Monday, April 27, 2015

(Animals Killed/Kill)  Who's Who?  (Koch Joke Poked)  PEN Pinned  (Why Would DEA Agents Get Only Wrist Slap for Sex/Drug Parties?  Drug Cartels Didn’t Have to Foot Party Bills - Sucker American Taxpayer Gladly Fund the Orgies) Recap:  Quick White GOP Jumps Over Lazy Brown Voters  (Metaphorically, Of Course)

"If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say."

  -  Ghostbusters

Friends, remember to watch "Thomas Linzey - Earth Risk 2014" on Link TV whenever you get a chance. It will bring a smile to your quivering lips.  

Empirists smirk from sidelines. How did we allow them to steal our future?

Hands Off The Lancet targets humanitarian war defenders.

Deceit Billed as Openness. Holder Exits Stage Right (Clean!)

And, especially:

Ralph Speaks!

Richard Woolf Exposes Worldwide Financial Hoax

Nasdaq hits highest point since the “dot-com” bubble

Obama Tries to Make His Bones Again with the Trans-Pacific Partnership

I know we've all been wondering about how the Republican Clown Car has been filled (re-filled, actually) so quickly with so many incredibly ridiculously incompetent (but wildly popular with their masters) candidates this political season.

It's not really that funny.

For their constituents (especially the obese* ones, not to mention all those bible-toting sniper lovers).

But there again, we do enjoy those Ted Cruz Blues.

By 2014, PEDv had killed at least 7 million piglets in their first days of life. The scourge was so bad the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) caught a Kentucky farm that lost 900 piglets within a two-day period feeding dead pigs to other pigs in an attempt to induce "immunity" in survivors. Nice. Footage from the Iron Maiden Hog Farm in Owensboro, Kentucky shows pigs whose legs had bound together to keep them standing when they otherwise would have collapsed.
How are the piglets with PEDv "euthanized"? By "manually applied blunt force trauma to the head" also known as bashing their heads against wall, admits the American Veterinary Medical Association. They are also gassed.

Pork groups defend "indoor facility" factory farming, saying it allows "security protocols [that] lead to healthier pigs and a safer food supply," but HSUS puts the blame for PEDv on cramped conditions. 

Flash forward to the current avian flu epidemic in which millions of chickens and turkeys are being killed, mostly by asphyxiation, to keep the disease from spreading. "U.S. Bird Flu Scourge Means Months of Dead Turkey Cleanup," says the agweb web site, showing a HazMat worker and lamenting the financial losses.
On a typical U.S. egg farm, where avian flu is thought to have originated, one employee cares for 250,000 hens, housed in as many as sixteen barns. The only "care" provided, beside giving feed, is removing "spent" hens to be euthanized and installing newly arrived birds from the hatchery.
"Some egg producers got rid of old hens by suffocating them in plastic bags or dumpsters, Temple Grandin, PhD, the famous animal scientist writes in a paper presented at the National Institute of Animal Agriculture. "When the egg producers asked me if I wanted cheap eggs I replied, 'Would you want to buy a shirt if it was $5 cheaper and made by child slaves?' Hens are not human but research clearly shows that they feel pain and can suffer."

The Koch Joke. (TPP'd.)

On US.

And it's hardly the first poke**. Down under (see Paulson/Bush 2008 gambit).

(Of course, this is the real reason for all that "data" mining. Essentially they've developed a Geiger counter that detects the lazy, dull-witted voter. (And provides decent jobs to those doing so in this increasingly desperate jobless country.) Where do we sign up? (/snark))

Brilliance strikes US again. (/Snark)

(And watch out for those still-lurking missionaries.)

Inside the Koch Data Mine

Meet the guys building the right’s new machine.

By and

The Koch brothers and their allies are pumping tens of millions of dollars into a data company that’s developing detailed, state-of-the-art profiles of 250 million Americans, giving the brothers’ political operation all the earmarks of a national party.
The move comes as mainstream Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, are trying to reclaim control of the Conservative movement from outside groups.
The Kochs, however, are continuing to amass all of the campaign tools the Republican National Committee and other party arms use to elect a president.

