The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age

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‘Reckless Endangerment’ Authors Interviewed

(or)  How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon

Overview of the book from Barnes and Noble:

In Reckless Endangerment, Gretchen Morgenson, the star business columnist of The New York Times, exposes how the watchdogs who were supposed to protect the country from financial harm were actually complicit in the actions that finally blew up the American economy.

Drawing on previously untapped sources and building on original research from coauthor Joshua Rosner—who himself raised early warnings with the public and investors, and kept detailed records—Morgenson connects the dots that led to this fiasco.

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Massive U.S. Weapons Deals and Obama’s Middle East 'Reset Button'



A couple weeks ago I’d read a piece at Al Jazeera about the President being dismayed that India had rejected the fighter jet deal he had pushed on his recent visit to India.  Apparently India decided that Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin's F-16 failed to meet technical criteria.

The Nation reported that the NYT had this to say:

“In a report from New Delhi, The New York Times described India's decision as "a blow for President (Barack) Obama, who had pushed hard for this and other defence deals during his visit to India in November as part of his agenda to deepen and broaden the United States' relationship with India."

"While political and economic relations between India and the United States have been warming for years, American arms makers have struggled to win big contracts" in New Delhi, it said.
"After decades of frosty relations during the cold war, which pushed India to rely extensively on the Soviet Union for military hardware, many in the Indian defence establishment are still wary of American intentions and United States military aid to Pakistan, India's main adversary," the Times said.”

Now I don’t know about you, but when I read some of the Wilileaked cables that spoke about US Ambassadors pushing deals for arms and weapons systems at cocktail parties, it disturbed me; I was stuck in the past as to the meaning of diplomacy and diplomat; you remember, the old-school talking to each other to solve problems.  Since then, I’d been considering writing a play about the subject except for the fact that a) I don’t know how to write a play and b) I don’t know enough about either the military hardware of the international players to write it as believable satire. 

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Obama’s ME Speech Live: Comments? [Updated]


Tomorrow night, May 19 (time not yet announced), the President will lay out his administration’s role in the Middle East in an attempt to show that it intends to act as a facilitator, not a meddler, and a few other goodies according to his press secretary and aides.

The Hill says:

“The White House is also drawing a great deal of attention to the speech. Carney said Tuesday that the President will make news with the speech with "some specific new ideas about U.S. policy towards the region."

"I can say safely the president will make news on Thursday when he gives this speech," Carney said.

To that end, Carney said Obama will talk specifically "about ways that we can best support that positive change ... while focusing on our core principles: nonviolence, support for human rights and support for political and economic reform. (my bolds throughout)

(Sounds as though the White House really wants attention drawn to the speech.)

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States, Municipalities in Dire Straits: Some Proposals


The above video from Dylan Ratigan’s Friday show was really interesting.  I couldn’t find any direct links to Geithner’s ‘austerity move’ to stop low-interest loans to cities and states, but it sounds enormously counter-productive since most of those governments (if not all) are required to balance their budgets.

I’d run into this piece by Marshall Auerback a few days earlier touting some of James Galbraith’s ideas that would be of help to Obama and the nation; he thinks Republicans could buy into them, given that Nixon used some of the same ideas through community block grants.  He/they are promoting ‘revenue sharing’ with the states, and focus on Medicaid as one helpful vehicle.

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Saving Civilization Through a New Energy Economy

The longest running PBS series Journey to Planet Earth has been airing Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, the name of a book by long-time environmental visionary Lester Brown. 

Narrated by Matt Damon, its mission is to show the various crises and tipping points the planet is reaching, far too many of which are related to, and will be worsened by, climate change due to carbon-based energy dependence.

For some reason the PBS link says the video to the whole program isn’t currently available, and advises we check back.  Please do.  This is another of the issues that really can’t wait, as experts say that only massively changing the way we live our lives right now can head off many of the disastrous effects coming our way: rising sea levels, floods and droughts, food scarcity, failed states, more energy wars, and health crises.  Decreasing availability of potable water will provoke another crisis, but that’s for another day.

