Happy 100th Birthday - US Coast Guard

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Lulu served and was one of the first few women who did. From the Coast Guard Compass:

Celebrating Coast Guard history: 100th anniversary of the “Act to create the U.S. Coast Guard”
One hundred years ago today, from his office in the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., Captain-Commandant Ellsworth P. Bertholf, head of the now-former U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, or USRCS, ordered his Chief Clerk to send telegrams or radio messages to all offices, stations and cutters around the country announcing the official news of the creation of the U.S. Coast Guard. Thanks in large part to the efforts of Bertholf and his counterpart at the U.S. Life-Saving Service, Sumner Kimball, and with the support of leadership at the Treasury Department and friends in Congress, from all sides of the political spectrum, newspaper editors, and elsewhere, Bertholf had just managed to fend off efforts to abolish both services or dismember each and parcel out their duties to other agencies by proposing the novel idea of combining both into one agency, thereby gaining efficiencies sought by the Executive Branch, members of Congress, and the public.

Portrait of Captain-Commandant Ellsworth Betholf. U.S. Coast Guard image.

Portrait of Captain-Commandant Ellsworth Betholf. U.S. Coast Guard image.

As previously noted, the change was announced through General Order No. 1.

The personnel of the USRCS, though, viewed this merger as little more than a change in the name of the service. Bertholf wrote:

“Coast Guard is the logical name for the old Revenue Cutter Service as well as the new combination, and it is a logical and direct successor of the old ‘revenue cutter service;’ so that we may fairly claim not to have lost our history even if the particular name which we temporarily bore has been changed. The vessels will always be known as cutters and the name ‘cutter’ still remains to indicate the floating activities of the Coast Guard and since it is simply a continuation of the old service in that respect, we may still fairly claim to have been born in 1790.”

Happy Birthday and many many more - a very good service and one that does the United States proud! 

Large-scale blacksmithing in Russia

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Large steam hammer - they are cutting some steel rod to length - railroad wheels? The whole crew looks like they have been working together for a long time - no communication needed:

 

Outstanding in our fields

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We spent the day tearing down the old fence around the apple orchard. The 180+ trees were never planted correctly so we are planning to re-do it this spring but smaller in scale. The goats had busted through the wires of the electric fence so it was just a matter of finding the remaining wire remnants and pulling up the 40 fence posts (one every 20 feet). There is quite the wild berry incursion along the property line and near the orchard fence - I'll spend some quality time with the walk-behind brush cutter and get those knocked out this spring. Nip them in the bud...

The field looks a lot better. We are expecting decent weather tomorrow as well.  Lulu's nephew came out to the farm today to help and the three of us are heading out for breakfast tomorrow and up to the mountain to look around.

Hamburgers for dinner tonight - baked beans Potato Salad - Lulu's doing her recipe (really good!) and all the fixings.

Still feel a cold coming on but it isn't debilitating, just annoying.

Seriously - this is insane. From The Washington Free Beacon:

Muslim Brotherhood-Aligned Leaders Hosted at State Department
The State Department hosted a delegation of Muslim Brotherhood-aligned leaders this week for a meeting about their ongoing efforts to oppose the current government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, who rose to power following the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, an ally of the Brotherhood, in 2013.

One member of the delegation, a Brotherhood-aligned judge in Egypt, posed for a picture while at Foggy Bottom in which he held up the Islamic group’s notorious four-finger Rabia symbol, according to his Facebook page.

That delegation member, Waleed Sharaby, is a secretary-general of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council and a spokesman for Judges for Egypt, a group reported to have close ties to the Brotherhood.

The delegation also includes Gamal Heshmat, a leading member of the Brotherhood, and Abdel Mawgoud al-Dardery, a Brotherhood member who served as a parliamentarian from Luxor.

A little history lesson - from Discover the Networks:

Founded in 1928 by the Egyptian schoolteacher/activist Hasan al-Banna (a devout admirer of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis), the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) -- a Sunni entity -- is one of the oldest, largest and most influential Islamist organizations in the world. While Egypt historically has been the center of the Brotherhood’s operations, the group today is active in more than 70 countries (some estimates range as high as 100+). Islam expert Robert Spencer has called MB "the parent organization of Hamas and al Qaeda." In 2003, Richard Clarke – the chief counterterrorism advisor on the U.S. National Security Council during both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations – told a Senate committee that Hamas, al Qaeda, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were all "descendants of the membership and ideology of the Muslim Brothers."

