Dave Stancliff 2011-07-24 blogarama.com

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Predictions from world's top film prognosticator

Science fiction is where the future happens first, and that puts futurist Syd Mead at least two steps ahead of the rest of us.

The 78-year-old conceptual artist may be best known for designing the flying-cop-car-patrolled Los Angeles streetscapes in "Blade Runner," but he also dreamed up the original light cycles in "Tron," the Marine-transport starship in "Aliens" and visions of a class-stratified, off-Earth world for Neill Blomkamp’s highly anticipated March 2013 feature "Elysium." Here, Mead makes predictions for what we might one day see in film, in real life, or both.

Lightweight exoskeletons - Pointing to new electroactive polymers that contract powerfully and predictably when exposed to a charge, Mead foresees an era of lightweight human exoskeletons. Such strap-on limb supports could strengthen soldiers and help the elderly and the paralyzed. "These new materials are better than hydraulics or electric motors," he explains, "because they have a directional axis to pull and push, much like muscles do. So they’re very efficient, and more like a sheath than a bulky cylinder. That’s going to change the world."

Also Predicted: Hands-free highways, Printable replacement organs, Swappable car bodies, and Covert bank warfare.

What people are saying about this contrived debt crisis

I’ve got to hand it to the assholes/politicians ruining our economy while they play partisan games at the expense of the American middle class; they’ve got a lot of people shook up. Not just here in the U.S., but worldwide.

I hope they’re proud of themselves. They’ve proven to be the biggest collection of corporate crook lovers ever to screw up the House of Representatives AND the Senate at the same time! It’s an all-time low for Democracy. A minority has polarized the majority. Our system has failed. The world can see what’s happening better than the morons who are sinking the system.

I have one question for you: “Do you plan on backing new Tea Partyers to assure maximum damage to our entire democratic system in the future?”

I’d like to think voters will remember what the Tea Party has done here and will prevent their uncompromising climb to power in the years ahead.

Troops ask amid debt crisis: Will we get paid?

There’s global concern over US debt ceiling disagreement.

The Associated Press interviewed people across the country and found that, whatever their political leanings, frustration about the debt debate itself was the most commonly held view. Voters do not know how the debt showdown got to this point, at the brink, just days away from the United States being unable to pay all its bills.

Bob Krogman, a 60 year-old Air Force veteran who survived three helicopter crashes over North Vietnam standing outside the St. Louis VA Medical Center:

"Politicians care about themselves, and that's the way it's always been since I was in the military. I'm furious. I hate them.”

Denise Cox, 47, of Ohioville, PA, a western Pennsylvania nursing home worker:

"On both sides of the aisle, they all claim to be so smart. So how did we get to this point? It didn't happen overnight. All of these supposedly intelligent people brought us to this point, and now they are scrambling to see who they can take money from."

Robert Lydon, a pipefitter from Cohasset, Mass interviewed at Post Office Square, surrounded by banks and investment firms in Boston's financial district:

"They're fiddling while Rome is burning.They're playing to their egos and not thinking about the regular person on the street like me."

Miranda Ledouceur, 28 Woonsocket, R.I. resident:

"If they don't fix this there will be a lot of people on the street.Things are bad enough already."

Crying doesn’t help, sinkhole swallows building, and man rescues pink kitty

Good Morning Humboldt County!

It’s that time again to enjoy some nice hot coffee or tea. With most of the news being about the Debt Crisis, I thought you’d like to read about something else this morning: 

Crying shame: Tears don't make you feel any better, study shows

Apparently weeping isn't the cathartic emotional release it's often cracked up to be, sniff, sniff. Please pass the tissues.

Florida sinkhole swallows building

An enormous sinkhole has opened up in the town of Leesburg, Fla.,, and it's hungry.

