Monday, December 22, 2014

O Holy Night worst rendition ever FUNNIEST SONG ON EARTH

If you need a good laugh, and I mean 'can't breathe, stomach hurts' belly laugh, listen to the worst rendition of Oh Holy Night ever. Warning, put all drinks down and take a few deep breaths first so you don't suffocate from laughter. It starts out as sounding like a merely poor rendition of the song, but just wait.

 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Why the U.S. Can't Punish North Korea

The FBI formally accused the isolated country of the Sony hack, but the White House is basically powerless to do anything to respond

By Adam Chandler

Kevork Djansezian/Reuters

On Friday, the FBI announced that it "now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible" for the Sony hacks that leaked a trove of private data, launched a thousand thinkpieces, and, following some threats, ultimately preempted the release of The Interview.

Speaking in a press conference later in the day, President Obama weighed in, characterizing Sony's decision to pull The Interview as "a mistake." He also said that the United States would "will respond proportionally, and we'll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose."

So what does this very vague promise of retaliation mean for North Korea? As Reuters points out, Washington may not have a lot of options. Despite decades of sanctions against the isolated communist regime, "the U.S. Treasury has so far directly sanctioned only 41 companies and entities and 22 individuals."

Compare that to Russia or Iran, whose economies have been laid low by a strenuous sanctions regime across several industries and against countless companies and individuals. Part of it is that North Korea doesn't have much of an economy to punish. According to CIA figures, the country ranks 198 out of 228 in gross domestic product with just 1.3 percent growth in 2012. Reuters also pointed to Pyongyang's aversion to traditional banks, saying that the country has "become expert in hiding its often criminal money-raising activities."

But there's much more to it than that. Scott Snyder, a Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy at the Council for Foreign Relations, has his own take on l'affaire Sony.

He explained that part of why it's difficult to sanction and further isolate North Korea is that Pyongyang "isn't integrated with the rest of the world." That has made the country difficult to sanction or punish in the past as well. As Snyder reminds us, this isn't the first time we've had trouble with North Korea.
Historically, I think that North Korea has a record of having engaged in provocations that have international ramifications with relative impunity. So if we go back and look at the record of controversial provocations, we see the difficulty and the challenge of holding them to account. It goes back decades.
Those transgressions have included, at least recently, the holding of American hostages, the (alleged) sinking of a South Korean boat in 2010, along with the bombardment of a South Korean island.

Given that the United States has now named North Korea in the Sony hacks and given what's already happened, Snyder says we shouldn't expect much to come of it.

"All of these are examples of cases that have resulted in behavior or responses that are pretty exceptional compared to the way that other countries have been dealt with in similar circumstances," Snyder explains.

He adds that what makes this ordeal much more difficult to move away quietly from is Sony's decision to pull The Interview from theaters, a move that naturally begs a response from the United States.

"I do think that decision put the administration into a much more difficult circumstance," he said, adding that Sony's actions have created more pressure for the administration to respond. Essentially, Obama has to figure out a way to ensure The Interview cancellation hasn't convinced America's enemies that "these kinds of threats actually may be working."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dick Cheney Should Be in Federal Prison, Not on Meet The Press




Journalist Glenn Greenwald did not mince words on Thursday when asked to respond to comments made by former vice president Dick Cheney when he appeared on NBC's Meet The Press last Sunday.

"The reason why Dick Cheney is able to go on 'Meet The Press' instead of being where he should be—which is in the dock at The Hague or in a federal prison—is because President Obama and his administration made the decision not to prosecute any of the people who implemented this torture regime despite the fact that it was illegal and criminal," Greenwald said in an interview with HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski.

In Sunday's interview with host Chuck Todd, Cheney claimed that CIA torture "worked" and announced he would "do it again in a minute" if given the opportunity.

As human rights advocates and international law experts have renewed their call for prosecutions against former Bush administration officials who ordered the CIA to torture detained terrorism suspects in the aftermath of 9/11, Greenwald said that whether tortured "worked" is irrelevant—"nobody should be interested in that"—and argued that much of the blame for the fact that Cheney still has the liberty to go on national television and brag about violating domestic and international laws should be placed at the feet of President Obama.

"When you send the signal, as the Obama administration did, that torture is not a crime that ought to be punished, it's just a policy dispute that you argue about on Sunday shows, of course it emboldens torturers like Dick Cheney to go around and say, 'What I did was absolutely right,'" Greenwald said.

Watch:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Analyst: We underestimated North Korea

By Dana Ford, CNN



(CNN) - As the United States gets ready to blame the Sony hack on North Korea, a troublesome question is emerging: Just what is North Korea capable of?

Experts say the nation has spent scarce resources on building up a unit called "Bureau 121" to carry out cyber-attacks.

North Korea has been blamed in the past for attacks in South Korea, but the Sony hack - if indeed North Korea is behind it - would seem to represent an escalation of tactics.

