Friday, November 07, 2014

From 1400 troops to 2900 overnight. The slippery slope of "Let the USA do it."

The Congress hasn't and won't bother funding the troops. The deployment will remain in limbo waiting for Congress to act. Congress is quite comfortable with allowing the President to send troops into war without authorization.

November 7, 2014

WASHINGTON—US president Barack Obama (click here) has authorized the deployment of 1,500 military personnel to advise and train Iraqi and Kurdish forces, said a Pentagon statement on Friday.
“The commander in chief has authorized Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to deploy to Iraq up to 1,500 additional U.S. personnel over the coming months, in a non-combat role, to expand our advise and assist mission and initiate a comprehensive training effort for Iraqi forces,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby.
According to the Pentagon, the US troops were requested by the Iraqi government. 
“[Defense] Secretary Hagel made this recommendation to President Obama based on the request of the Government of Iraq, U.S. Central Command's assessment of Iraqi units,” said Kirby.

The US currently has 1,400 military advisors in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, helping with intelligence gathering and airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) which took over Mosul and most of Iraq’s Sunni heartland in the summer.
The statement said that deployment of the new non-combat force in Iraq will include establishing two “expeditionary advise and assist operations centers,” outside Baghdad and Erbil....

The lawsuit is really hateful. They hate people and their wellness.

November 7, 2014
By David G. Savage

The plaintiffs in this case want to eliminate the federal exchanges that people can access when their state did not participate in the Medicaid expansion. They want to dictate who lives and who dies.

...Currently, about 5 million Americans have subsidized insurance they bought through a healthcare exchange, or online marketplace, run by the federal government....
...Administration lawyers (click here) and the Democratic lawmakers who sponsored the law have called the argument absurd. They say the law intended to provide insurance subsidies nationwide, regardless of whether it was bought through a federal or state exchange.
The language in the law saying subsidies may be paid through an "exchange established by the state" needs to be read in the context of the entire statute, they argue.
A federal appeals court based in Virginia agreed with the administration's position, but now the high court has decided to review that ruling, putting a central element of the law back into jeopardy....

Well, the morality of these people stinks. They don't care if you need medications that will literally sink the family budget or not, if the states haven't participated in the expansion evidently the state is suppose be the dictator of all the control they can muster.

I was surprised Rick Scott is back in the governor's seat in Florida because he has killed people within Florida by not accepting the Medicaid expansion. Voters forget about those realities. 

This is the same kind of vengeful tactics against the people of this country. The plaintiffs are worried they will somehow ultimately be held responsible for the people in their state receiving insurance through the federal exchanges. There is absolutely no language stating that when a citizen of the USA signs up for health insurance through the federal exchanges the cost for the subsidies will have to be back to the states where these people live.

This is a human rights violation. When there are options in the USA that will save the lives of people and the states making the decision they can die instead, that is a human rights violation. There have been people throughout the USA where the Medicaid expansion was not instituted that have died because they could not afford health insurance. These governors belong on a list of murderers. Seriously.

Up to five million adults could die for lack of health care with the review by the Supreme Court of the USA. That means if one is poor in the richest country in the world, die. The poor in the USA die. Evidently, their social dependency is too much to accommodate. The TAKERS. The Working Poor. Go die. That is what the US Supreme Court is going to tell them.

When President Obama talks about infrastructure projects the Republicans will mostly blame Labor. They aren't the problem.

November 4, 2014
By Hannah Madans 
Much has been written about the ongoing contract negotiation for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the union representing port workers.
Since May, the group has been working without a contract while negotiating a new one with the Pacific Maritime Association. The groups have tentatively come to an agreement on health care, but still have other issues to work out, according to Craig Merrilees, communications director at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Klaskow said the impact of the disputes on the port was likely minimal. “It’s hard to prove an impact on the port, but obviously it’s not good for morale and that affects productivity, so it’s not helping things,” he said....
Our sea ports are lacking any improvements in their infrastructure. The ports are backed for days already.

Improving economy
Cited as number one problem is the USA growing economy. The growth is out pacing the USA infrastructure.

Truck Surcharges
...Fred Johring, the president of Golden State Express and the chairman at the Harbor Trucking Association of Southern California, said the time it takes for truckers to get into the port, load cargo and get out can be 30 minutes to six hours.
“It’s ridiculous, but we can’t get around it,” he said.
Several years ago, 12-14 percent of transactions took more than two hours, Johring said, but in October, 31 percent of port visits took more than two hours, and 4 percent took more than four hours....

