The Breakfast Club (To the Right of Spring)

No, not that Right, your other Rite.

Ah, screw it.  Just make three lefts and while you wait for oncoming traffic I’ll passive aggressively stew here with my shotgun and whistle tunelessly.

Do I stress you out?

Oh, you don’t even know.

Le Sacre du printemps

Allow me to review the 3 Rules of Opera-

The 3 rules of Opera.

  1. It must be long, boring, and in an incomprehesible foreign language (even if that language is English).
  2. The characters, especially the main ones, must be thoroughly unsympathetic and their activities horrid and callous.
  3. Everyone must die, hopefully in an ironic and gruesome way.

Ballet is the same, but with more men in tights and without the superfluous singing.

I’m not afraid if the Terpsichorean Muse though I do like a nice bit of cheese-

I was a DJ after all and I know what (shudder) drags them out on the dance floor and it ain’t this-

You see, people only dance to the thoroughly familiar and cliched.

Those are ones I actually like.

Anyway the story of the Ballet goes something like this, the celebration of spring begins in the hills and a Crone enters to foretell the future which isn’t really even as interesting as a cold reading because this is a simpler, more primitive time and every Groundhog Day is pretty much exactly the same.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

That about sums it up for me.

Except that today is different.  Today we go and kidnap us some virgins.  I dunno, I kind of agree with that part about the railroad tracks.

And then we celebrate Festivus with the airing of grievances until the Sage comes and tells us to stop it and get on to the orgy.

End of Act I.  Time to hit the lobby and get blasted because things are only going to get worse.

Act II

Evidently the ballerinas were out in the lobby too as they straggle on stage and wander around in circles for no particular reason.  It’s just like a Sigma Alpha Epsilon party at UVA only with more roofies.  One particularly befuddled co-ed is selected for sacrifice, sent off to perform goodness knows what kind of unspeakable acts with a bunch of dirty old men and then dances herself to death much to the amusement of the other performers and outrage of the audience.

Curtain

Yeah, dance your way out of that Stravinsky.

As you might imagine this tale of pedophilic murder created quite a stir, even in Paris a city not noted for Puritanism.  At the debut there was a riot between the wealthy patrons of art and the bohemian hip crowd that liked it for it’s novelty.  From all accounts Nijinsky’s choreography sucked, but I think the whole concept was a bad idea from the git.

Despite my opinion it’s one of the most frequently recorded and performed ballets.

Oh wait, that’s Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery.  This is Le Sacre.

Don’t agree with my assessment?  Well, that’s the Politics of Dancing-

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Obligatories

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

News

Handshake for Obama and Raúl Castro of Cuba

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD, The New York Times

APRIL 10, 2015

President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba shook hands here on Friday night, and American officials said they would hold discussions on Saturday during a gathering of regional leaders, in the first full-fledged meeting between presidents of the United States and Cuba in more than a half-century.

The expected encounter was not on Mr. Obama’s official schedule, but it held deep significance for the regional meeting, as the president’s move to ease tensions with Cuba has overshadowed the official agenda.

Mr. Obama is nearing a decision on removing Cuba’s three-decade-old designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, citing progress in the effort to re-establish diplomatic ties after half a century of hostilities.

General Electric Hands Dodd-Frank Its Biggest Victory Yet

by Zach Carter, Huffington Post

04/10/2015 8:00 pm EDT

General Electric said Friday it will sell off most of its banking operations, an acknowledgment that the company needs to transform itself in the face of Wall Street reforms passed five years ago.

The move marks the most dramatic reshaping of the American financial system to occur as a direct result of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which required regulators to take a hard look at financial companies deemed too big to fail.

“GE’s decision today shows that some of the financial reform measures regulators have taken are working: firms that threaten America’s financial system – like Wall Street’s too-big-to-fail banks – have to be made to bear the costs of their risky business so taxpayers don’t have to pay the bill when their risks explode,” Better Markets CEO Dennis Kelleher said in a written statement.



The banking exit marks the ultimate reversal of one of the most storied legacies in American business. While GE is best known in households for microwaves and refrigerators, its reputation as a global business titan was built largely in the 1980s on its banking wing, GE Capital. Then-CEO Jack Welch built impressive earnings numbers by aggressively managing GE Capital’s accounting profits. The company eventually settled accounting fraud charges with the SEC, and by 2008, its subprime mortgage operations nearly toppled the firm. GE ultimately tapped the federal government for support, issuing over $70 billion in debt guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.



Financial watchdogs have long warned about the economic dangers of mixing banking activity with commercial and industrial operations. In 1933, the Glass-Steagall Act banned such hybrids, but regulators’ exemptions over the years allowed some commercial firms to break into the financial world nevertheless. Banking is an inherently volatile industry, with a safety net provided by both the Federal Reserve and the FDIC. Allowing banks to merge with commercial institutions extends those risks deeper into the corporate world.

