will be.
Neither your boss nor the government should interfere in your personal decisions about whether or when to use birth control.Today’s horrible Supreme Court decision disregards women’s health and opens the door to religious discrimination by employers. We need leadership in Congress who will stand up for reproductive freedom without exceptions.
Not only do we need a Congress that will stand up for reproductive freedom, we need a Supreme Court that knows employees are people and corporations are not.
In fact, the ruling not only gives legitimacy to the charade that corporations actually practice religions; it gives primacy to that fiction over the religious freedoms of human beings.  It also gives corporations a fig leaf to deny their employees access to a myriad of services and discriminate against them if it’s the corporation’s “religious” belief.  Let’s not forget this also amounts to further advancing gender based discrimination in healthcare.
As Ruth Bader Ginsberg pointed out in her dissent: “”Women of childbearing age spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than men.”
One can bet that if this case was about denying men access to the little blue pill, the all-male majority would have ruled differently.

Instead of Creating Jobs, John Boehner Has Been Planning To Sue Obama For Six Months


Instead of doing his job, John Boehner has spent the last six months plotting to sue President Obama.
The Washington Examiner reported:
Obama and congressional Democrats are calling the move a political stunt because of the timing of the announcement, which came less than five months before the midterm elections.
But Boehner actually started putting the lawsuit together in January.
Six months ago, at the speaker’s direction, House leadership aides began consulting with legal scholars and Republican staff on the House Judiciary Committee in preparation to jumpstart legal action.
During the intervening period, Boehner has leaned on Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, and Ron DeSantis of Florida and Trey Gowdy of South Carolina for advice on how to put the House’s case in the best position to be heard and decided favorably by the courts.
In the past six months House repugicans have blocked job creation bills, spending on infrastructure, refused to extend unemployment benefits, and refused to pass any legislation at all unless it involves tax cuts, rolling back regulations, or attacking Obamacare.
Instead of actually passing legislation, repugicans were plotting to sue President Obama. Suing the president is not part of their job, but since they aren’t interested in doing what they were sent to Washington to do, the country is forced to deal with a legislative body that is spreading their obstruction to the judicial branch.
This is why the American people need to go to the polls, and send the House repugican majority packing.

Boehner Is Suing Obama Because repugicans Refuse To Work for The People

The repugican answer to the President's executive actions to help all Americans is suing him for doing what they refuse to do; work for the general welfare of the American people …

