March 6, 2015

Books: Teaching peace

Murray Polner, History News Network -  Can teaching peace and nonviolence to students make a difference in their lives? Colman McCarthy, who spent three decades as a Washington Post columnist, has certainly tried in his own very unique way by persuading school boards and principals to hire him as an unpaid volunteer teacher of “peace studies.” His motivation: “Unless we teach them peace, someone will teach them violence.” His new book, “Teaching Peace: Students Exchange Letters with Their Teacher,” is riveting and a real gem, filled with insights gleaned from the thousands of letters he’s received from former students. In it, he explains how and why he went about it, enduring skepticism and praise, criticism and admiration.

Given that “teaching peace” encourages critical thinking it tends to alarm timid school boards and provoke opposition from local pressure groups. Obviously it’s not easy to challenge beliefs, patriotism and legendary heroes, any one of which is guaranteed to shake up a good many people and institutions. It’s much easier and simpler to teach about wars, military and political leaders and unquestioned support for the flag than debating alternatives...
“Teaching Peace” (also a website) allows us to understand how he has proceeded and how much of what he imparts—not by dominating pronouncements but rather by the Socratic Method and his version of “Show and Tell.” There is no homework, no tests, no papers to write, and no grades. Reading, though, is essential, and since 1982, he has introduced thousands of students to writers they rarely encounter: Dorothy Day, Mohandas Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Dan Berrigan, Howard Zinn, Helen and Scott Nearing, Gene Sharp and more. He doesn’t lecture but, he explains, encourages students to ask questions and also question authority, as that hoary ‘60s slogan went. He teaches about war and peace, yes, but also the treatment of animals and women, the Cold War and our post-911 nation security and militarized state. Very opinionated, he says he welcomes challenges and clashes of opinions. He invites guests —corporate and public interest lawyers, pacifists and war veterans, conscientious objectors and pro-draft people, judges, innocent men freed after years spent on death row, Nobel Prize winners, nurses and doctors who serve the poor and most vulnerable among us.

70 years of the United Nations and global demographics

Joseph Chamie, IPS -  As the international community marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, one question worthy of some reflection is: Is world population better or worse off demographically since the establishment of the U.N.?

Some contend that the demography of today's world population is markedly better than it was seven decades ago. Others argue that humanity is definitely worse off demographically and still others - often sceptics and cynics - feel it is neither better nor worse, but just different.

To consider the merits of those various perspectives and distinguish between personal opinions and measurable facts, it is useful and appropriate to dispassionately examine some fundamental demographic changes that have occurred to world population since the middle of the 20th century.

Perhaps the most visible demographic change is the increased size of world population, which now at 7.3 billion is five billion larger than at the time of the U.N.'s founding.

While world population has more than tripled in size, considerable variation has taken place across regions. Some populations, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia, have increased 500 percent or more over the past seven decades.

In contrast, other populations, such as those in Europe, increased by 40 percent or less over that time span.

The growth of world population, around 1.8 percent per year at mid 20th century, peaked at 2.1 percent in the late 1960s. The current annual rate of global population growth is 1.1 percent, the lowest since the U.N.'s founding.

In terms of absolute numbers, world population was adding approximately 47 million per year in 1950. The annual increase nearly doubled to a peak of 91 million in the late 1980s and then began declining to its current level of 81 million.

An important consequence of the differential rates of demographic growth globally has been the shift in the geographic distribution of world population. Whereas 70 years ago about one-third of world population resided in more developed regions, today that proportion is about half that level or 17 percent.

Also noteworthy are the regional demographic shifts that have occurred. For example, while Europe and Africa at mid 20th century accounted for 22 percent and 8 percent of world population, respectively, their current proportions are 10 percent for Europe and 16 percent for Africa.

Perhaps the most welcomed demographic change in world population that has taken place is the decline in mortality levels, including infant, child and maternal death rates.

During the past 70 years, the global infant mortality rate fell from approximately 140 to 40 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The improvements in mortality across all age groups have resulted in an average life expectancy at birth for the world of 70 years, a gain of some 25 years since 1950.

Another remarkable transformation in world population over the past seven decades is the decline in fertility.

As a result of men and women gaining unprecedented control over the number, spacing and timing of their children, global fertility has decreased significantly from an average of about 5 births per woman at mid-20th century to 2.5 births per woman today.

