Sunday, November 30, 2014

Slow Saturday Special: Nothing But a Surrogate For the Boston Globe

"Thai legislature approves ban on surrogacy" Associated Press  November 29, 2014

BANGKOK — Thailand’s interim Parliament has given initial approval to a bill banning commercial surrogacy, the practice of hiring a woman to carry a fetus to term, a lawmaker said Friday.

Thailand has been rocked by several surrogacy scandals this year. One involved an Australian couple who took home a healthy baby girl born from a Thai surrogate mother but left behind her twin brother who had Down syndrome. The other case involved a Japanese man who fathered at least 16 babies via Thai surrogates. Thailand is one of the few countries in Asia where commercial surrogacy is not specifically banned by law.

National Legislative Assembly member Chet Siratharanon said the bill passed its first reading on Thursday, and a finalized version was expected to be ready for consideration within 30 days.


Since the western powers lost Thailand back to its people the coverage has been sparse.

Slow Saturday Special: Cape Verde Volcano

These are the photos (second on in left to-right is the closest of the cropped at the rim shot I got) that were presented to me in print, and volcanic eruptions in that area are scarier than Ebola.

Slow Saturday Special: South Beach Ero$ion

"Million-dollar home sales growth slows from Miami to Los Angeles" by Prashant GopalBloomberg News  November 29, 2014

NEW YORK — Growth in million-dollar home sales is slowing in areas including Miami and Los Angeles as rising prices and the strengthening US dollar discourage foreign investors, who helped lead the recovery.

Luxury sales, which had been outpacing the total market, are beginning to slow in areas most dependent on investors and other cash buyers. Foreign shoppers are now facing a weakening global economy, less favorable exchange rates, and higher US home values.

‘‘Now those folks who like to buy low and sell higher, or rent higher, their demand is waning. They’ve bought their fill,’’ said Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin.... 

Say goodbye to that economic recovery (that was only for the elite who benefit both ways; they buy up on the cheap during down times and enrich themselves with stock holdings during the upswings). 


Related: $outh Beach 

Lebron left that for Cleveland?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Slow Saturday Special: The Black Friday Protests

Let me get a cup of coffee and we will get right out there:

"Shoppers flocked to stores across Massachusetts in search of deals on Black Friday. These are a few of their stories."

That will get you on the front lines with a speedy check-out, even though I saw no protests there.

"Crowds seeking deals flock to stores on Black Friday" by Taryn LunaGlobe Correspondent  November 28, 2014

There were two types of shoppers out in force at malls and stores on Black Friday: diehard deal-hunters and families eager to preserve an American pastime.

On Black Friday, shoppers didn’t necessarily have to venture out on the big day for the best bargains. But many still did.

They braved the cold on Thursday to wait for openings after midnight. They flocked to malls later in the morning and filled parking lots by midday.

Despite the protests it is “so far, so good.”


"Ferguson protesters bring activity in large mall to a halt" by Jim Salter, Associated Press  November 29, 2014

FERGUSON, Mo. — Demonstrators temporarily shut down a large mall in suburban St. Louis on one of the busiest shopping days of the year Friday during one of several organized rallies to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.

Several stores lowered their security doors or locked entrances as at least 200 protesters sprawled onto the floor while chanting, ‘‘Stop shopping and join the movement’’ at the Galleria mall in Richmond Heights, about 10 miles south of Ferguson.

The protest prompted authorities to close the mall for about an hour Friday afternoon for a security sweep. It didn’t appear that any arrests were made.

The protest was among the largest on Black Friday, which also saw a large rally in Chicago and smaller ones Northern California and other cities. Demonstrations also continued in Ferguson, where officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the unarmed 18-year-old Brown August.

‘‘We want to really let the world know that it is no longer business as usual,’’ Chenjerai Kumanyika, an assistant professor at Clemson University in South Carolina, said at a rally at a Walmart in Ferguson.

Monday night’s announcement that Wilson, who is white, would not be indicted for fatally shooting Brown, who was black, prompted violent protests that resulted in about a dozen buildings and some cars being burned.

Dozens of people were arrested.

The rallies have been ongoing but have become more peaceful as protesters turn their attention to disrupting commerce.

Mindy Elledge, who runs a watch kiosk at the Galleria, said it is working.

‘‘I think people are afraid to come here,’’ Elledge said. ‘‘With the protests going on, you never know when or where they’re going to happen.’’


The Black Friday protests extended beyond Missouri.

In Chicago, about 200 people gathered near the city’s popular Magnificent Mile shopping district, where Kristiana Colon, 28, called Friday ‘‘a day of awareness and engagement.’’ She is a member of the Let Us Breathe Collective, which has been taking supplies such as gas masks to protesters in Ferguson.

‘‘We want them to think twice before spending that dollar today,’’ she said of shoppers. ‘‘As long as black lives are put second to materialism, there will be no peace.’’ 

I'm feeling threatened.

Malcolm London, a leader in the Black Youth Project 100, which has been organizing Chicago protests, said the group was also trying to rally support for other issues, such as more transparency from Chicago police.

‘‘We are not indicting a man. We are indicting a system,’’ London told the crowd.

Better be careful. Lot of ve$ted intere$ts in it.

In New York, about 100 people protested in Times Square. The demonstrators chanted ‘‘Hands up, don’t shop’’ and carried signs that read: ‘‘End Racism’’ and ‘‘Black Lives Matter.’’

Other planned events around the country seemed relatively brief and thinly attended in contrast to the large demonstrations earlier this week.

It means the attempt to engender racial division as an excuse for martial law failed.

At a shopping center in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, a dozen people gathered and chanted ‘‘Black lives matter.’’ Security was heightened at the Walmart in Ferguson on Friday morning, with military Humvees, police cars, and security guards on patrol. The store was busy, but there were few protesters.

In California, more than two dozen protesters chained themselves to trains running from Oakland to San Francisco.

About 25 protesters started Friday morning by holding train doors open to protest Brown’s death. No one was hurt.

The office of Missouri’s governor on Friday disclosed a plan to offer no- and low-interest loans, and other programs, for businesses damaged during the protests.

In the neighboring town of Dellwood, the mayor called on state and federal officials Friday to help rebuild the town after an outbreak of violent protests.

Mayor Reggie Jones said that while much attention has focused on Ferguson, most of the businesses that were looted and burned were in his town.

Jones also called on state leaders to explain why the National Guard wasn’t deployed to help protect Dellwood, as was done in Ferguson.


The amount of coverage raises suspicions as well when so many other protest are ignored or disparaged.

And while a black man is choked to death in New York City, leaders and lawmakers are more interested in hero worship and their own racism.

"Protesters take to Copley Square on Black Friday" by Kay Lazar, Globe Staff  November 29, 2014

More than 100 protesters wound through Copley Square shopping district on Black Friday, urging consumers to care more about justice and less about gifts.

The midday march proceeded along Boylston and Newbury streets on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Protesters hoisted signs reading, “Black Lives Matter,” and “No Justice, No Peace.”

The marchers said events this week in Ferguson, Mo., inspired them to organize the demonstration. On Monday, a grand jury decided not to indict a white Ferguson police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teen in August.

Friday’s rally was one of a number of such protests across the country, fueled by social media and the rallying cry #BlackoutBlackFriday.

Sarah Simpson, a 16-year-old high school student from Jamaica Plain, said she organized the Boston protest because she was stunned by the events in Missouri. After following the case since August, she said, she cried when the grand jury’s verdict was announced Monday.

“People are supporting injustice by buying things on Black Friday,” Simpson said, after the group boarded Green Line trolleys and headed for the CambridgeSide Galleria. “You are saying black lives don’t matter.”

I resent that complete non sequitur!!! She is saying if you go shopping you are for the killing of Mike Brown. That's offensive!

