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How Come?

Oscar-winning actor Maximilian Schell dies at 83

Source: SF Gate/AP

VIENNA (AP) — Austrian-born actor Maximilian Schell, a fugitive from Adolf Hitler who became a Hollywood favorite and won an Oscar for his role as a defense attorney in "Judgment at Nuremberg," has died. He was 83.

Schell's agent, Patricia Baumbauer, said Saturday he died overnight at a hospital in Innsbruck following a "sudden and serious illness," the Austria Press Agency reported.

It was only his second Hollywood role, as defense attorney Hans Rolfe in Stanley Kramer's classic "Judgment at Nuremberg," that earned him wide international acclaim. Schell's impassioned but unsuccessful defense of four Nazi judges on trial for sentencing innocent victims to death won him the 1961 Academy Award for best actor. Schell had first played Rolfe in a 1959 episode of the television program "Playhouse 90."

Despite being type-cast for numerous Nazi-era films, Schell's acting performances in the mid-1970s also won him renewed popular acclaim, earning him a best actor Oscar nomination for "The Man in the Glass Booth" and a supporting actor nomination for his performance alongside Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards in "Julia."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/Oscar-winning-actor-Maximilian-Schell-dies-at-83-5195963.php

Nutcase Conservatives Lead Way in G.O.P. Fund-Raising

Insurgent conservative organizations raised more money last year than the leading Republican establishment outside groups, whose bulging bank accounts and ties to major donors have been their most potent advantage in the struggle over the G.O.P.'s future, according to interviews with officials and new campaign filings.

The shift in fortunes could have an enormous impact in 2014, as warring Republican factions prepare to square off in a series of Senate and House primaries around the country and Republican leaders seek to rein in activists who they believe have fractured and endangered the party with policies that alienate independent-leaning voters.

Emboldened by activists’ fury over compromises Republican leaders have struck with Democrats on federal spending, the conservative groups are preparing to muster political spending — in formidable amounts — to augment their grass-roots muscle in a challenge to Republicans aligned with party regulars.

The boom in conservative fund-raising is already playing out in the broader struggle for control of the Senate. Americans for Prosperity, the free-market advocacy group founded by the libertarian billionaire David Koch, has become by far the biggest single spender on early-campaign issue advertisements against Democratic incumbents: Since October, it has spent more than $23 million, chiefly on attacks on Democrats for supporting President Obama’s health care law.



Ex-Boy Scout leaders involved in pushing over ancient Utah boulder charged with felony

It just took a little push to topple the delicately perched boulder -- millions of years in the making -- in Utah's Goblin Valley State Park. Then the man who did it laughed, high-fived his son, and flexed his muscles while being cheered on by a fellow Boy Scout leader.

He is not likely celebrating now, nor is his friend who videotaped then publicized the episode, after both were charged Friday with third-degree felonies.

Glenn Taylor, who pushed over the rock, and the cameraman, David Hall, face charges of criminal mischief and are accused of intentionally damaging, defacing and destroying property, according to the charging document.

Neither man could be reached by CNN on Friday for comment on the charges.


Man pleads guilty to holding female relative as sex slave for 14 years

A 52-year-old California man has pleaded guilty to holding a female relative as a sex slave in his backyard shed for 14 years, beginning when she was barely a teenager, authorities said.

Raul Ochoa of Richmond, California, would spend the next 22 years in prison under a plea deal in which the victim won't be compelled to testify at the sentencing hearing on February 11, authorities said.

Local media accounts are likening her case to Jaycee Dugard, also held captive in a California backyard structure. Dugard was held from age 11 to 29 and gave birth to two daughters, fathered by her captor, Phillip Garrido. He and wife Nancy were sentenced to long prison terms in 2011.

In the Richmond case, the victim escaped from captivity in 2012 with help from a relative, who brought her to police, Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus said in a letter to the city council, confirming a local newspaper account this week of the crime.



U.S. Has No Idea How Much Aid To The Afghan Government Is Being Stolen

By Massimo Calabresi

None of the Afghan ministries that have been receiving $1.6 billion in foreign aid from U.S. taxpayers are currently able “to manage and account for funds,” a report [pdf] from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) concluded on Thursday.

The condemnation of American aid safeguards points to yet another challenge the U.S. will face as it tries to pivot away from the war on terror. Obama reined in drone strikes in 2013 and is negotiating with Congress a draft replacement of its 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against al Qaeda and its allies. He is also overseeing the wind down of the military detention of terrorist suspects, taking steps towards closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay and negotiating the final handover of prisoners held by the U.S. at a military facility outside Kabul.

In Afghanistan, he plans to withdraw all combat troops by the end of the year, while continuing foreign aid. But the SIGAR report found that USAID hadn’t required the Afghan government to implement the vast majority of the safeguards the aid agency and others had come up with after previous reviews. Says John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, “Our military presence may be getting smaller but there are billions of dollars in the pipeline for reconstruction. Now more than ever we need greater vigilance to ensure that American taxpayers aren’t fleeced.”

