Tag Archives: lees and orts

Lees and Orts

And so the blood-letting begins:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to offer some employees a buyout program to reduce staff, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters, as President Donald Trump proposes slashing the agency’s budget and workforce to reduce regulation.

The memo sent by acting Deputy Administrator Mike Flynn on Thursday said the agency wants to complete the buyout program by September. It did not give a dollar figure for the buyouts or say how many employees it hoped would take the offer.

The memo was sent to all employees at the same time EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt joined Trump at the White House to announce that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

“Early outs and buy outs … can help us realign our workforce to meet changing mission requirements and move toward new models of work,” the memo said. “The authority encourages voluntary separations and helps the Agency complete workforce restructuring with minimal disruption to the workforce.”

The EPA would see the biggest cuts of any federal agency in Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, with a 31 percent reduction in budget and the elimination of over 3,200 employees. The EPA employs about 15,000 people.

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It took them fucking long enough!

Kansas Gov. Brownback’s tax experiment comes to end, as legislature overturns veto.

When Kansas Governor Sam Brownback launched his experiment, he told Kansans that it would be an injection of adrenaline and that the economy would come roaring back to life. But after 5 years, the economy struggles and the state budget is a disaster. Speaking from the Senate floor tonight, Sen. Dennings (R-Overland Park) spoke out in favor of overturning the Governor’s veto and ending the tax experiment. ‘This was a mistake,’ and noted that it was his mistake, and he was prepared to break out the mop and start cleaning it up. For Governor Brownback, the overturn of his tax plan represents the ultimate rebuke of a governor. Unlike Democratic governors in states with Supermajority Republicans who have faced veto override, Governor Brownback would assume immunity – the State House & Senate are both super majority Republican. But the Republicans have seen enough. Sen. Hardy (R-Salina) made the case: ‘The people in this state have had it. Either we pay the bill now or we pay a bigger bill later.’ ”

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Lees and Orts

In prepared testimony released on the eve of his appearance Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI director James B. Comey placed President Trump in the gunsights of a federal criminal investigation, laying out evidence sufficient for a case of obstruction of justice.

Comey proved what Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers carefully avoided admitting in their testimony 1on Wednesday — that the president had specifically attempted to shut off at least a major piece of what Trump calls the “Russia thing,” the investigation into the misleading statements by fired national security adviser Michael Flynn concerning his role in dealings with the Russians. This kind of presidential intervention in a pending criminal investigation has not been seen, to my knowledge, since the days of Richard Nixon and Watergate.

Well…duh!

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Everyone who joins the FBI takes their Oath of Office. They have a web page dedicated to presenting and explaining that oath; the following bit of that is both instructive and timely:

It is significant that we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution and not an individual leader, ruler, office, or entity. This is true for the simple reason that the Constitution is based on lasting principles of sound government that provide balance, stability, and consistency through time. A government based on individuals—who are inconsistent, fallible, and often prone to error—too easily leads to tyranny on the one extreme or anarchy on the other. The founding fathers sought to avoid these extremes and create a balanced government based on constitutional principles.

Something to muse over today while Comey testifies.

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Lees and Orts

A little gem from back in the day – the first American spacewalk, launched June 3rd, 1965.

Lees and Orts

Show 1 footnote

  1. Think for a moment about the reaction Clinton would have received had she told the Benghazi committee that a question was “too inappropriate” to answer. Coats and Rogers’ testimony is treasonous.

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OMP called confessed killer –and incidentally Phillipines’ President Duterte– “Rodrigo.”

And, of course, OMP relayed to Duterte “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievavle job (you are) doing on the drug problem.” You know, as in going out and personally killing drug “dealers.”

And there’s more – read the transcript for yourself.

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Got to be careful with those jokes: From Mock Paper Sissors, which you should definitely be reading:

TAMPA –  At a time when journalists are under fire both literally and figuratively, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s “joke” this week at a military conference about pointing twin 50 caliber machine guns at journalists and watching them “cry like little girls” rankled several reporters in the room.

…At the conference, Buckhorn told a crowd of more than 1,000 commando and defense industry leaders about his experience as a “hostage” during a demonstration of special ops rescue tactics. The highlight, he said, was when he was aboard a Navy special warfare boat, firing blanks from 50-caliber machine guns.

“And so the first place I point that gun is at the media,”  he told the crowd. “I’ve never seen grown men cry like little girls, for when that gun goes off those media folks just hit the deck like no one’s business. It’s great payback. I love it.”

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Meanwhile, down in The Grate State of Tex-ass:

HOUSTON — Texas State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, filed a bill Friday that would penalize men for “unregulated masturbatory emissions.”

The satirical House Bill 4260 would encourage men to remain “fully abstinent” and only allow the “occasional masturbatory emissions inside health care and medical facilities,” which are described in the legislation as the best way to ensure men’s health.