Pentagon: 2001 terror law can change if Congress approves action against Isis

by Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Friday 10 April 2015 17.24 EDT

The Pentagon’s top lawyer suggested on Friday that the Obama administration would accept “refinements” to a seminal 2001 counter-terrorism law if Congress passes a stalled White House initiative to legally bless its war against the Islamic State.

While backing further away from Barack Obama’s 2013 call to “ultimately repeal” the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), Stephen Preston, the Defense Department general counsel, continued to assert that Isis’s very public split from al-Qaida is a legally insignificant fact – an argument useful to the administration as it wages a war in Iraq and Syria that Congress shows little sign of endorsing, nine months on.

“The name may have changed, but the group we call Isil today has been an enemy of the United States within the scope of the 2001 AUMF continuously since at least 2004,” according to the prepared text of Preston’s speech to the American Society of International Law.



(B)ecause the administration can trace Isis’s origins to al-Qaida’s Iraqi franchise during the 2003-2011 US occupation, it has argued for months that what Preston called the “recent split” between Isis and al-Qaida has no bearing on the US’s legal authorities to attack Isis, even though Congress has never approved war, and Obama’s unilateral authorities under the War Powers Act have long since expired.

Earlier this year, Obama submitted a draft authorization for the current anti-Isis war to Congress. That draft, to the disappointment of some Democratic legislators, rejected a proposal to phase out the 2001 law, a move heralded by Preston’s May 2014 congressional testimony backing away from Obama’s call for repeal the previous year.



While Preston nodded to Obama’s 2013-era rejection of a “perpetual war footing”, he not only defended the sweeping powers provided by the 2001 AUMF but also offered no guidance for determining how the US would know they are no longer necessary.

“The US constitution,” Preston noted, “says nothing directly about how wars are to be ended.”

Stingray spying: FBI’s secret deal with police hides phone dragnet from courts

by Jessica Glenza and Nicky Woolf, The Guardian

Friday 10 April 2015 10.49 EDT

The FBI is taking extraordinary and potentially unconstitutional measures to keep local and state police forces from exposing the use of so-called “Stingray” surveillance technology across the United States, according to documents obtained separately by the Guardian and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Multiple non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) revealed in Florida, New York and Maryland this week show federal authorities effectively binding local law enforcement from disclosing any information – even to judges – about the cellphone dragnet technology, its collection capabilities or its existence.

In an arrangement that shocked privacy advocates and local defense attorneys, the secret pact also mandates that police notify the FBI to push for the dismissal of cases if technical specifications of the devices are in danger of being revealed in court.

The agreement also contains a clause forcing law enforcement to notify the FBI if freedom of information requests are filed by members of the public or the media for such information, “in order to allow sufficient time for the FBI to seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels”.

The strikingly similar NDAs, taken together with documents connecting police to the technology’s manufacturer and federal approval guidelines obtained by the Guardian, suggest a state-by-state chain of secrecy surrounding widespread use of the sophisticated cellphone spying devices known best by the brand of one such device: the Stingray.

A Lot Of Bottled Water Comes From Drought-Stricken California

By Alissa Scheller, Huffington Post

04/10/2015 11:59 pm EDT

California’s in the middle of an epic drought — but that hasn’t stopped bottled water production in the state. Even as residents face mandatory cutbacks and fields lie fallow, companies continue pumping hundreds of millions of gallons of water every year into plastic bottles — sometimes straight from a municipal water supply.

Report Reveals How Corporate Tax Dodgers Avoid Paying Their Fair Share-or Any Share At All

by Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams

Friday, April 10, 2015

The 15 companies cited in the CTJ analysis represent a range of sectors within the U.S. economy, from toy maker Mattel to financial services corporation Prudential to broadcaster CBS to media giant Time Warner.

All told, the report reveals that the 15 companies paid no federal income tax on $23 billion in profits in 2014, and they paid almost no federal income tax on $107 billion in profits over the past five years. All but two received federal tax rebates in 2014, and almost all paid “exceedingly low” rates over five years.

“These 15 corporations’ tax situations shed light on the widespread nature of corporate tax avoidance,” Citizens for Tax Justice declared.



“Global Financial Integrity, a financial watchdog agency, estimates that global corporations and wealthy individuals are hiding a total of over $21 trillion,” Collins wrote.



(o)n Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasted the tax dodgers in a press release.

“At a time when we have massive wealth and income inequality, and when corporate profits are soaring, it is an outrage that many large, profitable corporations not only paid nothing in federal income taxes last year, but actually received a rebate from the IRS last year,” Sanders said.

Echoing CTJ’s call to overhaul the corporate tax code, the senator continued: “Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor, as the Republicans in Congress have proposed, we need a tax system that demands that large, profitable corporations and the wealthy start paying their fair share in taxes.”