Chassis fiasco
...Starting in February, the system should improve for truckers as four independent companies have agreed to pool the chassis for everyone to use, said Phillip Sanfield, a spokesman at the Port of Los Angeles.

Big Ships Waiting
...Some ships are “slow steaming,” or crossing the Pacific more slowly, in a way that saves fuel. Still, a slow Pacific crossing doesn’t make up for the money lost by being able to take fewer rotations....
...The port is also handling larger vessels than ever before to reduce the slot cost, or cost per container, Klaskow said. These ships take longer to unload, which is also causing congestion.
Slow steaming may or may not be able to change. The oceans are far more rough to cross with ocean turbulence caused by high velocity winds. Those waves also cause loss of cargo from these super-vessels. And the back is effected by the size of the ships and the number of containers. 
Hiring more Long Shoremen might help, but, before that occurs the ports need to be sure the new hires will have dock space to work on. Perhaps the ships need specific areas to unload based on size and number of containers. In other words, if smaller ships can be accommodated at a separate facility away from the larger ships it would increase the incomes of the ports and provide added jobs for the region.

Holiday Stock
The end of year holidays do provide for much more merchandise coming into the USA. 

Now that I am thinking about it, the global community in general is not seeing large economic or speedy economic recoveries. This might be part of the problem. The slower the USA unloads ships and loads them again for their return trip, the slower the global markets will be.

And when truckers get back to the ports with empty containers, they have to wait again and find new chassis, and the slowdown cycle starts over again.
Klaskow expects some of the congestion to decrease after the holiday season, but said that the ports still have “major improvements to make.”
Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal in the 47th District is pushing for a national freight tax that would improve the roads surrounding the ports.
“The solutions being worked on are not going to ameliorate the problems overnight and will likely take weeks or months to achieve the desired effect,” Lowenthal told the Register in a statement.

Corruption is a danger way of life.

This is the Cook County, Illinois prison facility. It is somewhat unnerving to realize the level of gun violence in Cook County only to realize the Sheriff Department was a player in that violence.  How many people residing in that facility have stories to tell?

COOK COUNTY, Ill.Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/
..."Our gun violence epidemic (click here) is destroying communities and setting back an entire generation of young Chicagoans," said Sheriff Dart. "With this partnership, we're taking guns that would otherwise be incinerated and turning them into something beautiful, while benefiting a local organization working on the front lines to stop the bloodshed."...

November 4, 2014
By Maggie Carlo
A Cook County Sheriff’s deputy (click here) faces charges himself after prosecutor say he orchestrated a scheme to rip off drug dealers instead of putting them behind bars.
In a 30-page criminal complaint, the feds outline their case against 44-year-old Cook County Sheriff’s Officer Robert Vaughan. They allege Vaughn, who was actually a member of a team that worked to fight drug trafficking, was himself robbing dealers of drugs and money and in some cases re-selling those drugs.
Meanwhile, Vaughn’s partner, 45-year old Stanley Kogut, who was also arrested Monday but had yet to be charged, was found dead Tuesday morning at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in an apparent suicide....                  

Everyone remember Booz Allen? Carlyle owns it.

November 05, 2014 04:34 PM Eastern Standard Time
MCLEAN, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Booz Allen Hamilton (click here) Holding Corporation (“Booz Allen”)(NYSE: BAH), the parent company of management consulting, technology, and engineering services firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., today announced the sale of an aggregate of 10,000,000 shares of Class A common stock (“common stock”) by an affiliate of The Carlyle Group (“Carlyle”) to J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, as the underwriter in a registered offering of these shares (the “underwritten offering”)....

...The repurchase agreement between Booz Allen and Carlyle represents a private, non-underwritten transaction....

Evidently, JP Morgan is the only bank large enough to sell off the shares of Booz Allen.

...Upon completion of the underwritten offering and concurrent stock repurchase, Carlyle will own approximately 37.0% of the outstanding Class A common stock of Booz Allen, excluding approximately 5.8% of the Company’s Class A common stock with respect to which it holds a voting proxy. Booz Allen is not selling any shares of common stock in the underwritten offering and will not receive any of the proceeds....