Nothing loses a person an argument more than a jump-the-shark-to-push-your-point mentality.

The protesters, their ranks somewhat diminished, regrouped in the Galleria, as shoppers, many laden with gifts, looked bewildered by the chanting and signs.

It's the last place I would want to be confronted by protesters so I won't be going to any malls this year.

“What do we want?” a group leader yelled through a bullhorn. “Justice!” the protesters shouted, as many shoppers pulled out their phones and snapped pictures.

Among those taking pictures was Paul Mallebranche, a 35-year-old Cambridge father, who said he was heartened by the protests, though he was uncertain how to explain them to his 4-year-old daughter, who was with him.

“It’s good that people are speaking their minds,” Mallebranche said. He was lugging a bag with gifts, and said he was not aware the protesters had urged people to boycott shopping on Black Friday.

Briana Mason, a 23-year-old Dorchester resident, said she joined the protest because she was upset so many people seemed unaware of how deeply racism runs in the United States.

“People seem to value Christmas shopping and presents over other people’s lives in this country,” Mason said.

I work against the wars the other 364 days of the year, 'kay?!!!!

A bevy of Cambridge police and mall security guards stood nearby as the protesters marched through three floors of the mall, but officers did not block the marchers’ access. 

Ready for any trouble.

The rally landed in the first-floor food court, where protesters chanted and then silently stood and ringed the area. Some held signs while others thrust their hands up as if surrendering, an action that has come to symbolize the case of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who, supporters say, was trying to surrender to Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson when Wilson shot him.

Some shoppers in the food court stopped what they were doing and quietly raised their hands in support, including Paulo Fonseca, and his wife, Isabella Lamas, who moved from Brazil to Cambridge.

“We strongly support this movement,” Fonseca said quietly. “We are touched to be here now.”"


Yeah, we are all a bunch of racists now (speak for yourself):

"Black Friday protests come to Mass. Walmarts" by Deirdre Fernandes, Globe Staff  November 29, 2014

Community activists and Walmart workers across Massachusetts used one of the busiest shopping days of the year to protest the chain’s treatment of employees, part of a national campaign to pressure the retailer to raise wages to $15 an hour and allow more part-timers to get full-time positions.

Protesters gathered outside many of the state’s nearly 50 Walmart stores, including the ones in Quincy and Westfield. Worker advocates consider $15 an hour the “living wage,” or enough to cover basic costs of living such as rent, food, and clothing.

“Workers can’t live on the wages [Walmart is] paying them,” said Russ Davis, executive director of Massachusetts Jobs With Justice, a coalition of religious, student, and labor activists who helped organize protests in Massachusetts. This is the third year the coalition has organized these protests.

Black Friday protests also took place at Walmart stores in Los Angeles, Washington, and Denver. Walmart is the world’s largest retailer.

Such strikes and protests have become increasingly common this year as the economic recovery has seemed to disproportionately benefit the wealthy, heightening concerns about income inequality. Labor unions and other groups have focused on the conditions of low-wage workers at fast-food restaurants, hotels, universities, airports, and retailers.

Seemed to?

Bill Wertz, a regional spokesman for Walmart, said the demonstrations didn’t interfere with business at the stores. He said most of the company’s workers didn’t participate.

“Protests around Black Friday are really just part of the background,” he said. “The protests are not an event that seems to make much difference to customers or associates.” 

I agree; they are scenery, controlled, staged and scripted.

Wertz added that Walmart pays better than most retailers and that the company’s average hourly wage nationwide is nearly $13 per hour. In Massachusetts, it’s $13.79 an hour.

“When you look at the whole package,” Wertz said, “Walmart compares very favorably with any retailer and is probably at the top of the pack.”

Still, about half of its more than 1 million retail store workers earned less than $25,000 a year, according to the company’s data. Part-time employees also have complained that Walmart doesn’t offer enough opportunities to move into full-time jobs with reliable hours.

“Think about living in Massachusetts on $20,000,” said Davis, the coalition executive. “That’s nothing to brag about.”

Phillip Bekech, a 42-year-old produce sales associate at the Walmart in Westfield, was among the protesters Friday. Some of his co-workers live in homeless shelters and sometimes struggle to bring more than a bag of chips or package of ramen noodles for lunch, he said.

At least they are getting health care.

“If we can make Walmart a better place to work, we can make all retail a better place to work,” Bekech said.

Why i$n't it in AmeriKa?


The career path for a lot of black men:

"Maine prison shops get in on Black Friday sale action" by Patrick Whittle, Associated Press  November 29, 2014

THOMASTON, Maine — Ken and Judy Carreras got up before sunrise and drove an hour to find their Black Friday treasure — an acorn-shaped birdfeeder crafted by an inmate at Maine State Prison.

‘‘For me, I would much rather spend the money on something that is locally crafted,’’ Judy Carreras, of Stockton Springs, said as the couple and other patrons huddled in their cars in subfreezing temperatures, waiting for the prison’s craft showroom to open.

Friday’s sale at the Thomaston showroom, located 4 miles from Maine State Prison in Warren, resembled a traditional Black Friday sale in many ways. The store opened an hour early, at 8 a.m., and reduced prices by 40 percent. A similar sale took place at the Maine Prison Industries outlet store in Windham, which cut prices 30 percent.

The Thomaston showroom attracted dozens of cars full of patrons in its first hour as buyers ogled ornamental wooden ball-and-chain sets and priced out porch furniture. Bookshelves, children’s toys, paintings, cutting boards, rocking horses, and even a model of the USS Constitution — all crafted as part of an inmate work program — were also on sale to the public.

Maine Prison Industries manager Ken Lindsey said sales from the work program total more than $1 million per year. Prisoners are paid $1 to $3 per hour, which must first go toward court restitution and child support payments, but more importantly, the program teaches inmates job skills and people skills that they can use upon release, Lindsey said.

‘‘We have, possibly, a murderer working next to child molester,’’ Lindsey said. ‘‘You have to get along, learn people skills. When you get out, on the streets, you might have someone you don’t like, but you have to work for them.’’

Tell it to Congre$$ and Wa$hington D.C.

The showroom doesn’t advertise which inmates made specific handicrafts, but most of the prisoners who have been at the prison for ‘‘any amount of time have probably had an opportunity’’ to work in the program, he said.

Maine prisoners have made handicrafts for sale since the early 1800s, starting with sleighs and hearses, Lindsey said. Today, some 130 inmates a year participate in the program at the Maine State Prison, a medium- and maximum-security facility that houses 900 offenders. The Thomaston showroom has sold millions of items in the 60 years it has been operating.

Some of the showroom’s items cost as little as a dollar, while others are as much as $2,000. Even most of the wood used in the items is the product of prison labor; the state’s Charleston Correction Facility maintains a wood harvesting program that supplies raw materials.

The inmates who participate in the program must be working toward high-school equivalency diplomas and enroll in anger management or substance abuse counseling, Lindsey said. Then, they can apply for the job — for which, just like a job on the outside, they must first be hired, he said.

‘‘When they get out, are they all going to become woodworkers? Probably not. But they’ll build skills,’’ Lindsey said. ‘‘As long as you’re willing to learn.’’


RelatedMaine paper mill closings take their toll

Learn anything?

And did you notice what was not much of a concern?

"NYC man gets prison for role in cybercrime ring" AP  November 22, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. — A New York City man was sentenced Friday to more than three years in prison for his role in an international cybercrime ring that prosecutors say hacked into the computers of more than a dozen financial institutions and the US military’s payroll service.

Richard Gundersen, 48, received a 41-month prison term and was ordered to pay $88 million in restitution. He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud, and identity theft. He admitted opening bank accounts in the names of identity theft victims.

