Anyone waste more dollar$ than our military? Guantanamo redux

Gitmo’s $400,000 Go-Kart track

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told Congress Wednesday it will cost $454 million to operate the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hagel included the cost in a report sent to the House Armed Services Committee, and two top Senate Democrats — Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein of California — announced the figure at a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee hearing, The Hill reported.

The Hill said it had obtained the report on Guantanamo operating costs that Hagel had provided to Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. The Hill said the Pentagon report concluded the United State has spent $4.7 billion to operate the detainee facility since 2002.

“This is a massive waste of money,” said Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee…

Durbin said in a release the hearing would take testimony on the indefinite detention of 166 remaining detainees, including 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer.

“The president has called for the closing of the Guantanamo detention facility and many in Congress support him,” Durbin said. “But Congress and the administration have been complicit in the current situation which harms our national security and leaves more than 150 detainees in limbo…

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said it was “shameful” Congress is still debating the matter.

“For over a decade, the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo has contradicted our most basic principles of justice, degraded our international standing and, by itself, has harmed our national security,” he said.

Durbin said at Wednesday’s hearing the cost-per-detainee at Guantanamo — $2.7 million per year, compared to $78,000 at “supermax” prisons — “would be fiscally irresponsible during normal economic times, but it is even worse when the Defense Department is struggling to deal with the impact of sequestration.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee, said Guantanamo is the only facility that can hold “terrorists who would work night and day to murder innocent Americans.”

Ted Cruz is a liar. But, you probably already know that.

The old battle for voting rights, civil rights, renewed in Texas

The Obama administration embarked on a new strategy on Thursday to challenge voting laws it says discriminate by race, an effort to counter a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month that freed states from the strictest federal oversight.

Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to start in Texas, a conservative stronghold where his Justice Department will ask a federal court for renewed power to block new election laws it says illegally discriminate against blacks and other minorities.

The Texas action was expected to be the first in a nationwide roll-out of cases to work around Shelby County v. Holder, the Alabama case in which the Supreme Court on June 25 invalidated a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“This is the department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” Holder said to a standing ovation in Philadelphia at the annual conference of the National Urban League…

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican and possible presidential candidate in 2016, said the move demonstrated contempt by the Obama administration…

Poisonally I don’t believe bigots and racists deserve anything more than contempt…

The Justice Department was already tangling with Texas in federal courts, alleging that the state discriminated by race in two impermissible ways.

First, department lawyers objected to the drawing of congressional and state legislative district lines that they say leave too few places where a minority candidate can win.

Second, although the Justice Department has allowed voter ID requirements in some states, it said Texas failed to include measures to protect minority voters…

Holder also said Texas has a “history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized.”

RTFA for more detail and history. Though, if you need lots of convincing to be certain of Texas’ bigotry you need to get out and feed a little fresh air and information to your brain.

Joking with kin about this – a recovering Republican – he reminded me he still has a receipt squirreled away for paying a poll tax in Texas in the Bad Ol’ Days before civil rights law, voting rights law, became the law of the land.

Nope, there’s nothing new in Texas except the number of definitions of ethnicities, genders and ideologies some old-fashioned Texans fear are lurking under their bed at night.

Man jumps off Montana bridge, lands on inner tuber below

Andy Hill

A man who jumped from a Montana bridge into the Clark Fork River, landing on an inner tube rider and breaking his legs, could face charges, officials said.

The unidentified jumper leaped from the Bandmann Bridge in East Missoula, Mont., into the river Sunday at a spot popular for “floaters” in the pastime of “tubing,” people riding downriver on inner tubes.

He slammed into floater Andy Hill, riding an inner tube tethered to one carrying his wife Amy, KECI-TV, Missoula, reported.

“Someone had jumped off the bridge and landed on me,” Hill later said. “There was a guy in my lap, and he rolled off my lap and he just kept apologizing.”

The jumper swam to shore and was being sought by police. The Missoula Sheriff’s Department said he may have been injured and could face criminal endangerment charges.

Hill has broken bones in his legs and torn ligaments in his knees

What was this idiot trying to prove? Just some clown jumping into the river? This poor dude Andy Hill had just gotten out of hospital and was recuperating from lung surgery. Cripes.

Backlog for godless wedding services in Ireland

Brandan Hastings, Suzy Addis after their Humanist wedding in Slane

Traditionally Catholic Ireland has allowed an atheist group to perform weddings this year for the first time, and the few people certified to celebrate them are overwhelmed by hundreds of couples seeking their services.

Demand for the Humanist Association of Ireland’s secular weddings has surged as the moral authority of the once almighty Catholic Church collapsed in recent decades amid sex abuse scandals and Irish society’s rapid secularization.

Until now, those who did not want a religious wedding could have only civil ceremonies. Outside of the registrar’s office, only clergy were permitted to perform weddings.

But statistics show rising demand for non-Church weddings. In 1996, 90 percent of Irish weddings were performed by the Catholic Church or the Church of Ireland. But by 2010 that percentage had fallen to 69 percent.

The pent-up demand from those who want more than a civil ceremony in a registry office but reject a religious wedding has created a major backlog for the humanist group’s ceremonies director.

Brian Whiteside, initially the only humanist “solemnizer” certified to legally marry couples, was already booked well into next year when the civil registry office agreed in late June to approve 10 others, taking some of the pressure off him.

It remains very, very busy,” Whiteside said. “We’re all finding it difficult to keep up with the inquiries. We had 595 new inquiries in the first three months of this year, which in a little country like Ireland is quite a few.”

With all the din made by official religious sources opposing everything from abortions that save lives to civil rights for LGBT couples you might think the wave of progressive sociology and philosophy growing throughout the educated world might have skipped over Ireland.

I’m pleased to see that’s not so. And, then, there’s the United States.