Due to the declines in fertility as well as mortality, the age structure of world population has aged markedly. Over the past seven decades, the median age of world population has increased by six years, i.e., from 24 to 30 years.

In addition, the elderly proportion aged 80 years or older has tripled during this time period, increasing from about 0.5 to 1.6 percent.

The sex composition of world population has been relatively balanced and stable over the recent past, with a global sex ratio of around 100 -102 males for every 100 females.

Although slightly more boys are born than girls, many countries, especially the more developed, have more females than males due to lower female mortality rates.

Notable exceptions to that general pattern are China and India, whose population sex ratios are approximately 107 males per 100 females due in part to sex-selective abortion of female fetuses.

Whereas the sex ratio at birth of most countries is around 105 males per 100 females, it is 117 in China and 111 in India, markedly higher than their ratios in the past.

Increased urbanisation is another significant demographic transformation in world population. A literal revolution in urban living has occurred across the planet during the past seven decades.

Whereas a minority of world population, 30 percent, lived in urban areas in 1950, today the majority of the world, 54 percent, consists of urban dwellers. The migration to urban places took place across all regions, with many historically rural, less developed countries, such as China, Indonesia, Iran and Turkey, rapidly transformed to predominantly urban societies.


Another striking demographic change in world population is the emergence of mega-cities - agglomerations of 10 million or more inhabitants. In 1950, there was a single city in this category: New York, with 12.3 million inhabitants.

Today there are 28 mega-cities, with Tokyo being the largest at 38 million inhabitants, followed by Delhi with 25 million, Shanghai with 23 million and Mexico City, Mumbai and San Paulo each with approximately 21 million.

The numbers of refugees have also increased substantially during the recent past. At mid-20th century, an estimated one million people remained uprooted following the world war.

In the early 1990s the number of refugees peaked at around 18 million. Latest estimates put the global number of refugees at 16.7 million and growing.

Also, the total number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, which includes refugees, asylum seekers and internal displaced persons, has reached 51.2 million, the first time it has exceeded 50 million since the World War II                      

There, I fixed it

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Patriotism is often an abitrary veneration of real estate above principles -- George Nathan

States have dismantled work comp system

Pro Publica - Over the past decade, state after state has been dismantling America’s workers’ comp system with disastrous consequences for many of the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer serious injuries at work each year, a ProPublica and NPR investigation has found.

The cutbacks have been so drastic in some places that they virtually guarantee injured workers will plummet into poverty. Workers often battle insurance companies for years to get the surgeries, prescriptions and basic help their doctors recommend.

FBI treats whistleblowers badly

Washington Post - Compared with other feds, FBI whistleblowers have less protection against retaliation by management, the GAO says, and current procedures could discourage whistleblowing.

The GAO found that a major problem is the limited list of officials designated to receive whistleblower complaints. If FBI employees report waste, fraud or governmental abuse to supervisors not on that list, those employees have no protection against management retaliation, such as being demoted or fired.

March 5, 2015

Unemployment falls in every state

Unemployment fell in every state and the nation’s capital last year—something that hadn’t happened since 1984.

Morning line

In our moving average of recent polls, Bush leads leads by three points over Walker followed by Carson and Huckabee. They are the only Republicans in double digits.

Hillary Clinton's glass ceiling

Weekly Standard - In late February, Hillary Clinton, a self-proclaimed champion of women's rights and gender equity, came under fire for a Washington Free Beacon analysis that showed women on Mrs. Clinton's staff during her tenure in the Senate were paid an average of 72 cents on the dollar compared to male staff. Now, an analysis of the latest IRS filing for the foundation that bears her name, the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, shows a similar compensation disparity between men and women employees. Although compensation figures are available for only a limited number of Foundation personnel, the 2013 Form 990 filed with the IRS shows that out of eleven highly compensated individuals listed, the top eight are all men.

TV violence isn't all fun



 From our overstocked archives

Sam Smith, Idler, 1965 - One of the things that impressed us about the interim report on television and juvenile delinquency published recently by Senator Dodd’s subcommittee was the amount of dedicated thought and preparation that goes into saturating the air with video mayhem. Producing and writing violence shows isn’t all fun. The famous program The Untouchables is a case in point.