imageThe concept of being joined together for a common purpose, or by common feelings, is considered being united and one imagines that is precisely why the Founding Fathers named this country the “United” States of America. There has always been disparate ideas among the people about how the nation should be governed, but there has also been a common feeling and belief that governing should be for the benefit of the entire country. That feeling of unity of purpose came to a screeching halt in January 2009 when repugicans committed to working solely for the benefit of the wealthy elite, and in the process used racial animus against the new President to openly work against the people.
Throughout his five-and-a-half year tenure in office, President Obama has not wavered in executing his job as President to work for all Americans and, along the way, attempt to unite the people behind a common goal of advancing the interests of the entire population. Of course, as unwavering as the President has been in working for all Americans, repugicans have been just as steadfast in working solely for the richest one-percent and whipping racist religious wingnuts into frenzy against the great majority of Americans as surrogates for the African American President.
The repugican answer to the President’s executive actions to help all Americans is suing him for doing what they refuse to do; work for the general welfare of the people. It does not matter that the President, in many cases, issued the same exact executive orders as his white predecessor, or that his orders are well within his constitutional authority; repugicans are livid President Obama is doing what they should be doing as prescribed by the Constitution; working for the people.
On Sunday, Virginia repugican Bob Goodlatte told Faux News’ host Chris Wallace that House repugicans’ plan to sue President Obama is, “not about our wanting to stop him from doing his job. It’s our wanting to do the job that the Constitution prescribes.” The repugicans have had five-and-a-half years to do the job the Constitution prescribes and instead either obstructed legislation that helps the people, passed legislation taking from the people, passed legislation giving billions to the rich, or manufactured scandals at the taxpayers’ expense. Speaker John Boehner even boasted that repugicans’ job is not making laws, but abolishing laws and programs that benefit the people.
The repugicans believe America is the wealthy elite and their job is waging war against 99% of the population they obviously regard as their wealthy elite family’s enemies. In fact, repugicans have done everything in their power to divide the country into real Americans (the rich and corporations) and 99% of the population including their ignoramus racist and religious supporters.
On Saturday during his radio address, President Obama eluded to why he has to take executive action for the people in the face of repugican devotion to the richest Americans. He said, “The point is, we could do so much more as a country – as a strong, tight-knit family – if repugicans in Congress were less interested in stacking the deck for those at the top, and more interested in growing the economy for everybody.” It is a decidedly American, and noble sentiment, and at one time “America as a strong tight-knit family” may have been the case. But as the President fully understands, repugicans are incapable of comprehending this nation as a “strong, tight-knit family” because they serve what they consider is real America; the rich.
In repugicans’ minds, the wealthy elite are America and the rest of the people are interlopers. In fact, repugicans and the wingnut Supreme Court have set up conditions to allow aggressive predation by the wealthy elite against 99% of the population, and until the people comprehend that simple premise repugicans will continue their “them against us” crusade with staunch support from their ignorant base repugicans do not consider part of “us.”
It is beyond refute that the repugican cabal’s base is inherently ignorant, and racist, or they would not give unwavering support to repugicans that are now openly “stacking the deck for those at the top” as if they are the only Americans. The repugicans have been successful working solely for the rich by pandering to their base’s ignorance with three simple words; god, guns, and white. For their hate-driven supporters, those three words are a call to arms both figuratively and literally. It informs the entire “them against us” mindset and allows repugicans to openly fight for the rich (us) and oppose growing the economy or doing anything for the outliers (them) as evidenced by their crusade to eliminate any provisions intended to aid “everybody.”
What is mind-boggling is the large segment of the population that believes they are part of what repugicans consider real America (the wealthy) and continue supporting them when repugicans regard them as less than ugly step-children and not part of what President Obama labeled “a strong, tight-knit family.” the repugicans’ tight-knit family is Wall Street, the oil industry, corporations, and the wealthy elite and because the President has to resort to executive action to help the repugican cabal’s sworn enemies (the 99%), they want to sue him for doing the job he was elected to do because they will not do theirs.
It is true the repugican cabal hates the President. and yes they want to destroy his presidency, and yes, they hate his executive actions because they refuse to govern. Each of those items contribute to their refusal to work for the people. But a primary reason they refuse to govern is because if they are not allowed to take everything from the people and give the wealth of the nation to the rich, then they will not do anything. It has driven their agenda from January 2009 through today and they have absolutely no intention of changing. The President finally realized if he did not take executive actions to help the people, no-one would.
This country is as far afield from being a strong tight-knit family as it was and it is all down to repugicans. It is true they incite their supporters’ racial and religious animus toward the President and other Americans for political expediency, but it has always been for the express purpose of serving the interests of the rich.
There is little doubt the House repugican plans to sue the President is a political stunt to fire up their ignorant base, and to distract attention away from their do-nothing record. But the fact they are furious the President is working for all the people and not solely the wealthy elite cannot be understated. In the repugican mindset, the President working for all the American people he regards as a strong, tight-knit family is tantamount to attacking repugicans’ family that does not include the god, guns, and white crowd. It is the wealthy elite, corporations, and Wall Street, or in repugican parlance, the only real America.

