Friday, July 29, 2016

HUMOR TIMES - The Republican Convention Was All Trump All the Time

"The Donald's Trumpapalooza" by Will Durst, Humor Times 7/28/2016
"World's Funniest News Source"

The Republicans wrapped their four-day, multi-network infomercial with a speech from nominee Donald John Trump that ripped the wallpaper off Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena.  Life in America today is dark, dangerous, dismal, dystopian, full of doom and the only light on the horizon is coming from the blinding white teeth of the Blue Collar Billionaire.

The best way to describe what went down last week is…Trumpapalooza.  It was all Trump all the time.  Usually, a party's nominee is the blushing bride, only getting glimpsed at the big closing ceremony, but this bride appeared live or by video all four days and did not blush once.

He needed to fill the void of a large group of Heavy Duty Republicans who stayed home, worried about being painted by the Trump Crazy Brush, which like his hair has an exceptionally wide swath.  Sen. Jeff Flake from Arizona said he didn't go because he “had to mow the lawn.”  Which is just above sorting your sock drawer in terms of sad.

Hence, organizers were forced to flood the stage with Trumps.  Or is it Trumpses?  The whole affair was downright Trumpalicious.  When it wasn't about Hillary, that is.  Which was often.  To say she wasn't getting hit with the happy stick is like intimating that Phoenix in August might creep up past balmy.

Chris Christie was ready to persecute, prosecute, execute, play a flute, and electrocute Mrs. Clinton until she, reduced to ashes, could be safely sprinkled in the Cuyahoga River.  And why is it that even when addressing supporters, the New Jersey Governor sounds like he's reading them their Miranda Rights?

Ben Carsonogenic accused Hillary of being a disciple of Lucifer.  Wow.  Where do you go from there?  Not a lot of wiggle room left.  Should she subsequently kick a puppy, does that make her even more eviler than Lucifer?

The VP pick, Mike Pence, claimed he's not the most exciting politician and proved himself right.  Next to this guy, vanilla seems exotic.  And French vanilla — downright psychedelic.  But he's exactly what Trump needs.  A yin for the yang.  A conservative to balance the renegade.  A soft green mold to muffle the spiky shards.  2% milk for the hydrochloric acid.

And there were plenty of Trumpses to go around.  The first night, the third wife gave a speech, lifting large portions from Obama's only wife.  On Tuesday night the daughter of the second wife spoke along with the son of the first wife.  On Wednesday the other son of the first wife waxed poetic and on the closing night the daughter of the first wife introduced the fertile and fickle man himself.

The show ended with the whole Trump clan crowding the stage including the son of the third wife, and who knows, maybe wives #1 & #2 and a couple of assorted mistresses snuck up there.  The funny thing is, they're all blonde.  Even the ones that aren't blonde are blonde if you catch my drift.  It was Trumptastic.  Or Trumpatrocious, depending on your point of view.

But the real star was Ted Cruz who ripped a page straight out of the Trump playbook because even though the Texas Senator got booed for not endorsing his rival, we're still talking about him, making him the presumptive front-runner for 2020 GOP nomination.  And yes, you're right.  Thinking about 2020 is dark and dismal.

TRUMP NOT - Applauding Russia (a Black Mirror episode)

Do you REALLY want this man Neanderthal for President?!  Of course he likes Putin, Trump is a authoritarian-want-to-be.

NOTE:  These 2 articles are from the online version of the newspaper, therefore no link.



Donald Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russian intelligence services had successfully hacked Hillary Clinton's email, and encouraged them to publish whatever they may have stolen. 

“Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said during a news conference in Florida before he flew to Pennsylvania for a campaign event.  “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

He was referring to emails on Clinton's private server that she said she deleted — because they were private — before turning other messages over to the State Department.  The Justice Department declined to prosecute Clinton over her email practices, but FBI Director James Comey called her “extremely careless” in handling classified information as President Barack Obama's Secretary of State. 

Trump's call marked another bizarre moment in the mystery of whether Vladimir Putin's government has been seeking to influence the United States' presidential race.  His comments came amid questions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee's computer servers, which U.S. intelligence agencies have told the White House they have “high confidence” was the work of the Russian government.

At the same news conference, Trump also appeared to leave the door open to accepting Russia's annexation of Crimea two years ago — which the U.  S.  and its European allies consider an illegal seizure of territory.  That seizure, and the continued efforts of Russian- aided insurgents to undermine the government of Ukraine, is the reason that the U.S. and its allies still have economic sanctions in force against Moscow.



GOP nominee ranks Putin's leadership superior to Obama's

Donald Trump called President Vladimir Putin of Russia “a better leader” than President Barack Obama, offering the praise in an interview with “Fox and Friends” on Thursday, just a day after saying he hoped Russian intelligence services had successfully hacked Hillary Clinton's email. 

Asked about comments he had made Wednesday at a news conference in Florida, where he said “Putin has much better leadership qualities than Obama,” Trump reiterated his views in slightly more specific terms. 

“I said he's a better leader than Obama,” Trump said.  “I said he's a better leader than Obama, because Obama's not a leader, so he's certainly doing a better job than Obama is, and that's all.  ”

Trump also tried to walk back, in part, comments he made Wednesday about Russia hacking Clinton's emails. 

“Of course, I'm being sarcastic,” Trump said in the interview taped Wednesday that aired Thursday.  “But you have 33,000 emails deleted, and the real problem is what was said in those emails from the Democratic National Committee.  You take a look at what was said in those emails, it's disgraceful.  It's disgraceful.”

Just thought of something....
This could be an episode of Black Mirror, not on NetFlix but real life.

Monday, July 25, 2016

POLITICS - And in the Left Corner, Hillary Clinton

"Hillary Clinton’s life in the public eye" PBS NewsHour 7/23/2016


SUMMARY:  As Hillary Clinton prepares to accept the Democratic nomination for president, two biographers look back at her growth as a politician.  Mark Lander, who wrote "Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power," and Michael Tomasky, who wrote "Hillary's Turn: Inside Her Improbable, Victorious Senate Campaign,” join Hari Sreenivasan.

HARI SREENIVASAN, NEWSHOUR ANCHOR:  Approaching 69 years old, Hillary Clinton has spent roughly half of her life in public life — as First Lady of Arkansas and the United States; as a U.S. Senator from New York, and perhaps most importantly for the office she seeks — as Secretary of State.  And, from the investigation of the Clintons’ investment in the Whitewater real estate deal in Arkansas to the more recent FBI probe of her use of private email server while serving as Secretary of State, the whiff of scandal has lingered – fairly or unfairly – over many chapters in Mrs.  Clinton’s career.

As we head into the Democratic National Convention on Monday, opinion polls continue to reflect that Hillary Clinton is, to some extent like her Republican opponent, a polarizing figure.  She has topped the annual Gallup poll of “most admired woman” each of the last 14 years and 20 times overall.  However, the Real Clear Politics average of polls finds 56 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of her, and 62 percent of Americans told a CBS news poll last month they do not find her honest or trustworthy.

To examine her record of service as First Lady, in the Senate, and at the State Department, I sat down this week with the authors of two books about Hillary Clinton.  Michael Tomasky wrote “Hillary’s Turn: Inside Her Improbable, Victorious Senate Campaign,” and New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler wrote “Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the twilight struggle over American power.”

