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Delay in Revenue Transfer Makes Wisconsin Budget Balance Appear Larger

By: WI Budget Project Tuesday October 21, 2014 6:48 am

A close look at Wisconsin’s annual fiscal report released last week reveals that state officials delayed a $27.5 million transfer, which made the budget balance larger than it otherwise would have been at the end of fiscal year 2013-14. However, that’s a cosmetic and deceptive improvement in the budget balance, since the payment will still be made during the current biennium. And because the Department of Administration (DOA) report buries mention of the delay in a footnote, that document presents a somewhat misleading picture of the difficulty of avoiding a budget shortfall in the current fiscal year.

According to the DOA’s fiscal report released on Oct. 15, the General Fund balance at the end of the last fiscal year was about $517 million, which was $207.5 million lower than what state lawmakers were anticipating when they passed a tax cut bill early this year. But when one accounts for a delayed transfer of $27.5 million from the General Fund to the Transportation Fund, the drop-off in the state’s fiscal health is $233 million.

Thanks to the latest round of tax cuts, net appropriations for the current fiscal year exceed the budgeted revenue level by $569 million, and lawmakers had expected that difference to reduce the net balance to only $100 million at the end of the biennium. But that was before tax collections fell $281 million short of projections in FY 2014 and before the balance at the end of that fiscal year fell by $233 million. Those developments mean that the budget could be well in the red in the second half of this biennium, necessitating a budget repair bill early next year – if spending isn’t substantially below the appropriated level and revenue doesn’t surge.

The hopes for avoiding a budget repair bill would have been buoyed if the spending numbers for 2013-14 had been far below the budgeted level, and some lawmakers contend that’s what the annual fiscal report suggests. At first blush, that report appears to indicate that net spending – including lapses and transfers – was $68 million less than budgeted in 2013-14; however, after accounting for the delayed transfer, the net drop in spending is $42.6 million. That’s a start, but doesn’t make much of a dent in the potential revenue shortfall, especially since most of the reduction in spending comes from short-term lapses.

When I first reviewed the DOA document, I missed the footnote about the delayed transfer, and I later read about it in a blog post on Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse. Jake’s blog post goes on to make the case that the newest numbers suggest that the shortfall in the current biennium could exceed $400 million. (Of course, estimates of the shortfall will change as new revenue projections become available.)

The timing of the transfer to the Transportation Fund makes no substantive difference in the state’s fiscal health, but understanding how that timing compares to the previously assumed timetable does make a significant difference in accurately gauging how actual spending and reserves compared to the budgeted levels.

Failing to clearly reveal the delay in the annual fiscal report makes the state’s fiscal picture appear to be stronger than it really is. That omission obscures the transparency of an important fiscal document.

From www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org.

 

Over Easy: The AN/ARC-5 Command Radio Set

By: cmaukonen Tuesday October 21, 2014 4:55 am

An-ARC-5 Receivers

Designed and built initially by Aircraft Radio Corporation of Boonton, NJ. Most all ARC-5 radio sets were made by Aircraft Radio Corporation as well as Stromberg-Carlson, Bendex and others. It is estimated that there were over a million units total manufactured for WWII aircraft use. The consisted of the ARC-5 receivers and transmitters and covered the frequencies of 190 KHZ to 550 KHZ,  530 KHZ-15. MHZ for radio navigation. And 1.5-3.0 MHZ, 3.0-6.0MHZ and 6.0-9.1 MHZ for communication – mostly aircraft to aircraft. All the Navy and Army Air Corp aircraft had them installed. Especially the Flying Fortresses – B17, B29 etc. But even the small er fighters had them installed. They were THE radio for aircraft communication during WWII.

They were single band units that were small and light weight. Almost completely aluminium except for certain precision parts.  Easy to tune and operate they could also be operated remotely. The receiver had 2 RF amplification stages and 2 IF amplification and could receive both AM and CW [ Continuous Wave Morse Code]. The transmitter could send both AM voice and was as CW mores code. On a good day and all tuned up the transmitter could put out up 50 Watts of CW signal. Not bad for a rig not much bigger than a lunch box.

