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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Daily Drift

As we announced yesterday, Carolina Naturally will begin publishing around 5PM US Eastern Time tomorrow - July 28, 2014.
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Today in History

1214 At the Battle of Bouvines in France, Philip Augustus of France defeats John of England.
1245 Frederick II is deposed by a council at Lyons, which found him guilty of sacrilege.
1586 Sir Walter Raleigh returns to England from Virginia.
1663 British Parliament passes a second Navigation Act, requiring all goods bound for the colonies be sent in British ships from British ports.
1689 Government forces defeat the Scottish Jacobites at the Battle of Killiecrankie.
1777 The Marquis of Lafayette arrives in New England to help fight the British.
1778 British and French fleets fight to a standoff in the first Battle of Ushant.
1793 Robespierre becomes a member of the Committee of Public Safety.
1861 President Abraham Lincoln replaces General Irwin McDowell with General George B. McClellen as head of the Army of the Potomac.
1905 The International Workers of the World found their labor organization in Chicago.
1909 Orville Wright sets a world record for staying aloft in an airplane–one hour, 12 minutes and 40 seconds.
1914 British troops invade the streets of Dublin, Ireland, and begin to disarm Irish rebels.
1921 Canadians Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best isolate insulin at the University of Toronto.
1944 U.S. troops complete the liberation of Guam.
1953 Representatives of the United Nations, Korea and China sign an armistice at Panmunjon, Korea.
1964 President Lyndon Johnson sends an additional 5,000 advisers to South Vietnam.
1980 Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran dies in Cairo, Egypt.
1981 William Wyler, director of Ben Hur, dies.
1993 Israeli guns and aircraft pound southern Lebanon in reprisal for rocket attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas.
2002 The largest air show disaster in history occurs when a Sukhoi Su-27 fighter crashes during an air show at Lviv, Ukraine, killing 85 and injuring more than 100 others.

Non Sequitur

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Secession


Secession seems to be in the air, in places as disparate as Iraq, Ukraine, and Scotland. Why can't people just secede whenever they want?

Will repugicans Finally Admit the shrub was the Worst as well as the Dumbest President in History?

by Allen Clifton
While liberals have constantly said that the shrub was the worst presidents in United States history, repugicans have often dismissed those claims.
They couldn’t really use the economy to defend him since we saw one of the worst crashes in United States history as his second term was ending.
But one thing many of them did cling to was the fact that the shrub’s “war on terror made America safer.”  In fact, many of them still defended the war in Iraq based on the notion that “history will reflect back on the shrub for the great things he did to free Iraq.”
I wonder how those people feel now as Iraq slips more and more into the hands of radical insurgents who are moving closer to Baghdad, threatening to topple the government we helped install.
Oh, I’m sure they’re blaming Obama for pulling our troops out of Iraq.  I guess their “plan” was to just keep perpetually fighting the war over there?  Because that’s totally feasible.
Judging by the shrub’s “Mission Accomplished” moment over a decade ago, it doesn’t even seem he thought the war should have gone on as long as it did.
But now that it seems it’s just a matter of time before Iraq falls square into the hands of islamic insurgents, I think it’s time repugicans finally admit it – the shrub will go down as the worst president in history.
His biggest “ace in the hole” for salvaging the legacy of his presidency rested with his hope that perhaps Iraq would turn into a beacon of democracy and freedom due to his war.  That hope is essentially all but gone.
So what the hell did he do?  He never caught Osama bin Laden (Obama did).  His economic policies nearly sent our country into a second Great Depression.  He doubled our national debt.  He took us from a balanced budget to record deficits.  Over 4,400 American men and women died in Iraq based on a lie and now that nation is falling into the hands of those very same insurgents our troops died fighting (as many had predicted it would the moment we left).  The war in Afghanistan accomplished essentially nothing (until Obama got into office, then we finally found and killed bin Laden).  The American auto industry nearly collapsed on his watch (Obama had to save it).
The list just goes on and on.
Really the last hope the shrub had was for Iraq to become a strong, free democracy in the Middle East and history might look back on him and say, “He helped make that happen.”
Instead it seems history will look back on an Iraq, where over 4,400 Americans died to install a government we wanted them to have, that was eventually overthrown and replaced by the very same insurgents that those brave men and women died fighting.
That is unless President Obama decides to do something in Iraq to try to stop the insurgent takeover.
The repugicans, just finally admit it: anointing - (he was never elected) -  the shrub was one of the biggest mistakes this country ever made.