Broadcast on ABC, this show was produced by Desilu Studios under orders from the network to inject an “adequate“ diet of violence. The subcommittee report notes:
“Individual producers who failed to comply with the network recipe for violence, have, upon occasion, been fired.” This recipe can be gauged by the following script summary of a show called Syndicnte Sanctuary :

“Action Judge is deliberately run dowm by a gangster and killed at the opening of the script. A G-man is trapped and tortured. Gangsters are trapped in an abandoned mine as they are about to kill a witness to a murder. Mine finally caves in on them as another gangster fires at one of the G men who surrounded the thugs. There’s a chase through the streets and the final scene as the ‘untouchables’ storm the jail. This program would appear to have met the network’s demand for “action.”

Others were not so successful. One ABC script summary contains the comment: “Not as much action as some, but sufficient to keep the average bloodthirsty viewer fairly happy.”
More damning was ABC official Quinn Martin‘s review of several other episodes: “We have been advised that two of the recent episodes of The Untouchables, Mexican Stake-out, and Ain’t We Got Fun, lacked some of the dynamic excitement of the earlier episodes. Our program people who evaluate the scripts advise us that there is a tendency of the recent episodes to become ‘talky’ and as a result, much of the action and suspense is lost. I hope that you will give careful attention to maintaining this action and suspense in future episodes. As you know, there has been a softening in the ratings. which may or may not be the result of this talkiness, but certainly we should watch it carefully.”

Norman Retchin, the producer of the Ain’t We Got Fun episode, was subsequently discharged after he declined to add violence to the script. The departure of Retchin did not end Quinn Martin’s trouble with writers and producers, however, for not long after he wrote a note concerning another Unrouchables script:

“On page 31, I wish we could come up with a different device than running the man down with a car, as we have done this now in three different shows. I like the idea of sadism but I hope we can come up with another approach to it.”

Prudish advertising agency executives appear to have occasionally questioned the wisdom of some of the Untouchables “action.” The McKann-Erickson people, for example, objected to a scene in an episode called The White Slavers in which a group of Mexican girls being imported to Chicago for use as prostitutes are machine gunned by gangsters when it is found that they cannot get them across the border.

Martin wrote the following note concerning the episode: “Page 40, This scene is the roughest I have ever seen and I don’t know if we can get away with it, but let’s leave it in. Have a feeling you may have to kill the girls off camera.”

Over at CBS, the only network to reduce significantly the amount of violence shown during the past few years, the men behind the action shows faced problems similar to those of their ABC brethren. An excerpt from the subcommittee report describes CBS network president James Aubrey’s valiant and ultimately successful efforts to, in the broadcaster’s favorite phrase, “give the public what it wants.”

The show in question was Route 66: “The evolution of Route 66 is particularly relevant both because of its focus on violence and sex and because of the network’s role in developing that focus. Shortly after the series’ inception, network officials became concerned because it was not ‘pulling’ as effectively as it should. Mr. James T. Aubrey, Jr., CBS network president, is reported to have issued what became known among producers as the Aubrey dictum of ‘broads, bosoms and fun.’ In testimony before the Subcommittee in 1962, Mr. Aubrey admits to asking for more ‘glamor’ and ‘romantic interest’ but denies authorship of the dictum in the specific sense. “Yet memorandums prepared by people concerned with the show’s production refer to the ‘broads, bosoms, and fun,’ dictum. One such memorandum says, ‘you remember Jim Aubrey saying, ‘put a sexy dame in each picture and make a 77 Sunset Strip if that is what is necessary, but give me sex and action.’

A letter written by a west coast CBS official to his superior criticizes several CBS programs as being ‘a far cry’ from Mr. Aubrey’s dictum of ‘broads, bosoms, and fun.’ “Mr. Aubrey’s concern with the initial reaction to Route 66 was such that he met with the show’s producers to discuss the matter in November, 1960. The Aubrey dictum reportedly went into effect after this meeting. Whether Mr. Aubrey did or did not sure these precise words to describe what he wanted done is less pertinent than the fact that the show thereafter began to feature excessive violence and sex. “The same west coast official who wrote the above letter of criticism was apparently pleased with the spirit of cooperation evidenced by Route 66 producers after the Aubrey meeting

He wrote regarding an episode in early January, 1961, that: “* * * I must acknowledge that Baby Doll has more than a generous share of bosom amply displayed to a point where program practices is screaming in anguish, and (she) wears over a pair of very spiked heels the tightest pair of slacks ever to be entered by womenkind without mechanical assistance.’ ” Mr. Aubrey’s desires prevailed and all became well with the network’s world.