June 9, 2014
Julian Borger

Booz Allen Hamilton, Edward Snowden's employer, (click here) is one of America's biggest security contractors and a significant part of the constantly revolving door between the US intelligence establishment and the private sector.
The current of director of national intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, who issued a stinging attack on the intelligence leaks this weekend, is a former Booz Allen executive. The firm's current vice-chairman, Mike McConnell, was DNI under the George W Bush administration. He worked for the Virginia-based company before taking the job, and returned to the firm after leaving it. The company website says McConnell is responsible for its "rapidly expanding cyber business".
James Woolsey, a former CIA director was also a Booz Allen vice-president, and Melissa Hathaway, another former company executive also once worked as the top aide on cybersecurity to McConnell when he was DNI. The company headquarters in the leafy Washington suburb of McLean in northern Virginia, close to CIA headquarters and home to former and current intelligence officers.
Snowden's decision to reveal his identity as a computer systems administrator for Booz Allen Hamilton, directly handling National Security Agency IT systems, raises significant image problems for the $6bn company and its 25,000-strong staff, which has traded on a bond of trust with sensitive clients, particularly the intelligence establishment....
What a small, small world USA intelligence lives in. Wall Street has owned our cyber security. That might explain a few things. JP Morgan beware, I think the paranoid intelligence community wanted to know whom among your depositors would leak any information to the world. This is who broke into JP Morgan and the sale of shares to the company is why. It also explains why no monies were involved.

"Chinook" has a special message to Veterans on this Veteran's Day, "Come to the zoo."

Chinook, a bald eagle, rests after flying down to the stage during the Wild About Oregon show at the Oregon Zoo. (Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian)

November 6, 2014
By Jamie Hale

The Oregon Zoo (click here) is honoring veterans with a special offer this Veterans Day: free admission.
Any veterans who show up to the zoo on Tuesday, Nov. 11, will be allowed in for free – along with their families – provided they show a military or veteran organization ID, discharge papers or other official military identification; families of deployed military personnel must show an active duty ID....

The reason wages are low and Americans don't feel a stronger economy is because of the lack of unions.

November 7, 2014
...The share of the population (click here) with jobs rose to 59.2 percent in October, the highest since July 2009, from 59 percent the prior month.
Average hourly earnings for all workers rose 0.1 percent in October from the prior month. They were up 2 percent over the past 12 months, less than the 2.1 percent median forecast. The average work week for all employees increased six minutes to 34.6 hours.
Limited wage gains partly explain Americans’ dim perceptions of the economy, which helped Republicans capture control of the Senate from Democrats and solidify their majority in the U.S. House during the midterm elections this week. The results ensured that the GOP will control both chambers of Congress for the remainder of President Barack Obama’s term....

I am sure Texas is breathing a sigh of relief to have the monitoring end.

November 6, 2014
As of midnight Friday, it was 21 days since anyone got Ebola or was in contact with someone who got Ebola.
“God willing, we are going to be Ebola-free Friday midnight,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the elected official who oversaw the county’s response to its three-person outbreak, before the deadline passed....

I looked high and low for the Arab anger in the Middle East regarding a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader.

WASHINGTON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama sent a secret letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month stressing the two countries' shared interest in fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, a media report on Thursday said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the letter in mid-October said cooperation between the United States and Iran on combating the militant group was tied to a deal being reached between Iran and other nations on its nuclear program.

The newspaper cited people briefed on the letter. It said Obama administration officials declined to discuss the letter with the Journal....

It doesn't exist except in the imagination of the readers of the Wall Street Journal. There is this however...

AMMAN — Jordan on Wednesday (click here) filed a complaint with the UN Security Council concerning Israeli acts against holy sites in Jerusalem.

The complaint came in the form of a letter dated November 5, 2014 to Gary Quinlan, UNSC president signed by Ambassador Dina Kawar, Jordan’s permanent representative at the international body, who called for circulating the letter among members “for their immediate and valuable consideration”.

Following is the full text of the letter as provided by the Foreign Ministry: 
I want to bring to your attention the extremely dangerous developments in the Haram Al Sharif compound that occurred this morning. The Israeli special forces and police stormed the compound occupying Al Aqsa Mosque and firing tear gas, stun and smoke grenades, and rubber bullets inside the mosque. 
This blatant and unlawful use of force against one of the holiest sites on Earth for Muslims has resulted in fires breaking out, damage to mosaic works on ceiling and to the structure of the building, burning of the carpets and rugs, and damage to other facilities. The Israeli forces further detained the employees of the Jordanian awqaf department (the national authority that is responsible under international law to administer and maintain the holy sites), in a direct violation of the rules of international humanitarian law and Article 9 of the 1994 Treaty of Peace between Jordan and Israel. They further took control of the gates of the Haram Al Sharif compound, prohibited Muslim worshippers from entering and escorted Israeli religious and political extremists inside the compound, which inflamed the situation and desecrated the Haram Al Sharif....

