Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Globe Special: Time For a Vacation

"Employees should try to do as much of their work in advance as possible, and make sure that their replacements have the tools and knowledge to hold down the fort.

Why is the onus on the employee?

Vacations should be agreed upon far in advance as part of a team effort. That way, managers can find out as early as possible if too many people want to take the same weeks off....

I'm irreplaceable.


See you next month, dear and beloved readers.

Sunday Globe Special: Afternoon Movie

I went yesterday.... 

"Rich for a day, at least until the credits roll" by Joanna Weiss |  Globe Columnist, June 30, 2013

For my first trip to Showcase SuperLux, the swank new movie theater in Chestnut Hill, I wanted to see “The Great Gatsby.” I figured it would be fun to watch on-screen excess while wallowing in excess of my own. But “Gatsby” wasn’t playing, so I chose “This Is The End,” about pampered celebrities facing the apocalypse.

If SuperLux signals the end of the world, it’s not such a bad way to go, a movie experience free of popcorn lines and gummy bears crammed into industrial carpet. Here, you’re greeted by a concierge in a vast circular lobby, escorted to a plush leather lounge chair that reclines at the touch of a button, and handed an iPad that serves as a menu for the Davio’s restaurant on-site. Will you order cocktails? Draft beer? Tuna sashimi or beef carpaccio? A button on your armrest summons your personal server.

All this for $28 a ticket (plus food), which makes you wonder what’s coming next. For $50, I’d expect Wolfgang Puck and Todd English to personally deliver food to me, wearing roller skates.

Is this the future of the movies? National Amusements thinks so. The Norwood-based company, which owns the venerable Showcase Cinemas chain, opened the SuperLux earlier this month in the glorified strip mall called The Street. Shari Redstone, the National Amusements president, told me by phone that SuperLux was a solution to a problem: how to make money in a space much smaller than her typical multiplex.

Like other fancy theaters nationwide, SuperLux also addresses a larger problem: the existential threat to box office sales, due to competition from video games and home screens large and small.

I just don't like the product coming out of Hollywood right now.

Movie studios have generally responded by hurling more movie in the audience’s face, in the form of 3-D projectiles and CGI effects that presumably wouldn’t look the same in your living room.

Theater operators, meanwhile, are going for ambience. Redstone said she’s selling an “adult night out” — to sit in SuperLux after 6 p.m., you have to be over 21 — and has trained her staff to offer maximum deference.

It all amounts to maximum gluttony, delivered with a straight face, and it’s actually so entertaining on its own that it risks overshadowing the movies themselves. Great cinema has always been immersive, transporting you from your small, sorry life to a totally different world.

What does she know about my life? What an elitist thing to say!

SuperLux is a completely different kind of escape, a fantasy turned inward.

Whose fantasy?

This works best with a film that doesn’t require your rapt attention, given how many waiters are scurrying around in your line of vision.

That's not going to get it done for me.

My truffle fries arrived at a key point in the plot, and you can guess what I focused on first.

And in between the chewing and the wiping of crumbs — because food falls on your shirt when you’re leaning that far back — I wondered if anything else had been lost. Once, movies united us in a way most other forms of live entertainment didn’t: The seats were the same price, the sightlines were largely the same, and everyone was equal once the lights went down.

These days, the movies are tiered and classified, too. In many of its ordinary theaters, National Amusements offers “Cinema DeLux,” a balcony filled with armchairs the size of first-class airline seats, where you can watch a movie while sipping cocktails and gazing at the hoi polloi below. Those chairs are at the Showcase SuperLux, too — for $20 a ticket, closer to the front, and called “LuxLite.” Luxury is relative.

The days of Lords and Serfs has returned.

There’s something weirdly egalitarian about that, the idea that a few dollars buys a visit to your inner VIP, and a few more dollars make you even more “V.”

That's a good movie, and it is on in less than half an hour!

As indulgences go, a $28 movie ticket is practically a bargain, given that regular tickets top $10 — before you get your $6 soda and your $7 popcorn. (SuperLux tickets come with free soft drink refills and all the popcorn you can eat.)

Redstone calls SuperLux “a luxury moviegoing experience for the masses,” and the “mass” part is important.

Step aboard the Titanic!

We luxury pretenders, gathered in one fancy room, still have one advantage over the super-rich in their screening rooms at home: We get to watch the movies in the same room, sobbing together at tragedy or cheering together at explosions.

And if being pampered while reclining in a lounger is the sacrifice we need — the slightly-elevated price of keeping the collective movie experience alive — well, pass me the iPad. I have sashimi to order.


She's always been lost in a world of fantasy anyway.

Sunday Globe Special: House Hunting in Boston

I'm not going to look to long:

"Overseas buyers flood region’s realty market; Wealthy investors, many from China, lift economy but crowd out local bidders" by Jenifer B. McKim |  Globe Staff, June 30, 2013

Foreign investors, especially Chinese and other Asian buyers flush with cash, are purchasing properties in Boston and its high-end suburbs in increasing numbers, adding to the housing market’s revival but also crowding out some local bidders, real estate agents and specialists say....

They are motivated by Massachusetts’ improving economy, the quality of schools, and the region’s clean environment compared with congested urban areas in Asia....

With real estate prices skyrocketing in many Chinese cities, homes in the Boston area are considered a bargain for those with money to spend, said Patty Chen, a Wellesley entrepreneur who runs a company to help Chinese investors find homes here.

“They are very, very happy to buy houses here,’’ mostly for $1 million to $2 million, said Chen, who in 2007 launched her full-service company, America Asia Business Tour Group-Boston, which offers assistance with immigration visas and real estate transactions, as well as consultations on schools and neighborhoods.

“A house in Boston is cheaper than a house in Beijing,” Chen said....

In addition to the Chinese, real estate agents say, wealthy buyers are coming from Canada and other countries in Asia, South America, and Europe.

That is what is making the numbers look good, and explains why Americans are falling further and further behind.

While other parts of the United States — including Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona — have traditionally attracted foreign investors, Boston is also increasingly a magnet, said Jed Smith, managing director of quantitative research at the National Association of Realtors.

“There’s an active market in Boston,” Smith said of foreign home buyers. “They are higher-end customers.”

A big part of the trend is that foreign investors frequently pay cash, which gives them more clout in closing a deal....

The surge in cash sales is bad news for buyers who are dependent on securing a loan....

Like you, Amurkn!

Chinese interest in local real estate has increased as that country’s economy has gone on a stunning growth spurt over the past five years. The number of affluent Chinese — those able to invest at least $1.6 million — grew to about 700,000 by the end of 2012, more than double the number in 2008, according to a report published last month by the Boston consulting firm Bain & Co.

Jack Worthington, managing partner for the New York investment firm Arundel & Co., said recent news about the once-frenetic pace of China’s economic expansion slowing will only push more people to look for other places to invest, he said.

“The Chinese ‘economic miracle’ and private wealth creation are very, very recent phenomena, and the wealthy of China know that,” he said. “We are still a safe haven.”

