Mexicans celebrate Easter by burning Judas Iscariot – just don’t tell Donald Trump

Click to enlargeAFP

Mexicans celebrating an Easter ritual late on Saturday burnt effigies of U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, whose anti-immigrant views have sparked outrage south of the American border.

In Mexico City’s poor La Merced neighborhood, hundreds of cheering residents yelled “death” and various insults as they watched the explosion of the grinning papier-mâché mock-up of the real estate tycoon, replete with blue blazer, red tie and his trademark tuft of blond hair.

Media reported that Trump effigies burned across Mexico, from Puebla to Mexico’s industrial hub Monterrey.

The burning is part of a widespread Mexican Holy Week tradition where neighborhoods burn effigies to represent Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ according to the Bible. The effigies are often modeled on unpopular political figures.

“Since he started his campaign and began talking about immigrants, Mexico, and Mexicans, I said ‘I’ve got to get this guy,'” said Felipe Linares, the artisan who crafted Trump and whose family has been making Judases for more than 50 years…

Judas effigies are burnt in villages and towns in several Latin American countries such as Venezuela and in parts of Greece. Anthropologists say the practice serves a symbolic function to overcome divisions and unite communities around a common enemy.

Burn, baby, burn!

Reflecting on discussions I’ve had with friends who properly call themselves Recovering Republicans – I have no doubt they would consider any traditional American [small-c] conservative who supports Trump a Judas, as well.

King of Coal facing jail and fines, sued by new owners of his coal company for $28 million

Jeff Gentner/AP

Donald Blankenship, the former coal baron looking at up to a year in prison for flouting mine safety rules, may be facing an even bigger penalty: $28 million in restitution tied to a fatal explosion six years ago.

Alpha Natural Resources asked a federal judge in West Virginia to order Blankenship to pay legal expenses and fines stemming from the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine blast, which killed 29 workers.

At the time of the explosion, Blankenship was chief executive officer of Massey Energy, owner of the mine. Alpha bought Massey in 2011.

Jurors in Charleston, W.Va., convicted Blankenship in December of a misdemeanor conspiracy charge of ignoring safety standards.

While federal prosecutors are backing Alpha’s request, Blankenship is fighting it…

Jurors concluded that Blankenship orchestrated a conspiracy to ignore mine safety standards to speed up coal production. The verdict was a rare instance of the U.S. holding a chief executive accountable for fatalities in the workplace…

He’s slated to be sentenced April 6 by U.S. District Judge Irene Berger and faces a maximum sentence of a year in jail plus a fine. He contends the fine is capped at $250,000, but the government says Berger can rely on a law that sets the criminal penalty based on twice the financial gain or loss generated by the conspiracy.

Prosecutors said they support Alpha’s request to recoup more than $13 million for costs of its internal investigation of the Upper Big Branch disaster, $4.3 million to cover legal expenses rung up by employees who cooperated with a government probe and prosecution of Blankenship, and $10 million in fines paid by Alpha over the explosion.

Throw away the key.

Congress leaves town without providing funds to fight wildfires – Thanks for nothing!

What you can expect from the Do-Nothing Congress

Congress took a five-week summer break without deciding whether to provide $615 million in additional money to fight wildfires this year, punting the debate into the fall.

Senate Democrats were unable late Thursday to secure 60 votes to advance a $3.6 billion emergency spending bill for a vote.

The bulk of that money was for the Obama administration to handle the influx of unaccompanied minors along the Southwestern border but it also had $615 million for the U.S. Forest Service and the Interior Department to fight fires. That would have eliminated the need for “fire borrowing,” or transferring money from other activities including efforts to prevent fires

Senate Republicans blocked the $3.6 billion measure, arguing blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!…

The congressional debate came during a week when firefighters grappled with 27 large fires in eight Western states

Last month, along with requesting emergency money, President Barack Obama asked Congress to add wildfires to the list of natural disasters eligible for disaster assistance. That move would eliminate the need for the government to dip into wildfire-prevention programs to pay ever-increasing firefighting costs.

The right-wing clown show running the Republican Party won’t respond to that request until they sort out appropriate guidance from the Old Testament, the ghost of Joseph Goebbels and someone who channels Ayn Rand.

Conservative ideologues contribute as little of use to society as an epoch of plague.

Senator Feinstein says CIA spied on Intelligence Committee

The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee torched the Central Intelligence Agency in a floor speech Tuesday morning, charging the agency with spying on her committee’s computers in a possibly illegal search that has been referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution.

During her speech, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she learned in January that the Central Intelligence Agency improperly searched committee computer files, confirming several media reports. She said the incident has been referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution. But Feinstein was also riled by a separate referral by the CIA to the Department of Justice suggesting that the committee staff had improperly received classified information…

The CIA, it seems, was trying to figure out whether the committee staff had managed to gain access to an internal review of CIA interrogation methods that came to be named after now-former CIA Director Leon E. Panetta.

