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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 37,262

Journal Archives

At least hang up the phone first...

Eye on the ball: Kerry shows off his soccer skills

First female submariners in Royal Navy's 110-year history

Three women have become the first female submariners in the 110-year history of the Submarine Service.

Lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alexandra Olsson and Penny Thackray earned their "Dolphins" after months of training, including operations on HMS Vigilant.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond hailed their "huge personal achievement" and said it was "an historic moment for the Royal Navy and our armed forces".

A ban on women submariners based on health fears was lifted in 2011.

A review of concerns that submarines' higher levels of carbon dioxide could carry risks to female health decided the fears were unfounded.

Lt Olsson, 26, from Tranmere, the Wirral, described joining the 165 male fellow crew members of HMS Vigilant as like living "as a very strange family".

"I felt like a little sister to 165 brothers," she said. "At the end of the day manpower is a big thing for the navy - as long as you can do the job, it doesn't matter."



Electronic Frontier Foundation Praises the Tea Party, FreedomWorks and Klayman

Yesterday, tax day, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posted an article titled “Tea Party, Taxes and Why the Original Patriots Would’ve Revolted Against the Surveillance State,” and it wouldn’t surprise me if the authors were wearing tri-corner hats with hand-written “Rand Paul 4 Prez” placards stacked up on their desks while they hammered out the post.

The EFF is, in its own words, “the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world,” and has stationed itself on the front lines in the battle against the National Security Agency and the intelligence community. It’s best known recently for pursuing NSA to release an 85-page opinion from the FISA Court detailing an operation a FISA judge had ruled unconstitutional.

Believe it or not, I admired the EFF’s strategy on this FISA matter. Rather than clandestinely horking documents from an inside source, it pursued NSA through perfectly legitimate means, specifically the Freedom of Information Act. That said, this article and its irresponsible lionization of the tea party is a huge red flag, as well as a further indication of an emerging and ill-advised alliance between the libertarian far-right and the far-left.

It’s difficult to find a more ridiculous whitewashing of the tea party outside of the tea party itself. The legacy of the founders? Wow. First of all, the tea party doesn’t even understand the actual Boston Tea Party, much less the intent of the founders. Yet the heretofore respected EFF has bedazzled the tea party with the gilded legacy of the almighty founders. As for the leaders the tea party has elected, is there one — just one — who’s not completely nuts or totally unqualified for the post?

It gets worse...


Illinois man hacked U.S. Navy, others

TULSA, OKLA. • A Salem, Ill., community college student and an enlisted man on an aircraft carrier hacked into U.S. Navy computer systems and those belonging to more than 30 other government entities, schools and corporations, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Daniel Trenton Krueger, 20, of Salem, and Nicholas Paul Knight, 27, of Chantilly, Va., were accused of conspiring “to hack computers and computer systems as part of a plan to steal identities, obstruct justice, and damage a protected computer” from April 2012 to June 2013, court documents and prosecutors said.

Knight, a former systems administrator in the nuclear reactor department of the USS Harry S. Truman, was the self-proclaimed leader and publicist of “Team Digi7al,” prosecutors said. He used the names Inertia, Iner7ia, Logic and Solo and has been a hacker since the age of 16, charging documents say. He was discharged from the Navy after he was caught trying to hack a Navy database while at sea, documents claim.

In an interview with a reporter for the website Softpedia, parts of which are quoted in charging documents, "Iner7ia" said that he was originally a "white hat" hacker, who found and reported security vulnerabilities. But he became bored and said "the people I did work for were ungrateful and sometimes they wouldn’t take me seriously."


Nuclear reactor sysadmin accused of hacking 220,000 US Navy sailors' details

Coca-Cola to remove controversial drinks ingredient

Source: bbc.co.uk

The world's largest beverage-maker, Coca-Cola, plans to remove a controversial ingredient from some of its US drinks brands by the end of this year, following an online petition.

Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, is found in Coca-Cola fruit and sports drinks such as Fanta and Powerade. Rival Pepsi removed the chemical from its Gatorade sports drink last year. In Japan and the European Union, the use of BVO as a food additive is not allowed.

Pepsi has a plan to remove the ingredient from its entire product portfolio. It uses BVO in its Mountain Dew and Amp Energy drinks sold in the US. BVO has been used as a stabiliser in fruit-flavoured drinks as it helps to prevent ingredients from separating.