Prosecutors say the scheme was led by Oleksiy Sharapka, of Kiev, who served an 8½-year sentence in federal prison in Massachusetts for a similar scheme. Prosecutors say the current scheme began around the time Sharapka was deported in 2012. He remains at large.

He's from where?


I'm not feeling so good:

"Beth Israel to pay $100,000 fine over data breach" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey, Globe Staff  November 22, 2014

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and improve the security of patient information after a 2012 data breach left thousands of patients’ details vulnerable.

The breach happened when an “unauthorized person” stole an unencrypted laptop from a doctor’s office. The computer contained health or personal information, such as names and Social Security numbers, of nearly 4,000 patients and employees.

Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office said doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess failed to follow policies to protect patient information. The hospital also failed to notify patients about the breach, as required by law, for several months, Coakley said.

Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess, said the hospital has since improved its security procedures.

“After this incident, we worked closely with the federal and state governments, as well as security industry experts, to ensure that [the hospital] adopts state-of-the-art security policies and technologies,” Halamka said in a statement. “Every device we purchase is encrypted before it is used, and every employee must attest on an annual basis that his or her personal devices are also encrypted.”

Encryption is a process of scrambling information so it can’t be read by unauthorized people.

Coakley reached settlements over similar data privacy violations with South Shore Hospital in Weymouth in 2012 and Women and Infants Hospital in Providence earlier this year. South Shore was fined $750,000, and Women and Infants had to pay $150,000.


RelatedBlack Friday to Begin With a Bang

Not in the way I thought, but the whole thing is so damn obvious now and I'm not biting.

Now why isn't this PlayStation I just bought not working?

Hong Kong Streets Have Been Cleared

It's hard to tell with the shell-game of controlled-opposition meant to destabilize:

"Hong Kong activists are cleared from streets without resistance" by Chris Buckley and Alan Wong, New York Times  November 18, 2014

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong government moved to clear prodemocracy protesters from a small area in front of an office building on Tuesday morning in the first action against the demonstrators in weeks. The authorities met no resistance, with student protesters saying they would not oppose the court order.

The Hong Kong government prepared Monday to push back against pro-democracy demonstrators for the first time in weeks, warning that the control may clear an area in the center of the city that protesters have made into a base. 

Dozens of bailiffs wearing black vests, backed by the police, supervised the removal of barricades in a small section of the main protest area around the Citic Tower after reading aloud a court injunction.

The government said control officers were ready to help court bailiffs enforce an ban ordering people to stop congregating around the Citic Tower in Admiralty, a neighborhood near government headquarters that for more than 50 days has become a street camp for thousands of protesters, some living in tents

The operation’s timing was no surprise; it was announced ahead of time. Demonstrators had largely vacated the area, and the police, unlike in past operations against the movement, did not wear riot gear.

“The majority of us don’t want to violate what they claim to be the law,” said one protester, Chris Wong, a student from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Yet even without court injunctions, he said, the time had come for the movement to consider its next phase.

A control response would mark the first attempt by the Hong Kong government in a month to shrink the barricaded camps that protesters have built in an try to force the authorities and Chinese Communist Party leaders to heed their demands.

But protesters and the government have said that any clearing operation would be just one go in a politically fraught endgame that is far from over.

“The major thing we have done is arouse the attention of everyone,” he said outside his blue-and-orange tent before the court officials cleared the area in only a few minutes

“Ideally, we should stay until we get true democracy, but that doesn’t seem really possible. Staying here should be the means, not the ends,” he said.

The ends, I was told, are meaningle$$ elections.

The court-mandated operation, applying to only a limited area, was unlike previous police efforts to clear broader areas. Those efforts, most recently a month ago, backfired, infuriating demonstrators and drawing thousands more people out on to the streets.

Demonstrators have blocked streets around Hong Kong’s main government buildings since Sept. 28, when police tried to quell student-led protests with tear gas and pepper spray.

Tuesday’s clearance, which was still underway late in the morning, only covered a sliver of the occupied area, but it was the first attempt in weeks to shrink the barricaded camps that protesters have built in an effort to force the local authorities and Chinese Communist Party leaders in Beijing to heed their demands for free elections for Hong Kong’s top leader, the chief executive.

An Aug. 31 ruling by China’s Legislature set strict guidelines on how candidates could win a spot on the ballot. Demonstrators contend the ruling guarantees that only people backed by Beijing can run for office. Hong Kong, a former British colony, has been run as a semi-autonomous part of China since 1997.

Acting on a complaint from the building’s owner, a Hong Kong court issued an injunction earlier this month against blocking traffic to the Citic Tower, an office and retail building across the street from the government headquarters on the south side of Victoria Harbor in an area known as Admiralty.

The court has issued a similar injunction for a street in Mong Kok, another protest site on the north side of the harbor that is usually packed with Chinese tourists, after a taxi drivers’ association and a minibus company brought complaints. The government warned that anyone obstructing the police could be culpable of “criminal contempt of court.”

It did not say when the police might try to enforce the injunction in Mong Kok, an area where rowdy protests have sometimes flared into violent clashes.

Balzac Lam Yin-tung, a student studying education, said most, if not all, protesters outside the Citic Tower were resigned to retreating, as long as the police did not try to remove the newly reinforced barriers guarding the main protest camp.

“We should stay in Admiralty until the government responds,” she said as she put protest stickers on books, bottles, and other belongings she planned to leave for the bailiffs. “People won’t leave Admiralty until we get a real plan, a plan for real universal suffrage.”

Then the print picks up verbatim:

A person involved in the Hong Kong government’s decision said the police would not rush to completely clear the three occupied areas, although the closure of major avenues had caused traffic jams and hurt sales in stores. The person insisted on anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak openly about the matter.

“The government is in no hurry to end the whole thing because public opinion is growing on our side,” he said. “It will be guerrilla warfare — we will clear it, they will regroup, we will clear it again, they will regroup, but eventually, they will dissipate.”

An opinion poll in Hong Kong carried out in early November found that 34 percent of respondents supported the protests, while 44 percent opposed them, according to researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who organized the telephone survey of 1,030 Cantonese-language residents. The survey also reported that 67 percent of respondents said they thought the protesters should leave the streets. 

But growing public opinion is on the other side, uh-huh.

That poll and others, but, showed that support for the protests remained robust among residents in their teens and 20s, who often say they feel marginalized by high housing costs and diminished opportunities. 

Don't you Occupy Wall Street kids wish you had received such glowing coverage?

The street standoff started with a student-led sit-in further than Hong Kong’s government headquarters in Admiralty in late September. The control used pepper spray and tear gas in an attempt to clear crowds nearby, but thousands of demonstrators, angered by the control actions, seized the three city areas on Sept. 28.

In view of the fact that then, the number of protesters camping on the sites has shrunk, and in mid-October, the control cleared some roads and reduced the areas under occupation. Many of the protesters who remain say they are determined to stay, but, and some have threatened to occupy other areas if they are pushed out.

“I will defend here until we get what we want, and what we want is democracy,” Jason Yim, a sound engineer in his 20s, said at the Mong Kok protest site. “If here’s enough people, we will resist. If here is not, we will leave and come back with more people.” 


And you wonder why I'm no longer spending the time.... ????

"Hong Kong protesters met with pepper spray" by William Wan, Washington Post  November 19, 2014

HONG KONG — After one group of protesters offered little resistance to authorities clearing out a section of their long-running encampment Tuesday morning, others — apparently frustrated that the movement has stalled — arrived in the evening and used barricades to break the glass facade of the government’s legislative council building.

The more radical protesters appeared to be trying to storm into the legislative building while other protesters blocked police from interfering.

In response, the police unleashed pepper spray.

The different approaches by the prodemocracy demonstrators helped punctuate a debate over when and how to end the protests — and what that ending will mean for this city’s prospects for democracy.

