30 September 2015

TransCanada Loses Again

They just gave up on a lawsuit in Nebraska over their attempt to assert extraordinary eminent domain rights:
TransCanada announced on Tuesday that the company will pull out of the lawsuit filed by over 100 Nebraska landowners challenging their right to use eminent domain to seize land for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Facing mounting legal expenses and a likely loss in court, the company will instead go through the Public Service Commission (PSC) review process it had originally hoped to avoid.

"We believe that going through the PSC process is the clearest path to achieving route certainty for the Keystone XL Project in Nebraska. It ultimately saves time, reduces conflict with those who oppose the project and sets clear rules for approval of the route," said a representative of the company in a statement.

The PSC process will take at least a year, and cannot move forward if and when President Obama rejects the federal permit for the pipeline.

………

“TransCanada realizes that LB 1161 is unconstitutional,” added Art Tanderup, a farmer whose land is on the proposed pipeline route. “This is a victory for landowners standing up to prevent a foreign corporation from taking their land for corporate greed through eminent domain. TransCanada pushed LB1161 through the legislature to avoid using the Public Service Commission procedure that they now want to follow. We believe that the PSC will not allow Keystone XL to be placed in the Sand Hills or over the Ogallala Aquifer but are confident President Obama will reject the pipeline before the PSC even has a chance to conduct a review.”
So, TransCanada, the company that ignores regulations, and leans on lawmakers to exempt them from regulations, and then has their pipelines blow up, has decided that their latest attempt to subvert the regulatory prices isn't going to work.

They lose, and the rest of us win.

I can live with that.

Stop Whining, Bitches

I am referring, of course to House of Saud:
Saudi Arabia has called on Bashar al-Assad to give up power or be removed by force, raising the global stakes at a time when the Russians are shipping troops and military hardware to Syria in an effort to prop up its beleaguered leader.

The threat was made on Tuesday by Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubeir.

“There is no future for Assad in Syria,” Jubeir told journalists at the UN general assembly. “There are two options for a settlement in Syria. One option is a political process where there would be a transitional council. The other option is a military option, which also would end with the removal of Bashar al-Assad from power.”

“This could be a more lengthy process and a more destructive process but the choice is entirely that of Bashar al-Assad.” The foreign minister did not specify how Assad would be forcibly removed, but pointed out that Saudi Arabia is already backing “moderate rebels” in the civil war.

The Saudi intervention fuelled an already heated row at the UN over Syria’s future, where the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, issued a forthright defence of the Syrian regime, describing it as fighting a lonely and “valiant” battle against Islamic State extremists.
You know, I know that you have all kinds of butthurt over the fact that the secular* Arab government in Damascus is still standing, even after they created ISIS to attempt to create another Sunni dominated sectarian state.

You are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.

The fact that you are unable to accomplish your agenda in that part of the world is a good thing.

*And murderous. The regime is murderous too, but the House of Saud has no problem with murderously genocidal regimes, see Bahrain as an example.

American Clusterf%$#

Not Syria this time, Afghanistan:
Afghanistan was plunged deeper into crisis a day after the Taliban seized the northern city of Kunduz, as the insurgents on Tuesday kept assaulting the reeling Afghan security forces and the government struggled to mount a credible response.

Not only did a promised government counteroffensive on Kunduz not make headway during heavy fighting on Tuesday, but the day ended with yet another aggressive Taliban advance, with insurgents surrounding the airport to which hundreds of Afghan forces and at least as many civilians had retreated, thinking it would be safe.

After more than a day of relative silence as the situation worsened around Kunduz, the American military showed the first signs of increased involvement in what the Pentagon called “a setback,” conducting at least two airstrikes, and reportedly more as attacks continued at the airport late Tuesday.

Beyond the Taliban’s gains in Kunduz, there was evidence that the insurgents were also pushing a broader offensive in northern Afghanistan, officials said. One particular point of concern was Takhar Province, just east of Kunduz, where the insurgents were said to be heavily assaulting military checkpoints and government facilities in several districts over the past two days.
The generals in Washington are beginning to look like ……… The Washington Generals.*

Seriously, can anyone remember the last time our military adventures have come even close to success?

*Until recently, the Washington Generals were the team that played, and lost, by design, to the Harlem Globetrotters thousands of time, and won once.

It Appears that a Bear does Indeed Sh%$ in the Woods

Because the Pope was just outed doing something amazingly Catholic, and I do not mean that as a complement:
Pope Francis met privately in Washington last week with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who defied a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, adding a new element to an American tour that saw Francis attract huge crowds and articulate left-leaning positions on poverty, immigration, the environment and inequality.

Vatican officials initially would not confirm that the meeting occurred, finally doing so on Wednesday afternoon, while refusing to discuss any details.

Ms. Davis, the clerk in Rowan County, Ky., has been at the center of a nationwide controversy over whether government employees and private businesses have a legal right to refuse to serve same-sex couples. She spent five days in jail for disobeying a federal court order to issue the licenses.

On Tuesday night, her lawyer, Mathew D. Staver, said that Ms. Davis and her husband, Joe, were sneaked into the Vatican Embassy by car on Thursday afternoon. Francis gave her rosaries and told her to “stay strong,” the lawyer said. The couple met for about 15 minutes with the pope, who was accompanied by security guards, aides and photographers.
Notwithstanding the affection recently shown by progressive elements inside and outside of the Catholic Church, the Pope is, at the end of the day, Catholic, which means that he will continue to be antediluvian on issues like birth control and gay rights.

I am disappointed, but not surprised.

29 September 2015

iPhone Users Just Love Their Walled Garden

Even if it means that Apple is censoring what news they can read:
Metadata+, a free app that catalogues fatal drone strikes by the United States, was pulled from the App Store this morning. Users were alerted via a notification that said the app was removed because of "exceptionally crude or objectionable content."

Metadata+ was developed by The Intercept's research editor Josh Begley. The app listed the date and location of drone strikes, as well as the victims, and sent notifications to users when a new strike occurred.

Begley struggled to get the App Store to accept his work—Mashable reports that Metadata+ was approved this February after five rejections. The sensitive topic of U.S. drone strikes seems to have been a problem for Apple: Begley was rejected last August because his app might be "objectionable" for many audiences.

………

Begley told Mashable that an Apple Review Team employee contacted him after several rejections and told him that if the app focused specifically on U.S. drone strikes, "it's not going to be approved."
So, it appears that not cheerleading for US drone strikes is unacceptable content for Apple, Inc.

What happens when the FBI comes and asks for a backdoor into your private communications?

At least Android is open source, so if there is a backdoor, someone can compile a version without some back door that has elements of the US state security apparatus leering looking at your private communications.

No wonder Apple is lobbying so hard for a bill in congress that grants them immunity for sharing data.

Deep Thought

I've been taking the Metro to work for over two months now, and it's official: I cannot tell the difference between a crazy guy on the train who hears voices and someone having a conversation with a Bluetooth ear piece.

28 September 2015

Tervor Noah's Debut

I watched his debut as host of The Daily Show, and it was a real stem winder.

I am seriously impressed.

It was funny, he made some fun of himself, and he was a bit bluer than John Stewart.