It's already gobbled up a garbage bin, an oak tree, the back wall of the building housing a salon and racks of supplies

The chasm that caused Main Street Hair and Beauty Supply to collapse is about 60 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

A man discovered a pink-coloured stray cat roaming around the  community where he lives. Yao Xianhai, from Lanzhou in western China’s  Gansu Province, said he didn’t believe his eyes when he first spotted  the pink kitten. “I thought I had a blurred vision, but I then realised  it was truly pink.” No one has come forward as yet to claim the stray.
Picture: Quirky China News / Rex Features

Roaming pink kitty finds new home

A man discovered a pink-colored stray cat roaming around the community where he lives. Yao Xianhai, from Lanzhou in western China’s Gansu Province, said he didn’t believe his eyes when he first spotted the pink kitten. “I thought I had a blurred vision, but I then realized it was truly pink.” No one has come forward as yet to claim the stray.

Picture: Quirky China News / Rex Features

Time to walk on down the road…

Friday, July 29, 2011

Random thought: Why would a conscientious objector join the Army?

I just don’t get it.

Will someone please explain why someone who describes himself as a “conscientious objector” would ever join the Army?

Did someone force  Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, 21, of Garland, Texas to join? I don’t think so. Common sense disregards that reason. So what are we left with?

He had a religious conversion while in the Army, or he was already a devout Muslim who didn’t want to go to Afghanistan but didn’t tell the recruiter (where he signed up) that he preferred carrying the Koran rather than a rifle. Kinda iffy.

The Army said “Okay” and granted him “conscientious objector” status in May after a very public campaign in which he reached out to local media. He argued that his Muslim beliefs prohibited military service. He didn’t believe in violence. Say that again? Abdo signed up as an infantryman with the 1st Brigade Combat Team (Rear Provisional) of the 101st Airborne but didn’t believe in violence? HELLO… A bit odd, don’t you think?

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This Sunday’s (July 31st) “As It Stands” column in The Times-Standard deals with the same subject:

The Last Crusade: Will extreme intolerance finally result in Armageddon?

“The monumental irony, at least to me, is that both religions could live side-by-side if they just practiced what they preach. Both say they believe in an omniscient God that tells them how important the power of love is, yet they reject it in their daily lives. Each religion promotes peace, but has prominent members who don‘t practice it. Instead, violent extremists from both sides are calling for crusades.”

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A week or so later (on May 13th), Abdo was charged with “child pornography” and was attending a court martial trial. That delayed his getting out. So, he goes AWOL. Despite his claims that he just wanted to be a peaceful Muslim and not wage war, he suddenly shows up by Ft.Hood with a detailed plan to murder his fellow soldiers.

What happened? Was he recruited while in the service by al-Qaida? Authorities found two clocks, an article outlining how to make a bomb from a magazine published by al-Qaida in Yemen and a backpack carrying a list of items needed to make a bomb. If so, that’s troubling.

  After being formally charged yesterday with possession of an unregistered destructive device in federal court he was led away in handcuffs by three U.S. Marshals. His parting shot to the press?

"Nidal Hasan, Fort Hood 2009!"

Hasan is an Army psychiatrist charged with the shootings that killed 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009.

As It Stands, is Abdo another religious fanatic striking out at the West? I’m not sure yet. What do you think?

photo source

Moonshine revival, 1.5 million hungry bats, and free pot for registering to vote in Michigan

Good Morning Humboldt County!

The coffees on and the days wasting away. Grab a cup and let’s see what’s happening on this Friday. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking pure 100% Moonshine in Macon County Georgia  back in the summer of 1968, and I’ll tell you it made my eyeballs roll, my teeth chatter, and damn near left me immobile for hours!

Distillery to make South Carolina's first legal moonshine

Two entrepreneurs are taking advantage of South Carolina's new micro-distillery laws to make traditional moonshine whiskey legally in the state for the first time. The Dark Corner Distillery will open next month in Greenville, where engineer Joe Fenten and longtime home beer brewer Richard Wenger will produce and sell small batches of 100-proof moonshine from a custom-made copper still.                   image

Image: One of some 1.5 million bats emerges from below the Congress Street Bridge near downtown Austin

1.5 million bats in Texas city left hungrier by drought

There are 1.5 million bats living under a bridge in downtown Austin, and a historic Texas drought is making them hungrier than ever.That's bad news for the bats in the world's largest urban bat colony. But it is good news for the humans who gather each evening just a few blocks from the state Capitol building to watch their spectacular nightly trips into the nearby Hill Country to find food.

Image: Homepage of medical pot clinic's website

Free pot in exchange for registering to vote?

