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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, February 04, 2013.

OND is a regular community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary.  Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Creation and early water-bearing of the OND concept came from our very own Magnifico - proper respect is due.


This diary is named for its "Hump Point" video: Lazy River by Louis Armstrong

News below Aunt Flossie's hairdo . . .

Please feel free to browse and add your own links, content or thoughts in the Comments section.

Any timestamps shown are relative to each publication.


Top News
How the Feds Are Ripping You Off To Benefit Big Coal

By Tim McDonnell
. . .

The Government Accountability Office was asked by Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a stalwart climate hawk, to look into whether the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management routinely sells leases to coal mining companies for far less than their market value. Investigators found that BLM agents in Wyoming (by far the country's largest coal producer) set prices based on coal's historic value, but, in contradiction of the department's own rules, fail to take into account how much it will likely be worth in the future. Similar problems were found in other coal-producing states. As a result, the GAO report claims, many leases were sold far beneath their true market value, depriving taxpayers of additional royalties (which, as it stands, come to about $1 billion per year) that are normally skimmed from the mines' profits.

. . .

Since 1990, the federal government has leased 107 parcels of public land for coal mining; these parcels typically account for 25-40 percent of the roughly one billion tons of coal produced annually nationwide. That adds up to a massive carbon footprint: Fossil fuels produced on public land create roughly a billion metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution every year, about as much as 285 coal plants.

. . .

The GAO report found that one of the main shortcomings with the BLM's appraisal process, which takes place behind closed doors and isn't subject to any independent review, was that it didn't account for higher revenues that could result from U.S. coal being shipped overseas. As the Obama administration cracks down on carbon pollution from coal plants, coal producers are sending more of their product abroad, primarily to China and other Asian countries, where it fetches a higher price than it does domestically. Big Coal stands to benefit massively from a series of hotly-contested shipping terminals in the Pacific Northwest that could be built in the next several years; without taking those future revenues into account, coal appears to be worth much less.

. . .

Of course, Kenworthy added, the appraisal process also doesn't at all consider the social costs of coal consumption (read: climate change and health impacts). Sixteen coal leases have been sold since President Obama took office. "The administration needs to face up to the disconnect between an ambitious climate plan," Kenworthy said, "and these coal lease sales."

Developing nations are expected to bear the brunt of soaring cancer rates over next 20 years: WHO

By Sarah Wolfe
Tuesday is World Cancer Day, and the World Health Organization's 2014 World Cancer Report served as a grim reminder of how far the world is from winning this particular battle.

. . .

The growing burden of cancer is already hitting developing countries harder because of reasons ranging from aging populations, to higher rates of infection-related cancers, and cancers associated with industrialized lifestyles.

Currently, Africa, Asia, and Central and South America account for more than 60 percent of the world's cancer cases and around 70 percent of the world's cancer deaths, according to the report.

. . .

"Despite exciting advances, the report shows that we cannot treat our way out of the cancer problem," Dr. Christopher Wild, director if the International Agency for Research on Cancer and joint author of the report, told CNN.

"More commitment to prevention and early detection is desperately needed in order to complement improved treatments and address the alarming rise in cancer burden globally."

Morgan Stanley to pay out $1.25bn to settle lawsuit

By (BBC)
US banking giant Morgan Stanley has agreed to pay $1.25bn (£765.5m) to settle a lawsuit over the sale of mortgage-backed securities.

The money will be paid to the US regulator that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage guarantee firms.

US taxpayers had to rescue the two firms in 2008 in a bailout worth $187bn during the financial crisis.

. . .

The German bank had been accused of breaking state and federal laws when it sold financial products backed by mortgage loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 2005 and 2007.

. . .

Morgan Stanley's quarterly net income for the October-to-December period last year was more than halved by heavy legal fees relating to the mortgage-backed securities.

Libya says all chemical weapons destroyed

By (Al Jazeera)
Libya has completely destroyed the chemical arsenal it inherited from Muammar Gaddafi, 10 years after the now slain leader signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz announced.

The completion of the disarmament process, begun under the ousted regime but was interrupted by the NATO-backed uprising that overthrew it, comes as the much bigger operation underway in Syria is seriously behind schedule to the mounting alarm of the West.

