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marble falls

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Hometown: marble falls, tx
Member since: Thu Feb 23, 2012, 04:49 AM
Number of posts: 10,269

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Russia to disclose new evidence from Assad about chemical attacks

Source: Al Jazeera

Russia to disclose new evidence from Assad about chemical attacks
by Michael Pizzi
September 18, 2013 12:15PM ET
Foreign minister says Russia will present UN with evidence implicating rebels in deadly gas attacks


Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) speaks with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius during their meeting in Moscow, on Sept. 17, 2013.2013 AFP

Russia has received material evidence from Syria claiming to show that a chemical weapons attack last month was perpetrated by rebels rather than regime forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

Lavrov told Russian news agencies that his government will present the evidence to the U.N. Security Council, but he did not comment on the nature of the evidence nor did he specify when it would be disclosed.

The introduction of new evidence may complicate discussions on a Security Council resolution that would require Syria to immediately disclose the whereabouts of its chemical weapons stores. Under the plan, drafted jointly by the U.S. and Russia, the weapons would then be destroyed, with an aim to complete the operation by 2014.

Chemical weapons experts say that cataloging, relocating and destroying chemical weapons will be exceptionally difficult while Syria is in a full-fledged civil war, but most agree that a successful operation is possible.


Al Jazeera and wire services

Read more: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/18/russia-to-disclosenewevidencefromassadaboutchemicalattacks.html

Democrats hoping for a blue Texas

Democrats hoping for a blue Texas
by Naureen Khan
September 18, 2013 2:45AM ET
It won't happen fast, but renewed energy in party and state's changing demographics give them hope.

DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- On an August afternoon in this Dallas suburb, nine Democrats gathered in the living room of Alice Kinsey, a 57-year-old mother of two, to celebrate President Barack Obama’s 52nd birthday and discuss their party’s future over chocolate cake and lemonade.

Kinsey, wearing a T-shirt declaring “Working Hard to Turn My Texas Blue,” is used to being a political minority -- her parents felt they were the lone liberals in her 9,000-person hometown of Lamesa in the panhandle. But in recent years Kinsey has found herself among more like-minded company. She and the others in the room have worked phone banks together and canvassed all over North Texas.

Democrats in Texas have had little to celebrate during the past 30 years. Since President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Texan Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the state has shifted progressively rightward: In 1976, Jimmy Carter became the last Democratic nominee for President to receive the state’s electoral votes.

But Kinsey and the others are convinced that their party is finally -- really this time -- on the cusp of a comeback, and that Texas could sooner rather than later elect a Democratic governor and help send a Democrat to the White House. With 38 electoral votes, a Democratic Texas would make it near-impossible to elect a Republican president.


Among the group at Kinsey’s gathering was Caitlin Karbula, 24, a staffer for Battleground Texas, a nascent political organization that set up shop in Austin seven months ago with the ambitious goal of ending one-party rule in the state. The project was started by Jeremy Bird, who ran the national field operation for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and has exhibited a talent for coaxing Democratic-leaning, minority and young voters to the polls in key swing states. The organization, which has 19 full-time staff members and has raised $1.1 million this year according to its latest financial disclosure reports, is directing much-needed resources to the state’s starved Democratic Party.

There are smaller victories for Democrats, too. Last year, Mary Gonzalez, a 29-year-old openly LGBT and unapologetically progressive graduate student and activist, ran for a state House seat in a socially conservative West Texas district and won her primary against two male Democrats, and went on to win the general election uncontested.

"No one thought that someone like me would get elected and I think it is an indicator of things that are changing,” she told Al Jazeera. “People are now realizing Texas has much more potential to be progressive than anyone ever thought.”

Democrats in Texas, like Kinsey and her friends, believe that prolonged one-party rule has disregarded the needs of the state’s most marginalized populations -- the legions of low-wage workers in the state, the uninsured, and poor minorities. They also charge that decades of GOP dominance have created a culture of chronically low political participation.