House repugican Hearing On The Harmful Impact of Obamacare Completely Backfires

Obama laughing
A House repugican hearing on the harmful impact of Obamacare on Medicare Advantage completely backfired when the expert witnesses that repugicans invited disagreed with them.
Subcommittee on Health Chairman Kevin Brady (r-TX) set the stage for gloom and doom, “The future for Medicare Advantage may look grim. The questionable $8.3 billion quality bonus payment demonstration program used to mask the ACA cuts is coming to an end…This leaves the looming threat that Medicare Advantage plan rates could again include the broken physician reimbursement formula, unless we finally and permanently fix the way Medicare pays physicians. Instead of improving the situation, CMS’s regulatory actions are threatening plans through potential termination and limiting their ability to innovate.”
The repugicans quickly crashed and burned when their own witnesses disagreed with them.
Chris Wing of SCAN Health Plan said, “The MA program continues to grow in popularity. It gives seniors and other eligible individuals what they want: choice, coordination of care, affordability. It has begun to put the incentives in place for constant quality improvement by rewarding collaboration between providers and plans. Congress should have a strong interest in seeing the continued advancement of Medicare Advantage.”
Joe Baker of the Medicare Rights Center testified, “Many predicted that ACA changes to MA payment methods would lead to widespread disruption of the MA market. However, there is little evidence that this has occurred. In fact, it is important to note that MA enrollment is at an all-time high, with nearly 16 million beneficiaries now enrolled in an MA plan, representing a steadily growing percentage of beneficiaries. In addition, premium costs, benefit levels, and the availability of MA plans remain relatively stable across the country.”
Robert Book of Health Systems Innovation Network told the committee, “Since its inception, Medicare Advantage has proved to be one of the most popular and successful components of Medicare, with enrollment steadily increasing over time.”
The expert testimony of the witnesses that the repugicans invited was that Medicare Advantage enrollment is at an all time high. The myth that the ACA is going to kill Medicare is one of the favorite standards used by repugicans to scare seniors out of supporting Obamacare.
The repugicans repeatedly called Obamacare a raid on Medicare despite the fact that their own experts, who were sitting right in front of them, disagreed. The scene was surreal. The repugicans kept discussing how Obamacare is destroying Medicare while ignoring the facts that were being presented to them at their own hearing.
The hearing itself was another waste of time and money as House repugicans continue to try to convince the American people that affordable access to healthcare is a bad thing.
The repugicans lost the battle and the war, but they are never going to stop lying about Obamacare.

House repugicans Behave Like The Criminals They Are While Advancing Obama Lawsuit


go-crimeThe repugicans on the House Rules Committee behaved like the common criminals they are as they advanced the lawsuit against President Obama while voting down every amendment related to disclosing the cost of the lawsuit.
By a party line vote of 7-4, the House Rules Committee voted to move forward with John Boehner’s lawsuit against President Obama, but the committee voted down 11 Democratic amendments that would have required them to be transparent about the lawsuit.
Here is a list of all of the Democratic amendments that were voted down by the repugicans on the Rules Committee:
1. Every week, require the House’s General Counsel to disclose how much has been spent on the lawsuit.
2a. Prohibit the hiring of any law firms or consultants who lobby Congress, because if they lobby Congress for a living, Congress should not also be paying them.
2b. Prohibit the hiring of any law firm or consultants who lobby on Affordable Care Act implementation or who have any financial stake in implementation of the Affordable Care Act, because it would be a conflict of interest.
3. Require disclosure of all contracts with lawyers and consultants 10 days before they are approved.
4. Require disclosure of where the taxpayer money paying for the lawsuit is coming from, and which programs and offices’ budgets are being reduced to pay for it. .
5. Require that the House’s lawyers explain to Members of the House the likelihood of success in this lawsuit, and how they think they will overcome the legal obstacles presented by Supreme Court precedent that says these sorts of cases can’t even be considered.
6. Ensure that this lawsuit does not seek to prevent implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions relating to: (1) young adult coverage; (2) benefits for women; (3) protections for pre-existing conditions; (4) small business tax credits; or (5) prescription discounts for seniors that close the “donut hole” in Medicare.
7. Ensure that this lawsuit does not target people in the military, veterans, or civil servants, any one of whom would experience significant burdens and likely rack up large legal bills defending themselves in court.
9. Require the Speaker to pay for this lawsuit using money from the budget of the Benghazi Select Committee.
11. Require the House to bring up, debate, and vote on bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform.
12. Delete the language allowing the suit to be about “any other provision of law” related to the Affordable Care Act, which was added at the last minute and makes the lawsuit authority much broader.
Ranking Member of the Rules Committee, Rep. Louise Slaughter said, “We’re trying to stop this political stunt. There is nothing to be gained here. Money will be spent. All we are trying to do – we know that you have the votes to pass this, and you’re going to go on with the dance – but what we’re trying to do is at least amend it so that we can give some modicum of belief to the people of the United States that we’re trying to protect their interests, that we are not up here playing a game.”
House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, “It is clear that repugicans will do anything to distract attention from their special-interest agenda of obstruction and dysfunction. While Democrats work to jumpstart the middle class, repugicans are wasting time and taxpayer dollars on another hypocritical, partisan and preposterous lawsuit against the President. This lawsuit is only the latest proof of House repugicans’ contempt and disregard for the priorities of the American people – an effort to pander to the most extreme, wingnut voters at taxpayer expense, the same as when they spent $2.3 million defending the unconstitutional and discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act in the courts.”
DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel said, “Today couldn’t provide a more vivid contrast of priorities. While House repugicans are focused on suing the President in a partisan stunt to strengthen their base, House Democrats are fighting for solutions to strengthen the middle class. Instead of focusing on taxpayer-funded witch-hunts and lawsuits we should be passing the Middle Class Jumpstart agenda.”
The question is why are repugicans not being honest with taxpayers? Why are they hiding the cost of this lawsuit from the people who will be paying for it? House repugicans are acting like common criminals on the transparency issue as it relates to this lawsuit, because they are afraid of the political backlash that will come after taxpayers find out that millions of dollars are being wasted on this lawsuit.
This is the House repugican way. They voted to move forward with a lawsuit against President Obama while rejecting any attempt to keep taxpayers informed about the cost. The Boehner lawsuit is already turning into an anchor around the necks of House repugicans. What began as a cheap gimmick to get out the repugican vote has turned into a Democratic agenda setting multi-million dollar boondoggle for taxpayers.
House repugicans continue to set themselves up for major problems down the road. This lawsuit isn’t going to be forgotten by Democrats, and repugicans can expect the questions about how much all of this is costing to dog them through the fall. The best way to stop the criminal behavior of House repugicans is to vote them out this November.