Nope, no firestorm about Iran and the President, but, there is a letter from the King of Jordan directing the UN's attention to aggression by Israel. The reporting in the Wall Street Journal about the Arab nations hating the USA over Iran can certainly act to deflect negative American opinion of Israel and helps escalate hatred of Iran in the USA and the 'idea' the President is a closet Muslim.

It is the responsibility of the Jordanian King to protect the Mosque. None of these incidents are going over well. 

These incidents do not occur out of the blue and for no reason, they are part of a far larger picture in the Middle East. It is that larger problem the King of Jordan is addressing to seek assistance in preserving the Mosque intact and to prevent further aggression on both sides of the tragedy.

...The situation created by the activities of the Israeli occupying forces today comes after a series of intensive violations over the last few weeks and only days after the emergency session that the Security Council held on the situation in East Jerusalem. The session reflected a unified message against Israeli actions purporting to change the status quo in the Haram Al Sharif, and the need for Israel to de-escalate the situation and respect the sanctity of the Haram Al Sharif and its obligation under international law, including international humanitarian law and its peace treaty with Jordan. 
Given the custodianship assumed by His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of the holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan calls on the Security Council to assume its responsibilities and hold Israel accountable for its attack on the Haram Al Sharif. The council should look into the steps to be taken to stop Israel’s violations against the Haram Al Sharif which, if allowed to proceed, will lead to another crisis threatening international peace and security in the Middle East.
Jordan considers such serious and outrageous actions by Israel an unprecedented escalation and has recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations this morning....
It is the King's opinion the tensions have been escalated by Israel. This incident only proves the potential of violence in the Middle East is ever present.

Injured people lay on the sidewalk after a Palestinian drove a minivan into a crowd in Jerusalem, one of two automobile episodes that left one dead and three hurt. CreditAlex Kolomoisky/Associated Press

November 5, 2014
By Israel Kershner
...Citing the condolence letter, (click here) Mr. Netanyahu said that Wednesday’s attack was “a direct result of the incitement of Abu Mazen and his partners in Hamas,” referring to Mr. Abbas by his nickname and to the unity government he recently formed with the backing of Hamas.

Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian political columnist, said in an interview that Jordan’s decision to recall its ambassador was meant “to send a clear message not only to the Israeli government but to the Israeli public and right-wing extremist groups that for the Jordanian government and the king himself, Al Aksa is the red line.”

Efraim Halevy, a former chief of the Mossad, who, as the deputy chief, was a secret envoy of Israeli leaders to the father of the current Jordanian king, said “the pressure in Jordan concerning Al Aksa must be rising.”

“Everything is symbolic in this part of the world,” he said, “and this is a very sensitive moment in the history of the Middle East.”...

The ethos.

November 7, 2014
By Mark Hanrahan

...A SEAL (click here) whose identity still remains secret was the first man to reach the top of the stairs leading to the third floor of Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan....

The military ethos of the Seal Teams is important. The discourse over the bin Laden raid is now becoming the country's biggest joke. Everyone wants to be 'the one' that pulled the trigger that fired the bullet that killed bin Laden. That is ridiculous. 

The Joint Chiefs are going to have to take action to end such foolishness. I don't see there is a choice. By exposing themselves for the purpose of fame and money, they have enlisted and worked toward special forces unit so it will profit them when they leave. What does that do to command? Will every soldier abandon his or her position to race to kill the next bin Laden so they become qualified for Hollywood fame and fortune?

This IS a problem. The Joint Chiefs have to address it.

Don't ever tell me the courts are not political. That would be a lie.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Pub.L. 104–199, 110 Stat. 2419, enacted September 21, 1996, 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C) is a United States federal law that allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states.

On June 26, 2013, (click here) the United States Supreme Court ruled inWindsor v. United States that Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that denies legally married same-sex couples over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage, is unconstitutional.

DOMA is a very short document (click here). Section 3 is the laws and cites the part of the legal code of the USA that is altered by that law.

When the Supreme Court dissolved Section 3 it removed the law from the legal code of the USA. 

DOMA is unconstitutional. The ruling by the 6th Circuit occurred immediately after an election whereby Republicans secured many of their OLD seats that went to Democrats in 2008 after the global economic collapse; was nothing but pure politics. It is probably going to work out the red states that renewed their conservative base in 2014 will end up regretting it. But, I do not have a crystal ball. 