A medical marijuana shop's offer of free pot in exchange for registering to vote appears to have gone up in smoke.

Your Healthy Choice Clinic of Lansing, Mich., had been offering a half gram on its website ahead of a vote for city council seats and after the council approved capping the number of medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits and setting a $1,000 application fee.

Clinic owner Shekina Pena earlier said she wasn't trying to buy votes.

Time to walk on down the road…

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Three crazy inventions that you probably never heard of…

Cigarette Pack Holder - crazy invention, 1955.

Cigarette Pack Holder - crazy invention, 1955. (Right)

Illuminated Tires, 1961
A woman adjusts her stocking by the light of the Goodyear’s illuminated tires. The tire is made from a single piece of synthetic rubber and is brightly lit by bulbs mounted inside the wheel rim.
Photo:Life

 

(Left) crazy invention

Illuminated Tires, 1961

A woman adjusts her stocking by the light of the Goodyear’s illuminated tires. The tire is made from a single piece of synthetic rubber and is brightly lit by bulbs mounted inside the wheel rim. Photo:Life

Shower Hood, 1970 - crazy invention for the woman who likes to put makeup on her dirty face.

     (Right)

crazy invention

Shower Hood, 1970 -

For the woman who likes to put makeup on her dirty face.

photos via Crazy Pictures

This Time Republicans Are Silent When A Congressman Says “Act Like A Lady”

UPDATE BELOW

GOP RULES: #1 What’s okay for Republican speakers to say is not okay for anyone else.

Disrespectful.”

“Demeaning to all women.”

“Patronizing.”

Those were just a few of the Republican responses when a congressman accused a congresswoman of not “acting like a lady.”

(See Video to hear  how supposedly “un-lady-like Rep. Schultz is.)

But that was 2010, and it was about attacking Democratic Senator Arlen Spector, after he told Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to “act like a lady” when she was talking over him on a television news show.

The GOP was appalled.  Bachmann claimed she was “stunned by his arrogance.”  The female co-chair of the RNC started demanding an apology Spector’s primary challenger called him out.

Yet when Republican Congressman Allen West of Florida sends an email to House leadership, condemning fellow Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her “attack” on him on the House floor, calling her “vile,” “unprofessional” and “not a lady,” there isn’t a peep to be heard from the party.

As much as Republicans hide behind female politicians to push their draconian cuts and policies that are most harmful to women, then claim that since a woman supports them, they must actually be beneficial, accusing a female politician of not “acting like a lady” is only a crime if that politician is a Republican.  Because, essentially, to the GOP, Democratic women aren’t “ladies.”  They strive for gender equality, they fight for women to be able to work and raise families rather than always choose between the two, they argue for equal pay and the right to have autonomy over their own bodies, families and personal choices.

They fight for women.  And apparently, that just isn’t ladylike.

Florida’s Lois Frankel, who is challenging West for his seat in 2012, responded to the congressman’s sexist diatribe, stating that with his “out of control, rude, sexist and completely inappropriate remarks is it any wonder that Washington can’t get anything done?  We have critical issues from the debt ceiling to creating jobs to two wars; yet instead of getting things done for South Florida families Allen West would rather grandstand and call names that are offensive to all of us.” source

UPDATE:

At 12:15 pm ET today, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will hold a conference call with reporters, emphasizing that all the GOP presidential candidates have so far refused to reveal their fundraising bundlers. By contrast, the Obama campaign has revealed its bundlers.

What ever happened to flying the friendly skies? Passngers beat up pilot!

An American Airlines pilot was beaten Wednesday night as he tried to escort two belligerent brothers, Jonathan and Luis Baez, off a flight from Miami to San Francisco.

I’ve lost track of the many serious (and sometimes silly) incidents that happen when people board airplanes and don’t want to play by any rules...

Related stories:

What people have to say today in the news…

Good Morning Humboldt County!

Here we are again, another day in paradise. Grab a mug of hot coffee or tea and we’ll look through today’s headlines to see what we can see:

News quotes:

Sen. John McCain railed against "bizarro" alternative plans by "Tea Party hobbits." He said, "What is really amazing about this is that some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in this body with its present representation and that is foolish.” cartoon source

Boehner issues blunt warning to debt dissenters He told members of the GOP, “Get your asses in line!”