At NBC the word also was out to liven things up. One witness made reference to a statement that “there should be sex and violence in the show or we could not get the Saturday 8:30 time period.” Another witness, Ivan Tors, a producer of Man and the Challenge noted: “I have no first hand knowledge about whose suggestion it was. I know only that I was told to put sex and violence in my show.” Mr. Tors may not have known but others around the network were referring to this as the “Kintner edict” after Robert Kintner, NBC President, just as CBS had its Aubrey Dictum.

Men who wanted more action did not need fear lack of support from the top. A subcommittee check showed that the network did rather well in its efforts to encourage more violence. In one episode of The Lieutenant there was a fight that contained 25 blows, including “kicks to the groin, the stomach, and kidneys and two attempts to stomp on one participant’s face. There were also four karate-type rabbit punches.” Or again The Virginian, called by NBC “a family type show,” had an episode in which there were 13 killings “nine by shooting, 2 by knives and gun butts, one by torture and one by smothering. In addition, there were five fights with fists, guns, knives and rope, and three assaults by guns, fists, rocks. There were also four threats by gun.” Did the network consider this violence? Apparently not, for when Walter Scott, a top NBC executive, testified about the episode, he said: “. . . . I did not find it objectionable. . . . I think there were scenes of physical violence within the program. But I would not call the program a violent program.” We think Mr. Scott is being too modest. The Virginian episode certainly would have satisfied our taste for violence and then some. But we realize that individual shows like these are exceptions. The networks find it hard to get writers and producers who can come up with this sort of gore night after night, week after week. We the public should appreciate that they are trying to give us “what we want.” And trying hard.

Using private emails helped bring down ambassador

Weekly Standard - In 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration abruptly stepped down from his post. According to a Foreign Policy report by Josh Rogin (now a reporter for Bloomberg), Gration was the subject of a whithering evaluation from the State Department:

While Gration was fired for a myriad of reasons, one passage of the damning report leaps out in light of recent events:
Very soon after the Ambassador’s arrival in May 2011, he broadcast his lack of confidence in the information management staff. Because the information management office could not change the Department’s policy for handling Sensitive But Unclassified material, he assumed charge of the mission’s information management operations. He ordered a commercial Internet connection installed in his embassy office bathroom so he could work there on a laptop not connected to the Department email system. He drafted and distributed a mission policy authorizing himself and other mission personnel to use commercial email for daily communication of official government business. During the inspection, the Ambassador continued to use commercial email for official government business. The Department email system provides automatic security, record-keeping, and backup functions as required. The Ambassador’s requirements for use of commercial email in the office and his flouting of direct instructions to adhere to Department policy have placed the information management staff in a conundrum: balancing the desire to be responsive to their mission leader and the need to adhere to Department regulations and government information security standards.
In other words, State Department policy was very clear. Using a private email outside the State Department's secure system was completely unacceptable. If this applied to ambassadors, one would think it was sensible policy for the Secretary of State as well.

Dramatic ice thinning in the Arctic

Take Part - In a new University of Washington study, researchers found that in one part of the Arctic, sea ice has thinned about 65 percent--from 11 feet to 4 feet—since 1975. In September, when Arctic sea ice typically reaches its lowest levels, the ice thinned by 85 percent, The Guardian reports. The new study is based on a variety of sources, and was published in The Cryosphere, a scientific journal.

“We knew the ice was thinning, but we now have additional confirmation on how fast, and we can see that it’s not slowing down,” the study’s lead author, Ron Lindsay, a University of Washington climatologist, said in a statement.

Snowden update

Glenn Greenwald, First Look - In Moscow, Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena held a press conference to promote his new book, was asked about Snowden’s case, and said exactly what has been known for almost two years: “He has a desire to go back, and we are doing everything possible to make that happen.” Kucherena added that lawyers in various countries have been working on Snowden’s behalf to negotiate terms for a fair trial.
Various media outlets then took these redundant, anodyne comments and distorted them into some brand new breaking event — as though Snowden suddenly decided for the first time he wants to Come Home — and then proceeded to extract from this fake narrative a series of utterly misleading, false and propagandistic claims about Snowden, Russia and the NSA.