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Back in 1992, Bill Clinton said, “You’re going to get two for the price of one.”  She’s going to be part of my policies.  Was head of the health care reform task force; it didn’t do well in Congress.  What’s her lasting legacy from that era?

MICHAEL TOMASKY, AUTHOR:  She was the first professional First Lady, the first feminist First Lady, the first First Lady from the ‘60s generation, the first First Lady who was the breadwinner in the family.  A lot of America liked and admired that.  Some other parts of America found that unappetizing and even kind of threatening.  So she became a flashpoint simply for who she was.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Picking up on that women’s rights theme, one of the things that she did was in ’95, she famously spoke out.

HILLARY CLINTON:  “It is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.”

MARK LANDLER, NEW YORK TIMES:  If you remember, it was right after the health care debacle.  So she goes to Beijing, delivers this by all accounts just fervent speech; and even to this day many years later, it’s probably in the top five, if not the top three speeches she’s ever delivered.  And it also really was the speech that catapulted her onto the global stage and kind of set the stage for the next chapter of her career, which was as a sort of a global figure, a global stateswoman.

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 7/22/2016

"Shields and Brooks on the Hillary Clinton veepstakes, the latest Trump-Cruz dustup" PBS NewsHour 7/22/2016


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks talk take-aways from the GOP convention, speculate on the Clinton vice presidential pick and look ahead to next week’s Democratic convention in Philadelphia.  Also, a look back at one of the biggest stories out of the GOP convention in Cleveland: Sen. Ted Cruz’s pointed refusal to back Donald Trump.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Mark, what about that?

Does — we talked about the law and order emphasis from Donald Trump’s remarks last night.  Does he automatically benefit from incidents like this one today in Munich?

MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated columnist:  Yes.  Yes, he does.

Judy, the pattern of American presidential elections is that the more optimistic candidate; whether it’s John Kennedy and let’s get America moving again, Ronald Reagan, it’s morning in America, or Barack Obama, yes, we can; always wins, or nearly always wins.

And that’s been tapped into sort of the DNA of Americans, that optimism and confidence.  We are not nearly as optimistic and far less confident than we were as a people.  And Donald Trump is writing a different theme, which is it’s midnight in America and that things are bad, and they’re bleak, and they’re gloomy, and they’re doomy, and the only thing that is going to save you is someone with the authority and power of somebody like me.

And so I personally believe that A) he’s wrong on the condition of America.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  About the condition…

MARK SHIELDS:  We’re not being invaded by undocumented immigrants who are coming to kill police officers and commit crimes.

I don’t think that’s true.   (B?) And I don’t think most Americans think it’s true, but it does reinforce his argument, as the law and order candidate, when there are acts of such reckless and terrible, horrific lawlessness as there was today in Munich.

FOX NEWS - Rise and Fall of Roger Ailes

Sorry I can't resist....
Also, Fox News as "fair, balanced and unafraid" NOT!

"The long rise and very quick fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes" PBS NewsHour 7/22/2016


SUMMARY:  For 20 years, the man at the helm of Fox News was it's CEO and founder Roger Ailes.  On Thursday, Ailes stepped down after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against him.  Jane Hall, associate professor at American University's School of Communication, and Ken Doctor, media analyst for Newsonomics and Columnist for Politico, sit down with Judy Woodruff to discuss.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  It all unfolded quickly, in a matter of weeks, after former FOX anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes, longtime head of FOX News.

Ailes denied the charges.  But 21st Century Fox, the cable network's parent company, hired a law firm to conduct an investigation.  According to Carlson's lawyers, 20 or more other women then came forward with claims about Ailes' conduct, including Megyn Kelly, one of the network's star anchors.

Publicly, many other prominent on-air personalities at FOX, including Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren, backed Ailes and said they were unaware of any inappropriate behavior.

Rupert Murdoch issued a statement late yesterday without referring to the harassment charges, saying that: “Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country.  Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.”

Roger Ailes, now 76, has been an influential figure for decades in Republican politics, as an adviser and strategist to Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.  He created FOX News 20 years ago and built it into the most-watched cable news channel.

BRIT HUME, FOX News:  More news is on the way, fair, balanced and unafraid.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Promoted as an alternative to traditional mainstream media.  It has been a huge moneymaker for its parent company, and a target for critics of its conservative tone and team.

Ailes said this in a 2004 interview with C-SPAN'S Brian Lamb:

ROGER AILES, Former FOX News Executive:  Well, we have changed the business a little bit.  I think FOX News has come on the scene and identified itself as fair and balanced.  We try to do that every day.  I think others, instead of trying to get more fair and balanced, probably are offended by that or worried about it.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, will now decide on a successor to Roger Ailes and the future of the network he built.

And joining me now, Jane Hall, a journalism professor at American University who previously served as a media reporter for The Los Angeles Times and commentator at FOX News, and Ken Doctor, who writes on the media business for Politico and on his blog, Newsonomics.
JANE HALL, American University:  Well, he is a brilliant television producer.  And he created the jazzy graphics on the screen.  He hired Bill O’Reilly.  He brought in a number of people.  He brought Megyn Kelly on board. 

He had a great eye for talent.  What I think has happened is his fair and balanced slogan is really not accurate.  They have pounded home lines like government takeover, Obama is soft on terrorism, Hillary is crooked.  As I said in the piece, I don’t think we would have Donald Trump if we didn’t have Roger Ailes. 

But the network is absolutely a reflection of his vision.  The only other person I can think of is Roone Arledge, who created ABC News and ABC Sports, who has had the same kind of impact.  He merged politics, though, and a kind of bifurcated take-no-prisoners style that I think has hurt our discourse.

POVERTY IN AMERICA - How the Deck is Stacked

"Poverty-stricken past and present in the Mississippi Delta" PBS NewsHour 7/22/2016


SUMMARY:  Rich in soil, music and culture, the Mississippi Delta is one of those unique regions that has come to hold a special place in the American imagination.  But in terms of economic mobility and poverty, this stretch of land is far behind anywhere else in the developed world.  Kai Ryssdal takes a look at the storied and complex history of the Mississippi Delta.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  While all eyes were on Ohio this week, we look now at another Cleveland, this one in the Mississippi Delta, where poverty and economic mobility are worse than anywhere else in the developed world.

This report is part of our series How the Deck is Stacked.  It’s funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a collaboration from American Public Media’s Marketplace, and “PBS Frontline” and the “NewsHour.”

Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace has the story.

KAI RYSSDAL, Marketplace:  The Mississippi Delta is known for music and for juke-joints like this one, and for rich agricultural land.

Cotton was once the main crop here, now mostly corn.  Despite how fertile the ground is here, one in five households live below the poverty line, and, in fact, Mississippi is ranked 50th out of 50 states by poverty rate; 68-year-old Catherine Wilson has lived here her whole life.

CATHERINE WILSON, Cleveland-area resident:  Back then, in the '60s, just like we had to move from home to home because we didn't have enough to eat, enough money to survive on.

KAI RYSSDAL:  In 1964, President Johnson introduced legislation to deal with a national poverty rate that was almost 20 percent.  It became known as the War on Poverty.  Jobs training, adult education and loans were all part of the plan.

In April of 1967, Senator Robert Kennedy visited the Delta to have a look for himself at how bad the poverty was.

So, this is 1967.  That's Bobby Kennedy right there.  And who is that lady in the striped dress?  Yes.  Pretty good, huh.


