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US Credit Limit 18.1 Trillion, Increase Now or Checks Bounce After All Hallows’ Eve By Robin Barnes

From Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to the 144th Congress of the United States of America.


lewRelevant excerpts about “the Department of the Treasury’s ability to continue to finance the government,” as of October 1, 2015.

In recent letters, I projected that the extraordinary measures we have been employing to preserve borrowing capacity would not be exhausted before late October 2015 and that they likely would last for at least a brief additional period of time. I cautioned, however, that Treasury’s estimates regarding the debt limit are subject to inherent variability, given the challenges of forecasting the timing and amount of thousands of daily government transactions.

Over the past ten days, we have received quarterly corporate and individual tax receipts and additional information about the activities of certain large trust funds, including military retirement trust funds. The tax receipts were lower than we previously projected, and the trust fund investments were higher than projected — resulting in a net decrease of resources available to the United States government.

Based on this new information, we now estimate that Treasury is likely to exhaust its extraordinary measures on or about Thursday, November 5. At that point, we would be left to fund the government with only the cash we have on hand, which we currently forecast to be below $30 billion. This amount would be far short of net expenditures on certain days, which can be as high as $60 billion. Moreover, given certain payments that are due in early to mid-November, we anticipate that our remaining cash would be depleted quickly. Without sufficient cash, it would be impossible for the United States of America to meet all of its obligations for the first time in our history.

[W]hen the Treasury’s cash balance falls below $150 billion we lose the ability to protect against potential market interruptions. This minimum does not increase the debt limit or alter the time we can continue to pay the nation’s bills. Today, we anticipate that it will again fall below the minimum balance, and we expect it will continue to fall until Congress raises the debt limit.

Protecting the full faith and credit of the United States is the responsibility of the United States Congress. There is no way to predict the catastrophic damage that default would have on our economy and global financial markets. Moreover, we have learned from previous debt limit impasses that failing to act until the last minute and engaging in partisan brinksmanship can cause serious harm to business and consumer confidence, raise short-term borrowing costs for taxpayers, and negatively impact the credit rating of the United States. To remove these unnecessary and avoidable threats, I respectfully urge Congress to take action as soon as possible and raise the debt limit well before Treasury exhausts its extraordinary measures.






Female Reporters Threatened With Violence For Reporting On Patrick Kane Allegations.





Female Journalists Abused Online, with Threats of Killing and Rape.






Twitter abuse: Women journalists get more threats.









Most Female Journalists Have Been Threatened, Assaulted, or Harassed at Work. Here’s Why We Don’t Talk About It.




Prediction: Emily Blunt Best Actress Oscar in 2018 on Stage with Boy-Girl Twins By Robin Barnes

EMILY BLUNTThe recent winner of the Critic’s Choice Award has a long string of nominations and successes. Her latest movie Sicario scored rave reviews at the Cannes film festival. Blunt recently became an American citizen and jokes about it during interviews. For e.g., she quipped that after watching the recent GOP debate she thought that becoming a citizen was “a terrible mistake.”

 Many view the Republican presidential candidates led by Donald Trump and worry for the image of the nation. This does not include the hosts at Fox and Friends, they have a different point of view: Blunt should “leave Hollywood.” “Let some American women take on the roles that you’re getting, because Americans are watching your movies and lining your pockets,” another declared “You know what Emily Blunt just did? She just Dixie Chicked herself. She has alienated half the country that now will think twice about going to one of her movies.”

 Interesting Theory!

Background: In the middle of a 10-year career with an album that won four Grammys, the Dixie Chicks broke the one-day record for concert ticket sales. They were the first ever to have three albums debut at No.1.  Then all hell broke loose when: heading into a sold-out worldwide tour, on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, remarks by Natalie Maines sparked controversy in the United States. International media reported that in between songs at a London concert, Maines confided to the audience: “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.”

 She later apologized for “disrespecting the office of the President,” but the backlash was vicious. The group received numerous death threats, while a campaign to boycott their music led to a ban on country radio stations throughout the states. Absurdity in the South Carolina Legislature resulted in House Resolution [H 3818] calling for an apology to military families for the “unpatriotic and unnecessary” comments made by their lead singer and free concerts for troops as an expression of their sincerity.

dixieA tastefully presented nude photo montage in Entertainment Weekly displayed all of the accusations from protesters: ‘Boycott’, ‘Saddam’s Angels,’ ‘Dixie Sluts,’ ‘Traitors.’ Brett Butler was loudly booed at the Country Music Flameworthy Awards when she spoke in their defense. One report surmised that “not since Jane Fonda’s trip to Hanoi had an entertainer enraged so many people with a political statement.” Maines later stated that her ONLY regret was that she apologized for disrespecting the office of a President whom she believes is unworthy of respect.