. . .

"This achievement would not have been possible in such a short time, without concerted efforts within an international partnership, or without the logistical support and the technical assistance from Canada, Germany and the USA, which provided the opportunity to use very advanced, safe and reliable technology."

. . .

The OPCW chief said Libya still held stocks of low-grade Category 2 precursor chemicals but that a programme had been put in place to destroy them by the end of 2016.

Myanmar journalists arrested over 'chemical weapons' report

By (AFP via
Authorities in Myanmar have detained several journalists after they published allegations of a military facility producing chemical weapons, according to their newspaper editor, as a media watchdog raised fears over press freedom.

. . .

The newspaper said the arrests were linked to an article claiming that the country's military was operating a chemical weapons factory in Pauk, in the central Magway region, under the instructions of former strongman junta chief Than Shwe.

. . .

"The fact that journalists can be charged with revealing state secrets shows how desperately Burma needs meaningful legal reform," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative, using the country's former name.

. . .

The United States Treasury in December levelled sanctions against a Myanmar military official and three businesses in the country for trading arms with North Korea.

European shares fall after heavy losses in Asia and the US

By (BBC)
Stock markets across Europe have fallen, following steep declines in Asia and the US.

. . .

Investors have been rattled by weak factory data from both the US and China - the world's two biggest economies.

. . .

"Combine that with the fact emerging market currencies continue to sell off, and things don't look too good for the market now."

. . .

At the same time, many analysts have predicted that global markets are due for a correction, not least because of the sharp rise that has been seen over the past few months.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
Obama secures money to connect schools to Internet

By Eyder Peralta
President Obama said Tuesday that high-tech companies have pledged more than $750 million in equipment and services to help connect more of the nation's students to high-speed Internet.

Money from Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and other companies, combined with $2 billion from the Federal Communications Commission, will help connect up to 15,000 schools and 20 million students.

. . .

"In a country where we expect free Wi-Fi with our coffee, we should definitely demand it in our schools," Obama said during his appearance at Buck Lodge Middle School:

Here's Why the CBO Thinks Obamacare Will Reduce Employment Among the Poor

By Kevin Drum
. . .

Why will Obamacare reduce employment? Because it's a job killer? Because employers will push lots of workers into part-time positions? Because its taxes on the well-off will crater the economy?

No. Those effects are tiny at best. It's much simpler than that. Obamacare will reduce employment primarily because it's a means-tested welfare program, and means-tested programs always reduce employment among the poor:

. . .

If, for example, earning $100 in additional income means a $25 reduction in Obamacare subsidies, you're only getting $75 for your extra work. At the margins, some people will decide that's not worth it, so they'll forego working extra hours. That's the substitution effect. In addition, low-income workers covered by Obamacare will have lower medical bills. This makes them less desperate for additional money, and might also cause them to forego working extra hours. That's the income effect.

This is not something specific to Obamacare. It's a shortcoming in all means-tested welfare programs. It's basically Welfare 101, and in over half a century, no one has really figured out how to get around it. It's something you just have to accept if you support safety net programs for the poor.

New York tackles the pre-school gap

By Sean Coughlan
New York's richest are going to have to pay for some of New York's youngest, under new Mayor Bill de Blasio's flagship plan for more pre-school places.

The proposed tax on those earning above $500,000 (£307,000) would provide free, full-day pre-school classes for every four-year-old.

. . .

President Barack Obama hailed the importance in his state of the union address last week, welcoming that 30 states were raising funds for more pre-school places.

. . .

And he promised to put together a coalition of political leaders, businesses and philanthropists to campaign for widening access to pre-school education across the US.

. . .

"Universal pre-K" - that's K for kindergarten - has become an unlikely political hot topic. Local news websites are filled with photos of suit-and-tie politicians crouched on tiny infant chairs.

Welcome to the "Hump Point" of this OND.