It's motto is:

Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope

Talk about a nice bunch of people...

An interesting number - Apps and Movies

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From Horace Dediu:

Bigger than Hollywood
Apple paid $10 billion to developers in calendar 2014. Additional statistics for the App store are:

    • $500 million spent on iOS apps in first week of January 2015
    • Billings for apps increased 50% in 2014
    • Cumulative developer revenues were $25 billion (making 2014 revenues 40% of all app sales since store opened in 2008)
    • 627,000 jobs created in the US
    • 1.4 million iOS apps catalog is sold in 155 countries

Putting these data points together with others from previous releases results in a fairly clear picture of the iTunes/Software/Services

And:

Put another way, in 2014 iOS app developers earned more than Hollywood did from box office in the US.

Although the totals for Domestic (US) Box Office are not the complete Hollywood revenues picture, Apple’s App Store billings is not the complete App revenue picture either. The Apps economy includes Android and ads and service businesses and custom development.  Including all revenues, apps are still likely to be bigger than Hollywood.

But there’s more to the story. It’s also likely that the App industry is healthier. On an individual level, some App developers earn more than Hollywood stars and I would guess that the median income of app developers is higher than the median income of actors. The app economy sustains more jobs (627,000 iOS jobs in the US vs. 374,000 in Hollywood) and is easier to enter and has wider reach. As the graph below shows It’s also growing far more rapidly.

Hollywood tends to operate in its own little bubble - they are taken completely by surprise when films like American Sniper become so popular. They need to wake up and figure out who their audience is.

Also, iOS is not the dominant platform - Google Android enjoys a 78% share globally and a 61.9% US share.

RIP - Charles Hard Townes

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Townes? He invented the Fricking Laser

From UC Berkeley:

Nobel laureate and laser inventor Charles Townes dies at 99
Charles Hard Townes, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser and subsequently pioneered the use of lasers in astronomy, died early Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Oakland. He was 99 and in failing health, and died on his way to the hospital.

“Charles Townes embodies the best of Berkeley; he’s a great teacher, great researcher and great public servant,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks on the occasion of a campuswide celebration of Townes’ 99th birthday last July 28. “As we celebrate this 99-year milestone and a career spanning nearly 80 years, we can only be impressed by the range of his intellectual curiosity, his persistence and his pioneering spirit.”

Until last year, Townes visited the campus daily, working either in his office in the physics department or at the Space Sciences Laboratory.

“Charlie was a cornerstone of the Space Sciences Laboratory for almost 50 years,” said Stuart Bale, director of the lab and a UC Berkeley professor of physics. “He trained a great number of excellent students in experimental astrophysics and pioneered a program to develop interferometry at short wavelengths. He was a truly inspiring man and a nice guy. We’ll miss him.”

The laser?

Townes was 35 in the spring of 1951 when, seated on a park bench among blooming azaleas in Washington, D.C., he was struck by the solution to a longstanding problem, how to create a pure beam of short-wavelength, high-frequency light.

That revelation – not much different from a religious revelation, Townes believed – eventually led to the first laser, a now ubiquitous device common in medicine, telecommunication, entertainment and science.

Fricking Lasers? From here:

 

Very cool project - SeeStar

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From MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) comes this elegant hack of a GoPro camera.
Traditional underwater camera systems start at $10K and get into nosebleed prices very quickly. MBARI's SeeStar costs around $3K to build. This is an open source project and plans and source are available online.

 

 

The project website is here: SeeStar

New SeeStar camera system allows researchers to monitor the depths without sinking the budget
To build equipment that can operate reliably in the deep sea, MBARI engineers must often use expensive, high-tech materials and complex electronic-control systems. This makes it difficult for researchers at other institutions to build similar equipment, and thus for MBARI to fulfill its goal of sharing its technology with researchers around the world. However, MBARI engineers recently designed a new underwater camera and lighting system which they hope will be simple and inexpensive enough so that almost any researcher could build one.

The SeeStar project, as it is called, began as the brainchild of marine biologist Steve Haddock and Electrical Engineer Chad Kecy. Haddock, an expert on jellies, wanted a cheap and easily deployable camera that researchers around the world could use to document jellyfish blooms. He also wanted a system that was versatile enough to be attached to a pier, mounted on a tripod on the seafloor, or carried by a robotic submarine.

