Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We're a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when
we're not too hungover we've been bailed out we're not too exhausted from last night's (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it's PhilJD's fault.
(Truth be told, friends, we're really not that disorganized; the fact that we've managed to put this series together and stick with it disabuses the notion that we're disorganized, right? Also, I wish I had a censored night once in awhile, but alas, this is something my producers made me say.)
This Day in History
When it rains, it pours.
Rescuers Turn to Boat as Storm Rocks Florida
The overwhelming rains that propelled the church leaders into action struck the Florida Panhandle and parts of Alabama on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, with some areas recording nearly two feet of precipitation. The deluge surprised the authorities, who, with many roads impassable and floodwaters rising, were also forced to stage rescues.
“We would send a team out on a mission for one person, and they would come back with 10 people,” said Mitchell Sims, the emergency management director in Baldwin County, Ala., where the first rescues began around 10 p.m. Tuesday and continued until midmorning on Wednesday.
Florida officials said they rescued hundreds of people in the state, where one woman died after her vehicle became submerged in water in Escambia County.
From building-crushing hurricanes to killer sinkholes, Gulf Coast residents have seen a lot. But even these battle-tested veterans of the weather wars are marveling at torrential rains that washed out bridges and roads, sent chest-high water into homes and forced major military bases to shut down Wednesday.
"We've seen flooding before, but never flooding that washes the back of a house away," said CNN iReporter Matt Raybourn of Pensacola, Florida. "There are no words for what we are seeing here."
The rushing waters reduced some streets to rubble, gouged huge gashes in others and left stretches of many others submerged, including parts U.S. 98, the main east-west route along the coast. It was closed in several places between Fort Walton Beach and Panama City. Abandoned cars sat half-submerged along the highway.
A massive storm system that has pounded parts of the South and Midwest this week continued on its path of destruction Tuesday night, dropping upwards of 10 inches of rain on parts of the Florida panhandle and southern Alabama.
Tornadoes from the deadly storms Monday and Tuesday left at least 35 people dead in Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi. In the Florida panhandle, one woman who apparently drove her vehicle into deep water was reported dead in Pensacola, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The storms overnight brought heavy rainfall, massive flooding and tornado warnings to parts of the region.
"She is not well. Her cousins and her close friends are still missing, and she is trying to understand how she is alive and back home. All she can do now, she said, is pray and fast, then pray and fast again."
NIGERIA’S STOLEN GIRLS
“I thought it was the end of my life,” Deborah Sanya told me by phone on Monday from Chibok, a tiny town of farmers in northeastern Nigeria. “There were many, many of them.” Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group, kidnapped Sanya and at least two hundred of her classmates from a girls’ secondary school in Chibok more than two weeks ago. Sanya, along with two friends, escaped. So did forty others. The rest have vanished, and their families have not heard any word of them since.
Sanya is eighteen years old and was taking her final exams before graduation. Many of the schools in towns around Chibok, in the state of Borno, had been shuttered. Boko Haram attacks at other schools—like a recent massacre of fifty-nine schoolboys in neighboring Yobe state—had prompted the mass closure. But local education officials decided to briefly reopen the Chibok school for exams. On the night of the abduction, militants showed up at the boarding school dressed in Nigerian military uniforms. They told the girls that they were there to take them to safety. “They said, ‘Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to you,’ ” Sanya told me. The men took food and other supplies from the school and then set the building on fire. They herded the girls into trucks and onto motorcycles. At first, the girls, while alarmed and nervous, believed that they were in safe hands. When the men started shooting their guns into the air and shouting “Allahu Akbar,” Sanya told me, she realized that the men were not who they said they were. She started begging God for help; she watched several girls jump out of the truck that they were in.
It was noon when her group reached the terrorists’ camp. She had been taken not far from Chibok, a couple of remote villages away in the bush. The militants forced her classmates to cook; Sanya couldn’t eat. Two hours later, she pulled two friends close and told them that they should run. One of them hesitated, and said that they should wait to escape at night. Sanya insisted, and they fled behind some trees. The guards spotted them and called out for them to return, but the girls kept running. They reached a village late at night, slept at a friendly stranger’s home, and, the next day, called their families.
