Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when
we're not too hungover we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it's PhilJD's fault.
This Day in History
Lindley Armstrong Jones was a musical prodigy, primarily in percussion though he could play other instruments as well. His father was a Railroad executive and a chef who worked for the company taught him how to use ordinary objects to create complex and melodic compositions (you know of course that a piano is a percussion instrument).
He's probably best known for this piece-
In the early days of television he took his already incredibly successful touring company into the studio and produced some memorable work with other giants of film and radio.
The Bubblegum Girls
Junk Box Jury
Run for the Roses
Oh yes, this will work. Totally.
European Firms Seek to Minimize Russia Sanctions
By ALISON SMALE and DANNY HAKIM, The New York Times
APRIL 25, 2014
European banks and businesses are far more exposed to the Russian economy than are their American counterparts. Trade between the European Union and Russia amounted to almost $370 billion in 2012, while United States trade with Russia was about $26 billion that year.So, how is that neocon Imperialist foreign policy working out for you?
As a result, they have lobbied energetically to head off or at least dilute any sanctions, making it hard for American and European political leaders to come up with a package of measures with enough bite to influence Moscow’s behavior in Ukraine.
Alexander Medvedev, the No. 2 at Gazprom, said that his company had done everything possible to keep gas flowing to both Ukraine and Europe, but that the time of a financial reckoning was near, alluding to the $18.5 billion that he said Ukraine owed. How, he asked, can a publicly traded company like Gazprom keep contractual promises and make needed investments with such a cash shortfall from a slippery customer? Perhaps, he suggested, Ukraine’s Western friends would like to help meet these bills.
FCC asserts new set of net neutrality rules will preserve 'open internet'
Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian
Thursday 24 April 2014 14.54 EDT
The federal communications commission said that it proposed to allow services that take up a large amount of bandwith to pay for preferential treatment. The regulator said that its proposal would include safeguards to protect consumers and to prevent the limiting of competition and free speech.Still up and deservedly so-
Consumer advocates say the proposed system would inevitably allow rich internet giants such as Netflix, Google and Facebook to maintain their edge over startups because they can pay to ensure faster connections and clearer, uninterrupted video.
It could result in higher prices for consumers who pay for Netflix and similar online services, as the cost of speedier treatment could be passed on. It also could create a new revenue stream for internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast or Verizon.
CIA torture architect breaks silence to defend 'enhanced interrogation'
Jason Leopold, The Guardian
Friday 18 April 2014 11.12 EDT
In an uncompromising and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, his first public remarks since he was linked to the program in 2007, James Mitchell was dismissive of a Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture in which he features, and which is currently at the heart of an intense row between legislators and the agencyKuwait, a U.S. ally on Syria, is also the leading funder of extremist rebels
Mitchell, who was reported to have personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains unrepentant. “The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time,” he said. “You can't ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.”
The committee's chair, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has said the report “exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation”. She added: "It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”
By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post
Published: April 25
Kuwait, a U.S. ally whose aid to besieged Syrian civilians has been surpassed only by the United States this year, is also the leading source of funding for al-Qaeda-linked terrorists fighting in Syria’s civil war, according to Obama administration officials.The best way to view this is in terms of the TPP which allows corporations (hey, they're people too) to sue governments in arbitration courts where they pay all the advocates and judges for forgone revenue-
The amount of money that has flowed from Kuwaiti individuals and through organized charities to Syrian rebel groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra totals in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to experts whose estimates are endorsed by the Treasury Department.
Adding to the agitation within the Obama administration is the presence in the Kuwaiti cabinet of a figure who U.S. officials charge is a major terror financier.
The appointment this year of Nayef al-Ajmi as minister for justice and Islamic affairs was a “step in the wrong direction,” Cohen said at a speech to the Washington-based Center for a New American Security. Ajmi, he said, “has a history of promoting jihad. ... In fact, his image has been featured on fundraising posters” for Jabhat al-Nusra.
How Obama Shocked Harper as Keystone's Frustrator-in-Chief
By Edward Greenspon, Andrew Mayeda, Rebecca Penty and Theophilos Argitis, Bloomberg News
By the time Harper hung up, according to people with knowledge of the episode, he had sized up the potential economic calamity for Canada and its oil ambitions. Western Canada’s land-locked Alberta oil sands hold roughly 168 billion recoverable barrels of heavy crude known as bitumen. America gobbles up almost all of Canada’s oil exports. An energy research group in Calgary had run the math: If Keystone died, it could cost Canada C$632 billion ($573 billion) in foregone growth over 25 years -- 94 percent of it from the economy of Alberta, the province Harper calls home.GM Engulfed By Inquiries as Stakes Over Recall Rise
By Greg Gordon, McClatchy
April 25, 2014
The fallout over the ignition switch defects, which have been blamed for at least 13 deaths and more than 30 crashes, has seemed to grow by the day despite the company’s pledges of full cooperation with all of the investigative bodies, in keeping with Barra’s declaration that the new GM will do things “the right way.”So is this ripped from today's headlines or what?
