Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nepal Tops My Posts This Month

It's the top of the world, right?

In the meantime I have been diligently working to prepare some wonderful posts for you in an entirely new yet similar style, and in an exciting yet still familiar format when the new month begins tomorrow, readers. Then I will be coming down.

Until then let's begin with a photograph not found in the web version of the Boston Globe:

"EVICTION IN NEPAL -- Children watched a bulldozer demolish homes in their neighborhood near the Bagmati River in Katmandu Tuesday. Government forces reportedly vacated more than 200 squatters who had set up homes illegally along the banks of the river. Police estimated there are more than 1,200 squatters in the area  (Boston Globe May 9 2012)." 

I'm sure Palestinians can empathize.

"Nepal calls elections after failing to write constitution" by Binaj Gurubacharya  |  Associated Press, May 28, 2012

KATMANDU, Nepal - Nepal’s prime minister called new elections for November after the term of the Constituent Assembly expired at midnight Sunday without political leaders completing the task of writing a new constitution.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai said the Constituent Assembly had failed to achieve its goal.

“We have no other option but to go back to the people and elect a new assembly to write the constitution,’’ Bhattarai said in his announcement broadcast live over television.

Bhattarai said he would be leading a caretaker government until the Nov. 22 elections.

The Constituent Assembly was elected to a two-year term in 2008 to draft a new constitution but has been unable to finish the task. Its tenure has been extended four times, but the Supreme Court rejected any further extensions.

Leaders of the main political parties met Sunday but failed to reach any agreement.

The four main parties were attempting to resolve differences over whether the states to be created by the constitution should be determined on the basis of ethnicity.

The debate has brought street protests and demonstrations from factions who oppose and support the idea of drawing up states based on ethnicity.

Police clashed with protesters Sunday outside the Constituent Assembly, where political leaders were meeting in a last-minute attempt to agree on a new constitution before the deadline.

Thousands of protesters opposed to the idea of creating states on the basis of ethnicity tried to push through a riot police line on the northern side of the assembly hall. Police pushed them back and a scuffle ensued, with the protesters throwing stones and police responding with tear gas and batons.

Occupy.... Nepal?

Three policemen and several protesters were injured.

On the other side of the assembly hall, thousands of people demonstrated in support of states based on ethnicity. A thick police line kept the opposing groups apart.

Finance Minister Barshaman Pun, also a member of Bhattarai’s Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), said the government had even discussed imposing a state of emergency but was not able to do so because they could not meet the requirements for taking such an action.

Security forces have been placed on high alert.

The prime minister’s announcement came at midnight when the streets were deserted and protesters had gone back home.

The assembly was elected in 2008 two years after prodemocracy protests forced the king to give up his authoritarian rule and restore democracy. The assembly immediately abolished the centuries-old monarchy and converted Nepal into a republic.

The political parties have been able to resolve some other thorny differences in the past, including the future of thousands of Maoist rebel fighters who were confined to camps after giving up their armed revolt in 2006. However, they have not been able to agree on the ethnic issue.


"Plane crash kills 15 in Nepal mountains; 6 survive" Globe wires, May 15, 2012

KATMANDU, Nepal - A plane crashed into a mountain in the Himalayas while trying to land at an airport in northern Nepal on Monday, killing 15 people and injuring six, some critically....

It was the second Agni Air crash in two years. In August 2010, one of its planes crashed in the Everest region, killing 14, including four Americans.


Also see:

Mount Everest will be crowded again days after 4 climbers killed

Woman breaks own Everest age record

DNA to be used to answer Bigfoot question

The Globe resembles a supermarket tabloid more and more every day. 

One-Cut Canada

"Quebec protests put government on defense; Emergency laws possible as youth fight tuition hikes" by Sean Farrell  |  Associated Press, May 18, 2012

MONTREAL - Facing the most sustained student protest in Canadian history, Quebec’s provincial government weighed emergency legislation Thursday aimed at ending rallies and demonstrations against rising tuition costs.  

Kids can't protest in the "free" West?

Authorities said 122 were arrested late Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators spilled into the streets of Montreal, some smashing bank windows and hurling objects at police.  

It's getting to that point everywhere.   

"The Five Boxes of Liberty
  1. The Moving Box—right of association, in particular territorially via migration
  2. The Soap Box—right of free speech
  3. The Ballot Box—right to a voice in your government
  4. The Jury Box—right to a trial by jury of your peers
  5. The Ammunition Box—right to threaten or use appropriate violence in self-defense

You see where we are standing right now? 

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." 

What an incredibly perceptive man.

When are you f***ing leaders and the elite money-junkies you front for going to listen?

Protests have been ongoing for three months....

And this is the first -- and last -- I've seen of it in my Boston Globe.


Related: Bus attacker can leave mental hospital

I think I'll drive myself. 

Happy About Cuban Post

"Castro’s daughter speaks on gay rights" Associated Press, May 25, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO - The daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro brought her fight for gay rights to a US forum on Wednesday, stressing the need to secure social equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation.

Speaking in Spanish through a translator, Mariela Castro addressed about 50 medical professionals and transgender advocates at San Francisco General Hospital.

She has an international reputation as an outspoken gay-rights advocate and lobbied her father’s government to cover sex reassignment surgery under the national health plan, which it has since 2008, and to legalize same-sex marriages, which it has not.

“If we don’t change our patriarchal and homophobic culture . . . we cannot advance as a new society, and that’s what we want, the power of emancipation through socialism,’’ she said. “We will establish relationships on the basis of social justice and social equality. . . . It seems like a Utopia, but we can change it.’’

Castro, director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, or CENESEX, spoke about transgender health care in Cuba. Wednesday’s speech was part of her multiday visit devoted largely to meeting with gay and transgender rights activists and an academic conference where she is scheduled to chair a panel on sexual diversity.

She was one of at least 60 Cuban scholars who were granted US visas to attend Thursday’s meeting of the Latin American Studies Association.


Also see: Cuban president’s daughter gets US visa

Cohasset House Party

"Man is accused of killing relative" May 09, 2012|Brian R. Ballou and Martin Finucane

QUINCY - David Hoelzer’s 45th birthday bash Thursday night in Cohasset turned into a family tragedy after he was killed in a tussle with his brother-in-law....

The party, attended mostly by relatives, started out as a festive affair, but Hoelzer grew unruly after drinking alcoholic beverages throughout the night, according to a police report.

Hoelzer’s sister - Melissa McDonough, who is married to John McDonough, the brother-in-law who was charged in Quincy District Court Wednesday with manslaughter and assault and battery - told authorities that her brother “went into a rage and hit someone over the head with a chair,’’ the report stated.

Hoelzer’s father, Arthur Hoelzer, told police that his son had become “increasingly loud and began swearing’’ and that other people inside the house told the son to stop, but that only prompted David Hoelzer to direct his profanity-laced tirade at them....