EARLIER STORY

Politico - Edward Snowden is ready to go home to the United States. “Snowden is ready to return to the States, but on the condition that he is given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial,” his Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said at a news conference.

The former National Security Agency contractor has been in Russia since 2013, having fled to the country from Hong Kong after leaking classified national security information to journalists.

Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia expired last August, at which time the country granted him a three-year residence permit.

Despite a 2013 letter from Attorney General Eric Holder that promised Snowden would not face the death penalty upon his return, Kucherena said he wants assurances of a fair trial as well.

Jesselyn Radack, one of Snowden’s American legal advisers, says Kucherena’s statement echoes what they’ve been saying all along. Were Snowden to return, he would face charges under the World War I-era Espionage Act.

“Snowden would be amenable to coming back to the United States for the kind of plea bargain that Gen. [David] Petraeus received,” Radack said, reacting to news that the former general admitted to providing classified information to his mistress while he led the Central Intelligence Agency.

Race to the bottom: Corporate figures

  • Jamie Dimon
  • Koch brothers
  • Bill Gates
  • Sheldon Adelson
  • Michael Bloomberg
  • Lloyd Blankfein
  • Pete Peterson
  • Donald Sterling
  • Donald Trump

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Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.~Mark Twain

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San Franciso becomes first city to ban plastic bottles

Global Flare San Francisco has just become the first city in America to ban the sale of plastic water bottles, a move that is building on a global movement to reduce the huge amount of waste from the billion-dollar plastic bottle industry. Over the next four years, the ban will phase out the sales of plastic water bottles that hold 21 ounces or less in public places. Waivers are permissible if an adequate alternative water source is not available.

Great moments in New York therapy

NY Post - It’s been so cold out there for so long that more New Yorkers are hitting the couch — in their shrinks’ offices.

“It’s like the never-ending winter,” Laura Young, a Midtown therapist, lamented to The Post on Tuesday.

“People are definitely having a lot of feelings about the long winter,’’ she said.

“They are just down, feeling lethargic. It’s hard for them to get motivated. They’re more disappointed by things, and it’s hard to get out of the house.

“People really seem to think that this year is particularly bad,” Young went on. “People definitely have this idea that the winter is never going to end.

A worker at the high-end gadget store Hammacher Schlemmer on East 57th Street said his shop recently sold out of its $99.95 “light therapy lamp” — for the second time this winter.

He said sales had tripled in the past week alone.

Karen John, a 40-year-old health-care manager at NYU Langone Medical Center, said all the white stuff has definitely increased the blues among the hospital’s patients and her co-workers.

Bank of Canada urges people to stop Spocking their fivers


Dangerous Minds - Bank of Canada is pleading with Star Trek fans to stop “Spocking” its five dollar bills. Since Leonard Nimoy’s death, Canadian folks have been “Spocking” the hell out of the five dollar bill that features a portrait of Canada’s seventh prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Sir Wilfrid now sports, on certain bills at least, pointy ears, the signature Vulcan haircut and eyebrows and Spock’s mantra “Live long and prosper.”

According to Bank of Canada it’s not illegal to do this but:
“There are important reasons why it should not be done. Writing on a bank note may interfere with the security features and reduces its lifespan. Markings on a note may also prevent it from being accepted in a transaction. Furthermore, the Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride.”

March 4, 2015

Clinton email update

Gawker - According to a knowledgeable source, at least two other top Clinton aides also used private email accounts to conduct government business—placing their official communications outside the scope of federal record-keeping regulations. “Her top staffers used those Clinton email addresses” at the agency, said the source, who has worked with Clinton in the past. The source named two staffers in particular, Philippe Reines and Huma Abedin, who are said to have used private email addresses in the course of their agency duties. Reines served as deputy assistant secretary of state, and Abedin as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. Both rank among Clinton’s most loyal confidantes, in and out of the State Department.


BBC - The story is particularly damaging to Mrs Clinton because it plays into two existing negative perceptions about both the former secretary of state and her husband - that they are overly secretive and they believe the normal rules don't apply to them.

