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Octafish's Journal
Octafish's Journal
October 1, 2015

Faith-Based Goldbricking

Now that's what I'm talking about!

Was Pope Francis Actually Swindled into Meeting Kim Davis?

The Papal chase: WTF edition.

by Charles P. Pierce
Esquire, Oct. 1, 2015


The man is a real player within the institutional church. He first came to prominence as a whistleblower during one of the several investigations of the Vatican Bank, which may be what got him exiled to this godless Republic in the first place. Despite that fact, Vigano is well-known to be a Ratzinger loyalist and he always has been a cultural conservative, particularly on the issue of marriage equality. In April, in a move that was unprecedented, Vigano got involved with an anti-marriage equality march in Washington sponsored by the National Association For Marriage. (And, mirabile dictu, as we say around Castel Gandolfo at happy hour, one of the speakers at this rally was Mat Staver, who happens now to be Kim Davis's lawyer.) In short, Vigano, a Ratzinger loyalist, who has been conspicuous and publicly involved in the same cause as Kim Davis and her legal team, arranges a meeting with Davis that the legal team uses to its great public advantage. Once again paraphrasing New Orleans lawyer Lamar Parmentel from The Big Easy, the Vatican is a marvelous environment for coincidence.

(Also, I have been remiss in not mentioning that, because of the way John Paul II larded the cardinalate with conservatives, the pope was surrounded by conservative American clerics, including his host in Philadelphia, Charles Cardinal Chaput, who's really something of a dog's breakfast. While presiding in Denver, Chaput led the movement to deny communion to pro-choice American politicians. And, after this pope met with survivors of sexual abuse in Philadelphia, Chaput reached deeply into the Corporate Works Of Mercy to declare, "In some ways, we should get over this wanting to go back and blame, blame, blame. The church is happy to accept its responsibility, but I'm really quite tired of people making unjust accusations against people who are not to be blamed—and that happens sometimes." What a guy! As a pastor, Chaput would make a terrific collection agent.)

Ratzinger's fingerprints are all over this story. Vigano is a Benedict loyalist. Robert Moynihan, whose newsletter, Inside The Vatican, got the story first, is an actual lifelong Ratzinger protégé. And the Vatican press office acted just the way I'd want it to act, if I were the guy setting this up. First, it issues a silly non-denial denial, and then it merely confirms that the meeting occurred. At which point, the office clams up, leaving the story festering out there in the news cycle, and leaving the pope out there in the American culture war to twist in the wind. And, if this scenario is in any way accurate, it had its desired effect. The impact of what the pope actually said and did in America has been fairly well ratfcked.

Of course, this speculation depends vitally on the proposition that Papa Francesco didn't know who Kim Davis was, or anything about her current public display of faith-based goldbricking. I don't find that so very hard to believe; for all the attention it's gotten over here, it's not an international story of any consequence. (Whether he should have known about it, or have been briefed about it beforehand, is another matter entirely, as Dan Savage pointed out on Chris Hayes's program Wednesday night.) And, it can be argued, I guess, that I'm engaging in apologetics here. But the whole thing is just a little too hinky, and I know too well how these birds operate. They've had millennia to get really good at it.

SOURCE (W/LINKS): http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a38440/pope-francis-swindled-kim-davis-meeting/

Gee. That article looks familiar.

Thank you, mulsh. That is an outstanding read, usual form for Charlie Pierce.
October 1, 2015

Yeah. He came all the way to the USA to talk to Fox News' favorite former Democrat.

The PR Guru Behind the Pope Who Is Charming the World

by Katie Engelhart
Vice.com, November 21, 2013


Far and wide, observers speak of a “Francis Effect”.

But every modern-day media darling needs a PR machine, and Pope Francis is no exception. Enter Greg Burke: the 53-year-old Fox News correspondent turned Holy See handler (officially, Senior Communications Advisor to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State) who is quietly changing the way things are done in Vatican City.

