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Saturday Art: The Muse of the Snowdragon

By: Elliott Saturday November 22, 2014 7:44 pm

Requiem of Ice

There’s an inspiring system of ice caves in the Sandy Glacier on the west face of Mount Hood in Oregon (waving to Suz here). In the past few years these caves have been spelunked, photographed and filmed:

This was a passion project for us inspired by a small thumbnail photograph I had seen in 2005 that showed a person in an extraordinary ice cave. With no information about where on Mt Hood it was or how to get there, it remained an elusive destination until last summer when Oregon Field Guide revealed the cave system in a comprehensive multimedia presentation. We saw a real opportunity and need to give a beautiful and cinematic treatment to the place and create the cave itself as a character.

This was a passion project for us inspired by a small thumbnail photograph I had seen in 2005 that showed a person in an extraordinary ice cave. With no information about where on Mt Hood it was or how to get there, it remained an elusive destination until last summer when Oregon Field Guide revealed the cave system in a comprehensive multimedia presentation. We saw a real opportunity and need to give a beautiful and cinematic treatment to the place and create the cave itself as a character.

I posted this because it’s beautiful and haunting. Here are a series of links for those who want to know more about the glacier and the snow caves, the making of this short film, as well as the project itself and text of the requiem; it’s surprising how much additional information is available at our fingertips.

From wiki:


Boston Bombing News: Throwing Fish Out or Convicting The Big Fish?

By: pbszebra Saturday November 22, 2014 7:36 pm

Most everyone knows the statuses of those accused in relation to the Boston Marathon Bombings, but if you’ve been living under a rock for the last several months, here’s a summary of how I see it:

Stephen Silva – Although Silva’s charges of  conspiracy to distribute heroin, distribution of heroin and possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number do not connect him to the Boston Marathon Bombings, he has been connected via my personal favorite reporter (serious facetiousness) Michele McPhee.  The title of this article simply reads, “Gun Used By Boston Bomber Linked to Alleged Heroin Dealer.”  Whether Silva’s gun truly is the same gun used by the Tsarnaevs, we have yet to know, but Silva is now knee-deep in the Boston Marathon Bombings.  Silva is being detained and awaits the start of his trial.  As far as I can tell (looking only at his docket) his trial date has not been set.  I wonder if prosecution will have Silva testify against Dzhokhar prior to any final decision in his own case?

Robel Phillipos – We all know Phillipos was convicted in October of two counts of making false statements in a terrorism investigation.  He now faces up to 16 years in prison and he is under house arrest until his sentencing, which is set for January 29th.  Of course, his case is waiting for the filing of post-verdict motions and defense appeals.  I wonder if prosecution will have Phillipos testify against Dzhokhar prior to any final decision in his own case?

Khairullozhon Matanov –  Matanov, similar to Phillipos, is accused of lying to investigators, or more precisely, making a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement in a federal investigation involving international and domestic terrorism.  In addition, destruction, alteration, and falsification of records, documents, and a tangible object in a federal investigation.  Is that anything like throwing fish overboard?  Matanov is being detained and awaiting his trial, which is predicted to start June, 2015.  Meanwhile, Matanov appears to be having a hard time in detention, having been beaten, finally moved and his old attorney assigned.  I wonder if prosecution will have Matanov testify against Dzhokhar prior to any final decision in his own case?

Azamat Tazhayakov – Yes, Tazhayakov was convicted back in July of obstructing a terrorism investigation.  And yes he testified in Phillipos’ trial, hoping to get a reduced sentence.  He faces up to 25 years in prison.  However, his case is at a stand still, having all hearings and deadlines cancelled pending resolution by the Supreme Court of Yates v. United States.  Once the Supreme Court decides whether or not a fish is a tangible object, I guess it will be decided whether a backpack is a tangible object as well.  I wonder if prosecution will have Tazhayakov testify against Dzhokhar prior to any final decision in his own case?