According to medical researchers at the Mayo Clinic, excessive consumption of soft drinks containing BVO has been linked to negative health effects, including reports of memory loss and skin and nerve problems.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-27289259

This is the kind of news which NEVER, EVER gets proper coverage here...

How African-Americans See Their Lives


I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. The state of the African-American family is often a topic of discussion of academic study, of public policy debate, even White House initiatives. But too often the voices of African-Americans themselves are not central to those conversations. Now there's a new effort to address that. It's called the Survey of African-American families. The poll is a joint project between Ebony magazine and the W.K. Kellogg foundation. It is featured in the latest issue of Ebony. That's on the newsstands today. Joining us to speak about the results is Ron Lester, who led the survey, and Dr. Gail Christopher. She is the vice president for program strategy at the Kellogg Foundation. And they're both with us now. Welcome to you both. Thank you for joining us.

RON LESTER: Glad to be here.


MARTIN: So, Ron Lester, let's start with you. You say this is sort of a good news, bad news report. Tell us a little bit more, if you would.

LESTER: Well, first of all, we had an opportunity here to really cover the whole gamut of issues affecting family, even going into relationships. It's the first poll that I've seen of African-Americans since the affordable health care has passed. We cover health in a holistic manner, even dental, mental health, drug use. We touch on the issues of homicide and suicide. So it's not just a standard survey of standard measurements, but it's fairly comprehensive.

MARTIN: So tell me more about the findings and what stood out for you.

LESTER: OK, well, basically the mood of African-Americans is kind of lukewarm, as you said starting out. Forty-eight percent say things are going in the right direction, and 37 percent said, wrong track. So that's the mood question. We always start out, in a poll, at the outset to kind of gauge the mood. The mood is good in the West, in the Southwest and in the South where people are migrating towards - the mood - it's net positive.

Like, 60 percent say, right direction, and less than 40 percent say, wrong track. In terms of some key measurements, in terms of where we're making progress and losing ground, there's clearly a recognition that we're making progress in health care, in education reform, in equal opportunities. But we're kind of losing ground on the fundamental economic issues. People believe, by a strong margin, that there's income inequality in America. People believe that they don't make enough. About 33 percent actually indicate some kind of economic issue as their top concern. So things are going fairly well, but folks are not making enough money and having difficulty fitting into the new economy.

MARTIN: OK. So, Gail Christopher, one of the numbers that stuck with you was that 88 percent of those surveyed were satisfied with the quality of their lives, and that number actually disturbed you. And you wrote actually a whole piece about this for Ebony magazine in a column accompanying the poll results. Why did that disturb you?


African American jockey, three-time Kentucky Derby winner celebrated in new bio

If you are shocked to know that African American jockeys existed—much less thrived—in 19th-century America, don’t tell Pellom McDaniels III. He will be shocked that you are shocked. And yet, in the end, he accepts that his job is to ensure that our shared national history is just that.

McDaniels—the faculty curator of African American Collections in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library and assistant professor of African American studies—arrived later in life to a career as a historian and scholar. Earlier incarnations were as a respected defensive player for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, an inventor (who sold Procter & Gamble a patent for a dental product), an artist, and the owner of an aging Chevy Suburban (more on that later).

Of former NFL players turned academics, there have been relatively few on record. That only makes McDaniels work harder to paint a true picture of what sports have meant to African Americans, a view that dissolves many stereotypes. As McDaniels says in his new biography, "The Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy," "To most Americans, athleticism is an inherent feature of blackness, directly linked to the mythology of race promoted by the founding fathers."

His countervailing view, eloquently interwoven in the book, is that sports has exerted a powerful role in allowing African Americans to express their intelligence and drive, to learn collaboration and organizational skills, and to develop that chief ingredient of character: self-discipline.

Early Life and Legacy

Born Isaac Burns in 1861, Murphy spent his life in Kentucky, born to enslaved parents; his father served as a Union soldier, and his mother was one of very few women who owned land in postbellum Lexington.

The young Murphy joined the world of horse racing at the age of fourteen and by the 1880s was making tens of thousands of dollars per racing season. Murphy won the Kentucky Derby three times, the American Derby four of the first five runnings, and had an unmatched winning percentage of forty-four. He was among the inaugural class of jockeys elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1955. His life sounds like a tale of liberation, progress, and prosperity.


African-American reporter didn't just break stories, but barriers

Saturday is one of the year's big nights on the Washington social calendar: the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

And this year, the correspondents' association is celebrating 100 years of covering America's presidents.