The Koch network also has developed in-house expertise in polling, message-testing, fact-checking, advertising, media buying, dial groups and donor maintenance. Add mastery of election law, a corporate-minded aggressiveness and years of patient experimentation — plus seemingly limitless cash — and the Koch operation actually exceeds the RNC’s data operation in many important respects.
“The Koch operations are the most important nonparty political players in the U.S. today, and no one else is even close,” said a top Republican who has been involved in the last eight presidential campaigns.

The least-known vehicle for the Kochs is a for-profit company known as "i360," started by a former adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign after McCain lost to Barack Obama in 2008. Subsequently, it merged with a Koch-funded data nonprofit. The Koch-affiliated "Freedom Partners," formed in late 2011, eventually became an investor, officials confirmed to "Politico."
Spending more than $50 million in cash over the past four years, "i360" links voter information with consumer data purchased from credit bureaus and other vendors. Information from social networks is blended in, along with any interaction the voter may have had with affiliated campaigns and advocacy groups. Then come estimated income, recent addresses, how often a person has voted, and even the brand of car they drive. Another i360 service slices and dices information about TV viewing to help campaigns target ads more precisely and cost efficiently.
GOP campaigns can get less-expensive data through the RNC, but happily pay "i360" for its superior profiles. Midterm clients included several of the GOP’s marquee Senate and gubernatorial victors, including Sens.-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Gov.-elect Larry Hogan in Maryland.

Michael Palmer, a Florida native who started "i360" after being chief technology officer of Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said "i360" has been able to develop superior campaign tools precisely because it isn’t beholden to the political calendar. With a steady stream of money comes the ability to think about the long term, he said.
“Right now, we’re talking about and building things that you won’t see in 2016, because it’s not going to be ready until 2018,” Palmer said.
One of the reasons that i360 has made such leaps is that the Kochs and their business-minded backers enforced a painful after-action review after the embarrassing Senate losses of 2012, looking across the organization at what could be done better. “We discovered, after 2012, that having a great database isn’t all that useful unless you can make it actionable for people, by building tools and software,” Palmer said.

So for this year’s midterms, he said, i360 offered “mobile canvassing apps or data management interfaces, so our clients can actually access that data, report against it, manipulate it, and put it to use.”
Palmer said i360 embeds experiments “into absolutely everything that we do.”
In Colorado, for instance, "Americans for Prosperity" — the most muscular part of the Koch network — worked with i360 to isolate 297,000 voters who were not likely to vote in 2014, but were likely to oppose the policies of Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who wound up being defeated by GOP Rep. Cory Gardner.
Among the 297,000 voters, some got no contact at all from AFP. About 60,000 voters were broken into six “treatment groups”:  One group got a knock on the door, plus a volunteer phone call and a mail piece. Another got door plus mail. Another got door only, and so forth. Within those groups, the messages varied. Now, as part of its midterm after-action review, "i360" is figuring out which approach was most efficient in turning out a reluctant voter.
The RNC, which is part of a data-sharing partnership with "i360" that was announced in August, is also building up its digital assets. Sean Spicer, RNC communications director, said: “ 'i360' is a great part of the larger team. One of the biggest differences is that the party supports anybody who has an ‘R’ next to their name. The RNC is providing the vast majority of data to House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates. And we’ve been in the data game for 20 years. … All general election Republican candidates had access to our data, and it was our data that the highly successful ground game was run on.”
This deep dive into the mechanics of politics reflects the Koch brothers’ growing awareness that traditional forms of advocacy aren’t, in isolation, effective enough to achieve the kind of conservative transformation the network’s supporters envision.
For decades, the Kochs had pursued their goals by sinking tens of millions of dollars into wonky research and advocacy groups. It was only during George W. Bush’s presidency that the brothers and their allies began to question whether the power of their ideas alone could carry the day. A movement that started with 15 rich conservatives gathering in Chicago and a single main group — "Americans for Prosperity" — by 2008 became a congregation of roughly 100 major donors backing a handful of think tanks, grass-roots advocacy networks and political organizations.
In 2012, the newly created "Freedom Partners" — the umbrella group for the Kochs’ political operation — raised and spent roughly $250 million. Headed by Marc Short, a former top staffer in the House and Senate, "Freedom Partners" dispenses funds and expertise to myriad affiliate groups in the network.
This year, it began wading into political and policy fights on its own — spinning off a super PAC that spent at least $24 million boosting Republican Senate candidates.
Heading into 2016, the Koch network — under the auspices of "Freedom Partners" — has in many ways surpassed the reach and resources of the RNC. And, unlike the party, it isn’t bound by rules requiring it to maintain neutrality in primaries. Though the network has yet to engage in primaries, that could be the next logical step in its progression from a political think tank consortium to aggressive privatized political machine.