And the receiver was fairly sensitive with smooth accurate tuning and both could be locked down so the radio man or pilot could not change frequency when set by the technicians on the ground.  Both units used the tubes of the day. Metal octal base tubes which were fairly large. The transmitter using 1625 tubes designed by RCA specifically for the purpose.

They were still in production and use into the early 1950s.

Aircraft Radio Corporation was eventually bought by Cessna Aircraft specially to make radios and other avionics for them and continued well into the 1970s.

But the little ARC-5 did not stop there. After the war was over they began to show up on the surplus electronic market and Ham Radio operators bought them up by the truck loads. There began to be articles in the various radio magazines for conversion to Ham Radio frequency bans. Books published both here and in Europe and Great Briton. How to use them as add ons and accessories to other radio equipment. How to make the transmitter crystal controlled so they would be legal for a Novice Class Ham Radio operator to use.

One of the favorite uses for the radio navigation LF receivers was as a Q5er

The low frequeney BC 453 had sharp 85kHz IF’s and was used to sharpen up many a receiver by extracting the 455 kHz signal from the HF receiver and inserting it into the Q5er’s front end.

Giving that old pre WWII commercial receiver a real boost. And the best part was that they were cheap. You could if you looked around hard enough pick up a complete AR-5 set for as little as 5 bucks. Still a lot in the 1950s for a young Ham Radio operator but much less than a new or even used commercial unit.

But times changed. In the mid 1950s the military converted from AM voice to Single Sideband Voice or SSB for short. And Hams followed suit.  The big Boatanchor separate receivers and transmitters went out of favor along with their accessories. Small transceivers were what was wanted and the ARC-5 fell out of favor.  Miniature tubes and then transistors became the rage. Small table top all in one units.

You can still find – even new in the box – ARC-5s on ebay and even swap feasts. There are those who like to collect them and restore them to their original condition. And they still have something going for them. The receiver and transmitter tuning used a worm gear coupling and drive mechanism  which gives them a nice smooth and precise tuning you could only find in very high end gear of the time.  And they are very easy to work on as all the units use the same or similar parts through out.

Here is a demo of one of these little guys.

Not bad for a 70+ year old set, eh. So what’s on your mind Firedogs ? Anything goes here.

U.S. v Tsarnaev: 8th Status Conference

By: jane24 Monday October 20, 2014 4:38 pm

Note for Regular Readers of the “Boston Bombing News”:

Today’s hearing was very brief. (All of fifteen minutes.) For this reason, my report on today’s proceedings  is equally brief and not worthy of the “BBN” prefix! pbszebra is ready to follow woodybox with something far more substantial but I have decided to post my, (short), report on today’s proceedings for anyone who would like a little more information than has been provided by the media tweets.

Status Conference:

The  8th. Status Conference in the case of US v Dzhokhar Tsarnaev took place at 10.00 am today, in Courtroom 9, at Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston with Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. presiding. Nadine Pelligrini, William Weinreb, Aloke Chakraverty and Donald Cabell were present today for the prosecution and Judy Clarke, David Bruck and William Fick for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense.

Judge O’Toole opened today’s proceedings by saying that he expected them to be brief which proved to be absolutely correct. He  went on to say that he considered a mid-month status conference in November to be a better idea than the date suggested  in the Joint Status Conference Report. (Doc 605.)

http://thebostonmarathonbombings.weebly.com/uploads/2/4/2/6/24264849/joint_status.pdf
(Thanks TBMB.)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s next status conference is now scheduled for Wednesday, 12th. November at 10.00 am. The Final Pretrial Conference remains scheduled for Thursday, 18th. December at 10.oo am.

The next item for discussion was the most recent Status Report, (again, Doc.605), and, most particularly, both witness and exhibit lists. The government is expected to provide “short-lists” on both witnesses and exhibits on 12/15/14 and final lists on 12/29/14. As tweeted by Milton Valencia: “Lawyers tell judge they’re going over discovery: He responds, “to the extent you’re engaged in negotiations, I’m happy to let you do that.” Judge O’Toole remarked that should “an impasse be reached”, such would then be resolved at the 11/12 status conference.