Atheist Group Wants 9/11 Cross Removed from Museum - Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, said, "This cross is now a part of the official WTC memorial. No other religions or philosophies will be honored. It will just be a Christian icon, in the middle of OUR memorial.”

 

Holocaust survivors have issued a "plea" to Facebook to "deny access to their powerful social networking platform to anyone promoting" the notion that the Holocaust should be denied or that it was a hoax. The appeal said,

“We, the undersigned, are Holocaust Survivors who saw our parents, children and loved ones brutally murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. We are writing to you to protest Facebook’s policy that categorizes Holocaust denial as “free speech,” rather than the shameless, cynical and hateful propaganda that it is...

Do not permit Holocaust denial any platform on Facebook to preach its inherent message of lies and hate. By allowing this hate propaganda on Facebook, you are exposing the public and, in particular, youth to the anti-Semitism which fueled the Holocaust. Please correct this terrible error in judgment before our generation passes away.”

Time to head on down the road…

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Former Top Gun pilot and high-level GOP fundraiser is center of corruption case

Image: Florida News - July 14, 2011

Florida businessman Harry Sargeant III (pictured at right) and his oil company are at the center of the case that could be one of the largest-ever prosecutions under the Foreign Corruption Practices Act by the Justice Department.

In a case first reported by NBC News in June 2008 , the eight-person jury affirmed that Sargeant conspired to deprive al-Saleh of a one-third share in profits from the contracts

In his place at the defendants’ table was Marty Martin, one of the oil company’s top executives and formerly a senior CIA operative who, for two years after 9/11, advised former President George W. Bush on terrorism. During the trial, al-Saleh alleged that Sargeant and Martin directed $50 million in graft to the highest levels of the Jordanian government. The money, he claimed, bought the oil company a continued monopoly on supply lines of fuel through Jordan to U.S. forces in Iraq.

The existence of that monopoly cost the American military as much as $200 million in excess charges, according to a congressional investigation and Pentagon audit.

Citizens can turn-in dog crap to city for gold…no really

This story makes me think about Washington D.C. and the pack of assholes that call themselves our leaders. The deal is reversed however: our government hands out a load of crap to the public, and they end up paying for it!

“A city in northern Taiwan is trying the Midas touch to persuade reluctant residents to clean up after their canines: offering a chance to win gold bars to anyone handing in bags of doggy deposits.

Starting from August 1, dog owners and other residents of New Taipei City, bordering the capital Taipei, can hand in waste to government cleaning teams in exchange for tickets to a lucky draw. The prizes: three gold ingots worth T$60,000 ($2,100), T$18,000 and T$12,000.

The number of draw tickets is unlimited, and the winners will be named in October, the city government said in a statement. "We are hoping the draw will attract a wide participation, especially as the gold price is rising," said New Taipei City Environmental Protection Department official Chen Chao-ming. The city will give free garbage bags to would-be collectors. It is also beefing up more conventional measures, including rewarding people for photographing dog owners leaving mess uncleaned, and stepping up its own poo patrols in dog haunts.

But it will be hoping for better results than the central city of Taichung saw in 2009, when its offer of T$100 shopping vouchers for each kg of excrement collected yielded little more than criticism and ridicule.(Reporting by Christine Lu; editing by Jonathan Standing and Ron Popeski) image

The cushiest prison in the world, lucky family wins multiple lotteries, and a glowing dog that could help find cures for human diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

Good Morning Humboldt County!

The coffee sure smells good this morning. Glad you could join me. Let’s see what’s happening in this crazy world we live in. Pull up a chair and have a stare:

Luxury digs in store for Norwegian mass killer

Norway's unrepentant mass killer, Anders Behring Breivik, is now under arrest. And he should count himself lucky for -- if entirely undeserving of -- a penal system in that country that is among the cushiest in the world. There's no capital punishment, and the longest jail term allowed is 21 years (a caveat: if a prisoner is deemed to still be a threat, his sentence can be extended in five-year blocks indefinitely, though it's highly unlikely, according to Norwegian officials). In Norway, rehabilitation is the guiding principle, not punishment -- a somewhat difficult notion to swallow given the gravity and callousness of his crimes.

