The Whistle In The Wind

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Poor Jon Chait.

He had the audacity to question whether the right of free speech comes with a responsibility on the part of both the speaker and the listener, and got hammered for it. In other words, he took on “political correctness” and in what may be one of the grandest moments of self-reinforcing demonstration, got spanked by the very movement he sought to critique. Continue reading The Whistle In The Wind

Charles Townes, Who Won Nobel for Lasers, Dies at 99


Charles Townes with wife, Frances after his sculpture was unveiled in his hometown, Greenville, SC
(The Greenville News/Heidi Heilbrunn, via AP)

NYT – Charles H. Townes, a visionary physicist whose research led to the development of the laser, making it possible to play CDs, scan prices at the supermarket, measure time precisely, survey planets and galaxies, and even witness the birth of stars, died on Tuesday in Oakland, Calif. He was 99.

In 1964, Dr. Townes and two Russians shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on microwave-emitting devices, called masers, and their light-emitting successors, lasers, which have transformed modern communications, medicine, astronomy, weapons systems and daily life in homes and workplaces.
more at the link

Boehner’s Treason?

Is the Speaker of the House loyal to the United States?
Reader Supported News [1.25.15]
 
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court…. – United States Constitution, Article III, section 3

Inviting a hostile head of state to challenge the U.S. President from the shelter of the U.S. Congress may not rise to the level of “levying war” in the literal sense. But it is surely an act of virtual war that recklessly raises the stakes of drawing the U.S. into more actual wars from Gaza to Iran.

Lacking any lawful authority to conduct foreign policy, Rep. John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress in direct opposition to the American president. This kind of vigilante foreign policy is tantamount to a declaration of war on the constitutional authority of the executive branch. It is also a deliberate effort to destroy the possibility of peaceful relations with Iran, in the midst of serious negotiation headed toward normalization. Defending the U.S. against the threat of peace is a traditionally mindless Republican stance. It becomes an obscenity when it is rooted in nothing more substantial than Israeli intransigence.
Continue reading Boehner’s Treason?

CSE tracks millions of downloads daily: Snowden documents

Global sites for sharing movies, photos, music targeted in mass anti-terror surveillance.

CBC News, By Amber Hildebrandt, Michael Pereira & Dave Seglins, January 28

Canada’s electronic spy agency sifts through millions of videos and documents downloaded online every day by people around the world, as part of a sweeping bid to find extremist plots and suspects, CBC News has learned. Details of the Communications Security Establishment project dubbed “Levitation” are revealed in a document obtained by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and recently released to CBC News.

Under Levitation, analysts with the electronic eavesdropping service can access information on about 10 to 15 million uploads and downloads of files from free websites each day, the document says. “Every single thing that you do — in this case uploading/downloading files to these sites — that act is being archived, collected and analyzed,” says Ron Deibert, director of the University of Toronto-based internet security think-tank Citizen Lab, who reviewed the document.

The Intercept: Canada Casts Global Surveillance Dragnet Over File Downloads
The Globe And Mail: Canadian spies scoured file-sharing sites to track jihadis, document shows

East Coast offshore drilling proposed for first time

Five-year offshore drilling plan to include Atlantic coast as well as Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.

Al Jazeera, By Renee Lewis, January 27

The Department of the Interior (DOI) has released a draft proposal of its five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing, which includes opening up areas of the Atlantic Ocean that have previously been off-limits, a move that worries conservationists.

The proposal includes 14 potential lease sales of drilling sites, including 10 in the Gulf of Mexico, three off the coast of Alaska and one in the middle to southern Atlantic, according to a DOI announcement on Tuesday. It said areas off the Pacific coast were not included in the draft proposal due to West Coast states’ historical opposition to oil and gas development. “The safe and responsible development of our nation’s domestic energy resources is a key part of the President’s efforts to support American jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in the release.

[…]

“This is a balanced proposal that would make available nearly 80 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable resources, while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop,” Jewell said.

Northeast “Blizzard” Open Thread

So much for snow starting this afternoon.
It’s here now- though not the blizzard.

Post anything storm connected (rants, songs, cartoons, pictures)
while you watch it fall or laugh at us stuck in the Northeast!

7 Keys to Understanding the Greek Elections

originally posted Jan 23

Huffington Post, By Pavlos Tsimas, January 22

On Sunday at 7:00 p.m. in Greece when the ballots are closing and the first exit polls are released in Berlin, Brussels, Madrid, London, Frankfurt and New York, all the political and financial decision-makers — and people who assist in making such decisions — will be staring at their computer screens, ready to read and interpret those numbers.