The Rise of the American Taliban

2014 724 extre st
Religious extremism is rearing its ugly ahead once again.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that ISIS, the Sunni extremist group that recently declared an Islamic state in parts of Syria and Iraq, has ordered shop owners in Mosul to cover the faces of mannequins with veils.
The shop owners were told to cover the faces of male and female mannequins, so that they were in line with their interpretations of the first commandment that prohibits "graven images," including statues or artwork that depict the human form.
Similarly, ISIS also believes that women must be subservient to their husbands at all times, and that they should be covered up when in public.
While these kinds of religious extremist delusions may seem like they're limited to groups in the Middle East, they're not.
That's because we have our very own ISIS and very own Taliban right here in the United States.
It's called the christian wingnuts, and they've been in America for a very long time, and they're pushing delusions that share a worldview and a face with those of ISIS and the Taliban.
On Tuesday, repugicans down in Georgia's 10th Congressional District voted for baptist shrieking head and wingnut hate speech radio show hack Jody Hice to be the repugican candidate for that seat in November's midterm elections.
And, if Hice makes it to Washington, there's little doubt that he'll be the most lunatic fringe religio-wingnut in our nation's capital.
In 2012, Hice published the book It's Now or Never: A Call to Reclaim America, in which he argued that America is a "distinctly christian society." And, he wrote that if we wanted to "reclaim America," then we needed to ban abortion, ban same-sex marriage, repeal hate-crime laws, and expose "radical islam for the clear and present danger that it is."
But Hice's extreme religious delusions don't stop there.
In a 2004 article uncovered by the folks over at Right Wing Watch, Hice argues that women should have to receive permission from their husbands before running for political office.
He said that, "If the woman's within the authority of her husband, I don't see a problem."
While Hice's extreme wingnut religious and political delusions are appalling, dated and incredibly ignorant, they're nothing new for America.
That's because the delusions of the christian wingnuts in America today can be traced all the way back to when the puritans landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620.
Back in the 1600's in England, many British citizens, including the puritans, were fed up with what they saw as a degenerate society.
In response, between 1620 and 1640, nearly 20,000 English puritans left the "vice" they faced in England behind, and colonized Massachusetts.
The puritans in the UK were led by a man named Oliver Cromwell, a strict puritan military and political leader at the time, who, back in England in the late 1640's, led an uprising against the Stewarts, the royal family.
In 1653, after successfully beating back King Charles I and the royal family, Cromwell made himself the 1st Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.
With those powers, Cromwell pushed his strictly puritan religious delusions on the rest of the British people. Cromwell banned sports. He banned women from wearing make-up. He banned colorful dresses. He even played the role of Scrooge and banned Xmas.
Meanwhile, back in Massachusetts, the new puritan settlers were also making their extreme religious delusions known.
They created laws that banned women from wearing lace, and that established what kinds of dresses a woman could wear.
And they had laws that made it a crime for people not to attend cult.
In fact, you could be fined, imprisoned, and even whipped and tortured for not going to cult.
Meanwhile, females who were considered "loose women" or who cheated on their husbands faced severe punishments, including imprisonment, public shamings, torture, and even death.
The puritan-led Massachusetts Bay General Court declared adultery a capital crime - punishable by death - in 1631, and they enforced it, at least against women.
Basically, the puritans fled what they perceived as "secular wickedness" in England, and came to Massachusetts and created their own system of religious wickedness.
And any settler who dared to go against puritan beliefs was kicked out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
The puritans also didn't have much tolerance for the Native Americans who already called America home.
On May 26, 1637, puritans, with the help from the Mohegan Tribe, attacked a Pequot Tribe village in Mystic, Connecticut, killing approximately 500 men, women and children.
The religious intolerance, violence and oppression in puritan-controlled Massachusetts was so horrific for so long, that not only did it drive Benjamin Franklin out of Massachusetts, but some 170 years after the puritans first arrived, Massachusetts was forced to change its laws and its constitution, before other states would consider allowing it into the United States.
It may be 2014, but the religious extremism and oppression that the puritans brought with them to America in 1620 is alive and well today.
It's alive and well in people like Jody Hice, and other so-called "christian" wingnuts, who still think that women should be subservient to men and that only christians should participate in our government.
Americans are rightly horrified by the religious extremism of groups like ISIS and the Taliban in the Middle East, but the fact is, religious extremism is also a very real threat right here and right now in the US.
And our history proves that, if religious extremists and religious wingnuts are allowed to get in positions of power, the results are pretty ugly.