Obviously, this show was the product of many weeks of prep, so I expect some hiccoughs as they go from debut to routine, but it is a very good start.

I will note that he has not yet made my list of People I Do Not Want to Piss Off yet though.

This is Satire, and it Sucks to Have to Say It

No, the Pentagon is now requesting a budget authorization to purchase gold plated F-35s, it is parody from Duffelblog:
The Pentagon released a report today requesting Congressional authorization for 500 gold-plated F-35 fighter planes.

The F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation multirole stealth fighter intended to replace numerous aging aircraft, including the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The F-35 program has been fraught with problems, including numerous delays, cost overruns, and failure to deliver on promised operational performance.

The new variant, dubbed the F-35G, is proposed as an upgrade over existing F-35 models. In addition to 24K gold plating encasing its exterior, its cockpit is trimmed with wood grain paneling harvested from the endangered African blackwood tree and leather upholstery from the hide of the northern white rhinoceros. Its GAU-12/A 25mm rotary cannon is able to fire solid platinum rounds at a rate of 3300 per minute. Each round is handcrafted by a Swiss jeweler.

“In an ever-evolving battlefield, it is imperative to have a military equipped with tactical vehicles that offer versatility, adaptability, and mother of pearl ice buckets to keep champagne bottles cold during missions,” reads the Pentagon report. “Our service men and women deserve to fly in only the finest combat aircraft.”

Each F-35G unit is projected to cost 8.2 billion dollars, approximately twice the average annual GDP of some of the countries it is expected to bomb. The total cost, including development, procurement, operation, and sustainment, will top $15 trillion over the life of the program.
I will note that this is not that far from the truth.

Each B-2 bomber, for example, costs about $2.1 billion dollars.

With an empty weight of 158,000 lbs, and the current price of gold being $1,147.00/ troy ounce, it costs almost as much as if it were made of gold. (158,000 lbs of gold would cost $2,642,878,402.00)

Us weapons procurement is well and truly broken.

If You Treat Your Employees Like Crap, It Flows to the Customer

It turns out that the Wal-Mart grocery business is lagging, because they suck at running supermarkets:
Wal-Mart's grocery business is getting crushed by competitors, according to analysts.

The retailer is plagued by negative customer feedback "due to lack of convenience in shopping Supercenter formats, below-average customer service, and below-average quality, freshness, and breadth of produce," Wayne Hood, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a recent research note.

As a result, Wal-Mart is losing grocery market share to rivals like Kroger and Publix, which have higher customer satisfaction ratings than Wal-Mart, according to Hood.

That's a troubling sign for Wal-Mart, which gets more than half of its revenue from groceries, and has been consistently offering lower prices than its rivals, Hood writes.

Grocery prices at Wal-Mart are approximately 10% to 15% lower at Wal-Mart compared to Kroger, according to Hood.

But the lower prices have failed to spur growth in Wal-Mart's grocery business, as illustrated in the graph below.

Basically, Wal-Mart sucks, but they are cheap.

Of course, dollar stores are cheaper and they are not suckier, and Target is a bit more expensive and much less sucky, and now it turns out that even the lowly supermarket chain produces stores that people are wiling to pay extra to go to.

Couldn't happen to a more repulsive company.

John Boehner Just Issued a Big F%$# You to the Teabaggers

I guess that it's one way to have some fun as he is heading out the door:
House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that there will be "no" government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding, and signaled plans to pass the Senate stop-gap funding bill with help from Democrats.

"I expect my Democratic colleagues want to keep the government open as much as I do," Boehner, R-Ohio, said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

The interview was Boehner's first since announcing his resignation Friday.

The announcement came as Republican leaders spar over how to handle a series of budget extension proposals to keep the federal government operating past Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. Moderates within the House GOP caucus had been pushing for any plan that will avoid a shutdown while more conservative members had vowed to strip funding from Planned Parenthood programs at any cost.
If Boehner was still trying to remain speaker, he would not have done this.

Never underestimate the the power of someone who has given his last f%$#.

27 September 2015

Because Administrators Are Spending the Money on Bullsh%$ for Themselves Completely Unrelated to Education

Why Is College So Expensive if Professors Are Paid So Little?
This has been another episode of simple answer to simple questions.

Quote of the Day

If you've got a factory full of children in China assembling phones for 17 cents an hour, you've got a lot of nerve calling someone else opportunistic.
— Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter for the latest Steve Jobs biopic in response to Apple CEO Tim Cook's claim that he is being "opportunistic".
Burn cream to aisle 5.

Editorial of the Day


Brevity is the soul of wit
Michigan State Representative Cindy Gamrat, a Teabagger from the banks of the Kalamazoo river, was expelled from the state house because she and fellow rep (and fellow Teabagger) Todd Courser (who resigned) used state funds to cover up their adulterous affair.

A special election was called to replace her, and Gamrat is running for reelection.

The Grand Rapids Press and Kalamazoo Gazette editorial on this development is remarkably concise: (click for a larger image)
No.
It's as if Ernest Hemingway wrote this editorial.

H/t Jim Romenesko

26 September 2015

Because We Know that Eliminating Human Physical Contact Improves the Development of Children

Out on Mercer Island, Washington, the school district has banned the game of tag as a sweeping ban of all forms of physical contact between students:
Webster’s defines “tag” as “a game in which the player who is it chases others and tries to touch one of them who then becomes it.” Wikipedia explains that the game, also known in Britain as “it, tip you’re it” is “a playground game that involves one or more players chasing other players in an attempt to ‘tag’ or touch them, usually with their hands.”

So is the game of “tag” still “tag” if tagging is banned?

That is the question for the Mercer County School District in Washington state and for some unhappy parents.

It all started with a social media report earlier this week when a group of parents, responding to what they had heard was a ban on the game of tag in elementary schools, formed a group called “Support ‘tag’ at Recess.”

It was their impression that there was indeed a ban and the word soon spread to the news media.

………

A spokesman for the school district seemed to reinforce the impression with a statement:
“The Mercer Island School District and school teams have recently revisited expectations for student behavior to address student safety. This means while at play, especially during recess and unstructured time, students are expected to keep their hands to themselves. The rationale behind this is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.

“School staffs are working with students in the classroom to ensure that there are many alternative games available at recess and during unsupervised play, so that our kids can still have fun, be with their friends, move their bodies and give their brains a break.”
“Good grief, our kids need some unstructured playtime,” mom Kelsey Joyce told the TV station. “It’s a game that practically everyone has played – but if you go to public school on Mercer Island, keep your hands to yourself.

“I totally survived tag,” said Joyce. “I even survived red rover, believe it or not.”
More significantly, the school board ignored the fact that physical touching is an necessity, particularly for developing children.

The reason that children play touching games is because children need touching.

Well, This Helps with 5th Amendment Rights

In an insider trading scandal, a judge has ruled that prosecutors cannot force suspects to unlock their phones.

Basically, he said that the prosecution was asking for it "Just Because", and that was not sufficient reason:
The Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination would be breached if two insider trading suspects were forced to turn over the passcodes of their locked mobile phones to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

"We find, as the SEC is not seeking business records but Defendants' personal thought processes, Defendants may properly invoke their Fifth Amendment right," US District Judge Mark Kearney of Pennsylvania wrote.