"I think we underestimated North Korea's cyber capabilities," said Victor Cha, director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University. "They certainly didn't evidence this sort of capability in the previous attacks."

Cha was referring to attacks on South Korean broadcasters and banks last year.

In March 2013, South Korean police said they were investigating a widespread computer outage that struck systems at leading television broadcasters and banks, prompting the military to step up its cyber-alert level.

The South Korean communications regulator reportedly linked the computer failures to hacking that used malicious code, or malware.

An investigation found that many of the malignant codes employed in the attacks were similar to ones used by the North previously, said Lee Seung-won, an official at the South Korean Ministry of Science.

North Korea denied responsibility.

A spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People's Army labeled the allegations "groundless" and "a deliberate provocation to push the situation on the Korean Peninsula to an extreme phase," according to KCNA, the North Korean state news agency.

North Korea has similarly denied the massive hack of Sony Pictures, which has been forced to cancel next week's planned release of "The Interview," a comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But KCNA applauded the attack.

"The hacking into the SONY Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK," it said, using the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "The hacking is so fatal that all the systems of the company have been paralyzed, causing the overall suspension of the work and supposedly a huge ensuing loss."

Experts point to several signs of North Korean involvement. They say there are similarities between the malware used in the Sony hack and previous attacks against South Korea. Both were written in Korean, an unusual language in the world of cyber crime.

"Unfortunately, it's a big win for North Korea. They were able to get Sony to shut down the picture. They got the U.S. government to admit that North Korea was the source of this and there's no action plan really, at least publicly no action plan, in response to it," said Cha. "I think from their perspective, in Pyongyang, they're probably popping the champagne corks."

CNN's Gregory Wallace, Brian Stelter, Evan Perez, K.J. Kwon and Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tom Tomorrow's Yesteryear Coverage of Today's U.S. Senate Report on Bush-Era CIA Torture

By Brad Friedman

It's difficult to know where Rightwingers are now when it comes to the release of today's remarkable, horrifying, redacted 528-page executive summary [PDF] of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's 6,000-page report on Bush-era CIA torture.

"Torture never happened!," they used to say. Then, "Okay, it happened, but it wasn't torture!" Then, "Okay, torture happened, but it was necessary!" Now, "This report is just meant as a distraction from America's real problem: ObamaCare!"

You get the idea. So did legendary syndicated cartoonist and blogger Tom Tomorrow (aka Dan Perkins), and he's been covering it with brilliant, dead-on satire for years. With the release of the Senate report, almost a decade in the making, we're posting a few very-much-related Tom Tomorrow toons from over the years below, as self-selected by Perkins on Twitter today.

"It's not as if we've learned nothing in ten years," he tweeted. "In a 2004 cartoon, I still had to explain what 'waterboarding' was."

And, as he also made clear, none of what we are learning today is ultimately a surprise. "Presumably if the cartoonists knew about it, the White House did as well."

They did indeed, as a glance at these toons from over the years makes clear yet again...
2004
2005



2006

2009



2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Woman visits Toys R Us, pays off everyone's layaway

By SUZAN CLARKE

‘Tis the season.

A woman is being hailed as a layaway angel after she went into a Toys ‘R’ Us store in Bellingham, Mass., on Wednesday and paid off every open layaway account -- giving about 150 customers with items on layaway an early Christmas present.

The generous donor paid $20,000 to wipe the entire layaway balance at that location, a spokeswoman for Toys ‘R’ Us confirmed to ABC News on Thursday.

“This incredible act of kindness is a true illustration of holiday giving at its best,” the company said in a statement.

The donor made the payment anonymously, but the Milford Daily News reported that she was a local resident who said she would sleep better at night knowing the accounts had been paid.

The newspaper reported that the store’s layaway customers were in tears when they heard the good news.

The holidays have inspired many others to do similar good deeds for total strangers.

Tom Gubitosi went to his local Walmart in Farmingdale, N.Y., on Wednesday, and gave $100 shopping sprees to about 200 children each. Gubitosi donated the money in honor of his late mother, who loved children, WABC TV reported.

Also on Wednesday, dozens of police officers in Cape Cod, Mass., treated 26 children to lunch and $200 gift cards for the annual "Shop with Cops" program.

Earlier this month, Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson bought $16,266.26 worth of toys for 11 children in the care of Child Protective Services, ESPN reported. At Toys "R" Us, he gave them each 80 seconds to place what they could in shopping carts. He's been hosting shopping sprees for kids since 2007.

Last year, a Florida man used more than $21,000 of his own money to pay down layaway account balances at a Walmart in central Florida.

Greg Parady, who runs a financial planning company, told ABC News that his mother had struggled when he was growing up and he wanted to help others who may have had a similar experience.

“I was a layaway kid so it's nice to be able to help," he said.
 
ABC News’ Susanna Kim contributed to this report.