In designing SeeStar, Kecy worked closely with Mechanical Engineer François Cazenave and Software Engineer Mike Risi. They ended up with a system that costs just under $3,000 in parts, but can operate as deep as 300 meters (almost 1,000 feet) for months at a time.

Much more at the site. Preliminary documentation can be found here: seestar / Operations Manual

I read about the drone crash on the White House lawn a few days ago but didn't post as I figured there would be more details in the near future.

Boy Howdy!

Talk about a career-limiting move. From the New York Times:

White House Drone Crash Described as a U.S. Worker’s Drunken Lark
It was 42 degrees and raining lightly around 3 a.m. on Monday when an inebriated off-duty employee for a government intelligence agency decided it was a good time to fly his friend’s drone, a 2-foot-by-2-foot “quadcopter” that sells for hundreds of dollars and is popular among hobbyists.

But officials say the plan was foiled, perhaps by wind or a tree, when the employee — who has not been named by the Secret Service or charged with a crime — lost control of the drone as he operated it from an apartment just blocks from the White House.

He texted his friends, worried that the drone had gone down on the White House grounds, and then went to sleep. It was not until the next morning, when he woke and learned from friends that a drone had been found at the White House, that he contacted his employer, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He then called the Secret Service and immediately began cooperating with an investigation into the incident.

Oopsie - there is the long-standing internet maxim that you must not post when drunk. I guess the same goes for flying a drone. The unit in question has a payload of about three pounds with a 20 minute flight time. That could make a pretty big bang . The radio link is only good for a couple hundred yards but you can pre-program them to fly a specific course. They have on-board GPS and computer so they can arrive at a location within a couple feet.

The technology is evolving so quickly that I am holding off for a few years to get one. Get some decent communication range and flight longevity.

All from the Bellingham Herald.

First - Washington Democrats oppose national education standards

Leaders of the state Democratic Party have passed a resolution condemning the national education standards known as the Common Core, nearly five years after the state adopted the new learning goals.

At a party meeting in Olympia on Saturday, the Democrats approved a resolution saying the state was unfairly pressured into adopting the new standards.

They are asking the Legislature and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn to back away from the Common Core and return to a similar list of education goals created in Washington state.

Good - common core is an ill-thought plan and the Federal Government has absolutely zero authority to inject itself into the public education arena.  The Constitution makes no reference to education and the Tenth Amendment reinforces the rights of the individual State to regulate it. To whit:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Second - Washington agriculture yields $10 billion behind record values for milk, other products

Washington agriculture brought in a record $10.2 billion in 2013, thanks to record-high crop values for milk, potatoes, cattle, grapes and pears, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It was the third consecutive year crop values yielded a record haul.

The value of the milk produced by the state’s dairy cows went up by 12 percent to $1.3 billion, causing milk to outperform wheat and become the state’s second-most valuable agricultural product in 2013. Apples kept their position as Washington’s top crop. Wheat dropped by 13 percent to $1 billion.

Good news - Seattle may sway the political landscape - liberals always seem to flock to large cities - but the rest of WA State rises in the morning and goes to work. 

Finally - Ericksen co-sponsoring Senate bill to end Seattle tunnel project

Two state senators say it’s time to scrap the stalled Seattle tunnel project and bury Bertha, the broken-down $80 million state-of-the-art drilling machine, so the transportation department can find alternatives to fix or replace the viaduct that carries traffic along the city’s waterfront.

Republican Sens. Doug Ericksen and Michael Baumgartner introduced a bill Tuesday that says the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project has failed “and the project as it is currently designed cannot be justified financially.” The state needs to “stop throwing money at a hole in the ground,” said Baumgartner, R-Spokane, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5646.

“I have no confidence that the Department of Transportation can bring this project in on time and under budget," Baumgartner said. "Bertha was sold on a faulty promise of controlled cost and engineering predictability. The project has neither. It’s time to shut it down and move to other alternatives.”

Last week a review board decided the state should pay its contractors for tackling severe groundwater flows at the rescue pit – an expense that could reach $20 million. More and more, the Seattle tunnel project is sounding like the infamous Boston ‘Big Dig’ that was budgeted at $2.8 billion and wound up costing taxpayers $14.6 billion – $22 billion with interest, said Ericksen, R-Ferndale.

Time to stick a fork in that project - it is over and done with. Seattle has had an infatuation with off-the-wall transportation projects for a long long time. The Monorail project only cost Seattle taxpayers $124.7 Million Dollars without an inch of track being laid. In 2007, the King County voters rejected the Surface-Tunnel hybrid (what is being constructed now) 69.65% to 30.35%.