Farrar said she created the bill after feeling fed up with the various legislative bills introduced by men addressing women’s healthcare.
“A lot of people find the bill funny,” Farrar said in a phone interview. “What’s not funny are the obstacles that Texas women face every day, that were placed there by legislatures making it very difficult for them to access healthcare.”

A man would face a $100 penalty for each emission made outside of a vagina or medical facility. Such an emission would be considered “an act against an unborn child, and failing to preserve the sanctity of life,” according to the legislation.

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From Zimbabwe comes further proof that belief in imaginary, supernatural beings is a mug’s game:

A pastor from a local church in White River Mpumalanga died this morning trying to demonstrate a biblical miracle to his (sic) congregants.

Past Jonathan Mthethwa of the “Saint Of The Last Days” churched drowned into the crocodile infested river also known as the Crocodile River and was seen by his church members getting eaten by 3 crocodiles.

“The pastor taught us about faith on Sunday last week. He promised he would demonstrate his faith to us today, but he unfortunately ended up drowning and getting eaten by 3 large crocodiles in front of us. We still don’t understand how this happened because he fasted and prayed the whole week,” said Deacon Nkosi, who is one of the church members.

It is said that Pastor Mthewa walked into the water and when he was 30 meters inside the river, he attempted to ascend above the water so he can start walking, but the 3 crocodiles appeared out of no where and started feasting on him.

“They finished him in a couple of minutes. All that was left of him when they finished eating him is a pair of sandals and his underwear floating above the water,” said Deacon Nkosi.

Depending upon what scripture one uses, and how that “scripture” is interpreted, the pastor’s underwear floating above the water could be deemed a miracle, n’est-ce pas?
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Pastor-eating crocodiles related:

A record low percentage of Americans believe that the Bible is “actual word of God,” with more calling it a “book of fables,” similar to Aesop’s, according to a new survey.

Gallup reports that just 24 percent believe the Bible should be taken “literally, word for word.”

“This is the first time in Gallup’s four-decade trend that biblical literalism has not surpassed biblical skepticism,” said the pollster.

By comparison 26 percent view the Bible as “a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.”

Sadly 47% –or about the same number of “real Amurikans” who voted for OMP— still think it is the “inspired word of God but that not all of it should be taken literally.”

Much more work to do…
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A quick note of thanks to Tengrain, who is picking and choosing this week’s links over at Crooks and Liars – much appreciated.

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And finally…

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Lees and Orts

You can’t make this shit up:

The law firm that said OMP has no financial ties to Russia “with a few exceptions” was recognized in 2016 as Russia law firm of the year.

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In yet more you can’t make this shit up news, the House ReThugs apparently don’t understand how passing bills works…or doesn’t:

According to several aides and other procedural experts, if Republicans send the [American Health Care Act] bill to the Senate now and the CBO later concludes it doesn’t save at least $2 billion, it would doom the bill and Republicans would have to start their repeal effort all over with a new budget resolution. Congressional rules would likely prevent Republicans from fixing the bill after it’s in the Senate, the aides said.

…reluctant Republicans will once again be forced to decide whether to back it. Only this time, they would also be saddled with the CBO’s latest findings about the bill’s costs and impacts.

For those of you keeping score at home, the AHCA only passed by 2 votes; Chaffetz is set to leave in June and the MT-AL election is next week.

It’s a shame that no one ever seems to remember that the ReThug’s inability to actually govern, as much as their neo-Confederacy policies, is a fine reason to keep them out of office.

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On the idiocy that would be appointing Joe Lieberman to the FBI Directorship:

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And now a rational response to the OMP/Russia imbroglio:

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Lees and Orts

Drive the demons from the NSA data collection building known as “Titanpointe”! Mass exorcism ritual to purify data, reject false gods… and defend freedom of thought!

In the interests of metaphysically purging the edifice of the data it hoards and invoking a less maniacal version of citizen-government relations, on April 15th at 12 p.m. a cadre of priests, supplicants, and a volunteer choir affiliated with The Quiet American will exorcise the malevolent energy coursing through the so-called ‘Long Lines Building’ at 33 Thomas Street. This sacred day falls approximately one day before the rising of Christ, and three days before tax day.

Beginning with a prayer for the building’s physical materials and an invocation of the gods this architectural fiasco has insulted, exorcisors will then lay a perimeter of salt around the building to render ineffective the sinister frequencies it broadcasts. In a rite of liberation and fertility, thousands of pages of personal data, bouquets of flowers, and an ostrich egg will then be sacrificed to the building, thereby triggering a massive spiritual data hemorrhage that will release the banal facts of our lives back into their proper home – the ether — and expel the demons of fear and suspicion from the temple.