Halifax Hoax

"Police said they found several vials of a suspicious material in a Halifax condominium where a man in his 70s was found dead under pillows in a closet Monday. They also discovered a box marked “explosive,’’ forcing the evacuation of about 20 neighbors while a State Police bomb squad investigated. But neither the vials nor the box contained anything dangerous, officials said.  



Russians Retrieve Black Box in Indonesia

Why didn't we ever hear about any being collected on 9/11, American?  

Is it possible there were no planes?

"Russian jet’s data recorder analyzed" Associated Press, May 17, 2012

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Investigators on Wednesday were analyzing the cockpit voice recorder from a Russian passenger jet that slammed into the side of an Indonesian volcano. They hope the final words of the two pilots will help explain what caused last week’s crash, which killed all 45 people on board.

The “black box,’’ found Tuesday at the bottom of a 1,640-foot ravine, was shattered and badly burned, said Tatang Kurniadi, of the National Commission on Safety Transportation. The memory module appears to still be readable....


Also see: Not So Superjet

Solar Plane Up in the Air

Did they get a "security" molestation and cancer-causing radiation screen before boarding?

"The team has been invited to Morocco by the country’s King Mohammed VI to showcase the cutting edge of solar technology. Morocco is about to start construction on a massive solar energy plant at Ouarzazate.  

Ah, a kiss of sunshine.

The plant will form part of a countrywide solar energy grid with a capacity of 2,000 megawatts.

The mission is described as the final dress rehearsal for a round-the-world flight with a new and improved aircraft in 2014....

I have only one question: where do you put the passengers?


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stormy Night

Yes, it did rain here tonight, and no, we won't have to worry about a drought

Related:  Insurers paid $200 million to Mass. tornado victims, state reports 

Globe Tracks Tornado Through Town

Tracking the hurricanes, too:

"Tropical Storm Alberto hovered off the South Carolina and Georgia coasts Sunday, canceling tourist cruises, producing showers along the coast, and serving as a reminder that the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season is just around the corner....


MoreAverage hurricane season predicted

East coast braces for Tropical Storm Beryl 

Despite downgrade, Beryl soaks Memorial Day 

Too bad they couldn't put out the fire.  

Make that fires.

Also see: Sunday Globe Special: Pennsylvania Coal Fire

Rhode Island Reset

Too bad taxpayers can't just press a button.

"Job outlook bright for 38 Studios staff" by Michael B. Farrell  |  Globe Staff, May 28, 2012

Nicholas Kole just lost his job. Luckily, he is in the video game industry.

Dozens of game companies are lining up to hire castoffs like Kole from 38 Studios LLC, Curt Schilling’s failing video game maker....

Even as 38 Studios laid off its entire staff of nearly 400 people last week, rival video game makers were holding job fairs just blocks from the company’s offices in Providence. Other game companies reached out to 38 Studios staffers on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, inviting them to apply for jobs. In fact, Kole, a 24-year-old character artist, said he already has some promising leads.

Unlike employees from other industries who have endured difficult layoffs and downsizing, 38 Studios staffers are expected to quickly land elsewhere in the highly competitive video game business....


Related: Chafee, Schilling trade blame over 38 Studios

The 45-year-old Schilling said he stands to lose all the money he saved while playing baseball.

That's capitalism, Curt. You bet on the wrong game.  

Oh, btw, the Sox won tonight.

Also see: 

Ex-NBA player accused of soliciting teen


Sick and sad. I remember him from his Providence College days.

Chafee's son pleads no contest in alcohol case  


R.I. mother to serve 20 years in daughter’s death

Nautical events buoy Rhode Island’s tourism hopes

Rhode Island Will Always Remember

The Strange Case of Stacey Small

"Pa. mother charged with killing twins" Associated Press, May 26, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - A woman was charged Friday with killing her 18-month-old twins, named Adam and Eve, in the family home. Police said she also attempted suicide by cutting her wrists....

Stacey Smalls, 41, changed her Facebook profile picture May 19 to a photograph of a car spray-painted along its side with the words, “Hope she was worth it.’’ She also listed her relationship status as divorced.

Stacey Smalls remained in police custody Friday and was on suicide watch, authorities said.


Also see: Mother gets 35 years for killing 2 sons

Slow Saturday Special: The Second Coming of Susan Smith

And now we have a third.

Armored Car Robbery Was Inside Job

"More than $1m found in armored car heist arrest" Associated Press, April 25, 2012

PITTSBURGH - An armored car guard accused of killing his partner in Pittsburgh and making off with more than $2 million was arrested in Florida on Tuesday after nearly two months on the run when someone called Pittsburgh police to report his whereabouts, authorities said.

Investigators recovered more than $1 million from a storage locker and from the home where Kenneth Konias Jr. was arrested without incident early Tuesday in Pompano Beach, Fla., law enforcement officials said.

Special Agent Michael Rodriguez, head of the Pittsburgh FBI office, said at a news conference that Konias was cooperating with agents.“He admitted his identity and he was cooperative when he was arrested,’’ Rodriguez said at a news conference announcing the arrest.

Konias had two handguns with him, one of which was his company-supplied weapon. Rodriguez said Konias “indicated that was the weapon he used in the incident.’’

Rodriguez estimated investigators recovered between $1.3 and $1.5 million of the missing money, but as much as a half-million dollars remains unaccounted for....


Will Travel -- Have Gun

It's off to Idaho!

"Idaho town seeks to lure gun and ammo makers" by Nicholas K. Geranios  |  Associated Press, May 27, 2012

POTLATCH, Idaho - This small community in the forested, western foothills of the Rocky Mountains was created as a company town to house workers for the nation’s largest white pine sawmill, and its tidy homes and straight, tree-lined streets are a testament to its planners.

But the town has slumbered since the Potlatch Lumber Co. mill closed in 1981, and was searching for an economic future when an ammunition maker decided last year to move its operations from the liberal Seattle area to this more conservative region.

The move by PNW Arms was like a signal flare to business and political leaders in the town of 800 people.

“We were in the middle of doing our marketing plan at the time and decided that firearms is the niche we would recommend,’’ said Gary White of Kennewick, Wash., a business marketing consultant who is helping develop the town’s pitch to gun makers.

Potlatch, they decided, would go from timber town to gun town. It would try to lure firearms and ammunition makers, and plans also called for hunting-themed development.

“It will help draw some out-of-towners and out-of-staters,’’ Mayor David Brown said.

Potlatch’s efforts piggyback on a national trend in which firearms-friendly states are trying to pry gun and ammo makers out of the Midwest and Northeast, where some states have more restrictive gun laws.