To some, Burke may have seemed an unlikely candidate for papal spin-doctor. He’s a layman without PR experience: a cheery American with a penchant for sports analogies. He’s also a member of the controversial Catholic order Opus Dei: a traditionalist and a celibate whose spiritual practice reportedly involves self-flagellation. But after a year and a half on the job, Burke is credited with helping to open up and rejuvenate the Holy See. Of course, Burke would say it’s all Francis’s doing. “I’m going to kick the ball to the Pope,” Burke explained at a recent lecture in London. “I mean, the Pope scores goals, you know? The Pope scores goals for us... The people are just eating this stuff up.”


Flash back a few years to the reign of Pope Benedict XVI: The Catholic Church was awash in scandal. In 2006, Benedict gave his now infamous “Regensburg lecture”, in which he quoted a brutal critique of Islam and irked Muslims the world over. Three years later, he left many aghast with his decision to reverse the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop. In 2010, the Church was slammed with a new wave of paedophilia allegations – and then the Vatican Bank controversy, and then “Vatilieaks”. Added to all that, the people didn’t seem to take much to Pope Benedict. “Benedict doesn’t smile,” a young Italian woman working at a tourist shop by St Peter’s Square told me earlier this year. “He is too much German!”

In June 2012, the Vatican poached Greg Burke – then a Rome-based reporter for Fox News. Burke’s job would be to manage “communications issues” and to integrate the Vatican’s many media organs, explained a Vatican official. Burke himself said he was hired “to formulate the message and try to make sure everyone remains on message”.

“I know what journalists are looking for and what they need,” Burke told reporters, “and I know how things will play out in the media.”



Nothing like PR skills, huh, Arugula Latte?
September 30, 2015

Amazing how fast all that good went down the drain.

Pope Francis addressed Congress and got matters of war and peace, capital and income inequality, and global warming and protecting the planet on the agenda. Suddenly, that's forgotten. I can't believe the Pope would sacrifice all that to meet with a person who has come to symbolize official bigotry.

Something else in the story rings hollow: The reporter on the plane echoed the language used by the Archbishop:

Terry Moran, ABC News: Holy Father, thank you, thank you very much and thank you to the Vatican staff as well. Holy Father, you visited the Little Sisters of the Poor and we were told that you wanted to show your support for them and their case in the courts. And, Holy Father, do you also support those individuals, including government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience, their own personal conscience, abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example in issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples? Do you support those kinds of claims of religious liberty?

Pope Francis: I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscientious objection. But, yes, I can say conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying 'this right that has merit, this one does not.' It (conscientious objection) is a human right. It always moved me when I read, and I read it many times, when I read the Chancon Roland, when the people were all in line and before them was the baptismal font – the baptismal font or the sword. And, they had to choose. They weren’t permitted conscientious objection. It is a right and if we want to make peace we have to respect all rights.

(Editor’s note: He’s referring to provencal poem: Song of Roland in which Crusaders forced Muslims to choose between being baptized or being killed by the sword. The Pope says they were not allowed to choose conscientious objection)

Terry Moran, ABC News: Would that include government officials as well?

Pope Francis: It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.

SOURCE: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-transcript-of-pope-francis-inflight-interview-from-philadelphia-to-rome-60499/

What the lawyer Staver stated:

Staver also pointed out that the pope mentioned freedom of conscience during his speech to Congress, although even the most direct reference to that subject was opaque: “A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom, and individual freedoms,” the pope said.


And what the Archbishop of Kentucky stated:

Joseph Kurtz, the archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wouldn’t comment on the meeting itself and how it came about, noting that he stayed about a mile away from the nunciature where Pope Francis stayed during his visit to D.C. But “I can comment on the fact that in Kentucky, I had said that I’m not a lawyer or a politician, but I had certainly hoped that room could be made for people of conscience,” he said on Wednesday. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was the primary coordinator of the pope’s schedule during his visit to the United States.