With good data, we can target them with the right message at the right moment.
The Kochs and their donors and operatives have been sought out by most of the leading 2016 GOP prospects – from Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky to Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Perry of Texas. Their allies are acutely aware of the potential for the Koch groups and their donors to sway the primaries — even if they don’t formally back a candidate.
A key adviser to one of the top GOP presidential prospects said:  “If I could have Karl Rove or Marc Short to run a presidential campaign today, I’d take Marc Short. He understands all the technical tools available to a modern campaign and how to apply them to the nominating process. He also has a deep understanding of the political dynamics of the GOP base vote.”
Short’s connection to another potential GOP presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is among the biggest reasons that the Kochs are considering whether going all-in on a presidential campaign would be a good investment. Short was chief of staff to the House Republican Conference when then-Rep. Pence was the chairman, and Short remains a close adviser to Pence.
Veterans of GOP presidential campaigns say that while the Kochs could not, by themselves, provide the credibility necessary to create a candidate for president, their weapons could make a decisive difference for someone who was already running a viable campaign for the nomination — someone like Pence, whose record could make him a bridge between the GOP’s evangelical and establishment wings.
A candidate favored by the Kochs and their allies could potentially benefit from the full range activities of groups in the Koch network. The biggest presence is AFP, which spent $130 million in the midterms, with 550 paid staff, including 50 in Florida alone.
The "LIBRE Initiative," a network-backed group aimed at Hispanics, has 40 staff at its Arlington, Virginia, headquarters and 40 field staff (25 of them part-time) in seven states. "Generation Opportunity," the Kochs’ outreach arm for 18- to 34-year-olds, has 30 full-time, paid grass-roots staffers running boots-on-the-ground activism in 10 states. "Concerned Veterans for America," another Koch-backed group based in Arlington, has 60 paid staff in 14 states.
Pete Hegseth, an infantry captain in the Army National Guard who is the group’s CEO, says veterans are “reflexively conservative, and they know how to organize.”
“With good data, we can target them with the right message at the right moment,” Hegseth said. “They could be much more powerful than they are. There’s no reason veterans can’t be the unions of the right.”
Hegseth doesn’t talk much about the Koch connection, but says it’s an asset. “You can deny or engage,” he said. “Other groups have been a flash in the pan. The bureaucracy will try to out-wait them. We’re not going anywhere. We’re able to plan for the long term.”

I remember seeing this "party hearty" data long ago and wondering where the investigative reporting that surely had emanated from the original official announcement on it had disappeared to.

Seems that some in the Congress (Mormons, mainly) were offended.

I'm still awaiting the MSM coverage (with video perhaps?).

Which I'm sure is upcoming (after too many years of ominous silence).

Sex-Partying, Teen-Hooker-Funding DEA Agents Get Slap On Wrist, None Fired

April 16, 2015


Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 2.50.33 PM
An internal Drug Enforcement Administration report showed the agency gave its agents a mere slap on the wrist for purchasing the services of Colombian prostitutes, sometimes with taxpayer money and sometimes as they let local police watch their weapons and personal property.
A summary of the internal report shows the DEA doled out punishments to 10 of its agents, which ranged from a letter of caution to a two-week suspension. None of the agents who participated in the parties was fired.
In one instance, money to pay prostitutes at a farewell party for a high-ranking DEA official was included in an “operational budget” that used government funds for the party, the report said.
Lawmakers expressed concern during the hearing that some of the government-funded sex soirees may have included teenagers.
– From the "Washington Times" article: No DEA Agents Fired for Colombia Prostitute Parties, Internal Report Reveals
Last month, I highlighted the “truth is stranger than fiction” story about how Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents were caught having sex parties with prostitutes hired by drug cartels. I ended that post with:

While these agents will almost undoubtedly receive no real punishment, perhaps some good will come from this:  End the idiotic war on drugs.
Well we now have access to an internal DEA report on the incident, and find out that, unsurprisingly, the agents involved received barely a slap on the wrist. Moreover, it appears some of the women hired for these parties may have been teenagers.