………

In the latest case, the SEC is investigating two former Capital One data analysts who allegedly used insider information associated with their jobs to trade stocks—in this case, a $150,000 investment allegedly turned into $2.8 million. Regulators suspect the mobile devices are holding evidence of insider trading and demanded that the two turn over their passcodes.

The defendants balked at supplying their passcodes, saying the Fifth Amendment protected them. The judge agreed and said that the government was going on a fishing expedition:
Here, the SEC proffers no evidence rising to a “reasonable particularity” any of the documents it alleges reside in the passcode protected phones. Instead, it argues only possession of the smartphones and Defendants were the sole users and possessors of their respective work-issued smartphones. SEC does not show the “existence” of any requested documents actually existing on the smartphones. Merely possessing the smartphones is insufficient if the SEC cannot show what is actually on the device.
The prosecution is not looking for evidence here.

What they are looking for is statements that impeach the defendants, and force them to cut a plea deal.

They want to find texts where these guys call their clients morons, or some such, knowing that they can then present this to a jury in order to make the jury hostile to their defense.

I wholeheartedly approve of this ruling.

This is a Feature, Not a Bug

The fact that the nominee for head of the FDA has extensive financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry should come as no surprise.

The revolving door has been spinning just as fast during the Obama administration as it ever has been:
It seems to be the season of the revolving door

in health care. The latest version got some media attention, because it involves one of the most important health care leadership positions in the US government, the Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the case actually seems much more serious than what the media has recently reported.

………

The only fly in the ointment was the matter of Dr Califf's ties to industry. The WSJ article included,
Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, a Washington-based group focusing on medical-product safety, questioned his ties to the drug industry.

'Dr. Califf’s expertise and his close ties to the pharmaceutical industry are both well-known,' she said. 'His ties to industry have been a source of great concern to public-health experts when he was previously considered for FDA commissioner, and those ties raise important questions about this nomination.'

The MedPage Today article noted that Public Citizen's Health Research Group stated,
'During his tenure at Duke University, Califf racked up a long history of extensive financial ties to multiple drug and device companies, including Amgen, Astra-Zeneca, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck Sharpe & Dohme and Sanofi-Aventis, to name a few,' Michael Carome, MD, the group's director, said in a statement. 'Strikingly, no FDA commissioner has had such close financial relationships with industries regulated by the agency prior to being appointed.'

………

'There are some who believe his relationship with [the drug industry] may be a problem, but most see it as a value-added factor in building a functional, more streamlined relationship with the industry in order to improve the speed with which truly effective and quality drugs and devices are made available, mitigate the excessive costs associated with pharmaceuticals, and influence policies and practices intended to improve health status.'
If that doesn't scare the hell out of you, it should.

What that nameless source just said is that this is the sort of guy who could make the approval of a drug like Thalidomide go through more smoothly.

25 September 2015

The Flies Return to the Sh%$

By which I mean that homophobic bigot Kim Davis is officially changing her party affiliation to Republican.  Good riddance:
A county clerk in Kentucky who was briefly jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples said on Friday that she and her family have switched to the Republican Party because the Democrats no longer represented them.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, 50, who has said her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, said they had changed parties last week. She was a long-time Democrat in eastern Kentucky.

"My husband and I had talked about it for quite a while and we came to the conclusion that the Democratic Party left us a long time ago, so why were we hanging on?" she told Reuters in an interview at a hotel in Washington, where she has traveled to be feted at a Family Research Council event later on Friday.
Not a surprise, really.

Since she is now making bank on being a bigot, she has to get that official American bigot membership card.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.

  1. SWC Credit Union, ​Tampa, ​FL

Here is the Full NCUA list.

So, another Credit Union.

I am not sure why, even as bank failures continue to fall, credit unions are on a pace to exceed last year.

Admittedly, the sample size is small, but this is atypical.

He Didn't Jump, He Was Pushed

In a surprise announcement, the worst Speaker of the House in the history of ……… well ……… history, John Boehner, made a surprise announcement that he will be resigning from Congress:
Speaker John A. Boehner, an Ohio barkeeper’s son who rode a conservative wave to one of the highest positions in government, said Friday he would relinquish his gavel and resign from Congress, undone by the very Republicans who swept him into power.

Mr. Boehner, 65, made the announcement in an emotional meeting with his fellow Republicans on Friday morning as lawmakers struggled to avert a government shutdown next week, a possibility made less likely by his decision.

Mr. Boehner told almost no one of his decision before making it Friday morning. “So before I went to sleep last night, I told my wife, I said, ‘You know, I might just make an announcement tomorrow,’ ” Mr. Boehner said at a news conference in the Capitol. “This morning I woke up, said my prayers, as I always do, and thought, ‘This is the day I am going to do this.’ ”

His downfall again highlighted the sinewy power of a Republican Party faction whose anthem is often to oppose government action. It also made vivid the increasingly precarious nature of a job in which the will and proclivities of politically divisive body must be managed. No House speaker since Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., who held the gavel from 1977 to 1986, has left the job willingly.
As much as I appreciate the standard line that Boehner left under his own power, I kind of doubt it.

If this was really about him being tired of a restive Congress, he would have left when he realized that he lacked the skill of vote counting, which is essential for a legislature.

I have repeatedly referred to him as the worst Speaker ever because, in the House of Congress most amenable to steam roller politics, he was constantly back on his heels, because he wanted the job of Speaker so badly that he was unable and unwilling to actually manage the house.

It simply makes no sense that he left left because he got tired. He left because some of his colleagues had "the talk" with him.

Still, if you favor the "left under his own power" theory, I would suggest that you read ​Charlie Pierce's take on this:
Way I figure it is this. In their private chat yesterday, Boehner explained to the pope the problems he was having with the flying monkey caucus, and Papa Francesco who, after all, heads a bureaucracy with a long history as a seething cauldron of ambition, scandal, murder and betrayal, as well as a unique tradition of crazy institutional proceedings (See: Cadaver Synod), listened to Boehner's plight and said, mildly, "Jesus H. Christ in a Fiat, my son, these people crazy. Get out while you can." That's the way I'm going to figure it, anyway.
It is a sane theory, but sanity does not apply in this situation.

Sanity has almost been as rare as competence during the Speakership of John Boehner.

24 September 2015

Do You Know What Drug in Your Medicine Cabinet is Most Likely to Kill You?

If you answered Acetaminophen (Tylenol) you would be right.

An overdose of the drug can destroy your liver, and for some people, toxic effects can be as little as twice the therapeutic dose.

Well, the FDA is looking at tightening up regulations on the drug, and the maker of Tylenol ramped up a lobbying campaign to prevent the FDA protecting the public:
Recently filed court documents show the makers of Tylenol planned to enlist the White House and lawmakers to block the Food and Drug Administration from imposing tough new safety restrictions on acetaminophen, the iconic painkiller’s chief ingredient.

