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Gender: Male
Hometown: Arizona
Home country: USA
Member since: Wed Jul 16, 2008, 08:35 PM
Number of posts: 27,742

Journal Archives

ESPN ranks Colin Kaepernick among best college quarterbacks this century

College football writer Bill Connelly took on the task of ranking the 60-best college quarterbacks of the 2000s, and Kaepernick made the cut. While that seems like an obvious call, some great gun-slingers didn't make the list, including Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott, among others (neither did Nevada assistant coach Timmy Chang, who had a record-breaking career at Hawaii).

Kaepernick was ranked ahead of future NFL stars like Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Eli Manning and Josh Allen as well as top draft picks like David Carr, Joey Harrington, Alex Smith and Byron Leftwich and Heisman Trophy winners Jason White, Eric Crouch and Troy Smith. So where did he land? 29th.

Connelly writes of Kaepernick, who played for Nevada from 2007-10: "It takes the perfect quarterback to fully understand the potential of a given offensive system, and Kaepernick was the perfect muse for Chris Ault's revolutionary Pistol. As a senior, he threw for 3,022 yards, rushed for 1,206 and led the Pack to 13 wins and No. 11 in the AP poll."

Kaepernick is a tricky player to rank in this setting. Statistically, he's unprecedented. Literally. No quarterback other than Kaepernick has thrown for 10,000 yards and rushed for 4,000 at the FBS level. The closest to do that was his successor Cody Fajardo, who fell 341 passing yards and 518 rushing yards shy of those two marks). Kaepernick also is the only player in FBS history with three seasons of at least 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards. He's the only college player to account for 350 points with his arm and legs. His name is in the NCAA record book 17 times.


Roughly 40% of the USA's coronavirus deaths could have been prevented, new study says

About 40% of the nation’s coronavirus deaths could have been prevented if the United States’ average death rate matched other industrialized nations, a new Lancet Commission report has found.

While the Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era faulted former President Donald Trump’s “inept and insufficient” response to COVID-19, its report said roots of the nation’s poor health outcomes are much deeper.

Commission co-chairs Dr. Steffie Woolhandler and Dr. David Himmelstein, professors at the City University of New York's Hunter College and longtime advocates for a single-payer health system such as "Medicare for All," said the report, published Thursday, underscores decades of health, economic and social policies that have accelerated the nation’s disparities.

The report found U.S. life expectancy began trailing other industrialized nations four decades ago. In 2018, two years before the pandemic, the report said 461,000 fewer Americans would have died if U.S. mortality rates matched other Group of Seven nations: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom.


The Trump DOJ Snuck In One Last Effort to Push Junk Science in Court

With just days left before Joe Biden’s inauguration, the DOJ abruptly responded to a milestone report on forensic science published years ago. In 2016, Barack Obama’s President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, or PCAST, composed of renowned scientists, pulled the curtain back on the misuse of forensic science in American courts. The council’s report concluded that methods frequently relied upon by prosecutors to convict people, like firearms and bitemark analysis, lack basic scientific validity.

Just days before Joe Biden took office, however, Trump’s DOJ issued an unsigned 26-page statement designed to undermine those findings. It was a smoke-and-mirrors attempt to use the credibility of the federal government to prop up the uncritical use of flawed forensic evidence that has contributed to hundreds of wrongful convictions. Like the Trump administration’s last-minute execution spree, the statement seems calculated to advance a regressive, reactionary, and cruel system of criminal prosecution.

The “science” part of forensic science is much murkier than crime shows like Law & Order or NCIS suggest. On TV, we might see a white-coated scientist gravely study a bullet mark on a computer screen as an algorithm scans a database for matches, ultimately landing on the culprit’s gun and cracking the case. But these TV depictions bear little resemblance to actual forensics. In the 2016 report, PCAST cautioned that several “pattern-matching” disciplines, like firearms, bite mark, and hair comparison, are highly subjective, involve circular reasoning, and have been insufficiently tested. They rely on subjective comparisons—essentially, eyeballing it—dressed up with the gloss of seemingly scientific language.

PCAST also offered several practical recommendations for improvement. The council called for judges to carefully assess the scientific validity of forensics methods before admitting them in court and recommended scientists conduct more research and improve the standards of each science, among other things. A core conclusion of the report is that these methods need to undergo well-designed, empirical testing that reflects real-life cases. This testing is necessary to determine which disciplines are scientifically valid and which are essentially junk science.


Republicans are appeasing extremists the same way Saudi leaders do

I watched American extremists attack our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, and while their uncompromising fervor and fanaticism was shocking, it was not altogether unfamiliar to me. When the crowd erected the wooden gallows with the noose, I felt a sense of deja vu that took me a few days to pinpoint: The gallows set up outside the building reminded me of looking at Deera, or “chop chop,” square in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a site for frequent public beheadings and the same place where the beheaded bodies sometimes are later crucified. This was and still is a weekly event in Saudi Arabia.

Watching domestic terrorists erect a set for public execution outside the Capitol was all the more disheartening to me because I spent a good part of my career at the CIA fighting to keep this kind of extremism from reaching our shores. And I fear that many do not grasp the potential consequences of letting this type of lawlessness stand without loud condemnation by every single member of Congress. This is not the time for equivocation or political maneuvering to remain in power. Here, we could learn something from the Saudis.