But they see hope in the long-shimmering but unfulfilled promise of changing demographics in Texas, where 38 percent of the state’s population is Latino, a population that sides with Democrats nationally by a 2-1 ratio. Add in the new political infrastructure being built by Battleground Texas, and the recent infusion of energy in the party, led by Davis, and a Texas Democrat could believe that a purple Texas is at least in the realm of possibility.


“An immediate turnaround would be very difficult,” said former Sen. Bob Krueger, one of the last Democrats to have held statewide elected office in Texas -- and that was for all of five months in 1993.

Making matters more difficult is Texas’ new voter ID law, expected to take effect in 2014, which opponents say is designed to disenfranchise minorities and other Democratic-leaning voters. Under the new law, conceal-carry gun licenses are an acceptable form of ID at the polls; student ID cards are not. State GOP lawmakers have also used their dominance of the Texas House and Senate to redraw districts to maximize Republican voting power.

Meanwhile, Democrat hopes that Texas could turn blue if demographic trends persist and the GOP is unable to expand its appeal to Hispanic voters is nothing new -- political analysts and pollsters have been making those predictions for almost a decade.

Hispanics accounted for two-thirds of the state’s growth from 2000 to 2010, according to Census figures. But so far, Hispanic voters have not helped tilt elections toward Democrats as they have in some other states, like New Mexico, Nevada, California, and even Virginia. Nate Cohn of The New Republic posits that Latinos’ share of the voting-eligible population is just too low -- 26 percent versus the 57 percent of the electorate that is white -- and that Democrats would have to achieve record minority turnout and increase Obama’s popularity among white voters in order to win.

Progressive activists insist that the deeply-rooted culture of voter disengagement in the state is to blame, but that it can be changed. Texas ranked 48th in voter turnout in 2012, with 50.1 percent of all eligible voters showing up at the polls, according to an analysis by Nonprofit Vote, a nonpartisan organization that seeks to increase civic participation. Hispanic turnout in the state was even more dismal: 38.8 percent, according to Census figures.
Tilling the soil



Documents: Officials misused US surveillance program


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — For nearly three years, government officials got hold of data on thousands of domestic phone numbers that they shouldn't have had. And then, according to documents released today, they misrepresented to a secret spy court what they had done, in order to get the program reauthorized.

The Obama administration had to release the documents as part of a lawsuit by a civil liberties group. They show that National Security Agency analysts routinely exceeded their mission to track only phone numbers with reasonable connections to terrorism.

The administration had earlier conceded that the surveillance program scooped up more domestic phone calls and emails than Congress or the court had authorized. But many of the details weren't known until today.

The NSA told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that it had misunderstood restrictions on accessing data once it was archived. But in March of 2009, Judge Reggie Walton wrote that the explanation was hard to believe. He was so fed up with the government's overreaching that he threatened to shut down the surveillance program.

He noted that fewer than 2,000 phone numbers out of the nearly 18,000 on a list that investigators had been working with at the time had met the legal standard under which they could be accessed.

Officials say the complexity of the computer system -- and a misunderstanding of laws, court orders and internal policies -- contributed to the abuses.

There's no evidence that the NSA intentionally used its surveillance powers to spy on Americans for political purposes.

They've done enough unintentional damage

US income gap reaches its widest point since the 1920s

By Paul Wiseman, Associated Press
09/10/2013 01:38:58 PM PDT



WASHINGTON — The gulf between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America is the widest it's been since the Roaring '20s.

The very wealthiest Americans earned more than 19 percent of the country's household income last year — their biggest share since 1928, the year before the stock market crash. And the top 10 percent captured a record 48.2 percent of total earnings last year.

U.S. income inequality has been growing for almost three decades. And it grew again last year, according to an analysis of Internal Revenue Service figures dating to 1913 by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.

One of them, Berkeley's Emmanuel Saez, said the incomes of the richest Americans surged last year in part because they cashed in stock holdings to avoid higher capital gains taxes that took effect in January.