Norway's newest jail may hold rapists and murderers, but Halden Prison -- the country's second largest and most secure facility -- looks more like a posh sleepaway camp. In fact, architects say they purposely tried to avoid an "institutional feel." When it opened in 2010, some news accounts called it the "most humane" prison in the world.

Indeed, one of the many perks at Halden is flat-screen televisions in inmates' rooms. There's no HBO, though, so reruns of Oz and The Wire are contraband. Still, prisoners get private cells with mini-fridges and large windows to let in more sunlight. Here, then, is a quick tour of what luxuries may await Breivik behind bars. (That's a figure of speech, of course: There are no iron bars at Halden.) GO HERE and be prepared to be surprised.

Haul in the family: one lucky clan wins its third lottery

Wondering where all your good luck has gone? Maybe the McCauleys of Charlotte, N.C., have it. For the third time in 20 years, a member of the family has won the lottery. A buzzy article from the AP delves into the details. Back in 1991, the family won $15.5 million from the New York Lotto.

This was their biggest haul, but not their last. Sixteen years later, Amy McCauley held the ticket to $160,000 in the North Carolina Education Lottery. Then, in 2009, Amy picked up two more prizes, each worth $1,000.And now, in 2011, Kimberly McCauley (daughter of Amy) won $100,000 on a scratcher card.  image source

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South Korean scientists create glowing dog – report

South Korean scientists said on Wednesday they have created a glowing dog using a cloning technique that could help find cures for human diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, Yonhap news agency reported.

A research team from Seoul National University (SNU) said the genetically modified female beagle, named Tegon and born in 2009, has been found to glow fluorescent green under ultraviolet light if given a doxycycline antibiotic, the report said.

The researchers, who completed a two-year test, said the ability to glow can be turned on or off by adding a drug to the dog's food.

Time to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Ballad of Blood and Iron by Chris Floyd

A Ballad of Blood and Iron: Will You Be Free?
Will You Be Free by Chris Floyd

When the guns no longer sound
When the dead are in the ground
When the foe hangs from the tree
Will you be free?
Will you be free?

When blood and iron rule the day
When ash and bone mix with the clay
And choke the fruits of victory
Will you be free?
Will you be free?

When the children of the slain
Cry for revenge to ease their pain
Lost in shadows you’ll never see
Will you be free?
Will you be free?

When the fear comes round again
And they call for troops to send
To some new war across the sea
Will you be free?
Will you be free?

Lyrics and music © Chris Floyd
This was recorded with the remarkable multi-instrumentalist Nick Kulukundis, who also produced the track. This is a slight reworking of a song that originally appeared on the album Wheel of Heaven. Final photo,"Taxpayer," © Lee Mayr.

Slaughtered sparrows simile wins 2011 bad writing contest

Rats! I forgot to enter again. I’m sure I could write a pretty awful opening to an imaginary novel. A sentence in which tiny birds and the English language are both slaughtered took top honors Monday in an annual bad writing contest:

Sue Fondrie of Oshkosh, Wis., won the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for her sentence comparing forgotten memories to dead sparrows, said San Jose State University Prof. Scott Rice. The contestant asks writers to submit the worst possible opening sentences to imaginary novels.

Fondrie wrote: "Cheryl's mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories." Story - graphic

FAAs operating authority expired, U.S. losing cyber war? Two societies, separate and unequal

Good Morning Humboldt County!

It’s that time again. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and we’ll see what’s happening around this country. The effects of the Congressional pissing match are already being felt:

No end in sight for FAA shutdown

The legislative stalemate between Republicans and Democrats in Congress forced the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, the furlough of nearly 4,000 federal workers and the issuance of stop-work orders for dozens of airport construction projects across the country.

Prospects for quickly ending the legislative dispute between the House and Senate appear grim, with neither side signaling willingness to compromise. The FAA's operating authority expired last week. Air traffic controllers have continued to work, as well as FAA employees who inspect the safety of planes and test pilots.Transportation officials have said safety won't be compromised. But it was unclear how long the FAA can continue day-to-day operations before travelers begin to feel the effects of the shutdown. Photo

Head of U.S. cyber agency resigns suddenly

The head of a U.S. agency that helps respond to cyber attacks resigned suddenly after several high-profile attacks on government computer systems but the Department of Homeland Security declined Monday to comment on the reason.