In addition to seeking profits, rich foreigners are buying homes here to use for vacations and for their children attending schools in the Boston area. According to real estate agents, some are investing in homes years before their offspring are ready to enter college.

Ramez George Sawabini of Bahrain said he has spent about $4.5 million on four condos at the W over the last several years, a pattern that began when his son enrolled at Northeastern University.

Sawabini, who is an investment banker, said he bought the first one-bedroom condo after determining it made more financial sense than renting one for his son. He paid in cash for the first two, and obtained mortgages from a Canadian bank for the others, though he made 50 percent down payments.

“A lot of my friends who have kids in Boston are thinking about doing the same thing,’’ he said.

At 45 Province, where condo prices range from $975,000 to $5 million, foreign investors have purchased about 35 percent of the 109 units, said sales director Wayne Lopez.

“My biggest demographic is the Asian international buyer,” Lopez said. “They see Boston as a great city from an educational and long-term investment standpoint.”

Chen, at America Asia Business Tour Group-Boston, said her clients prefer properties that are newly built and already furnished. In many cases, she said, men buy homes for their children and wives to live in while they travel back and forth from China.

For example, she said, a man from Beijing recently bought a $1.35 million, four-bedroom Colonial in Brookline for his 17-year-old daughter, who is attending a private school in Lawrence.

The buyer — a sales executive who did not want his name published because of privacy concerns — is still not sure how much time he and his wife will be able to spend here, but decided to go ahead with the deal because it’s likely his daughter will go to college in the area and need a place to live. He is already enamored of metropolitan Boston, citing its clean skies and green yards. And his family is happy to help the local economy by investing in property.

“When we live here,” he said, “we spend lots of money.’’


I really don't care who lives next door.

"Are we creating the next housing bubble in Mass.?" by Jay Fitzgerald |  Globe Correspondent, June 30, 2013

The housing recovery is only in its early stages in Massachusetts, but already there’s an eerie sense of déjà vu. The inventory of homes for sale is low. Bidding wars are breaking out. Prices are rising quickly.

It’s a scenario that would be familiar to anyone who lived through the Massachusetts Miracle of the late 1980s and the bull housing market of the last decade, go-go years of soaring home prices and tight supplies that ultimately ended badly. And if policy makers, economists, and industry officials are accurate in their predictions, history is set to repeat itself.

“We’re just going down the same old road we went [down] before,” said Brad Campbell, executive director of the Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts.

The housing market in Massachusetts appears trapped in a boom-bust cycle that only seems likely to accelerate. While any number of variables — interest rates, job growth, consumer confidence — influence home sales and prices, the fundamental problem for the local housing market has remained unchanged for decades....

Banks charging usurious interest.

Median prices for single-family homes, while still below their prerecession levels, are rising quickly....

I think we know why from above.

Rising prices, of course, are good for homeowners and the broader economy, creating wealth that supports consumer spending and a range of economic activities. But if prices rise too fast, it can create the psychology that leads to a bubble, pushing more buyers into the market and driving many to spend and borrow too much with the idea that prices will only go higher.

Eventually, as recent history shows, they don’t go higher, and the bubble bursts.

Some economists attribute recent price spikes to temporary conditions, a combination of pent-up demand from buyers who stayed on the sidelines during the recession and a reluctance by potential sellers to put homes on the market until prices return to prerecession levels.

As the market gets back to normal, inventories will rise and price increases will moderate.

But this short-term adjustment by the market won’t address the long-term issues, other analysts said....


Time to buy a house:

"Local housing market desperately seeking sellers" by Jenifer B. McKim  |  Globe Staff, March 02, 2013

Where are all the home sellers?

The number of homes for sale in Massachusetts is at an eight-year low, despite an increasing number of prospective buyers and a housing market that — overall — is on the mend. Some owners can’t afford to sell because they owe more than their properties are worth, while others aren’t yet convinced it’s the right time. The result is the demand for homes far outstrips the meager supply, an equation that threatens to hold back growth in a business crucial to the state’s economy....

The law of supply and demand works (unlike with gasoline), but what is hidden there is that properties are purposefully being held off the market to keep prices high.

The tight market has prompted robust competition in some of the Boston-area’s more popular neighborhoods, prompting bidding wars and price inflation, real estate agents say....

Also, thousands of homeowners are still plagued by a recession hangover. Despite the recent upturn, Boston-area home values are down nearly 16 percent since their peak in 2005. So many homeowners owe more to lenders than their properties could fetch for sale.


Other potential sellers are simply doing what some do every year — waiting for the snow to clear. “No one likes muddy boots tramping through their houses,’’ said John Ranco, a senior sales associate for Hammond Residential Real Estate in Boston’s South End.... 

Snow? In this age of global warming?


"Boston-area house hunters face bidding battles; Prices rise as many vie for too few available properties" by Jenifer B. McKim |  Globe Staff, March 27, 2013

It’s a common pattern this spring: There are too many potential buyers and too few sellers....

Wasn't even a week into spring yet.

The surge in would-be buyers to historically low mortgage rates and rising consumer confidence as the Massachusetts economy slowly blossoms. The house-hunting frenzy is a good sign, they said, but until more people decide it’s finally time to sell, no one expects the market to really take off.

In the meantime....


Maybe you would be better off renting:

"Tenants, buyers of foreclosed units tangle over rents" by Jenifer B. McKim |  Globe Staff, March 20, 2013

Inocencia Perez and Gerardo Romero thought the arrival of a new landlord meant they could stop worrying about the status of their apartment, on the second floor of a Chelsea building seized by a bank through foreclosure.

But instead of newfound security, Perez and Romero — who have three young children — were unnerved when, not long after taking over, the two-decker’s buyer, City Realty Group LLC, raised their monthly rent by $300, to $1,300. The couple said they were given two options: pay up or move out.

The new owner “wants to raise the rent too much,’’ said Perez, but, “we don’t want to go.”

Through its attorney, Robert Russo, City Realty said the company is simply charging fair market rents to earn reasonable returns. “Why are we greedy if we are in to make a profit? Isn’t that what America is all about?” Russo said.

And that is the problem, scum.

The case is now in Chelsea District Court....

Related(?): Sunday Globe Specials: McLaughlin and the Mob

Such clashes between Boston-area real estate investors and apartment dwellers are becoming more common as the housing market mends and lenders seek to get foreclosed properties off their books.

Previously, tenants in a foreclosed apartment building would have been long gone by the time the take-back process was completed. That changed in 2010, when Governor Deval Patrick signed a law providing new protections to tenants living in foreclosed homes. The intent was to prevent evictions.

City Realty owner Fred Starikov said he and his partner, Steve Whalen, are responsible landlords pumping money into hundreds of housing units in financially troubled neighborhoods that many others avoid. He said Perez and Romero’s unit could rent for up to $1,800 a month on the open market.

“We can’t let everyone stay for the rent they wish to pay. That is not a sustainable model,’’ said Starikov. “They have the right to leave.”

And be homeless. That's one right you still have, Americans.

Housing specialists said the participation of private investors is crucial to turning around low-income neighborhoods hollowed out during the foreclosure crisis — they can often complete deals and get renovation work done faster than nonprofits, which typically have less cash and face more bureaucratic tangles.