An executive with McNeil Consumer Healthcare – which counts Tylenol as its flagship product – told the board of directors for parent company Johnson and Johnson about a campaign to “influence the FDA” and block recommendations made by an agency advisory panel in 2009.

About 150 Americans a year die by accidentally taking too much acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. The toll does not have to be so high. Read the story.

After Dr. Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s top drug regulator, put off meeting with McNeil executives, the company’s president, Peter Luther, sent out an August 2009 email.

“We’re being too nice and too worried about stepping on FDA’s toes. It may be time to let members of Congress to put some pressure on FDA,” Luther wrote to other top executives. ”We have to make this our top priority and pull out all stops.”

Acetaminophen is considered safe when taken as directed. But in higher doses, the drug can cause liver damage and death. Studies show the drug is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U.S., with fatalities increasing seven-fold in the decade between 1995 and 2005 to more than 200 a year.

………

The previously unreported lobbying campaign was disclosed as part of a trial scheduled to start today in Atlantic City that promises to draw new scrutiny to McNeil’s efforts to protect its painkiller from additional regulation and disclosures about the full extent of its risks.

The case pits McNeil against Regina Jackson, a New Jersey state employee who claims she was hospitalized with elevated liver enzymes after inadvertently exceeding the daily recommended dose for Extra Strength Tylenol for a couple of days.

The Atlantic City case is being watched closely as it is the first to come to trial of more than two hundred lawsuits currently pending in state and federal courts that allege McNeil knew its drug was potentially dangerous while promoting its safety.

As detailed in a 2013 investigation by ProPublica and This American Life, McNeil has opposed warning labels, dosage restrictions and even public awareness campaigns over concerns of profitability.

At the same time, the investigation found that the FDA has delayed implementing suggestions to improve the safety of acetaminophen, taken by tens of millions of Americans every week. Though hearings began more than 38 years ago, the agency has yet to finalize regulations for the safe use of the drug.

………

The proposed lobbying campaign arose in response to a June 2009 meeting of more than three dozen scientists, researchers and pharmacists convened by the FDA to review the safety of acetaminophen.

The panel of independent experts endorsed a sweeping set of reforms. They recommended that the FDA reduce the total daily dose of acetaminophen, and make extra-strength pills available only by prescription.

McNeil officials viewed the recommendations as a threat to sales of Extra Strength Tylenol, according to R. Clay Milling, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys. McNeil makes about $400 million in revenue from its extra-strength line, compared with only about $14 million from regular strength Tylenol, Milling told the court, according to a transcript.

Milling, who reviewed internal McNeil documents as part of the lawsuit, told the court that a senior McNeil executive made a presentation to the Johnson and Johnson board about a plan that included contacting the White House, the Office of Management and Budget and lawmakers.

………

The current recommended daily dose for the drug is four grams per day — the equivalent of eight extra strength pills. But occasional reports in scientific literature have documented liver damage occurring after taking as little as two extra pills per day for several days.

The agency has worried about the prevalence of acetaminophen on the market — McNeil and its generic competitors have developed hundreds of over-the-counter products that contain the drug, increasing the risk that a consumer could inadvertently ingest dangerous levels.

The most recent FDA data show that acetaminophen remains, by far, the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States, with the number of cases increasing.
(emphasis mine)

Pharma greed is not just some asshole hedge fund puke raising prices.

It's also stuff like this, where companies like Johnson & Johnson call in chips to bought and paid for politicians so that they can keep killing people.

In fact, I think that the guys at J&J are worse.  Unlike Martin Shkreli they knew that they were lobbying for the opportunity to profit off of killing hundreds of people a year.

Oops!


Someone is getting fired
On the Chicago TV station WGN, they did a story on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, and their likely soon to be fired graphics guy called up the badge that the Nazis forced Jews to wear in concentration camps:
The news director of a Chicago TV station apologized after a staff member mistakenly chose a symbol of Nazi Germany to illustrate a story about Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

“Regrettably, we failed to recognize that the artwork we chose to accompany the story contained an offensive symbol,” the director, Jennifer Lyons, said in an apology on Wednesday. “This was an unfortunate mistake. Ignorance is not an excuse.”

The apology came the morning after Tom Negovan, an anchor with WGN-TV Chicago, read a 20-second description of the holiday. Over his shoulder, viewers could see a graphic of a Star of David badge emblazoned with the German word “Jude,” or Jew, on striped material of the kind used in Nazi prisoner uniforms.
Un-dirtyword-believable.

Does a Bear Sh%$ in the Woods?

The other half of the couplet is the question, "Is the Pope Catholic?"
It appears that the right wing believes that the Pope is not Catholic, because clearly Jesus embraced those money lenders in the temple:
A while ago, Rush Limbaugh declared that Pope Francis is a Marxist, which is pretty much inconsistent with being a practicing Catholic. Now Representative Paul Gosar (R-Ariz) has announced that the Pope, in concluding that climate change is a threat to the planet, is advocating socialist views. As a result, he will boycott the Pope’s address to Congress on Thursday. According to Catholic doctrine, the Pope is the head of the Church, the Vicar of Christ, and an infallible authority on Catholic doctrine. But none of that, if one can use another familiar phrase, cuts any ice with Rep. Gosar.

If Pope Francis wants to devote his life to fighting climate change, Gosar said, he should do so on his personal time — not as pope. “To promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous,” he intoned. This seems to be the standard line among political conservatives who are suffering from cognitive dissonance now that there is a Pope whose Catholicism is in doubt because he has distanced himself from the Republican Party line. James Inhofe, Chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, has declared: “The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours.” Rick Santorum adds: “I think we [Catholics] are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.” And Jeb Bush thinks that religion “ought to be about making us better as people, less about things [that] end up getting into the political realm.”

The irony here is pretty obvious. People like Gosar, Inhofe, Santorum and Bush have been playing the God card for years. They have been happy to use Christian religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, as a recruiting device and a campaigning platform for a variety of conservative political issues. Now they want the Pope to mind his own business and stick to morality and religion. One of the many things they are missing, however, is that climate change is a moral issue.
The term for this is "Cafeteria Catholics," and when the Catholic Church was busy doing things like denying communion to John Kerry because the only things that mattered were abortion and gay marriage, it was the conservatives who used it imply a lack of integrity.

I've got my weekly dose of schadenfreude over this.

23 September 2015

This is a Truly Epic Rant

In fact, this rant about US missteps on Syria is good enough that I forgive the blogger's use of the Comic Sans font:
I have decided to voice my opinions on what the situations are in re the MENA area both abroad and in the US concerning Syria and Turkey. More tomorrow on Iraq. These are simply my opinions, feel free to disregard them and come up with your own:

- Petraeus wants John Allen's wretched job? Give it him. As I understand what happened, Allen found it to be impossible to argue successfully with the WH's collection of "those whose brains were destroyed in the process of obtaining a Ph.D in poly sci " led by the country's community organizer in chief. Let us see if Petraeus will do better. IMO Petraeus is a phony of the sort that David Hackworth used to describe as a "perfumed prince," in my words, a Byzantine courtier type whose fame was generated in a largely self orchestrated media campaign. Let us see if this "Great Captain" can unravel this skein of wormlike threads that he helped create. Perhaps Broadway Joe Scarborough will turn and burn with him?