Just in case you are still under the naive impression that the rule of law exists in America. The "Washington Times" reports that:

An internal Drug Enforcement Administration report showed the agency gave its agents a mere slap on the wrist for purchasing the services of Colombian prostitutes, sometimes with taxpayer money and sometimes as they let local police watch their weapons and personal property.
It’s always nice to know that the drug cartels didn’t have to foot the bill for these parties every time. The sucker American taxpayer also helped fund the orgies.

The report and a Tuesday hearing on it prompted a key congressman to say that the DEA chief needs to resign.
A summary of the internal report shows the DEA doled out punishments to 10 of its agents, which ranged from a letter of caution to a two-week suspension. None of the agents who participated in the parties was fired.
In one instance, money to pay prostitutes at a farewell party for a high-ranking DEA official was included in an “operational budget” that used government funds for the party, the report said.
DEA agents also rented undercover apartments in Colombia and used them to host prostitutes, the DEA said in its internal report.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff made the internal report available at Tuesday’s hearing, which gave lawmakers a chance to look into the Justice Department inspector general’s investigation accusing DEA agents of attending prostitute orgies funded by local drug cartels in a foreign country from 2009 to 2012.
The DEA’s internal report expands upon that review, detailing 14 years of misconduct accusations, dating back to 2001. Ten DEA agents were accused of wrongdoing; seven were issued suspensions ranging from one to 10 days. The internal report depicts married agents, who did “the most running around” with women, as “out of control.”
14 years of this and nobody thought to stop it. Typical out of control bureaucracy with zero accountability.

Lawmakers expressed concern during the hearing that some of the government-funded sex soirees may have included teenagers.
In response to pointed questions about whether underage women were among the prostitutes, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart replied: “I don’t know that.”
Better question is what does she know?

The explosive internal report shows that punishments recommended for the DEA agents also were reduced without explanation in many cases. It is also unknown whether any of the DEA supervisors who may have known about the accusations but failed to report them were punished.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican and committee chairman, expressed dismay and shock that agents were allowed to return to work quickly “with their Secret clearances fully intact.”
During the hearing though, Ms. Leonhart responded that civil service protections make it difficult to fire DEA agents.

If you can't fire DEA agents for attending sex parties paid for by drug cartels, what can you fire them for?

Mr. Cummings, the ranking member of the committee, said the report depicted “truly breathtaking recklessness” and showed “DEA agents as completely out of control.”
Lawmakers from both parties said they were dumbfounded that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. found it necessary to send a memo last week reminding department employees not to purchase the services of prostitutes.
Hello? Am I missing something?” Mr. Cummings said. “I think we are at an all-time low here.”
We can go a lot lower, and we probably will. This is what you get when government agents can repeatedly act like criminals and get away with it. Same goes for Wall Street thieves.

Gee, can't fire civil servants either? Are all government employees unfireable? (Yeah, I'm feeling a little bit faint, too. Or is that feint?)

And to think that I was thinking "exposure" or "blackmail" would be the reasons why not.

A very sick Democracy.

Let's look at those who are given the power to report the doings of those in charge.

I know, they used to be known as that despised term "regulators."

No more.

And who's in charge, now?

Everyone knows the White House Correspondents Association dinner is broken. What started off decades ago as a stately formal celebration of the best of presidential reporting has morphed into a four-day orgy of everything people outside the Beltway hate about life inside the Beltway — now it's not just one night of clubby backslapping, carousing and drinking between the press and the powerful, it's four full days of signature cocktails and inside jokes that just underscore how out of step the Washington elite is with the rest of the country. It's not us (journalists) versus them (government officials); it's us (Washington) versus them (the rest of America).

Something has to change.