I'm so sick of being dependent on the good graces of the f***ing elite!

Chris Herbert, director of research at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, said when investors buy properties, rent increases logically follow.

“If you want these guys to make investments, if they are going to get a decent return, the rents are going to have to go up,’’ he said. The center is currently studying the effects of investors on foreclosed properties in four cities, including Boston.

“You don’t want to gouge. You do have to have enough rental stream,” Herbert said. “It is a hard sweet spot to find.”

But a growing group of tenants and housing advocates say City Realty and other investors are buying bank-owned properties at bargain-basement prices, making few or no repairs, and unjustly raising rents. The result, they said, is that low-income tenants who have long lived in neglected properties are being displaced....

Few would argue that managing rents in formerly foreclosed buildings that are still occupied poses challenges for new landlords. In some cases, former owners walked away from their properties and foreclosing banks didn’t bother to collect rent. That means some residents are being asked to write rent checks for the first time in months, or even years. Collecting the money isn’t always easy.

“Buying properties with tenants in them can be a real horror show,’’ said developer Stephen Chaletzky, owner of Dorchester-based Hearthstone Corp. In one case, he said, it took almost two years to remove tenants who refused to pay rent. As a result, Chaletzky said, he now only considers buying buildings that are vacant.

Sheila Dillon, director of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development, said rents in formerly foreclosed homes have risen at a slower rate over the last several years than those in more stable parts of the city. Median rents in Boston’s most desirable sections have reached $2,875 a month, among the highest in the nation, according to the city.

For lower-income tenants, Dillon said, even an incremental rent increase can create hardship. She said the city offers them assistance through legal services and education about housing rights, and — in some cases — by helping them find more affordable places to live....

In an effort to help keep housing costs manageable for tenants living in foreclosed homes, a coalition of public and private groups recently launched a two-year plan to buy 30 foreclosed housing units occupied by renters or former owners in Dorchester’s Four Corners neighborhood.

The group, Coalition for Occupied Homes in Foreclosure, is working with a private developer, Citibank, the City of Boston, and others to purchase such homes and sell them to a nonprofit owner....

That's not the Occupy, is it?


Maybe you ought to just fix the old place up?

"As housing, job markets improve, homeowners spend on remodeling" by Jay Fitzgerald |  Globe Correspondent, March 10, 2013

Area contractors, architects, interior designers, and others tied to the home construction industry are getting a lot of inquiries these days from people like the Feldmans as an improving economy and housing market lift the confidence of homeowners. Just a few years ago, contractors said, the few homeowners undertaking improvements limited work to small, maintenance-oriented projects that couldn’t be put off, such as fixing roofs, replacing drafty windows, or installing new heating systems.

But today, not only are more people fixing up homes, they are launching ambitious projects, tearing down walls, expanding living spaces, and remodeling kitchens and bathrooms....

So sayeth my Globe.

The rebound in remodeling is another indication that confidence is growing and the economic recovery is gaining traction, analysts said.

I'm sick and tired of bulls*** propaganda being passed off as news.

Last week, the Dow Jones industrial average surged to record highs while the Labor Department reported that US employers added 236,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate declined to its lowest level in more than four years....

Underpinning this rebound are improving job and housing markets. Employers added more than 2 million jobs nationally last year and about 50,000 in Massachusetts, according to the Labor Department. Home sales in Massachusetts last year hit their highest level since 2006, according to Warren Group, a Boston real estate tracking firm.

Those are issues and articles I'm likely to toss and stop covering.

As a result, homeowners are growing more confident about taking on big home-improvement projects. They aren’t investing at the frenzied pace seen during the last housing boom, but they’re more willing to spend money on their homes now that they know values are stabilizing, industry officials said.

Among those feeling more confident is Neil Murphy, a vice president of finance at a local software company....

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said the increase in remodeling work will help give a much-needed boost to the economy and construction industry, which was the hardest hit sector in the last recession. While remodeling has nowhere near the economic impact as new home construction, Zandi said, there’s “a lot of pent-up demand” by homeowners to undertake renovations beyond fixing roofs and replacing windows.

“There’s still a lot of room to run here,” he said of continued growth within the home improvement sector.

In Massachusetts, remodeling activity could be helping to stabilize construction employment, which has fallen about 30 percent from its prerecession peak, said Alan Clayton-Matthews, an economist at Northeastern University. 

The Globe's chief economic bulls***ter.

The Massachusetts construction industry experienced a small bounce in employment from the federal government’s stimulus spending a few years ago, but those dollars have since dried up. The surge in remodeling may be creating new jobs to offset those lost after the demise of stimulus spending, he said.

Related: Administration Telling the Truth About Stimuloot 

And here you are being lied to.

It’s not just construction firms benefiting from the uptick in the remodeling and renovation business. The world’s largest home improvement company, Home Depot Inc., recently reported that sales at stores open at least a year jumped by about 7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Its competitor, Lowe’s Cos., reported a 2 percent increase in sales during the same period, and industry officials expect that growth to accelerate as the housing market improves....


Sunday Globe Special: South African S*** Shovel


"New middle-class blacks transform South Africa" by Janice Kew |  Bloomberg News, June 30, 2013

JOHANNESBURG — While South Africa’s middle class is growing as the nation’s overall economy expands, the unemployment rate of 25.2 percent is the highest of more than 30 emerging-market nations tracked by Bloomberg.

Income inequality has widened since 1994, with 35 percent of the population living on less than $51 a month. The Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality in which a reading of zero means society is totally equal, worsened to 0.63 in 2009, compared with 0.59 in 1993, according to the World Bank....

RelatedSouth Africa's New Apartheid 

Worse than the old apartheid. 

But let's not that get in the way of this wonderful piece of propaganda by Bloomberg:

Ntombi Shabalala arrives at the Design Quarter mall in an affluent suburb of Johannesburg in her Hyundai ix35 SUV, wearing red suit pants, a black jacket, and black boots. Gesturing to a waiter with a manicured French-tip fingernail, she orders a fresh-squeezed carrot juice.

She’s come a long way since 1998, when she moved to Johannesburg four years after South Africa held its first all-race elections. Then, Shabalala shared a one-bedroom apartment in Hillbrow, in a crime-ridden area that often had power and water outages. Her two daughters stayed at home near the eastern coal-mining town of Newcastle with an aunt.

Her income came from selling food from a trailer on the street — a fitting beginning for someone who became a store manager at McDonald’s Corp.’s South African division. ‘‘I am now able to chase the good life, in the right direction, investing for the future,’’ Shabalala, 39, said last month. ‘‘Through my job, it’s taken me from nowhere to being able to be the woman I am today.’’ 

That's the way to the "good life?"

Shabalala is a member of South Africa’s growing black middle class, 4.2 million people strong last year and double what it was in 2004, according to a study released by the University of Cape Town’s Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing in May. The country now has more middle-class blacks than whites, and the group spends more annually as well.