Two weeks ago, more than 200 girls were kidnapped from a school in Nigeria. On Wednesday, women from around Nigeria gathered in the capital to demand answers as to just why the full force of the government has not been brought to bear in finding their missing daughters, nieces, and sisters.
They were there to finally take a physics exam long-delayed by violence in the region when armed men stormed the building and carted them away for the crime of gaining an education. Whisked away from Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok, located in Nigeria’s northeast, the number of girls missing varied extensively as the early reports trickled in. Most eventually agreed that more than 200 girls were still missing from the Apr. 14 kidnapping, though some did manage to escape from their captors.
Chibok abductions: Nigeria girls' taken abroad'
Pogo Bitrus said there had been "sightings" of gunmen crossing with the girls into Cameroon and Chad.
Some of the girls had been forced to marry the militants, he added.
Mr Bitrus said 230 girls were missing since militants attacked the school in Chibok, Borno state, two weeks ago.
The Islamist group Boko Haram has been blamed for the night-time raid on the school hostel in Chibok town. It has not yet commented on the allegation.
Witnesses to a Botched Execution
Oklahoma’s secrecy laws make it impossible to know anything beyond the names of the ingredients injected into the condemned prisoner. The state has declined to provide the public with reasons for selecting a particular drug cocktail, or with any details about the drugs themselves, or about the supplier. The state reportedly buys the drugs with petty cash, to make the purchases more difficult to track and, therefore, harder to legally challenge.
What is known, though, is that, ten minutes into Lockett’s execution, a prison official told a doctor, “Go ahead and check to see if he’s unconscious.”
After checking, the doctor said, “Mr. Lockett is not unconscious.”
“I’m not,” Lockett said.
Oklahoma execution misstep sets up legal assault against US drug secrecy
Lawyers representing the next death row prisoners to face scheduled executions in the US are calling for a moratorium on all judicial killings until the chaos surrounding the use of secretly guarded medical drugs in lethal injections can be resolved.
As the governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, ordered an internal investigation into the bungled execution on Tuesday of Clayton Lockett, lawyers in several other states were gearing up to lodge a slew of new litigation designed to pressure the courts to intervene in the crisis. Lockett died of heart failure 43 minutes after an experimental cocktail of three medical drugs was injected into his arms.
At the point in the procedure at which it became clear that the execution had gone awry, officials closed the blinds between the death chamber and the witnessing room.
The Real Solution to Scumbag Sports Owners
Enough is enough, sports fans.
It’s been known for decades that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a racist jerk. Ditto Daniel Snyder, the owner of that professional football team in our nation’s capital whose current horrific anti-indigenous team name is a global embarrassment.
But these guys are the tip of the iceberg. The real question is: Why are these teams owned by individuals at all? Why do we allow our precious sports clubs to be the playthings of a bunch of wealthy degenerates?
Why aren’t the football, baseball, basketball, hockey and other major sports franchises so many of us so passionately love and support not owned by the communities that give them their life? Why is our nation powerless to remove the racist logo from a public stadium just down the street from the White House and Congress?
The Rise of the Drone Master: Pop Culture Recasts Obama
WASHINGTON — In Marvel’s latest popcorn thriller, Captain America battles Hydra, a malevolent organization that has infiltrated the highest levels of the United States government. There are missile attacks, screeching car chases, enormous explosions, evil assassins, data-mining supercomputers and giant killer drones ready to obliterate millions of people.
President Obama, the optimistic candidate of hope and change.
Five and a half years into his presidency, Mr. Obama has had a powerful impact on the nation’s popular culture. But what many screenwriters, novelists and visual artists have seized on is not an inspirational story of the first black president. Instead they have found more compelling story lines in the bleaker, morally fraught parts of Mr. Obama’s legacy.
