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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.


Friday, February 28, 2014

The Daily Drift

Editor's Note: Carolina Naturally will not be published on February 29,30 or 31 of this year. We need the vacation. We will return to our regular schedule on March 1, 2014.
Well, that is pretty straight forward ...

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Today in History

1066 Westminster Abbey, the most famous church in England, opens its doors.
1574 On the orders of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, two Englishmen and an Irishman are burnt for heresy.
1610 Thomas West is appointed governor of Virginia.
1704 Indians attack Deerfield, Mass. killing 40 and kidnapping 100.
1847 Colonel Alexander Doniphan and his ragtag Missouri Mounted Volunteers ride to victory at the Battle of Sacramento, during the Mexican War.
1861 The territory of Colorado is established.
1900 After a 119-day siege by the Boers, the surrounded British troops in Ladysmith, South Africa, are relieved.
1863 Four Union gunboats destroy the CSS Nashville near Fort McAllister, Georgia.
1916 Haiti becomes the first U.S. protectorate.
1924 U.S. troops are sent to Honduras to protect American interests during an election conflict.
1936 The Japanese Army restores order in Tokyo and arrests officers involved in a coup.
1945 U.S. tanks break the natural defense line west of the Rhine and cross the Erft River.
1946 The U.S. Army declares that it will use V-2 rocket to test radar as an atomic rocket defense system.
1953 Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia sign a 5-year defense pact in Ankara.
1967 In Mississippi, 19 are indicted in the slayings of three civil rights workers.
1969 A Los Angeles court refuses Robert Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan's request to be executed.
1971 The male electorate in Lichtenstein refuses to give voting rights to women.
1994 U.S. warplanes shoot down four Serb aircraft over Bosnia in the first NATO use of force in the troubled area.

Non Sequitur

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Chwedl Iarlles Y Ffynnon ac Arglwydd y coed.

Celtic Mythology:
The account of the Lord of the Forest in The Lady of the Fountain from the Mabinogi collection.

A little way within the wood thou wilt meet with a road branching off to the right, by which thou must proceed, until thou comest to a large sheltered glade with a mound in the center. And thou wilt see a black man of great stature on the top of the mound. He is not smaller in size than two of the men of this world. He has but one foot; and one eye in the middle of his forehead.

And he has a club of iron, and it is certain that there are no two men in the world who would not find their burden in that club. And he is not a comely man, but on the contrary he is exceedingly ill-favored; and he is the woodward of that wood. And thou wilt see a thousand wild animals grazing around him. Inquire of him the way out of the glade, and he will reply to thee briefly, and will point out the road by which thou shalt find that which thou art in quest of.'

Random Photos

Did you know ...

The repugican cabal answer to obamacare would strip 1 million of their healthcare

Just why are the 1% whining so much?

That a Missouri study calls for stricter gun-licensing laws

That Comcast-Time Warner doesn't pass the smell test


Is San Francisco becoming less liberal?

About hidden credit card fees: the banking industry's biggest cash cow

About 5 ways society punishes women for their sexuality

The repugicans are Busted for Trying to Use Fake IRS Scandal To Protect the Koch Brothers

Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) busted repugicans for trying to protect the secrecy of the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove.…
sandy levin 
Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) busted Republicans on Wednesday for trying to delay implementing new regulations concerning 501(c)(4) organizations.
Pointing out that the (c)(4) designation protects secrecy, Levin said, “That is exactly the secrecy that the repugicans are trying to preserve. Why? Because the three largest spenders representing fully 51% of the total are a who’s who list of repugican political operatives. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spent $71 million. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers, spent $36 million. The American Future Fund, also the Koch brothers, spent $25 million.”
Naturally repugicans, who wasted 14 million dollars and counting on ginning up this fake IRS scandal, want to make sure that actual political activities are not taken into account when determining if a group can qualify for tax exemption.
Watch here:
Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sandy Levin exploded on the floor as repugicans tried to delay implementing the regulations that were recommended after they brought attention to the IRS for alleged (and fictional) targeting of wingnuts.
First he called out the fact that there is absolutely no evidence of repugican claims that the White House had created an enemies list and was corrupt.
Levin tartly brought up the $14 million in taxpayer funds that repugicans had already thrown away trying to create a fake scandal for political reasons, and pointed out that after all of that money, we learned that absolutely nothing sinister was going on.
But repugicans were so concerned! SO CONCERNED that they spent $14 million dollars to investigate the IRS and yet they don’t want to implement the changes suggested to the IRS. Changes that Levin pointed out were designed to “bring certainty in determining whether an organization’s primary activities are political.”
Ah, yes. Now we are the heart of it. Levin recounted the way repugicans stomped their feet and insisted – while cameras were rolling – that these regulations be acted upon.
Then Levin got all truth buster on the repugican cabal and brought up the explosion of dark money groups after the Citizens United ruling, “Why is this important? Because applications for 501(c)(4) status have nearly doubled between 2010 and 2012 to 3,357, and 501(c)(4) spending has skyrocketed. In 2006 $1 million was spent by 501(c)(4) organizations. In 2010, $92 million was spent. And in 2012, $256 million was spent by 501(c)(4) organizations.”
Levin pointed out that this designation allows the organizations to keep their donors secret. And that this secrecy is actually what repugicans are trying to protect, “That is exactly the secrecy that the repugicans are trying to preserve. Why? Because the three largest spenders representing fully 51% of the total are a who’s who list of repugican political operatives. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spent $71 million. Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers, spent $36 million. The American Future Fund, also the Koch brothers, spent $25 million.”
Levin didn’t shy away from the truth, “If you live in a targeted state and you turn on your television, you have probably seen these groups that work at distorting the Affordable Care Act. That is why we are here today purely and simply. Not because repugicans want to stand up for the rights of social welfare organizations, and they often talk about small ones, but to preserve the secrecy around the repugicans’ big campaign efforts.”
And now, after all of the public drama, we get to the entire point of the repugican fable about the IRS, which we explained to you as it was going on. Yes, this is all about protecting dark money. It always has been. Levin demanded, “Why are we standing here and saying to the IRS don’t look at 501(c)(4)s. Don’t look at the possible massive abuse. Don’t look at what has happened in the last few years where political operatives, under the guise of 501(c)(4), have moved from $1 million in many cases to $256 million as reported to the FEC.”
Why are repugicans trying to force the IRS to look the other way? Because repugicans can’t win elections without dark money spreading lies about Democrats. The repugicans can’t afford to run on issues. They have to run on smears, since their policies are determined by the Koch Brothers et al, and thus benefit the top 1% instead of the people.
The repugican intention was to manipulate the IRS with a fake story that got a lot of press and thus would be the narrative that stuck in the public’s mind. The press has moved on and barely managed, if at all, to clarify that there was no scandal other than the fact that repugicans lied and schemed to manufacture this fake scandal for the cameras. The repugicans were pulling a classic Karl Rove — attack and put the IRS on the defense, along with the Obama administration as a whole. This way no one would feel free to actually investigate Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, etc, because it would look bad.
But it backfired. Sure, the public has been duped, but the Democrats did not bow down per usual. The Democrats are on the war path, and they aren’t going down without a fight.