Of course, ABC and Bill Casey have an interesting history, banking with the Vatican through BCCI and all that -- not that he would have been a conscientious objector to the profits in finance and off-the-books skullduggery.

The real echo: Money to gain Power; Power to protect Money.
September 30, 2015

.WaPo says the lawyer didn't see anybody meet the Pope.

There may be a lot more to the story...

When news broke Tuesday night that she had met with Pope Francis, it was the Liberty Counsel that bore the news. “He held out his hand and she clasped his hands and held them,” Staver, who did not attend the meeting, said earlier today. He said the pope “spoke English the entire time” and that Davis said “she would pray for him. She asked the pope to pray for her, and he said he would pray.”

-- The Controversial Group at the Center of It All,


It's not clear yet who would be in the selfies.
September 30, 2015

Did an Archbishop from Kentucky troll the Pope?

Talk about conservative.

Joseph Kurtz, the archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky, and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wouldn’t comment on the meeting itself and how it came about, noting that he stayed about a mile away from the nunciature where Pope Francis stayed during his visit to D.C. But “I can comment on the fact that in Kentucky, I had said that I’m not a lawyer or a politician, but I had certainly hoped that room could be made for people of conscience,” he said on Wednesday. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was the primary coordinator of the pope’s schedule during his visit to the United States.

-- Emma Green, The Atlantic, "Why Did Pope Francis Meet With Kim Davis?"

"I was a mile away at the time."
September 30, 2015

Shows what you know, then.

In the United States, the only Telecom executive who refused to cooperate with the NSA was imprisoned.

A CEO who resisted NSA spying is out of prison. And he feels ‘vindicated’ by Snowden leaks.

By Andrea Peterson
Washington Post, September 30, 2013

Just one major telecommunications company refused to participate in a legally dubious NSA surveillance program in 2001. A few years later, its CEO was indicted by federal prosecutors. He was convicted, served four and a half years of his sentence and was released this month.

Prosecutors claim Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio was guilty of insider trading, and that his prosecution had nothing to do with his refusal to allow spying on his customers without the permission of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But to this day, Nacchio insists that his prosecution was retaliation for refusing to break the law on the NSA's behalf.

After his release from custody Sept. 20, Nacchio told the Wall Street Journal that he feels "vindicated" by the content of the leaks that show that the agency was collecting American's phone records.

Nacchio was convicted of selling of Qwest stock in early 2001, not long before the company hit financial troubles. However, he claimed in court documents that he was optimistic about the firm's ability to win classified government contracts — something they'd succeeded at in the past. And according to his timeline, in February 2001 — some six months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — he was approached by the NSA and asked to spy on customers during a meeting he thought was about a different contract. He reportedly refused because his lawyers believed such an action would be illegal and the NSA wouldn't go through the FISA Court. And then, he says, unrelated government contracts started to disappear.

His narrative matches with the warrantless surveillance program reported by USA Today in 2006 which noted Qwest as the lone holdout from the program, hounded by the agency with hints that their refusal "might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government." But Nacchio was prevented from bringing up any of this defense during his jury trial — the evidence needed to support it was deemed classified and the judge in his case refused his requests to use it. And he still believes his prosecution was retaliatory for refusing the NSA requests for bulk access to customers' phone records. Some other observers share that opinion, and it seems consistent with evidence that has been made public, including some of the redacted court filings unsealed after his conviction.



You know what sounds like a bullshit theory? That the NSA wall-to-wall spying on Americans is for their protection.

Going by who gets the info and what they do with it, the connected cronies are making a killing on the market.

Ask Carly Fiorina.

The CEO and the CIA

How Carly Fiorina managed and advised the ‘poobahs’ at Langley.