The time the head of the tea party 'patriots' got government help

In a story about Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and head of the tea party 'patriots', Martin recalls her recent bankruptcy. She and her husband somehow managed to end up owing $500,000 to the IRS after their company failed. Martin is not an evil person; her story is just, well, a bit sad. She is indeed a wellspring for that odd tea party message of anti-government self-reliance even while availing oneself of the safety net the government provides, the muddled indignation at the thought of having to pay taxes for other people's safety net coupled with the blithe assumption that the same safety net will of course be there for you if you need it.
    "I was very frustrated by the TARP bill, because nobody bailed us out, and we weren't looking for a bailout," Martin says in a coffee shop outside of Jackson. It's a message she uses often, saying that no one bailed out her husband's company when it failed. As for being bailed out themselves, Martin has had to publicly contend with the fact that she and her husband filed for bankruptcy, a bailout of its own sort.
Filing for bankruptcy to avoid $500,000 in back taxes is a pretty damn good bailout. It's a reasonable bailout, mind you-we have decided that allowing the option of bankruptcy is both humane and more sensible economically than consigning someone to a lifetime of debt slavery-but it's a bailout. That's $500,000 that the rest of America's taxpayers are going to have to shell out themselves in order to make up the slack.
But I think we figured out why Jenny Beth Martin devoted herself to the notion that taxes are bad. Don't need a Dr. Keith Ablow to weigh in on this one.
    Less well known is the fact that her husband accepted unemployment for a time, something else she has explained.
    "I've never said that there should be no safety net," she says. "That decision was more difficult for him than the decision not to stay in our house. ... We were scraping by."
Translation: We of course used the good kind of safety net, the one that good people use. You can tell that it's the good kind because we felt humiliated by having to use it. Now let's go form an organization founded on the idea that we shouldn't have to pay, say, $500,000 in taxes in order to fund that very same safety net.

Visualize ...

 A pun worthy of note.

Former NSA Chief Disclosed Classified Information 'For Profit'

Alexander, who has repeatedly warned of the financial industry's vulnerability to state-sponsored cyber attacks, recently entered negotiations with the Security Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), Consumer Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable as a cyber-consultant. He initially set his service fee at $1 million a month, according to Bloomberg.
“It would be devastating if one of our major banks was hit, because they’re so interconnected,” Alexander, who retired from the NSA in March, told Bloomberg last week.
Alexander's resignation was announced in October 2013, amid revelations of the agency's controversial surveillance programs leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
In a letter to the three groups Wednesday, Grayson accused the former head of U.S. Cyber Command of disclosing classified information obtained while serving at the NSA for personal gain.
“Disclosing or misusing classified information for profit is, as Mr. Alexander well knows, a felony. I question how Mr. Alexander can provide any of the services he is offering unless he discloses or misuses classified information, including extremely sensitive sources and methods,” he wrote SIFMA. “Without the classified information that he acquired in his former position, he literally would have nothing to offer to you.”
Grayson, a longtime critic of the NSA, also cited security expert Bruce Schneier, who initially flagged the costly fee as a potential indication of classified disclosures.
“Think of how much actual security they could buy with that $600K a month,” Schneier wrote on Tuesday. “Unless he's giving them classified information.”
Grayson asked all three organizations to "send me all information related to your negotiations with Mr. Alexander, so that Congress can verify whether or not he is selling military and cybersecurity secrets to the financial services industry for personal gain."
Last month, the House Science and Technology Committee passed Grayson’s Internet security amendment, marking the first time any body of Congress approved legislation restricting NSA powers.
The proposed amendment would remove the requirement that the National Institute of Standards and Technology confer with the NSA on encryption standards.

The Road to Mosul

Searching for the Real ISIS
by Christoph Reuter
The Road to Mosul: Searching for the Real ISIS
Fault lines in Iraq are widening as ISIS advances: Even as the Shiite government in Baghdad digs it its heels, the country's Sunnis are losing their faith in a single nation and the Kurds are hoping for independence. But what is ISIS, really?  More

