May 2013 archive

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Israel strikes Syrian military research center, US official says

By Robert Windrem, Jim Miklaszewski and Andrea Mitchell, NBC News

Israeli jets bombed a military research facility north of Damascus early Sunday, a senior official told NBC News — the second Israeli attack on targets in Syria in recent days.

Heavy explosions shook the city, and video shot by activists showed a fireball rising into the sky after Sunday’s strikes, according to Reuters.

Syrian media also reported that the target was the Jamraya military research center, which Israel hit in January, Reuters said. The center is about 10 miles from the Lebanese border.

Reuters reported that a Western intelligence source said the operation hit Iranian-supplied missiles that were en route to the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Exclusive: Syrian aid in crisis as Gulf states renege on promises

Expats take their vote home for opposition

China’s Africa ‘master plan’ debunked

Hundreds protest against China chemical plant

Bahrain’s medics politicised by crisis


Late Night Karaoke

What We Now Know

In this Saturday’s segment of “What We Now Know,” Up host, Steve Kornacki up dates last week’s show and notes that the fight for real filibuster reform is not over. He discusses what they have learned this week with panel guests Mary C Curtis, The Washington Post; State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson (D-NV); John Amaechi, former NBA player; and Mike Pesca, NPR.

Progressives Urge Filibuster Reform Revival In Senate

by  Sabrina Siddiqui, Huffington Post

Progressive and labor groups on Thursday renewed calls for Senate leaders to reform filibuster rules that have allowed Republicans to repeatedly stonewall presidential nominees and legislation, including gun control.

Fix the Senate Now, a coalition of more than 70 progressive and labor organizations sent a letter to Senate leaders focusing on judicial vacancies. Republicans have repeatedly used filibusters to block President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees. The coalition’s letter urges Senate leaders to change rules requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster.

Jeff Merkley Escalates Push For Filibuster Reform

by Sahil Kapur, TPMDC

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is teaming up with the liberal advocacy group Democracy For America to build public awareness of filibuster abuse and court supporters for reform.

“It’s now clear the experiment has failed. The Senate remains broken,” Merkley wrote to supporters. “Senate Republicans continue to force delays – even on bills with overwhelming public support, and even on nominees widely considered well-qualified.” [..]

Senate Democrats have the option to weaken the filibuster at any time with 51 votes, and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has repeatedly threatened to use that “nuclear option” if Republicans don’t stop blocking presidential nominees. Hardly any Democrats have publicly ruled out using that option to fix the Senate. But behind the scenes, despite anger at the GOP now, there is concern that weakening the filibuster could come back to haunt them when Republicans return to power and, for instance, seek to weaken abortion rights.

Merkley insists he’d be just as strong a supporter of his plan if he were in the minority, arguing that the point of the filibuster is to debate, not to obstruct in the dark.

Obama ‘comfortable’ with FDA’s lowered age limit for ‘Plan B’

By Michael O’Brien, Political Reporter, NBC News

President Barack Obama said that he was “comfortable” with new federal regulations making emergency contraception available to women and girls over the age of 15, but said more study was needed to see whether it was safe to allow access to the “morning after” pill for girls younger than that. [..]

On Wednesday, the FDA agreed to lower the age limit to 15 for sales of “Plan B One-Step,” and to make the emergency contraceptive available in the general aisles of stores instead of behind the pharmacy counter.

Justice Department to appeal judge’s Plan B order

By JoNel Aleccia, Senior Writer, NBC News

U.S. Department of Justice officials have filed notice that they will appeal a federal judge’s order requiring the Food and Drug Administration to make the so-called “morning after” pill available without a prescription to all women without age or certain sales restrictions.

The department also has asked the federal district court to stay its order, which was set to take effect on May 6, according to Allison Price, a spokeswoman.

The move comes a day after the FDA agreed to lower the age limit to 15 for sales of non-prescription Plan B One-Step emergency contraception and to make the drug available in the general aisles of stores with pharmacies, instead of behind the counter.

Iraq Violence Leads To Deadliest Month In 5 Years

by Eline Gordts, Huffington Post

With more than 700 people killed in just 30 days, April was the deadliest month in Iraq in five years. According to the United Nations Mission in the country, 712 Iraqis lost their lives in acts of terrorism and acts of violence in the month of April. Nearly 600 of the dead were civilians.