National Review, May 5, 2015 4:30 PM

One week after 9/11, Michael Hayden, the director of the National Security Agency, the electronic surveillance arm of the U.S. government, had a long list of problems. High on the list was the fact that the NSA needed a ton of new high-tech equipment, particularly servers, right away, to handle a vastly expanded, critically important workload.

Hayden called up the CEO of Hewlett Packard, Carly Fiorina. “HP made precisely the equipment we needed, and we needed in bulk,” says Robert Deitz, who was general counsel at the NSA from 1998 to 2006. Deitz recalls that a tractor-trailer full of HP servers and other equipment was on the Washington, D.C. Beltway, en route to retailers, at the very moment Hayden called. Fiorina instructed her team to postpone the retailer delivery and have the driver stop. An NSA police car met up with the tractor-trailer and the truck proceeded, with an armed escort, to NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

It was an early moment in the close professional relationship between Hayden and Fiorina. Five years later, President George W. Bush named Hayden director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Upon assuming control at Langley, Hayden decided that he wanted to create an ‘External Advisory Board.’ He once again turned to Fiorina, and she went on to chair that board.

The most obvious knock on Fiorina’s newly announced presidential bid is that she has never been elected to any government office. But during the Bush presidency, Fiorina walked the corridors of the CIA and other high offices of government, assembling recommendations for national-security policy and developing a close working relationship with some of the most powerful officials in the administration. She’s already begun to cite these years in an attempt to counter those critics who say she lacks the experience needed to be commander-in-chief.

When Hayden moved to the CIA, Deitz became his senior counselor. He served as the CIA’s main liaison to the advisory board, although he says Hayden and Fiorina had regular private lunch meetings.

“The board had a lot of egos — these were people from academia, retired three- and four-star generals, big poobahs from private industry,” Deitz remembers. “It was a challenging board to run. She would generally sit quietly, ask questions, but you never got a sense she was dominating or big-footing — but by the end of the meeting, she had gotten exactly what she wanted. . . . Polite, but you couldn’t push her around.”



Well, whaddyaknow?! That explains her qualifications to be pretzeldent.
September 30, 2015

Emoticons are so you.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Tuesday announced that it was cancelling an in-progress study on cancer risks for populations living near reactor sites, citing cost and expected low value of the overall project—but at least one nuclear watchdog group is charging the agency with being part of a cover-up.


Anything to add about nuclear power and cancer?
September 29, 2015

Apple Doesn't Want You to Know Too Much About Our Drone Strikes

[font color="green"]OK iPhone apps @ Apple Store:[/font color]

[font color="red"]Not OK iPhone app @ Apple Store:[/font color]

From our good friends at CommonDreams.org:

"Excessively Crude or Objectionable Content"

Apple Doesn't Want You to Know Too Much About Our Drone Strikes

byAbby Zimet, staff writer
CommonDreams, Sept. 28, 2015

Evidently believing too much substantive information can be bad for business, this weekend Apple pulled a free app that catalogues and maps drone killings by the U.S. because it found its content "objectionable." The Metadata+ app was developed by Intercept editor Josh Begley, who had to rework it five times to get past Apple's restrictions on content - farts, cats, porn are just fine - for the App Store; ultimately, they only accepted it after Begley removed the word "drone" from it. The app listed the date, location and victims of American drone strikes, and buzzed users at each new strike. "I love my phone because it puts me at the center of the map," Begley explained while developing the app. "But I'm not the center of the map. I can't even pronounce the names of the places we're bombing."

With Metadata+, Begley hoped to create a "historical archive," offering "information about people you'll never know. If the folks on the other side of our missiles are presented to us in the same places we see pictures of our loved ones, that (might) nudge me to learn a little more about the contours of our covert war." Its success depended on the vital question, "Do we want to be as connected to our foreign policy as we are to out smartphones?" Apple had its own answer: No thanks. After seven months, they pulled the app from the Apple store this weekend, posting that it was removed due to "exceptionally crude or objectionable content." Of course they're right - though not about the notifications, but the strikes themselves. If you still believe that information is power, you can still follow Begley's Twitter account @dronestream. No cats, many atrocities.