The Idaho Department of Commerce is making firearms manufacturers a recruiting priority. The state recently passed a law that protects firearms makers from liability lawsuits or excessive regulation, White said.

“Lots of states are antifirearms states,’’ White said. “That is what Idaho is playing against, positioning itself as a firearms friendly state.’’

Firearms are a $3.8 billion industry that employs 90,000 people in the United States.

“There are a number of states in the South and out West that have pitched to have companies relocate or start businesses in their states,’’ said Lawrence Keane, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the industry trade group.

South Dakota has had some success in luring companies, and states such as Alabama, Montana, Idaho, and Arizona have also rolled out the welcome mat.

Many firearms companies have long been based in states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut, where the political climate has become more hostile to firearms. Massachusetts has passed laws limiting the number of guns people can buy.

No such fears in Idaho, a conservative state where firearms are a daily part of many people’s lives.


Also see: Calif. family hurt in plane crash is rescued in Idaho

Germs Eating Way Through Georgia

Flesh-eating bacteria infect S.C. mother
Ailing young woman faces loss of limbs

"Police escort school buses after Georgia rifle threat" Associated Press, May 17, 2012

ATLANTA - Police in an Atlanta suburb are escorting school buses and guarding students at bus stops after a man aimed a rifle at a bus with children on board and dropped a notebook that listed bus numbers.

The man fled when witnesses confronted him Monday morning, but police recovered the rifle and notebook at the scene in Hampton, south of Atlanta....


Channeling in Kansas

Taking a stab at it.

"A man wielding a knife broke into a Kansas television station Wednesday morning and stabbed two sales employees....


South Dakota Man Finally Stands Up to Bully

"Decades-old grudge cited after S.D. slaying" Associated Press, May 16, 2012

MADISON, S.D. - A 74-year-old South Dakota man accused of fatally shooting his long-ago classmate in a grudge reaching back decades pleaded guilty but mentally ill on Tuesday to a second-degree murder charge.

Carl Ericsson was charged in the Jan. 31 killing of retired Madison High School teacher and track coach Norman Johnson. Johnson was shot twice in the face after answering his door at his home in Madison. Johnson’s wife, Barbara, found him lying on the floor and saw a man walking to a dark sedan.

An arrest affidavit suggests the shooting might have been sparked by a decades-old grudge that originated when the two were students at Madison High.

Ericsson told Judge Vince Foley on Tuesday that he rang the doorbell at Johnson’s house but first asked his old classmate to verify his identity before shooting him with a .45-caliber pistol. “I guess it was from something that happened over 50 years ago,’’ Ericsson said during his arraignment. “It was apparently in my subconscious.’’


Also see: Brother awaiting execution second in troubled family

Found in the West Virginia Woods

West Virginia police find 4 bodies in woods

Police charge man in death of 4 in West Virginia

Also see: West Virginia Seep

Boston School Superintendent Gets Report Card

Failed a couple of subjects?

"Boston school superintendent gets critical job evaluation; Panel shows some discontent with Carol R. Johnson" by James Vaznis  |  Globe Staff, May 25, 2012

The Boston School Committee gave Superintendent Carol R. Johnson low marks in many areas on her most recent evaluation, revealing rare discontent among some members over her leadership less than a year after her contract was renewed with much fanfare.

The evaluation, conducted Jan. 31 at a School Committee retreat and obtained by the Globe this week under a public records request, highlighted Johnson’s difficulties in addressing several highly charged issues.

Chief among the concerns: her slowness in fixing chronically late buses, causing a frustrated Mayor Thomas M. Menino to directly intervene; and her ill-fated proposal to relocate Boston Latin Academy last summer and a subsequent replacement plan that expands and changes the location of several popular schools, which has generated mixed reactions among parents and students. 

Related: Late For Boston Globe School Bus

Also see: Skipping School Series: Switching High Schools

The facilities plan remains contentious, as the City Council deliberates on an $18.6 million loan order to pay for the changes.

Johnson received good marks in other areas, most notably for aligning the annual operating budget to academic priorities and developing positive relationships with government officials and outside organizations. At least two members said her performance merited a bonus....

The committee rates performance on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 meaning performance exceeds expectations and 4 designating a failure to meet the standards and an unsatisfactory rating. Overall, Johnson received an average rating of 2.67, putting her close to a 3, a designation for a performance that does not fully meet the standards and expectations and needs improvement.

The lackluster rating by the seven-member committee, which is appointed by the mayor, was in sharp contrast to previous reviews.

After Johnson’s first school year, 2007-08, the committee gave her a flattering 1.8, while evaluations for her second and third years were 2.1 and 2.0, respectively. Those reviews were often followed up with glowing press releases, or in the case of last year, an extension of her contract until 2015.

This year, there were no such proclamations. The Rev. Gregory Groover, the committee’s chairman, said members largely remain committed to Johnson and that evaluations from two members negatively skewed the results....

Johnson, who arrived from Memphis in 2007, earns $266,750 annually. Through the years, she has repeatedly told the committee she does not want a pay raise or a performance bonus, even in light of good reviews.... 


"The city’s top earner in 2010 was once again Carol R. Johnson, superintendent of schools, who was paid $323,222, including a $56,472 pensionlike payment, officials said."

The evaluation had been shrouded in secrecy....   

Not anymore.


Student Sacrifice

Both parties want to plunge in the knife

"Senate rejects two plans on student loan rates

WASHINGTON - Though both defeats were preordained, the twin votes gave lawmakers from each party a chance to show they favor easing students’ financial burdens.

The Senate planned to leave town later Thursday for a Memorial Day recess running through next week. Neither party wants to be accused of letting the interest rates grow at a time when voters are focused on coping in today’s rough-edged economy, giving each side an incentive to eventually strike a compromise.

A 2007 law gradually reduced interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for low- and middle-income students to 3.4 percent. To save money, it mandated that rates return to 6.8 percent for new loans as of July 1.

President Obama has made preventing a rate increase a priority and has appeared at colleges and on television talk shows to promote it. Though some Republicans expressed early concerns that retaining the lower rate would fuel college tuition increases, likely GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney endorsed freezing the rate and most GOP lawmakers have done the same.

Both measures rejected Thursday would delay the interest rate increase for a year, but each side’s bill was paid for in a way the other couldn’t tolerate.... 

It's only Congress doing a little politicking with your future, kids.


Kids, I just can't get the number $4 billion -- that's right $4 billion -- for Afghan "security" forces when they are killing our guys, killing our guys, killing our guys -- and the military is lying about it.

I think $4 billion might help with your loans, no?

Related: Kicking Around the Kids For Political Purposes

Would a friend do that to you, kids?  Behaving more like a bully.