The newly affluent are moving from townships and the countryside to formerly whites-only suburbs, boosting the revenue of companies from car retailers to supermarkets. Woolworths Holdings, Capitec Bank Holding, and McDonald’s are among those providing management jobs for people such as Shabalala.

Since 1994, national income per capita has climbed 40 percent, access to power has risen to more than 80 percent of the population from 50 percent, and more than 3 million houses have been built, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said last month.

The middle class is visible at Johannesburg’s Sandton City, the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest shopping mall, where high-heeled shoppers carry bags from Forever New and Young Designer’s Emporium, mothers push infants in Bugaboo strollers, and young black men try on Italian shoes.

‘‘We have to do better than our parents and grandparents did,’’ said Zanele Motaung, 24, who works in an accounting office, as she shopped at a Truworths International shop....


"Unable to visit Mandela, Obama praises leader; S. Africa’s former president is still in critical care" by Michael D. Shear and Rick Lyman |  New York Times, June 30, 2013

JOHANNESBURG — Obama had built his Africa trip months ago on the hope of meeting with Mandela, whom he has called a personal hero. Like many South Africans, he was eager to ensure that Mandela’s legacy will live on through younger generations.

He brought his two daughters on the trip, even as many locals spent Saturday taking their own children to makeshift memorials outside the Pretoria hospital where Mandela, 94, lay in critical condition and outside the Johannesburg home where he lived much of the time after his release from 27 years in apartheid prisons.

Obama not only praised Mandela at the press conference, but in his first visit here as president also hailed South Africa’s historic integration from white racist rule as a shining beacon for the world....

On Saturday afternoon, the presidential limousine slipped past a gate at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, leaving reporters behind for the 25-minute meeting with 10 of Mandela’s family members before Obama headed to a town-hall-style meeting with students in Soweto....

Mandela was admitted to the hospital three weeks ago for a chronic lung infection. His condition turned critical, according to South African officials, just as Obama headed to Africa for a weeklong trip that started in Senegal.

The US president still plans to salute Mandela’s life with a visit Sunday to Robben Island, the prison where Mandela spent most of his incarceration....

After traveling to Cape Town on Sunday, Obama will deliver a speech to university students that aides said would be built around themes that related to Mandela’s legacy. Obama will end his trip in Tanzania on Monday and Tuesday.

Obama began his first full day in South Africa in a private meeting with Zuma, who made note of the ill health of the nation’s beloved leader.

Zuma pointed to the symbolism of the moment, saying Obama and Mandela are “bound by history as the first black presidents” of their countries.


Once again, NOTHING from my Globe regarding the PROTESTS or POSTERS!


Also see:
  • Hungering For This Post About Somalia
  • Strife in Sudan
  • Mali Post a Mile Long
  • Algerian Aberration
  • Mandela is Dying
  • Do You Care About the Coup in the CAR?
  • Who Lost Africa?

  • It's pretty obvious.

    Sunday Globe Special: Qatar Quickly Arms Syrian Insurgents

    "Powerful missiles from Qatar sent to Syrian rebels; US, Arab allies warn arms may reach terrorists" by Mark Mazzetti and C.J. Chivers |  New York Times, June 29, 2013

    WASHINGTON — As an intermittent supply of arms to the Syrian opposition gathered momentum last year, the Obama administration repeatedly implored its Arab allies to keep one type of powerful weapon out of the rebels’ hands: heat-seeking shoulder-fired missiles.

    The missiles, US officials warned, could one day be used by terrorist groups, some of them affiliated with Al Qaeda, to shoot down civilian aircraft.

    Related: Globe Tells the Truth About TWA 800

    But one country ignored this admonition: Qatar, the tiny, oil-and-gas-rich emirate that has made itself indispensable to rebel forces battling calcified Arab governments and that has been shipping arms to the Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar Assad’s government since 2011.

    According to four US and Middle Eastern officials with knowledge of intelligence reports on the weapons, Qatar has since the beginning of the year used a shadowy arms network to move at least two shipments of shoulder-fired missiles, one of them a batch of Chinese-made FN-6s, to Syrian rebels who have used them against Assad’s air force.

    Deployment of the missiles comes at a time when US officials expect that President Obama’s decision to begin a limited effort to arm the Syrian rebels might be interpreted by Qatar, along with other Arab countries supporting the rebels, as a green light to drastically expand arms shipments.

    This is such garbage when I've previously noted the CIA was sending stuff in. Truth be told, though, the problem is mine for expecting to read something different.

    Qatar’s aggressive effort to bolster the embattled Syrian opposition is the latest brash move by a country that has been using its wealth to elbow its way to the forefront of Middle Eastern statecraft, confounding both its allies in the region and in the West.

    Aren't they behind Al-Jazeera

    Related: Viewers should decide whether to watch Al Jazeera America

    The strategy is expected to continue even though Qatar’s longtime leader, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, stepped down last week, allowing his 33-year-old son to succeed him.

    “They punch immensely above their weight,” one senior Western diplomat said of the Qataris. “They keep everyone off balance by not being in anyone’s pocket.”

    Obama in April warned Hamad about the dangers of arming Islamic radicals in Syria, although most US officials have been wary of applying too much pressure on the Qatari government. “Syria is their backyard, and they have their own interests they are pursing,” said one administration official.

    Qatari officials did not respond to requests for comment.

    The United States has little leverage over Qatar on the Syria issue, because it needs the Qataris’ help on other fronts. Qatar is poised to host peace talks between US and Afghan officials and the Taliban.

    See: Sunday Globe Special: Taliban Agree to Truce

    Haven't talked since. 

    The US forward base in Qatar gives the US military a command post in the heart of a strategically vital but volatile region.

    Qatar’s ability to be an active player in a global gray market for arms was enhanced by the C-17 military transport planes it bought from Boeing in 2008.

    In Obama’s meeting with Hamad at the White House on April 23, he warned the Qatari leader that the weapons were making their way to radical groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda-affiliated group that the United States has designated as a terrorist group.

    Affiliated with Al-CIA-Duh, huh?



    Qatar to the Quick
    Qatar Emir Quits

    Suspicions confirmed.

    Also seeObama's Syrian Shift

    The lies stayed the same.

    "Syria launches Homs assault; Artillery, planes" by Bassem Mroue |  Associated Press, June 30, 2013

    BEIRUT — Government troops launched a series of attacks in central Syria on Saturday, striking with artillery, tanks, and warplanes in a drive to capture rebel-held neighborhoods in the country’s third largest city of Homs, activists said.

    The army of President Bashar Assad has been on the offensive in Homs province in recent weeks, reclaiming some of the territory it has lost to the rebels since Syria’s crisis began 27 months ago.

    The military, building on its capture of the strategic town of Qusair between the Lebanese border and Homs at the beginning of this month, has overrun a number of nearby villages. It also has hammered the center of the city, a rebel stronghold since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011.

    Homs, a city of about 1 million, has shown great sympathy for the opposition since the early days of the uprising. A month after it started, protesters carried mattresses, food, and water to the main Clock Square, hoping to emulate Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt’s revolt that overthrew Hosni Mubarak.