KAI RYSSDAL:  That's a smile, right?  Do you remember that?

CATHERINE WILSON:  Yes, I remember the day he came, all right.

KAI RYSSDAL:  What did he want to know?  What did he ask you about?

CATHERINE WILSON:  Asking about what did we want to see done.  They said they want jobs and housing.

KAI RYSSDAL:  Blacks in the Delta had historically worked the land, but mechanization and pesticides meant fewer jobs and less money.

CATHERINE WILSON:  We have come a long ways since back then.  We were so poor and struggling, we didn't have anything.  But right now, a lot of people have got jobs.  They couldn't get no jobs back then.

KAI RYSSDAL:  Catherine Wilson lives alone in a place called Freedom Village, built originally to house those displaced farm workers.

Peter Edelman was an aide to Bobby Kennedy.  He was with him on that 1967 trip to the Delta.

PETER EDELMAN, Former Aide to Sen.  Robert Kennedy:  He said to me as we went from one house to the next that he — this was worse than anything he'd ever seen in a Third World country.

UNITED KINGDOM - Defense Secretary on Defeating ISIS

COMMENT:  We aware that is very hard, if not impossible, to completely defeat a movement based on any religion.  I expect the best the world can do is defeat the ISIS army.

"UK Defense Secretary:  We want to maintain momentum in defeating ISIS" PBS NewsHour 7/20/2016


SUMMARY:  For the next two days, defense chiefs and leaders from more than 30 countries are meeting in Washington to discuss the ongoing war on the Islamic State.  For more, Hari Sreenivasan talks with UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon about turmoil in Turkey, how Brexit affects NATO and the British role in the fight against ISIS.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Defense chiefs and other leaders from more than 30 countries are here in Washington for two days of meetings on the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The summit comes as ISIS loses territory in both countries, but the group and its followers lash out with terrorist strikes globally.

Meantime, there is continuing turmoil in Turkey, which borders both Syria and Iraq, after Friday's coup attempt.

For more on all of this, I spoke a short time ago with Michael Fallon, the United Kingdom's Defense Secretary.

Defense Secretary, welcome.

MICHAEL FALLON, United Kingdom Defense Secretary:  Thank you, Hari.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  First off, right now, we're hearing that the Turkish president has declared a state of emergency for another three months.  This comes in a week where there has been a significant purge of people who might have been in opposition to him.  Is Turkey still a reliable ally in NATO?

MICHAEL FALLON:  Well, yes, it's still a key ally in NATO.  It's a cornerstone of NATO.  It's very important in the southeast corner of NATO to have Turkey there as a longstanding member.

It has formidable armed forces.  And it's helping us fight ISIL as well in the Middle East.  So, Turkey is important.

Now, it's obviously concerning that there's been this coup.  And we're particularly concerned that Turkey keeps to the path of respecting human rights when it's dealing with the aftermath of the coup.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  And does what's happening now compromise your ability to fight ISIS together with Turkey?

MICHAEL FALLON:  Well, Turkey's made it clear that this doesn't affect their commitment to the fight against ISIL.  We want to seal that border with Syria to stem the flow of foreign fighters.

And they have every interest in not having ISIL flourish on their doorstep.

THE END OF AIDS - An Island in Kenya

"Why a Kenyan island may teach the world how to beat AIDS" PBS NewsHour 7/20/2016


SUMMARY:  A massive HIV test-and-treat study is underway in Kenya and Uganda.  Migratory men in the fishing industry there have been hit especially hard, and researchers are trying creative ways to encourage them to get tested.  William Brangham reports from Mfangano Island with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for our series, “The End of AIDS?”

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Finally, as the International AIDS Conference convenes in Durban, South Africa, this week, we continue our End of AIDS series. 

As we have been reporting, public health officials believe that getting the overwhelming majority of HIV-positive people tested and consistently treated is a crucial step to ending the epidemic.  But that's proven a difficult goal. 

But in Western Kenya, on the border with Uganda, there's a small island where researchers are finding remarkable success with even the hardest-to-reach groups. 

Correspondent William Brangham and producer Jason Kane continue our series, with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. 

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  It's late on a Monday night. 

Fisherman Kevin Opiyo and his crew are heading out onto Lake Victoria on the very western edge of Kenya.  They throw out their lines and stretch out their nets, hoping the tiny omena fish are schooling below. 

Fishing these waters is long, grueling, dangerous work.  It's also become one of the main pathways for the growth of the HIV epidemic in this part of Kenya. 

Opiyo himself is infected. 

KEVIN OPIYO, Fisherman (through translator):  I'm confident that I got it through sexual intercourse and can say it was the time I was working in Remba. 

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Fishing crews often have to travel long distances to other islands on the lake, and into neighboring Uganda. 

DR.  MOSES KAMYA, Makerere University/SEARCH Co-Principal Investigator:  I think there's a mentality among fishermen that life is not as important.  Therefore, you can enjoy it and have as much sex as you can. 

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Dr.  Moses Kamya is an HIV researcher who's been working with fishermen in the region for years. 

DR.  MOSES KAMYA:  You know, fishermen tend to have a lot of disposable income, and, you know, they can buy sex very easily.  And, of course, where fishermen are, there are, you know, sex workers who hang around them. 

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  The fishermen live on Mfangano Island here on Lake Victoria, near the border with Uganda.  The island's 25,000 residents live clustered in homes near the water, and fishing is the main industry. 

Largely because of this migratory fishing, it's estimated that nearly one out of every three adults here is infected with HIV. 

"How South Africa, the nation hardest-hit by HIV, plans to ‘end AIDS’" PBS NewsHour 7/21/2016


SUMMARY:  Nearly one in five people infected with HIV globally lives in South Africa, and only half of those individuals are on treatment.  But the nation has made major strides against the virus in recent years and now is aggressively moving to implement a plan to "end" the epidemic.  William Brangham reports in the final installment of our series "The End of AIDS?"

TURKEY - Erdogan's Crackdown

"Turkish government crackdown touches thousands after coup attempt" PBS NewsHour 7/19/2016

COMMENT:  A nation on the road to dictatorship via Hitler's playbook.


SUMMARY:  In Istanbul, thousands of supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went out to the streets, demanding retribution for those responsible for the coup over the weekend.  Meanwhile, even more Turkish civil servants were detained or suspended from their jobs.  Special correspondent Marcia Biggs talks to Hari Sreenivasan about the crackdown.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  President Obama spoke by phone today with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  The U.S. Justice and State Departments are reviewing Turkey's extradition request for Fethullah Gulen, the man the country says is responsible for the attempted coup last week.

And in its aftermath, the crackdown has only intensified, with thousands more civil servants suspended from their jobs today, in addition to the thousands already under detention.

For more, we're joined now from Istanbul by special correspondent Marcia Biggs.

Marcia, you're standing in front what looks like, what — is this a pro-Erdogan rally?

MARCIA BIGGS, special correspondent:  Indeed, Hari.

This is the largest protest of the last five days.  The first night, as you will remember, on Friday night, when the coup was attempted, President Erdogan called on his people to come down to the streets to save democracy, as he said, to protect him, to protect the government, and this is the fifth day.

People have come down in droves every single day.  And this is by far the largest.  I would say maybe 3,000 people are here tonight.  The mood is one of nationalism, the Turkish flags, a lot of saving the fatherland.