Blackwater threatened to kill US investigator in Iraq

Contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater
Contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater secure the site of a roadside bomb attack in central Baghdad, July 5, 2005.
The top manager in Iraq of the notorious private security firm Blackwater threatened to kill a US State Department investigator for probing the company's performance, the New York Times reported Monday.
The Times, citing an internal State Department memorandum, said the threat came just weeks before Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 civilians on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad's Nisour Square.
However US embassy officials in Baghdad sided with Blackwater and the State Department investigators were ordered to leave, The Times said.
Four former Blackwater employees are currently on trial in a US court for the Nisour Square deaths.
The killing, seen as an example of the impunity enjoyed by private security firms on the US payroll in Iraq, exacerbated Iraqi resentment toward Americans.
The lead State Department investigator, Jean Richter, warned in the memo dated August 31, 2007, that little oversight of the company, which had a $1 billion contract to protect US diplomats, had created "an environment full of liability and negligence."
Blackwater guards "saw themselves as above the law," Richter wrote.
The Times posted a link to the document at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/06/30/us/30blackwater-documents.html
According to a State Department memo, Daniel Carroll, Blackwater’s project manager in Iraq, told Richter after an argument "that he could kill me at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq."
Richter wrote: "I took Mr Carroll’s threat seriously. We were in a combat zone where things can happen quite unexpectedly, especially when issues involve potentially negative impacts on a lucrative security contract."
A fellow State Department investigator who witnessed the exchange corroborated Richter’s report in a separate statement.
Blackwater, whose license to work in Iraq was revoked by Baghdad, has since been renamed twice and after merging with a rival firm is now called Constellis Holdings.
The State Department canceled its contract with the company soon after President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.

BNP to Pay $8.8 Billion in Plea Deal Over Violation of Sanctions

The logo of BNP Paribas is seen on top of the bank's building in Fontenay-sous-Bois, east of Paris
The logo of BNP Paribas is seen on top of the bank's building in Fontenay-sous-Bois, eastern Paris
BNP Paribas SA (BNP) pleaded guilty to charges tied to a U.S. probe of sanctions violations, resolving a wide-ranging state and federal investigation with a penalty of at least $8.8 billion, the largest fine for such a case in history.
BNP agreed to plead guilty in relation to allegations that it processed funds involving Sudan, Iran and Cuba, according to a person familiar with the matter. The bank, suspected of hiding about $30 billion in transactions, will also be barred from clearing U.S. dollars for as long as a year, according to another person, who asked not to be named because the agreement wasn't yet public.
Today, the Paris-based bank was charged with falsifying business records and conspiracy by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in New York. State prosecutors disclosed the $8.8 billion penalty as the bank appeared in court to plead guilty to the two counts. A press conference is set for 5 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington.
Fallout from the probe, and negotiations over its settlement with state and federal prosecutors, has reached the highest levels of the French and American governments. Overtures this year by numerous French officials, including President Francois Hollande, weren't enough to persuade U.S. officials to take a more lenient approach with the country's biggest bank.
In May, Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) agreed to pay $2.6 billion, the largest penalty in an offshore tax case, after using secret Swiss accounts to help Americans hide money from the Internal Revenue Service. Its main banking unit pleaded guilty.
BNP Probe
The BNP investigation centered on its commodity-trade finance business in Paris and Geneva. About 30 executives who worked there have resigned, gone on leave, been fired or relocated since 2012, people familiar with the matter have said.
Some unauthorized dollar payments were made on behalf of oil companies to Sudanese or Iranian entities, one former employee has said. Prosecutors also reviewed metals and agriculture commodity deals, as well as non-commodity transactions, two people with knowledge of the matter have said.
While most of the transactions ended in 2008, some continued until at least 2011, two former employees have said. Some bankers believed the deals were allowed because they weren't given guidance or rules from compliance and legal departments against doing them, they said. Management didn't order such transactions to stop until 2011, one said.
New York Accord
As the severity of U.S. and New York settlement demands became clearer, French officials became more involved. In May, Christian Noyer, the Bank of France Governor, and Edouard Fernandez-Bollo, a senior French banking regulator, met with prosecutors and regulators, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Meanwhile, the case sparked public outrage in France. The right-wing National Front, which beat France's two mainstream political parties in the May 25 European parliamentary elections, accused the U.S. of "racketeering," saying the investigation was an effort to weaken BNP and aid its American rivals.
Hollande said June 4 that a disproportionately large penalty against BNP wouldn't just harm the bank but could reverberate across Europe's financial system. He raised the issue the following evening with U.S. President Barack Obama, who said that he wouldn't intervene in the probe.
The following week, France's central bank said BNP hadn't violated French or European laws and that the probe may encourage companies to stop using dollars in international transactions. The U.S. claimed jurisdiction in the BNP case because the transactions were processed in dollars.
While BNP's case is resolved, at least two other French banks are still under investigation. Societe Generale SA (GLE) and Credit Agricole SA (ACA), respectively France's No. 2 and No. 3 banks by market value, have said in company filings this year that they are conducting internal reviews and cooperating with U.S. authorities regarding dollar transactions involving embargoed countries.
BNP's penalty dwarfs the combined $4.9 billion levied against 21 other banks for transactions tied to sanctioned countries since Obama took office. Prosecutors argued that the more severe penalty was justified because the misconduct was more egregious and BNP didn't fully cooperate with the investigation, a person with knowledge of the matter has said.
Corporate penalties for violating U.S. sanctions are escalating. London-based HSBC Holdings Plc agreed to pay $1.9 billion in 2012 to resolve a sanctions-violation investigation and allegations of being used by Mexican drug gangs to launder money. It avoided a guilty plea by admitting wrongdoing.