It began quietly enough. The authorities cleared barricades from several roads around the main site Tuesday after a court issued an order to allow free access to a commercial building. A few protesters even helped workers carry away barricades as a sign of compliance.


Hong Kong’s leaders appear to be taking an incremental approach, after use of force in recent months only sent more residents into the streets in support of the movement.

The authorities did not attempt to clear barricades or tents from the center of the protest site, where a few hundred demonstrators have remained.

Several hundred protesters observing the street clearing did not resist the court order, though many debated with authorities exactly which areas were covered by it.

The action, telegraphed well in advanced by police on Monday, began at 9:30 a.m. as bailiffs read out the court order and asked people to leave the site. Shortly afterward, several workers hired by the property owners used wire cutters to remove plastic ties binding together barriers around the 33-story CITIC building, which houses offices, restaurants, and shops. About 100 police officers stood by, without the riot gear that has marked several of their previous violent clashes with the student protesters.

Or the forces deployed in Ferguson.


The court issued a similar injunction last month ordering students to leave a site in the working-class neighborhood of Mong Kok, after complaints by taxi drivers and a bus company....

For more than a month, students have camped out in three of Hong Kong’s busiest neighborhoods: Admiralty, Mong Kok, and Causeway Bay.

In late September, in the movement’s early days, hundreds of thousands of people joined them, particularly after Hong Kong authorities, with little warning, used pepper spray and tear gas on unarmed students. Since then, despite sporadic clashes, the government has been reluctant to employ similar force for fear of further galvanizing the movement. 

I wish my heavy-handed, "security"-sensitive, thug enforcers and their superiors felt that way.

As a result, the movement — known as the Umbrella Revolution or Occupy Central — has waned in recent days, with a hard-core group of just a few hundred protesters remaining on most days.

According to a poll released Sunday by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, support for the occupying students has dropped to 33.9 percent, compared with 37.8 percent in October. Of the respondents, 43.5 percent said they do not support the Occupy movement, up from 35.5 percent in October.

And you saw what the NYT was telling me before they switched songs.


So what do covert coup attempts and destabilization campaigns turn to when they have been defeated?

"Violent Hong Kong protest decried" November 20, 2014

HONG KONG — The most violent clashes between prodemocracy demonstrators and police in a month have underscored the difficulty authorities face in evicting people from the barricaded tent cities that have blocked some of the city’s busiest streets since late September.

Had no problem here in AmeriKa.

On Tuesday night and continuing into Wednesday morning, dozens of demonstrators attempted to break into Hong Kong’s legislature, using metal barricades as ramrods to smash through doors and windows of reinforced glass.

Police charged at least six people with assaulting officers and damaging property.

Student groups and prodemocracy lawmakers joined police in criticizing participants in the protest, condemning the use of violence.

Because those are the US agent provocateur groups doing that.

It occurred hours after bailiffs, aided by police, began enforcing court injunctions to clear some roads.

Student demonstrators Tuesday put up no resistance as part of a road in the Admiralty district, directly across from the legislature, was opened to traffic.

Several protesters said it was time to end the demonstrations, which have failed to win any concessions from either the Hong Kong government or the central authorities in Beijing.

But some demonstrators are frustrated with the strategy of nonviolence advocated by the lawmakers, academics, and students who earlier this year conceived of the sit-in protests as a way to pressure the Hong Kong and Beijing governments to allow free elections in the former British colony.

Gee, I wonder who they could be.


"Hong Kong protesters denied entry into China" Washington Post  November 25, 2014

HONG KONG — A growing number of people in Hong Kong who have taken part in the city’s recent prodemocracy protests are suddenly finding themselves being denied entry into China.

RelatedNew York courts Chinese tourists

The action has shocked many people and sparked widespread belief that Chinese authorities have assembled a blacklist with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of names.

They call it a no-fly list over here.

Hong Kong authorities said they plan to remove some barricades Tuesday from a protest site in the Mong Kok district, the scene of earlier violent confrontations between demonstrators and police. A court order has been issued to remove obstructions from the site, which activists have occupied for nearly two months.

In a well-publicized incident last week, three leaders of the ongoing student protest were stopped while trying to fly to Beijing to confront Chinese leaders.

Their case drew international headlines, but subsequent cases have been more surprising because they involve relative unknowns — not leaders — who merely participated in protests, among hundreds of thousands of others.

For some, the denials threaten their livelihoods because of how intertwined Hong Kong’s economy is with mainland China’s. They may also cast a pall on freedom of expression in Hong Kong and have already fueled paranoia among protesters.


"Hong Kong police struggle to clear protest; Reinforcements defy court order to leave street" by Chris Buckley and Alan Wong, New York Times  November 26, 2014

HONG KONG — Thousands of demonstrators surged into a Hong Kong neighborhood Tuesday, defying a police attempt to shrink one of the protest camps that have filled some city streets for nearly two months. A display of official force early in the day gave way to a night of angry crowds facing off against police officers, some of them wielding batons and pepper spray.

Police officers had initially assembled Tuesday to enforce a court injunction demanding that protesters stop blocking Argyle Street in Mong Kok, a crowded commercial neighborhood where demonstrators have camped since late September. Two sites in other parts of Hong Kong are also occupied by protesters, who are demanding fully democratic elections for the city’s leader.

They used those to clear cities here.

The police did not try to clear Nathan Road, where most of the protesters in Mong Kok have been camping. Still, even with hundreds of officers mobilized, clearing a 50-yard stretch of Argyle Street took much of the day. Hundreds of demonstrators and supporters crowded into the area, many of them walking the brief distance from Nathan Road.

In the middle of the afternoon, the police ordered protesters, onlookers, and reporters to move aside and allow court bailiffs to clear the street. After issuing warnings over megaphones, the police advanced and dragged off about a dozen people who had not left.

“They did not want our reinforcements to come in the evening, after working hours, so they rushed to clear us off the street,” said Matthew Wong, a 24-year-old information technology worker who was among the protesters.

As of 8 p.m. local time, more than 80 people had been arrested for unlawful assembly, assaulting officers, obstruction, or criminal contempt of court, according to a police spokeswoman. A hundred or so officers remained on guard around the street after opening one lane to traffic.

But as has happened before the street demonstrations erupted, the police had difficulty maintaining control after initially dispersing the crowds. Protesters and onlookers massed outside a mall near the cleared street, and the police formed lines to try to get the growing crowd to move on, producing tense, chaotic scenes in the crammed area.

Milling groups of protesters discussed plans to push back the police or to defend their remaining area, which was filled with thousands of people.

“If too many people go home because of work tomorrow, the police might break through,” said Ross Yang, an event manager in his 20s who was among the masked protesters. “We should keep going, to tell the government that force is not a solution.”

What do you think I have been doing here the last 8 years?

The Hong Kong police indicated that there would be no letup of pressure Wednesday, when they would enforce a court injunction ordering people to clear Nathan Road. But thousands remained on the street late into the night.

By evening, confrontations were bubbling up in various locations nearby as people got off work and joined the protesters, with the police unable to disperse them.

Outside one subway exit, hundreds of protesters and onlookers yelled at the police to retreat. The protesters handed out safety helmets and goggles, preparing for a tense night.

The police, for their part, shut a subway exit in an effort to limit the growing crowd, mostly young men.

The demonstrators want the Chinese government to open elections for the city’s chief executive to candidates who have not been approved by Beijing. In recent weeks, the protest movement seems to have become polarized over maintaining the blockades.

Growing numbers of protesters have said it is time to consider leaving their street camps. But a minority, which is especially vocal at the Mong Kok site, says that only continued defiance can win concessions from the government.

The hallmark of a U.S-backed group.


Did this concession win anything (it did with me because we never see this in AmeriKa)?