Un-American Senate repugicans Threaten to Filibuster Veterans Benefits

The repugicans are threatening to filibuster Sen Bernie Sanders' bipartisan veterans bill, ostensibly because they want a better way to pay for it. …
veterans 
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced a bill with the most “the most comprehensive legislation for veterans to come before the Senate in decades,” per a one pager of the bill. It’s up for a vote Monday, around 3PM. This bill is chock full of very important benefits that our veterans are entitled to and should already have. It’s a bipartisan effort.
This legislation is the result of meetings with veterans’ groups and communities. It’s supported by “virtually every veterans organization in the country including The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).”
So naturally, repugicans are threatening to filibuster it, ostensibly because they want a better way to pay for it. They don’t like the war savings pay-for.
Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur tweeted:
Sahil Kapur @sahilkapur 
On Senate veterans bill: Rs open to allowing cloture to get on it, but they oppose war savings pay-for. So may filibuster before final vote.
And Manu Raju, Senior Congressional Reporter for POLITICO, tweeted:
Manu Raju         @mkraju 
Lindsey Graham says he will vote to proceed to the vets bill but won't vote to end debate unless there's a better way to pay for it
To explain, the CBO is required to assume that war spending will grow each and every year based on the rate of inflation, but since we are in the drawdown phase of both wars, we won’t be spending as much money on war. The supporters of the veterans bill are saying that this money will pay for the benefits, which seems kind of fitting.
But repugicans don’t like the idea. Maybe they don’t like anything with the phrase “drawdown” or “paid for” in it, it’s hard to say (given their unfunded tax cuts under the shrub, unfunded Medicare Part D, and unfunded wars).
But no matter how committed repugicans are to pretending to be fiscal conservatives when someone else is in charge, when we make promises to our veterans, we need to honor them.
Here’s what Sanders bill would mean, as laid out by a statement of support by DAV:
“This massive omnibus bill, unprecedented in our modern experience, would create, expand, advance, and extend a number of VA benefits, services and programs that are important to DAV and to our members. For example, responding to a call from DAV as a leading veterans organization, it would create a comprehensive family caregiver support program for all generations of severely wounded, injured and ill veterans. Also, the bill would authorize advance appropriations for VA’s mandatory funding accounts to ensure that in any government shutdown environment in the future, veterans benefits payments would not be delayed or put in jeopardy. This measure also would provide additional financial support to survivors of service members who die in the line of duty, as well as expanded access for them to GI Bill educational benefits. A two-plus year stalemate in VA’s authority to lease facilities for health care treatment and other purposes would be solved by this bill.”
And yet, John McCain claimed that Sanders doesn’t know what vets want. Burgess Everett, a POLITICO congressional reporter tweeted:
Apparently Senator McCain believes that he speaks for all veterans and apparently all veterans would rather not have these benefits (partial list):
Restoration of Full COLA for Military Retirees: This legislation would restore full cost-of-living adjustments for all military retirees.
• Authorization of Major Medical Facility Leases: This legislation would authorize VA to enter into 27 major medical facility leases in 18 states and Puerto Rico.
• VA Health Care and Dental Care Expansion: This legislation includes provisions that would expand access to VA health care – including complementary and alternative medicine – and dental care, in a cost-effective and equitable way.
• Advance Appropriations for VA: This legislation would ensure veterans receive consistent access to the benefits they have earned by establishing advance appropriations for the mandatory accounts at VA.
• Ending the benefits backlog: Members from both sides of the aisle have presented legislative solutions (incorporated in this bill) that would support VA’s ongoing efforts and would make needed improvements to the claims system.
• In-State Tuition Assistance for Post-9/11 Veterans: This legislation would give our transitioning servicemembers a fair shot at attaining their educational goals without incurring an additional financial burden.
McCain says, “Thanks, but no thanks,” on behalf of veterans and their families.
When it comes to insisting on paying for things a certain way, repugicans are hardly experts. This is the party that smirked “deficits don’t matter” as they racked up the charges on Obama’s credit card. Now they want Obama to pay off the entire credit card including the interest from their sprees, but without any revenue. And if he dares to try to uphold previous commitments to veterans, repugicans tell him he must pay for it their way first.
Sure, war savings are a bit of a gimmick, but then again, they’re not. Democrats prefer to spend that money on things like education and a social safety net, while repugicans are very hawkish and enjoy running about the globe invading a sovereign nation on a misguided and inaccurate whim. When the money is being spent on their invasions, repugicans don’t even bother putting the war on the budget. But when that same money is moved over into the veterans’ column, suddenly they call it a gimmick.

