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RIP Commander Jeffry Lyle Huber, US Navy (retired)

We learned, late, of the passing of Commander Jeffry L. Huber (retired) at the age of 57, on January 24, 2012.

He was one of ePluribus Media's bright bulbs who shined a light from his flight deck experience in a bounty of words wizened by U.S. Navy command and time on the USS Theodore Roosevelt.   It all sharpened the satire in his critcally acclaimed Bathtub Admirals.

He graced not only our shores but through the wider appeal of his blog, Pen and Sword, the DailyKos, and AntiWar.com, among other venues. 

The spirit of his humor and insighted commentary are a loss and will be missed by many. 

RIP Commander Huber. 

For a long thread of worthy respect, see this eulogy at DailyKos or the bon voyages of well-wishers at Tributes.com.

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Monday Afternoon Open Thread - There's Something Wrong with the World Today Edition

"There's something wrong with the world today..." - Aerosmith, "Livin' on the Edge" Hat-tip to Jone Johnson Lewis for this disturbing reminder (and excellent example of the hypocrisy inherent in today's extremists - fondly known as the domestic terrorist collective oft referred to as "The American Taliban"...or, more simply, "today's conservatives").

This is a blast from the past - remember way back in 2006, when this video game was announced "in time for Christmas" of all things?

Yeah - that's a special kind of hypocritical hypocrisy, isn't it? Still exists today, too...

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Saturday Open Thread: NY Equality and Soul-Sucking Poverty Edition

One of the biggest news topics of the day on the topic of gay rights occurred in New York late yesterday. From Voice of America News:

The U.S. state of New York has approved same-sex marriage, handing American gay rights advocates a major victory in their quest for equality.

After extensive debate, the New York State Senate approved the legislation Friday night by a vote of 33 to 29, as two previously undecided Republican lawmakers cast the deciding votes in favor of it. A short time later, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation into law.

With the final approval, New York became the sixth U.S. state where gay couples can wed, and by far the largest state. Gay couples can begin marrying in the state in 30 days.

As the right to marry spreads from state to state across the nation, perhaps the adult perspective and realization of shared humanity will help quell further foolish attempts to discriminate against others due to factors like race, gender, religion or sexual identity.

Some people may be unable to evolve and grow up, and thus never accept the growing, expanding realization of common humanity that marks an advancing civilization's mental and ethical state, but as more people through the nation are introduced to the concepts of equality it will be just that much more difficult for isolated bubbles of self-interest and hatred to propagate.

Congratulations, New York.

For our second topic: have you ever been in, or witnessed, poverty in the United States - or anywhere, for that matter? Did you realize that poverty in the United States is on the rise, or the impact that it has on individuals and families? Did you know that it's actually more expensive to be poor than not? This is a topic that gets a bit of a review by teacherken of Daily Kos in a piece called Poverty is brutal, consuming and unforgiving. It strikes at the soul. He draws upon a recent piece by Charles Blow and adds his own heartfelt commentary. Here's a bit of it:

America is increasingly becoming morally corrupt. Those who are wealthy and powerful are not even punished when they are caught - they are allowed to pay a relatively small portion of their ill-gotten gains and somehow keep the rest. Hello, Wall Street, and not just Goldman Sachs.

Poverty is brutal, consuming and unforgiving. It strikes at the soul.

And not just the souls of those we are condemning to remaining in poverty. It strikes at the very soul of the nation, and should strike at the soul of every person who is part of We the People.

That it does not so strike is to my mind a moral condemnation of America.

You should check out the whole piece here. After reading it, please also check out the comments from some of the insightful commenters.

 

That's it for this Open Thread. If you've got some news to share, or if you'd like to comment on either of the topics listed here, or something else, the comments are open. You know what to do.

 

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Arizona is burning.

For those who haven't heard anything about it yet, Arizona is burning.

From Seattle PI,

SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. (AP) — Smoke from a massive wildfire in eastern Arizona that has claimed more than 30 homes and forced nearly 10,000 people to flee has officials worried about serious health impacts to residents and firefighters as tiny particles of soot in the air reached "astronomical" levels.

Read more: Full article.

