Tea Party candidate Paladino reneges on campaign debts

Carl Paladino’s campaign stiffed about a dozen consultants, vendors and staff members for some $130,000 in salaries, fees and expenses, according to numerous veterans of his failed gubernatorial bid.

They are pressing for payment from a campaign committee, Paladino for the People, that is deep in debt. Public records show the committee has a balance of only $5,305 and debts of $6.1 million, most of them loans from the candidate.

I would have expected a nice thank-you from Carl for all the hard work I had contributed, but instead I got screwed,” said Tim Suereth, who first served as manager of internal operations and later as an unpaid volunteer…

“There are a lot of people who didn’t get paid, and for many of the people who got paid, it took a while, and some did not get full payment,” he said. “It’s outrageous.”

William Rey said he is one of them.

The Paladino campaign paid him only $9,205 of the $14,031 he billed in late October for video production, Rey said. The check, he said, noted a “credit” to explain the difference.

“I don’t know if it’s a credit; it’s more like thievery if you ask me,” Rey said.

What more would you expect? When democracy speaks and you lose, beancounters and reactionaries think it’s perfectly OK to pick up their marbles – and maybe some of yours – and go home.

Alaska Airlines flight crew panics over Hebrew prayers

An orthodox Jewish prayer observance by three passengers aboard an Alaska Airlines flight alarmed flight attendants unfamiliar with the ritual, prompting them to lock down the cockpit and issue a security alert, officials said.

Alaska Flight 241 from Mexico City to Los Angeles International Airport landed safely on Sunday and was met by fire crews, foam trucks, FBI agents, Transportation Security Administration personnel and police dispatched as a precaution.

The three men, all Mexican nationals, were escorted off the plane by police and questioned by the FBI before being released to make connecting flights to other countries, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. No charges were filed, she said…

The three passengers were praying aloud in Hebrew and were wearing what appeared to be leather straps on their foreheads and arms,” she said. “This appeared to be a security threat, and the pilots locked down the flight deck and followed standard security procedures.”

It turned out the passengers were engaged in the wearing of tefillin — small, black prayer boxes containing scripture that devout Jews bind to their foreheads and arms with black leather straps in a daily ritual accompanied by special prayers.

The terrorists have won. American DNA has turned entirely into chickenshit.

Here comes the backlash to the nuclear part of Japan’s disaster

There’s a lot that will be gleaned over the coming weeks and months from Japan’s nuclear “disaster.” It’s a pretty big nuclear fail, on par with Three Mile Island… It’s been at the front and center of global media and policy debates this weekend, and it’s an ongoing situation.

The latest is that Japanese authorities have reportedly said there’s a significant chance the fuel rods have partially melted at two of the reactors, and they are still fighting a full-blown meltdown. The operator of the reactors…resorted to pumping seawater into the reactors, which to many in the industry sounds very much like a last-ditch, worrisome effort. Reuters reported 140,000 people have been evacuated from the area as a safety precaution, and iodine is being readied to distributed to people in the area to protect them from radioactive exposure. We’ll soon see if the disaster will get worse or better.

What we do know is that the incident could have far-reaching repercussions on the nuclear policies of the governments of the U.S., European countries, China and India, and will likely do significant damage to public opinion in general of nuclear energy. As the Guardian put it succinctly: “When experts decide it is necessary to flood reactors in the world’s most technologically advanced nation with an improvised flow of marine muck, people will ask whether the industry’s contingency planning for disaster is really as good as we are always being promised.”

Already, anti-nuclear groups are already using the incident to point to the dangers — or at least unknowns — of nuclear…and beyond the public relations nightmare of the dangers associated with nuclear, costs are as much of a concern. Not just to build the plants, but also to deal with any nuclear problems. According to the World Nuclear Association, the cleanup of the damaged nuclear reactor system at Three Mile Island took nearly 12 years and cost approximately $973 million.

Katie Fehrenbacher’s cost concerns are legitimate and should be central to any revision and upgrading of planned nuclear power facilities. Though the old policies with rule of thumb of planning for an 80% chance of disaster already are passé in most nations. Now, here’s what we’re witnessing:

Say, your next-door neighbor has a 1979 Oldsmobile diesel. One of the worst crap engines ever put into production. The engine blows up while he’s in his driveway one morning. Since it’s only a gravel over dirt driveway, all the oil and crud sinks into the soil potentially reaching groundwater and affecting the wells of all his neighbors.