"As far as the story backs up previously conceived ideas about the Clintons' level of transparency and, more specifically, about Hillary Clinton's insularity, it could give her opponents some pretty potent ammunition," he writes.

Reaction on the left, so far, has been one of incredulity. How could Mrs Clinton have been so negligent? Why didn't anyone - within the State Department or elsewhere in the US government - step forward and tell her this was a bad idea?

Vox's Max Fisher points out that when Mrs Clinton took the State Department portfolio in 2009, several high-level Bush administration officials - including White House advisor Karl Rove - were under fire for conducting official business on personal email accounts using Republican Party-issued laptop computers.

"There is simply no way that, when Clinton decided to use her personal email address as secretary of state, she was unaware of the national scandal that Bush officials had created by doing the same," he writes.

Ben Shapiro -  Clinton is hardly the first Obama administration official to utilize a private email account to shield herself. Lisa Jackson of the Environmental Protection Agency used a private email address under the name "Richard Windsor" to conduct official business. According to Vice News' Jason Leopold, the Department of Defense told him that they would not release any emails from former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, since "SecDef does not maintain an official email account." Other Obama administration officials using unofficial email accounts include former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Donald Berwick, the former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Daily Beast - Hilllary Clinton created her own private email system that she exclusively used as secretary of state, ignoring “very specific guidance” from the White House by not even creating, let alone using, a government email account. The Associated Press traced the computer server that sent and received Clinton’s emails back to her home in Chappaqua, New York. The practice gave Clinton “impressive control over limiting access to her message archives” and surpassed privatizing practices used by other politicans who employed Yahoo or Microsoft email accounts. “Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative, or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails,” the AP writes. In addition, homemade email servers are not as reliable or secure from hackers as those in commercial data centers.

Al Jazeera America - State Department technology experts expressed security concerns that then–Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was using a private email service rather than the government’s fortified and monitored system, but those fears fell on deaf ears, a current employee on the department’s cybersecurity team told Al Jazeera America. The employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said it was well known that Clinton’s emails were at greater risk of being hacked, intercepted or monitored, but the warnings were ignored. “We tried,” the employee said. “We told people in her office that it wasn’t a good idea. They were so uninterested that I doubt the secretary was ever informed.”

Guardian - Perhaps the most serious accusation facing Clinton is that she may have breached one of the fundamental tenets of classified information. J William Leonard, former director of the body that keeps watch over executive branch secrets, the Information Security Oversight Office, told the Guardian that if Clinton had dealt with confidential government matters through her personal email, that would have been problematic. “There is no such thing as personal copies of classified information. All classified information belongs to the US government and it should never leave the control of the government.”

Mother Jones - According to the National Archives and Records Administration, there was a regulation in place governing Clinton's use of personal email for official business while she was secretary of state. And it seems she did not fully abide by this. In a statement issued today, the National Archives notes that it has "reached out to the State Department to ensure that all federal records are properly identified and managed." And the statement says:
Since 2009, NARA's regulations have stated that "Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system."
This rule is clear: If Clinton used personal email to conduct official business—which apparently did not violate any federal rules at the time—all of those emails had to be collected and preserved within the State Department's recordkeeping system. That makes sense: The whole point of preserving official records of government business is to have this material controlled by the government, not by the individual official or employee. Yet in this case, Clinton and her aides apparently did not preserve all her emails within the system.

Take that, Boehner

Politicus USA - Since Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu arrived in the U.S., President Obama’s approval rating has increased by 5 points in the Gallup poll.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that by a margin of 48%-30%, registered voters said that John Boehner should have talked to President Obama before inviting Netanyahu.

Piles of shit on Mt. Everest

Gawker - The chief of Nepal's mountaineering association says that human sewage has become a critical problem on Mount Everest, urging his country's government to make visitors properly dispose of their shit and piss.

"Climbers usually dig holes in the snow for their toilet use and leave the human waste there," Ang Tshering Sherpa told reporters , saying that feces have been "piling up" for years.

As the Washington Post notes, these concerns are hardly new, Outside editor Grayson Schaffer going so far as to call the peak a "fecal time bomb" last April. By one estimate, the mountain's hundreds of visitors drop up to 26,500 pounds of feces each year.