The conservative orchestrated backlash against the Dixie Chicks encouraged them to take a brief hiatus: do a little dance, make a little love as Casey would say with his Sunshine Band. Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, and Emily Robison have three husbands and seven kids between then. Their three-year voluntary exile resulted in five of their seven bundles of joy.

When they re-emerged with their next album, Taking the Long Way, country-music radio program directors almost to a person agreed that it contained a few hit songs, but were unanimous in their assessment that the debut single “Not Ready to Make Nice” would not make that list. Country radio stations asked the record label for an alternative single to reintroduce the Dixie Chicks to their fans—a request they, of course, turned down.

The song is powerful (I’m not ready to make nice/ I’m not ready to back down/ I’m still mad as hell and/I don’t have time to go round and round and round.) It embraces all of the traditional wisdom: forgive, but don’t forget, does time really heal all wounds, what’s done is done, pay the piper, no regrets, let Freedom Ring!

Not Ready to Make Nice debuted at No. 1, and sold half a million copies the first week. A standing ovation awaited the Dixie Chicks at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards, as they swept every category for which they were nominated: Record of the Year for Not Ready to Make Nice, Album of the Year for Taking the Long Way, Song of the Year for Not Ready to Make Nice, Best Country Album for Taking the Long Way, and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for their debut single: Not Ready to Make Nice.

Therefore, if Emily Blunt has been “Dixie-chicked,” then allow me to be the first to offer early congratulations for her forthcoming Oscar for Best Actress in 2018, as she celebrates a birthday of her boy-girl twins!


Huff Post’s Arana: Buffoonery on Steroids-US Media Rewards Clowns!


The Huffington Post announced last week that the site was relegating its coverage of Donald Trump to the Entertainment section. “Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow,” Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim and Editorial Director Danny Shea wrote. “We won’t take the bait.”

The decision has invited no shortage of criticism, most along the lines of, “Shouldn’t it be up to the voters to decide whose campaign is ‘serious’ and whose isn’t?” Trump is currently leading the polls, the argument goes; media outlets have no choice but to treat him as the front-runner.

But that argument underestimates the role of the media in shaping public opinion. The media isn’t covering Trump because he’s leading in the polls; he’s leading in the polls because the media is covering him. It’s basically free advertising.

Trump’s poll numbers jump only after a period of sustained media coverage. “It’s tempting to think that each surge is somehow the result of each candidate’s idiosyncratic appeal to Republican voters,” Sides writes. “But a simpler explanation is this: when a pollster interrupts people’s lives and asks them about a presidential primary that doesn’t formally begin for months, a significant number of people will mention whichever candidate happens to be in the news these days.”

Each candidate gets a boost of attention when he or she announces a run for the presidency, but news outlets covered Trump’s campaign kickoff far more aggressively than those of the other Republican contenders. What’s more, Trump has continued to draw the attention of the media even after announcing his candidacy. That’s unusual: Coverage of a candidate tends to drop off after the initial announcement.

It’s not hard to see why Trump has been so successful in stealing the spotlight. With his signature comb-over, short temper and penchant for the outrageous gesture, he’s a walking media magnet. Trump plays on, in such exaggerated form it’s cartoonish, the media’s worst instincts — its love of sensationalism, its desire for sound bites and its weakness for manufactured controversy. The media rewards clowns, and you couldn’t ask for a bigger bozo than Trump.

Those of us in the news business are faced with a quandary. When the reality TV star pulls one of his stunts — for instance, releasing Sen. Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number — do we cut off the oxygen and refuse to cover the story, or cover the incident in the hope that it helps expose Trump for the buffoon he is? As Sides’ analysis shows, it’s hard to know whether it’s the right call to cover anything Trump-related, especially since even negative press propels him higher in the polls.



Role of A&E Television Network’s Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy

amanda knox

February 2011:  Attorneys Carlo Dalla Vedova and Luca Maori formally demanded that A&E Television Networks halt production and refrain from releasing a Lifetime Television film about the trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. The pair were convicted in 2009 of the murder and sexual assault of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy on Nov. 1, 2007.