Windowless, monolithic, and creepy as all hell, the building at 33 Thomas Street is an altar to a false god, a monument to the bottomless fear that locks us in permanent war and makes us suspicious of our neighbors, our own towns and cities, our own capabilities and impulses. Windowless, shuttered to the world that it is intended to spy on, the building at 33 Thomas Street is a maelstrom of negative energy, a black hole that sucks up light in the form of our personal communications, then in some alchemical sleight of hand returns that light in the form of a panic and dread which we are assured is the real common currency of our civic life. Rather than allay fears of the end however, this brutalist heap – designed to withstand a nuclear assault and sustain the employees working within its bowels for two weeks – broadcasts paranoia.

No word yet as to whether the demons were removed… 1

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Jebus H. Fucking Kerist On a Pogo Stick… Could this look any more like a payoff?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s low-selling 2014 memoir netted him another $218,100 last year, pushing his total book payments to $783,000 over the past four years, according to his tax returns.

Cuomo’s 2016 tax records, which his office made available for review Tuesday, showed the latest round of payments from HarperCollins, the major publisher that gave him a lucrative book deal in 2013.

The governor’s memoir — “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics in Life — did not perform well: Just 3,200 copies sold since its release, including just 100 copies over the past two years, according to NPD Books, which tracks book sales nationwide.

It was a money-loser for HarperCollins, which ultimately paid Cuomo about $245 per book sold. It retailed at $29.99.

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By now you’ve heard Jason Chaffetz has decided not to run for reelection next year, much less attempt to claim Orin Hatch’s Senate seat. 2 You can find Chaffetz’s stated reasons for his decision here.

Immediately the second guessing began: Does Russia have компромат on Chaffetz? Snopes is unwilling to say one way or the other, but the more cynical among us assume someone does.

Another theory is Chaffetz realized at a recent “town hall” meeting that his days of running roughshod over America in the name of ReThuggery is fast coming to an end. Another school of thought is that he’s positioning himself for a run at the Utah governor’s office in 2020. 3

Regardless which, if any, of these speculations holds true, the sooner the corrupt jackass takes his leave, the better.

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Georgia don’t want no damned Dixie Democrat!

Five civil rights and civic engagement groups have filed suit against Georgia and its secretary of state for attempting to block registered voters from participating in a closely watched runoff election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

On Thursday, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a complaint in the federal district court in Atlanta, arguing that the state is violating the National Voter Registration Act. That law sets 30 days before a federal election as the earliest permissible deadline for voter registration.

Georgia complied with the provision for the special congressional election held this past Tuesday. But because no candidate won 50 percent of the vote, there will be a second election on June 20 ― a runoff between the top two finishers, Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.

Georgia election officials contend that the June runoff is simply a continuation of the special election this week, so they don’t have to allow newly registered voters to participate. The registration deadline for Tuesday’s election was March 20, and officials say anybody who registers after that day is not eligible to vote in the June runoff.

Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the voting rights project at the Lawyers’ Committee, argues that under the federal law, Georgia can’t set the registration deadline for the June 20 runoff any earlier than 30 days before that election ― that is, May 22.

“The case is actually a very, very simple case,” Rosenberg told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “Federal law specifically defines elections as including runoff elections.”

We’re surprised Kris Kobach isn’t down Georgia way, offering his tried and true services, if only to distract himself from yet another court loss.

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What we’re (re)reading…
The Stars My Destination

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Show 3 footnotes

  1. Reminds us of the mythical skyscraper in The City that was purposely designed to put a dangerous edge on anything left in its confines; razor blades, knives, sharp suits… No word on whether Emperor Norton started that one. Or even Bear himself. The City has always been full of characters.
  2. In fact rumors were swirling yesterday afternoon that Chaffetz could step down as early as today. As of this post…crickets.
  3. Perhaps even the presidency; his campaign people have parked the following two domains – jason2028.com and jasonchaffetz2028.com.

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When longtime friends and associates of (OMP) want to reach him, they don’t go directly to the White House. Instead, they call the woman who’s been the gatekeeper at Trump Tower for a quarter century: Rhona Graff.

Since (OMP) took office in January, Graff has become a conduit for those who want to quietly offer advice, make personnel suggestions or get on the president’s calendar when he’s at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The list includes investor Ken Langone and Hank Greenberg, the chairman & CEO of CV Starr whose assistant recently went to Graff about trying to set up a lunch with (OMP) , according to a person with knowledge of the call.

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Campaign promises, amirite?


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In what could be one of Hong Kong’s most significant data breaches ever, the personal information of the city’s 3.7 million voters was possibly compromised after the Registration and Electoral Office reported two laptop computers went missing at its backup venue for the chief executive election.