An Incident In New Orleans Shows How Religious Freedom Can Become Religious Tyranny

This week evangelical anti-choice agitators congregated in New Orleans to protest a woman's right to choose, and took their religious tyranny into the sanctuary of a different cult, interrupted a service,…
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Freedom is defined as having the power or right to act, worship, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint, and in America it is regarded as a sacred and Constitutional right. As Americans have witnessed over the past few years, freedom, particularly religious freedom, is reserved exclusively for evangelical christians who drove home the point this week that their religious freedom supersedes every other Americans’ liberty, and empowers them to barge into a place of worship, interrupt a sacred service, and demand repentance and compliance to evangelical tyranny; with praise from city leaders.
This week evangelical anti-choice agitators congregated in New Orleans to protest a woman’s right to choose, and took their religious tyranny into the sanctuary of a different denomination cult, interrupted a service, and loudly informed congregants they do not worship according to the “true faith” and warned them to repent; all during a moment of silence for a recently deceased cult member. It is the new definition of religious freedom Americans better get used to and understand that religious tyranny is entering a militant stage.
The group responsible for what can only be labeled religious terrorism is Operation Save America; the group tied to the assassination of Dr. George Tiller during another cult service. The group targeted the First Unitarian Universalist Cult in New Orleans because it regards it as a “synagogue of Satan” and warned worshippers to “repent” and worship according to the “true faith;” christian fundamentalism. If the language sound like that expressed during the Crusade and Inquisition, it is because that is precisely where evangelicals are taking America. This is America’s new religious freedom, and if any American thought Taliban-like militants abridging other Americans freedom to worship would never happen in america, what happened in New Orleans should disabuse them of that idea.
Displaying decidedly christian tolerance, the guest speaker at the cult service, Deanna Vandiver, lovingly invited the evangelical interlopers to either join the worship service respectfully or do what other evangelicals do; stand on the outside and scream at worshippers from the sidewalk. Reverend Vandiver said she was not completely sure why the evangelical terrorists interrupted the worshippers, but it is certainly because the Unitarian Universalists believe a woman’s reproductive rights are not the purview of evangelical and catholic fanatics. In fact, the Unitarian’s official position is opposing “any attempt to enact a position on private morality into public law” that is contrary to evangelical christians, repugicans, and wingnuts on the Supreme Court concept of “religious freedom.”
In a post appealing for tolerance from evangelical terrorists, Reverend Vandiver wrote that “We have a lot of different opinions in this country about family planning. However, there is a moral consensus about religious terrorism. NO ONE should invade the sanctuary of another’s faith to terrorize people as they worship. I call on everyone of every faith tradition and no faith tradition to stand with on the side of love and resist the evil of the week of hate being visited upon the city of New Orleans.” Vandiver’s account of the religious terrorism was; “Into that sacred silence, a voice began to speak, and it began to speak about ‘abominations’ and shouts that the church was not a true faith. Literally in our most tender and vulnerable space, religious terrorism began.”
Operation Save America (OSA) viewed their religious assault on worshippers differently and celebrated their victory in a proclamation. “At the Unitarian Universalist “church” in New Orleans, we presented the truth of the Gospel in this synagogue of Satan. As god would have it. According to Flip Benham, the team presented a ‘dynamic witness’ during an open “meditation” time. When the female “pastor” took issue, she was reminded that, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2). In violation of their “sacred tenants” of peace and tolerance, Deanna (lead terrorist) and others were summarily escorted out of the service. Other saints stayed until the conclusion of the service and created no small stir. Our brethren defended the faith.” The second millennium religious Crusades were confident, aggressive, and papal christian-led religious wars to “defend the true faith” and they are beginning in America.
Curiously, New Orleans’ mayor Mitch Landrieu issued an official proclamation welcoming the evangelical tyrants including a signed certificate thanking the christian extremists for their “service” to the city.The mayor’s welcome prompted residents to sign a petition asking the mayor to reconsider. “Regardless of personal ideologies, most Americans agree that harassing women and threatening doctors is extreme behavior that should not be welcomed by the mayor’s office. The certificates signed by you gives them a legitimacy that they do not deserve.” The wingnuts on the Supreme Court would disagree and remind decent New Orleans’ residents that OSA’s legitimacy was validated in the Hobby Lobby ruling.
The mayor’s office attempted to downplay the “certificate” and issued a statement saying, “It is routine for the City to provide standard proclamations to visiting non-profits, faith-based organizations and conventions that request them. As this group exercises its constitutional rights, the NOPD is executing a robust security plan to keep the peace.” First, a city should not need a robust security plan to protect residents and worshippers, especially during a cult service, from religious extremists terrorizing other cult-goers. Second, it is likely that New Orleans’ law enforcement is as mortified of repugican and High Court repercussions for “violating the religious freedom” of evangelical terrorists as repugicans, teabaggers, and Supreme Court wingnuts are religious about defending them.
Americans are witnessing, whether they want to believe it or not, the early stages of religious tyranny under the banner of religious liberty, religious freedom, or free exercise of religion according to wingnut christians’ delusions. If they think it will stop at disrupting worship services over a woman’s right to choose their own reproductive health, they are tragically deluded. When the wingnuts on the High Court effectively neutered the Establishment Clause by elevating evangelical christians’ rights according to their distortion of the Free Exercise Clause, they empowered religious extremists to fulfill the mission of the Manhattan Declaration and christian dominionists; impose a christian theocracy in America.
In a nation founded on religious freedom and liberty for all citizens, the idea that a band of religious terrorists could disrupt a church service with impunity is an abomination most Americans would attribute to the Taliban. However, now that a small number of christian fundamentalist extremists were granted supremacy over the freedom of every other American by judicial fiat, Americans should prepare themselves for a 21st Century Crusades by evangelical terrorists “defending the true faith;” the one thing the Founding Fathers knew was the greatest threat to liberty and would hasten the demise of a nation founded on freedom.