Dias Kadyrbayev – Kadyrbayev, also charged with obstructing a terrorism investigation, changed his plea to guilty after the conviction of his friend, Tazhayakov.  He, like Tazhayakov, faces up to 25 years in prison.  Kadyrbayev’s case is also on holding pending resolution by the Supreme Court of Yates v. United States.  One more time, I wonder if prosecution will have Kadyrbayev testify against Dzhokhar prior to any final decision in his own case?

All of these Tsarnaev acquaintances are waiting.  Are they all really waiting for Supreme Court decisions, or court date availability, or what?  Is it coincidence that these acquaintances’ outcomes are not finalized before the start of Dzhokhar’s trial?  Prosecution has already given Tazhayakov hope of a reduced sentence in exchange for testifying at the Phillipos trial.  Exactly what would prosecution hope to gain if they make such offers to Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov, Phillipos, Silva and Matanov for testifying against Dzhokhar?  If Dzhokhar is found guilty, I wonder what the sentences of his friends will be?  Do you think they will be minimal since the friends will have held up their part of the bargain?  Will they be “rewarded”?

The Inevitability of Democratic Dry-Doperism

By: patrick devlin Saturday November 22, 2014 12:42 pm

“It would be irresponsible for me as the chief law enforcement officer to take a position based on its popularity without thinking it would actually work” – Kamala Harris, candidate for California Attorney General, 2014

“I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana, there’s a certain inevitability about it.” – Kamala Harris, newly re-elected California Attorney General, 2014

“Be the change you want to see” – Gandhi

Well, it was inevitable.

That a sitting Democrat, even one from the avant state of California, would admit the obvious after running away from the obvious as she ran for re-election, and come clean, fess up, speak reality and stop with the timorous mealy-mouthery and calculated misrepresentation on cannabis legalization.

Freshly re-elected California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently told Californians that she made a craven choice to obfuscate as the silly season was unfolding – that she believes (a belief shared by about 99 percent of Americans, including the paid prohibitionist anti-cannabis propagandists Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Sabet) legal cannabis in her state and the country is “inevitable”.

What we also know by now, after four states and Washington DC have legalized recreational cannabis consumption, it is inevitable that modern elected Democrats will either hem and haw about their position on legalization or stake an outright (and untenable) prohibitionist stance against cannabis legalization and work to keep the substance illegal – ensuring the arrest of more minority Americans and the pain and suffering of many of their fellow citizens.

And, in this year’s California Attorney General’s race, Ms. Harris shown as a masterfully scheming dry-doper politician, segueing effortlessly from coy quips and chuckles to strongly worded finger-wagging morality plays (see above), ensuring both to-be-arrested young minority males and scared-as-shit suburban parents that she will not lend a hand to equal justice demanding Californians, claiming the tough law enforcement territory on legalized cannabis. In fact, Harris’s republican challenger, the wacky straw-dog candidate Ron Gold, actually took the medically responsible and certainly more rational, law enforcement cost saving and equal justice uplifting pro-cannabis legalization position in the race. It is understood that Gold didn’t stand a chance against Harris with his odd-ball Libertarian worldview, but, who can really argue with the statement; “It is common sense, reasonable and rational to change laws that have driven the market for marijuana into the hands of drug cartels and street gangs.” The answer…Kamala Harris.

Harris’s reaction to questions from the media regarding her challenger’s stance on cannabis legalization, (a very Obama like laugh-off when Harris said with a derisive guffaw, “He’s entitled to his opinion”) angered Californians who are serious about legalizing cannabis, driving some very liberal voters to support the republican from a standpoint of principle – voters who had never voted for a republican in their lives. Harris may have angered some hippies, but she certainly received the support of law enforcement in the 2014 election cycle. And, she didn’t have to admit that law enforcement unequally applies the laws prohibiting cannabis or explain to suburban mommies why she is hanging with those dirty hippies.

While Harris’s crass self-obsessive posturing, her effort to not anger law enforcement constituencies as she scans the horizon of her political career shooting for the stars (again, in a very Obama like fashion – the state senator who supported both cannabis decriminalization and the creation of a Palestinian state for reasons, looking back, that were purely political) may have made her forget the public that she has promised to serve, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsome (also newly re-elected) chose to insert cannabis legalization as a plank in his 2014 re-election campaign.