"Education analysts raise new concern: dropouts with debt" by Suzy Khimm and Ylan Q. Mui  |  Washington Post, May 29, 2012

WASHINGTON — As the nation amasses more than $1 trillion in student loans, education experts say a vexing new problem has emerged: A growing number of young people have a mountain of debt but no degree to show for it.... 

That ball-and-chain feeling even heavier.

At least I have a worthless pos for my effort$.

That is raising new questions about the wisdom of decades of public policy that focused on increasing access to higher learning but paid less attention to what happens once students arrive on campus. And some education experts have begun to argue that starting college — and going into debt to pay for it — without a clear plan for a diploma is a recipe for disaster....  

Yeah, you may be BETTER OF JOINING the SERVICE, kiddo!

In addition, the sputtering economy has forced a growing number of students to make difficult choices between the benefits of a degree and the burden of paying for it.

We were told the economy has been in recovery for years, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I'll bet the kids are sick of hearing it, too.

More students are balancing their studies with full- or part-time jobs or signing up for a reduced course load to save money, increasing the likelihood that they will not graduate. According to a 2009 study by Public Agenda, half of college dropouts said work was a major factor in their decision.

‘‘In the end, it’s about money and time,’’ said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center for Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. ‘‘There’s almost a synergy between the two that will knock you out of school.’’

Actually, I read that the kids were just a bunch of lazy shits.

The cost to the economy is roughly half a trillion dollars, he said. Though college dropouts make more than those with only a high school diploma, he said they earn about a million dollars less than college graduates over their careers.

Malainie Smith spent a year at a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts before deciding to go to nursing school. She was halfway through her program at Simmons College in Boston when she took what she thought would be a semester-long break. When she tried to return, she found she could no longer get a loan.

Smith said that left her in a Catch-22: She had to quit school but still owed about $100,000 to the Vermont Student Assistance Corp., VSAC, a public nonprofit student lender. Her monthly payments are about $400 a month. Three years after she left Simmons, she is now is a waitress — a recent promotion from her position as a hostess....    

You need a college degree for that?

See: Sunday Globe Special: Tempering Student Optimism

Oh, let me tell you, the realization you were lied to and looted will do that.


Hey, don't worry, the Globe will help you attack that debt and make sure the banksters get paid, you lazy shits:

"College students spending less time studying" by Daniel de Vise  |  Washington Post, May 23, 2012

WASHINGTON - Over the past half-century, the amount of time college students actually study - read, write, and otherwise prepare for class - has dwindled from 24 hours a week to about 15, survey data show.

And that invites a question: Has college become too easy?

Ashley Dixon, a sophomore at George Mason University, anticipated more work in college than in high school. Instead, she has less....

Dixon is a full-time student, but college, for her, is a part-time job.

“I was expecting it to be a lot harder,’’ said Dixon, 20. “I thought I was going to be miserable, trying to get good grades. And I do get good grades, and I’m not working very hard.’’

I noticed that, too.

Declining study time is a discomfiting truth about the vaunted US higher-education system. The trend is generating debate over how much students really learn, even as colleges raise tuition every year.

Some critics say colleges and their students have grown lazy.  

Insults are quite an ejerkashun aren't they, kids?

Today’s collegiate culture, they say, rewards students with high grades for minimal effort and distracts them with athletics, clubs, and climbing walls on campuses that increasingly resemble resorts

College just one big party, 'eh?

Related(?): The Bu$ine$$ of Higher Education

Academic leaders counter that students are as busy as ever but that their attention is consumed in part by jobs they take to help make ends meet....   

Don't excuse the lazy shits.

Tradition suggests that college students should invest two hours in study for every hour of classes. The reality - that students miss that goal by half - emerged from the National Survey of Student Engagement, a research tool for colleges that examines the modern student in unprecedented detail.

The survey, first published in 2000, queries freshmen and seniors. It reveals that study time can vary widely by college and by major. Architecture majors, for example, study 24 hours a week, while marketing majors only 12....

Evidence of declining study was mostly ignored until 2010, when two economists at the University of California at Santa Barbara - Philip Babcock and Mindy Marks - brought the issue to the fore in a paper titled “Leisure College, USA.’’

A real favorite of the kids I'm sure.


Maybe if they weren't skipping school and smoking they would be better kids, huh?  

Maybe they should, I dunno, go to an Occupy rally or something.

Why Did the Globe Cross the Road?

No joke:

"After an Everett crossing guard was struck and killed by a pickup truck Wednesday, crossing guards and safe streets advocates said they were saddened, but not surprised....  

This in the state where they want to replace cops with civilian flaggers at road sites.


Also see: Crossing guard dies after being struck in Everett intersection 

Maybe the insurers have a point. WTF?

Globe $chilling For Shale

No, not that $chilling.

"Mass. gets boost from shale boom; Demand rises for local expertise; firms also save on energy" by Erin Ailworth  |  Globe Staff, May 23, 2012

SUNBURY, Pa. - Clean Harbors Inc. senior vice president Scott Metzger pulled into the dirt lot of a once-abandoned factory yard here, past gleaming trucks painted with the Norwell, Mass., company’s signature red, and opened the door to the environmental services firm’s newest offices.

It is the third property Clean Harbors has opened or acquired in Pennsylvania in the past year, as the company rides the drilling boom that is unlocking natural gas and oil from shale deposits and increasing demand for its know-how in avoiding, reducing, and cleaning up environmental damage. Last year, work for the shale industry generated 25 percent of Clean Harbors’ $2 billion in revenues, and that number is only expected to grow.

“We just see a tremendous market that needs all of the services we provide,’’ said chief executive Alan McKim, who estimated his company’s shale-related business is growing about 25 percent a year. “In the US, there’s huge potential.’’

Clean Harbors is just one example of how the unlocking of natural gas reserves hundreds of miles away promises to benefit Massachusetts companies and the state economy. At first glance, the abundant supplies in Northeast shale formations offer lower energy costs for businesses and consumers; Lexington forecasting firm IHS Global Insight estimates that lower natural gas prices will save households an average of $926 a year through 2015.

But as Clean Harbors also shows, booming gas production is providing a market for one of the state’s main exports: expertise. Consulting, financial services, and even technology firms are finding new customers in the shale industry....

The boom began in earnest when gas producers began using a horizontal drilling technique combined with a controversial process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to get at large quantities of gas trapped in the shale formations. The practice has spurred fears that chemicals and other substances could leak during the drilling process, polluting the air and water.... 

Hey, don't let the water that burns(?) bother you. 

And let us not even talk about what water will do to the fissures and fractures of fault lines in rock.

Such benefits don’t come without risks, however. Extracting gas from shale involves pumping thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water and sand into the shale, creating fissures that release natural gas into the well. Environmentalists, local officials, and nearby residents have worried that this drilling method and poorly built wells could pollute ground water and air.   