    Security forces quickly raided the encampment, shooting at protesters and chasing them through the streets. The onslaught only boosted the intensity of the protests, fueling a revolt that has posed the most serious challenge to date to the Assad family dynasty that has ruled Syria since 1970.

    Homs is the capital of Syria’s largest province, which carries the same name and extends from the Lebanese border to the frontier with Jordan and Iraq.

    Activists in the city said all cellular lines were cut early Saturday before warplanes pounded rebel-held areas. The air raids were followed by intense shelling with artillery, mortars, and tanks, before troops tried to advance.

    Several activists in the city said the regime began bringing in reinforcements last week, apparently in preparation for the attack....

    Also Saturday, the Observatory and the Aleppo Media Center said a missile hit Aleppo’s Katourji neighborhood, killing and wounding several people. The Observatory said at least three people were killed while the media center said the death toll could be as high as 15.

    Gee, I wonder where that could have come from.


    That's so odd because I was told the rebels were winning again:

    "Syrian rebels take major checkpoint" by Sarah El Deeb |  Associated Press, June 29, 2013

    BEIRUT — Rebels captured a major army post on Friday in the southern city of Daraa after nearly two weeks of intense fighting, as battles raged between troops and opposition forces in the province that borders Jordan, activists said.

    Daraa, the provincial capital of a region that carries the same name, is the birthplace of the uprising. Rebels hope to one day launch an offensive from the area to take the capital, Damascus.

    How far back they have fallen in a few months. And now the hope one day.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists around the country, said Islamic militants led by members of the Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, captured the checkpoint after a two-week siege.

    It said rebels blew up a car bomb Thursday, killing and wounding a number of soldiers, and then stormed the post, made up of two of the highest buildings in the city.

    ‘‘This post is very important because it overlooks old Daraa,’’ said Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads The Observatory. He added that the capture opens the way for rebels to take the southern neighborhood of Manshiyeh that is close to the Jordanian border.

    An amateur video posted by activists showed rebels blowing up one of the two buildings after putting explosives inside it. Another video showed four militants carrying Nusra Front black flag standing in front of the building saying it will be blown up, apparently to prevent the regime from using it in case its forces capture it again. The videos appeared genuine and were consistent with other AP reporting of the events.

    That's a sad statement. Just the fact that the newspaper has to issue something like that tells you a whole pile regarding their credibility (or lack thereof). 

    Of course, the AmeriKan media would never lie about issues of war and peace, right?


    Like I said, you are going to see a lot more of these:

    "Suicide bomb kills 4 in Syrian capital’s Old City" by ALBERT Aji |  Associated Press, June 28, 2013

    DAMASCUS, Syria — A suicide bomber blew himself up near the headquarters of Syria’s Greek Orthodox Church in Damascus’ Old City, killing at least four people Thursday, minutes after the patriarch had entered the cathedral, state-run TV and a church official said.

    The blast in the ancient quarter of narrow streets and historic buildings was the first reported suicide attack of the Syrian civil war inside the Old City, although other such bombs have struck the capital city during the conflict.

    The blast struck in the vicinity of the Virgin Mary Cathedral in the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Bab Sharqi, the broadcast said, although it was not clear if the church was the attack’s target....

    SANA, Syria’s state-run news agency, said a nearby clinic run by a Muslim charity appeared to be the target.... Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV, which has reporters in Damascus, said the target of the attack appeared to be a nearby post of the National Defense Forces, a paramilitary force fighting the rebels who are trying to topple President Bashar Assad.

    Residents also disagreed about the target, with some saying the bomber may have detonated the explosives prematurely. Progovernment gunmen were seen roaming the streets afterward....

    Christians are one of the largest religious minorities in Syria, making up about 10 percent of the population of 23 million people. They have tried to stay on the sidelines of the conflict, although as Islamist militants have increasingly joined with the opposition, many Christians have been leaning toward the regime.

    As have most Syrians. No one likes a**hole terrorists taking over their neighborhood.

    As the bloodshed has intensified, hopes for an international conference to try to reach a political settlement between the regime and opposition have faded.


    "Saudi minister pledges aid to Syrian rebels; Kerry sought meeting after Qatar conference" by Karen DeYoung |  Washington Post, June 26, 2013

    JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said Tuesday that his country will help Syrian rebels ‘‘the most effective way we can’’ in response to what he called ‘‘genocide’’ perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    ‘‘Saudi Arabia is not a country that interferes in internal affairs of countries,’’ Saud said in a news conference with visiting Secretary of State John Kerry.

    As they foment rebellions in Iraq and Syria.

    ‘‘But an invaded country, where genocide is being perpetrated, is not a normal situation,’’ he said, in a reference to Hezbollah and Iranian militia fighters aiding Assad’s forces. ‘‘And I can say with clarity that we will help the Syrian people defend themselves.’’

    Saud’s passionate language contrasted with Kerry’s restrained description of both the crisis and the potential remedy. While Kerry has used the term ‘‘ethnic cleansing’’ to refer to Syria’s increasingly sectarian war, he has not called it genocide.


    According to the United Nations, nearly 93,000 Syrians have been killed and about 5 million Syrians have fled their homes internally or to neighboring countries during the more than two-year-long conflict.

    The situation ‘‘has been made far more difficult and complicated by Assad’s invitation to Iran and to Hezbollah. . . to cross international lines,’’ Kerry said....

    Kerry said he needed a ‘‘face to face’’ with the Saudis, following last Saturday’s meeting in Qatar of 11 European and regional governments leading efforts to aid the opposition.

    Some of those nations, including Saudi Arabia, have been waiting for a stronger expression of US leadership before increasing their aid....

    While none of the rebels’ benefactors has publicly announced specific forms of aid, Saudi Arabia, along with Qatar, has indicated that it is prepared to send an increased flow of heavy weaponry, including hand-held surface-to-air missiles. The United States, in addition to sending light weapons and ammunition, plans to increase its training of rebel commanders and fighters, along with stepped-up logistics and intelligence assistance.

    Looks like DEEPER INVOLVEMENT to ME!

    While the first part of Kerry’s extended Middle East tour has concentrated on Syria, he will arrive Wednesday in Amman, Jordan, for three days of efforts to try to move his Palestinian-Israeli peace initiative forward.


    The plan for direct talks between the two sides has been stymied by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s reluctance to start direct talks with Israel without a political sweetener such as the Israeli release of Palestinian detainees.


    Six Zionist Companies Own 96% of the World's Media
    Declassified: Massive Israeli manipulation of US media exposed
    Operation Mockingbird
    Why Am I No Longer Reading the Newspaper?

    Oh, Kerry adopted Israel's position, did he? And so did Obama

    But it's Abbas blocking things?


    Maybe a spike in the death toll will convince you to invade, American?

    Also see:

  • Jordan in Jeopardy?
  • Kuwaiti Government Collapsing
  • U.S. Backing Bahrain
  • Sunday Globe Special: Adopt This Post

    "Social media altering the way adoptions happen in US; Online ads help link birth moms, hopeful parents" by Tara Bahrampour |  Washington Post, June 30, 2013

    WASHINGTON — Mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one night, she stumbled upon a small advertisement. It pictured two smiling men on a sailboat and read: ‘‘Loving gay couple in DC area seeks open adoption of a baby.’’