The upcoming elections in Greece are undeniably a global event, whose importance transcends Greece’s borders. The importance lies in the fact that these elections are part of a series of critical elections in Europe, from the British elections in May to Spain’s elections in November.
Continue reading 7 Keys to Understanding the Greek Elections

Amazon Prime only $72 tomorrow only, new subscribers only

OK, I wouldn’t post this, but nymole wanted anything, so here goes…
Usually Amazon Prime is $99/year, but tomorrow they are having a special sale for new members only.  If you don’t already have it, now’s the time.
Even $72 for a year sounds expensive, but it works out to $6/month, $3/mo less than Netflix.  I think it is well worth it.  Not only do you get free instant video of commercial-free movies and tv shows, just like Netflix, but you also get free 2-day shipping on any Prime items you buy from Amazon, and Amazon usually sells stuff cheaper than just about anywhere else.
When you sign up, order a Roku streaming media player in order to watch those shows (and many others).  Once you start using it, you’ll wonder if you really need to pay that big cable bill every month.

Weekend Jukebox: Hearing or tuning out sounds and signals

C’mon just post anything…. I mean, is anybody out there?-)

To start:
political-
Talking Heads: Life during Wartime


 

more:
Rueben Blades: Desapariciones (the Disappeared)- sung here for the missing Mexican students

song trans here
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personal:
Colin Meloy of the Decembrists: The Wrong Year
( “Eidolon” is/was a Canadian band”)
Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark
Man Man: Hold onto your Heart

Catblogging: NewsCats

Deflation (footballs, economies, congress…whatever)

Continue reading Catblogging: NewsCats

Doomsday Clock moves two minutes closer to midnight

CBS, January 23

The iconic Doomsday Clock, considered a metaphor for the dangers faced by the world, was pushed ahead by two minutes over concerns about worsening climate change and the world’s failure to reduce nuclear weapons, a trans-Atlantic group of prominent scientists announced.

Every year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists analyzes international threats, particularly nuclear arsenals and climate change, and decides where the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock should rest. The closer it is to midnight, the closer the world is to doom.

The last time the clock moved was in 2012 when the Board set the minute hand at 11:55 p.m. over concerns about the state of nuclear arsenals around the world. It also was concerned about the Fukushima nuclear meltdown and the outbreak of H5N1 flu. It hasn’t moved this much since 2007, when the Board warned that “the world stands on the brink of a second nuclear age.” It also cited climate change which it called “a dire challenge to humanity.”

Those two issues again took center stage as the Board announced it would bump the clock two minutes ahead, to 11:57 p.m.

“Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity,” Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, told reporters. “And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of leadership endanger every person on Earth.”

King Abdullah, Who Sought to Modernize Saudi Arabia, [has died] at 90

AP, January 22

Riyadh — Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the powerful U.S. ally who joined Washington’s fight against al-Qaida and sought to modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom with incremental but significant reforms, including nudging open greater opportunities for women, has died, according to Saudi state TV. He was 90.

More than his guarded and hidebound predecessors, Abdullah assertively threw his oil-rich nation’s weight behind trying to shape the Middle East. His priority was to counter the influence of rival, mainly Shiite Iran wherever it tried to make advances. He and fellow Sunni Arab monarchs also staunchly opposed the Middle East’s wave of pro-democracy uprisings, seeing them as a threat to stability and their own rule.
Continue reading King Abdullah, Who Sought to Modernize Saudi Arabia, [has died] at 90

Deflation Swamps Switzerland

originally posted Jan 17

Shocking!  Unprecedented!  Unfair!  These were some of the politer adjectives used by financial experts to describe this week’s decision by the Swiss National Bank to abandon its currency peg to the euro.  As is often the case with major central bank decisions involving currencies, the public finds it very hard to understand what is happening or why it matters.  In Switzerland’s case, the situation was made even more confusing by the central bank lowering its overnight money rate to negative 0.75%.  This means you have to pay interest to the central bank for the privilege of lending them your money, an act that strikes many as contrary to the laws of nature.  Doesn’t the lender always earn interest, and the borrower always pay?  Not in the topsy-turvy world of deflation, which is the strange financial anti-matter world that Switzerland now inhabits.  The Swiss no doubt are asking themselves how they have found themselves in such a situation.  We would all do well to ask the same question, because deflation is the most important financial reality facing the world today. Continue reading Deflation Swamps Switzerland

Breathtakingly Cynical – Obama’s New Proposal

In a breathtaking display of Cynicism, the Obama administration has announced a program to provide tax cuts for the “middle class,” and to increase taxes on the rich.

This is just a cynical political ploy to polish his appalling legacy, characterized by “Look forward, not backward” in prosecuting torture, kidnapping and illegal imprisonment, coupled with his outstanding lack of effort to remove the US “middle class” from under the health insurance industry’s boot.

Continue reading Breathtakingly Cynical – Obama’s New Proposal

Anchor Leaves CNN After Paris Tweets


aletejahtv

NYT – The veteran CNN anchor Jim Clancy has left the network after a series of Twitter messages he wrote about the terrorist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

In the tweets, which were sent on the day of the attack, Mr. Clancy wrote about the cartoons the paper had published depicting the Prophet Muhammad, but he then began criticizing supporters of Israel and sparring with other Twitter users. Mr. Clancy’s Twitter account has since been deleted, but the tweets were published on several websites, including Gawker, Twitchy and Mediaite.

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