Phony Justice in a Phony War
Once again the legitimacy of the judicial process at Guantanamo is called into question, this time by the interference of a US government agency. The New York Times of April 19, 2014, reported that "two weeks ago, a pair of FBI agents appeared unannounced at the door of a member of the defense team for one of the men accused of plotting the 9/11 terrorist attacks." They asked questions about the legal teams for some of the accused terrorists due to stand trial before the military commissions - courts designed to provide the appearance, but not the substance, of a fair trial. The FBI's "covert inquiry" was a serious breach of attorney-client privilege, showing that even the government disdains the process.
The "phony justice" at Guantanamo is an outgrowth of a "phony war."
"Is the issue of targeted killings only appropriate for debate when we kill our own citizens? Don’t all human beings have a right to life?
How Many Have We Killed?
On Monday, The New York Times reported that “the Senate has quietly stripped a provision from an intelligence bill that would have required President Obama to make public each year the number of people killed or injured in targeted killing operations in Pakistan and other countries where the United States uses lethal force.” National security officials in the Obama administration objected strongly to having to notify the public of the results and scope of their dirty work, and the Senate acceded. So much for what President Obama has called “the most transparent administration in history.”
The Senate’s decision is particularly troubling in view of how reticent the administration itself continues to be about the drone program. To date, Obama has publicly admitted to the deaths of only four people in targeted killing operations. That came in May 2013, when, in conjunction with a speech at the National Defense University, and, in his words, “to facilitate transparency and debate on the issue,” President Obama acknowledged for the first time that the United States had killed four Americans in drone strikes. But according to credible accounts, Obama has overseen the killing of several thousand people in drone strikes since taking office. Why only admit to the four Americans’ deaths? Is the issue of targeted killings only appropriate for debate when we kill our own citizens? Don’t all human beings have a right to life?
Derailing the High-Speed Trading Bullet Train Before It Crashes Our Economy
On the afternoon of May 6, 2010, the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its fastest nosedive ever. Within minutes, a trillion dollars in wealth went “poof.”
What actually set it off remains in dispute. Yet we do know that high-frequency traders, relying on computers programmed to make trades at speeds measured in the millionths of seconds, accelerated the freefall by withdrawing from the market en masse.
Four years after they caused the “Flash Crash,” those speed demons still rule our financial markets.
Afghan opium production explodes despite billions spent, says US report
Opium cultivation is estimated to be at an all-time high in Afghanistan, despite the US spending $7.5bn to combat it.
A report released Wednesday by Washington’s Afghanistan war watchdog has found that the billions spent by the State and Defense departments on counter-narcotics since 2002 has been for nought. Opium-poppy cultivation takes up 209,000 hectares (516,230 acres) of land in Afghanistan, a 36% increase since 2012.
Drug use inside Afghanistan has spiked, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. About 1.3 million Afghan adults were regular drug users in 2012, up from 1 million in 2009; regular opium users grew to 230,000 in 2009 from 130,000 in 2005. The population of Afghanistan is just under 32 million.
Tomgram: Anand Gopal, How to Lose a War That Wasn't There
You might think that 12-and-a-half years after it began, Washington would have learned something useful about its war on terror, but no such luck. If you remember, back in the distant days just after 9/11 when that war was launched (or, in a sense, “lost”), the Bush administration was readying itself to take out not just Osama bin Laden and his relatively small al-Qaeda outfit but “terror” itself, that amorphous monster of the twenty-first century. They were planning to do so in somewhere between 60 and 83 countries and, as they liked to say, “drain the swamp” globally.
In reality, they launched an overblown war not so much “on” terror, but “of” terror, one that, in place after place, from Afghanistan to Somalia, Pakistan to parts of Africa, destabilized regions and laid the basis for a spreading jihadist movement. In so many cases, as at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, they fulfilled Osama bin Laden’s wildest fantasies, creating the sort of recruiting posters from hell for future jihadists that al-Qaeda was itself incapable of.
So many years later, they seem to be repeating the process in Yemen. They are now escalating a “successful” drone and special operations war against a group in that impoverished land that calls itself al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The drones turn out to be pretty good at knocking off various figures in that movement, but they are in another sense like a godsend for it. In what are called “targeted killings,” but might better be termed (as Paul Woodward has) “speculative murders,” they repeatedly wipe out civilians, including women, children, and in one recent case, part of a wedding party. They are Washington’s calling card of death and as such they only ensure that more Yemenis will join or support AQAP.
