1) News item from Sunday (10/20): “U.S allies fume as new National Security Agency (NSA) snooping allegations reveal the agency collected data on their citizens.”
Seems records provided by NSA ex-contractor and now fugitive/expatriate Edward Snowden to the French newspaper Le Monde revealed that the NSA collected 70.3 million French telephone records over a 30-day period that began last December 10. And, that pisses the French government right the hell off.
So when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was to meet with the French government officials on Tuesday (10/22) to ostensibly talk about the Syrian civil war, the French want Kerry to provide a damn explanation for this so-called outrage.
And, France is not alone in their outage over alleged U.S. snooping. It seems a recent report from German media sources said the U.S. snooped in 2010 on communications by the then-Mexican president Felipe Calderon. The report caused the German government to cancel a program which dated back to the Cold War days where the Germans granted British and U.S. requests to monitor certain individuals in their country in order to protect American and British troops stationed there.
And, then German magazine Der Spiegel said that in 2012 the NSA read the then-Mexican presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto’s email prior to his election as the country’s head of state.
AND, just last month, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cancelled an official visit to Washington to meet with President Obama after another Snowden leak showed that the NSA snooped on communications between her and top aides and that they collected data on billions of phone calls and e-mails in her country.
Poor babies… ain’t this de rigueur tactics amongst all of these various governments? Or did someone rewrite the rules of espionage while we were all sleeping? You think Russia, China, Britain and even France and Germany don’t do surveillance of their own? ’Cause, if you don’t think they do it, then I got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell ya.
These pretentions are nothing more than like what happens in the movie Casablanca when Renault, the Vichy police captain, is in Rick Blaine’s casino and announces that he is closing the place up for the night and Rick asks on what grounds? Renault then says “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.” A croupier then comes up to Renault; hands him some money and says “Your winnings.” Whereupon, Renault says very softly, “Oh, thank you very much.” And, then continues to announce very loudly, “Everybody out at once!”
But, hey, if every other government promises not to surveil, then I’m sure the NSA will too. Right?
2) New item: “Small-town mayor blasts out unusual campaign message: Don’t vote for me!”
After 70-year-old Port Matilda Mayor Bob Wiser forgot to remove his name from the ballot in August he found himself forced to run in the town’s upcoming election any way… and he is unopposed.
So he started the very unusual and weird campaign to get the message out to voters: Don’t vote for me.
Wiser says, “At my age, I don’t need to be stressed out.”
And strangely, Wiser originally got the job in 2009 because the previous major of 10 years simply, and very abruptly, up and retired and moved away. So, Wiser, who was the borough secretary of the time, was appointed to fill his spot by the Borough Council and then was subsequently elected into office after a successful write-in campaign. He says at first he liked doing the job but between butting heads with the council and “losing interest” he just wants out. He adds “I hope somebody with the qualifications steps up, puts their hat in the ring and decides to do it.”
Well, if it all goes down like it seems it’s going to go down… I mean after all if he is unopposed and if only one person votes for him, and no one else gets any write-in votes, then he will be the mayor… he can simply do what his predecessor did and just up and walk away.
Anyone wanna be a mayor? Then, I got a borough for you.
Hmmmm…. wonder if there is a residency requirement.
As of the writing of this article the agreement had yet to be finalized, but the 11-figure settlement was rumored to be imminent as sources told Reuters News Agency that JPMorgan Chase had reached a tentative $13 billion agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to settle claims regarding bad mortgage loans the bank sold to investors before the financial crisis. A source also told Reuters News that under the deal, the bank will likely cooperate in criminal inquiries into misconduct among individual employees.
Another source said that the agreement could still fall apart.
Officials at JPMorgan and the Justice Department declined to comment. But, earlier this month JPMorgan had disclosed that it had put $23 billion aside for settlements and other legal expenses.
Now, I really hope it just ain’t me that is bothered by the fact that JP Morgan must be making so much damn money that it can just squirrel away $23 billion fucking dollars to take care of some mere incidentals like bad loans and mortgages.
To put this in better perspective, and, hopefully, make you as outraged as me: the $13 billion penalty payment would be half of JP Morgan’s net profits for 2013 and equal to half the estimated cost of the recent government shutdown in the US.
4) “POOR, POOR PEYTON” … seems Colts owner Jim Irsay recently did a so-called diss of Peyton Manning when he said that as great as Peyton is that he only delivered one Super Bowl ring to Indianapolis. So when all of Sunday’s pregame shows aired the peeps on those shows essentially voiced what amounted to nothing more than a giant “poor, poor Peyton” sob fest and they collectively dissed Irsay right back.
All except Fox’s Terry Bradshaw who basically said the Colts’ owner is “absolutely right.” Bradshaw also said, “I understand the frustration. It’s nice to get in those playoff games but when you lead the league in passing, break touchdown marks, and go out in the first round (of the playoffs), well, yeah that’s disappointing… You’re paid not to throw for thousands of yards and complete touchdown passes. You’re paid to lead a team to a championship.”