    They had used Facebook to find a child....

    As the Internet and social media infiltrate almost every aspect of life, they have also become a tool for people seeking to find, or offer, children for adoption. No one knows how many adoptions have resulted from online connections, but at a time when adoptions can take years the potential ease of finding a match online is appealing.

    I would tend to differ with that last statement since the NSA spying scandal rebroke (absent my Sunday Globe, too. No scandal coverage at all).

    ‘‘This is a big, growing trend that is unlikely to stop anytime in the future; it’s accelerating and it’s changing families and it’s changing adoption,’’ said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, which recently put out a report about the Internet’s effect on adoption.

    But it can also open the door for unanticipated complications.

    Predators? Perverts? Human trafficking concerns?

    In some cases, it is too good to be true. Adoption agencies have come to recognize and warn their clients about scammers....

    That hasn’t stopped hopeful would-be parents from putting ads on Craigslist, Facebook, and other sites....

    All forwarded to the NSA.



    "Facebook to remove ads from offensive pages" by Tanzina Vega |  New York Times, June 29, 2013

    NEW YORK — Facebook said Friday that it would remove ads from pages that contained controversial content, as it tried to protect advertisers from appearing next to offensive material that was beyond their control....

    One more reason for me not to monetize.

    Facebook said it would begin the manual review for pages containing sensitive content next week with a team of hundreds of employees in offices around the world.

    Looks like censorship.

    The action comes a month after feminist groups campaigned for an improvement in Facebook’s process for identifying and removing pages that glorify violence against women.

    I am worried whenever I see removing a page from anywhere, especially when government pukes are casting doubt on what I do; however, I am against violence against women, and sure wish the EUSraeli empire would stop dropping missiles and bombs on them. 

    As for the feminist groups, however well-intentioned or duped, are controlled opposition being used for purposes of division. 

    At the time, Facebook acknowledged that its procedures had not worked effectively. Activist groups sent more than 5,000 e-mails to Facebook’s advertisers and elicited more than 60,000 posts on Twitter, requesting the removal of pages featuring women who had been abused. 

    Facebook, Twitter, all the rest, nothing but government collection platforms.

    Advertisements appeared on the right hand side of Facebook pages with names like “Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs” and “Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won’t make you a Sandwich,” and other pages that featured battered and bloodied women....

    Why do I view those sites as some sort of provocation, and who benefits?

    The company expects to automate the process of identifying such content after a manual review of thousands of pages.


    Sunday Globe Special: Clinton and Conservatives

    "GOP paints 2016 Hillary Clinton as old news; Party focusing on building ties to young voters" by Jonathan Martin |  New York Times, June 30, 2013

    WASHINGTON — The 2016 election may be far off, but....

    It's never to late for nothing filler.

    “Perhaps in the Democratic primary and certainly in the general election, there’s going to be an argument that the time for a change of leadership has come,” said Republican strategist Karl Rove. “The idea that we’re at the end of her generation and that it’s time for another to step forward is certainly going to be compelling.”

    A yesterday-versus-tomorrow argument against a woman who could be the last major-party presidential nominee from the baby boom generation would be a historically rich turnabout.

    It was Clinton’s husband, then a 46-year-old Arkansas governor, who in 1992 put a fellow young Southerner on the Democratic ticket and implicitly cast President George H.W. Bush as a Cold War relic, ill-equipped to address the challenges of a new day. Bill Clinton did much the same to Bob Dole, a former senator and World War II veteran, in 1996.

    A Republican approach that calls attention to Clinton’s age is not without peril, and Democrats predict it could backfire.

    “They would go to that place at their own risk,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic minority leader and first female speaker, noting that “Age is like art — it’s a matter of interpretation.”

    Clinton, while silent about a 2016 run, has returned to the speaking circuit and plunged back into the public policy conversation. More to the point, she has sought to effect a with-it sensibility, not only creating a Twitter account but also using a picture of herself in dark sunglasses for an avatar and posting about “taking selfies.”

    If Clinton seems to know what awaits her, that may be because Republicans have let on about how they will frame the 2016 contest.

    Alarmed over President Obama’s success with younger voters in the last two White House campaigns, Republican officials are bickering over how to appeal to them, with some advocating moderation on social issues like same-sex marriage and others focusing on improving tactics and the use of technology. But there is an emerging consensus that the party stands a better chance by contrasting a younger nominee with Clinton.

    Related: College Students Need Credit Default Swaps

    Student loan rate set to double

    Maybe you guys would do better if you were not f***ing the kids.

    Senator Marco Rubio, a 42-year-old Florida Republican, drops the names of rappers like Pitbull and Jay-Z. Senator Rand Paul, a 50-year-old Kentucky Republican, has coined a term for millennials, “the Facebook generation,” and is courting young voters with denouncements of the surveillance state.

    Besides Jeb Bush, 60, a former Florida governor who is seen in Republican circles as unlikely to run, the Republican field for 2016 largely consists of hopefuls in their 40s and early 50s. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey turned 50 last year.

    And having witnessed Obama’s dismantling of John McCain and Romney, they are eager to demonstrate that they represent a new generation....

    Of all the would-be candidates, Paul may be the most heavily engaged in trying to build younger support. He has seized on recent disclosures about surveillance by the National Security Agency and has argued that millennials would favor someone with his security views over the more hawkish former secretary of state.

    “If anything, she’s even more aggressive on foreign policy and more aggressive on giving power to the security state than the president,” he said of Clinton. And, Paul said, his mix of libertarianism and federalism resonates with young voters.

    “The youth are attracted to people who don’t want to lock them up and throw away the key for marijuana,” he said. “In some ways, the older Democrats have become more staid and status-quo-like than some of us Republicans.”

    Any attempt to call attention to an older woman’s age could suggest a double standard: Ronald Reagan was 69 when he won the presidency in 1980....


    "Conservative donors wary after loss in 2012; Right-leaning groups struggle to raise money" by Matea Gold |  Washington Post, June 30, 2013

    WASHINGTON —Seven months after the 2012 election, a lingering hangover among conservative donors has stalled efforts by right-leaning independent groups to fill their coffers. Wealthy contributors who dashed off six- and seven-figure checks last year are eying super PACs and other politically active groups more skeptically, frustrated that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent to elect Romney was for naught.

    ‘‘There’s donor fatigue,’’ said Fred Malek, a GOP operative wired into high-net-worth circles. ‘‘Everyone was in a frenzy of giving up until the November elections, and then everyone was sort of worn out on the whole process. It’s very hard to raise money after an election, especially after you lose.’’

    Several Republican fund-raisers said they remain optimistic that the money spigot will reopen as the 2014 congressional elections approach. But this time around, donors are seeking to be more judicious about where they put their money....

    Post-election donor apathy is not limited to the political right. Organizing for Action, a nonprofit group launched by former advisers to President Obama to back his agenda, has halved a $50 million fund-raising goal for its first year after slower-than-expected fund-raising, according to people familiar with the group’s plans.