The 6th circuit is defying the Supreme Court decision of DOMA being unconstitutional. Now, if the Supreme Court decides to be political and return to a debate about DOMA then there is going to be quakes in the USA over this reality that will alter political discourse forever. But, if the Supreme Court is going to stand with it's original decision, the decision by the 6th Circuit will be returned to them with directions to do better. This should be interesting.

November 6, 2014
By Orlandar Brand-Williams

The Michigan couple (click here) at the center of the same-sex marriage debate vowed Thursday to "continue the fight" after a federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the state's gay marriage ban....

...and about biology and all that climate stuff.

November 6, 2014
After a crusading religious group (click here) showed up at the Gilbert, Arizona school board meeting with three Republican state senators to complain about the presence of a mention of abortion in an honors biology text book, the board voted to get rid of that material. It was determined that the most efficient way to remove the offending material is to literally remove it - as in, tear the whole page out of the book....

The biology book authored by Campbell is  a highly esteemed biology text. I still have my college edition of Campbell. Friends that are university professors still have their Campbell biology book. Any young adult seeking a place in a university that are taking Advanced Placement of Biology would be a leg up if they have a Campbell Biology text. These Advanced Placement courses in Biology prepare their students, not for revolution against the church, but, for medical school. I have a university biology degree among two other degrees and a variety of non-matriculated courses and Campbell is the stalwart of biology. 

Biology is biology and no is going to change it. The AP Campbell text is accommodating the fact these young people are primarily looking to Med School. The text on abortion is not about advocacy, it is about the world as it exists. This entire focus on this text is nonsense. It is moronity and prejudice. 

That said there is this "Jim Inhofe" thing that appears to be a concern. Not. Everyone involved with moving the climate crisis to RESOLVE and not as a promotion for Democratic politics has been here before. Jim Inhofe is a hack. 

"God is still up there."

October 29, 2014 was a historic day in the world. Does anyone remember why?

Daniel Berger reported:

Pope Francis made a significant rhetorical break (click here) with Catholic tradition Monday by declaring that the theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real, and remarking that God is not “a magician with a magic wand.”
“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” the pope said at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, during a plenary meeting dedicated to evolving concepts of nature....

Inhofe can take up the argument with Pope Francis not the climate community.

Pope Francis is not that radical within the circle of authority in the Roman Catholic Church either. 

I am a fortunate individual I guess whom's family has visiting priests within their social circles. My family have been devoted Catholic members for all their lives. After my Father, Thomas, passed away my Mother said to look into his personal effects to decide what to do with them. She was unable to even peak into his chest of drawers to look at his clothing at that point. 

I ran across his wallet. The money and all the other credit cards and what not didn't impress me as my father had complete control of his finances. But, what did impress me was a small prayer card. It was a daily prayer to the virgin in the form of "The Mother of Smiles." Finding that prayer card took me by surprise. I had always known my father as devoted to his faith, but, other than church did I ever see him pray.

The prayer card, and I may have mentioned this before, was about how to keep the family happy in their hearts day to day. The card was old and tattered, obviously had been around awhile. I grew to know him better through that discovery.

My father was as much interested in science as I was. It was a part of our relationship. Biology became a focus in my life at an early age. Whenever the topic came up regarding pollution, cancer, the state of nature and ultimately the planet he was supportive of all my views as long as they were mired deeply in facts. My parents never stated biology was left up to the Bible or God. Biology was real, measurable and a part of God's world.

Students in Arizona that have grown up similar in focus to me with a religion guiding some of their values in life are going to need the truth when they attend their chosen university. The truth is what Campbell is all about. There is nothing wrong with teaching abortion in a biology class, it is part of life for the human condition and any future med student is going to need that point of reference. 

Growing up with faith and science balanced in my life made me unafraid. I could ask questions about life and the world without worrying about the answers, it all made sense. Never once did anything I learned in a public school system ever cause me to hate the church. I attended university in the south. I learned from Campbell in a university classroom. There is plenty of room in any one person's personality and knowledge for both religious belief and science.

The Arizona law should be dismantled by taking it to the courts. It is based in prejudice and stupidity and lack of understanding of how the world works.

Oh and Inhofe. He is a zealot that will ultimately answer to God. The only thing I hope is that he doesn't take the entire human race with him when he faces his maker.