In 2012, the incomes of the top 1 percent rose nearly 20 percent compared with a 1 percent increase for the remaining 99 percent.


But since the recession officially ended in June 2009, the top 1 percent have enjoyed the benefits of rising corporate profits and stock prices: 95 percent of the income gains reported since 2009 have gone to the top 1 percent.

That compares with a 45 percent share for the top 1 percent in the economic expansion of the 1990s and a 65 percent share from the expansion that followed the 2001 recession.

The top 1 percent of American households had pretax income above $394,000 last year. The top 10 percent had income exceeding $114,000.

The income figures include wages, pension payments, dividends and capital gains from the sale of stocks and other assets. They do not include so-called transfer payments from government programs such as unemployment benefits and Social Security.

The gap between rich and poor narrowed after World War II as unions negotiated better pay and benefits and as the government enacted a minimum wage and other policies to help the poor and middle class.

The top 1 percent's share of income bottomed out at 7.7 percent in 1973 and has risen steadily since the early 1980s, according to the analysis.

Economists point to several reasons for widening income inequality. In some industries, U.S. workers now compete with low-wage labor in China and other developing countries. Clerical and call-center jobs have been outsourced to countries such as India and the Philippines.

Increasingly, technology is replacing workers in performing routine tasks. And union power has dwindled. The percentage of American workers represented by unions has dropped from 23.3 percent in 1983 to 12.5 percent last year, according to the Labor Department.

The changes have reduced costs for many employers. That is one reason corporate profits hit a record this year as a share of U.S. economic output, even though economic growth is sluggish and unemployment remains at a high 7.2 percent.


Ummm I am a little embarressed....

I don't understand what 'kicking' is.
Posted by marble falls | Sun Sep 8, 2013, 04:13 PM (2 replies)

Tree Lobsters rediscovered after 80 years


While they were thought to have been the unfortunate victims of non-native rats, a rare species of so-called "tree lobsters" has been found surviving on Ball's Pyramid, part of an old, inactive volcano near Australia.

According to NPR, the six-legged insects, which are about the size of a human hand, were almost wiped out by black rats that invaded nearby Lord Howe Island -- the creatures' native home -- when a British supply ship ran aground there in 1918.

Then, in 2001, two scientists found the surviving tree lobsters living in a bush atop Ball's Pyramid, some 13 miles southeast of Lord Howe Island. How they got there and survived for all these years is still a mystery to scientists.

The Age explains that, as part of an effort to increase the species' population, zookeepers used glasshouses to reproduce the humid environment favored by the tree lobsters.

The program has been a success and the zoo will breed its tenth generation this year, according to The Age.

The next step for tree lobster advocates is to convince the people of Lorde Howe to exterminate the island's rats in order to make it habitable for the insects once again, an endeavor which could prove very expensive.

The Awl's Dave Bry writes that the whole story "brings up some of the same very powerful emotions as the last page of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road."
Posted by marble falls | Sat Sep 7, 2013, 01:00 PM (7 replies)

McCain slaps down Fox's Brian Kilmeade

Watch John McCain Rip A Fox News Host For His Criticism Of A Syrian Rebel's Chant

In his media tour Tuesday morning, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) ripped into Fox News host Brian Kilmeade for his criticism of a Syrian rebel's chanting of "Allahu Akbar."

On "Fox & Friends," Kilmeade told McCain — who has been a constant advocate for U.S. intervention in Syria — that he had concerns over the Syrian rebels' alleged "ties to extremists." Kilmeade played a clip of an explosion on government-held territory in Syria, after which a rebel shouts, "Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!"

"I have a problem helping those people screaming that after a hit,” Kilmeade said.

McCain, clearly annoyed, shot back immediately at Kilmeade.

"Would you have a problem with an American person saying, 'Thank God! Thank God!?'" McCain said.

"That's what they're saying. Come on! Of course they're Muslims. But they're moderates, and I guarantee you they are moderates. I know them and I've been with them. For someone to say, 'Allahu Akbar' is about as offensive as someone saying, 'Thank God.'"