The Truth Be Told

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The repugican cabal Can’t Decide if the Majority Matters

The religio-wingnuts Right want to harness the tyranny of the majority if they can get it, and ignore the majority if they can't…
ReligiousOppressioninAmerica 
The (un)American (anti)Family Association (AFA) posted a despairing yet jubilant note on their FB page meant, I suppose, to rally the troops, who, while being a majority of Americans, are also somehow, paradoxically, a persecuted minority:
READ & SHARE: Thank you for your vigilance in standing with AFA for Truth. Here is an important reminder today from Joe McKeever, “We may want to prepare our children for the changes coming to this society whether we like them or not: The marginalization of biblical christianity, the erosion of hard-won liberties, the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle in every area of our culture, gay marriage accepted everywhere, and certain cults (we will leave them unnamed here) to be seen as part of orthodox christianity. One scripture, however, becomes more and more important to god’s people: “Their unbelief does not nullify the faithfulness of god…. Rather, let god be found true, though every man be found a liar” (romans 3:3-4). god’s word was not given to us “on approval,” friend. It stands!”
So let’s get this straight:
  1. biblical christianity (as opposed to, I suppose, non-biblical christianity), is being marginalized;
  2. Unspecified but hard-won liberties are being eroded;
  3. The homosexual lifestyle is being accepted in every area of our culture;
  4. Gay marriage is being accepted everywhere;
  5. Certain other cults (look out, Mitt Romney!) want to be seen as part of orthodox christianity.
The problem seems here, at least, to be the will of the people. All these people the AFA is complaining about, want what the bible allegedly says they cannot have. The will of the people is being heeded, and that’s a problem, says the AFA, because it’s contrary to the bible.
If you find this mish-mash of ideas to be, well, a mish-mash of ideas, think about mish-mashed Iowa repugican Bob Vander Plaats. Vander Plaats is the head of The (anti)Family (mis)Leader (surely you remember the infamous (anti)Family (mis)Leader pledge that said blacks were better off as slaves?).
Vander Plaats is upset that the U.S. Constitution trumps state constitutions, and he is doubly upset with Rand Paul for doing nothing as a response to a judge striking down Kentucky’s marriage ban, despite the fact that really, there is nothing Paul can do.
Well, I think one thing is that he needs to step up to the microphone. This is his state, this is Kentucky. This is something that runs totally against who he is. I mean, he’s about liberty. And if it’s about liberty, and if you have a judge usurping the will of the people of Kentucky, that runs contrary to liberty. If you believe marriage is a state rights issue and the state of Kentucky says, ‘This is what marriage is to us, one man and one woman, clearly defined,’ then you better stand up to that state rights issue. If you believe what you say you believe, that marriage is foundational and it’s between a man and a woman, which is what he says he believes, then you got to stand up for that, because that’s the law of nature, that’s the law of nature’s god, that’s the Declaration of Independence, which this whole country was founded on.
The problem here (other than the problematic nature of “traditional marriage” itself) also centers around the will of the people; specifically, that the will of the people is being ignored. The lesson to be drawn here seems to be that,
  1. If the majority want something the bible says they cannot have, the majority is wrong and must be denied; and,
  2. If the majority want what the bible says they must have, then the majority must be heeded; therefore,
  3. Only what the bible says matters (Oh, and as a logical consequence, the Constitution doesn’t – not at all).
The Declaration of Independence Vander Plaats says, somehow managing not to mention the U.S. Constitution – you know, the one Tom DeLay says Americans have forgotten was written by god. You know, the Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion by banning the sort of state sponsored religion the AFA and Vander Plaats want to impose on America?
Just as a side note to Tom DeLay: you don’t see god’s name on the United States Constitution, and you won’t anywhere within it find any biblical principles. Saying that the Constitution is identical with the Bible is just a means by which the Constitution can be swept aside and ignored, because, after all, it just says what the bible says.
I suppose one method of turning back the “marginalization of biblical christianity” is to adopt Bryan Fischer’s scheme to allow into this country only christians immigrants fleeing from muslim persecution, because, you know, that’s what it says on the Statue of Liberty: “christians only.”
Oh wait, it doesn’t say that at all, does it? No more than the Constitution says the First Amendment applies only to christians. The Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” – without exception, while the old testament repugicans are so fond of quoting says its teachings are for the Chosen People of Israel – without exception, something to which Jesus himself agreed when he told his followers not to give to dogs what is holy or to throw pearls before swine.
The old testament was never meant to apply to us gentiles, yet here we have it being forced down our throats despite god’s expressed will in the old testament and the will of our Founding Fathers as expressed in the United States Constitution.
The religio-wingnuts want to harness the tyranny of the majority if they can get it, and ignore the majority if they can’t, all the while ignoring the Constitution that, rather than the bible or the majority in individual states, cities or towns, is the law of the land.

The repugicans’ Worst Nightmare Comes True ...

Support For Repealing Obamacare Hits All Time Low
John Boehner, Mitch McConnell 
A new Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll dealt a blow to repugicans by finding that support for repealing the ACA has hit an all time of low of 31%.
There is bad news all over the place for repugicans in the poll, “When it comes to next steps on the law, a majority say it should be kept in place, including 48 percent who want Congress to work to improve it and 8 percent who say it should be kept as is. Fewer say Congress should repeal the law and replace it with a repugican-sponsored alternative (12 percent) or repeal it and not replace it (19 percent).”
To put it another way, the only issue that the repugicans thought they had in their favor in 2014 has turned against them. The repugican cabal has it all wrong. The majority doesn’t think that Obamacare is a job killing monstrosity that must be killed today. Most people want the law to stay in place, but they also want political leaders to improve it.
While 48% of respondents want the law to be worked on and improved, only 12% support the Republicans’ big idea that they can replace Obamacare with their own alternative. The American people have taken a contradictory view of the ACA. By a margin of 47% to 35%, the law itself remains unpopular, but a majority (56%) don’t want the law repealed or replaced.
It is very possible that a majority may never warmly embrace the ACA, but they also understand the need for healthcare reform, so they don’t want the law to go away either. It is a complicated position, and repugicans have set themselves up for total failure by embracing such a black and white approach to the ACA.
The good news for Democrats is that candidates who run on improving the ACA are likely to get a warm reception from voters. Since repugicans refuse to do anything that would keep the existing law in place, Democrats have an uncontested playing field when it comes to improving the law.
A majority wants this country to move forward on healthcare reform, but they understand that Obamacare is not the perfect finished policy product.
This adds up to a win for President Obama and the Democrats.
The repugican cabal’s worst nightmare has always been that Obamacare would grow in popularity over time. The ACA isn’t getting more popular, but the actual healthcare reform law is growing in support. This is disastrous news for repugicans who have based the entire election strategy for 2014 and 2016 on getting rid of Obamacare.
The American people are speaking, and they want their affordable healthcare to be here to stay.