The devices also stored the names of the 1,200 electors on the Election Committee who selected Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as Hong Kong’s new chief executive on Sunday.

The two computers were stolen from a room at the AsiaWorld-Expo on Lantau, which the office described as the election’s “fallback venue”.

While the committee members’ full names are publicly available information, the personal data of Hong Kong’s voters could include their ID card numbers, addresses and mobile phone numbers.

The office said the computers had been put in a locked room. It reported the case to police.

Suspects? Anyone guessing China? Anyone, anyone, Bueller…?

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With as many as 45 million British one-pound coins suspected fake, the Royal Mint is now making 1.5 billion new ones, which will enter circulation Tuesday. Security features include a 12-sided bimetallic design, a hologram, fine lettering and even some secret tricks to beat crooks, the modern equivalent of Sir Isaac Newton’s efforts to make the currency more secure in his tenure as Master of the Royal Mint some three centuries ago.

His successor, Mint chief executive Adam Lawrence, calls it “the most secure circulating coin in the world.”

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From the start of his presidency, (OMP ’s) “war on terror” has entailed the seemingly indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people in the name of killing terrorists. In other words, Trump has escalated the 16-year-old core premise of America’s foreign policy — that it has the right to bomb any country in the world where people it regards as terrorists are found — and in doing so, has fulfilled the warped campaign pledges he repeatedly expressed.

The most recent atrocity was the killing of as many as 200 Iraqi civilians from U.S. airstrikes this week in Mosul. That was preceded a few days earlier by the killing of dozens of Syrian civilians in Raqqa province when the U.S. targeted a school where people had taken refuge, which itself was preceded a week earlier by the U.S. destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens. And one of Trump’s first military actions was what can only be described as a massacre carried out by Navy SEALs, in which 30 Yemenis were killed; among the children killed was an 8-year-old American girl (whose 16-year-old American brother was killed by a drone under Obama).

In sum: Although precise numbers are difficult to obtain, there seems little question that the number of civilians being killed by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria — already quite high under Obama — has increased precipitously during the first two months of the (OMP) administration. Data compiled by the site Airwars tells the story: The number of civilians killed in Syria and Iraq began increasing in October under Obama but has now skyrocketed in March under OMP.

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VICE: Why did you decide to go to the inauguration on acid?
Zachary: I feel like if there is any inauguration to go to in this age, of course it is President Trump’s inauguration. And if I’m going to do anything, I might as well do it on acid to throw a curveball into the mix…

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Forbes, that staunch defender of capitalism, is sorta worried about…um…capitalism:

  • Capitalism has generated massive wealth for some, but it’s devastated the planet and has failed to improve human well-being at scale.
  • Species are going extinct at a rate 1,000 times faster than that of the natural rate over the previous 65 million years (see Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School).
  • Since 2000, 6 million hectares of primary forest have been lost each year. That’s 14,826,322 acres, or just less than the entire state of West Virginia (see the 2010 assessment by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN).
  • Even in the U.S., 15% of the population lives below the poverty line. For children under the age of 18, that number increases to 20% (see U.S. Census).
  • The world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 (see United Nations’ projections).

How do we expect to feed that many people while we exhaust the resources that remain?

Human activities are behind the extinction crisis. Commercial agriculture, timber extraction, and infrastructure development are causing habitat loss and our reliance on fossil fuels is a major contributor to climate change.

Don’t let the ReThugs hear this, else it’s the reeducation camps for Forbes!
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A divided federal appeals court is ruling for the First Amendment, saying the public has a right to film the police. But the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, in upholding the bulk of a lower court’s decision against an activist who was conducting what he called a “First Amendment audit” outside a Texas police station, noted that this right is not absolute and is not applicable everywhere.

The facts of the dispute are simple. Phillip Turner was 25 in September 2015 when he decided to go outside the Fort Worth police department to test officers’ knowledge of the right to film the police. While filming, he was arrested for failing to identify himself to the police. Officers handcuffed and briefly held Turner before releasing him without charges. Turner sued, alleging violations of his Fourth Amendment right against unlawful arrest and detention and his First Amendment right of speech.

The 2-1 decision Thursday by Judge Jacques Wiener is among a slew of rulings on the topic, and it provides fresh legal backing for the so-called YouTube society where people are constantly using their mobile phones to film themselves and the police. The American Civil Liberties Union says, “there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs or video in public places and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply.”

A dissenting appellate judge on the case—Edith Brown Clement—wrote Turner was not unlawfully arrested and that the majority opinion from the Texas-based appeals court jumped the gun to declare a First Amendment right here because one “is not clearly established.”