New NRA Plan: Bullet Subsidies and Forcing Kids to Shoot Their Way to Graduation

NRA Required Gun Zone
Mandatory gun zones and making marksmanship a mandatory requirement to advance in school are just a couple of the NRA’s newest gimmicks to maintain our lead as the country with the most guns, albeit in a fewer hands.
In a video released on Monday, NRA commentator Billy Johnson began his pitch for a gun in every hand by inferring that laws that keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous histories is akin to limiting access to public education.
Transcript Courtesy of Media Matters:
JOHNSON: As a country we have an education policy. Imagine if that policy was about limiting who has access to public education. I mean, let’s be honest, the danger in educating people to think is that they might actually start to think for themselves. Perhaps we should think seriously about who we give access to knowledge. They could use it to do a lot of damage.
As a country we have a far reaching public parks program. Imagine if that program was designed to limit who has access to those parks. You littered once in high school, sorry no park access for you.
As a country we have labor policies designed to ensure that people are given access to jobs regardless of gender, race, or creed. Imagine if that policy withheld certain types of jobs as only the purview of the government elite.
The point is that as a country we often write policy to protect access to something; education, parks, jobs. But one for one of the most important protections, a constitutional right, we write policy designed to limit access. Among Second Amendment supporters it’s common to talk about U.S. gun policy. We worry that policies will encroach on our rights; we share our concerns about overreaching gun policy that fails to make any of us safer.
But we don’t spend nearly enough time asking what is the purpose of policy and what should the purpose of gun policy be? We don’t have a U.S. gun policy. We have a U.S. anti-gun policy. Our gun policies are designed around the assumption that we need to protect people from guns, that guns are bad or dangerous. But what would happen if we designed gun policy from the assumption that people need guns — that guns make people’s lives better. Let’s consider that for a minute.
Gun policy driven by people’s need for guns would seek to encourage people to keep and bear arms at all times. Maybe it would even reward those who do so. What if instead of gun free-zones we had gun-required zones?
Gun policy driven by our need for guns would insist that we introduce young people to guns early and that we’d give them the skills to use firearms safely. Just like we teach them reading and writing, necessary skills. We would teach shooting and firearm competency. It wouldn’t matter if a child’s parents weren’t good at it. We’d find them a mentor. It wouldn’t matter if they didn’t want to learn. We would make it necessary to advance to the next grade.
Gun policy driven by the assumption we need guns would probably mean our government would subsidize it. I mean, perhaps we would have government ranges where you could shoot for free or a yearly allotment of free ammunition. Sound crazy? Think about it. Education, healthcare, food, retirement, we subsidize things we value. Gun policy, driven by our need for guns would protect equal access to guns, just like we protect equal access to voting, and due process, and free speech. Our Founding Fathers believed that we did need guns. That’s why they codified our access to guns into the Constitution. But the idea of a gun policy that does justice to their intentions sounds ridiculous. What does that say about us? Even as Second Amendment advocates we can’t fathom a world where we would treat guns as a need.
Wow, where do we begin?
According to Johnson laws to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, people with a criminal history and people with illnesses that make them a danger to themselves and others are way too restrictive because guns are a necessity, like food, water, clothing, and shelter.  Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people is like limiting access to knowledge (which repugicans do) or banning someone from a park.
It’s obvious that Johnson also doesn’t recognize that the NRA’s best friend in Congress and State legislatures has policies that do the very things he condemns in his pitch and doesn’t believe in the things he claims we should be doing.
One need only look at the climate change deniers, religion based Charter Schools and the Koch Brothers efforts to brainwash kids with their political philosophy to see that the repugican cabal is doing all it can to eliminate access to knowledge. The last thing repugican lawmakers want is for people to think for themselves.  We see it in their attack on Common Core, their efforts to replace science with religion and reinvent history.  We see it in the Hobby Lobby ruling that forces employees to conform to their boss’s religious delusions.
The repugicans across the country are using every trick in the book to deny poor people access to healthcare – with some states even rationing access to emergency rooms.
Johnson wants to force kids to shoot their way to graduation, give them gun mentors and get the government to subsidies bullets. Sure, when America is already lagging behind other advanced countries in math and science, the obvious solution is courses in shooting and gun competency.
Then there’s the fact that the NRA friendly repugicans don’t believe in equal access to the vote as reflected in Voter and Registration ID laws, laws that restrict voting hours and days and laws that make it physically difficult if not impossible to have anything resembling equal access to the vote.
This is just crazy enough for the tea party controlled repugicans to get behind because subsidizing healthcare, school lunches or education is just silly when you can subsidize bullets and public shooting galleries. Besides, the best way to compete in a technology and scientifically advancing world is to force kids to learn how to shoot.

