July 19, 2012 archive

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Due to weather conditions here in the northeast, I’m a bit late tonight. Yeah, climate change!

Manifest Destiny In Reverse

America has never been this fucked up.

That bitter awareness is echoing from one end of reality to the other, it’s rumbling just under the surface of this Wonderland of the One-Percent, it can be heard in the whistling of Wall Street bankers past the graveyard of the economy, in the silence of a million foreclosed homes, in the blowing of the wind through the ragged lines of the unemployed, in the pounding of the waves of karma on the shores of capitalism, where the sandcastles of the American Dream are being swept away, where the piers of the political system are collapsing into the sea, where a long night is falling and the lights along the boardwalk of forgotten freedom are all going out.

North Shore Sunset

HSBC: Money Laundering for Drug Dealers & Terrorists

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

As if rate fixing wasn’t bad enough, HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, has been caught laundering money for Mexico, Iran and Syria:

The bank failed to monitor a staggering £38trillion of money moving across borders from places that could have posed a risk, including the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. The failures stretched to dealings with Saudi Arabian bank Al Rajhi, which was linked to the financing of terrorism following 9/11.

HSBC’s American arm, HBUS, initially severed all ties with Al Rajhi. But it later agreed to supply the Saudi bank with US banknotes after it threatened to pull all of its business with HSBC worldwide.

According to the report, HBUS also accepted £9.6billion in cash over two years from subsidiaries without checking where the money came from.

In one instance, Mexican and US authorities warned HSBC that £4.5billion sent to the US from its Mexican subsidiary ‘could reach that volume only if they included illegal drug proceeds’. [..]

The Senate probe also examined banking HSBC did in Saudi Arabia with Al Rajhi Bank, which the report said has links to financing terrorism.

Evidence of those links emerged after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the Senate report said, citing U.S. government reports, criminal and civil legal proceedings and media reports. [..]

Some of the money that moved through HSBC was tied to Iran, the report said, which would violate U.S. prohibitions on transactions tied to it and other sanctioned countries.

To conceal the transactions, HSBC affiliates used a method called ‘stripping,’ where references to Iran are deleted from records. HSBC affiliates also characterized the transactions as transfers between banks without disclosing the tie to Iran in what the Senate report called a ‘cover payment.’ [..]

So just how embarrassing is this? Obviously enough that HSBC’s chief compliance officer, David Bagley tendered his resignation during his Senate hearing testimony:

David Bagley, the head of compliance for the British bank since 2002, broke from his prepared testimony to tell the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that “now is the appropriate time for me and for the bank for someone new to serve as the head of group compliance.”

They don’t need no stinking regulation, that might hurt those “job creators.”  

Consequences of the War on Terror

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The consequences of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s loose lips with secret information about the informant in the assassination of Osama bun Laden in Pakistan, has put many lives at high risk.

More Damage from Panetta’s Vaccine Ruse: UN Doctor on Polio Vaccine Drive Shot; Hundreds of Thousands Denied Polio Vaccine

by Jim White at emptywheel

As one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, Pakistan launched a three day vaccination drive yesterday with a target of vaccinating the 318,000 children in North and South Waziristan who have not received their vaccinations. Across all of Pakistan, the goal is to vaccinate 34 million children under the age of five. The drive is being held despite a push by the Taliban to prevent vaccinations in tribal areas. The Taliban’s ban on vaccinations is aimed at stopping US drone strikes in the tribal areas and is in response to the vaccination ruse by the CIA.  Dr. Shakeel Afridi pretended to be doling out hepatitis vaccines in a failed attempt to retrieve DNA samples for the CIA from the bin Laden compound when it was under surveillance prior to the attack that killed Osama bin Laden. Today, a UN doctor and his driver were wounded when a shooter opened fire on them in Karachi. The doctor was reported to be working on the vaccine program. [..]

It seems that Leon Panetta’s approval of and subsequent public confirmation of Afridi’s vaccine ruse is a problem that just continues to affect the lives of more and more children every day. Although the Pakistani government’s vaccine drive is legitimate and urgently needed, Panetta’s poor judgment is putting that drive at risk and assuring that it will fall far short of the rate of vaccination needed to prevent a record year for polio cases in Pakistan.