I had written about this January 6th of this year and quoted from this article at the Herald:

Lawmakers anticipated this scenario in 2009 when they specified $2.8 billion as the hard cap on the state’s share of the tunnel. They drew the line there because Seattle’s political leaders had rejected a rebuild of the viaduct, the least expensive option, and pushed for the more expensive tunnel.

Seattle leaders have never liked that provision, and they’re liking it less and less as the project’s troubles multiply. State officials who need the city’s votes, including Gov. Jay Inslee, have said the requirement is unenforceable.

 A few corporations, property owners and consulting companies are getting very rich - crony capitalism at its finest. Have they no shame - doing this to the obvious detriment of the WA State taxpayer and the citizens of Seattle.

Thank God for the Elderberry plant

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As I said earlier, I drove down to Burlington to pick up some stuff from a vendor. Coming back, I noticed a bit of a body ache and a pressure in my sinuses. Crap! We were exposed to a lot of people on last week's trip to Canada.

I have a fresh batch of Elderberry tincture that has been sitting in the garage for the last four months - Everclear (90% ABV) and dried organic Elderberries. A shot of that with dinner and I should be feeling a lot better...

Old wives tale? Read here and here

From the first link (PDF):

Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections 

And the money quote:

Sixty patients (aged 18 – 54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999 – 2000 in Norway. Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.

The second link is just the paper's abstract:

Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro.
A ionization technique in mass spectrometry called Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART TOF-MS) coupled with a Direct Binding Assay was used to identify and characterize anti-viral components of an elderberry fruit (Sambucus nigra L.) extract without either derivatization or separation by standard chromatographic techniques. The elderberry extract inhibited Human Influenza A (H1N1) infection in vitro with an IC(50) value of 252+/-34 microg/mL. The Direct Binding Assay established that flavonoids from the elderberry extract bind to H1N1 virions and, when bound, block the ability of the viruses to infect host cells. Two compounds were identified, 5,7,3',4'-tetra-O-methylquercetin (1) and 5,7-dihydroxy-4-oxo-2-(3,4,5-trihydroxyphenyl)chroman-3-yl-3,4,5-trihydroxycyclohexanecarboxylate (2), as H1N1-bound chemical species. Compound 1 and dihydromyricetin (3), the corresponding 3-hydroxyflavonone of 2, were synthesized and shown to inhibit H1N1 infection in vitro by binding to H1N1 virions, blocking host cell entry and/or recognition. Compound 1 gave an IC(50) of 0.13 microg/mL (0.36 microM) for H1N1 infection inhibition, while dihydromyricetin (3) achieved an IC(50) of 2.8 microg/mL (8.7 microM). The H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu; 0.32 microM) and Amantadine (27 microM).

So Elderberry is just as good as our best pharmaceutical anti-viral medications...

British music stomp-box manufacturer Effectrode makes gorgeous products for the performing musician. Stomp-boxes but designed using vacuum tubes and engineered for audiophile qualities.

From their about page:

About Effectrode Pedals
From the 1950′s up until the present day the world’s finest tube studio compressors, tube microphone preamps, tube tape delays and plate reverbs have stood the test of time to become highly desirable and sought after by musicians, sound engineers and enthusiasts of classic gear. Effectrodeis fueled by a sense of nostalgia and fascination with the warm, musical tone, clean lines and simplicity of such vintage vacuum tube equipment. I wanted to recreate this wonderful tone and classic styling in a stompbox format and began pursuing an alternative path to design effects pedals – pedals that might have been built if the transistor hadn’t been invented and tube technology had continued being refined and developed towards perfection.

My aim is that Effectrode pedals must push the limits and take guitar tone to the farthest possible point so that artists are inspired by them. All my effects pedals are unique, original and meticulously designed from the ground up, taking several years of research & development before they reach maturity. I utilise only the finest audiophile grade polyester capacitors, instrumentation grade resistors, NOS (new old stock) and modern triode tubes operating at proper amp plate voltages (300Volts!) with D.C. powered heaters. The signal path is all-tube, class-A circuitry – some designs are very linear and transparent whereas others are gorgeously non-linear and rich in harmonic overtones! These are effects pedals built from the “Right Stuff!”.