News can be sobering and engrossing - at this point in the diary, an offering of brief escapism:

Random notes related to this video:
I don't know how "Up A Lazy River" ever made it past a music publishing editor. The melody line is dominated by awkward leaps and a very wide range. Trained voices have a hard time negotiating the tune (especially the younger singers who don't know the song from recordings), and it must be nearly impossible for a layman to sing or whistle the song accurately. Yet somehow this song became one of Hoagy Carmichael's biggest hits. I suspect Louis Armstrong deserves some of the credit. On this recording (which was a big hit for Louis), he uses the ultimate economy by reducing Carmichael's melody to a single (and oh-so-right) pitch. His opening trumpet solo hints at the melodic reduction to come, and when the saxes play the original melody, they sound terribly old-fashioned, and only Louis' vocal retorts make the passage listenable. . .
Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
Climate change means more wildfires, and that means lots more air pollution

By John Upton
Wildfires not only jeopardize lives and property. They also cause air pollution — from planet-warming carbon dioxide to health-endangering soot and nitrogen oxides. This pollution can trigger hospital visits. It can also hamper agricultural output, and damage forests and other ecosystems.

. . .

Scientists analyzed future climate and population scenarios for the state and forecast that air pollution from wildfires in California could increase by between 19 and 101 percent by the end of the century. They found that the worst effects will likely be experienced in Northern California, particularly in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and in the Klamath-Siskiyou region at Oregon’s border.

. . .

California’s current epic drought will likely lead to another year of epic blazes. The region is so tinder-dry that there have already been 400 wildfires in the state this year. “The conditions we are experiencing right now are similar to what we would be seeing in August — that’s how dry it is,” a Cal Fire spokesperson told The Fresno Bee. “Even though the calendar says it’s February and it’s winter, conditions are primed for wildfires.”

Tunisia’s new constitution calls for climate protection

By (John Upton)
Tunisia, the country that kicked off the Arab Spring in 2010, has now finalized a new constitution. It ensures gender equality and rejects Sharia law. And it does another awesome thing that only two nations before it have done: It commits the country to contribute to the protection of the climate for future generations. . .

This isn’t just a case of saying nice words about an environmental crisis. The constitution obliges the government to act against global warming – and experts say that obligation could spill over into international arenas. Here’s the Toronto Star with more on that:

. . .

. . .

Tunisia, he said, has not only given its citizens the right to ask their government to deal with climate change — it has also “elevated the concept (of climate change) to one of an international law.”

. . .

. . .

Oh, and one more cool thing: Tunisia’s constitution also says the “state shall provide the necessary means to eliminate environmental pollution.”

Mineral deposits in Uganda's Karamoja heighten human rights abuse – report

By Alon Mwesigwa
Huge mineral deposits in Uganda's Karamoja region, expected to regenerate the conflict-ravaged area, could instead further deepen the suffering of people living there, a report has warned.

. . .

"[But] as companies have begun to explore and mine the area, communities are voicing serious fears of land grabs, environment damage, and lack of information as to how and when they will see improved access to basic services or other positive impacts."

From the frayed outposts in Moroto district to Rata in Amudat district and Nakapiripirit, gold lies in every tiny pocket of Karamoja, Uganda's most marginalised region in the country's north-east. This has generated huge interest from private companies. Meanwhile, the indigenous people engaged in artisanal mining are being edged out.

. . .

Uganda's first lady, Janet Museveni, heads the ministry championing the transformation of this region – and while she has tried to develop Karamoja by courting donors such as the World Bank to pour money into it, progress has been slow.

The HRW report is based on research conducted in Uganda between May and November 2013, examining the activities of companies operating in the region and interviews with the local people, some of them actively engaged in mining.

Science and Health
Beating pain and painkillers: New mental intervention treatment

By (ScienceDaily)
With nearly one-third of Americans suffering from chronic pain, prescription opioid painkillers have become the leading form of treatment for this debilitating condition. Unfortunately, misuse of prescription opioids can lead to serious side effects -- including death by overdose. A new treatment developed by University of Utah researcher Eric Garland has shown to not only lower pain but also decrease prescription opioid misuse among chronic pain patients.

Results of a study by Garland published online Feb. 3 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, showed that the new treatment led to a 63 percent reduction in opioid misuse, compared to a 32 percent reduction among participants of a conventional support group. Additionally, participants in the new treatment group experienced a 22 percent reduction in pain-related impairment, which lasted for three months after the end of treatment.