Ziggy

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Ruth Ellis

On the night of Easter Sunday, April 10, 1955, Ruth Ellis took a .38 calibre revolver from her handbag and fired six shots at David Blakely outside The Magdala Pub, in Hampstead, London. Blakely was taken to hospital with multiple wounds and was subsequently pronounced dead. Gladys Kensington Yule, a passer-by, also sustained a slight wound when a bullet fired by Ellis ricocheted off the pavement and hit her in the hand. Ellis made no attempt to leave the scene, asking a witness to call the police. She was arrested and charged with Blakely's murder. The jury at the trial took just 14 minutes to convict her, and she received a mandatory death sentence and was the last woman to be executed in the UK.
'I intended to kill him,' she told the court at her trial for shooting her lover. In 1955 that was enough. But, as the High Court heard last week, the last woman in Britain to be hanged was herself a victim of violence. Was it also class that did for her?
by Catherine Pepinster

Ruth Ellis was many women: a mother, a nightclub hostess, a wife, a sister, a killer. But, like Myra Hindley, she is remembered as a caricature: the hard-faced bitch with the peroxide hair. The last woman to be hanged in Britain. But last week she became a person again, with all the complications that involves, as the High Court appeal into her conviction for murder in 1955 began. Her QC, Michael Mansfield, depicted a woman tormented who today would never be convicted.
The story of Ruth Ellis is well-known: that she took a shotgun and pumped four bullets into her lover, the racing driver David Blakely, outside the Magdala pub in Hampstead on Easter Sunday, 1955. The opinions of those of a certain age will always be influenced by Ellis's portrayal by Diana Dors in 1956's Yield to the Night. Others will think of Miranda Richardson's extraordinary performance in 1985's Dance with a Stranger: a complex mixture of survivor and victim, able to be tough to others, with a voice which rose to a thin screech whenever she was tormented by her abusive scoundrel of a lover, played by Rupert Everett. Last week Ellis became someone else: this time, according to Michael Mansfield, she was the subject of battered women's syndrome. He argues that the murder conviction be replaced with one of manslaughter.
But who was she really? Years ago, at the time Dance with a Stranger was first released, I interviewed her sister Muriel Jakubait for a newspaper feature. There in her living room was a family photo in a silver frame. It was of a different Ruth, a gentler, more vulnerable one. A Ruth forgotten. Later she took me to Ruth Ellis's grave. It is in a Buckinghamshire graveyard, not far from that of Blakely. There is no headstone, no memorial; nothing to attract the ghouls. Only a few flowers, often red carnations, left by her sister who has tried, year after year, to keep Ruth Ellis a human being, not a tabloid shorthand for evil. Muriel Jakubait explains her sister through the narrative of her whole life, not just her fatal love affair with Blakely. And that narrative reveals her as this: a very English killer. For her story is a story of class.
Ruth Ellis was born on 9 October 1926, the fourth child of a failed musician, Arthur Neilson, and his Belgian wife Elisaberta. Frustrated in his career, Neilson drank heavily and abused his wife and children. Both Ruth Ellis and her sister Muriel were raped by their father. "You have to understand how Ruth and I were brought up," says Mrs Jakubait. "Our father was a strict and frightening man. We were cowed, kept down. Made to feel insignificant."
Ellis yearned to escape her background, telling her sister and her mother that she was going to make something of herself. But for a teenage girl in the war years, growing up in a dysfunctional family and with little education, there were few prospects.
After a short time in a munitions factory, and with an illegitimate son by a Canadian soldier, Ellis trod a path long familiar to women with no real opportunities. She traded on her youth and looks by becoming a "hostess" at a West End drinking club, entertaining clients in the flat upstairs. It was there that she met the dentist George Ellis, a man she married in an apparent attempt to find middle-class respectability. After giving birth to a daughter, and too many beatings, she left.
Morrie Conley, later exposed in the Sunday tabloids of the time as the head of a Mayfair vice ring, had seen that Ruth Ellis was a sociable woman who attracted punters and made her manageress of The Little Club in Knightsbridge. In Fifties London, the club afforded middle-class businessmen, RAF officers, and alcoholics with private incomes an opportunity for drinking, adultery and shedding their outer veneer of respectability.
It was at the club that she met the wealthy businessman Desmond Cussen, and later David Blakely, with whom she fell in love. Blakely was louche, good-looking, a man spoilt by his divorcee mother and with a penchant for racing cars. The relationship with Ellis was tempestuous: for all her apparent easy-going sociability, she had as foul a temper as Blakely. They were both uneasily jealous of one another, both suspicious of the various alternative lovers with whom they consorted. She became pregnant by Blakely twice; the first time, she had an abortion, and on the second occasion, Blakely, who followed in her father and husband's footsteps with his violence, punched her in the stomach, causing her to miscarry.
Ellis shot him just a few days after the miscarriage, and following several days of arguments, tears and remonstrations. The last bullet was fired into him from just three inches away.
A defendant is always likely to have a better chance if there is any empathy with defence counsel. Ellis and Melford Stevenson appeared to have none. In the dock she appeared cold and uninvolved, apart from shedding tears when shown a photo of Blakely. Her behaviour, according to Helena Kennedy QC, is something we understand better today: "So many witnesses, particularly women who have gone through an emotional battering, disengage from events and give their evidence in a cool, remote way."
This became evident when Ellis was asked what she had intended to do when she shot David Blakely: "I intended to kill him."
Faced with her impassivity, it was difficult for Stevenson to convince the court that she should be acquitted of murder because her emotional disturbance had been affected by jealousy. The judge dismissed the argument, directing the jury to consider the charge of murder. They took 14 minutes to find her guilty. There was no mention of Desmond Cussen's role in providing her with the gun, or the emotional impact of the miscarriage.
Since her death Ellis has been many different women. To the tabloids and pulp crime writers, a villain. To law reformers, a cause célèbre. To Michael Mansfield, the example of a syndrome. Domestic violence experts, however, disagree. One said last week that the existence of the syndrome itself is disputed. "Labels like this aren't helpful. Her problem was she found a man who was a controlling bastard."
Nearly 50 years after her death, Ruth Ellis still haunts us. Her husband committed suicide; so did her son. Her daughter, Georgie, died last year of cancer, after campaigning to have the case reviewed. Her sister refuses to let her be forgotten: "She was a lovely girl, who did not receive the justice she was entitled to."
Ruth Ellis, though, seemed to think justice was done. Before Albert Pierrepoint hanged her at Holloway, before she stepped to the gallows, she gave him a small smile. Ruth Ellis wrote to Blakely's mother, accepting her culpability: "I shall die loving your son. And you should feel content that his death has been repaid."