New repugican Plot to Kill Obamacare Would Cost 1 Million Workers Their Health Insurance

boehner-surprised
According to the CBO, the latest repugican attempt to kill Obamacare through adding 10 more hours to the work week would cost 1 million workers their employer provided healthcare. The CBO report on the House bill that would increase the work week in the ACA from 30 hours to 40 hours found that the bill would increase the deficit, and take away health insurance from 1 million workers.
The CBO laid out the consequences of this repugican plan to American workers:
cbo-1
cbo-2
The CBO’s findings are more proof that repealing, or limiting the ACA will harm the country. The repugican plan would force half of the 1 million workers who will lose their health insurance to get on Medicare or Medicaid. The repugicans would be shooting themselves in the feet because they would be adding people to the same programs that they are trying to kill.
All of the repugican efforts to kill the ACA are based around the same idea of taking access to healthcare away from the American people. To call this latest House repugican scheme harebrained would be an understatement. The repugican plan to “fix” Obamacare is to take away healthcare from millions of people. As a bonus, the cabal of 'fiscal conservative' also wants to increase the deficit while they increase the ranks of the uninsured by 500,000 hard working Americans.
House repugicans are so determined to injure the ACA that they are willing to increase the culture of “government dependency” that they rail against every single day. Small government repugicans are going to meddle in the affairs of private businesses for the sole purpose of scoring a political victory against President Obama.
The CBO’s report demonstrated once again that every single repugican Obamacare talking point is a lie. The ACA is lowering deficit, providing millions with access to affordable health insurance, and not killing jobs.
The repugicans aren’t harming President Obama with their plots to kill the ACA. They are harming millions of Americans, and without even realizing it, they are also harming themselves.

I'm quitting my job ...

... Thanks Obamacare!

by Tami Luhby Obamacare will allow Karen Willmus to quit her job and form a start-up with her daughter. (Courtesy: Karen Willmus) 
Obamacare will allow Karen Willmus to quit her job and form a start-up with her daughter. 
Now that Karen Willmus can get health insurance through Obamacare, she plans to quit teaching 9th grade English at the end of the school year. The 51-year-old found policies on the Colorado state exchange for about $300 a month. That's less than what she's paying now for employer-sponsored coverage and less than half what she paid on the individual market in 2007.
Like Willmus, millions of people could quit their jobs or cut back on their hours in coming years because of Obamacare, according to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office.
The report found that Obamacare could reduce the labor force by the equivalent of 2.5 million workers by 2024, as many Americans may opt to work less to retain eligibility for Medicaid or subsidies. That sparked a fresh round of criticism that health reform is hurting the economy.
But for some, Obamacare is allowing them to become entrepreneurs or retire a few years early since they'll be able to find affordable individual coverage for the first time.
Instead of eating bonbons on her couch, Willmus plans to start her own business with her teen daughter publishing materials for non-native English speakers and others looking to improve their literacy. She expects to work even more than she does now and hire two or three people.
"I can't afford to go out and buy insurance while trying to start a business," said Willmus, of Colorado Springs, Colo. "Obamacare will allow me to be more comfortable at risking what I own."
For others, Obamacare frees them to leave a job before they qualify for Medicare.
Edward Perri's job as a grocery clerk has caused him constant back and knee pain in recent years, but he continued to work because he needed insurance. Obamacare allowed him to retire in December after 39 years, 4 months and 23 days on the job.
His retiring at 57 allowed a more junior employee to move up on the job, said Perri, who is single and lives in Muskegon, Mich. Had Obamacare not existed, he'd either have to try to tough it out until he qualified for Medicare at 65 or pay $500 a month for COBRA coverage.
Instead, he's paying $50 a month for a policy. And, as he sees it, the $450 that he would have sent to an insurance company is going to buy groceries, fix his car and take a vacation with his girlfriend.
"That is money I spend in the local economy, creating and saving jobs," he said.
Others may not retire right away, but Obamacare gives them more options to cut back or venture in another direction.
Craig Mason, 59, said he has felt tied to his job as an engineer at a large defense contractor because he and his wife needed health insurance. A diabetic, he couldn't get affordable coverage on the individual market.
Now, however, he's thinking of leaving his employer in a few years to focus more on his side job, repairing and building guitars and other string instruments. He also wants to spend more time with his three grandchildren.
"I want to try something different," said Mason, a Germantown, Md., resident. "I don't want to be tied to a large corporation. The Affordable Care Act may be just the vehicle to bridge the gap until I'm eligible for Medicare."