Now let it be known, I ain’t the biggest Bradshaw fan and one reason is you can go to the record book and check his numbers for why, (go ahead, I’ll wait). Bradshaw also played with the Steel Curtain and them dudes covered up, or, I should say they made up, for many of Bradshaw’s mistakes on the field by either holding the other team’s offense so they usually had to punt the ball back to the Steelers or by forcing a turnover to get the ball back. But, it’s all about the rings and the trophies when you get right down to the nitty gritty, and maybe this is why Bradshaw said what he said, because he has four of the damn things.
But, let it be known right here and now if I got to take a QB to make or break my team; I’m still taking Peyton first.
5) NY Daily News reported recently that City water users are about to get soaked once again with another rate hike as a new 5.3% increase comes after a 7% increase last year and various double-digit increases in years past. The City government says big scale projects like water tunnel #3 and a filtration plant are the reasons for the hike. Overall, NYC water bills have gone up 78% since 2005, featuring double-digit annual spikes in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The News says that “If taxpayers are feeling soaked, here’s why: The city took in a record $3.3 billion in water invoices during the fiscal year that ended in July — up from the $2.1 billion collected in 2008.”
But, City environmental bigwigs say the added revenue is needed to meet new federal safety mandates and help push forward the needed huge upgrades to the city’s aging water and sewer systems. Critics counter by saying a portion of the massive increases drowning homeowners goes toward paying off debt from the 1970s fiscal crisis.
In fact, mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio said, “For decades, the water system only charged customers what it needed to cover its costs… But now, anyone who pays a water bill is sending more and more of their money into the city’s general budget. It’s wrong and it has to stop.”
The average NYC single-family homeowner now pays $991 per year for water H20, up from $554 in 2005.
I got only one thing to say, or rather, quote, regarding this issue: “Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water?” … Martin Luther King, Jr.
6) Linda Stasi, a NY Daily News writer, says “You’d think that shutting down the government would at least have saved us some dough. No government, no expenses, right? Wrong.”
Stasi points out that “(during the) 16 … dysfunctional, depressing, distressing days that those fools used up by prancing around the House playing my-stance-is-bigger-than-your stance took $24 billion out of our economy.”
So what could a country buy for $24 billion these days? Stasi says, “(It) could have paid for the Affordable Care Act for every previously uninsured American times two.”
And, for once I got nothing to add.
7) And while this insurance crap is fresh in my brain, I have a quasi-unique situation about my own health insurance. I need to find coverage, but only until April 12, 2014. You see on April 12 I turn 65 and I am eligible to receive Medicare coverage. Soooo…. my questions were: Can I use Medicare as my primary and only insurance even though I intend to keep my employment situation, and, can I sign up for benefits though the Connecticut Health Exchange and then on April 12 cancel the insurance and let Medicare take over as my primary coverage?
Simple enough questions… right? I thought so.
I call up the Connecticut Medicare office and here is essentially how the conversation went: Hi … (I give my name and explain my first question.) After I turn 65 can I use Medicare as my primary and only insurance coverage even if I am gainfully employed and intend to continue working as long as I want?
Medicare rep: Well sir, most people like to keep their company sponsored insurance even though they are eligible for Medicare.
Me: That’s not answering what I asked.
Medicare rep: But you see, sir, people who are 65 and want to keep their jobs usually have company provided coverage and usually want to keep that insurance.
Me: The question is can I use Medicare as my only coverage even though I plan on working as long as I am capable of doing so?
Me: (Becoming rather frustrated and impatient with this government twerp) Can I or can’t I use Medicare as my only insurer if I am working? Or, do I have to have my company sponsored insurance as my primary?
Medicare rep: Sir , ……( long hesitation due to the fact I have just emitted a big sigh in anticipation of the reps answer that will once again not answer anything) yes, you can use Medicare as your primary and only insurer even if you continue to be employed.
Me: Thank you. (click.)
Now can someone explain to me why if I ask a simple question why some one cannot answer that question in the simplest manner possible? I mean there were only three answers to my question: “yes”, “no” and “I don’t know and can you hold and I will find someone who does.”
But, I still needed an answer to my other question.
So I went online to the AARP website and checked out some info and found a number to call at United Health Care. I call the number and explain my situation to the UHC rep; She proceeded to ask me my personal details and then tells me how UHC would send me information. To which I interrupted and told the woman that I have voluminous amounts of printed matter that has all kinds of arrows and diagrams and numbers and various amount of informational redundancy and had no interest in killing more trees, so, please, do not send me anything in the mail. To which the person then asked me if I had an email address. The light bulb goes on which stimulates my grey matter and I say, “And, I don’t want any information sent to me in emails, either. I just want to talk to a live person who can answer my questions.”
Well after another go around with this “person” that ultimately ended with me saying in a raised and frustrated tone “I don’t want any information either through the mail or emails. I have all the information I could ever want. I need to talk to a live person to explain all this stuff.”