Previously, a federal judge had dismissed Turner’s allegations, saying the officers involved held so-called “qualified immunity” because the right to film the police was not “clearly established” at the time of the incident. And on appeal, the appellate court upheld this lower court’s position. However, the majority then went on to declare a prospective First Amendment right to film the police within the circuit’s jurisdiction, which includes Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas…

The Supreme Court still has not ruled on the issue.

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Lees and Orts

How would repealing the Affordable Care Act affect health care and jobs in your state?

Across the country, 29.8 million people would lose their health insurance if the Affordable Care Act were repealed—more than doubling the number of people without health insurance. And 1.2 million jobs would be lost—not just in health care but across the board.

Link to maps showing jobs and health care losses.

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the world of yesterday

Perhaps tellingly, World Cat can only find copies of the book in the Shanghai Library and the Hong Kong university system…

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Food for thought in an era where OMB is expected to ease all sorts of pollution regulations…

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Lees and Orts

Let’s start with some minor news: The White House comment line (202-456-1111) has been shuttered.

Oh, you can still call, but you get a recording stating the “comments line is currently closed.” 1 Why? Simple – Our Manchurian President doesn’t want to hear from you.

The recording relates the following:

Thank you for calling the White House comment line. The comment line is currently closed, but your comment is important to the president, and we urge you to send us a comment online at www.whitehouse.gov/contact or send a message through Facebook Messenger. For government information by topic, visit www.usa.gov or call 1-800-FED-INFO. Thank you for calling, we look forward to hearing from you soon. Goodbye.

If you don’t want an automated email response from the White House, or a sad moji posted to your FB IM, try calling Our Manchurian President direct here.

Brought to you by the ingenious Sanders technical team.

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You know how middle-of-the-roaders are always shaking their heads in disappointment whenever you mention that anti-abortionists have a larger plan in mind? Well, tell them to suck it – you were right.

Following a considerable amount of cross-talk over services that Planned Parenthood provides with Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life, host Reid pulled her panel up and said she wanted to talk about something everyone could agree on: that contraception should be legal.

Not everyone was in agreement.

“I believe certain forms can be legal, yes,” Hawkins agreed, adding, “I don’t believe abortion causing contraception should be legal.”

“What kind of contraception are you talking about?” Reid asked, with Hawkins replying, “Hormonal contraception.”

“You think IUDs should be illegal?” Reid pressed.

“I don’t think they should be legal, “Hawkins replied. “They put women at risk and they kill children.”

“What about the birth control pill?” the unrelenting Reid asked.

“I do not think it should be legal, I think that shouldn’t be legal,” Hawkins replied before trying to change the subject.

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The notion that it’s easier to pass moderate policies than extreme ones takes its plausibility from the notion of the average or centrist voter. You can read about this voter in polling on policy issues. If your policy is fairly close to the views of the centrist voter, he’s likely to vote for you and you’re likely to win elections; the farther you get from this average view, the more difficulty you’ll have. An extreme candidate will turn off centrist voters for the simple reason that they disagree with him. (It is through this logic that Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum mistakenly concluded that Bernie Sanders would have lost against Donald Trump.)

The trouble with this theory is that in modern US politics it is by definition impossible for a major party to embrace policies which are ‘extreme’ in the sense of ‘far from the consensus views of the average voter.’ The average voter’s policy views, to the extent that these exist at all outside this context other than as artifacts of polling, are largely determined not by any particular factual information about the issues or ideological commitments concerning the role of government but by the policy positions of the major parties. If one of these parties embraces a particular position on any given issue, the 40% of American voters who consistently support that party will come to adopt that position wholesale, while most of the rest will come to believe (and be encouraged by the media’s carefully even-handed reporting to believe) that this position is at least reasonable and defensible if not correct. There are very few views so extreme and so indefensible that they can’t garner mass support if repeated frequently enough by a major US party – just think of ‘global warming is a hoax.’

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Candidate Trump promised to take on Wall Street. As deregulator-in-chief, he will be Wall Street’s best friend. History teaches us that financial regulations die from a thousand cuts rather than a signifying event. As Cornell University law professor Saule Omarova puts it, ‘Financial reform is like a big onion. The more layers you peel off, the harder you cry.’ For example, by the time the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law removed the Glass-Steagall firewall between commercial and investment banks in 1999, that separation was already effectively wiped out – by administrative waivers granted by regulators. The 1994 Riegle-Neal Act that formally allowed banks to open branches across state lines came after a decade of states altering rules to undermine local control of finance. Deregulation of mortgage rules that led to the housing bubble rolled out over a 20-year period, spanning Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. And even then, it took the George W. Bush administration’s laissez-faire supervision to really supercharge predatory lending. So while Donald Trump, populist rhetoric notwithstanding, promised on the campaign trail and on his transition website to ‘dismantle’ Dodd-Frank financial reform, he probably won’t do it in one shot. He won’t even have to do it through Congress. Here’s the likely blueprint.”