………
It goes on from there, and it is truly a thing of beauty.

I also think that it is an accurate assessment, and it shows why the President of the United States cannot blithely accept the counsel of  Council of Foreign Relations types, who subscribe to the "Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics," which states that so long as the US maintains it will, it can accomplish whatever it wants.

It didn't work in the Bush administration, and it won't work now.

Uruguay is Now My Favorite Latin American Nation

Last year, they legalized Marijuana, and now they have regected the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) international trade deal:
Often referred to as the Switzerland of South America, Uruguay is long accustomed to doing things its own way. It was the first nation in Latin America to establish a welfare state. It also has an unusually large middle class for the region and unlike its giant neighbors to the north and west, Brazil and Argentina, is largely free of serious income inequality.

Two years ago, during José Mujica’s presidency, Uruguay became the first nation to legalize marijuana in Latin America, a continent that is being ripped apart by drug trafficking and its associated violence and corruption of state institutions.

Now Uruguay has done something that no other semi-aligned nation on this planet has dared to do: it has rejected the advances of the global corporatocracy.

………

Earlier this month Uruguay’s government decided to end its participation in the secret negotiations of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). After months of intense pressure led by unions and other grassroots movements that culminated in a national general strike on the issue – the first of its kind around the globe – the Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez bowed to public opinion and left the US-led trade agreement.

………

TiSA involves more countries than TTIP and TPP combined: The United States and all 28 members of the European Union, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey.

Together, these 52 nations form the charmingly named “Really Good Friends of Services” group, which represents almost 70% of all trade in services worldwide. Until its government’s recent u-turn Uruguay was supposed to be the 53rd Good Friend of Services.

………
TiSA has spent the last two years taking shape behind the hermetically sealed doors of highly secure locations around the world. According to the agreement’s provisional text, the document is supposed to remain confidential and concealed from public view for at least five years after being signed. Even the World Trade Organization has been sidelined from negotiations.
But thanks to whistle blowing sites like WikiLeaks, the Associated Whistleblowing Press and Filtrala, crucial details have seeped to the surface. Here’s a brief outline of what is known to date (for more specifics click here, here and here):
1.TiSA would “lock in” the privatization of services – even in cases where private service delivery has failed – meaning governments can never return water, energy, health, education or other services to public hands.
2.TiSA would restrict signatory governments’ right to regulate stronger standards in the public’s interest. For example, it will affect environmental regulations, licensing of health facilities and laboratories, waste disposal centres, power plants, school and university accreditation and broadcast licenses.
3.TiSA would limit the ability of governments to regulate the financial services industry, at a time when the global economy is still struggling to recover from a crisis caused primarily by financial deregulation. More specifically, if signed the trade agreement would:
  • Restrict the ability of governments to place limits on the trading of derivative contracts — the largely unregulated weapons of mass financial destruction that helped trigger the 2007-08 Global Financial Crisis.
  • Bar new financial regulations that do not conform to deregulatory rules. Signatory governments will essentially agree not to apply new financial policy measures which in any way contradict the agreement’s emphasis on deregulatory measures.
  • Prohibit national governments from using capital controls to prevent or mitigate financial crises. The leaked texts prohibit restrictions on financial inflows – used to prevent rapid currency appreciation, asset bubbles and other macroeconomic problems – and financial outflows, used to prevent sudden capital flight in times of crisis.
  • Require acceptance of financial products not yet invented. Despite the pivotal role that new, complex financial products played in the Financial Crisis, TISA would require governments to allow all new financial products and services, including ones not yet invented, to be sold within their territories.
4. TiSA would ban any restrictions on cross-border information flows and localization requirements for ICT service providers. A provision proposed by US negotiators would rule out any conditions for the transfer of personal data to third countries that are currently in place in EU data protection law. In other words, multinational corporations will have carte blanche to pry into just about every facet of the working and personal lives of the inhabitants of roughly a quarter of the world’s 200-or-so nations.

As I wrote in LEAKED: Secret Negotiations to Let Big Brother Go Global, if TiSA is signed in its current form – and we will not know exactly what that form is until at least five years down the line – our personal data will be freely bought and sold on the open market place without our knowledge; companies and governments will be able to store it for as long as they desire and use it for just about any purpose.
Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, Uruguay doesn't count for a whole lot, the whole country has a population is less than that of Los Angeles, but it is the first time that any country involved in the negotiations has pulled out, and should make it easier for another nation to take this step, which means that that standing up to the interests of the US, which are primarily to support data brokers, pharma, IP restrictions, and the banksters.

This is a good thing for the people of Uruguay, and if it leads to more countries pulling out of this agreement, it will be a good thing for the world.

Headline of the Day

From the New York Times, we see the obituary for Hall of Frame catcher, Yogi Berra:
Yogi Berra Dies at 90; Yankee Star Built His Fame 90% on Skill, and Half on Wit
Berra was a standout as a catcher, as well as achieving success as a manager, but much of his fame came from his penchant for mangling the English language, with such memorable quotes as, "Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded," and, "It’s déjà vu all over again!"

The headline is a fitting homage to Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra.

What Happens When This Doesn't Generate a Media Sh%$ Storm?

Martin Shkreli, the hedge fund pharma executive who generated outrage when he bought a drug for rare diseases and boosted its price by over 5555%, has backed down after he got called out by the New York Times:
"Yes it is absolutely a reaction — there were mistakes made with respect to helping people understand why we took this action, I think that it makes sense to lower the price in response to the anger that was felt by people," Shkreli, 32, said.

Turing Pharmaceuticals of New York bought the drug from Impax Laboratories in August for $55 million and raised the price. Shkreli said Tuesday the price would be lowered to allow the company to break even or make a smaller profit.

Daraprim fights toxoplasmosis. The infection is particularly dangerous for people who have weakened immune systems, like AIDS patients, as well as for pregnant women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

………

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was among those who expressed outrage over the price increase. On Tuesday she outlined a plan she said would limit how much patients have to pay out of pocket for medications each month.
As I noted last night, after Glaxo Smith Kline sold the drug market rights and before Shkreli bought the drug, the price was raised by 1350%, from $1.00 to $13.50 a pill, but since it wasn't going from $13.50 to $750.00 a pill, nobody batted an eyelash.

Notwithstanding the protestations of contemptible greedheads like Martin Shkreli, generating unearned profits through financial engineering and exploitation of monopoly power benefits no one but contemptible greedheads like Martin Shkreli.

God Bless America



Certain people should never own guns. It appears that ammosexuals, the people who fetishize guns, are over-represented in this group.

H/T DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

22 September 2015

Get a Brain, Morans

Some inbred white bigots who don't know how to use a spell checker have decided that enough is enough, so they took to flying pro confederate banners over various monuments:
Community activists and historic preservationists got help from an unusual source to draw attention to their protest Saturday of statues of Confederate leaders on Monument Avenue during the first day of training for the UCI Road World Championships.