As cannabis legalization is forced by the will of the people in state after state and as medical researchers discover the usefulness of the substance after 80 years of the federal government’s suppression of medical research, we can expect to see more self-serving Democratic politicians sheepishly come to grips with Legal Cannabis America and reverse course on the subject.

This is not to suggest that these dry-doper Democrats will reverse course out of principle or personal integrity or compassion. This does not mean that these liars will admit that their clinging to cannabis prohibition (that is antithetical to both equal justice and scientific research) so as to be elected over and over again by both stoking and appealing to fears and bigotries in their constituencies that they once saw as a requirement for ‘tough on crime’ Democrats, was immoral and wrong and served to give tens of millions of young Americans arrest records and limit the quality of life of patients who have terminal diseases. They will admit that cannabis should be legal simply because their future political careers hang in the balance.

That’s not bravery and honesty; it is, rather, cowardice and narcissism.

cross posted at mLaw

Ferguson: Counterinsurgency Operation Underway

By: wendydavis Saturday November 22, 2014 11:34 am

This post is largely by way of Part II of the earlier ‘Tearing the Band-Aid Off’; the comment thread is long, interesting, but rather unwieldy.  If you require links, most I can dig up for you.

The degree to which the massive USian ‘security’ apparatus has been ginning up the idea that there will be riots in Ferguson once the Grand Jury considering three long months of ‘evidence’ and deciding on indictment or not, has indicated ‘not’ in so many ways.  The media and public figures continually try to cover the DA’s and Gov Jay Nixon’s backsides for their corrupt handling of the case, always forgetting that the police could have forced Darren Wilson to actually file a police report on his killing of Michael Brown, and simply with the evidence the public knows…to have arrested him and put him on trial.  Most juries acquit killer cops in any event, given that the bar of ‘fearing for my life, I killed him or her’ is so low.

Now given that 99% of the protestors have been engaging in peaceful protests, and that all violence to actual human beings has come from the police, sheriffs, and state patrol, the admonishments from Eric Holder, the Gov, the police, that protestors not be violent.  Oh, the hypocrisy of the President:

“This is a country that allows everybody to express their views. Allows them to peacefully assemble, to protest actions that they think are unjust,” the President told ABC News in an interview excerpt broadcast on Friday.

But using any event as an excuse for violence is contrary to rule of law and contrary to who we are.

Prosecutorial Discretion: Plenty for Me; But None for Thee

By: letsgetitdone Saturday November 22, 2014 10:20 am

Republican “strategists,” Party functionaries, and Congresspeople, are saying, with considerable emotion and rage, that the President’s Executive Order allowing undocumented immigrants goes beyond presidential authority under the Constitution in the areas of law enforcement and prosecutorial discretion, claiming that he must enforce the law without bias, in a manner consistent with his oath to uphold the Constitution. They’ve made similar claims in relation to his decision to delay for one year the requirement that employers with over 50 employees provide health care coverage or pay penalties, and have now gone to court to get relief from this “horrible” action relieving the financial burden on one of the Republicans supposed favorite constituencies, non-small businesses.

On the other hand, the President’s unwillingness to investigate, prosecute and seek convictions against:

“Barbaric Beyond Measure,” NY Times Editorial on Albert Woodfox’s Four Decades in Solitary Confinement

By: Angola 3 News Saturday November 22, 2014 9:23 am

Responding to the Nov. 20 ruling buy the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirming Albert Woodfox’s third overturned conviction, the New York Times has written a scathing editorial condemning the treatment of Albert Woodfox by the state of Louisiana.

In response to the Fifth Circuit ruling, Amnesty International and Amnesty USA have each released statements reiterating their longstanding call for Albert Woodfox’s immediate release.

We are still formulating our response to the ruling, so please check for the latest that you can do to support Albert. In the meantime, you can still sign Amnesty’s longstanding petition for Albert’s release.

Thanks to all the FDL readers that have supported the A3 in recent years!