Their lawyers threatened to seek an injunction if necessary. One would imagine that they were not so well versed in US law, for an injunction would have been next to impossible. But the threat and world-wide publication of the issue reportedly had an effect.

Hopefully researchers will one day study this episode and find out exactly what effect it had and what effect the airing of the film had, to give us some sense of their intent. As an analyst of media culture, celebrity privacy and international laws regarding public figures, I watched the movie, with all of this background in the forefront of my mind, but just a few months prior to Knox’s exoneration. I, therefore, lack the in-the-moment-reflection that may have been useful for this note.

For the record: I disagreed with airing the film in 2011.

Sensationalism aside:

1. There were grieving parents on both side of the aisle. The reenactment of a gruesome murder scene was more than I could bare, one can only imagine what Meredith Kercher’s parents must have felt knowing that the whole of their daughter’s life and final moment of her death would soon be on display for the whole world to judge. Amanda Knox’s parent were held captive by the same tabloid machine with the added burden of having their own lives under scrutiny as they tried to protect their daughter and family.

2. World-wide citizens’ right to a fair trial and appeal is the touchstone of democracy.  They were sentenced to 25 years in prison.

When television networks undertake production with some mixing and matching of the skills of documentarians, investigative journalists and tabloid publishers, in an untimely film about the ongoing struggles in the lives of real people, there’s a problem.

What were they thinking? Why not issue an injunction under such circumstances? Supporters of the movie believe it showed Knox’s innocence, revealed an inept investigation, flawed evidence and suggested a sort of anti-American zeal on the part of Italian officials. Lawyers for the network would argue that the public has a right to know what is happening with our students and citizens abroad. I certainly had plenty to say to my own daughter after watching the film. So then we are left with timing, what about the timing?

September 2015: Rome: Italy’s highest court threw out a conviction of American Amanda Knox for the 2007 murder of her British flat mate because of “glaring errors” in the case against her.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/amanda-knox-murder-conviction-a-result-of-glaring-errors-court-20150907-gjhaef.html#ixzz3l88qJcYl


NPR’s Recent Report on FBI-DOJ’s Fake News Story Missed a Few Details


In 2007 the US DOJ conducted a sting in which the FBI created a fake Seattle Times web page and sent a fake AP news story and link to a teenage suspect in case involving bomb threats at Timberline High School in Seattle, Washington. Upon clicking the link, the FBI installed malware on the suspect’s computer, revealing his location and internet address. The sting eventually led to the 15 year old’s arrest.

The Associated Press and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to require the FBI to hand over records of the 2007 “fake news story” operation. Congratulations to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for uncovering the sting and for the vital role that it plays in promoting privacy protection and awareness. The other organizations say they requested the records under the Freedom of Information Act but have yet to receive anything. So much for transparency, eh?

They went on to say that it damages the credibility of the independent news media when federal agents pose as journalists. This is probably true, but perhaps a small price to pay under these circumstances. FBI director James Comey assures us that no story was actually published and “only the suspect was fooled.”

“The AP argues that its name was ‘misappropriated,’ and calls the ploy ‘unacceptable.’ I’m pondering the acceptability of the stance taken by the press corp. There is no doubt that “every undercover operation involves ‘deception.”  The real problem in this report, the real issue for democracy has nothing to do with a standard sting used to save lives and maintain order and stability, but rather the extent to which the DOJ/ F.B.I.’s use of such techniques was in this and ALL OTHER CASES subject to close judicial oversight, by independent judges prior to execution. The 4th Amendment guarantees the individual protection from unreasonable searches and seizures as well as rights against self-incrimination and safeguards against entrapment. The installation of malware on a citizen’s private computer without the requisite oversight would  surely be unacceptable.

Independent Exposes International Broadcasting’s Repeated Breach of anti-Propaganda Code

world news

International broadcasters including the BBC repeatedly broke the Ofcom code by screening programmes funded by foreign governments, charities and NGOs, an investigation has revealed.

News films and documentaries were acquired for nominal fees and the identity of the funders not disclosed to the audience – in what has been dubbed a “£1 programme scandal”. Ofcom has uncovered nearly 50 breaches of its code by CNN, CNBC and the BBC after a four-year inquiry into the global news channels, which are beamed into hotel rooms around the world.