The string of attacks continued in the first days of May. On Friday, a bomb outside a Sunni mosque in Rashidiya killed at least seven, the Associated Press reported. In a separate incident, nine police officers and four militants were killed during clashes Thursday evening in the northern city of Mosul.

Cinco de Mayo

Reprinted from 5/5/2012

The name simply means “The Fifth of May” and it’s an oddly U.S. American holiday.

Except in the State of Puebla they don’t much celebrate the victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in Mexico which makes it much more like Patriot’s Day that we here in New England get to celebrate almost every year as an extra filing day (I understand there’s also a foot race in Boston).

Interestingly enough it was a stand up fight against the banksters which they lost (those who do not remember history…).  Some people say that the French intervention was intended to establish a supply line to aid the Slave Owner’s Rebellion (or as the more charitable put it, The War of the Rebellion).

Not Congressionally recognized until 2005, celebrations started in California as early as the mid 1860s and for over 100 years were most common in Southwestern States with a large population of people of Mexican descent.  Now of course it’s just another excuse to over consume the cheap crappy Tequila and Beer that Mexico exports (don’t get me wrong, there are good Mexican Beers and Tequila but Corona, Dos Equis, and Jose Cuervo are not them) and ignore real, actual factual Mexican history because we’re so fucking exceptional that understanding and caring about the countries we border is as beneath us as even knowing which ones they are.

Just don’t mistake it for Grito de Dolores.

Nuking Cancer With A Nuclear Armed Bacteria

Con artists arrive in all manner of disguises.  The iconic P. T. Barnum was a harmless street peddler compared to T. Boone Pickens, who sold the second most powerful person in the the most powerful nation on earth his fossil fuel poison that T. Boone called [heh heh] Clean Energy.  

The con continues to spread and broaden and deepen though some have produced evidence that natural gas (it is not a fossil fuel decreed Nancy Pelosi when she invested a bundle in T. Boone Pickens’ Clean Energy) is dirtier than even coal.  It gives a whole new meaning to making firewater that Indians are now participating in selling to the forked tongues.  

Even then the crooks like P. T. Barnum and T. Boone Pickens play second fiddle to earnest advocates selling cancer cures.  

Radium Water was sold as a tonic after Madame Curie’s discovery of radioactivity that created a sensation.  One fellow was said to keep plugging the stuff on the radio until his jaw fell off.  The skeletons are still hot.

Who can forget Dr. Jude – ah, er, umm – it’s on the tip of my tongue – with his rats cured of cancer by starving the cancer cells?

But why go through long drawn out starvation when you can simply nuke the cancer cells?

a new study introduces an unlikely microbial helper, specifically the Listeria bacteria, which was shown to effectively deliver radiation to even the most severe forms of metastatic pancreatic tumors without harming the healthy tissue.…

Of course, of course.  New wonder drugs are always harmless.  I was there at a meeting hearing about the first therapeutic Listeria vaccine when people were dying from the bacteria hiding in cantelopes.  I told people that the bacteria was weakened to a harmless state by having Chicago cops beat it up.

Quite truthfully, I have a lot of hope for this Listeria vaccine though arming the Listeria bacterium with a nuclear weapon seems kinda worrisome.  There’s a story behind that too.  A non-nuclear armed competitor has first dibs on pancreatic cancer with the old fashioned kind of vaccine using the beaten-up Listeria.

“We’re encouraged that we’ve been able to achieve a 90 percent reduction in metastases in our first round of experiments,” said Claudia Gravekamp, co-author and associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Does not the college have a most appropriate name to go with bringing a nuclear-armed bacteria to light?

More to come.  I promise you that.  

The promoter’s name is a most famous one: Thomas Moore. I bet you thought he was dead centuries ago.

Best,  Terry

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Triple Crown: The Longest 2 Minutes In Sports

Adapted from 5/5/12

This was no ordinary homecoming.  This was a do-or-die attempt to lay the ghost of years of rejection from the horse-rearing elite and the literati who sat in those privileged boxes overlooking the track and those unprivileged craven hordes who grovelled around the centre-field where he had suffered as a boy.