Here's the clip of McCain's appearance on Fox (the relevant part starts around the 3:00 mark) at the website:

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/john-mccain-fox-news-brian-kilmeade-muslim-allahu-akbar-2013-9#ixzz2dvmhHQoz
Posted by marble falls | Wed Sep 4, 2013, 09:42 AM (0 replies)

Russia Warns Citizens About Traveling To America Or Allied Countries

Russia Warns Citizens About Traveling To America Or Allied Countries

Brian Jones Sep. 3, 2013, 6:32 PM 3,342 6

The Russian government has issued an odd travel warning to its citizens — beware of the United States.

Travel warnings typically warn citizens of war, disease, other unrest. This announcement from the Russian Foreign Ministry warns against U.S. extradition law.

“Recently, detentions of Russian citizens in various countries, at the request of American law enforcement, have become more frequent — with the goal of extradition and legal prosecution in the United States.”

The announcement goes on to assert that people wanted by the United States who travel to countries with extradition treaties with the U.S. are kidnapped with shaky evidence and tilted toward conviction.

It's a bit of an endzone dance for Russia, which offered asylum to the fugitive NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, despite U.S. pleas for extradition.

After Russia welcomed Snowden, the U.S. cancelled planned meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The move is reminiscent of how the Assad regime in Syria issued a travel warning against Turkey when there were protests earlier this summer. More than 300,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey from the violence in their home country.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-issues-travel-advisory-against-us-2013-9#ixzz2dvglBqS7
Posted by marble falls | Wed Sep 4, 2013, 09:17 AM (1 replies)

My E-Mails with Brenda at Starbuck's

1.)--- Original Message ---
From: Herb Morehead
Received: 8/30/13 3:56:46 AM MDT
To: <info@starbucks.cust-serv.com>
Subject: Corporate social responsibility

"Social responsibility? Really:Starbucks Fires Employee on
Food Stamps for Eating a Sandwich from the GarbageLast
Monday, 21-year-old barista Coulson Loptmann says he was
fired from a downtown Seattle Starbucks where he?d worked
for more than a year. The reason? He ate a sandwich that had
been thrown away. Really. Like most cafes, the coffee giant
gets rid of food that has expired; they donate what they can
and toss the more perishable items.Loptmann, who says he
couldn?t get enough hours to pay his bills and survives
partly on his food stamps, explains, ?I hadn?t eaten all day
and I was on a seven-hour shift.? A coworker had just marked
some breakfast sandwiches out of stock, and he figured no
one would mind if he grabbed one of the plastic-wrapped
sausage sandwiches out of the trash can.But Starbucks did
mind. According to Loptmann, his manager sat him down a week
later and told him she?d found out about the sandwich and
contacted HR, ?and they consider it stealing, and it?s
against policy. So I?m sorry, but I have to terminate you.?
She fired him on the spot.The incident comes up just as
fast-food workers prepare for another strike this
Thursday?and this time, they're asking baristas to join
them. Seattle's fast-food walkouts this spring were
extraordinarily successful, shutting down multiple
restaurants, and this week, organizers for Good Jobs Seattle
are encouraging low-wage workers in coffee shops to join the
national push for a $15 an hour minimum wage.The rest at:

Whats wrong with Starbucks and the food/service industry in
this country? For shame. I've been very busy e-mailing
and posting this every single place I can.

Herb Morehead


Dear Herb,

you for contacting Starbucks.

Thank you for sharing your
concerns and thoughts with us. However, I can tell you that
our managers want our partners to succeed, and regularly
coach them if they are having performance challenges. When
making tough decisions, like letting someone go, our
managers evaluate a partner’s performance holistically not
on the basis of a single, minor infraction.In general, a
partner would not be let go for a single violation of our
mark-out policy. However, a partner could be let go if they
violated this policy after having ongoing performance

again for writing us. If you ever have any
questions or concerns in the future, please don't
hesitate to get in touch.

We would love to hear your feedback. Click here to take a short survey.