Yes, the issue is mentioned, but for the most part the agenda-pushing front-page article (same with nuclear power) is coming at you from the moneyed point-of-view.

John Deutch, an MIT professor who chaired a panel established by the Obama administration to find ways to reduce the environmental impact of shale gas drilling, said such concerns can’t be ignored if the nation wants to benefit from the energy supply over the long term.  

The ex-CIA director Deutch!

“More should be done in a concrete way to address water and the community impacts,’’ Deutch said. “Otherwise there’s a possibility that the public - and here I mean all sides of the public - will reach the conclusion that the environmental costs are too onerous, and it will threaten this great boom that we have.’’

Clean Harbors makes its money by helping natural gas producers limit their impact on the environment, and cleaning up the problems that do occur.  

Yeah, it's all good, even the pollution.

Today, more than two dozen workers bustle around Clean Harbors’ new offices and warehouse in Sunbury, where work trucks and trailers loaded with shovels, generators, containment booms, and other equipment stand ready to go to any one of Pennsylvania’s numerous drilling sites....   

I was wondering why that bulldozer ended up in Pennsylvania.



"Natural gas drilling project in Utah OK’d" Associated Press, May 09, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Tuesday the approval of a major natural gas drilling project in Utah that the Obama administration says will support more than 4,000 jobs during its development while safeguarding critical wildlife habitat and air quality....

The move comes at a time when the Obama administration is under fire from critics who say his energy plan falls short and is hurting job growth and the economy with undue opposition to new drilling. The administration says the attacks are political rhetoric....

Maybe we could all sit down, drink some water, and talk. Anybody got a match?

The project is in an area where state and federal scientists are studying elevated wintertime air pollution, which has at times increased ozone levels to nearly double the limit considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency. It remains unclear how much emissions from drilling in the region are to blame for the bad air and how much of the pollution is caused by topography and weather....

Oh, now they don't know what the cause of the pollution is when it comes to gas wells but they are damn sure you are causing the alleged global warming, human.


Related: 4 die in Utah as small plane crashes

"Medical group to study fracking risks" May 01, 2012|Globe Staff, Bloomberg News

Translation: Cover-up being initiated to claim whatever your health and environmental problems they absolutely cannot be blamed on $hale.

WASHINGTON - The Institute of Medicine, which advises the United States government on health issues, will examine whether the process of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from rock “poses potential health challenges,’’ an official of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

Health concerns related to fracking, in which millions of gallons of chemically treated water are forced underground to break up rock and free gas, include the potential for water contamination and air pollution....


Related: Vermont bans fracking, just in case

Also see: I'm Not Gonna Hit Ya', Pilgrim

I'm gonna hug Vermonters! 

BP Spill Been Forgotten

"Ex-BP worker files whistleblower suit" January 26, 2012

NEW ORLEANS - A former BP employee has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the company, claiming he was fired for airing concerns about the cleanup of Mississippi’s shoreline after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

In a federal suit filed last Friday in New Orleans, August Walter claims one of his BP bosses manipulated data on shoreline cleanup and didn’t give the Coast Guard “the true status’’ of what substances needed to be cleaned....


"Former BP worker accused of destroying oil spill data" Washington Post, April 25, 2012

NEW ORLEANS - A former BP engineer was arrested on charges of intentionally destroying evidence requested by US authorities about the size of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The United States said Kurt Mix, who worked on internal BP efforts to estimate the amount of oil leaking from the well, deleted text messages between him and a supervisor. Mix, 50, was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in New Orleans and unsealed Tuesday.

“Mix deleted numerous electronic records relating to the Deepwater Horizon disaster response, including records concerning the amount of oil potentially flowing from the well, after being repeatedly informed of his obligation to maintain such records,’’ FBI Special Agent Barbara O’Donnell said in a sworn statement.

The blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in US history. The Justice Department has been investigating the incident and the spill rate estimates, O’Donnell said in the affidavit.

“The Deepwater Horizon Task Force is continuing its investigation into the explosion and will hold accountable those who violated the law in connection with the largest environmental disaster in US history,’’ US Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.

Mix did not immediately return a call or e-mail seeking comment on the charges.

David Nicholas, a London-based spokesman at BP, declined to comment.


Also see: The BP aftermath? Nothing

Tycoon quits as chief of BP’s Russian venture

Veteran's Vigil

"Veterans focus on lives lost during, after wars; Rise in suicides a concern" by Colin A. Young  |  Globe Correspondent, May 29, 2012

The event, hosted by the local Veterans for Peace chapter and several other groups, focused on the rising number of servicemen and women who have taken their lives after returning from combat.  

Somebody f***ed with their mind?

Pat Scanlon, a Vietnam War veteran who coordinated Monday’s event, said, “The incidence of suicide in Afghanistan and Iraq is going up. What is the cause for that?”

Being ordered to carry out atrocities based on lies.

Kevin Lucey spoke from firsthand experience about suicide among veterans. His son Jeffrey, a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq War, hanged himself with a garden hose in the basement of his parents’ home in 2004....

See: How to Honor a Suicider

The Boston Globe Goes Antiwar

Veterans Getting a Piece of Iraq

Taking Interest in the American War Dead

Not forgotten at Monday’s event were Afghan and Iraqi civilians who lost their lives as their countries became war zones....  

Millions of them.

To conclude the ceremony, veterans read the names of each Massachusetts soldier killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. With each name, a carnation was dropped into the harbor to the sound of a tolling bell.

Did it sound like this?


Obama Extols the Empire

"Obama to cadets: The US ‘is leading once more’; Defends record at Air Force commencement" by David Nakamura  |  Washington Post, May 24, 2012

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - President Obama's vision for a postwar America in which the United States leads beyond the battlefield and by defiantly challenging his critics’ notion of waning American influence.

In a commencement address to the cadets, he hailed a milestone moment as the country winds down its military involvement in the two wars that have defined the generation that has come of age since Sept. 11, 2001.

The Class of 2012 is the first in nearly a decade, Obama told them, that is entering active service with no American troops fighting in Iraq, and the first that can envision an end to the Afghanistan war.

“For a decade, we have labored under the dark cloud of war. Now, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon,’’ the president said, speaking on a stage in the middle of the academy’s football field with the cadets, dressed in blue and white uniforms, seated in rows before him. “The end of these wars will shape your service, and it will make our military stronger.’’


During the past half-year, Obama has touted the end of the Iraq war and the drawdown in Afghanistan as centerpieces of his foreign policy record as he makes a case for reelection, reminding the public that he had made good on his campaign promise to end the Iraq conflict.

The Obama campaign has targeted military families as a source of potential votes in battleground states, hoping to undercut a traditionally strong voting bloc for Republicans....

The president used much of his speech to declare that US influence has not waned. He said, “the United States is leading once more. From Europe to Asia, our alliances are stronger than ever.’’