The clubhouse as I remember was worse, much worse than I had expected.  It was a mess.  This was supposed to be a smart, horsey clubhouse, oozing with money and gentry, but what I saw had me skulking in corners.  It was worse than the night I spent on Skid Row a month later, back in New York.  My feet crunched broken glass on the floor.  There seemed no difference between a telephone booth and a urinal; both were used for the same purpose.  Foul messages were scrawled in human excrement on the walls and bull-necked men, in what had once been white, but were smeared and stained, seersucker suits, were doing awful things to younger but equally depraved men around every corner.  The place reminded me of a cowshed that hadn’t been cleaned in fifteen years.  Somehow I knew I had to look and observe.  It was my job.  What was I being paid for?  I was lucky to be here.  Lots of people would give their drawing arm to be able to see the actual Kentucky Derby which was now hardly an hour away.  Hunter understood and was watching me as much as he was watching the scene before us.

Something splattered the page I was drawing on and, as I moved to wipe it away, I realized too late it was somebody’s vomit.  During the worst days of the Weimar Republic, when Hitler was rising faster than a bull on heat, George Grosz, the savage satirical painter, had used human shit as a violent method of colouring his drawings.  It is a shade of brown like no other and its use makes an ultimate statement about the subject.

‘Seen enough?’, asked Hunter, pushing me hastily towards an exit that led out to the club enclosure.  I needed a drink.  ‘Er… one more trip to the inner-field Ralph I think,’ I heard Hunter say nervously.  ‘Only another half-hour to the big race.  If we don’t catch the inner-field now, we’ll miss it.’  So we went.

While the scene was as wild here as it had been in the clubhouse, it had a warmer, more human face, more colour and happiness and gay abandon – the difference in atmosphere between Hogarth’s Gin Lane and Beer Street.  One harrowed and death-like the other bloated with booze but animal-healthy.

Who would have thought I was after the gristle, the blood-throbbing veins, poisoned exquisitely by endless self-indulgence, mint juleps, and bourbon.  Hide, anyway, behind the dark shades you predatory piece of raw blubber.

The race was now getting a frenzied response as Dust Commander began to make the running.  Bangles and jewels rattled on suntanned, wobbling flesh and even the pillar men in suits were now on tip-toe, creased skin under double-chins stretched to the limit into long furrows that curved down into tight collars.

Mouths opened and closed and veins pulsed in unison as the frenzy reached its climax.  One or two slumped back as their horses failed, but the mass hysteria rose to a final orgasmic shriek, at last bubbling over into whoops of joy, hugging and back slapping.  I turned to face the track again, but it was all over.  That was it.  The 1970 Kentucky Derby won by Dust Commander with a lead of five lengths – the biggest winning margin since 1946 when Triple Crown Champion, Assault, won the Derby by eight lengths.

‘I think it’s time I was thinking of getting back to New York.  Let’s have a meal somewhere and I can phone the airline for plane times.  What day is it, we seem to have lost a weekend.  I need a drink.’

‘You need a lynching.  You’ve upset my friends and I haven’t written a goddamn word.  I’ve been too busy looking after you.  Your work here is done.  I can never come back here again.  This whole thing will probably finish me as a writer.  I have no story.’

‘Well I know we got a bit pissed and let things slip a bit but there’s lots of colour.  Lots happened.’

‘Holy Shit!  You scumbag!  This is Kentucky, not Skid Row.  I love these people.  They are my friends and you treated them like scum.’

Ralph Steadman- The Joke’s Over

As Horse Racing Season Heats Up, Industry Examines Itself To Keep Horses Safer

By Travis Waldron, ThinkProgress

May 4, 2013 at 9:00 am

Saturday will mark the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, when the top three-year-old horses from around the world will compete for the garland of roses in America’s oldest continuous sporting event. The Derby has gone off on the first Saturday in May uninterrupted since 1875, and as the years have worn on, the crowds and ceremonies have only grown.

The Sport of Kings may not hold the prominent place in American culture it once did, but it hasn’t been immunized from the debates that have enthralled the sports that have taken its place. Like baseball, it has battled the spread of performance-enhancing drugs. Like football, it has faced its own existential crisis, a question about whether it is too dangerous and whether it can be made safe for its participants.

Like both sports, those battles have featured prominently in the national media – perhaps never more so than they did in 2008, when the Derby champion, Big Brown, was linked to steroids and runner-up, Eight Belles, collapsed in a heap after crossing the finish line and was euthanized on the Churchill Downs dirt. The sport was already facing questions – and asking them of itself – before that Saturday, and the questions have only grown stronger since.