"7 Hong Kong police charged with beating protester" by Michael Forsythe, New York Times  November 27, 2014

HONG KONG — Seven police officers were arrested in Hong Kong on Wednesday, accused of beating a prodemocracy protester last month.

The officers, who were not identified, were arrested on charges of “assault occasioning actual bodily harm,” according to a police statement.

In the predawn hours of Oct. 15, Ken Tsang, a social worker, was kicked and beaten by a number of police officers. The incident was filmed by a television crew and heightened animosity between the Hong Kong police and protesters after it was shared on social media.

The Hong Kong government and the police have come under criticism for moving slowly to prosecute the officers. The police statement issued Wednesday said there had been no delay.

Has a familiar ring, doesn't it, Amerikan?

“Police reiterate that if any force member commits illegal acts, police will handle this seriously and investigation will be conducted in a fair and impartial manner,” the statement said.

The move to arrest the officers came after the police successfully cleared one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping streets of encamped protesters Wednesday. But only hours later, demonstrators gathered in force again in the Mong Kok neighborhood, only a short distance away from the original encampment on Nathan Road.

Late in the evening, hundreds of police officers and demonstrators faced off on Sai Yeung Choi Street, one block east of Nathan Road, which had been closed to traffic almost continuously for the past two months as protesters settled in a tent city.

In a pattern seen again and again during these protests, the police action during the day was countered by a surge of boisterous demonstrators after darkness fell. 

That's the narrative anyway.

Hundreds of people shouted “I want true universal suffrage” in Cantonese, with their chants echoing off the tall buildings in the area, amplifying their voices. Several people were arrested by police officers.

“They’ve already cleared the site; I have nowhere else to go,” said Viktor Chu, 26, a leasing officer who was wearing a face mask and safety goggles as he stood with protesters on Shantung Street. “I must come out and show my opinion.”

Chu said the protesters hoped to retake some part of Mong Kok to continue pressuring the government. The demonstrations began two months ago in response to a decision by China’s legislature to set strict guidelines for elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive.

Scholars and prodemocracy advocates say the rules ensure that only people approved by Beijing will be allowed to appear on the ballot.

“The occupation is only a means to a goal,” Chu said. “We’re not just here to occupy something. We’re occupying something to give pressure to the government.”

The streets filled with the protesters are lined with stores catering to mainland tourists, particularly jewelry shops and pharmacies.

The protesters, in a nod to the commercial significance of the location, chanted “Shopping! Shopping!” in Mandarin after the police demanded to know why they were there.

No, you need to STOP shopping!


Slow Saturday Special: Comparing the Treatment of Reporters in Britain and China

I'm tired of pot-hollering-kettle media, sorry.

Activist for media freedom standing trial in China

"China tries scholar, journalist in closed hearings" by William Wan, Washington Post  November 22, 2014

BEIJING — In a double-barreled attack on freedom of expression, Chinese authorities Friday put a prominent journalist on trial and denied the appeal of Uighur professor Ilham Tohti, a leading moderate Muslim voice.

Behind closed doors in Beijing, longtime journalist Gao Yu, 70, was tried on charges of leaking state secrets.

Meanwhile, across the country, in the restive region of Xinjiang, the hearing for Tohti was convened in a detention center on such short notice that his lawyer didn’t even get a chance to attend, and his appeal was ultimately rejected.

The two actions were just the latest in a government crackdown on dissenting voices. In the past year, numerous human rights activists have been arrested, including Chinese lawyer and activist Xu Zhiyong, who was sentenced to four years in prison Sunday for disturbing public order.

The case against Gao, an outspoken intellectual, began in April when she suddenly disappeared. The next month, state-run media confirmed she had been arrested for allegedly leaking state secrets to overseas media.

According to Xinhua news agency, Gao offered a secret document to an overseas website, and the document triggered wide attention from the public.

While the document was never publicly identified, many believe it refers to an order issued after President Xi Jinping took power called Document No. 9 — which pushes for Draconian responses against dangers such as media independence, democracy, civil society, and other Western values.

After Gao’s arrest, state-run television aired footage of her confessing to the crime, but her lawyer said she has retracted the confession, saying it was made in response to authorities’ threats toward her son. Gao’s son, Zhao Meng, was taken away by the police on the same day as Gao and released May 23.

After Friday’s trial, Gao’s lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said he and another lawyer, Shang Baojun, presented their legal argument, and Gao spoke as well.

‘‘It’s hard to make any predictions on the verdict, but we made a not-guilty plea,’’ Mo said. ‘‘We argued the evidence provided by the prosecutor was not reliable.’’

According to Chinese criminal article 111, people providing state secrets for overseas organizations can receive sentences of five to 10 years. More serious cases can earn more than 10 years.

Like Gao’s, Tohti’s case has also drawn sharp criticism from international human rights groups and foreign diplomats. He received a life sentence on charges of separatism in September.

His prosecution comes amid a new war on terror waged by the Chinese government against Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group in Western China.

Tohti, an economics professor at a Beijing university, is known for speaking out for the rights of Uighur ethnic minorities. He was taken from his Beijing home in January by authorities on accusations of supporting secession in China’s tumultuous Xinjiang region.

In a phone interview, one of Tohti’s lawyers, Li Fangping, said only Tohti’s brother and sister-in-law were able to attend the sudden hearing at a detention house. Li said Tohti’s brother informed him the trial lasted about 50 minutes, and Tohti said the verdict was unjust.

Li said Tohti has requested to be transferred to a prison in Beijing because his wife and two little children remain there.

In a phone interview, Tohti’s wife, Guzelnur, said she hasn’t talked with him since his detention.

Another of Tohti’s lawyers posted a note handwritten by Tohti on Chinese social media.

‘‘I think the facts of my case are not clear . . . The facts can only be further ascertained by an open trial,’’ it read.


Also seeChina hit by second deadly mine blast in 2 days

Related: "The story of the Ventnor has its roots in the 1860s, when thousands of Chinese miners came to New Zealand seeking their fortunes. Most left their families behind, hoping to return to China as wealthy men. Many ended up dying in poverty."

That will get you all the way to England:

"British journalists find themselves under police surveillance" by Raphael Satter, Associated Press  November 22, 2014

LONDON — Freelance video journalist Jason Parkinson returned home from vacation this year to find a brown paper envelope in his mailbox. He opened it to find nine years of his life laid out in shocking detail.

Twelve pages of police intelligence logs noted which protests he covered, whom he spoke to, and what he wore — all the way down to the color of his boots. It was, he said, proof of something he had long suspected: The police were watching him.

Parkinson’s documents, obtained through a public records request, are the basis of a lawsuit being filed by the National Union of Journalists against London’s Metropolitan Police and Britain’s Home Office.

The lawsuit, announced late Thursday, along with recent revelations about the seizure of reporters’ phone records, is pulling back the curtain on how British police have spent years tracking the movements of the country’s news media.

‘‘This is another extremely worrying example of the police monitoring journalists who are undertaking their proper duties,’’ said Paul Lashmar, who heads the journalism department at Britain’s Brunel University.

The Metropolitan Police and the Home Office both declined to comment.

Parkinson, three photographers, an investigative journalist, and a newspaper reporter are filing the lawsuit after obtaining their surveillance records. Parkinson, a 44-year-old freelancer who has covered hundreds of protests — some of them for the Associated Press — said he and his colleagues had long suspected that the police were monitoring them.

‘‘Police officers we’d never even met before knew our names and seemed to know a hell of a lot about us,’’ he said.

Several journalists said the records police kept on them were sometimes startling, sometimes funny, and occasionally wrong.

One intelligence report showed that police spotted Parkinson cycling near his then-home in northwest London and carried detailed information about him and his partner at the time.