National Day of Reason
From the diary:
Some would then even argue there is nothing wrong with a congressionally-mandated, federally supported National Day of Prayer.
But, but, but...a little prayer can't hurt nobody!
Yes it can.
When it violates the First Amendment and allows the government to promote a certain manifestation of religion, it hurts us all.
While the National Day of Prayer Task Force, led fundamentalist Christian Shirley Dobson, concedes that the observance was proclaimed and "offered to all Americans, regardless of religion, to celebrate their faith through prayer," it admits that "the efforts of the NDP Task Force are executed specifically in accordance with Judeo-Christian beliefs."
This year's theme "One Voice, United in Prayer" embodies the religious right's exclusionary contempt for all other faiths, and their ongoing attempt to ideologically brand the United States a "Christian" country and exposes its blatant intent to recast the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights as mere codicils to Old Testament biblical law. Given the opportunity, they will elevate their God and religion over all government and their fellow citizens. They say so themselves.
Ceck out the diary, and here's a link to the National Day of Reason's webpage.
Must Read Blog Posts/Articles
- Hellraisers Journal: Upton Sinclair Arrested Picketing the Offices of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Among other things, Catch-22 is a general critique of bureaucratic operation and reasoning. Resulting from its specific use in the book, the phrase "Catch-22" is common idiomatic usage meaning "a no-win situation" or "a double bind" of any type. Within the book, "Catch-22" is a military rule, the self-contradictory circular logic that, for example, prevents anyone from avoiding combat missions. The narrator explains:
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. (p. 56, ch. 5)
Other forms of Catch-22 are invoked throughout the novel to justify various bureaucratic actions. At one point, victims of harassment by military police quote the MPs' explanation of one of Catch-22's provisions: "Catch-22 states that agents enforcing Catch-22 need not prove that Catch-22 actually contains whatever provision the accused violator is accused of violating." Another character explains: "Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing."
Speaking of Rebels - Happy Birthday Joseph Heller!
Meme of the Day
Did you say "breakfast?"
Now that another chilly, cool, damp winter is behind us, fruit will become more plentiful. Enjoy the bounty of Earth while you still can, and may you have a simple, joyous, natural breakfast. (Yaaaaaaay! More pancakes and bacon for me!)
Something to Think About Over
"Sure, that's what I mean," Doc Daneeka said. "A little grease is what makes this world go round. One hand washes the other. Know what I mean? You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."
Yossarian knew what he meant.
"That's not what I meant," Doc Daneeka said, as Yossarian began scratching his back. "I'm talking about co-operation. Favours. You do a favour for me, I'll do one for you. Get it?"
"Do one for me," Yossarian requested.
"Not a chance," Doc Daneeka answered.
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to, he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.
"Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning."
Breakfast Tune -- No, wait! Video!
From the Saving the Best for Last Department:
This is the part of the breakfast club where I usually (but not always) give DeadHead The Business. He's been really good lately, such a dear in fact, and I really don't have any complaints this week.
Instead, I would like to ask him a question: Dear DeadHead, with regard to the "unbuttoning," what exactly happened? Did it become long and pointy? Or perhaps it was just tumescent, bulbous even? Was in stubby, long, narrow? Was it wide and flat, or a de Bergeracian monstrosity? Did it blossom into a Richard Milhous Nixon ski slope? Tell, me, dear DeadHead, upon your childhood nose's "unbuttoning," what happened next?
Stupid Quiet, Deep Shit LaEscapee Wrote:
"There was this guy, I heard he sucked."
LaEscapee is a man of few words. They say still waters run deep. He ain't heavy, man, he's my brother.
Confidential to all you lefty pie warriors
We get that you're frustrated, and feel that the community moderation system does not always appear "fair and balanced," but pretty please with sugar on top don't bring your pie wars into The Breakfast Club. We don't want to reinforce our already dirtier than a dirty fucking hippie image. Your anticipated cooperation is much appreciated, and That Group thanks you in advance.