Random Celebrity Photos

retrogirly:

Ann-Margret
Ann-Margret

Alabama family adopts 4 kids amid Ukraine violence

David and Lisa Bundy knew adopting four orphans at once from Ukraine would be stressful.
But it wasn't until the bullets started flying and homemade bombs exploded outside the apartment where they were staying in the capital of the eastern European country that the Alabama couple discovered just how stressful it could be.
Last week, the Bundys, of Montgomery, stayed in an apartment in Kiev a half-mile from Independence Square, the center of violent protests. They listened to gunfire and explosions, and the children played games and tried to sleep as bullets whizzed by their balcony.
"It was a constant boom, boom, boom," said David Bundy in an interview at the couple's Montgomery home Monday, a day after he returned with three of the children. "It was three or four explosions every 10 seconds."
The couple had planned to return home together after the last of the four adoptions, that of 16-year-old Nastia, was finalized, but decided it would be best if David Bundy headed home early with the others to escape the violence.
He arrived in Montgomery on Sunday night with 14-year-old Karina; 11-year-old Max; and 9-year-old Alla. Lisa Bundy remained behind in Kiev with Nastia.
"The children became afraid of what was going on, and then it became more of a safety issue," David Bundy said.
Bundy, a 47-year-old freelance photographer, and Lisa Bundy, 40, an emergency room physician, began looking at adoption after not having any children of their own. They first looked at domestic adoptions, but got dismayed by the paperwork and long wait.
In the summer of 2013, the couple volunteered with Bridges of Faith, a program that brings orphans from Ukraine to Alabama for a month of cultural enrichment. Through the program, they met Nastia and made plans to adopt her. Later, they met Karina and her siblings and decided their home could handle four children.
"Something felt very right about them being with us," Bundy said.
Bundy said adopting from Ukraine costs about the same as a domestic adoption, but can be challenging as it requires working with lawyers and courts outside of the U.S. The couple arrived in Kiev on Nov. 22 and rented an apartment near Independence Square because it is where restaurants, shops and government agencies are located.
Bundy said the protests in the square began about a week before they arrived, but they didn't think anything about them because they were peaceful.
"We had to deal with protesters constantly. It was part of our daily routine," Bundy said.
Gradually, however, the protests turned into violent clashes with police and the police disappeared from Bundy's neighborhood. "The protesters themselves became our police department," he said.
Despite the violence, government agencies and courts stayed open, and the Bundys were able to complete three of the adoptions. Nastia's was held up by a paperwork problems and a judge's illness, David Bundy said.
He recalled a night last week when the family tried to sleep despite repeated explosions. Two of the younger children crawled in bed with Nastia. "It was Nastia's first opportunity to be a big sister," he said.
David Bundy, who has worked as a photographer for newspapers in Mississippi and Alabama and done freelance work for The Associated Press, ventured out occasionally to take pictures of the violence. On Friday, the whole family went to Independence Square to see the burned buildings and torched cars. They inadvertently walked into the memorial service for a slain protester.
"I wanted to have something sort of as a historical record for our family," he said. "It is not just Ukrainian history. It's our family's history."
David Bundy and the three children celebrated their arrival in the United States on Sunday with a pepperoni pizza. Meanwhile, Lisa Bundy and Nastia moved to a safer area on the outskirts of Kiev to wait for her adoption to become final, hopefully on March 3.
With an interim government under construction, Bundy worries about delays. He notes the couple would not have been able to adopt Nastia if they had waited until after her 16th birthday.
"We are Nastia's last hope," he said.
Assuming the adoption finishes on time, Lisa Bundy and Nastia will fly home for a delayed Christmas celebration. David Bundy and the other children put up the Christmas tree Monday morning. By that afternoon, Max had already found the closet where their presents were hidden.
"It didn't take 24 hours," Bundy said.
Before heading to Ukraine, the Bundys remodeled their home to accommodate four children and made plans for helping the children learn English and start their American educations. But they still have one little problem to address: They both drive MINI Coopers.
"I love my MINI Cooper. I'm trying to see if there is a way to put a side car on one," the new dad said.