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Can’t remember the last time a general strike shut down the United States? That’s because it has never happened.

“General strikes don’t happen in the United States,” Kevin Boyle, a historian at Northwestern University who specializes in modern American social movements, told DW.

What do happen are general strikes on a local level, but even those are exceedingly rare, explained Andrew Wender Cohen, a history professor at Syracuse University.

“The last major general strike was in Oakland, California in 1946,” he said. Back then tens of thousands of workers walked off their jobs in a fight over unionization in the city.

Extraordinary idea

While regionally based general strikes like the one in Oakland – involving more than 10,000 workers and shutting down a local economy – happened earlier in the United States in places like San Francisco or Philadelphia, even those regional general strikes always were unusual.

“It is very, very uncommon in US history,” Cohen told DW, adding that for some time now there have been only 20 to 30 larger strikes per year in the entire country.

Against that backdrop, calls for a general strike by the organizer’s of the Women’s March as well as by other groups are not just noteworthy, but daring. 2

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Attention needs be paid:

On March 21, The Islamic Republic of Iran will cease using the U.S. dollar in all of its financial reporting. The decision to stop using the dollar as a reference has been in the works for some time but was expedited after the Trump administration decided to include Iran as one of the seven countries banned from entering the United States.

…In fact, the United States is already preparing for potential conflict with Iran, the US has introduced H.J.Res.10 – Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution. This resolution was quietly introduced last month with absolutely no media attention in spite of the fact that it ‘authorizes the President to use the U.S. Armed forces as necessary in order to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.’

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et’s start with

Show 2 footnotes

  1. You know, wherein currently equals permanently.
  2. If this sounds familiar it’s because a general national strike was supposed to happen January 20th was mostly a non-event. We”’ see how this second proposal fares.

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We’ve just finished Part 7 of the Intercept’s David Dayen’s The Penny Stock Chronicles. Read for yourself how “they’ have given up even pretending the game is rigged…

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Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended from the bench for telling probate judges to defy federal orders regarding gay marriage.

It’s the second time Moore has been removed from the chief justice job for defiance of federal courts – the first time in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ) issued the order Friday suspending Moore from the bench for the remainder of his term after an unanimous vote of the nine-member court.

“For these violations, Chief Justice Moore is hereby suspended from office without pay for the remainder of his term. This suspension is effective immediately,” the order stated.

The court found him guilty of all six charges of violation of the canons of judicial ethics. Moore’s term is to end in 2019, but because of his age, 69, he cannot run for the office again.

Moore is filing an appeal to…wait for it…the Alabama Supreme Court.

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File this one under “Doh!”

Police officers across the country misuse confidential law enforcement databases to get information on romantic partners, business associates, neighbors, journalists and others for reasons that have nothing to do with daily police work, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Criminal-history and driver databases give officers critical information about people they encounter on the job. But the AP’s review shows how those systems also can be exploited by officers who, motivated by romantic quarrels, personal conflicts or voyeuristic curiosity, sidestep policies and sometimes the law by snooping. In the most egregious cases, officers have used information to stalk or harass, or have tampered with or sold records they obtained.

No single agency tracks how often the abuse happens nationwide, and record-keeping inconsistencies make it impossible to know how many violations occur. But the AP, through records requests to state agencies and big-city police departments, found law enforcement officers and employees who misused databases were fired, suspended or resigned more than 325 times between 2013 and 2015…

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A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation reveals that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (renamed Xe Services, then “Academi“) clandestine intelligence services, was sold to the multinational Monsanto.

Because, you know, agriculture NEEDS hardened mercs to deal with GMO activists.

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It turns out the CIA and Blackwater were using a variety of “enhanced interrogation” technics we were unaware of, to include electric chairs. At least, the CIA threatened to use them. I’m sure they were just for shock value…

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Remind me again as to why there weren’t more prosecutions of the banks and financial houses in the wake of The Big Recession?

Big Data — those sprawling algorithms that can track and predict patterns in human behavior — often conjures up fears of a big-brother police state. But those same data-sets could be harnessed to uncover and expose Wall Street excesses.

That’s the implication of two new new academic studies about the financial crisis. One study suggests politically connected executives traded on non-public information about the government’s subsequent bailout after the crisis hit. The other suggests that despite their claims to the contrary, many bank executives understood the risks they were taking in the lead-up to the crash, and sold their personal holdings in their firms before the crisis hit.

The findings emerged as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, is demanding a formal investigation of why the Obama administration did not more forcefully prosecute financial firms after the crisis.

