How the White House plans to keep power during “the Apocalypse”


U.S. Dept of Energy

Just because a disaster disrupts the federal government doesn’t mean the White House won’t try to stay in charge. Since the 1950s, the White House has drafted and maintained Pres­id­en­tial Emer­gency Action Docu­ments (PEADS) — a list of secret plans meant to be implemented in the wake of an apocalyptic disaster. Thanks to a new document dump and some clever information requests, we’re finally learning a little bit about how Washington would seek to stay in power should the worst occur.

As first reported by the New York Times, the PEADs documents come courtesy of the Brennan Center for Justice, which obtained the bulk of the documents through Freedom of Information Act requests. The documents cover a period from the Eisenhower presidency all the way to Trump…

A 2016 House Committee Appropriations Hearing gives us an explanation of what PEADs are and what, exactly, they do.

“PEADs are pre-coordinated legal documents designed to implement a Presidential decision or transmit a Presidential request when an emergency disrupts normal governmental or legislative processes,” it said. “A PEAD may take the form of a Proclamation, Executive Order, or a Message to Congress…”

Every President tweaks the PEADs in their own way and every era reflects the different concerns of the different presidents. Until 9/11, the documents were obsessed with ensuring a continuity of government in the aftermath of a surprise nuclear attack on the United States…

The Reagan era plans are similarly obsessed with nuclear war and its aftermath. It isn’t until the 9/11 era and George W. Bush that things change radically…

And so the plot to the White House soap opera wends its merry way through the head-of-state killer klown show. And we all know you can’t have a soap opera without a proper script.

Judge awards $850 to iPhone user in AT&T throttling case

When AT&T started slowing down the data service for his iPhone, Matt Spaccarelli, an unemployed truck driver and student, took the country’s largest telecommunications company to small claims court. And won.

His award: $850.

Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel found in favor of Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in Simi Valley on Friday, saying it wasn’t fair for the company to purposely slow down his iPhone, when it had sold him an “unlimited data” plan.

Spaccarelli could have many imitators. AT&T has some 17 million customers with “unlimited data” plans who can be subject to throttling. That’s nearly half of its smartphone users. AT&T forbids them from consolidating their claims into a class action or taking them to a jury trial. That leaves small claims actions and arbitration.

Late last year, AT&T started slowing down data service for the top 5 percent of its smartphone subscribers with “unlimited” plans. It had warned that it would start doing so, but many subscribers have been surprised by how little data use it takes for throttling to kick in —often less than AT&T provides to those on limited or “tiered” plans.

Spaccarelli said his phone is being throttled after he’s used 1.5 gigabytes to 2 gigabytes of data within a new billing cycle. Meanwhile, AT&T provides 3 gigabytes of data to subscribers on a tiered plan that costs the same — $30 per month.

When slowed down, the phone can still be used for calls and text messaging, but Web browsing is painfully slow, and video streaming doesn’t work at all…

Companies with as many potentially aggrieved customers as AT&T usually brace themselves for a class-action lawsuit. But last year, the Supreme Court upheld a clause in the Dallas-based company’s subscriber contract that prohibits customers from taking their complaints to class actions or jury trials.

Just in case you thought the sleazy array of Republicans added to the Supremes in the last couple of decades would never come up with decisions that affect your daily life. Add a moneygrubber corporation decision like this – to the Citizens United crap decision which says a corporation is just another person when it comes to bankrolling politicians.

Greedy bastards like AT&T can stand on one foot for a couple centuries while individuals try to take their cases through small claims court one at a time. A couple hundred bucks means a lot more to ordinary working folks than beancounters shuffling lawyers on retainer through local courts on a platoon system designed to screw us all.

Who copped the blueprints to Germany’s new spook shop?


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Germany is investigating reports that the blueprints for the future headquarters of its BND intelligence agency have gone missing. If the report in Focus magazine is confirmed, it could pose a serious security risk – and would be a huge embarrassment for the spy agency…

The government said a commission was looking into the “serious issue“.

The plans purportedly show extremely sensitive aspects of the building’s construction, such as the alarm system, anti-terror installations, emergency exits, cable routes and sewers.

“It has not yet been possible to verify the authenticity of the reports, but an investigation was launched into the matter on Friday,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference…

Building in a former East German district of the capital began in 2006 and is scheduled for completion in 2014. It is set to be one of the most expensive and hi-tech government structures in Germany.

Sounds like they hired someone from George W. Bush’s brain trust to design and secure the facility. Could end up being as much of a white elephant as the State Dept/NSA/CIA/Military Intelligence [sic] barn we’re still paying for in Baghdad.

You probably can buy duplicate copies by now in any souk in the Middle East.

5 myths about health care around the world

As Americans search for the cure to what ails our health-care system, we’ve overlooked an invaluable source of ideas and solutions: the rest of the world. All the other industrialized democracies have faced problems like ours, yet they’ve found ways to cover everybody — and still spend far less than we do…

First we have to dispel a few myths about health care abroad:

1. It’s all socialized medicine out there.

Not so. Some countries, such as Britain, New Zealand and Cuba, do provide health care in government hospitals, with the government paying the bills. Others — for instance, Canada and Taiwan — rely on private-sector providers, paid for by government-run insurance. But many wealthy countries — including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland — provide universal coverage using private doctors, private hospitals and private insurance plans.

In some ways, health care is less “socialized” overseas than in the United States. Almost all Americans sign up for government insurance (Medicare) at age 65. In Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, seniors stick with private insurance plans for life. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the planet’s purest examples of government-run health care.

2. Overseas, care is rationed through limited choices or long lines.

Generally, no. Germans can sign up for any of the nation’s 200 private health insurance plans — a broader choice than any American has. If a German doesn’t like her insurance company, she can switch to another, with no increase in premium. The Swiss, too, can choose any insurance plan in the country.

In France and Japan, you don’t get a choice of insurance provider; you have to use the one designated for your company or your industry. But patients can go to any doctor, any hospital, any traditional healer…You pick any doctor, you get treatment — and insurance has to pay…

In Japan, waiting times are so short that most patients don’t bother to make an appointment. One Thursday morning in Tokyo, I called the prestigious orthopedic clinic at Keio University Hospital to schedule a consultation about my aching shoulder. “Why don’t you just drop by?” the receptionist said. That same afternoon, I was in the surgeon’s office. Dr. Nakamichi recommended an operation. “When could we do it?” I asked. The doctor checked his computer and said, “Tomorrow would be pretty difficult. Perhaps some day next week?”

Continue reading

Jack Russell finds plans of Queen’s residence

All right. I couldn’t resist it. Jack Russell is the breed of dog in the story.


Secret agent – with Frisbee
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Royal security chiefs have launched an investigation after plans of the Queen’s official residence in Scotland were found near a footpath.

The drawings, with an accompanying letter, were discovered under a bush on a path leading to the Water of Leith, in Roseburn, Edinburgh, by the Daily Record newspaper’s agony aunt, Joan Burnie, as she took her Jack Russell terrier, called Polly, for a walk.

She told the paper: “Polly saw them underneath a bush on the path and came out with the plans in her mouth.

The Daily Record said it would hand the plans to security staff at the palace.

Patriots to the core.