CIA hacks are crapping their drawers over the possibility of payback for torture on behalf of the Bush/Cheney invasions in the Middle East. They presumed assurances of torture being OK were good till the end of time. Not just the end of the Bush Administration.

Feinstein had been quiet about previous press reports, preferring to avoid creating a firestorm and deferring answering questions from reporters at the Capitol in recent weeks about the incident, but she said Tuesday on the Senate floor that was no longer possible. She said the CIA has not answered repeated questions from the committee about the incident, raising questions of illegality.

“I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States constitution, including the speech and debate,” Feinstein said…

Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., appeared on the floor shortly after Feinstein’s lengthy speech to praise her comments, calling for all senators to stand behind her.

“If we do not stand up for … the protection of the separation of powers and our ability to do oversight, especially when conduct has happened that is in all likelihood criminal by the part of a government agency, then what do we stand for?” Leahy said.

Warms the cockles of my heart to see chickens come home to roost in the crap-filled coop called Congress.

Ed Snowden’s reaction to Feinstein’s self-righteous speech is completely to the point – and he made it inclusive, to the world view of our government and the “coalition of the willing”:

“It’s clear the CIA was trying to play ‘keep away’ with documents relevant to an investigation by their overseers in Congress, and that’s a serious constitutional concern,” said Snowden in a statement to NBC News. “But it’s equally if not more concerning that we’re seeing another ‘Merkel Effect,’ where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it’s a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them.”

Internet’s bad neighborhoods aren’t big – just home to the worst creeps!


About 50% of all junk mail on the net emerges from just 20 internet service providers (ISPs)…

The survey of more than 42,000 ISPs tried to map the net’s “bad neighbourhoods” to help pinpoint sources of malicious mail…The survey by a researcher in Holland found that, in many cases, ISPs specialise in particular threats such as spam and phishing…

The large-scale study was carried out to help fine-tune computer security tools that scrutinise the net addresses of email and other messages to help them work out if they are junk or legitimate. Such tools could make better choices if they were armed with historical information about the types of traffic that emerge from particular networks…

Of the 42,201 ISPs studied about 50% of all junk mail, phishing attacks and other malicious messages came from just 20 networks, Giovane Cesar Moreira Moura found. Many of these networks were concentrated in India, Vietnam and Brazil. On the net’s most crime-ridden network – Spectranet in Nigeria – 62% of all the addresses controlled by that ISP were seen to be sending out spam.

Networks involved in malicious activity also tended to specialise in one particular sort of malicious message or attack, he discovered. For instance, the majority of phishing attacks came from ISPs based in the US. By contrast, spammers tend to favour Asian ISPs. Indian ISP BSNL topped the list of spam sources in the study…

The data gathered for the study is helping to create analysis tools that will do a better job of assessing whether traffic coming from sources never seen before is good or bad. In the same way that people avoid walking through parts of towns and cities known to be dangerous, security tools can start to filter traffic from ISPs known as historical sources of malicious messages.

Even if you’re gambling with friends, you cut the cards. If you’re playing with strangers, it helps to have ground rules founded in history. ISPs which consistently dispense criminal attacks lose the excuse of ignorance after a while.

J&J to pay $1 Billion for sleazy sales of antipsychotic drug

Johnson & Johnson will pay more than $1 billion to the U.S. and most states to resolve a civil investigation into marketing of the antipsychotic Risperdal, according to people familiar with the matter.

J&J, the world’s largest health products company, reached an accord last week with the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, according to the people, who weren’t authorized to speak about the matter. It doesn’t resolve negotiations over a possible criminal plea, they said…

J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, disclosed in August that it reached an agreement to settle a misdemeanor criminal charge related to Risperdal marketing. The company is in negotiations to pay about $400 million more to settle this portion of the investigation, one of the people said…

A majority of U.S. states will join the settlement, the people said. Which ones will accept the final agreement hasn’t been determined, they said. Each state can decide whether to join the federal government’s settlement or pursue its own case.

Typically, states with cases in court continue to pursue their own. Texas alone is asking for more than $1 billion in a case that goes to trial next week. Risperdal, which was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1993, later became J&J’s best-selling drug…

The FDA approved Risperdal in 1993 for psychotic disorders including schizophrenia. That market is limited, and Janssen sought to sell Risperdal for bipolar disorder, dementia, mood and anxiety disorders and other unapproved uses, according to documents in the lawsuit by the state of Louisiana.

Hundreds of Janssen salespeople sold to doctors, nursing homes, Veteran’s Administration facilities and jails, the records show. Marketers gave doctors materials about studies of unapproved uses for Risperdal. Janssen sponsored clinical trials of the drug’s effect on other illnesses…

“The ultimate resolution of the above criminal and these civil matters is not expected to have a material adverse effect on the company’s financial position,” J&J officials said in the filing.

Of course it won’t. Johnson and Johnson – in 2010 – had $62 billion in revenue, gross profit of $42.8 billion, and net income after taxes of $13.3 billion.

They spent $6.7 million on lobbying.