He pointed to the partnership with Japan after the quake and tsunami last year and his administration’s approach to aid Libyan rebels in overthrowing the regime of Moammar Khadafy.

The argument was aimed at sharp criticism from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has attacked Obama for being too soft on Iran. Republicans also have accused the president of responding too slowly to the prodemocracy movements challenging longstanding autocracies in the Middle East and North Africa and failing to act decisively to end President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on dissent in Syria.

“As we’ve done the work of ending these wars, we’ve laid the foundation for a new era of American leadership,’’ Obama said. “Let’s start by putting aside the tired notion that says our influence has waned, that America is in decline.’’

To those who have questioned whether he subscribes to the notion of American exceptionalism, the president pointedly used those very words.

“Never bet against the United States,’’ he said, adding that “the United States has been, and will always be, the one indispensable nation in world affairs. This is one of the many examples of why America is exceptional.’’

The speech kicked off a two-day trip in which will include four campaign fund-raisers, a campaign event in Iowa, and an event designed to push Congress to back a clean energy tax credit.

Obama won Colorado in 2008 after accepting the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.


That's at the Air Force? 

"Federal investigators have concluded that supervisors at Dover Air Force Base retaliated against four civilian whistle-blowers after they reported missing body parts and other failures at the mortuary that handles America’s war dead....


Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than Bush. 

So much for transparent, open government and change.


Air Force cuts back on air show demonstrations

Special Operations to have larger role in reshaped Army

Also seePresident to mark holiday with veterans, families

Obama honors fallen troops on Memorial Day 

Vietnam: The Forgotten Victims

I'm on a mission!

"Effort to honor Vietnam veterans is sputtering; 50th anniversary has few events set" by Bryan Bender  |  Globe Staff, May 18, 2012

WASHINGTON - They returned home to a politically traumatized nation that treated them with indifference and scorn.

Now, veterans’ advocates fear the country will again miss an opportunity to recognize the toil and torment of the 3 million service members sent to fight the Vietnam War. The Pentagon’s plans to celebrate the veterans - five years in the making - are sputtering.

This Memorial Day is supposed to be the curtain-raiser for a series of gatherings to mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of US involvement in the decade-plus war and to honor those who served. Yet few events are planned and crucial corporate sponsorship is nonexistent. Most veterans have not even heard about the effort....  

And as we all know, nothing can be gotten off the ground without crucial corporate sponsorship. Who do you think brings you the wars?

The exact dates of American involvement have been disputed. The United States first sent military advisers in 1959; massive escalation came when Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964.  

You mean the Gulf of Tonkin false flag that no one talks about and acts as if it was a one-off aberration?

This year was chosen by the Pentagon to kick off the 50th commemoration because in 1962 the Pentagon first authorized a Vietnam service ribbon for troops sent to Southeast Asia. It was also the year President Kennedy increased military advisers from a few hundred to several thousand, to assist South Vietnamese forces fighting the North Vietnamese communists....  

And look at the Pentagon that had a hand in his killing try to pin the mass-murdering exercise on the guy who was shot because he wanted to end it. 

In my mind the war truly began after Tonkin when LBJ sent 500,000 men -- at least, here at home. It had been going on for a lot longer for the Vietnamese.

It was only last year that the Department of Veterans Affairs approved disability benefits for a particular heart ailment affecting an estimated 200,000 Vietnam vets exposed to jungle defoliants.....  

Related: Vietnamese Seeing Red Over Agent Orange

Mission accomplished. 


"Obama praises Vietnam veterans’ contributions; Urges US to mark 50th anniversary and show thanks" by Ken Thomas  |  Associated Press, May 29, 2012

WASHINGTON - President Obama paid tribute Monday to the men and women who have died defending America, pointing to Vietnam veterans as an underappreciated and sometimes maligned group of war heroes who remained true to their nation despite an unwelcome homecoming.

Oh, he trotted out that old "spit on at the airport" myth. 

And I don't think tools of a criminal empire should be worshiped.

“You were sometimes blamed for the misdeeds of a few,’’ Obama said at the Vietnam War Memorial. “You came home and were sometimes denigrated when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened.’’

“Even though some Americans turned their backs on you, you never turned your back on America,’’ Obama said. 

If we can't even admit our crimes to ourselves.... sigh. I'm sick of living under the myth of empire.

The president also designated May 28 to Nov. 11 for commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. He urged Americans to honor Vietnam veterans with programs, ceremonies, and activities.

Seig heil!

And hey, I AM ALL FOR the TROOPS getting the PAY and BENEFITS THEY EARNED! It's the FIRST LINE ITEM in the BUDGET! What BOTHERS ME is the mind-manipulating myths told by  the LIARS that SEND THEM and KEEP THEM in harm's way.

To mark Memorial Day, the president spoke in front of the black granite memorial honoring the more than 58,000 service members who died in the Vietnam War.

Earlier at Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River from the capital, Obama noted that for the first time in nine years, “Americans are not fighting and dying in Iraq,’’ and the nation was winding down its role in Afghanistan.  

Maybe you wouldn't mind taking a trip through Arlington?

“After a decade under the dark cloud of war, we can see the light of the new day on the horizon,’’ Obama said to an audience gathered at the Arlington amphitheater lined with American flags under a warm, brilliant sun.  

Are you sure it isn't the Israeli train of war against Iran?

Obama said the nation must remain committed to providing for the families of fallen soldiers and help returning service members seeking a job, higher education or health care benefits.

“As long as I’m president, we will make sure you and your loved ones will receive the benefits you’ve earned and the respect you deserve,’’ the president said. “America will be there for you.’’

Obama said sending troops into harm’s way was “the most wrenching decision that I have to make. And I can promise you I will never do so unless it’s absolutely necessary.’’

Iran will be the test.

As he seeks reelection, Obama has reminded the public about the end of the war in Iraq and the move to bring all troops home from Afghanistan by 2014. And in a campaign ad released last week, he credits US service members who helped in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.  

Please stop bringing up that crapper.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who spoke before the president, said that Arlington National Cemetery, which is the final resting place for more than 14,000 service members, is “a constant reminder that freedom is not free.’’  

The mind-numbing cliches are going to put me in the ground.

About 6,400 US military personnel have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 48,000 have been wounded, according to the Defense Department.

The president and Michelle Obama started the day with a breakfast at the White House for families who have lost loved ones in combat.

The Obamas also met Monday with 24 women accepted into the Navy’s nuclear submarine program. It’s the first time women are being assigned to the submarine force, according to a White House statement.

See: Slow Saturday Special: Diver Down

Michelle Obama will sponsor the USS Illinois, a future Navy submarine named after her home state. The Virginia-class attack submarine is being built in Groton, Conn., and Newport News, Va. The new submarine is expected to join the fleet in late 2015.