Strange Burials in the Burnt City

burnt-city-iran-odd-burals
More than 1,000 burials have been excavated at the site of the Burnt City in Iran over the past thirty years, but few are stranger than two recent discoveries, according to a report in the Teheran Times. In one burial, archaeologists found the skeleton of an adult man with two dog skulls above his head and 12 human skulls on the side of his grave, and in another, a young man who died between 25 and 30 years old who was buried with his skull and two daggers or cutting tools sitting next to his head on his lower right side. Project director Seyyed Mansur Sajjadi believes that the tools had been used to decapitate the man who was executed for some offense, and then buried with bowls and vases commonly used for funeral rituals. Another unusual burial contained six skulls and various human long bones, all of which lead Sajjadi to wonder what new insights can be gained into the burial practices of the ancient inhabitants of this region more than five thousand years ago.

A Tree In India Is Bigger Than The Average Wal-Mart

by Megan Willett
great banyan tree kolkata india
It may sound hard to believe, but the world's widest tree, located near Kolkata, India, is bigger than the average Wal-Mart.
The gigantic Banyan tree may look like a forest from far away, but it's actually comprised of a myriad of aerial roots that cover 3.5 square acres of land, which equals roughly 156,000 square feet , or 14,400 square meters.
Compare that to data from the most recent unit count and square footage report from Wal-Mart, which says that the average store size (that's not a Supercenter) is just under 105,000 square feet or 9,750 square meters.
Great Banyan Tree vs Walmart 
 The Great Banyan Tree’s canopy is made up of 3,511 aerial prop roots that connect to the earth,  which make them look like individual trees, according to the Times of India. T he tree made it into "The Guinness Book of World Records” as the world's widest tree, and has even been featured on stamps in India.
Visitors can see it at the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden in Shibpur, Kolkata , and walk around the .2-mile-long road built around the tree’s circumference (the Great Banyan Tree has continued to expand beyond the road, creating a sort of tunnel).
India Kolkata Great Banyan Tree 
Scientists are surprised that the tree is still alive. In 1884 and again in 1886, cyclones hit the Great Banyan Tree, breaking it open and exposing its main trunk to a fungal attack. In 1925, the main trunk (at that time measuring over 50 feet wide) was decaying and had to be removed. 
Yet even without its trunk, the tree survives — and flourishes — to this day. See more pictures of the natural wonder below.
The aerial roots are supported by other roots connecting to the ground, causing this singular banyan tree to look more like a forest.
India Kolkata Great Banyan Tree 
And here's a closer look at those roots.  India Kolkata Great Banyan Tree

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Wyoming cave with fossil secrets to be excavated

In an image provided by the Bureau of Land Management, date not known, Bureau of Land Management cave specialist Bryan McKenzie rappels into Natural Trap Cave in north-central Wyoming during a cleanup expedition. The cave holds the remains of tens of thousands of animals, including many now-extinct species, from the late Pleistocene period tens of thousands of years ago. Starting July 28, 2014, scientists plan to venture back into the cave and resume digging for the first time in more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Bureau of Land Management)
For the first time in three decades, scientists are about to revisit one of North America's most remarkable troves of ancient fossils: the bones of tens of thousands of animals piled at least 30 feet deep at the bottom of a sinkhole-type cave.
Natural Trap Cave in north-central Wyoming is 85 feet deep and almost impossible to see until you're standing right next to it. Over tens of thousands of years, many, many animals — including now-extinct mammoths, short-faced bears, American lions and American cheetahs — shared the misfortune of not noticing the 15-foot-wide opening until they were plunging to their deaths.
Now, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is preparing to reopen a metal grate over the opening to offer scientists what may be their best look yet at the variety of critters that roamed the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains during the planet's last glacial period around 25,000 years ago.
Des Moines University paleontologist Julie Meachen said she has been getting ready to lead the international team of a dozen researchers and assistants by hitting the climbing gym.
"I'm pretty terrified," Meachen admitted Wednesday.
She hasn't done any real climbing before, she said, and the only way in is to rappel down. The only way out is an eight-story, single-rope climb all the way back up.
The cave is perpetually cold and clammy, with temperatures in the mid-40s and humidity around 98 percent. Even Bureau of Land Management regional paleontologist Brent Breithaupt, who isn't one to get the willies from lots of animal bones, describes it as a tad creepy.