. . .

Among the skills taught by MORE were a daily 15-minute mindfulness practice session guided by a CD and three minutes of mindful breathing prior to taking opioid medication. This practice was intended to increase awareness of opioid craving -- helping participants clarify whether opioid use was driven by urges versus a legitimate need for pain relief.

. . .

MORE is currently being tested in a pilot brain imaging trial as a smoking cessation treatment, and there are plans to test the intervention with people suffering from mental health problems who also have alcohol addiction. Further testing on active-duty soldiers with chronic pain and a larger trial among civilians is planned. If studies continue to demonstrate positive outcomes, MORE could be prescribed by doctors as an adjunct to traditional pain management services.

Embrace the cold: Evidence that shivering and exercise may convert white fat to brown

By (ScienceDaily)
A new study suggests that shivering and bouts of moderate exercise are equally capable of stimulating the conversion of energy-storing 'white fat' into energy-burning 'brown fat'.

. . .

We are all born with supplies of brown fat around our necks, nature's way of helping to keep us warm as infants. Until only a few years ago, it was thought to vanish in early infancy, but we now know that brown fat is present in most, if not all, adults. Adults with more brown fat are slimmer than those without.

. . .

"We speculate exercise could be mimicking shivering -- because there is muscle contraction during both processes, and that exercise-stimulated irisin could have evolved from shivering in the cold."

"From a clinical point of view, irisin and FGF21 represent a cold-stimulated hormone system, which was previously unknown, and may be harnessed in future obesity therapeutics through brown fat activation."

Bioethics and the Dogma of “Brain Death”

By Franklin G. Miller and Robert D. Truog
Two cases involving “brain death” have received considerable public attention, including commentary by several well-known bioethicists. In commenting on these cases the bioethicists have stated, in no uncertain terms, that an individual correctly diagnosed as “brain dead” is dead, pure and simple.  Contrary to appearances of being alive, in reality the “brain dead” individual is a corpse.  These statements are misleading because they have ignored the long-standing controversy and debate in the professional literature over the determination of death:  specifically, whether individuals diagnosed as “brain dead” should be considered dead and, if so, why they are dead.  

One of the recent cases involved Jahi McMath, a young patient who suffered massive brain injury following an operation; her parents have insisted that she is alive and that mechanical ventilation and other life-sustaining treatment should be maintained.  In the other case a hospital, appealing to state law, continued life-sustaining treatment for a Marlise Munoz, a pregnant “brain dead” woman, over the objection of her family. That treatment ended earlier this week after a Texas judge ruled in favor of the family.

. . .

The upshot, we have argued, is that the “brain dead” remain alive, although without any chance of recovering consciousness or breathing spontaneously.  It is possible that we are mistaken.  Perhaps a cogent rationale can be developed for why the “brain dead” are dead consistent with a biological conception of death; perhaps a consciousness-based standard for determining death can be defended, despite the theoretical and practical difficulties that such a view must face.  What is unmistakable, however, is that there is no consensus in the bioethics literature that “brain death” constitutes death.  Indeed, this is signified unequivocally by the title (and content) of a 2008 report by The President’s Council on Bioethics, “Controversies in the Determination of Death.”

. . .

 In the absence of certain death, the resolution of the ethical issues is less obvious.  It can be argued that, with some exceptions, there is no point in continuing life-sustaining treatment for individuals who have been correctly diagnosed as “brain dead.”  Exceptions include procuring organs for transplantation, which was not at stake in either of these two cases, or to gestate a fetus when this is consistent with the prior preference of the “brain dead” individual or the substituted judgment of the family.  The rationale for stopping life-sustaining treatment is not that these individuals are known to be dead already; rather, continued life-sustaining treatment in the hospital for individuals who have no chance of recovering from a comatose state is a misuse of this scarce resource.  More complex is the issue of transferring  the “brain dead” patient to a long-term care facility at the insistence of the family, as was the case with Jahi McMath, and whether that option should be supported by public funding.