Essentially, the investigations and a deluge of lawsuits share this common theme: that GM allegedly hid defects in the vehicles from consumers, regulators and even shareholders for years, through the company’s near financial collapse, its bailout by federal taxpayers and its turnaround under a corporate board dominated by U.S. Treasury Department designees, even as the carnage from vehicle crashes mounted. Barra says she didn’t learn of the problems until Jan. 31st, shortly before a series of recalls began.
One key issue will be how General Motors, guided by disaster-fund guru Kenneth Feinberg, will choose to deal with victims, given that some of the fatalities and injuries occurred before the firm’s 2009 federal bankruptcy filing, a move that usually shields companies from paying damages for events before it sought court protection from its creditors. However, in announcing the retention of Feinberg, Barra said he would guide the firm in how to compensate victims, and GM hasn’t ruled out any action.
Another big issue will be how far the Justice Department might go in seeking criminal sanctions, just weeks after inking an unprecedented, $1.2 billion criminal settlement with Japanese giant Toyota over similar concealment of defects that caused gas pedals in Lexuses and other models to stick to the floor at full throttle.
A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.1999.
Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?
You wouldn't believe.
Which car company do you work for?
A major one.
The Prelude to the End of the American Era
By Ian Welsh
2014 April 25
And so it begins. Russia is not restraining the separatists, the Kiev government is finally really sending in the troops, Barack Obama and EU leaders claim they will impose real sanctions and Russia and China are set to ink a deal to export Russian Gas to China, the world’s industrial heartland.
If the sanctions are imposed, for whatever reason (Russian invasion or not), they will force the creation of a second economic, non-dollar bloc. Russia is not Iran, and China is not going to cut off Russia to please the West, rather the contrary. The creation of a real non dollar bloc which can make almost anything people want, and which has access to essentially all key resources from oil to rare minerals, metals and food is an existential threat to the hegemony of the West and its allies like Japan and Korea.
Absent China, Russia cannot be isolated. Cannot. China is unlikely to cooperate. Sure, they could view eastern Russia near their borders as ripe, but Russia as a subordinate state in the Chinese sphere means they get everything they really need from the Russians anyway, plus military confrontation.
The Chinese are not stupid, they know that if a real war breaks out, it will be between them and America. They are the rising power, the naturally most powerful and militarily powerful state in the world, recovering from a hiatus of a few centuries where they lost their status. Russia has a lot to offer them, and the Chinese cannot be coerced by sanctions. Sanctioning China would backfire so hard that the US was go into a real economic collapse: China makes the goods. Sanction them, and they WILL break the patents and just make them anyway. Reestablishing the manufacturing and distributing base back to the US and its allies under such circumstances would be unbelievably difficult, especially as Russia, China and its allies control certain key resources like rare earths (other people could mine them in quantity, but don’t, because Chinese rare earths are cheaper and we are stupid and greedy.
Over Ukraine? I guarantee that if this is done in 50 years historians will look back on this like we do on WWI—what were they thinking? The Balkans wasn’t worth WWI. Ukraine isn’t worth destroying American: Western, hegemony. Well, not for America. Others might think this is more of a good thing than bad.
But it is also the potential glide path to war, real war. WWIII.
You should really watch this. Yes, it is long. It is also true. Duck and cover.
State Dept Launches 'Free the Press' Campaign Same Day DOJ Asks Supreme Court To Jail Reporter By Trevor Timm, Techdirt
Fri, Apr 25th 2014 7:39pm
As Gerstein noted, "The Justice Department brief is unflinchingly hostile to the idea of the Supreme Court creating or finding protections for journalists," and if the Justice Department succeeds "it could place President Barack Obama in the awkward position of presiding over the jailing of a journalist in an administration the president has vowed to make the most transparent in history."A Lesson From History
(I)t's clear that the US government still refuses to walk the walk when providing journalists the protections it says it believes in.
by Charles Pierce, Esquire
April 25, 2014
The "compromise" was struck as a result of a 15-member commission that had been appointed by Congress instead of allowing the constitutional process of settling contested presidential elections to go forward in the House of Representatives. (Think of it as the Simpson-Bowles Commission of its time.) This may be the greatest argument against the Gatherings of Wise Men theory of democracy that you can cite. And, as we know all too well, jerry-rigged solutions to contested presidential elections never, ever, turn out well.Worse than Chernobyl (noted above).
Fukushima Didn’t Just Suffer 3 Meltdowns … It Also Suffered Melt-THROUGHS and Melt-OUTS
April 25, 2014
The Evening Blues - 4-25-14
by joe shikspack, Daily Kos
Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 05:00 PM PDT
Paul ButterfieldPeople Assume
LaEscapee, Daily Kos
Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 06:20 PM PDT
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