A lad from Lviv becomes the toast of Kiev

Anti-presidential protester Volodymyr Parasiuk addresses the crowd as opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko (L) looks on during a rally in Kiev February 21, 2014. When the history of the bloody turbulence in Ukraine is written, 26-year-old Parasiuk who learned combat skills in the army cadets may be recorded as the man who made up Viktor Yanukovich's mind to cut and run. To match Insight UKRAINE-CRISIS/HERO Picture taken February 21, 2014. REUTERS/Vitaliy Nosach (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST PROFILE)
by Richard Balmforth
When the history of the bloody turbulence in Ukraine is written, a 26-year-old who learned combat skills in the army cadets may be recorded as the man who made up Viktor Yanukovich's mind to cut and run.
Cars toot a welcome and passers-by press the hand of Volodymyr Parasiuk, a boyish-looking individual who finds it embarrassing to be called a hero.
He reserves that title for his comrades and other protesters among the 80 or so people killed on the capital's streets last week in three days of fighting against Yanukovich's police.
But after opposition leaders had signed an EU-brokered deal with President Yanukovich to end the conflict, it was Parasiuk who commandeered the microphone on Friday night to turn the crowd against it.
With former boxing champion and opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko looking on stony-faced, Parasiuk, from the western city of Lviv, made an electrifying impromptu speech denouncing the opposition for "shaking hands with this killer".
No-one was going to wait for an election later in the year, he said. Yanukovich had to get out of town by the following morning or face the consequences.
To the dismay of opposition leaders, Parasiuk's emotional address - he broke down on several occasions as he remembered dead comrades - touched a chord deep within the thousands on Independence Square who roared their approval.
The opposition had failed to sell their achievements to the 'Maidan', the name for both the square and the protest movement.
An agreement, painstakingly negotiated with EU foreign ministers over a sleepless night, was effectively dead.
The writing was on the wall for Yanukovich.
He flew out of Kiev by helicopter that night, Ukraine's acting interior minister said, and on Tuesday was on the run somewhere in Ukraine, being sought for "mass murder".
"Opposition leaders said they had agreed that there would be early elections in December. This was the Ukrainian people's last drop of patience," Parasiuk told Reuters in an interview.
"Emotions were overflowing because we had lost a great number of people. Suddenly these politicians come and say 'Yanukovich will stay as president and there will be elections.' I have a clear position. Yanukovich is a terrorist, Terrorist Number One, for Ukraine," Parasiuk said.
FLIGHT OF YANUKOVICH
That Friday night, Yanukovich set off on a zig-zag by helicopter and car across eastern and southern Ukraine, looking either for a safe haven or a flight out of the country.
Some believe he may have already decided he was going to flee even before the 'Maidan' gave thumbs-down to the agreement.
Ukraine's opposition, buoyed by the direct intervention of three EU ministers from Germany, Poland and France, had signed an agreement that seemed to meet many of their demands.
It provided for early elections, a national unity government and return to a previous constitution that would take away from Yanukovich control over the appointment of the prime minister and make-up of the government, and return it to parliament.
Almost immediately, the parliament, where Yanukovich's grip had been weakened by desertions by deputies from his Party of Regions, began voting many of these proposals into law.
Those who saw Yanukovich sign the deal saw an unsmiling figure unhappy about what he was giving away, and aware of the risk he ran in a rapidly-unfolding drama.
"It was as if he knew more about the dire straits he was in. He did not seem as invincible and aloof as he did before. He didn't look scared but he did not look so sure," said one witness to the signing.
KLITSCHKO APOLOGY
Either way, when opposition leaders took the deal to the Maidan for definitive approval on Friday night, it blew up in their faces - thanks to Parasiuk's emotional intervention.
Klitschko and other opposition leaders had already spoken of their achievements in putting a deal together.
But there was a mixed reception from the Maidan. Booing, whistling and cat-calls gave Parasiuk his cue.
As the crowds carried open coffins of victims to the stage where he and opposition leaders stood, Parasiuk, his voice breaking, jumped to the microphone.
"We ordinary people are saying this to the politicians who stand behind us: 'No Yanukovich is going to be a president for a whole year'," he said to roars of support from the crowd.
"Our kinsmen have been shot and our leaders shake hands with this killer. This is shame. Tomorrow, by 10 o'clock, he has to be gone," Parasiuk declared.
Yanukovich was, in fact, gone long before that, flying out of Kiev by helicopter that Friday night to the eastern city of Kharkiv, according to acting interior minister Arsen Avakov.
Diplomatic insiders say Yanukovich may already have had doubts about whether the agreement could hold. Benefiting from intelligence on the streets, he knew how the wind was blowing.
Two of the three main opposition leaders - former economy minister Arseny Yatsenyuk and far-right nationalist Oleg Tyahnibok - left the stage quickly after Parasiuk's speech.
Klitschko returned and apologized for shaking hands with Yanukovich.
ON THE RUN
Though ousted by the fledgling new parliament, Yanukovich, appearing in the town of Kharkiv on Saturday, issued a televised statement saying he was still president. But the new authorities on Monday said he was now wanted for "mass murder".
Some reports have him hiding in a monastery in Donetsk, though Reuters reporters on Monday saw no sign of unusual activity there. He might be in Crimea. Given Russia's Black Sea fleet has a base in Sevastopol, he might even be on a Russian ship, some people theorise.
If Parasiuk had not made the intervention he did, someone else would have, one diplomat opined.
Looking back on that heady Friday night, Parasiuk, who headed a "self-defense" unit with a membership of between 40 and 130 fighters, defended his sharp criticism of Klitschko and the other opposition leaders.
"Everything that had been achieved had been by the people of the Maidan. But they had achieved nothing," he said in an interview in a restaurant in downtown Kiev.
Parasiuk, a single man with a disarming smile whose girlfriend, Iryna, sat with him, said he had participated "actively" in clashes with police though he declined to say what weapons he had used.
He defended the power of the 'Maidan' with the passion of an 18th century French revolutionary.
Asked when Kiev's barricades would come down, he replied: "If the Maidan disperses, politicians will stop being afraid. We are not going away. We will not allow a repeat of what happened in 2004," he said.
He was referring to the Orange Revolution of 2004-5 which stopped Yanukovich's first bid for the presidency but produced governments that collapsed amid in-fighting and allowed him to come to power in 2010.
He spelled out a message that Ukraine's emerging leadership may have to heed carefully as it strives to make a peaceful transition to a post-Yanukovich order.
The new authorities, he said, must understand that the Maidan is the real power, not the 450 parliamentary deputies.
"My declaration from the stage had one aim: to tell the opposition: 'Understand this. That if you do not fulfill our conditions then things will be as we decide, not as you decide'."
"We simply told them: 'Lads, act decisively because if you don't, we will'," Parasiuk said.

California Couple Finds $10M Buried Treasure in Back Yard

by Dina Abou Salem California Couple Finds $10M Buried Treasure in Back Yard (ABC News) 
California Couple Finds $10M Buried Treasure in Back Yard 
A California couple spotted the edge of an old can on a path they had hiked many times before. Poking at the can was the first step in uncovering a buried treasure of rare coins estimated to be worth $10 million.
"It was like finding a hot potato," the couple told coin expert Dr. Don Kagan from Kagin's, Inc. The couple hired the president of Kagin's, Inc. and Holabird-Kagin Americana, a western Americana dealer and auctioneer, to represent them.
"Since 1981, people have been coming to us with one or two coins they find worth a few thousand dollars, but this is the first time we get someone with a whole cache of buried coins… It is a million to one chance, even harder than winning the lottery," Kagan told ABCNews.com.
The couple is trying to remain anonymous after finding the five cans of coins last spring on their Tiburon property in northern California and conducted an interview with Kagin.
"I never would have thought we would have found something like this. However, in a weird way I feel like I have been preparing my whole life for it," the couple said.
 