Pain 'dimmer switch' discovered by UK scientists

By Helen Briggs
Twins sharing 100% of genes have different pain thresholds, which can potentially be altered by lifestyle or medication, say researchers at King's College, London.

. . .

Sensitivity to pain is complex, with wide individual variation. Previous studies have suggested about half of the influence is explained by genes.

. . .

Research into the switching on and off of genes, a process known as epigenetic regulation, is a big growth area for the development of new medicines.

. . .

"This landmark study shows how identical twins, when combined with the latest technology to look at millions of epigenetic signals, can be used to find the small chemical switches in our genes that make us all unique - and in this case respond to pain differently."

Model predicts growth, death of membership-based websites

By (ScienceDaily)
Facebook, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, is a proven success in what the late Nobel laureate Herbert Simon called "the marketplace of attention." A new model devised at Carnegie Mellon University assesses the viability of websites and social networks in this new attention economy to predict which sites are sustainable and which are not.

. . .

In addition to separating the self-sustaining from the unsustainable sites, the model was able to discern which sites grew primarily from word of mouth, such as Facebook, and LinkedIn, and those powered by media and marketing, such as The Blaze, Bandstack and OccupyWallSt.

. . .

"If this model is correct, social network sites will try to make your friends' lives seem more interesting and your feedback on their posts more urgent," Ribeiro said. Many teens, for instance, seem glued to their smartphones for fear of missing something that might get posted on a social site by or about a friend. "From the model's perspective it is beneficial for companies to be encouraging this type of behavior," he added.

The Only Thing Keeping the F-35 Lightning Relevant Is the F-22 Raptor

By Andrew Tarantola
Even if they are primarily just cheap knockoffs, China's rapidly growing fleet of next-gen aircraft are poised to seriously challenge American air superiority in the coming years. To prevent that, argues Chief of U.S. Air Force Air Command Command Gen. Michael Hostage, we'll need plenty of fifth-generation fighters of our own—no matter the cost.

. . .

What's more, even were the F-35, which is utilized for air-to-ground attacks and reconnaissance missions, defended by modernized F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons, as Air Force brass has requested, it wouldn't be enough. "If you gave me all the money I needed to refurbish the F-15 and the F-16 fleets," he continued, "they would still become tactically obsolete by the middle of the next decade. Our adversaries are building fleets that will overmatch our legacy fleet, no matter what I do, by the middle of the next decade."

The only problem, according to the General, is that the F-22s initially shipped "with computers that were already so out of date you would not find them in a kid's game console in somebody's home gaming system." These planes now must go through a costly upgrade process just to make them useful. To free up budget space to keep the F-22s updated, Gen. Hostage conceded that the USAF would look into retiring the venerable A-10 Warthog, a workhorse of the current fleet.

Governor of Japan broadcaster NHK denies Nanjing massacre

By (BBC)
A governor of Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, has denied that the Nanjing massacre took place, days after a row over Tokyo's use of war-time sex slaves engulfed the new NHK chief.

Naoki Hyakuta made his comments as he campaigned for a right-wing candidate in the Tokyo gubernatorial election.

. . .

Mr Hyakuta's comments come days after the broadcaster's new head, Katsuto Momii, said that the Japanese military's use of sex slaves during World War Two was a practice common in any country at war.

. . .

But he later apologised, saying: "It is my lack of discretion in that I didn't understand the various rules. I think it was very inappropriate that I made the comments at such places."

China says up to 300,000 civilians and soldiers died in Nanjing over the winter of 1937-38 after the Japanese military entered the city. Some Japanese historians dispute these figures.

South Korea: Kim Il-sung 'worship' declared illegal

By (BBC)
Jo Young-nam apparently went to North Korea in 1995. He travelled through Germany, Japan and China to get there, and later claimed political asylum in Germany. He was arrested in 2012 when he returned to South Korea's capital, Seoul.

A lower court had ruled Jo's visit was akin to sightseeing. But South Korea's Supreme Court says Jo was supporting North Korean ideology when he saw Kim Il-sung's embalmed body at an extravagant mausoleum in Pyongyang, leading it to ban the activity for all South Korean citizens.

. . .

