Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 50,320
Number of posts: 50,320
Fate of Detroit’s Art Hangs in the Balance
By RANDY KENNEDY - NYT
Published: December 3, 2013
A Diego Rivera mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Part of the collection may be auctioned off.
With a ruling by a federal judge on Tuesday that Detroit is eligible to enter bankruptcy, the fate of the city’s art collection — one of the finest in the country — now moves front and center in the legal battle over the city’s future.
But the judge, Steven W. Rhodes, questioned for the first time the push by some of the city’s largest creditors to sell paintings and sculpture from the Detroit Institute of Arts, a sale that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars or more. While he did not say specifically that the art should be spared, Judge Rhodes, in a brief mention of the institute by name, said that such a sale would not have helped Detroit avoid bankruptcy.
“A one-time infusion of cash by selling an asset,” he said, would have only delayed the city’s “inevitable financial failure” unless it could have also come up with a sustainable way to enhance income and reduce expenses. Judge Rhodes added that in considering selling assets, a city “must take extreme care that the asset is truly unnecessary in carrying out its mission.”
Some creditors argue that the art is not necessary for the city’s mission. Derek Donnelly, managing director of the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company, a creditor, told The Detroit Free Press, “The D.I.A. or art is not an essential asset and especially not one that is essential to the delivery of services in the city.” A coalition of creditors filed a motion last week asking the judge to appoint a committee to oversee an independent appraisal of the collection, which is owned by the city and includes masterpieces by Bruegel, van Gogh and Cézanne. Financial Guaranty did not return telephone calls seeking comment on Judge Rhodes’s statement.
Michael G. Bennett, an associate professor of law at Northeastern University School of Law, who was in the courtroom during the ruling, said, “Judge Rhodes seemed to be saying something that amounted to a defense of the collection.”
Posted by WillyT | Tue Dec 3, 2013, 10:14 PM (20 replies)
United Nations counterterrorism official launches investigation into NSA surveillance
By Jacob Kastrenakes _ TheVerge
December 2, 2013 04:05 pm
The United Nations senior counterterrorism official is launching an investigation into the surveillance activities of both the United States' and the United Kingdom's intelligence agencies. UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson said that he would be initiating an investigation into both the NSA and GCHQ in an op-ed published in the Guardian today. Emmerson writes that he's identified five areas of contention worth considering: whether Snowden should be given the legal protections of a whistleblower, whether his leaks damaged US or UK national security, whether his leaks show the need for surveillance overhaul, whether British parliament was misled about the intrusiveness of surveillance, and whether British parliament's current intelligence oversight system is thorough enough.
Following the investigation, Emmerson will deliver a series of recommendations to the UN general assembly next fall. "These questions are too important for the UN to ignore," Emmerson writes. He notes that there are several other issues at hand beyond the five specifically identified, including how a government contractor — not even a direct US government employee — was able to acquire such sensitive information. Emmerson has been critical of other United States' policies lately, having issued a UN report stating that the US should detail civilian casualties by drones.
In his op-ed, Emmerson was also highly critical of security officials who have attacked the Guardian for publishing the leaked surveillance documents. "The astonishing suggestion that this sort of journalism can be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively," Emmerson writes. He says that attacking the Guardian only serves to avoid the real issues. "The Guardian has revealed that there is an extensive program of mass surveillance that potentially affects every one of us ... The Guardian's revelations are precisely the sort of information that a free press is supposed to reveal.
Posted by WillyT | Tue Dec 3, 2013, 02:11 PM (5 replies)
Former NSA chief compares Snowden to terrorists
Posted by CNN's Jason Seher
Washington (CNN) - Former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden said Sunday that Edward Snowden, who has disclosed secrets about how the NSA surveils both at home and abroad, has created a "catastrophic" situation for American intelligence agencies.
"This is catastrophic for the safetay and security of the American nation, what this very narcissitic young man has done," Hayden told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."
Multiple reports allege Snowden has created a "doomsday cache" of government secrets that would release to the public should he be incarcerated or harmed.
Hayden said he has "no reason to doubt" those reports, but added that the looming threat of future disclosures should not dissaude American agencies from pursuing Snowden. The retired general said abandoning the effort to bring Snowden to justice would be like "negotiating with terrorists."
Posted by WillyT | Tue Dec 3, 2013, 02:04 PM (8 replies)
New GOP Plan Would Save Military From Sequestration By Cutting Social Security
Amanda Terkel - HuffPo
Posted: 12/03/2013 10:52 am EST | Updated: 12/03/2013 11:38 am EST
WASHINGTON -- A pair of House Republicans have a new bill that would spare the military from sequestration by cutting the Social Security benefits of many Americans who already experience painful federal budget cuts.
Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) are introducing the Provide for the Common Defense Act on Tuesday. The legislation would cancel out the next two years of sequestration cuts for the Pentagon by putting a heavier burden on senior citizens and federal workers.
Specifically, the plan would change the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated for Social Security, using a measurement called "chained CPI." The result would be less money in the pockets of beneficiaries. It would also increase federal employee retirement contributions and means-test Medicare premiums. Critics of means-testing argue that such a change would undermine the popularity of the program, turning it into welfare for lower-income Americans.
"Washington has a spending problem, but incessantly and mindlessly cutting national security will not get us out of our fiscal mess," said Lamborn in a statement. "President Obama must realize that out-of-control entitlement spending is drowning our country in debt. Our bill cancels national security sequestration for two years by enacting a few Obama-endorsed reforms that will actually produce over $300 billion in savings over ten years. Two-thirds of the savings will go toward debt reduction."