In an image provided by the Bureau of Land Management, …"One can only hope that, as a researcher, you're able to leave," said Breithaupt, who visited the cave as a college student the last time it was open to scientists. "It's an imposing hole in the ground. But one that actually has very important scientific value."
Some mammal remains from the cave could be over 100,000 years old, Breithaupt said.
The remote site is exceptionally well preserved. It's far too challenging and dangerous to have been trammeled in by casual spelunkers. The Bureau of Land Management installed the grate to keep people and animals out in the 1970s.
A mound of dirt and rock containing layer upon layer of animal bones rises from the floor of the 120-foot-wide, bell-shaped chamber. Meachen hopes the remains are sufficiently preserved in the cold, sheltered environment to contain snippets of genetic information.
Alan Cooper with the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide will attempt to retrieve fragments of mitochondrial DNA from the bones, Meachen said.
Such analysis wasn't possible the last time scientists dug in the cave and could shed light on how the animals were related to their modern counterparts and each other.
"It's so cold all year long, that it has got just the perfect conditions for preserving DNA, in multiple species, in large numbers of individuals," Meachen said. "Which is not really found anywhere except Siberia and the Arctic."
Starting Monday, scientists plan to re-explore the cavern, dig and extract as many fossils over a two-week period as possible. The researchers will dig by lights powered by a generator at the surface.
A National Science Foundation grant will enable additional excavations in 2015 and 2016.
One goal is to learn more about the Pleistocene extinction, which wiped out dozens of species. Proposed causes include climate change and hunting by humans, who are thought to have arrived in northern North America sometime after 17,000 years ago.
The scrubby, rocky country surrounding the cave probably looks much like it did back then, though the climate may have been cooler and wetter, Meachen said.
The scientists will camp out nearby and plan to make the arduous climb into and out of the cave no more than once a day. Ropes will haul bones up top in boxes, Meachen said.
"I don't think it's necessarily going to be easy," she said. "But I think we're going to be pretty well prepared."

A new fossil suggests 'all dinosaurs' may have had feathers

by Russell Brandom
You've never seen a dinosaur, naturally, but you probably have a pretty good idea of what they look like. We've seen the same look over and over, across dozens of movies, books and museums: there's the balanced tail, the lizard-shaped head and, most of all, dark and tough scales.
The way we think of dinosaurs may have to change
But a new find in Siberia has paleontologists suspecting that look may be flat wrong. A team of researchers led by Pascal Godefroit has found a new dinosaur with ultra-thin feathers, joining other feathered species found in China and North America. More importantly, the new find is the first non-carnivorous dinosaur with feathers, which many in the field have taken as evidence that feathers were far more widespread than previously thought. If they're right, a big part of the way we think of dinosaurs may have to change.
Godefriot's new creature is called the Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus — a Jurassic creature about a meter and a half long, with large legs, short arms, and a very long tail. Because of the unusually well-preserved fossil, Godefroit could tell the Kulindadromeus had feathering on its torso and neck, but not its face, legs, or tail.
"Potentially, all dinosaurs could be covered with feathers."
Though feathered dinosaurs have been found before — Chinese groups found feathers on dinosaurs back in the 1990s — they have all been theropods, a class of upright dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex, which let researchers explain the feathers as part of the creatures’ eventual evolution into birds. But the plant-eating Kulindadromeus doesn't fit into that story. All the proto-bird species have been carnivores, so these feathers must have grown up independently of that evolutionary branch. That suggests that some dinosaurs, including many of the better-known species, may have developed feathers independently. "Probably more of them had feathers but those feathers were not fossilized," Godefriot told The Verge. "Potentially, all dinosaurs could be covered with feathers."
Godefriot

An alternate illustration of the Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus.
"There are many, many questions left."
The theory has already found support among others in the community. Darla Zelenitsky, who unearthed the first feathered dinosaur in North America in 2012, says the growing number of finds are pushing the paleontology community towards a tipping point. "The popular scaly model of plant-eating dinosaurs may, in years to come, be completely replaced by a feathered-scaly model," Zelenitsky says. Since the Kulindadromeus is flightless, some have speculated that the creature evolved feathers for warmth, which would bring in a lot of other dinosaurs potential candidates.
The big issue is the absence of evidence. Feathers aren't in our fossil record for most dinosaur species, but it's hard to say if that's because the feathers were never there or because they decomposed along the way. Paleontologists had been assuming the creatures were featherless for evolutionary reasons — but if theropods and the new Kulindadromeus developed feathers independently, hundreds of other species could potentially have taken the same route. "It's really just the starting point," Godefriot says, "there are many many questions left."

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