With Weapons Pouring In and Aid Locked Out, Yemeni Civilians ‘Willfully Abandoned’

by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams

Friday, April 10, 2015

The war, which is led by Saudi Arabia and now includes the United States, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, and Morocco, is being waged against one of the poorest countries in the world.

The United Nations estimates that 16 million out of 25 million people in Yemen were in need of humanitarian assistance before the fighting began. Yemen relies on imports for 90 percent of staple food items, including 100 percent of rice.

But the Saudi-led coalition has repeatedly blocked international aid from getting through as it lays siege to Yemen, a country the size of France, including a naval blockade. Commercial shipping lines are either scaling back or completely halting all services to the country, Reuters reports.

The aid group Oxfam warned on Wednesday, “Regular imports of food and fuel have not reached Yemen since the escalation in violence began two weeks ago, due to the closure of land, sea and air routes into the country.” As a result, the organization said, food prices have doubled, fuel prices have quadrupled in some areas, and basic goods are running “dangerously low.”

State Attorneys General Call on Feds to Forgive Fraudulent Student Loans

by Jon Queally, Common Dreams

Friday, April 10, 2015

In a letter sent Thursday to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the attorneys general from nine states urged the Obama administration to offer immediate federal loan forgiveness to the many thousands of students who enrolled at various for-profit schools owned by Corinthian Colleges Inc.

Corinthian, based in California, is currently under investigation in numerous states for fraudulent loan practices and has also faced a federal lawsuit filed by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which accused the company of illegally targeting potential students with predatory lending schemes that it knew they likely could not afford.

“Our greatest concern comes from certain large, predatory for-­profit schools that are actively undermining our federal loan programs, depriving  students of the education they promise and that the students deserve. These institutions seem to exist largely to capture federal loan dollars and aggressively market their programs to veterans and low-­income Americans,” the letter (pdf) stated. It was signed by the leading prosecutors from Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, New  Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington state.

Though Corinthian is not the only school accused of such practices, it has come to epitomize the worst habits of the for-profit, higher-education industry.

After Lecture on Proper ‘Administrative Channels,’ 19 Yale Students Arrested for Fossil Fuel Divestment Sit-In

by Jon Queally, Common Dreams

Thursday, April 09, 2015

As Common Dreams reported earlier on Thursday, the action at Yale is part of a coordinated campaign among student climate justice activists across the country who have vowed to escalate their efforts this month in the face of bureaucratic roadblocks and refusals by trustees and top administrators, including Yale President Peter Salovey, who say that divesting from fossil fuels is either unwarranted or does not comport with fiduciary obligations. For its part, the student-led movement at Yale is fighting for the school to divest its $23.9 billion endowment from all holdings in the coal, oil, and natural gas industries.

Early in the day, President Salovey addressed the students in person, telling them that a sit-in was not a proper way to file their complaints with the university. According to students, Salovey urged them to use “administrative channels” to voice their concerns.

Oceans Facing Carbon Rates Which Spurred Mass Die-Off 250 Million Years Ago

by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams

Friday, April 10, 2015

In case you weren’t already worried about the current and rapid acidification of the world’s oceans, a new report by leading scientists finds that this very phenomenon is to blame for the worst mass extinction event the planet earth has ever seen-approximately 252 million years ago.

The findings, published this week in the journal Science by University of Edinburgh researchers, raise serious concerns about the implications of present-day acidification, driven by human-made climate change.

“Scientists have long suspected that an ocean acidification event occurred during the greatest mass extinction of all time, but direct evidence has been lacking until now,” said lead author Dr. Matthew Clarkson in a statement. “This is a worrying finding, considering that we can already see an increase in ocean acidity today that is the result of human carbon emissions.”

The paper looks at the culprit behind the Permo-Triassic Boundary mass extinction, which wiped out more than 90 percent of marine species and two-thirds of land animals, making it even more severe than the die-off of the dinosaurs.



The kicker? The carbon that drove this process during the Permian-Triassic Boundary extinction was “released at a rate similar to modern emissions,” the report summary concludes. “This fast rate of release was a critical factor driving ocean acidification.”

Is This Cat Going Upstairs Or Downstairs?

By Andres Jauregui, The Huffington Post

04/10/2015 11:59 am EDT

Not since “the dress” has everyone made such a big deal about something so inconsequential.

This cat is either going upstairs or downstairs. People have different theories about which direction he’s going and why. One argument that we’re inclined towards is that he’s heading downstairs, because who in their right mind would design a staircase with protrusions sticking up out of the edge of the stairs?

If this were a view from the top of the staircase, the stairs in this photo would be a trip-and-fall disaster waiting to happen. Maybe most cats are nimble enough to avoid the planks, but not clumsy humans.

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