Vickers' resignation follows several high-profile hacker attacks against the Pentagon and public websites of the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Senate.         graphic

 The question is why? Are we losing the Cyber War? 

 

Chart: WEALTH GAP

Wealth gap widens between whites, minorities

The wealth gaps between whites and minorities have grown to their widest levels in a quarter-century. The recession and uneven recovery have erased decades of minority gains, leaving whites on average with 20 times the net worth of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics, according to an analysis of new Census data.

The analysis shows the racial and ethnic impact of the economic meltdown, which ravaged housing values and sent unemployment soaring. It offers the most direct government evidence yet of the disparity between predominantly younger minorities whose main asset is their home and older whites who are more likely to have retirement accounts or other stock holdings.

"I am afraid that this pushes us back to what the Kerner Commission characterized as 'two societies, separate and unequal,'" said Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau, referring to the 1960s presidential commission that examined U.S. race relations. "The great difference is that the second society has now become both black and Hispanic."

Monday, July 25, 2011

‘We’re having a massive circus’ says Wall Street investment officer

imagesCAU6QQ1Z

As middle America holds it’s breath to see if the government is going to default on it’s bills, and plunge us into a depression that will make the one in the late 20s and 30s look like the “Good old days,” our politicians are posturing like a pack of clowns in the main ring!

“As Congress and the White House drive the country’s budget and debt rating closer to the edge of a cliff, global financial markets have greeted the impending calamity with a collective yawn.

Something doesn’t quite add up here. Either fears of an economic Armageddon are vastly overblown, or investors are setting themselves up for a nasty surprise.

For now, Wall Street seems convinced that Washington won’t drive the country into a financial abyss.

“We're having a massive circus,” said Robert Doll, chief investment officer at BlackRock Advisors. “It's not going to be fun. In the 12th, maybe 13th hour, we'll get something done. And we move on."

Washington and Wall Street have played this game of chicken before. Following the financial collapse of 2008, Congress balked at approving a $700 billion bank bailout package. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled hundreds of points, including its biggest one-day point drop ever.” Full Story

Would you give up the internet for $1 million? Check out Big Fat Whale site, and NFL lockout over

Informal study says most people wouldn’t give up the internet for just $1 million…

Good Morning Humboldt County!

It’s time to get comfortable, sip some virtual coffee, and see what what the world is up to. A big week lies ahead as our dysfunctional government tries to balance the budget.

Would you give up the Internet for $1 million?

A not-very-scientific poll by the Fund for American Studies finds the answer to be "no" for two reasons: One, the dollar payoff isn't big enough (!) and two, the Internet has become so key that no amount of money would cover the loss of its place in our lives.

Big Fat Whale Site Profile

Big Fat Whale Site Profile

Big Fat Whale is a subversive comic by Brian McFadden. McFadden's weekly strips usually deal with politics, commercialization run amuck, and stupidity. The style is non-narrative, usually favoring single-panel gags dealing with a subject like "fatty foods of the future" or "how to opt in to your rights".

Best of "Big Fat Whale":The Metric Resistance -The World's Worst Web Ads -Future Stars of the GOP - Crap-ass Valentines - Internet Anti-Memes and Non-Sensations - 25 Cent Book Bin - Ineffective Public Service Announcements

NFL, players set on terms of deal

NFL owners and players agreed early Monday to the terms of a deal to end the lockout, and players were expected to begin their voting process later in the day, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

FILE - This Feb. 6, 2011, file photo shows Green Bay Packers' Nick Collins (36) celebrating with teammate Clay Matthews (52) after returning an interception for a touchdown during the first quarter of the NFL football Super Bowl XLV game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Arlington, Texas. NFL owners and players agreed early Monday, July 25, 2011 to the terms of a deal to end the lockout, and players were expected to begin the voting process later in the day, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the process was supposed to remain secret and no formal announcement had been made. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the process was supposed to remain secret and no formal announcement had been made.