What is very interesting is that Erdogan sent messages, text messages to his people, to the citizens of Turkey today, saying, please come down to the streets, as he has every day, to save the fatherland, to save democracy.  And out they have come.

Public transportation has been free every day.  Indeed, I took the ferry and I took a tram today, paid no money, and that is to encourage people to come down into the streets.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Tell me about the impact.  Is there an impact that you can feel, though, the people that you talk to can feel about all these detentions and firings?

MARCIA BIGGS:  The crackdown over the last couple of days has been brutal, as you mentioned, 30,000 suspensions of various ministries, police and education.

That's the people who work in the prime minister's office, judges, prosecutors, 15,000, as you mentioned, members of the Education Ministry; 1,500 deans were asked to resign, and that's in addition to the 1,000 civilians that were arrested and the 6,000 soldiers that were arrested.

That's 50,000 people in this country that have been affected by this crackdown, whether it's being fired, whether it's being asked to resign, whether it's being detained.  It's incredible.

"What will Turkey look like under a state of emergency?" PBS NewsHour 7/21/2016


SUMMARY:  The failed coup attempt in Turkey has won that nation’s president extraordinary power, in a three-month state of emergency, to impose laws by fiat.  Critics fear he will chip away at Turkey's secular constitution.  Hari Sreenivasan talks with special correspondent Marcia Biggs; and Federica Mogherini, a High Representative/Vice President of the European Union.

BATON ROUGE - The LEO Shootings

"In Baton Rouge, tensions run high after officers shot" PBS NewsHour 7/17/2016


SUMMARY:  Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was on high alert today after a deadly shooting that killed three law enforcement officers this morning.  The city has been tense ever since police officers shot and killed Alton Sterling, prompting protests throughout the country.  Reporter Charlie Whinham, from our affiliate Louisiana Public Broadcasting, joins us for more.

"Baton Rouge reels after Sunday’s ambush murders of three police officers" PBS NewsHour 7/18/2016


SUMMARY:  Another city is mourning the fatal shootings of its police officers — this time three in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which exploded in protest earlier this month when white cops killed Alton Sterling, a black man, outside a convenience store.  The gunman, an ex-Marine, had expressed anger on social media.  Jeffrey Brown reports talks to Col.  Michael Edmonson, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

HUMOR TIMES - This Week We Have....

RNC Convention

Driving While Black


First Lady Michelle Obama Carpool Karaoke

COMIC-CON - Still a Thriller

"Comic-Con still a thriller" by Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune 7/21/2016

NOTE:  This is from the on-line edition of the newspaper, therefore no article link.


Group hosting convention has $20 million in unrestricted money

Millions of dollars will change hands at ticket booths and in exhibit halls when Comic-Con opens today at the San Diego Convention Center, and the group's proceeds will be tax free.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the four-day festival of comics, film and entertainment is a nonprofit educational organization and exempt from paying taxes.

Comic-Con, which is expected to attract more than 130,000 attendees from around the globe, is estimated to pump $135 million into the local economy.  The host organization receives a small fraction of that in ticket sales, rent from vendors, advertising and sponsorship.

Revenue to Comic-Con totaled $17.3 million in the 12 months ending Aug. 31, 2014, the most recent year for which information is available.  With$13.9 million in expenses, that put the group $3.4 million in the black for a new total in unrestricted cash of $20 million.

Organizers say the money they collect supports an awareness campaign that extends beyond the exhibit halls.  They say the event is more than a promotions bonanza for comics, computer games and Hollywood talent.

“We have a mission to bring comics and related popular art to a wider audience,” spokesman David Glanzer said in a statement.  “So while people see images in the media of many attendees dressed in costume, or big booths on the exhibit floor, there are also two floors of meeting space that are used for panels, workshops and programs that highlight areas of art that the public may not be generally aware.”

Excess revenue earned by the nonprofit is reserved for the future, Glanzer added.

“Funds left over from the preceding year are used as operating funds for next year's events,” the statement said.  “If there is a problem that prevents the show from occurring, these funds allow us to meet our financial obligations and to continue operations.”

He noted that the group's historical, academic and cultural efforts may eventually be anchored at a museum in Balboa Park.

Regina Birdsell of the Center for Nonprofit Management in Los Angeles said it is important for charities to collect more in revenue than they spend each year and maintain a reserve in case of fiscal emergency.

But they also need to constantly evaluate whether they are meeting their obligation as a public-benefit corporation, she said.  “ ‘Profitable' nonprofits are allowed to some degree,” Birdsell said.  “As they have evolved, they do need to revisit if they serve a public purpose as a tax-exempt organization.”

Comic-Con started 46 years ago as a humble gathering of 100 comic-book fans in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel.  It has since evolved into one of the premier pop culture extravaganzas in the world.

Fans turn up by the thousands dressed as their favorite characters from television, movies and video games.  Actors and writers turn out to promote their latest projects and generate buzz for upcoming work.  Marketers rack up sales of T-Shirts and other memorabilia.

The convention has become such a local asset that organizers receive concessions in rent and other subsidies to remain in San Diego.

Despite its eight-figure revenue, the San Diego Comic Convention — the group's name on federal documents — reports relatively modest salaries for top employees.

According to federal tax filings, Executive Director Dona Fae Desmond was paid $132,632 in 2014.  Glanzer was the second-highest paid employee at $110,657.  Board President John Rogers collected $64,488, and four other board members were paid between $15,000 and $40,000 each.

The charity reported that most of its 2014 revenue came from “memberships” — about $10 million in ticket sales.  It also reported $5 million in trade show income, almost $2 million from sponsors and about $600,000 in advertising.  The biggest expenses — after $2.1 million in payroll for 43 employees— were $1.8 million for private security, $1 million for equipment rental, $1 million for temporary labor and $663,000 for transportation.  Comic-Con also reported spending $562,000 on sponsorships, $244,000 on bank fees, $127,000 on hospitality, $73,000 on parking and $56,000 on guest rooms.  It also spent $390,000 on rooms and meals for employees.

“These are typical nonprofit costs,” Glanzer wrote in his statement.  Tax returns filed by public- benefit charities are required to be made public as part of the trade-off for not paying federal taxes, which can be as high as 35 percent for businesses.  The group's tax filing reports $0 on the line item where grants or scholarships are reported.

State law requires charities with more than $2 million in annual revenue to produce independent audits every year and to make those reports available to members of the public who ask.  Comic-Con officials declined to provide copies of annual audits to The San Diego Union-Tribune, despite multiple requests.  Birdsell said charity officials do not always appreciate the responsibility that comes with tax-exempt status.

“Sometimes when they get profitable, they don't want the transparency required of nonprofits, where information is very public,” she said.

Tom Schulte, a certified public accountant and nonprofit consultant based in Los Angeles, said Comic-Con is unusual among most charitable organizations because of its healthy reserves and lack of reliance on donations from the public.

Schulte said he hopes Comic-Con puts its millions to wider use throughout the year.

“The jury is still out,” he said.  “It still has time to turn this into a positive for the community.  They could create scholarships to animation school.  There's lot of stuff they have the money to do.  But I give them the benefit of the doubt and say the best is yet to come.” Comic-Con already has expanded beyond San Diego, organizing smaller conventions in Anaheim and Northern California.  The board is thinking about setting up a permanent exhibit to fulfill its mission of “creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular art forms,” the statement from Glanzer said.