Hillary Clinton: Thriving in the gap between criminal law and political integrity


Sam Smith - A key point being missed in the latest Clinton scandal is the difference between criminal law and political integrity. In recent decades, beginning with Watergate, we have increasingly favored the former as the standard for the latter, a trend the Clintons have repeatedly used to their advantage. Thus, since Bill Clinton was not removed from office after being impeached, he was able to resume his career as a highly role model. And Hillary Clinton’s repeated violations of integrity have been conveniently forgotten since they never ended up in court.

In truth, however, regardless of how the legal aspects of the current issue play out, what Hillary Clinton did in this case was dishonest, corrupt and sleazy.

And it’s far from the first time. As we have noted:

- She is the first First Lady to come under criminal investigation

- She is the first First Lady to almost be indicted, according to one of the special prosecutors.

- She has had nine fundraisers or major backers convicted of, or pleading no contest to, crimes.

- Providing testimony to Congress, she said that she didn't remember, didn't know, or something similar 250 times

- Three close business partners of Hillary Clinton ended up in prison.

- In the 1980s Hillary Clinton made a $44,000 profit on a $2,000 investment in a cellular phone franchise deal that took advantage of the FCC's preference for locals, minorities and women. The franchise was almost immediately flipped to the cellular giant, McCaw.

- Hillary Clinton and her husband set up a resort land scam known as Whitewater in which the unwitting bought third rate property 50 miles from the nearest grocery store and, thanks to the slimy financing, about half the purchasers, many of them seniors, lost their property.

- In 1993 Hillary Clinton and David Watkins moved to oust the White House travel office in favor of World Wide Travel, which was Bill Clinton's source of $1 million in fly-now-pay-later campaign trips that essentially financed the last stages of the campaign without the bother of reporting a de facto contribution. In the White House, the Clintons fired seven long-term travel employees for alleged mismanagement and kickbacks. The director, Billy Dale, was charged with embezzlement, but was acquitted in less than two hours by the jury.

- HRC’s 1994 health care plan, according to one account, included fines of up to $5,000 for refusing to join the government-mandated health plan, $5,000 for failing to pay premiums on time, and 15 years to doctors who received "anything of value" in exchange for helping patients short-circuit the bureaucracy.

- Two months after commencing the Whitewater scheme, Hillary Clinton invested $1,000 in cattle futures. Within a few days she had a $5,000 profit. Before bailing out she earned nearly $100,000 on her investment. Many years later, several economists calculated that the chances of earning such returns legally were one in 250 million.

- In 1996 Hillary Clinton's Rose law firm billing records, sought for two years by congressional investigators and the special prosecutor, were found in the back room of the personal residence at the White House. Clinton said she had no idea how they got there.

- Drug dealer Jorge Cabrera gave enough to the Democrats to have his picture taken with both Hillary Clinton and Al Gore. . . Cabrera was arrested in January 1996 inside a cigar warehouse in Dade County, where more than 500 pounds of cocaine had been hidden. He and several accomplices were charged with having smuggled 3,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States through the Keys

- In 2000, Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign returned $22,000 in soft money to a businesswoman linked to a Democratic campaign contribution from a drug smuggler in Havana.

- In August 2000, Hillary Clinton held a huge Hollywood fundraiser for her Senate campaign. It was very successful. The only problem was that, by a long shot, she didn't report all the money contributed: $800K by the US government's ultimate count in a settlement and $2 million according to the key contributor and convicted con Peter Paul. This is, in election law, the moral equivalent of not reporting a similar amount on your income tax. Hillary Clinton's defense was that she didn't know about it

- Hillary Clinton’s participation in a Whitewater related land deal became suspicious enough to trigger an investigation by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

- in 2007, a Pakistani immigrant who hosted fundraisers for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton became a target of FBI allegations that he funneled illegal contributions to Clinton's political action committee and to Sen. Barbara Boxer's 2004 re-election campaign. Authorities say Northridge, Calif., businessman Abdul Rehman Jinnah, 56, fled the country shortly after being indicted on charges of engineering more than $50,000 in illegal donations to the Democratic committees.

Most of these stories are not generally known because major media have been more than willing to cover for the Clintons - using non-indictment under criminal law as the news and moral standard for favored politicians.

The Clintons have thrived in the huge unexamined canyon between the standards of law and that of public integrity and political decency. And we continue to pay the price.