 "I saw an old can sticking out of the ground on a trail that we had walked almost every day for many, many years. I was looking down in the right spot and saw the side of the can. I bent over to scrape some moss off and noticed that it had both ends on it," they said.
It was the first of five cans to be unearthed, each packed with gold coins.
"Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition," said Kagan said.
He said Tuesday that the couple plan to sell most of the coins, but before they do, they are "loaning some to the American Numismatic Association for its National Money Show, which opens Thursday in Atlanta."
"Some of the rarest coins could fetch as much as $1 million apiece," said Kagan. He also said that they wish to sell 90 percent of the collection through Amazon.com and on the company's website.
"We'd like to help other people with some of this money. There are people in our community who are hungry and don't have enough to eat. We'll also donate to the arts and other overlooked causes. In a way it has been good to have time between finding the coins and being able to sell them in order to prepare and adjust. It's given us an opportunity to think about how to give back," said the couple.
Kagan and his colleague David McCarthy, senior numismatist and researcher at Kagin's, met with the couple last April, two months after the hoard was found.
When McCarthy and Kagan told the couple that their bonanza will be in the annals of numismatic stories for quite some time, the couple said, "It would have been quite a pity not to share the magnitude of our find. We want to keep the story of these coins intact for posterity."

Chicago PD's Big Data

Using pseudoscience to justify racial profiling

The Chicago Police Department has ramped up the use of its "predictive analysis" system to identify people it believes are likely to commit crimes. These people, who are placed on a "heat list," are visited by police officers who tell them that they are considered pre-criminals by CPD, and are warned that if they do commit any crimes, they are likely to be caught.
The CPD defends the practice, and its technical champion, Miles Wernick from the Illinois Institute of Technology, characterizes it as a neutral, data-driven system for preventing crime in a city that has struggled with street violence and other forms of crime. Wernick's approach involves seeking through the data for "abnormal" patterns that correlate with crime. He compares it with epidemiological approaches, stating that people whose social networks have violence within them are also likely to commit violence.
The CPD refuses to share the names of the people on its secret watchlist, nor will it disclose the algorithm that put it there.
This is a terrible way of running a criminal justice system.
Let's start with transparency, because that's the most obviously broken thing here. The designers of the algorithm assure us that it is considering everything relevant, nothing irrelevant, and finding statistically valid correlations that allow them to make useful predictions about who will commit crime. In an earlier era, we would have called this discrimination -- or even witchhunting -- because the attribution of guilt (or any other trait) through secret and unaccountable systems is a superstitious, pre-rational way of approaching any problem.
The purveyors of this technology cloak themselves in the mantel of science. The core tenet of science, the thing that distinguishes it from all other ways of knowing, is the systematic publication and review of hypotheses and the experiments conducted to validate them. The difference between a scientist and an alchemist isn't their area of study: it's the method they use to validate their conclusions.
An algorithm that only works if you can't see it is not science, it's a conjuring trick. My six year old can do that trick: she can make anything disappear provided you don't look while she's doing it and don't ask her to open her hands and show you what's in them. Asserting that you're doing science but you can't explain how you're doing it is a nonsense on its face.
Now let's think about objectivity: the system that the CPD and its partners have designed purports to objectivity because it uses numbers and statistics to make its calculations. But -- transparency again -- without insight into how the system runs its numbers, we have no way of debating and validating the way it weighs different statistics. And what about those statistics? We know -- because of transparent, rigorous scholarship, and because of high-profile legal cases -- that police intervention is itself not neutral. From stop-and-search to arrest to prosecutorial zeal or discretion, the whole enterprise of crime statistics is embedded in a wider culture in which human beings with social power and representing the status quo can and do make subjective decisions about how to characterize individual acts.
Put more simply: if cops, judges and prosecutors are more likely to give white people in rich neighborhoods in possession of cocaine an easier time than they give black people in poor neighborhoods in possession of crack (and they do), then your data-mining exercise will disproportionately weight blackness and poorness as being correlated with felonies. Garbage in, garbage out -- there's nothing objective and scientifically rigorous about using flawed data to generate flawed conclusions.
But even assuming that this stuff could be made to work: is it a valid approach to crimefighting?
Consider that the root of this methodology is social network analysis. Your place on the heat-list is explicitly not about what you've done or who you are: it's about who your friends are and what they've done. The idea that people's social circles tell us something about their own character is as old as the proverb "A man is known by the company he keeps." Certainly, it wasn't a new idea to the framers of the Constitution (after all, the typical framer was both a member of a secret society and had recently participated in a guerrilla revolution -- they knew a thing or two about the predictive value of social network analysis).
But the framers explicitly guaranteed "freedom of association," in the First Amendment. Why? Because while "birds of a feather stick together," the criminalization of friendship is a corrosive force that drives apart the bonds that make us into a society. In other words: if the Chicago PD think that crime can only be fought by discriminating against people based on their friendships, they need to get a constitutional amendment before they put that plan into action.
Finally, this program assumes that its interventions will be positive, and this assumption is anything but assured. The idea that being told that you are likely to commit crimes will prevent you from doing so is no more obvious that the idea that being treated as a presumptive criminal will lead you to commit crimes. What's more, well-known, well-documented cognitive biases (theory blindness, confirmation bias) are alive and well in the criminal justice system: if someone on the blacklist is suspected of doing something minor, we should expect the police, prosecutors and judge to treat them more harshly than they would someone plucked from off the street. If you're already in a machine-generated ethnicity of pre-criminals, society will deal with you accordingly.
What's more, this will lead to more arrests, harsher charges and longer sentences for pre-criminals -- seemingly validating the methodology. It's the Big Data version of witchburning, a modern pseudoscience cloaked in the respectability of easily manipulated statistics and suspicious metaphors from public health.

Ziggy

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1870s "Femme Fatale" ring pistol shoots tiny bullets

Sold at auction for $11,350.
The finely crafted curiosa German silver ring revolver, the band engraved with herringbone borders and legend: Femme Fatale. Top mounted with 7-shot brown-finished cylinder with fold-down fire-blued trigger and outer spring band. Contained with accompanying seven cartridges and tiny screwdriver in green velvet-lined, dark red leather-covered ring case with silver button escutcheon reading: "Femme Fatale."