Jules Mattsson, a 21-year-old journalist with The Times of London, says another record carried a mention of a family member’s medical history, something he says made him so upset he called the police to demand an explanation.

Jess Hurd, a 41-year-old freelance photographer and Parkinson’s partner, said she was worried the intelligence logs were being shared internationally.

‘‘I go to a lot of countries on assignment,’’ she said. ‘‘Where are these database logs being shared? Who with, for what purpose?’’

The revelations add to public disclosures about British police secretly seizing journalists’ telephone records in leak investigations. Several senior officers have recently acknowledged using antiterrorism powers to uncover journalists’ sources by combing through the records.

That's why the NSA can't find the perverts or the terrorists.

Some police contend that they are hunting for corrupt officers, a particularly salient issue in the wake of Britain’s phone hacking scandal, which exposed how British tabloid journalists routinely paid officers in exchange for scoops.

But they were theirs, so....

It isn’t yet clear how often the practice takes place, but the admission drew concern in Parliament and outrage from media groups.

Oh, now the mouthpieces are outraged.


Being treated just like terrorists will do that to you:

"Britain plans to expand police powers with new anti terror legislation" by Steven Erlanger, New York Times  November 25, 2014

LONDON — The British government said Monday that it would introduce legislation to give the police the power to seize the passports of British and foreign nationals suspected of traveling to participate in terror-related activities and would make it easier for security services to track suspects online.

The legislation would also make it illegal for British insurance companies to reimburse anyone who provided ransom payments to free hostages.

The United States and Britain discourage ransom payments to groups such as the Islamic State, which has released graphic videos depicting the execution of British and US hostages, sometimes citing the refusal of their countries to pay.

The home secretary, Theresa May, announced the legislation on Monday in London at the start of what the government calls “Counterterrorism Awareness Week.” She said that Britain had foiled some 44 serious terrorist plots since 2005, when suicide bombers attacked in London. May said that 138 people were serving sentences for terror-related offenses.

She added that 84 “hate preachers” had been barred from entering Britain, and an additional 133 people had been barred on national security grounds and because their presence in the country was “not conducive to the public good.”

May said that plots included efforts to blow up the London Stock Exchange, attack people on the streets, bring down airplanes, and murder a British ambassador.

Officials would not provide further details of any such plots, but on Sunday, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe, said the London police had foiled “four or five” potential terrorist plots this year, compared with an average of about one per year “over the last few years.”

Hogan-Howe did not specify whether the plots were related to the conflict in Syria and Iraq. Some of the participants in the alleged plots this year have not yet been convicted, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said.

Mark Rowley, the Scotland Yard assistant commissioner, said last month that the police had made 218 terror-related arrests this year, and had charged 16 returnees from Syria with terrorist activity. On Monday, speaking at the same event as May, Rowley said the number of arrests had risen to 271 and that “so far this year, we have disrupted several attack plots.”

He said the major threat to Britain was now from “extremists homegrown, in our communities, radicalized by images and messages they read on social media and prepared to kill for their cause.”

A senior British official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that about half of all continuing counterterrorism investigations were related to people, mostly Muslim, who had traveled to fight in Iraq and Syria with radical jihadists or who were inspired by them.

Earlier this year, the terrorism threat level in Britain was raised from “substantial” to “severe,” the second highest, suggesting that an attack is “highly likely,” in response to the threats stemming from the Islamic State.

Officials have said that at least 500 Britons — though the number is thought to be closer to 600 — have gone to the Middle East to fight, and about half are thought to have returned to Britain.

May first raised the possibility of increased police powers at the Conservative Party conference in September.

The bill is expected to be put before Parliament on Wednesday, one day after the expected release of a report into the brutal murder last year of a young soldier, Lee Rigby, near his barracks in southeast London.

He was killed by two men who said they were inspired by jihad and Britain’s wars against Muslims in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Rowley said Monday that “the tragic murder of Lee Rigby last year was a stark warning to us all about how real and local the threat is.”

Except it was all a great big fraud!

The report is expected to clear the security services of significant blame but raise questions about why they did not follow up on evidence that one of Rigby’s killers was becoming more extreme.

Any new security legislation will bring parliamentary scrutiny, with concerns that new police powers could diminish privacy and individual rights. The law would allow the government to cancel the passports of those suspects overseas, for instance, so they can return only on the government’s terms, and force companies to tell the police, if asked, who was using a particular computer or cellphone at a particular time.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary for the opposition Labor Party, was generally supportive of the legislation.

You can't question tyranny.

“More should be done to disrupt the travel plans of those planning to go out to fight,” she said, “and those returning should face criminal investigations and prosecutions,” as well as participating in deradicalization programs.

Maybe it would help if western intelligence agencies like MI-6 stopped stopped sponsoring them.

“Strong powers should always be balanced by strong checks and balances, should be proportionate to the threat, and effective at keeping Britain safe and protecting our democratic values,” Cooper said.


Slow Saturday Special: Taking a Bite of the Apple Conspiracy

Judge approves $400m Apple e-book settlement

The suit accused Apple of being a “ringmaster” of a conspiracy.


"Apple Inc., already the world’s largest company by market capitalization, hit a record intraday value: $700 billion.  That still gave the iPhone maker about 1.7 times the value of the world’s second-biggest company, Exxon Mobil." 

Look at that market power, and a $400m fine should be easily absorbed.

Slow Saturday Special: Dion the Drug Dealer

"At 79, drug trafficker may still be in business; Convicted in 1980s, ‘everyday guy’ is now accused of running lucrative ring" by Milton J. Valencia, Globe Staff  November 22, 2014

Marshall Dion’s criminal exploits read like a Hollywood script, a story of an intrepid drug trafficker who crashed a plane in Wisconsin three decades ago and crawled away from the scene, later denying the thousands of dollars that had floated through the air were his. 

It very well maybe considering some of the staged and scripted productions served up to us by ma$$ media.

More recently, he was caught racing through Kansas with nearly $1 million stashed inside a beat-up pickup truck, a discovery that would lead authorities to find another $14 million in drug profits and 400 pounds of marijuana. As a result of that episode, Dion is facing federal charges in Boston, where he appeared in court this week as his lawyer tried to have the evidence against him thrown out.

Few, including the police officer who stopped him in Kansas last year, could predict that Dion would be accused of running such a sophisticated — and lucrative — drug trafficking ring....

The government hates competition.


UPDATEOctogenarian marijuana kingpin’s sentencing postponed

Slow Saturday Special: Nothing but $tatic From Aereo

"Boston-based digital TV service Aereo files for bankruptcy" by Jack Newsham, Globe Correspondent  November 21, 2014

A year ago, Aereo was the future of television. Today, the future is bleak for the Boston-based tech startup.

The company has been on a downward spiral since its digital recording and streaming service was found to violate copyright law by the US Supreme Court in June. Earlier in November, Aereo closed its Boston office and laid off 43 of its local staff. Late Thursday, facing lawsuits from two dozen television companies, it declared bankruptcy.

In a letter posted on the company website, Aereo chief executive Chet Kanojia said the move would avoid “the extensive cost and distraction of defending drawn out litigation in several courts.”

Bankruptcy “essentially freezes all existing lawsuits against the company,” said Bruce Ewing, a New York intellectual property lawyer who has followed the case.


Dan Rayburn, an online video industry analyst, said he was skeptical Aereo could attract new investors because its subscriber base was relatively small. He also doubted the company could make much selling its intellectual property.

“I don’t think it’s worth a lot, if anything,” Rayburn said. “What technology did they have? They had small antennas that pick up over-the-air signals.”

The company, which gave subscribers the ability to watch broadcast television on their computers or mobile devices and record and store programs in the cloud, had been entangled in litigation for years. TV networks and cable companies argued that Aereo stole the same programming that cable networks had to pay for. Despite some early legal victories, the Supreme Court rejected Aereo’s defense in a 6-to-3 ruling.