The memory of one reporter is being honored, celebrated for the pioneering work this African-American did in the face of bigotry.

He was diminutive and polite but alarmed white correspondents who covered the president in the 1940s.

Newspaper reporter Harry McAlpin had asked for a membership to the White House Correspondents' Association.

The board said no.

So, in 1944, at the height of World War II, the National Negro Publishers Association urged President Franklin Roosevelt to overrule the board and grant McAlpin a credential.

The president did.

Before McAlpin's first Oval Office news conference, though, the association again tried to stop him, warning the room would be so crowded with him in it, he might cause a riot.

McAlpin calmly replied, "That would be a hell of a news story, and I want to be there for that."

When McAlpin shook Roosevelt's hand after being the first African-American reporter to attend a presidential news conference, the president said, "I'm glad to see you, McAlpin, and very happy to have you here."


An African-American studies professor’s bleak postwar Germany

When he began the research for his new book about Germany in the years directly after World War II, Harvard professor Werner Sollors says he intended to focus on the lighter aspects of Germans’ encounter with Americans in the 1940s and ’50s: genial GIs, children lining up for candy and gum, the “fraternizing” between American men and German women. Born in 1943, Sollors spent his formative childhood years in a village near Frankfurt. His childhood fascination with things American led, indirectly, to his earning a PhD in American studies (in Berlin), writing a dissertation on the poet Amiri Baraka, and eventually moving across the Atlantic to teach in the United States.

But as he worked on the project, he soon realized that was not the kind of book he had on his hands. The diaries, novels, reportage, photographs, and films he was examining were permeated with darkness. Germans at the time didn’t want to look back at the war, not only because of the overwhelming defeat—which involved the leveling of cities and the widespread rape of German women by Soviet troops—but because of the monstrousness of the crimes committed by the Nazi regime. Yet they saw nothing to look forward to either, given the destruction of the institutions necessary for a functioning state and economy. The story of that time, he found, was the story of a people stuck in a kind of bleak limbo.

While the World War II literature is vast and Germany’s post-war democratization and economic “miracle” well-known, the period immediately after the war remains underexplored, Sollors argues in “The Temptation of Despair: Tales of the 1940s.” Yet that period also sowed the seeds for Europe’s rebirth as a remarkably peaceful and productive part of the world in the second half of the 20th century.

The book also stakes out new territory for Sollors, who is the longest-tenured member of Harvard’s African and African American studies department—at a low point in its institutional history he was the lone member—and also an English professor. Though deeply informed by his family history, the book is far more scholarly than it is a memoir; in the book, his personal reminiscences occur only within brackets.

Ideas spoke with Sollors by phone from his home in Cambridge. The interview has been edited and condensed.


Murder in Juarez

David Farrington, a U.S. Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) service agent, has been vexed by a troubling question for the past several years. He has reason to suspect a colleague deliberately failed to warn an American working at a U.S. consulate in Mexico that she was targeted for assassination by a drug cartel.

Farrington, a former marine and 10-year veteran of the State Department’s security service, was the first agent to get to the scene of the March 13, 2010, Juarez murders—another car carrying a consulate employee was attacked as well—and caught the case, as they say in police lingo. But his revulsion quickly turned to consternation, and then obsession, when he began asking questions about the whereabouts of the consulate’s chief security officer that day. Eventually, he was taken off the case, according to State Department emails obtained by Newsweek, relieved of his badge and gun, and ordered to undergo a psychological fitness review. But he hasn’t given up.

Leslie Enriquez and her husband were gunned down as they drove away from a birthday party in the drug-and-violence-wracked border city of Juarez four years ago last month. Nearly simultaneously, another car leaving the party was sprayed with bullets, killing the husband of a Mexican employee of the U.S. consulate. A senior Mexican police official said later that a drug cartel enforcer who confessed to the murders claimed Enriquez was targeted because she was helping a rival gang with U.S. visas—an allegation denied by U.S. officials.

“I don’t have any reason to believe that they did believe that they did anything bad,” Farrington said of Enriquez and the other victims in a brief interview with Newsweek. “They were good people.” But he soon learned that the top regional security officer (RSO) in Juarez, Gregory V. Houston, had been asking around the consulate for the names of locally hired employees like Enriquez and one of the other victims that day. Farrington wondered why. He became even more suspicious when he learned that Houston got into serious trouble during a previous posting at the American Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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