Amnesty International and the A3 Coalition petition delivery at Louisiana State Capitol, April 17 2012

In last night’s editorial entitled “Four Decades of Solitary,” the NY Times wrote about Albert Woodfox:

The facts of the case were on his side: There was no physical evidence linking him or his co-defendant, Herman Wallace, to the murder, and prosecutors did not reveal that their main witness had been bribed to testify against the men. Mr. Woodfox, by all accounts, has been a model prisoner, and under Louisiana prison policy this should have earned him his exit from solitary confinement years ago…State officials insist their case is solid and have already said they intend to retry him, though the prison guard’s widow believes he is innocent of the killing and most of the potential witnesses in the case are dead.

Even comparatively brief solitary confinement can cause severe mental and emotional trauma; a United Nations expert has said that more than 15 days may amount to torture. When it is imposed for more than 40 years, it is barbaric beyond measure.

Read the full article here.

Amnesty International wrote:

A ruling by a federal appeals court in Louisiana yesterday affirming a decision by a lower court to overturn the conviction of Albert Woodfox, who has spent more than 40 years in isolation after a flawed murder trial, is a triumph for justice that comes decades late, said Amnesty International.“After more than 40 years of tirelessly pursuing justice through the courts, Albert Woodfox must now be given his freedom,” said Tessa Murphy, USA Campaigner at Amnesty International. “The state should no longer impede justice but stand aside and allow this decision to stand.”…

Like Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox has always denied any involvement in the crime and both said they were falsely implicated in the murder because of their political activism in prison as members of the Black Panther Party.

There was no physical evidence linking them to the crime and their convictions relied primarily on the dubious testimony of a sole eyewitness who received favourable treatment in prison in return for his testimony. The case against them was based on flawed evidence and riddled with procedural errors that have been extensively documented over the years.

Amnesty USA writes:

Yesterday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana affirmed a 2013 ruling overturning the conviction of Albert Woodfox of the ‘Angola 3.’ He is imprisoned for the second-degree murder of a prison guard in 1972, though he maintains his innocence. Amnesty International has raised serious human rights concerns over the case for many years and applauds this latest development– though it comes after decades of injustice.The state of Louisiana had immediately appealed the 2013 ruling, and Albert languished in solitary for nearly two years, until the appeals court’s decision, yesterday.

“Albert Woodfox has endured the unthinkable. For more than four decades he has survived in conditions the UN’s top expert on torture has said can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said Jasmine Heiss, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International USA. “The Fifth Circuit’s ruling in Albert’s favor only adds more weight to our call on the State of Louisiana to stop standing in the way of Albert Woodfox’s freedom. It is time for Albert Woodfox to walk free, and it is unconscionable to hold him for a single day longer.”

James Risen’s Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War – Book Salon Preview

By: Elliott Saturday November 22, 2014 8:16 am

Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War

Chat with James Risen about his new book. Hosted by Tim Shorrock, 5pm ET, 2pm PT.

War corrupts. Endless war corrupts absolutely.

Ever since 9/11 America has fought an endless war on terror, seeking enemies everywhere and never promising peace. In Pay Any Price, James Risen reveals an extraordinary litany of the hidden costs of that war: from squandered and stolen dollars, to outrageous abuses of power, to wars on normalcy, decency, and truth. In the name of fighting terrorism, our government has done things every bit as shameful as its historic wartime abuses — and until this book, it has worked very hard to cover them up.

Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. FDR authorized the internment of thousands of Japanese Americans. Presidents Bush and Obama now must face their own reckoning. Power corrupts, but it is endless war that corrupts absolutely.

James Risen is an investigative journalist with the New York Times, and author of the New York Times bestseller State of War, among other books. In 2006 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his stories about warrantless wiretapping by the NSA. In 2007 he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

James Risen – Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War on Terror , Crackdown on Whistleblowers

Saturday Art and Archaeology: Mayan Dynasty of Copán

By: Ruth Calvo Saturday November 22, 2014 5:55 am


Altar Q shows succession of kings of Copán

The Maya ceremonial center of Copán contains numerous accounts about the rulers who reigned over the many years it was home to the Mesoamerican royal family dominant in this part of the world.  Its many memorials and stelae as well as the writings on them tell us details about their history and legends.