Brown and Damon show the various sustainable energy technologies that are being utilized on a grand scale in other nations; Algeria, China and Saudi Arabia, to name a few; and increasingly in a few states in the US.  It’s encouraging, but not nearly enough, say all the experts, and it will require a massive effort similar to FDR’s orders to the various departments of the government and manufacturing sector to retool factories in order to build planes and tanks for WWII, and cut back energy consumption, including transportation and encouraging new models for towns and cities toward that end.

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Where Did All the Black Jockeys Go?

It’s Derby Day, and the Belles and Gents from all over are already getting dressed in their finery and mixing their vats of mint juleps to haul along, though I’d guess that the image I might have of tail-gate parties may be a bit too ‘down-class’ for the parking lots at Churchill Downs in Lou’vlle (gotta say it like ya have enlarged tonsils, remember…).

In the afternoon the crowds of dapper men and spectacularly-hatted women will at least pretend to be singing the old song which starts like this; and will bring a tear to many an eye:

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
'Tis summer, the darkies are gay;
The corn-top's ripe and the meadow's in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.

Taking a hard turn away from the 'gay darkies' trip, a century later some folks are asking what really happened to erase them from the Derby and most big races so completely.  Richard Watkins writing at the Root has some answers based on a newspaper article found by a researcher in Washington DeeCee. 

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They Called Him Geronimo (a poem)

They watched the Towers shudder and fall

In disbelief

Those iconic up-thrust symbols of wealth

Melting in shivering cascades of dust and flesh

Keening wails rose up through choking smoke

As hordes of Banshees took wild flight

In shock they toiled, in shock they mustered, in shock found brotherhood

As they rescued all they could


The world stood still and held its breath, even the skies were silent

Except for the planes that were get-aways, filled with Princes of Saud

So many knew how it was

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His Code Name Was Geronimo

They stole his name, Geronimo, a bad thing to do.  Geronimo, the legendary warrior and leader of the Chiricahua Apache tribe, whose name was cavalierly besmirched  and used as the code name for Osama bin Laden in the operation that was meant to, and did, exterminate him.

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Petraeus as CIA Chief: A Neo-con’s Wet Dream and/or the Road to the Presidency?

When Harry Truman created the CIA in 1947 out of the Office of Strategic Services that had been formed during WW II to coordinate espionage activities against the Axis Powers, Truman wanted a civilian intelligence organization that would bring raw data to him as President, unadulterated by the bias that wouldn’t be “slanted to conform to established positions of a given department.”

It appears that the following year Congress expanded the role of the CIA to include "sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures...subversion [and] assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation movements, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world” [snip]  including “an active Black operations mission has been launched deep under cover into Bolivia.  (Wikipedia asks for citation for the expansion claim.)

By 1963 Truman expressed public dismay at the directions the CIA had evolved:

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White House's Sperling Weighs in on Fracking

We’ve been watching Josh Fox’s documentary Gasland about hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’) , the method used to release natural gas from shale deposits.  Millions of gallons of water, sand  and proprietary chemicals are pumped under high pressure into a drilled well to release the gas.  Many of the 80-300 tons of chemicals per frack are highly toxic and carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, and a veritable host of others.  A well can be fracked up to 18 times.

We’re bombarded lately with television ads claiming that natural gas is the clean and safe alternative to coal, and known deposits could provide us with safe energy for the next fifty years, la la la… It seems that the industry is pushing back hard against the public awareness that Fox’s film has generated over the dangers involved with fracking methods.

 Now there appear to be some pretty major problems with fracking, including the potential to poison water wells when the well casings crack, and it appears that has happened plenty.  The toxic water used has to be disposed of; estimates are that only half the water is recovered.  Typically the VOCs are evaporated off, then the water is trucked to wastewater treatment facilities, none of which is supervised or regulated either.


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