    The decision came after the group reversed course and said it would not accept corporate funds.

    Related: Slow Saturday Special: Obama's Nonprofit PAC

    Now I see why nonprofits are so prominent in my paper.

    But the pressure to bring in big checks is greater for pro-Republican groups, which have not been able to match the extensive small-donor network that was built by Obama’s campaign and that OFA is now drawing on. There are signs that donor reticence stems in part from dissatisfaction with the uneven track record of super PACs and opaque nonprofit groups, which can raise unlimited funds.

    Many top contributors are now questioning the value of financing such organizations [such as] Republicans for Immigration Reform, a super PAC that aims to be a dominant force in the fight over revamping the country’s immigration laws....

    It's now headed to the House, and I will be addressing the issue soon next month.


    Sunday Globe Special: The Great White Buffalo

    Felt like going a little gonzo today....

    "US, tribe deal to aid comeback of buffalo; Oglala Sioux work to create national forest" by Juliet Eilperin |  Washington Post, June 30, 2013

    BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, S.D. — Tens of millions of bison used to range freely in North America before they were almost wiped out in the late 1800s.

    Wow, a GRAND Holocaust™!

    The American Bison Society disbanded in 1935 with the understanding it had saved the species by placing 20,000 animals in conservation herds; there are now an additional 400,000 or so being raised in the United States and Canada for meat production.

    RelatedD.C. museum cafe showcases Native American cuisine

    It could be horse, it could be rat, it could be pink slime, it could be just about anything, folks. 

    But those numbers are not enough for the buffalo to reclaim their traditional role in the ecosystem in what the Northern Great Plains used to look like, a chance to reclaim an area that served as a crucible for the nation’s economic and political expansion in the 1800s....

    Not meaning to offend, but.... George Carlin on The Environment

    Free-roaming bison provide habitat for grassland birds and other animals by grazing intermittently, leaving the grass at different heights. Cattle ranching, by contrast, leaves the grass at a more uniform level.

    The Wildlife Conservation Society relaunched the American Bison Society in 2005, and a coalition of tribes, environmentalists, and ranchers have been working to bring them back to areas where there is enough available land....

    Related: Slow Saturday Special: Globe Going to the Wolves

    The Badlands — where sediment deposits have been eroded by wind and water during millions of years — is an ideal setting for buffalo to make a comeback. The region is less suitable for agricultural development than other parts of the Great Plains.


    But even though it makes sense from an ecological and economic perspective, reintroducing buffalo poses a political challenge....


    Sunday Globe Special: I'll Be Brief

    "Man’s body recovered from water at Winthrop Beach

    The body of an unidentified man was recovered from the water at Winthrop Beach Saturday afternoon, the Winthrop Fire Department said. At about 2 p.m., firefighters received a call from residents near Faun Bar, in the area of Beacon Street and Winthrop Shore Drive, reporting a body floating by the shore, said Fire Captain Charles Flanagan. When emergency crews arrived, they began trying to resuscitate the man, whom Flanagan estimated to be in his 40s. He was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Flanagan said that while Winthrop police continue to investigate the incident, the man “appears to have ingested a lot of water… for the short amount of time we were working on him [there were] no other obvious signs of trauma.”

    "Bill would raise Maine’s minimum wage

    Maine’s Democrat-controlled Legislature approved a bill last week that would raise the state’s minimum wage in stages from the current $7.50 an hour to $9 by 2016, then raise it annually to account for inflation. Governor Paul LePage, a Republican, is reviewing the bill and has not taken action, said spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett (AP)."

    I doubt that Tea Party prick will sign it.

    "Police search for missing N.H. woman

    Police on Saturday continued to search for a New Hampshire woman who they believe may be injured or dead. Kelly Robarge of Charlestown was reported missing Thursday afternoon and family members have been unable to contact her, authorities said. Robarge had filed for divorce Thursday, citing irreconcilable differences, WMUR-TV reported. She listed her husband’s address as in Putney, Vt., where neighbors said police had been throughout the day on Friday. Police have not said why they were at the residence. Anyone with information is asked to call New Hampshire State Police at 603-271-3636 (AP)."

    Call the NSA for the communications and location records.

    "Lightning strike damages Dennis home, displaces family

    A lightning strike early Saturday morning in Dennis caused heavy damage to a 2½-story home and displaced four adults—the owner, his wife, and their adult son and daughter-in-law, according to the Dennis Fire Department. Firefighters received multiple calls — from a neighbor, a woman driving by, and the occupants of the house — shortly before 7 a.m., reporting that lightning had struck the house on Donovan Way, said Assistant Fire Chief John Donlan. Lightning hit the back corner of the roof, igniting the roof and top floor, according to a statement from the Dennis Fire Department. The lower two floors of the home, where the occupants were sleeping, sustained smoke and water damage. The storm woke up the occupants of the house, who were able to get out with no injuries."

    Lightning won't strike twice here.

    "Vt. farmer charged in pot trafficking ring

    A Vermont farmer has been charged in a large marijuana trafficking ring involving drugs that federal officials believe were smuggled across the U.S.-Canadian border. Kirt Westcom, of East Fairfield, pleaded not guilty Thursday to conspiring to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. Jeffrey A. Donna, who owns T.J.’s Country Store in Montgomery; Roy L. McAllister II, vice president of McAllister Fuels Inc. of Richford; and Jesse J. Soule, a Montgomery dairy farmer, pleaded not guilty on May 29 to marijuana trafficking conspiracy charges, the Burlington Free Press reported. Westcom allegedly often hid the pot in hay bales in his barn, the affidavit said."

    Time to legalize. 

    For some reason the Globe's website forgot that and a lot of other things. What are they smoking over there? 

    I decided not to get on the late night T, not with the rise in violence in Boston, and I already surrendered on this issue. We don't have to lunch over it. I want to get out of the Boston Globe box so I guess I'm pretty much tanking it today. I will be putting a few things up, but then I will start getting ready for the new month and a new format in an entirely new yet similar style, with an exciting yet still familiar focus.

    Saturday, June 29, 2013

    Hernandez Held For Trial

    Related: Globe Pass Defense All Over Hernandez

    "Aaron Hernandez investigated in 2012 killings" by Mark Arsenault, Maria Cramer and Wesley Lowery |  Globe Staff, June 28, 2013

    Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, already accused in the execution-style slaying of a Dorchester man this month, is now being investigated in an unsolved 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston’s South End that killed two men, two law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation said.

    The double homicide, a brutal attack last July 16 on a car stopped at a traffic light, occurred one month before the Patriots signed Hernandez to a $40 million contract extension, raising the chilling possibility that the region’s beloved NFL franchise carried a double murderer on the roster last season.

    Yeah, just like with the Boston Marathon bombings, let's see if we can pin some unsolved crimes on him.

    The unsolved crime may also supply a motive for the killing of Odin Lloyd on June 17: Investigators believe Lloyd may have had information linking Hernandez to last year’s double slaying, the officials said....