This is the second-largest fire in Arizona history (so far), according to the article. And it's not the only one currently ablaze in the state:

Firefighters are battling another major wildfire in far southeastern Arizona, also near the New Mexico line. The so-called Horseshoe Two blaze burned through 211 square miles or 135,000 acres of brush and timber since it started in early May. The fire has destroyed 23 structures but caused no serious injuries. It was 45 percent contained late Friday and fire officials hope to have it fully contained by late June.

Read more: Full Article.

I can't imagine what it would be like to speak of dealing with an ongoing natural disaster in terms of "months" before it could be contained or mitigated. Well...ok, strike that. There's similar scale concepts - tho far different types of impacts and longer durations - when looking at unnatural disasters like Fukushimasee also and even longer-term consequences when considering the impact of anthropomorphic climate disruption.1, 2

And yes, there are those who have wondered if the AZ wildfires are linked to climate disruption, and while they can't prove it, they can show earlier predictors that reinforce indications that it might/could be related - and that there would be more, bigger incidents yet to come.

Not a very reassuring thought, with all those billions currently being spent in order to cripple any attempt to directly admit to and deal with the problem from a national public policy perspective.

 

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Wednesday Evening Open Thread - Tuscon Twofer Edition

I've heard of "Home on the Range" but this has gotta be a major factor for calling Tuscon "Home of the Crazy." First up: the competency hearing of Jared Lee Loughner. Spoiler alert! - he's incompetent to stand trial:

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Loughner found incompetent to stand trial

Jared Lee Loughner’s "major mental illness" leaves him so delusional and psychotic that he is incompetent to stand trial, a federal judge ruled today.

U.S. District Court Judge Larry A. Burns viewed hours of videotape of Loughner, he said, and agreed with the conclusion of the psychiatrist and psychologist who evaluated him: Loughner can't understand the court proceedings or help his lawyers.

"The defendant was generally unable to provide rational and coherent thoughts," Burns said.

...[...snip...]...

Burns ordered that new evaluations of Loughner be prepared by Aug. 31. He tentatively set a hearing for Sept. 21 but said it may not go forward if the evaluators find he continues to be incompetent.

A defendant can continue to undergo treatment and evaluation for months and even years as officials try to bring him to a level of competency that would allow him to stand trial.

Contact reporter Tim Steller at tsteller@azstarnet.com or at 807-8427.

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Hat-tip to amytrine of Pulling to the Left, a Delphi Forum

Who's surprised by the finding?

And the number two crazy Tuscon tidbit?

There are those who are proposing that the entire shooting was a hoax:

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Tucson Shooting Conspiracy Theories Upset Victims

On fringe sites around the web, a new conspiracy theory is being cultivated: the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson, Arizona that took the lives of six and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), never actually took place.

According to the New York Times, believers of the theory, peddled primarily by conspiracy enthusiast Ed Chiarini, claim that the solemn day's events were all part of an elaborate government hoax carried out by Tucson-area actors.

[...More at HuffPo...]

____________

Hat-tip to lordrag of Pulling to the Left, a Delphi Forum

If you happen to be travelling to or through Tuscon any time in the near future, it may be a good idea to not drink the water. And remember: that same water's used to make their deliriously unique brand of tea.

If you've got anything to add, do it below the fold. This is an Open Thread.

 

 

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Epic: Severe weather leads to record water levels and dangerous flooding conditions

On Saturday, 14 May 2011, the US Army Corps of Engineers opened the first bay of the Morganza spillway as part of an ongoing effort to alleviate the swollen Mississippi river and avoid uncontrolled flooding further downriver. Via CNN:

The plan to open the spillway will still impact human populations - including the town of Butte La Rose, Louisiana:

Opening the spillway will redirect floodwaters from the Mississippi River through the Atchafalaya River Basin, which runs between Baton Rouge and Lafayette south toward Morgan City.

There are more than 800 homes in the Butte La Rose area of St. Martins Parish, which sits right in the flood path.

[...Click for more...]

What's worse, the impact of the plan will be felt long after the waters recede:

Roy Dakka, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Center for Geoinformatics at Louisiana State University, predicted it will take weeks to months for the farmland to dry.

"Any existing crops are going to be toast," he said, citing the fields of corn, sugar cane and soybeans that will be covered with sediment. "Plus, God knows what's in the water and what gets deposited."

[...Click for more...]

On the somewhat brighter side, officials are pretty sure that there won't be any failure in the untested system of levees, which could lead to unmitigated disaster.