“Recently it was made public that Comic-Con is considering the viability of a Comic-Con Museum to help maintain a Comic-Con legacy,” he wrote.

Comic-Con has been in talks with the San Diego Hall of Champions at Balboa Park to occupy space, and a museum there would put the comics group shoulder to shoulder with a host of nonprofit groups.  Even short of that, Glanzer said, “We provide a great deal of opportunities at the show for individuals to learn about artistic forms of expression.  These opportunities can and have included panels on historic aspects of art, presentations and inclusion in academic papers and presentations and workshops for educators and those who work with individuals on different aspects of learning.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 7/15/2016

"Shields and Brooks on 'sweet' Mike Pence, the challenge for the Republican convention" PBS NewsHour 7/15/2016


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week's news, including Donald Trump's veep pick, Mike Pence, who may not be the attack dog the candidate was said to have wanted.  They also weigh in on what type of convention the nation should expect in Cleveland — and how many Trump relatives will speak.


"What is it like to be a black police officer in America?" PBS NewsHour 7/15/2016


SUMMARY:  NewsHour's Hari Sreenivasan sits down with the President of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas for a deeper look at police misconduct, the code of silence, and what it is like to be both a police officer and an African American in 2016. 

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  How long do you think until this community heals itself from this?

LIEUTENANT THOMAS GLOVER, President of the Black Police Association:  I'd like to say we're on our way to healing now but all it takes is the next bad actor to upset that…

HARI SREENIVASAN:  We went to see Lieutenant Thomas Glover in Dallas two days after the police shootings.  He's the President of the area's Black Police Association and has the perspective on what it's like to be a police officer and an African American.  I started by asking him if it's possible to want criminal justice reform while at the same time valuing the life of every police officer.

LIEUTENANT THOMAS GLOVER:  I think it is, as an individual I'm that way, as an African American man, in America with over 35 years on the police department, I am that way.  The majority of the police officers that I know, we all want to see behavior that is improperly exhibited by a police officer criminalized.  You have to do your job as a police officer and then, on the other hand, when you remove your uniform and badge and you go home many of us spend our times in the black community.  The social organizations we tend to become members of are black, the fraternities, sororities, alumni associations so we go from being police officers who work in a process where its our duty to do what we were sworn to do and that's uphold the laws but then you have some very heinous things that happen.  I will not compromise my convictions, as an African American male for the convenience of being a police officer, just can't do it.  I have reported misconduct.  I have reported what I believe was to be excessive force and I have vigorously tried to call out people who openly practice what I would say were discriminatory acts or racist acts of treatment of people of color.  And so that crossroads is very evident as an African American police officer because first of all you are a part of the community.  There's nothing I will ever be able to do that will dissolve my black skin, nothing. 

"A long, violent battle over policing meets hope for change in Newark" PBS NewsHour 7/15/2016


SUMMARY:  Forty-nine years ago this week, Newark, in New Jersey burned in rebellion against police brutality and racial injustice.  Today, activists and authorities continue to grapple with many of the same issues.  In this segment, hear perspectives from protesters and police at a Newark rally in the wake of the shootings in Dallas, St. Paul and Baton Rouge. 

"Social media plays major role in national debate on police violence" PBS NewsHour 7/15/2016


SUMMARY:  Last week, news broke on social media on the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and of police officers in Dallas.  Platforms like Facebook Live provided audiences with a front row seat to violent and graphic imagery that sparked national debate about police brutality and race relations in America.  At the same time, social media provided a platform for messages of support and pleas for unity.  Hari Sreenivasan reports. 

"Would eliminating low-level offenses stop police shootings?" PBS NewsHour 7/15/2016


SUMMARY:  Newshour Weekend special correspondent Chris Bury reports on new efforts in the Twin Cities of Minnesota to change how and when police interact with residents.  In almost an opposite theory to what's been called “Broken Windows” policing, there is an organized move to eliminate many low-level offenses.  This approach raises the question:  Would many of the police shootings of young men of color happen, if they were never pulled over or stopped in the first place?

"Finding common ground amid civil unrest" PBS NewsHour 7/15/2016


SUMMARY:  Monifa Bandele, the senior campaign director of MomsRising.Org; Journalist Ian Tuttle, a fellow at the National Review; and retired NY police detective Marquez Claxton, director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance, discuss their thoughts on how to find common ground on policing, protest and race.

MARY JANE - Joins Research

"Medical marijuana research comes out of the shadows" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2016


SUMMARY:  It was an unprecedented meeting of the minds and it happened at Harvard Medical School.  The subject of April's confab?  Medical cannabis.  Researchers suspect cannabis can do so many things, from fighting cancer to easing concussions and Crohn's disease.  There are still tight restrictions but weed is increasingly coming into the scientific mainstream.  Science correspondent Miles O'Brien reports.

MILES O'BRIEN, Science Correspondent:  It's a landmark place, and time, on the long road to bring medicinal marijuana into the scientific mainstream.

The New England Treatment Access, or NETA, dispensary in Brookline, Massachusetts, is housed in a Beaux-Arts bank building built in the 1920s, a cathedral of cannabis.

Paul Breeden has been coming here to treat chronic pain since the dispensary opened in February.

PAUL BREEDEN (NETA client):  I have been praying for this day all my life.  I have been fighting for this day all my life.  I'm a son of a minister.  I believe God created marijuana.  Humans don't know how God works.

MILES O'BRIEN:  Look at that thing.

NETA is a nonprofit, serving about 7,000 medical marijuana customers now.  The goal is to supply 10,000 on an ongoing basis.  Besides dried flowers and buds that can be smoked, they offer pills, vapor cartridges, creams, tinctures, brownies, chocolates and lozenges.

PAUL BREEDEN:  It's really part of sort of the normalization of medical cannabis.  The days of Ziploc baggies are over.

MILES O'BRIEN:  Norton Arbelaez is a NETA consultant who turned to medical marijuana after he contracted a staph infection 10 years ago.

NORTON ARBELAEZ, New England Treatment Access:  I had quite a bit of pain.  I was prescribed opiate painkillers.  And I made a decision, a very conscious decision to not take them.  So, I had to find a way to medicate otherwise.  I did some research, and cannabis seemed like a good choice for me.

BRITAIN - Prime Minister Theresa May

"New British leader Theresa May inherits Brexit mess — after campaigning against it" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2016


SUMMARY:  Welcome to 10 Downing Street, Theresa May.  Now deal with the Brexit mess that you campaigned against.  The new UK Prime Minister, who took over Wednesday from David Cameron, supported staying with the EU but the Conservative Party leader's first order of business is presiding over the divorce from Europe that British voters approved last month.  Chris Ship of Independent Television News reports.

"Top UK diplomat reacts to new PM Theresa May's first moves" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2016


SUMMARY:  Sir Peter Westmacott, the UK's former Ambassador to the United States weighs in on the past three weeks' fast-paced developments in Britain.  Of the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, he describes her as grounded, no-nonsense and humble.  He describes as a surprise her appointment of Boris Johnson, the pro-Brexit former mayor of London, to be foreign secretary.  Gwen Ifill talks with Westmacott.