A small plane carrying a banner with a Confederate battle flag and the phrase “Confederate heros matter” circled above Monument Avenue, where the protest had gathered at the statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

The Virginia Flaggers, who took credit for the banner on their Facebook page, said the misspelling of “heroes” was “Pilot error. We sent the right spelling. We think the point was still made.”

“This is the first time he’s ever messed up,” Grayson Jennings, a spokesman for the Virginia Flaggers, said of the pilot in an interview. “I don’t think half the people even knew he messed up.”
(emphasis mine)

Trust me, people know.

This is going to end up a major meme, kind of like this pic:

The stupid, it burns us.

This Is a Clear Case of Immoral Parasitism, and It's Pharma, so Not the Surprise

You know the story, hedge fund puke buys a pharmaceutical firm, takes an out of patent drug that costs a few bucks, changes the distribution method to make analysis by potential competitors more difficult, and then raise the price by 5555%: (No, this is not a decimal place error)
Specialists in infectious disease are protesting a gigantic overnight increase in the price of a 62-year-old drug that is the standard of care for treating a life-threatening parasitic infection.

The drug, called Daraprim, was acquired in August by Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up run by a former hedge fund manager. Turing immediately raised the price to $750 a tablet from $13.50, bringing the annual cost of treatment for some patients to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“What is it that they are doing differently that has led to this dramatic increase?” said Dr. Judith Aberg, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She said the price increase could force hospitals to use “alternative therapies that may not have the same efficacy.”

………

The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association sent a joint letter to Turing earlier this month calling the price increase for Daraprim “unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population” and “unsustainable for the health care system.” An organization representing the directors of state AIDS programs has also been looking into the price increase, according to doctors and patient advocates.

Daraprim, known generically as pyrimethamine, is used mainly to treat toxoplasmosis, a parasite infection that can cause serious or even life-threatening problems for babies born to women who become infected during pregnancy, and also for people with compromised immune systems, like AIDS patients and certain cancer patients.

………

This is not the first time the 32-year-old Mr. Shkreli, who has a reputation for both brilliance and brashness, has been the center of controversy. He started MSMB Capital, a hedge fund company, in his 20s and drew attention for urging the Food and Drug Administration not to approve certain drugs made by companies whose stock he was shorting.

In 2011, Mr. Shkreli started Retrophin, which also acquired old neglected drugs and sharply raised their prices. Retrophin’s board fired Mr. Shkreli a year ago. Last month, it filed a complaint in Federal District Court in Manhattan, accusing him of using Retrophin as a personal piggy bank to pay back angry investors in his hedge fund.

………

With the price now high, other companies could conceivably make generic copies, since patents have long expired. One factor that could discourage that option is that Daraprim’s distribution is now tightly controlled, making it harder for generic companies to get the samples they need for the required testing.

The switch from drugstores to controlled distribution was made in June by Impax, not by Turing. Still, controlled distribution was a strategy Mr. Shkreli talked about at his previous company as a way to thwart generics.

………

Dr. Aberg of Mount Sinai said some hospitals will now find Daraprim too expensive to keep in stock, possibly resulting in treatment delays. She said that Mount Sinai was continuing to use the drug, but each use now required a special review.

“This seems to be all profit-driven for somebody,” Dr. Aberg said, “and I just think it’s a very dangerous process.”
You can read the details of his looting the last firm he ran here.

I would note that Mr Shkreli is not alone in this behavior: When Glaxo Smith Kline sold the marketing rights to the drug to CorePharma, the price of the drug was $1 a pill,

Is there anything that big finance can't make destructive and evil?

Remember Last Night, When I Used the Phrase, "Bush Crime Family?"

Well today, we learn of the orgy of political payback and cronyism in the next generation of the Bush family, we have George P. Bush turning the office of Texas Land Commissioner into an opportunity for his buddies to profit while ignoring state law that requires public notice of open positions:
Less than a year after being elected to lead the oldest state agency in Texas, Land Commissioner George P. Bush has dramatically remade the General Land Office by ousting most of its longtime leaders and replacing many with people with ties to his campaign and family.

Eleven of the top 18 officials on the agency’s organizational chart a year ago have been fired or forced out or have quit, and more could leave soon in an overhaul that Bush has described as a “reboot.”

In their place, Bush, a former Fort Worth resident, has given top jobs to two of his law school classmates, two relatives of members of two Bush presidential administrations and at least three others with ties to the family or other political leaders.

In all, Bush has hired at least 29 people who worked on his campaign or have political connections, according to a review of thousands of pages of personnel records. The agency did not advertise any of the openings publicly.

………

State law requires all agencies considering external candidates for a job to post the opening with the Texas Workforce Commission. Newly elected statewide officials often ignore the requirement for some core positions. Attorney General Ken Paxton and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller have been publicly criticized for doing it a few times this year.

But Bush’s hiring differs because it is so far-reaching, with hires ranging from a temporary transition director to five campaign veterans hired permanently for the new position of “regional outreach coordinator.”

Bush made many so-called appointment hires before even taking office but has continued them well into this year.

The General Land Office, established in 1837, oversees all state public lands and also leases mineral rights to oil and gas companies, generating billions of dollars for schools. Bush, the grandson and nephew of presidents and the son of current presidential candidate Jeb Bush, was elected in November.

………

“Any agency, board, bureau, commission, committee, council, court, department, institution, or office in the executive or judicial branch of state government that has an employment opening for which persons from outside the agency will be considered shall list the opening with the Texas Workforce Commission,” the law says.

Commission spokeswoman Lisa Givens said she did not know who was responsible for enforcing that law. The commission does not check to ensure that jobs are posted, she said.

The attorney general’s office referred questions about the law to the workforce agency.

Personnel records show that Bush directed at least 40 external hires from November to July but listed only four of those with the Workforce Commission.

The average salary for those four was about $65,000. The average salary for the 36 unposted jobs was $90,000.

Ten jobs went to campaign aides, including temporary transition director Trey Newton, who made $17,500 per month, and the five regional outreach coordinators, who are making $55,000 a year. Newton, the campaign engineer Bush once called “our Karl Rove,” left in January. He did not return a call seeking comment.

Another campaign strategist, Ash Wright, and his wife, Patty Wright, both got unposted jobs in December with annual salaries of $120,000 and $48,000, respectively. Both have left, with Ash Wright returning to Bush’s campaign.

The campaign’s spokesman, J.R. Hernandez, got a more permanent job as Bush’s chief of staff, with an annual salary of $110,000. Hernandez, the son of George W. Bush adviser Juan Hernandez and a 2008 college graduate, started the job exactly a week after the election. The application in his personnel file is not signed or dated, and there is no offer letter, making it hard to determine a timeline of employment.
The Bush family has been engaging in this sort of entitled privilege since my dad was in elementary school.

H/t Atrios.

21 September 2015

Elections is Weird

Somehow, after completely failing to deliver on its promises, and folding like a bunch of overcooked broccoli, Syriza still managed to emerge from the latest Greek elections the conclusive winner:
Alexis Tsipras will be sworn in as Greece’s prime minister later on Monday and his new government formally announced on Tuesday, Greek media said, after the leftist Syriza leader romped to an unexpectedly convincing election victory.

