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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 48,314

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Feds Interview "Several Witnesses" Who Support Dawn Zimmer's Account

Federal authorities in New Jersey have interviewed several witnesses who said the mayor of Hoboken told them in May about a state official’s threat to withhold hurricane recovery funds if the mayor did not support a development project favored by the governor, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

The statements by the witnesses, two of whom are aides to the mayor, Dawn Zimmer, support the account she gave to federal prosecutors on Sunday, and the interviews suggest that prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have moved swiftly to investigate her accusations.



According to the report, Dan Bryan, Zimmer’s chief of staff, and Juan Melli, her communications director, are among at least five witnesses Zimmer told the FBI could confirm earlier conversations she said she had about the threats from the administration.


Watchdog Report Says N.S.A. Program Is Illegal and Should End

Source: New York Times

Watchdog Report Says N.S.A. Program Is Illegal and Should End

WASHINGTON — An independent federal privacy watchdog has concluded that the National Security Agency’s program to collect bulk phone call records has provided only “minimal” benefits in counterterrorism efforts, is illegal and should be shut down.

The findings are laid out in a 238-page report, scheduled for release by Thursday and obtained by The New York Times, that represent the first major public statement by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which Congress made an independent agency in 2007 and only recently became fully operational.

The report is likely to inject a significant new voice into the debate over surveillance, underscoring that the issue was not settled by a high-profile speech President Obama gave last week. Mr. Obama consulted with the board, along with a separate review group that last month delivered its own report about surveillance policies. But while he said in his speech that he was tightening access to the data and declared his intention to find a way to end government collection of the bulk records, he said the program’s capabilities should be preserved.


The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value,” the report said. “As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.”

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/us/politics/watchdog-report-says-nsa-program-is-illegal-and-should-end.html?hp&_r=1

NASA | Six Decades of a Warming Earth


Ultimate Irony: "Hunters For Life"


Busted! Steadfast Limbaugh Sponsor Behind VA Governor's Corruption Case

WED JAN 22, 2014 AT 03:08 PM PST
Busted! Limbaugh Sponsor Behind VA Governor's Corruption Case
by ProgLegs

McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on charges that they accepted gifts worth more than $135,000 from a political donor.

That donor was Jonnie R. Williams, founder and former CEO of Star Scientific, a Virginia-based nutritional supplement company. Williams resigned last month in the face of the federal investigation as well as shareholder lawsuits alleging "trumped up claims" for Star's anti-inflammatory dietary supplement Anatabloc.

Anatabloc has been a very regular advertiser on the Rush Limbaugh Show since Flush Rush activists first heard their ads in July, 2012.

Details from the indictment paint a vivid picture of a scheme to use the power of the governorship for financial gain:

...from in or about April 2011 through in or about March 2013, the defendants participated in a scheme to use ROBERT MCDONNELL'S official position as the Governor of Virginia to enrich the defendants and their family members by soliciting and obtaining payments, loans, gifts, and other things of value from JW and Star Scientific in exchange for ROBERT MCDONNELL and the OGV performing official actions on an as-needed basis.


Aspen and the End of Snow

Aspen and the End of Snow
Can America's greatest mountain town save itself, and the rest of us, from global warming?
Aspen is running out of snow.

The ski season is a month shorter than it was 50 years ago. It will be nearly two weeks shorter still by 2030, and it will continue to shrink in subsequent decades. In the spring, wet slab avalanches – in which an entire slope slides slowly down a mountain, devouring the trees, rocks, and ski lifts in its path – will become increasingly common. The slope most prone to avalanches lies directly above Spar Gulch, an intermediate ski trail that is one of Aspen Mountain's main thoroughfares, and one of the only routes off the mountain. The beginner slopes will become pockmarked with rocks and turf, requiring snow machines to make up the difference. By 2100, should current conditions persist, there will no longer be any snow at the base of Aspen Mountain.

But Aspenites may not worry very much about skiing then. They will have larger concerns. As the mountain's snowpack shrinks, the waterways will languish. Streams will flow higher in midwinter, from January to March, but they will run dangerously low in June and July, threatening the survival of the riparian ecosystem – its brown and cutthroat trout, chorus frogs, aquatic snails, and backswimmers; the common muskrats, American beavers, and moose that drink from it; the olive-sided flycatchers, Brewer's sparrows, and bald eagles that roost on its banks; and the wetlands and forests it nourishes. Eighty percent of Colorado's wildlife needs access to a riparian habitat in order to survive, but today these habitats make up only 1 percent of the state's land. Aspenites also need access to waterways in order to survive – two frail mountain creeks, Castle and Maroon, provide the city with its water. During early spring and autumn, the creeks will flood more often, while during summer, when water demand from crops and residents is at its highest, they will be more likely to run dry. A 2006 report by the Aspen Global Change Institute concluded that the Roaring Fork River, the repository of all of the mountains' streams, "could be dried up in most years."