China sends high-profile dissidents on forced luxury holidays

China spends even more on internal "stability maintenance" and security than it does on its army. Some of that incredible budget goes to forced holidays for dissidents that get them out of the way during events like the 25th anniversary of Tienanmen Square. It's called "being traveled."
The bizarre form of kidnapping is reportedly very popular with high-ranking members of the security services, who get to accompany the dissidents on long beach holidays and share access to the best booze and food while away. Regular dissidents don't get this kind of treatment, though -- they go to "black jails" for beatings.
Police "went with me every day and paid for everything" on a trip to Ningxia in the north-west that took in the towering dunes of the Tengger desert.
"If you refuse to go travelling there will be consequences," he said. "You have to go. Even though you are at tourist sites, you have been forced to go, so you're not in the mood to enjoy it."
Government personnel relish the trips, some regular forced travellers suggest. "We ate the best food and drank the best alcohol. The security officials enjoyed it too. Not just any security official can go on this kind of trip, they need to be above a certain rank," said the environmental campaigner Wu Lihong, adding he was taken to the ancient city of Xian for two weeks in March. "Quite a few" officials from Beijing's secretive ministry of state security accompanied him, he said.



Facebook's massive psychology experiment illegal

Researchers from Facebook, Cornell and UCSF published a paper describing a mass-scale experiment in which Facebook users' pages were manipulated to see if this could induce and spread certain emotional states. They say it was legal to do this without consent, because Facebook's terms of service require you to give consent for, basically, anything.
But as legal scholar James Grimmellmann points out, there's a federal law that prohibits universities from conducting this kind of experiment without explicit, separate consent (none of this burying-consent-in-the-fine-print bullshit). Two of the three researchers who worked on this were working for federally funded universities with institutional review boards, and the project received federal funds.
Facebook says that it manipulates feeds all the time, and this was no different, but Facebook is acting as a private company when it does this, not working on a federally funded project, in concert with federally funded researchers. Besides, Grimmelmann further points out that there was real potential for harm in the protocol of the study.
As Grimmelmann says: This is bad, even for Facebook.

Nanny Leaves Young Kids in Hot Car to Go Tanning

It's a beautiful 90-degree day in Portland, Ore. Where does a 23-year-old nanny take a 3-year-old and 1-month-old? To a tanning salon, according to court documents, where the young children were left locked in a van until their screams led the cops to be called.
According to those documents, obtained by KOIN, a responding officer reported that he could feel heat "radiating from [the older child] through his bulletproof vest" and that the boy was "soaked in sweat" in the May 15 incident. The Dodge Caravan's windows were all closed, and KFOR notes that temps can jump 40 degrees in as little as an hour on a hot day.
The nanny, Kristin Marie Jones, first told the officer that she had left the children in the car with their mother-and later admitted to making this up because she was scared. She pleaded not guilty on Friday to all charges (which in addition to counts of first-degree child neglect, includes a count of driving while suspended); her trial is set for Aug. 18. Jones' resume is already peppered with convictions, among them two separate DUI convictions in 2012 and a 2009 conviction for second-degree theft.