The consequences are that the informant, Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi, was jailed for 33 years in May, 34 million children are at risk and trying to save those lives can get you killed. MR. Panetta should be sentenced to driving doctors and aid workers in North and South Waziristan for the rest of his life.

1960’s-1970’s Rock-n-Roll; The 5th Dimension:

Every so often, I think about and listen to my favorite oldies (1960’s-early/mid-1970’s) rock-n-roll music, which tends to promote a nostalgia for the days when things were crazy, yes, but not as crazy as they are now, and the music (as well as a lot of the movies) back then reflected a certain exuberance that existed in that particular era, which didn’t constantly borderline frenzy, or cross over into frenzy, at least not to the extent that it all too often does during the course of these days.  

Of course, however,  as some people will put it, the good old days weren’t always good.  Along with the good back in the 1960’s and early to mid 1970’s, a lot of bad happened as well, which, unfortunately, contributed a great deal to the United States’ slide to the extreme Right, something that had been waiting in the wings all along.    A strong streak of anti-intellectualism has always permeated the Unites States society and culture, from Day One,  and it has manifested itself in many bizarre or nasty ways, especially starting in the early to mid 1950’s, with the McCarthy Era.  

There are a number of people who claim, both rightly and wrongly, that the United States is sliding into somewhat of a police state, an authoritarian state,  or an outright Fascist state.  Sadly, if one really looks at the history of the United States, the trappings for such a state as what’s mentioned above, have been there since day one, from the old, old Salem Witchhunts to the McCarthy period, and even beyond that, where demonstrators, even peaceful ones (which most of them were), have all too often been roughed  up in the streets by the police, arrested, and even jailed for no good reasons.  It happened during the Civil Rights Movement, our Viet Nam War, the time of our 2nd Iraq war, and it’s happening even now, under this present Administration in Washington.  

Anyway, thought, back to the subject at hand:  I thought I’d write a little bit about a certain rock group that I liked a great deal…and still do;  The 5th Dimension.  I had the good fortune to see them several years ago, in concert, at the Charles River Esplanade here in Boston, as part of the now-defunct summer WODS (103.3 FM) radio (the oldies station), and they were quite good.  Unfortunately, for some strange reason, those concerts are not being done anymore, which is a shame, because they had some really great groups performing on the Esplanade for free, which attracted thousands of people.  I do  miss those days, but what can I do?  I have tons of CD’s of my favorite rock groups from those days, which I listen to a great deal.  I guess I’m somewhat old fashioned at heart, but that’s okay.  

On This Day In History July 19

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

July 19 is the 200th day of the year (201st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 165 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1848, a two-day Women’s Rights Convention opens in Seneca Falls, New York. There the “Bloomers” are introduced.

The Seneca Falls Convention was an early and influential women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, July 19-20, 1848. It was organized by local New York women upon the occasion of a visit by Boston-based Lucretia Mott, a Quaker famous for her speaking ability, a skill rarely cultivated by American women at the time. The local women, primarily members of a radical Quaker group, organized the meeting along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a skeptical non-Quaker who followed logic more than religion.

The meeting spanned two days and six sessions, and included a lecture on law, a humorous presentation, and multiple discussions about the role of women in society. Stanton and the Quaker women presented two prepared documents, the Declaration of Sentiments and an accompanying list of resolutions, to be debated and modified before being put forward for signatures. A heated debate sprang up regarding women’s right to vote, with many including Mott urging the removal of this concept, but Frederick Douglass argued eloquently for its inclusion, and the suffrage resolution was retained. Exactly 100 of approximately 300 attendees signed the document, mostly women.

The convention was seen by some of its contemporaries, including featured speaker Mott, as but a single step in the continuing effort by women to gain for themselves a greater proportion of social, civil and moral rights, but it was viewed by others as a revolutionary beginning to the struggle by women for complete equality with men. Afterward, Stanton presented the resulting Declaration of Sentiments as a foundational document in the American woman’s suffrage movement, and she promoted the event as the first time that women and men gathered together to demand the right for women to vote. Stanton’s authoring of the History of Woman Suffrage helped to establish the Seneca Falls Convention as the moment when the push for women’s suffrage first gained national prominence. By 1851, at the second National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts, the issue of women’s right to vote had become a central tenet of the women’s rights movement.