Posted by WillyT | Tue Dec 3, 2013, 01:20 PM (6 replies)
Special Report: The Pentagon's doctored ledgers conceal epic waste
By Scot J. Paltrow - LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:56am EST
(Reuters) - Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense's accounts.
Every month until she retired in 2011, she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon's main accounting agency. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow DFAS accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy's books with the U.S. Treasury's - a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.
And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. "A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate," Woodford says. "We didn't have the detail … for a lot of it."
The data flooded in just two days before deadline. As the clock ticked down, Woodford says, staff were able to resolve a lot of the false entries through hurried calls and emails to Navy personnel, but many mystery numbers remained. For those, Woodford and her colleagues were told by superiors to take "unsubstantiated change actions" - in other words, enter false numbers, commonly called "plugs," to make the Navy's totals match the Treasury's.
Jeff Yokel, who spent 17 years in senior positions in DFAS's Cleveland office before retiring in 2009, says supervisors were required to approve every "plug" - thousands a month. "If the amounts didn't balance, Treasury would hit it back to you," he says.
After the monthly reports were sent to the Treasury, the accountants continued to seek accurate information to correct the entries. In some instances, they succeeded. In others, they didn't, and the unresolved numbers stood on the books.
Posted by WillyT | Tue Dec 3, 2013, 10:18 AM (95 replies)
Auburn vs. Alabama - Fan Reactions To Kick Return 2013 Iron Bowl
Posted by WillyT | Mon Dec 2, 2013, 08:53 PM (0 replies)
Is an interesting thing. (And yes, I know... sexuality does NOT have to include pornography)
But... A LARGE SWATH of DU here, were adults during the "Sexual Revolution".
And from 'The Scarlet Letter', to 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', to 'The Tropic of Cancer', to etc. etc. etc....
We STILL find most discussions of sex uncomfortable.
And I'm OK with that... Personally, I don't want sex to be just like a Bikram Yoga Class, or an X-Box.
But that's me... and my personality. Part of the "revolution" was to respect all, as long as none were hurt.
And therein lies the rub... and how does one judge the hurt... unless it's in front of a judge?
I know far more people hurt, hindered, ostracized and alone BY THEIR OWN FUCKING FAMILIES, than by their peers, or society.
Yet there we were in all our glory... at the nude beach proving we were hip enough to show it "To The Man"... again ironic.
But we ALL had different experiences and outcomes...
Some positive... some negative...
It's just too bad we feel the need to yell at and accuse each other...
Instead of finding common ground... and healing.
Posted by WillyT | Mon Dec 2, 2013, 07:45 PM (8 replies)
Posted by WillyT | Mon Dec 2, 2013, 06:29 PM (12 replies)
The NSA wrote turkey-day talking points, because of course it did
BY BRIAN FUNG - WaPo
December 2 at 4:54 pm
Thanksgiving can be a touchy time for families with divergent politics. If not Obamacare, it's a good bet that somebody, somewhere was facing off with an aunt or uncle about the NSA.
Defenders of the spy agency might have found this set of talking points helpful. Distributed internally by the NSA the week before Thanksgiving and reported earlier today by Firedoglake, the two-pager — a literal set of bullet points — armed employees with verbal ammunition that they were encouraged to share "with family and close friends."
As with previous sets of talking points prepared for top intelligence officials, this latest document isn't afraid to invoke 9/11. It also cites a common statistic about the effectiveness of NSA surveillance, claiming that it contributed to the disruption of 54 terrorist plots since 2001. Critics challenge this figure, saying that less than a handful of those cases can be realistically connected to the snooping.
Another part of the talking points takes a thinly veiled shot at China.
"NSA does not and will not steal industry secrets in order to give U.S. companies a competitive advantage," it reads. Beijing has, on occasion, been accused of conducting economic espionage as a way to advance its political interests.
At other times, the talking points take a sloganeering turn...
Talking-Points (.pdf file): http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/files/2013/12/nsas-talking-points-for-holiday-gatherings.pdf
Posted by WillyT | Mon Dec 2, 2013, 06:06 PM (1 replies)
ARGO: Why is the truth behind the assassination of President Kennedy the last chance of America for its survival?
SAHL: Because the evidence developed by District Attorney Garrison indicates that certain people had to take President Kennedy's life in order to control ours. In other words, as Richard Starnes of the New York World-Telegram said, the shots in Dallas were the opening shots of World War III. There's been a great change in this country since Kennedy. I'm afraid a great deal of our hope was interred with his remains.
ARGO: What is the long, hard night that America must go through that you've spoken of?
SAHL: She has to hang on through a period of the military and the CIA with a blank check trying to sell fascism. If she can hang on long enough, Americans may yet live in the country in which they were born. And that is the country structured by Tom Paine and Tom Jefferson.
ARGO: What is the renaissance following this long, hard night, that you also spoke about?
SAHL: We'll start pursuing the American dream again. I don't know if we'll ever realize it, but we're supposed to have the right to pursue it. And that's what this country is. It's an active exercise in man reaching his upper limit, as they used to say in the math department. And the renaissance will be that a ground swell of public opinion will flush out the rascals because the CIA has infiltrated every area of our national life. I'm afraid that the country they subverted best was the United States, be they in the various right-wing churches or be they in the Dallas Police Department. In fact, the CIA is the only organization I know that could penetrate the Birch Society and make them drift further to the right.
Posted by WillyT | Sun Dec 1, 2013, 10:14 PM (9 replies)