American racetracks have one of the highest collective breakdown rates in the world, and even though horses here have more opportunities to enter the starting gates, they do so far less often than many of their foreign competitors. A New York Times analysis found that American race horses had an on-track incident rate of 5.2 per 1,000 starts; by comparison, a Toronto racetrack the Times studied had a rate of just 1.4 per 1,000 starts. The average number of starts for American horses plunged to an all-time low – 6.1 – in 2010; by comparison, foreign horses average as many as 18 starts in their careers.

Hmm… remind you of anything?  It should.  It’s just about the same as last year’s featured piece from The Atlantic.

That’s tradition for you.

If you want to you can watch Kentucky Derby coverage from 11 am ET (on Vs. where it actually started on Wednesday) until 7 pm (on NBC, where they spare you the pre-race hype until 4).

I suppose this is good thing since you can hardly be expected to follow Horse Racing unless you’re a tout or plunger in one of the few forms of gambling deemed socially acceptable (as opposed to Poker, which is not gambling at all) and 2 year olds don’t have much of a record to handicap.  Black Onyx is a last minute scratch and will not be replaced.

Ice Cream.  Get your Tutsi Frootsie Ice Cream.

It’s really mostly an excuse to wear hats that would be rejected from a 5th Avenue Easter Parade or Royal Wedding and get tanked up on Bourbon that is best sipped with a soda chaser and not muddled up with mint.

Mint Julep


  • 4 cups bourbon
  • 2 bunches fresh spearmint
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar


To prepare mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves. Wash and place in a small bowl. Cover with 3 ounces bourbon. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in paper toweling. Thoroughly wring the mint over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.

To prepare simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of distilled water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.

To prepare mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of bourbon into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the bourbon.

Now begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste-generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.

To serve the julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) 1/2 full with shaved ice. Insert a spring of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Serve immediately.

New York Times coverage-

Post Time is 6:24 pm ET.


On This Day In History May 4

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.

Click on images to enlarge

May 4 is the 124th day of the year (125th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 241 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1970, At Kent State University, 100 National Guardsmen fire their rifles into a group of students, killing four and wounding 11. This incident occurred in the aftermath of President Richard Nixon’s April 30 announcement that U.S. and South Vietnamese forces had been ordered to execute an “incursion” into Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese bases there. In protest, a wave of demonstrations and disturbances erupted on college campuses across the country.

There were no warnings when the Guardsmen opened fire. 60 rounds were fire into the crowd of demonstrators. After an investigation, all the charges were dropped against the National Guard in 1974.

New audio from the day of the shootings has been released on a website dubbed The site also features images of the historic day’s tragic events.


Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan

 photo DSC00016.jpg


The government says if a major quake were to strike the Nankai Trough, it would cause ¥17 trillion in damage-more than 10 times the cost of the 3/11 disasters.

Officials at the defense ministry are in hot water for free-speech violations after asking applicants to provide info about their spouses’ nationality and whether they had undergone “treatment for alcohol, drugs or psychological disorders.”

The Japanese government lodged a complaint with authorities in France after a French company sold “a device to facilitate landing by ship-based helicopters” to China.

Meanwhile, a 35-year-old Japanese expat living in Singapore died while rock climbing in the Batu Caves outside Kuala Lumpur.

Urologists no longer recommend routine PSA testing for prostate cancer…

Urologists, will you now apologize to all those you did terrible harm to and even killed in the interests of making more money?

Will famed basketball coach Jim Boeheim lose his license to malpractice medicine because he is a famous basketball coach?

Will famed investor Warren Buffett, who has made more money investing in stocks than any human ever, now admit he was panicked into extreme measures to cure a perhaps imaginary disease that most men his age have?

The answer to all the above is “No.”

The dead and injured cannot be cured.  Maybe some men, like a great senator from Louisiana, find it is very sexy to wear diapers and can now do it openly for life without remonstrance.

Your wretched informant, who ranted here, there and everywhere about the medical malpractice of doctors, hospitals, labs, reporters, advertisers remains a wretch as always. The bank accounts and assets of the others remain secure because the malefactors are too numerous, important, beloved, powerful and connected to sue.

“Time marches on.”

Best,  Terry

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