Kim is still seen as the "eternal president" of North Korea, though he died in 1994. His body lies in state beside his son Kim Jong-il at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace - a place of pilgrimage for North Koreans. Visitors there usually bow reverently and sometimes cry. But under South Korea's strict national security laws, support for the regime in North Korea is forbidden.

Sexism is rife in classical music

By James Rhodes
Classical music is not dying (pace yet another overly-enthusiastic report at but there are clearly many problems in the industry.

Most of them are brought on by those of us in the business itself, be it the musicians (who are for the most part precious, egocentric, grandiose and socially stunted), the gatekeepers (narcissistic, obtuse, living in the past, as resistant to change as they are entrenched in their cliques) or the record labels (risk-averse and budget-deprived, relying on their back catalogue as a life raft).

. . .

It's a problem that was highlighted last summer when Marin Alsop became the first woman to conduct the last night of the Proms in its nearly-120-year history, prompting headlines and snide comments both in public and in private. Vasily Petrenko, an award-winning, aggressively talented young conductor talked on record about how women conductors are a "sexual distraction" for the orchestra.

. . .

Many orchestras, especially in the US, are now auditioning blind, with participants playing behind screens, and there has been an exponential increase in women being hired as a result – one study shows the likelihood of progressing beyond the preliminary round increases by 50% for women in these kinds of auditions. Now orchestras need to improve their childcare support and eradicate the patriarchal legacy inspired by the likes of the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics in order to make things gel.

Good looks have long helped to compensate for a lack of talent across the entire music industry. But the sexualised marketing of young women, particularly, in classical music has also now become normalised. Witness (the undoubtedly hugely talented) Yuja Wang's barefoot performances complete with interval dress changes, see the hundreds of PR shots of the kind that keep teenage boys locked in their bedrooms for everyone from Hélène Grimaud to Alison Balsom. Some album cover portraits for female artists could double as escort agency profile pics. Publicity for young male artists is increasingly sexualised too, but not to anything like the same degree.

Meteor Blades is known to offer an enlightening Evening Open Diary - you might consider checking that out tonight if you haven't already.
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Comment Preferences

  •  No, it isn't Heaven. (25+ / 0-)

    Greetings, all.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 09:36:28 PM PST

  •  4 Arrested In Connection With Hoffman Drugs (14+ / 0-)

    From CNN: New York police have taken in for questioning four people thought to be connected to the drugs in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment

    New York police have taken in for questioning four people who are believed to be connected to the drugs found in late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment, a New York law enforcement official told CNN Tuesday night.

    When police were called to Hoffman's fourth-floor Manhattan apartment Sunday, they found the actor lying on the bathroom floor with a syringe in his left arm. He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, his eyeglasses still resting on his head, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the inquiry.

    Investigators discovered close to 50 envelopes of what they believed was heroin in the apartment, the law enforcement sources said. They also found used syringes, prescription drugs and empty bags that authorities suspect are used to hold heroin, the sources told CNN.

    Also Tuesday, preliminary tests showed the heroin recovered from the apartment does not contain fentanyl, a law enforcement official told CNN.

  •  World War I & II Comparisons Coming From Pacific (13+ / 0-)

    From the New York Times: Philippine Leader Sounds Alarm on China

    President Benigno S. Aquino III called on Tuesday for nations around the world to do more to support the Philippines in resisting China’s assertive claims to the seas near his country, drawing a comparison to the West’s failure to support Czechoslovakia against Hitler’s demands for Czech land in 1938.

    Like Czechoslovakia, the Philippines faces demands to surrender territory piecemeal to a much stronger foreign power and needs more robust foreign support for the rule of international law if it is to resist, President Aquino said in a 90-minute interview in the wood-paneled music room of the presidential palace.

    “If we say yes to something we believe is wrong now, what guarantee is there that the wrong will not be further exacerbated down the line?” he said. He later added, “At what point do you say, ‘Enough is enough’? Well, the world has to say it — remember that the Sudetenland was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War II.”

    About two weeks ago, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe caused a bit of a stir when he compared the situation between Japan and China as being similar to the relationship between Germany and Britain before World War I.

