The Breakfast Club (Hiyo Silver, Away!)

 photo BeerBreakfast_web_zps646fca37.pngI suppose I don’t have to tell the hipper among you today is Derby Day, the most exciting (don’t bink) two minutes in sports.

Preceded by the most boring 2 hours in sports and a display of drunken debauchery that puts a Turn Left Bumpercar race to shame.  Make sure you check out the $400 hats and ignore the pervasive smell of vomit that over rides even the odor of horse crap.

For more and better insights like this by Ralph Steadman who accompanied Stockton to the 1970 edition I encourage you to drop by my sites, The Stars Hollow Gazette and DocuDharma for full coverage.

I thought for about 20 whole seconds before I came up with the perfect music for today.  It’s a Romantic piece, a symphony in 4 parts (Berlioz, not me) evoking life in the Swiss Alps.

Unlike a true symphony it’s very short, about 12 minutes, and the four movements, Dawn, Storm, Call to the Cows, and March of the Swiss Soldiers, are unseparated by pauses.  No doubt you will recognize many of the themes, it’s among the most famous pieces in music.

That’s Arturo Toscanini by the way.

So if you want to learn a little bit more about, grab your silver julep cup (never too early to get drunk on Derby Day) and join me below the fold.

Oh, I guess I have to do the obligatory-

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

This Day in History

Now what distinguishes Romantic music is not that it’s about love per se, but that it’s designed to elicit in the mind of the listener specific events, emotions, and places which is very contextual and unsuprisingly our impressions may be quite different from that of the contemporary audience.  This piece is a very early example of the genre and quite different from the composer’s earlier work.

While Berlioz called it a symphony it’s really an overture, a short curtain raiser played before a much longer work- in this case a 5 hour 30 minute opera (c’mon, I double dog dare you).

Yeah, that big ugly URL on top?  Just mouse over it and click the X in the upper right corner.  Ah, much better.  Better in fact than all that pre-race crap on NBC.

This was Rossini’s last opera (of 39) even though he lived for 40 more years.  I totally understand-

I’ve always considered writing the most hateful kind of work. I suspect it’s a bit like fucking- which is fun only for amateurs. Old whores don’t do much giggling. Nothing is fun when you have to do it- over and over, again and again- or else you’ll be evicted, and that gets old.- Stockton

And so like J. D. Salinger he retired.  Some attribute this to personal tragedy and ill health.  I suspect that he had enough money at this point and simply lost interest.  Writing is work, just like any other.  As Hemingway said, it’s easy- all you have to do is sit down in front of a keyboard and bleed.

He composed a few more pieces later in life that I’ll probably get to at some later point, but they were mostly for his own amusement, with much smaller ensembles, and only perfomed privately until after his death.


Merkel Signals That Tension Persists Over U.S. Spying

By MARK LANDLER, The New York Times

MAY 2, 2014

The depth of their differences, however, was reflected by the failure to reach a broader intelligence-sharing agreement between the United States and Germany. The two sides could not even agree on how the talks had begun, with Mr. Obama disputing that the United States had ever offered Germany a so-called no-spy agreement.

Months of negotiations to reach an agreement ended unsuccessfully after the two sides could not agree on its scope. According to administration officials, the Germans insisted that the United States not conduct any unsanctioned espionage on German soil, including from its embassy in Berlin, something it has not agreed to with other allies.

A report by a German ministry on Friday said Mr. Snowden’s appearance would cause further damage to the relationship between the United States and Germany. The German officials had solicited an opinion from a Washington law firm suggesting that American authorities could seek to charge members of Parliament for complicity in Mr. Snowden’s publicizing of classified information.

Accident Leads to Scrutiny of Oil Sand Production

By CLIFFORD KRAUSS, The New York Times

MAY 2, 2014

In the annals of oil well blowouts and pipeline disasters, the 7,400 barrels of oily slush that oozed out of the mossy bogs of the boreal forest in northeast Alberta last summer may seem like a trivial matter.

In a move that has raised eyebrows in the industry, officials of the Alberta Energy Regulator have refused to accept the explanations for the cause of the accident by Canadian Natural Resources, the field’s operator and one of the country’s largest oil companies. In March, the agency also rejected the company’s bid to restart its operation until a complete investigation had been completed.