CHINESE EMPIRE - South China Sea

RELATED:  "International court rejects China's claims in South China Sea" by Larisa Epatko, PBS NewsHour 7/12/2016

"What next in the dispute over the South China Sea?" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2016


SUMMARY:  China is rejecting a ruling by an international tribunal that its claim to a huge expanse of the South China Sea is invalid.  The dispute was a victory for the Philippines and other nations that also hold claims to the waters around the Spratly Islands, a major fishing, trade and energy production corridor.  Judy Woodruff talks to Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  A judgment was handed down today by an international tribunal that could have far-reaching effects in Asia.  ('Related' above)  It began as a dispute between China and the Philippines over a huge expanse of the South China Sea, and China's assertion of control there in waters claimed by many countries.

The area is a major fishing, trade and energy production corridor.  And, today, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled against China.

For more on this dispute, on the case, and its implications, I'm joined by Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Bonnie Glaser, welcome to the “NewsHour.”

Remind us, first of all, what was the dispute that this international tribunal was asked to resolve?

BONNIE GLASER, Center for Strategic and International Studies:  Well, the Philippines brought this case against China in January 2013, and there are 15 requests that it made.

They're not about sovereignty over territory, because this tribunal is not empowered to rule on sovereignty issues regarding territory, but the Philippines was asking other things.  It was asking, for example, that China's nine-dash-line claim be ruled invalid and that China be told that it doesn't have any historic rights that can be applied to waters that give it any special rights to have fishing or energy exploitation in waters that are in exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

The Philippines also asked that the tribunal rule on the status of eight of the features.  And the tribunal ruled on most of those and importantly found none of the features are full islands.  So, none of them get a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.  They just get a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea if they're a rock, and some of them are underwater, and they get no maritime entitlement whatsoever.


JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, let me just stop you there.  What was China arguing was the basis for its territorial claim, then?

BONNIE GLASER:  Well, China has argued, as have five other claimants, that they own many of the islands.  Some of them, like China and Taiwan, claim all of the islands in the South China Sea.

This particular set of islands is in the Spratlys.  It's the southern part of the South China Sea.  And the Chinese rejected this ruling from the outset.  They claimed that the tribunal didn't have jurisdiction on any of these issues.  So, the Chinese refused to participate in the tribunal ruling.  And they have claimed that it is not binding on China.

But, according to the Convention on the Law of the Sea — and China is a state party — it is binding on both parties, the Philippines and China.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, what does it mean, then?  China, as you say, is rejecting the ruling.  They're saying it's an invalid — was invalid for the court to even consider this.  What does it mean, then?  Is it enforceable in any way, this decision?

BONNIE GLASER:  There is no enforcement mechanism, Judy, under the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  And so it's really left up to the international community to encourage China to be a law-abiding citizen and for China to see that it's in its interest to not be an outlaw.

China wants to, I believe, rise peacefully.  It doesn't want to have confrontation with its neighbors.  So I think this is going to create some thinking, maybe rethinking in China about its approach to its neighbors, I hope.  But in the short run, we're likely to see increased tensions, and I think that the Chinese might take some steps to reassert their claims, because Xi Jinping will face pressure domestically.

He has lost face on this issue, because this award, as they call it, the decision, was almost completely in favor of the Philippines.  It was very one-sided.

TEACHING CIVICS - Election 2016

"Explaining the ‘scandals, lies and incivility' of the 2016 election to teens" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2016


SUMMARY:  The 2016 election mudslinging from “crooked” Hillary Clinton and “dangerously incoherent” Donald Trump has even piqued the interest of teens — and made teaching high school civics that much more difficult.  So it's time to get creative, which one 12th grade government teacher has done with his ‘scandals, lies and incivility' curriculum.  Education Week's Lisa Stark reports for the NewsHour.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It's always been the case that the political science taught in textbooks can be a far cry from politics as practiced in the real world.

But given how different and unusual this year's presidential election has been, it's presented a particular challenge in some school settings, trying to square the civics book with the 2016 campaign as it's unfolded.

Special correspondent Lisa Stark of Education Week visits a high school in Maryland just two hours from the White House, where teachers are trying to help students understand this out-of-the-ordinary election.

It's part of our weekly series Making the Grade.

BRUCE FOX, North East High School:  Good morning.

STUDENTS:  Good morning.

BRUCE FOX:  Good morning.  We're going to start with a warm up here today.  Number one, what are the three Constitutional requirements to be President?

LISA STARK (Education Week):  Bruce Fox's 12th grade A.P. government class has been following this presidential election as the field has winnowed down and the rhetoric has heated up.

BRUCE FOX:  And this year, you can easily make the argument that it's like that on steroids.

LISA STARK:  Is it ever.

DONALD TRUMP, (R), Presumptive Presidential Nominee:  She's a world-class liar.  Just look at her pathetic e-mail server statements, or her phony landing.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), Presumptive Presidential Nominee:  Donald Trump's ideas aren't just different.  They are dangerously incoherent.

LISA STARK:  From television to Twitter, it's been an unruly campaign.

DONALD TRUMP:  Crooked Hillary Clinton.  We can't let it happen.

LISA STARK:  To help students cut through the noise, Bruce Fox is trying out his own ballot.

BRUCE FOX:  We are going to look at scandals, lies and incivility in the 2016 presidential election.  You are going to categorize each incident and rate it.

I think that this year presents extra challenges because the political parties traditionally have had a platform that was predictable and well-known, and, this year, things are a little bit more all over the place.

END OF AIDS - Getting to Zero

"San Francisco’s bold AIDS mission is ‘getting to zero’ by 2030" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2016


SUMMARY:  There’s still no vaccine and no cure, but the medical community is increasingly focused on ambitious plans to bring about an end to HIV/AIDS.  The NewsHour launches its series, “The End of AIDS?” with a look at intense prevention efforts underway in one of the cities most impacted by the epidemic, San Francisco.  William Brangham reports with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  Now we kick off a special series about efforts to try to end the AIDS epidemic.

Leaders and researchers from around the globe will be meeting at the International AIDS Conference in South Africa next week.  One major focus:  How to stop the epidemic.

But with no vaccine or cure in sight, how likely is that?  This week, we’re looking at efforts around the world.

We start in San Francisco, where we have followed people for the past six months.

Correspondent William Brangham and producer Jason Kane reported this series, with the support of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  San Francisco’s gay pride events went off this summer like they usually do, loud and colorful and celebratory.

But there’s additional reason to celebrate.  San Francisco, one of the cities where the AIDS epidemic first emerged, and one that suffered terribly from it, has now launched the country’s most ambitious campaign to control it.

It’s called, “Getting to Zero.”

Luis Canales is a living example of that campaign.  Canales is HIV-positive.  He got infected having unprotected sex with another man three years ago.  But — and this is one of the linchpins of San Francisco’s effort — Canales was tested and then started on HIV treatment immediately after diagnosis.

LUIS CANALES (AIDS victim):  Yes, right away.  And I think it was the next day, I came in and started my meds.

DR.  STEVEN DEEKS, University of California, San Francisco:  That, as a physician, is my goal:  To keep people on therapy for their own good.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Steven Deeks is Canales’ doctor.

DR.  STEVEN DEEKS:  Luis, how you doing?

LUIS CANALES:  Pretty good.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  This approach is called RAPID.

And Deeks says, the sooner the virus can be stopped with antiretroviral drugs, the better.  But it’s not just for the patient.

DR.  STEVEN DEEKS:  From a public health perspective — and I think this is what’s really driving a lot of interest in the RAPID program — someone’s on therapy, they can’t pass the virus to other people.