I've watched the whole rise of the weekend over the last decade, as it sprawled increasingly out of control and increasingly out of touch — first as a blogger at "FishbowlDC" and a reporter at the "Washington Examiner," then later as a reporter here at "Politico." Last year I left my job at "Politico" to work on a documentary about White House Correspondents’ Week in Washington, D.C., the year’s most momentous week in arguably the world’s most powerful city. I thought I knew what I'd find, but even I was surprised — much of what I discovered wasn’t pretty. The week acts as a tacky and vainglorious self-celebration at a time when most Americans don’t think Washingtonians have much to be commended for.

Read more here.

And try not to gag.

Writers Withdraw from PEN Gala, Cite Honor for Charlie Hebdo

Apr 26, 10:17 PM (ET)

By Hillel Italie

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose and at least four other writers have withdrawn from next month's PEN American gala, citing objections to the literary and human rights organization's honoring the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

PEN announced Sunday that the writers were upset by Charlie Hebdo's portrayals of Muslims and "the disenfranchised generally." The Paris-based magazine, where 12 people were killed in a January attack at its offices, is to receive a Freedom of Expression Courage Award at the May 5 event in Manhattan. Much of the literary community rallied behind Charlie Hebdo after the shootings, but some have expressed unhappiness with its scathing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad and other Muslims.

The gala is the highlight of PEN's annual, week-long World Voices Festival in May.

And on another important survival point:

While water problems are worst in the West, the East is not immune. According to the GAO report, North Carolina and Delaware are the eastern states most likely to experience regional water shortages in the next decade.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thanks to the overuse of antibiotics, MRSA, (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections) kills 20,000 people a year and Clostridium difficile, a serious intestinal bug is developing resistance. Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii so afflicted US troops in Iraq it was dubbed "Iraqibacter," and Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) has developed because of the use of the antibiotics virginiamycin and Avoparcin in livestock. VRE infections have been reported in 33 states and in commercial chicken feed, reported the Hartford Advocate.
And there is another worry. "Overuse of antibiotics could be fuelling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations," writes Martin Blaser, professor of microbiology at New York University's Langone Medical Center in the journal Nature . "Indeed, large studies we performed have found that people without the bacterium are more likely to develop asthma, hay fever or skin allergies in childhood," writes Blaser.
As H. pylori, one bacterium, "has disappeared from people's stomachs, there has been an increase in gastroesophageal reflux, and its attendant problems such as Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal cancer. Could the trends be linked? "writes Blaser. The proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, Prevacid and Protonix makes matters worse--altering the composition and capacity of bacteria in the colon, researchers report.
Because of their links to resistant infections and possibly obesity, asthma and gastrointestinal problems, it is good to see health professionals curtail the use of antibiotics. When will livestock operators follow suit?

When scientists studied hybrid striped bass exposed to Prozac at Clemson University, SC they found the fish maintained a position at the top of the water surface, sometimes with their dorsal fin out of the water unlike the fish not on Prozac who remained at the bottom of the tank. Staying near the top of the water and maintaining "a vertical position in the aquaria" could increase the bass' susceptibility to predators and decrease their survival reported the researchers. Nor did the bass eat as much as non-Prozac fish.
. . . ''Crustaceans are crucial to the food chain and if shrimps' natural behaviour is being changed because of antidepressant levels in the sea this could seriously upset the natural balance of the ecosystem," says Dr Alex Ford, from the University of Portsmouth's Institute of Marine Sciences.

Two Stories in the Same Day Show That the U.S. Is Rotten to the Core

Are All Dead Innocents Equal?

Libya:  All About Oil, or All About Central Banking?

Mysterious Prison Buses in the Desert

It's the Derivatives, Stupid! Why Fannie, Freddie and AIG Had to Be Bailed Out

"Oops, We Meant $7 TRILLION!" What Hank and Ben Are Up to and How They Plan to Pay for It All


Contractors Belie Myth of Leaving Iraq and Afghanistan

The Koch Brothers Try To Fool The American People With An Evil PR Campaign

Elizabeth Warren Tells Obama To Put Up Or Shut Up On Trade

It Looks Like Bernie Sanders Is Going To Be Running For President

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