The result of all this meticulous attention to detail are beautiful pedals having more in common with high-end vintage studio equipment than the transistorised stompboxes normally found on the pedalboards of guitar players. For example, the Tube-Vibe is a rebuild of the classic Uni-Vibe effect made famous by Jimi Hendrix except it’s constructed with tubes instead of transistors. And the PC-2A compressor is built on an all-tube signal path and photo-optical gain attentuator just like the legendary LA-2A studio compressor. I will often work with professional musicians and guitar technicians during the design of a pedal and can even further fine-tune the circuitry to sculpt the sound for them.

One thing that they have done is maintain a small library of classic articles and reprints. We recently saw Forbidden Planet on tv and I was telling Lulu about Louis and Bebe Barron who did the soundtrack. Googled them and found several articles on the Barron's as well as other early electronic music composers on their site.

Check out Effectrode Articles - some fun reading.

More crony capitalism at work. From Ars Technica:

Comcast ghostwrote pro-merger letters that politicians sent to FCC
Comcast has been supported by many politicians in its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, but the testimonials from elected officials aren't quite as organic as the cable company would have you believe.

A report today by The Verge, based on documents obtained through public records requests, shows that in August three politicians sent letters to the Federal Communications Commission that were ghostwritten by Comcast. We reported several months ago that letters from politicians closely mimicked Comcast talking points and re-used Comcast's own statements without attribution, and the documents revealed today show just how Comcast was able to get politicians on board.

"For instance, a letter sent to the FCC by a town councilman from the small community of Jupiter, Florida was in fact largely orchestrated by some of the biggest players in corporate telecom," The Verge wrote. "Not only do records show that a Comcast official sent the councilman the exact wording of the letter he would submit to the FCC, but also that finishing touches were put on the letter by a former FCC official named Rosemary Harold, who is now a partner at one of the nation’s foremost telecom law firms in Washington, DC. Comcast has enlisted Harold to help persuade her former agency to approve the proposed merger."

It is crap like this that gives honest capitalists a bad name. John Cole sums it up perfectly:

 

20150127-comcast.jpg

Great news - Bowe Bergdahl

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From Breitbart:

Report: Bergdahl to Be Charged with Desertion
On Monday’s broadcast of “The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News Channel, retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer of the London Center for Policy Research revealed to host Bill O’Reilly that sources tell him U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will face charges for desertion.

Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan from June 2009 until his release in May 2014, which was part of a prisoner exchange for five Taliban members who were being held at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

“Bill, the Army has come to its conclusion and Bowe Bergdahl,” Shaffer said, “Sgt. Bergdahl will be charged with desertion. I have been told and confirmed by two other sources that his attorney was given what we call a charge sheet. A charge sheet is results of the investigation listing out the articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that have been violated. The key violation is desertion. And this is has been done. The decision has been made. Let me be very clear. As a corporate entity, the Army has decided that they want to pursue Bergdahl for this violation.”

Sgt. Bergdahal voluntarily walked away from his post at night. For a few weeks earlier, he had been observed asking Afghani people about how to find the Taliban.

Well that was a big bust - snowmageddon

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The big East-coast blizzard turned out to be quite the dud. It went to the North - parts of coastal Massachusetts were hit pretty hard but New York only got a foot or less snow.

Heading South to Burlington to pick up some stuff from a vendor and then back home to work on a couple of projects.

What a relief - news from the year 2000

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From Charles Onians, writing in the UK Independent on Monday 20 March 2000:

Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.

The first two months of 2000 were virtually free of significant snowfall in much of lowland Britain, and December brought only moderate snowfall in the South-east. It is the continuation of a trend that has been increasingly visible in the past 15 years: in the south of England, for instance, from 1970 to 1995 snow and sleet fell for an average of 3.7 days, while from 1988 to 1995 the average was 0.7 days. London's last substantial snowfall was in February 1991.

Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties.

However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

Care to publish a retraction Charles?

As the BBC sinks into obscurity

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If I were running the place, Mr. Kafala would have been out of a job so fast he would have suffered whiplash. From the UK Independent:

Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
The Islamists who committed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris should be not be described as “terrorists” by the BBC, a senior executive at the corporation has said.

Tarik Kafala, the head of BBC Arabic, the largest of the BBC’s non-English language news services, said the term “terrorist” was too “loaded” to describe the actions of the men who killed 12 people in the attack on the French satirical magazine.

Mr Kafala, whose BBC Arabic television, radio and online news services reach a weekly audience of 36 million people, told The Independent: “We try to avoid describing anyone as a terrorist or an act as being terrorist. What we try to do is to say that ‘two men killed 12 people in an attack on the office of a satirical magazine’. That’s enough, we know what that means and what it is.”