The topic of jury selection was next on the agenda and we learned from the judge that approximately one thousand potential jurors will be summoned, with, as the judge put it, “an expected yield of ten percent.” The process of jury selection may not actually begin until 6th. January, 2015, a day after the official start of the trial.

The final matter Judge O’Toole chose to mention today was what he referred to as a “housekeeping error.” This “error” apparently concerns the defense Motion to Suppress in regards to statements Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly made to the FBI, whilst at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, a very short time after his capture/arrest. The court records show that this motion is “pending”, when in actual fact, the judge denied this motion, “without prejudice”, sometime previously. (The prosecution has indicated that they do not intend to use these alleged statements at trial, but should this change, the defense would then be permitted to readdress their motion.)

At the very end of today’s proceedings, William Fick addressed the judge to inform him of a certain article published in “Newsweek” magazine. (This article was, of course, Michele McPhee’s ” Family Matters: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev & the Women in His Life/Twisted Sisters”, although neither the title nor the writer were mentioned in court today.) For me the most telling statement of the morning was when William Fick said that this article suggested input from a “high level law enforcement source.” Judge O’Toole said that he was not aware of this article but asked the prosecution what they knew. William Weinreb acknowledged that the prosecution were aware. Barely fifteen minutes after this status conference began, it was concluded.

Additional Notes:

The first thing which became apparent upon my arrival at the courthouse today was  the particularly numerous and prominent presence of law enforcement, both outside and inside the courthouse.

Also apparent was a small group of protesters/supporters, organized, I understand, by Elena Teyer, the former mother-in-law of Ibragim Todashev, who was shot to death by the FBI during an interrogation, at his home, in May of 2013. This lady certainly seems to have lent the protest/show of support some credibility and if some of the comments I overheard were anything to go by, these people achieved at least some measure of that which they sought.

As far as I am aware, no victims/survivors of the bombing were in attendance today.

Although, as I have mentioned in the last paragraph of my main article, no mention was made of the title or writer of the “Newsweek” article referenced in court today, that writer was present in the courtroom today.

Lastly, it was very pleasant to sit amongst, and in a couple of cases, meet, albeit briefly, others whose thoughts on these cases may be similar to mine. Thank you.

On Killing Trayvons

By: David Swanson Monday October 20, 2014 2:15 pm

This Wednesday is a day of action that some are calling a national day of action against police brutality, with others adding “and mass incarceration,” and I’d like to add “and war” and make it global rather than national. This Tuesday, the Governor of Pennsylvania is expected to sign a bill that will silence prisoners’ speech, and people are pushing back. A movement is coalescing around reforming police procedures and taking away their military weapons. And a powerful book has just been published called Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence.

Saving Trayvon Martin would have required systemic reforms or cultural reforms beyond putting cameras on police officers. This young man walking back from a store with candy was spotted by an armed man in an SUV who got out of his vehicle to pursue Trayvon despite having been told not to when he called the police. George Zimmerman was not a police officer, though he wanted to be one. He’d lost a job as a security guard for being too aggressive. He’d been arrested for battery on a police officer. He had left Manassas, Va., and its climate of hatred for Latinos in which he participated, for Florida, where he was a one-man volunteer neighborhood watch group in a gated neighborhood. He’d phoned the police on 46 previous occasions. He apparently expressed his contempt for Trayvon Martin in racist terms. When the police arrived, they let Zimmerman ride in the front seat (no handcuffs, of course) and never tested him for drugs, testing instead the dead black boy he’d murdered. When public outrage finally put Zimmerman on trial, his defense displayed a photo of a white woman living in the neighborhood who had nothing to do with the incident but who was used to represent what Zimmerman had been “defending.” He was found innocent.

Killing Trayvons is a rich anthology, including police records, trial transcripts, statements by President Obama, accounts of numerous similar cases, essays, poetry, and history and analysis of how we got here . . .  and how we might get the hell out of here.

Recently I was playing a game with my little boy that must have looked to any observer like I was secretly spying on people.

