Nineteen firefightersÂ were killed yesterday in Arizona — an entire ‘elite’ fire crew — and the western US as a whole has become no more than a furnace the last few days.
Asinine budget cuts have added to a climate-change inferno: Twenty years ago, the Forest Service spent 13 percent of its budget on fighting fires. These days, 40 percent of its money goes to firefighting, and that is still not enough to cover the bills.
Why don’t they cut some funds for the NSA, maybe, huh?
(Illustration found here).
Speaking of which, the powers that be with the US intelligence-gathering apparatus are scurrying about like freaked rats this morning trying to tender the tide of shit that swept in over the weekend about the NSA spying on everybody, especially our allies, trade partners and ‘friends.’ Another scoop from ex-snooper Ed Snowden revealed all kinds of nefarious surveillance on the European Union — and right at the start of some important trade negotiations.
And we thoughtÂ they were on our side:
The diplomatic fallout over allegations the National Security Agency spied on European Union institutions threatened to escalate on Monday as Germany said it was summoning the U.S. ambassador over the breach in trust.
The German government said it wants “trust restored” with the U.S. following reports that American intelligence agencies bugged EU offices.
German President Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said that if the report was true the U.S. behavior was “unacceptable.”
Merkel said the report, if confirmed, demonstrated “Cold War-style behavior.” She was said to feel “alienated” over the development.
On Sunday, British newspaper The Independent reported that Germany’s Federal Prosecutor’s office “was preparing to bring charges against British and U.S. intelligence … amid fresh allegations that the services spied far more extensively than thought on German phone and internet traffic.”
Separately, French President Francois Hollande, Agence France-Presse reported Monday, has requested that the U.S. “immediately stop” spying.
Okay, boys, let’s stop this, okay?
Today, as the official channels work out some form of come-back to all this ugly nonsense, beaker-face John Kerry spewed forth a lukewarm ‘everybody does it‘ reply:
â€œI will say that every country in the world that is engaged in international affairs and national security undertakes lots of activities to protect its national security and all kinds of information contributes to that.
All I know is that is not unusual for lots of nations,â€ Mr Kerry told a news conference.
And President Obama? He’s staying well away from the fire, and has yet to comment on the latest NSA upchucks. He’s playing a well-used strategy of ‘why bother‘ when it comes to Snowden.
And a George Jr. antidote, likeÂ the CNN headline — “Pay No Attention to that Man We Can’t Capture,” and just trust me.
As he blubbered last week:
“In terms of U.S. interests, the damage was done with respect to the initial leaks,” Obama told reporters during a news conference in Senegal, his first stop on a three-nation visit.
“I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”
Well, one, Snowden’s not a ‘hacker’ — the NSA is doing all the hacking, dude — and two, he’s not a terrorist.
If recollection serves:
The president’s approach evoked memories of March 2002, six months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, when then-President George W. Bush downgraded his public concern about Osama bin Laden.
With U.S.-led coalition forces unable to kill or capture bin Laden in Afghanistan, Bush sought to shift attention away from any perception that success in fighting terrorists depended on taking out the al Qaeda leader.
“I truly am not that concerned about him,” Bush told a news conference.
“I know he is on the run.”
Well, actually in this case Snowden’s not on the run — we all know where he’s at, the Moscow airport.
Snowden is somewhere in Moscowâ€™s Sheremetyevo Airport living off the kindness of strangers and the content of vending machines.
Well, maybe not.
That Snowden hasnâ€™t been spotted since he arrived from Hong Kong over a week ago most likely means that his hosts are the Russian FSB, successor to the Soviet KGB and known for niceties such as the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko and a host of reporters who questioned Putinâ€™s actions.
Theyâ€™ll not likely let him go anywhere until theyâ€™ve wrung the last bit of information from him and planned some new embarrassment for us to coincide with his export to Ecuador or Cuba or some other â€œhuman rightsâ€ center.
And what about us spied upon Americans?
Keeping up with such high-flying and quickly-shifting news events is a primary concern as we want to be in the know –even if we have to lie about it.
A Wakefield Research survey of about 1,000 U.S. adults commissioned by Next Issue Media found 56 percent said they believed they were more knowledgeable about current events compared to their friends.
However, to appear well-informed, some people will go as far as lying.
More than 1-in-3 said they pretended to know about a news story to impress someone else.
Seventy percent of Americans will find any opportunity to argue with their friends about what’s in the news regardless of topic, but 49 percent said politics was the primary subject for debate with others.
Sports came in second with 32 percent, followed by award show results at 13 percent and 12 percent for fashion trends.
Ninety-four percent of Americans said they discussed current events with their family and 82 percent said they discussed current events topics frequently.
Americans consumed an average of three news media sources on a daily basis; but the younger generation, ages 18-24, consumed four or more sources.
Another week of bullshit, but interesting bullshit — and it’s Monday, folks, and it’s normal to feel like shit.