Hey, look what I caught in the Boston Globe fishing net.

As sponsor, Michelle Obama will establish a special link to the ship’s sailors and their families.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday promised to maintain an American military “with no comparable power anywhere in the world.’’  

See: Meet the Mormons

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee appeared with Senator John McCain of Arizona, the GOP’s 2008 presidential candidate, before a crowd of about 5,000 in San Diego.

The former Massachusetts governor warned against shrinking America’s military in Europe’s image and said the nation must have the world’s strongest military to win wars and prevent them.

Veterans could play a significant role in the 2012 election. Several closely watched states in the election have large blocs of military voters....   

Who by-and-large backed Ron Paul. 

The Obama campaign says the president has fought for increased funding for veterans’ health care and expansion of the GI Bill for education. He has also won approval of a tax credit that encourages businesses to hire veterans.

But the government has a backlog of thousands of military disability cases, with the waiting period for action lasting a year or more, Senator Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Veteran Affairs Committee, said Sunday. “It’s not acceptable,’’ she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.’’


Related: Denying the Troops

Aaaah, they're just f***ing with your mind.

Meanwhile, over there:

"Disputes over land stymie Vietnam’s effort to modernize roads" by Mike Ives  |  Associated Press, May 27, 2012

HANOI - Nearly four decades after Vietnam emerged from war, it now faces a choice: build new roads and subways in its sprawling cities or remain stuck in the past, allowing fear of social unrest to hijack its development....

Experts and officials say inadequate roads and public transportion in Hanoi and other cities blocks the social and economic progress of a country where widespread poverty persists despite fast growth in recent years....

Planners warn that if Hanoi doesn’t build more roads and efficient public transport while limiting car ownership, its narrow streets will begin to look as congested as those of Jakarta and other megacities.

The major sticking point is the price of land: If residents and officials can’t agree, “it’s likely the government will have to force an eviction,’’ Do Quoc Tai said in his cramped living room as neighbors picked through garbage in an adjacent alley....


Related: Bus plunges off bridge in Vietnam, killing 34

The Greatly Troubled Generation

"45% of new veterans file claims for disability; Those returning from 2 wars have complicated care needs" by Marilynn Marchione  |  Associated Press, May 28, 2012

NEW YORK - America’s newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen.  

I have been typing for years that you will be paying for these wars for decades and in ways you never dreamed, America.

A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related....

It is unclear how much worse off these new veterans are than their predecessors....

Government officials and some advocates say that veterans who might have been able to work with certain disabilities may be more inclined to seek benefits now because they lost jobs or can’t find any....

Related: Being a Vet No Advantage in Job Market

"Postal Service offers buyouts to cut costs

NEW YORK - The US Postal Service said late Friday that it was offering buyouts to about 45,000 mail handlers, part of the financially troubled agency’s efforts to cut its staff and reduce its operating costs. The mail handlers, who work in processing centers, will be offered $15,000 each. The Postal Service has said it will begin closing 48 of the centers starting this summer, reducing the need for staff (New York Times)."

Yeah, even they are not hiring anymore.

As the nation commemorates the more than 6,400 troops who died in post-9/11 wars, the problems of those who survived also draw attention. These new veterans are seeking a level of help the government did not anticipate, and for which there is no special fund to pay....

See: Sunday Globe Special: German Ghosts

As the soldier suicide rate attests, our soldiers know we are the new Nazis.  

Troubled vets in Conn. may get more help readjusting

Soldiers deserve more scrutiny of effects of brain traumas

Oh, I'm sure they are just f***ing with your mind, soldier.


Maybe the ladies get treated better:

"The lawsuit stems from an initiative by University of Virginia Law School professor Anne Coughlin, a law professor specializing in gender discrimination who led an effort to look into the policies, and several University of Virginia law students. The Molly Pitcher Project, named after a woman who was on the front lines of the Revolutionary War, examined whether excluding women from combat roles could be challenged in court, whether they harmed women, and whether those women wanted to seek legal action....


Related: In the Loving Arms of the AmeriKan Military

Also see: USS Iowa on its way to S. Calif. home

Just keep an eye on the Enterprise, readers. 

Four found dead after Iowa boat crash
War of 1812 cannon out of storage, in Maine museum

USS Constitution to get a tuneup, using white oak trees from Indiana

Minuteman reenactor gives up deadly role  

Knowing the REAL HISTORY is important; however, I don't like "playing" war. 

Silver Star for Groton marine killed in Afghanistan

Kin of Stephen Perez, Army veteran who was killed, ask for help from the public

33,000 flags on Boston Common honor war dead 

Cardinal O’Malley asks parishioners to pray for military chaplains

Massachusetts veterans can now access special website to connect them to benefits

Maine nuclear sub fire injures 7

Ceremony held in Mattapan to honor veterans

Honoring Massachusetts veterans who answered the call

The patriotism of sacrifice

Oh, I hate a parade.

House Throws Defense Bill Into Hole

And you and I might be next, readers:

"House OK’s $642 billion defense bill; GOP provisions likely to be lost in Senate version" by Donna Cassata  |  Associated Press, May 19, 2012

WASHINGTON - Insisting they are stronger on defense than the president, Republicans crafted a bill that calls for construction of a missile defense site on the East Coast that the military opposes, bars reductions in the nation’s nuclear arsenal, and reaffirms the indefinite detention without trial of suspected terrorists, even US citizens captured on American soil.  

More: House Hacksaws Poor For Pentagon and Politics

The divisive GOP provisions will have a short shelf life....

Just Congress doing a little politicking.

The detention issue created an unusual political coalition in Congress, uniting Democrats and some Tea Party Republicans.  

We need more of that.

Conservatives fear the divisive policy established last year could result in unfettered power for the government and trample long-held constitutional rights. The policy, contained in the current defense law, was based on the post-Sept. 11 authorization for the use of military force that allows indefinite detention of enemy combatants. Several Democrats criticized the provision as an example of government overreach and an unnecessary obstacle to the Obama administration’s war against terrorism.  

Will we ever get past all the lies that underpin these horrific and horrendous atrocities?

The policy denies suspected terrorists, including US citizens seized within the nation’s borders, the right to trial and subjects them to the possibility they would be held indefinitely.

When Obama signed the bill on Dec. 31, he issued a statement saying he had serious reservations about provisions on the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists. Such signing statements are common and allow presidents to raise constitutional objections to circumvent Congress’s intent.

Signing statement means he already has all that power, as will the next dictator, 'er,  president.


Chopping Off an Earmark

"Earmarks fund $17,000 copter drip pan" New York Times, May 19, 2012

WASHINGTON - In the 1980s, the military had its infamous $800 toilet seat. Today, it has a $17,000 drip pan.