Mr Kafala said: “Terrorism is such a loaded word. The UN has been struggling for more than a decade to define the word and they can’t. It is very difficult to. We know what political violence is, we know what murder, bombings and shootings are and we describe them. That’s much more revealing, we believe, than using a word like terrorist which people will see as value-laden.”

Sorry to upset your widdle apple-cart but you, Mr. Kafala, are either practicing Taqiyya or you are clueless. You have spent too much time in the echo-chamber of your peers and have lost your touch. The world out there is a lot different from what you imagine it to be and to call yourself a journalist is the utmost of hubris. Your nuanced and measured reportage is lipstick on a pig. When all is said and done, it is still a pig.

Not a great idea to mix the two:

 

From PIEROGRAM

Now this will be interesting - Cuba

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From FOX News:

Cuba's $6B debt to Americans for seized properties hangs over US talks
A $6 billion sticking point could create headaches for the U.S.-Cuba talks. 

Though concerns over human rights, press freedoms and U.S. fugitives living free on the island have dominated debate over the Obama administration's negotiations on restoring diplomatic ties, the Castro regime also still owes Americans that eye-popping sum. 

The $6 billion figure represents the value of all the assets seized from thousands of U.S. citizens and businesses after the Cuban revolution in 1959. With the United States pressing forward on normalizing relations with the communist country, some say the talks must resolve these claims. 

These claims are quite legitimate - a bit more: 

Over nearly 6,000 claims by American citizens and corporations have been certified by the U.S. Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, totaling $1.9 billion. 

Today, with interest and in today's dollars, that amount is close to $6 billion. 

U.S. sugar, mineral, telephone and electric company losses were heavy. Oil refineries were taken from energy giants like Texaco and Exxon. Coca-Cola was forced to leave bottling plants behind. Goodyear and Firestone lost tire factories, and major chains like Hilton handed over once-profitable real estate for nothing in return. 

Cuba has no money - it only survived because Russia didn't want it to fail. Russia wanted to export Communism into South America and it set up Cuba as a Potemkin State to demonstrate how wonderful the workers paradise was. Now that the Russian experiment has failed, Cuba no longer has a sugar-daddy. The Castro brothers are the usual third-world kleptocrats, not revolutionary idealists. Ideas so great they have to be mandetory...

Sharpton

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Two-bit hustler - his fifteen minutes of fame should have been over years ago.

Love this visual:

20150126-taxcheat.jpg

Hat tip to Grouchy Old Cripple for the link.

Politics as it is done in New York

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Nice to see - from Michael Walsh writing at the PJ Tatler:

Is the Noose Closing Around Andrew Cuomo?
You have to like the cut of this guy Preet Bharara’s jib. The Indian-born U.S. attorney has just taken down the stupefyingly corrupt speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, and now may have an even bigger target in his sights: Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself. Albany insider Fred Dicker has the scoop at the New York Post:

Gov . Cuomo is “freaked-out and furious” over the bombshell criminal charges dropped on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last week — and “obsessed with fear’’ because of the ongoing federal corruption probe.

One source described Cuomo as “doubly enraged’’ by hard-driving Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s decision to bring the five criminal corruption charges against Silver just hours after the governor delivered his State of the State address — and then, less than 24 hours after that, to indict Albany’s “three men in a room’’ culture in which Cuomo is the lead player. “Cuomo feels Preet just walked all over him,’’ said the source.

Knowledgeable insiders, including law-enforcement experts, said it wasn’t accidental that Bharara brought the charges against Silver just hours after Cuomo’s State of the State. “Prosecutors have a lot of discretion, and when they time a high-profile arrest in a way that steps all over Cuomo’s speech, that’s the use of discretion for a purpose,’’ a former federal prosecutor told The Post.

Well, that certainly was a warning shot across the bow of a guy who’s no stranger to power politics. and around whom the stink of corruption is so redolent that even the Democrat operatives at the New York Times couldn’t endorse him for re-election last year. What got everybody who’s not on the take’s attention was Cuomo’s abrupt shutdown of the Moreland Commission, which had been impaneled to root out corruption in state government. When the commission started sniffing a little too close to the Cuomo throne, Mario’s boy pulled the plug on it.

Much more at the site - could not happen to a nicer group of people. Tammany Hall all over again.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
--George Santayana

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