March 26, 2015 archive

2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Regional Semifinals Day 1

The big shuffle.  Teams that were playing on Day 1 are now playing on Day 2 and likewise.  Results from both the 21st and 22nd.

I count 5 upsets.

Results from the 21st-

Score Seed Team Record Score Seed Team Record Region
92 11 UCLA 22-13 75 14 UAB 20-16 South
64 1 Kentucky 36-0 51 8 Cincinnati 23-11 Mid-West
73 2 Arizona 33-3 58 10 Ohio State 24-11 West
75 6 Xavier 23-13 67 14 Georgia State 25-10 West
68 1 Villanova 33-3 71 8 * NC State 22-13 East
64 4 Georgetown 22-11 75 5 * Utah 26-8 South
87 4 North Carolina 26-11 78 5 Arkansas 27-9 West
67 3 Notre Dame 31-5 64 6 Butler 23-11 Mid-West

Results from the 22nd-

Score Seed Team Record Score Seed Team Record Region
54 2 Virginia 29-4 60 7 * Michigan State 25-11 East
68 1 Duke 30-4 49 8 San Diego State 26-9 South
65 2 Kansas 27-9 78 7 * Wichita State 29-4 Mid-West
72 3 Oklahoma 25-10 66 11 Dayton 26 – 9 East
87 2 Gonzaga 33-5 68 7 Iowa 21-12 South
72 1 Wisconsin 32-3 65 8 Oregon 25-10 West
59 4 Maryland 27-7 69 5 * West Virginia 24-9 Mid-West
66 4 Louisville 25-8 53 5 UNI 30-4 East

This Evening’s Matchups-

Time Channel Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
7:15pm CBS 3 Notre Dame 31-5 7 Wichita State 29-4 Mid-West
7:47pm TBS 1 Wisconsin 32-3 4 North Carolina 26-11 West
9:45pm CBS 1 Kentucky 36-0 5 West Virginia 24-9 Mid-West
10:17pm TBS 2 Arizona 33-3 6 Xavier 23-13 West

Is Israel Spying on the US? Yes!

Netanyahu’s Spying Denials Contradicted by Secret NSA Documents

By Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman, The Intercept

25 Mar 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday vehemently denied a Wall Street Journal report, leaked by the Obama White House, that Israel spied on U.S. negotiations with Iran and then fed the intelligence to Congressional Republicans. His office’s denial was categorical and absolute, extending beyond this specific story to U.S.-targeted spying generally, claiming: “The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies.”

Israel’s claim is not only incredible on its face. It is also squarely contradicted by top-secret NSA documents, which state that Israel targets the U.S. government for invasive electronic surveillance, and does so more aggressively and threateningly than almost any other country in the world. Indeed, so concerted and aggressive are Israeli efforts against the U.S. that some key U.S. government documents – including the top secret 2013 intelligence budget – list Israel among the U.S.’s most threatening cyber-adversaries and as a “hostile” foreign intelligence service.

Previously reported stories on Israeli spying, by themselves, leave no doubt how false Netanyahu’s statement is. A Der Spiegel article from last fall revealed that “Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during Middle East peace negotiations.” A Le Monde article described how NSA documents strongly suggest that a massive computer hack of the French presidential palace in 2012 was likely carried about by the Israelis. A 2014 article from Newsweek’s Jeff Stein revealed that when it comes to surveillance, “the Jewish state’s primary target” is “America’s industrial and technical secrets” and that “Israel’s espionage activities in America are unrivaled and unseemly.”

All of these stories, along with these new documents, leave no doubt that, at least as the NSA and other parts of the U.S. National Security State see it, Netanyahu’s denials are entirely false: The Israelis engage in active and aggressive espionage against the U.S., even as the U.S. feeds the Israelis billions of dollars every year in U.S. taxpayer funds and protects every Israeli action at the U.N. Because of the U.S. perception of Israel as a “threat” and even a “hostile” foreign intelligence service – facts they discuss only privately, never publicly – the U.S. targets Israel for all sorts of espionage as well.

As the Crow Flies

How do you get a government agency to fix a rule that isn’t working? Simple. Get Jon Stewart to do a funny, but factually accurate, segment that highlights the flaw and, bingo, less then 24 hours situation remedied.

On Monday night Jon mocked the Veterans Administration’s Choice Program which was put in place to speed up medical care for veterans who lived far from a VA facility. The problem was that to be eligible the vet must live forty miles from the nearest facility. The rule was worded like that to keep down the cost of the program. But that distance was measured by “as the crow flies,” because, as Jon put it, “that is the least-meaningful way to judge how hard it is to get somewhere for non-crows.”

Then low and behold, less than 24 hours later the VA announced that they were “relaxing the rule” that made it difficult for veterans living in rural areas to prove they live 40 miles from the nearest VA facility.

The change comes amid complaints from lawmakers and advocates who say the VA’s current policy has prevented thousands of veterans from taking advantage of a new law intended to allow veterans in remote areas to gain access to federally paid medical care from local doctors. [..]