1866: Britain Builds the First Jet-Powered Warship


HMS Waterwitch 
During the 1860s, the Royal Navy experimented with new types of warships to replace the aging generation of screw-propelled steamships. Among them was the 1,160-ton HMS Waterwitch. This ship used a novel form of propulsion: water jets.
This system was known as the Ruthven impeller--a water turbine invented by Scottish engineer Morris West Ruthven. The impeller measured 14.5 feet across and weighed 8 tons. It rotated on a vertical axis inside a chamber 19 feet across. Two water jet nozzles opening just below the waterline fed water into the chamber. Two 160-horsepower steam engines powered the pumps which sucked water through the nozzles and into the impeller chamber.


The water turbine on the Waterwitch
Because of its design, the Waterwitch could theoretically move forward or reverse at equal speed simply by reversing the jets. There was a rudder at the bow as well at the stern, so it could also control its movement in reverse. This could be helpful when attempting to ram an enemy ship, so the Waterwitch was equipped with armored rams at both ends.
The Waterwitch engaged in sea trials in 1867. Unfortunately, it proved to be slow and could reach a speed of only 9.23 knots. In reverse, it could move 7.9 knots, which was not bad, but did not live up to expectations. The Waterwitch also proved to be difficult to maneuver.
A Royal Navy panel assembled to examine the Waterwitch concluded that the design was a failure because it was difficult to draw water into the inlet of the pump and the water that was taken on board increased the weight of the ship. Also, the system experienced power losses due to bends in the water passages and friction from the water going through those passages.
Naval architect Albert E. Seaton argues that the Waterwitch might have moved faster if it had heavier boilers, larger water passages and a bigger chamber for the impeller. But this, of course, would have made the ship heavier.
Consequently, the Waterwitch’s innovations were not put to broader use. The ship was struck in 1887 and scrapped in 1890.

North Korea at Night


The crew of the International Space Station recorded video of the earth on January 30, over Asia at night. As they flew over the Korean Penninsula, you can see the stark differences between countries. Here, South Korea look like a big island, because North Korea has so few lights.
The darkened land appears as if it were a patch of water joining the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan. Its capital city, Pyongyang, appears like a small island, despite a population of 3.26 million (as of 2008). The light emission from Pyongyang is equivalent to the smaller towns in South Korea.

Coastlines are often very apparent in night imagery, as shown by South Korea’s eastern shoreline. But the coast of North Korea is difficult to detect. These differences are illustrated in per capita power consumption in the two countries, with South Korea at 10,162 kilowatt hours and North Korea at 739 kilowatt hours.
China appears comparatively well-lit, too. See a video of the flyover at Death and Taxes.

Choquequirao

Choquequirao
Little known to the world, this ancient Peruvian city is often referred to as Machu Picchu's sister city.  However, we wholeheartedly believe it is a worthy destination on its own.  Deemed the "Lost City of the Incas," Machu Picchu is not so nameless anymore with more than one million visitors every year.  Travelers can avoid these crowds and discover the amazing 15th century Choquequirao ruins located in the Salkantay Mountain Range.
A visit to Choquequirao is challenging with steep ascents, stone terraces, and strenuous two-day hikes each way.  Not to mention, it necessitates crossing the Apurimac River in a basket suspended from a cable!  Those up for the adventure will not be disappointed by their reward of stunning vistas, gorgeous campsites, and the liberty to explore the mysterious Incan ruins.
Camping on the Choquequirao trek 
Camping on the Choquequirao trek
Plans are in place to build a tram that will provide easier access to Choquequirao.  As a result, this area could see a dramatic increase in tourism.  The Peruvian government hopes to have the tram system completed by 2015.  Therefore, this is perhaps the last year to experience the current Choquequirao.  If you are up for the challenge, learn more about taking the Choquequirao trek.

Daily Comic Relief

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Grapes Have Acne!

Acne can really be a huge downer during your teenage years. Now, for the first time, we're seeing human bacteria spread to plants! Trace reveals the shocking news that acne is spreading to an unlikely victim ...grapes!

Earth News

On February 13, ice covered 88 percent of the Great Lakes, the largest extent since 1996 and approaching the 1979 record.
Volcanic eruptions may slow climate change by spewing mirror-like particles in the air.
Radiation from Japan's leaking nuclear power plant has reached waters off the shore of Canada, though it's not dangerous.
The mysterious spirals are in fact an environmental art installation.
With the anticipated return of frigid weather across the northern United States this week, many are wondering if this is yet another 'polar vortex' event.

What's climate change ruining now?

Your seafood dinner. 

Scallops are pretty much the best. Definitely one of my all-time top favorite foods. Unfortunately, besides being delicious, scallops are also heavily impacted by ocean acidification. As much as 40% of the carbon dioxide emissions humans produce end up absorbed by the oceans, which raises the acidity of those waters, which is bad for animals like scallops. A Vancouver seafood company recently lost 10 million scallops — three years' worth of scallop seedlings — to rising ocean acidity.

The Lost Cow Tunnels Of New York City

Like every other major metropolis, New York City has tunnels for people, tunnels for cars, and lots of tunnels for trains. But it also has something rather more unique: tunnels for cows. Or does it? This is the story of New York's lost, forgotten, or perhaps just mythical subterranean meat infrastructure.

Animal News

Early-life isolation -- a common practice on dairy farms -- may be depriving baby cows of the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Dozens of fossilized whales, seals and other marine animals have been discovered piled up in an ancient tidal flat in northern Chile.
From an apartment complex in North Carolina to the entire city of Naples, Italy, officials are using new doggy DNA forensics to nab owners who don't scoop their dog's poop.
Packs of up to 12 Chihuahuas are scaring kids and others in an Arizona town.
The virus has been circulating among camels in Saudi Arabia for at least 20 years, a new study suggests.
Iraq's wildlife just got a conservation boost, as the Republic of Iraq will soon join a major international effort to protect wild animals and plants.
Whales are pushing into new territory as the far north warms quicker than the rest of the planet and sea ice retreats. 
PerĂº's ManĂº National Park hosts the most amphibians and reptiles recorded anywhere.

Animal Pictures