The first paper used publicly available information to chart the possibility that individuals with close ties to regulators and politicians engaged in insider trades in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

“Politically connected insiders had an information advantage during the crisis and traded to exploit this advantage,” concluded the study by researchers at the University of Colorado, Stanford University, the University of Navarra and the University of Pennsylvania. The study zeroed in on those who made trades after the announcement of the government’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which bought up so-called “toxic” assets — mortgages and securities that had plummeted in value.

Crunching data from 7,300 corporate officers at 497 financial firms eligible to get cash from TARP,  the researchers found political connections paid off — big time.

“We looked at bank boards who had a director or officer who had work experience, current or past, at a bank regulatory agency, the Senate or the House, and we found that the boards of those banks that had those political connections traded more heavily during the financial crisis,”  explained Daniel J. Taylor an accounting professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, in an interview with the school’s business journal.

In other words: while the government was supposedly deciding in private who would get TARP funding, politically-connected individuals traded as if they already knew the outcomes of those decisions — before the decisions were made public. That information translated into cash: The politically connected saw between 4-5 percent return in just three days. Those with political connections also traded more than three times the average volume in the 30 days leading up to the announcement of who would get how much in bailout funds.

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Moyers & Winship have an item up over at Truth Out that perfectly sums up why I won’t be viewing the presidential debates, even though I’ve watched them since the inaugural ’60 Kennedy-Nixon debate. 1 Indeed, I may never watch them again unless & until an outside organization reclaims then for the American public; if I wanted to watch gilded stump speeches disguised as intellectual honesty, I’d spend my time hanging out down at city hall, waiting for Mayor James to come out of his office and offer up some bullshit.

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Also at Truth Out:

We’ll have to do something drastically different to employ people in the future. Our jobs are disappearing. The driverless vehicle is here, destined to eliminate millions of transport and taxi-driving positions. Car manufacturing is being done by 3-D printing. An entire building was erected in Dubai with a 3-D printer. Restaurants are being designed with no waitstaff or busboys, hotels with no desk clerks, bellhops, and porters. Robot teachers are interacting with students in Japan and the UK….

Most of our new jobs are in service industries, including retail and personal health care and food service. The only one of the eight fastest-growing occupations that pays over $33,000 per year is nursing — and even nursing may give way to Robotic Nurse Assistants. The evidence for downsized jobs keeps accumulating. A US Mayors study found that ‘recovery’ jobs pay 23 percent less than the positions they replaced. The National Employment Law Project estimates that low-wage jobs accounted for 22 percent of job losses but 44 percent of subsequent job gains. Business Insider, Huffington Post , and the Wall Street Journal all concur: the unemployment rate is remaining low because of low-paying jobs.

We’re fooling ourselves by believing in a future with satisfying middle-class jobs for millions of Americans. It’s becoming clear that income should be guaranteed, so that recipients have the wherewithal and incentive and confidence to find productive ways to serve society.

Credible research overwhelmingly supports the concept. A World Bank analysis of 19 studies found that cash transfers have been demonstrated to improve education and health outcomes and alleviate poverty…concerns about the use of cash transfers for alcohol and tobacco consumption are unfounded. An MIT/Harvard analysis of seven cash transfer trials found “no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work.” The Brooks World Poverty Institute found that money transfers to the poor are used primarily for basic needs. Basic Incomes have been shown to lead to reductions in crime and inequality and malnutrition and infant mortality.

One of the earliest experiments with guaranteed incomes was the “Mincome” (minimum income) program conducted in the town of Dauphin, Manitoba during the 1970s. The results were never made clear, partly because of a change to a more conservative government, which put the program’s records in storage, unevaluated. One study, however, found improved health outcomes for the recipients of the basic income payments.

In the U.S. , the Alaska Permanent Fund has thrived for 35 years, even with anti-socialist conservatives in power. Texas has long employed a “Permanent School Fund” to distribute funds from mineral rights to the public education system. Wyoming has used a similar “Mineral Trust Fund” to help eliminate state income taxes. Nebraska distributes low-cost electricity from a publicly owned utility. Oregon has used the proceeds from wind energy to return hundreds of dollars to households. Vermont has proposed “Common Assets Trust” to raise money from taxes on pollution and pay dividends to residents. A pilot basic income experiment is set to begin in Oakland.

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So it turns out Bernie Sanders was right.

The long and short of it? The poor are poorer and deeper in debt, what’s left of the middle class has gained no traction, and —surprise, surprise, SURPRISE— the rich are getting richer: “The distribution [of wealth] among the nation’s families was more unequal in 2013 than it had been in 1989.”

The CBO notes that the average wealth of the richest families was $4 million, as opposed to $36,000 for those in the 26th to 50th percentiles – half of all American families.

Care to guess which group opposes basic income?

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You knew it had to be something like this, right?