    Mr. Abe's comparison was in response to a question about whether the economic ties between China and Japan would be enough to dissuade a conflict, with Abe pointing out that both Germany and Britain were strong trade partners before they started killing each other in trench warfare.

  •  Changes At Microsoft (11+ / 0-)

    From the AP: Microsoft CEO to Focus on Mobile, Cloud Technology

    As longtime Microsoft insider Satya Nadella takes the company's helm, he is declaring a new focus on a "mobile-first, cloud-first world." So far, he only has the latter half of the formula figured out. Microsoft and its new CEO are trying to catch rivals such as Apple, Google and Amazon, which are each building their own thriving ecosystems for mobile devices. At the same time, the company wants to expand its burgeoning business as a provider of software and services over the Internet.

    Nadella, head of Microsoft's cloud computing business, was named Tuesday to be Steve Ballmer's immediate replacement. He is only the third chief executive in Microsoft's 38-year history.

    The 22-year Microsoft veteran has enlisted the help of company founder and first CEO Bill Gates, who is leaving his role as chairman to serve a more hands-on role as an adviser at Nadella's request. Gates will spend a third of his time working on products and technology.

    Nadella, 46, led the company's small but growing cloud computing unit, in which customers pay Microsoft to house data and run applications on distant servers connected to the Internet. Those services are a departure from Microsoft's traditional business of making software for installation directly onto personal computers.

    In addition to growing that business, one of Nadella's first tasks as CEO will be to complete Microsoft Inc.'s $7.3 billion purchase of Nokia's phone business and patent rights — part of a plan to boost Windows Phone software in a market dominated by iPhones and Android devices.

    There are also rumors Microsoft is rethinking some of the "Metro" features in Windows 8. It's been reported that a future update to Windows 8.1 will have the OS boot directly to the desktop instead of the Metro interface. This is already an option in 8.1, but the rumors say Microsoft will make it the default in the next update to 8.1, since most Windows users still have a keyboard and mouse instead of a touchscreen display.

    After restoring the Start Button with 8.1, another rumor floating around is that Microsoft will finally restore a proper "Start Menu" in an update to 8.1 (possibly Windows 8.2).

  •  Gen. Michael Hostage??????? (10+ / 0-)

    Meet Major Bat Guano,Major T. J. "King" Kong and I believe you know General Jack D Ripper

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 09:46:20 PM PST

  •  Thank you wader. (8+ / 0-)

    Fining banks for destroying the economic welfare of millions seems so fruitless.

    Wonderful OND.

    The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by maggiejean on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 09:54:48 PM PST

  •  I really enjoyed (9+ / 0-)

    the Louis Armstrong piece. I hadn't heard it for years.

    Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

    by side pocket on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 09:55:58 PM PST

  •  The undervalued over-50 American worker (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maggiejean, anyname, wader, Aunt Pat

    Star Tribune: Over 50, working against time in America's harsh job market

    As hard as he tried, Michael Duffy couldn’t find a job to match the one he’d lost.

    For two decades he earned six figures selling equipment to factories. But at 62, he kept getting turned away, one job interview after another.

    So last fall he started at Starbucks.

    He wears a green apron, wipes tables, mans a cash register that he’s gradually learning and banters with people who order an espresso breve or a Caramel Brulée Latte. He has natural rapport with customers, especially older ones, enjoys winning people over and likes taking care of them.

    But he makes less in a day than he did in a half-hour at the peak of his sales career.

    “The pay isn’t what we would all hope,” Duffy, of Eden Prairie, said the day he started. “But it’s something to do and it’s great benefits and we’ll see where it goes.”

  •  MH-CHAOS (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, PhilJD, Aunt Pat


    Last month, former Congressman Otis Pike died, and no one seemed to notice or care. That’s scary, because Pike led the House’s most intensive and threatening hearings into US intelligence community abuses, far more radical and revealing than the better-known Church Committee’s Senate hearings that took place at the same time.

    That Pike could die today in total obscurity, during the peak of the Snowden NSA scandal, is, as they say, a “teachable moment” —one probably not lost on today’s already spineless political class.