The result on Sunday was a personal triumph for the 41-year-old, who gambled on the snap poll last month to see off a revolt by party radicals over his U-turn on accepting more tough austerity measures in exchange for Greece’s third international bailout.

The premier-elect will now make renegotiating the terms of Greece’s debt mountain a top priority. He will attempt to build a broad consensus among the parties he defeated so as to strengthen his hand in talks with the country’s eurozone creditors, a senior Syriza source told Reuters.

………

Following a campaign that for weeks looked too close to call, Syriza won 35.5% of the vote – a fraction less than its previous total – against 28.1% for the centre-right opposition, New Democracy, giving the leftist party 145 seats in the 300-seat parliament.

………

Tsipras said he would renew his coalition with the small nationalist Independent Greeks party to give him the 151-seat majority he needs in parliament. The new government’s programme will be dictated by the punishing terms of Greece’s latest €86bn rescue package, which demands a radical overhaul of the country’s ailing economy and far-reaching changes to tax, welfare and pension systems. The cash-for-reforms deal is subject to quarterly reviews, with the first due next month.
I am thoroughly flummoxed by these results.

My guess as to the meaning of all this is that, "The whippings will continue until morale improves."

This is Significant………

It turns out that the aircraft that Russia is sending to Syria are not Su-27s or MiG-31s. They are top of the line Su-30SM multi-role fighters:
The Institute for the Study of War had spotted four Russian fighter jets at Al Assad International Airport in Damascus. The Kremlin may have sent air-to-air missiles to Syria along with the aircraft, the D.C.-based think tank added.

But Washington area consultant and War Is Boring contributor Chris Biggers pointed out on the blog Offiziere that ISW had misidentified the jets. As it turns out, Russia sent its maneuverable and deadly Su-30SM multi-role jets.

Recent satellite imagery acquired by Airbus of al-Assad International airport in Syria shows four Su-30SM aircraft, not four SU-27 Flanker as originally reported by the Institute for [the] Study of War. The aircraft are easily mistaken for the SU-27 due to the modern variant’s use of the same airframe. The only predominant identifier on satellite imagery separating these aircraft from the earlier model is the canards positioned forward on the fuselage which assist with the aircraft’s thrust vectoring capability.

Located on the north side of the runway at Latakia, the Su-30SM multi-role fighters are one of Russia’s more advanced 4+ generation aircraft, often compared to the U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle. This variant is equipped with a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) BARS radar, fly-by-wire flight controls, modern ECM as well as thrust vectoring, making this a highly maneuverable and capable fighter.

In March 2012, Russia hired the Irkut Corporation to build a total of 60 Su-30SM fighters. While the new model was the first for the Kremlin’s air arms to feature the small canard positioned behind the cockpit, Irkut had already sold similar MKI and MKM versions to India and Malaysia, respectively.
The reason that this is important is because of the whole "Multi Role" thing.

The Su-30SM is not as well suited for the interception role as the MiG-31, top speed and ceiling are lower, but it can carry a much wider range of munitions, including the KH-58 anti-radiation missile, which has the capability to attack surface to air missile installations at ranges greater than 200 km, which could suppress NATO SAMs in Turkey that have largely prevented the Syrian Air Force from operating in the north of the country.

Syria is a complete clusterf%$#, (When the Assad regime is the best alternative, you know that you have completely screwed the pooch) , and now we are seeing increased Russian involvement in the conflict.

It's a mess, and it's getting scary.

Hunter S. Thompson was a Prophet

In The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time, Hunter S. Thompson relates the following tale:
This is one of the oldest and most effective tricks in politics. Every hack in the business has used it in times of trouble, and it has even been elevated to the level of political mythology in a story about one of Lyndon Johnson’s early campaigns in Texas. The race was close and Johnson was getting worried. Finally he told his campaign manager to start a massive rumor campaign about his opponent’s life-long habit of enjoying carnal knowledge of his own barnyard sows.

“Christ, we can’t get a way calling him a pig-f%$#er,” the campaign manager protested. “Nobody’s going to believe a thing like that.”

“I know,” Johnson replied. “But let’s make the sonofabitch deny it.”
Well, right now, the UK is transfixed by the tale of PM David Cameron and Piggate:
Late last night, the Daily Mail published an astounding excerpt of an unauthorized biography of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, alleging that he placed a “private part” of his body into the mouth of a dead pig’s head while at Oxford University.
He put his nob in a pig’s mouth. Popped his todger into the poor swine’s gob.
It’s crucial when dealing with such an important and weighty story to have all the facts, so please let this Brit guide you through the revolting tale of prime ministerial pig porkery.
It is claimed that there are pictures, but this could be a, "Make the sonofabitch deny it," moment.

In either case, this is a profoundly weird moment in politics.

Useful Idiot of the Day

Frank Rich, who seems not to understand that Donald Trump won't take the money out of politics simply because he's a rich guy who says so.

Whatever Mr. Rich is smoking, I want none of it.

28 Years

Former president of Peanut Corporation of America, Stewart Parnell, was sentenced to 28 years in prison for knowing shipping salmonella contaminated peanuts around the country:
Former peanut company executive Stewart Parnell was hit with a virtual life prison term Monday for his 2014 conviction on crimes related to a salmonella outbreak blamed for killing nine and sickening hundreds.

A federal judge in Georgia sentenced the 61-year-old former head of Peanut Corporation of America to 28 years behind bars, imposing potentially the toughest punishment in U.S. history for a producer in a food-borne illness case.

U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands also sentenced the former executive's brother, Michael Parnell, 56, to serve a 20-year prison term. The relative and co-defendant was a broker who provided food manufacturing giant Kellogg's with peanut paste from his brother's company.

Mary Wilkerson, 41, a former quality control manager at the now-defunct peanut firm, drew a five-year prison term for her conviction on obstruction in the tragedy.

Sands also ordered both Parnells to surrender, rejecting defense arguments that the two should be allowed to remain free on bond pending appeals. The judge deemed them potential flight risks.

………

The case stemmed from Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention findings that traced a national salmonella outbreak to the Parnell company's peanut roasting plant in Blakely, Ga. The outbreak sickened 714 people in 46 states and may have contributed to nine deaths, the CDC reported.

The illnesses began in January 2009 and ultimately prompted one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.

A federal jury convicted Parnell last September on 71 criminal counts, including conspiracy, obstruction of justice and introduction of adulterated food. The verdict came after prosecutors presented evidence that Parnell and the co-defendants knowingly shipped salmonella-tainted peanut butter from the Georgia facility to Kellogg’s and other customers — who in turn used it in products ranging from packaged crackers to pet food.
How about some similar sentences for corrupt bankers?

This is a Night for Weird History

I just discovered that Prescott Bush, George H.W.'s dad, and George W's and Jeb's grand dad, was one of the founders of Planned Parenthood:
Can you name any historical figures who helped Planned Parenthood kick off its first fundraising campaign back in 1947? If you first guessed some progressive liberal icon, you’d be wrong.

The die-hard public pro-life bona fides of George W. Bush and his brother and current GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush are undeniable. Jeb has repeatedly said that he would defund Planned Parenthood if he’s elected, and it’s been a promise he’s been making long before the Center for Medical Progress launched their viral undercover video campaign attacking the non-profit, claiming the organization was “selling baby parts.”