"Why the South is the epicenter of the AIDS crisis in America" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2016


SUMMARY:  The epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in America is Atlanta and the southeast, and among the hardest hit populations are gay and bisexual black men.  According to the CDC, half of them will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes if current trends continue.  William Brangham reports with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in the second part of the NewsHour’s “The End of AIDS?” series.

COMMENT:  For Atlanta, the problem is based on - you're black and in a fundamentalist Bible-belt.  It IS predjustice.

"‘Ending AIDS' in New York means finding the most vulnerable" PBS NewsHour 7/13/2016


SUMMARY:  Nearly one in 10 Americans living with HIV live in New York, where an ambitious plan aims to cut new infections and HIV-related deaths.  But it has serious challenges, including keeping people on their meds, and stopping the spread among IV drug users.  William Brangham reports with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in the third installment of our “The End of AIDS?” series.

"How Rwanda, once torn by genocide, became a global anti-AIDS leader" PBS NewsHour 7/14/2016


SUMMARY:  Rwanda emerged from its 1994 genocide to build one of the most successful AIDS responses in Africa and is working mightily to halt mother-to-child HIV transmissions.  They’ve done it with a mix of science, technology and “aggressive neighborliness.”  William Brangham reports with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for the fourth part of our series, “The End of AIDS?”

AMERICAN TRAGEDIES - Dallas and Baton Rouge and More

"Police violence protests intensify as Dallas mourns officers" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2016


SUMMARY:  President Barack Obama will be in Dallas Tuesday for an interfaith service to mourn the five police officers cut down in last week's sniper ambush.  The killings have done little to muffle growing national protests against police violence as rallies, marches and human roadblocks spread from cities like New York and Baton Rouge to St.  Paul and Memphis.  Gwen Ifill reports.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  The nation is still grappling tonight with a series of tragedies, recent police killings of black men, and the sniper attack in Dallas.

It follows a long weekend of crowds confronting police and of mass arrests.  Protesters are taking to the streets across the country.  But in Dallas, the anger is tempered by grief for the five officers killed Thursday night.

Police Chief David Brown said today he is running on fumes.

DAVID BROWN, Chief, Dallas Police Department:  My brain is fried.  The memorization it takes to run a major city police department just on a normal process day with all things that happen is overwhelming.  So this transpiring along with the normal things that are continuing to happen in the city is difficult at best.

GWEN IFILL:  Doctors who tried to save Thursday's victims grew emotional at a hospital news conference today.

DR.  BRIAN WILLIAMS, Parkland Memorial Hospital:  This killing, it has to stop, black men dying and being forgotten, people retaliating against the people that are sworn to defend us.  We have to come together and end all this.

GWEN IFILL:  Meanwhile, detectives are reviewing more than 170 hours of body camera video, plus 300 witness and officer statements.  They're searching for more background on Micah Johnson, the gunman who opened fire during an otherwise peaceful protest.

His parents told TheBlaze Web site today that his time in the Army Reserve wasn't what he thought it would be.  They say he changed from a fun-loving extrovert into a hermit.  Johnson died after a lengthy standoff with police.

Chief Brown said today he has no regrets about the decision to kill him with a robot-delivered bomb.

DAVID BROWN:  We knew through negotiations this was the suspect, because he was asking, how many did he get?  And he was telling us how many more he wanted to kill.  This wasn't an ethical dilemma for me.  I would do it again.

GWEN IFILL:  In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, authorities arrested nearly 200 protesters demonstrating over the killing of Alton Sterling, captured on video last week, apparently by two officers.

Among those arrested, prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson, who was released Sunday.

DERAY MCKESSON, Black Lives Matter Activist:  The only people that were violent last Saturday night were the Baton Rouge Police Department.  The protesters remain peaceful both here and across the country.  Again, I remain deeply disappointed in the Baton Rouge Police Department.

GWEN IFILL:  Last night, Baton Rouge officers in riot gear kept protesters from entering Interstate 110 with what activists described as heavy-handed tactics.  Hundreds also marched over the weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota, where picture was shot to death during a traffic stop; 21 officers were injured Saturday night.

Today, city leaders said they were caught off guard.

MAYOR CHRIS COLEMAN, St.  Paul, Minnesota:  The folks that were out there will all tell you that the restraint that our officers showed was second to none, but at some point when our officers are being bombarded by concrete and rebar, to the point where they are being injured, we need to respond.

"Help purge bad cops, black Dallas police leader urges Obama" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2016


SUMMARY:  These are especially difficult times for black law enforcement officers who, painfully sometimes, see that the complaints that some of their fellow cops are racist are real.  Hari Sreenivasan holds a frank discussion with Lieutenant Thomas Glover, the president of the Black Police Association Of Greater Dallas, who makes a special plea for President Barack Obama to make a difference.

"‘The shock of this evil has still not faded':  Dallas mourns attack on police" PBS NewsHour 7/12/2016


SUMMARY:  The image was stark as President Barack Obama tried to comfort a country still reeling from days of bloodshed, protest and racial tension.  Five chairs, holding flags and police caps, to represent the five officers killed by a sniper's bullets.  In eulogizing the fallen, Obama also made the case that racism, institutional and otherwise, is real — and cannot be dismissed.  Judy Woodruff reports.

NATO - Reaction to Russia

"NATO reacts to Russia's aggressive moves in Eastern Europe" PBS NewsHour 7/11/2016


SUMMARY:  Russia's game-changing moves in the Ukraine and new aggressive posture against NATO were the focus of a NewsHour series last week looking at the fault lines between Moscow and the West.  Over the weekend, President Barack Obama and other leaders of the alliance met in Poland.  John Yang learns more from former State Department official Esther Brimmer.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We reported all last week on the fault lines between Russia and the West over the Russian-backed war in Ukraine and Moscow's new, aggressive posture against NATO.

Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty (Organization) alliance met over the weekend in Warsaw, and we go to John Yang for an update.

JOHN YANG (NewsHour):  With us now to discuss what came out of the NATO summit and the future of the alliance is Esther Brimmer.  She has served in various roles at the State Department.  Most recently, she was assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs.  She's now with the Council on Foreign Relations and teaches at George Washington University.

Esther Brimmer, thanks for joining us.

What would this — this summit, the president said it was the most important moment for NATO since the end of the Cold War.  What were the big decisions that came out of this meeting?

ESTHER BRIMMER, Former State Department Official:  Indeed, this was an extremely important summit.

This was an opportunity for the leaders to demonstrate that there was real support and backing, concrete actions to support the Eastern allies of the alliance.  What we saw were that the United States and other important leaders within the alliance are showing that they will commit troops again to Europe.

We're seeing the deployment of battalions in those countries that are most threatened by the new tensions with Russia.  And it meant that the alliance still matters, despite the turbulence created by the Brexit vote in the European Union.

JOHN YANG:  Let's take those one by one.

First of all, the troops being sent to Eastern Europe, troops once again being deployed by NATO to deter Moscow, this is sort of a return to the original purpose of the alliance.

ESTHER BRIMMER:  Well, indeed.

The alliance is, of course, both a political and a military alliance to defend the territory of the NATO allies.  And, once again, we see that we need to have a military presence in Europe increased.  As we know, there has always been a U.S.  presence within Europe, which was happily reduced after the end of the Cold War.