The NFL Players Association's executive committee was to meet at its headquarters in Washington on Monday so it could be presented with the finalized agreement. NFLPA president Kevin Mawae arrived shortly after 9:30 a.m.

Time to walk on down the road…

Sunday, July 24, 2011

As It Stands: Real-life drama unfolds as Justice Department tries to cover up scandal

MelsonGunwalkerman

By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 07/24/2011 02:30:24 AM PDT

OPENING SCENE: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) acting director, Kenneth Melson, tells Congressional investigators he didn't know about specific orders to let straw buyers walk off with guns purchased in the United States until the “Fast and Furious” scandal surfaced in the press. In the jargon of B films, “he's singing like a canary.”

Melson spills the beans about a Department of Justice/ BATFE operation called “Fast and Furious” that went horribly wrong. He's fighting for his life and is determined not to be the fall guy for something that involves his agency and numerous others.

In a desperate act of survival, Melson admits the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and possibly the Homeland Security Department are also involved in the growing Fast and Furious scandal.

NARRATOR: Thousands of U.S. operatives -- with virtually no principles -- will do whatever the government tells them to do. A few, like BATFE director Ken Melson, may be taken down, but the really big shot-callers will probably never answer for their crimes.

BACKROUND: “Allegations that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) allowed U.S. arms to flow to murderous Mexican cartels now face Congressional scrutiny in Washington,” according to a story by the Christian Science Monitor on July 16.

Also on the table is the involvement of a covert operation (Fast and Furious) that may have partially contributed to the deaths of a U.S. law enforcement officer and numerous Mexicans.

Operation Fast and Furious went bad after the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, and the Justice Department tried to cover up the connections. The gun used to kill Agent Brian Terry was traced, not to Mexico, but to a gun store in Phoenix. It turned out the store was cooperating with a federal investigation into arms trafficking, according to news reports.

U.S. agents didn't stop the sale or the transfer of the gun that the cartels used to kill Terry, despite internal information that was available about the shooter/buyer.

 A Reuters report stated, “Two semi-automatic Kalashnikov-pattern rifles were found at the scene.” When traced, they were discovered to have been purchased from an American gun shop cooperating with agents of the Phoenix office of the ATF in an investigation of gun smuggling known as “Project Gunrunner.”

Before Melson decided to come clean, five separate but connected accusations were leveled by current or former employees of the ATF against ATF and DOJ officials.

THE PLOT THICKENS: Word about agent whistleblowers reached U.S. Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Chuck Grassley of Iowa through news sources, who learned of their existence from their own sources within the ATF.

There has been a series of meetings between the senators and the whistleblowers. Protection is promised to the whistleblowers for sharing the true circumstances of Terry's death.

As the story gets wider coverage, more whistleblowers are coming out. A story recently surfaced in Florida in the Examiner (Special Report by David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh): “Breaking News: Source claims ATF's Tampa SAC walked guns to Honduras. Part of Operation Castaway?”

According to the article, “Virginia O'Brien, Special Agent in Charge at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Tampa Field Division, ran a gun-running investigation that walked guns to Honduras using techniques and tactics identical to Fast and Furious.”

In a letter recently released by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Daryl Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley accused the Justice Department of blocking their investigation into the burgeoning scandal. They said the Justice Department had muzzled the ATF and was involving other federal agencies, including the FBI and the DEA, in funding for flawed operations that stemmed from Project Gunrunner.

Both Obama and Holder have said they learned of Operation Fast and Furious only after the scandal broke in January. Despite Holder's claim, The Christian Science Monitor reported this month that he played up BATFE's Project Gunrunner, under which Fast and Furious was spawned, in a speech in Mexico in 2009, saying that $10 million of the 2009 stimulus bill would go to fund new arms interdiction measures.

There's evidence not only that the Justice Department allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities.

As It Stands, stay tuned to see if this is another dramatic reality show starring corrupt officials who get off the hook.

Websites carrying this column:

#1 Interceder – #2 CIPFA/Better Governance Forum #3 Star Pulse Online –#4 Broken Controllers

#5 Cen Sec Center for Defense, Space, Security (Global News-English) – #5 Scheme Root – an encyclopedia of current events #6 Misc. Legal Groups