We know that the reign of a particular house was established by the many depictions of succession, like Altar Q showing the passing of the baton from early rulers to the king who had the altar built, Yax Pasaj Chan Yopaat, the 16th ruler. While the stories of the rulers are laid out in the hieroglyphic stairway at Copán, a few stand out in its history. The city had been important but little is known about the ruling house before it returned from obscurity, not well interpreted from early writings, and was re-established in A.D. 426.

The city was refounded by K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’, establishing it as the capital of a new Maya kingdom.[2] This coup was apparently organized and launched from Tikal. Texts record the arrival of a warrior named K’uk’ Mo’ Ajaw who was installed upon the throne of the city in AD 426 and given a new royal name, K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’ and the ochk’in kaloomte ”Lord of the West” title used a generation earlier by Siyaj K’ak’, a general from the great metropolis of Teotihuacan who had decisively intervened in the politics of the central Petén.[23] K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’ was probably from Tikal and was likely to have been sponsored by Siyaj Chan K’awill II, the 16th ruler in the dynastic succession of Tikal. K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’ may have legitimized his claim to rulership by marrying into the old Copán royal family, evidenced from the remains of his presumed widow. Bone analysis of her remains indicates that she was local to Copán.[24] After the establishment of the new kingdom of Copán, the city remained closely allied with Tikal.[25]The hieroglyphic text on Copán Altar Q describes the lord being elevated to kingship with the receipt of his royal scepter. The ceremonies involved in the founding of the Copán dynasty also included the installation of a subordinate king at Quiriguá.[26]

Probably the best known because of his disastrous end is Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil. His decapitation at the hands of one he had appointed as a member of his court, K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Yopaat, showed the passing of the reign into another capital, Quiriguá.

Although the exact details are unknown, in April 738 K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Yopaat captured Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil and burned two of Copán’s patron deities. Six days later Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil was decapitated in Quiriguá.[44] This coup does not seem to have physically affected either Copán or Quiriguá; there is no evidence that either city was attacked at this time and the victor seems not to have received any detectable tribute.[45] All of this seems to imply that K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Yopaat managed to somehow ambush Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil, rather than to have defeated him in outright battle. It has been suggested that Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil was attempting to attack another site to secure captives for sacrifice in order to dedicate the new ballcourt when he was ambushed by K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Yopaat and his Quiriguá warriors.[46] In the Late Classic, alliance with Calakmul was frequently associated with the promise of military support. The fact that Copán, a much more powerful city than Quiriguá, failed to retaliate against its former vassal implies that it feared the military intervention of Calakmul. Calakmul was far enough away from Quiriguá that K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Yopaat was not afraid of falling directly under its power as a full vassal state, even though it is likely that Calakmul sent warriors to help in the defeat of Copán. The alliance instead seems to have been one of mutual advantage: Calakmul managed to weaken a powerful ally of Tikal while Quiriguá gained its independence.[47] The disaster for Copán had long-lasting consequences; major construction ceased and no new monuments were raised for the next 17 years.[48]

The reign returned to Copán later, and continued on until what shows to have become a less prosperous time when the strain on the countryside of retaining its powerful in splendor appears to have offset its riches.  That is when throughout the area, and Mesoamerica in general, the Maya ceremonial centers began to be drained of the influence and central rule they had enjoyed. The complete account of ruling elites at Copán is contained, and has been interpreted from, the Heiroglyphic Staircase there as well as on the monuments to rulers who succeeded their earlier kings, and built onto the structure that had been modified by those earlier royal heirs. The story is long and elaborate, and shows the motivation behind the many sculptures and writings of legitimizing each ruler in turn.

(Picture below courtesy of Michael Swigart at

Hieroglyphic Staircase tells history of rulers at Copán, Stela M (K’ak’ Yipyaj Chan K’awiil.) in front of staircase

Stela A, in field of Stela at Copán, erected by Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil in 731 AD

Stela A places Uaxaclajuun Ub’aah K’awiil ‘s rulership among the four most powerful kingdoms in the Maya region, alongside Palenque, Tikal and Calakmul.[18]