When Solartopia Transcends King CONG (with new poster)

By: solartopia Monday October 20, 2014 10:17 am

at ecowatch.com

When Solartopia Transcends King CONG
Harvey Wasserman

See new poster at EcoWatch.com

A green-powered future is our only hope.

A planet run by King CONG—Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas—cannot be sustained.

But to get beyond it, our Solartopian vision must embrace more than just a technological transformation.  It also demands social, political and spiritual transcendence.

From Fukushima to global warming, from fracking to the Gulf disaster(s), it’s clear the fossil/nuclear industry is hard-wired to kill us all. Its only motivating force is profit; our biological survival has no part in the equation.

Thankfully, renewable energy has achieved technological critical mass. Green power is cheaper, cleaner, safer, more reliable, more job-producing and more secure. Despite a furious fossil/nuke push-back, the multi-trillion-dollar transition to a green-powered economy is well underway. Photovoltaic cells alone will be the biggest industry in human history.

Likewise, our food supply cannot be sustained with chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, monoculture, industrial meat and genetic modification. The switch to organic, sustainable agriculture is essential to our survival

But this vital transformation in food and energy will not happen in a vacuum. We can prove the economic, ecological and public health rationale for a Solartopian transition.

But we can’t win without a cultural and political transformation.

That starts with the empowerment of women. Nature-based societies are matriarchal. And only when women are guaranteed equal education, pay and control of their reproductive rights will the human population come into balance with the planet’s ability to support us.

We must also cure the corporate virus that’s killing us all. Our economic and political system is being devoured by a Frankenstein monster whose only imperative is to make money. It claims human rights but has no human or ecological responsibilities. Until the engines of our economy are made accountable to us and the planet, we have no chance of survival.

The corporate monster’s primary assault mechanism is war, the continual slaughter of humans and the Earth. War’s only predictable long-term outcome is massive corporate profit and a destroyed planet. It is the ultimate divide-and-conquer strategy of a terminal cancer.

Sustaining our life also means all humans must be fed (which can be done globally at a fraction the cost of war), housed, clothed, educated and healthy. Without social justice, Solartopia is a meaningless dream.

And there’s only one way to get there—with true democracy, which cannot be had while corporations own and operate our government. Big money must be banned from our elections, which can only happen with universal voter registration and hand-counted paper ballots.

We also need a neutral internet, free of corporate control, a global nervous system by which our evolving consciousness can freely communicate.

As a species we can count great strides in cultural awareness and social ecology. But in the material world we run a dead heat with mutant fossil/nuke technologies and the vampire corporations now draining the life out of us and our planet.

In the long run, our human survival instinct must transcend the corporate profit motive.

There are those who say it’s hopeless, and that the battle is already lost.

But for the rest of us, for our kids and grandkids, not to mention our own good times, let’s just say we’ll see you in Solartopia …

Was the story about Mike Brown’s blood in Darren Wilson’s vehicle selectively leaked

By: Masoninblue Monday October 20, 2014 10:04 am

Cross posted from the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

Monday, October 20, 2014

Good morning:

Questions surfaced yesterday regarding the sources of the New York Times article on Saturday that has been used to portray Mike Brown as the aggressor in his encounter with Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department. I wrote about the article, Michael Brown’s blood found on officer’s gun, uniform and interior panel of driver’s door.

I suspect the tip about Mike Brown’s blood may be true, however, I think it is a good example of selective leaking motivated by a desire to portray Mike Brown as the aggressor and discredit Dorian Johnson’s statement about the shooting. Johnson was with Brown when the encounter with the officer occurred. The sources want people to believe that Mike Brown was going for the officer’s gun.

As I pointed out yesterday, however, even if this information is true, it is consistent with Dorian Johnson’s statement that Wilson grabbed Mike Brown’s arm through the open window, pulled him to pin him against the door, drew his gun and shot him in the arm during the ensuing struggle.

Not only is the forensic evidence consistent with Dorian Johnson’s statement, it does not address the fundamental issue in the case; namely, did Darren Wilson shoot and kill Mike Brown after he stopped fleeing, turned around and raised his hands in the universally understood gesture of surrender?

Nevertheless, that did not stop the right-wing-message-machine from claiming that the forensic evidence proves Mike Brown was the aggressor and exculpates Darren Wilson.