The capitulation by Saudi political leaders to Islamist extremists was born hundreds of years ago in a twisting path that is the subject of many scholarly dissertations. But what I observed as a counterterrorism officer at the CIA was that Saudi political leaders are hamstrung when they try to curb violent jihad (commonly known as “terrorism” to Americans) emanating from the kingdom. They understand that a crackdown would imperil their reign, and they are forced to recall their original bargain with Saudi extremists: A coexistence deal was hatched centuries ago between the Bedouin Saud tribe and the dogmatic and violently puritanical Wahhabi religious sect of Islam. This partnership was restated in 1901 when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was born, and then bluntly driven home with the 1979 deadly takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by a particularly virulent faction of religious extremists who believed Saudi politicians had allowed the country to degrade and become too liberal and modern. The leader of the siege, a religious extremist leader called Juhayman, was uneducated and preached his extremist views mostly to the uneducated. During the takeover, hundreds died, including Saudi government security officers and religious pilgrims. The details of this clash are also much debated, but one thing’s for sure: Saudi political leaders heeded the refresher on who called what shots in the kingdom.

And the takeover of the mosque later gave rise to Osama bin Laden, who referenced the mosque takeover and Juhayman in his own call to arms. So it’s really no surprise that the vast majority of 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Nor that the Saudis’ assistance in the global war on terrorism was tepid and on very much their own terms. Nor that, more recently, the Saudis killed an American journalist critical of the royal family. The Saudi rulers are transactional: They will do whatever they need to, with whomever they need to, to stay in power. And so the deal they hatched endures: The family holds power mostly unmolested, in exchange for endorsing Wahhabi religious extremism and its violent enforcement of the same.


Did *Certain* Politicians Commit Sedition?


The Austin City Council voted today to purchase one hotel and turn it into 60 units of permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness. The vote to purchase a second hotel has been postponed to next week after a city council member asked for more time to gather feedback from her constituents.

Under the measure, the city will spend approximately $6.7 million from its Housing and Planning Department’s general obligation bonds to acquire one hotel and use some money from a recurring $6.5 million fund taken from the police department’s budget to provide services to the residents of the hotel. At full occupancy (which wouldn’t happen this year), services and operating costs for the hotel are expected to be about $1.6 million annually.

“In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests this summer, we made a significant cut to policing dollars and reinvested that in things like this,” said Council Member Gregorio Casar, who led the effort to cut police funding and sponsored an amendment last August that set aside $6.5 million in recurring funding to be used for permanent supportive housing and services. “That’s how we’re paying for this. That’s the only reason we’re able to do this.”

In August, the City Council voted to immediately cut over $20 million from the police department’s budget, with most of that money coming from cancelling cadet classes, reducing overtime spending, and eliminating contracts for things like license plate readers. Another almost $80 million will be taken from the police department’s budget by moving certain civilian functions out, like dispatch and the forensics lab—though that money will still be spent on those functions, just not within the department.


Investigation into US Capitol riot moves into more complicated phase

After bringing federal charges against more than 125 people accused of being part of the violent mob that stormed the US Capitol, now comes the hard part.

Law enforcement officials say they are moving from the so-called low-hanging fruit arrests and charges to more complicated cases, focusing on the extremist groups that participated in the attack.

That effort will take months to try to piece together, in part, because unlike some of the early arrests of suspects -- who gleefully posted on social media or even live-streamed their involvement -- many alleged attackers took pains to hide their identities and their involvement.


Prosecutors have said in detention hearings they are working on bringing seditious conspiracy charges -- a prospect that Washington, DC, acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin raised publicly early on.


Democratic colleagues file ethics complaint against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz after Capitol riot

Seven Democrats in the U.S. Senate have filed an ethics complaint against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for his role lending “legitimacy” to false claims of election fraud ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection in the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

In a letter addressed to the Senate Committee on Ethics, the Democratic Senators argue that Cruz and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, “made future violence more likely.” The Democrats called for the committee to conduct an investigation into the two Republican senators and possibly consider “disciplinary action,” which could include the rare move of expulsion from the Senate. The Constitution also grants Congress the ability to censure its members, which is essentially just a strong condemnation from the chamber.

Leading up to the destructive Capitol riot, Cruz, Hawley and other Congressional Republicans vowed to object to the 2020 election results based on former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him. There is no evidence of widespread fraud on a level that would have affected the result. Even after a mob of Trump supporters desecrated the U.S. Capitol, Cruz objected to certifying Arizona’s electoral results and he’s been in political hot water ever since.

Cruz, whose office did not immediately return a request for comment Friday, told POLITICO that his objection “was the exact opposite of inciting violence.”


US lawmakers ask FBI to investigate Parler app's role in Capitol attack

American lawmakers have asked the FBI to investigate the role of Parler, the social media website and app popular with the American far right, in the violence at the US Capitol on 6 January.

Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House oversight and reform Committee, asked the FBI to review Parler’s role “as a potential facilitator of planning and incitement related to the violence, as a repository of key evidence posted by users on its site, and as a potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the United States”.

Maloney asked the FBI to review Parler’s financing and its ties to Russia.

Maloney cited press reports that detailed violent threats on Parler against state elected officials for their role in certifying the election results before the 6 January attack that left five dead. She also noted numerous Parler users have been arrested and charged with threatening violence against elected officials or for their roles in the attack.


Uh oh, Rep. Andy Biggs. Poll says nearly half of your district suspects you played a role in Capitol

Nearly six in 10 voters in Biggs’ congressional district think he should resign if he played a role in the events that occurred at the Capitol on Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters rioted to try to stop certification of the 2020 election results, according to a poll released on Friday.

And nearly half those polled believe he probably did.

That’s not good news for a guy whose ruby-red district offers lifelong job security for a guy like Biggs.


“He may be in big trouble in AZ05,” pollster Mike Noble, of OH Predictive Insights, told me. “In a safe district, you can almost get away with anything. However, this poll indicates that may not be the case.”

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