With less snowmelt, fighting the forest fires will be more difficult. During the first half of this century, fires are expected to burn as much as three times larger than in the previous half. In the second half of the century, the fires will be smaller but more frequent; they will occur, on average, every other year. But that is not taking into account the damage done by increased outbreaks of insect infestation. As fewer winter nights drop below freezing, the populations of gypsy moths and various types of bark-eating beetles will thrive. The Aspen study concluded that "the risk of unprecedented insect outbreaks could be one of the most dramatic effects of climate change on Aspen's forests." So far the Roaring Fork Valley has been spared the fires that have victimized so much of the West, but in recent years, a ravenous population of pine beetles has been busily preparing the lodgepole pines that surround Aspen for future conflagrations.

Many of the trees aren't waiting around for that eventuality, however. Species that thrive in cold temperatures and high altitudes, like firs and spruces, have begun migrating up the mountains, fleeing the increasingly inhospitable valley. "One might expect a slow creep of the tree line and vegetation upward," says Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Climate Analysis Section. The dominant vegetation type will shift from taiga-tundra to boreal conifer forest. Aspen is even losing its aspens.


much more sadness:

Pro-Gun Republican Police Chief Accidentally Shoots Himself… Again

David Counceller, a police chief out of the Connersville Police Department in Indiana, didn’t have the greatest of extended weekends over the Martin Luther King holiday. In an epic stroke of irony, one of the often touted “good guys with a gun” managed to accidentally shoot someone: himself. While putting his own weapon back into its holster after comparing it to a newer model, the police chief accidentally caught the 40-caliber Glock on his clothes and shot himself in the leg. They often say there’s a first time for everything, but this definitely wasn’t it for Chief Counceller.

Counceller making a career out of shooting himself.

Even though Counceller is a veteran of the force, having served over 30 years in his current department alone, some may think it’s understandable to make such a mistake. After all, no one was harmed; so no harm, no foul. Right? Well that would be incredibly easier to believe if the chief hadn’t been in this same situation before. Around 15 years ago, Counceller managed to shoot himself in the hand, and that occurrence seems a bit worse than his latest shooting.

Keep in mind, his first accident occurred 15 years ago, and his police career has been just over 30 years long. This means that this well-trained “good guy with a gun” has managed to shoot himself in 15 year intervals since he got started. What’s even worse than that? His first accident occurred when he failed to check the chamber for a bullet when unloading the gun.


brought to you by the N.R.A.

'It's FANTASTIC for world's richest 85 people to have more $$$ than 3.5 billion of the world's poor'

It's fantastic for the world's richest 85 people to have more wealth than 3.5 billion of the world's poorest, because it encourages them to work harder

Saying that it's wonderful for the world's richest 85 people to have more wealth than 3.5 billion of the world's poorest, because it encourages them to work harder, is an abomination. It is evil. It is beyond the point of debate, and moves instead to gut convictions about pure right and wrong.

And that's OK. It's OK to feel and express that moral revulsion. It's what keeps us human. The only problem is that we haven't yet evolved in society yet to the point where Kevin O'Leary feels the same weight of public scorn and shame as a Neo-Nazi or a member of NAMBLA.


Leave it to Politico to describe a corruption indictment as a tragedy


From Digby:

So he was a total phony. And a corrupt greedhead. There's no hint of tragedy in all that except for the Villagers who admired him so for his well-coiffed, "well-rounded" personality and his easy going style. They didn't want to look at the reality which was a man who changed personas like he changed his ties. The only consistency in him was ambition. And in second gilded age America, it doesn't take Woodward and Bernstein to go one step beyond that and look for signs of naked greed.

McDonnell ran as a right wing zealot and then changed into a centrist corporatist, which is the most soothing of all political trajectories among the Villagers. That's the trajectory that slaps the rubes of both parties square in the kisser. How great. They liked it so much that until fairly recently he was commonly seen as presidential material. And they don't have the excuse that he was from some far away state and they didn't know what he "really" was. He was, for most of them, their own Governor. They genuinely liked him a lot. That he turned out to be little more than a gifted conman makes them feel bad. And that's the real "tragedy" here --- Villager disappointment.

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