    "Aaron Hernandez associate turns himself in; Police say they now have all three alleged to have a role in the killing" by Mark Arsenault and Wesley Lowery |  Globe Staff, June 29, 2013

    The last suspect accused of joining former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez on a late-night drive ending in the execution-style slaying of Dorchester’s Odin Lloyd turned himself in Friday at a Florida police station, capping a turbulent week in the spectacular fall of a Boston sports star....

    “It certainly sounds like they believe Hernandez is the shooter,” said Ann McGonigle Santos, a Suffolk University law professor and former prosecutor at the Middlesex district attorney’s office. “And if they believe Hernandez is the shooter and the mastermind, prosecutors might cut a deal with the other men.”

    With all three men in custody, McGonigle Santos said investigators will now focus on finding the weapon used in the shooting, still unaccounted for. But even if they cannot recover it, she added, the evidence already revealed in court seems persuasive.

    The Patriots dropped Hernandez from the team Wednesday, about 90 minutes after his arrest. His name was quickly scrubbed from the team’s website. The Patriots went even further on Friday to cut ties, announcing a free exchange of number 81 Hernandez jerseys at the team’s pro shop in Foxborough on July 6-7....

    SeePatriots to allow fans to trade in Hernandez jerseys for free

    UPDATEAaron Hernandez jerseys are hot items on eBay

    Multiple law enforcement officials said the investigation into the double homicide is heating up....

    Just two weeks before the shooting in Florida, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Alexander Bradley, 30, of East Hartford, Conn., was charged with drunk driving by Massachusetts State Police — with Hernandez apparently in the car — after fleeing a trooper in a harrowing drive down Interstate 93 that reached 105 miles per hour, according to the criminal case file.

    The highway drama began when a state trooper on patrol on 93 southbound in Boston noted a black Yukon SUV stopped on the highway at 2:20 a.m. on Jan. 28, the weekend after the Patriots lost the AFC title game to the Baltimore Ravens. When the trooper pulled up, the Yukon took off....

    When the trooper stopped the SUV near Exit 8 in Quincy, the front passenger yelled out, “Trooper, I’m Aaron Hernandez — it’s OK,” according to the report....

    Hernandez is next due in court July 24 for a probable cause hearing.


    Also see:

    For fans, arrest creates sense of horror, betrayal
    Patriots were ‘taken aback’ by murder charge
    Murder victim is recalled with affection, respect


    "Gillette Stadium is no airport, but it could soon feel like one, as heightened security upgrades following the Boston Marathon bombings impose restrictions that stop short of having fans remove their shoes. The new rules being implemented by Foxborough police, in conjunction with the National Football League, now include a ban on backpacks and large purses, in addition to existing bans on items such as coolers and seat cushions."

    F*** going to the football game.

    Church packed as hundreds gather for Odin Lloyd
    Aaron Hernandez associate will waive rendition hearing
    Without Myra, the Patriots lost their way

    Related: The Kraft Curse

    Sometimes I wonder if it's him.

    Kerry Nags Nigeria

    "Kerry, in Africa, presses Nigeria on human rights" by Michael R. Gordon |  New York Times, May 26, 2013

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Making his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as secretary of state, John Kerry urged Nigeria on Saturday to uphold human rights as it steps up its fight against Islamic extremists.

    “One’s person’s atrocity does not excuse another’s,” Kerry said, when asked about reports of serious human rights violations by Nigerian forces.

    “We defend the right completely of the government of Nigeria to defend itself and to fight back against terrorists,” he added. “That said, I have raised the issue of human rights with the government.”

    Kerry’s visit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the African Union comes during a trip that is mainly devoted to Middle East diplomacy. Since he left Washington on Monday, Kerry has traveled to Oman, Israel, and Jordan, to which he will return Sunday.

    Even in Africa, the Syrian crisis was on his agenda, even as Nigeria is stepping up its fight against Islamist militants, France is preparing to hand over much of the responsibility for protecting Mali from Islamic fighters to an African force, and tensions between Sudan and South Sudan have flared.

    Related: Mali Post a Mile Long 

    And it is going to take the French even longer to get out, despite what you were told.

    President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria recently declared a state of emergency in the country’s northeast provinces and ordered air and ground assaults against Boko Haram, a militant group. But reports that Nigerian forces have carried out extrajudicial killings, including against civilians, have become a problem for the United States, which provides law enforcement assistance and has cooperated with Nigeria, a major oil supplier, on counterterrorism issues.

    Related6 workers kidnapped from oil vessel off Nigeria coast

    Earlier this month, Kerry, in a statement, noted “credible allegations” that Nigerian forces had been engaged in “gross human rights violations.”

    Kerry returned to that theme on Saturday in a joint news conference with Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Asked about reports of human rights violations — there have been reports of large-scale civilian killings by the army and police in Nigeria — Kerry said the Nigerian government had acknowledged that abuses had occurred.

    I don't know if he is talking about the vigilantesstudents, or soldiers.

    “They are working to try to control it,” he said. But revenge was not an adequate strategy, he said. What is needed “is good governance,” Kerry said. “It’s ridding yourself of a terrorist organization so that you can establish a standard of law that people can respect. And that’s what needs to happen in Nigeria.”

    I don't know how foreign diplomats put up with his double-talk.

    Before meeting with the foreign minister of Sudan, Kerry noted that he planned to send a special envoy soon to work on reducing tensions between the countries.

    The difficulties, he said, went beyond border disputes and involved the concerns of residents in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states of Sudan who did not want to be compelled by Sudan to live by strict Islamic rules.

    “You have people who for a long time have felt that they want their secular governance and their identity respected,” Kerry said. “That’s the fundamental clash.”

    The tensions, he added, had been exacerbated by the support rebels in Sudan had received from South Sudan.

    Gee, I was told it was the other way around.

    Kerry also met with Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi, calling on him to make further economic reforms so that Congress can approve more aid for Egypt.


    Also seeNigeria sets up Islamist extremist amnesty group

    Nigeria bill bans same-sex marriage

    Now that does it!

    Related: Sunday Globe Special: Nigeria in the New Format

    Something not so new:

    "Nigeria pardons ex-governor who stole millions" by Jon Gambrell |  Associated Press, March 14, 2013

    LAGOS, Nigeria — Nigeria has pardoned the former political benefactor of the nation’s president, a presidential adviser said Wednesday, a politician convicted of stealing millions of dollars while serving as a state governor.

    The decision from a closed-door meeting Tuesday of the Council of State to pardon former Bayelsa state governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha drew immediate outrage across Nigeria, an oil-rich nation long considered to have one of the world’s most corrupt governments.

    While the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan repeatedly says it is fighting the entrenched system of graft that strangles Nigeria, the leader has shared stages before with convicted politicians. Meanwhile, the country’s largely opaque budgets and loose regulatory controls continue to allow for hundreds of millions of dollars more to be stolen annually.


    Of course the rest is abductions and hostages by a "little-known Islamic extremist group" in the name of Islam and the cause of Mali (yeah, that looks real). 

    NEXT DAY UPDATE: Orchard Gardens graduate excels with determination, support