The rep obviously insulted says: “I am connecting you to a live representative now, sir. Have a good day.” (CLICK)
And you know what happened next? A miracle. I got to talk to a live person who walked me through the entire procedure and gave me answers to my questions. She did say to call the Connecticut Health Exchange to just confirm that I, indeed, could cancel coverage on my B-day.
And when I called the number for CT Health I explained what I needed and the woman said “Can I put you on hold?”
I said yes.
She came back after a few minutes and simply said “I wanted to make sure I got you the correct information.” She then repeated my question so that we were both clear on what I was asking and said: “Yes, sir, on the day you turn 65 call to change your insurance status and your coverage will automatically be cancelled because you will no longer be eligible to receive insurance through the exchange since you will be receiving Medicare.”
“Halle-fucking-lujah!!!!” A person who knows how to think and admit to themselves they are not sure of the answer so they went and got the right answer and then gave it to me in plain and simple words.
Yes siree bob, there is still hope for humankind.
8) Today (10/23) the Daily News reported that the clothing store Barneys, who caters to a certain clientele that will spend their money on $280 jeans and $2,850 woman’s jackets, did not think a young 18 year old black man had the money to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt.
Essentially here is the dirt: Christian is a 19-year-old New York College of Technology engineering student and He is also a clothes horse. He has a work-study job that deposits his pay directly into a Chase bank account. Christian said that after a paycheck had just been direct deposited into his Chase bank account, he went straight to Barneys on the afternoon of April 29 to buy a pricey Ferragamo belt with a silver buckle and a reversible black and white strap.
Trayon Christian says that after he purchased the belt (but not before the store clerk required ID which he willingly gave) and he left the store that store security called the NYPD and said they suspected debit card fraud. Two undercover NYPD detectives stopped him near E. 60th St. and Christian says the cops said his debit card wasn’t real and that someone at Barneys called to report it. The detectives then asked to see ID, look in his bag, if he worked and where if he did.
He showed the cops school ID and driver’s license
He then says he was handcuffed and taken to the 19th Precinct stationhouse and he was detained in a holding cell for about two hours.
He then says at that point he was released with his debit card, his belt and an apology from the police.
A spokeswoman for the NYPD denied Christian was detained for two hours and said that he was brought into the precinct at 7:04 p.m. and was allowed to leave at 7:45 p.m. after it was determined that the card was authentic.
Christian is now suing Barney’s for discrimination.
In my humble opinion the dude should also sue the damn NYC police department for false detainment because after he was questioned on the street I think there was no credible reason to take him into custody. And I don’t care if it was for two hours in a holding cell, 40 minutes in an interrogation room chair or for one second on the precinct’s steps. The dude did nothing wrong. His supposed “crime” was being black and buying an expensive belt. $349 for a damn belt is sort of dumb in my estimation but it his money to spend as he wishes and the last time I checked buying stuff with your hard earned money was not illegal.
So as the NYDN says today in their lead editorial: “What happened to Trayon Christian cannot happen (anywhere). Barneys needs to accept that racial stereotyping went out of style with Jim Crow. And Commissioner Ray Kelly must examine why his officers failed to give Christian the benefit of the doubt.”
Amen to that!
9) In today’s edition of the Daily News a reporter asks the quintessential question “Fancy throwing your money straight down the toilet?”
It seems stupidity and downright decadence has been taken to an entirely new level as an Australian company has created a 22-karat gold three ply toilet paper, which sells for a staggering $1.3 million per roll.
The company, “Toilet Paper Man” got the idea to develop the extravagant butt wiper after using fully golden thrones in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
So far, just one roll, which has gold flakes running through and comes with a free bottle of champagne, has been made so far.
The company has yet to make a sale.
This is on a par with something I once saw many moons ago during a travel up into the upper Hudson River
area when I visited one of the Vanderbilt mansions. During a tour of the mansion we were shown one of the bedrooms… in fact if I recall correctly, it was old man Vanderbilt’s bedroom. The bedroom itself was so huge, both in width and height, that my entire house could fit inside the room. And that is not an exaggeration. But as we viewed the room a guide said to pay close attention to the wall paper and particularly notice the gold brocade. He then said that the brocade was not just the color of gold but that it was, in fact, 22 karat gold leaf.
I was stunned and stupefied and as we walked away I said to my friends that was the definition of true decadence.
And to this day I cannot comprehend having so much money that someone would transform it into 22 karat gold brocaded wallpaper… until today when someone has finally taken decadence to entirely new level: 22 karat gold paper for the ass(es).
10) In Sundays NY Daily News there was the article that highlighted the fact that to commemorate five decades in business the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 Years of Beautiful” would be on newsstand on October 22. Simply put it is a massive tome (300 pages) of every girl who’s ever appeared in a SI Swimsuit Issue.
So, I present for your perusal the following:
My job here is now done until next week…
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