Last May, President Obama declared that the war on terrorism, “like all wars, must end” and he echoed that sentiment in his State of the Union speech last Tuesday, declaring that, “America must move off a permanent war footing.” A key element to that effort, he said Tuesday, is “building the capacity of our foreign partners.”

Read more: U.S. Has No Idea How Much Aid To The Afghan Government Is Being Stolen | TIME.com http://swampland.time.com/2014/01/30/two-reasons-its-hard-to-end-the-war-on-terror/

Tom Morello Remembers Pete Seeger: 'He Had a Backbone of Steel'

By Tom Morello
January 29, 2014 4:30 PM ET

The E Street Band played "We Shall Overcome" in Cape Town, South Africa last night, and it was a tearjerker. Pete Seeger was 94 years old and lived a remarkable life. There's a temptation to go, "Do not weep for Pete Seeger." But I did weep for him, because we could use 94 more years of a guy like that.

Pete was a friendly acquaintance of mine. I had the opportunity to duet with him on his last record on a song called "A More Perfect Union." Being able to stand on stage with him at the Newport Folk Festival singing "We Shall Overcome" and "This Land is Your Land" are moments now that I will treasure forever.

But my favorite Pete Seeger moment in history is when he was booked on the Smothers Brothers Show. The network initially canceled his performance because of his political affiliations. But the Smothers Brothers stood up for him. Months later, they had him on to play "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy." Check it out on YouTube: it is as angry as any Rage Against the Machine song. With poetic, razor-like precision, he vivisects the cruel foolishness of the Vietnam War – all with one banjo and one vision for a better world that he was willing to put himself on the line for. It's something that I return to for inspiration in my own work.

He sort of became this kindly grandfather figure of Sixties feel-good nonviolence in popular culture, but Pete Seeger was a threat. He always declared himself a communist with a lower-case "c." He was this sort of gentle grandfather with a backbone of steel who was going to put a chokehold on the powers that be until they relented. That guy was no joke. He was a hardcore badass when he stood up to House Un-American Activities Committee, saying, "How dare you question my Americanism because I play music for people whose politics are different than yours?" Yet he played lovely, gentle songs at countless pre-schools for toddlers. He was a unique, spectacular combination of things I doubt we'll ever see again.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/tom-morello-remembers-pete-seeger-he-had-a-backbone-of-steel-20140129

GOP Obamacare sabotage works


Paul Krugman has a great item up on “Bette in Spokane,” the woman who was featured in the nationally watched GOP response to the State of the Union speech as a symbol of victimization at the hands of Big Bad Obamacare. As GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers put it in the response, Bette “hoped the President’s health care law would save her money – but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month.”

That does sound awful. But then a local reporter got in touch with Bette Grenier, and found out the story is far more complex than it first appeared. As Krugman puts it:

Her previous plan was catastrophic coverage only, with a $10,000 deductible — and the “$700 a month more” was the most expensive option offered by her insurer. She didn’t go to the healthcare.gov website, where she could have found cheaper plans. So this wasn’t sticker shock, at least as described. This was someone finding out that the ACA requires that you have a minimum level of insurance, and that minimalist plans are no longer allowed — and it was also Ms. Rodgers misrepresenting what had happened.

But this may be a lot worse than Krugman says. Indeed, it may be a case of Republican sabotage of the law actually working.

A Democratic source makes a very good point, arguing that this may actually be better seen as a ”Republican sabotage success story.”



National Freeloader League

Dear Congress,
We need to talk. Have a heart-to-heart. Just us—the American people—and you, our elected representatives. No lobbyists in the room, no satellite uplinks, no “strategists,” either. Seriously, how many of those people do you need?

Also, can you stop checking Twitter? And Googling your own name? Thanks. Appreciate that.

So: Your relationship with the National Football League. It’s toxic. Not for you, of course. You seem happy, like a bunch of starstruck fans. And we understand—we’re fans, too. Professional football is fun, and no doubt a far better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than rushing around to grovel for cash at half a dozen fundraisers. The league throws a terrific Super Bowl party, too, and given the choice, who wouldn’t prefer Denver-Seattle and a tub of guacamole over voting to repeal Obamacare for the 5,000th time?

But we digress. Back to the toxic part. While you’re enjoying the epic Richard Sherman vs. Peyton Manning matchup this weekend, the NFL is pulling a fast one on us. Dodging taxes. Pocketing government handouts. Passing the buck on workplace injuries. Mooching harder than one of Ronald Reagan’s welfare queens. Adding insult to injury—come to think it of it, it’s probably the other way around—the league also is peddling a potentially dangerous product to our children with almost no oversight.

Oh, and just for good measure, the NFL is spitting in the face of Native Americans as well.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/nfl-money-national-freeloader-league-102965.html
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