At issue is whether the thick rock that traps the raw oil sands, keeping them from escaping to the surface, was fractured by high steam pressure applied during the production process – as environmentalists say was probable – or whether Canadian Natural Resources is correct in saying that the leak was simply a malfunction.

In an interview, Steve W. Laut, the president of Canadian Natural Resources, said that extensive company testing in the Primrose field showed it was highly improbable that seepage could move through the 500-foot-thick rock that sits 60 feet below the surface without going through the defective old well bores. “I would say the cement jobs were inadequate,” he said.

Hmm… What excuse does this remind you of?

FBI informants may be revealed after agency loses court battle

Paul Lewis, The Guardian

Friday 2 May 2014 13.01 EDT

In highly unusual case Laura Sennett, a freelance photojournalist, has won a ruling from a district court that compels the FBI to provide her with documents that shed light on informants use by agents used in their investigation into a protest which resulted in damage to a hotel lobby in Washington.

Both of the “confidential sources” cited in the court case were asked by the FBI to review surveillance footage of the protest, in order to help identify who was there. They identified a handful of activists as well as Sennett, who specialises in reporting grass-roots activism.

The FBI placed the photojournalist under surveillance before raiding her home with two-dozen armed law enforcement officials, who seized memory cards, hard drives and computer and camera equipment.

The case, he (Dan Metcalfe, who directed the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy for more than 25 years) said, was a significant blow for the FBI, which is very strongly opposed to revealing the identity of its sources, not least because doing so could discourage future informants from co-operating.

Detective Vincent Antignano, the federal marshall deputised to run the FBI’s investigation into the protest, said in a deposition conducted by Sennett’s legal team he believed Sennett was “like-minded like anarchists”, because she was among the 16 people captured on the hotel’s surveillance video.

“Everyone on that video is a suspect, so that’s the way I look at it,” he said, adding that he assumed she had similar views to the protesters captured in the video “who despise their government”.

Asked to elaborate, Antignano said that while he did not know Sennett’s dietary preference, “she could also be a vegan like … [people] who are against animal protests [sic] or animal research or won’t eat meat and stuff like that.”

Antignano had a broad notion of what behaviour constituted “terrorism”, saying that even an assault could fall within the definition.

“If you get assaulted and you believe you’ve been terrorised, then maybe that is terrorism,” he told Sennett’s lawyer.

White House seeks legal immunity for firms that hand over customer data

Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Friday 2 May 2014 08.05 EDT

In a statement of principles privately delivered to lawmakers some weeks ago to guide surveillance reforms, the White House said it wanted legislation protecting “any person who complies in good faith with an order to produce records” from legal liability for complying with court orders for phone records to the government once the NSA no longer collects the data in bulk.

The brief request, contained in a four-page document, echoes a highly controversial provision of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, which provided retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that allowed the NSA to access calls and call data between Americans and foreigners, voiding lawsuits against them. Barack Obama’s vote for that bill as a senator and presidential candidate disappointed many supporters.

But another aspect of the White House document points to an obstacle that congressional sources said is holding up the House intelligence bill – something its opponents consider an opportunity.

That bill, sponsored by Republican chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan and ranking Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, would permit the government to access phone records without specific prior approval by a judge. Ruppersberger said while unveiling the bill in late March that they were “very, very close” to a deal with the White House, though the principles document favors prior court orders.

“Absent an emergency situation, the government would obtain the records only pursuant to individual orders from the Foreign intelligence surveillance court approving the use of specific numbers for such queries, if a judge agrees based on national security concerns,” it reads.

Threats against Maryland gun dealer raise doubts about future of smart guns

By Michael S. Rosenwald, Washington Post

Published: May 2

Gun rights advocates are worried about a New Jersey law under which only smart handguns can be sold there within three years of being sold anywhere in the country. The law, they fear, will be replicated in other states. Similar proposals have been introduced in California and Congress.

Raymond was shaken, and late Thursday night – sitting at a table with a bottle of liquor, surrounded by assault rifles and puffing on a cigarette – Raymond recorded a video later posted to Facebook in which he vowed not sell the gun. He apologized for messing up and spoke directly to the people of New Jersey.