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Twins born in Toyama aquarium’s female-only shark tank stump officials…

We expect the Phelps clan, the Family Research Council and Y’all Qaeda to immediately declare the event as yet another sign of The (eternally) Coming Apocalypse.

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The Guardian’s documentary on guns – well worth the watch.

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Oh fuck sweet baby Jebus on roller skates! OF COURSE we need to increase the defense budget!

defense-1

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Show 1 footnote

  1. “I know how to win,” Trump will undoubted respond to one of Clinton’s finely honed skewers. He will say it sneeringly, forgetting that he didn’t win in New Jersey when his casino {a casino (allegedly) backed by the Mob} failed. Miserably. “What are the odds?”, says the man not able to run a casino profitably.

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I took a daily break at Café Parvis while Nora and the Astas went about consuming…stuff.

The consensus among both wait staff and customers was that Hair Furer is not tanking this election on purpose, rather his candidacy is an elaborate prank 1; the USA is trolling the rest of the world. Montrealians believe we will fess up soon, call the whole thing off, laugh, shake hands and apologize for carrying the joke too far.

Then we’ll go ahead and elevate the usual economically retarded, xenophobic, hidebound Christian zealot (Mike Pence) as the GOP presidential candidate.

Failing that, they intend –quite rightly, IMHO– to build a wall.

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And speaking of Canadian maple syrup

The 20,000 litre-batch of maple syrup was supposed to be shipped to Japan last Thursday, but Mexuscan Transport had been forced to store the shipment at the holding facility due to a delay.

Police recovered the trailer in the west Montreal borough of Saint Laurent, but the maple syrup was gone.

Although the theft could prove costly for Mexuscan, it’s not the sweetest heist ever pulled off in Quebec. That distinction belongs to the massive maple syrup heist of 2011-2012, in which 2.7 million litres of the stuff were stolen from a warehouse in Quebec. The syrup was estimated to be worth $18 million. More than a dozen individuals were later arrested in the case.

There’s a $10K reward offered if “you” return the syrup. 2

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The Dallas Police Department is trying to suppress all evidence it has relating to its use of a bomb robot to kill the man suspected of killing four police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest last month. It has asked the Texas attorney general to allow it to withhold information that is “embarrassing” and has said that much of the evidence is “of no legitimate concern to the public.”

And we’re supposed to let the Dallas police decide what is “of no legitimate concern to the public”? Third world shithole, here we come… 3 4

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In other Baphomet news

The mundanity of a local council meeting in Alaska was astonishingly broken when a decision to open up the forum to all religions resulted in a Satanist presenting the opening prayer – to Lucifer.

When the local government of Kenai Borough decided to welcome other faiths to their assemblies they probably didn’t envisage opening up their doors to the Lord of Darkness.

On Tuesday, Iris Fontana – reportedly a member of the Satanic Temple organization that views Satan as a symbol for rebellion and rational inquiry – gave the assembly invocation usually reserved for pastors.

Meeting attendees were reminded that they did not have to participate in the opening ritual.

Assembly members stood silently in a circle while Fontana asked them to “embrace the Luciferian impulse to eat of the tree of knowledge.” She then ended the surreal prayer with the words “Hail Satan.”

These temples are springing up everywhere: Kansas City soon?
Of course there’s video!

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And in today’s Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” category, lots of newspapers discover that paywalls don’t work.

Of the paywalls erected in the past few years, many have delivered lackluster results, said Ken Doctor, a media consultant who writes the blog Newsonomics.

“The ones that were launched in 2012 to 2014 had good early results and they all largely stalled,” he said.

“They are no longer gaining much in the way of new digital subscriptions, and their print is in rapid decline.”

…Paywalls can backfire also “because they put a barrier between the newspaper and the casual reader,” he added.

“They are truncating the size of the digital market, when the most important factor for digital is scale.” 5

This might explain the Star’s on again, off again paywall. Or it might just be poor tech. Either way…

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Last minute sale on necessary school items…

Trojan Horse

Show 5 footnotes

  1. Obama and Clinton created ISIS: What fresh fuckery is this?”
  2. This was BIG news last Friday; couldn’t get anyone in Café Parvis to talk about anything else.
  3. Seriously, how embarrassing could the videos be? Do they record the DPD saying shit like “We’re not letting this jackoff leave here alive”? Granted, that’s embarrassing, AND actionable. Though I’m sure some of the officers involved may have muttered same, and ALL of the officers involved were thinking same, chances are the whole operation was your standard seat-of-your-pants clusterfuck: totally disorganized and replete with operational failures up and down the chain of command.
  4. Or maybe the DPD is just ashamed of the fact their department is so behind the times, or financially inept, that they could not deploy the latest technology: miniature assignation drones.
  5. Evidence of this is the fact the WSJ is adjusting its paywall to make it easier for non-paying users to access their site.