Celeste E
customer service


Dear Celeste

I find your reply unsatisfactory. This may have been a last straw, but what a bad reason to fire someone. I submit that allowing your innuendo packed statement as true still leaves us with a minimum waged adult on food-stamps for eating out of a garbage can,

Shame on Starbucks.

Herb Morehead



Thank you for your email, I hope you are doing well today.

We do not discuss former partner's employment history. However, I can tell you that our managers want our partners to succeed and regularly coach them if they are having performance challenges.

When making tough decisions, like letting someone go, our managers evaluate a partner’s performance holistically not on the basis of a single, minor infraction. In general, a partner would not be let go for a single violation of our mark-out policy. However, a partner could be let go if they violated this policy after having ongoing performance challenges.

Thanks again for writing us. If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


Brady M

customer service



Starbucks seems to want to have it both ways: "We fired her for due reasons and we we can't disclose the reasons over privacy."

Her privacy IS paramount here and you've discussed her as a problem employee who's been counseled to no avail - to the point of being fired for eating garbage. So your claim of respecting an employee's right to privacy is a little surprising after you let the horse out of the barn.

My point - respecting the privacy of an employee that Starbucks thought so much about, is that eating garbage is no justifiable straw to break the camel's back.

I'm still po'd over Starbuck's policy of splitting tips with shift leaders. I am curious about how many of your full time fellow co-workers make a wage that qualifys them for food stamps or rent help. Have any stats on that you'd care to share?


Posted by marble falls | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 09:01 PM (3 replies)

New Leaked Document Outlines U.S. Spending on Intelligence Agencies

The most detailed public disclosure of American intelligence spending in history shows a surprisingly dominant role for the Central Intelligence Agency, a growing emphasis on both defensive and offensive cyberoperations, and significant gaps in knowledge about targeted countries despite the sharp increase in spending after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Enlarge This Image
The Guardian, via Associated Press

Edward J. Snowden obtained the spending information when he was a contractor for the National Security Agency.

The top secret budget request for the current fiscal year was obtained by The Washington Post from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden and published in part on its Web site on Thursday. The newspaper said it was withholding most of the 178-page document at the request of government officials because “sensitive details are so pervasive” in its description of spying programs.

The document shows that the agencies’ budget request for the year ending Sept. 30 was $52.6 billion, a small decrease from the 2011 peak of $54.6 billion, which came after a decade of rapid spending growth. Of that, the biggest share was taken by the C.I.A., which carries out traditional human spying and intelligence analysis but also now conducts drone strikes against terrorism suspects in Pakistan and Yemen.

The C.I.A. asked for $14.7 billion, significantly outpacing the two big technological spy agencies, the eavesdropping N.S.A., which sought $10.8 billion, and the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates surveillance satellites and sought $10.3 billion. While the document reflects the money requested for the 2013 fiscal year and not what was actually received, the record of past expenditures suggests that real spending this year is probably very close to the amount requested.

The 16 American spy agencies employ about 107,000 people, including some 21,800 working on contract, the document shows. The number does not include tens of thousands of contractors who work in support of the intelligence agencies, in some cases outnumbering actual employees, said Jeffrey T. Richelson, a prolific author on intelligence.

Mr. Richelson said he thought the N.S.A. budget figure understated the real cost of its electronic surveillance, because it omits much of the support it receives from military personnel who carry out eavesdropping on its behalf.

The latest disclosure underscores the extraordinary impact of the leaks by Mr. Snowden, 30, who has accepted temporary asylum in Russia as he tries to avoid prosecution in the United States on espionage charges.

The documents he took from his job as an N.S.A. contractor and provided to The Guardian, The Post and other publications have set off the most significant public debate in decades about surveillance and data collection by the government. The parts of the new budget document published by The Post, while containing no major surprises, offer by far the most granular look to date at how billions of dollars is spent for intelligence collection. (The Guardian has recently shared some of Mr. Snowden’s documents with The New York Times.)

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