The media regulator discovered a series of contraventions of its impartiality guidelines and found hundreds of nominal-fee programmes had been paid for by bodies ranging from United Nations departments to the Indonesian ministry of trade and a Cambodian casino firm.

It said the practice carried “inherent risk to independence and editorial integrity” and it has ordered an “industry-wide” meeting of news networks to address the matter.

The Ofcom probe, the biggest it has undertaken into television content, began after an investigation in 2011 by The Independent, which revealed that a London-based media company that had received millions of pounds from the Malaysian government for public relations work was making documentaries for the BBC on the subject of Malaysia. The Independent also detailed how the company, FBC Media (UK), had close ties to the American networks CNN and CNBC. Ofcom reported that both broadcasters had broken its rules on due impartiality. The regulator said it would now draw up new “best-practice guidelines” for broadcasters so that “viewers can continue to be confident in the independence of factual programming”.

It is also considering a public consultation on the matter with a view to changing its Broadcasting Code in this area. In a 112-page report, Ofcom said: “This was different from a normal investigation in that it covered programmes broadcast in over 200 countries, by three TV news channels.” Officials conducted “forensic analysis” of over 1,000 programmes and “hundreds of hours” of footage.

Read the entire article: BBC among broadcasters to repeatedly breach Ofcom code over propaganda content, by Ian Burrell, 17.8.15, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/tv-radio/bbc-among-broadcasters-to-repeatedly-breach-ofcom-code-over-propaganda-content-10459743.html

OPEN LETTER On Behalf of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Their Children

Prince-George-and-Princess-CharlotteI am writing to provide an overview of the current challenges facing Kensington Palace as we seek to protect Prince George and Princess Charlotte from harassment and surveillance by paparazzi photographers. I hope our experience will inform the ongoing effort to uphold standards on the protection of children in a rapidly changing media landscape.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have expressed their gratitude to British media organisations for their policy of not publishing unauthorised photos of their children. This stance, guided not just by their wishes as parents, but by the standards and codes of the industry as it relates to all children, is to be applauded. They are pleased also that almost all reputable publications throughout the Commonwealth – in particular Australia, Canada, and New Zealand – and in other major media markets like the United States have adopted a similar position.

The Duke and Duchess are glad that leaders in the media industry share the view that every child, regardless of their future public role, deserves a safe, happy, and private childhood. They have been delighted to share official photographs of Prince George and Princess Charlotte in recent months to thank the public for the thousands of kind messages of support they have received. News photographers have had several recent opportunities to take photos of the family and these will be a regular occurrence as both children get older.

Despite this, paparazzi photographers are going to increasingly extreme lengths to observe and monitor Prince George’s movements and covertly capture images of him to sell to the handful of international media titles still willing to pay for them. One recent incident – just last week – was disturbing, but not at all uncommon. A photographer rented a car and parked in a discreet location outside a children’s play area. Already concealed by darkened windows, he took the added step of hanging sheets inside the vehicle and created a hide stocked with food and drinks to get him through a full day of surveillance, waiting in hope to capture images of Prince George. Police discovered him lying down in the boot of the vehicle attempting to shoot photos with a long lens through a small gap in his hide.

It is of course upsetting that such tactics – reminiscent as they are of past surveillance by groups intent on doing more than capturing images – are being deployed to profit from the image of a two-year old boy. In a heightened security environment such tactics are a risk to all involved. The worry is that it will not always be possible to quickly distinguish between someone taking photos and someone intending to do more immediate harm.

This incident was not an isolated one. In recent months photographers have:

  • on multiple occasions used long range lenses to capture images of The Duchess playing with Prince George in a number of private parks;
  • monitored the movements of Prince George and his nanny around London parks and monitored the movements of other household staff;
  • photographed the children of private individuals visiting The Duke and Duchess’s home;
  • pursued cars leaving family homes;
  • used other children to draw Prince George into view around playgrounds;
  • been found hiding on private property in fields and woodland locations around The Duke and Duchess’s home in Norfolk;
  • obscured themselves in sand dunes on a rural beach to take photos of Prince George playing with his grandmother;
  • placed locations near the Middleton family home in Berkshire under steady surveillance

It is clear that while paparazzi are always keen to capture images of any senior member of The Royal Family, Prince George is currently their number one target. We have made the decision to discuss these issues now as the incidents are becoming more frequent and the tactics more alarming. A line has been crossed and any further escalation in tactics would represent a very real security risk.