SOURCE w/links: http://www.commondreams.org/further/2015/09/28/excessively-crude-or-objectionable-content-apple-doesnt-want-you-know-too-much

Seems like I remember the United States of America was a democracy once, where Congress -- the People's House -- determined when and on whom we made war. Oh well. Don't want to stand in the way of progress as defined by the "Money trumps peace" crowd.
September 26, 2015

Hey JEB! What's wrong with FREE STUFF?

Works for you and your family.

Then again, it may be that the BFEE considers "stealing" to be "work."

PS: Gary Trudeau penned the above for Lies Of Our Times mag in the early 1990s. Who knows how much free stuff they've gotten since then?

September 24, 2015

License to Kill - It's a Darwinian Universe (Samantha Power, wife of Cass Sunstein)

“The weak die out and the strong will survive, and will live on forever” ― Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank

License to Kill - It's a Darwinian Universe


Let’s face it: the United States feels entitled to a license to kill.

On 23 September, Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations, insisted that the Russian veto power in the Security Council was endangering its legitimacy. Russia had vetoed four Security Council resolutions on Syria. Understandably, the US rabid dogs of war are straining at the chain to which international law constrains them. How dare Russia oppose US plans for regime change in Syria and impede a further blood bath to achieve it?

An indefatigable humanitarian warmonger, Power resents Russia’s opposition to a resolution to bomb the hell out of “atrocities” in Syria, without specifying that the main “atrocity” in her government’s eyes is President Assad.

No, no—it’s her humanitarian concern over the 250,000 Syrian already dead (she means to add more by bombing in their names); it’s the refugees’ flight she means to stem (by blocking their path with bombs).

Russia is preventing all this humanitarianism: “It’s a Darwinian universe here,” she tells The Guardian. “If a particular body reveals itself to be dysfunctional, then people are going to go elsewhere, and if that happened for more than Syria and Ukraine and you started to see across the board paralysis … it would certainly jeopardise the security council’s status and credibility and its function as a go-to international security arbiter. It would definitely jeopardise that over time.”



“Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people.” ― Audre Lorde

Russian vetoes are putting UN security council's legitimacy at risk, says US

Exclusive: Warning over body’s failure to act on Syria and Ukraine comes on top of wider criticism of its structure and the permanent members’ veto rights

by Julian Borger and Bastien Inzaurralde
The Guardian, Sept. 23, 2015

The United States has warned that Russia’s continued blanket use of its UN veto will jeopardise the security council’s long-term legitimacy and could lead the US and like-minded countries to bypass it as a decision-making body.

The warning comes as the UN reaches its 70th anniversary and the security council faces a crisis caused by its paralysis over Syria. It has failed to agree concerted action to try to stem the bloodshed, even after more than 220,000 Syrians have died and more than 11 million have been forced from their homes.

Russia has used its veto powers four times to block resolutions on Syria that Moscow sees as damaging to its ally, the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It has also forestalled common action on Ukraine where it is a party to the conflict, having annexed Crimea and pursued a covert military campaign in support of eastern separatists.

Samantha Power, the US permanent representative to the UN, said that the US and other countries had increasingly been going elsewhere to have atrocities investigated, and that a “forum-shopping” trend was likely to continue.

“It’s a Darwinian universe here. If a particular body reveals itself to be dysfunctional, then people are going to go elsewhere,” Power told the Guardian. “And if that happened for more than Syria and Ukraine and you started to see across the board paralysis ... it would certainly jeopardise the security council’s status and credibility and its function as a go-to international security arbiter. It would definitely jeopardise that over time.”



“Nature's stern discipline enjoins mutual help at least as often as warfare. The fittest may also be the gentlest.” ― Theodosius Dobzhansky, Mankind Evolving: The Evolution of the Human Species

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