But a little known fact — first resurfacing in a 2005 article in SFGate — reveals that the grandfather and father of the last two Bush presidents, Prescott Bush, was the treasurer of the organization in its early years.

But even then, supporting a woman’s right to control over her own reproductive system was politically dangerous.
The political repercussions hit hard. Prescott Bush was knocked out of an expected victory for a Senate seat in Connecticut in 1950 after syndicated columnist Drew Pearson declared that it “has been made known” that Bush was a leader in the “Birth Control Society” (The old name of Planned Parenthood had been the Birth Control Federation of America.) Recall that contraceptives were controversial in those days — and remember that a constitutional right to use them wasn’t established until 1965, when the Supreme Court affirmed an implied right to privacy in Griswold vs. Connecticut.

Prescott Bush won a Senate seat two years later, and his son George and daughter-in-law Barbara continued to support Planned Parenthood even after George’s election to Congress from Texas. In fact, he was such an advocate for family planning that some House colleagues gave him the nickname “Rubbers.”
If I believed that there was an ounce of integrity in the Bush Crime Family, my head would hurt, but Poppy Bush made it patently clear that this was not the case when he turn his back on both his father's legacy and own his lifelong support of reproductive rights to become Vice-President.  (And let us not forget that Prescott Bush's investment firm was shut down for acting as an agent of Nazi Germany in 1942.)

I don't think that this family would walk a straight line if their lives depended on it.

20 September 2015

Deep Thought

I just saw a guy drive by in a bright yellow Lamborghini convertible.

My first thought was, "Why, after spending something near half a million dollars on a car, would you paint it the same color as a taxicab?"



Posted via mobile.

Visiting My Daughter in the City

We couldn't for everything she needed in one trip, so we came up this week.

She loves the City, and she loves AADA .

Have a picture of the Empire State Building.

  



Posted via mobile.

19 September 2015

F-35 Testing Beginning to Resemble Lance Armstrong Blood Tests

It turns out that the recent "successful deployment of the F-35 in US Marine Corps exercises was nothing of the sort:
The Marine Corps triumphantly declared its variant of the F-35 combat ready in late July. In the public relations build-up, the recent demonstration of its performance on the USS Wasp was heralded as a rebuttal to the program’s critics.

But a complete copy of a recent memo from the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) — obtained by the Project On Government Oversight through the Freedom of Information Act — reveals that a number of maintenance and reliability problems “are likely to present significant near-term challenges for the Marine Corps.”

The Marine Corps named this demonstration “Operational Test One,” but it turns out it wasn’t actually an operational test, “in either a formal or an informal sense of the term.” To count as an operational test, conditions should closely match realistic combat conditions.

But DOT&E found the demonstration “did not — and could not — demonstrate that Block 2B F-35B is operationally effective or suitable for use in any type of limited combat operation, or that it was ready for real-world operational deployments, given the way the event was structured.”

The details buried inside the report’s annexes also show just how much trouble the crew faced in attempting to keep the F-35s selected for the demonstration flightworthy. Before the demonstration even began the Marine Corps had to swap out one F-35B with another “due to a fuel system fault that would have been impractical to fix at sea given the maintenance workload.”

In combat, not only would this kind of replacement be impractical, it would likely be impossible.
It goes on to state that the the WASP was emptied of other aircraft in order to facilitate F-35 ops, critical hardware and software not being present on the system, around 80 civilian contractors on board to keep the aircraft running, a prognostics and maintenance system that is basically non-functional, and a much lower operational tempo than promised.

This aircraft is a turkey, and I see no prospect of it being fixed.

In Addition to Being a True Patriot, Edward Snowden Is Wicked Cool

He just showed up in robot form on Neil Degrasse Tyson's podcast to explain why we have not been contacted by aliens:
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden has some strong opinions on communications — even when those communications are coming from aliens.

The former intelligence-agency contractor turned fugitive was an unexpected guest on famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson's StarTalk podcast on September 18. And, inevitably, the two got to talking about extraterrestrials.

………

But Tyson scored an interview with him in New York City. How? Snowden rigged a robot that he can control from Russia, and rolled right into Tyson's office at the Hayden Planetarium in New York with his face displayed on the screen.

The conversation turned to encryption and cybersecurity, but here's where an astrophysicist differs from a journalist: Tyson's line of questioning quickly turned to how encryption relates to communication with ... aliens.

Tyson asked Snowden if a highly intelligent alien civilization might be communicating with encrypted messages. And Snowden had an unsettling answer.
First, Snowden said, let's assume that most advanced societies eventually realize that they need to encrypt their communication in order to protect it. This could also be the reason why we've never heard from other civilizations — their messages may have just been melding into the background static of the universe.
Here's Snowden's full answer, from the StarTalk podcast:
So if you have an alien civilization trying to listen for other civilizations, or our civilization trying to listen for aliens, there's only one small period in the development of their society when all of their communication will be sent via the most primitive and most unprotected means.
So when we think about everything that we're hearing through our satellites or everything that they're hearing from our civilization (if there are indeed aliens out there), all of their communications are encrypted by default.
So what we are hearing, that's actually an alien television show or, you know, a phone call ... is indistinguishable to us from cosmic microwave background radiation.
So it could be possible there are alien messages constantly hitting our satellites, and we just don't recognize them because they're so heavily encrypted. (The cosmic microwave background radiation that Snowden mentions is thermal radiation throughout the universe left over from the Big Bang. It basically looks and sounds like static to us puny humans.)
(emphasis original)

This is way cooler than I will ever be.

Maybe Ron Paul Should Hit Marco Rubio with a Folding Chair at the next Debate


Looks to me like a sucker punch
Because if Rubio's staff is going WWE Raw on Paul's Staff, responding in kind might be well advised:
Video footage appears to show a top official for the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio punching the national political director of a rival candidate, Rand Paul.

The incident is alleged to have occurred during a conference on a Michigan island on Thursday night.

In a Facebook post early on Friday morning, John Yob, a Michigan-based political consultant who serves as national political director for the Paul campaign, said Rubio’s deputy campaign manager, Rich Beeson, punched him in a downtown bar on Mackinac Island.

“I ran into a guy named Rich Beeson, who frankly I didn’t even know who it was at first because he isn’t relevant in our political world,” Yob said.

“He literally physically assaulted me by punching me in the face. The state police are looking for him. I have it on video from multiple angles. This will play out in the national media in the next few hours.”

Shannon Banner, spokesperson for Michigan state police, told the Guardian it was not involved in the investigation, which is being handled by the Mackinac Island police department.


“It wasn’t a brawl,” the Mackinac Island police chief, Brett Riccinto, told the Guardian on Friday. “If anything, it was a shove. Literally, it was a shove. This thing has been blown way, way, way out of proportion.”

Riccinto, however, said a complaint had been made for assault, and it had been forwarded to the prosecutor to decide if charges would be filed. He confirmed the alleged incident occurred at Horn’s Gaslight Bar & Restaurant.
It really is the silly season in Republican politics.