The VA said it will now measure the 40-mile trip by driving miles as calculated by Google maps or other sites, rather than as the crow flies, as currently interpreted. The rule change is expected to roughly double the number of eligible veterans. [..]

Under the new interpretation, the distance veterans must travel will be calculated through commercial products such as Google maps or other websites, rather than a straight line.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., hailed the rule change but said it did not go far enough. The VA policy applies to any VA medical facility within 40 miles of a veteran’s home, even if the veteran needs specialized care that is farther away.

While this change will help a good many veterans, congress still will need to tweak the program for those requiring special care.

Thank you, Jon, for your “damning piece of investigative joke-a-lism.” We will miss you when you’re gone.


On This Day In History March 26

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 image to enlarge

May 26 is the 146th day of the year (147th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 219 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1637, an allied Puritan and Mohegan force under English Captain John Mason attacks a Pequot village in Connecticut, burning or massacring some 500 Indian women, men, and children.

The Pequot War was an armed conflict in 1634-1638 between the Pequot tribe against an alliance of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Saybrook colonies with American Indian allies (the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes). Hundreds were killed; hundreds more were captured and sold into slavery to the West Indies. Other survivors were dispersed. At the end of the war, about seven hundred Pequots had been killed or taken into captivity. The result was the elimination of the Pequot as a viable polity in what is present-day Southern New England. It would take the Pequot more than three and a half centuries to regain political and economic power in their traditional homeland region along the Pequot (present-day Thames) and Mystic rivers in what is now southeastern Connecticut.

The Mystic massacre

Believing that the English had returned to Boston, the Pequot sachem Sassacus took several hundred of his warriors to make another raid on Hartford. Mason had visited and recruited the Narragansett, who joined him with several hundred warriors. Several allied Niantic warriors also joined Mason’s group. On May 26, 1637, with a force up to about 400 fighting men, Mason attacked Misistuck by surprise. He estimated that “six or seven Hundred” Pequot were there when his forces assaulted the palisade. As some 150 warriors had accompanied Sassacus to Hartford, so the inhabitants remaining were largely Pequot women and children, and older men. Mason ordered that the enclosure be set on fire. Justifying his conduct later, Mason declared that the attack against the Pequot was the act of a God who “laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to scorn making [the Pequot] as a fiery Oven . . . Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling [Mystic] with dead Bodies.”  Mason insisted that any Pequot attempting to escape the flames should be killed. Of the estimated 600 to 700 Pequot resident at Mystic that day, only seven survived to be taken prisoner, while another seven escaped to the woods.

The Narragansett and Mohegan warriors with Mason and Underhill’s colonial militia were horrified by the actions and “manner of the Englishmen’s fight . . . because it is too furious, and slays too many men.” The Narragansett left the warfare and returned home.

Believing the mission accomplished, Mason set out for home. Becoming temporarily lost, his militia narrowly missed returning Pequot warriors. After seeing the destruction of Mystic, they gave chase to the English forces, but to little avail.

Ear Bugs (You Know The Words)

The Breakfast Club (Steve and Kermit)

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.

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Breakfast Tune: Steve Martin and Kermit the Frog in “Dueling Banjos”

Today in History

Highlights of this day in history: Israel and Egypt sign a peace treaty; Bodies of Heaven’s Gate cult members are found in Calif.; The first U.S. team to win hockey’s Stanley Cup; ‘Funny Girl’ opens on Broadway; Singer Diana Ross born. (March 26)

Breakfast News & Blogs Below

The Daily/Nightly Show (Violence Against Women)


Tonight the Twitter comes through again (h/t TMC).  Our topic is Slut Shaming and our panelists are Shenaz Treasury (regular), Regina King (the voice of Huey and Riley Freeman), Sabrina Jalees (CBC personality), and Jordan Carlos (Stephen Colbert’s ‘Black Friend’).


The Jetsons

This Week’s Guests-

Amy Ziering is the producer and Kirby Dick is the director of The Hunting Ground, a documentary about college campus rape and rape culture that opened last Friday in wide distribution (well, as wide as documentaries generally get) after debuting at Sundance to great critical and audience acclaim.  After its theatical run it will be shown on CNN.

In a way this is a follow up to their 2012 film The Invisible War which was about rape and rape culture in the military.

The documentary focuses on the claim that 20% of women in colleges in the United States are sexually assaulted, and that disciplinary action only occurs in a small fraction of alleged assaults. It also claims that students are rarely expelled for rape.

There are several students who are interviewed in the film about their experiences being sexually assaulted at their college campus. They spoke about college administrators who ignore them or make them jump through hoops because they are more concerned about keeping rape statistics low.

Two of the film’s main targets were Harvard and the University of North Carolina, but they also report about fraternities such as Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

In addition, there is a section of the film about Jameis Winston (a quarterback for Florida State University) and the multiple accusations of sexual assault against him. His alleged victim Erica Kinsman publicly speaks about the incident at length for the first time.

The principal protagonists are Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clark, two former students of the University of North Carolina who were raped on campus.

Jon Ronson’s web exclusive extended interview and the real news below.