The sources of information referenced in the article are not identified, except for this statement in the first paragraph, “according to government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the matter.”

The second paragraph refers to “forensic tests conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

The eighth paragraph states that, “the account of Officer Wilson’s version of events did not come from the Ferguson Police Department or from officials whose activities are being investigated as part of the civil rights inquiry.”

Sometimes, you have to look at what is not said in order to discern the truth.

What was not said is whether the unnamed officials may be biased by virtue of relationship or continued employment by the “officials whose activities are being investigated as part of the civil rights inquiry.”

Given the absence of awareness that the forensic evidence is consistent with Dorian Johnson’s statement, I think we are seeing an example of selective leaking motivated by a desire to influence public opinion by portraying Darren Wilson as the victim.

I suspect the leak was planned and is a good example of what the grand jury is being told and how it will be manipulated to conclude that Darren Wilson should not be charged with a crime.

No indictment would be a crime because none of the eyewitness statements can be reasonably interpreted to support a conclusion that Officer Darren Wilson was in imminent danger of death or serious injury when he fired the fatal shots.

We continue to wait for justice in Ferguson and we are losing patience.

Laura Poitras and Tom Engelhardt: The Snowden Reboot

By: Tom Engelhardt Monday October 20, 2014 7:33 am

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

 

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Call me moved. I recently went to the premiere of Citizenfour, Laura Poitras's engrossing new film on Edward Snowden, at the New York Film Festival. The breaking news at film's end: as speculation had it this summer, there is indeed at least one new, post-Snowden whistleblower who has come forward from somewhere inside the U.S. intelligence world with information about a watchlist (that includes Poitras) with "more than 1.2 million names" on it and on the American drone assassination program.

Here's what moved me, however. My new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World, ends with a "Letter to an Unknown Whistleblower," whose first lines are: "I don't know who you are or what you do or how old you may be. I just know that you exist somewhere in our future as surely as does tomorrow or next year... And how exactly do I know this? Because despite our striking inability to predict the future, it’s a no-brainer that the national security state is already building you into its labyrinthine systems.” And now, of course, such a whistleblower is officially here and no matter how fiercely the government may set out after whistleblowers, there will be more. It’s unstoppable, in part thanks to figures like Poitras, who is the subject of today’s TomDispatch interview. Tom]

Laura Poitras

Edward Snowden and the Golden Age of Spying
A TomDispatch Interview With Laura Poitras

Here’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! stat from our new age of national security. How many Americans have security clearances? The answer: 5.1 million, a figure that reflects the explosive growth of the national security state in the post-9/11 era. Imagine the kind of system needed just to vet that many people for access to our secret world (to the tune of billions of dollars). We’re talking here about the total population of Norway and significantly more people than you can find in Costa Rica, Ireland, or New Zealand. And yet it’s only about 1.6% of the American population, while on ever more matters, the unvetted 98.4% of us are meant to be left in the dark.

For our own safety, of course. That goes without saying.

All of this offers a new definition of democracy in which we, the people, are to know only what the national security state cares to tell us.  Under this system, ignorance is the necessary, legally enforced prerequisite for feeling protected.  In this sense, it is telling that the only crime for which those inside the national security state can be held accountable in post-9/11 Washington is not potential perjury before Congress, or the destruction of evidence of a crime, or torture, or kidnapping, or assassination, or the deaths of prisoners in an extralegal prison system, but whistleblowing; that is, telling the American people something about what their government is actually doing.  And that crime, and only that crime, has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law (and beyond) with a vigor unmatched in American history.  To offer a single example, the only American to go to jail for the CIA’s Bush-era torture program was John Kiriakou, a CIA whistleblower who revealed the name of an agent involved in the program to a reporter.

In these years, as power drained from Congress, an increasingly imperial White House has launched various wars (redefined by its lawyers as anything but), as well as a global assassination campaign in which the White House has its own “kill list” and the president himself decides on global hits.  Then, without regard for national sovereignty or the fact that someone is an American citizen (and upon the secret invocation of legal mumbo-jumbo), the drones are sent off to do the necessary killing.