Thanks to a powerful Kentucky congressman who has steered tens of millions of federal dollars to his district, the Army has bought about $6.5 million worth of the “leakproof’’ drip pans in the last three years to catch transmission fluid on Black Hawk helicopters. And it might want more from the Kentucky company that makes the pans, even though a similar pan from another company costs a small fraction of the price: about $2,500.

The purchase shows the enduring power of earmarks, even though several scandals have prompted efforts in Congress to rein them in. And at a time when the Pentagon is facing billions of dollars in cuts - which include shrinking the Army, trimming purchases of fighter jets, and retiring warships - the eye-catching price tag for a small part has provoked sharp criticism.

The Kentucky company, Phoenix Products, got the job to produce the pans after Representative Harold Rogers, a Republican who is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, added an earmark to a 2009 spending bill. While the earmark came before restrictions were placed on such provisions for for-profit companies, its outlays have continued for the past three years.


While I got your ear:

"The imperial ex-presidency" May 28, 2012 

If Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, or either of the presidents Bush were running for office today, they’d be inveighing against the government’s wasteful spending on former presidents. But now they are the former presidents, and they can help curb the waste.

Though it can be easy to overlook in a $3.6 trillion federal budget, taxpayers shell out hefty sums each year to cover the expenses of the nation’s four living former presidents. In 2010, ABC News recently reported, those payments included $80,000 for George W. Bush’s phone service, $579,000 for Bill Clinton’s office rent, and $15,000 for Jimmy Carter’s postage. All told, Americans spent more than $3 million for the former presidents’ expenses, with the largest payouts going to the younger Bush ($1,306,000) and Clinton ($1,088,000).

There was a time when retired presidents received no taxpayer-funded benefits at all, a situation that was changed after Harry and Bess Truman needed a bank loan to tide them over for the transition back to private life after leaving the White House in 1953. By law, former presidents now receive an annual pension of nearly $200,000; it is payable as soon as they depart the White House, regardless of age. They are also granted lavish staff, office, and travel allowances. All that is in addition to round-the-clock Secret Service protection for themselves and their families.

But presidents no longer spend their post-White House years in the straitened circumstances the Trumans faced. Between speaking fees, book royalties, and other opportunities to make money, being an ex-president is highly lucrative. Last year, Clinton collected more than $10 million in speaking fees alone; George W. Bush made $15 million. Carter, the least wealthy ex-president, enjoys a net worth of $7 million — and that’s just a fraction of what Clinton is worth. Should taxpayers really be expected to cover any and all expenses of such wealthy individuals?

Congress needs to rein in the cost of presidential retirements. US Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah suggests ending expense reimbursements for any ex-president who earns more than $400,000 a year. He has introduced legislation limiting presidents to a $200,000 annual pension and $200,000 in annual expenses. (Their security and health care would still be covered for life). Chaffetz’s proposed cuts are too drastic, given the huge amount of phone and mail traffic directed toward former heads of state. But there need to be far greater limits, especially for those ex-chiefs who rake in millions of dollars a year.


No offense, but I don't recall political pensions being in the Constitution.

Presidential Campaigns Keep in Touch With Voters

By SPYING on them!!!!!!!! 

"Presidential campaigns mining voters’ online data

The 2012 election could be decided by which campaign is best at exploiting voters’ Internet data....

The practice, known as ‘‘microtargeting,’’ has been a staple of product marketing. Now it’s facing the greatest test of its political impact in the race for the White House.

Campaigns have worked for years to target subsets of voters, but the growing sophistication of data-mining tools has allowed campaigns to dig deeply into voters’ online habits, giving politicians an unparalleled ability to personalize messages.


Charity Scam Stain on Navy Whites

"Man arrested in Navy charity scam" Associated Press May 02, 2012

CLEVELAND - A fugitive was arrested on accusations that he ran a scam that collected millions of dollars in donations from people who believed they were helping Navy veterans, Ohio’s attorney general and the US Marshal’s office in Cleveland announced Tuesday.

The man uses the false identify of Bobby Thompson and was indicted in Ohio in 2010 on theft, money laundering, and other charges related to the Florida-based charity. He disappeared in June 2010.

Little, if any, of the money collected by the charity was used to benefit veterans, authorities have said.

Authorities acting on a tip arrested Thompson in Portland, Ore., on Monday night, said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. He had multiple fake ID cards, DeWine said.

DeWine said authorities hope to have the man in Ohio in 10 days, where he will be tried in state court in Cleveland. The alleged fraud involved $100 million in 41 states, said US Marshal Peter Elliot.

The arrest closes a search dating back several years and involving a Tampa charity known as the US Navy Veterans Association.

The association made a few contributions that benefited veterans, but public records showed the man behind it contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates around the country, former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray said in 2010.


Related: Father, son indicted in kickbacks case

Pentagon's New Dress Uniforms

Just in time for Memorial Day.

"Suit hits Pentagon over huge 2011 data breach" May 05, 2012|By Bryan Bender

WASHINGTON - The bad news piled up quickly for Carol Keller late last year. She was informed in December that her personal and medical information had been stolen nearly four months earlier when a Pentagon contractor left 25 computer tapes in the back seat of a Honda Civic in Texas. That explained the fraudulent purchases from her debit account, the Revere woman contends.

Keller, who is married to a disabled Air Force veteran and relies on the Pentagon-run health insurance program called TRICARE, is among 70,000 military personnel, retirees, and their families across New England who are grappling with the potential fallout of one of the largest-ever breaches of medical data. Nationally, as many as 4.7 million people may be vulnerable.

Keller insists the theft and unauthorized purchases are related and has joined nearly a dozen others in a class-action lawsuit seeking unspecified damages. Frustrated lawmakers and privacy specialists say the case spotlights what they contend is an ill-designed health system, in which the Pentagon relies on contractors and outdated computer storage technologies to house and transport personal information.

As a result of the outdated system, they say, those who risk their lives for the nation face undue risk of invasion of privacy and identity theft, and national security could be compromised.

“The bottom line is that people in charge of safeguarding our service members’ personal data need to transition from the 20th century to the era of iPads,’’ said Representative Edward J. Markey, who is demanding more answers from the Pentagon on its medical privacy policies. “TRICARE had given me no assurance that it is moving toward such a modern system.’’

Many of the questions concerning standards and technology center on the Pentagon’s use of contractor Science Applications International Corp. The contractor alerted Keller to the September breach weeks later - in a letter titled “urgent.’’   

The use of who?

Related: Pity the Poor CIA

Defense contractor, huh?

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, one of three pending across the country, the breach was the latest involving the contractor, which receives about $20 billion a year in Pentagon contracts....


Too busy looking at porn I guess.

Also see: 3.2m in Mass. have had data lost, stolen

It's not just the Pentagon, huh?