Because of that incident, no one should ever consider buying a new car with a low-emissions, high-efficiency diesel engine from Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, Audi or any other builder of diesel-powered cars offered around the world.

That’s just about a perfect analogy to what we’re about to witness over consideration of nuclear generation of electricity – because of what happened at a power plant designed in the 1960’s, built in the 1970’s that just suffered through an earthquake and tsunami beyond the specification for its construction.

Saudis declare war on Shi’ite majority in Bahrain

Police fire tear gas at protestors in Bahrain
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain today to help put down weeks of protests by the Shi’ite Muslim majority, a move opponents of the Sunni ruling family on the island called a declaration of war.

Analysts saw the troop movement as a mark of concern in Saudi Arabia that political concessions by Bahrain’s monarchy could embolden the Saudi kingdom’s own Shi’ite minority.

Which shows you how much political courage “analysts” have.

About 1,000 Saudi soldiers entered Bahrain to protect government facilities, a Saudi official source said, a day after mainly Shi’ite protesters overran police and blocked roads…

Witnesses said the 25-km (16-mile) causeway between the two countries was closed and tanks were rolling across to Bahrain, a key U.S. ally and home of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Analysts and diplomats say the largest contingent in any GCC force would come from Saudi Arabia, which is already worried an uprising by Bahrain’s Shi’ites may inspire restive Shi’ites in its own Eastern Province, the center of the oil industry.

Bahraini opposition groups including the largest Shi’ite party Wefaq said the move was an attack on defenseless citizens.

“We consider the entry of any soldier or military machinery into the Kingdom of Bahrain’s air, sea or land territories a blatant occupation,” they said in a statement…

The reports come after Bahraini police clashed on Sunday with mostly Shi’ite demonstrators in one of the most violent confrontations since troops killed seven protesters last month.

After trying to push back demonstrators for several hours, police backed away and youths built barricades across the highway to the main financial district of the Gulf banking hub.

Those barricades were still up on Monday morning, with protesters checking cars at the entrance to the Pearl roundabout, the focal point of weeks of protests. On the other side of the same highway, police set up a roadblock preventing any cars moving from the airport toward the harbor.

Between theocracy and monarchy, there isn’t a whole boatload of progress happening among the United States’ dearest allies in the region.

Oh, did I say “allies”. I meant keepers of the flow of oil from the region to Western industry and transport.

State Department’s PJ Crowley resigns over Wikileaks prisoner

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

PJ Crowley, the official spokesman at the state department, has fallen on his sword after calling the treatment of Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the WikiLeaks files, “counterproductive and stupid”.

The resignation followed Crowley’s remarks to an MIT seminar last week about Manning’s treatment in military prison.

Crowley had said: “What is being done to Bradley Manning is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid on the part of the department of defence.”

The remarks forced President Obama to address for the first time the issue of Manning’s handling at Quantico marine base in Virginia. Obama defended the way Manning is being treated, saying he had been reassured by the Pentagon that his confinement was appropriate.

In a resignation letter, Crowley said he took full responsibility for his remarks. Though he attacked the leaking of classified information, which he called “a serious crime under US law”, he stood by his earlier criticism of the Pentagon.

In words that could cause further difficulty for Obama, Crowley said his comments “were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership. The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.”

Obama promised transparency, adherence to the standards of the Geneva Code, bring our government up to the standards of our own constitutional and libertarian history. That has not happened.

Not only has it NOT happened; but, the worst example of corrupt practices introduced by George W. Bush and his Republican administration have been retained and reinforced.

Crowley simply stuck to the principles our elected officials said they stood for – and obviously don’t.

Phone company hangs up on time, weather

The last telephone-based time and weather services in the Unites States are getting the ax, telephone company officials say.

Verizon says its telephone dial-in weather and time services in the Washington, D.C., and Maryland area codes — the last such surviving services in the nation — will end this summer.

Callers to the weather line are hearing a terse announcement: “Effective June 1, 2011, Verizon will no longer offer time-of-day and weather forecast services.”

A spokeswoman for Verizon said the end of call-in services, with a history going back to the days of rotary dial telephones in the 1930s, has been coming for a long time.

“In Virginia, we discontinued the time and weather in late 2006; in Pennsylvania in late 2008,” Sandra Arnette told The Baltimore Sun. “People just have so many alternatives — radio, TV, online, wireless phones, PDAs.”

Many people still call Verizon for time and weather information, she said, but conceded it has become an “anachronism.”

Wonder how many high school graduates can spell “anachronism”?