Get it ...?

Don't get it? Don't worry it's a generational thing ...

It may take guts to cure diabetes

It may take guts to cure diabetes
By switching off a single gene, scientists at Columbia University’

A Fungus Amog Us ...

Researchers look to restore the efficacy of drugs as bacteria continue to evolve.

Hollywood Science

Hedy Lamarr is famous as a glamorous movie star from the black-and-white era of film. But what most people don't know about her is that, in 1942, she co-invented a device that helped make possible the development of GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi technology!
Born in Austria in 1914, the mathematically talented Lamarr moved to the US in 1937 to start a Hollywood career. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, she was considered one of cinema's leading ladies and made numerous films; however, her passion for engineering is far less known today. Her interest in inventing was such that she set up an engineering room in her house complete with a drafting table and wall of engineering reference books. With the outbreak of World War II, Lamarr wanted to apply her skills to helping the war effort and, motivated by reports of German U-boats sinking ships in the Atlantic, she began investigating ways to improve torpedo technology.
After Lamar met composer George Antheil, who had been experimenting with automated control of musical instruments, together they hit on the idea of "frequency hopping." At the time, radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be detected and jammed by broadcasting interference at the frequency of the control signal, thereby causing the torpedo to go off course. Frequency hopping essentially served to encrypt the control signal because it was impossible for a target to scan and jam all of the frequencies.
Lamarr and Antheil were granted a patent for their invention on August 11, 1942, but the US Navy wasn't interested in applying their groundbreaking technology until twenty years later when it was used on military ships during a blockade of Cuba in 1962. Lamarr and Antheil's frequency-hopping concept serves as a basis for the spread-spectrum communication technology used in GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. Unfortunately, Lamarr's part in its development has been largely overlooked and her efforts weren't recognized until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave her an award for her technological contributions.

Daily Comic Relief


Terrorists killed by possessed bees and snakes

o-SNAKE-TOILET-BITES-MAN-facebookNigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, known for kidnapping hundreds of school girls, are fleeing their forest hideouts to escape "mystical bees" and "mysterious snakes" that are physical manifestations of the people they have killed. From Yahoo News UK:
According to Nigerian newspaper Vanguard, the captured insurgents claimed the creatures -- possessed by ghosts -- had killed many Boko Haram members. "We were told that the aggrieved people who had suffered from our deadly mission -- including the ghosts of some of those we killed -- are the ones turning into the snake and bees," one militant told Vanguard. "Our leaders fled, too."

Blue Parrot

Rare blue parrot already believed to be extinct in the wild, after deforestation and non-native honeybees started competing with them for nest space.

Vampire squid spotted in Gulf of Mexico depths

Rare sighting of deep-water denizen, which does not actually feed on blood, is documented via remotely-operated vehicle
A group of scientists exploring the depths of Gulf of Mexico on Friday videotaped a rarely observed vampire squid.The sighting was made via remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) and documented by the crew aboard EVNautilus. The footage (posted above) shows the vampire squid moving slowly, yet gracefully, in the gentle current.
Stated Nautilus Live on its Facebook page: “We had a surprise visit from a Vampire Squid last night, perfect timing for the end of #Cephalopod week. Check out this eerie video as it drifts into the cameras of the ROV Hercules. Beautiful!” 
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which last month acquired one of these amazing critters, vampire squid are an ancient species that possess characteristics of a squid and an octopus.
vampiresquid.jpeg copy
Vampire squid image is a video screen grab
Its Latin name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, translates to “vampire squid from hell.”
Contrary to its name, however, the vampire squid does not feed on blood. Rather, it scavenges largely on marine snoworganic detritus falling through the water columnand decaying animal carcasses. The richly colored critter boasts incredibly large eyes and can turn itself inside out to escape predators.
Vampire squid are thought to reside at light-less depths between 2,000 and 3,000 feet.
Aside from the Gulf of Mexico, they’ve been observed in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) and off Monterey Bay.
The EVNautilus is studying the impacts of oil and gas inputs into the Gulf of Mexico.

Animal Pictures