And yet that doesn’t mean that we, the people, know nothing.  Against increasing odds, there has been some fine reporting in the mainstream media by the likes of James Risen and Barton Gellman on the security state’s post-legal activities and above all, despite the Obama administration’s regular use of the World War I era Espionage Act, whistleblowers have stepped forward from within the government to offer us sometimes staggering amounts of information about the system that has been set up in our name but without our knowledge.

Mr. Obama, Tear Down This Wall!

By: patrick devlin Monday October 20, 2014 5:38 am

Over the past months the national media have stumbled upon the fact that the Great American Prohibition of cannabis has some pretty nasty consequences for regular ‘folks’, as the president likes to refer to us. Perhaps you have followed the stories of the knowing and on-going aggressive application of our nation’s antiquated and unjustly applied local, state and federal laws regarding cannabis.

The national press has reported on how the war on cannabis harms our sick citizens. There has been sympathetic reportage of the plight of families who have become medical refugees, forced to up-root their lives and other parents who have chosen to break the law so their suffering children can get the medical treatment they need in America.

There have been stories about patients who, because they work for institutions that receive federal funding, have to choose between being employed and using medicine. And the press commendably understands the nature of the disturbing threat of our Veteran’s Administration to refuse medical care to veterans who use cannabis to treat their battle injuries and symptoms of post-war-fighting-stress.

Also of note, a stream of reports of grossly overzealous actions against cannabis criminals that seem to be more acts of police force enrichment than acts of public safety enforcement.

In bizarro America, as even the milquetoasty left media are finally reporting on the failure that is our disastrous war on drugs and how it has been based upon years of self-serving lies, amped up local coppers, go-getter prosecutors, an amalgam of frenzied state and federal agencies, rigor mortis judges and even private gun-wielding helicopter anti-cannabis posses are still hunting prey as our dry-doper politicos duck their heads and kick the cannabis can down the road until they are safely retired.

I know that the ‘we got to respect law enforcement’ crowd pulls out the ol’ “well, it’s still illegal, ain’t it?” dodge when the press reports on aggressive enforcement actions taken by politically motivated prosecutors and bigoted officers to justify prosecuting small time cannabis users – so I want to remind that police and prosecutors are never required to take the most aggressive action allowed under the law and are given tremendous leeway to make prosecutorial decisions. End-of-cannabis-prohibition arrests and ambiguities really don’t need to happen.

An example of this capacity to apply discretion is contained in the letter that the Department of Justice sent to all US Attorneys in 2009 advising that they should make “efficient and rational use of (the Department’s) limited investigative and prosecutorial resources” and should use their “plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters” in situations involving cannabis, reminding US attorneys that they are “invested by statute and delegation from the Attorney General with the broadest discretion” in the exercise of their authority.

That makes sense to most Americans, but our cowardly federal politicians still hide behind deceptively deployed medical research and the intentionally stoked fears of propagandized voters to take no action on the federal legalization of recreational and medical cannabis.

We are put by self-interested politicians in a position of having to live in an America with a barrier that has been erected to support the failed war against cannabis – a barrier that separates us from one another.

We know, for example, that political inaction on cannabis legalization has created a permanently stigmatized class in our country – 600,000 cannabis arrestees or more added every year. 18 million of our fellow citizens over the course 30 years, the vast majority of whom are African and Latino Americans. This is only one way the war against cannabis harms all of us.

In our attempts to end this fixable travesty we are stymied by self-serving politicos who are fearful of angering constituencies, and who must, therefore, ‘evolve’ on the issue before taking the logical, compassionate and equality enhancing step of legalizing cannabis.

We all know of the unfair application of justice now.

We all know that the sick can be treated using cannabis today.

As long as this war against cannabis exists, as long as this barrier of political inaction is permitted to stand, it is not only the casualties of the war; patients, young African and Latino Americans, our students – our brethren, who are consigned to lives marked by unfairness and suffering, but it is all Americans, at least all Americans who care.

We are barricaded from stepping together hopefully into post-prohibition America.

Mr. Obama, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity, if you seek liberalization, consider this barrier.

Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!