That's not much comfort to the people impacted by the waters released into the spillway and redirected toward their homes and property, but it is - unfortunately - the best chance that experts have to reduce and mitigate the potential for a far more catastrophic flood in larger population areas.

It's for situations and events like this that our national infrastructure needs to be shorn up, bolstered instead of cannibalized as some sort of political bargaining chip.

This year, in particular, has seen quite a bit of severe weather already, and climate change theories imply that such severity is likely to increase.

 

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A heartwarming story that skewers Santorum's bias against gay adoption

Sorry for the quick fly-by, but didn't want this to stagnate...

Oh, wow - what a great story, and a perfect rejoinder to idiotic statements like the recent one by Rick Santorum (http://bit.ly/kn9J95)...

Meet the Hams: Two Arizona gay men who have adopted TWELVE children

H/t Ron E. Tunning on FB.

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Saturday Open Thread, Relative References, xkcd Edition

Sometimes, having a vivid imagination gives you a perspective that sets you apart from others...and, relatively speaking, that's not always a good thing - if you fall outside the norm of a bell curve, then what one person considers "normal" on a scale of 1 to 10 may mean something else entirely to you. And trying to use that kind of sliding scale...? Well, the results can skew a little wildly:

Pain Rating
Click to enlarge. Attribution: xkcd.1

So, in terms of "pain rating," getting everyone to reference the sliding scale in a common way is probably not always as easy as a doctor or EMT may hope for. In terms of news and information, however, those comparisons may not always be purely subjective.

For example, that serial killer case in Long Island that we'd mentioned the other day? The police are looking at someone. A potential factor in the search - and the killer's ability to try and thwart both identification and capture - is the possibility that s/he is familiar with police techniques.

Objectively speaking, it's definitely progress and a sign of good news that the police appear to have identified a suspect - we all wish them the best luck in finding and taking the killer out of circulation.

Subjectively speaking, what's "news" - particularly in your neck of the woods this find Saturday? Let us know in the comments below - remember, this is an Open Thread.

Footnote references only over the fold.

 

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Serial Killers: Bodies of Evidence on the East and West Coasts

The news out of New York is both grim and grisly:

Three additional sets of human remains have been discovered on the same New York beach where a serial killer is believed to have dumped the bodies of five other women.

Suffolk County police announced the discovery of the bodies today, raising the number of victims to at least eight.

And it gets worse:

The bodies are believed to the work of a serial killer. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told ABC News in December, "Four bodies found in the same location pretty much speaks for itself. It's more than a coincidence. We could have a serial killer."

The bodies were discovered as a result of a search for a missing prostitute, Shannan Gilbert, whose body the police expected to find in the same area. Gilbert's body is, so far, not among those found, leaving the possibility of a ninth body to the list of suspected serial killings.

And then there's LA: in a story with an oddly similar body count (so far), LA detectives fear the disappearance of Ayella Marshall may be linked to the work of South Los Angeles serial killer known as "The Grim Sleeper." Lonnie Franklin Jr. is in jail awaiting tried on 10 counts of murder and one attempted murder in the case. What makes Lonnie a credible suspect? Aside from the photos and id of Ayellah and two other missing women found in a refrigerator in Lonnie's garage,

After Franklin's arrest last July, family members brought to the attention of police another four missing women who detectives believe could be additional victims. They have been identified as: Cathern or Catherine Davis, 29, who has been missing since 1982; Rosalind Giles, 27, missing since 1991; Lisa Knox, 29, missing since 1993; and Anita Parker, missing since 1998.

[...snip...]

Detectives Tuesday also asked for the public's help in identifying 55 women who remain unidentified after police released 180 photos found in Franklin's house to try to eliminate them from a victim list. Some of the photos released in December appear to be of women sleeping.
The killer was dubbed the Grim Sleeper because the killings appeared to stop in 1988 and did not resurface until 2002. But [Detective Dennis] Kilcoyne said he believes there are many other victims.

Unlike the suspected New York serial killings, there's at least been an arrest in the Grim Sleeper case.

Let's hope the New York detectives catch a break and can land the east coast serial killer soon.

