nypd goes banana republic, storm clouds train wallpaper, skepticism does a body good

As I was about to start this post I had one story I wanted to feature, an interesting link and as usual some graphics to brighten things up. Than I got a little sidetracked and found some other links. So as much as I cram things into posts today will be especially bad or good.

First for those not aware the USA is not the old Soviet Union or some backwards banana republic. Or at least we’re not supposed to be. The Soviet intelligence agency the KGB spied on its own people as much as other countries, a practice that is illegal for our own CIA.  What’s the CIA doing at NYPD? Depends whom you ask

Three months ago, one of the CIA’s most experienced clandestine operatives started work inside the New York Police Department. His title is special assistant to the deputy commissioner of intelligence. On that much, everyone agrees.

Exactly what he’s doing there, however, is much less clear.

Since The Associated Press revealed the assignment in August, federal and city officials have offered differing explanations for why this CIA officer — a seasoned operative who handled foreign agents and ran complex operations in Jordan and Pakistan — was assigned to a municipal police department. The CIA is prohibited from spying domestically, and its unusual partnership with the NYPD has troubled top lawmakers and prompted an internal investigation.

His role is important because the last time a CIA officer worked so closely with the NYPD, beginning in the months after the 9/11 attacks, he became the architect of aggressive police programs that monitored Muslim neighborhoods. With the earlier help from this CIA official, the police put entire communities under the microscope based on ethnicity rather allegations of wrongdoing, according to the AP investigation.


because of New York’s unique security challenges it is understandable that the NYPD does have a liaison office that gets information from the CIA. Information is passed on about foreign gathered intelligence that might affect New York. All of that is within the law and probably reasonable to most civil libertarians. Even if the CIA is not gathering domestic intelligence directly in their position at the NYPD they are using the NYPD and directing their activities. Even if a strong case could be made for such activity that kind of work would or should fall under the jurisdiction of the FBI, not the CIA.

storm clouds train wallpaper

Herman Cain adds a new twist to his mythical status as the utterly self-made man who never received help from anyone – Herman Cain’s Campaign Is Buying a Lot of Herman Cain Books

Herman Cain’s presidential campaign paid Cain’s motivational speaking company $36,511 for copies of Cain’s books, Bloomberg’s Jonathan D. Salant and Joshua Green report. The revelation adds a data point to the speculation that his campaign’s more about selling books than winning the White House.



Buy thyself into best seller status. That is one way to do it.

Forgetting Is Part Of Remembering

“Memory is difficult. Thinking is difficult,” Storm says. Memories and associations accumulate rapidly. “These things could completely overrun our life and make it impossible to learn and retrieve new things if they were left alone, and could just overpower the rest of memory,” he says.

[  ]…People who are good at forgetting information they don’t need are also good at problem solving and at remembering something when they’re being distracted with other information. This shows that forgetting plays an important role in problem solving and memory, Storm says.

I do not know with certainty if there are people genuine hyperthymesias, exceptionally accurate recall of most details of their life experiences, but I have read that people with memories approaching hyperthymesia do not do well at abstract problem solving.

Bishops Are Behind the ‘Let Women Die’ Act and the Push Against Birth Control–Even As They’re Under Fire for Sex Abuse Scandals

Last week, the House’s passage of the now-notorious H.R. 358 — also known as the “Let Women Die” bill — caused deserved outrage. But the bill’s connection to the high-ranking Catholic group that fought for its passage, even while the American church is fighting a horrific new sex abuse scandal, hasn’t been given the attention it deserves.

The new bill (which the president has vowed to veto) would essentially obliterate abortion coverage by both public and private insurers, and most egregiously get hospitals off the hook for refusing to perform abortions for women whose lives are in immediate danger. It would literally allow hospitals to let women die with impunity.

[   ]…Last November, a 27-year-old woman was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She was 11 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, and she was gravely ill. According to a hospital document, she had “right heart failure,” and her doctors told her that if she continued with the pregnancy, her risk of mortality was “close to 100 percent.”

The patient, who was too ill to be moved to the operating room much less another hospital, agreed to an abortion. But there was a complication: She was at a Catholic hospital.

The hospital officials knew that church doctrine would have them let both mother and child die. But they searched for an exception and thought they found one: “Sister Margaret McBride, who was an administrator at the hospital as well as its liaison to the diocese, gave her approval” for a lifesaving abortion. The woman survived, but the nun was excommunicated.


Some of us may have heard some people complain about govmint being too big. One of the reasons it expands, especially under the governance of conservatives is the shadow government of private interests who push for legislation that intrudes into people’s lives. The government simply codified the sometimes bizarre notions of zealots. This might be one of the reasons that polls show an overlap of ideologies – a majority too big to be composed of just one political party – when general questions are asked about the size of government. Progressives have their own mental pictures of big government and government excess.

Beyond The Battlefield: Back Home, Severely Wounded Veterans Wish More Would Ask, Not Just Stare.

“Beyond The Battlefield” is a 10-part series exploring the challenges that severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan face after they return home, as well as what those struggles mean for those close to them.

Critical Thinker Explains Skepticism vs. Cynicism.

M-M:  People use the word “skeptical” in everyday talk, but often don’t really use it correctly. How do you define “skepticism”?

DJG: To me, the word is best understood by looking at its roots: it comes from the Greek word “skeptikos,” which just means to inquire or to find out. We say that skepticism is the best way of finding out the truth and is precisely the opposite of just saying “no” to others’ beliefs. On the other hand, a knee-jerk rejection of others’ beliefs is more akin to cynicism, not skepticism, and is rather closed-minded.

Skeptics who work with JREF are quite open-minded, but after decades of looking into various claims, we have found no evidence that any of these supernatural, paranormal or pseudoscientific beliefs hold up under scrutiny. In my experience, skeptics are critical thinkers who have a real desire to learn the truth about these sorts of questions.

M-M: As an educator, I feel that “critical thinking” is something we are in desperate need of developing in our society and educational institutions. What does “critical thinking” mean to you?

DJG: Critical thinking is continuous with skepticism – and with science, for that matter. It is simply thinking critically about claims and issues. As an example, think of going car shopping. Smart and savvy people will get a mechanic to take a look at a used car before they buy it, or lift the hood and kick the tires themselves to make sure it is a good deal. So why not also take a very close, skeptical look before buying someone else’s opinion, to make sure that it is worth it and holds up under scrutiny? This is skepticism and critical thinking — believing only those claims for which there is good evidence. Skepticism should be widely applied in one’s life to all the claims heard on a daily basis, not just in one specific area like the paranormal, even though at JREF we focus on paranormal and pseudo-scientific claims.


I tend to think there is more to a majority of the people in a society accepting facts than just critical thinking. I’ll fall back on an old example. If you tell a deeply religious Pentecostal there is an angel on their should they’re generally going to want some proof. If they go out to leave in their car and the tires are gone, they will not believe you if you tell them it will drive just fine without tires. So what explains that same person thinking that when they speak a prayer to themselves they are sure some event that occur over the next few days is a direct result of that prayer. This person is capable of and practices some critical thinking, yet critical thinking is not even a consideration if it interferes with what they want or desperately need to believe.

Tame Impala – Lucidity