On Topic – Childhood – School (3:50)

Le Tour de France 2012: Stage 16

The Tour de France 2012, the world’s premier cycling event kicked off last Saturday with the Prologue in Liège, Belgium and will conclude on July 22 with the traditional ride into Paris and laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. Over the next 22 days the race will take its course briefly along the Northwestern coast of France through  Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville and into Rouen then into the mountains of the Jura, Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees.

We will be Live Blogging Le Tour 2012 every morning at The Stars Hollow Gazette starting at 7:30 AM EDT. Come join us for a morning chat, cheer the riders and watch some of the most beautiful and historic countryside in Europe.

The Towns of Stage 16 Pau and Bagnères-de-Luchon


Pau, Fr Castle Henri IVPau was the finish of Stage 15 on Monday and the riders spent the day there resting for the Stage 16 start from the same town.

In November 2011 Pau was given the title of Town of Art and History, which means it joins a national network of currently more than 170 towns on mainland France and Corsica with the same title. This prestigious honour recognises the efforts of the municipality in protecting the heritage of the city and developing its town projects. This approach of study, conservation, development and support towards architectural quality and to the quality of life has been on the go since 2009. The label Town of Art and History gives more coherance and legibility to cultural policy, to development and gives a sense of heritage to the people of Pau, whilst also reinforcing links between the residents and their town. The label is a dynamic expression of this renewed cultural policy and heritage. It is a real tool for the tourist industry and shines a light on the area, whether for Pau Porte des Pyrénées or for the surrounding towns with common themes such as holiday resorts, pyreneeism tourism or even the bearnaise identity.


Bagnères-de-LuchonBagnères-de-Luchon, also referred to as Luchon, is a spa town and a commune in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern France.

Bagnères-de-Luchon is celebrated for its thermal springs. The springs, which number forty eight, vary in composition, but are chiefly impregnated with sodium sulfate, and range in temperature from 62 to 150 Fahrenheit. The discovery of numerous Roman remains attests the antiquity of the baths, which are identified with the Onesiorum Thermae of Strabo. Their revival in modern times dates from the latter half of the 18th century, and was due to Antoine Mégret d’Étigny, intendant of Auch.

Within the town today (2006), a more modern entrance to the baths sits alongside the older buildings. The bathing experience consists of repeated spells within a hot, sulphurous atmosphere in caves that run approximately 100 metres inside the Superbagnères mountain, and in a cool swimming pool within the entrance building. It was these sulphur springs that led to a twinning of the settlement with Harrogate in 1952.

Known since 1834 as “the Queen of the Pyrenees” by Vincent de Chausenque in his work Les Pyrénées ou voyages pédestres (The Pyrenees on foot), Bagneres de Luchon, which is the most characteristic mountain town in the Pyrenees, offers the perfect setting for mountain and outdoor activities but also for relaxation and fun for all. Thanks to its natural environment it makes it possible to practise many sporting activities throughout the summer and winter: hiking, mountain biking, trout fishing while canyoning, rafting and paragliding await all thrill seekers. Linked to the Superbagnères resort in eight minutes by cable car, Bagnères de Luchon does not however, rely soley on its strengths in the field of sport. In cultural terms, it offers throughout the year about six hundred events including two flagship events, the International TV Film Festival and the Flower Festival. The finishing line of the 16th stage will be located near to the Villa Julia where French writer Edmond Rostand spent twenty-two summers of his youth and wrote Les Musardies.

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

These featured articles-

These special features-

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

This is an Open Thread

The Stars Hollow Gazette

Due to weather conditions here in the northeast, I’m a bit late tonight. Yeah, climate change!

My Little Town 20120718: Mathematics Made Hard and Easy

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

When I was in school I had the good fortune to have a great many excellent teachers.  I even keep up with some of my high school teachers, and I was graduated in 1973.  Sr. Cabrini correspond on Facebook, and Sr. Pierre calls me from time to time.  They were both excellent and I glad to call them my friends.

On the other hand, I have had some really horrible ones.  One who has to be near the top of the list was Bill Holder, a mathematics teacher that I had at Westark Community College in Fort Smith.  That is now part of the University of Arkansas system, The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.