    In mid-1975, Rep. Pike was picked to take over the House select committee investigating the US intelligence community after the first committee chairman, a Michigan Democrat named Nedzi, was overthrown by more radical liberal Democrats fired up by Watergate after they learned that Nedzi had suppressed information about the CIA’s illegal domestic spying program, MH-CHAOS, exposed by Seymour Hersh in late 1974.

    It was Hersh’s exposés on the CIA domestic spying program targeting American dissidents and antiwar activists that led to the creation of the Church Committee and what became known as the Pike Committee, after Nedzi was tossed overboard

    March 10, 1976

    Pike Charges C.I.A. Effort At Retaliation for Findings; Accuses Agency of Seeking to Discredit Him and Congress So as to Gloss Over Report by House Select Committee PIKE SEES EFFORT TO DISCREDIT HIM

    If you WANT ACCESS to affordable health care then you should vote for a Democrat. If you DON'T WANT ACCESS to affordable health care then you should vote for a Republican.

    by anyname on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 01:30:43 AM PST

    •  cold war (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, Aunt Pat

      operation chaos


      Operation CHAOS or Operation MHCHAOS was the code name for a domestic espionage project conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency.

      A department within the CIA was established in 1967 on orders from President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson and later expanded under President Richard Nixon.

      The operation was launched under Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Richard Helms, by chief of counter-intelligence, James Jesus Angleton, and headed by Richard Ober.

      The program's goal was to unmask possible foreign influences on the student antiwar movement. The "MH" designation is to signify the program had a worldwide area of operations.

      If you WANT ACCESS to affordable health care then you should vote for a Democrat. If you DON'T WANT ACCESS to affordable health care then you should vote for a Republican.

      by anyname on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 01:34:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  influence (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        petral, wader, Aunt Pat

        Operation Mockingbird


        Operation Mockingbird was a secret campaign by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to influence media. Begun in the 1950s, it was initially organized by Cord Meyer and Allen W. Dulles, it was later led by Frank Wisner after Dulles became the head of the CIA.

        The organization recruited leading American journalists into a network to help present the CIA's views, and funded some student and cultural organizations, and magazines as fronts. As it developed, it also worked to influence foreign media and political campaigns, in addition to activities by other operating units of the CIA.

        CIA influence on public opinion


        At various times, under its own authority or in accordance with directives from the President of the United States or the National Security Council staff, the Central Intelligence Agency has attempted to influence domestic and international public opinion, and sometimes law enforcement.

        This is an area with many shades of gray. There is little argument, for example, that the CIA acted inappropriately in providing technical support to White House operatives conducting both political and security investigations, with no legal authority to do so.

        While there is an established history of assigning responsibilities for international psychological operations to various organizations, depending if the operation is overt or clandestine, there are also questions of the wisdom of a particular operation.

        MOCKINGBIRD: The Subversion Of The Free Press By The CIA
        "You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month." - CIA operative discussing with Philip Graham, editor Washington Post, on the availability and prices of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories.

        "Katherine The Great," by Deborah Davis (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1991)

        "The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." -- William Colby, former CIA Director, cited by Dave Mcgowan, Derailing Democracy
        "There is quite an incredible spread of relationships. You don't need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are [Central Intelligence] Agency people at the management level." -- William B. Bader, former CIA intelligence officer, briefing members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, The CIA and the Media, by Carl Bernstein
        "The Agency's relationship with [The New York] Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. [It was] general Times policy ... to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible." -- The CIA and the Media, by Carl Bernstein
        "Senator William Proxmire has pegged the number of employees of the federal intelligence community at 148,000 ... though Proxmire's number is itself a conservative one. The "intelligence community" is officially defined as including only those organizations that are members of the U.S. Intelligence Board (USIB); a dozen other agencies, charged with both foreign and domestic intelligence chores, are not encompassed by the term.... The number of intelligence workers employed by the federal government is not 148,000, but some undetermined multiple of that number." -- Jim Hougan, Spooks
        "For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government.... I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations." --former President Harry Truman, 22 December 1963, one month after the JFK assassination, op-ed section of the Washington Post, early edition

        If you WANT ACCESS to affordable health care then you should vote for a Democrat. If you DON'T WANT ACCESS to affordable health care then you should vote for a Republican.

        by anyname on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 03:10:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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