All of this has left The Duke and Duchess concerned about their ability to provide a childhood for Prince George and Princess Charlotte that is free from harassment and surveillance. They know that almost all parents love to share photos of their children and they themselves enjoy doing so. But they know every parent would object to anyone – particularly strangers – taking photos of their children without their permission. Every parent would understand their deep unease at only learning they had been followed and watched days later when photographs emerged.

The Duke and Duchess are of course very fortunate to have private homes where photographers cannot capture images of their children. But they feel strongly that both Prince George and Princess Charlotte should not grow up exclusively behind palace gates and in walled gardens. They want both children to be free to play in public and semi-public spaces with other children without being photographed. In addition, the privacy of those other children and their families must also be preserved.

We hope a public discussion of these issues will help all publishers of unauthorised photos of children to understand the power they hold to starve this disturbing activity of funding. I would welcome constructive conversations with any publisher or editor on these topics. And I would ask for your help as we work to encourage the highest standards on the protection of children in every corner of the media. The Duke and Duchess are determined to keep the issues around a small number of paparazzi photographers distinct and separate from the positive work of most newspapers, magazines, broadcasters, and web publishers around the world.

The text from this letter, which has been sent to a number of people in leadership positions, will be placed in the public domain to raise awareness of the issues discussed.

Jason Knauf, Communications Secretary, Kensington Palace


patrick KaneEfforts to shift the culture of rape that places heavy burdens upon the victim may influence public perception in weighing the facts. The dilemma of course is that the extra-judicial statements, leaks, pre-trial speculation, and face book proclamations affect the ultimate quest for justice by offering nearly everything but the facts.

Alleged Facts

A summary of the reports surfacing about the ongoing investigation into the rape allegations reveal that the victim was 26 years old when she and a friend met a world-famous athlete at a local bar on August 2, 2015. He invited the pair back to his house, the friend wanted to go, the target did not, but she went any way to prevent her friend from going alone. A few hours later she was at the local hospital for forensic testing after being overpowered by the hockey star.

Two sources: a law enforcement official and a member of Buffalo’s legal community are reported to have leaked this information.

EA Sports then removed Kane’s photo from the cover of its NHL16 video game.




Flaming arrows merely need a pitch soaked rag round the arrowhead, lit, then fired into enemy lines.  The arrow’s aim: Death to the Target (in this case the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion).  The pitch: I have nothing better to do. The match: send /enter on the keyboard.The enemy is whoever offends your personal sense of right or wrong, regardless of the facts and for most any reason.

Reasonable debate has come full circle when the death of a Celebrity Lion has sparked massive outrage and calls for retribution.

Social media is not merely a vehicle for chiming in (where one agrees or disagrees with a brief qualification), it has become a force for leading the charge. Mob violence on the internet, for those who have nothing better to do or who feel passionately about issues that may only be tangentially related to their core beliefs has supplanted the drive to create meaningful societal change.

A day in the life: Eat breakfast, make a death threat, sign a petition, then play a game of soccer.

The many twists and turns:

Why the outrage?

It seems that most supporters of extradition for the dentist who paid for the score were offended because “this particular lion was special.” Are we to assume that any other lion would have been ok? Does it depend upon who you are (lion or hunter)? The professional hunter claims to have believed that the lion was old and beyond his reproductive years. Another says a hunt is a hunt and when the laws are followed it’s perfectly legal and thrilling to boot.

Others lament the loss of tourism translating into millions for the nation of Zimbabwe.

Conservationist argue that killing this one lion who led 2 prides could translate into the loss of many more, since a new male entering the pride would instinctually kill off Cecil’s cubs.

Those who value the sanctity of life are worried that Lions (and other animals) are becoming an endangered species for the thrill attending a morbid and depraved “sport.”

The African mother of the three year old child who was mauled and killed by two lion cubs applauds the effort in the service of needed animal control.

Then in true Danish Cartoon fashion, other hunters felt a need to defend and spread the risk to use the words of some European publishers. Rather than take a moment to reflect, the impulse is to defend and provoke. Dangerous times indeed.

I get it. I may never get the following image out of mind.


A picture must really be worth a thousand words because my own stomach is still a bit queasy.

Who will lead the charge for a reasoned debate and sensible solutions?

Calling on all professional media outlets to do more than capture the vitriol, vilification, and death threats, instead lead the world, now that Cecil has taken center stage, in understanding the whys and the why nots.