However, now we see that particularly the Baltic states and others are concerned about their security, recognizing the threats made by Russia against those non-NATO countries to their east.  Importantly, we see that, though, this is a multilateral commitment.  We see that countries of four nations will lead the effort to station rotating battalions in the eastern part of the NATO countries.

So, again, the United States, but other countries, too, are part of the response to show that the alliance as a whole is committed to the territories of those countries most under pressure.

JOHN YANG:  You spoke also about the British decision to leave the European Union.  What's that done to NATO?


As we know, that there are important institutions in the transatlantic relationship.  The North Atlantic Treaty alliance, NATO, has always been the underpinning of that relationship.  But the European Union has an important role in other types of security, including border issues and others.

And so the relationship between those countries are also part of transatlantic security.  The United Kingdom is really the lynchpin.  They're both members of NATO and members of the European Union.  They have an important role to play.  But they have a sovereign choice about what they were going to do.  The vote for Brexit means that there is a greater interest, I think, in the United Kingdom in demonstrating their support for the transatlantic alliance and showing that they want to continue to play an important role as a key nation within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

LIFE LESSONS - Fore Peopel From Elephants

The Animal Odd Couple

Pay close attention to Steve's closing comment.

NOTE:  "Females ('cows') tend to live in family groups, which can consist of one female with her calves or several related females with offspring. The groups are led by an individual known as the matriarch, often the oldest cow."
- Wikipedia

Friday, July 15, 2016

TERRORISM - Attack in France


NOTE:  This is from the on-line version of the paper, therefore no link to article.

Driver plows through revelers watching Bastille Day fireworks in Nice; Hollande calls it terrorist assault

A Bastille Day fireworks celebration was shattered by death and mayhem Thursday night in France’s southern city of Nice when a large truck barreled for more than a mile through an enormous crowd of spectators, crushing dozens in what the president called a terrorist assault.  It came eight months after the Paris attacks that traumatized the nation and all of Europe.

Officials and witnesses in Nice said at least 80 people, including children, were killed by the driver of the rampaging truck, who mowed them down on the sidewalk.  He was shot to death by the police as officers scrambled to respond on what is France’s most important annual holiday.

Graphic television and video images showed the truck accelerating and tearing through the crowd, dozens of victims sprawled in its path, and the bullet- riddled windshield of the vehicle.  Municipal officials and police officers described the truck as full of weapons and grenades.

“The horror, the horror has, once again, hit France,” President Fran├žois Hollande said in a nationally televised address early today.  He said the “terrorist character” of the assault was undeniable and he described the use of a large truck to deliberately kill people as “a monstrosity.”

“France has been struck on the day of her national holiday,” he said.  “Human rights are denied by fanatics, and France is clearly their target.”  Hollande, who only hours earlier had proclaimed the impending end of a state of national emergency on July 26, said it would be extended by three months and that additional soldiers would be deployed for security.

In Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama released a statement Thursday night condemning “what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France.”  He said he had directed his team to get in touch with French officials to assist with the investigation into the attack.

“We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack,” the statement said.

French officials quickly came to the conclusion of terrorism as the likely motive, as the scope of the slaughter grew clear.  The use of a large commercial truck as the principal weapon of death raised new questions over how to prevent such attacks.  The officials warned residents to stay indoors and canceled all further scheduled festivities in Nice, a seaside city of 340,000, including a five-day jazz festival and concert tonight by Rihanna.  “There are numerous victims,” said Pierre-Henry Brandet, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, on BFM Television.  “It’s a tragic, exceptional situation.”

Witnesses described scenes of pandemonium, with conflicting accounts on social media, including a false report of hostage-taking in Nice.

“We were enjoying the celebrations when we suddenly saw people running everywhere and tables being pushed down by the movement of panic,” said Daphne Burand, 15, who was at a bar near the beach to watch the fireworks.

“No one explained to us what was happening, and I heard some gunshots not very far away,” she said.  “I waited at the bar for more information because I thought it was a false alert.  But then, people were still running.”

San Diegan Tony Molina told news stations he was vacationing in Nice with his wife and 14-year-old son and had witnessed the attack.

“It was zig-zagging,” he said of the truck in a brief interview aired by CBS News 8 in San Diego.  “I would say it was going about 25 to 30 miles an hour as it did so, and just plummeting through.  It looked like it was hitting several people.  I can tell you right now, even as I look out in front of our area, I see about 10 covered bodies that they haven’t even begun processing yet.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and the identity of the driver was not immediately clear, but the Nice Matin newspaper reported early today that he was a 31-year-old Frenchman of Tunisian origin.

Christian Estrosi, a former mayor of Nice and currently president of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, said in one of a series of Twitter messages that the truck was carrying arms and explosives when it struck the crowd about 10:30 p.m.  local time.

Estrosi told French television channel BFM TV that “the driver fired on the crowd, according to the police who killed him.”

He added that the driver’s behavior appeared to be “completely premeditated.”

The attack amounted to a gut-punch to a nation that was struggling to restore some sense of normalcy and had begun to drop its guard.

Hours after Hollande said during Bastille Day festivities in Paris that “we cannot prolong the state of emergency eternally,” the massive white truck came crashing through.

The main strip through Nice was littered with bodies, one after the other.

“Whatever the nature of what happened in Nice, the threat of terrorism is particularly high,” Brandet, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said on the iTele television station.  He added that security forces were on high alert in the area and in cities around France.

Dozens of people were seriously injured and many more were psychologically shocked, Brandet said.  The region has activated a so-called White Plan, put in place during the Nov. 13 Paris terror attacks, to open all emergency rooms to receive victims, he added.

The Islamic State, the militant group that asserted responsibility for the attacks in Paris last November that killed 130 people, did not make any immediate claims for the Nice assault.

It typically takes the Islamic State several hours, and sometimes up to one and even two days, to assert responsibility for attacks in Western countries.  It typically does so through its Amaq channel on the encrypted phone app Telegram, which serves as the group’s news wire.

However, as in the hours immediately after the Paris, Brussels and Orlando attacks, there was a now familiar celebration on channels run by groups that support the Islamic State, as well as on at least one channel affiliated with the group, also known as ISIS and ISIL.  They cheered, and laughed at the carnage.

On a channel created Thursday, called the United Cyber Caliphate, run by a group that has previously attempted to carry out cyberattacks in the Islamic State’s name, a message included a single word — France — followed by a smiley face.

The channel of an Islamic State member, Aswarti Media, which has repeatedly been shut down, was posting the phrase “Allahu Akbar.”  Yet another suspected pro-ISIS channel showed an image of the Eiffel Tower going up in flames.

Several pro-Islamic State forums posted old messages in which the terrorist group urged followers to carry out lone-wolf attacks against France.

Analysts noted that the Islamic State has called on its followers to kill civilians in Western countries by any means possible.

The Nice attack took place just as the Euro 2016 soccer tournament had concluded.  France had hosted the tournament, and the entire country had been on high alert.  There had been reports that suspects linked to the attacks in Paris and the Brussels assault in March had planned an attack during the tournament.

With tens of thousands of people gathered at stadiums and in designated “fan zones” during the games, the police and private security took extraordinary measures to try to secure the sites.

It was difficult to know if the measures were successful or if in fact there were no plans to attack the soccer tournament.

One question people will be asking is whether the security forces, as well as civilians, let their guard down once the tournament was over thinking that the danger had passed.