The company suspended its service three days after the Supreme Court ruling and issued refunds to its customers in a dozen metropolitan areas, including Boston. At the end of 2013, the company had around 80,000 subscribers, who paid $8 to $12 a month to stream over-the-air programming from the major broadcast networks to their devices.

Aereo said in its bankruptcy filings that it has appointed Lawton Bloom of Argus Management Corp. in New York as its “chief restructuring officer.”

Kanojia is the largest single shareholder in Aereo, according to the bankruptcy filing. His stake amounts to 42.3 percent of the company.


Related: Aereo Off the Air

Slow Saturday Special: Gambia Is Anti-Gay

Gambian leader signs anti-gay law

Slow Saturday Special: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Hope you had a good meal and ate your fill

I'd offer you some soup, but the revision is wrong: the way it was told to me a kid was that of an occupying army.

Looks like someone else's goose is cooked, but it's time to get the tree up:

"First lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, and family dogs Bo and Sunny received the tree. They circled the wagon and conferred with one another before the first lady said, ‘‘We’re taking the tree.’’ It’s tradition for the president’s wife to preside over the tree delivery on the morning after Thanksgiving. It was chosen two months ago from the stock at Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Pa., the winner of this year’s National Christmas Tree Association contest for the honor. The delivery kicks off an intense few days of round-the-clock tree trimming, wreath laying and other decorating by an army of volunteers who help turn the White House into a winter wonderland." 

They actually took delivery of a vital tree when they are constantly spewing greenhouse gases?

RelatedCity’s ugly Christmas tree getting single red bulb

The hypocri$y could not be more rank with the fir$t family. 

"EPA delays decision on ethanol in gas" Associated Press  November 21, 2014

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Friday it is delaying a decision on whether to reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply.

Last year the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel for the first time, acknowledging that a biofuel law that both Republicans and Democrats had championed nearly a decade ago was not working as well as expected.

Not only is it literally burning food in a hungry world while driving up its price, it also destroys auto engine parts.

A final decision was due before the end of the year, but the EPA said Friday the final rule will come in 2015.

The ethanol targets are required by a 2007 law that tried to address global warming, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and boost the rural economy by requiring oil companies to blend billions of gallons of biofuels into gasoline annually. But lawmakers did not anticipate fuel economy would improve as much as it has in recent years, reducing overall demand for gasoline. 

I think you have because the last few winters have been brutal and we never even had a summer this year.


Time to reheat some chow, luckily:

"More than 70,000 homes and businesses remained without electricity in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts on Friday, two days after a pre-Thanksgiving Day nor’easter dumped snow on the region, bringing down trees and power lines. Maine turned to Canada for help. Temperatures are expected to drop to the single digits across southern New Hampshire and parts of Central and Western Massachusetts. Temperatures should hold steady in the mid- to upper teens across most other areas overnight. 

No need to tell me about it. Hit me right in the face when I went to get muh Globe.

A touch of warmth is on the horizon. “A warm front crosses the area Saturday night, with a light wintry mix of precipitation possible,” the weather service said in an advisory issued late Friday afternoon. “Behind the front much milder weather is on tap for Sunday AND Monday,” when temperatures could rise to the high 40s or low 50s. But more winter-like weather is close behind. A polar front is expected to sweep across the region later on Monday, bringing a return to cold weather on Tuesday, according to the advisory."

Related: Don’t expect winter to be polar vortex redux, officials said 

I'm starting to have a hard time breathing, and honestly, the credibility of the propaganda pre$$ has eroded to such a degree that, yeah.... I'm going to get in a game of golf before putting on some heavy Sox, sitting by the fire, and giving the dog a pet (for which I will now need a licen$e?). The fun and games are over, and the ‘‘clutter and noise’’ is no longer amusing, sorry.

Also see: You Can Feast on Ferguson Crisis

Black Friday to Begin With a Bang

Such a Payne, I know.

I suppose the rest is irrelevant, especially when I didn't see it in print and my pens have run out of ink. No one in town is buying the bad boy act anymore, and I don't see the purpose of purchasing the Globe when I can't even get out of the driveway. Time to break the chain. Chew on that for a while.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Boston Globe Missed This Nuclear Explo$ion

It wouldn't be the first time, and I doubt it will be the last:

"US ramping up major renewal in nuclear arms" by William J. Broad and David E. Sanger | New York Times   September 22, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new plant in a former soybean field makes the mechanical guts of America’s atomic warheads. Bigger than the Pentagon, full of futuristic gear and thousands of workers, the plant, dedicated last month, modernizes the aging weapons that the United States can fire from missiles, bombers, and submarines.

It is part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars.

Yeah, that's with a T! 

Not the kind of "t" you might find in enforced au$teriTy with all its commen$urate excu$es from on high. 

This from the non-proliferation, Nobel Prize winning president who will do everything and anything to stop Iran, harrumph, harrumph?

Maybe that's why the Globe never put it in my print, because believe me, I looked for it. How could you miss a mu$hroom cloud like this? 

It's the Obama image thing and the contradictory contrast, isn't it?

This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for “a nuclear-free world” and made disarmament a main goal of US defense policy.

He meant that for others -- (shudder) -- not himself or the EUSraeli Empire for which he fronts.

The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would cut the number of warheads.

Build and modernize so we can cut? That's looks like a win for only one set of war-profiteers to me. 

And after all the trillions invested in it over decades, it is now crumbling? Where did all the money go?

Instead, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return.

I know it is a nothing more than a back-slapping, self-adulating, self-aggrandizing award of elitists upon themselves; however, he should be made to give back that worthless Prize.

Supporters of arms control, as well as some of President Obama’s closest advisers, say their hopes for his vision have turned to disappointment.

After six years the boat is pretty damn full, but climb aboard, welcome aboard!!

“A lot of it is hard to explain,” said Sam Nunn, the former senator whose writings on nuclear disarmament deeply influenced Obama. “The president’s vision was a significant change in direction. But the process has preserved the status quo.”

And now you have the key to understanding the disappointments with the failed presidency.

Arms controllers say the White House has made some progress toward Obama’s broader agenda. Nunn credits the president with improving nuclear security around the globe, persuading other leaders to sweep up loose nuclear materials that terrorists could seize.

In the end, however, budget realities may do more than nuclear philosophies to curb the atomic upgrades.

So they are not going to be able to do this?

“There isn’t enough money,” said Jeffrey Lewis, of the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Although the Kansas City plant is considered a success, other planned renovations are mired in delays and cost overruns. Even so, Congress can fight hard for projects that represent big-ticket items in key districts.

Yeah, they will all get paid cost plus overruns and who cares about corruption in the military-industrial complex?

Skeptics say the arsenal is dependable and the costly overhauls are aimed less at arms control than at seeking votes.

But the Obama administration insists that the improvements to the nuclear arsenal are vital to making it smaller, more flexible, and better able to fulfill Obama’s original vision.

What exactly is that "vision?"

Daniel B. Poneman, the outgoing deputy secretary of energy, whose department runs the complex, said, “The whole design of the modernization enables us to make reductions.”

Is it just me, or does that sound damn contradictory? 

We need bigger and better "guns" so we can reduce them -- from a government that is seeking to take away your guns while arming itself to the teeth at all layers and levels. 

It's really a frightening society we have here, full of authoritarianism and militarism with ma$$ media worship included.

In fall 2008, as Obama campaigned for the presidency, a coalition of peace groups sued to halt work on a replacement bomb plant in Kansas City. They cited the prospect of a new administration that might, as one litigant put it, kill the project in “a few months.”

The $700 million weapons plant survived. But in April 2009, the new president and Dmitry A. Medvedev of Russia vowed to rapidly complete an arms treaty called New START.