 

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Pine Ridge Billboard Project by Aaron Huey

Bumped by GH. Originally posted 2011-03-10 10:29:06 -0400. For a donation as little as $10, you can help launch this project - and help make a difference. -- GH

I would like to announce a new project to raise NATIONAL awareness of the poverty on our reservations. My friend Aaron Huey is launching an ambitious billboard campaign using his images of Pine Ridge reservation. Aaron is donating his time and talent to organize this project.

I have been documenting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for the past six years. Recently I have realized how inappropriate it is for this project to end with another book or a gallery show.

More than any project I have done in my career, the ever-evolving Pine Ridge project gives voice to social injustice and a forgotten history. I want my work to empower the Lakota and other tribes who fight for recognition of the past in order to help give them a chance to move forward.

Your involvement will help raise the visibility of these images by taking them straight to the public to the sides of busses, subway tunnels, and billboards. I want people to think about prisoner of war camps in America on their commute to work. I want the message to be so loud that it cannot be ignored.

Honor the Treaties

Illustration by Ernesto Yerena using images by Aaron Huey

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Demonstrators for Uncommon Valor of Bradley Manning Blocked at Quantico Brig

The crowds that attend demonstrations on behalf of alleged Wikileaks-contributor Bradley Manning seemed to grow in their numbers with each new report from outside the military brig at Quantico, in Virginia.

The video taken over the weekend (below) is of controntation between what appeared to be as many Virginia State Police as protestors. The conflict culminated in arrests after sit-ins by members of the crowd led to police removal of famed Pentagon Papers leaker, Daneil Ellsberg, and Colonel Ann Wright.

The sit-in was staged after the protestors were denied access to the base of the World War II memorial of Iwo Jima, to lay flowers commemorating the 'uncommon valor' of Bradley Manning.

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Please share this with your politicians IF...

Please share this with your politicians IF they have ever used the words "austerity" or "entitlements":

Poll: Public opposes most spending cuts

thehill.com

A majority of the public opposes most spending cuts, especially cutbacks to education and popular entitlement programs, according to a new poll released Wednesday. The Gallup poll showed that over 60 percent oppose cuts to Medicare, Social Security and education funding.

Especially important if they have ever used those right wing framing words, austerity and entitlemnts, in the same sentence. That should narrow it down to about 98% of the politicians in office today.

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"Military Harassing David House, Jane Hamsher for Visiting Bradley Manning"

Michael Whitney at FDL is running the twitter feed from Jane Hamsher, right now, who was being harrased by the military at Quantico along with David House, They were there with the required visitor's pass to meet with the the alleged leaker of #cablegate, Bradley Manning, to Wikileaks in order to deliver a petition concerning Manning's treatment:

BREAKING: Military Harassing David House, Jane Hamsher for Visiting Bradley Manning

Jane Hamsher is with David House who is trying to visit Pvt. Bradley Manning at Quantico today while carrying a petition with 42,000 signatures requesting humane treatment for Manning. The military isn’t making it easy at all and detained Jane and David for two hours. We’re publishing her tweets as well as David House’s tweets here as a post in case you haven’t been able to follow them on Twitter (@JaneHamsher and @DavidMHouse

UPDATE: At 2:50pm the military released Jane and David, and told David he could go off base and come back on to visit Bradley. But visiting hours end at 3pm, so Bradley won’t get a visit. We’ll have more soon.

Welcome to Bananastan, USA. Where the real media of the day get detained by the military and their car towed away and the fake media will probably file a report blaming them for being angry Bloggers.

Update below the fold...

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Deja voodoo all over again: StopDomesticTerror.com

Remember when Frank Schaeffer sounded the alarm with a campaign to StopDomesticTerror.com ?

I do. And I remember composing my thoughts for the story that forced me to question whether my rhetorical approach was too strong:

StopDomesticTerror.com - Murdered MDs? Presidential assassination? Hangings? Military coups? What's next?

Wholesale Body Bags?

I don't have any more questions, do you?  

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Death Panels, Palin's Targets, and Political Assassination

Michael Collins

The attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords raises the bar for political lies and hate to a new level.  Previously, incendiary political lies stopped just short violent imagery.  Sarah Palin's Take Back 20 campaign presented a violent threat in the form of rifle site crosshairs placed over the congressional districts of 20 Democratic supporters of health care reform.

Ironically, Giffords sent Palin a clear message to end the violent allusion in the ads.  In this brief video, she warns:

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