“I did not know I would be screwing you over,” Raymond said in the video. “I’m terribly sorry. … You don’t have anything to worry about from me.” He was furious about the death threats. “That’s a great thing for gun rights,” he said, “when you threaten to shoot somebody.”

At one point, he grew agitated and said that instead of shooting him, people should shoot the politicians who restrict gun rights. He took the video down from his store’s Facebook page Friday.

Student Loan Interest Rates to Rise With Treasury 10-Year Note

By Janet Lorin, Bloomberg News

May 3, 2014 12:01 AM ET

Last year, the government began to peg rates on most student loans to the Treasury 10-year note. Stafford loans, the most widely borrowed, carried an undergraduate rate of 3.86 percent for the 2013-2014 school year. In the past three months, the 10-year yield has traded 0.80 to 1 percentage point higher than a year ago, which means education borrowing costs may rise.

Interest rates for the school year beginning July 1 will be determined following the Treasury’s 10-year note auction on May 7. While interest rates are fixed for the life of an education loan, borrowers take out a separate loan for each school year. Federal loans make up most of the $1.2 trillion in outstanding education debt, which has become a drag on the economy in recent years as many borrowers struggle to repay.

Landslide in Afghanistan kills at least 350

By AMIR SHAH, RAHIM FAIEZ, Associated Press

May 2, 2014 1:59 PM

The mountainous area in Badakhshan province has experienced frequent floods in recent days, and the side of the hill collapsed onto the village of Hobo Barik at about 1 p.m. Landslides and avalanches are frequent in Afghanistan, but Friday’s was one of the deadliest.

Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb said more than 2,000 people were missing after a hill collapsed on the village of after days of heavy rain. Adeeb said the landslide buried some 300 homes in the area – about a third of all houses there.

Ari Gaitanis, a spokesman from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said at least 350 people died in the landslide. He said the U.N. was working with authorities on the ground to rescue people still trapped.

Reseachers blast U.S. prison policies

By Michael Doyle, McClatchy

April 30, 2014

The United States incarcerates too many people, a new National Research Council report concludes.

Adding more evidence to a growing debate, the elite scientific panel noted with alarm that “the U.S. penal population of 2.2 million adults is by far the largest in the world.” Nearly one out of every 100 U.S. adults is in prison or jail, a rate five to 10 times higher than that in Western Europe and other democracies.

Of those incarcerated in 2011, about 60 percent were African-American or Hispanic. African-American males under the age of 35 who did not finish high school are more likely to be behind bars than employed in the labor market, the study found. In 2010, the imprisonment rate for African-Americans was 4.6 times that for whites.

New York attorney general eyes exchanges in high frequency probe: sources

By Karen Freifeld and Nadia Damouni, Reuters

Fri May 2, 2014 9:47am EDT

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office is expected to send subpoenas within days to exchanges, one of the sources said on Thursday. The subpoenas will likely focus on how high frequency traders may receive information before other market participants.

Another source said major banks that operate dark pools, or platforms where trades take place out of sight of the rest of the market, have been sent letters asking for information.

The expected move by Schneiderman’s office shows how investigations into the practices of high-frequency trading firms are broadening. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigation have also said they had several active probes into high-speed and automated trading.

The probes have been going on for several months to a year but scrutiny has intensified in recent weeks following the release of best-selling author Michael Lewis’ new book, “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.” In the book, Lewis contends that high-frequency traders have rigged the stock market, profiting from speeds unavailable to others.

Okla. prison guards shocked Lockett with Taser before execution

by Massoud Hayoun, Al Jazeera

May 2, 2014 1:45PM ET

Oklahoma prison guards shocked Clayton Lockett with a Taser in the moments leading up to his botched execution this week, according to minutes of the event obtained Friday by Al Jazeera.

Evan J. Mandery, a death penalty expert and chair of the criminal justice department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, told Al Jazeera he’s “never heard of” a death row inmate being shocked by Tasers or putting up a fight prior to execution.

“But executions aren’t exactly a model of transparency,” he said.

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A final note

Horse Crazy.


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