The accord with Moscow was hammered out quickly. The countries agreed to cut strategic arms roughly 30 percent over seven years. It was a modest step. The Russian arsenal was already declining, and today has dropped below the agreed number, experts say.

I'm sorry, would you say that again? I couldn't hear you over the din of the Ukraine. 

Them damn Russians, being all peaceful!

Even so, to win Senate approval of the treaty, Obama struck a deal with Republicans in 2010 that would set the country’s nuclear agenda for decades to come.

In open and classified reports to Congress, Obama laid out his atomic refurbishment plans, which the Congressional Budget Office now estimates will cost $355 billion over the next decade. But that is just the start. The price tag will soar after 10 years as missiles, bombers, and submarines made in the last century reach the end of their useful lives and replacements are built.

Meaning the war machine will never want for loot, That is if this bankrupted hulk of a rank and fetid carcass breathing death and decay $urvives that long.

“That’s where all the big money is,” Ashton B. Carter, the former deputy secretary of defense, said last year. “By comparison, everything that we’re doing now is cheap.”

Must be why the Globe mi$$ed printing it.


Related(?)Hagel Said to Be Stepping Down as Defense Chief Under Pressure

Whatever the reasons, they are certainly not the official explanation or reason:

"Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel steps down; Some officials cite rifts with Obama" by Bryan Bender, Globe Staff  November 24, 2014

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned Monday after a two-year tenure that drew sharp criticism for the handling of the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and what Obama administration officials said was a loss of confidence in the only Republican in the Cabinet.

Chuck the first casualty of the election loss?

In a brief White House announcement that carried the pall of a political funeral, President Obama said it was “an appropriate time” for Hagel to resign.

I feel that way about the president, but be that as it may.


Hagel is planning to remain at his post until his successor is nominated and confirmed by the Senate, a process that could take weeks if not months. 

Then this story should be gone in a flash.

The shake-up comes as the Pentagon is confronting a series of major challenges, including the nearly four-month air campaign against the Islamic State, the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Russia’s military foray into Ukraine, and a host of budget shortfalls.

Yeah, right. They get what they want, and sometimes Congress gives them even more.

On Monday, the Pentagon announced nine more airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria and 15 airstrikes across Iraq.

The announcement also came as Secretary of State John F. Kerry revealed a seven-month extension of negotiations with Iran about curbing its nuclear program....


No Deal With Iran

Wide gulf facing Iran nuclear talks

US proposes extending nuclear talks with Iran

Iran nuclear talks extended for another seven months

Even helping us fight ISIS.

In a message to the troops and civilian Pentagon workers, Hagel, 68, said he was proud of his accomplishments, citing efforts to prepare the government of Afghanistan to take over the fight against the Taliban and action against the Islamic State that has “blunted the momentum of this barbaric enemy.”

Well, no, but....

But it was clear that Hagel struggled to get his footing at the Pentagon and was widely considered ill-equipped to manage all the challenges.

And Israel pounded him during confirmation, remember? 

They didn't like him being in the globalist (and wealthy sheik Arab) Atlantic Council.

“Hagel’s biggest problem was that he was temperamentally ill-suited to running a big and politically sensitive bureaucracy,” said Loren Thompson, a defense consultant with close ties to the Pentagon leadership. “You could see that from the beginning of his confirmation hearings when he did not answer questions well.”

Thompson also said some events quickly spun out of control, such as Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

Hey, it's the fallout of mythical narratives and distortions.

Not everyone found fault with Hagel. Republicans, including some who voted against his confirmation two years ago, rushed to his defense.

“I know that Chuck was frustrated with aspects of the administration’s national security policy and decision-making process,” Senator John McCain of Arizona, who in January will become chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. He cited “excessive micro-management” from the White House as a hindrance to top military officials doing their jobs.

Hagel, who was the second enlisted soldier in modern times to become secretary of defense and the first Vietnam veteran, also drew especially high marks for his steadfast support for the troops and veterans, including holding regular closed-door meetings with rank and file soldiers and their families.

Those seconds and first were often overlooked.


Vet’s mom to Congress: Boost suicide prevention

Bolster mental health care for Iraq, Afghanistan veterans

VA urged to change policy on marijuana

They are forever young.

Meanwhile, Obama is handing out medals like a certain German dictator circa 1944.

“The veterans community has had no stronger advocate in Washington than Secretary Hagel,” said Paul Rieckhoff, chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

The premature departure of Hagel was clearly difficult for Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who both served with Hagel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee....

Obama told Hagel, “you’ve always given it to me straight.” 

If so, why is he being forced out?


So what could be the real reason Chuck was forced out?

Pennsylvania City to be Nuked Next Year 

It's a scenario and event I haven't mentioned lately; however, it would certainly explain a lot more than official cover story.


16 military nuclear officers punished

Gambling nuclear commander linked to fake poker chips

He was asleep at the gaming table?

After blaze on nuclear sub, annual drills ordered

Pentagon studies reveal major nuclear infrastructure problems

Fire on the submarine qualifies, and what is it with the crap being produced by AmeriKa's weapons manufacturers these days?

And Chuck was taking care of such things?

"Hagel orders top-to-bottom changes in nuke force" by Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor | Associated Press   November 15, 2014

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered top-to-bottom changes in the management of the nation’s nuclear arsenal Friday, saying a lack of sustained attention and investment in the force caused it to ‘‘slowly back downhill.’’

All those trillions.... 

Speaking to Pentagon reporters, he said the Defense Department will boost spending on the nuclear forces by about 10 percent a year for the next five years — an increase of nearly $10 billion — adding there is no problem on this issue the Pentagon can’t fix.

‘‘The internal and external reviews I ordered show that a consistent lack of investment and support for our nuclear forces over far too many years has left us with too little margin to cope with mounting stresses,’’ said Hagel, who was flanked by senior Air Force and Navy officers. ‘‘The root cause has been a lack of sustained focus, attention, and resources, resulting in a pervasive sense that a career in the nuclear enterprise offers too few opportunities for growth and advancement.’’

What does that mean? Gotta use some?

After the conference, Hagel flew to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, where many of the nuclear force troubles began.

RelatedFargo, N.D. clinic wants rehearing on medication abortions

It's another kind of trouble caused by an explosion, and just as personal.

He received briefings and delivered a pep talk to a few hundred nuclear bomber and missile force members. Urging them to take pride in their jobs — an allusion to concern about lagging morale — he told the airmen, ‘‘You are an indispensable element of our national security.’’

And now he is leaving.

Hagel had ordered two reviews in February — one by Pentagon officials and a second by outside experts — as a result of a series of Associated Press stories that revealed lapses in leadership, morale, safety, and security at the nation’s three nuclear Air Force bases.

The good news, Hagel said, ‘‘is there has been no nuclear exchange in the world.’’

Yeah, and let's keep it that way forever, huh?!!

Acknowledging the years of neglect, which included glaring problems that prompted then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates to fire his top military and civilian Air Force leaders in 2008, Hagel vowed renewed accountability.


Hagel’s moves, while not dramatic, are designed to get at the core of the problem.

The reviews concluded that the structure of US nuclear forces is so incoherent that it cannot be properly managed in its current form and that this problem explains why top-level officials often are unaware of trouble.

That's frightening as hell.

The reviews found a ‘‘disconnect’’ between what nuclear force leaders say and what they deliver to lower-level troops.

Seems to happen across all AmeriKan institutions.

Among his more significant moves, Hagel authorized the Air Force to put a four-star general in charge of its nuclear forces, officials said.

Hagel also backed a proposal to upgrade the top nuclear force official at Air Force headquarters in the Pentagon from a two-star general to a three-star.


Literally a band aid?

Congress should resume funding of Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site 

Reid can no longer block it, or maybe he will.